kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
I can't for the life of me remember which of you it was that linked me to this frankly glorious restaurant review, but thank you.
The Hudson Valley Foie Gras (“Seared with Brussels Sprouts and Smoked Eel”) is divine; the Widow’s Hole Oysters (“Hot and Cold with Apple and Black Chestnuts”) are excellent if weirdly capitalized; but the remarkable thing is the turnip course. A turnip, as you know, should be allowed to be a turnip; that is for the best.

(Meanwhile A is quoting an article about the Tube back at me, and I continue desperately enamored of the concept of rose-and-vanilla or chamomile battenberg, which latter was brought to my attention by [personal profile] aella_irene.)
kaberett: Yellow gingko leaf against teal background (gingko)
These are the steps of the morning: get out of bed. Daylight bulb. Teeth. Shower. Dress. Select jewelry; select perfume. (Try to remember, to summon energy, to brush my hair.) Breakfast. Pills. Is everything in my pockets? Is everything in my bag? Do I need a coat?

-- it's not that simple. It's never that simple. Sometimes "get out of bed" gets broken down into minute steps. "Shower" is almost always smaller than that: pyjamas? dressing gown? towel? bathroom. remove clothes. hang towel on rail. stand staring blankly into space. eventually remember how to step into the shower. eventually summon motive force to do it. is my hair up? do I know where my shower cap is? should it be on my head? did I actually remember my towel? fuck. hot water: hot water helps. now what? choose shower gel. spiky or warm? was it cold outside? did I get daylight when I opened my eyes? rinse. turn off water. try to remember how to get out of shower. wrap self in towel. stand staring blankly into space.

Some days, I can run through on autopilot. Some days, every motion is a choice (and every choice is hard). This is what living with executive dysfunction, exacerbated by depression, is like.

Read more... )

I still find it unsettling to realise how hugging myself in the bathroom, lost and all forlorn, somehow strings moment into moment into being, into brightness and beauty and confidence. I curl myself around these rituals; I draw strength from them; and I am building myself a life.
kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
I'd feral haunt the borders of my lands
with wild eyes staring and with bared clenched teeth
to bitter stake my claim to my domain:
I'd tolerate this trespassing no more.

And if I vicious clawed a hand that stretched
in friendship -- to feed or stroke or pet --
then still I'd count my loss less than my gain:
for I'd have shown that I alone here reign.

Yet 'lonely reign' is all too apt a phrase:
I find I'm wearied by the emptiness
that haunts my heart, that permeates my days.
I'm tired of fear; I'm tired of this distress.

I'm safe, I think, to throw open my gates
and to explore that which beyond them waits.
kaberett: Photo of a pile of old leather-bound books. (books)
I find it hard to spend time with people I don't know well; I find it hard to get to know people; I find it hard to trust. This is the source of a great deal of on-going soul-searching and the beneficiary, I suppose one could say, of a great deal of my time and money.

There's one obvious exception to this, and that's poetry.

Read more... )
kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
(Content notes: tattoos, self-injury, surgery.)

Catalogued for the sake of writing them down, with twofold purpose thereto.

Read more... )

SO YES. There's a thing. (Brought to you by idly contemplating getting through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered/I have fought my way here/for my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom as great/you have no power over me as scrawl over a shoulderblade.)
kaberett: Toph making a rock angel (toph-rockangel)
through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, i have fought my way here to the castle beyond the goblin city. for my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom as great.

you have no power over me.

My mum says this thing, "I am the spider" -- it's because once, early in her career, she mentioned to a colleague-cum-mentor that she felt rather as though she was trapped in a web with a spider pulling the strings. The mentor - who, by the way, is a fantastic bloke and I love him to bits - responded, "My dear, you are the spider." So: today I have Been The Spider relating to a lot of Dreamwidth stuff, including helping to file a bug report; filing a suggestion; and doing some substantial rummaging in [site community profile] dw_dev_training. Plus, of course, That One Article. :-)

I've cooked a lot, too: two loaves of bread (okay, they were in the breadmaker, but still); two quiche cases, of which one turned into a quiche; and a dozen jam tarts from the trimmings.

