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7th December 2013
why this CGR is a big emotional deal for me
Every year Catgirl Goth Rave is a pretty big deal for me, and y'all who don't go probably get annoyed with me for posting about it, emailing about it, &c. so often. For me and for a lot of people who attend it's a chance to see a lot of friends in a type of environment I don't often get to spend time in, and to have friends share artistic/musical creations and, increasingly, traditions with each other. (I think everyone spends at least some time watching Kim's ridiculous video loop, which was first made for, like CGR 3?) But this year is especially a big deal for me, and I can tell because I'm alternating between bouncing hopelessly and kinda freaking out, and I want to share why to combination share myself/steel myself/understand through writing. Once I'm done with this post I'm going to go find something spicy and hearty to eat, then it will be SETUP MODE followed by PARTY MODE followed by SLEEP MODE. :
This year I am DJing. I am learning to DJ for this party, and it will be the first time I've played music in front of other people in any significant way in like... fifteen years? Maybe only thirteen. "A long time." I had a pretty hardcore music education as a kid, getting steeped in music theory as well as reaching a pretty high proficiency level on a number of instruments (violin, piano, voice, tuba...) --- this is one of the tremendous gifts my parents gave me. Unfortunately it came along with one of their tremendous ungifts. ( cut for vague-ish descriptions of abuseCollapse )
I've tried to get over this a bunch of times, between occasional plucking away at a bass while listening to music and trying to start a band with friends and having all of one rehearsal and keeping a tuba in my cramped dorm room for years while basically never touching it and all manner of other things. None of them took; I couldn't do it. I actually bought the equipment and software that I'm going to use to DJ tonight in order to try getting over this with electronic composition, which hasn't worked for me yet, but has a little for my brother
. Two things are different this time:
- I'm back in therapy dealing with other abuse, and weirdly (or maybe not-so-weirdly), that's helped me manage my feelings around this and take care of myself while also pushing myself.
- I'm doing this for CATGIRL FUCKING GOTH RAVE --- I'm not doing this (just) for me, I am doing this as a gift to all of my friends.
Typically the gift I've given is finding a bunch of real DJs and getting them to entertain my friends, and running all of the logisitics, because that's the sort of thing I genuinely like doing. This year, for a host of reasons, there weren't enough people to make music, and for a while I was worried we wouldn't really have anyone at all. Luckily a couple of good friends are back to spin, and I'm filling in a slot --- at 10 PM tonight, I'm going to get in front of a bunch of people I care about, and share music with them, and after the party's over, I'm going to upload it, and share it with all of you, mistakes and all, and if you take the time to listen to it, I hope you enjoy it.
And if, after I'm done, I find myself on the floor crying, this time it won't be because I'm afraid. <3
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/123403.html.
18th November 2013
It wouldn't be a CGR invite if it weren't late.
Remember, remember, the 7th December,  :
Catgirls, glowsitcks, and goth.
No justification why catgirl goth ravin'
Should ever be forsought.
Short version: CATGIRL GOTH RAVE NINE / address in friends-locked post
/ doors at 9 / wear cat ears dress goth / volunteers wanted  / invite individuals / ask before passing on to groups / party theme: UNDOMESTICATION
Returning Catgirl Goth Rave to its ancestral home in Boston offers us an opportunity to re-examine the founding principles of the occasion and our positionality with regard to them. Have these principles changed? Have we changed? While the history of such an event is important and there is value to keeping a line of continuity, we should also examine the possibility that bending or forking our collective line of flight may be the best way to proceed. In light of this possibility, I offer this digression on the concept of UNDOMESTICATION, particularly as applied to the cat/girl identification presented in the event's name.
The catgirl plays on tropes of femininity, vulnerability, and cuteness in order to establish agency and power --- balancing the double domestication of female and feline against the allure and intimidation of the feral unknown. I've found this position exceptionally useful in a number of contexts. It's allowed me to smooth the edges of my gender traditions, it's made it easier to enforce boundaries in social situations while feeling safe, it's made my sex life infinitely more interesting. Perhaps most importantly, in the context of this missive, it's allowed for a rockin' party entering its ninth year.
Domesticated animals behave in ways that are, for them, childlike and significantly more open to social hierarchy. Neither of these things is automatically bad, but it's worth considering the ways in which we, partially, domesticate ourselves, and whether those actions always serve our needs and desires. Domestication --- the taming of the Little Prince's fox, growing comfortable in a particular family structure, holding out a hand so that the neighbor's cat will let us pet them --- is about shifting boundaries from one state to another. When we are domesticated, consensually or otherwise, the boundaries between us and other entities are altered. Are they being altered in ways that we want them to be? How do we balance the possibilities and the dangers of mutual vulnerability?
For me personally, the challenge is in feeling empowered to sheathe or loose my claws, in learning the difference between my nervous and comforable purrs by taking the time to listen to myself, in understanding my own desires enough to own the domestication I want and reject the domestication that hinders me. I have some idea how this works for others, but everyone has their own metaphor-space, their own relationship to power structures, their own desires. What does undomestication offer to you?
Want to dance about it with me?
 The Fifth of November, Observed
 We'll need folks at the door, running the bar, and if you're interested in contributing music or art, please get in touch!
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/122683.html.
30th September 2013
I can... eat... food?
One of two things has happened: :
- I can eat nightshades again, due to some bizarre change in my GI system over the last threeish years. Thank my doctor for pushing me to try again I guess?
- It only looks like I've been able to eat nightshades for the last two weeks, and sometime in the next few days I will literally explode.
I'm rooting for 1. I would be able to eat at restaurants again.
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/121263.html.
7th September 2013
Brief recommendations for things
A few recommendations for things while I procrastinate! :
LJ/DW ICONS: A friend of mine, armaina
, is doing a Free Icon Day
, where you can get a free black and white icon of you[r character] drawn for the 100x100 LJ/DW format. If you tip, the icon's in color! If enough people play, then everyone's icon is in color even if you didn't tip! It's like a kickstarter, except free if you want it to be, and instead of getting mailed a video game in two years in theory you get a little picture of yourself in like two weeks in actuality. Feed your vanity! Feed armaina
! Click the link. :P
PESTO SAUCE: Oh my god y'all there's a company in SoCal called BasilTops
that makes vegan organic hydroponic pesto sauce, and you can order from them online and they ship you a bunch of pesto and all of their flavors are awesome. Well, all of their vegan flavors that aren't the spicy one at least, since those are the only ones I have tried. :) Of the three varieties I've had from them online, my favorite is the hempseed --- there's something really nice about the flavor and texture of it --- but they're all delicious. Krinn found a vegan Chia Seed variety locally once, which was really good, but you can't get it online and also I haven't been able to find it again in Tucson? Perhaps it was just an illusion designed to whisk me away into a world of PESTO ON EVERYTHING. (seriously I have tried pesto on a lot of things you should not try pesto on okay)
ALMOND MEAL: Okay so I'm trying this be gluten-free for two weeks thing at the advice of my doctor and one week in I am pretty sure that being gluten-free is not getting me anything? But I've been baking anyway, and my god is almond meal awesome. The pie crusts I've been making aren't as structural as I would like, though I'm trying xanthan gum next, but if you're making a strudel or crumble topping or whatever the heck you call it when you mix flour and nuts and sugar and spices and lipids and put it on top of a baked good and it's awesome? I think I like almond meal better than flour
. Also the fact that I can take ground nuts and turn them into a pie crust and it even 90% works is so cool, food is awesome. PS almond meal is surprisingly cheap at TJs check it out yo
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/120157.html.
