kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
I enjoyed Ann Leckie's recent post on writing paid for by the word, and stylistic traits of pulp fiction slightly more generally.
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
  • At least some of my being terrified of writing for people other than myself (so - blog posts, technical writing, etc) is related to my dad's terrible thing of going "too slow!" at us whenever he asked us a question over dinner. Ergo I baulk and dig in my heels and refuse to write anything until the deadline's gone wooshing past because I'm too scared, and at least when it has gone wooshing past I am safe in the knowledge that I have disappointed people and can therefore can just get on with things (to some extent with a cocktail of sleep deprivation and adrenaline driving me forward). (Don't hesitate/it'll never push you forward/don't waste the time you've been given...) (There is a poem trying to happen about how I am living on time borrowed from my other selves.)
  • I look despairing when talking about TOG, and open and happy and secure when talking about P-the-no-longer-unethical or Awesome Ex-Housemate C. (And realised myself, somewhat wryly, that towards the end of our relationship I felt that I was without hope on the topic of Us; out the other side of that I find that I am not, in fact, as hopeless as might be good for me.)
  • Joking and current music fields aside, I'm pretty confident that I do love TOG in the knowledge of who and what he is, as opposed to an image of him disconnected from reality. I was very clear that I didn't expect that he would quit and that I loved him in that knowledge and belief; unfortunately nothing much has changed there except for developing a hard limit. Which makes not worrying about him difficult, alas, and means I have all these feelings that I need to work out what to do with.
  • I am all tangled up and sad & trying to carry other people's burdens all unasked at the moment; it's not good for me and I need to work out how to set them aside. Homework for the week was lots of breathing exercises (we know they work for me) and some focussing on the serenity prayer (at my own wry suggestion; counsellor said "Will that help?" and I replied "Well, it'll make me grin wryly, so yes, in a sense....").

Next session late Friday afternoon next week. Counsellor is once again attempting to charge me less money...
kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
not to write the selkie novel this November? (Yep, that snippet is about selkies - when listening to Still Catch The Tide on repeat, I found myself wondering what it would take for a selkie to choose to destroy her sealskin, and then things kind of... spiralled. I have only a very broad-brush outline and part of the point of trying to NaNo it would be to find out what the hell's going on! BUT it is still not necessarily a good idea for me to try to the thing.)
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
Clearly I am not terrible at writing in general; clearly, in general, I enjoy writing, hence the fic and the poetry and the blog essays. I'm even pretty comfortable sitting down and bashing out an explanation of my work for lay folk.

I think my key issue is probably audience: not knowing what knowledge it is reasonable to expect, and so on. I think this is something that will get easier with (1) practice and (2) better-defined writing exercises - the kind of detail required for a transfer report is apparently huge amounts of extraneous background that you would never include in a paper, and that's some of the stuff that trips me up.

Currently I am working on trying to practice doing at least a tiny amount of technical writing for a known target audience every day. It is hard and maybe my supervisor will hate it, but then again maybe she won't and I'll have a draft paper I can rework then submit?

I also seriously need to work on the fact that I genuinely have trauma around this (partly arising from the winter of my discontent; partly from various other things where I have Done It Wrong and been hideously stressed, as cumulative thingy) (wow I really need that formal PTSD diagnosis) - I go into panic reaction when I start trying to write, I have to come at it sideways - open the file up, do something else, remind myself what else I needed, do something else, open up the necessary adjuncts, do something else, etc - and this is a problem. And. I kept shying away from writing this post because I don't believe I really have trauma; I'm putting it up half-baked as it is because it hurts to look at straight on.

