Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Samhain Eve

I had a wonderful idea for a blog post this morning...but I forgot it. Lousy memory. I know it was a good idea too. Dangit.

So instead, this Samhain eve I will be sharing the song Samhain Eve by Damh the Bard. Good timing, don't you think?



Funny thing, this is the song that introduced me to Damh the Bard, and I found it while looking for songs about winter solstice. Not sure how that happened.

I find that I don't understand everything in the Bard's songs, for example here I'm still trying to figure out who the Raven Witch is. (If anyone does know, feel free to tell me!) But I do enjoy his music. A lot. :)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Getting the wrong idea

It always puzzled me that some people might not know their sexual orientation. After all, it's such a core part of who and what we are. Why does it take some people a while to figure things out?

I've continued to ponder this question since coming out as bi to myself in early 2012. In some ways I feel like I still don't understand why it takes some people a while to figure things out, but at the same time I think I've finally figured out that cultural norms are a part of it.

We're taught from a young age that people are straight. Or if they aren't straight, they're gay. Either way, monosexual. So if a girl is very clearly into guys (as I definitely was), there's no way she can also be into girls. Right?

In pondering the question how can we not know?? I keep coming back to a particular memory from my time singing in a choir. I'm not going to say this is the one event that made me take so darned long to figure out I'm bi. I won't even say that the adult involved is a bad person for it, though she was certainly clueless. (As are so many.) But it's one example of the monosexual norm being pushed on a bisexual, which is far too common, and which makes for a lot of confusion in so many bisexuals while we're figuring out what the heck we are.

I've sung in a few choirs, and this particular one was a homeschool family choir during my teens. At various times my mom and/or brother also sang in it, though I don't remember if either of them were in it when this happened. They probably were unaware of this incident. And if they did know, they'll have forgotten it. It was really minor, on the surface.

We were singing a song called Grandma's Feather Bed, and there was a brief spoken solo. I'll put the some of the lyrics here, with the solo I wanted in italics.
But if I ever had to make a choice,
I guess it ought-a be said
that I'd trade 'em all
plus the gal down the road
for Grandma's feather bed.
I'd trade 'em all plus the gal down the road...
Now maybe I should think twice 
'bout the gal down the road.
I thought the spoken solo was seriously amusing, and requested that I have it. The director refused to consider giving it to me, simply because "We don't want people getting the wrong idea about you."

I've tried for many other solos that were given to others. This is the only one that stands out in my memory.

The sad thing is that while making an effort to ensure that other people wouldn't get the wrong idea about me, the director herself had the wrong idea about me. And, because of having the wrong idea about me, she pushed monosexuality (and specifically heterosexuality) on someone who was really bi. And in the process, she may have created more confusion where there was plenty enough confusion already.

Again, I won't say that this single event is what made me insist I was straight for so long. But it's one example of our society assuming everyone is monosexual, which is a problematic tendency.

On a more lighthearted note, here's the song in question. The brief spoken solo I wanted is missing from this rendition, so I guess it was just a quirk added in to the arrangement that the choir director got hold of.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Kokopelle

I don't feel in the mood for actual writing, but since I do want to post something I decided to share photos of Kokopelle keeping me company during my worst migraines.

I love that he keeps me company when I feel too bad to have anything to do with the world. And yes, I did get bored enough a couple times to take a few photos of him despite the pain.





I made the patchwork quilt that's in the last two photos. Quite a bit of it is from old clothes and scraps from old projects.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Grandma

It was while mom and I were on our way to visit grandma last evening that I got a text from dad: the hospice nurse had called him, but didn't leave a message. I suppose we all knew what it could mean, though I told myself that grandma's condition had probably simply worsened.

But when we arrived and someone greeted us by telling us how sorry she was, I knew I'd been wrong.

Grandma passed at 6:45pm, about an hour before mom and I arrived to see her. When we looked in on her she had a Santa Clause blanket I'd never seen before over her, the white flowers the chaplain had left that morning were still by her bed, and there was restful music playing on her radio. Maybe it was classical...I actually can't remember. I think it's the first time I've heard the radio playing in her room there.

