12
Feb
13

New Year’s Amended Resolutions

Start the T process. (EDIT 2/10: I talked to a caseworker at Chase-Brexton last week, and I’m now on the waiting list for a second appointment, and then hopefully bypassing any waiting period they might have with my retroactive “life test” piles of documentation also.)

As a corollary, have a serious conversation with my parents about names and pronouns. And ask my dad what puberty was like for him, because we really just want this conversation to be as awkward as possible.

I need to pick up my own car insurance this year.

Go back to school for business degree. (Maybe in the fall, situations depending. If I go to CCBC, maybe I can take Mr. Merciless’s class. WON’T THAT BE FUN.)

Not smoke. I had a clove last November and was like… this tastes like ash. NOPELOL.

Make with the retirement plan.

ALSO ALSO I’ve decided to save the world. One foster child / homeless transperson at a time. (And a farm! With goats! and bees! and a mead hall that’s built for acoustics so we can have dance partiiiiiiiiiesssssss!!) (EDIT 2/10: and a library and an interfaith sanctuary and an organic farm and a charter school and and and…)

12
Feb
13

Learn Something New Every Day, Part 6: Couch Surfers

Neutral pronouns because stuff.

So we had two couch surfers last year, for about two weeks apiece. They’re both people I knew fairly well, who’d been kicked out of their previous abode and needed a quick place to crash and get their heads together.
For a lot of reasons, the Pirate House was a really convenient spot for them to stay, and they was willing to work for their keep until they could afford to contribute or found a different place, which was awesome because none of us had enough time at that point to get done all the things around that house that need doing. So in theory it should have been a mutually beneficial arrangement.
Somehow nothing quite worked out the way we planned. So here’s me working through some of the things that we could do better next time, assuming someone comes to crash while broke.

DEADLINES
-Two weeks just isn’t enough time, realistically, to put the trappings of a life together (job, transportation, paperwork, plan). If this happens again, we need to be prepared for at least a month of cohabitation and probably more.
-Two weeks is, however, enough time to adjust to how our household works.
-If someone is just starting out (i.e., no job, no car, no savings), there need to be benchmarks. “Have a polished resume in 1 week.” “Apply to x number of jobs per day.”

TRANSPORTATION
-Not having a key hinders someone’s ability to be out and about. Fortunately the Captain was mostly working from home during the time the surfers were here, but having a key allows someone to come and go as they please. (One couch surfer had a key because zie had a job and a car, and the other didn’t, because zie didn’t.) Maybe this is me having control-freak issues? Maybe we can only live with people who have allowance-of-control-freak-ability? Not even the Captain’s parents have a house key, and they’re in business together. This is potentially a personal limit but not a general one.
-The bus system is Baltimore is ASSTASTIC, and I know Howard County isn’t much better, although both of those are secondhand information. I’ve never been in a situation where I need to rely on it, thankfully, but as far as getting to things on time, it’s not a good option. We need to be understanding of this, and potentially make sure we’re available to offer a ride when a surfer absolutely HAS to be somewhere on time.
-That said, it’s not always convenient or even possible for one of us to give someone a ride, especially when asked at the very last minute (!). A surfer needs to understand that their host is not going to be at their beck and call. More about this in the boundaries section.