This is a step.
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
  • Despite not even a tiny bit being in MCU fandom, I look forward enormously to [personal profile] recessional's Winter Soldier shortfic snippets - they seriously make my day; they feel like a gift every time, as does Mia's art, as I've mentioned, and a whole bunch of things the rest of you do, that just feel like moments of grace. I was feeling slightly wistful about wanting to be able to provide that, those bubbles of joy, and then I realised that probably actually I do - probably some of you do react to my poetry the same way, and that is a wonder in itself.
  • I had an excellent conversation with @taliskimberley at WorldCon about craft vs inspiration wrt poetry/lyric, and about how the 50-poems-in-a-year project I have going on is about teaching myself to trust craft more.
  • I was at a poetry event a few months ago, about mental health and poetry, and one of the participants - I think one of the support acts? - made a derogatory comment about "confessional" poetry. It's been getting to me; I'm struggling with the fact that most of my poetry is very short, is intensely personal, and is about experiencing the world as myself in a very direct sense, rather than having... grand sweeping scope? And I'm mostly okay with that, but occasionally I let the thing rattle me (and, surprise, it was a middle-aged white dude being all "pfft who needs confessional poetry anyway it's just DULL"), and I'm trying to work out how to work with that.
  • On an entirely different topic, while drifting off to sleep the other night I had an obviously brilliant insight about why we're so drawn to narratives where a protagonist has a destiny to fulfill (into every generation, The Boy Who Lived, etc), and then I fell asleep before writing it down, and now I am managing to reconstruct it only piecemeal - something about having purpose, about external executive function, about finding a place in the world, about what it means to turn away from manifest destiny and why we seek it out, and so on. Perhaps I will be able to put it back together at Some Point; perhaps not.
  • One of my bits of brain-homework that I've been stuck on for a while is "It’s easy to ignore our talents when we measure them with the wrong yardstick. Not everyone is good at public speaking, computer programming, or heli-skiing—and not everyone should be. This diversity of talents is what makes the world so interesting. Ponder: Which of your own natural talents, preferences, and abilities have you been judging by a faulty yardstick?" Now I reckon I'm pretty good at knowing my capabilities and ways I want to improve them in; I don't think are many things I'm actually good at that I'm overlooking/ignoring. So, er, would you all mind saying if you think there's anything that meets this? Because I suspect finding it this difficult is a good reason for me to keep staring at it. *chinhand*
kaberett: a patch of sunlight on the carpet, shaped like a slightly wonky heart (light hearted)
Thank you so much for letting me play with your ideas. Mass spec time largely done now - data! - but if you still wanna leave something please by all means do and I'll try to get to it. <3



Jun. 17th, 2014 10:05 pm
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
I have a novel trying to happen: the broad strokes and some of the details are sketched out, but actual proper words are currently stalled. In part this is because of the three paragraphs that follow: they needed to happen, they are of direct relevance to the point at which the story begins, but I can't quite see how to make them fit; I suspect the actual words need to be scrapped and the ideas need to be rewritten, so - here you go. About escape and cruelty and mental illness.

Read more... )


Mar. 31st, 2014 10:15 pm
kaberett: Photo of a pile of old leather-bound books. (books)
Via Captain Awkward, an essay on essays; for myself, I wish to preserve:
In his Letters to a Young Poet, Rilke writes that “a work of art is good if it has sprung from necessity.”

This makes me (1) wish to read Letters to a Young Poet (ah, super, except what the fuck people still use iframes?!) and (2) have a lot of my ongoing feelings about the poetry I write because I can't but write it, versus the poetry I write as practice (and as performative), which in turn leads into (3) my current attempts to articulate the ways in which I learn in public performatively, and how much I admire people who pull it off without the self-consciousness I don't seem to be able to help but drag with me.
kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
In part, yes, so that I have a record for my own sake, because it is so easy to lose bits and pieces along the way.

But mostly, it is to demystify and to normalise, to say not only "counselling is a normal thing that people do", but also to say "and here's what it might look like".

How sessions work vary between clients, between counsellors, between relationships, over time - and I've been told I'm a fairly unusual client in terms of the amount of work I do in my own time, the extent to which I usually show up to sessions with a list of things to talk about. I do think this is important to mention - as in so much else, it's often kind of unhelpful to use me as a yardstick - but: here. Here is an account of what sorts of things I talk about, of how much I get covered. A lot of the time, I'm paying a counsellor to listen to me and say "oh sweetie" at appropriate moments; but I'm also paying for the pause, and the quiet "have you noticed...?"

The hour in which to reflect once a week is ritual, is religious. It feels to me like the beauty of cathedrals in the stillness of the day; has the flavour of the confessional I've never used. This ties in all to well with the idea of the day of rest: after a session I need time to decompress, space to be slow and quiet, and indeed sessions go better if I've had time to do similar immediately beforehand. I'm not sure whether I've talked about therapy-as-religion before, but it's definitely a thing that is there for me.

