juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
I encountered a discussion on [tumblr.com profile] why-animals-do-the-thing about bi/pan/trans/ace/aro animals, or rather, about the non-existence of cis/straight animals, and how gender identity and sexual orientation work in the animal world, and the relationship between biology, gendered pronouns, and anthropomorphization, and nothing has ever better articulated my gender identity.

I've discussed my pronoun use before with a tl;dr of "female pronouns are convenient and acceptable; non-gendered pronouns are equally accurate: because I'm a cat and cats don't have genders, and using these words isn't the same as embracing their connotations"—which has always been about as close as I can come to a gender identity. I present as cis female due to my body shape/the clothing that flatters in & in which I feel comfortable, but don't identify anywhere on any human gender spectrum. My spay/neuter status as a desexed cat has always been the defining factor of my identity—and that's not even a measurable real thing; it's complicated, it has no particular overlap with human gender identities or agender/genderqueer experiences, and more to do with the way gender (doesn't) work in animals, particularly desexed domestic animals.

I'm quoting that post here, for my own record keeping and future reference, with all credit to anon submitter and the parent blog. I just want to make sure I never lose it. It's such a good post! The personal connections I make to therianthropy/my gender are a smaller, secondary conversation, but it was elucidating to see these things laid out and they helped explain some of me to me.

Read more... )
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
I made an unusually long visit to Corvallis, because I hadn't seen Devon for a while and because I was making a trip with my parents to go to Ashland and see some Shakespeare (!! !). I usually travel by train, but Devon and I drove back up today because he had to pick up a friend from the local airport.

This is the sort of thing that only I could do:

As we approached the airport, Devon called his friend to let him know we were running 20mins late on account of traffic. I was unsure if this was traffic-traffic or "traffic"-traffic, as we had stopped for dinner along the way and I legitimately did not remember any traffic congestion. It occurred to me that if it were white lie-traffic, I was complicit in a white lie! so I queried Devon. Devon recounted for me the three (3) episodes of stop and go traffic that resulted from some broken-down cars, which occurred approximately when I was talking in depth about 1) the abuse of Malvolio and its end-game resolution as appeared in this production of Twelfth Night,* 2) the way the B-plot was weighted against the A-plot in Twelfth Night, the ways they were knit together, the depth given to the B-plot, 3) the overlap of an actor in Twelfth Night and Hamlet, and as natural segue, 4) which was the more successful production of the two (spoiler: Twelfth Night), especially in conceit, but 5) that this was one of my very favorite Hamlets.**

Which makes these things the take-away:

My memory is so spotty that I can entirely forget not one, not two, but three separate repetitions of the same event.

I am so engrossed in media criticism that I can carry on a one-sided outpouring of Shakespeare Thoughts that lasts through at least 20-mins-late worth of traffic.

My compulsive honesty is so intense and deeply ingrained that even being adjacent to the possibility of a small lie will cause me anxiety and require immediate clarification/resolution.

* As a type-A fellow antisocial uptight often-socially-corrected personality, Malvolio is one of my favorite Shakespeare characters and I am incredibly sensitive to how productions depict his abuse and its aftermath—whether it's played for fun, whether the audience is complicit, whether his "I'll be revenged on the whole pack of you" does or doesn't diffuse the anxiety of the realization that things have, indeed, gone too far. This one was handled so well! so explicit, so cruel, so unforgiven; he internalizes his enforced socialization, his "smile," but reclaims it, develops it into a tool to use against those that hurt him. It threatens to diffuse and then refuses to, so pointedly. It was all I ever wanted.

** I feel that too much Hamlet discussion and production is given to issues of is he mad or faking (& is he flippant or bereaved); in this production he was all, he was driven to an extremity of emotion and he was numb, impassioned but indecisive, feigning and sincere, sarcastic and authentic. He was complete. That is the Hamlet which makes the play endure, who engages our ambivalence and writes it vast yet sympathetic, and we see ourselves in him, and we fear him, and fear ourselves
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
In Sense8, a trans woman undergoes forced hospitalization and is threatened with a lobotomy (for reasons unrelated to but not independent of her gender identity); in Sarah Waters's Fingersmith, one Victorian woman is committed to an asylum under false pretenses while the other is held captive. If you asked, I'd probably say that my biggest fears, other than the crippling agoraphobia which is at this point more a personality trait than a fear, are spiders, automatonophobia/life where life shouldn't be, and existential horror. It's surprising how often those things come up, in daily life and in video games and in the night sky. But let me tell you, I am fucking terrified of the idea of forced hospitalization, medical procedures, and institutionalization.

Terrified, almost, on the level of agoraphobia. My other fears have that push/pull of horror, and revulsion that can be manipulated into intrigue. But, while I think there's room to creatively explore and even idealize mental illness/institutionalization, specifically in/of women (see: my thoughts on Emilie Autumn's Fight Like a Girl), there's no potential in me for a pleasant thrill. I suppose it's too real. I've never been hospitalized, but it's always been at the fringe of my experience—offhand comments by authority figures, horror stories from peers; half the reason I'm afraid to seek any help is the fear of the form that help may take. On some level, I've always believed I deserved it—that I am sufficiently incapacitated that I should not be able to self-govern. What makes it worse is that these narratives are often about women who are not mentally ill: it's terrifying that the social standing innate to gender and perceived neurotypicality are used to control and punish women, but, even worse, these women don't even deserve it—and part of their punishment is being alongside actual crazies, who do. These women at least have the narrative to advocate for them; whether or not it ends well, we as consumers know that their situation is unfair. What advocate would I have?

(I think this is why Emilie Autumn's Fight Like a Girl doesn't bother me as much—nor, to some extent, American Horror Story: Asylum: the PoV is not solely "sane person punished by being viewed as crazy"; both have mentally ill characters that the narrative still acknowledges are undeserving victims of the system.)

It's not something that will happen, and on society's scale of crazies mine are pretty acceptable—it's probably not something that could happen. And even if it did, there's every possibility that I have a skewed perspective built on historical evidence and horror stories, and that some forms of forced/in-patient medial aid would help me. And it doesn't matter. The idea makes me so anxious and miserable that a bit of logical counterpoint means nothing.

As fate would have it, Sense8 and Fingersmith are the primary show I'm watching/book I'm reading right now. They're both quite good! But consuming them at the same time meant that last night when trying to wind down to sleep I couldn't even give up one piece of media for another that would be less anxiety-provoking. "I know!" I thought. "I'll grab the next Circle of Magic book, because middle-grade wish fulfillment about found families and personal ability will certainly sooth my anxiety." But my elibrary hold still hasn't come in, and I couldn't *cough* "find" an epub on the entire damn internet. But by some minor miracle, even though it was 3a, Devon was awake and he read to me the two last chapters of a Wizard of Oz book, and then I read two chapters of a Narnia book, and then I slept.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
I just finished rereading this! I frequently start lists of media-mentioned-in books I love, and now that I'm making those lists on OneNote via my phone, it's remarkably easier to complete, edit, and publish them! Bless. So:

Media and pop culture mentioned in The Cipher by Kathe Koja
(In order of appearance, except where references reoccur; including just about all media, but probably not exhaustive.)

