Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Gender Stricture

I'll be starting with a completely unscientific and possibly offensive observation.

I had heard once that the percentage of the population that identifies as queer (and at the time it was "gay", but I think "queer" works better here) was ten percent. The last data I saw estimated it was closer to four percent, but I had ten in mind for a long time. However, among professional entertainers - especially dancers and figure skaters - that percentage seemed much higher, with maybe as many as fifty percent among the men. However yet again, that did not seem to be the case with the Russians, where there were many more straight men performing.

Other things I have read don't really indicate that Russian society is more accepting of homosexuality, so I didn't think that was the reason. It does seem possible that the Russian concept of masculinity is better at including artistic expression. Honestly, that doesn't require being that open-minded, because there is a lot of strength and athleticism involved in those pursuits.

My point in even mentioning this is that it seems likely that the demands of masculinity - at least in US culture - can discourage many boys from pursuing various artistic paths. There are probably many who could have been really great, and it would have been satisfying for them and edifying for the people who got to see them perform, but the possibilities get discarded, because it's for sissies.

This is where I write about Suzanne Pharr's Homophobia: A Weapon of Sexism.

A couple of things stood out early. Part of her early work was with domestic violence. Many of the battered women had been called "lesbians" by their batterers. Often they were not lesbians, but the term was used to justify the beatings.

Pharr started giving workshops on homophobia for both straight and lesbian women, and it was energizing for all of them. She asked them to visualize what the world would be like without homophobia, and it was huge for them. Part of that is that when you are surrounded by domestic crisis, so much time is spent in responding to damage that you don't get to spend a lot of time on vision. And a big part of it was just imagining taking away those restraints.

By imagining a world without homophobia, they were able to envision a world where children won't be labeled, or pushed into one direction or another. That would free children up to realize their potential. They imagined a world where people could be more affectionate - not just with partners, but with all kinds of relationships because you don't have to worry about it being misconstrued and getting you harmfully labeled. Women will be able to work any job without being called masculine. There will be less violence because men will not need to prove their manhood. People will be able to wear whatever they want.

That's one thing that people often seem to miss about social justice work. Feminism makes things better for men. Anti-racism work succeeding makes a better world for white people. Eliminating homophobia makes a better world for straight people. As important as it is to realize that marginalized people suffer more, the bigotry isn't good for anyone.

Some of my favorite male dancers have been straight, so going back to the opening, I have to admire them for persisting. I am sure there was name-calling and mockery, but they had gifts, and they developed them and shared them. That is great, and art is important.

Think about it beyond that. What do we lose by putting up barriers? Which mind that could have figured out a new technique for fighting cancer, or harnessing solar for cars, or cleaning up the oceans, was discouraged and discarded? If we weren't so consistently comfortable with marginalizing other people, pollution and disease wouldn't be allowed to take the toll they have even without new technologies.

If we want a better world, it will start with valuing each other. Each and every other one.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


One book that almost ended up on the Long Reading List was Sir Thomas More's Utopia. So many teens are looking for the place where they will fit in, and so often that perfect place is no place, that it felt like it could be relevant. I decided that More's ideal would probably be different enough from a modern teen's ideal that it wouldn't be a huge help.

Having now read Utopia, I can see some correlations, but it fits in better with the context of my current reading. (I really believe I have a good book sense of what to read when.)

The first thing I noticed was the enforced lack of individuality. Everyone is happy in Utopia because their needs are met, but they only play one of two games, they eat all of their meals together, they all dress alike, and they regularly move homes so that nothing is really theirs. Knowing that More really loved the monastic lifestyle and only refrained from choosing it because of his desire for a family makes it all understandable, but still not desirable for someone who values choice. I had to wonder whether that sort of conformity was even necessary for a tranquil society.

That became more interesting in reading Why We Lost the ERA, when this came up:

"Rosabeth Moss Kanter's study of nineteenth-century communes found that when communes institutionalized exclusivity they were more likely to survive. The most successful communes discouraged relationships outside the group through geographic isolation, economic self-sufficiency, a special language and style of dress, and rules that controlled the members' and outsiders' movements across the boundaries of the community. Three-quarters of Kanter's successful communes did not recognize the traditional American patriotic holidays. Half read no outside newspapers. More than a quarter specifically characterized the outside world as wicked."

