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Sunday, March 1st, 2015 01:07 am
Of course I'm fond of the one I grew up‎ with, but that's no reason to leave it that way forever!

I remember the poster of the solar system I had on my bedroom door as a kid, with all the planets' vital statistics -- diameter, orbital period, mean distance from the Sun, etc -- and how the number of moons for Saturn had a question mark next to it. I don't remember any of the other stats from this poster, just the two biggest numbers of moons for the two biggest planets: Jupiter had 16 and Saturn had "22?"

Twenty-two question mark! I was captivated by that question mark. I was too young to understand at the time how there could be any doubt about how many moons a planet had. Now I look back and marvel that there could be such certainty! Now there are like, what, 60? Does anyone even know? Does anyone mind that we're not quite sure of this?

The questions are intriguing and delicious because we can hope they are impermanent. That question mark excited me, because I believed this was something humans would be able to nail down and specify, coming to a soothingly "right" answer, accurate and stable and unequivocal, one day.

Looking at that memory now, I like it because it places me in a certain time and context.

I love the song "Little Fluffy Clouds" but the beginning always drove me crazy. The supposed impetus for the vocal sample that gives the song its name is an interviewer asking "What were the skies like when you were young?" What the hell kind of question is that? I always wanted to know. Who talks like that?

But on a slightly bigger scale, I think it could be a great question:
  • When did you come of age?
  • Back when we were at Twenty-Two Question Mark For Saturn.
It's something I could see Mr. xkcd doing as a chart. It's like how Romans used to name the year by saying "it was the seventh year in the reign of such-and-such." It's like those sf stories about using the positions of the planets in the solar system as a clock: you come back from a relativistic journey, no idea what epoch you've arrived back into, check the relative positions of all the planets in their orbits and then you can say "well this only happens every umptymillion years so it's this time, plus or minus one umptymillion!" which at least narrows down the possibilities.

Anyway, where was I?

Here's what I wrote the other day when I read about how close Dawn is getting to Ceres:
The best thing about space exploration is that it transforms objects in the solar system from ideas into places.

The Voyagers did this for the outer planets (and some of their moons); Cassini/Huygens has done it for the moons of Saturn; Spirit and Oppy and Curiosity are doing it for Mars; New Horizons will do it for Pluto and other Kuiper Belt Objects...and Dawn is doing this for Ceres, the largest asteroid in the belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Ceres was the original "relegated" planet: when first discovered it was called a planet, but when a number of smaller asteroids were discovered it was gradually understood that Ceres is one of many such objects, not something that's cleared its orbital path like planets are supposed to. So Ceres was reclassified, without (as far as I can tell) all the fuss Pluto has received in its similar situation, and is still a subject of scientific interest, getting its own mission and everything, As is Pluto, of course!‎
They're not treated any differently no matter what they're called. Planets are important. Dwarf planets are important. Moons are important. Comets are important!

Is there any way that having the asteroid belt is worse than having just Ceres? Nobody I know thinks so. I didn't even know Ceres's history (its social history, its history as a subject of interest to humans, not its geological or astronomical history as a rock in space) until Pluto's reclassification caused all this fuss and there started to be articles about the new class of planets Pluto has been "demoted" to or whatever (such emotive language! the planets provide such an obligingly blank canvas don't they?!) saying things like "hey, Pluto isn't the only one in this bizarro new 'dwarf planet' class!" Until I knew it only as one of the largest asteroids. And of course I thought the asteroid belt was great, like kids do: lacking the singular personality of a solar system icon like Jupiter or Venus yet delicious in its anonymity, its plurality. And of course asteroids are just Space Landmines, if I could believe what movies taught me about the inevitability of having to drive spaceships through them.

Nothing about Ceres by itself could be as good as Space Landmines. And so why should I mourn for Pluto when it's transitioning from being a lonely exception to being part of the Kuiper Belt, a busy place where not everything is about us, full of Pluto-like objects. Pluto is no longer alone! Not the ugly duckling of the planet club but surrounded by its own kind.

How do we not love this story?! How long will it take for the queer folk and the non-standard deviations and the neurodiverse and the weirdos who grew up in small towns where they were led to believe they were the only weirdo in the world to realize this is their vindication?

Pluto was an ugly planet, never in all its time as a planet being captured as more than a smudge that needed a big arrow next to it in photos, or as a circle so pixilated I've been known to say it looks like a disco ball.

