Once upon a time comparatively not long ago, I learned how to do jewelry-style metalsmithing, but also oxy-acetylene welding. (MIG welding I chose not to practice because I was not as good at it and when you have to file off all your errors you choose the thing you fuck up least at. Most of the rest of the students liked MIG because it’s a lot harder to burn a hole through your project in MIG. I had the opposite problem- huge great goobers of extra metal being applied to everything.)
Fun fact: MIG glasses can be used to stare at the sun. The sun is, in my limited experience, less bright than the MIG arc. Though it is also significantly farther away. This is good because nothing else can be stared at through MIG glasses. You will accidentally walk into a lit lightbulb because you can’t see it.
So! Once upon a time I learned the ways of small, expensive, hot things. I loved the jewelry lab. One, the professor was awesome (and let me TELL you about the professor and his safety lectures and, in fact, his lectures, period.) Two, the art department was the only place I ever found where someone would spit son of a BITCH and be near-guaranteed to be referencing an inanimate object.
The art department was where you learned how to prioritize injury- you will heal, your project will not, but if it can’t be fixed with masking tape (or, if you are feeling fancy, a band-aid), you will lose working hours, and your project will suffer. You learn how to selectively hurt yourself so that you do not damage the thing you have spent $175 and 90 hours on that is due in eleven hours, but not so severely that you have to actually seek any form of medical attention, which you probably can’t afford anyway.
It also taught you when to walk away, and it pretty much taught you this the hard way. You learned when to take a break after two years of accidentally fucking up your final project in the effort to finish it. You learned not to get upset, because getting upset is not productive. It wastes energy, and when you’ve been awake for more than thirty hours and you’re still not done yet, you learn pretty quick what is and is not productive.
And you learn that “because it makes me feel better” is productive. It’s amazing how wonderful a small (or not small) tantrum can be.
I actually fondly remember someone yelling “BASTARD” and frowning at a piece of silver, then either sighing and getting back to work, or going “I need to go to Jack in the Box.”
(It was not so much that they craved 2 for $1 tacos at three in the morning as they needed to not be in that building for a while.)
I think of these lessons as I go through life. Think of the place where you’d hear someone sigh, or swear, and it was not unusual to see somebody laying on the floor. This did not mean “I need assistance,” it usually meant “I have dropped something very small that is worth an entire grade point and I am trying to find it by getting at eye level to the floor and see if I can find it like a miniscule sterling silver mountain on the horizon, please do not walk near here.”
I’ve been listening to this audiobook, The Power of Habit, and it’s not anywhere near the first book that’s inspired me. I’m pretty easy to inspire. Inspiration, for me, is a lot like a random number generator. Or gas. Sometimes it just happens.
-side note, both my speaking and writing “accent” wanders. I’ve been listening to Jenny Lawson’s book too, so my sentence structure is probably going to mirror hers for a while. I do like having an accent that wanders. It’s a conversation piece, like having some totally cool doodad on your coffee table from a faraway land, and sounding just like (or at least a lot like) everyone else around me makes me feel less awkward. I seem to gravitate to “England, no particular area within” as a default setting. I blame the BBC.
-side note, I almost never watch the BBC because I almost never watch television, period, so what I am really blaming is reading massive quantities of BritFic inspired by shows on the BBC. See? Root cause.
So I’ve been listening to this audiobook, The Power of Habit, and it’s not anywhere near the first book to inspire me. It is, however, the first piece of self-improvement inspiration that did not prompt the Nike Response (“just do it”) and that’s notable, because “just do it” has never, ever, EVER worked for me. I can’t even go to the toilet on the first try. Not anything physical, I just get distracted and forget that I have to pee. I will probably procrastinate dying too, accidentally forgetting that I have no pulse. I’ve never forgotten a heartbeat, but I have forgotten to breathe.
And now for something completely different
I got gel base coat as a stocking stuffer. The directions don’t call for anything special: just put it on and let it dry, so I wash my hands and scrub the nails really well with soap (my nails are like teflon if I don’t, polish won’t last more than 36 hours) and put it on.
What I love: once it dries it (and any polish on top of it) wears like iron. I actually have a chance to get BORED with my manicure before it chips, so I’ve been painting my nails more often and getting more arty when I do. There never was much point in a lot of effort before, since a nice manicure would only last a day or two. Now? A week.