I had some thoughts about limiting news sources anyway, and that was the part that stuck out when I first read it. Reading it again, the same manner of dress becomes not only a matter of conformity within the community but a marker of opposition to the world outside the community. No wonder the outsiders start to look wicked.

Then I moved into my Native American Heritage Month reading, and also felt compelled to start The Invention of the White Race, which has been fitting in well. Here we keep finding colonial societies needed to eradicate more communal societies, not just in the Americas but also in the British Isles. Here the more communal societies are welcoming to outsiders, and build strength by marriage, adoption, and foster relationships. This time it is the capitalistic society feeling the need to eradicate perceived threats. There may be specific roles that are necessary, and I have been surprised by some of the strong Yurok class distinctions, but still, there are things that seem to work better without turning the entire society into a cloister.

I mention that because it seems like whether your revolution was socialist or fascist it often ends up with the same results. That includes putting a lot of people on the trash pile. There does seem to be a deep-rooted belief that rooting out differences is necessary, but I don't believe it.

Someone who is actively hurting people, or destroying crops, or burning things down - there may be necessary actions there. Wanting to wear black instead of grey, or purple stripes that clash with green checks - that is not a threat. Listening to punk rock instead of classical is not a threat. Collecting coins instead of playing video games is not a threat. Not unless you are really insecure, and then it's not about them.

I admit I don't fully understand the need to have other people be like you and do like you. I get that it's awesome to find people who like the same things, but part of what makes that awesome is because not everyone does. Then finding your matches is a treat.

I do have some thoughts about cultural expectations for tomorrow, but for now I suspect the most perfect place for teenagers is that place where they can be accepted.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Becoming a Killjoy

Since the election - in addition to the very incendiary post - I have been posting a lot of articles that are pretty negative. On one level it is an angry response; we have done a terrible thing and we are going to face it! At the same time, I know people who find it all stressful and who aren't really to blame.

I don't feel good about that, but it still feels necessary to face this situation with clarity. That requires information, which for this situation is dire. So it occurred to me one day that I have really become a killjoy, but then I remembered that I had examples for that.

I have written a lot about The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, and the music inextricably entwined with the comic, and their part in my creative reawakening. The "Ugliness" post may have been the most important. It's not even about something that happened in the comic, just in the arc of its creation.

Even if there is no Mike Milligram or blank cassette tape in the comic, the underlying issues are still there. And it all still relates.

Yes, we need to be able to be dirty. We need to be able to disrupt. We need to be able to face things as they are, especially when it's hard. We need art.

If I must be a Killjoy then I can only try and be fabulous.

Maybe I won't be emulating the characters, because you have people who are just ready to fight without it being for anything, and maybe one who is so anxious not to fight that he lets worse things happen, but somehow it feels like it fits.

I'm not even sure what being fabulous means for me, but maybe it works that this year is the first time I cosplayed, and this is the year that I accidentally dyed my hair coppery red when I was only going for kind of chestnut.

This has been the year of no good news. How's your job? I got laid off. How's your Mom? Her memory keeps degrading. How are you? So stressed I broke out in hives that seem to have no intention of leaving.

And now "How's your country?"

So be it. This is also the year of facing every weakness and learning what it's really all about. I'll face it and I'll have a soundtrack.

Art is the weapon.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Band Review: Litefoot

I remember first being interested in Litefoot's music after seeing him in The Indian in the Cupboard in 1995. I could not find a lot then, but seeing him again in Wacipi Powwow (viewed for my 2014 Native American Heritage Month) reminded me of him.

Rap is still not my favorite genre, and I found that the things I like least in general came through here. I kind of hate "My Chick", even though I have to admit that it's catchy. The sections that are more bragging in nature irritate me. Getting past that, then I find things that I can appreciate.

There is a consciousness to the form of his albums, often starting with a spoken word section that sets the tone ties the content together. This is true on The Messenger, but most touching on Native American Me.

As I seem to respond best when there is that extra consciousness, it probably makes sense that my favorite was Redvolution. It felt most powerful both in terms of the message and the music.