But Pluto will be a beautiful dwarf planet, in a process that's starting already as New Horizons zooms toward it, getting better pictures than any we've had before and more information on this small distant world. It's like we're finally getting to go on our first date with Pluto and find out more than its blurry photos on the dating website and see beyond the superficial facts like that it likes long walks on the beach and eccentric orbits, has a diameter of 2274 kilometers and a good sense of humor.

2015 is such an exciting time to get to know and love Pluto for what it is, and -- since New Horizons will also be looking at some of Pluto's satellites and hopefully a couple of other Kuiper Belt Objects -- the other swans we now realize it's swimming through the universe with.

Pluto is asking us "who says being a planet is better than not being a planet?" Pluto says "do I care if some people on Earth decided for a mere third of one Plutonian year that Pluto should fit some label rather than some other?" (A third of a year is a mere four months here, of course. Four months is nothing! Would we think much of a job title, a marital status, an address, that we only had for four months once?) Pluto is not surprised that the people of Earth, who think they live on a planet, accept unquestioningly that planets are the best things. I mean, they have invented this idea of a "habitable zone" that they think they're in the middle of! Of course they do! Their ego is flagrant, their hubris unbounded. Pluto is keeping its distance from all that silliness. Pluto's reminding us a better solar system is possible.

...Maybe it's time for me to go to bed?
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Saturday, February 28th, 2015 09:24 pm
1. I found out he'd died just as I had realized water was leaking through the kitchen ceiling and dropping on me as I was trying to make dinner, which led to me doing an impressive job of burning the dinner as I had the requisite crying spell while I felt so wholly inadequate to dealing with yet another crisis.

2. All these quotes of that "the most human" line just reminded me that, a day or two before, apropos of nothing, Andrew announced to me that [personal profile] miss_s_b had promised that, if he dies first, she will at his funeral give that speech but change it to "he was the least human." Which made me laugh so much. It still does.

(Especially since, as I rightly said in the comments of a friend's Facebook, "Spock is basically to blame for what I've always found attractive in my partners.")
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Saturday, February 28th, 2015 01:14 pm
I accidentally read a blog post about good stuff for small kitchens and then fell down this rabbit hole of things I suddenly really really want, like cabinet shelves (though I am of course sure I could find some less expensive way to get the same result!) and under-cabinet lighting (though it's not exactly under the cabinets that I need more light, the whole kitchen is so terribly lit and dingy that it couldn't hurt!) and my house actually has some of this wildly useful kitchen shelving stuff...but in the basement -- I keep meaning it get it out of there and install these things upstairs, perhaps a good inaugural project for the little cordless drill [livejournal.com profile] ejbigred has gifted me! Plus it turns out you can (at least in America...) get stick blenders with food processor attachments, which was very exciting because it seems so many of the recipes I'm interested in lately call for a food processor, or at least are things that'd be incredibly easy if I had one and are difficult or too faffy to do without (my stick blender has already been asked to occasionally do the job of afood processor, leading to okay but not great results, and once a nasty flesh wound...). And I'm hoping that a stick-blender kind might be a bit cheaper as that's far more of a concern to me than how much space it takes up.
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Saturday, February 28th, 2015 09:31 am
James assures me whisky is a good idea, even at nine in the morning, because it's medicinal. Bless him. For now, at least, I've stuck to tea with honey in it.

But whisky does sound like a good idea. Did I mention that there was water leaking from the bathroom through the kitchen ceiling last night?
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Friday, February 27th, 2015 09:40 am
All week, with all the challenging things I had to do in it, my consolation was that Friday would make up for it.

James has the day off work, is going to come visit, and he, Andrew and I are going to watch old horror movies in the cinema. It sounded brilliant and I was so looking forward to it.

But yesterday I woke up with a nasty sinus infection, a headache and a really sore throat. I had my second appointment with the National Careers Service guy (which I do really want to write about before I forget it all, but I'm not up to it yet) and then my first visit to Manchester Eye Hospital. I survived everything and the day went better than I'd expected, but all the talking meant I have been in lots more pain since and pretty much unable to speak.

