I mentioned it in my post, but only in an after-the-fact edit, so: I have complex PTSD. On some level I've known this for a long time, on another level I only knew as of 4 days ago when my therapist told me that the things I was saying were things characteristic of CPTSD and I heard what she said. I'm going to quote a Bessel A. van der Kolk, who's quoted in that Wikipedia article, because this seems pretty on-point:
Uncontrollable disruptions or distortions of attachment bonds precede the development of post-traumatic stress syndromes. People seek increased attachment in the face of danger. Adults, as well as children, may develop strong emotional ties with people who intermittently harass, beat, and, threaten them. The persistence of these attachment bonds leads to confusion of pain and love. Trauma can be repeated on behavioural, emotional, physiologic, and neuroendocrinologic levels. Repetition on these different levels causes a large variety of individual and social suffering.
Anger directed against the self or others is always a central problem in the lives of people who have been violated and this is itself a repetitive re-enactment of real events from the past. Compulsive repetition of the trauma usually is an unconscious process that, although it may provide a temporary sense of mastery or even pleasure, ultimately perpetuates chronic feelings of helplessness and a subjective sense of being bad and out of control. Gaining control over one's current life, rather than repeating trauma in action, mood, or somatic states, is the goal of healing.
(From an article called "The compulsion to repeat the trauma. Re-enactment, revictimization, and masochism", which I'll have to look for.)
I think, though, this realization actually came to me a week ago, but in the form of a realization that I had to quit tech. As of then, I was thinking I would quit, maybe take a little time off, and then get into my career plan B (or rather, preparation for it) pretty quickly. What I only realized after I actually quit is that no, actually, I'm going to need a couple of months to recover. At least. And those are going to be a couple months in which I don't leave my apartment much and generally feel good about not leaving it. (I'm lucky enough to have just enough savings to allow for a couple months of this, though not a couple years; hopefully it won't take that long.) You don't recover from 29 years of trauma overnight.
Did the tech industry cause my CPTSD? I want to be clear: absolutely not. Not the "industry" in general, not Silicon Valley, not any one of the individual places where I've worked. As bad as some of them were, situations you enter into as an adult that you are able to leave do not generally cause CPTSD (they can cause PTSD). As Roast Beef in the "Achewood" web comic said, I come from Circumstances; I was born into Circumstances. On the one hand I could say the Circumstances were my mother, but to be honest I would have to acknowledge the Circumstances -- big ones, to do with war and colonialism and coming from four generations of refugees -- that she was born into herself. That doesn't excuse her from responsibility for her actions, or me for mine (for that matter), but must be understood.
But as I hope I already explained in my article, tech didn't make it any better, nor do I think I'm the only one by any stretch of the imagination. I'm gratified that many people on Metafilter agreed that tech attracts people with trauma, exploits us, and compounds the trauma to boot.
I'm not taking back anything I said, I still agree with it all. I guess I'm making this clarification in order to say: if you read that article and felt that you feel like I do, take yourself seriously; it's not "just" burnout, which usually clears up on its own with some rest, but quite possibly something more than that that I would urge you to get competent professional help with. The Resources for therapists page on the GF wiki is something you can show a potential therapist to determine whether or not they might be helpful if you're a tech person with some problems to work through. If they get confused, you might want to look elsewhere, but if they understand or at least have questions that reflect thought, that might be a good sign.
Born on this day in 1622 to Frederick V Elector Palatine and Elizabeth the Winter Queen, Princess Louise of the Palatinate (my toy,wikipedia). Grandchild of James I &VI, aunt of George I. Louise was a talented painter, some of her works are in German museums. To the confusion of her family she went to France, converted to Catholicism and became a nun.
My own role as a male ally in GF has been something I've struggled with for most of that time, and I really am pretty comfortable calling myself a "male ally" now. To be clear, "ally" is something I aspire to be, and have often fallen short of and sometimes been called out about, and is rarely something I actually say I am. I say it now because when I started, I most definitely didn't see myself as a male ally. I saw myself as a guy who usually got misgendered and who was actively burning from the heat of the many indignities of being seen as a woman in tech (which burn regardless of whether you are actually a woman underneath your frayed startup T-shirt).
