I Redact Myself

A prosetry poem written for the Carnival of Aros March 2020 theme “Aromanticism and Gender” [Call for Submissions]. ((ETA (April 9th): Round Up. Cross-posted on tumblr here.))

You’d think that I’d have a timeline I could roughly copy and paste when explaining my gender journey, but I don’t. I’ve got years logged into questioning and re-evaluating my gender, and it predated any quoi/greygro/aro-spec questioning. Honestly, I don’t really connect my gender experience and aromanticism, whether that involves using arogender or not.

“I don’t necessarily combine gender musings with aro musings, for example, and especially when it’s far more obvious in my daily life while closeted on the gender front, I just don’t prioritize finding out I’m under the aro umbrella in the same way that other aro bloggers seem to.” – Jan CoAro entry.

Maybe the aro part is just still too new, relatively speaking. Maybe there’s still some lingering guilt over being a young trans person desperate for breadcrumbs of love because I was so used to hearing stories about how it was too difficult for a cis person to ‘deal with that’ and I would be lucky if anyone stuck around despite my transness. Maybe it takes too many spoons to be this introspective during a quarantine.

Title: I Redact Myself

scattered across the web like bones – old accounts, journal posts filled with questions, old aliases and usernames filled with experimentation, word docs and google docs filled with research and steps and links and money estimates (and fear and uncertainty and compromises) and venting, old wordpress posts and tumblr bios filled with terminology and pronouns and changing news (different from one blog to another) – i don’t know how many gigabytes my gender has taken up

i string together vertebrae – a wordpress post here, a tumblr draft there, google docs hidden away from judgment with new words to roll around on the tongue – but i can’t excavate all of the little pieces from the mud and wash away the evidence of other (i loved her and him and them, i was allo, i wanted to partner, i wanted someone to love me, i wanted someone to be brave enough to admit they loved one of those)

tarsals and ribs and a skull hung up – Here is a creature with a fossilized heart, who used words we cannot print today to adorn its plumage. It was a product of its time. It was – on display for the scrutiny and approval and condemnation and acceptance and exclusion of others (words deleted on the screen, erased from the page, buried and written over in the heart)

i hide the baby teeth in a jar – i hide the past away in the lost corners of the internet, the untouched posts and drafts, the forgotten spaces of a hard drive where it will draw dust and fade away into the silicon sands of time (is that better than crystallizing into a cyberghost that’s caught in the links of another’s post, ancient drama, an archived post torn from a large book) – i hide the bones in the past so my skeleton can slumber in the closet undisturbed by the present-future (i redact myself)

-fin-

Coronavirus & Prisons

It doesn’t take a lot of imagining to think about why prisons are going to face coronavirus outbreaks (often overcrowded, the staff leave the prison, cells and other areas within the prison aren’t set up for social distancing, etc.), and it’s already started.

  • “This Chart Shows Why The Prison Population Is So Vulnerable to COVID-19” [link]
  • “As COVID-19 Measures Grow, Prison Oversight Falls” [link]
  • “Coronavirus Transforming Jails Across the Country” [link]
  • “A coronavirus outbreak in jails or prisons could turn into a nightmare” [link]
  • Prison Policy Initiative’s tracking of “Responses to the COVID-19 pandemic” [link] and the ‘Other Resources’ section for others tracking policy changes and updates
  • “First federal inmate tests positive for coronavirus” [link]
  • “NYC jails see outbreak of coronavirus cases with exponential increase expected” [link]
  • Not entirely sure how to work around The WSJ’s subscription request right now, but I guess I’ll still link to the article: “Jails Release Prisoners, Fearing Coronavirus Outbreak” [link]

Considering that the coronavirus is a global pandemic, it’s a little hard to catch everything in a search of international prison news. I’ve got Penal Reform International’s briefing on Coronavirus: Healthcare and human rights of people in prison, a recent Colombian prison riot, Italian prison riots, releasing prisoners in Iran, and it depends on what’s showing up as the most recent unless I try to search for specific countries.

