In Between

I’ve been posting about it on tumblr since I made the appointment over a month ago, at least, but I am in the limbo land between the first consultation where blood was taken for labs and the follow-up discussing the results. (I didn’t realize someone might be concerned after I talked about the first death anniversary of my grandfather in the past week, but this is not life-threatening like that [cancer]. I suspect I have PCOS.)

I sort of had suspicions back in my teens, but I didn’t really know that there were side effects and symptoms that might actually need to be monitored (making a confirmation of a diagnosis helpful in figuring out if I’m really at risk). I didn’t fully realize just how much gender baggage I was carrying around in relation to this until I started looking into more symptoms, what diagnostics might be used, and had to face a really stark reminder about the body I inhabit (specifically, how it’s interpreted by others).

I am very aware that someone ticked off the little F on my birth certificate. (Lovely reminder that Ray v Himes is still working its way through the courts and doesn’t yet help those born in Ohio.) After dealing with staff who didn’t bother to read what I’d written on their forms (on their provided lines for a preferred name and gender), on the paper I provided with important info not asked for on the forms (pronouns, a brief explanation of words used to describe my gender experience, medical history), or listen to what I told them (“my gender is not female”), I’ve got to admit that even seeing just this General Practitioner (GP) sets off an uncomfortable amount of dysphoria. (The look on her face when I admitted to having never seen a gynecologist…)

Add in trying to get a diagnosis for PCOS, and it’s just more than I was prepared for. Online resources focus so much on the infertility, ‘normalizing’ menstruation, getting rid of the ‘non-feminine’ symptoms, TTC/ttc (trying to conceive), and tend to assume the only people who experience PCOS are cisgender women(*). I don’t want to minimize that these are important symptoms for some women, but as someone who hadn’t yet realized that I was trans and didn’t know what gender dysphoria was, it was incredibly uncomfortable trying to interact with PCOS info back when I first got the suspicion because of this.

I was expecting to have to make my case about not making up potentially having PCOS, but GP actually didn’t ask very many questions. (The nurse asked ahead of time when I last menstruated, so GP’s first words to me herself were, “Have you always had facial hair?”, followed by, “Have you experienced unexpected weight gain?”, and then, “Yeah, we’re ordering labs.”) Everything was going along somewhat tolerably until she mentioned a final confirmation after the labs, since some of the results would rule out conditions with overlapping PCOS symptoms – a vaginal ultrasound to see if there are cysts on the ovaries.

<sarcasm>Note the textual distance that’s preparation for potentially needing to dissociate from my body.</sarcasm> Setting my dysphoria off the charts is counter-productive to GP wanting to recheck my blood pressure (maybe I have ‘white coat syndrome’, maybe it’s actually high), but I honestly don’t think she’d believe me. (I have an offline venting space for frustrations around being a fat patient who was advised to lose weight “because even a 15-20 lb loss will improve your blood pressure”. But that’s a block of salt for another day.)

(*) Most resources assume those with PCOS are perisex cis women. It wasn’t until relatively recently that I encountered talk of PCOS being a hormonal intersex condition (from someone in the intersex community), as opposed to a chromosomal, gonadal, or genital type that people more commonly think of when they hear ‘intersex’. I can grasp the reasoning in abstract way, but I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the idea that I, personally, might be intersex. Still, I’ve got to admit that it’s a relief to think of PCOS as ‘hormonal intersex’ instead of ‘malfunctioning perisex female’, which is kinda how some people frame it.

{polite swearing}

Do I have any memory of what was in that draft that was published instead of previewed (again)? Nope. I have no idea what was in “To Write”. Hope it wasn’t horrible.

Am I having issues with the CoA posts? Yup. While I would like to finish them and post them at some point, I’m just not seeing it happening in time for the carnivals.

Am I seriously considering drafting elsewhere to see if I can reduce premature posting here on WP? Yeah. I’m not sure why it’s hitting now after years of not having this issue, but I’m already very tired of this mistake.

Loki’s online temple video – October

While I am aware that this post is several years old by the time I’m reblogging it, it’s easier to listen to Someone’s prodding.

The Road, the Walker, and What Comes Next

The video went live on the very last day of October but I’ve been so busy that it completely slipped my mind to announce it here. Please enjoy.

Loki’s Virtual Temple accounting for October 2016:

Expenses:
Flowers – $5
Incense – $5

Donations:
None

If you would like to contribute to Loki’s Virtual Temple, donations can be made to virtualtempleproject@gmail.com via PayPal. If you would like to add your name or request to the monthly prayer roll, please email the same address.


