jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Yesterday, I got stranded a long way from home with no way back.

Content note: A longish story about the hidden costs of being poor, the inhumaneness of "personal responsibility" teachings, and how [personal profile] jewelfox learned to be mean to herself from her abusive family of origin. Contains swearing, transphobia, and poverty-shaming.

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I'm not writing this because I bear a strong grudge that I haven't let go of (although that may be part of it). I'm writing this because this is stuff that has really affected me, and has changed how I see myself whether I want it to or not.

My family of choice, my real loved ones, don't see what I did as unreasonable, and don't want me to see myself as "irresponsible" and a "burden." I don't want to see myself that way, either. So I have to deconstruct why I feel that way, so that I can maybe move past it.

I hope that this helps someone else, who needs to do the same thing. I hope you can learn to value yourself as a person.





* Willful ignorance is the defining trait of religious and political conservatism, as near as I can tell. It is also the defining trait of evil alignment, IMO.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

The guy what made Minecraft bought a $70 million mansion in Beverly Hills.

I get that Minecraft has been a lot of fun and helped a lot of people and been a tool and a canvas for self-expression. But as Firefly / Serenity fans know, being awesome doesn't necessarily lead to becoming popular. And as anyone knows who's been inspired by an underpaid teacher, having a profound, positive impact on the lives of numerous people doesn't earn you six (or eight) figures. It might not even pay the bills.

I'm not saying Minecraft doesn't deserve to be popular. But I am saying that if it's worth $70 million USD for what it does, then there are a whole lot of people and creative works that we're undervaluing here. Starting with all the unpaid fanwork that made Minecraft a household name to begin with.

I also think it's obscene that any one person is allowed to have that much money and use it all to buy a house, when even one other person is involuntarily homeless in the same country as the house that he bought.

I'm going to see the pictures of that housewarming party in my head now, every time I see Minecraft merchandise in stores.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

(With apologies to Wreck-it Ralph. Linked video contains spoilers.)

I used to get Lawful Good on D&D alignment quizzes, because I only picked the "right" answers. Later, and for most of the last ten years, I answered honestly and got Neutral Good ... because I didn't want to rock the boat, but I still went out of my way to help people.

I still do, sometimes. But the most recent alignment quiz I took pegged me as Chaotic Neutral, and the more I think about it the more I think it fits.

I think the tipping point, for me, was seeing how corporations like Mozilla -- which I thought were purely benevolent -- were really more concerned with ensuring their own survival. And while a lot of Free Software volunteers do so out of the goodness of their hearts, after being thrown away by GNOME I saw how others like me were being manipulated thanks to their desires to do good.

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tl;dr

The more I realize how little I know, and how messed-up my programming is thanks to my upbringing, the less confident I am that it's even possible to be a "good" person in the conventional sense. Not without massive conflicts of interest, and potential for abuse / exploitation.

Instead, I'm trying to be a kind person. Both in the sense that I want to treat others as people, and in the sense that [personal profile] aliaspseudonym referred to in its Xenotheism essay. Where "kindness is goodness," because the most genuinely good thing any person can do is to just be the kind of person they are.

If you don't believe that, then you can't really help anyone anyway.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Content note: Discussion of poverty, depression, and suicidal thoughts, as well as homophobia and transphobia.

For the past two years or so, ever since we came out and our life went to hell, we've been living in poverty.

Being in poverty does not mean "downshifting," "living within your means," or other euphemisms for going without things that others take for granted. Before we came out we were uninsured, we did not have a car or an HDTV or a laptop with more than 2 GBs of RAM, and we were living around the official "poverty line" in terms of our annual income. We cooked most of our own food, had very cheap entertainments, and ate out sparingly.

And yet, our living situation was in many ways better back then. The apartment was cleaner. We weighed 20 pounds less. We went out more often, and had more fun when we did. We had fewer worries, and felt much more optimistic about our future.

As it turns out,

It's that last point that makes all the difference.

Simplistic analyses of how "rich" and "poor" people's lifestyle choices differ obscure the reasons why their choices differ. In her essay, "Your App Makes Me Fat," Kathy Sierra discusses the neuroscience behind what others call "spoon theory" -- the idea that people have limited cognitive and emotional resources, and that if they have to spend them in one area they don't have them available in another.