Once again I am reminding you I live in Ohio.gif:

  • “Officials taking steps to reduce county jail populations in Ohio” [link] (specifically notes Cuyahoga (Cleveland), Franklin (Columbus) and Hamilton (Cincinnati) counties)
  • “Advocates Call for Better Coronavirus Response for Ohio Prisoners and Jails” [link]
  • “ACLU of Ohio establishes email for reporting coronavirus problems in prisons, jails and youth detention centers” [link] (covid19@acluohio.org can be used by inmates and their families)
  • “ACLU Of Ohio Presses State To Protect Jails From Coronavirus Outbreaks” [link] (regarding oversight of county and municipal jails)
  • “Ohio prisons chief, juvenile officials: Extensive efforts have kept coronavirus at bay” [link]
  • “Governor, judges must include incarcerated Ohioans in COVID-19 response” [link]

Kite Line – March 20, 2020: COVID-19 Updates From the Inside:

“As the coronavirus pandemic continues to change life on the outside for people all over the world, the prison population stands to suffer immensely in these times. Last week, we spoke to someone in Italy, who described the riots and protests inside and outside the prisons in areas around that country. [Link to March 13th episode.] This week, we are sharing messages from people all over the United States and elsewhere through our coronavirus hotline.

We currently have a dedicated line where prisoners, their loved ones, and their supporters can call and record a message. As word leaks out from inside the prison walls, we want to share with you what’s happening to folks on the inside.

Please call (765) 343-6236 if you have information on the spread of coronavirus within a prison facility, or what the prison authorities are doing (or not doing) to address this crisis. When at all possible, we will have someone available to answer the phone directly in order to more easily facilitate prisoners being able to call in to share their stories.”

COVID-19 Resources For Incarcerated People (courtesy of Beyond Prisons Podcast’s FB):

>> Prisoner Support Guide For The Coronavirus Crisis

>> Mutual Aid Networks & Resources

>> Share Information:

Help Us to Build a National Resource for How to Support Prisoners During the Covid-19 Crisis

This resource is in the very early stages. We’re hoping that collectively we can create a resource that will live beyond this current crisis. Feel free to share this form, and to add information for prisons, ICE detention centers, youth detention centers, etc.in your region.

Eventually, we imagine creating an interactive map and an app so that people can click on their state and find the information they need. We’re not there yet, but if someone has the skills to help build this part of the project please reach out.

You can enter your email on the Share Information page, use the google form linked on the Prisoner Support Guide page, or email beyondprisonspodcast@gmail.com if you’d like to help expand this resource.

The Beyond Prisons Podcast stepped through the guide in this episode (1 hour 22 minutes) with some pointers, clarification (guide was written for those with little to no experience with supporting someone inside), and being upfront about it being a living document with updates in the coming days.

When There’s a Pandemic and Your Loved One Is in Prison (courtesy of Prison Health News):

From the third section, How to Organize Together to Fight for Our Loved Ones in Prison:

[…] Two activist groups, Survived and Punished NY and the Inside/Outside Soap Brigade, are raising money to send to incarcerated people across the U.S. for soap and other supplies. Please donate if you are able.

[…] Two activist groups have created the COVID-19 Prison Hotline, 410-449-7140, for incarcerated or detained people to call when they have coronavirus symptoms, when there’s an outbreak in their unit, or when they are being denied adequate medical care for coronavirus. The Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee and Fight Toxic Prisons, the groups that set up the hotline, announced: “We want to know where and when there is an outbreak, so that we can help mobilize support networks and media to lift up the demands of people on the inside.”

They ask people to share the phone number with people in prison. The organizers add, “We have dedicated volunteers ready to take their call at 410-449-7140. Please let us know what facilities your people are in when you tell them about the hotline, so we can make sure we fund an advance pay account for the facility. If the facility uses a phone service other than Global Tel Link, please contact us before sharing the hotline, and we’ll do our best to set up the necessary infrastructure. You can reach us at IWOC.CRC@protonmail.com.” If you are able to donate money to support the hotline, please visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/covid19-prison-hotline.

