One of the things about Sunshine that's amazing is the community there. Like Mrs. Bialosky sticking up for Sunshine, and helping keep the neighborhood flowerbeds planted, and sharing the right kind of gossip. And Mel comforting her when needed and giving people rides on his motorbike. And Sunshine making food for everyone (obviously :P ).
And Paulie taking an early morning shift every once in a while so others can sleep in.
And Charlie... And Jesse.... And Miss Yolande...
And none of these people are the same. Sunshine is a baker, and a monster of sorts, and a tree. Mrs. Bialosky is a Were (and an old lady). Mel repairs motorcycles and paints them. And Paulie is as young and enthusiastic as Mrs. Bialosky is old and measured.
And I think the same thing applies in the real world. Communities can form with all kinds of people, provided they can (and actually want to - which is important) work together. And the "traditional" kind of community actually has grandmothers and young boys. People who are deeply devoted to carrying on mysteries and ceremonies (religious or otherwise) and people who have doubts about everything and call themselves "godless". And some people who just like the festivals because they're fun and pleasant and connect with them on that level. (And some of those three things can be the same person.) They have farmers, and medicine makers, and stonemasons, and teachers, and people who don't necessarily do anything we'd see as "work" but are still part of the whole thing.
Community doesn't have to be about what kind of person you are. Community is about holding eachother up. Keeping eachother going. About whether we enjoy eachother's company sometimes, and find ways to deal with it when we frustrate or hurt eachother. And making sure people don't get their boundaries walked over.
(And when that isn't working - that can be a valid reason to walk away from a community. There has to be that ability.)
I think sometimes the ideas of "what kind of person you are" and "Community" get mixed up and melded together. An I think that it's been causing some frictions recently. LIke for instance, kids who are (mis)diagnosed with something else and/or questioning whether they're autistic or not asking if they are "allowed" to be in "the autistic community". Which, I would say - can you communicate with a group of autistic people? Does doing so help make your life a better place? (Perhaps through increasing your understanding of what's going on with you.) Can you give something back? It doesn't have to be anything much. Then congratulations, you are part of AN autistic community. Diagnosis shouldn't have to figure in (IMHO). Not all autistic people are part of "autistic communities" either.
And things can get especially tangled in LGBT+/Queer communities. Because there's all sorts of history tangled up there. And also, sometimes the same word can do *triple* duty, describing not only "what kind of person you are" (in matters of attraction or gender) but also culture and community. So a Lesbian who discovers she's into guys sometimes but still wears the same gender-fuck-y clothing, and cares about the same people, and likes to go to Lesbian Bars has a dilemma on her hands.
And this also, I think feeds into the "culture wars" that go on. I mean, if in your worldview, everyone in the same community has to be the "same kind of person" and trans people start coming into your community, or some lesbians have had male partners, and you don't want to transition or do it with guys then you have 3 options. Either give in and do the stuff you don't like, Loose your community and be out in the cold because the definition has changed. Or tell those "awful people" to stop doing all the "awful, gross stuff" that you hate, so there won't be any pressure on you to do it either.
Of course, all those options are awful. There's got to be other choices because all those ones are bogus.
The history can come in in many ways, some of which make this more complicated. Like the fact that a lot of LGBT+ people got kicked out of their original communities for doing whatever they were doing gender or relationships-wise. And so they need the resources the new community can provide badly. And getting it to them is important. But even then, that might not fall nicely into the existing categories.
And it brings up the whole question of who came up with the idea that only people with the same sexual orientation could be in the same community in the first place...
So when we're talking about "representation" in books (and movies and...)
I think that one of the most important types of representation in books for me, personally are desert books. Even more than trans or disabled characters, for example.
No matter where you are in the United States, the "default paradigm" for stories is very northern temperate forest-based. Like the whole tolkein and D&D and Arthurian mythos. And a lot of stuff is built off that mythos.
