Posted in anxiety, depression, dragon, family, friends, grad school, job hunting, life, Personal, PTSD

6/26: Angry, tired Dragon

(I’m mostly venting… so if you don’t want to read my venting, it’s okay. I started this on FB, but it was getting long. )

At this point, at least for right now, if there’s something political that harms a large percentage of people in some way… then I’m likely mad about it. I can’t fucking keep up. The Supreme Court is failing us, the “president” is one of the biggest fuckups we have done to ourselves as a nation, congress has too many blind greedy assholes, and hate crimes abound because the perpetrators figure with 45 in office, they can get away with pretty much anything. So yeah.
But I’m done right at this exact moment. I can’t put energy into fighting this cesspool our society is turning into right now. I have too much of my own shit to deal with.
It’s fucking tempting to start a GFM or something for getting the fuck out of Dodge for a few years… raise funds to get my passport, plane ticket and such for Portia and I, and leave. Right now, that’s where my head is. Finishing my degree is on hold until I can come up with the funds to pay off the school. So that’s fucked.
Other than having many good friends here, I don’t have anything tying me to PDX. the US in general, my brother is still cool… there’s extended family… but I never see any of them anymore because I live at least 600 miles away from them and have been too fucking broke to visit. They’re all busy with their own younger branches of their families. Our branch? None of us have married and unless we adopt, no kids. 
So where is all of this coming from, you may wonder. Especially since I posted earlier about the very thing I’m trying to get away from: posting on politics and striving for peace.
Well, I have a few books next to my bed. A couple of overdue library books, a textbook from the class I fucked up on, and Howard Zinn’s Voices of a People’s History. I was going to refer to one piece in there for the papers I didn’t finish for the class I didn’t finish… yeah. So my head is in this weird place all of a sudden.
I want to finish, but I don’t have the 4500+ to pay off the school. I know I got myself into this mess. Spring term fell apart due to the eviction stress filling up my headspace.
I can’t put my finger on why I can’t seem to get myself together. Exhaustion and PTSD screwed me up last Fall term. Then I had a chance to redeem myself on the class from that term that I took an incomplete on… and then the eviction took over Spring term.
I started grad school totally on track, getting good grades, etc… and then over the past year, I’ve been slowly unraveling. Stress, no job, frustration with things in general, have all played a role in my downward spiral with school. I’m super close to finishing, but the money thing from withdrawing in Spring has messed things up. By the time I came up for air after the eviction, the term was nearly over. The whole thing is a jumbled blur.
***
Well, I have a bit of a nutty week ahead. Tomorrow will be a very long day, then a couple of things Wednesday, possibly something Thursday and then GearCon all weekend. I’m on staff… A week from now I’ll likely be so dead-tired I won’t be able to function for a day or two. We’ll see how things go.
I’m working on rounding up as much as possible of the $280 needed for storage. I have a little under half right now… but two more TR gigs this week will help… and still trying to sell off a pair of speakers and the two bookcases. I may need a little help, as my tasks didn’t really start getting going until mid-June. We’ll see how things are after Wednesday.
Let the wild week begin!
~Dragon
Posted in activism, asexuality, bigotry, bugaboos, faith, LGBTQIA Pride, life, Personal, politics, sexuality, society

6/26: Building Bridges… #politics

Since the election in November here in the US and the Brexit vote in the UK, our society seems to have fallen into a free-for-all of hate and violence. I’ve posted on the vicious cycle in the past. Quite recently, in fact. Since that post, I’ve seen news of more vehicles being used to plow into crowds of Muslims during Ramadan. And then there’s 45 (I don’t use his name) breaking a long-standing tradition of the White House celebrating Eid. He also didn’t say a word on Pride Month, so at least his hate is consistent.

One thing I’ve noticed, at least here in the US, is that a large number of people killed or harmed in hate crimes are not “white Christian people” (for the record, if you haven’t figured it out, I’m a white somewhat-Christian female), but people of color as well as non-Christian religions and LGBTQIA. Vehicles plowing into crowds of Muslims outside their own mosques, LGBT being attacked and arrested for wanting to show their pride, black men and women being gunned down by citizens and police alike, etc… the list just keeps going.

This cycle is perpetuated by fear of the unknown. That fear becomes hate. Are there attacks by non-whites? Yes. But the ratio of white attackers to non-white attackers, at least in the US, leans toward more whites than non-whites. Here in Portland, hate crimes and discrimination are on the rise. And we’re a pretty damn liberal city. Our surrounding cities and counties are not so liberal, though, and we have a lovely mass transit system here. One I use all the time. If my queerness were more obvious, I might get some random jackass giving me shit. My mohawk isn’t quite enough. Remember, this is a very liberal city. And I’m not quite queer-looking enough to get harassed.

We fear what we don’t know or understand. This is fairly common human nature. The nature of our society. The thing is that we have access to more information at our fingertips than our not-so-distant relatives. If you don’t know something, look it up. Ask questions, talk to people. If you fear Muslims, go to the site for TED Talks (also, if you have Netflix, they have a fair number of them there as well) and look up the religious ones. If you want to understand POC or LGBTQIA, …. ASK! No harm in putting a question out there.