From the epigraph: “Mukade”, Shikatsube no Magao (poem); Rick Lieder (author)
Wise Blood, Flannery O'Conner (novel); later, “The Enduring Chill”, Flannery O'Conner (short story)
Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll (mentioned multiple times, including: the Rabbit Hole, the White Queen)
Artists: Paul Klee, Francis Bacon, Hieronymus Bosch; The Garden of Earthly Delights, Hieronymus Bosch (mentioned in specific later)
The Twilight Zone (television)
Weekly World News (tabloid)
Typhoid Mary
Tabu (perfume) (some aspects of this list are weirdly exhaustive)
Films: Streetgirls II, Dead Giveaway, Dogs Gone Wild (cursory searching and common sense indicate these are fictional); later, also fictional: Booby Prizes, Mommy’s Little Massacre
Faces of Death, dir. Conan LeCilaire (film)
Wild Kingdom (television)
Art Now (magazine)
Artists: Caldwell (can’t pin down who this is), Richard deVore (Malcom’s mask is compared to these)
“Borscht Belt (Jewish comedy) parody of Hamlet (Shakespeare) doing humble”
Pied Piper
The New Testament: Peter on the water; the Old Testament: Shadrach
Romper Room (television)
Author: Ben Hecht; in the final epigraph: “Love is a hole in the heart.”
Vulcan (Roman mythology)
(Obliquely) Inferno, Dante Alighieri
Phantom of the Opera(’s face and mask)
“Saints and idiots, angels and children.” (“It’s a quote, you dipshit.” From where? I don’t know! Enlighten me.)

I started recording media mentioned in books because I'm a dork because, as I may have said about 40 times, using narratives to create or explain your narrative is my modus operandi and thus my favorite thing to see in narratives. (Narrative-ception.) There's a danger of creating self-referential and -congratulatory recursive narratives that require googling rather than reading because without immediate knowledge of the referenced material you're in the dark. That's occasionally lampshaded, particularly in books where the references are fictional and their excess is intentional (the navelgazing of House of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski; the aesthetic and plotty footnotes of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke).

But, more often, narratives about narratives do one or both of these things:

The references create a palate. I've described The Cipher's atmosphere and aesthetic as "thriftstore decadence" and the characters as "gritty dirty poor horror-kids," but what describes it better is the book's references: Alice's rabbithole as metaphor for the Funhole, the grotesque art prints cut from art magazines, Flannery O'Conner's heartless black humor and the parody-titled sensationalist films; the combination of sleazy and Weird is never meant to be pleasant, but it has as strong an atmosphere as the most stylized, idealized fiction.


The narrative not only extends itself to contain the referenced material, but builds a whole greater than the sum of the references. Reader, I adore this: texts played against each other, narratives that address the reader/writer/character meta-relationship. This was what made Fire and Hemlock, Dianna Wynne Jones, so exceptional. Polly spends most of the novel internalizing, creating herself around Tom Lynn, but he also challenges her when she merely regurgitates the influences he throws her way—Tom Lynn's creation of Polly extends so far that he demands that she create herself, a contradiction they must both confront in the denouement. Fire and Hemlock borrows structures and dynamics that Polly is unaware of (Four Quartets, T.S. Eliot; Cupid and Psyche); it's about the dozens of books that she reads and internalizes; it's about the story that she turns around and writes herself, and about the necessity and limitation of the inspiration she's taken from what she's read. And it's so good.

Most examples—often the best examples—do all of these things. In Catherynne M. Valente's engaging The Labyrinth, some references are in Latin; the fantastic The Game of Kings, Dorothy Dunnett, made me read it with google in one hand and book in the other. Both are exhausting, both are worthwhile. Caitlín R. Kiernan is (obviously) my favorite, because in this way her brain works like mine: her stories are a web of narrative influence, mentioned by name and date or casually misquoted; the way I process wolves/werewolves/black dogs is how her protagonists process their experiences, from their ancient failed romances to their trespasses into the bizarre: these external narratives have become their internal metaphors, necessary tools for interpreting the world. The Red Tree and The Drowning Girl in particular are stories about telling stories, by necessity, imperfectly.

(And all of that is who I am, and what I do.)
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
A Book of Tongues is basically an ode to the fact that loving someone is no guarantee that you will do right by them.

Dee bought the rest of the Hexslinger novels (which somehow I'd forgotten would even exist, despite following their writing process?? this is why you can't trust me with series: I so begrudge the extended demand of my time/resources/investment that I will actually wish away the knowledge of sequels), so I'm rereading from the start.

I collect interpersonal relationships—they're my main draw to all media, and the relationships here hit my buttons: they're messy, crazy intimate, unconventional, unforgiving; it reads like what it is, original fic that functions as fanfic, settled firm at character- and id-level, for all that the Aztec-apocalypse plot may blindside you. My love of interpersonal relationships runs an uneven line between the gratifying and the meaningful—I'm personally invested in the concept of unusual (by which I mean, apparently bizarre or unhealthy) intimacy in particular, but most fictional interpersonal relationships fascinate me rather than speak to me.

This particular one, however, does.

I have a few formative mantras, like my compulsive honesty; I know exactly where they come from, and at this point perhaps they shouldn't define me so completely, but I can't shake them because—well, I suppose because they're necessary parts of how I understand myself and explain my history. "Love is not enough" is one of those mantras. Someone can love you, or claim to love you; they can intend to do what's best for you, or claim to; they can still cause you inadvertent and even willful harm.

Unlike most weird intimacies, that particular dynamic isn't something I fetishize—although it works a lovely tandem, here, with everything which is fetishistic, so that the tension between want/don't want is never allowed to fade. But, unexpectedly, I value it. This is the sort of book I'd expect to have feels about, sure, but not more. Wild West with horror and magic and apocalypses and slashfic! it's shouldn't be heartfelt meaningful to me—and yet. It's such an important mantra. It explains huge swaths of my adolescence. There's a joyless, fierce vindication in seeing it in a book.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
I've been thinking about my last (locked) post, and they've been thoughts like these:

Perhaps why it matters so much to me is that I hate to lie. I hate all lies, even little white lies, even pleasantries. I'm the sort of person to give an honest answer to a casual "how are you?", but I know I'm not alone in that. I'm also the sort that hates to give unmeant compliment or thanks, even for a well-intended gift; I have tricks to avoid the troublesome topic and say something true to say, instead.

Part of this may be an introvert's distaste for polite, small conversation, but at it root it's that I've lied too much already. Because of how I was raised, because of the culture I live in, because of the college I was attending when my mental health issues came on in full force, I grew up to believe that I couldn't say the truth about myself. Who I was—the underlying truth of my identity, the nature of my daily life—was socially unacceptable. If I didn't have anything nice to say I shouldn't say anything at all; the truth made other people uncomfortable, and giving voice to bad things made them real. "How are you?" was supposed to be "fine," but I rarely was, and that wasn't some silly nitpick—it silenced me, and made me feel isolated, unacceptable, profane, inappropriate, unwanted.