And you can't just substitute some trees for cactus and have things work either, there's a whole different set of understandings underneath. For example, the whole idea of Light being purely benevolent and Dark being purely malevolent doesn't work here. It doesn't map onto reality well at all. And even the idea of any force being purely malevolent or benevolent starts to become iffy. Also "purity" is less of a central concept because "pure" things are often not condusive to the flourishing of life and life can use all the help it can get. Mud isn't always something to wash away, it's something to shelter.
And I think that this stuff is why I latched on to Dune so hard, despite the fact that it is "problematic" as hell and sometimes I want to yell at Frank Herbert through the page.. Because it was also the first book that gave the highest honors to the Kangaroo Rat.
And that is precious.
A (incomplete) list of "Desert Books" -
Bless Me Ultima - Rudolfo Anaya
Territory - Emma Bull
Joshua Tree - Emma Bull (actually a short story)
The Blue Sword - Robin McKinley
Dune - Frank Herbert
Song of the Magdalene - Donna Jo Napoli
And I'm coming to think that the Myst series of video games have some of this too. It's complicated because your adventures take you across many worlds, few of them desert. But Atrus and Ti'ana both grew up in the desert, more or less. And a lot of the attitudes and understandings are there.
This also happened the night before - just for a shorter period of time. :P
So I got it out from Netflix.
The main plot of the show revolves around this young man named Mytho who doesn't seem to have feelings or a lot of self-will. And "Ahiru" (which literally means duck in Japanese :P) this young woman (who is actually a duck that can transform herself into a human) who decides she's going to do what she can to help.
And it turns out that Mytho is actually the "prince" from the old story "the Prince and the Raven" who eternally battled the Raven and shattered his heart to seal the Raven away...
"This is great!" said the author, who was supposed to have died...
And it struck me how familiar Mytho's situation was. From times in the past. Reminds me of stumbling around like a kitten after getting out of all the therapy and off meds. I mean, how often do we shatter our own hearts to keep "The Raven" (mental illness, disability, whatever) from affecting others? Even though "The Raven" is also us. How often are our whole lives cast as that struggle? And yet the whole story was made up by someone, and we can say if we want "wow, this story is kind of bogus". But we don't learn that except by ourselves, usually.
And the revelation that Fakir, who controls and behaves really cruelly towards Mytho to keep him from regaining his heart, was asked by Mytho to shatter his heart in the first place and thinks of himself as pretty much an extension of Mytho's will, as his servant - brings up questions of Inside versus Outside Safety.
And in terms of plural stuff - some of us ended up pretty much being the groups personal Fakir. Including one of us who was one of the best at passing insisting on "Fronting" almost constantly even though the stress made him so snappy that he/I was cruel and abusive to pretty much everyone in system. Not that that excuses anything I did, but at the time it was part of a great work of protection.
In Life/Green's name and For life's Sake
And looking towards the wellspring from which all life springs
I swear to keep the world growing
To turn my leaves always towards Sunfire and Rainstorm
And to transmute them to the stuff of life's need.
To place my roots between hard rock and seedling
And to respect all that grows well in it's own way -
To look towards growth and life - when it is right to do so
(keeping in mind)
(The cleansing fire that enriches with ash)
And to respect and love the red land and the black (and all their people)
Looking always towards the wellspring of water that exists within all things
And from which their life extends...
Personal experiences - within and fitting in
I have been slowly writing a series of posts on how being both Trans and Disabled/Neurodivergent interact with eachother. For me they are tangled together.
I am trans but a lot of trans-ness seems to get explained in terms of gender identity.
I don't really have this thing called "Gender Identity".
I have experiences. My body is shaped in certain ways, I have a large-ish bosom and curves. But I've also felt other things - sensations that make more sense coming from another form. I mis-judge distances between hips and objects, topping in bed (in the sense many gay men use it) feels as natural as breathing. I have dysphoria - although sometimes "dissonance" would be more accurate. Sometimes it burns like fire, but sometimes it is merely this doubled sensation. Which can be be neutral. Sometimes it even leads beautiful places. There is sweetness and thorns. But because of that I act in ways that some people consider "unacceptable" for my assigned gender. I also accept and love my body in many ways. I *am* my body in many ways.