8th August 2013
Pokemon Worlds Information
Hi all! Today I am leaving Seattle to go up to Vancouver for the Pokemon World Championships. I mostly won't be answering texts or my phone, since it will cost me money, though I'll try to keep people posted about how I'm doing. I'll post updates to Twitter ( : @raxvulpine
) --- which I otherwise don't use --- and here when I can. The main reason to follow Twitter would be to see if I'm going to be in a featured match --- some matches will be streamed on www.twitch.tv/pokemon
and if I know I'm going to get featured I will let people know. You can also see standings once the event starts Saturday at http://www.pokemonworldchampionships.com/2013/standings/
; I am in the TCG, Masters Division.
I also got some positive press going into the event, being picked as part of a fantasy draft
For the first time, a female player was chosen in our draft! After qualifying through the last chance tournament at US Nationals, Rachel Dillon from Arizona will be playing in this year’s World Championships (and for the Black Ballistas). Historically the Pokémon TCG has been a male dominated game, but that doesn’t mean things can’t change. Rachel did knock Jason Klaczynski out of the last chance tournament, so she’s a great player who’s on a roll.
So that's pretty awesome, although pronouns argh. Expect a post about gender, Pokemon, and competitive gaming in general when I get back.
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/118430.html.
13th July 2013
Book Notes: Beasts; Engine Summer; Little, Big (all John Crowley)
So for a few years I've had a random three in one huge paperback thing including Beasts, Engine Summer, and Little, Big by John Crowley on the shelf, and I've always meant to read them (in my hilarious failure to read speculative fiction a few years back I went to find a book by him and ended up with The Translator ). The last couple of flights I brought the huge paperback with me so that I would read the novels contained therein, and I have thoughts about each of them, so I figured I would blog about it so y'all can read something that's not a tasklist. I'm not planning to reveal any endings or anything, but I will cut-tag for spoilers just in case. : ( Beasts: Meh.Collapse )( Engine Summer: Good.Collapse )( Little Big: Brilliant but gross.Collapse )
Little, Big got me thinking about how fairyland-as-a-parallel-to-here-accessed-t
hough-an-endless-forest functions as a trope, though, and what it depends on. I don't think it strictly requires that most or all of the characters involved be white, although I've always seen it done that way. (Were all of the characters in The Great Night
white? I forget. ^^;;) The Fae can be written many different ways, or maybe not even be there. The forest, though, seems structural; what would it look like to go through desert to get to fairyland? Arctic tundra? Ocean between islands? I suspect that different places grow different kinds of myths but I also wonder about the transposition; I spend time wandering through what feels like endless desert, and I want to know, what sort of Fairlyand would I get to if I walked in one too many circles and didn't come back out at the trailhead? The couple of books I've read like this drew really heavily on First Nations mythology, and that's potentially really interesting (and potentially really exploitative!) but not what I'm thinking of here. Has anyone put the path to Fairyland not in the forest but in the desert, or somewhere else, and seriously explored what that shift would mean? I'm kind of tempted to try, but I'm woefully underread in this genre and don't even really know where to start research.( footnotesCollapse )
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/116834.html.
26th March 2013
asking the internet for suggestions
I have a few problems/goals I want to ask the internet for suggestions regarding. So, hi Internet! There are a jillion things I could be doing, but these particular things are taking up a bunch of space in my head, so I want to get them resolved or at least in progress so they won't do that anymore. These issues include the emotional and the logistical. :
- I'm making awesome friends in Tucson who do not share the value with me that you should refer to people by the pronouns that those people prefer. This is obnoxious. I don't want to not be friends with them, and occasional requests for correction are doing jack all. I've been trying to present more neutrally with them so that there is some kind of physical cue, but everything I do just codes feminine or butch to them as far as I can tell. Is there something clever I can do here? If I say "I prefer they and would appreciate if you used that pronoun," they sort of nod and say yes and then just don't, and they aren't really open to talking about it. I don't expect to get it 100% of the time and that's fine, but I'd feel more comfortable with it if it happened sometimes, or if I felt I'd exhausted my options. (Maybe I'll ask Zury to pull them aside or something? I don't feel like it's done much good coming from me.)
- I have this water feature --- a little circulating pond and waterfall thing --- and it's full of nasty plant gunk and algae and whatnot such that the thing is kind of clogged and also gross. That's fine, I can clean it! But... how? My current plan is to drain it, let it dry, sweep it out, pull stuff out with gloved hands if necessary, and then fill it back up. This feels pretty reasonable, but how do I drain a pond? I am considering some sort of shopvac, but I don't know what kind to get --- I probably want something where I can just suck up the water and let it go into the ground, not have to fill the tank, empty it out, fill the tank, empty it out a billion times. Who do I even ask this question? A hardware store? (I can't redirect the pump I already have elsewhere because the piping is all underground... I think. I should doublecheck that when it's not dark out.)
- How stupid of an idea is a king-size bed? (I have a lifestyle that occasionally but not often calls for three people sleeping in a single bed, or I would not evenbe considering this.) If it's not stupid, how expensive of an idea is it? I'm used to platform beds with futon mattresses, and knew how to shop for those mostly, but then Dream On Futon in Cambridge closed and it turns out all I know how to do is buy things from them that are good and buy things from Amazon that look good but are actually kind of shitty. It's not even that I expect the Internet to have the answer to the question "what bed do I want, if any" --- that's a synthesizing-information thing that I'm good at --- but I don't even know where to start. Bonus points for things that aren't "go somewhere where people will try to sell me something," although I guess at some point if I decide I want to upgrade I will need to patronize an establishment and disburse funds.
- I think I answered this last one with a duckduckgo search, so nevermind.
Thanks for reading, even if you don't have any suggestions. :)
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/113308.html.
12th February 2013
Random things: :
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/111367.html.