What I don’t love: It takes a really long time to dry. Oh, not the first coat, that doesn’t take too long, but the polish over it takes longer, and the second coat takes LONGER, and heaven forbid I do a topcoat or tips… or, save me, BOTH. I made the mistake of putting two coats on once. Two days later I was still able to dent the polish opening things.
(It might take me a few tries to say this correctly. This may not be that try.)
I read fanfiction. Lots of it.
I read mostly slash/yaoi fanfiction, because I like it. I also like femslash/yuri and het, but I don’t read as much of it.
But I was browsing fanfiction, and thinking about my reading of it, and thinking about all the weird and wonderful tropes and themes in this crazy, hellborn basket of id. I was thinking I wonder why there’s more mpreg than genderswitch kidfic.
And then I thought of a pairing, it doesn’t matter which one, as het. And then I thought of the emotional responses (tumblr: the “feels”) in just a male-female pairing, not any particular one. And it didn’t scan. Not the same way.
So I pushed at it. I turned it around, like the puzzle it was.
It didn’t scan because my mind wouldn’t automatically accept a male-female pairing as being subject to power dynamics only from the characters’ personalities and economic class. My suspension of disbelief accepts tentacle monsters but apparently it won’t hang high enough to allow equal societal power dynamics in a generic, all-other-things-being-equal heterosexual relationship.
That’s why I need feminism.
Sometimes I wonder if our hunter-gatherer skills got transmuted into the desire to find shoes on sale.
People being silly is cute. Not, like, “trying too hard to be entertaining” silly, but the “I don’t care what I look like, this is fun” silly. It’s charming.
My mother’s friend Susan lives in France- I’ve been to see her twice, and we write intermittently. She is from Michigan, and dry, and hilarious, and also her Midwest accent is still audible after twenty years in France. Hearing French spoken with a Midwest American accent is bizarre.
I was writing to Susan and she told me I had never been head over heels in love. I think that’s true. I don’t think that I ever will be. I have been drunk in love, drowned in sunlight in love, redolent and sleepy and blissful. I have been nervous, so excited my blood was fizzy and my nerves shook with lightning, and disappointed, gently and not. I have been smitten. I have been attracted quickly. I have grown to be attracted to people I already knew. I have only ever grown to love people, often those who charm me. I have never fallen in love quickly.
The cat does not count.
In common with my loves is love. Everyone I’ve ever been attracted to had an interest, a passion, something they loved and pursued before me and would continue to after me. I fell in love with that love, and how they showed it. I fell in love with how their personalities were reflected in the light of that love, beautiful and ugly. I wanted to watch it. I wanted to share it, be part of it, engage it. I wanted to know it, and I have as much as anyone ever can. Mostly I know how little I know of it, and even after the relationship passed and the giddy smitten-ness faded to affection or annoyance I am still enchanted by the memory of that fire.
Quite a few of the people I love have been writers, out of simple expediency. Writers and orators demonstrate their love to others with facility. It is easy to see what they are accustomed to showing, and their worlds are built to be easy to grasp. After writers I have loved artists and scientists and inventors, for they demonstrate their love if one would but be present for the process.
I am in a point now where I am the writer, and I am the artist, and it is easy for someone to grasp onto what there is to love of me. I want to turn this person loose into the wilds of the world, to drop him into different places and watch over his shoulder, to see what there is of him to see. I want to know what’s inside someone who doesn’t breathe and dream in pretty words and colors and shapes and music. It seems an unfair quest, though, and for scant reward. Not everyone enjoys being tested just for curiosity’s sake and the award of “again.” People are not toys.
It seems backwards to me to try to build a relationship with someone without knowing the shapes of their mind and sounds of their heart beforehand, yet that is what most people do. Go with someone, and discover who they are over time. Scary, and beautiful, and worthy of admiration.
I am used to knowing mind and passion and discovering character. Men and women who are brilliant and sparkling and so very human, who are sometimes wonderful and sometimes jerks. I am used to women, who are so endlessly, circularly complicated even when we are very very simple. I am used to being good at handling people but bad at knowing them. Now I know character, and I know interest. The rest I shall have to discover over time.