I went to bed early last night and felt almost okay until I was woken up when Andrew came to bed. The ibuprofen was hardly touching the pain and I also felt very feverish indeed. I was absolutely miserable but did manage to get back to sleep, until 6:30 when I woke up drenched in sweat but otherwise feeling a little better. I got out of bed, tried to eat something, and thought I was improving until Andrew got up a couple hours later and trying to talk to him didn't work at all and made my throat feel once again like it was being stabbed with tiny daggers. On fire.

So I had to text James and say "you're very welcome here today but I'm sick and can't talk and will be rubbish company." I've missed him and have been looking forward to seeing him but didn't want him to think he'd be getting his usual blathering girlfriend taking him out to lunch when instead he's getting a silent lump under a duvet. He says because of the plan for the cinema tonight he'll still come over this afternoon and I'm going to try to get some more sleep in hopes of seeming a bit more human by then, but I am especially petulant when I'm sick and just had to say it's not faaaaair! and I've been so good this week I want nice things! somewhere first.
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Thursday, February 26th, 2015 08:47 am
Yesterday I announced, first to [livejournal.com profile] softfruit's front room and then to Facebook, "I'm totally doing a zine about how Pluto's only a planet according to the social model of planetude."

(Cf the social model of disability, for anyone who doesn't know what I'm talking about...something that's been on my mind lately because I'm trying to get myself "on the grid," so to speak, after only nine years in the UK flailing around or making excuses or being too crazy to sort anything out.)

It got a bunch of 'like's on Facebook and for the rest of the evening any time I said anything silly or overly-excitable, [livejournal.com profile] haggis said "You can make a zine about it." And [twitter.com profile] chellaquint, who I saw hosting Comedy in Space again over the weekend. And she remembered me from last time, bless her, even though it was a year and a half ago, and she told me I should go to Sheffiled zinefest in a month (as did her fiancée, who I'd been talking to before about language geekery), and since I'm not on Twitter any more Chella and I are Facebook friends now so when I said this about Pluto she said, "Please bring this to zine fest because OMG". Even though she thinks Pluto should be a planet! (I'm quite glad she likes me despite this rift (which, as [livejournal.com profile] diffrentcolours pointed out, is useful for telling us apart because otherwise Chella and I are a so alike!))

And when Andrew saw that, he said "when you do that zine I can help you with the desktop publishing software," and I said "what do you mean, 'when'?" Not even any "if"!

So if I'm not careful I'm going to end up writing about Pluto as an innocent object disabled by our ideas of how planets are better than non-planets.

(I think there's an interesting queer theory angle there too, about labels and how they're chosen...)
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Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 10:50 am
Today I'm trying to sort out our home insurance, which I've been informed needs to be renewed in the next thirty days.

That means it's only a month short of a year we've been living in this house now. Which is hard to believe: it either feels like we've been here forever, or that it's no time at all and I still have excuses for why nothing's been sorted out yet.

It's been a terrible and difficult year. I am anxious for the weather to improve and life to improve this spring.
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Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 09:36 am
When I was first married, and struggling with how miserable and strange my wedding was, a lot of my friends suggested having some other kind of ceremony more like how I'd have wanted it and less tainted by the emotional rawness of my brother having just died.

I always said I could see the appeal of this in some ways but in other ways it'd just be another thing for me to sort out on my own and anyway Andrew hated the first wedding enough that I can't imagine him offering me anything better than tolerance and humoring me for such a plan, and the whole point of this would be to remove the aspect of obligation and having to please other people from a wedding.

After a while I didn't think about the wedding so much any more and the idea didn't seem at all interesting to any more.

So after years of not thinking about it, I dreamed it last night.

It was so vivid. I can tell you the dress I was wearing -- bright red, and a bit girly for me but I was very happy with it -- and that everybody I know was there. I wasn't dreaming I was in the past, I was dreaming everybody I know now and I knew in the dream that I had been married a while by now.

But it was a big party and everyone was really happy for me and I was really happy. And I woke up feeling like that's almost as good, or maybe better, than having to plan and arrange it in my waking life.
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Tuesday, February 24th, 2015 08:41 am
A month shy of having been here a year, I've finally been able to convince Andrew to let me teach him how to turn the heating on (or off). I'm very pleased to have one more thing that I am not solely responsible for!
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Wednesday, February 18th, 2015 08:40 pm
I started to write this in reply to [livejournal.com profile] momentsmusicaux's comment in my last entry, but it just ballooned to such a size that it seemed unfair to saddle a poor little comment with a response like this. Anyway I thought there was some good stuff in it, so I could just about justify dragging it into its own entry. It meant I could add a lot more too, of course!