- This morning Krinn convinced me not to write a mail client with the most effective threat I have ever had made to me. (Recently our office mail server upgraded, and while in theory getting new webmail and access to Apple Mail and Outlook 2012 should make things better, each of those three clients has some critical flaw I can't chase down that makes me have to run a minimum of two of them at all times. I now understand why people write mail clients.) She said: "If you try to write a mail client, all of your Shaymins will stop smiling." I think I actually gasped. The image is SO SAD. Good work, Krinn. <3
- I dreamt last night about being part of a band that did abstract process-as-performance shows where we dragged beanbag chairs on stage and had shitty rehearsals at various venues. It was awesome. I think the other members of the band were punk kids from our Pokemon league and from Albuquerque's. If no one has done this schtick yet, someone should. *finger on nose*
- rushthatspeaks 's blog (and in particular this book review) got me thinking about generation ships --- which, if I understand correctly, are giant spaeships meant to serve as a habitat for many generations of human as they go off to colonize some new planet. I mean, I have never actually read a book or really consumed any media that used generation ships, because I'm a very sporadic consumer of science fiction, but the idea in and of itself makes sense and has some plausibility benefits over AND THEN THEY WOKE UP FROM CRYOSTASIS ON "EARTH, BUT WITH CAT PEOPLE" or what have you. What it did get me thinking about was Lyotard's essay "Can Thought Go On Without A Body?," which I am pretty sure is in The Inhuman. He talks about the difficulty of producing machines capable of thought, with the idea of sending them outside of the sphere of influence of the sun so that thought will persist after the sun explodes/implodes/whatever. The reason he thinks it wouldn't work is that machines don't have gender --- that is, some difference between some fo them that has an almost religious inscrutability and implies the imbrication of the other with the self. Or something, I'm butchering his argument. The point is, if I take that argument at face value, I actually think generation ships could be the cure for gender, if that inscrutable difference as expressed in the people on the generation ship was the difference between the people who did and didn't stay on Earth. Maybe? I dunno. Been chewing on it, figured I'd share. (Also: Does gender need a cure? "Curing gender" is not unproblematic, but boy are there some interesting thought experiments and maybe stories in here. Haha. "Boy." GENDER WHY)
- It turns out I can make fairly spicy lentil curry by just milling good black pepper into it until my arms are tired and then asking someone else to do the same. :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D I have been trying and failing to make reasonable curry since losing nightshades from my diet, and apparently the trick was to start from an Ethiopian recipe and modify, rather than starting from an Indian one? Once I've got it at "I know what I'm doing" I will post a recipe or something.
- I hate to do anything that even comes off as complaining about weather when I know a number of my friends are still stuck under snowdrifts, but on Sunday Rik and I walked for five miles or so and it was cold enough with the wind that my legs were covered in hives. Stupid cold allergy, and arguably, stupid me for walking five miles in shorts in February. It seems mostly better although my calves are still itchy as all get out, and while this is mostly not a huge deal I scratch in my sleep. :( I think as fashion disastery as this is, the best solution I have without spending money might be shorts, leg warmers, and sandals. ... ... ... how does one go about selecting good hiking pants? I don't know how to garment.
- There's still a long-form life update email... coming... soon... ish? Hope y'all are doing well!
12th November 2012
I am alive.
Today we're going to be talking about what it's like coming out of the hole I was in! :
For a while I blamed the hole entirely on grad school but that's not entirely fair. I was already pretty fucked up when the first PhD program started, from a few things. First, the MA program, while not as stressful/bad for me as the PhD programs by far, was a lot of work, and that whole thing where my advisor refused to read my thesis or show up to my thesis defense was pretty bad. Second, the whole moving-to-Indiana thing (not helped by leaving a year later) was pretty draining and was kind of the worst a move could have gone without technically being entirely successful: no one was injured, no significant objects were broken or lost, no major unexpected costs were incurred. And yet. Then there was the dissolution of my relationship with Cassandra, which, well. I am going to continue (and make spoken) my unspoken policy of not talking about it publically on the Internet, but it made me very sad for a very long time and in some ways I am still recovering. I do not regret it, but I do regret that it was the right choice.
Which is remarkably like how I feel about leaving school.
When I left, I expected that things would get better, and then they would get worse, and then they would gradually get actually better again. I had the general gist of it right, but it turns out that I misunderstood just how poorly
I was doing. I did in fact have a rush of energy for a few days, and then plunge into a hole of "oh god all of the things I have been putting off indefinitely are still real and still problems and they are my problems and I cannot escape them by working on grad school anymore." That was ugly for a while and I was worse for longer than I expected. I'm still not done, but I can tell that I'm doing better, weirdly, by noticing myself doing things that a few years ago would have been signs I was slipping down from where I wanted to be:
- actually taking time for myself to just fuck off (more on this later)
- putting every single little five-minute task on my tasklist
- isolating myself from other people more than usual
- caring an unproductive amount about cleanliness/organization
- a couple of other things that aren't important to this blog post
Right now though these are all improvements. I've been doing things that I've wanted to do since I moved here --- there is now a working hot tub in my yard, and after today the circulating pond next to it should work as well. The leak in the irrigation system is (a) found and (b) getting fixed. (That was a huge pain, it was hidden in this really random place and only came on at 4 AM and ugh. I happened to wake up ridiculous stupid early one morning and realize "wait why does it sound like it is raining when I go to do dishes at 4 AM because I am a weirdo.") The house is clean...ish. (Waaaaaaaaaaaay better than it was.) Today, assuming the ibuprofen
I'm about to take
I just took fixes this weird headache, I'll be putting up shelves, reorganizing my Shaymin collection, and starting to put up art in rooms that aren't the dining room. I've lived here for how long and a lot of my favorite art is still sitting on the floor next to the walls I want to put it on? More than a year? Yeah fuck that. I'm nesting
, yo. It is avian as shit up in here.
Also I make kombucha now (anyone local want a SCOBY
?). And am starting to do hikes with a lot of vertical in them instead of just flat ones. And am starting to cook interesting things again. And am still making a play to qualify for the Pokemon World Championships in the summer. And all of this is good.
The thing where in the evening after dinner I pretty much do whatever I want and don't feel obligated to be productive is really nice. I've been reading, talking to friends, playing silly games (including the occasional "Watch Rax Beat Some Old NES Game In One Sitting" in the living room, which is hilarious --- I might give the Zelda Second Quest a shot someday soon if I feel like it), sitting in the hot tub, cleaning things up in a leisurely way... It's really nice. I'm not sure this is actually bad
. I do think it's important that as I pick up projects and work I care about, that it take up some of this time. But right now I am recovering, and part of the work of recovering is to chill the fuck out. And that's really, really good.
I have to decide in the next couple of weeks whether or not to permanently withdraw from grad school. I'd hoped that I would be able to take one or two extra classes and get an MA, but it turns out I'd have to take like four, because of UA's transfer credit rules. That's annoying --- between UA and IU I have enough or more than enough classes for an MA at either university --- but I cannot get one at either. Luckily I already have an MA, and while a second one would be nice, I don't need it. What I value the most is what I've learned. I went to grad school to make myself a better person and hopefully to make the world a better place. I don't think grad school is a useful way to do either of those, for me, anymore; I've learned a lot but I experientially know that this program, and the last one, made me worse off in more ways than they did better, and I don't think I was doing the rest of the world any favors by being there either. I should move on, let someone else have the funding slot who needs the money, read books on my own, and continue my scholarship in a different way.
So... yeah. That's the last while in a nutshell. How are y'all doing? <3
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/109340.html.
5th November 2012
catgirl goth rave: December 8th, 2012
Catgirl Goth Rave VIII will be either December :
8th, 2012, in San Francisco.
Probably the 8th but there may be shenanigans. If the difference between those two is likely to matter to you, please let me know now.
Hope to see some of you there! <3
(more content for people not able/willing to travel to SF in December later)
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/109243.html.
25th September 2012
northern california navigation help
So I'll be in NorCal Oct 11-16, staying in the Mission, I won't have time to see everybody I'd like to but would love to see some folks and say hi. (Drop me a line!) :
On Saturday and perhaps Sunday, I'll need to get down to the Santa Clara fairgrounds (344 Tully Rd, Santa Clara, CA 95111) for Pokemon Regionals, where I'll be competing. Gmaps tells me the only way to get there is to leave the previous night, because Caltrain doesn't run (early enough) on weekends, but a helpful Pokécquaintance suggested BART to Fremont, VTA 181, VTA 73 to get there. It's like a two and a half hour trip, but whatever, I can live with that. (I have rediscovered reading novels! It is boss!) If I have to do it two days in a row that will suck (winners advance to play on Sunday) but I can probably cajole a hotel floor out of someone on Saturday night if I am winning.
