Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fellow Alameda County Folks!

I'm calling your attention to someone running in our upcoming elections, the post below is reblogged from: TransGriot

Victoria Kolakowski Birthday Bash And Fundraiser August 29:
TransGriot Note: Victoria Kolakowski is another one of our groundbreaking trans candidates during this 2010 election cycle. In addition to celebrating her birthday, (Happy Birthday Vicky!) she is vying to become the first trans person to be elected to a trial court judgeship.

She running for Superior Court judge in Alameda County, and has a long list of endorsements and support from organizations in the Bay Area and the state of California from people such as California state senator Mark Leno and California state Rep. Tom Ammiano as we get closer to election day.


The Kolakowski for Judge Birthday Bash & Fundraiser is this Sunday!

Here are the details:

Sunday, August 29th from 5-7pm
Home of Geoff Kors and James Williamson
San Francisco, CA
Location of private residence will be provided after ticket purchase or RSVP by email.

Requested Donation $100.

To purchase tickets online, please visit:

To RSVP, please call me at (510) 465-2988 or e-mail

Friday, August 27, 2010

Grad School

So, as I warned my Twitter folks, Grad School has officially begun and it is likely that posting here will (let's be honest, already HAS) become RATHER sporadic.

There are some things that I have been meaning to talk about, some stuff about "Love the Way You Lie" as well as the idea that sex/uality is "an adult activity" and I hope to actually flesh those thoughts out on "paper" and send them out to the readership to see what you make of them.

But for now, I am coping with some personal stuff as well as feeling out my first week of grad school (I think I am enjoying it so far) and my first venture into being a graduate assistant for a professor (definitely enjoying that so far).  So, if you don't see me around as much, feel free to stop by and say hi, I will get back to you, and I will, eventually, be back here full time.

Peace and love and light.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chronicles of New Bath Stuff Part 2

So since last updated I have received everything I ordered!  Still on it's way is something I WON off of Facebook, no joke (I saw a friend sign up for this giveaway so I decided to as well and won, how rare! it's for rather expensive facial serum and eye cream which I added a body butter to).

Everything has been going just fine with the exception of today when I woke up I had some flakiness along the front of my hair.  This is where 1) that white clay soap met my hair line a bit and 2) where I directly poured the vinegar rinse last time.  I think one or both of these is to blame, but looking up the info about vinegar rinse, it's supposed to HELP flakiness, though it's possible I'm over using it?  I think more likely is the white clay soap, because my forehead seemed really dry too.  Along my cheeks and throat the soap seems great but I think my forehead gets more dry than anything else so I should keep it away from there.

Anyway, in an effort to see if I can get rid of the flakes I washed my hair again today and then will leave it alone for three days I think.  Today I didn't use any of my bars or shampoos either, but opted for something I discovered in my research: baking soda as shampoo.  I made a paste of it and worked it into my hair, giving myself a good scalp massage.  (If the flakes are from the buildup of the Pantene I used to use coming up or something, this should help a lot.)  Then I rinsed thoroughly and put in my good hair mask which I got while still working at BBW (Bath and Body Works) and use every once in a while, rinsed thoroughly again and put in the vinegar rinse (this time with rosemary and thyme essential oil and I didn't put it on slowly but poured the whole thing in my hair in one go and on a different spot than before, further back on my head).  Hair's still quite damp now but on first glance it looks pretty good, with still a tiny bit of irritation at the front-most part of my hair line but seemingly less than before.

In other news, the husband really loves his shampoo bar, which he thinks has been helping HIS flaky scalp, which is much worse than mine.  And I'm undecided on the liquid shampoo and conditioner we got but the body wash is -wonderful-.  It makes me wonder if I should use his shampoo bar instead, but I don't think that's what's causing the flakes...  More time is necessary to decide.

On the body front this lotion bar I got is magic.  I have super dry skin that's hard to make smooth (always lots of little bumps), especially my arms, but this stuff does it and it's way less greasy than say, the 100% shea butter I used to sometimes use.  Also all the soaps I got I more or less really like (skin's favorite is this one), they all smell really nice and don't dry out my skin much.  The husband really likes them too, especially the orange/cinnamon/clove one (the third one we got is this one which is maybe a little better than the orange/clove one in how much my skin likes it, and smells great so all well worth using).  He has also tried to steal the new lip balm more than once, which I can understand cuz it's really good.

The herbal salve I got (see last post) is officially amazing.  I'm using it on the blister my three mile walk last week gave me, as well as on I guess what are two corns that were on one of my big toes and it's helping both a LOT.  Been using the eczema salve on a rough patch of skin by one of my ankles; ALSO helpful.  So, just overall I've been pretty impressed with everything we got.  So if anyone stays over, you have good stuff to try in our shower, lol!