I've written before about the process of coming out of that—of the bus ride were I told my seat mate about my medication, and how it began a difficult and necessary trend towards honesty. I've talked about why it matters, about how the silence and shame and stigma around mental health issues can be as painful as the issues themselves. So now I try hard to be honest, honest about who I am and how I feel, but while I'm at it: fuck all the social niceties, the things I'm supposed to say. It's partially the principle of the thing, but it's also that it doesn't matter that these lies exists because we don't want to hurt one another—so help me, they do. Not talking about how fucking miserable I was at Whitman may have kept my fellow students comfortable, but it hasn't yet stopped hurting me. Telling someone I'm happy about something they've done, about a role they've played, tells them that they've done right and silences my experience as the recipient of things done wrong.

I don't need to go to the other extreme, to make every opportunity a chance to tell My Life Story of Suffering and Pain, to turn one holiday into a family confrontation. And I don't, and that's a good thing. (Although it does bother me that there is so much I still don't say. Not lying is still not the same as telling the truth. I'm too good at deferring, and I still feel so much shame about what I feel and do. It's hard to kick, you know? I've learned a lot of honesty and I'm learning more, but that's because there's a need to.) But I don't say things unless I mean them, even if—especially if—someone else feels I ought. That makes me selfish and ungrateful: so be it. It's about being selfish, about being ungrateful, about learning to respect myself.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Day One: Ten things you want to say to ten different people right now.
Day Two: Nine things about yourself.

Day Three: Eight ways to win your heart.

Insofar l as I know myself: consider this list startlingly accurate, for better or worse.

1. Be unique. I find nothing more attractive than this. Don't take pains to be painfully special, and don't take "unique" to mean "incompatible with the rest of society," but have qualities which are distinctly yours—and own them. I love unique noses and extraordinary eyes, ingenious hair colors and body mods, strong styles and unusual methods of self-presentation; I love personality quirks and strong opinions, overused words and strange habits, remarkable skills and new ways of looking at the world; I love geeks and artists and the double-jointed, but I love little things too: moles and writing styles, small details that are you, distinctly you, uniquely you. I love people who are not ashamed of what sets them apart. I love to find what sets a person apart, to fetishize it, idolize it, and let it expand me.

2. Have nice hair. This probably doesn't mean what you think it means. I don't care about highlights and designer cuts, and I hate hair products. But I use hair to recognize people, and so hair is sort of My Thing. I like unique hair, I like touchable hair, I like beautiful hair. I like hair. I want to like yours.

3. Be honest. I find unexpected honesty and intimacy very seductive. Open up, lay yourself bare; say things not permitted by social borders and niceties, say things which are difficult to say. Share your opinions, expose your emotions. Make compliments and confessions. Online communication lends well into this, because we all feel a little safer behind a computer screen—but this is about more than anonymous catharsis. Surprise me with who you are.

4. Be weak, and changing, and strong. I don't believe in perfection or miracle improvement; I find self-knowledge and self-actualization powerful. Navel-gaze, discover your flaws, and be honest about who you are because vulnerability and weakness can be beautiful in their own right. Find ways to change and better yourself, and inspire me with them. Develop yourself, that you are always better to know, that I'm always discovering something new in you.

5. Expose me to something new, something to fall in love with. Maybe it's the art you make. Maybe it's the art you consume. I associate people with the beauty they bring to my life, so give me something to make me better, to make my days better, to make me think of you. (And always, always, give me books.)

6. Be passionate. Be the sort of passionate that we label geeky. Geek out with me. I desire both intelligent, fierce discussion and foolish fansquee, sometimes in the same conversation. What we love says so much about us: I want to dig into your brain and discover your whats and whys. I want you to encourage the failed academic hiding within me. I want overenthusiastic gushing to lighten the mood and create the sort of camaraderie only found in shared passion.

7. Take initiative and make allowances. I'm introverted and insecure and a little brain-crazy. If you reach out and make sure I don't retreat into my hermit cave, you'll assure that our relationship won't disappear to nothing—and you'll win my gratitude, and let me put my energy into building a deep relationship rather than maintaining its simple existence. Put up with my moodiness and eccentricities, and better yet appreciate them as a part of my total package. Don't bite back affection or compliments; say you love. Nothing is more reassuring or beloved than explicit and unabashed affection. Say you care, say you love. Don't worry: I say it too.

8. Take care of me. This the least universal of these rules, because not everyone should or can and not every relationship (no matter how intimate) warrants it. But I am, at heart, just another spoiled lap cat. I'm as self-sufficient as a kitten; I want gushy food and delicious treats, and a scritch behind the ear. Give me gifts and a soft bed, call me by a special nickname, spoil me, keep me safe and sound. Know that sometimes I'll squirm away or turn up my nose at the best offerings, know that in some relationships being babied is never welcome—but under the right circumstances, nothing makes me fonder.

Day Four: Seven things that cross your mind a lot.
Day Five: Six things you wish you’d never done.
Day Six: Five people who mean a lot (in no order whatsoever)
Day Seven: Four turn offs.
Day Eight: Three turn ons.
Day Nine: Two images that describe your life right now, and why.
Day Ten: One confession.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
Day One: Ten things you want to say to ten different people right now.

Day Two: Nine things about yourself.

It was hard to come up with nine things which were worth saying but hadn't been said a billion times before. Whether I managed to find that balance, I don't know—but they'll do. This has sat around waiting long enough.

1. I present as female, and am fairly content to be identified as female, but the truth is that I don't have a strong gender identity. I relate to some female social roles, and given my body type tend to conform to some aspects of female self-presentation. I relate to many masculine sex roles and some social roles. More often, and especially where my therianthropy is concerned, I relate to a null-gender, more neuter than gender-neutral. I find myself somewhere between both and neither, with twinges of gender-related dysphoria in both my physical body and my gender presentation; I wish I could toss out the entire idea of gender, but don't need to do that or to redefine how I present and am identified. In other words: this is just enough of a thing to bug me, but not enough to hold a candle to the more significant gender issues that others face, so I try not to fuss about it overmuch.

2. I read an average of one page per minute. This proves to be a reliable and universal estimate, as long as we're not talking verse or textbooks; it's also damn useful, because I can use pages read as an approximate timer.

3. I dislike unfinished stories. I rarely read or watch anything that isn't finished—I can make allowances for TV shows (single episodes of crime dramas which don't have strong overarching plots, or finished seasons of long-running series), but I won't read manga that's ongoing and will rarely start books with sequels still to come (and I may not even read books in a finished series). In part this is pragmatism: I don't like getting to the end which isn't an end, waiting for the real end to come isn't my strong point, and I like to consume the media that has my attention now rather than the one that caught my attention with the first installment two years ago. In part, it's fear: like everyone else that began InuYasha a decade ago, I know that a promising start can turn into a painfully long and mediocre story; worse, some strong starts never reach their ends. And in part, I just think it's lazy and selfish to string along the audience for one more season, one more sequel, another year of waiting, another bundle of cash spent, on something which may not turn out to be good after all. I can and do bend this rule, some of my favorite pieces of media actually break it, but for the most part: I dislike unfinished stories.