The comment I'm replying to says, "I think it's fairly common for people with a disability to feel they're some sort of fraud because they're not as disabled as other people."

So I say:

Yes, it's a kind of impostor syndrome I'm familiar with in multiple circles, thanks to my activism: as well as disability, it's common to hear people who think they might be bi fret that they're not "bi enough," if they don't have crushes/a relationship history split exactly evenly among the more popular genders.

I'm generally prone to impostor-syndrome-like failings anyway for a number of reasons, but the disability thing is complicated a little by how invested I was as a child and teenager in fitting in completely, in seeming exactly like all my sighted peers. I resented some adjustments and special treatment because I didn't want to be disabled (complicated further by the fact that I also resisted some unhelpful or unnecessary ones foisted on me by well-meaning people (ie, my parents, my teachers, my caseworker and specialists in various things, and certainly doctors) who had no idea of what I actually could benefit from because none of them listened to or believed me when I told them anything about what I could or couldn't see, what was easy or hard, etc.

So, constantly reinforcing "I'm hardly even disabled or maybe I'm not at all!" messages seemed preferable to me in every way: it fed my childish desires for acceptance via conformity, it allowed me to rebel in tiny ways against all the adult authority figures in my life, it reaffirmed my idea of myself, based on my early academic success, as a capable and successful person in ways that I was -- however wrongly -- convinced at the time that a disabled person couldn't be.

I grew up immersed in a lot of ableist thinking. I was blind when I was born and the fact that I've been able to see since I was very small was of course held up as a miracle, an unalloyed good... and "being less disabled is better than being more disabled" isn't far from "less disabled people are better than more disabled people," with of course non-disabled people being the best of all...

It took me until my late 20s, when I was diagnosed with anxiety and panic attacks for unrelated reasons, to realize how much anxiety my attempts at seeming normally-sighted were causing me. My hesitancy to say "which gate is the flight to Minneapolis?" or "what veggie options do you have on your illegible menu?" or "I won't watch subtitled anime" or "it's no good telling me 'you can't miss it' because I'll still get lost" let to all kinds of stress and misery that I now realize was perfectly avoidable, but until I'd had anxiety singled out and identified as a pathology, struggling in such situations was just normal to me. I'd never considered that there could be any other -- much less better way to cope than stoically muddling through. I still see my mental and physical health issues as being irrevocably entangled and I still haven't quite forgiven young-me and all the adults around me for making/letting me become so warped by a disabling society that I shredded my own mental health as well.

It's entirely possible I have predilections to anxiety or panic attacks that would've manifested anyway, but even so, the decades of holding myself to literally unattainable standards and berating myself for only living up to them 99% of the time -- because I did have a very high success rate for most of my life (and I still can't tell if there's objective deterioration in my eyes now or I'm just more at ease with seeking and accepting a level of help I'd have always benefited from) -- can't have been good for me.

Having been told by both the first optician I ever saw in the UK and the DWP that I have no difficulty seeing really set me back. I know the DWP will deny anything's wrong with anyone but I was still surprised how much it affected me to see that on the letter; I remember it still, I could tell you exactly what it looked like and where I was standing when I read it, four years ago. (I still don't understand that first optician I saw; the one I've been to since didn't offer even the slightest hesitation or challenge when I said I wanted an eye hospital referral to get myself registered blind.) So the tables have been reversed on me: part of "the system" since birth in the U.S., I wanted out. Being "off the grid" since I moved to the UK, I want back in. And I do have small, probably irrational concerns that I'm still "not disabled enough."
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Wednesday, February 18th, 2015 03:37 pm
Having basically given up on the job-hunting treadmill I was on, because I discovered I was playing a game I didn't want to win (more on this later), I've turned my attention to Sorting My Life Out.

First, the whole "blind" thing.