Over time, that burning has subsided down a bit and I've gotten to a point where people don't believe I was coercively assigned female at birth even if I tell them straight-up. In place of that anger is sadness about my friends' experiences, my younger self's experiences (a younger self who is no longer me), and yes, some guilt about the role I've played myself, sometimes, in making things worse. (I like to think I've also made things better, but it's not for me to do the accounting).
I quit my job and career this week, and wrote about it. Part of what I tried to reckon with in that post is a transition I've made from feeling squarely (and to some extent, correctly) that I was facing the same struggles that women in tech face, to feeling like that set of burdens has lifted off me and been replaced with a different set. The new set is definitely lighter but still not something that I want -- but the reasons I don't want it are different than the old outrage.
As a trans man, I've often felt uncomfortable with my relationship with feminism since I came out, and to be clear, I think I should feel uncomfortable with it! Like any man, I benefit from male domination, and I can't change that -- I can imagine there are ways I could make myself be seen as a woman again (not that the violence to myself would justify any hypothetical gains from that), but I would still be somebody who had the choice. Certainly, just as race, ability, queerness, and any number of intersecting factors modulate what benefits each man enjoys from that, my transness modulates what I get out of male domination. But the benefits are real. My leaving salary in 2015 was 2.55 times what my starting salary was at my first job out of grad school in 2004. This is not just inflation. I was perceived only as a cis woman (perhaps a gender-non-conforming one, but that wouldn't have helped) back then, and am perceived as a cis man by default now. So it's awkward, advocating for the dismantling of the platform I'm standing on with two feet. I try not to be afraid of falling, but it does happen.
But I think I'm ready to say what John Darnielle (my favorite songwriter as well as being a cis guy who won't be first up against the wall when the revolution comes) said in an interview: "My feminism is for me." Like him, I'm a survivor; that's part of why my feminism is for me. Unlike him, I was abused by a woman -- and that is still part of why my feminism is for me, because she, in turn, was a survivor of a violent time and place that got that way through war and colonialism (in other words, toxic masculinity on an epic scale). When working with GF, I've often felt like I had one foot on each side of the fence: that on the one hand, I was advocating for women in tech, and always having to walk a line that, if crossed, will get you written up (justifiably) on our wiki timeline of incidents. That on the other hand, I was advocating for myself as someone perceived as a woman in tech, a person whose flame flickered out (and it was a relief when it did) over the time I contributed to GF.
I no longer feel like I'm riding the fence. I am squarely on one side. I am male (something I was uncomfortable saying outright until fairly recently in my life), I'm socially recognized as male pretty much all the time, but most importantly, I am not "outside" the legitimate ways in which patriarchy hurts men too. I am not an objective observer of those slights and hurts. I live them! And, in fact, I was living them when I was a 5-year-old boy who was having my subjectivity erased both in the way that many cis survivors of childhood trauma talk about, and in an additional way because not only my abuser, but everybody else in the world, was telling me I was a girl.
My feminism is for me. But Geek Feminism isn't for me, anymore. It does, and should continue to center, feminism that's for women. Those of us who are men need to make our own feminist spaces, not ones that exclude women but ones that can occupy a space that doesn't suck attention and resources away from the more pressing needs (in terms of day-to-day getting-a-paycheck-and-paying-the-rent stuff) of women and non-binary people. Everything in Maslow's hierarchy of needs is important, but as men we need to be brutally honest about where we are in that hierarchy relative to everybody else.
I will still continue to comment on the blog and maybe edit the wiki once in a while, but I've already begun the process of stepping down from my administrative roles and, since I'm also leaving tech, don't plan to be heavily involved in creating content in the future. My name is already under "Former Contributors" on the blog, and shortly I'll be surrendering the wiki banhammer as well. I am excited about the new volunteers -- and re-energized old volunteers -- who are going to be taking these resources into the future. My involvement in Geek Feminism has been the most important force in my life for the past five years. I hope to carry through the friendships that resulted from it into the future, but it's time for me to make space in my life to do a different kind of activism. A friend of mine says that allyship should be seen more in the sense of "allies" in a military context: people who have a shared agenda up to a point, but at some point, have to diverge because the allies' interests no longer fit with each other. It's time for me to fork. Not to go backward, just to take a different path forward. So long, until we converge.