In this case, research participants were asked to memorize either a two-digit number or a seven-digit number, and were then given the choice of cake or fruit as a dessert. Keeping in mind that there can be legitimate reasons to choose one or the other that have nothing to do with "willpower,"

The participants who memorized the seven-digit number were nearly 50% more likely than the other group to choose cake over fruit.

Digression about game design. )

So what's the point?

I'm fatter, less active, and less emotionally stable than I was before I came out. I have more health problems. I also eat more store-bought desserts, own a new laptop, game console, and tablet, and have more toys and games than I did when I moved here. And while I used to write articles for several hours each day, I'm now unemployed and not seeking work anymore.

Clearly, I merit contempt. I'm fat and lazy, after all, which you can tell (and can tell are my fault) by looking at me and hearing me talk about playing my games. I must have maxed out my credit cards buying new things, I'm letting the government take care of me instead of solving my own problems, and I'm depressive because I'm transgender. If I'd just choose to take responsibility for my life, then things would be so much better. Right?

Except that that's not the case. What is the case is I have so little energy, most days, that I have to pick and choose what gets done.

Today, I chose to explain my feelings on Dreamwidth and spend some time online with my boyfriend, who is going through his own trials and stress in the process of working to support me. As a result, the dishes aren't done, the laundry's unmade, and I'm eating hash browns and canned chickpeas for dinner because I haven't cooked anything (or showered) in days.

Tonight I'll stay up until 10 AM

Practicing needed introvert self-care, since I can't even do the above if I don't have some time to myself. And maybe, possibly, I'll have the energy to shower, or take another course from the Microsoft Virtual Academy, or make some more tweaks to my Dreamwidth site. Maybe I'll even write another story or chapter, sometime this month.

This is not exceptional. This is not a temporary circumstance, like when the waterbed leaks and you have to go sleep on the couch. And it's not voluntary privation I've put myself through, like when you work overtime for a few weeks so that you can afford a vacation. This is my everyday life. And this is what it was like for most of my life pre-transition, too, since I was dealing with everyday religious / emotional abuse and crippling depression and gender dysphoria. Some days I could barely get out of bed.

For one, shining year, things were different. I had a job. Hundreds of thousands of people read my work. At one point, I got to collaborate with a TV personality. I could afford most of my wants and all of my needs, if you didn't count health insurance (which no one could afford back then and few can today). I could even travel within the state. And when [personal profile] rev_yurodivy was facing some massive stress and an unsafe living situation, I could afford to take them in and buy them things, and take them out to dinner and make them feel loved and appreciated.

What happened to change that?

Realizing I was transgender happened. Being thrown away by my father of origin, who was cosigning my lease at the time, happened. Seeing the whole world differently happened, when I realized the friendly Muslim bus driver also wants me to live in the closet, and another passenger would let a trans woman die if they were a paramedic. Realizing they don't want me here happened. When my state voted to ban gay marriage, when I read horror stories that out trans women faced, and when the new CEO at my workplace decided "eh, paying writers is for chumps."

Suddenly, the smiling faces around me took on a predatory sheen, as I realized how little it'd take for them to turn on me. All I had to do was wear gender-appropriate clothes around them, or say that I didn't have money for rent. Because no matter how much I liked them, no matter how much I'd given them, no matter how loyal I felt towards my town and community, I knew that they'd throw me away in a heartbeat, and no one would ever miss me. No one except my weird "Internet friends" who don't really exist, even though one of them's living with me right now.

Suddenly, eating too much was one of the few ways that I had to cope. Suddenly, I started getting presents from those Internet friends, which added up to maybe a couple months' rent over the past two years but which made my new hikikomori lifestyle more bearable. Suddenly I was thinking about suicide a lot more in spite of all that, to the point where my partner had to pull the knife out of my hands.

There is no spoon

Or there aren't enough metaphorical spoons, meaning cognitive and emotional resources, for me to deal with all this. Not and be healthy and sane and pay all the bills and do all the chores and buy nutritious food at the same time. There still aren't.

