*Appears*

May. 14th, 2011 10:04 am
jennifergearing: photo of jen looking at the camera (Default)
Why hello there, internoodles! I am in fact alive, I just seem to be much less capable of things that aren't twitter and facebook these days. But it's a lovely autumn day, even if it is cold, so y'all can have an update.

Being back in Brisbane is awesomesauce, and really puts into perspective just how miserable I was in Canberra. Between the cold and the lack of real social interaction outside of work, it got a bit fucked up for a while there. I'm still pretty crazypants, but having the support network I have here and being somewhere I don't have to deal with subzero temperatures helps significantly.

In more recent things, this idea seems to have burrowed into my brain, and whilst I think it could be a good idea a chunk of my brain is going "WTF?" at me about it. I blame Stephen's mother, because she made a passing comment whilst she was a bit tipsy the other night, and then I couldn't stop thinking about it, and now I've spent the last few days looking up entry requirements for medical school and what prep I might need to take the GAMSAT (AU equivalent of the MCAT, for US folks, as far as I can tell). I could totally be a doctor, right?
jennifergearing: photo of jen looking at the camera (Default)

So, I think I’ve spoken about it before, but I’m a lady with the crazy.* It’s managed much better than it used to be, mostly with medication. I had some decent time with a therapist down here in Canberra, though I’ll likely want to find someone new once I relocate to Brisbane. I still have panic attacks (which I’m starting to think is part of the cause of my migraines, what with the teeth grinding and jaw clenching that tends to happen, particularly when I go to sleep anxious), and I still have days and periods when I just feel so low and helpless and worthless.

I know there’s a fair number of you around here who have similar (and different) experiences with the crazy, and deal with it with varying levels of success. There are various resources around that talk about coping strategies, but I’d like to share a few of my own, and hear about some of the strategies you use to keep the crazy from overtaking everything.

*I acknowledge that there are issues with the term crazy; and I’m really not down with crazy as a derogative descriptor, but it’s a term I use non-negatively for myself, and I hope folks are able to respect the language I use to name my experiences. For the record, I don’t expect anyone to use language they feel they’re not comfortable reclaiming, so I’m happy to respect whatever language you choose.

**Trigger Warning** I talk briefly about self-harm in the first paragraph behind the cut, so you might want to skip past it if you need to. I’ve added some extra breaks afterwards to help with that.

 

Cut for self-harm trigger and discussion of mental illness experience )

 

They’re just a few of my strategies, but I’d like to hear from y’all. What do you do when your mental illness starts creeping a little to close to the driver’s seat and you’re not really in a place where you can or want to let it drive? Are there times when you find it easier to just let the crazy do the driving for a period (time and other factors permitting)?

Anon comments will be screened, if it’s obvious you’re intending to share in the conversation, then I will unscreen.

jennifergearing: photo of jen looking at the camera (Default)

Crossposted at Hoyden About Town

So, most folks with some familiarity of the fat/size acceptance blogosphere will be aware of the recent furore involving Marie Claire (US) publishing a blog from a journalist about CNN sitcom Mike and Molly (a show which focuses on an fat couple who meet at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting). Apparently the reason was that there has been some issues raised about the volume of fat jokes on the show (having never seen it, I can’t comment). The path the journalist took in the blogpost in question was quite different. She chose to focus on the fact that she finds the sight of ‘obese people’ (as opposed to some of her friends who are ‘plump’ – apparently signifiers of her not being “a size-ist jerk”) kissing as something which would ‘gross her out’, along with “watching a very, very fat person simply walk across a room”.

In something which was a pleasant surprise (sad that it should be such, in my view), there has actually been a significant backlash from a lot of Marie Claire’s audience; the comments to the post are predominantly focussed on calling out the author. Similarly, there have been some great responses both from within and outside of fat activist circles (see the bottom of the post for some links), and there has been a good deal of discussion about responding to the author v. responding to Marie Claire. It has come out that the author has a history of ED and related body dysmorphia, and there has been some acknowledgement on her part that this may have had an impact on her views here. Others have raised a fairly valid concern that Marie Claire has made the larger error here in giving that sort of viewpoint, however prompted, such a large stage (and honestly, I have no patience for ‘it’s just a ladymag’ arguments, because it dismisses the very large and predominantly female readership these magazines have). I haven’t mentioned the author’s name here, because really, it’s not about her. She’s not alone in her views (and comments on some of the stories about this bear that out pretty clearly), and although this particular article is one of the more blatant in terms of its expression of fat hatred, fat hate is everywhere.