(I’m not copying over the entirety of the activist campaign links, but there’s definitely more than what’s excerpted here.)

Prisoner Support

I’m consolidating several tumblr drafts with links to resources for writing to prisoners and programs that send books to prisoners. In the case of navigating around a single website, I didn’t put each individual link but showed the steps in menu selection. [These drafts were compiled in late autumn/winter of 2019, so I don’t have links about releasing prisoners or Covid-19 specific prisoner support.]

Original tumblr post: an ask about writing letters to prisoners with a reblog that mentions birthday cards for prisoners (Rebel Prisoner Birthdays For January 2020).

Books

Political Prisoners Birthday Crew (linked in above) >> Resources >> Other Groups. Second section ‘Other Prison Books Groups’ >> Prison Book Program’s list of similar programs  >> I specifically found a program that services the state I live in [Ohio]: Athens Books to Prisoners. Based on following their FB page for updates, it also looks like they do some letter writing events, but the main goal is books.

This certainly isn’t the limit. Some programs are national (Books to Prisoners), some are regional (Appalachian Prison Book Project), others serve several states (Books Through Bars), and some focus on a particular topic like LGBTQ+ material (LGBT Books to Prisoners) or serve a particular prisoner population (SWOP Behind Bars). The Prison Book Program’s list has a few international entries, specifically for Canada and Britain, but I must admit that I didn’t keep track of much internationally aimed resources being referenced or shared.

Writing

I definitely don’t have every possible resource for this because it can depend on why you’re writing and who you want to focus on. (A whole bunch of links being referenced and going across my dash had to do with anarchists and political prisoners, so those links are being shared first.) The Certain Days Collective maintains a Calendar of political prisoners’ birthdays (and other important dates) and puts out a monthly version with prisoner updates to the Prison Break column on It’s Going Down, which also has had anonymously contributed political prisoner birthday posts like Rebel Prisoner Birthdays For January 2020, which links to Bloc Party: Everything You Need To Know About Writing To Prisoners. And here’s the last version I’ve seen of a tumblr reblog chain with international prisoner support options (not solely limited to Anarchist Black Cross chapters).

Even if you’re not an anarchist or adjacent to activist groups that include people who have been arrested during the group’s activities, some of the letter writing advice can be applicable to anyone. Granted, not everyone’s really interested in focusing on political prisoners or only sending out a letter for someone’s birthday, so, some groups I’ve seen referenced for LGBTQ+ letter writing (because I get a lot of queer content on my dash): Black and Pink (US based), the Bent Bars Project (Britain), and the Prisoner Correspondence Project (Canada based, but it sounds like they match US prisoners to pen pals as well). There are definitely other FAQs, but I personally find the Prisoner Correspondence Project’s FAQ the most helpful when it comes to getting started Qs, logistics, thinking over future scenarios, and some self-evaluation around expectations. Currently, SWOP Behind Bar’s Mentor By Mail Tips and Tricks sheet has the most about JPAY (electronic mail) that I’ve come across.

This isn’t the first time that Fenrir’s given a nudge in this direction, but honestly, as of writing this post, I haven’t started writing to anyone. I haven’t done very well with maintaining communication with online friends in the past, and I just didn’t feel I was ready to commit to prison correspondence. I also got a little bogged down in having too many options and decisions, which is why I’m not trying to present every possible program or project in this post. I do have a few notes saved from a tumblr draft that I want to tack on at the end:

~ Black and Pink: Even if you don’t live where there’s an official chapter, it’s not uncommon to find informal letter writing groups (ex. some university LGBTQ Centers). They also have the option to select from prisoners in solitary confinement.

~ Kite Line: It’s a weekly approximately half hour show that covers prison related news and a certain topic or theme for each week. I’m currently working through the archives and came upon the episode for April 7th, 2017: How to Write to Prisoners. (WFHB is based out of Indiana, so some people can tune into the applicable stations and hear the show on air. I’m in the online podcast crowd.)