4. After a lifelong habit, I stopped biting my nails in a single moment. Devon told me that saliva weakens nails (a casual search backs this up), and that was sufficiently strong and logical reason to stop, which apparently was all I needed.

5. I have little connection to my given name. Jessica just doesn't feel like me. It doesn't feel like it's not, me, either; it is null. I have a stronger connection to my screen name because I chose it and have used it for so long, but I wouldn't pick it to replace my given name. I have some connection to my middle name (Erin), because of its relation to my Celtic heritage and red hair, but I wouldn't chose to go by it either. I've considered going by Jesse, which as my maternal grandfather's first name is the source of my given name, but I know most people would hear it as Jessie, which is too cutesy and familiar for me. Sometimes I sign myself as J, which is a happy compromise but obviously not ideal. None of this bothers me overmuch, but it makes me feel a little unconnected, unknown, freefloating.

6. I've always had a strange relationship with my singing voice. While my speaking voice is high, my singing voice is fairly low (for reference, I tend to find Maynard James Keenan's range a good fit). I've long been shy about my voice and unwilling to sing in front of others, and I tend to have difficulty finding notes when singing without accompaniment. But when singing along to music, I'm adept at harmonizing or dropping an octave to stay in my range, and I find the act of singing satisfying in a physical, almost sensual way. Falling in love with Florence + The Machine has taught me to belt it out, and for better or worse—these days I love to.

7. I don't visualize. I mention this upon occasion, because it greatly impacts how I take in and interpret stimuli—but only on occasion, so it's not a bad fact to throw into a list of lesser known things about me. Rather than images, I think in words, often in full sentences. I've explained this in more detail in this comment. I also have what is probably minor dyscalculia, which gives me some trouble with numbers and distances but mostly means that I constantly reverse digits. I have a bit of synthesia-esque cross-wiring, and so read color into scent and feeling and sensation into letters and words. I have minor facial blindness, and primarily use hair to recognize people (even Devon somewhat a stranger after a haircut). I remember specific, random events rather than general trends or long passages of time. Oh and also I think I'm a cat, and I'm diagnosed with depression, anxiety NOS, and agoraphobia. (Now I've certainly grown redundant.) I do not think that I'm a special snowflake and that the eccentricities of my brain are particularly remarkable or extreme; I do find them interesting, and think that knowing and respecting them aids and helps explain me.

8. I have problems reading sideways or upside-down. You'd think, given how intimate I am with words, that these things would be easy, but even on an angle I have problems. This means that I have to sit upright to read subtitles, which sadly makes the bulk of my preferred visual media a little more inaccessible.

9. I run a more-or-less porn blog on Tumblr. It's probably not the sort of images you're thinking, no matter how well you know me—which is why I don't link to or mention it. You probably don't want to know what is there. I wish it were more popular, but I find a lot of joy in this silly little side project—in ways that are meaningful enough to justify in-depth explanation, perhaps, some day.

Day Three: Eight ways to win your heart.
Day Four: Seven things that cross your mind a lot.
Day Five: Six things you wish you’d never done.
Day Six: Five people who mean a lot (in no order whatsoever)
Day Seven: Four turn offs.
Day Eight: Three turn ons.
Day Nine: Two images that describe your life right now, and why.
Day Ten: One confession.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
I'm editing something so I can post it, trying to make the language a little less like ... ah, well.

Trying to cut out a few of the two dozen semicolons (and taking out a few of the dozen colons, too). Trying to cut some of the parallel structure, because I overuse it to the point of repetition. Being especially brutal with the parallel structure when it uses colons and semicolons, because the combination is almost recursively idiosyncratic. Pity that's not like a double negative, canceling out itself; instead the piece just ends up all the more complex. Murdering my darlings, which for me is often the em dash. Trimming down a bit of length, tightening and tautening—but it's things just like this which get me, you see: I love wordplay, a touch of consonance, pairs and triplicates of the similar-but-unique; I revel in and depend on excessive punctuation to draw boarders 'round the edges of my long sentences. This is how I think and talk, and so it is how I write.

In other words: I am editing a piece of my writing so that it is a little less like me.

That sounds inherently negative (preserve and value self-identity! of course), but it's not. My love of punctuation really is excessive. My penchant for repetition really does slow pacing. (Some of my moderately old fanfic pains me to read, now, because it's become so obvious that if I'd trimmed it just a bit, it would have improved quite a lot.) These changes are changes for the better.

But each time I excise an em dash or rearrange or redefine a sentence to avoid a semicolon, a little part of me—the part which knows "kill your darlings" means also "they are your darlings"—cringes. This piece needs this level of editing, because it's somewhat strange in its own right and doesn't need to be overly complicated by my stylistic eccentricity, but as much as I know the third colon-separated, semicolon-divided list needs to go I end up staring at it for a bit first, thinking, "ah, but it is such a pretty sentence—and it matches the others so well!"

Still, it has to go.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Back when I was living in my apartment in Portland, down in a little one-bedroom basement place, I rarely saw the sun. I used to hide from it. Not just outdoors, bright-light sun—but everything down to the rays through the window. Only one small window stood uncovered by blinds; it was in the same room as my computer and during the day, I used to advert my eyes from that window, I used to pretend that there was no sun shining through. Seeing the sun cycles would be to admit to the passage of time and to the existence of a real world outside the confines of that small apartment—and at the end of my stay there, things like time and existence and reality were more than I was able to handle.

When I moved into the townhouse, windows were everywhere. My bedroom was on the second floor, white-carpeted and open and empty but for my spacious bed. Two windows shone sunlight into that room. I'd hang a sheet over the windows because bright light has always bothered my eyes, but I learned, living there, to lay in that diffused glow, curled on burnt orange sheets, reading sometimes, writing a little (although I did most of that downstairs), watching a lot of movies on my laptop—and napping through the days. I was recovering, then, from the low point I had hit before. I was not healthy, but those golden sunlight afternoons taught me that, for me, perhaps there was a sort of health in just curling up with a book or for a nap—and aiming to nothing more.

These days, the room I share with Devon is cornered on two sides by huge windows. One is densely blinded; one has blinds and I sometimes cover it with a sheet, and sometimes can't be bothered. A large flowering bush stands before that latter window, and it filters out most of the sharper light. I go days, weeks, at a time without thinking much on the sunlight that comes through. Sometimes when I leave the house, the brilliance of the light blinds and confuses me. But sometimes I long for the sun in the way that seems most strange for someone who rarely goes outside, who is afraid of direct light, whose eyes dislike even an overhead bulb. I don't long for the sun as my sister does: to have it on her face, warm and present. I long for its glow: for reflections in burnt orange, for gentle light and barely perceptible warmth, for the golden ambiance that only sunrays can bring.