But mostly - yes, mostly, I swear that there's someone - somewhere - someone: I want to tell you that this is a thing people do, and more specifically than nameless faceless people that it is a thing I do, and find value in; I want to show you some of the ways it can work; and I want to tell you that if you have questions about this, I will answer them. I will make time. I will make time for you.
kaberett: Photo of a pile of old leather-bound books. (books)
19:53 < kaberett> happy to listen
19:54 < kaberett> I'm leaning more towards "biting" than "providing active
                  listening to help you work thing sout"
19:54 < kaberett> as a heads-up
19:54 < kaberett> because um
19:54 < kaberett> http://kaberett.dreamwidth.org/158899.html
19:54 < kaberett> ^ that is what anxiety feels like
19:54 < kaberett> I am still mostly coherent, but I am tensed and hunched and
                  my pulse is elevated and I am feeling choked and adrenaline-y
19:54  * Woggy nods
19:56 < Woggy> (That poem ;_;)
19:56 < kaberett> hah <3
19:56 < kaberett> combination of 3 or 4 nights' insomnia
19:57 < kaberett> (poems tend to come to me that way)
20:00 < Woggy> It is beauty and truth and love and feels given form and shape
               and on the paper and...yes.
20:00 < kaberett> there was a sonnet I tried writing months ago, about the body
20:00 < kaberett> and the body as poetry
20:00 < kaberett> comparing the cage of our ribs to the constraints of the
                  sonnet form
20:01 < kaberett> so that's where I pulled that particular metaphor from, and
                  maybe one day the sonnet will get written
20:01 < kaberett> (I am having Many Thoughts about legibility and the body as
                  story and skin as canvas)
20:01  * Woggy quiet nods
20:02 < Woggy> (For all i'm somewhat mrh about certain aspects of my body, the
               fact that it's _mine_, with the attendant history, is
               an...important physical anchor.
20:05 < kaberett> and I poem I was probably unconsciously drawing on while
                  writing that is this one:
20:05 < kaberett> the "radio's prayer" at the end is the Shipping Forecast,
                  which is a BBC Institution and generally regarded as very
20:06 < kaberett> and part of the reason that I associate it with my poem, in
                  spite of it not actually containing any real talk about
                  bodies, is because of her other work, and how much of it
                  _does_ contain bodies
20:06 < kaberett> the woman whose skin becomes a flawless map of her hometown,
                  for example
20:06 < kaberett> and also this one, which speaks about the emptiness and
20:06 < kaberett> WHICH IS BASICALLY I have a ramble about my poetic
                  influences, and feel free to not engage with any of it ;)
20:08 < kaberett> (and then it spins off into how much I feel that Words, Wide
                  Night is - or can be - the same kind of love-song to self
                  that is Derek Walcott's Love After Love...)

-- which -- self-referentially? recursively? -- brought back to mind the book I am currently reading, Ursula LeGuin's Changing Planes (content notes: SO RACIST seriously do not bother with it it took me about 15 pages to get to the point where the only reason I am finishing it up is completionism), in which there is discussed a plane/dimension/world in which language consists of around 5000 syllables that can be strung together, where the meaning of each syllable is determined almost entirely by its context -- the syllables present before and after, to great extent. The writing system is described as non-linear -- starting from a central syllable or idea and growing outwards in organic or artistic patterns, such that by the time the piece is completed the original central point may no longer be of particular importance. So -- this I thought of, of course, because of the discussion above about constellations and reinterpretation of meaning...
kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
[content note: breathing, difficulty with, etc.]

Read more... )
kaberett: a patch of sunlight on the carpet, shaped like a slightly wonky heart (light hearted)
When I have an idea that I want to communicate - something like tech competence/tech confidence, or the thing I'm currently working on about what I am, for the time being, referring to as integrative identity - there is a very particular way that I think about it, and it is this:

In the back of my mind is a cooker. They're gas hobs, of different ring sizes, and there's a lot of them. Somewhere off to the sides - rather less solid - there's a slab of a chopping board, and there is always the ghost of the scent of parsley.

Each Thing To Write gets its own stewpot, and occasionally I throw another ingredient in, and then I cook until done. (I can't tell you how long it will take, because I cook by listening and by smelling and by gut feel.) Occasionally I ladle some out into a different pot and tweak the seasoning and lumps, because tomato sauce for lasagna can also be the base for shepherd's pie.

If I'm in a hurry, I turn up the heat, or I transfer the whole to the pressure cooker, and I prod at it more frequently and anxiously.