If this post seems detached, it's because I'm still in the period of time where it hasn't hit me yet that she's gone. I guess I'm still processing things.

Monday, October 14, 2013

When I look out my window

Today I'm turning to a prompt from www.writerswrite.com for inspiration. Their Facebook page is here, and it's where I found this prompt.

Prompt: What do you see when you look out your window?

A lot of blue sky. There are a power lines in the way, which is sort of annoying but then again, what would we do without them? Because I'm sitting I can only see the top of the house across the street, with its grey roof and a small chimney on the left side. I know that if I stood up I'd see signs of the house being cleaned up, maybe in preparation to sell. Really, I'm not sure what they're doing with the house, but they've been doing it for a while.

I also see a couple of HAM radio towers that are in this neighbor's back yard, which are a bit shorter than the trees. (It's perhaps strange that my dad doesn't have more to do with this person, since he's also into radio. So is the person right next to us, in fact. I hope the other neighbors don't mind our towers.) I also see quite a few trees, most of which I don't have a name for. Certainly there is pine, fir, perhaps cedar, and one or two oaks. But there are others I don't know. Quite a few of them have turned, or are turning, yellow. The others are either evergreens or still hanging on to their green leaves for as long as possible.

There's more to see if I turn around completely, since I do after all have two windows in my bedroom. But that feels like too much trouble.

In other news...

I've written before about my grandma being in hospice. She seems to be in her final days. I've taken off work due to a migraine, which fortunately has improved thanks to the chiropractor's magic hands. I'll be going to see grandma this afternoon, and I guess you could say that in the meantime I'm writing as a way to cope.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Samhain

I'm not in the mood to write much today, but I do want to share a song that I've been saving to share this month.

A Samhain song by Heather Alexander.



There is at least one more Samhain song to follow later this month.

For those who are unfamiliar with this Pagan holiday, it's a time when the veil between this world and the other is thin. Therefore one might say that it is a time of great spookiness, and it's also a time to honor the dead. And although I don't often think of it, judging from this song it is also a celebration of finally finishing up the harvest.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

LGB Books

Sometimes I'm not sure when to put a post on my book blog, or when to put it here. One new example of where I've been uncertain is on the topic of LGBT books, where I'm talking about a book, but I also sort of want to discuss LGBT (specially the B) issues here. Because it's sort of a personal topic for me, and this is my personal blog.

Then it occurred to me...why not post such posts in both places?

Not all of my LGBT posts will make it on to my book blog, since not all of them about books. But they will all be here. And I'm overdoing the italics right now, but oh well. I'm tired.

So here's a post I just put up over at my book blog.

... ... ...

I've been reading a bit on LGBT lately (admittedly mostly about the LGB and less about the T), and wanted to share my thoughts on two of the books I've looked at recently. There's another one I'm almost through with that I'll probably write about on here soon.


Journey Out book cover

The Journey Out: A Guide for and about Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Teens
by Rachel Pollack and Cheryl Schwartz

This is actually what made me decide to write about these books. It's the book that was the nudge into getting me to accept that I'm bi in early 2012. But I couldn't remember its contents, let alone what about it finally made me come out to myself. So I finally decided to check it out from the library again. And now I'm writing about it for future reference!

First, and obviously, the book is written for teens and young adults. It's meant as an introduction to the topic, and I think it does a pretty good job.

They cover such issues as how it can be difficult to come out to yourself as LGB, how to come out to others, what makes a good relationship, what the signs are of a bad/abusive relationship, safer sex, health, how your orientation doesn't mean that you have to give up your spirituality, and a bit of LGB history...among other things.

I think my favorite thing about the book is that they got input from teens and young adults, and we see what these young people have to say throughout the book. Another good thing is that the authors are optimistic without being unrealistic. They encourage teens to seek help if they need it, but acknowledge that it can be difficult for some to find an adult who won't judge.