If you read my last blog post, you may have gathered that things have been rough. And they have; I’ve had a migraine most of the October and it’s only now starting to let up. It’s been a perfect storm of many health-related things but hopefully a corner has been turned. At least the migraine is starting to let up just a little bit.

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A small bouquet of oopsie-daisies

This post is brought to you by the small space between preview and publish.

I’m aware I probably got the attention of the WP bloggers whose pieces were linked in that first draft that was posted too early, and I’m aware that might not have made sense for any followers reading the post in an email where I didn’t have sections finished. (I’ll absolutely put a heading or list somewhere without completely filling in the section, so there were randomly empty fic placeholders, I’m sure.)

Draft 2.0 will hopefully roll out a bit more smoothly. I hadn’t made up my mind before accidentally posting, but I was debating splitting the a-spec adjacent narratives in some of my fanfic plots into an aro (clearly marked for the Carnival) and an ace post. I figured it might be easier on the eyes than one super long post, but I also hadn’t factored in what might need a warning for squicks, triggers, and repulsed/averse readers yet.

Asterisks and Grayness

In which I remember that I try to keep my blogs separated enough that people over here probably didn’t see those Carnival of Aros or Carnival of Aces posts coming. I try to avoid being someone’s first a-spec person (and teaching moment) because 1) I prioritize my Educating Spoons on the gender front, and 2) I don’t consider myself the most ideal example of an a-spec person, who may give allo people an incorrect impression of the ace and aro spectrums.

Does this mean I’m arguably any less a-spec and have somehow become fully and unequivocally allo (whether in the sense of alloromantic, allosexual, or both)? Not necessarily. Some areas of variation just aren’t suitable to 101 discussions, and I really don’t want to have to Educate and then list all of the ways I’m not like the majority of the group I just explained. Some people who use a label just aren’t keen on being the forefront of visibility, awareness, and outreach in that way.

For those who haven’t been struggling to refind the tumblr a-spec community, “allo” isn’t necessarily a label people identify with, but it’s used to refer to people who experience a given flavor of attraction. It’s a bit like how most cis people don’t necessarily identify as cisgender, but there has to be a word to talk about them that isn’t “normal” people. As an all around confusing gray person, the lines between allo/ace and allo/aro can be squiggly, blurry, a bit uncertain if you will.

 

Updates to the about page (accurate as of 10 Sept 2019):

Noteworthy: Gray-ace

My sexual attraction rate / degree / intensity has varied and been influenced by other things over time (ex. body dysphoria), but I’m not going to deny that older posts may use different labels, especially if you poke around on different tumblr blogs. I generally don’t disclose this outside of providing context for interacting with certain ace content because I don’t consider myself the best example for the ace community, and I’d rather avoid becoming a teaching moment where I have to explain how I’m not like most aces to someone.

Noteworthy: Aro spectrum

The best way I can describe it right now – after certain life-changing events, I “lost” the ability to clearly differentiate between when I was feeling something that was romantic or platonic, like damaging an internal sensor. I didn’t lose the sensor, but I can’t read the screen anymore; I suspect wires are now jumbled together, and I’m not sure if “non-normative” romantic expression is setting off unclear results. I would say that I’m greyro (or grayromantic) and quoiromantic in terms of recognized labels.

A-spec intracommunity note: I try to keep aro-spec blogging on one tumblr dash where it’s separate from the ace blogging on another because I don’t connect being aro and being ace. I don’t call myself aroace; when I’m in an ace area, I refer to myself as gray-ace and that’s it, and when I’m in an aro area, I only refer to myself as greyro, quoiromantic, and/or aro-spec. I’d rather opt out of describing my sexuality in the aro community to the extent that I can.

Forewarning

Have I finished backdating fic? Nope.

Have I decided to crosspost and backdate Carnival of Aros posts? Yes.

Have I decided to write for my first Carnival of Aces prompt? Yes, but I can’t put it on the tumblr where I post the aro content*. Or the fandom tumblr that’s more kinky ace flavored where I’m opening myself up to the anti-kink people or (pro/anti/anti anti?) shipping people [fandom related].

(Some a-spec people aren’t comfortable with kink, but it’s a relatively small amount who are overlapping into ‘anti-kink and letting you know’ territory, which in part overlaps with the shipping issues. It’s a bit of a long explanation, tbh, but basically, I really don’t want to draw someone’s attention in case it sets off dogpiling.)

So, there’s going to be a new tag for such content here: carnivals round tables etc.

 

(*) Basically, I don’t describe myself as aroace and combine content. I talk about aro (sexual orientation undisclosed) stuff with the aro community, and I talk about ace (romantic orientation undisclosed) stuff with the ace community. I know this seems a bit odd to keep this so separate, but personally, it works because I don’t consider them to be connected.

