Thursday, August 1, 2013

sometimes i write things

inspired by this piece: I have seen several things that encourage men to go for substance and women to be that kind of person. I haven’t seen any that encourage women to demand more and inspire men to be that more. This was my answer to that lack:

You should date an average boy.
Date a boy who doesn't read. Find him in the sports bar down the street. Find him in your last college class. Find him at a friend’s party, an acquaintance for years. He’ll be surrounded by friends, all interchangeably alike. Remember how long it’s been since you got laid. Stare at him until he looks at you. Engage your practiced move of holding eye contact for a second, then smiling and looking away like he caught you out. Go wander to an empty area so he can come talk to you. Accept his pick-up lines and laugh inwardly. Get a little bit more drunk than you meant to. Kiss him and inwardly blame it on the vodka. Go back to his apartment. Fuck him. Pretend it was fantastic. Congratulate yourself on being great in bed.
Stress out about the state of your relationship for months. Overanalyze every exchange and carefully keep this anxiety from him. Read dating articles until you’re convinced men are an alien species. Talk to your mother for some sensible advice. Tell her about him in glowing terms. Ignore the little things he says and does that make you cringe inside. She tells you he’s a nice boy, don’t be ungrateful, he’ll call. There’s nothing wrong with him. No reason not to date him. Ignore the wild best friend from your early 20’s who now only lives in your head. The one who got drunk every weekend and arrested once a year and tried to teach you what you were worth. Over the months, check off the boxes: has a job, doesn’t hate his mom, wouldn’t hit you, attractive, polite. His watching the game and playing xbox are proof of his ability to fit into society’s mould of a guy. He’s nice to the waitress and doesn’t object to your feminism.
Start to wonder where your life is going. Take out your frustration by picking fights with him. Focus on improving your career. Complain to him about having no purpose. Drop hints that he should fix this for you. Pretend to be surprised when he proposes. Tearfully accept. If you have doubts just dismiss it as cold feet. Get married with all the trappings your parents can afford. Consult 10 websites and magazines about the best way to do this. Paste 400 generic pictures into an album. Tell everyone it was the happiest day of your life no matter how stressed or scared you were.
 Have children because it’s expected of you. Constantly worry about being a good mother. Prioritise your children above your relationship until sex is a distant memory. Switch to only working part time. Tell yourself that raising children is more meaningful than anything else you could be doing. Try not to think about the hobbies and dreams you used to have. When the children leave home, sink into a deep depression. Mope around refusing to do anything to feel better until it becomes a massive fight with your husband. Go on vacation. Come back feeling much better about life. Within a month return to most of your old habits.
Get cancer. Battle it as long as you can. Come to terms with your life and all it’s encompassed. Try to be grateful for all the love and the lack of serious strife. Everyone has to go sometime. You could Have been born in a third world country where you would have been illiterate and married off at 12 to a stranger. Tell yourself you’re at peace and your life has been all you wanted it to be. Push away the thought that your husband is still a stranger or what else you could have done.
Tell yourself these things are what life is about. Do not hold out for a man who reads. That man will drag you on all his adventures and make your heart sing. He’ll waste your evenings reading Homer and Nietzsche and Rowling. Relating fantasy novels to psychology and the nature of our relationships. That rare man who reads thirsts for knowledge of himself and anything he doesn’t understand, including you. He will want to hear your story and how you think and what things feel like to you.
Nothing is worse than a man who reads because he knows how to be quiet. and still. and next to you while you’re both in your own little worlds. He knows what it is to weep at the beauty of words and how they can paint a different picture for each person who reads them. He understands the artistry in the simple and the relatability in the awkward. He sees sharing your most personal secrets as an act of courage on par with fighting in a war.
Stay away from the literary man because he will crave adventure. Eventually the numerous stories will filter through his soul and demand action in the real world. He will make you travel and push your boundaries and try things that scare the shit out of you. So many authors have told him that never trying is worse than failing and the big wide world is a wonderful place.
He has romantic notions about transient beauty and the impermanence of life. He doesn’t see any need to do things just because it’s expected of you. He will absolutely fuck up your mother’s plans to see you settled and give her grandchildren. He will ruin you for sex with any future man because he owns 4 instructional books on the subject but finds better inspiration in sonets and Henry Miller. His passion means you will fight regularly and be drawn back to him every time. You will defend this decision to your best friend and your mother more than once. You will never be able to rationally explain the way he feels like the other half of your soul. An addiction you don’t want to be free of. The most beautiful obsession of your life.
Date an average boy who doesn’t read because a man who reads will change you. He will challenge you to grow. To question what’s so wrong with conflict. To follow your own path and demand more. To trust that you will find your way back to each other, or at least where you’re supposed to be. He knows that there is a time to hold firm and a time to let go. He has absorbed the lessons of story and poem and instruction manual and blended them into something uniquely his own. He will put books and articles into your hands and want to discuss them when you’re done. But he may not decide that his story includes you and he happily ever after. Maybe this chapter is about a lesson. Maybe you’re a recurring character. Maybe this is to be continued and not the end. And you will reread those chapters in your mind the rest of your life.
So be gone men who read! Take your Tolkin and your Shakespeare and walk into the sunset you’re going to take pictures of. Or stay, and change my life.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