My question to y'all who actually live there is: Is there something I am missing, either something better that neither the person nor Google knows, or is there something Google knows that I don't that means the VTA route won't work? I can't find any reason for that, but when multiple sources disagree I get nervous and look for expertise.
Also, if you're in northern CA and think this sounds amusing, you're welcome to come along, I'll even provide you a deck to play and teach you the basics. :::;D
Thanks!This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/108124.html.
29th August 2012
Just left graduate school. Still have to do some paperwork but that's it. I will have the option of returning next semester, but most likely won't. :
Apparently the amount of time that I am willing to work full-time and attend school full-time is: Five years and one week. You know what, that's pretty fucking good. I'll take it. There are things that would be worth burning myself down further for. This program is not one of them
paperwork to finalize leaving
- drown self in pokemon over weekend
- spend some time making my house the place I am living in and not the place I am surviving in
I'm not glad this was the right thing to do. But it was the right thing to do, and I'm glad I did it.
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/106997.html.
28th August 2012
Rhizomes, Databases, and Heidegger
The title makes this sound boring, but bear with me. It's going to be ridiculous and : really boring
instead. Also I am submitting this as homework but I am writing it primarily for this audience and my class can deal with it. (Also this is an attempted edited version from what I posted last night, particularly in the last two paragraphs.) So:
Deleuze and Guattari, in their introduction to A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia
, discuss three different ways of organizing knowledge (and thus of organizing the world): the arborescent model, the radicle system, and the rhizome. The arborescent model is like a tree, growing from a trunk into a branching structure. The radicle system works like the part of a seed from which all of the roots grow --- there is one point of articulation from which everything else is developed. The rhizome is, well, a rhizome --- while it sends out occasional roots or stems, all of the parts of the rhizome are just rhizome, and do what they do. (Ginger root is not actually a root and is a good example of a rhizome. If you cut parts of it off, the edge will turn into edge. It all just... gingers.)
In trying to understand this and what I might be able to do with it, I started thinking about data structures. The arborescent model is a common way to construct a data structure; you start from some point, and then fork in two directions, and each of those points can fork in two directions, and so on. You can even have points fork in more than two directions if you want, but the way you move through the data structure is to traverse the tree and get to individual nodes of data (which I think are even called leaves if they terminate, but it's been a long time since my intro CS class). This makes certain types of searches incredibly fast/efficient because you can make certain assumptions about the way the data is organized --- at my job, our secret sauce database is based on this kind of structure --- but relies on having the entirety of the structure to work. If you disrupt the tree, the relationships between the leaves, and thus most of the leaves themselves, are inaccessible.
The radicle system strikes me as more like a lookup table or dictionary. The radicle itself contains paths to all of the pieces of knowledge within it, so you can say radicle[key] and you will get the value of that key. If you take a segment of the radicle system away, one of two things can happen. If your segment includes the radicle, you at least know what information you are missing, because you will have connections to some values and not to others. If you lose the radicle in your cross-section, you just have arbitrary data points floating without context, which may or may not help you at all. (There isn't much reason to take a random cross-section of a database that I know of, but we'll get to why this matters in the Heidegger part.) The radicle system is also called the "fascicular root" and D&G connect it to fascism because of the way power is bundled in one place (not just
because of the wordplay). I don't think a hash table is fascist; that's pretty ridiculous. But the concentration of power and knowledge may be.
The rhizome, on the other hand, contains all of what's needed to generate itself in all of its parts. So every piece of the ginger knows how to send up a stalk, or put down roots. It's... sort of like self-replicating code? You can chop up the ginger and each piece of ginger will still be able to do what the ginger does. Now, they may put down roots or send up stalks in different places, but the overall algorithm doesn't changed; nothing about the organizational structure except the individual manifestation of stalk/root is changed. I'm not sure how this would be useful in a digital data structure (anyone know?) but it's interesting to D&G because of its non-hierarchical structure and lack of necessary organization. (This ties into the Body without Organs.)
Heidegger, in "The Question Concerning Technology," says a lot of really busted and technophobic things (including the ludicrous claim that a windmill does not take energy out of the wind but a turbine does out of the water, because Heidegger is wiser than all gods and scientists
) but provides something useful in the idea of the standing-reserve. Essentially he criticizes modernity for treating the world around us as resources to be exploited rather than entities engaging in active being in relation to each other. He follows up on this in "The Thing," claiming that modernity/science looks at things as objects and to truly understand them we have to look at their fourfold (earth/sky, human/divine) nature and their enmeshment in all other things, particularly but not only systems of gift-giving and ritual.
When I put these things together, I don't see rhizomes versus arborescent structures; I see entities that interact in rhizomatic, radicle-ish, and arborescent ways in their complicated enmeshment, but that sometimes have a dominant form of interaction. Rhizomes put down roots; trees sometimes end up with radicles; some trees can be cut and grow from cuttings. (Tree radicles: The mesquite trees in Tucson, for example, sometimes hit a point at the end of a branch with a sort of weird nodule that has dozens of branches coming out of it. I wish I had a picture, it's kinda freaky.) The body without organs --- the rhizomatic space, smoothness --- cannot be achieved, it can only be approximated. Even as rhizomes we have to put roots down to get nutrients, extend up flowers to reproduce, and those connect us to the world in non-rhizomatic ways. Organization is required for haecceity, or roughly (I still don't quite get this concept either), the distinguishment of one thing from everything else.
How I read D&G suggests that we need to not grow too attached to those connections, continuing to produce new and different connections rather than letting the stalks that provide for the flowers turn into trees or the roots turn into fascism. At the same time they're not suggesting the disconnect that upsets Heidegger so much --- in particular, their chapter on the war machine argues against the standing-reserve when it emphasizes the nomad's connections to and relationships with both the literal stuff of earth and to the State. The nomad figure's pack
nature calls attention to the figure's multiplicity, but also to its internal replicability; if you separate part of a nomadic pack and put it somewhere else, it will keep doing what it does in a different context, just like lifting part of a river and putting it somewhere else will still produce a river, but one that looks different because of its relationship to different grooves and channels in the ground. In this way taking a cross-section of a nomadic pack is more rhizomatic than taking a cross-section of the State (or of a database).
I'm still trying to work out exactly how to make this useful
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/106645.html.
15th August 2012
state of the rax.
So overall this summer went well for me. I spent much of the first half of the summer traveling, and much of the second half of the summer actively living here, though it was somewhat more about living with my housemates than with living with Tucson in general. The summer here is : really, really hot
, and as much as I like it more than some people do I'm ready for it to be over. Fortunately it will be, soon. The high on Friday is supposed to be 89. 89!!!! Lower than 90!!! It can be lower than 90 during the day??? Apparently. So that's nice.