BOUNDARIES
-The Captain and I are both, to an extent, introverts. We need our alone time. Sometimes that means the Captain kicks everyone out of the living room to work on his laptop, and sometimes that means I kick everyone out of the kitchen to clean. We have this understanding of that doesn’t mean we don’t like each other, it just means we don’t want to be around people in general right now. So a surfer who spends every waking hour on the couch watching tv (!!) and gets affronted and hurt when asked to be elsewhere for a bit (!!!) messes with the mojo. Fundamentally, this is nothing more than a personality mismatch.
-If Daddy says no, Mommy is not going to say yes. The Captain and the Geisha and I do this thing where we actually communicate with each other about what’s going on in our house. So if one of us hears something, we all know about it in short order — when everyone’s on the same page about things, the machine that is our house runs much more smoothly. So a surfer who tries to go behind someone’s back to get what they want / complain about the situation / weasel out of responsibilities is not going to get very far, and is only going to put someone in an awkward position and get someone else pissed off.
-I work full-time. So does the Geisha. The Captain has his thing going on at home right now, and works better when he can plug away at it without distractions for eight-hour stretches. A surfer needs to be somewhat socially self-sufficient, and fairly unobtrusive. Which might mean staying in the guest room by themselves a lot.
-We were pretty good at establishing what isn’t OK, but we’re not as good at establishing what *is* ok, and what caveats we place on that. Cooking with our food is generally ok, as long as there’s enough to share. Coming to us with a personal problem is ok, as long as if it’s with one of us, the surfer is actually talking to the person they have the problem with. Asking for help with job search is ok. Asking how to accomplish a cleaning task, or for help with something that requires more than two hands, is ok. Letting me know “Hey, the way my days are structured doesn’t allow me to tackle large-scale housework, which is why I haven’t gotten around to vacuuming. Can we swap that out for something I can tackle in between doing other things?” is TOTALLY ok.
-A surfer needs to respect that sometimes, the people they’re staying with have a set way of doing things. And unless they’re paying rent, and living here for an extended period of time, they have absolutely NO influence over that. For example, the Captain is really bad at confrontation. That’s why he’s Good Cop and I’m Bad Cop; we make a good team but if we’re by ourselves, he’s kind of a pushover-with-ulterior-motives type of guy, and I’m kind of an asshole-with-über-high-expectations kind of guy. So when we’re tackling a problem together, we give each other moral support to actually face it and rein each other in to remain civil. While ideally people would confront the person they have an issue with, sometimes that isn’t the reality of what happens. In a roommate situation, sometimes things need to be resolved in a meeting and not one-on-one. (Usually, when the three of us have an issue, the people who have the issue with each other talk things through with the third person first, and then we all get together and hash it out with some mediation. It’s worked ok so far — things don’t always get resolved quickly, but they do get resolved together.) That is “how we do it.” AKA, “just the way things are.”

CONTRIBUTIONS
-In general, the minimum costs of having a couch surfer include: less room in communal spaces, slightly elevated gas/electric, slightly elevated water*. If they’re not able to provide their own food, that costs the hosts money. If they’re given access to non-required amenities like tv, internet, and mailing address, those cost the host a set amount of money, and the costs are divided among three people but being used by four. At minimum, a surfer should contribute at least enough to defray the costs of their living there; ideally in a longer-term arrangement someone would be contributing labor equal to their full part of household expenses. (For example, a quarter of rent/bills in the Pirate House can be paid for with 12-15 hours a week of housework.)
-A surfer should be able to contribute something of value, regardless of situation. Our surfer thought a coffee grinder would be useful. It really wasn’t, since we rarely buy whole bean coffee, and already have a coffee grinder anyway. This is something that needed to be negotiated better.
-A host should not expect a surfer to be psychic. I think we kind of fell into that trap: “We have a routine, these things are automatic for us, OMG WHY ARE YOU DOING THINGS THAT WAY INSTEAD!?” Which we tried to correct for with a Google Document about housework. And, like the first point, two weeks was just not enough for those habits to fall into place. The only thing that would have helped more here, honestly, would have been more direct clarity and communication. So when the main communicator/go-between (me) is at work fifty hours a week… that doesn’t really happen.

PERSONALITIES
-I really just don’t think we can functionally have this setup (housekeeping in exchange for room and board) outside of a d/s context. I want things done my way, dammit! The dishwasher loading diagram is non-negotiable. I would feel right training someone who expressed an interest in domestic things, submission things, service things, and wanted to be held to a high standard of household service. I would feel wrong trying to train someone who was NOT interested in those things, i.e., a mostly vanilla roommate. But then they would be doing things their way, which is the wrong way as far as I’m concerned, and I would be unhappy and when I’m unhappy I get nitpicky and when I get nitpicky people get offended. So that’s just not going to work.
-This might be different if it was more of an employer/employee relationship than friend-crashing-on-couch relationship. But I have some degree of trouble acting as an employer with friends outside the house (things get weird with the Geisha at work sometimes because I’m her manager; we get things done but it feels awkward) and I’m not sure how I feel about having a business relationship inside my house.
-Realistically I want a house big enough for a separate servants’ quarters.