Being fat in public is, so often, a political act, but just as often it’s an almost inescapable act. As a woman of colour who is often read as white, and a queer woman in a relationship with a man, these aspects of my identity are, in many cases (though not all, because so often it’s heavily dependant upon the ‘audience’), not as front-and-centre visible. My fat, however, is always here, with me. Even at my smallest adult size, which was directly related to a close personal relationship with amphetamines (which is likely not unrelated to my current size, given what that stuff does to one’s metabolism), which was around a size AU 14 (US 10-12), I heard ‘fat slut’ and ‘fat bitch’ and mooing sounds coming from cars driving past me on the street at a horrible frequency. That frequency has only increased as I’ve gotten larger; though I’ve been steadily around a size AU 22-24 with occasional drops below that due to illness for the last 5yrs or so. I’ve had co-workers, friends and family members express quite a bit of really ugly sentiments in the guise of ‘concern for my health’. I’ve had people turn my frustrations about the inability to find clothing of a quality and style I prefer in my size into an obvious indicator that my fat is making me unhappy; despite the fact that I’m usually pretty upfront about where the problem with clothing lies (hint: it’s not me). I’ve had doctors ignore legitimate health concerns and lecture me about things like blood pressure and cholesterol before actually testing it (at which point one discovers my numbers are pretty damn perfect, particularly for a family history of high BP, but that’s not the point, because even if it was bad, these doctors have assumed it was bad without measuring it).

One of the things I loved seeing in response to this whole thing was my Twitter stream filled with tweets from some of the awesome fat ladies I follow talking about how they were going out (to the shops, to the beach, etc.) to be fat at people. I myself spent part of yesterday at Stonefest, being fat at people and enjoying a music festival. I even had one of the official folk doing the wander around videotaping the crowds wander over to where I was sitting on the grass and prompt me to wave at the camera, so there is video evidence of me being fat in public somewhere (with a head, even!). I love outfit posts on fatshion blogs; I love things like Lesley’s Museum of Fat Love; I love posts talking about the kind of exercise we like and that doesn’t revolve around shame about our fat. Because Marianne is right – it shouldn’t always be about the haters. We are worth more than that.

This is not a new idea; it’s something I’ve seen in various social justice circles; in feminist blogs and woc blogs. A good takedown of haters can be awesome, so I’m not intending this to be a criticism or a ‘you’re doing it wrong’; takedowns and the like can be an outlet for the legitimate anger that comes from existing in a society that marginalises you, and they’re an important part of responding to that marginalisation. But so much responding to hate can burn folks out, and working positively and talking positively for ourselves can be restorative. It can be beautiful. It can be powerful.

It’s November, and I’ve seen some folks are doing NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). I’m not sure it’s going to work for me this year what with planning an interstate move, but I’m considering making a concerted effort to post more, and to concentrate my posting on that kind of restorative stuff, and joining in on conversations that are for us and about us, not just in terms of fat and size acceptance, but across the different spectrums.

===

Links!

  • Lesley at Fatshionista has a great takedown – which led to her being asked to write a counterpoint piece for Marie Claire.
  • Coverage made it all the way to Australia’s Morning Show – featuring Dr. Samantha Thomas (VIDEO – if anyone can get a transcript, that would be awesome, or I will try and get one done tomorrow), who is a pretty awesome lady.
  • Marianne Kirby has a piece at The Guardian’s Comment is Free (SERIOUS COMMENTS WARNING NO I AM SERIOUS REALLY DON’T DO IT).
  • The Huffington Post actually has a great piece, from a self-confessed ‘foreign affairs guy’ (I am out of energy for comments at the moment, so read at your own risk, though a brief skim at the latest few suggests the author is moderating and deleting more hateful stuff).
jennifergearing: photo of jen looking at the camera (Default)
So, I had surgery yesterday - an ulnar nerve release at the elbow; because basically the nerve had become trapped in some tissue at the left elbow and was limiting feeling in my ring and little finger, as well as significantly compromising my left-haded grip strength.