how to pull an all nighter

i don't have a sleep schedule. i'm all over the place and always have been. this has gotten me into a great deal of trouble with jobs, social events etc. one of the ways to try to ensure you can get up early when you're not used to it is to just stay up the night before. i do this all the time but the pattern never seems to hold...
there's lots of other reasons to stay up all night of course: to study, to work, to talk to that awesome new person you just met, or just because you're not tired but don't want to sleep through the whole next day.
since i've done this entirely more often than i'd like to admit, i present to you some tips for doing this when you need or want to:

-sleep late the day before. ok, this might be the reason you're not tired now. that said, if you're planning this in advance, try to sleep as late as possible the previous day or take a few hours nap.

-do not lay down for a "power nap" at any point once the night of wakefulness has begun. you'll tell yourself you'll only sleep for 20 min. you wont. you'll sleep for 9 hours. and then wake up panicking

-if possible, get some exercise right around your normal bed time. not so much that you're tired, just enough to get the blood flowing. jog around the block. do a sun salutation. dance in your underwear.

-don't start the caffeine until you really really have to. once you start you will be dependant upon it until you go to bed, lest your caffeine high come crashing down and take you with it. wait until you're starting to drag and then spend 15 min making the perfect cup of coffee. savour it. have another.

-keep yourself occupied. if you're awake to work, then do so. if you're just resetting your pattern you can indulge your internet addiction, have a marathon of an exciting show that will keep you up, clean your house, talk to your friend in australia, cook something elaborate, write a blog post, you get the idea

-once you start with the caffeine, be sure to also monitor your water intake. dehydration will make you tired and counter the affect of all that lovely coffee. aim for at least the same amount of water as the caffeinated beverage, if not more. i said WATER, not juice or soda or anything else. just. water. yes this will make you have to pee every 30 min. that keeps you awake too.

-remember to eat something every few hours. not a heavy meal that will give you food coma. opt for slow burning carbs (apples, whole grains) and protein. your body needs fuel. you can deprive it of food or sleep but not both.

-crank up the music. silence is sleep-inducing. put on energetic music that makes you want to move

-cool off. go outside, have a cool shower, splash cold water on your face. cold tends to wake you up. if you're one of those strange people that get tired in the cold but can't sleep in heat then go put on 2 sweaters and another pair of socks

-once the sun rises, it's a new day. stop thinking about the night before or how long you've been awake. treat it like you just got up early. go about your normal morning routine and stop thinking about how you spent the night, unless you're mooning over the hot person you've been talking to. then go ahead and revel and plan the next talkathon.

-be patient with yourself for being moody. your brain needs rest to function properly and you're running it into the red zone. you're allowed to be grouchy, silly, stupid, slow, or all of the above. at some point i usually reach the stage where everything is irrationally funny. unfortunately that's generally followed pretty quickly by the stage where nothing is funny. ride the wave. tell people you're tired so they'll be patient with you. try to take it easy on yourself as much as possible.

-do not put on any quiet, thoughtful movies. do not crank the heat up. sleepy animals or children are very contagious. do not drink alcohol. do not read a book. do not rest your head on your arm on your desk just for a minnn.vcb,n ..................

Friday, November 23, 2012

double standards and confusion

keeping with my apparent theme of dissecting dating, can we talk about double standards and weirdness? first of all i'd like to say that i'm a little reluctant to publish this post because it will likely make me look like a slut or a crazy bitch. there's a lot wrong with that in itself. i should be able to write and publish anything i like without people thinking i'm talking about myself unless specified and i hate the term slut and all that it implies (see slut walk etc). what i'm saying here applies more or less to all genders and orientations but i think the difference is most pronounced when i'm trying to date men. stay with me here, it's not all bitching. to be clear, i do not hate males. i'm irritated with society as a whole, that includes me and you since we all participate in it. i'd like to see what we can do about fixing it. as ranty and unattractive as this article makes me look, i think it's important and i don't think i'm alone here.  