I am healthier now than I have been for years—healthy as one can hope to be when one "cures" ills not by fighting them, but by giving into them. I have cut myself off from the real world so that things like time, existence, reality are not present dangers—so that they are optional, and therefore sometimes even desirable. Sun cycles rarely scare me, now. Nor need I try to recover (with the same desperation, anyway) from the time when they did. But the sun is still an unexpectedly blessed thing. I'm a night-beast, a pale- and thin-skinned being, suited for shade and dark; I still fear and hate direct sunlight. But that golden light, that ambient glow, holds me curled catlike: napping, maybe; amusing myself, perhaps; comfortable, warmed, calmed. I miss it in the winter, although I welcome Oregon's thick wet weather. I treasure it in the summer, although I hate heat. It is my pocket of safety, golden orange, recumbent, content.

I don't want to sleep tonight less because I'm wakeful (I am that, but only by fighting my tiredness), less because I'm anxious, less for what I have or feel—than for what I don't. I want to nap in the gentle sunlight, rather than sleeping in the blueblack of late night. I want that golden comfort calm. I know it's silly to stay up to sleep with the sun, I know that I could well regret it (I do lose a lot of time that way), but I get like this sometimes. I remember the townhouse, I remember that cream and orange bedroom, I remember when I realized there was a hope—if I chose to lay back and rest through the day, rather than trying to make something of it, I could, perhaps, be happy.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
I'm having one of those nights where I just don't want to go to bed. Not because I know I can't sleep (although that's always a possibility), not because I'm restless, but simply because I'm not in want of rest. I am, instead, in want of a diversion—but nothing appeals. I have a film I could start, but that would take too long. I have two films I could finish, but neither intrigue. I'm reading two books, but one is frustrating me and the other is slowly paced and doesn't appeal. I could start a new book and probably should, but none in my piles is calling out. I could probably lose myself in a few hours of Sims, but that isn't likely to seduce me into sleep.

So instead I'm poking around the internet, wondering what in a perfect world I would chose to entertain myself, and the answer is obvious because I've been thinking about this for the last couple days, as I dither over reading material while playing and writing Ghost and Aaron.

You see, I have a fetish for intimate relationships. Not any, not all—but unusually intimate relationships.

(I don't have to warn you, do I, that all text and links below may contain explicit content?)

In Adair's The Dreamers (my review) and the subsequent film, a pair of twins and their friend huddle together in a den of isolation and intimacy, breaking the boundaries of sexual orientation and incest while they build a boundary against the real world. In the film Threesome, a mixup leads to a co-ed threesome of college roommates whose type two love triangle creates an uneasy balance of unusual intimacy and repressed desire (ha—TV Tropes lists it as an example of this triangle type). In Brite's Lost Souls (my review), Nothing and his father Zillah curl together in their own den of iniquity where the incestuous aspect of their relationship only serves to draw them closer. In the manga Angel Sanctuary, the protagonist and his sister fight their attraction to one another—until they give into it, leave home, and share a brief and blissful period of love (before rocks fall and everyone dies).

Incest isn't necessary, although it's such an obvious, universal taboo that when that barrier is broken, the relationship is unusually intimate by default. But any relationship with an unusual level of intimacy scratches my itch. In the manga Boy's Next Door (my review; this manga is also by Kaori Yuki, who wrote Angel Sanctuary), a young prostitute meets a serial killer of young boys—and against good sense and all odds, falls in love with him. It goes further than that, still. Intimacy that appears unhealthy or inappropriate satisfies me: in the manga pair Kawaii Hito - Pure and Kawaii Hito - Cute, older men have relationships with high school/college-aged boys—and in Pure, the younger is so shy and vulnerable that he becomes entirely dependent upon his lover. A Perfect Circle's Pet croons, "Pay no mind what other voices say / They don't care about you, like I do / Safe from pain, and truth, and choice, and other poison devils / See, they don't give a fuck about you, like I do." Intimacy forged and expressed in unusual or extreme ways also satisfies me. In the BL game Togainu no Chi, Kau is scarred and pierced, his eyes and vocal cords have been destroyed, and he walks on all fours all because it pleases his owner, Arbitro. This is also what spawns and feeds my love of guro, where pain, mutilation, and even death can be signs of intimacy and love. But even the simplest love story can fit—in Ai no Kotodama (in volume 2, a prequel), best friends discover that their unusually close friendship may open doors to a physical relationship. And it's even the attraction of most slash: not the intrigue of gay sex (although that's great too!), but an unexpectedly intimate relationship read into heteronormative, plantonic canon.

Attraction which invades platonic relationships, which defies sexual orientation, which breaks the barriers of incest, which defies social mores, which finds unusual expression, which appears unhealthy, imbalanced, or extreme—this gets me, deep down; it tugs at my heart, my guts; it captures my interest and imagination. In part it's the guilty pleasure and intrigue of taboo, but it's also the sense that what defies the normal order must do so for good reason: this is a passion that runs so deep that it cannot be constrained by law or reason. In other words, I love unusual intimacy because it is unusual—and because it is intimate. I have a lot of fetishes, but this one may top the pile.

This is why Ghost and Aaron are cousins, why they were friends as close as brothers, why Aaron doesn't identify as gay (or even bisexual), why one steals and one dreams, why Aaron insults Ghost's mother and Ghost uses Aaron for sex, why this entire storybit exists. They are that way because the live that way, in their shitty house in my silly game while I sit back and let them have control. But they are still children of my consciousness and so they fulfill my desire for this sort of slightly discomforting, always meaningful, intimacy.

And that's the sort of story that I want, right now. The last one I stumbled upon—entirely by accident—was the film Threesome, which may not be great (the critical response certainly wasn't), but pleased me because it appealed so well to this little fetish of mine. But that was months ago, and I haven't run in to anything similar sense—save for Ghost and Aaron, of course, but I want something to consume for a bit, rather than something to make. So I appeal to you—anyone who's manage to read this far and may understand what I mean. Do you have in mind a book, a film, a story of any sort which might fulfill this desire? I would love to hear about it.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
This post discusses my choice not to eat meat. Veg*nism can be a contentious topic, so if you'll take my personal choice as judgement of your own or a reason to argue, please do skip this post and avoid commenting!

I had a bite of meet about two hours ago. It was a meat burrito which I thought was a bean burrito—thought it was long enough to chew and swallow, although to my credit it's been 12 years since I've tasted red meat and nine since I've eaten any meat at all, so it's not a favor I can pretend to recognize. In fact, the whole incident was foreign to my tongue, my body. It still doesn't make sense.