From the movie I was drawn to the chanting, and would gladly listen to that again, but the rap has its strengths as well.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Band Review: Ulali

When I reviewed Pura Fé, I saw that she had originally started in an a capella group, and I wanted to check that out. There wasn't a lot to listen to, and they are no longer active, but there is always some guilt that the Thursday review the week of Thanksgiving might not get read much, so this seemed like a good match.

The group has gone through many incarnations and name changes, but calling it Ulali itself brings to mind the trio of Pura Fé, Soni Moreno, and Jennifer Kreisberg. Under the name Pura Fé it can also include three male singers, but that can also mean just Pura Fé as a solo artist. Without Soni, it can be Twolali, or with Pura Fé and Jennifer plus two other singers it can be the Ulali Project.

I was listening to just Ulali, with the three. Although that covers a limited time frame, with less specific work, they were still featured on movie soundtracks and recorded with Indigo Girls and Robbie Robertson. It is reasonable to appreciate what they did.

It does not sound specifically like listening to First Nations music. At times there seems to be more of an African and South American - maybe even Caribbean - influence. That is especially noticeable on Ma' Africa, recorded with Mahotella Queens. Fans of world music should check them out.

And then, if you like them, checking out their other forms can keep you busy for a while.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


I need to learn how to drive.

It was always part of the plan, but it was always the most difficult. It is difficult due to needing someone to practice with, and it is difficult due to all of the emotions that have been tied up with driving since I hit that car and my father got mad at me and stopped speaking to me for two and a half years, starting the day before my seventeenth birthday.

Because of the baggage, I always had in mind that driving would be the last thing to happen. I would fix everything else, and it would free up so much mental energy and strength and time that I would be totally ready for it.

Then Mom's car battery died.

We have been having her drive less anyway. She is still pretty safe, but she enjoys it less, and her reflexes are slowing down. We know that it will be something she needs to give up eventually, but if there are still a few places she can get to (mainly church), and doing so keeps one part of her mind open, that felt worthwhile.

It turns out that doesn't work the car that much. This is the sort of thing that can cause the exhaust system to not get dried out so that the battery corrodes and it dies. I think I've got that right. Anyway, the car was totally dead. No sputtering. No radio or lights coming on. It was dead.

This could be a reason to let the car go completely. We thought about it, but that didn't feel quite right either. Keeping the car functional (after a long charge to get it functional again) by driving for at least an hour every week puts a lot of pressure on Mom.

I think it needs to be me.

And then that opens a lot of things up. I can take her places where she would not be confident driving, which can provide more stimulation and enrichment for her. It means we can be more useful to the household in terms of accomplishing certain things while Julie and Maria are at work. It removes some concerns about our distance from her neurologist and the temple. For those reasons, it is the best solution.

It is also scary. I will be practicing in the dark rainy part of the year. I can do some practicing with her, but I should go places that she would not want to take me. If I am going to do this, I want to be good at it. Who will take me onto the freeway and into downtown and over bridges? Am I crowdsourcing that? Do I have reward tiers for hours of driving practice and where?

It raises financial questions too, like paying for insurance, but if I am only driving her around for now, I can stay on permit for a while. It looks like they are good for two years now, so that's helpful.

Still scary.

And scary in the sense that it is just one more thing being thrown at me, fast, and where I don't know if I'm ready for it. That was true before we elected a racist demagogue, but even more now there is this sense of needing to hurry up, to learn everything and heal everything fast.

It still ends up being one step at a time. Next week I need to go take my test. Then some time on a weekday in the church parking lot with Mom. Then... I guess I work out my crowdsourcing plan.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

To Do: Writing a fat heroine

The dressing up goal had so many different possibilities with it that it ended up becoming a four-part goal that is still not quite done. ("Done" is kind of a loaded term for me anyway.)

Writing a fat heroine has been like that too, though in some ways it felt more like I was working my way up to it.

I gave Claudia and Morgan some extra padding, where confidence was an issue but not health. That didn't really feel like enough. If the heroine wasn't grappling with all of the issues of being fat, then I am probably not really facing my full issues. I still totally see the point in getting more body types represented in fiction, so it had value in that way, but it did not address my specific issue.

I do sometimes think about turning the fan fiction into a dystopian novel series. In light of that, I have thought about putting someone who looked like me into there, but all I could imagine was some kindly fat older person who sacrifices herself for someone who could actually run.