Angrboda Devotional – Call For Submissions

Ironwood Witch

Working Title: Mother of Wolves, Mother of Monsters: Devotions for Angrboda, Hag of the Ironwood

Edited by Úlfdís

The giantess old | in Ironwood sat,
In the east, and bore | the brood of Fenrir;
Among these one | in monster’s guise
Was soon to steal | the sun from the sky.
Voluspo Stz 40, Bellows

Angrboda: Her name translates as “Bearer of Woe”, “She Who Brings Sorrow” and most ominously, “Foreboding.” Known in the primary sources as Loki’s wife and mother of their three terrifying children, Hel, Fenris and The Serpent, and believed by many to be the Seeress Odin raised from her mound, she is also one of the Mothers in the Rokkr pantheon (having literally given birth to many of them), a völva , and a mighty Chieftain. Feared by some, misunderstood by many, and deeply loved by those who know themselves to be Hers, Angrboda is…

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Loki’s Virtual Temple – September

While I am aware that this post is several years old by the time I’m reblogging it, it’s easier to listen to Someone’s prodding.

The Road, the Walker, and What Comes Next


Financial report for September:

Flowers: $0
Incense: $5
Beverage offering (tea): $0
Donations: $0

I sincerely hope you enjoy these temple videos and find them spiritually meaningful. They will continue to be a monthly offering to Loki and to the greater community. If you have found these videos meaningful, please feel free to share them and to tell people about Loki’s virtual temple video series and the Virtual Temple Project. You can also donate to virtualtempleproject@gmail.com. All donations go towards worshiping Loki.

A special temple video is planned for autumn. More information as that project moves forward.

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Polyplatonic, but Open

{Oh, the frustrations of having internet connectivity issues in the summer. Yeah, I accidentally posted a double comment on the Call for Submissions, but we’re just ignoring that. Afaik, all tumblr redirects in the links have been fixed.

This is a crosspost that’s been backdated to the original posting date, 29 Aug 2019, and the roundup includes a link to the tumblr post here.}

Carnival of Aros – Aug 2019 – “Relationships” from The Aro Anarchist on WP [Link to Call for Submissions].

What does an ideal relationship look like to you?

What a coincidence that I posted something back in April in response to the implication that I have one ideal relationship [link to the untitled post]. By this point, I can’t pinpoint an exact year where I first heard about polyamory, but I’ve been using poly-flexible long enough that I struggle with trying put all of my potentially conflicting needs onto the shoulders of one partner.

This doesn’t mean I have to have a minimum of a certain number of partners, and I honestly may find that spoons drastically affect the point where I get polysaturated after trying polyamory out. It’s rather noticeable in trying to explain the conflicting people of that hypothetical group, but whether there’s a sexual drive or romance drive involved, those two typically aren’t combined and directed at one person. Or to put it another way, I don’t default to wanting to have a romantic and sexual relationship with the same individual. (Unless the planets and stars align just so? But I can’t really predict if or when that might happen; so, it’s safer to err on the side of it probably not happening.)

In hindsight, I think knowing about appromour [link] and wavership [link] would’ve changed how I approached hypothetical Person E (QPP) when I first wrote that post. But the gist still stands that I’m open to doing activities a partner feels is romantic and/or others may read as romantic, even if I’m not sure I can differentiate romantic and platonic.

Do you consider yourself polyamorous or a relationship anarchist? What do those words mean to you as an aromantic person?

In my response to June’s CoA prompt (Imagine A World Without Amatonormativity [Link]), I mentioned that I first encountered amatonormativity from polyam discussions. I don’t quite feel confident in saying that I’m definitely polyamorous when I haven’t had actual experience with more than one relationship, so I’ve stuck with poly-flexible. Honestly, the realization that I’m somewhere in the aro spectrum/umbrella is still new enough that I’m more likely to consider myself a polyam person approaching the aro community.

While I can understand some of the foundational theory where relationship anarchists operate from, I actually haven’t really sought out solely RA (and not overlapping with polyamory) circles. It doesn’t come down to some sort of difference of ideas, opinions, or whatever that might sound reasonable. I just got the shitty luck of the first relationship anarchist I interacted with being someone I didn’t want to interact with any further so I avoided their circles, which extended to RA at the time.

These days, particularly on tumblr, it’s a bit of a coin toss in that I’ve typically found those who overlap polyam and RA in some way. Sometimes, it’s as simple as personally following an RA structure but interacting and tagging polyam because it is/was a larger community or had more frequented tags. For me, leaning into RA doesn’t seem to have room for allo friends who don’t want to fall into amatonormativity but aren’t really committed to RA themselves. RA doesn’t seem like a one-way endeavor, y’know?

