highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)
The question isn't whether or not you like yourself: it's whether or not you're nice to yourself.

ANALOGY. Self-care is like looking after a four-year old: they need care and stability all the time. But the times when they need extra attention and affection and sometimes interventions to get them to calm the fuck down are the times when actually, they're driving you up the wall, and even if you like them you're not feeling very kindly toward them right now.

Thing is, though: whether or not they have a good reason to be upset, and whether or not you feel kindly toward them, are irrelevant. Fact is, they will be happier and your life will be easier if you give them cuddles/soothing activities/a bath/an early bedtime.



This analogy is brought to you in honour of a certain friend of mine, who responded to my suggestion that he be extra-nice to himself when feeling sad with "it's not that I don't LIKE myself! It's just that [reiterates sadnesses of the day]"

highlyeccentric: Prize winning moody cow (Moody Cow)
Because, IDK, I have Thoughts.

TW: meta-discussion, some personal details )

ED: updated shortly after posting. Final three paras added. FYI, LJ folks, this is an unlocked post on DW.
highlyeccentric: I've been searching for a sexual identity, and now you've named it for me: I'm a what. (Sexual what)
This might sound like Stating The Bleeding Obvious, but the advice most commonly given to straight girls about sex and relationships is not the same as the advice given to queer girls. Even discounting "it's just a phase" and variants on that theme, the advice given to queer girls by fellow queers and supportive persons of all stripes is not the same as the advice given to straight girls by fellow heterosexuals and supportive persons of all stripes.

And, ok, what I mean by that is "the advice given to me about sex and relationships as a straight girl was not the same as the advice given to me as a newly minted queer girl". And the context in which I received these genres of advice were pretty far removed - most of the first was in religious context, or in the knowledge that I was religious; most of the latter has been given to me by secular persons to me as a secular person. But nevertheless I am aware that many other straight girls receive the same advice I did, and many other queer girls receive the same advice I did, so I'm going to proceed on with my generalisations. And some of my straight-person advice I took from secular books like Everygirl, and some of my queer person advice was given by my church friends.
Advice! )
highlyeccentric: Firefley - Kaylee - text: "shiny" (Shiny)
I read a lot of books last year! Actually, I probably read fewer books than in past years, but the books I read, I read for their own sake, rather than mining them for information in quest of essays. Unlike [livejournal.com profile] fahye, I don't keep a spreadsheet of books read, so here are some highlights: books that I'll think of when I remember this year, and books that will make me think of this year when I re-read them.

Susanna Clarke - The ladies of Grace Adieu: bought this in a factory seconds store in Kingston, and read it on long, dislocated hot days under the air-conditioner in the hotel where work was putting me up. It was lovely: light and airy and nostalgic, and it did not demand intense emotional engagement.

Germaine Greer - 'The Whole Woman' and 'The Female Eunuch': I did not like these books. I did not like them, Sam I Am. The Whole Woman is very badly written, for one thing - many of the chapters are long rambles about how things suck for women, with no argument in sight. Throw in a big dollop of trans!fail, some gross abuse of medieval history, and weird homophobia directed only at gay men, and you have Germaine Greer. Also, anyone who can condemn anorexics for buying into the patriarchy, and praise self-harmers for rebelling against same IN THE SAME PAGE has, uh, obviously not met a teenage girl since 1970?

Henry James - The Portrait of a Lady: I love Isobel Archer, have I mentioned that? I also love Henry James' writing, love the long slow social drama as he draws it, love the way he creates threats by not giving them form or description. But most of all, I loved spending four hundred odd pages with Isobel Archer. I think she should leave off wondering about marriage and men and run away with ME, and we can be over-analytical slightly self-absorbed bookworms together.

Feminism and Masculinities, ed. Peter Murphy: this book had lots of things wrong with it, not least of all the dearth of female feminist commentators. I didn't like the tone taken by many of the articles, a "what can feminism do for teh menz" approach. But it was FASCINATING nevertheless. It helped flesh out my sketchy theoretical framework for understanding masculinity as a system - a framework which had hitherto been built mostly out of high medieval queer theory. I was also particularly taken by the queer-oriented articles in the book, as this year I began taking the fact of my own bisexuality and building it into queerness, an identity as well as an attraction, a history and a way of framing the world.

Second Person Queer, ed. Richard Labonte: This book, again, was part of taking an attraction and building an identity. The second-person narrative format probably helped with that; likewise, the sheer diversity of queerness and identities in the anthology. One piece on the tricksy business of self-labelling really stuck with me. In addition, most of the writing in this book is absolutely gorgeous, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes pretty things.

Henry Handel Richardson - The Getting of Wisdom: Oh, Laura. I started reading this book years ago and had to put it down halfway through, because Laura's painful social embarrassments caused me too much embarrassment squick. But I persisted through, this time, and it was well worth it. This was part of my little side quest to track down and read the works of various early twentieth-century female Australian authors, particularly that loose circle of feminist-and-possibly-lesbian authors and activists.