mind games: i'm a straightforward and honest person. i'm possibly too blunt but i expect people to take me at my word. i think it's a good thing. i also think that getting to know someone involves knowing their faults as well as their strengths and it's a fair part of choosing a partner.
it makes me crazy that the official dating world seems to have all these insane rules about who calls first, how long you wait to contact someone, when you sleep with them, what it's ok to share and when, how you should look or hold yourself, how positive you should be, when you can consider it a "relationship", who you can ask for advice or support, etc ad nauseum. none of these rules make any kind of sense to me.
i can understand that people are trying to protect themselves and have created rules as a way to manage risk. the problem is that none of these rule sets sync up and most of them defy common sense.
if i could get away with bypassing this crap and just say "hey, this is how i feel about you and where i'd like us to go, what do you think?" it would be fine, but i can't. you know why? NO ONE takes me at my word. it's extremely rare for someone to refuse to play by the rules so it's assumed that even in saying that, i'm playing the game. i know quite a few people who run into exactly the same issue. the distrust runs so deep that even when someone is saying "i seriously have no double meaning here. i like you. i'd like to get to know you. that's all" people are having the reaction of "what do you really mean by that?" *suspicious glare*. does that sound totally crazy to anyone else?
i shouldn't have to gauge how many days it's been since i last talked to someone and determine if that makes it appropriate for me to message them today. i shouldn't have to worry that my most straightforward and honest statements are going to be taken as "well if she's says THAT then what else is she NOT saying?"
 have you ever spoken to a paranoid schizophrenic who's off their meds? everything you say to them is taken as you being out to get them. even you saying you realize they're having problems with a mental illness and would like to help. that's how i feel when dealing with this kind of crap.  

guys are liked for being confident, girls are liked for being...what, exactly?: i realize it's hard for guys to be confident and assertive. no one's saying you have it easy, boys. you're often called upon to pay for everything (i call bullshit), initiate communication, make the first move, etc. all of that crap SUCKS. it doesn't make any sense for these pressures to fall on one partner simply because they have a dick.
i have no problem with asking a guy out, calling first, making the first move, whatever. everywhere you go you'll hear that it's ok for girls to do so. the problem is that it labels me as "aggressive", no matter how gently i do so. if i was male my current dating style would probably be considered really meek and i'd be told to man up and grow a pair. because i was born with a vagina i usually feel like i'm barely walking the line of acceptable assertion without coming off as desperate. that annoys the fuck out of me.
can we look at the definition of desperate for a moment? someone who is willing to be with ANYONE just to not be alone. to chase someone into the ground even if it's clear they're not interested, to compromise their own standards. someone who defines their own worth by having a partner and can't deal with being single. i see that behaviour more in 'player' type guys. the partners they want are only for a night or two but that doesn't make them any less desperate. is someone who's genuinely interested in one particular person and doing their best to get to know them and assess them as a potential mate in a respectful way meeting any of those criteria?
the flip side, girls who are confident and sexual and go after what they want, may be liked initially since they take the unfair pressure off the guys, but how many of them are taken seriously as relationship material? that same confidence that makes them hot to sleep with tends to be taken as threatening or emasculating after a little while and girls don't generally end up with a healthy partnership that way. if you had to pick one trait that almost all girls would say is attractive in a guy(and mean it. and respond to it. and have it work long term), it would undoubtedly be confidence. you ask guys the same question and you'll probably get a similar (if less unified and enthusiastic) response, but it doesn't seem to actually work other than getting laid so i'm confused.  

guys are players, women are gold digging sluts: speaking of getting laid, are we not evolved enough as humans to dispense with the stereotype that women aren't supposed to like sex and men aren't supposed to like relationships? i don't think i have any male friends who are just looking to get laid. certainly there are guys who do that, just as there are women who do. there are shallow assholes or people just wanting to fulfil physical needs and not wanting an attachment in every group of humans. i tend to hang out primarily with men and they are all awesome guys. they would almost all prefer a healthier relationship to a one night stand.
i also really like sex. i know very very few women who don't. not just for the lovey dovey connected feeling or as a way to keep a guy around (and certainly not to get him to buy me things, disgusting concept) but because sex is awesome! it feels great, it releases stress, it helps you sleep, it's good for you in a hundred ways. it can be an amazing spiritual love making connection with someone, or it can just be two people enjoying each other and having a great time! i think it's totally fine for women to safely seek out sex for whatever reason, with whomever they're comfortable with. i don't think they need to answer to anyone for that choice unless they're cheating on a partner.
i also think that it's a bit sleazy to start counting your sex partners as if they were just conquests. considering there's a ton of different definitions of sex (see clerks, etc), it makes more sense to me to have a general estimate and a fluid concept of it. regardless of that number or estimate, you can't change what's already done anyways, nor does it mean you are in any way dirty or unsafe. i would rather sleep with someone who's had 50 partners and was safe and careful about it, than someone who's slept with 15 people but never used protection. they're a much higher risk and less responsible and respectful.
sleeping with someone early in a relationship doesn't necessarily mean they aren't really into you as a person. even if it did, you were part of that decision, what does that say about you?
on a semi-related note, expecting someone to buy you things just because you're sleeping with them means they are paying for sex and you are a prostitute. if you want to be in an adult relationship, act like an adult and pay for yourself. apply the same principals of sharing expenses that you do with your friends.  