While this was partly spurred by the RNIB website having job-related stuff that looked better suited for me than it actually turned out to be, I also asked them what I actually have to do to get registered blind (which is just an eye hospital appointment, urgh, but lovely [livejournal.com profile] greyeyedeve,, and about help with stuff like getting a white cane --

Did I talk about this here? I can't remember if I did or not. After a lot of "but I'm not blind enough" and worrying whether my eyes were getting substantially worse, which would be bad, or whether I was getting significantly more aware of problems that had always been there and might be helped by stuff that I'd, all my life, been led to believe was only for other people. Whenever I cautiously mention to anyone that I'm thinking about the possibility of letting the idea of getting a white cane cross my mind, they seem as enthusiastic about the idea as I am wary, which has helped reassure me that I'm not, I dunno, appropriating the tools of "real" blind people or trivializing them even though I'm sure I'll feel like a phony for a long time if I do end up with one.

I know these are dumb ideas. I have a lot of dumb ideas lately. If only knowing them to be so was enough to banish them.

So for that I filled in a web form on the council's website, but I've heard nothing back. It's been a month now, and I really need to call them and nag them about it, but it's one of those things I never quite get around to doing.

I did finally talk to someone from Action for Blind People this week (after weeks of them being so flaky and bad at communicating that I actually found it quite comforting to be dealing with people on my level), who were suggested by the less-helpful-than-the-website-suggested employment scheme the RNIB directed me to, and while AfBP didn't seem any more helpful to my situation (like so many things for people with sight loss, they're geared up for people who've only recently lost their sight or are just aging out of school systems and children's social services so joining a new bureaucracy. I'm not really in either group and have very good sight by the standards of these things so much of what they offer isn't useful to me.

Anyway, one of the things AfBP might be able to help me with is chasing down some kind of help from the local authority, though I know from people who've used it not to expect too much from adult social services. Of course there's nothing to stop me buying a white cane myself but I could really do with some information and encouragement that, y'know, my taxes are supposed to be helping to provide, and I'm not in a rush. Though I do find myself increasingly noticing how many situations I find myself in that would be easier if people knew I can't see very well because I think they just think I'm being awkward, or they don't know why they startled me because they have no way of knowing how atrocious my peripheral vision is, or whatever.

The AfBP lady was also very nice on the subject of me being scared of eye appointments and said she deals with lots of people who feel like I do, so I feel a bit less mental and weird on that subject as well, which helps. It's one of those things that I find perfectly understandable in other people but totally unacceptable in me. Yes! I know this is another of those dumb ideas. I think it's because I know so many more people who think optician's appointments are no big deal than I know people like me; I'm comparing myself to the wrong things. (Also I just have to remind myself that a lot of my scary memories are about things that simply will not happen again because I'm an adult now and people will listen to me and the fact that I might not want something to happen to me matters -- of course sometimes things I don't like will still happen, no doubt, but I won't be ignored and my anxieties won't be dismissed like they always were on my innumerable visits to eye specialists as a child, I won't be there for the convenience of doctors who find me an interesting case study because I will be limiting myself to tests that actually might benefit me.)

So yeah. After weeks of phone calls and e-mails to never-quite-the-right-people, waiting for people to get back to me, or getting long slow processes in motion, and now depressing these things all are, because it's like trying to move a huge boulder all by myself, it just feels like nothing's ever going to budge. I still haven't shoved the boulder very far, but I'm starting to notice it moving a little bit, enough for me to keep at it. I go to the eye hospital a week from tomorrow, and when I've got that out of the way I can do a bunch of other stuff that requires the piece of paper saying I'm blind. There's been a bit of progress on the whole "what kind of job can I get?" front too, but that will have to wait for another time.
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Thursday, February 12th, 2015 08:45 pm
Is it weird that hearing Andrew snore makes me miss my grandpa?

They sound the same, that's all. (It wouldn't surprise me if sleep apnea was another thing Andrew and Grandpa had in common.)

Neither of my parents snored so when I was a kid I only heard this when I was staying over at my grandparents'. I remember it seeming such a strange and alien sound, one I childishly attempted to replicate myself but of course I failed hideously, not just because I was awake but because I didn't really understand how the sound was produced, I didn't know what to try to make my body do.

Like everything about sleeping over at my grandparents', my memories of this are associated with entirely happy things: the novelty of different toys, a different one of the three available TV channels than would be on in my house, maybe we'd get ice cream or popcorn, already knowing what clothes I'd be wearing the next day because they were packed neatly away in my little duffle bag, the adventure of getting to sleep on the floor (at the foot of my grandparents' bed if I was there on my own, in the living room if Chris was staying too because he needed the reassurance of being able to sit up and check that people were there if he woke up in the night), waiting to fall asleep and knowing that while Grandma would offer, as always, to make us whatever we wanted for breakfast in the morning we'd ask, as always, for pancakes, which she'd make from scratch and which are still the standard by which I judge all subsequent pancakes and find them all lacking.
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Wednesday, February 11th, 2015 11:08 pm
I'm woefully behind on keeping this thing updated on what's actually going on in my life/brain, but I tried writing something about it and the internet ate it, and I'm too tired to do it again.