One of the upsides to my job is knowing who the decent surgeons are, so I was able to see him and ended up having surgery yesterday afternoon. Short version is that everything seems to have gone well; I have some time off work and a review in abt 10 days to get the stitches out. However, there was some fun along the way!

1. Being wheeled to theatre on a hospital bed is WEIRD, y'all. Seriously, it feels quite bizarre.

2. The anaesthetic nurse was lovely, though weirdly was able to tell my glasses prescription by how close I had to hold my file to my face to confirm my signature on the consent form. I was impressed but a alittle freaked out at the same time.

3. Abovementioned anaesthetic nurse doing her "distract patient whilst anaesthetist finds a vein" thing, which led to me being able to rec Gaurdian of the Dead by  Karen Healey (which is awesome by the way, in case I have somehow forgotten to rec it you you lot) to her, and she wrote it down and everything :D

4. I forgot to take my veins to hospital with me; the anaesthetist poked at my hand and wrist a few times, then ended up having to find a vein in my foot. Silly veins.

5. My left arm and hand are BRIGHT PINK. It's from some kind of anti-bad things chemical they used, and it will wash off eventually, but it's weird, particularly since I have to keep the bandage dry until my review.

6. Hospital food is still terrible. Seriously, how can something be so un-tasty when you've had one small snack in the space of about 20 hours? D:

Anyway, then Stephen rescued me and I am home now.

Hope y'all had a more fun Friday!

Life Update

Aug. 7th, 2010 11:15 pm
jennifergearing: photo of jen looking at the camera (Default)
  • Health: Well, since last update, ulnar nerve entrapment has been confirmed at the elbow, and I’ve seen the specialist and am booked in for surgery on September 10th. Shouldn’t be a difficult procedure; probably an overnight stay in hospital after (perhaps discharge that day depending on how I pull up) and I should be able to go back to work a few days after depending on pain and swelling and stuff.

  • Blogging: For reasons unknown, tigtog and lauredhel over at Aussie Feminist Blog Hoyden About Town have graciously invited yours truly to join the author roster. Given my recently renewed desire to start blogging social justice again; I could hardly say no. So, provided I can get my brain to co-operate, you may see me blogging over there once in a while, I might even link a couple if I’m feeling mean.

  • Location, Location: Plans are well underfoot to secure things for Operation: Return to Brisbane. Things are on track for a return in early December. I am well pleased about this plan. I am growing weary of this cold and I miss my Brisbane peeps. I may have opportunity to return earlier, depending on secret squirrel discussions at work; but early December is the definite plan given Stephen has to finish out the semester.

And that’s pretty much me, at the moment. I’ve reached the point about the election where I am just holding my breath and continuing to be terrified that the people who told me, back when Tony Abbott became Opposition Leader, that he was unelectable and my fear was an overreaction, are going to be proven wrong in 14 days.

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Julia Gillard is from the actual socialist left faction of the ALP.

The lack of support for marriage equality, the hardline stance on asylum seekers, and the dogwhilsting about political correctness. This is coming from the Left faction of the ALP.

This thought today had me utterly fucking terrified. Because this is how we get dragged further to the Right. This is how Tony Fucking Abbott starts to look like the fucking Centre.

I am troubled, and despairing, and there's a weight in my chest that won't go away.
jennifergearing: photo of jen looking at the camera (Default)
Prime Minister Julia Gillard, quoted here:

"The suggestion John Howard should be labelled a racist, what a load of nonsense, he's most certainly someone who's not."
 

Thanks for the punch in the gut, Prime Minister.

As always, 'political correctness' is to be swept aside and rejected. Which means, y'know, that calling people racist for panicking about a fucking minute number of people because they've become the fucking go-to. Fucking 'BOAT PEOPLE' ARE YOU SERIOUS.

I think I've ranted in the past about why political leaders rejecting political correctness is fucking ridiculous, but seriously. Political leaders are giving cover to the racist "concerns" about border protection and "non-integration" of (let's not mince words) brown/black/yellow migrants, and the discussion calling this OUT is political fucking correctness? SERIOUSLY THAT IS FUCKING BACKWARD.
 