Plus a lot of other self-care: three meals, hair-washing, and arranging social time over the next week. Also: dealing with e-mail as it came in; sitting outside in the sun reading my current book; helping my tiny cousin settle in; and so on.

Just for the record, this is way more than I typically manage to get done. Today? Today can stay.
kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
This week [community profile] poetree is curating a series of guest posts around the general theme of intimacy. I've written a personal exploration of the poem How To Make Love To A Trans Person [content notes: poem is explicit; meta contains extended discussion of surgery].
kaberett: a patch of sunlight on the carpet, shaped like a slightly wonky heart (light hearted)
I sat on the train, and sometimes I read, and sometimes I gazed out at the sunset.

And now I am sat in my bed with a bowl of British strawberries and an essay draft - on intimacy and physicality and poetry - and I am talking, in another window, about music and code and counselling.

I keep catching myself thinking, with mild surprise, I'm a real person.

Thank you, all of you, for the various cheerings-on and congratulations and support and love. For now, it is sticking; for now, that's enough.
kaberett: Photo of a pile of old leather-bound books. (books)
... or because you don't have the energy?

Mmm. I don't tend to talk about my relationships much, not so much because it's "too personal" as because (a) I suspect mostly they're not very interesting to anyone who's not involved [obviously I make exceptions for the Hilarious Anecdotes, but I tend to feel my entire access list doesn't need to be subjected to them ;)], and (b) I'd want to get permission before doing it, which sounds like a lot of hassle.

On the topic of "not having the energy", I tend not to talk about politics and activism - particularly the things I find deeply upsetting - because I view this very much as my space to be horrified and exhausted and scared and furious, but - well. I know some people look at me being scared and angry and decide I'm overreacting, or feel the need to patiently explain to me that I'm being silly and hysterical, or conclude that how I write when I am angry and scared is how I write when I'm composing formal e-mails, and think it's appropriate to give me unsolicited lectures on how to communicate effectively, and why I'll never be able to, and how this will harm the cause so I just. shouldn't.

And - no. I can't deal with that. I have dealt with too much of it. I don't need people undermining me, undermining my competence; I don't need people feeding my ever-present self-criticism and self-doubt; I don't need having to explain myself, over and over, to people for whom the conversation is academic, when I am already raw and exhausted and ground down to ashes.

-- there is one other thing: and that's my illnesses. I talk a lot about living with depression, about how it affects me, about analysis of the whole - but I do it only, only when I'm well. To first approximation, the only things I write about depression while actively depressed are pared-down symptoms logs. That, now - what depression feels like on the inside - that is not something I can talk about, really, not while it's happening (because it hurts too much; because no-one will want to listen; because the people who know already know and don't need reminding, and the people who don't can't), and not after the fact (because, blessedly, the stark reality fades to intellectual overview).

There's three things for you.
kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
  • the Discworld ConCom (seriously these people are AMAZING - like I e-mailed them last night to be all "thank you for having Mx as a default title! you're amazing! it made my day! who do I talk to about getting Msc added?" and by 8am had a "that's a trivial fix, I'll do it when I get home from work :-)" response) ♥_♥
  • my useless lovely ex -- ♥ to you, Chris
  • my lovely, lovely housemates, who do not flap at me when I slide gracelessly from my washing-up-stool to the floor, but merely ask what I need, get it for me rapidly and without fuss, and then let me get on with it
  • [personal profile] randomling, who has tonight held my hand through getting to grips with git, such that I will shortly be submitting HAVE JUST SUBMITTED my first DW patch since we migrated (thank you SO MUCH, sweetie ♥)
  • making a difference to communities I'm involved with -- in this instance, identifying bugs and filing them and documenting things I've done where existing documentation doesn't cover questions I had (and got answered); and adding more stuff to Things Real Dreamwidth Programmers Do while I was at it; and [community profile] vaginapagina, of course, and all the stuff I've done with that today
  • using my words and having it go okay
  • all of my fantastic friends. seriously, you guys are so great, I cannot even
  • being in a position to be all DO YOU KNOW WHAT I WANT I WANT RIDICULOUSLY HOMOSEXUAL HIPSTER CLOTHES and, um, I am so sorry, I now own ridiculously homosexual hipster clothes i'm not sorry at all BUT SERIOUSLY THOUGH: starting to put together how I want to look, as part of who I want to be, and (1) not feeling bad or superficial or shallow for wanting to feel comfortable and at ease in my body and (2) being in a position, financially, to act on that