My two complaints would both be on how the book handles bisexuality. For one thing, the authors define it as "feeling attraction and affection towards both men and women" (3). On one hand, this is a common definition. But it's problematic in that it overlooks the fact that some people don't identify as either male or female, and/or who are physically in between. (Yes, I've been reading Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution by Shiri Eisner. More on that in another post.) I'd be less bothered by this if the authors acknowledged that gender isn't as binary as is usually believed, and mentioned pansexuality as another possibility as a sexual orientation. Unfortunately, they didn't do this. My other complaint is that they don't address issues specific to bis, although they do mention us throughout the book. Which is not unappreciated, I will say.

Overall though, a good book. And one I would recommend to someone who's trying to figure things out.

I still don't know what it was about this book that nudged me out of the closet. I guess I was ready to step out of it anyways.

Bisexual Option book cover

The Bisexual Option
Second edition
by Fritz Klein, MD

Disclaimer: I only got partway through the second chapter before putting the book down. I'll explain that in a minute. First though, what I took away that's positive.

I already knew that the Kinsey Scale is flawed. (For what it is, click here. As for how it's flawed, that's a topic for another post, probably on my main blog. Or you can just ask Google.) I've heard this quite a few times before, but I've never known anyone to recommend a better system.

And now, I find the Klein Sexual Orientation Grid.

This grid takes into account differences between the past and present, as well as what you consider the ideal. (Why should there be an ideal?) It also differentiates between things such as sexual attraction and emotional attraction. I'd known that if you're putting numbers on these things they can come out a bit different, but I'd never seen anyone else acknowledge it before. Maybe I wasn't looking in the right places, or maybe I wasn't paying attention. Either way, it was nice to find this grid.

The grid isn't without its flaws, but it is more flexible than the Kinsey Scale.

Now, on to what sunk the book for me.

First, the name is problematic, though I was determined to overlook that. I mean, hey. Bisexuality isn't an option. There are people who wouldn't be bi if they had an option about it. I don't know if Klein actually meant to suggest that we have a choice, but the title is certainly misleading.

Second, Klein started discussing gender identity in the second chapter. Which is awesome, except for his ideas on it: "If an infant is brought up as one gender, he or she will develop that gender identity, even if it is opposite of the infant's true chromosomal, gonadal, or hormonal sex" (24). He goes on to say that our gender is programmed in the first 18 months of our lives, and that "Before that 18-month point of no return, any child can be programmed toward male or female self-identity, despite the child's true biological nature" (25). Um...I really don't think so. Just ask anyone who's transgender.

The book is dated. First release was in 1993, second edition being in 2012. I would have expected that bit of transphobia to be edited out by the 2012 edition.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Pinball (and Retro Gaming Expo)

I had forgotten how much pinball is.

During the weekend I went to the Portland Retro Gaming Expo with the boyfriend. They had all kinds of cool stuff there: tournaments, things for sale, people in cosplay costume, video arcade games...and pinball. Possibly best of all, everything was on free play. We were able to play whatever we liked despite having no quarters on us.

Unfortunately I didn't get any photos since I forgot my phone at home (no idea how I did that), but I guess that means that I just got to focus on playing pinball rather than figuring out how to get good photos.

I also found a Super Nintendo that a vendor had set up so that people could play Donkey Kong. I may have gotten a wee bit over excited. That game and gaming system was my introduction to video games, so I got a little caught up (only briefly) playing it and remembering when I was first figuring out this whole video game concept with my younger brother. Actually, a certain someone may have said that he finally knew how gaming widows felt after I latched on to the Super Nintendo controller. Which was amusing since I spent considerably less time with Donkey Kong than I did with pinball.

Then again, I did seriously consider buying that Super Nintendo, whereas I merely fantasized about buying a pinball machine.

Our time there was fun, and convinced me that I ought to find a place where I can play pinball when I feel like it. Fortunately a couple of coworkers suggested a place with lots of pinball machines, so it looks like pinball may be in my near future.