This is how my day went
Today I went to the clinic, and talked over my lab results with the endocrinologist. She decided to increase my estrogen prescription, so that I can look and feel more feminine and complete my transition more quickly. The trip went pretty well, and on the way there I stopped at my favourite coffee shop downtown, and got a cup of iced hazelnut coffee and a chocolate chip scone to go.
I stopped at the grocery store on the way back to get things for rev_yurodivy, including vegan hot dogs and some hard cranberry lemonade, since they are working hard on a project and asked for something sweet that has alcohol in it to help destress.
Once I got home, I unwound by going online, checking art sites like DA for updates and peeking in on the Mormons and exmormons to see what both groups are up to. I bought more than a half dozen games in the PlayStation Network's flash sale, where they're all being sold for under $1, and spent awhile playing the remake of Flashback. Then I snuggled with aliaspseudonym some, to help reassure it before it goes to an unfamiliar venue early tomorrow for a Magic: the Gathering set prerelease. Now I'm settled into my den, playing Xcom (I've almost platinumed it!) and sipping some of the hard lemonade myself.
This is how I was taught to see it
An unrepentant, coffee-drinking, alcoholic apostate went out on the town, to buy sex hormones and alcohol. After that she had sex with one of her sexual partners, looked up pornography on the Internet, and played violent video games while drinking.
(Transphobia and poverty-shaming mercifully omitted from the above.)
Why I don't see it that way anymore
I was taught that when you rebel or leave the Mormon church, you become "past feeling," in the sense of having gone past something, so that you can no longer feel the Spirit or anything good. You start chasing empty pleasures, to distract you from the void that fills a life you feel deep down is meaningless.
The thing is, that's exactly what I felt like while I was a Mormon. The emotions that ruled my life then were shame, fear, anger, and lust. I was taught that I had to be a certain way, just like everyone else who looked like me. And I was ashamed that I wasn't the perfect Mormon, afraid of my parents' and church leaders' punishment, and angry with myself and with "worldly" society.
I secretly longed to be in a world where my feelings -- like sexual attraction, fascination with bodies, and a desperate wish to have female gender identity -- were okay to have. I had been beaten down so hard with shame and punishment that I let myself explore these longings, locking myself in my room and going online and imagining being the characters in furry and fantasy art. Reading stories of love and friendship and transformation.
It took me awhile to realize it, but while I felt like I'd hit rock bottom I'd really found a lifeline. A window into worlds that I thought were impossible, feelings I never knew I could have, and people -- both fictional characters and their fans and authors -- who were kinder and more understanding than anyone I knew at church.
On some level, I knew this was good. And as time went on, I choose the good over the bad, until there was much less room in my life for the bad, hurtful things I'd been raised with.
Who is really "past feeling?"
Look at the two descriptions of my day above, and ask yourself which one's more honest, more accurate, and more fun to read. It's like the difference between enjoying a zesty stir-fry with rice, and saying "eww, vegetables."
Imagine being raised on nothing but honeyed gruel, and being told that everything else is awful and shameful and dangerous to eat. That's what my Mormon upbringing was like, with regards to the feelings and stories and people in my life today. And the occasional ice-cold beverage.
I can still empathize with Mormons, see the world from their perspective, and even appreciate the frisson that they call "the Spirit," which their music and ads are designed to evoke. But a lot of them can't appreciate anything I go through, and experience unsettling feelings of cognitive dissonance when they see something that contradicts what they've been taught. They're told that this dissonance means that they're losing the Spirit and displeasing God, and they need to stop whatever they're doing immediately.
They are literally trained to be unable to feel or to empathize. And one of the ways they are scared into doing this, is by telling them that if they do they will lose what feelings they have left, and become the people they're most afraid of.
I don't know what I would have done, if I could see my present self ten years ago.
I do know that I prefer being her. That "gender euphoria," the opposite of dysphoria, is a real thing. And that my real, chosen family and friends are more loving and genuine than those I was forced to be with, growing up.
A week or three ago, Bungie, the makers of Halo, opened their upcoming MMO first-person shooter, Destiny, to PS3 / PS4 players, for an open beta and stress test. I played it for a few hours, the night before the beta ended.