Reblog again. Someone on Twitter said to me, about this (because hi, Tumblr posts to Twitter, hi Twitter):
“@Travellyr makes sense: we are told we don’t exist. Or that we are a “traitor” or that we are “using privilege.” i.e. discounted”
And I said back that the thing that, personally, gets to me the most is the implication that being in a monogamous relationship MEANS SOMETHING BESIDES “being in a monogamous relationship.” That it implies that it’s not that this person, this “supposed bisexual,” was mistaken about a very basic part of themselves, who they are attracted to, and not that this person is really a very pedestrian person, romantically, and likes dedicated relationships one at a time. That this person was in the closet, or uncertain, or “just fucking around,” and not that they fell in love and wanted to stay with someone.
What burns my butt about THAT is the very CLEAR implication that bisexuals do not know who they are. This has burned me FOR YEARS, for more than a decade, because I was sixteen the first time I heard it. Literally “oh, bisexuals just haven’t made up their minds.”
Well, I am not sixteen any more, young, uncertain, and with uncontrolled anxiety. I am twenty-nine, I can handle my shit, and I no longer care very much about what acquaintances think of me. If I don’t like their opinion, we don’t have to be close PALS. (Amazing, that.)
Bisexuals have made up their minds. They have made up their minds that they are attracted to both (or, depending on personal definitions, ALL) genders, just like asexuals have decided they’re more into other forms of intimacy and pansexuals have made up their minds to be attracted to whomever they decide fits that definition, I don’t keep up with these things, kids. All I, personally, need to know is “am I attracted to this individual?” and, if the answer is YES, “are they attracted to me?” That’s it. It’s not complicated. When I was twenty I decided that my sex life is nobody’s business unless they are IN IT or want to be, and that this is not the same as being in the closet.
There’s a lot of bisexual stereotypes. I’m fortunate enough to be able to ignore and otherwise not put up with most of them,* but the one that GETS ME is the “you don’t know who you are” incarnation. Not just about bisexuals: about anybody, in any context. Some people don’t know who they are while they are in times of change or crisis, and many people frequently don’t know what they want, but something so precious and intimate as who you are is not up for class discussion or debate. Nobody has the right to say they know that better than you do, nobody, never, not once, EVEN IF IT IS TRUE.
And it is almost never true. Sometimes someone else has a different perspective that allows them to see parts of yourself you had overlooked or denied or repressed or taken for granted. Sometimes
often people aren’t very self-aware. This is one of those things that happens in fiction a lot more often than it happens in real life. The “different perspective” part, not the lack of self-awareness. In my experience that tends to happen more often in real life than it does in fiction.
You know who you are. You might not be self-aware enough to consciously know who you are, but you do KNOW. Nobody gets to tell you that.
I once shut a guy down ON THE SPOT when he, in the act of hitting on me (while driving me somewhere at night, let’s go all the way here) put forth as his argument for us together that he thought I had a lot of passion waiting to be unlocked, to which I responded that it did not need to be unlocked. (It didn’t. It was leashed, not locked, a fact that frequently prevents me from whacking people on the head with large, solid objects. It’s called “impulse control,” and I’m very fond of it when used correctly.)
His response? ”No offense, Trav, but I think I know you a lot better than you do.”
In reverse order:
1. Saying “no offense” does not erase the part where it was offensive. Just FYI for all your future human interactions.
2. We were both damn lucky I had “locked passions” because if I hadn’t I would have hit him with the tire iron behind his seat and he probably would have crashed the truck into the river. At first I was shocked. You know the feeling, that cold wash of shock that someone has said that and you have just heard it and this was a thing that just happened. Then it was rage. It was a rage moment that surpassed the “Ichi” Incident and the “An Atlas is a Book of Maps” Moment, combined.
But hey. As it turns out he did teach me something about myself I hadn’t known before. Up until that moment I hadn’t known that being told someone else knew my own mind better than I did was a Hulk-Out Button.
*And now for something lighter. I’m fortunate enough to live in an area, prefer a kind of lifestyle, and have friends and interests that mean I have not had to deal with most of them beyond being offended at the internet. (This, as I’m sure you know, is very different from being offended in person.) You all know what they are. If you don’t, I’m really very charmed with you. If you don’t and you want to, I’m sure the rest of the class can help you out. I personally like the Fandom Wank Wiki, the body responsible for how I now mentally associate the various bisexual stereotypes with bisexual purple dragons who are English majors and like buttercream frosting. (All links worksafe. If you wikisurf from there you’re on your own.) This does help head off a lot of the raeg as long as one doesn’t think too hard. I really do prefer to think about bisexual purple dragons eating frosting out of a can while they revise.