Born on this day in 1154 to King Sancho VI of Navarre and Sancha of Castile, Sancho VII of Navarre (my toy,wikipedia). Brother of Berengaria who married Richard I. Fought with other bits of Spain, and was quite friendly towards England.
After my appointment I went to look for a replacement scarf for my lost wooly pashmina. The woman running the store and I discussed our strange desires to have every scarf. My new pashmina is silk and cashmere and is a dark rich shiny brown with faint black patterns. Super ideal. I feel like a little brown bird. (In a giant blanket thing, with purple trimmings). Then beetled off to the J, to downtown uneventfully, switched to the N, went up to the roof at work. I sat in the sun overlooking the bay & devoured a stroopwaffel and some of those toasted coconut flakes, dealt with some bugmail, then hung out with support and user advoc. people who were having a beer. Unsurprisingly, support/UA team is NICE.
I tried channeling Lukas a bit by hosting an event at work. the nicest meetup. In retrospect, really, I knew this but just figured I could get away with it, I should have lined up another person to help me host. And, I should have specially invited the facilities people to come and attend so they could see some accessibility barrier negotiation in action. (But really they can just come see me be unable to open the heavy door, any time. ) Around 40-50 people showed up and I met lots of nice people.
After many years of volunteer thingies and doing a lot of work it was nice to just go, Oh, an event shall happen, and magic catering people and an A/V magician show up and do many of the things. The only thing I did was zoom around opening the 2 different doors at the entryways and greeting people. Which was fun except for the door being hard to manage. it was not unpleasant to briefly wield some resources and be a nice host without having to do all the actual physical labor.
I thought how I used to go out and do something like this every week sometimes more than once a week. Increasingly by taking more painkillers. Oh! so exhausting! I just can't do it!
But, it was nice for tonight. also, the food was good. i was just inhaling it. (I wonder if all the asthma meds make me hungrier?? food seems especially satisfying this week) Nice cheese, dried figs, giant slabs of very dense crystalized honey.... those mushroom truffle tarts... wtf, nice.
i am now planning to put in a workplace service request (like facilities) for working with lighthouse to do a tactile map of surrounding area and the building first floor interior. I wonder if this is something that is useful beyond just particular occasion (must ask them -- also, did they keep the julia morgan ballroom one, and did the JM ballroom people know it existed? I should follow up) So, do they keep such things and then print them for people ? Can't believe I never followed up on that....
I am so excited about vacation and our trip. I cannot wait to pack. I'm going to loaf on the beach like nobody's business.
"I shouldn't write about myself in a way that reveals my identity" *deletes the draft*
So its been-
"oh wait I still need to write these emails before bed, I completely forgot /o\" *runs away*
I have been meaning to write-
*halfway written and forgotten for next 2 months. Forgotten the punchline completely at that point*
About this recent issue-
"uhhh I don't want this coming back on me and causing trouble" *deletes the post 10 minutes after posting it*
So life, I have been doing-
"I don't want to link this stuff on another account to my this one, its actually my safe space and I am actually having fun" *leaves the draft*
I discovered this GIMP trick other day. Did you know that-
"I should actually save this for my real name blog when I create it and not post it here" *deletes*
I've been meaning to talk about this issue this for a while now-
"unpopular opinion, they won't listen to it anyway, and I don't time to argue with people to convince them I am wrong on internet. I should do something productive instead" *deletes the draft*
So life has been busy. I have-
*gets distracted by a phone call, then an email, then a meeting, then another phone call.*
Ok so here is the deal. I haven't been able to finish a single blog post on this account in a very long time. It wasn't for lack of trying. Its just very hard to write these days for various reasons, ranging from personal to practical. My life has been-
*checks the clock* I need to be up in
( Read more... )
Born on this day in 1588 to Duke Charles I of Savoy and Infanta Catherine of Spain, Emanuel of Savoy (my toy,wikipedia). Grandchild of Philip II of Spain who had married Mary I (through another wife). Emanuel was going to be a priest but instead he joined the military, later becoming Grand Admiral of Spain. He died of plague, without every marrying.