the shift from early "dating" to a relationship: there's a host of conflicting and generally shitty advice out there for the initial dating stages, and the same amount of crap for established relationships. where exactly does one become the other? i would think it's when both parties talk about it and decide it is so, but that doesn't work for two reasons.
the first being differing expectations before you have that conversation; some people think you should only ever be interested in or 'seeing' one person at a time. some people think you're free to see multiple people unless you've specifically said otherwise. same thing but more charged when it comes to who you're fucking.
the second being the emotional shift after that conversation. if you're officially in a relationship there's the expectation that you're going to be more attached, rely on them more, etc. the problem is that all of these things take time. you can't just declare someone your bf/gf and suddenly you trust them with all your secrets and they are there for you whenever you need them and love you for evah and evah and evah (i think i'm getting cynical, i just flinched a bit at that).
a conversation or an agreement is just that. it doesn't change your current relationship any more than you let it. there's a whole section of weirdness in that stage where a lot of couples fall apart that no one seems to really understand.

 the weirdness of the alt world: the majority of rules just simply don't apply to us. this is a social world where men and women are close friends really frequently and lots of people are polyamourous, pansexual, trangendered, bi, queer, or all of the above. the lines get muddy really fast. the good part about that is that it necessitates somewhat better communication. the bad part  is that the few stereotypes and double standards and hangups that remain become even harder to figure out. i'd like to think i have a little influence in my community so maybe my rant here will help?

things i think could fix this nonsense:
*say what you mean, take people at their word-starting a relationship with mistrust is a recipe for failure. if i say "i haven't made up my mind about you" it's not a polite way of saying no. if i say "i like you. lets hang out and see if we get along" it's not a marriage proposal. constantly looking for extra meanings where there are none is psychotic, and it makes everyone else involved psychotic too. suck it up and say what you really mean. make it known that you do so.
*standardize-if we must apply rules to make this silliness manageable, they should apply to everyone across the board and everyone should understand them. having a dozen sets of rules that apply only to one gender or the other makes things more confusing, not less. ideas on rules that make sense?
*stop policing other people's choices!-if two people choose to have a one night stand, that's their business. if someone had a crazy section of their youth where they slept with 50 people in a year, that doesn't mean it's still who they are. girls have as much right as guys to say yes or no to sharing their bodies with other people for any reason they like. judge someone by who they are as a person and how they treat you. not on how many people they've slept with in the past.
*talk to your partner, for the love of god!-we all have different communication styles and there will always be some differences in the way men and women think. that said, we are all just people and have way more in common than not. we all have insecurities and hangups. we all get depressed and awkward and nervous. this is part of being human. it's not something that needs to be fixed. be easy with it. tell the person you're interested in how you're feeling. if they're someone you want to date they'll think it's endearing, not unattractive. if you're confused about what your partner said, ask for clarification before you jump to conclusions. if you want to call or text someone, just do so. life and love and relationships shouldn't have to be this hard

Thursday, August 9, 2012

rape culture is not a part of alt culture!

so a friend recently posted the following link on FB: which i highly recommend, btw. i've seen quite a lot of similar stuff popping up in recent years. i think it's important that we talk about this. i think it's fantastic that a lot of it is being posted by my male feminist friends. i think it's necessary to put into words what we all see simmering below the surface and don't talk about. the thing is that some of the statistics in these articles really shock me and a lot of the things they talk about (like "the pact"), while i certainly know what they're talking about, DOES NOT HAPPEN IN MY COMMUNITY! i'm not remotely saying that there's no need for us to talk about it, rather i think the fact that we do is one of the reasons the alt community seems to me to be stronger and healthier than the mainstream world. we post articles like this, and then we talk about them. we consistently support each other and stand up for what we know to be right. we are politically active and fight for an end to bigotry and violence. i was recently writing about the differences in dating in the alt world vs the "normal" world and i think that has a lot to do with it. the community being small makes it easy to manage. in the 13 years i've been in our community, i have only heard about 2 incidents of people acting unacceptably (in the ways that would be defended or accepted in mainstream society). in one i was there for the aftermath where a guy showed up to a birthday party and a girl immediately wanted to leave because he had raped her. he was immediately asked to leave, everyone's opinion of him as a person changed radically, and we all stood behind her as having done nothing wrong. the other someone was drugged at a party. her friends immediately realized that she was not ok and took care of her. the person responsible was called out for it and is no longer welcome at any of our events. this is the place i proudly call home. i am surrounded by honourable men who do not put up with their friends preying upon women. i am surrounded by strong women who are not afraid to speak out and stand up for themselves. we do not find racist or homophobic or sexist jokes funny. we respect each-other as humans. if we are catty or dramatic, it is based on people's actions. stereotypes are not brought into it. all of my friends know that i was sexually abused as a child and have been sexually assaulted as an adult. i have never had anyone react to that knowledge in a negative or unsupportive way. i am female and pansexual and i never get discriminated against for it. coming from that basis of support gives me the strength to deal with people out in the "normal" world who are not so enlightened. it gives me the baseline for what is actually normal and sensible so i never consider other opinions may be true. i'm not battered with hatred and objectification on a daily basis. i keep it out of my life so it can't infect me like the plague it is. and i'm not afraid to walk down the street alone at night. i'm not afraid to be in an elevator with a strange man or cross a nasty area of town alone. i'm healthy and strong and capable of defending myself. i have my head on straight about reasonable risk. failing all that i carry a large knife and the training to use it. living in a healthy community gives me the strength to deal with an unsafe one. attending events and making friends here is a tacit agreement to abide by our rules. when we bring new people in we have a good idea that they are respectful and open minded. usually they share some interests but far more important is their attitude. i think that's why it's very common for people to come out to an event and immediately get the feeling "oh god, i'm home!". they are. this is what we were all looking for. the environment and the people where we fit. i'm not sure how we can extend these social rules into the rest of the world. maybe this kind of strict control only works in a small group or maybe that's the only reason we're able to be so different. i'm told that in cities where the alt community is huge it's the same. maybe it's just that we're used to being different in our clothing and our music and our interests. we don't care if our social rules are also different. we have no problem saying "i don't care if that's acceptable where you come from, that shit doesn't fly here". maybe it's just that the world needs to stop wearing their wishbone where their backbone aught to be. it starts with one person influencing their social group. it starts with one company choosing to market things in a way that focuses on their product without demeaning any group of people. it starts with you. stop wringing your hands. the next time your buddy makes a crack about getting a girl really drunk so he can get laid, don't laugh. tell him that's not fucking cool. stop going along with things. stand up and say no. people will respect you for it.