Figuring out household dynamics has turned out to be more work than expected in part due to a major change not on my radar at the beginning of the summer. Zury (zanazibar
) and I, who have been living together for almost two years, have added a romantic component to our entanglement, and while this is awesome
, no really, it's really awesome, balancing that with everything else has been challenging. I'm now living with two partners, which is arguably more wonderful in one building than I deserve, but also takes work to do well, and when Rik and Ruth each visited earlier in the summer... well, it was complicated. But good complicated! And such wonderful problems to have! Don't fuck this up, Rax
Pokemon is going very well --- collecting and playing have both caused me to meet a bunch of cool people in the area, and even though some of them live in the Phoenix area, I have enough things dragging me up there that that's not a major problem. Actually some of our household might be up there on Sunday, come to think of it, any of y'all wanna hang out? :) It's sort of weird that all of my local friends come out of a game franchise but hey, whatever, awesome people, so rolling with this. I'm looking forward to judging things in the upcoming year, and I think I'm going to take the TCG seriously enough to aim for the Worlds invite. I may not hit it, but it's very possible, and even if I don't I'm going to go because excuse to go to Vancouver and dork out!!
All of this is true and great but offered mostly to talk around the things currently bearing on me: School starts next week, and around August 1 when this became somatically real to me, I kind of broke down and haven't really been fully functional since. I had been not grinding my teeth in my sleep for months. I had been exercising, I had been cooking awesome food, I had been working on exciting projects &c &c &c. Now... no. Currently I am so tense that it is physically painful to eat. It doesn't help that August is a shitty month for me historically (in the last two weeks I've gone through the anniversaries of a major breakup, a suicide attempt, and major surgery ) and I had a ton of deadlines all clustered around, oh, last weekend. But I've gotten through at least half of the deadlines and have the others reduced to a downright manageable state, and it hasn't really made anything better. I'm pretty sure a lot of this is about school.
Right now I can only see the bad things about grad school, and there are many of them, both about the process in general and about the specifics of the experience I am having. I am hoping that actually going and participating helps me to see the others so that I have a sense of both the costs and the payoffs. Right now it feels like there is no payoff, like going to grad school is essentially lighting my time and sanity and health on fire so that I can be made sick by the smoke. I'm pretty sure that's not true. (If it turns out it is, I am getting the fuck out.) Zury and I have been talking about maybe doing a research project together for one of our classes (she's going back, in part because she needs the health insurance). There is a new crop of students who hopefully we can find a couple of cool people to be friends with from, and hopefully we can help them have a better first-year experience than we did. (Twice.) I really want to get the good ideas I've had and am having into a form where they are useful to other people, and then share them with those other people, and have that process make the world a tiny bit better.
All the same... recently I realized that I used to jump on a bunch of random volunteer opportunities to do nice and difficult small things, and participate in local community events, and get involved in efforts to make the spaces around me a little bit better. Now I avoid them, because I don't have time, because the energy I used to put into those things I am putting into graduate school instead, reading a bunch of books instead of talking to a bunch of people. I don't think that's necessarily bad --- I think that theory is important, that I'm reading these books for a reason, that some of the work I'm reading can change my life and can change other people's lives too. But it is really frustrating to be all "I want to go to grad school so I can help trans people and furries!" and so far the only trans people or furries who have been affected by my going to grad school have been the friends and lovers who have to deal with me being a quivering mess. Which THANK YOU, by the by. <3
I don't really have a point here, other than (a) writing to consolidate my own feelings and (b) letting you know what's going on. If I keep doing this, it will be okay, because I have a support system and wonderful people who love me and coping mechanisms built from years of arduous practice. If I don't keep doing this, it will be okay, for the same reasons, plus I'm not financially dependent on it and it would probably even be better for me professionally. I'm considering going back to seeing a shrink, except I'm furious at the thought of having to spend money and time on a shrink because of grad school
, and also I can imagine the shrink I worked with for a number of years just staring at me and being like "Look, it's not my job to make decisions for you, but why are you doing this to yourself
?" It's a valid question, and I have a valid answer: To find out whether or not it's worth it. We'll see where I am in a month or three, and maybe I'll end up seeing a shrink anyway, or maybe I'll drop out and everything will feel different suddenly, or maybe I'll find a way to get research working and suddenly all the bad things will not matter. I'll be here, no matter what happens, and hopefully you'll be here with me, too, friends. <3 Thanks for reading.
 I hadn't noticed until this year that the surgery and the suicide attempt were basically the same day
, and the calendar days I was in both hospitals were nigh-identical. I don't even know what to do with that, other than shake my head and laugh. There's really nothing else.
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/105994.html.
30th July 2012
Readercon: This Isn't The Only Reason Not To Go.
If you don't care about Readercon, you can safely ignore this post. If you're not sure if you care, Readercon is a small books-focused convention held in the Boston area that I used to attend and spent a year on the committee for. They are currently getting a lot of negative publicity because of a sexual harassment case that they chose to violate their policy in handling. You can read their statement : here
and the comments have most of the context. If you want more context, there's plenty out there on the Internet; you can start from this great summary
A few of my friends and a bunch of strangers have been posting about how this makes them unwilling to attend, or deeply conflicted about attending, Readercon. I've felt that way for multiple years at this point, but haven't said anything publically, both because I didn't want to start drama and because it just felt like too much to actually talk about this shit. I think it's important to bring this up now, not because the sexual harassment and safety issues aren't more important --- they are --- but because I know some of you are on the fence about attending Readercon, especially a Readercon organized by the current board. I am telling you this story because I want you to get off the fence, and not attend a Readercon organized by the current board. ( And here is why.Collapse )( footnotes, because I do thatCollapse )
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/105421.html.
7th July 2012
My gender is cactus.
A while back I complained about wanting to replace my gender with a set of outward-facing spikes. I've been feeling prickly, wanting the space between me and other people to be delineated and defended, and some of that prickliness has been about gender. I've also been bonding with the desert, and spending time (though not as much as I'd like) among cacti and thorny trees and tiny flowers and birds and lizards. And I realized that... actually cactus works way better than male or female as a gender for me. It's a little tongue in cheek, but I mean, : look at this
- care more about sunlight and water and safety than appearances, but still blossom in (bright pink, for many species) flowers when they feel like it
- are covered in spines to protect them from being consumed, but need the touch of the animals that know how to interact with them safely (particularly but not only for reproduction)
- won't hurt you if you don't hurt them!
- move between periods of relative stasis and calm and very sudden changes in shape and size depending on the resources available to them
- are perfectly comfortable when birds nest in them --- sometimes literally inside them, in the case of cacti like the saguaro --- and keep those new spaces opened up in them for other animals to live in when the first occupants move out
- over time, develop patches that are smoother and safe to touch, but only for those who take the time to tell the difference
- are simple in construction yet labyrinthine on the inside (seriously, look at this blog post I found, unless you are one of those people squicked by fractal structures full of holes, in which case NEVER LOOK INSIDE A CACTUS)
Seriously though, doesn't that make sense? This makes so much more sense to express my social and sexual relations than the gender binary I'm expected to be using. To be clear, I don't identify as a cactus --- if nothing else, I travel far too much --- but I find it a very useful metaphor, so I'm rolling with it. (Normally I wouldn't feel the need to be explicit about something like that, but since I am a fox and saying that isn't really any more believable than claiming cactushood, I figure it's best to be clear.) When I finally get whiskers, I can call them my thorns, too. =^_^=
Randomly: I made a comment about this at Anthrocon, and "#gendercactus" briefly became a twitter meme among bronies, though it appears to be out of Twitter's search cache at this point so I guess it didn't have staying power. Zury joked that I had managed to hit zero-day appropriation.