A day or three ago, Trion Worlds made their MMO third-person shooter, Defiance (sponsored by Dodge!), free-to-play for people on PS3 consoles. It's based on a SyFy TV series that I've never watched. I downloaded it a few days ago, and have played it every day since, partly because a PSN friend invited me to her clan.
Here's what I make of the two.
A few minutes into Defiance, I thought "This game is awfully silly." That impression has yet to leave me.
It tries very hard to be "hardcore" with its characters and world design, from the square-jawed colonel in charge of the Not A Spaceship at the beginning to the wise-cracking, alien Bad Girl, who largely pushes the main plot forward. She loves chargin' in and killin' her some post-apocalyptic mutants, and the whole game is based on the premise that you do, too.
Which leaves my "survivalist" character up shtako creek without a paddle, because so far she's run into:
Men who can take a direct shot to the face from a bolt-action rifle,
Hills that can't be climbed even with a backpack full of survival gear,
Wildlife that runs after her as soon as it sees her,
Trucks that just sit in one place and disgorge wave after wave of enemy soldiers without resupply,
Quests that can't be completed until I run up close to a target with no cover,
"Friendly" soldiers that shout at her to "Get over here and HELP!" while she's finding a position to snipe from,
And more cheesy one-liners than you can shake a hellbug at.
In a way, it's kind of a letdown. Because they let me create, as my character, a woman of colour who's a "survivalist" and a "professional" and who actually dresses the part, right down to the beat-up propane tank attached to her pack. And instead of Don't Starve in 3D, I ended up having to bro it up in the bro-iest bro shooter ever.
So why the jekk am I playing it?
Because I haven't played pretty much any shooters since DUST 514, minus brief excursions into Uncharted and Bioshock, and it's ... actually kind of fun. In a cheesy, ridiculous way, but fun nonetheless. The premise (an alien colonization of Earth gone wrong) is interesting, despite how the game handles it, and I feel invested in my character. This is one of the few games that feels like it lets me inhabit a world as myself, so I figure I might as well make the best of it, especially as long as I have a few friends here.
I just get the impression that it was made by a bunch of TV execs, based on a stereotype of "what gamers like."
Other than that it was made by the people behind Halo, and that it involved a big sphere floating over a city for some reason, I had no idea what to expect when I logged in to the Destiny beta. But enough people were talking about it online, with what seemed to be wonder and awe, that I started it up with my headset on and the overhead light switched off.
It pulled me in right away, with graphics that seemed almost PS4-quality and ... a reverence I rarely see, for the power of myth and the people who want to be part of it. Just the way they use words, like Titan and Ghost, that makes it seem like these are the names for something sacred. I didn't feel like I was "playing a game" so much as that I was physically there, helping act out a story, like when I went on the Star Trek: The Experience "ride" years ago.
I didn't know what was shooting at me, or why I was able to shoot back. I just knew these things were somehow responsible for the destruction that I'd woken up in, and that my revival was supposed to somehow bring back ... what?
Transhuman civilization, apparently, including both living machines and mysterious "Awoken." "These worlds were once ours," says the poster in the limited edition set, depicting the solar system. But what was that civilization like, besides grand and ancient? It felt kind of like playing Journey, and having to use your imagination to fill in the intentional gaps in the myth. This was no dystopia I was fighting for; it was whatever I thought was ideal. The best impressions I'd gotten from living on Earth.
I'm sure there's story material that fills in the gaps, somewhere. But they don't give it to you up front, and there aren't all the silly, ridiculous things in the gameplay that jarred me out of Defiance. Granted, I haven't played Destiny as long. But it left a strong impression, and I am tempted to preorder it.
Oh, and the gameplay was fun, too.
So, at night in Sonic Unleashed there are these people with little purple ghosts coming out of them. These people are really depressed. It turns out they are that way because Evil Spirits, and part of the game involves magically curing them.
This would make sense, if not for the fact that at the start of the game a mad scientist's superweapon cracks the planet apart.
I think it's the people who aren't hanging their heads in despair who are possessed.
I have decided that from now on, whenever anyone says that, I will assume that whatever caused them to say that is their god.