life. sometimes it's pretty good. I am much, much more okay than I was, and I'm not sure why, but there we go, I'm not knocking it. ♥ (Actually, I suspect some of it is that an awful lot was swilling around in my head and it desperately wanted out? And then I a poem and I felt better, so.)
kaberett: Lin Beifong, looking hopeful (lin-hope)
Clarity )

2am poetry; this is a first draft, or really i suppose the second, because it changed between page and screen, but -- here, it is what i bring, it is what i have to offer.
kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (swiss army gender)

Superimposed male/Mars, female/Venus and trans gender symbols, with Swiss army knife tools distributed in the extra space around the edges.

I can't even remember how I first came across it - on a trans-activist flyer, somewhere, probably, several years ago - and I've been using it as my default icon pretty much everywhere more-or-less ever since.

And I thought: yes yes yes. Because: I'm trans, but I twitch at the binarism, the male-or-female, the these-are-your-choices of the traditional gender symbols; I don't think of "male" and "female" as fixed endpoints encompassing the entire range of an immutable gender spectrum so much as culturally-legible reference points. Yes, this sounds wanky, but bear with me --

-- because part of what I love so much about this image is that, for me, it says all that, but it says it wryly, with raised eyebrows, in the full knowledge that it's taking the concept of gender and spinning abstract theories off it like so much spider silk -- and it grounds it: gotta get out of bed, get a hammer and a nail/learn how to use my hands/not just my head, I'll think myself into jail/now I know a refuge never grows/from a chin in a hand in a thoughtful pose/gotta tend the earth if you want a rose...

I always carry a penknife in my pocket. My wheelchair bag contains tyre levers, a mini bike pump, hex keys in imperial and metric, and a spare inner. I'm a blue-skies academic, but I'm also a geologist: I know where my hammer is, and I know how to use it. Gender isn't just an interesting thought experiment for me: I get my hands dirty, I make mistakes, I find bits I forgot about that are badly in need of props.

About ten months ago (wow, is that all?), [personal profile] enemyofperfect told me that the artist is Luka Delaney, via one of [personal profile] synecdochic's celebrate Monday posts. And then I was sad, because the way Luka captions this image is:

I am very offended that the existing symbol for transgenderism only includes three groups (Male, Female and Intersex). I feel that, for a group that has suffered as much oppression as the Transgender Rights Movement, they could be a LITTLE more inclusive of those of us who don't fit into the Trinary.

To that effect, I have designed a new model for the Transgenderism logo. As you can see, mine includes several new categories for gender identifications that have previously been ignored. I believe these additions will prove quite handy for the Movement in general.

-- but: I'm going to keep using it, because (flippantly) the author is dead, or more practically because: this icon is recognisable as me, now, and my meanings are layered on top of those Luka imparts to it. You can see through, in places, to be sure; but I am going to take this image that spoke to me, and I am going to make it part of myself. Turning mockery and cruelty into love is hard and unforgiving work, but that, at least, is nothing new.
kaberett: A green origami stegosaurus (origami stegosaurus)
(Still from [personal profile] finch's list of 21 prompts.)

I'm... not sure there is, really. I'm generally very open about most things, I think; even the one that springs to mind - that I'm not as cool as I pretend to be, that I'm more insecure than I present as, that I care more than I let on - is, I think, a mixture of, well, rampant impostor syndrome and self-delusion.

Because, well, I do talk about insecurity, though amusingly I wish I could do it better; I'm not pretending to be cool, I am authentically myself and that someone is Actually Pretty Kickass a lot of the time; and I think you know that I care -- about poetry, about music, about fannishness, about my people, about sharing the things I've learned the hard way so some of you can get there along a slightly easier path.