At the time that seemed reasonable, because the post-apocalyptic dystopian wasteland is a harsh environment where fitness seems advantageous. Since thinking that, I have had to remember that I was conflating weight and health - a common mistake. A different discussion since then reminded me that I have larger friends who are good runners, and I know thinner people who are pretty weak.

I am not fast, but I have good endurance - better than a lot people's. Getting regular meds would probably be difficult in said wasteland - which could hamper survival - but maybe if your access to food is really irregular, your access to insulin matters less.

Viewed in that light, I am probably not ready to create a fictional fat heroine until I have spent more time on exactly what my fat means to me. That is not merely how it affects my self-image (which I have thought about a lot) but also fully realizing what my body can do. I don't give it enough credit, and so that's not really truth. Honesty is crucial to writing, and it means seeing the good and the bad. I haven't fully done that. Fortunately, there are many steps and goals on this journey that do focus on my body and health and things that will be overall helpful to my healing.

There have been two other surprising developments. One is the other drawing project I am working on. I mentioned yesterday that I was drawing faces for "Powers". What I did not mention was that meant specifically drawing faces of Black women. "Powers" is set at a historically Black women's college. Not every student and faculty member is Black, but all the main characters are, and I had this idea that for the mini-bible when it goes over characters I could draw the student body cards and faculty badges to make it visually interesting.

I had given up the idea because I didn't think I could do a good job, but then it is taking me a while to complete anyway, and I want to draw, so I am at least trying. That means looking at women of different ages and physical types: one color, but with a lot of variety.

I am learning a lot from it. Drawing from my head kind of gives everyone the same basic features, only really changing the hair. There is a lot of variety in face shapes and noses and eyebrows. I will probably never be a great artist, but doing this now makes me more aware of how many different ways people can be, and that does not hurt for a writer.

(And I can totally see now how much the options would open up by adding color, and also know that I do not have the ability at this time to make that work, so am sticking with pencils and gray scale.)

The other part of that was finding that I could not envision a happy ending for me at my size. Having encountered great difficulty in changing my size made that particularly painful. My life script had always been built on thinking that part would change and then everything else would be fine. I could reexamine the idea of a happy ending, and the idea of bodily shrinking fixing everything else (both seriously flawed concepts) but there in my core wound there was still the problem of me (as I am) not getting happiness.

So the most important thing may have been writing out stories of things happening in my life, to me, where I was getting what I wanted. They focused on love, which may be worth examining. One dealt with the financial issues only by mentioning that things had come through at the last possible moment. I really regret that now because I am afraid it will turn out to be predictive, and exactly when is that last possible moment and how scary does it get before then? But at the time I didn't even think about it because I was so focused on love.

Still, I was able to visualize someone I loved loving me back, and in the stories it seemed plausible.

Monday, November 21, 2016


The selfie-taking continues. There were some shots in October where I looked really happy, and a friend asked if it was working.

My first thought was "no", because I do not like my looks any better. Sometimes I feel like I am getting uglier every day. The purpose of the challenge is more to feel comfortable with your appearance than to make you rate the appearance as better, so if I care less about being ugly, that might count as working, but I still suspect that "ugly" should not be coming to mind.

We'll probably have a few other chances to ponder that before I complete the year of selfies on March 1st. For now, I think the real reason those photos looked happier was Inktober. I'm not even saying I did it right, but it was good for me.

"Inktober" encourages you to do one drawing in ink every day in October. For comic book artists who do so much on computer now, it is a reminder to return to ink and paper and whatever nitty-gritty, tactile differences that makes. I don't fall under that.

I had already been thinking I wanted to set some goal. I had been thinking maybe drawing a different superhero each day or something, and then just as September was almost over I saw some references to Inktober, looked it up, and found this:

None of the artists I follow used this page. I don't know that anyone else did, but it gave me a guideline, and a way to focus. Those two happy selfies were two days in a row when I felt pretty good about my drawings.

I am not good. I may be worse in ink because there is no erasing, but there is smudging, and not on purpose. It still felt good.

And it was hard! "Worried" and "scared" should not have been so close together. And it functioned as word association, because there were things I could only picture one way. "Relax" is a stupid hair joke, and I don't like that drawing, but I could not come up with any other simulation of "relax" that felt true for me then.