I'll get anxious about serving you anything I consider imperfect if you are a guest. But if I trust you, and I love you, and we have worked together and dirtied our hands together and walked long, hard roads together -- then I will throw together leftovers in the fridge and make you the comfort food of my homeland, and we will be fed.

-- so this is my metaphor for how I approach things I care about getting right. (It's not historically been the case for poetry, but [personal profile] jjhunter is teaching me that with verse, too, it's allowed to sniff and to sample and to frown, and to reach for the salt.) This tells you, I think, an awful lot about how I feel about food, and about feeding people.

I wish I could cook for all of you. I hope that this is enough to keep you going until I can.
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: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
All of them! To quote myself, languishing in a drafts folder elsewhere:

kaberett is not my wallet name - the name in my passport, on my Prescription Pre-payment Certificate, on my various institutional ID cards - but it is no less real for that. I am the only person using "kaberett" as a name; search the Internet and you'll get me, and a bunch of German-speakers using non-standard spellings.

My wallet name isn't the name under which I perform; it's not the name under which I write; it's not the name under which I have formed countless close friendships; it's not the name under which I provide sex education and health advice; but: it is no less real for that. There are two other people with my wallet name living in my area (one has a private pilot's licence; one spends a lot of time on student theatre), and I have at least one relative who (superficially) shares it.

Both names are real. Both names are equally real.

Both names are chosen.

Neither is the name I was given at birth.

I chose "kaberett" before I had settled on "Alex"; I decided on "Alex" because "kaberett" felt right.

Both names are patchwork: of who I am; of who I was; of who I hope to be. They started out too large: I echoed inside them and looked over my shoulder, unable to tell who was calling me. And then: I grew into my names, settled them on my shoulders like a coat, and I got out my scissors and my needles and my thread and I took them in where they were still too large; added in another stripe - another layer of nuance - where they constricted.

And I have worked for these names - for these identities - and they are consistent, solid, whole. I refuse to do either of them a disservice by relegating them to the status of "pseudonym" or "fake"; I refuse to countenance the question "Ah, but what is your real name?" - as if I could, should, have only one; as if my name should not be context-dependent; as if the name chosen for me by people who didn't yet know me is more real than my names.

We are fond of these distinctions, though: between "real life" and "online", as though they can be meaningfully separated; as though through the mediation of technology our actions become fantasy, our selves fantastical. Yes, online we can fly - but the communities we build are no less valid for that.

So then, predictably: we go the other way: with "meatspace", for example, a graphic and unpleasant image. And, yes, for some of us - and I do here include myself - our bodies make unpleasant roommates; and yet - the mind is not purer than the flesh. Embodiment neither corrupts nor tempts me.

And so, in the end, to neutrality: my real name is what I say it is. My real life is what I say it is.

I am here, and I am real - and so are you. So are we all.
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: Toph making a rock angel (toph-rockangel)
  • knock a few more things off the to-write list
  • THAT RIDICULOUS FANFIC that wants to be a queerfeminist novel when it grows up
  • turn Alternity into ebooks
  • get the to-read list in the e-reader back below 50 (I KEEP BUYING BOOKS this is the problem) [as of July, I've got it from "over 100" to "back below 75"...] [in July I then acquired another 25, whoops, but as of mid-August it is down to 54 & I am taking a break to read some dead-tree books on loan from CK] Achieved, as of September 7th! (Actually I have 50 pages of novella left, but shhh.)
  • Edinburghhhhh
  • go and infest [personal profile] noldo for a couple of weeks
  • head down to Cornwall for a week or two to visit grandparental
  • complete the commission (started the commission, as of Sept 6th!)
  • sort out coherent feedback to the people waiting on feedback on their writing from me (JO-from-DW/LJ, JO-from-FB, R, possibly the other R)
  • my various half-started patches, many of which are effort-minor so REALLY won't take long once I've got to grips with git (I've acquired more, of course!)
  • feeds documentation & user-facing frontend for DW
  • maybe languages-in-profiles for DW, if I'm feeling REALLY enthusiastic
  • essays/fic for people from Lashings fundraiser

What else should I be putting on this list, my lovelies?