on social rules and dating in the alt world

eeps! it's been so long since i posted anything blogger has changed the whole layout. hopefully i'll be on here more in the near future. i wont bore you all silly with my news. if you care about such things i'm sure you've been kept informed on FB, etc. the point is that i finally have something new to say and the time to do so. i've been attempting recently to date outside of the alt world. the community is small and eventually you have either dated or discounted everyone in it. hence my testing the waters of dating in the "normal" community and getting really confused. i think i'm starting to understand why people do the modern formal dating ritual. it's a lack of trust thing. you meet in public to keep it safe. you don't trust the other person to like you so you dress up and spend too much money and act overly polite and bland. in the alt world we know and trust everyone to some extent so it's fine to hang out in private and it's fine to be ourselves. i think our way is better but it only works if all parties understand and agree to it. the goth world in insular because we all started as outcasts. the freaks no one liked. if you've ever wondered what became of the strange kids who thought that leggings, scraps of fabric and string made a great outfit, or that a dead bird was beautiful, that would be us. we found family and support and friendship together and learned to trust again, forming our own community. the rest of the world is not included in that trust. new people are brought in carefully and vouched for as safe and like-minded before being accepted. it's a bit like the bro code but far more specific and strict. we enforce our rules ruthlessly and unacceptable behaviour will lose you the trust of the community. we all know each other and we hear everything that goes on. there are no big secrets and you don't get away with shit. you also can't have feuds. the tribe is too small to not learn to get along. we accept each other's differences and revel in our shared interests. many of us are huge geeks. there's a lot of crossover to the hippy and punk and metal communities. i'll be talking about all of this under the umbrella of "alt" but it applies most accurately to goths as i'm examining our culture, i thought i would talk it out and provide some instruction for new people in the process. some differences: talking about sex in mixed company, even with people you don't know, and in detail, is totally fine as long as you're talking in general, not about a specific person. this is not even considered flirting most of the time (unless you're clearly checking if you're compatible with someone and they're reciprocating). talking about heavy emotional issues is fine as long as you know the person a little and often leads to closer friendships. it's not weird to lean on anyone from the community for support. you never overtly hit on anyone. ever. it isn't done. if you're interested you flirt more until you're fairly sure they like you as well and then talk about it or arrange to hang out one-on-one (note, not a formal date) or you "make a move" in a respectful way (a kiss for example). no one really goes on formal dates and there's certainly no unspoken rules about sleeping with them on the 3rd date or such nonsense. we just hang out, either one on one or in a group, or invite them to events. since you already know the person at least in passing, they have been vouched for by the group. we are REALLY big on sexual consent being freely given and never coerced, so this is perfectly safe. no one from the tribe is going to push you or put you in danger in any way. sleeping with someone does not have rules about when you would then contact them or what that now makes the two of you. we are honest about what's just a fuck buddy and what is a relationship of various kinds. neither are shameful. lots of people are poly, gay, bi, or pan sexual and bigotry of any kind is not tolerated. we're far more likely to judge someone for having unsafe sex than to keep track of how many people they've been with. slut shaming is very rare. your clothing does not say anything about you besides "i think this looks cool", or possibly "i like the band on my shirt". showing a lot of skin does not make you slutty, nor does it entitle anyone to touch you. one the subject of touch, we're particular about personal space. we're often touchy-feely with friends, sharing hugs and massages and maybe drunken kisses. this does not apply to people we don't know, even people in the scene. if you don't know someone you would assume you have no permission to touch any part of them besides a handshake for any reason until they touch you first. the rule seems to be that the less assertive of two people should be the one to initiate contact but that isn't set in stone. you get a feel for it, its just watched a lot more closely then outside the alt world. touch someone inappropriately and you could even get injured, either by that person, their friends, or the bouncers. at the least you will get a whole lot of "WTF?" aimed at you, depending on how badly you just fucked up. dancing with someone is sometimes flirting and sometimes just silly fun. it's all about what kind of dance. we are all very aware of the undercurrents in our encounters and we interpret them in a much more straightforward manner. we also talk about such things openly. you can see that the lines between friends and relationships tend to blur. this is why the "friendzone" isn't so much of a thing. if someone says you're just friends it's either that they are not attracted to you, or you are such close friends they couldn't risk losing you (i'm sure you'd know if that were the case). there's no wavering or having someone put you in the friend box so even though they think you're hot and it wouldn't be devastating to lose the friendship they wont change their opinion. that shit doesn't happen. the community is too small (a few hundred people maybe, in vancouver). if you like someone as a person and are attracted to them you just start flirting and see what happens. relationships evolve organically and are usually not officially defined for several months, even though you're communicating about it. i love our community and believe that all of this promotes safety and acceptance. we can be snobby and closed but we are fiercely loyal and supportive. lately i've been seeing the alt world growing as being geeky becomes more socially acceptable. on one hand i would love to see the group grow in numbers and there's certainly advantages to having our interests and way of seeing the world become more popular. on the other hand i worry that our being less selective about who we call our own will lead to a blending of morals and viewpoints with the "normal" world and we will lose some of what makes it unique and amazing. what do you guys think? what did i leave out?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