Author whose name I've forgotten - Passionate Friends: Speaking of, this was an account of the relationship between two women whose names I've forgotten, and their friendship with Miles Franklin. One was a poet and the other an activist, and one of them was named Mary, as I recall. Anyway, that's not the important point. Firstly, it was fun. I like tracing out the shape of past lives, as well you all know. And secondly, it was very useful from a theory point of view, as the author whose name I've forgotten drew a distinction between the life partnership between her primary subjects and their mutual, long-lasting friendship with Miles. And she drew it on grounds *other* than What They May Or May Not Have Done With Their Genitals. I need to re-read the book, I think (Bron has my copy), but it was a useful look at how to talk about same-sex relationships when the "gay/straight" distinctions of our day didn't apply to the subjects. And it gave me some analytical background for my personal conviction that the most important things is NOT what our subjects may or may not have done with their genitals, but what they did with their lives, as women, together.

Terry Pratchett - Unseen Academicals: Memorable if only for being the last Discworld book. But also because it tackles class and gender, and a woman's right to parade around in fancy chain mail for twenty-five dollars an hour. Furthermore, it was funny. And I am in LOVE with Professor Bengo Macarona and Dr Hix, respectively. And possibly together.

Sara Rees Brennan - The Demon's Lexicon: HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS I HAVE NO WORDS FOR HOW AWESOME THIS BOOK IS. I... I won't even try to describe it.

Ann Summers - Damned Whores and God's Police: Ugh. I could say so much about this... Why is everyone running around flapping their hands and acting like it's some new 21st century thing that disproportionate numbers of women are suffering from depressing and engaging in self-destructive behaviours? In 1974, Ann Summers dug out statistics on psychiatric admissions and concluded that depression was "THE female disease of the seventies". AND PEOPLE ACT LIKE THIS IS SOME KIND OF NEW DEVELOPMENT NOW? Plus, y'know, all the other stuff about sexism and "the family". This book made a lot of the "for the sake of families" rhetoric make more sense, but I don't know what to do about it.

Adrienne J. Odasso - Devil's Road Down: One of the most beautiful things I've read this year, possibly ever. I love [livejournal.com profile] ajodasso's poetry so very, very much. I love the sense of *place* in the title poem, and the physicality in so many of them. A collection of poems about writing - you wouldn't expect such a thing to be so *physical*, to have such a sharp sense of body and action, but it does.

Mo Willems - the Pigeon wants a puppy: Memorable firstly because [personal profile] kayloulee gave it to me, secondly because it's a BRILLIANT illustrated childrens' book, and thirdly because I'm afraid I've been incredibly like the Pigeon this year - wanting ridiculous things, and stomping around until I get them, and then finding that they didn't make me happy and I want something even MORE ridiculous instead.

Sharon Marcus - Between Women: Friendship, Desire and Marriage in Victorian England: This book is too awesome to sum up briefly. Again, it was *fun*. I like tracing the shape of past lives. Bonus fun because of the high proportion of feminists and sapphists as subjects of this book, and I, a person who lives by history and narrative, appreciate the sense of inheritance behind me as a key part of this whole identity-building business. This book gave me a brilliant new analytical approach for looking at female homosociality in literature, which is handy for my thesis plans. It also made a distinction I'd never seen before, but toward which I was fumbling vaguely: not between the homosocial and the homosexual, but between the homosocial, the homoerotic and the homosexual (and indeed you could take the prefixes off and apply it to hetero relations as well). Not everything which is erotic is definitively sexual! All three categories of course overlap in interesting and messy ways, but they are not the same at all - and they do not need to be forcibly separated in order for people to function. I like this. This goes a long way toward a framework for understanding my spectacularly un-boundaried friendships.

I read many other books this year, and some of them may turn out to have been hugely important (particularly the banned books i read, even though I didn't finish the ten-book challenge I set). But these are the ones I wanted to make note of. Of which I wanted to make note. You get the idea.
highlyeccentric: The Marauders (shoebox project) (Marauders)
OK, you know what? I LIKE MY FRIENDS. I have awesome friends. I keep making new friends, and they continue to be awesome, and, for the most part, work well with my existing friends. Who was it was telling me that I should take official notes every time social stuff does not in fact go awry? (I think it was the infinitely sensible sjazz?)

Alice, aka sommeille, came down to Canberra for the weekend, for the combined purpose of seeing myself and Lucy. Alice is AWESOME ON TOAST. We had a few hours to ourselves, and nattered on about such things as The Wanderer and his man-pain (which I will not be able to take seriously ever again without picturing Alice singing 'this is the way we row the boat'... :D), the joys of substantive adjectives, and Alice's completely batty family. We may or may not have veered dangerously close to D&M territory at times, too, and nothing exploded. Knowing things about one's friends, it's always an interesting experiment. Alice is Good People. I don't see much of her; I'd like to see more of her; but regardless of whether or not this happens, I think I Can Has Good Friend.