So instead I will tell you that the last time I saw [personal profile] magister I gave him a hat I knitted after promising him one, having seen him out bare-headed in all kinds of wind and rain and cold. He says he likes it because it covers his ears. I should have made him one a bit bigger so it'll still do that when his hair gets longer, though!

And today I finally gave [livejournal.com profile] greyeyedeve her Christmas present. She told me she had a scarf-with-a-hood thing she really loved but had forgotten on a bus or something. Figuring that I know how to make scarves and that I know how to make a hood by sewing a rectangle together at the top, I rashly offered to knit her a replacement. It didn't get done in time for Christmas, but it kept me busy during a miserable January and now I've finally gotten around to bringing it to her. She exclaimed over it, says she loves the colors (it's a self-striping yarn in blues, reds and browns and I love it too) and she declared she was going to wear it around the house, which she proceeded to do all the time I was there drinking tea and chatting, and I smiled every time I looked up at her in it. I tried it on when I'd finished making it to see how it'd work out (of course I'd not sullied it with the involvement of anything like a pattern...) and it was amazingly warm and cozy! I'm tempted to knit myself one now, but I don't have enough yarn yet.

Plus this week has drastically increased the number of knitted gifts I've given (mostly I just make hats and scarves and mittens for myself) and both have been so well-received that I am still happy every time I think of these things.
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Tuesday, February 10th, 2015 05:19 pm
[profile] pseudonomas gave me G.


Something I hate:
Grey skies. Give me sunshine, as the song goes.

Something I love: Garlic. It makes lots of food better.

Somewhere I've been: Grand Marais. Means "big swamp," but sounds better in French.

Somewhere I'd like to go: Germany, though ‎[personal profile] magister scoffed at this when I mentioned it the other day and says I should prefer Vienna.

Someone I know: Gemma! Gemma's ace.

A film I like: Gigantic, a documentary about They Might Be Giants full of their old good songs. I first saw this when I was in college and found Jenn, one of my best friends, in the café in the student center. My boyfriend and I had just split up so there was lots of emotional work for us to do. Eventually Jenn's friend James came over to join us and Jenn explained about my recent singledom. James, who I knew a bit but not well, looked at me and looked at the DVD he was holding and said "We were going to watch this. It's good. You can watch it too if you want?" And I did and it cheered me up substantially.

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Monday, February 9th, 2015 12:45 am
Elsewhere, a friend relates having been told by someone else "You've had [good thing] and [other good thing] happen, how can you be depressed?

To which I said: Because that's not how depression works, is why. Sheesh. It's a disease. That's like saying "but you're so tall, how can you have eczema?" The two things are just completely unrelated.
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Friday, February 6th, 2015 11:20 pm
Thanks so much to everyone for their kind words on my immigration/mental health article. I woke up this morning to a text from a friend who said I'd made him cry over his shredded wheat reading it this morning. Even people I consider close friends have said they didn't realize it was this bad for me.

I don't blame them; with nothing but FUD from the media and politicians, there's no way to know much about immigration unless you know someone who's been through it. And even then, it's not always easy for us to talk about: even if we can find the words (which is a pretty big if!), it's hard to be confident that your audience is okay with what a downer you are about to be.

Relatedly, I saw [personal profile] po8crg tonight, and he told me that he really wanted to do a crowdfunding campaign to pay for my citizenship fees. He's already checked the cost (nine hundred and six pounds! though there are various incidental fees so he says he'll set the target at £1000). He even made sure that there are no other Commonwealth countries I could get citizenship in more cheaply or easily, bless him. (Turns out no, not without living in them for five years or something. And while five years on some little tropical island sounds okay to me, I am sure Andrew would complain...)

He said he also checked and I do unfortunately still have to swear an oath to the Queen! For fuck's sake.