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/104477.html.
17th May 2012
state of the rax!
So first of all it is pretty great to start my mornings to wake up at 5:30ish, work for an hour, and then go take a one to two mile walk, and then go back to work. Like, seriously. This lifestyle, I like it, even though it is ludicrously wholesome; it is just : too warm
for extended walking in the afternoon when I am done with work at 2:30 or so. Well, technically, Rik and I went out a couple of times even though it was in the 90s and did long walks, but we brought a ton of water and also I was kinda zonked afterwards. A mile or two in the morning is refreshing and almost upwaking like a shower would be, which is pretty great. I don't know if I will be able to spare the time for this when I am in school again, but on the other hand going to school gives me structured exercise in the process of biking there, so probably it is okay? And I will still have weekends.
I just got back from Boston, where my schedule looked like this:
- Attend the first day of Steer Roast. (a party thrown by my old dorm every year, which does involve roasting a steer but I completely ignore that part; alums way older than me, as well as a lot of friends of mine from ten years ago, come back into town and we all hang out and it's awesome)
- Skip the second and third days of Steer Roast to work on final papers.
- Attend a conference for work, taking a training for advanced users of a software package I had never seen before; this was both really challenging and really rewarding, in that I mostly caught up enough to get a lot out of the training, even though there would be a lot more work to do if I were going to deploy this thing. But I have books, and a dev environment set up on my machine!
- Spend two days catching up on work, seeing a small fraction of the people I would have liked to see, and having an extremely pleasant Providence double-date with my girlfriend, her wife, and her wife's girlfriend, during which we concluded that
the worldBoston is extremely small as we all knew all of the others' friends in like four different ways.
- Spend the greater part of the weekend bridesqueering , including both fun parties and a bunch of carrying stuff, and helping to make sure two of my dear friends wed without troubles.
- When I wasn't doing that, three(!!!) people drove in to see me from different states, which was pretty amazing. larky even did my nails! 
Okay so that was the Boston trip. Now I have this whole summer stretching out in front of me where all I have to do is work my job
. I have a bunch of things planned, of course, but none of them are for school, and that is amazing. (I'll be talking about school in a different post.) My plans include doing some art, meeting more people in Tucson by actually going to events and doing activities , traveling a bunch (another wedding, Anthrocon, Pokémon Nationals, seeing Rik, work might send me to Singapore?), continuing to groove on how awesome living with krinndnz
has been, reading books that are not assigned by a professor, and spending a lot of time out in the desert. This plan is, I argue, pretty awesome.
In a bunch of ways I am still kind of getting back into my own head after the debacle that was my year in Indiana. There were awesome things there --- I met some great people, I learned a lot of things, I feel like some aspects of my lifestyle changed for the better --- but between the breakup and the overwork and the comparative loneliness, I sort of worked my way out of my head to go live somewhere more nebulous, and that's not actually what I want. One of the things I'm trying to do both in my academic practice and in my practice of living is to take myself more seriously as part of the process of taking others more seriously. It's had really interesting effects on how I think about species, which obviously is part of my academic project but at least as importantly affects how I interact with myself on a day to day basis. I'm not quite sure how to express this yet other than it's good. But... it's good? It's good.
Any of y'all have exciting summer plans? :)
 Bridesqueering: Like being a bridesmaid, a bridesmatron, a bridesman, or a bridesmotherfucker, but with one's gender or marital status expressed as some combination of "none of the above" and "none of your business." Unrelated to bridequeering
, where you try to get the bride to make out queerly at the bachelorette party.
 You can see an awful picture here
. It looks better in person, but even in this photo you can tell it matches my color scheme
, and color scheme trumps gender stereotypes for what I do with my appearance, so I will probably keep doing this.
 other than Pokémon ^^;;
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/102445.html.
23rd April 2012
not dead, I swear
As of this morning I have no homework left for the semester except for my two final papers. Now that's a pretty major except, but they're not due until May 8th or so and I expect each one to take me maybe 30 hours total, so that's not actually too bad. I feel like I can at least sort of breathe, and that's nice. I even care about both of my final paper topics! I'm writing about the connection between Junot Díaz's : Drown
for one class, and writing about commissioning furry porn as part of identity work for the other. It's actually super exciting to be writing a paper that (a) isn't about furries, because while I love furries we are not the only important thing in the universe, and (b) will let me take advantage of my background in Joyce studies without being nothing but a deeper and deeper delve into stories that have been around for a hundred years. I am really excited, y'all. This is awesome. ...we'll see if I am still excited when it is May 7th and they kick me out of the Diesel at 11 PM and I am like "WHY AM I STILL WRITING FINAL PAPERS" bu
t for now hooray!
I've been trying to do at least one big desert hike per week when I am in town. It's pretty awesome. I've also done a lot of other long walks lately (5.2mi today, whee!); I can walk like a half-mile north of my house and all of the sudden I can follow a trail along the wash (that's desert for "where a river would be if this weren't a desert," for those playing the home game) for like ten miles in either direction. Sure, sometimes you have to go under a road, and there are buildings along it, but there are still beautiful mountain views and cactus wrens feeding their babies inside a cactus and one time I even saw a coyote. Yesterday Rik and I wandered around the national park for a few hours. We saw a rattlesnake! All of this deserting has me skilled enough to tell a snake from a branch, but not skilled enough to tell what kind of snake; I was like "Ooh look a snake!" and it got startled and was like "Rattle rattle, motherfucker" and well that was some adrenaline! I didn't turn around, but backed up quickly until it turned and bolted and then so did we. I had read about what to do, and had looked at lists of "which snakes are dangerous," but I didn't really internalize it. Probably I should do that. That rattle is pretty terrifying, seriously.
Other than that? Uh. I dunno. I'll be in Boston 5/4 to 5/14, including for Steer Roast, and it looks like I will be at Anthrocon after all. At some point I'll be back in Seattle. I should be at Pokémon Nationals. I still love the desert. I still need more local friends. I just got a joke a friend of mine made like a week ago and it was really clever but I want to keep that cleverness to myself? ...that's not a very good blog story.
How are you all doing? What should I even be talking about here?
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/102053.html.
13th March 2012
oh also, mary's mob, 7 PM thursday
A bunch of people are like "Thursday? What are you doing?" I cannot see you all at the same time. EXCEPT THAT I CAN. :
Therefore, Mary Chung's, Thursday, 7 PM.
let me know if you plan to make it? but also just show up if you want <3This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/101089.html.