I know I'm being all capslock and shouty, but I'm not even angry, y'all. Okay, so someone's going to call me all oversensitive and whatever but I read than this morning and I was practically fucking sobbing.

Because whilst I get that badmouthing a former PM is pretty bad form, so it's not like she was going to be all "yeah, he was a racist douchenozzle amirite?", she's a politician. One thing we're used to with politicians is that they're great and getting out of answering the question. And sometimes party line means they can't answer the question. It can be irritating, but I'm generally okay with it. She could've dodged the question (and the one about same sex marriage, since we're here). She didn't.

And in that one line; I feel like a rug's been pulled out from under me.

I still feel the same way about the way she moved into the top job; I'll still get fucking shouty at anyone who refers to it as a coup or whines about how they didn't vote for her.

But I don't feel the same about her. The very cautious optimism I had has been dashed.

I'm not surprised; not really. But I'm disappointed, so very much. Despair is near, today.
jennifergearing: photo of jen looking at the camera (Default)
It's ranting time, peeps! (Obvious Disclaimer: I'm not claiming to be objective (pfffft) or educational here. I'm just talking about stuff)

So, for those unaware (ie, ppl who aren't following me on tumblr or twitter or facebook and thus haven't had me being all :D :D :D and capslocky at them over the last 24hrs or so), Australia now has a new Prime Minister, who is our first female Prime Minister; Julia Gillard.

For those unaware of how this can happen, [livejournal.com profile] minna has a really good post about it over here.

Short version: We don't vote for our PM. We vote for representatives, and the political parties pick their leaders. For the Australians (who don't live in Rudd's electorate): If you think you voted for Kevin Rudd? READ YOUR BALLOT AGAIN.

Generally speaking; Kevin did some pretty great stuff, not least of which was running a campaign that led to ousting douchenozzle extraordinaire John Howard, but there seems to have been an increasing sense that he was heading a little too far in the One Man Show direction. Not being part of the Labor Caucus, I can't say much to details, but then again, not a lot of people can and most who can are likely to not do so for some years.

Also: There's a lot I like about Julia Gillard. She's a badass in Parliament, and frequently causes Tony "Even Bigger Douchenozzle Than Howard If You Can Believe That's Possible" Abbott to lose his shit in hilarious ways (not that he needs much help). Despite a lot of the concerns about the role of the ALP Right faction in the spill, she's been ALP Left faction for a long time, and I think the ALP Right's role was less about supporting her and more about withdrawing any remaining support from Kevin.

I've seen a lot of "Not Like This" comments about Julia's taking of the leadership, and I'm wondering if I'm missing something here, but I'm not really sure what "Not Like This" actually looks like. As far as I can tell, the options were:
1. Pre-election Leadership Spill: What happened. A bit dramatic, but relatively quick (much shorter than the Hawke-Keating spill, which is the nearest comparison) and (imo) puts them in a pretty good spot for the election because having Julia front and centre vs. Tony significantly increases the chance of him mouthing off in ridiculous and self-damaging ways.
2. Post-election (ALP victory) Leadership Spill: I can't see this being better than what we've got now. The same arguments would happen, and as much as I wish it would, I can't see the "We Didn't Vote For Her" camp not just continuing for longer.
3. Post-election (ALP victory) Kevin retires and Julia gets 'given' the leadership (cf. Beattie and Bligh in Qld): I really don't see this happening. As Briony said to me on twitter earlier; given Kevin's emotional reaction yesterday, and the fact that he's not shown any real sign of thinking this is the end of his career, I don't see him as the type to resign the Prime Ministerial position.
4. Post-election (Coalition victory) Leadership Spill: WTF NO NO NO. Seriously, the only thing I see from this is Abbott wins, we have to put up with his hatemongering bullshit for however many years (I'm too pessimistic to think that if this happens it'll only be one term), and suddenly where we are now is seen is the far fucking left again. NO.

I dunno. I'm voting option one as the better of those four, assuming (which I think is pretty reasonable) than option 3 is really unlikely.