*For the three-month billing period which contained the two weeks one of the couch surfers was with our, the bill TRIPLED. I’m not sure how that was managed.

01
Apr
12

Let me tell you a story.

Once there was a group of friends who all walked along a road. One by one, they each took a turn off when the road came to a fork, saying,

“I wonder what’s down this road. Maybe something different.” And as their paths diverged, they moved quickly forward to find what adventure they could. They never knew what the next bend would bring, and to some their path brought joy, and to others their path brought sorrow. But they took the twists and turns as they came upon them, and felt things deeply and allowed their spirit to be moved by the world.

Eventually only one man was left on the road, but he was too afraid to turn off the path, because he didn’t know if he could deal with something that was different and unfamiliar; and he was too bored to walk quickly, because he knew exactly what lay ahead. So he kept walking and walking on the same road, and his feet wore the dirt down and wore the dirt down until he’d walked his way right into a rut, in a ravine that rose above his head.

The walls were steep and the mud was slick, and he looked at them and thought,

“I shall never climb out of here on my own!” So he cried out to his friends, but most of them had run so far forward, and seen so much, and done so much, and moved so fast, that they were far away and couldn’t hear him.

One friend, who had been the last to leave the path, turned back and came to the side of the ravine. He tried to throw down a rope for the man, but the man in the rut just thought to himself,

“This mud is so slick. Should I grab the rope, surely I will slip and fall.” And he kept walking forward.

The friend who had come back ran alongside the ravine until he took a branch and reached it down into the rut, but the man stuck at the bottom only looked at the branch and said, “That branch is much too thin, and these sides are so steep, that my weight would break it and I would fall.” And he kept walking forward.

The friend threw himself down at the side of the side of the ravine, saying “Grab hold of my hands!”

And the man looked up, and saw that outside his comfortable rut was a wild wood, full of life and movement, full of color and shadow, with no clear paths and no clear light, and he was afraid, because he had no idea — if he should ever get out of his rut — where he should begin. So he ran straight down the same old rut, away from his friends, and his feet wore the dirt down and wore the dirt down.

And nothing changed until the day he died.

07
Mar
12

New Year’s Resolutions

Start the T process. I’m currently seeing (stopped therapy recently because I’m better now) a supportive therapist; I need to figure out what letters I need.

As a corollary, have a serious conversation with my parents about names and pronouns.

Also related to my parents: start paying for my own phone service and car insurance. I’ve been paying my own rent and health insurance the past year; it’s time to grow up a little more. (EDIT 7/17 I have a shiny new phone now! It’s a Samsung Galaxy, and I use it mostly for work 😄 Hooray, Google Spreadsheets EVERYWHAR! Instant updates to inventory and shipping! The Captain installed Cerberus on it, so it’s a SAFETY FONE.)

I should probably look into renter’s insurance, if I even qualify for it after what happened. (EDIT 3/31: I’m getting onto the Captain’s renter’s insurance. Yay, benefits of being married! EDIT 7/17 …we’ll get around to it?)

Go back to school (or at least take a serious look at financing it) for business / sustainable agriculture / possibly entomology.

Talk to Xemnas. (I did this one! In early January! And she loves me too :3 EDIT 7/17 )

Not smoke. (I haven’t had any cigarettes since… November last year? Go me.)

ALSO the Captain and I are getting married (EDIT 3/31: We did this on March 13th! With blue yarn instead of rings >.> ). And buying the house we’re currently renting. And NOT buying it, because it’s a crappy house. We’re buying a different house!

ALSO ALSO I’ve decided to save the world. One foster child / homeless transperson at a time. (And a farm! With goats! and bees! and a mead hall that’s built for acoustics so we can have dance partiiiiiiiiiesssssss!!)

21
Aug
11

Moar Metamours.

I have lots of boundaries. About lots of different things. Some of them are fuzzy and negotiable; some of them are crisp, neat, and rigidly enforced.