guerrilla community garden

the revolution is rising! we broke ground on an abandoned lot today. the place is about 1/4 acre of weeds and grass and rocks where the owner has just been dumping crap for years. we decided it needs better parents then that so we're adopting it. this is what the site looked like before we started:

and this is an hour later (i don't know why this pic is so blue):

right now it just has some wild flower seeds sprinkled on top. we'll add more useful things later in the season. we got the wood from the crap already on location and cleared out the weeds in a nice sunny spot with loose bare soil.
it was just me and a guy from the guerrilla gardening meetup group but it worked out fine. we're just testing the waters with this one little bed for now and we'll expand from there if no one freaks out. we spoke to a few neighbors who didn't seem to object and one lady from next door seemed really interested and is going to help us run a hose over the fence so we have a water source. i'm really excited. the worst that's going to happen is the owners tearing the whole thing out but i don't think it's that likely since the land has been unused for at least 10 years. because it's been untouched the soil is nice and rich and healthy, if a little rocky. if we take over the whole space we'll need to either pull out a lot of weeds and grass or dump a lot of topsoil on top to smother it. my vote is for pulling out the grass and composting it. we'll be putting a compost pile in a corner and we found a dog kennel that's going to be dismantled for plant supports. there's also 3 old tires that are going to become a potato stack. i may relocate and cultivate some of the native blackberries and snowdrops that are already thriving there.
eventually it would be great to cover the whole place with little beds tended by the community. seed the paths in between with hardy short wildflowers or lay down the broken tiles that are dumped there like paving stones. this is where we're going to plant the things i don't have room or enough sun for on the balcony, specifically things that are unlikely to be recognized as food and stolen. i know people think that no one would steal your tomatoes from the vine but it happens around here all the time. homeless people go into backyards and strip your harvest. if i do plant things that may be stolen i'm going to plant enough to share on purpose (those abundant cherry tomatoes!). it would be nice to put in some fruit trees as well. this is a huge undertaking but i'm hoping that others in the area will want to be a part of it.
we do not have permission from the owner to do this. we're doing it anyways on the principal that land should belong to those who care for it and are in it's care, especially when those who hold the property deed are neglecting it. lots of community gardens have started this way, with people just taking it over and it eventually gets sanctioned and protected. we're doing this openly and hoping to promote friendships among the community and make this neighborhood a safer and more pleasant place to live. can't you just see it?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

uncommon goods round up

valentine's is a time for indulgence and care of ourselves and our loved ones, is it not? it occurred to me how often i can be found hunting down interesting items that very few people know exist. i suppose i've become a bit of a connoisseur of the offbeat, interesting, and strange. i do a lot of DIYing so a lot of these hunts are for rare supplies or ingredients that non-crafty folk wouldn't have use for (bees wax pellets and e6000 glue, etc). i also frequent etsy, artisan indy stores, and markets for things i read about or that popped into my head and now i have to have them, hard to find or not. these often end up being among my favorite possessions, either for usefulness or beauty or both. i thought i'd share with you some little bits of affordable luxury. these are all things i either really want, am already waiting on my order, or have and use on a regular basis:

e-cigarettesthere's no long term studies on them yet and limited standardization for safety so be careful to do your research. these are becoming more and more popular either as an alternative to cigarettes or as a stop-smoking aid. it's a little metal cigarette that contains a rechargeable battery (usually usb charged), a little heating coil that atomizes the liquid, and a cartridge that holds your liquid and is your smoking tip. the liquid is a mix of glycerin, propylene glycol, nicotine, and flavourings (there's a whole world of recipes to mix your own blends too). i tried one of these the other night and it was really nice! not sure if it can replace smoking entirely for me but i'm sure it can reduce it quite a bit and more or less anything is healthier. since they only produce a water vapour you can "smoke" them anywhere and they're much cheaper and more eco-friendly than tobacco. the liquid also comes in tons of fun flavours. WANT

zomg smells
is this great little website i found via offbeathome where they make wonderfully geeky perfumes with names like "the melancholy death of nikola tesla" and "brontosaurus loves triceratops". i've heard great things. shipping is very reasonable and they have little 1ml samples called squees for about $3 each. a 10 pack of squees works out to about $30 after taxes and shipping. they seem to take quite some time to put your order together, i've been waiting almost a month already. if i like these ones i already have a list of at least 13 more i want to try, i'm super excited.

fake gauge earrings
oh i know, this is cheating and not very hardcore, especially by my usual go-hard-or-go-home standards, but it does give you the flexibility of big gauges when you want them and small ones when you don't. i think they look pretty good. i even found ones made with surgical steel posts so even my crazy sensitive skin can handle them. if you're not concerned about such things you have more options. etsy is a wonderful place. search "fake gauge earrings" for lots of options. most are made of wood, bone, or horn and most are hand carved.

metal or beaded bookmarks
i'm so sick of using scraps of trash in all my books. i love my books and i think they deserve nicer markers. i'm trying to amass a collection of ones i'm not ashamed of so there's always one around and i wont resort to gum wrappers and bus transfers. most of these are embarrassingly easy to make but if you really can't tell one end of a needle from another you can sometimes find these tucked in corners of bookshops and always on etsy. if all else fails a strip of pretty ribbon is better than trash

chameleon dresses
i had one of these made to my measurements and dyed to my preference for under $200 after tax and shipping but it looks like prices and fabrics have changed since then. this is still totally worth it. i love it to pieces. it's my go-to formal dress that i can tie in lots of different ways and it flatters any body type. best part is that it feels like pajamas! (hint-your prom dress looks like a prom dress. it's not appropriate for formal functions if you've been out of high school for more than a year or two. you're an adult now. attend adult parties looking like one)

kleanex is made of cottonwood trees. it also sheds dust and fibers like nobody's business. large amounts of people are allergic to cottonwood and dust. does this seem like a cruel joke to you? it does to me. i love handkerchiefs. i wish i had a ton more. i learned that if i have white ones and am not used to them yet, i often forget myself and toss them like you would a tissue. i was wondering where all of mine were going and then caught myself doing it one day. since then i get coloured ones. obviously it's insanely easy to make your own out of an old pillow slip or bed sheet, or even a thin t-shirt and then you don't even have to hem. i like mine about 12"-14" square but suit yourself. seriously tho, get some. so much nicer to your nose and you'll never run out of tissues again. just throw them in your regular laundry.

edible paper cake toppers
ok so these are totally indulgent but aren't they PRETTY!? they also come in flowers and leaves and dragonflies. they're made of rice paper, printed with food colouring. some of them are done on super thin sheets of frosting but those are made to be laid flat on your cake and they melt in. that's how they put photos on cakes in the bakery. i want to make a summer cake for beltane iced in green with a rainbow of flowers and butterflies. i also think an orange cake with autumn leaves and bats would be great. worth doing for a special occasion

stainless steel straws
i think this is a brilliant idea. you use steel forks and spoons, who says straws should be plastic and disposable? i expect a rinse in hot water would be fine if you've been drinking clear liquids. they're dishwasher safe if you've been sucking up milkshakes or similar. they come with a pipecleaner too. if you could find thin enough piping in a hardwear store you could just have them cut it to the lengths you want and file the edges smooth. also, hot liquids wont melt scary chemicals into your drink.

reusable sandwich bags
these come in zipper, fold-lock, and velcro closures, in all different colours and styles and sizes. obviously they wouldn't work for everything but you can still cut out a large chunk of disposibles with these. i fid that quality reusables are not just eco-friendly, but also much more pleasant to use, don't you? i often wonder how we were convinced to use throw-away items in the first place.