Things are getting better. Therapy helps. Antidepressants help, a lot. I'm going out more than I used to. I'm making better choices for my diet, doing odd jobs on Mechanical Turk, and getting things like name change paperwork done. Our future looks brighter, for once, and we're starting to crawl towards it.

But that doesn't mean we're done going through this. It doesn't mean we never did. And it doesn't mean that we'll ever be the same again.

We're fortunate to have people who care about us. Who sacrifice their well-being to make our life and our partner's life safe and bearable. Who don't see us as a resource, or an object, or a statistic, but as a person, even when we can't.

So many poor people don't.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

That's how [personal profile] rev_yurodivy describes their political leanings, which are somewhere left of everyone except perhaps Ammon Hennacy.

I personally see myself as somewhere in that neighbourhood also. >_> With that in mind, here's some stuff curated from my readings today, about why Capitalism Sucks Hard and We Need Way More Socialism. Especially where creative professions are concerned.

Content note for incoherent rambling, but leaving unfiltered in case someone wants to commiserate or offer comfort or suggestions.

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jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Note: This story is a sequel to Predator < Prey, but you don't have to read it first if you don't want to.

I started writing it in our head without realizing it, after finishing that last essay, and had to get it out in words quickly. [personal profile] citrakayah's story will come next, since [personal profile] cereus is not responding, and the first part should be done this week although it may not be shown here until it is finished.

Content note: Graphic violence and death, predation, ablism, speciesism, poverty, child abuse, self-injury, suicide attempt, suicidal ideation, depression, mental health industry, mild language.

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jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Content note: Poverty, religious extremism, survivalism, guilt, and suicidal depression.

This essay by John Scalzi on what being poor is like was extremely painful to read, as was Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed.

I think it's partly that my family of origin was usually lower-middle-class, and partly that I sold almost everything nice I owned in a very short period of time because I had been guilted so much about not having a job and I honestly believed that I needed to make money somehow and it was my fault if I couldn't.

I think that was around when I almost killed myself.

Read more... )

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)
Today on the bus, the driver asked me and [personal profile] rev_yurodivy (again) if we were married yet. Then she asked when we'd be married, and then she told us that if we weren't married we'd go to Hell. I let her know I wasn't particularly concerned where I ended up, as we left, using that exact language and feeling shaken, unsafe, and annoyed with her.

On the ride going back she was driving again, and she treated us to a fifteen-minute yelling rant about Jesus and Hell and salvation. I think the Book of Revelation was somewhere in there as well. She doesn't seem to be angry with us, but she seems very passionate about her beliefs and about making everyone else believe the same way.

I asked for her name so that I can call the town to complain about it. I'm going to let them know that I don't want to get her in trouble or anything, since she's gone out of her way to help us with some things, but that I don't appreciate being asked invasive questions or yelled at.

On the plus side, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be and I almost feel sorry for her. She was making a fool of herself, and I couldn't keep from giggling nervously during her rant.

On the down side, I think a big part of the reason I'm not as put out as I thought I would be is because I was presenting as male, and that comes with a lot of privilege. If I'd been presenting as female and it'd been a male driver, I probably would have been scared of being physically harmed. As it is, the biggest reason I didn't speak up was because I was afraid of being dropped off at the curb and denied rides in the future or something. We have to ride the bus for miles to get to the grocery store we prefer, and we need the drivers' help to load and unload our cart. I'm afraid of doing or saying something that causes them to decide not to.

I'm open to suggestions for what I should do, or how I should handle it in the future. Yuro and I are planning to move to another, more progressive town, but it'll be a few months down the road.
jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)
As soon as I realized my species, stories like this started telling themselves. I stayed up later than I meant to getting it typed out. It's rough and sketchy, but it was cathartic. I'm open to anyone's thoughts.

Trigger warning for poverty and predation. If you're looking for something less depressing, [personal profile] rev_yurodivy wrote an essay that subverts Gnolls.

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~ Fox | Gem | Rei ~

We tell stories, paint minis, collect identity words, and share them all with our readers. If something we write helps you, let us know.

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