So many things about travel are only things I remember when I travel. Which is a shame, because some of those things I forget when not traveling are bad things about travel and I wouldn’t spend so much of the rest of my time puttering around being all “why am I so mysteriously averse to traveling? how strange!” Sure, I never forget the things about airports and aircraft being hostile to all things normal and human, I remember my three continuous days of insomnia after getting home from Romania in 2007, things like that. But that’s physical discomfort. I forget the emotions. I don’t remember the defensiveness of wanting to spend multiple consecutive days in dark hotel rooms (probably culture shock), I don’t remember the constant loneliness that nicely counterbalances that so that I’m unhappy even in the hotel rooms and I don’t remember the homesickness on top of it all.
I don’t remember the punch in the gut of “almost everything I love best in the world is somewhere else entirely”.
These memories obviously brought to you by being in San Francisco rather than Sydney right now. How else would I be accessing them? And you shouldn’t think of this as an unusual trip for me, this is pretty much every damn time. Not non-stop of course, or I probably would remember better why I have mixed feelings about travel. No. It’s an acute problem and I’m right in the target zone for it: more than halfway done with the travel, mostly done with the reason for the travel, why can’t I go home now?
As I’ve been telling people, last Thursday night was my first night away from A, ever. That Friday night through to this coming Monday night were/will be the second through twelfth nights, respectively. So that’s not helping either. Apparently she’s been pretty fine with it, which is in character. She doesn’t mind when we get babysitters, she doesn’t mind being dropped at daycare, it turns out she doesn’t noticeably mind that I vanished a week ago and that a couple of days later, V vanished too. (He’s gone to visit my parents.) C’est la vie?
On the bright side, I’ve finally been to Montreal! Which is actually part of this whole sad pattern too: I get this way worse when I travel as far as the US East Coast, or Europe, than I do otherwise. But still, I’ve finally been to Montreal! I didn’t really understand their seasons until I was flying in and I noticed that the waterways were still iced up, which I have never actually seen before anywhere, let alone anywhere in the middle of spring. I didn’t leave the city, but I did go and specifically look right at the river at Vieux Port. The ice was pretty slushy but it was extensive. I went to Notre Dame, which I wouldn’t have chosen for myself but am happy about; I wasn’t aware of the French Catholic history of Montreal and the cathedral is beautiful.
I was very Australian about the temperature, which is to say, it was above freezing, so why wear a coat? I run very hot in any case, even other Australians regularly look at my outfits and say “but aren’t you cold?” However by Monday, it was 22°C anyway (up from about -5 the week before) so I didn’t have to shock everyone for long. There was definitely much less ice visible on the way out.
Australian or not, I will admit that walking in the rain on Friday when it was about 3° and I had left my raincoat, conscientiously lugged all the way from Australia, in Outremont was a bit of a challenge.
I was there for PyCon and AdaCamp. The former confirmed that if I want to go to PyCon, some day I just need to go to PyCon and stop thinking that I can go on a work trip and actually attend the conference too. A number of people I know were very surprised to hear I was there given that they didn’t see me at all, and probably some more will be surprised when they read this. I have a more reasonable approach to AdaCamp: I can attend some of it and I do, and it is much as I picture.
I’m in San Francisco now. I think five hours or so is the worst length of flight. Long enough that I spend about four hours thinking “OK, surely we’re nearly there” and checking out the flight map to find out that nope, we are in no way nearly there, short enough that there’s no institutionalisation to the plane environment. Just non-stop outrage the whole way. Plus no one feels sorry for you afterwards, unlike my Sydney to Vancouver to Montreal itinerary which caused some appreciative intake of breath from Montrealers.
Four more nights.
Moominland Midwinter, by Tove Jansson. A book about the winter Moomintroll wakes up partway through the family's winter hibernation; a whole different population is awake while the moomins and the people and animals they generally spend time with are asleep. He and eventually Moominmamma deal pretty well with chaos, a certain amount of destruction, and the consumption of all their jam by random hungry visitors. These are fun, and I think I have a couple left.