Not all of them are capital-R-relationship related. There’s “I will not interact with people who disrespect my personal space,” “I will not knowingly allow criminal activity in my home,” or intrapersonal stuff like “I will limit myself to two cigarettes a day.” (I’m bad at that last one.)

Some of the boundaries are drawn behind me to prevent me from going back into my comfort zone — “I will tell the Captain when I feel like hurting myself” — even though it’s easier to hide and deny, I *will* cross the boundary of non-forthcomingness, and, having once passed it, will not go back.

Some of them are based on ethical lines. “I will not practice dishonesty.” Or legal lines. “I will not sensually engage with someone who is under the legal age of consent.”

The relationship ones are complicated, though. I have trust issues. “I am absolutely fucking paranoid about THE SAME SHIT happening AGAIN but I’m theoretically poly but people, by and large, suck; but the Geisha has been fine but you can never ever trust strangers and *everyone*’s a stranger no matter how well the Captain thinks he knows them” … shorthand for I don’t always trust the Captain’s judgement when it comes to other partners. And while he’s absolutely *fabulously* good at respecting our relationship and not letting others disrespect it either, the Paranoid Brain wants to prevent that situation from ever occurring in the first place. And boundaries that really shouldn’t be there are and aren’t really helpful and are basically just a buffer against insecurity start getting thrown up.

The Paranoid Brain is the one that jumps at any chance to quash potential friendships/relationships/metamors/sharers because what if we get screwed again? The Robot Brain says the Paranoid Brain is a fear-based system and that there are ways and ways to control a situation without needing to prevent it from happening. The part of my brain that really listens to Loki says “Shit is going to happen, it’s not all going to be under your control, get the hell over yourself. Ride the wave of chaos, don’t mind the sharks.” And Me? Me is on input overload from the brains and just screaming into the pillow at this point. Me is the one who goes out for a smoke break every chance he gets, just to turn off the brains, and talks to The-Pappa-In-My-Head about life and work and Manly Topics.

The Paranoid Brain says “You’ll never top again. You’re an abusive sadist who didn’t use safewords and didn’t know what you were doing and didn’t care how he felt and harmed him and broke him and loved every fucking minute of it. That uncertainty you feel when you had Xemnas’s gorgeous red hair in your fist? THAT MEANS YOU WANT TO BREAK HER TOO.” The Paranoid Brain is glad we missed that party, glad she’s married now, glad that her husband is stationed in Europe and glad that we’ll never get explicit approval from him because that means we’ll never ever be able to hurt her too. The Paranoid Brain worries incessantly about whether we serve and bottom because we feel like we deserve what we get, whether our deep dark desire to have control taken completely away is actually deep dark self-harming guilt.

The Paranoid Brain is skeeved out by other transpeople, because we’ve never met one we got along with long-term (they’ve all pinged some form of unhealthy instability) and we are not not NOT playing therapist for others right now. The Robot Brain says this is coincidence, and surely there are many transpeople out there whom we’ve never met and who are perfectly happy, well-adjusted, functional individuals; and let’s not be prejudiced about our own. The Loki Brain is disappointed in our inability to connect with other non-gender-conforming people, but understands that we can’t lower our standards just because someone happens to be trans*. (We have struggled with this in recent months, but no details just now. That particular wave is still rolling.) The rest of me wonders if I’m just too solitary and omituinen to *have* “friends.”

The Paranoid Brain FLIPS SHIT when someone is just too helpful — the last time we let someone like that near us, she broke up the Captain and Quietone, lied about having cancer, accused me of stealing from her, broke my French Press (on a school day!), spit in my face (YES. LITERALLY.) and went crying to the Captain when I snapped at her, STILL owes Crusader a few hundred dollars, ran screaming into the night “for no reason” after the Captain made peace with Quietone, and then went through five or six people in the local TNG group in the space of a few months before finding another poor sap to whose wallet she could engage herself. *PTHOOEY!*

The Paranoid Brain wants to run criminal background checks on potential partners and metamors. Because the last time we took someone’s word for it, she talked me out of pulling over to help at an accident where she would have been recognized by cops and arrested and wouldn’t have been at our apartment the night of the fire and I would have been safe in the Captain’s bed; come to find out she was skipping parole, *still* engaging in sex work, lying to partners about it, refusing to get tested, and claiming to be a legitimate massage therapist while deriding “massage therapists who give happy endings;” FUCK all the “help” she gave me afterwards because the first thing she did was try to get rid of Loki when this was my kick in the pants from him; because she wasn’t even PRESENT for her fire, WENT THROUGH disaster response training, and still FUCKING FROZE WHEN I RAN OUT OF MY ROOM WITH MY BEST LOVED BOOK AFLAME IN MY ARMS.