Last night, I had a party! It was supposed to be more dinner than party, but I think it's officially a Party if it ends up with teenagers making out on the couch. This is a thing which has never happened to me before! (Being host to such a thing, anyway. Let's not talk about my brief foray into party attendance as a teenager.) I dunno, it's probably a silly standard, but I feel like having parties, or sedate gatherings, as the case may be, at which Stuff Happens (and people go away and remember that time at Amy's place when Stuff Happened and people met and whatever) is an important component of Real Social Life. That it is possible to have such a thing with a handful of people, a mishmash of food, not all that much alcohol, and a high level of geekery is really quite excellent.

Stuff which Happened also included the meeting of Alice and kitsunejin, who turn out to be THE SAME PERSON. Quite different personalities, as anyone who's met them knows, but uncannily similar sets of interests and HILARIOUSLY similar backgrounds. How many sapphically inclined Australian students of Asian studies were born in San Francisco to lapsed Christian fathers and mothers who were the children of communist jews? Much glee was had over this, in English and Japanese, at an extremely fast pace and much to the amusement of Ali and I.

There were six of us, and we were an excellent six. Female homosociality ftw. Uninhibited queerness ftw. It was all very affirming after the demoralising encounter I had on Friday with garden-variety homophobes. At some point in the evening, we'd managed to tangle ourselves up in a giant group hug in my kitchen, and the niceness of it all hurt my heart. Back in my camp-going days, groups of us would wind up sprawled out on the grass or the worship hall floor, or piled up in group hugs, or whatever, and that was what stuck out to me: the sensation that I could spin around and around and crash down in any direction and there would automatically be someone to fall on. The physical proximity goes with the emotional, I guess.

College was a bit like that, at its best. You guys, the group which collected itself around K and I last year, you were like that. I left last year with the horrible feeling that, once again, as soon as I'd found myself a secure network, I was leaving it behind. Cue END OF THE WORLD, reboot Loner Drive, etc. Maybe not that dramatic, but it was a possibility.

Lookit this. Seven months in, and I have a) not lost the network I left behind and b) gathered a new one, which integrates quite nicely into the old one when geographical proximity allows. I had expected it would take years before I found another group amidst whom I could be as comfortable as I was last night - and I would not at all have expected that I could compose such a group myself from disparate acquaintances.

Also, I counted. Excluding workmates, I have exactly one straight friend in this town. Skep, step up and take a bow! ;) That's... quite cool. Especially since I didn't arrange it that way on purpose.

highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)
To say that I am happy. Happy as in I spent an hour drinking tea from a tiny cup and reading a book about female friendships in early 20th century Australia/Australian expat literary circles. Happy as in my desk is set up and all I need now is a LOOOOONG LAN cable. Also my MP3 is charged and connected to my speakers and, to round off this set of excellence, I am wearing my favourite comfort jacket.

Probably still lonely, since I'm posting nine hundred times today. (Also I have a case of Disappearing Housemate, which is worrying since she was driving from Melbourne this afternoon and, as I have lost my phone, I do not know if she has sent me messages to say she's not coming home / running late / eaten by wildebeest.) But I'm feeling... optimistically lonely? I have a functioning social life, as much of a one as I had in Sydney and more than I had at home. The problem, such as it is, is that I spent last year with my life wrapped around K's, and the year-and-a-bit before that intensely twined with the Wife, and the year before THAT I was a sort of orbiting planet around the TessNReena binary star. I didn't go anywhere or do anything much or talk to many people I didn't live right next to, but they were always around. The last time I've been not constantly surrounded by people was first year, and then I spent every spare minute online talking to [livejournal.com profile] gryphonvere.

When I got to Canberra I was so glad to be on my own for once. The novelty is kinda wearing off, but I'll adjust. I really need to spend some not in the sort of intense friendships I seem to have formed in the last few years, remember how to be alone in my head again.

As for friends... I'm sulky about the necessity of making a whole new set, since I liked the set K and I gathered last year so very well. But I have [livejournal.com profile] xxlucyferxx and [livejournal.com profile] tahira_saki, and I would much rather have two good friends (and these two were good friends the moment I laid eyes on them) whom I see every couple of weeks than the kinds of friends I had for many years at uni: ones you ate with every day and then never emailed after uni broke up, ones you saw every week at church and bible study but never felt compelled to meet up with outside of those circles.

[livejournal.com profile] sommeille, when you come online: email me your postal address pretty please? If anyone sees her in person before she gets the intarwub back, pls filch her contact details for me ( I don't even have her phone number).


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