It seems one of the issues that contributed to the current situation was the massive circus going on about the Resources Super Profits Tax (RSPT). Now, I'm not generally the type that goes combing through tax policy; largely because, well, I actually like paying taxes, and don't have that much beef with them aside from the fact that middle class and higher folk whine about them ever so much (You can see why I don't get on with Libertarians, right?). That said, and I'm willing to accept charges of naivete on this front, but I think the name is pretty clear. It's a tax on the Resources Sector (i.e. the mining industry) that's linked to Super Profits.
Apparently (I've not been watching much tv-on-the-actual-television lately, so I've not seen much of it), the Mining Industry has been funding some pretty ridiculous socialist scaremongering ads about the RSPT. I hear a few of the bigger names, who are noted as some of the richest people in the country, had some kind of protest a few weeks ago where they were shaking their fists and "demanding justice". Seriously? Call me callous, but I don't have a lot of sympathy for the uber-rich demanding justice in the form of more tax breaks. It's in the realm of patently fucking ridiculous.

Going back to the Government, apparently they've been copping a lot of flack over the RSPT. And perhaps this is my naivete again, but I'm seriously not understanding (though this may be an indicator of why I perhaps should not go into politics) why the response is not one of the following:
1. "Uh, folks? We're taxing really uber rich corporations. How is this bad?"
2. "WHAT PART OF 'SUPER PROFITS TAX' IS DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND?"
I rather prefer the latter, because it links in nicely to my "READ YOUR BALLOT" point above. :P

*deep breath* It was good to get that out of my system. And now, I'm gonna go track down and watch yesterday's Question Time and Julia's interview on last night's 7:30 Report, because I need more Julia being badass in my day. :D

I shall leave you with this picture, which I posted on Tumblr last night:

jennifergearing: photo of jen looking at the camera (Default)

  • Health: So, a few months ago, I went on a bit of a RockBand bender, and ended up with a pretty sore left wrist. Around that time, my 4th and 5th fingers started going numb, and, well, they’re still numb. I have nerve conduction studies booked for Tuesday, but it looks like I’ve got ulnar nerve impingement in the base of my hand. Basically, similar to carpal tunnel, but the nerve on the little finger side of the wrist rather than the thumb side. I’m told the surgery to fix it is pretty similar, with similar recovery expectations, and I’ve seen enough of those through work to know it’s relatively okay. Still, hand surgery isn’t the best of things to be needing, so :/

  • Moar Health: Brainthings are going well; anti-depressants seem to be working, I’ve been feeling more productive, and I’ve noticed significantly fewer spikes of “Oh my word I am too crap a person to even exist why am I taking up space in the world,” which is a good sign. Haven’t been able to catch up with my therapist for a while now due to scheduling issues, but it’ll happen. We tried hypnotherapy, and I have a recording of the session to refresh, the point of it being to try and kick my subconscious out of hating me quite so much since reasoning with it hasn’t worked so far. That seems to be relatively helpful (cf lack of abovementioned spikes).

  • Work: Is work, but is benefiting from my improved productivity. I’ve had a few rounds of clients being jerkfaces, particularly one large client who seems to have an issue with telling me when they have issues (despite me working with them for a few years now), but no problem whingeing at Head Office that I’m not doing things I can easily prove I’m doing. I have no idea, but I suspect part of it was trying to save face re: the local manager they had being shit, and their replacement is quite great so far.

  • Moar Work: Bosslady is back from maternity leave next week, which is exciting because she’s lovely and a pretty great manager. Not that current manager is bad, but having her around again will be good.

  • Life: Canberra is fucking cold, and I am so over this winter thing. There are prospects for a return to Brisbane around the end of the year, which would be awesomesauce. There’s prospects of a transfer being possible, work-wise, which is do-able if I want to hang around, in an area that’s different enough that I could do it for a bit to stash some cash away.

  • Ideas: I’ve been getting a bit more serious about the idea of doing a massage course and going in that direction. Of course, it depends on how the whole hand surgery thing pans out, but from what I’ve been told it shouldn’t be an issue, and I’m able to massage with my hand still dodgy, which is something. Who knows.