~ Rebel Steps: “An independent podcast that launched in June 2018. This podcast is for anyone who wants to take political action and doesn’t know exactly where to get started. It guides listeners through actions that go beyond protesting and calling your representatives.” Season 1 Episode 3: Write A Letter (Solidarity) covers writing to prisoners. (Link includes show notes and a transcript. The podcast can also be listened to on the site, Stitcher, Spotify, and other places.)

~ Solitary Watch: “A nonprofit national watchdog group that investigates, documents, and disseminates information on the widespread use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons and jails.” Projects to bring human connection to prisoners in solitary: Lifelines to Solitary (pen pal program) and Photo Requests From Solitary. Lifelines to Solitary can be signed up for as a group (essentially starting a chapter) or as an individual (a PO box will be provided and your mail will be forwarded to your own address).

Corona-Blogging

Initial Reactions (Late Feb)

Some people try to be comforting that healthy (they often mean young) people are less likely to have severe complications, but I don’t know how that’s comforting when I know chronically ill people (plenty of whom are not in the elderly category). Some of them are Big Name Bloggers, so we don’t personally know each other, but I do have online friends/acquaintances who are very aware that they’re being talked about as acceptable losses (1, 2). (That sucks, fam.)

It’s different kinds of frustrating for disabled and chronically ill people who are finding out that an accommodation they tried to ask for or cause they’ve been trying to change before all this is getting addressed now (#AccessibilityForAbleds; #DisabledAndSaltyAF). Remote working actually isn’t impossible (x). E-learning may not be getting rolled out perfectly due to the rush, but it’s also not impossible (x). I think certain food establishments that are still open for to-go service have reintroduced plastic straws after all that fuss about wanting to get rid of them.

And like the whole social distancing thing. Some disabled and chronically ill folks either can’t access sites, don’t have accommodations at events, or need to stay at home for other reasons. They’ve been struggling with social isolation and cabin fever for a lot longer than this (years, even decades), and they’ve already had to rehaul how they stay in touch with people because they can’t rely solely on in-person activities. It’s not like everyone’s being an ass, but is it really that hard to not tell disabled and chronically ill folks that you could never live their life directly to them?

Peer Unrest (Early March)

I fell off the wagon, in a manner of speaking, when it comes to utilizing my dual theatre degrees. I got two (2) Bachelors of Fine Arts and not much to show from them. However, loads of my fellow undergrads and grads have gone on to do theatrical work. They’re acting, doing tech work for small theatres, going on the road with traveling productions, some are in the concert/music side of tech (still traveling), and I’ve probably forgotten some others. They’re scattered all over – LA, Chicago, New York, Cleveland, slightly smaller but well-known for certain theatres or fests towns, and I don’t think anyone’s still abroad.

Some of them are doing the side hustle game, so they may not be solely employed by a theatrical gig, but lemme tell ya, the coronavirus sucker punched my peers. While some have their side hustles or day jobs that are still holding up or can be done from home, others have been thrown a serious curveball. Like, Actors’ Equity and IATSE – the two big unions for actors and techies, respectively – have put out statements calling for relief aid curveball. Like, some small theatres might bounce back if the strict quarantine measures are only in place for a few months, but that’s not a guarantee. (Not to mention, the timeline for how long we have to do this quarantine thing keeps shifting.)

Obligatory plug: Covid-19 & Freelance Artist Resources. Mutual aid groups: US (Canadian links at the bottom), UK, Germany, and other international. Safety Practices For Mutual Aid, Food, And Supply Distribution During The Coronavirus Outbreak (*not* direct care of Covid-19 patients).

Shit Hits The Fan (Mid-March)

You remember that “I am once again asking for your financial support” Sanders image that got turned into a brief meme? Well, I am once again reminding you I live in Ohio.

The state where there was a lot of confusion about whether we were still going to be allowed to hold in-person voting on March 17th, and at the eleventh hour, Governor DeWine was able to cancel the primary due to the Health Director declaring a health emergency. Officially, it’s been rescheduled to June 2nd. On the one hand, people in Cuyahoga county were probably breathing a sigh of relief [Cleveland], but on the other hand, could that have been any more confusing?