Part 3 will be able the face stuff and whipped body butter that hasn't come yet as well as a hair update.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Chronicles of New Bath Stuff Part 1

So... In honor of my just past birthday (and the fact that our shampoo and soap bottles were about to start farting...) I got a bunch of new bath stuff off of Etsy!  And this has been something that has taken up quite a bit of my time lately, switching entirely (not for the first time, but hopefully the last time) to natural (aka not synthetic) body care products.  This is part of the same process that has been going on for at least 8 years, such as stopping shaving, learning how to use herbs instead of OTC or prescriptions, etc (better for me and better for the environment, win/win)...

And I plan to chronicle my thoughts about these in pursuit of having a good idea of how I like these!  And I share them here because I think perhaps maybe this will be useful or it will create a discussion with others for whom this is a shared interest.

So, anyway I wrote what follows when I got the first packages...  One is from a seller who does botanical salves and stuff for lots of different medicinal needs, and the other from a lady who does soaps, perfumes and shampoo bars, etc.  She also does a "for everything" herbal salve (burns, scrapes, cuts, stings, rashes, etc.) and I had to get rid of the other one I had because the oils in the one I had went rancid, so I'm trying hers instead!  Atm I have it on the remnants of a burn I got splashing boiling water/oil onto my stomach! (don't ask)

Anyway, ok, so I just took a shower and tried one of the shampoo bars I got from her, the beer and egg bar.  It's, a little weird!  Rinsing my hair out, I felt like there was a lot of STUFF left behind.  Like, have you ever used straight up shea butter?  You know that coating it leaves on your hands while it soaks in?  Like that, it felt exactly like that.  Which, she has shea butter in the bar (I think) so you know that might make sense (double checked, no, no shea in this bar, but there is cocoa and mango butters so that's probably it).  But still, it was a little weird and will take getting used to.  Thankfully she did warn that it would be different from using other shampoos so I wasn't freaking out.

Among other things she also advises using a vinegar rinse every 3 or 4 times you shampoo (I'm guessing these have more buildup than other shampoos?) to keep your hair healthy.  She gave instructions on how that works too but I did a bit of Googling for myself and ended up with an apple cider vinegar rinse with warm water and two drops of rosemary essential oil and one of patchouli essential oil.  Rosemary is apparently good for dark hair and patchouli is good for dandruff and dry scalp (also they both smell good).  Read the link if you want to know why vinegar is good for your hair, but apparently it really is and I should have been doing this already!

I also tried one of her body soaps and one of her face soaps (samples she gave me) the face soap I really like, it was a white clay soap (but I didn't FEEL any clay bits) and my face feels really soft now.  The body soap was ok, I wasn't super crazy about the smell and it did that thing so many bar soaps do where it left my skin "squeaky" which I find weird.  However, the lather did feel really creamy and my skin didn't feel dry when I got out of the shower so that's good.

We'll see what I think of this shampoo when my hair dries (oh and you will notice no conditioner needed, apparently this is also a benefit of a vinegar rinse and this kind of shampoo; interesting).

In other news, I bought an herb plant at Trader Joe's!  It was a little pot with oregano, sage and spearmint in it, which our neighbor helped me transfer into a bigger pot, which the plants all seemed like quite a bit.  And I've had them about two weeks and they're not dead yet!  It's like magic!


When my hair came out of the towel, still damp as it always is cuz I have a ton of it, it was easy to comb through and easily put up or, as I decided to go with it, in two braids.  It does feel soft and it does look shiny, let's see if this keeps up!

Oh also my hair smells faintly of rosemary (and fainter still of patchouli) and at no time smelled like vinegar, so, that's a win.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

More stuff that I think I should have already posted about but haven't: Racism

Inspired by an exchange on Tumblr....  Written to a white commenter who was giving Jane Doe #225 a headache...

Racism is privilege + power; it is a STRUCTURE.

(Yes, this is the definition/framework of racism that I use/work with/think about).

So, because that STRUCTURE is culture wide you (and me!), as a white person, enjoy certain privileges.

Does that make you, a white person (like me, a white person) "a racist"?

IN THIS CONTEXT, it really depends on your place in society.

First: Do you have prejudices against people of color based on their race (our more common understanding of what makes someone "A Racist" which personally I think is nonsensical...more on that below...)?

Second: Do you have the power to ENFORCE those prejudices? No? Then no, in this context there is NO basis to decide you are A Racist. If the answer is yes, and you DO enforce your prejudiced beliefs, then YES, YES YOU ARE A Racist.