  • Creatives: I’ve been missing my creatives, of late. Though tbh, I’ve sort of reached that stage where I’m wondering if they existed in the first place, they’ve been gone so long. The fact that I’ve been looking at old posts and stuff from when I was still at uni and feeling like all my intelligence (or ability to communicate that intelligence, or something) has somehow dribbled out my ears since graduating. Idk, I think I need to set aside some time for myself to just DO stuff, and forget about whether it’s any good, even if I just stash it away and come back to it later or something. Though it often feels less like ‘where do I start?’ in terms of ideas and more ‘where did the ideas go?’. If anyone has ideas on kickstarting one’s creativity, I’m open.

So that’s me, at the moment. How are you?

jennifergearing: photo of jen looking at the camera (Default)
Chally recently posted at Feministe about her experience of a racist comment in the classroom when she was in highschool. She didn't recount the comment in question, but she did go through some details of the aftermath.

This brought back to me a news report I heard on the radio recently about the recent furor in the Rugby League NSW State of Origin team camp when player Timana Tahu walked out and quit the side for the second game of the series after assistant coach Andrew Johns made a racist remark about Qld player Glen Inglis. It was reported without specifying what Johns said in the report I heard on TripleJ.

I recall being quite impressed with JJJ for not giving details of the remark, though I am unsurprised other news outlets have reported the specifics.

The reason I was impressed with the JJJ reporting, seems connected, to me, to the comment thread in response to Chally's post. There are a number of comments, from folks who afaik identify as white, who seem quite insistent on knowing what the comment that Chally's teacher made was. I can't help but wonder, if Chally did specify the comment, how many people would be commenting about whether the comment was racist, or 'racist enough' to warrant Chally's reaction to it.

And suddenly, I'm reminded of a comment thread some time ago, where, to be honest I can't even remember the post topic, but the thread ended up being about whether PoC was a valid term to use to describe PoC/non-white/racial minorities in Australia. The thread resulted in me staying the hell away from blog comments for a good 3-6 months. The best way I could describe it was a bunch of whitefolks having an abstract discussion about what racial minorities should call themselves. I remember commenting about feeling like a unicorn amongst all the white people talking about how their non-white friends never described themselves as PoC; and I remember talking about the reasons I use it and the reasons some of the people I know use it as a sign of alliances. I remember one white woman in the thread leaping on the comments of another non-white woman who talked about not liking it much, and pretty much ignoring my comments. I do recall one of the blog owners called her out on that, but I don't think it was responded to.

That comment thread made me feel like some kind of science project under a microscope; being poked and proded and talked about. It was dehumanising and hurtful. The fact that this same white woman, some months later, came back to the blog in question and participated in a round of discussion about feeling 'unsafe' at that particular blog caused my blood pressure, and my desire to set things on fire, to spike to an all time high.

That's why I completely understand that Chally didn't specify her teacher's comment, though there are a number of reasons why she may have chosen not to do so, and I don't presume to know what they are. Because I have no doubt in my mind that the comments would've included multiple discussions of how, 'objectively', the comment wasn't racist, or okay, it was racist, but it wasn't 'racist enough' to warrant Chally leaving the class. And why I wouldn't be surprised if there are discussions going on right now about whether Andrew Johns' comments were 'racist enough' to justify Tamina Tahu walking out on the NSW team; whether he should put his career before his 'sensitivity' when what we're talking about is him seemingly put a position between his career and having to sit through comments that disparage his humanity as some kind of motivation to do his job competitively.

This is why racial minorities have closed communities. This is why one of the unspoken rules is that intra-POC discussions are locked, to avoid white folks playing 'gotcha' and 'lookit the racist PoC' as much as possible. I am tired of being a science project. I am tired of whitefolks having 'objective', abstract discussions about the realities of my life and the lives of people I care about.

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jennifergearing

May 2011

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About Jen

A 20-something fat, queer woman of colour living in Australia.

Reading: Fond of speculative and YA fiction, social justice theory in various forms. Would love to see more rounded fat/queer/female/of colour (and multiples of the above) characters in fiction.

Writing: Sometimes blogs at Hoyden About Town, dabbles in fiction now and then, hoping to find her creativity again.

Watching: Fond of sci-fi/fantasy television, with a strange weakness for cop shows. Would love to see more rounded fat/queer/female/of colour (and multiples of the above) characters on television.