Like, I'm playing Uncharted, and Drake and Sully just found an old rotted U-boat in the middle of the jungle. Sully's like "My God" and immediately I'm thinking "your god is a U-boat?" But hey, who am I to judge?
Or what about when Batman was like "An Amazon attack, a deadly bee weapon ... bees. My God." Now we know what Batman worships!
Next time you hear someone exclaim "Holy crap!" you know how a bee's digestive system works, too. Either that or a U-boat's.
It's kind of neat, though. >_>; I haven't been able to get Google Docs to work, but Dropbox, Dreamwidth and DeviantArt work just fine. I'm not sure why I'd ever use it, but I guess it makes a nice backup or something? Pages even load fairly quickly. Now if only it'd let me select text using the mouse.
But, somehow I made it. I feel like I've learned a lot, and that I'm stronger now. Not because breaking someone's arm makes the arm stronger afterwards, but because broken arms eventually heal, and you can at least learn from the experience. I don't think that I've fully healed yet, but I feel like I've passed the test, so to speak, and have been trying to get back in business.
Speaking of business
I have two commissions outstanding that I need to complete. After that, I would like to take more. Complicating that are the fact that my living space, computer, and website(s) are extremely disorganized after a year of living day to day, and that I need to keep writing articles to pay rent.
My old approach to productivity was to decide far in advance what had to be done today, fall short because of distraction or despair, then kick myself and be even less productive afterwards. This year, or at least for this past week, I've been trying something different.
First, I'm making a log of everything I get done in a day that I consider "productive," with writing work bolded. This way I have records that prove I'm not lazy, even when my depression tells me that I am. Looking at them, it turns out that I do a lot of cooking and cleaning and organizing, as well as projects to help other people and sometimes-difficult necessary social interactions (like calling tech support). Some of these things might be trivial to other people, but they cost me metaphorical spoons, and logging them serves to remind me of that as well.
And second, instead of trying to write two articles a weekday (which was proving too difficult in 2012 even though I'd managed more than that the year previous), I'm writing one article per day, full stop. Even if I have a depressive episode, I feel I can still hopefully maintain that. Furthermore, if I get more than a single article completed I'm spending some or all of the money from that on myself. There are a lot of things I need to get, still. Plus getting nice things improves my morale, as does seeing that I'm capable of doing this much work.
What I (would like to) use
Nearly every part of my setup this year got upgraded. My boyfriend, aliaspseudonym, bought me a new ThinkPad Edge E430, along with a 16 GB Nexus 7. The laptop was custom-built with a Core i5 processor and a solid-state cache drive, which is perfect for installing a minimal (lightning-fast) Linux setup. I wish that it had more hard drive space for Steam games though (more on this later).
Besides that, I got a free smartphone upgrade from my wireless carrier, and a generous friend gifted their 80 GB backwards-compatible PlayStation 3 they were no longer using. I've had a lot of fun in PlayStation Home, which is sort of like Second Life but with less bondage and much better controls. It's done a lot to improve my morale, and help me feel less isolated and give me the chance to interact with others and explore. Plus, the (small, inexpensive, open-box discounted) HDTV that I got for it works extremely well as a second monitor for my laptop.
Probably the most unexpected upgrade was a free game controller for my tablet, thanks to a promotion by Moga. All I (and everyone else who read Android Police) had to do was pay shipping, which was less than the cost of the bundled games. It doesn't work with very many titles, but it's compact and well-designed, and comes with a very nice slipcase that's almost exactly the size of my tablet.
I'd next like to get some of the tablet accessories I put on my holiday wish list, like a Poetic case, Wacom stylus and portable stand. A keyboard is also a must, although I'd need one which can fit in my bag. I really love the idea, though, of having a complete game console and workstation computer inside my handbag at all times. It makes me feel warm and secure, and reminds me of the Palm Pilot setup I used to have (with a folding keyboard) except better. Plus it's more portable than my new laptop, although it's more portable than my old one.
A holly-jolly something or other
Christmas was nonexistent for me this year. There were no decorations indoors (or spoons to put them up with), and I didn't spend it with anyone in person.