29th January 2012
SEITAN. in the FACE
So I am done with all of my homework for the week as well as optional reading and it is only Sunday. I thought about doing next week's homework but for a variety of annoying reasons it's not clear what that _is_ and so instead I am posting my seitan recipe. WITH PICTURES. I took most of the pictures in Indiana so you will be getting pictures from multiple kitchens. How cool is that? I argue: Pretty cool. :
Okay so this recipe is based on the Seitan O' Greatness recipe and various versions that flew around the vegan internet in the mid to late oughts. If you can eat nightshades you might even prefer one of those --- they use chili powder and tomato paste and the consistency is a little different, and they work quite well. However, I can't eat those things, so this recipe doesn't include them. Also, while you probably already know this, be warned: While this can be tweaked to fit most sets of allergies or dietary restrictions, the main ingredient is gluten. If you can't eat gluten, DON'T EAT THIS. If you are a little gluten-sensitive but you can manage soy sauce on things just fine or whatever, DON'T EAT THIS. It is basically pure gluten. Uh, sorry. :)( recipe and images under the cutCollapse )
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/99893.html.
3rd January 2012
Contact Information, Help Mindanao
Hey all, I'm working on my annual end-of-year email (yes I know it's late) and am asking in advance: Would you like to get a 5000-10000 word email about my life? No is a fine answer, yes is a fine answer, "yes but I probably won't read it" is also a fine answer. If the answer is yes or yes-but-you-won't-read-it, and you don't already know you're on my mailing list, please let me know. The mailing list gets two to four messages a year with things like "I am moving to Arizona" or huge rambles about the state of my life that are too long for LJ/DW. No problem if you don't want to get them! Comments are screened so you can provide your email address if you do. Please : actually give me your email address
if you do this. :) I hope to have the email done in a couple of days? I'm... on the fourth section of my outline? ^^;; seriously folks these messages are long
Also, I know a lot of people missed the news because it happened while we were all like "AHHHH FINALS" or "AHHHH HOLIDAYS" or both, but there was a horrible typhoon in the Phillipines and relief efforts are ongoing. Here is a list of charities
that come recommended by folks who have thought about this more than me (although it sounds like the Red Cross may not always be the best choice
); it would be hard to go wrong with any of those. Alternately, if you are the sort to participate in fandom auctions around this stuff, help_mindanao
over at this link
offers the opportunity to either do things for people and have them donate to charity, or to donate to charity in exchange for people doing things for you. I'm currently in the more-money-than-time camp and haven't been able to look through it much, but if you're not, or want to encourage people who aren't to help out, this is a pretty great way! (Also, these cookies
are liable to be great. Just sayin'.)
...it's supposed to be three things that make a post, right? Uh? You don't get a third thing, sorry. :)
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/98550.html.
28th December 2011
So, because my housemate Nicole has been begging me to for months, once the semester ended I finally gave Homestuck a try. I have strong and mixed feelings! That I will try to keep minimally spoilery but there's no way I can completely avoid it. At the very least probably most of it will mean nothing to you if you have no idea what's going on in the series, so it shouldn't be a big deal. :
So, what is Homestuck? It's a web...fiction-comic-thing by Andrew Hussie, which starts here
, though don't click that and follow it just yet. The conceit, according to his helpful for-new-readers page
, is that you are playing a text-based adventure game by typing commands, and then the comic is what happens when you type those commands. Earlier comics he did like this were based on user input (Pokémon folks will remember the Black Adventures
comic which I hadn't realized was based on this but totally is) but Homestuck, especially after the first bits, seems to be mostly a story he is telling and ignoring user input. I don't even see a place on the site to give user input anymore. As far as I am concerned, that is fine; I tried to read one of his earlier things based on user input, Problem Sleuth, and the beginning was so terrible I gave up.
Here are some reasons that you should maybe read this thing:
- It does really interesting things with the medium of storytelling; it uses flash (including game sequences you play), sound, text, animation, and the actual fact of your clicking between panels as crucial parts of the process of what it's doing. I find this really neat and not something I've seen before. If you're interested in playing with media in this way, I do recommend checking this out.
- It's also super meta. Metafiction is not everyone's favorite thing, but if it's one of yours, oh man, you should at least give this a shot.
- Some of the characters will grab you and cause you to have strong feelings about them, and you get to watch pretty much all of them grow and learn, which is pretty great.
- There are all manner of references to video games that I find hilarious. There are also references to movies but I find them neutral because I haven't seen any of them and don't really care, but if you are into pop movies from the 80s, oh man.
- The world-building is clever and way more consistent than I expected it to be.
- There is tons of content and you can catch up gradually if you'd like, or skim everything and them jump around to follow the threads you most care about in more detail.
- Oh my god there are so many building blocks that fit together over time and make you go ohhhhhhhhhh
- The troll relationship structure is so amazing. Spoilers.
- People you genuinely care about will still die when that's what the story demands.
Here are some reasons that you should maybe not read this thing:
- The beginnings of each section are so boringly and blindlingly terrible that if I hadn't promised Nicole I would try seriously to read it I would have given up after ten pages. God the beginnings are awful and crude and boring and slow. The beginnings after the first one are even worse because now you're invested in the story and want it to continue but what is he doing? He's expositing according to a bad formula again auuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuughh. (Maybe the formula works for some people, but I had so much trouble. I still haven't read most of the beginning of act 6 I just don't caaaaaaaaaare)
- Sometimes Homestuck demands more of a reader than you actually want to put into a webcomic. One of the characters (fortunately, a minor one) talks in morse code. No way, man. I am not decoding Morse code for a webcomic, even one I like. I just don't know what that character is saying.
- It will take you 10-20 hours to catch up. Seriously. Low estimate.
- I'm pretty sure the comic is super inaccessible in terms of, say, screenreaders.
- A lot of the story is told in chat logs, and everyone talks in different colors, some harder to read than others, and many of the characters have intentional affectations along leetspeak lines that make their dialogue harder to read. This is occasionally really awesome when clever double meanings arise 8ut far more often is just annnnnnnnoyyyyyyyyinnnnnnnng. ::::(
- Like almost any webcomic, the art starts bad and gets better.
- There are places where it's so meta that you are kind of just tapping your foot waiting for him to get back to telling the fucking story. Some of those places last more than a hundred pages.
- People you genuinely care about will still die when that's what the story demands.
So should you read it? I dunno? I am glad I did and keep thinking about it because I mainlined it all in like two days while sick, but I don't recommend it without reservations because of all the frustrating parts. What I will say is that it's definitely awesome even if it isn't always good, and if you decide to give it a shot but aren't hooked by it at first, just power through for a while and see if you start caring after a while. If you still don't care once you're past the first act or two, well, sorry. But I know I'm not the only person who was like bored bored bored bored HOOKED NOW, so it's worth a shot.This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/98248.html.