In addition to an insufferable tunnel vision on OSU and Columbus (if you don’t live far enough away to get Cincy or Cleveland foci), we are also dealing with: supposedly leading the way in shutting certain things down for social distancing, just following others’ lead on shutting other things down, and oh yeah, some people don’t want abortion to be considered an essential service that’s allowed to use PPE [link]. Just a fun quarantine.

Quasi-Acceptance (March 22 — )

Autoimmune condition: When your immune system is janky and tries to light the house on fire to kill a spider, which manifests in something happening to your body (psoriasis can cause plaques). It’s probably in overdrive if you’re not taking something that suppresses some part (or the whole system). Not being medicated is kinda-sorta-maybe better than being on an immunosuppressant, but y’know, the inflammation and various symptoms of your condition might mean you’re not exactly in tip-top shape even if you’re not immunosuppressed. So, fingers crossed and knock on wood that you don’t get the brand new virus going around.

No, I will not be thinking about anything else that might constitute an underlying medical condition rendering me more “vulnerable” to Covid-19 complications. This is enough to publicly worry about. This should be enough for certain relatives to take the coronavirus seriously. This is enough. My anxiety may or may not have ascended to the level of fake calmness. I guess we’ll see.

Also, today [3.22] has seen a lot of sharing of homemade masks, whether that’s for collective efforts for medical personnel or people suggesting these for people at home (who can then donate the actual N95 masks they have). Here’s a popular tumblr post (based around a particular hospital asking for donations with a youtube tutorial), the Forbes article linked in this submission (hashtags, who to connect with to donate any N95 masks you panic-bought, patterns for making your own mask, other open source projects for other medical supplies in short supply), a collection of studies looking at the efficiency of handmade masks and which material to use, and one of many tutorials. I’m not pressuring anyone to do this. There have also been a lot of posts about how we may not have the spoons to take on projects while under quarantine, and I know it’s not like everyone already has sewing skills or tools, including a stash of appropriate fabric and elastic. I’m, hopefully, passing on info that may help or inform someone.

Spinning in Squircles

#1: Family

Having my grandmother move in before we were expecting her to and her tendency to bulldoze everything into being her way are exhausting. I can’t believe I once thought my anger was hidden away beneath numbness, never to be felt again.

#2: Fannish

That vagueblogged fanfic challenge is over in the sense that authors have been revealed and awards given out. I’ve gone back and forth on splitting the original submission and revised ending into two separate fics, but as of now, it’s just a two chapter fic. Because a private FB group is involved, I anonymized the comments that were posted there instead of on ao3 in this post, and I didn’t reveal admin names in the awards post here.

#3: Writer’s Block

Carnival prompts, AAW, ASAW, AroWriMo, fic drafts and WIPs, etc. I got nothing. I can’t focus. It’s like my tires are stuck in the mud, and I’m just spinning without moving.

#4: Sunna & Solarpunk

Generally, I’ve associated a lot of solarpunk content with Sunna, but I can’t say that some of the Vanir don’t sneak in on certain topics (Frey and gardening, as a major example). After the weird, not fully attached to my body feeling while hearing about the hippogriff shit surrounding the president and him wanting to start a war with Iran, I reevaluated which blogs were inactive and followed some new solarpunk blogs. I can’t guarantee exactly what I can do in my living space and community, but it feels a little less like I’m at the mercy of what life is throwing at me.

#5: RIP Windows 7

My family got me a new laptop because my old one couldn’t handle an upgrade. Honestly, I’m not a real big fan of Windows 10 or this new laptop’s setup, but I’ll adjust eventually. I’m pretty sure I got Cortana to stop talking to me, so that helped. My old one was bought way back in the summer of 2012 before I started undergrad, and all things considered, it’s up there in laptop years. It deserves semi-retirement (Linux Lite 4.8).