It was still good, and it got me sketching daily. Sometimes the images felt right, and I did them! This month I am back to a pencil, and I am drawing faces, which I hope will eventually make the mini-bible for "Powers" more interesting.

I remember a while back thinking that I needed to draw more, because there is a special energy that comes with it. I didn't get to it then. Oh, here it is!

Imagine if I start getting regular about learning bass.


Friday, November 18, 2016

Band Review: Martha Redbone

Martha Redbone is a blues and soul singer who has been featured on the Women of the Four Winds tour.

I detect jazz influences as well, in the ways that those musical forms influence each other. At times she reminds me a little of Anita Baker in her vocalizations, that shouldn't be taken as a way of putting her in a box. Too much range is covered.

Redbone lays down a bad funk on "Skin" and grooves on "Atlas". One can easily imagine her bringing a house down, but still many of the tracks are quieter and cooler, like "Talk About It" of "Just Because".

Her main page is temporarily under construction, but it appears she was recently playing in Hawaii, and next month will be hosting Martha Redbone's Indigenous Funk Party in New York.

That sounds like something she will do well.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Band Review: Tracy Bone

Tracy Bone is country and I don't mind.

I attribute this at least partially to her being Canadian, which may give her version of country a different (and better) flavor. Also, though, even when a genre isn't your favorite, often someone who does it well stands out more, and you can like and appreciate them more.

Her country of origin may also make her First Nations heritage come through differently. I found references to her tribal background much more difficult to find, and the abuse through the residential schools - which Canadians seem to have dealt with more openly - are more prominent in her work, especially on "Woman of Red".

Favorite tracks for me include "Lonely With You" and "The Air I Breathe". She infuses them with a freshness and sweetness that is found in many of the songs, coming from her voice and delivery. There is also often an element of fun, like on "Do It For Me".

Although I do not remember seeing Tracy Bone featured in For the Generations, she has toured with the Women of the Four Winds tour.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Snow White Selfie Shoot

Being a princess isn't all dancing around in long skirts and communing with nature. Often you are expected to develop artistic skills, making you more of an ornament to the court. Sketching and music are reasonable pursuits.

If you have a wicked stepmother, things are different. You may be expected to labor, with chores so difficult that it makes taking care of seven miners for room and board seem like a good deal. Fortunately, you can often get your animal friends to help you, or at least not get in the way.

Well, maybe not cats so much. Woodland creatures might work better.

But greyhounds are kind of like deer, right?

The witch with the apple looks awfully familiar. Is she really just my stepmother?

I thought apples were supposed to be good for you.

I was tired anyway.

I have to wake myself up, because there's still no prince.

Maybe that will be a different story.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Dressing up: Halloween edition

If you have been following along, there were four components to dressing up. One was going bare-legged more. I may take a break on that one for a few months, but it was the easiest to do.

Next up was trying cosplay. I did that at Comic-Con and it was fine. That brings us to Halloween.

Because the point of this is reconciling with my appearance - as I am - I had been leaning toward Ursula from The Little Mermaid. She is full-figured and still owns her sexuality. She may be evil, but her self-esteem is strong. There were Ursula costumes available, but the tentacles seem to drive the price up. In a way very similar to Comic-Con, the date started sneaking up on me where I would have to do something soon or miss it.

One of the first things I realized is that a big part of my not dressing up for years is the dread of trying to find something my size. Everything is standard, and standard is smaller than me. Still, the internet has made shopping easier. I searched on plus size Halloween costumes and started finding some options, including options for me.

I am very grateful for Suddenly there were many options, and they weren't even all sexy. There were multiple choices available, with some out of stock and some much more expensive than I could justify. The best option ended up being Snow White. From new Disney villain to original Disney princess? I hadn't been a princess since fourth grade. But somehow there I was ordering it.

Even though they had extended sizing (as opposed to only regular and extra large), so it was reasonable to believe it would fit, I was still scared. I have gotten so used to feeling like a freak and a monster that I had to have a backup plan, where if it didn't fit I was just going to wear all black and the witch hat I have from a few years ago. It fit. I could be a Disney princess.

I had wanted to wear it somewhere to really make it count for growth and achievement, and there just wasn't anywhere to go. I had been thinking karaoke, but before Halloween I had been invited to another karaoke thing, so really, all I did was hand out candy. There were two things about that.