What I had was "just like any other Tuesday, except there's presents." From my sister cfmv, from Alias, and from a ton of online game stores which all held massive sales at the same time. And I suddenly had gadgets that I could play them on. >_>
I grabbed both of Square-Enix's Chaos Rings games for less than the price of one. Bioshock 1 and 2 were on sale for $5 altogether. Same with Knights of the Old Republic and its sequel. The first two Mass Effect games were $5-10 each. All these games I'd always wanted to play, and even a few extras that I was pleasantly surprised by. I got pretty much every game on my list this year, including the big ones (Xcom and Guild Wars 2), and a bunch that I didn't put on my list because I couldn't justify the cost. But suddenly -- between the ridiculous sales, a larger-than-expected monthly bonus, Alias' having more hours at his job this month, and another friend helping provide us with Christmas dinner and baking supplies and things -- the cost was no longer an issue.
So many sales. o.o; And two Humble Bundles, and Steam's Big Picture sale of controller-based games. All in one month. Plus the tablet game controller that inexplicably fell in my lap.
It not only helped distract me from the depression, it's probably going to carry me through until next December at this rate. >_>; I'm still planning on getting FFXIV: A Realm Reborn and FFXI: Seekers of Adoulin this year, but I'm waiting on subscribing to either right now. Instead, I've been too busy plowing through KotOR (and going to holiday events in PlayStation Home).
( Extremely long digression about technology stuff )
Finally some family stuff
Most of you probably already know how my family dropped me like a rock right before Christmas 2011, when I came out to them as trans. They didn't stop contacting me then, though. Within a few months my dad was congratulating me about winning an award, and asking me what he should call me.
I just about bit his head off. Not because he was being impolite, or doing anything wrong at the time. But because his actions had put me through hell very recently, and cost me an extra $100 a month because of complicated lease-related stuff.
I couldn't ignore what they did to hurt me anymore. I couldn't just let them get away with this, like they had with everything else. Not because I want revenge. Because I don't want to be hurt again. I don't want them to feel they can hurt me at will, can lash out at me with no consequence and no apologies, and act like this is normal and okay.
I tried to reconcile with them, over a period of several months. But this time, "maintaining the status quo" was no longer an option. I'm honestly not sure I care if they "disapprove of my lifestyle" or not. I just didn't want to have to pretend that I didn't have both a boyfriend and a significant other; that I wasn't female; that I wasn't transitioning; and that my family's actions hadn't hurt me. Hadn't made last year hell for me, and put me at much higher risk of all kinds of dangerous things ... according to the research in a pamphlet written for Mormon parents of LGBT kids, which I kept trying to show them.
I don't want to have to be in the closet for them. Not about being trans, and not about being an abuse survivor. Not when I almost died there.
I pressed them for an apology. But what I really wanted was acknowledgment of the fact that what they had done to me was Not Okay, assurance that it would Never Happen Again, and recognition of what I was going through. That it wasn't like what they thought, and that whatever the heck they thought it was like, it was something I needed to do. That I loved and depended on both my significant others, that if I didn't transition I'd die, and that if they didn't want me to die they Must Not push me in a harmful direction.
I was unable to persuade them of any of the above. I am no longer speaking with them, and haven't for several months now. A "family" you can't be yourself around, can't ask for (at least moral) support with your troubles, and can't ever let down your guard around or you'll get hurt, is not family at all. It's less than worthless; it's harmful.
I'm glad to have my new sister, and am looking forward to spending next year with her and rev_yurodivy and my boyfriend and the extremely supportive friends that I've made here on Dreamwidth.
Happy new year, everyone.
The concept in question is the idea of "eternal progress." I was taught that this was something which set my old church apart from the Brand X(-tian) churches out there, which all supposedly thought we'd be sitting on clouds in heaven and singing forever and ever. On top of that, we supposedly had "continuing revelation" even in this life, where God's living prophet would tell us new things which were tailored for our day and age.
I really believed all of this. And I believed that "heaven," for that matter, wasn't simply an unquestionably good place that believers were rewarded with. Rather, I believed that there were two kinds of people who didn't go to heaven: The unworthy who knew and regretted their unworthiness, and the unworthy who didn't see heaven as heaven because they'd been twisted around so much they didn't know up from down. They didn't want to go there, and if they could it wouldn't be heaven to them. They simply couldn't appreciate it.