26th December 2011
okay so I owe y'all updates about eighty gazillion things in my life and I also have a whole lot of things I want to process out in my own head but today let's talk about: ANOTHER SEMESTER OF GRAD SCHOOL. For those playing the home game, this was my 9th semester of grad school: six at UMass Boston getting an MA in English, two at IU working towards a PhD in Gender Studies , and one at UA working towards a PhD in Gender and Women's Studies. This semester I only took two classes, both of them required courses, and now my grades are in. I haven't gotten feedback from my professors yet, but here is how they went: :
- Feminist Theories 1: I was initially worried that this would mostly be a repeat of things I had already read and talked about. There were a few readings that more or less worked like that, but because so much of my Feminist Theories class at IU was "Butler and Butler Butler with a side of Butlering Butler," actually a lot of this stuff was new for me. Particularly I hadn't really stared down Marx and Marxism in any sustained or structured way. I'm still not quite sure who won that staring contest, if anyone, but I think it was worth doing. Things from this class that I particularly found useful: Althusser's work on ideologies and interpellation, Saidiya Hartman's Scenes of Subjection for thinking about depictions of violence and trauma, Hartman again on the way racialization happens, Derrida although I still don't think I actually get it in any real way. My final paper here was about how furries are constrained by but also rupture capitalism, which took me into the professor's book Against The Romance of Community as well as the work of J. K. Gibson-Graham, both of which I want to follow up on. I'm honestly not super-happy with how the paper turned out even though I spent a lot of time on it; I am not sure if that's because I spent enough time and did enough revision to see how much more there was to do, because I was panicking at that point in the semester, or because it just actually wasn't very good. I got an A in the class, so it can't have been that bad, so I'm guessing it was a little of all three. (There was some of the just not very good. Oh god I struggled to find a coherent voice when I was unwilling to just be like "arglebargle I am the author look at what a furry I am." This is a longer-term thing to think about actually --- some of my work only makes sense with me in it, but for the stuff that doesn't work that way, what should I do? Dunno.)
- Feminism and Related Social Movements: I was super excited about this class and in bits and flashes it even exceeded my expectations but in other places class discussions just didn't really get going. (For a lot of folks it was their last class of the week and you can kinda tell when people haven't done the reading? It's frustrating but them's the breaks. With the way grad students are overworked I cannot blame them. I would not do the reading sometimes, except the horrible pangs of guilt I experience sitting in a classroom unprepared are way worse than just not having fun for however many hours it takes me to do the homework.) I think that I could have approached the readings with a different set of questions in mind from the beginning of the course and gotten more out of them; the way I was thinking wasn't really a good model for dealing with the subject matter I wanted to work with, and I could feel it chafe with a lot of the texts. A couple of them I revisited and got a lot more out of; others maybe I will, maybe I won't. Things from this class that I particularly found useful: Rereading Chela Sandoval's Methodology of the Oppressed with an eye toward the first two chapters instead of the later chapters (that is, considering her actual practical argument rather than crazy Barthes love ramblings, which are basically one of my favorite things), Deborah Gould's Moving Politics for how to write about a movement you are deeply embedded in , Jasbir Puar's Terrorist Assemblages which is super helpful even though sometimes it frustrates me through its bleakness, and even though I didn't like it I want to come back to Grace Hong's The Ruptures Of American Capital because even as I was reading I could tell it was doing something on a level I just hadn't figured out yet. A conversation with the professor helped me see it as an alternate avenue to writing about social movements directly, and I thought that was really interesting, but I still don't 100% get it.
- Anyway, my final paper! On a different bullet because that one got super long! I started off with an outline and a bunch of notes and actually I wrote a few pages and then I looked at it on Monday, the day it was due, and said "Rachel, what you are doing here would be exploitative and misrepresentative of yourself and of people dear to you. It's pretty awful frankly. Stop this nonsense at once." At 11 AM on the day the paper was due, I deleted everything I had written and started completely from scratch. ...And got an extension to Thursday morning. I wrote about furries as producing self-knowledge primarily in opposition to what is said about us in the media or on the Internet by trolls, and suggested that furries needed to consider Sandoval's differential consciousness, moving between different methods of knowledge production depending on what is most useful at the time. This is actually really hard for a large group to do! But I think it would be way better than focusing on negative publicity and then trying to fix it through a particular kind of positive publicity. I mean, I am a person who believes very seriously that they are a fox, at least when I do not think I am being completely ridiculous. I don't want to be arguing about whether or not that means I am more likely to be a homosexual, or more interested in sex than the average college student. I want to figure out what it means that I'm a fucking fox, holy shit what is that. We need to try lots of different methods! I don't even know all the methods we should be trying! I'm considering trying to work this into something I can internet-publish for furries because I think it's important but I'm not 100% sure yet. I'm waiting to get feedback from my professor on it before I figure out next steps. Again, I got an A in the class, so the paper can't have been a complete and unmitigated disaster. (Also my advisor smiled when she listened to me talk about it, which only for sure means that I was super enthusiastic as I got into it, but that on its own is a good sign.)
So next semester there are two things I am doing for sure and then other things I may do:
- Feminist Theories 2: THE REVENGE! okay it's not actually called THE REVENGE. But it will be more contemporary feminist theories and I look forward to it. I don't have a particular approach to this. It's a required course. So... I will take it!
- Independent Study with my advisor: I decided to do this. At first I was like "uggghhhhh I don't know if I have time" but I had a super useful conversation with Ruth who was all "Hey, how excited are you?" and I was like "hella excited, I moved to Arizona to work with her, the reading list she put together for a colleague was amazing, I'd be doing a variant of that." We talked about it and yeah it will be a lot of reading but it won't have a final paper and it should be OK. Plus, as described, hella excited.
- Feminist Knowledge Production: As far as I can tell this is the revenge of the methods class I took at IU. I'm hoping to transfer out of it because (a) I've already taken a very similar class and (b) I don't feel like I got a whole lot out of the methods class at IU. Not that it was terrible or anything, just that it was very breadth not depth and I am at the point in my graduate career where I need some depth please thank you very much. I will almost certainly not be taking this unless the chair advises me that there will be no way to transfer this in, since it won't be offered again for two years, and at that point I would like to be either done or verrrrry close to done with classes.
- Chican@ Literatures: I can't get the official title of this class because our scheduling system is down and I don't have a syllabus kicking around. I would be taking this mostly for the requirement, but the professor seems awesome and I have friends taking it and I think overall I would dig it. Plus hooray more use of my actual English skills! ... well disciplinary-English versus language-English. Arguably I'd be better served by language-Spanish. (Is there disciplinary-Spanish?) I'm prrrrobably going to take this, which will put me at three classes, but my schedule will work like it does this semester more or less. I am still waffling slightly. If I get the syllabi and it looks like a disaster I will go down to two classes. Or if the administration won't let me do the independent study because I am deciding too late, then I will just take this and do some of the reading for the independent study not-for-credit.
- Outside chance of some anthropology or geography class instead
Other academic things to do as the semester starts:
- Follow up with the Rhetoric professor and advanced graduate student who were all "dude, your project sounds amazing" and meet up and talk about working together on stuff
- Apply to conferences: this one is due Dec 31 and this one is due Jan 15, though it is a less good fit. ...and they're both on the same weekend. Huh. I hadn't noticed that, which suggests I have been distracted. PERHAPS BY GRADUATE SCHOOL
- Follow up with the costume designer who had the car accident and was thus out of touch
- Follow up with the person who did Second Life classroom work
- Follow up on Geography contacts to talk about research methods
- Send an email to Liz Kennedy I guess?
Yeah so I should be busy. But that's good! I have stuff to do in school that I am excited about. FUCK THE HATERS. RAXOLOTLS GONNA RAX A LOT.
 Technically I took reading credits during the summer semester. The end result of this was (a) me reading some books and (b) one part of the university giving a few thousand dollars to another part. Whoop-de-do. Before I was sure I would get into UA, let alone accept their transfer offer, it seemed like a good idea to have the option open. I can't transfer them, so it matters not at all now.
 With bonus points for being able to say "also we were all sleeping together" without having tenure yet, and winning awards! Someday that will hopefully be me. ^^;;;
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/97701.html.