Talking with him about details like this was a little bit overwhelming, though. The idea that such a thing might actually happen, that I'd have to worry about filling out forms and sending off my passport and swearing an oath with a straight face...it made me realize that I've, deep down, never believed this could really happen to me, and I think it'll be quicker to raise the money for it than for me to get used to the idea that I might actually one day have a British passport and get to vote in the country where I live and everything.
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Thursday, February 5th, 2015 01:14 am
Andrew's able to smugly tell me that "everyone who's dating James likes my blog post!"

I didn't tell him that I liked it! I think he just assumes that.
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Monday, February 2nd, 2015 05:23 pm
Last Sunday, I got an e-mail that at first looked like a spam. But having already opened it, I realized it was short enough and in simple enough German that I could figure out that it was in fact intended for someone called Hannelore with the same last name as me (I was immediately envious, as Hannelore's a much better name than Holly, but it's also something I can never change my name to now as it'd make it even more difficult for the right e-mails to get to the right person), and since my e-mail address includes my first initial and my last name, I could see how this guy (Dietz!) could reasonably have thought he was addressing Hannelore.

One of my good deeds for that day was employing my poor German language skills enough to say (I hope) that this e-mail address was not the one Dietz wanted. This despite [livejournal.com profile] diffrentcolours's suggestion that I ask the guy for Hannelore's address so we could be penfriends, though that did make me smile.

But I got no reply to my I'm-not-Hannelore e-mail and forgot all about it...until this afternoon, when I got a delivery confirmation from lidl-shop.de for something Hannelore has apparently ordered.

So naturally the first thing I do is text [livejournal.com profile] diffrentcolours. "I could be Hannelore's penfriend now!" I was excited to learn that she lives someplace called Königslutter am Elm, which I've since been reading about on Wikipedia, so now I know what its coat of arms looks like and its mayor's name.

So basically anything I thought I'd get done this afternoon has been abandoned in favor of learning what things like "Versandkostenpauschale" mean and looking at pictures like this:

Pleasingly living up to stereotype, there. But I know not to put too much faith in such things: if I did send her a letter and told her I was from Manchester and she looked that up on Wikipedia, she'd get the impression that it's a city that has sunlight.
strangecharm: (Default)
Sunday, February 1st, 2015 04:47 pm
This is an article about how badly prejudiced our society is against autistic people.

It's about a lot of other things, too, of course: parents' desire to protect and control their children, the manifestation of anxieties about a world too complex and specialized for most of us to feel we can grasp, the power of narrative over facts and anecdotes over data.

Those are all the things I expect that story to be about. I expected it to be sad and frustrating. I didn't expect quite so much of it to be about how awful it would be to have a child who is autistic. I didn't expect it to make me so angry, and so protective of the neurodiverse people who form so much of my circles of care that I sometimes feel like I'm the neurologically atypical one.

I keep coming back to this quote, from a mother talking about the MMR vaccine.
“It's the worst shot,” she said, with tears in her eyes. “Do you want to wake up one morning and the light is gone from her eyes with autism or something?”
...Or something?! I can't let this go unremarked-upon. What is it you think you're actually saving your child from? What the hell are you even talking about here?

That makes me so goddam angry because you will never see anyone's eyes light up like Andrew's when he sees that picture of the baby gorilla and the stethoscope or when he writes a poem using as many words that rhyme with "penis" as possible. How wrong do you have to be about autism before you think that it will steal your child from you? How can you think that's worse than the child getting a deadly or deforming disease?

Just yesterday Andrew said again that he hates Autism Speaks because they want him dead. I'm sure they're responsible for a large chunk of these people thinking that autism is a worse fate than death...with the corollary that having to parent a child with autism is even worse than that, of course.

How many kids wouldn't be getting measles, how many families wouldn't have to keep their unvaccinateable tiny babies and cute-bald-kid cancer patients shut in, how much less suffering and fear would there be, how much difference would it make in just this one respect if our society was not so afraid of and ignorant about autism?

Of course there's the point to be made that absolutely no connection has been found between vaccines and autism, and this is the way the argument is usually framed. That's fine as far as it goes, but I want to add something else to it: so fucking what if it did? Even if there was a 100% certainty that a hypothetical child of mine would get autism from a vaccine that would protect her from diseases like measles and contribute to public health, I'd still fucking do it. Autistic people are not a tragedy. They are not the worst thing that can happen to non-autistic people. Far from it: they've contributed to most of the best things that have happened to me.
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