(I may have mixed in some Planescape theology there.)
A couple years after I left my old church, it hit me that this was exactly right. Because back there, they were still teaching the same "Sunday School answers" to every problem, at least the ones they acknowledged existed. And God's living prophet was still telling the same old stories about widows and stuff. Even their new website about "Mormons and Gays" (trigger warning for homophobia) explicitly says "we don't know" why God doesn't want gays to get married. This is what it's come to, now that their old reasons have been disproven. And while the rest of the first world is moving towards marriage equality, they're having a hissy fit over women wearing pants to church.
It's progress, but it's glacially slow and decades behind. And most of their discourse is still the same-old.
Why do I bring all this up? Because I've been realizing how unhealthy it is for me to dwell on that garbage, and trying to find new things to occupy my time with. And while looking at different forums and blogs, I realized I felt more at home on Planet Ubuntu than most more traditional "Free Software" blogs, although Planet GNOME's a close second and I also like Máirín Duffy's blog. And I realized the reason why was the same as with the above: Because in my personal experience, Free Software zealots in the vein of the Free Software Foundation are fundamentalists, who are as anti-progressive as the ones in the church that I left.
So while GNOME is moving design radically forward, they're throwing fits about it. While Máirín's teaching Girl Scouts to use Inkscape, they're making fun of her and staging juvenile protests on Planet Fedora, against the idea of making it easier to use and get involved with. And while the Outreach Program for Women is bringing new writers and contributors into the fold, they're trolling our blogs and insisting we're making stuff up about harassment and other issues that they do not face.
(I realize "they" is amorphous here, so for the sake of discussion it means "the people who do these things." I associate "them" with the FSF because I see it as the least progressive, most fundamentalist arm of the Free Software movement, which I associate in my mind more with their boycotts and insistence on purity than anything -- like the GNU project, or the gcc compiler, or the GPL -- that they may have actually done or created at some point. I'm open to being proven wrong here; I'm aware that people and organizations change, and have been especially impressed with some of Microsoft's recent products. This is just an impression I have, based on who they call their enemy and why.)
I guess what I'm saying is I realized I like the culture in Ubuntu and GNOME, where the emphasis is on moving forward (albeit in different directions for different reasons), and on bringing this stuff that we have to as many people as possible, and even on changing it so as to be more useful and accessible. Whereas in other projects, and communities, and of course churches, I see more of an emphasis on preaching (or appearing to preach) the same fundamentals over and over again, to the point of insulting people it doesn't appeal to or help instead of asking them why.
I realize it's slightly ironic that I'm saying all this when my favourite computer game ever was made about 10 years ago. >_> In FFXI's case, though, I really haven't seen anything better at doing what it does best, for me personally. Most MMOs these days tend to copy World of Warcraft, with its looting and button-mashing and information overload UI. And they don't even do a good job of it.
For me, FFXI isn't a game so much as a world, that I experience in a particular way. It has a minimalist interface that's designed to be played with a game controller. It's immersive, and sort of invites contemplation. Chatting's normally done by text instead of headset. And the pace is extremely different. The only games I know of which come close to how it feels (which I didn't describe very well) are PlayStation Home and FFXIV, both of which I either play or am hoping to play when it comes to the PS3.
I realize now that a lot of the things I lament about missing, that were around in the "good old days" of FFXI, are things that made the game hostile to newbies. I feel good about triumphing over them, but countless others got discouraged and left. I like seeing the game make some progress on this front, and I have high hopes for FFXIV: A Realm Reborn. I want to see this style of game that I like stay young, and bring in new players. I don't want to only be surrounded by people my age, and with my exact preferences. And I don't want all that we talk about to be how things aren't like what they used to be.
I guess there's not really a point to all this. I just figured I ought to write more Dreamwidth essays. Most of the realizations I've been having and progress I've been making, in the last few weeks, I've only been sharing on Skype. I figure I ought to change that, since people seem to like my writing.
- I am having to cut down on expenses, and a free $50 PSN card is very tempting.
- I have no credit rating at all, and I'm given to understand that paying off a small credit card bill every month is one way to build it.