fire bowls
i'm currently putting one of these together but you can also buy them premade. it's a little personal fireplace! putting one on the balcony for chilly evenings and/or impromptu toasting of food on sticks. it's really just a nice heat-resistant bowl filled with sand or salt and rocks to somewhat hide the reservoir of chafing dish fuel. the bowl i bought was a touch too small for the standard cans of fuel but i do love it so i may just find a smaller reservoir. i was planning on refilling it from the bottles of liquid anyways. i'll try to put up a simple tutorial when mine's done.

hand knit clothes or accessories
this is a pretty broad category, i know. most of us have only experienced hand knit in the form of ugly gramma sweaters, stay with me here. first, if you have a gramma who wants to knit you things you should totally take her up on the offer! tell her the colours and styles you like, if you prefer bulky fluffy yarn or slinky smooth stuff. let her take measurements. leaf through her patterns. she has the skills and wants to make you something you'll like, just give her direction. if you do not know anyone who knits, and don't want to take up the addiction yourself, i suggest you get acquainted with etsy. hand crafted knits are nothing like storebought. you can feel the quality and care woven into every fiber. they're fully customized by shape, size, colour, style, material, and everything else about them. it's hard to explain just how lovely they are. buy a nice pair of hand knit socks or something and you'll see what i mean. it's like comparing home made foccacia with wonderbread. they're both labeled bread, and there the similarity ends. you can often find these things at farmer's markets.

custom made clothing
make friends with your local tailors and seamstresses! if you're involved with theatre people or performers of any kind they probably have contacts you can use. so do those lovely people at the farmer's market who are selling knits. ask around on facebook. chances are you know someone who knows someone who sews. being able to get things that fit perfectly for a reasonable price is a wonderful thing. you can also use etsy's alchemy feature and have one of their artists pick up your request. my experience with it has been a bit hit and miss, to be honest, and i'd rather support my friends if i can't do something myself. once you know one person who crafts they can usually point you to others who do jewelry, makeup and hair art, will make you a webpage, or whatever else your heart desires. believe me, you want to have creative people in your life and support their endeavors.

pretty serving dishes
i don't know if i'll ever be able to afford a full set of hand thrown, custom painted, wood-kiln fired dishes. if i had them i might be scared to use them. i can afford to add little pretty pieces here and there that work together and with the rest of my stuff. olive platter made from a melted wine bottle? yes please! sugar bowl with a little frog for a handle? absolutely! i think we need little touches of fun and beauty in our homes. and for the love of god do not put them in a glass cabinet and never use them, what on earth good is that? use the good dishes! they were designed to be handled and loved. buying them online will run you a pretty penny in shipping cause them things are heavy. small art galleries and farmer's markets are a better bet

nice journals and notebooks
do you keep a brain-in-a-book? i do. everything from to-do lists and budgets to drawings and journal entries. receipts and money and pamphlets get shoved in. i always have a nice pen. if it falls open it will explode. i try to buy or make nice ones. i should really invest more in them since i'm never seen without it. one of these days i'll learn to bind books myself and not worry about them being too pricey. in the mean time it's a nice indulgence. one of those little gifts to myself so that i can enjoy the things i handle and rely on daily. i've been meaning to get another cartridge fountain pen to go with a nice hand bound book. i love dip pens to pieces but they're not very portable.

i've been trying to bring cloaks back into fashion for years. they're wonderfully multipurpose, as warm or cool as you like, go with everything, are super easy to make, what's not to like!? be careful not to get ripped off buying these. you should be mostly paying for fabric quality. it is a ton of fabric, but it only takes a few hours to put one together so don't let someone charge you $150 for labor or something (unless they hand-sewed the whole monster because fun fur wont fit in the machine, but i'm nuts like that). next one i make needs to have pockets on the inside. they're much more comfy with either several clasps or one big toggle-style one. the little pretty ones tend to slide backwards and choke you.

gladiator sandals
i'm still trying to break mine in but these are a great example of simple technology that needs no improvement. they last for ages, are really comfy once the leather is broken in, and can be tied many ways. unisex and functional, these go from hiking in the woods to a semi-formal wedding with no trouble. lets see your heels do that!

hair sticks and french combs
this is mostly for those with long hair. you can keep your bobby pins and elastics and claw clips. if you want a versatile hair accessory that is comfortable and simple, wont fall apart or wreck your hair, than look for really old school stuff. you need to get a feel for the physics involved. both use your hair's own resistance and you twist before pinning. here and here are good places to start. get the hang of it with cheepy ones from the dollar store and then invest in a few pretty pieces. the nice part about them being simple is they can be made of lots of different materials and be as ornate or simple as you like. i'm fond of pretty wood and/or copper.

btw, none of these people are paying me in any way. i just like their stuff. so what interesting and hard to find stuff are you in love with? i think we all need a little affordable indulgence in our lives.