I'm a vegetarian because I believe that there is, in this current day, no moral justification for me to eat meat—I have the resources to thrive without it, and don't believe "because it tastes good" justifies an animal death, the animal abuse that goes into most meat production, or the associated health and ecological issues. It's a personal choice and I don't pretend to make it for anyone else, in part because that's not my choice to make and in part because few good things result from going down that road. I used to be more of an activist and also more careful about avoiding contamination (like animal fats, or food that's come into contact with meat); these days, in large part, being a vegetarian is simply who I am: something I do by instinct more than conscious thought, a past decision that's created current habit. I just don't eat meat.

Well I'm sure as fuck thinking about the consciousness of that habit today, because I feel like I vomiting. The response is probably more psychological than physiological—one small mouthful is probably not enough to make me sick, even after so long without eating meat, although a few more bites might be; the disturbance is in my brain rather than my stomach. To Devon I described myself as "distressed"—I'm not anxious because this isn't anticipatory, the act is finished and done; I am unsettled and stressed in memory of it.

As a vegetarian out of longtime habit, I've more than once wondered why I chose not to eat meat—why that is who I am, and if there is still sufficient motivation behind the habit—if it is, in short, still a choice. Because memories of salmon still tempt me, and because it's too easy to get trapped in, and limited by, the presumptions of habit.

When habit creates identity, however, it has a certain aspect of validity. I've sat here for a few minutes now trying to come up with some vast and meaningful conclusion, the lesson this has taught me as if it were some great thing—but at heart it's simple: meat disgusts and sickens me*. I chose not to eat it for moral reasons and I still stand by those, but the choice has also become as innate a part of my personality as any other aspect could be—and even if it's something I sometimes take for granted, it is not an aspect that is weak or fleeting, but is rather so strong that betraying it makes me ill.

Because my upset tummy isn't improving.

Having reaffirmed that habit as a choice, I think I shall try to forget this whole episode. There's a certain comfort in the reassurance but the whole thing is still so unsettling that I would prefer just to be done with it.

* Not a valid explanation for every belief and behavior, but when it involves a dietary choice rather than something like social prejudice, I think it's fine.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
[livejournal.com profile] kaimetso asked for "a deep and thorough explanation on your thoughts and feelings of alcohol/drugs, use, and people," so all of you get to hear, or at least see it blip up on your flist—because I don't mind at all if you ignore it. This is a personal, private thing and I know almost everyone has a different view—many held just as strongly. But I was asked, and this is a good "about me" to have out there, so I answer.

I don't use any sort of alcohol or drugs. I've had no more than two sips of alcohol in my entire life (one at a religious event, one before knowing the contents of the drink I was served); I've never smoked and never taken any sort of recreational drug. It's taken me years—and a lot of pain—to consider taking medication, and I limit my use to the bare minimum (rarely more than once a month). Obviously this is a important issue for me, but I don't often talk about it for the same reason I don't talk about my vegetarianism: I hold strong views and it's a personal choice and issue; it's not my business to change anyone else's life, so it's best I keep my views to myself and avoid, rather than speak against, the behaviors of which I don't approve.

I'm a depressive—which is my primarily and most rational reason for avoiding anything that could possibly be mind-altering. If I used drugs or alcohol it wouldn't be social or intermittent: I would use them in order to change my mental state, and I would want to continue taking them in order to maintain my changed mental state. And that right there is a recipe for addiction.

I know I would do this because I have. Any time I take medication, I have this urge—which was most obvious (and most recent) when I took Tramadol (see posts: one, two, three). Just one pill is enough to give me cravings for more, and if I have access to medication I will begin to take it daily rather than when I most need it. This became enough of a problem when I was living on my own in Portland that I stopped keeping Aleve and Benadryl in the house. For years I used self-injury to change my mental state—relying on the euphoria of cutting to break the numbness and disassociation caused by my depression, using the endorphins and lightheadedness of starvation to escape my usual mental state for days at a time.

The simple truth is, the world inside my head isn't particularly enjoyable. I have a low emotional baseline, I'm prone to moodswings and have experienced long periods of severe depression, and I have daily anxiety. I also have chronic pain, which is relevant here because of the link between pain and mood disorders and because many of the medications I'm exposed to treat pain. I'm at a good place right now, but these problems persist to lesser degrees and always have the chance to reoccur in their worst forms. Artificially changing my mental state is twice-dangerous: I enjoy the improved mental state enough to wish to preserve it, and when I return to my usual mental state it's so painful in comparison that I'm even more anxious to return cutting, or taking pills, or going another three days without food—whatever will change my mental state again. I know that this problem and cycle exists with OTC meds and self-injury. I assume that it would be similar for alcohol and recreational drugs, based on simple common sense and on the behavior I've seen in others. I could be wrong. Perhaps I could indulge socially, for the taste, or in moderation. But I don't trust myself enough to risk addiction in order to find out.

This is a personal, intense decision on my part, and it creates some unavoidable bias against the alcohol and drug use of others. I think it's stupid and dangerous, a bias no easier to shake for the fact that I've seen people use mind-altering substances for precisely all the reasons I've just discussed—and because most of the people I've seen drinking or using drugs are college-aged kids who get drunk, blare loud music, make out with strangers, and then vomit in the toilet. That creates rather negative associations.

Furthermore I don't trust people under the effect of a mind-altering substances. Inhibitions exist for a reason: they keep tongues civil and pants on; they make a person responsible for and in control of their own behavior. I require that the people around me have self control and that they remain themselves. It takes a lot for me to trust someone; if that person's mindset changes (which is what drugs and alcohol do), they are no longer the individual I trusted with my emotional and physical welfare. I feel like I've been thrust into a situation with a stranger, and that scares me. This issue begins close to home: when my mother drinks she becomes louder and confrontational, changing her from the woman I know and chose to be around, turning her into someone who's partially a stranger and partially reminiscent of how she acts when she's at her most angry and upset.

And I simply don't like to be in the presence of alcohol. I've decided not to use it precisely because part of me really wants to—and I don't want to put that part next to a bottle of booze.

Despite all of this I do have a certain degree of tolerance for drug and alcohol use, precisely because it's none of my damned business what choices others make. I know that my views are private, extreme, and sensitive. I know there are people who use mind-altering substances without health risk, addiction, or major behavioral change. But however extreme my views, they are my own—I've arrived at them after careful thought, and they exist for my own benefit. This is my lifestyle. I stand by it. What anyone else does with their body is their own business, but I prefer to avoid drugs and alcohol whenever possible and I don't condone using them, which is why it boggles me that anyone thinks I would ever sit down with them and an alcoholic beverage. I'm near as like to sit down with a stranger and a bottle of poison, because in my mind they are close cousins—and I would like to avoid them both.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
I have lately been enraptured with these poetry readings by Sylvia Plath (starting with my favorite, Lady Lazarus):

Daddy. )

Or, links: Lady Lazarus (full text) and Daddy (full text).

I love these poems because they are beautiful, of course, but there is more to it than that.