Now if, as I suspect, what you're really stuck on are *the things you believe or think in your head* then...and this is where anti-racists so often lose people but I'm going to take a stab at it anyway....racism is a STRUCTURE, we LIVE in it, and are SOCIALIZED by it, which means we absorb the tropes (or, stereotypes, or ideas, whatever word you like) of racism AS NORMAL, AS TRUE.

And so...racist beliefs get in our heads.

So yeah, the likelihood is, you believe some racist shit. Just like I have/do.

This is why, what we think alone, doesn't make sense to make us A Racist, because...we all have some of that, and, so, that definition doesn't actually tell us anything...

For me, what makes someone A Racist all depends on what you do with this stuff in your head. Do you see it for what it is? Do you recognize your own racism and *reject it*? Do you recognize (or at least try to...) the social structures which perpetuate racism? Do you *stand up to them* when you see them?  Do you try, in whatever capacity you are able, to not let them perpetuate?

Or do you just go about your life telling people of color "I made it so can you" (bootstraps bootstraps bootstraps...)? Or denying that you have white privilege because you recognize the class privilege you lack (a really common conflation in my experience) and say stupid shit like "my white privilege never did anything for me!" as a result?

When it comes down to the bottom line...who do you stand with? The structure? Or people of color?
Who/what do you take the time to defend and protect with your words and actions? 

These are the way more important questions in determining just how racist you are, or are not.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Stuff I think about differently now; children, feminism and more

You know... there's lots of things I don't talk about here... More than I ever originally intended.   But you know, gotta protect the ego, don't want to start spouting off "half-cocked" on things I am just sorting out for myself, and you know, it's not terribly safe to share vulnerabilities on the internets either.  And most importantly, don't want to cause harm to anyone through shit I'm still ignorant about. But I have actually changed quite a bit, evolved for the better, I hope, in the last few years.

You can see some of the change in the numbers on my tags... Once upon a time posts on feminism way out numbered any others. Now, quite a few other categories have grown while that one has stayed relatively the same.

Oh, I still self-identify as a feminist. It's just... not that important to me anymore. And by "it" I mean, not feminisms or doing stuff I would classify as feminist but the label itself. Like the trying to convince people about how they *really are* feminists? I just don't care about that at all anymore. Far too many women who have rejected Feminism as a label do too much good work for womankind for me to ignore, and far too many Feminists have done too much goddamn harm for me to ignore that either. And that makes me... apathetic about the label (though I still use it for simplicity's sake as a general rule).

And that's not all! Once upon a time not that long ago really, I didn't give much thought to my own ableism, internalized misogyny, cissexism, accepted tropes of violence in media, or, as started my thinking about all this: my own bigotry towards children. Yep, I'm that asshole who was totally willing to side eye your kid for having a fit, like kids sometimes do, and consequently probably make that fit worse.

Reading mai'a's and bfp's and other's work on kids and mamihood were pivotal to changing that (even when, as a currently child free person half the time I didn't/don't entirely get what they're talking about). Also pivotal, and probably my real "click" moment in this particular evolution of thought was this post by Arwyn.  (And in continued evolution, most recently I'm starting to try and really figure out how to think of things like motherhood and mamihood in a way that is not so cis-centric as most discussions I've seen are and as my own understanding of these concepts is, being cis myself).

And so, basically, like, now I think this shit is so unbelievably important, way more important than Feminism (long dedicated to figuring out how to give women like *me* a way out of motherhood and housewifery) tends to give it credit for. As others have said (though I can't remember who right now, share in comments if you know) if we center the needs of children, we'll be working on the needs of everyone, and working at the root of a lot of the trauma and violence most of us have experienced in our own lives. If you center the needs of all children you have to figure out early on how to help children with disabilities, trans children, gender queer children, children of color, immigrant children...  (Just like how, imo, if we center the needs of trans women, we will in fact be working most effectively towards the needs of all women...)

And to change the oppressed nature of children, as a class, would mean rethinking totally the way we relate to each other, the kind of power relations between people that we accept in general, I think.  Because, if you think about it, when do we learn that others have power over us? As children. When do we learn to accept that some people are allowed to compromise our bodily autonomy? As children.  When do we learn to accept authoritarian relationships between people as normal?  As children...

I remember a post from a long time ago that Renee at Womanist Musings wrote about her sons and the way we assume we can just hug a child or ruffle their hair without permission, and how she always asks first if they wanted a hug, or to be touched at all, because this is one of those ways we reinforce the notion that some people don't have the right to controlling what happens to their body, and that's not a message she ever wants them to receive from her as a parent.