How do you feel about various models that a-spec communities have come up with to talk about non-traditional relationships?

I suspect I tried so hard to poke at whether I might want a queerplatonic partner as Person E had to do with QPRs being the most commonly referenced non-traditional relationship model I’ve run into. It’s quite likely they still serve a need, or we probably would’ve abandoned this terminology, but sometimes, I have the distinct feeling that the vague, open spaces for what “queering a platonic relationship” looks like is a tad too vague and open for some people.

Honestly, I feel like I’m treading water with keeping up on friendship maintenance (particularly as it’s moved from in-person daily interaction from school environments to solely LDR/online spaces), and I haven’t really had the spoons for poking at non-traditional relationships. I have friends who I consider Important People, but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier keeping in touch, let alone asking allo friends about whether they’re comfortable doing xyz that’s different from what they’re used to doing in friendships.

Not to mention that bridging the allo to a-spec gap in a friendship isn’t exactly the same as trying to ask about non-traditional relationships. It’s one thing to be like ‘hey friend, do you mind if I do x or say z?’, but once things start to stray too non-traditional, it gets into educational territory and explaining that I’m not trying to date them. (Or force polyam on them, break up their relationship, encourage cheating, etc. Have you had an allo explain what an emotional affair was to you? 10/10 don’t recommend.)

tl;dr While I can understand some of the foundations of relationship anarchy, I’m more likely to describe myself as poly-flexible due to longer exposure to polyamory circles. In theory, being able to split different attraction drives between a group of people works better than putting everything on one person’s shoulders, but realistically, I’m not sure if I’ll have the spoons for that in the near future, particularly when you take into account friendship maintenance spoons.

Unrecorded Pantheon Round Table #1

@unrecorded-pantheon-roundtable’s Call for Submissions post [link]. (This will be crossposted on tumblr.)

#1: Who is your pantheon, and how did you come to them?

I don’t really have a pantheon so much as I have a loose amalgamation of People. The short version is that I’ve got a habit of peppering in P/pagan references into fiction, even if it’s slightly tweaking a deity or practice into a fictionalized version, and sometimes, They interact like They’re not so fictional. (Yes, even if it’s “just a fanfic”.)

My WIP “Kai” led to a particular alliance (SWA) [“Writing (or discovering) New Faces“] that’s much more noticeably based on deities the readers may have heard about. The universe of the fic allows for deities outside of the alliance to be referenced, which is how a particular Face of Loki wound up showing up [“Horsehair Lace“].

Several of my WIPs have deities that pagans would quite likely recognize as fictionalized versions. The Ancients in “Darkling” include Holly and Oak as a reference to the Holly King and Oak King and neopagan holiday references, and “Kintsugi” has a particular flavor of the Lord and Lady archetype that’s been tailored to that universe with references to other deities (honoring the land-spirit also forms part of the home and hearth centered practice). “BSL” and “Coven” share a universe with tree based titles for the fictionally tweaked deities, but they touch more on community recognized mourning rituals and edge into sacred endarkenment rather than getting into the specifics of deities per se (at least, in the current drafts).

I address it more directly in “Belief and Laity in (my) Fiction“, but there’s a noticeable component across these fics that the community level or individual level of cathartic rituals can be more relevant than whether the character actually believes in the deities in question. It really depends on the universe and what the main plot is, but in some of the fics, this is because there are outside temple/hof/grove structures with priests and priestesses, the character is an outsider being introduced to the system, and/or the cultural element is more important so deities have been synchronized or can be approached as conceptualizations of magical forces.

Quite frankly, the hodge-podge feel of these inter-pantheon collectives and allowances for other (potentially interfaith) religious beliefs with cultural interaction with these deities makes for a buffet of potential interaction. Karnon and Zisa have dropped by (“Kintsugi”), a Tawch holiday has sometimes been relevant (“Darkling”), and there’s been occasional interest in the details of who gets which tree title for what reason (that may one day turn into a pantheon or collective from “BSL”/”Coven”).

I’ve been more caught up in Death & Co (referenced previously on this blog), Who are not connected to any fictional stories, so I don’t really have a cohesive practice featuring any of these other potential People. I’m a bit resistant at times because of past misinterpretation issues, in which a previous foray into a highly individual path was later declared null and void, but I would like to note that one of The Ancients who’s currently seen more screen time in the story – Ouroboros (aka The Time-Keeper) – apparently made it into a reader’s dream [thread link]. While I’m aware this doesn’t make Ouroboros “more legitimate”, I definitely saw it as a nudge that I may not be repeating a miscommunication issue again.