First of all, the younger kids seem to enjoy having the door answered by someone in costume. I don't remember it happening when I was young, so I wasn't expecting that. But anyway, okay, dressing up can involve thinking of the children.

The other thing was that I did still feel like I needed to do something more with it. Make the most of it. I'm trying to heal years of self-doubt here. I figured out what to do, and that will go up tomorrow.

That just leaves dressing up nicely sometime over the holiday season. That can involve using clothing I already own, which will be very helpful. It will need to involve going out though.

At some point I will figure that out, and it will be a blog post. With photos!

Related posts:

Monday, November 14, 2016


I found an intersection between the personal and the political blogging. One of the books on the long reading list was Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing by Melissa Mohr, and last week I used profanity politically:

I was very angry, but still collected. Using the F-word so generously was a deliberate choice. There was some shock, which I think caused people to read it in a different frame of mind than they might otherwise do. I believe my first public use of profanity was effective.

(Because of the ensuing discussion, that has become its own thing where I am doing daily Facebook posts that I futilely try to keep short, but may be useful to some and can free up the blog for the personal stuff which is probably more effective anyway. If we're not friends on Facebook and you want to be, let me know.)

I don't believe it would have been nearly as effective if I swore on a regular basis. It's not a new habit, but it was a tool that I used, and one that I have been thinking about differently since reading the book.

First of all, let me recommend the book. There is etymology and history and a lot of the interrelated things that you might not think about. For example, many words for bodily functions were not considered obscene when families were sleeping in the same bed and using the privy at the same time. That changed as privacy became a thing, which was related to bigger houses with more rooms which related to economic trends and the historical events that set the economic trends in motion.

I thought about how we use swearing a lot while reading. It didn't change my overall views, but it reinforced some things. When I talk about profanity as a tool, it goes back to the reason I read the book, and the swearing that I would have justified even years ago.

Like so many thing in the building of the long reading list, it started with a tweet. One girl tweeted that her mother called her b*tch and c*nt more than she ever heard her own name. (Yes, I will still be editing them out most of the time. But I didn't edit the book title - that asterisk is on the cover.)

It seemed profoundly sad, and yet there was a strength to the way she tweeted and the way she is in general. I was thinking of all the ways that girls and women are addressed - sometimes openly diminishing but often not obviously so - that's why I needed to check the book out. And the book wasn't really about that, but it was still a really interesting book.

That particular issue will come up more with the Slut! book, which we will get to.

For now, just words? Or not just words? It's both. We can use language carelessly, and have results we don't intend. We can use language deliberately and be very harmful or very helpful.

I try and use my words in a good way, which may incorporate shocking people, making them uncomfortable, and even offending them. Even when I get it wrong, I can promise you that I have thought about it.

Related posts:

Friday, November 11, 2016

Band Review: Pura Fé

Pura Fé is also one I found through the Women of the Four Winds tour, but it has been much easier finding and listening to her music. Some of her links focus on her trio, but there is a lot of information available, and while there are no upcoming shows listed the history shows some fairly recent dates.

One thing I appreciated is that while she has a variety of styles she can perform in, the albums are very focused. The songs selected for each album go together well and form a good whole. On Hold the Rain you hear Blues, and the guitar on the final track, "True Freedom" is blues sublime. For a disciple of Charley Patton and an influencer of Taj Mahal, that makes sense for Pura Fé. But then on Follow Your Heart's Desire you hear the influence of her First Nations heritage more, and then on Caution To The Wind you hear more jazz and it is a different mood again.

This unity makes each album more effective, so that a mood and message is conveyed without great effort on the part of the listener. It also provides a good reason to put in effort, listen more deeply, and hear why and how the album took its respective form.

I enjoyed the bounce and the romance of Caution To The Wind (maybe I just needed to feel something more "up" this week). Even while that appealed to me, it also includes the haunting and beautiful, "This is Progress". It works, and belongs there, but it stays with you in a different way.

There is a lot being offered here.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Band Review: Wayquay

Wayquay was also part of the Women of the Four Winds tour.

She makes interesting use of techno elements without it really becoming techno music. I would classify it still as rock, but synthesizer is used as an accent, emphasizing and affecting the mood of each song. There are aspects to "Navigate" that remind me of early Blondie. It is completely distinct, but if people like punk disco melding with rap, that could be a reason to check Wayquay out.