Perhaps what I actually mean is "I don't trust easily". I've talked recently about not really trusting myself, and that being the major block to meditation as a thing itself for me; and it's not that I don't think you're wonderful, don't think you're safe, don't want to trust you. I think it's this: that I am scared to ask for help, still, in ways that aren't structured; that I'm scared to show myself vulnerable and give people the responsibility of taking care of me. I have an absolute horror of making people feel obliged to look after me, and a lot of the time that keeps me from asking at all - but I can't find it very difficult to trust unreservedly without knowing that I'll be safe if I fall to pieces in front of you.

The realisation that I think my counsellor has been pushing me towards for the entire time she's known me? That I like helping people, and making sense of the world for them, because maybe if I do it enough I'll learn to/someone will do it for me. Which - is not the whole story, and is kind of twisted in its way (oh, but tiny child, let me hug you and love you and make you safe--), but is interesting to bring to bear on the matter of why and how I get so much out of this, and how I can get better at it, for others and myself.

-- so I've once again circled back around to trust, of myself and of others; this is something I'm going to have to spend some time working through this year. And it will be hard, and it will take time, but that's okay. I don't have to decipher myself all in one go.
kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
(Still from [personal profile] finch's list of 21 questions.)

Because I was choosing new names for myself.

Because German is my first language.

Because I sing.

Because "Kabarett" carries specific connotations of cabaret as a form of political satire.

Because goodness knows I'm plenty political.

Because I'm entirely too fond of anagrams and multilingual jokes.

Because it's perfect.

I've a post that will be going up on the LashBlog sometime soonish, about names and "reality". And it boils down to this: all of my names are chosen, and all of my names are real. kaberett is as much my name as the one on my prescription pre-payment certificate; my life online is as real as my life offline, and separating the two is an... interesting task, and I wish you luck with it.

The big tattoo I want to get is white ink: bricks (yes, as per The Wall) up my back, turning into jigsaw pieces at my sides and around onto my chest (which part will have to wait until post-surgery).

I'm building myself (back) up; I'm putting myself (back) together. I'm not ever going to be done, of course, but that's part of the joy of it.
kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
hello everyone I am sad and lonely and writing my lit review (actually that's untrue - I'm kind of stressed but basically feeling okay about it, and what I'm going to achieve, and I am neither especially sad nor especially lonely) BUT it would be nice to talk to you all! Hello! Feel free to have general conversations in comments, or if there are things you are WONDERING pls feel free to ask them. Anon comments will shortly be enabled if they aren't already. LET US GO FORTH.
kaberett: Toph making a rock angel (toph-rockangel)
specifically, there's a lot of "give me your current age so I don't ask you to time-travel", but actually... I'd like to time-travel, and it will be genuinely good for me to envisage two separate (positive!) scenarios. If you're interested in answers for past ages, then ask & I'll reply in comments.

I picked 25 fairly arbitrarily as a quarter century; I'm a little surprised - mostly pleasantly - by how close that is these days. :-)

I lived in:

Now: a ground-floor bedsit room in college accommodation, next to the Botanic Gardens, with huge south-facing sash bay windows. My room contains a sofa and a desk and a sink and a bed and a fair number of bookshelves and a coffee table covered in my tea collection, and I'm next to a kitchen that contains fridges and a freezer and horrible electric hobs and a nice-enough-but-not-lovely electric oven and a microwave. The front door's up 6 steps, and the shower's on the first floor; the back garden contains purple and white crocuses and narcissi.

At 25 (i): A two-bed flat in South Kensington, in London, shared with a friend, with level access (be it by lift or not). We've got a kitchen with gas hobs and an oven and a fridge and a freezer that we're not sharing with 8 other students, so it isn't full of gross months-out-of-date raw chicken; we've got a sofa that doesn't try to eat people, and a media set-up a bit more satisfactory than craning over people's shoulders to stare at laptop screens, so we can watch shows together without being uncomfortable. The tea collection's got somewhere sensible to live, and we've got a shelf in the living room dedicated to storing the shared perfume collection. The bathroom's big enough to store my shower stool in without getting in the way, and in my bedroom I've a double bed and a view of a tree. We go to the Science Museum Lates, and I spend lunchtimes in parks or visiting another gallery in the Natural History Museum.