I stumbled upon "Lady Lazarus" two days ago after not reading it for years and was surprised to discover I still have it nearly memorized. When and why I learned it by heart I can't remember, but it is firmer, deeper embedded there now for having heard—dozens of times, sometimes on repeat—Plath read it. "Daddy" is incredible too, better also for having heard it—it's an auditory poem, thick with rhyme and halfway singsong as more than benefits its content. But where "Daddy" for me is a work of art and a window into Plath, "Lady Lazarus" peeks also into myself.

My suicidal ideation is purely that, just thought, just the idea of it, and it's usually fairly tame to boot, more a thought of "if I could die" rather than "how I could die." But for much of my life I've gone the way of a phoenix: living, glowing, burning, falling to ash, and rebirthing. I used to fight through my depression, fight the society that didn't suit me, until it all dragged me down in a burst of pain. Then I rose to try again—and fail again, eventually. The phoenix isn't reborn, small spring-fresh, wiser each time, able to live longer, burn slower; the burning is inevitable, and for me it came ever-faster, ever more painful. Which is why these last few years I've settled for something more passive, content not to try so hard and so not risk such spectacular failure. But the tradeoff is that the less combative life is less colorful: I do less and achieve less, so while I'm safer and happier living like this I do miss how I used to live and I idolize the pain that came with it as a badge of honor. In a way I mourn who I used to be—it hurt like hell, but it felt real.

My heart—it really used to go.

And other, pithy, bastardized quotes. "Lady Lazarus" is a part of me—the part of me that used to be.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
I was reminded today that I haven't spoken on self-harm in a long time. (Well that comes out of the blue, yes?) I haven't mentioned the topic because for a while now, it hasn't been an active issue in my life. But let me back up for a moment, because for a while now I've been meaning to summarize my history with self-harm.

Cut for potentially triggering but inexplicit discussions of self-harm, borderline eating disorders, and mental illness. )

This is part personal history and part public service announcement. It's been surprisingly unemotional to write, mostly because I am at peace with all of it now. But this topic will always be a part of my heart and as such, I am always willing to discuss it. Seriously. Poke me out of the blue to talk about self-injury concerns or to ask what the experience was like for me, and I will be happy to talk about it all. Or comment here, even! But if I can put one thing out there for everyone to read it is this: See self-injury for what it is. It's not shameful, it's not over-dramatic, it's not even the biggest problem. It is a valid, real symptom which indicates a valid, real issue somewhere behind it. It is pain, indicating pain.

And that's all. It's not something for angsty teens, not something that's only meaningful if it leaves a certain number of scars, not something that should be closeted away or met with despair. It is a painful symptom. It needs the same treatment that you'd give a stabbing pain in your knee: an investigation to try to determine its source.

Treating that underlying source, now that's a different kettle of fish and a different (no doubt far-off) post. And because self-injury is addictive, it can be a troublesome habit to kick and may never truly disappear. Be safe, be careful, and remember that confronting with the root cause is always the biggest, most effective step you can take.

If you are, were, or may be a self-harmer, I send you my undying love. Whether we're strangers or close friends, we are siblings of the heart in this matter and so I send mine to you. It you know a self-harmer, I send my support and gratitude. It can be a scary thing to see, but your willingness to accept it for precisely what it is can make a world of difference.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
I've been dealing with chronic lower back pain for the last nine years. The problems cropped up in my teens, and I have every reason (personal and professional opinion) to believe that they will continue for the rest of my life. My back pain originates from severe lordosis, which is commonly referred to as sway back: an exaggerated anterior curvature of the lower back. My lordorsis is so severe that, in my natural uncorrected posture, my lower back forms nearly a 90 degree angle. (See a picture of it here—I'm nude, but nothing sensitive is visible.) My lodorsis is complicated by 5 degree scoliosis (side-to-side curvature of the spine), one flat foot, and other minor body imbalances. I have been diagnosed (including x-rays) and have undergone a few months of physical therapy (including transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) to prevent and treat my back pain. I have been dealing with it on my own for many years.

My chronic condition is a dull throbbing, which I've largely learned to ignore and only causes a mild discomfort. However, if my back is aggravated by any number of causes, often as simple as sitting or standing, the baseline pain level climbs and the throbbing is punctuated by sharper pain spikes and infrequent, stabbing spasms. My back is chronically tense and tight—to the point that it hurts to stretch, and I have low sensitivity in the muscles and partial numbness in the skin of my lower back.

Which is all to say: I am not a medical professional. My back pain is an individual condition with unique causes. However, I have a fair bit of experience for dealing with chronic lower back pain, and would like to offer some advice for preventing and treating it. Not all of this advice is correct or useful for everyone, but hopefully it can help someone. If I'm in any way unclear, feel free to ask questions! Back problems are painful and frustrating, and I would love to help others deal with theirs.

Prevention and Treatment: some suggestions. Long, but hopefully useful! )

It's possible that there are other methods for coping with lower back problems, and you are welcome to discuss them in the comments. Questions and clarifications are also welcome. However, I'll mention one last time: Pain is a private, personal matter. Each suffer's pain has different traits, causes, and symptoms; each sufferer has different methods of coping and curing. The information and advice here is the product of my personal struggle with back pain, and I hope that it's useful to someone. Pain is emotional, frustrating, self-perpetuating—and always difficult. I wish the best of luck who those who are wrestling with this beast.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
I had the most interesting experience today, conflating text and scent and sensation. I'm reading Poppy Z. Brite's Lost Souls (and, for all that it is almost entirely gratuitous, rather enjoying it—full review here). The book about vampires in all their hedonistic glory: Nothing is a teenage boy who is actually the son of a vampire. In the early pages of the book he runs away from home and falls in with three vampires—two who gorge themselves on vast qualities of cheap chocolate and candy, one who is his unwitting father. And after some days of drugs and drinking and sex they pass him an unusual bottle, grubby with red fingerprints:
Nothing took the bottle, uncapped it, lifted it to his mouth, and sipped. There was some kind of liquor—vodka and gin, something oily and stinging—but mingled with that was another taste, dark and sweet and a little decayed. Familiar. He brought the bottle down, blinked, then lifted it again and drank deep. Molochai, Twig, and Zillah watched him. All three sat very still, seeming to hold their breath. Nothing stopped drinking, licked his lips, and smiled.

"I don't think drinking blood is so weird," he said.

...The air in the van was thick, tense; something seemed to be passing between them, something Nothing could not read. Then Zillah laid his hand over Nothing's and pushed the bottle to Nothing's lips again.

They passed it around, drinking until the insides of their mouths were stained rotten red. Nothing no longer felt sick. He was giddy with joy...
Lost Souls, Poppy Z. Brite (139-140)

Meanwhile, there is a BPAL scent which is part of the Shoujo Beat Limited Edition line, designed to match the vivid art and characterization of the vampires found in manga (and anime):
Eternal desire, unquenchable passion: red musk, cocoa absolute, Nepalese amber, red sandalwood, aged patchouli, nicotiana, and blood wine.