Thing is, that notion then gets transferred to all other people who do not have as much power in our society (like children... which is in part why/how children are an oppressed class, which apparently is news to many). The less a person is valued, socially, the more people seem to believe they have access to those person's bodies. Which is why trans women still are writing posts like this.  And why disabled people are still having to tell us TAB people not to just grab their wheelchairs without permission, etc.  (When really, this should be obvious, shouldn't it?!?!)

So anyway, these are things that I have learned in the last couple years.  Things I'm not super firm in, things I'm not sure I'm the best person to even talk about them!  But things that have been a part of my evolution and that I have never written about here before...which I want to do more.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Google-Verizon Pact Works Against a Free and Open Internet

August 9, 2010
4:41 PM
CONTACT: Free Press
Liz Rose, Communications Director, 202-265-1490 x 32
Jenn Ettinger, Media Coordinator, 202-265-1490 x35

Google-Verizon Pact Worse than Feared

WASHINGTON - August 9 - In response to Google and Verizon's "policy framework" unveiled today, MoveOn.Org Civic Action, Credo Action, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and Free Press, all members of the Coalition, issued the following joint statement:
"The Google-Verizon pact isn't just as bad as we feared - it's much worse. They are attacking the Internet while claiming to preserve it. Google users won't be fooled.
"They are promising Net Neutrality only for a certain part of the Internet, one that they'll likely stop investing in. But they are also paving the way for a new 'Internet' via fiber and wireless phones where Net Neutrality will not apply and corporations can pick and choose which sites people can easily view on their phones or any other Internet device using these networks.
"It would open the door to outright blocking of applications, just as Comcast did with BitTorrent, or the blocking of content, just as Verizon did with text messages from NARAL Pro-choice America. It would divide the information superhighway, creating new private fast lanes for the big players while leaving the little guy stranded on a winding dirt road.
"Worse still, this pact would turn the Federal Communications Commission into a toothless watchdog, left fruitlessly chasing complaints and unable to make rules of its own.
"This is not real Net Neutrality. And this pact would harm the millions of Americans who have pleaded with our leaders in Washington to defend the free and open Internet. President Obama, Congress and the FCC should reject this deal, restore the authority of the agency that's supposed to protect Internet users, and safeguard Net Neutrality once and for all."
Free Press is a national, nonpartisan organization working to reform the media. Through education, organizing and advocacy, we promote diverse and independent media ownership, strong public media, and universal access to communications. Learn more at

A free and open internet is incredibly important for bloggers like me and SO MANY other voices that just would not be prioritized by some "tiered" system. I really can't stress this enough, we've got to fight this y'all, there are way too many spaces already which privilege corporations over actual people; especially marginalized people!  As many class issues as there are with access to the internet, it is, as best I can figure, our last real refuge for the free exchange of information for everyone in this country and that needs to be protected.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Structural Racism in Fashion, in Action on Project Runway

So for some reason the last couple days I decided I wanted to watch Project Runway so I’ve been going through last season. And boy oh boy if it doesn’t just hurt my head sometimes.

There is this one designer, Jay, I think he is probably Pinoy, and his clothes tend to emphasize a woman’s curves, especially her ass. Personally, I like this, as I have always been proud of my wide hips and my favorite part of carrying a little “extra” weight as I sometimes do is how my butt fills out to match them a little better. Well… the judges are constantly picking at him for this. The last episode I watched was especially bad, with the one judge guy going on about “no woman wants to look wider than she is; she doesn’t exist!” referring to the way Jay’s outfit made his model’s hips and ass look “bigger” (which is barely did). And all the judges joined in on this refrain of course (with guest judge Jessica Alba pointing out with some shame or embarrassment or self consciousness that since having a child her hips are wider and she’s “still trying to hide it”).

Fuck that.

I know I’m not the first person to notice this, in fact it made me think about a post I saw on Tumblr some time back about wishing that fashion would do the opposite of what it does: instead of trying to figure out how to make us all look similar, that it would emphasize what makes us look different from each other (i.e. someone has broad shoulders? emphasize that! instead of trying to make them look “proportional” which is just fashion speak for “normal” which really just means "white").

It also drove home a way in which (Western) fashion is, well, racist. Here we have this man of color who clearly (and he basically says as much) enjoys working with a very different notion of beauty than the Eurocentric one that is the foundation of Western fashion. And I know I’m not the first one to make this connection either, but it was just one of those moments where I saw this exchange unfolding and I’m going, oh shit, this whole conversation is predicated on a really specific understanding of Beauty…and it would be so easy to see that concept of Beauty as “neutral” you know, like I could just feel the words they were using trying to massage my brain into not seeing just how coded they are, but they are, they really, really are.

So anyway, despite knowing this is not a unique revelation (and probably old news since this is LAST season), it was just one of those moments of seeing this dynamic I knew existed in action, and I wanted to write it out.