I also sometimes hear a Blues influence, like on "Overnight", but the overall impression is that she gets some really interesting musical textures, taking tracks in different directions.

I could not find evidence of a strong social media presence, with a Soundcloud and Twitter that aren't used and the music on Myspace and Youtube not being very easy to navigate, so there is room from improvement there. For right now going to Myspace and clicking on "Music" and "Play all" is the best bet, and it won't be as many songs as it looks like. Still worth doing.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016


I guess I am not done with this election after all.

I'm not sure how much that changes what I have had in mind to write for next. On one level, I feel like any self-improvement and examination I want to do had better be done quickly, because life feels very unstable.

On the other hand, how much has it helped? All the reading where I try and understand everything, and all the times where I engaged tenaciously and with care, what has any of it really accomplished? Not that I expected to influence the election - I said I didn't think I could. Even so, seeing that there are that many people who chose racism and fascism, well, I see the attraction of nihilism. What is the point?

But realistically I'm not going to become a nihilist.

I care and I try. My personality is pretty well set. It has been hard feeling so poor and isolated and tied down, like there's not much that I even can do, but a lot of people are talking about organizing. Maybe there are things I can do that I haven't thought of.

This is something that I thought I would write about today anyway. A week ago I had hope for the election, but not a lot for myself. I have come to see how much the last job loss and this one hurt my employment prospects. It doesn't matter whether there was an economic downturn or how good I was at different jobs; it's like taking a pay cut then and looking while unemployed means that I will have to take another pay cut. Realizing that when I am contemplating become Mom's home health worker - which fills several needs but is a cut in pay and prestige - well, it looked like a pretty bleak future.

What helped was not that now everyone has a bleak future, but before that a friend reached out and came and got me, solving all concerns about time and transportation and money. She gave me a chance to talk and laugh and maybe cry some but also to be enjoyed. Then another friend called and set up a time to get together. I knew I needed socialization, but I was too low to muster the effort to arrange it. People came through for me.

Then, after I got home from that, a message I had sent a while ago (August 30th actually) suddenly had an answer, because I had reached out to someone, and we got to relate to each other, and boost each other. I do have some impact.

So I have to keep being me, because I don't really know any other way to be.

It does feel like I might start swearing.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Back to me

While I do still have things to say about the state of the world, I have been needing to get back to personal writing, and maybe today is the right time. I have some stories with some hardship, but also there were people who were good to me, and maybe that makes these stories good for this time. After all, for as much as ordinary people can be horrible, they can be good too, and they often are.

About a month ago I had a doctor's appointment. I had rescheduled twice due to financial concerns, and I knew I just needed to get it over with. The rescheduled time happened to be while my younger sisters were out of town, so leaving Mom alone was a worry. My older sister was going to pick her up and have her hang out for a while there.

She was a little late (and didn't even offer me a ride to the bus stop or a MAX station or anything), but I made the bus that I needed to and was not going to be late.

I felt good about that. I also felt good because I had been getting more patient with Mom. I had been able to field her questions more gently. I wasn't actually getting her to believe we were at home, but there hadn't been any really bad moments for a few days. Yes, there were concerns about paying for this appointment and concerns about being out of insulin, but it still kind of felt like I was handling my life better.

Then I got to the doctors office and found out I was a day late.

Against all odds, there was an open slot an hour later, and they could get me in. I got that set up, then went to the bathroom and spent a few moments crying and hating myself. I wasn't getting better! I was just a stupid bonehead who couldn't get anything right! I didn't even know what day it was!

Maybe it was the strain of that day, or having Julie and Maria gone, or something about the time at Misty's apartment, but that night Mom was really persistent about asking to go home, and then she asked about her church calling - from which she had been released, at my request, because I had been doing it - and then there were bruised feelings again, and neither of us handled it well. And then she forgot it, which is the one good thing about this disease.

That was a hard day, but things happened that needed to happen. I got some more insulin samples to keep me going a bit longer, and my doctor recommended an alternative that is more affordable. It involves going to Wal-Mart, because they are the only ones who carry it, so there goes my last vestige of pride in social consciousness there, but I always understood that there were people needed to go there. Now I am one of them.