On me, Midnight Kiss is rich and blood red, undercut by dark cocoa but sickly sugar sweet. The last time I wore it (just a few days ago), the scent was so thick and red and sweet that I had a distinct physiological reaction: the back of my throat felt tight and sticky and sore, like I had gorged myself to sickness on bright-dyed hard candy. Lost Souls reminds me of Midnight Kiss—both are vivid and bloody, super-saturated, thick and rich. It reminded me so much, in fact, that when I got to the blood drinking passage above my throat closed up, dry and thick, that same candy-gorged feeling triggered by the scent. It was a bit unpleasant, physically uncomfortable, but certainly fascinating. From text, to scent, to sensation—the book had a rare effect on me. I've never experienced anything quite like it.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
In trying to find a way to write this which was neither staged nor made me sound like a crazyperson, it became quite through and long. I could divide it into reasonably sized posts, but I might as well keep these first thoughts all in one place. By all rights, it is a bit early on to be writing anything at all, but these thoughts have been so noisy in my head that I needed to write them down. In writing them, I've also made sense of them—and so it benefits me, which was the point. Perhaps it may interest others as well.

I am locking this post, however, because the topics are still messy and quite personal, and while I am figuring them out—and coming to terms with the label—I want it to stay at least a bit private.

Therianthropy (therian: beast; anthropos: man) is the belief that one has an intrinsic, personal, internal connection to an animal or animals. Therians believe that for whatever reason (reincarnation, energy resonance, atypical neurology) that part of their core being/soul/identity is animal. Unlike a totem, which is external, the animal identity is an internal part of the self. Unlike "fursona", the animal identity (theriotype/phenotype) is not created but rather discovered, an aspect that a therian is "born with."

And I start that way because after months of viewing, in glimpses from the outside, I've finally taken the plunge and joined a pair of therian communities. I discovered the concept and groups by the blogger/pagan author [livejournal.com profile] lupabitch. I read [livejournal.com profile] therianthropy every six months or so, avidly tracking back through memories and taking in information. The concept certainly interested me, but I was somehow never brave enough to self-identify with it until now. But recent time spent with the boy, in Second Life, and in thought has lead me to actively, rather than passively, approaching the concept. But it scares me—because it is atypical, because it's hard to express, because I feel like it groups me in with some crazy things. For for all that, it feels right—and has felt right for some time.

I identify as a domestic housecat. (To say it simply.)

Why I identify as a cat, and what therianthropy means to me. )

Why I'm hesitant to call myself therian, and why I still will. )

Where I will go from here. )

And so, certainly not in short, those are my first thoughts in this whole thing—as identifying as a therian, by name. I don't know how actively I'll post on it, of if I'll think that these careful, serious thoughts are lengthy foolishness in another week. I'm more than happy to talk about it, though, if anyone wants to—questions, concerns, clarification, the distanced option of someone not currently consumed by the subject. And beyond that, I should cut myself short before I tack on another thousand words, and end this here.

Partial crosspost on [livejournal.com profile] therianthoughts.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
Ignoring the fact that I haven't done a personal post in so long that basic information is irrelevant; ignoring the fact also that the introduction is horribly worded (and I'm too lazy to rewrite it): the basic information meme, stolen from [livejournal.com profile] azhure.

You know how sometimes people on your friend's list post about stuff going on in their life, and all of a sudden you think "Wait a minute? since when were they working THERE? since when were they dating HIM/HER? since when?" And then you wonder how you could have missed all that seemingly pretty standard information, but somehow you feel too ashamed to ask for clarification because it seems like info you *should* already know? It happens to all of us sometimes.

Please copy mine below, erase my answers putting yours in their place then post it in your journal! Please elaborate on the questions that would benefit from elaboration! One-word answers seldom help anyone out.

1. First Name: Jessica. I answer to Juushika/Juu as I've been using the name online for eight years; unless you're a very close friend I don't answer to Jess.

2. Age: 22.

3. Location: (Willamette Valley) Oregon, United States.

4. Occupation: Unemployed.

5. Partner? Devon, who I often refer to as the boy.

6. Kids: Only the fuzzy kind. I'm childfree.

7. Brothers/Sisters: One sister, Allie, who is three years my junior and in many ways my polar opposite. The boy's youngest brother lives with us most of the time. We're not close, but we have a good relationship.

8. Pets: Three guinea pigs, Dink, Kuzco, and Alfie. They have their own introduction page as well as numerous tagged entries throughout my journal.

9. List the 3-5 biggest things going on in your life:
1. My mental health problems. I've been diagnosed with dysthymia , major depression, anxiety (unspecified), and agoraphobia, and have a history of self harming behavior. My major depression lead me to change schools and eventually drop out. My agoraphobia keeps me largely housebound. Currently I'm in a safe and low-stress living arrangement, so—for the first time in a long time—I'm largely happy and unstressed. However, I'm still prone to rapid declines.
2. Books. Reading, writing book reviews, and potentially writing my own novel—books occupy the steady majority of my time and energy. I read pretty widely (always non-fiction, preferring general lit, YA lit, classics, non-high fantasy, and good sci-fi; I often latch on to new subgenres and read them obsessively), I generally borrow instead of buy, and I read between two and six books a week. I'm a naturally critical reader, and so I write a lot of book reviews. I love it when those reviews lead to discussion, so feel free to comment! I'm also always adding to my to-read list, and recommendations are much appreciated.
3. My boyfriend. His name is Devon, I usually refer to him as the boy. We've been dating for five years and are just now living together for the first time. He is remarkably loving and patient, and puts up with my particular brand of crazy as if it were no difficulty at all. I love him very much.
4. Gaming/anime&manga/BPAL. I play RPGs, open world games, and Second Life. I loves shoujo/josei, sci-fi, and apocalyptic anime/manga, among others. I collect BPAL perfumes when I have the money and appreciate them very much. I do reviews of all of the above when mood and content strikes me.

10) Where and for what did you go to school for? Whitman College for two years before transferring to Reed College. I attended for about one year, broken by a leave of absence, before dropping out due to mental health reasons. I was an English major concentrating on Shakespeare, but I have no degree.

11) Parents? Mother and father, healthy, still married, and living about five minutes away. I have an on-and-off rocky relationship—largely related to my mental health issues—which is just beginning to improve.

12) Who are some of your closest friends? The boy is currently the only "close" friend I have, insofar as he's my best friend and our relationship exists offline. Most of my social networking occurs through the internet. I'm closer to some people than others, but they know who they are. ^_^ And the rest I'm always happy to get to know better. Regardless, these folk rarely come up on my LJ.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
My thoughts feel somewhere else today, and pulling them into the present renders them fragmented and unfocused. That leaves me with little patience for big things, but little repetitive task like editing pictures I can manage. So I finally have hair spam. I'm tempted to put it in a locked post because it feels strange to plaster my boyshirt-and-pj clad body all over the internet, but I'll flatter myself and say I've looked worse in photos.

Partially crossposted to [livejournal.com profile] longhair.

Five more pictures and some hair talk. )


juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)

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