The Robot Brain says I did everything I could. The Loki Brain wants all this aired in public as loudly, vehemently, clearly, and often as possible. Because people don’t know and they should know and I shouldn’t have to hide a part of me that isn’t part of me anymore; because we do sometimes get better and we’re not permanently damaged and really we don’t want to harm you. Because people lie cheat steal and I DON’T FUCKING DEAL WELL WITH THAT.

But now any un-asked-for help puts us on Red Alert, and anyone could be running a con, and anyone could be crazy, and anyone could be so broken they can’t handle our family. I could be too broken to handle another person. So I build walls around not only myself but also the Captain, one brick of bad experiences at a time, mortared with uncertainty and sealed with a desperate and wasted bid for control over everything.

This is why I have trust issues.

(The Robot Brain says “We’re only here because of the fire. Except for Loki. You’re letting temporary issues interfere with your mental health. Stop that.” Sometimes I listen. Today is not one of those times, apparently.)

26
Jun
11

I MADE A PAINT

Check it out: Naked Ladies!

Fauvism/Demoiselles D’Avignon/Braque/I fucking love that blue enamel!

MOAR TO COME! Because I seem to have been painting a lot more recently.

I also:

-went to the doctor
-found a therapist
-dealt with some bullshit
-did grown up stuff

23
Jan
11

learn something new every day, chapter 5

(Right well really it’s every month more like)

January 6: Driving up to Crusader’s house for D&D (by myself, since I was coming from work and everyone else was already there). Thought process while driving up/past:
1. Oh shit, that’s a lot of fire engines.
2. Damn those people standing outside look cold. They haven’t got coats on.
3. Fuck, that’s flames coming out of the chimney.
4. Well, looks like it’s fairly contained and under control. No need to stop.
5. (hyperventilate sob hyperventilate sob hyperventilate sob)
6. Huh. Panic attacks make it hard to drive. I really ought to pull over.
7. *Calls the Captain* “Hi honey. I’m having a panic attack. Can you talk me down?”

January 19: Driving to work on 100E.
1. That giant plume of smoke up ahead could be a fire, accident, or idiot semi.
2. “I will not fear. Fear is the mind killer…”
3. Flickers of flame on the ground. Upright beams, charred and still burning. Chimney. Fire truck. No people. Ground is black.
4. Nothing more to be done and the FD is already there. No need to stop.
5. (hyperventilate sob)
6. No. I’m not going to be late to work.
7. “I will not fear. Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will let it pass over me and through me. When the fear is gone, there is only me.” * Rinse and repeat.
8. OK, my voice is steady again. Just keep driving.

I do the same thing going over the Bay Bridge, actually (usually it’s just whiteknuckles on the steering wheel but the Bay Bridge is HORRIBLE and it’s the quickest way to Storyteller’s house). Depending on who’s with me. I’ve found that if Crusader is sitting in my car (January 2nd) I can actually carry on a conversation with him. He and I ended up talking a lot about fear and religion (and relationships, kind of) on the way back one time and we’re a lot more alike than our political views would suggest.

Things I learned: It doesn’t matter where the prayer comes from or whether it’s made up or cribbed from a movie/book or copied directly from [holy text of your choice]. What matters is that it does what you need it to.
…Also, the consequences of getting bindrunes tattooed on you may happen unexpectedly quickly. (The consequences themselves are not unexpected. This is WHY the spider.)

* Having now looked it up, yes: Your foaming at the mouth is justified. This is inaccurate as far as the novel is concerned. It is, however, accurate to my memory of it at the time. Having both read the novel and seen the movie at least a year and a half ago, I paraphrased. It worked anyway, so there you go. The complete and accurate litany against fear.