I also go against how people of my assigned gender are supposed to act, people have told me that.
I don't really have this thing called "Gender Identity".
But I am not a person who can live in a vacuum without other people. Be surrounded by them, but unconnected and isolated. I want to talk about things with others. I am part of that sea. So I need words. With my experiences, in some circles I would be considered a Trans Man (with very low dysphoria). And so I am. In some circles someone with these experiences would be considered an Androgyne. Or Genderfluid. But these are not really my words. I am borrowing them so we can be on the same page. And the changes are not changes in me, just what I am called.
in building up their book of rules,
I had mine given without want,
I couldn’t build one, had no tools.My book has not, my name upon it.
It feels unlike mine in hand.
If not that I relied upon it,
I’d let it fall like grains of sand.
-Donna Williams (from Not Just Anything)
But a lot of how I act does not necessarily have to do with sex/gender. I have certain things I'm good at and like to do. I love to cook, garden, knit, work with metal. My "role" has more to do with these things than what's between my legs or what I do with it. Some of what I am is labeled feminine, some masculine. What I wear is a lot about colors and what they invoke. I attempt to invoke many things and gender is only one of them in a long list. Branches and moss, fire and earth, rose petals and blood. I do occasionally wear things to look masculine, and some "feminine" things make me feel sick and frightened because of things that happened.
I am Trans. But the rest...
I've seen this said a lot of different ways. I've heard that straight relationships are more based in love than gay ones. I've heard that monogamous relationships are more true to love or sensible than poly ones. I've heard polyamorous relationships held up as more sensible and loving. That mentally disabled people's relationships are not as full.
All of this is wrong. All of these have the capacity to be wonderful, glorious. Or to be hurtful.
All intimate relationships have the same standards - The consent of the participants. The respect and compassion with which they treat eachother. Whether the relationship enriches both of them. Whether it leads to healing, growing, blossoming. Whether the relationship enriches the community around them.
The outward forms of these things may look vastly different. They should look different. Shaped by the people in them. But they're not some weird exotic thing. They have the same heart.
TW: for f-ed up coercive therapy (although I'm not going to be too graphic)
When I went through puberty, though, all these things started to happen that I knew were not quite right. But I knew what would be right. I could feel it in my bones. And all the things that felt right put me with this group of people called "men". And so I did things to signify that I was in that group. Things like not wearing makeup or nail polish, not wearing a bra, calling myself "like a boy" and "a tomboy". Things were hard - but I was figuring out a way of living with the hard things that worked for me.
In many ways "feminine"* things are more suited to me. I love colors and playing with different clothing combinations. I love cooking and other domestic ways of enriching the world. (Although me in bras still makes me WTF.)
*But none of this stuff is inherently female.
My wearing different clothes, not wearing makeup, etc. were my ways of communicating (my only ways of communicating) which category I should be in. And it was also part of me *thinking* about those very same things (when you don't think in words, sometimes objects become your "diary" in terms of working out your thoughts).
So before I had fully sorted out my feelings, I started to be trained out of all the physical signs of them. Extensive, one-on-one training.
Confusion. I didn't even know who or what I was. Even though some of the things I felt and did are textbook *Trans.
for years I've felt that what they did was "not that bad" (even though the hurt goes deep) or just "trying to help me" or "necessary". (even though those aren't valid excuses for hurting people.)
This is just one of the reasons I have a problem with how people talk about Mentally Disabled people.
The current conception of autism and developmental disorders - of differences being mostly "meaningless behaviors" and "not understanding socialization". makes Reparative Therapy seem "more OK" to do to Autistic people. It makes it seem helpful at times.
And this is also why I still don't dress as flashily or as colorfully as I'd like. Or use nail polish for anything. Because everything still has that taint of force/coercion to it. And it's a long hard road to embrace it again and clean it. But I'm glad I'm on that road now.