Apr. 18th, 2013 07:25 pm
kaberett: Toph making a rock angel (toph-rockangel)
the world looks bruised - between the light and the clouds and the honeyed bricks and slate along this street, and the still-bare branches - and it is ever so slightly menacing, and utterly delicious.
kaberett: Photo of a pile of old leather-bound books. (books)
Some of these are repeated from the last such list, but this one is a bit more organised/coherent... as ever, holler if there's anything you'd particularly like me to bump to the top of the list. :-)

- Mai walks into a bar and meets June (gift, to be ~500 words)
- Kuei and Bosco meet Song (gift, to be ~500 words)
- the one about all the ladies set up schools (which I have started, and is more Mai and Zuko interaction)
- the Proceedings of Ba Sing Se university (seriously, I have about 5-6 papers outlined for this one, I just need to write them) ([personal profile] woggy has requested this as a perk for fundraising, as have a couple of other people; so include a survey of swamp fauna)
- Katara & Suki gossip about Mai
- the misc drabbles
- the dreadful A:tLA/Molesworth crossover noldo & I have been threatening each other with for about a year now
- the Spike/Xander monstrosity
- the actual *backstory* to the elaborate Buffyverse AU in which lots of dreadful slash is set

- tech competence vs tech confidence (to pitch to geekfeminism; the rest are for the LashBlog) drafted, sent to betas this is going to go up wooyeah :D
- disablity vs impairment: chronic pain is fundamentally shit/"mixed model"
- what's in a name? - chosen names, "IRL" as a busted concept when used in opposition to "online", etc live
- the machinery of grace is always simple/how Ani DiFranco helped me learn to love mobility aids
- buying your first wheelchair: a guide/retrospective
- what "queer" looks like taking into account non-binary gender (plus revisiting my previously-stated thoughts on "non-binary" as a term)
- something, not yet formulated, about being me & being a scientist - poss. collaborate with someone I know in the artsy side of academia (if you think I might be talking about you, I probably am, I just haven't asked you yet ;) [thank you, past self, for not putting down anything less cryptic! but having thought about it for all of thirty seconds, I think I've worked out what it was going to be, ergo I'm going to leave this just as cryptic for even-further-future-self. HI. WE LIKE YOU, HONEST. -april2013] aaaand in August 2013 this is finally scheduled to be posted on the LashBlog :-)
- talking dirty "versus" enthusiastic, informed consent
- medical advocacy reworked for VP
- social negotiation as informed by disability and care needs
- dinnertime geology started, which will do for me.
- what being genderqueer is like from the inside, for [personal profile] alexseanchai

- A5 flyer on kitchen ingredients repurposed for sex & sexual health
- 15-minute presentation on STIs for a workshop about women who have sex with women, for LGBT+ and welfare reps across the university
- ... my lit review [2300 words down, 2700 to go...]
- ... catch-up on the lectures I've missed so far this term [partially achieved!]
- leaflets for UCS on being queer & trans palmed off on my successor
- that one paper, maybe?
kaberett: a dalek stands at the foot of a flight of stairs, thinking "fuck." (dalek)
[Original post, 24th Jan, LashBlog.]

I'm choosing to repost this content here because of the terrifying news that it's been recommended that tramadol be upgraded to a Class C drug. I spent five years being routinely disbelieved by everyone about the amount of pain I was in, because I could go from "normal" to "can't speak in complete sentences" in a matter of minutes, and the only outward sign that anything had changed would be... not being able to speak in complete sentences. So I was making it up, right?

Well... no. And like I said elsewhere earlier today, in the UK it seems to be much easier to get hold of a prescription for neat codeine if you're able to rock up to your GP and say "So, I've borrowed some spares from a friend; I've been taking [dosage] and have noticed [xyz] improvements in function and quality of life. Could I have a prescription of my own?" Than if, say, you just show up and say "I've been a responsible citizen but maybe this will help?" I'm currently going through a similar phase with temazepam: I've taken 30mg this calendar year (and therefore ever), in three doses, and it's been enormously helpful. When I asked a GP for it, without disclosing I'd already tried taking it, I was told that it was awfully addictive, and that there were concerns about drug interactions. Sooner or later I'll get around to being pushier about it - and, yes, I choose that word advisedly.

Fundamentally, I consider anything that makes access to adequate pain relief harder a bad thing. Criminalising responsible drug-sharing makes access to adequate pain relief harder, and is a massive issue in terms of common behaviours among people with chronic pain that I've had this discussion with. This is not a good plan, and I'd really rather it didn't happen in my country.

The pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. )


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

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