The good part is that people were helpful. The office manager was so kind. She saw how on the edge I was, and talked me down. I mean, I still needed to cry, but some kindness can really help. My medication will be about $100 a month instead of $900. I'll take that.

And I was not better with Mom that night, but I was the next day. I am spotting new things that give me ideas for how to help. There are things I can't fix, so there are always adjustments to be made. That will keep happening. I will keep getting new blank slates with her, and if that's less than ideal, there are ways in which it helps.

So I'm pretty reluctant to congratulate myself on getting better now, but I am at least not getting worse.

Monday, November 07, 2016

The devil inside

This post could have easily been titled "Sympathy for the devil". It was inspired by a recent run of think pieces trying to empathize with the Trump voters, because they have had it rough, and they aren't being racist on purpose.

I can give credit for not being evil on purpose, but I think deliberately evil masterminds are still pretty rare. However, when people are ignorant or greedy enough to downplay qualms - so they have this feeling that something might be kind of bad here but ignore it for whatever self-interested reason - that leads to a lot of horror. I can't give too much credit for that.

I do see value in trying to understand how people get this way. If you want to dismantle that, a base understanding should be helpful. Sympathy for them over sympathy for the people who are being racially profiled, or underpaid, or having their neighborhoods filled with toxins, or having their voting rights illegally stripped in an effort to maintain this abusive status quo, well, that seems misguided, and improperly prioritized.

This post is really more for those who feel guilt coming from both sides. Maybe you are socially conscious, and you try to be aware of your privilege but you have friends and family members who buy into it all. Letting them say it is uncomfortable and arguing with them is awful.

This is your periodic reminder that people can do pretty awful things without being worse than the average person. You have to make peace with that.

I'm going to speak a little more religiously today, starting right in with the Sermon on the Mount:

"For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?"
(Matthew 5:46-47)

The publicans were reviled as a class, but even they were civil with family and loving with friends. You do not have to be a great person to do that. Some of that comes from cultural expectations, though natural feelings play a part.

We have bad feelings too, though, and there may be times when it is culturally acceptable to be abusive. Some of our more famous examples come from Vietnam, but one example that stuck with me came from a book, Facing the Enemy by Dean Hughes.

I believe it was part of a series; I was given it as a gift. It followed the adventures of a young Mormon boy in Far West Missouri. This book covered the Haun's Mill Massacre, but he also learns of the Danites - a band of Mormons seeking vengeance on the settlers around them. He helps a woman forced out of her home by Danites, but there is also a part where his mother is nearly raped by non-Mormons who are forcing the Mormons out of the area.

What happens is that she speaks very calmly to the men and tells them that she hopes they will tell their families how brave they were, and they slink off. That wouldn't always work, but in this case it did, and it went along with the discussion she then has with her son, reminding him that they have wives and children that they love.

The men at Haun's Mill who hacked an old man to death with a knife and shot a little boy in the head were human too. They may not have considered Mormons fully human, because they could be murderers there and then go home and plant crops and share meals with their families, but people do that. You can be appalled by it, but it still happens.

I can't tell you whether in any one situation it is worth engaging or not. My brother was here recently and ended many thoughts with "if you keep voting the way you do". We didn't bite because we promised Mom we wouldn't, and hey, he clearly does know how we vote, so we at least don't need to clarify that.

I did call him out once, a different time, to straight out ask if he was calling us stupid, and no, he was not going that far. It might have helped a little. I messaged another guy on Facebook, and he still contradicts my posts, but he has stopped doing so with name-calling. Progress? Enough progress to be worth the effort? I don't know. I just do what feels right at the moment, thinking about things all the time.

But there is one other story that comes to mind. It came from the documentary Slavery By Another Name, which I recommend, but I am only going to link to a short clip here.

Her great-grandfather killed eleven men because he had been illegally using them as slaves after emancipation, and he didn't want to get into trouble for it. Her family through him told a story of hardened criminals trying to escape so they could have their patriarch not be a mass-murderer.

If she can process that, you can process your uncle telling racist jokes or your cousin voting for Trump. You can see their humanity and know that they are wrong at the same time. Humanity is messy, but it's what we've got.

I still can't tell you how to handle your holiday dinners.