Saturday, April 24, 2010

In CASA training they taught us everything you experience changes the structure of your brain. Neurochemical pathways are a bit like trails in the woods; the more they get used, the easier they are to use. That's why abused kids often have overdeveloped fight or flight responses, which get invoked for all sorts of situations that don't actually require them.

I'm working on teaching my brain not to be in crisis.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tuesday, there was a cinnamon roll--breakfast, grabbed on the way to class--without guilt. A cinnamon roll, a banana, a glass of water, that I did not feel ashamed of, did not want or try to hide. An incidental meal, eaten without caving to the sugar and fat and lack of whole grain--without thinking, how dare I violate this propriety--thinking, I'm hungry, it's time to eat. And I'm going to eat what I want to.

When I got there, Newlin turned around to me and gave a big thumbs up; same breakfast. Is this how normal people eat? So relaxed, casual?

I see my body mostly as betrayal. Its fatness, its roundness; its weakness. Injury and breakage and pain that must constantly be accommodated. Needs for food and sleep and rest that are always slowing me down. Helplessness, fear. I want to live in a body, yes, but I want to live in a fighter's or a dancer's body, lithe, powerful, open, graceful, strong. Something for living a fiery and glorious and short life that also isn't mine.

For the first time I catch a glimpse of it, my body, my broken body as it is now, as some sort of victory. I have been taking care of myself, in some way; there are other parts of me deserving of care, not just this body on which the war has been waged, other needs besides hunger that deserve to be filled. This has been my compromise, my choice, my survival--and maybe that's ok. Maybe it's alright to be the marginalized fat woman, forever explaining to people that I didn't need that lover or that job, I never expected to live past thirty, thirty five. May be a freedom worth having, keeping, holding up against the world.

It's not a choice to say no unless you can say yes.

I don't want to always say yes, but for now--for now, yes. Glorious.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

As soon as I finish this semester's work, I'm taking a year off. People keep asking me what I plan to spend it on, and it's been hard to answer. This is the answer: Learn to take care of myself.

Here's the longer answer:

Pick a reasonable standard of cleanliness and organization, and implement it (no more feeling guilty when my house is dirty and when I spend time cleaning it)

Make good decisions about what to own--includes culling accumulated junk and old files, as well as careful budgeting

Get in the habit of maintaining the things I own, in very good repair

Keep working on good financial habits

Work on certifications (at work) or other projects for long term financial independence

Develop better work habits for personal projects

Focus on taking really, really, really, really good care of my back

Learn enough compromise, body awareness, and ability to ask for help to keep up with basic life stuff without further injuring myself

Get in the habit of keeping up on medical care, including the small stuff

Learn food skills--cooking, rotating food, gardening, planning

Get PTSD under control. . . maybe the depression too. . .

Come to some terms with fear and happiness and whatever else seems urgently important, emotionally

Deal with the emotional stuff that has to get out of the way before I can fix disordered eating

Develop the network and skills to have a really rich, diverse, and satisfying social life

Become more emotionally independent (or, less dependent on social contact to "feel better"/escape)

Study only what I want to study

Try to enjoy life (?)

this last one is hard.

It's especially complicated to summarize when you're trying to explain why you aren't doing what (I guess?) people are supposed to do these days--pack their schedules very very full, and let all of this "taking care of yourself" stuff just happen. Some of this I don't know how to do, or I have bad habits about, because my parents taught me more about Fermat's last theorem than how to take care of a body or a house. A lot of it, I feel I don't deserve. This is a common trauma related thing, I hear--I guess I'll add another list item: get rid of unnecessary guilt.

I'm not going to go to school, volunteer, do political work, or commit myself to academic projects for other people. I'm just going to learn to take care of myself--for myself. For a time.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My personal style preferences include a lot of steampunk, so I've been reading up on it. It turns out I love steampunk. There's a lot of darkness, and a sense of whimsy; it's creative, playful, passionate. They talk about maker culture; they resist the idea of a world they have to helplessly or passively accept.

I hate the fact that for so many people, it's about escapism. I want it streamlined, functional; I am hungry for a making of this same aesthetic that is grounded in the reality of here and now. I want to imagine the world is still alive, still dark and beautiful and dangerous worth exploring every inch of.

Very little delights me more than the elegance of an object that was made clean, simple, and strikingly gorgeous in both functional and aesthetic ways. Combine this with whimsy, creativity, violence, and that's exactly what I'm looking for.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Be afraid of the lame
They'll inherit your legs
Be afraid of the old
They'll inherit your souls
Be afraid of the cold
They'll inherit your blood
Apres moi, le deluge
After me comes the flood

I must go on standing
You can't break that which isn't yours
I, oh, must go on standing
I'm not my own, it's not my choice

(soundtrack to the book. . .)

* * *

I was ranting to Jacob at the restaurant yesterday:

"I stayed up for an extra two hours after work to finish reading The Handmaid's Tale. I read it before, a long time ago, and didn't begin to understand.

Now I find it real, horrifying. Compelling."

I don't know why feminism feels so central to me. For all the substantial violence I've been subjected to in my life, there's little I can point to as concrete evidence of oppressive widespread patriarchy that doesn't come off as paranoiac whining.

Paper-thin parodies of liberatory thought that find their way into the popular consciousness don't scratch the surface of the problem that concerns me, personally, the most; I want to be taken seriously. Women are taken seriously at some things, a few things, but the largest parts of me are most interested in being in the places where we aren't taken seriously--continental philosophy, hardcore non-humanities scholarship, violence, emotion.

I want to be taken seriously without giving up fun.

And I want my priorities to be taken seriously, even when they don't match up with the patriarchal ideal--stay at home mothers, for instance, are not a solution to the complexities of adequate childrearing in an egalitarian society--and yet these complexities deserve to be understood, dealt with, respected, maybe even solved. Wanting to be safe, but not patronized by a "protector" (who himself is free to subject you to whatever he likes; see: God) is not "trying to have it both ways."

Still, I feel that I must be exaggerating; it can't be that bad.

The waitress came back with the receipt and returned my debit card to him.

Things are not done.

Monday, April 19, 2010

My journals are like this, full of entries that apologize for their intermittentness. I've mostly made peace with my journaling habits (intermittent, yes, but still a bit prolific--but besides, I'm writing them mostly for myself anyway) but blogging is a little different. Nothing to prompt self-expression like a consistent audience.

And something about the discipline of it is really helpful. I would like to be a writer; Stephanie Meyer, no; Richard Dawkins, no; I don't care that much about making money or reaching a wide audience, and there are very few mainstream modern writers whose work I appreciate. What I would like is to make something that I think is really good, that in some sense fulfills whatever talent I have, and to share it with a handful of people who find it precious.

And for that, I need practice--practice writing for someone else. Practice writing for you.