At 25 (ii): I live in my home town, and here I can afford to share a house - rather than a flat - with friends. We're on a bus route or two, and I'm within easy pushing distance of my mum and the Various Other People I want to see regularly. The best bit? I get to do whatever I damn well like with the garden, within reason, so we've got herbs and bulbs in tubs, and a bay tree, and roses and wisteria up the back wall.

I drove:

Now: Nope: I'm officially Too Crippy To Drive, in ways that are highly unlikely to change, and positively-imagined futures don't erase that. This doesn't mean I'm upset about it, or the prospect of not being able to drive; it just means that my life's rather better when I'm not desperately hoping for the impossible or, at the least, improbable.

At 25: See above.

I was in a relationship with:

Now: Some Boys and a Girl and some extremely intense, close friendships built around poetry and music, and a few other ill-defined things, and it's lovely.

At 25: I've got no idea, but I'm looking forward to finding out. :-)

I feared:

Now: A depressive relapse. Not doing well enough this year to take up the PhD place I've been offered (which is not necessarily a sensible thing to fear; see scenario (ii), which is plausible and lovely, just different!). Everyone I love or care for dying. Being shouted at. Hurting people. Coming out. Moving somewhere more than a phonecall and fifteen minutes from my mum. London buses.

At 25 (i): Hurting people. Another depressive relapse. Breaking the mass spec. Hydrofluoric acid. Presenting at conferences. Disappointing Julie. Not doing enough activism. Being authentically myself in an academic setting.

At 25 (ii): Hurting people and another depressive relapse; they don't quite go without saying. Navigating meetings with Equalities ministers. Getting things hurtfully wrong. Not being able to help as much as I want to.

I worked at:

Now: My final year of a degree in Earth Sciences, specialising in volcanology. My student union's LGBT+ campaign. Lashings. VagPag. (Dreamwidth.)

At 25 (i): The second year of my PhD in isotope geochemistry, spending endless hours in the clean lab in the basement running columns, and even more time doing the three a.m. I'm-the-only-person-in-the-building dance around the mass spectrometer. My university's LGBT+ campaign. Lashings. The Big Sibling Project. Dreamwidth. VagPag.

At 25 (ii): The Big Sibling Project, including organising regular workshops. Lashings. National campaigning for trans* equality. Collecting a book of my essays for publication, self-pub or zine or maybe traditional publishing houses. Counselling - I'm beginning to be let loose on actual clients, which is daunting and exhilarating. Dreamwidth. Copy-editing, to bring in a bit extra. VagPag.

I wanted to be:

Now: Trustworthy. Safe. Welcoming. Brave.

At 25: Probably still the above, but I'll defer to my future self on that one. :-)
kaberett: Zuko kneeling, offering up his wrists (zuko-defeat)
1. I wrote a thing on my relationship with the NHS for the LashBlog. It's titled I love the welfare state. (-- and if you're interested, a DW feed exists! [syndicated profile] lashingsofgb_feed.)

2. I am currently wearing Glasgow on my clavicle and Marquis de Carabas on my wrists, and I reckon I smell amazing, and... that is helping. A lot. (See below.)