For those of you on DW that I converse with - I haven't been ignoring any of you for personal reasons. And I still will post sometimes.
But I realized something - using words takes a toll on me. A big toll. And right now I am studying at University - which means that using words is at the *heart* of many of my duties as a student. So by the time the semester ended, I had to take a break from all of that - to avoid going down in flames.
But the other side to this (the Good side). Is that as soon as it was all over, as soon as I stepped back, Parts of my emotions, joyful, connected parts that I hadn't felt all autumn - they came back. Slowly and with a *lot* of pain sometimes. But they came back.
Just wanting to say that these things are not lost forever.
Burt school is pretty close again, so I might not be posting or replying very much.
But I still care about you all and wish the best for you this new year.
And happy new Baktun to you all!
May the Sixth World treat you well and bring you what you need.
Maya complained about how much Ann was away. "It's clear that she and Simon have started something and are just out there having a honeymoon while we slave away in here." That was Maya's way of looking at things, that would be what it would take to make Maya as happy as Ann sounded in her calls. But Ann was in the canyons - and that was all that was needed to make her sound that way...
This is one quote I really like from Red Mars - I might add more to this same post as I write them up, or give them their own post, whichever is less confusing.
Red Mars is a novel about the first 100 colonists on Mars and how they interact with it and how Mars changes them. And how they get along with eachother. And then there's environmentalism, and politics, and a mystery... It's a very "big" book for the number of pages it has. :)
I really love and respect Ann Clayborne and her love for Mars.
Since I'm not particularly word-based right now and so much of my experience of autism is the world outside of words (and the connections and joys that go with that), today is going to be a picture day.
This is a celebration in photos:
(Image description: A bunch of people in business clothes far in the background. In the foreground, a tiger stripping off a business suit with a look of confidence and joy. The words: “Halloween is when our costumes are taken off”)
Happy Halloween to everyone.
Here are links to information on
Occupy Decolonize Tucson and Occupy Decolonize Phoenix:
Protest starts at 9 am
(sorry main occupy phoenix site is down)
Protest goes from 12 noon - 6 pm.
Cops are being grouchy about people sticking to the allotted protest time - which is no reason not to stay later - there’s supposed to be people there long term. Just be aware and make your own choices.
Here are some links to people’s issues or disagreements with the “occupy wall st.” movement. Please read them, they are making important points:
I have real problems, myself with using “occupy” so near the Tucson Presidio. It seems like stirring up the worst memories and feelings of that place. And there is so much history there, bad and good and mixed. In fact it’s the wrong target for any ‘occupation’. The city, Tucson, is not our problem - it is our home and downtown’s heart is where the history of our city, of us, lies thickest. Any fierceness should be located at the Broadway Financial District.
The Phoenix Capital Building seems more appropriate, because the legislators that sit in that building have made a sad habit of policies that cut deep into what we need to be a strong community for the profit of a few. Even when people have shown their opposition by voting for propositions that raise the sales tax on themselves to fund education.
In any case, if I am in Tucson, I will not be carrying any sign that says “occupy”. Nor in Phoenix either. But I will be there, because I believe it is important to be seen. For all of us to be seen.
(please signal-boost, especially if you are or know any Arizonans)
And the Fire is the Heart
For it's sake, all fires whatever are sacred to me.
I shall kindle them small and safe where there are none
For the wayfinding of those who come after.
I will breathe on those fires about to die in dark places
And in passing, feed those that burn without harm to any.
The fire that burns and warms those around it,
In no wise shall I meddle with it, save that it seems about to consume it's confocals, or die.
To these ends, as the Kindling requires, I shall ever thrust my claw into the flames
To shift the darkening ember or feed the failing coal.
Looking always towards the inmost Hearth from which all flames rise together
And all fires burn, undevouring. In and of that which first set light to the Worlds
And burns in them forevermore.
-The Saurian/Cat version of The Oath.
The Book of Night With Moon
by Diane Duane