Kindness of Strangers, by Julie Smith. Another Skip Langdon mystery, which I think takes place immediately after the one I read a few weeks ago. It's on the thriller end of detective novels, complete with genuine psychopath villain cult leader/politician and a hurricane, as well as the ongoing story of Skip and her friends and family.
The Goblin Emperor, by "Katherine Addison". Yes, because it's on the Hugo ballot, and also because I liked her previous novels (published as by Sarah Monette).
Asthma still nasty. I think that there is nearby road construction and that is what's doing it. Pulse oximeter thing going from 95-98. Inhalers rule. Even if they make you get the shakes.
I am well into this not very good series of fake Jane Austen novels where Elizabeth and Darcy go to all the different settings for Austen's other novels. The writing style and things that happen are not at all right. But they are not super super awful enough that I've stopped reading them, either. Everything else on my Kindle (and it is full of stuff) is sort of serious or dense. Need trashy reading!
Hugo mess continues, very annoying. I read a short story that was withdrawn from the awards. It wasn't very good. Nothing to barf about, it was just boring and as if it were churned out to make $25 or fill up magazine pages 40 or 50 years ago and it would not have done anything new then either. I then thought of all the novels that are basically that same story but stretched out to make more pages, and just as boring. How can people be so dull?!
I also read a pleasingly cranky review of Silver on the Tree, a book that has always annoyed me.
A. wore lip gloss to school today for "twin day" along with black tshirts with horses on them with 3 of her friends. Oddly... she just got home and she is wheezing.
Lagoon (Okorafor,Nnedi). Which is awesome. It's got aliens, but also magic. It's set in Lagos, Nigeria (and the author is Nigerian American), which is a nice change.
Literally just finished Lagoon.
I'm still working on the Other Half of the Sky; which is still a diverse collection of short stories, which makes it hard to get really stuck into for hours.
Well, I've got a Seanan McGuire novella to read (imported at great expense from Subteranean Press because the publishing industry thinks it's amusing to region-lock things, so ebooks are only available to people with US billing addresses, but of course you can actually IMPORT paper books). Because it's on paper it's not with me on my ereader... it's also very pretty, and I don't want to bash it up. Mermaids! I am excited.
Also I just bought Goblin Emperor. It's up for a Hugo, so I should probably read it soon.
I still have Flex, and also some Sanderson novellas...
And I've found the Locus best of 2014 list... which might keep me going a while.
But I think the next thing to read is the how-not-to-die climbing book, before I go on a climbing trip and need to know how not to die doing it (I mostly know that already). Borrowing the book from Emperor.
Born on this day in 1367 to John of Gaunt and Blanche of Lancaster, King Henry IV of England (my toy,wikipedia). Nicked the throne offof Richard II. In a move not guaranteed to ensure the future peaceful stability of the country.
You can choose to edit anonymously or with your name or anybody else's name attached, it's up to you. I don't know how much IP tracking TitanPad does, but unless any abuse happens, I won't be trying to determine the identities of anonymous editors; I am not Reviewer 2.
TitanPad tracks a history of all changes (like Wikipedia does), so if you delete any text, it won't be lost forever; I'll still be able to view it in the history. Therefore, feel free to delete others' changes in order to improve on them, though it would be nice if there was no wanton deleting for its own sake. The exception is that you can, and should, delete the placeholder text I included.
Please go wild. I especially invite the following people to contribute:
- my friends from college
- my friends from before college (all one of them)
- people who have worked with me before
- people who have done activism with me before
- people who I've called out on the Internet before
- people who've called me out on the Internet before
- people who only know me through my writing
- people who are currently drunk and/or high
- people who fit into more than one of these categories
Also, you can lie if you want! That's cool to do, as are writing things that are true, as are writing things that should be true, as are writing things you wish you could see as true about yourself that are easier for you to project onto me. (Because that's one of the many services I offer.)
Also, you don't have to write complete sentences or even necessarily make any sense. If you want to leave a bullet point in there, that's cool, someone else will make it into part of the text. It's the magic of open source!