3. [personal profile] jeshyr made me a choker! ... well, they didn't make it for me personally, they made it for their Etsy store and I couldn't resist buying it. It's the minimalist rainbow and silver necklace, and it is a kind of jewelry I can be comfortable wearing, and that's kind of amazing. (See also: reclamation; broadening occupiable spaces.) Unforch I kind am kind of critically unimpressed by both my ability to take photos of myself with my cameraphone and my face this evening, but nonetheless have some photos of me wearing it. (That's not a request for compliments; I mention it more in the spirit of: we were joking, in IRC the other night, about how - even though I talk about counselling, even though I talk about the sads, even though I talk about things that I'm scared about - I can sometimes give the impression of being ~perfect~? And - I'm not, and for all I talk about liking my body and self-compassion and so on, I do think that it's important that I say: me too. And I think it's important that I record this so that my future self can look back and send me hugs. Thank you, future self - it does actually help. x)
Two photos. )

--- ahaha, thank you, Indigo Girls: during the time of which I speak/it was hard to turn the other cheek/to the blows of insecurity
kaberett: A sleeping koalasheep (Avatar: the Last Airbender), with the dreamwidth logo above. (dreamkoalasheep)
I have, as mentioned, acquired a perfume habit.

There's a lot of reasons for this: one is the looming deadline and exam term, though that's clearly not the whole story, because I've also acquired an Indigo Girls habit.

But... it's not, actually, just about procrastination. It's about a lot of things.

It's about giving myself another reason to get out of bed, and to wash, and to get dressed. It's about sensory reassurance: about carrying something with me, throughout the day, that is familiar and comforting and evocative; through which I can close my eyes and be on empty moors, or by a fire, or in an old and dusty library, or in the dappled shade of trees, or walking across fresh-tilled fields in autumn.

It's also - and this isn't as paradoxical as it might appear - about grounding myself in my body, and about claiming it as my own. I've talked before about dysphoria - about how confused I am by the existence of some parts of my body, and about how alien they feel - and I've been talking a lot, recently, about other people's projections onto my body: about assessments and assumptions, about rewriting my self to fit their worlds. (There is a poem about this; I've been thinking about it a lot, too.) Scent marking - I am here; I was here; this is mine - has a long and, uh, illustrious history among mammals; I don't think what I'm doing here is really much different. A familiar scent gives me something to come home to; and it tells other people that this is mine, that I actively claim it.

So it also feeds in to taking up space: reminding myself that it's okay to speak without first apologising; that it's permitted to square my shoulders and occupy centre stage, rather than folding in on myself in a corner lest I get in the way (and trodden underfoot; and so on). This does, obviously, have its drawbacks: I need to think very carefully about the fact that I'm allergic to many common scent compounds, and to remember that just because a scent is fine for me doesn't mean it will be for everyone I interact with. This goes both ways: it reminds me to be respectful and compassionate towards others and myself.

And it changes my self-perception, or is possible because my self-perception is changing: because one of the threads running through my life at the moment - thanks be to the Fates - is, yes, reclamation. Reclamation of my body. Reclamation of my gender. Reclamation of space: to inhabit, in both literal and metaphorical terms. I am thinking a lot about the spaces available to us in terms of masculinities, femininities and androgynities - there's an essay in the works on the topic - and perfumes seem to me to be an excellent field in which to start.

Some people have expressed surprise when I've mentioned perfume: but perfume's feminine, they say, floral, not very... you. Is it?

If the assumptions were true, the premise would hold. But... they're not.

One of the things that surprises me, over and over again, is that the houses I'm buying from don't, by and large, gender: yes, where they mention it it's binary, but they take great care to say "for men and women", rather than "this is a MANLY MAN MAN MAN MAN MALE scent" and "~this is delicate and floral for the laydeez~". And the BPAL forums, similarly: people might say they consider a scent masculine or feminine, but you'll have different people saying both, and "neutral", for every scent reviewed. In person and online, people are willing to experiment: "this wasn't good on me, but was delicious on my SO," or vice versa. In the world of perfume I'm occupying, oppositional sexism seems to be well and truly dead: gender categories aren't rigidly defined as opposites, and movement between them is not only permitted but encouraged.

This is the work I want to do - to make it possible for people to make those journeys. And, for the first time outside explicitly social justice-conscious spaces - for the first time, in a space that's dominated by cis het people - I've come across somewhere that does that, automatically, without thinking.

in the land outside this social scene/the streets are filled with the gender police, say Jesus and His Judgmental Father - and it lifts my heart to find another social scene where that is not true.

And that is why I have fallen so hard for this hobby.


kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)

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