The only stupid question is the one that never gets asked.*

Ask. Listen. Learn. Seriously, learning isn’t just in a classroom. Each day, we have a chance to learn from our surroundings. Take advantage of that.

The more we know, the less we fear. Okay, except for spiders… that’s my weakness… I know plenty about them, but still don’t like them. But when it comes to humans, just learn. When we communicate and learn from each other, the barriers we build in our minds and our society will break down and we can work together.

That’s all for now… sorry I’ve been quiet.

~Amanda

(* – Although if you ask me, as an Asexual person, about amoebas or how we mate, that is one question you should keep to yourself. It gets old.)

Posted in activism, anxiety, bigotry, community, empath life, faith, life, peace, society

6/19: Can’t Shut It Out (aka Dragon Gets Angry and Philosophical)

Hate begets hate.

The cycle just keeps going. Every morning, I wake up to news of anger and hate. People using guns, knives, vehicles, etc to maim and kill. People on the fringes of society who loathe and hate those who are different. People who want revenge for something the people they harm didn’t do.

I’m am Empath. I cannot block out what is going on. The emotions that whirl around in our society today. Anger, hate, anxiety, fear… it keeps going. It keeps hitting another level. Genocide, bigotry, prejudice. It keeps ramping up. Another attack. Another shooting. Another vehicle plowing into a crowd.

No matter the race or religion of the person with the anger, it is terrorism. Terrorism is not something “they” do. It’s something “anyone” can do. Terrorism is striking terror and fear into other people. Usually a group or subculture. I look at the various attacks of the last several months and I see hate and anger being forced onto a group of people… making them afraid.

Some terrorists want you to retaliate. Daesh and other fringe groups. They do NOT represent all Muslims. Not by a long shot. As someone said (whom I can’t remember the name of), “If all Muslims were terrorists, the rest of us would be dead by now.” When you have millions of followers of Islam, just as with -any- other religion, you will have the angry, deluded fringe. It isn’t even just religion. It’s political groups, it’s subcultures of our society.

One example of a non-religious incident: A couple of years ago, a Furry convention up in Seattle was under fire because a few people, possibly not even con-goers, decided to trash hotel property. In a considerable way. I’m not talking dinging the corner of a desk. I’m talking willful destruction of property. The hotel contract was cancelled and they couldn’t find another hotel in Washington State to host them. That convention is now on hold until everything settles down. All because of a few jackasses who fucked things up.

See the similarities? A small percentage of a group gives the rest of said group a bad reputation. A fraction -a very small fraction- of Muslims are connected to Daesh/ISIL.

And yet, others lash out at anyone they think is Muslim. The attack last night in England. This time a white person running a vehicle into a crowd of peaceful Muslims as they left their mosque.

If you can’t understand why some Muslims stray and start becoming violent, look at the person who injured several peaceful Muslims last night.

Then if a Muslim who has turned to violence attacks a crowd of non-Muslims, the cycle of hate and fear and anger and violence continues.

To end this, we must focus on those who do good in the community. I see mosques opening their doors in times of natural disasters and other situations to those who are not of their faith, but who are in need. I see them going out and feeding people who need food. Shelter when it is needed. I see more Muslims behave more Christ-like than a lot of people who consider themselves Christians.

My core faith is Christianity. I lean toward Omnism overall. I do my best to understand all faiths. I have a lot to learn. But I think we all do.

Focus on those who have strong positive ties and help others. Ask them as a child would ask a parent. What is your faith about? What do you believe? Try to listen to what they say. Talk to people, listen to people, learn from people.

The organist at a church I used to attend was being honored one morning for 40 years of service. He took the mic and told a little tale. When he and his wife converted to Christianity, they knew a few other Christians and many, many friends of theirs were not. He said he noticed that over the years, the scale has tipped so that they know very few who are not Christians and many who are. This stuck with me.

This is partly why I maintain friendships with believers of all paths, as well as many atheists. I try to show what Jesus taught: love, acceptance, compassion. I don’t preach to people… despite being ordained. I sit back and observe and show compassion when I am capable. I’ll readily admit that I’ve been under a lot more stress the last few years, so my supply of compassion is a bit low. But I still try.

One thing I think a lot of people don’t fully understand about Islam is that it’s the third of the three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam. Allah is Arabic for God. The same God Christians worship.

If we listen and learn from each other, I believe the fear will dissipate.

What we don’t know, we fear.

So, let’s start learning. Start asking. Go to the sources. Talk to an Imam. Talk to… anyone!

This list of TED Talks is a good place to start. Here’s another page chock full of talks. And then the Interfaith Amigos…

We need to work on building community with those who are not just like us. We can win over hate.

~Dragon

Posted in baking, cats, dragon, food cravings, life, Personal

6/19: Dragon Bakes

Technically, I’m supposed to eat gluten free. I get sick if I go off the proverbial wagon. Ginger tea and similar stuff helps ease the pain. Well, this month I went off the wagon a couple of times: Poptarts (Cherry frosted ones) and a package of Fireworks Oreos. Yes, I’ve been reaping the side effects as well.

While my housemates (hosts) are off chilling out at the RV, I’m at the house, tending to the felines of the household (one theirs, one mine) and hanging out. This means I have the kitchen entirely to myself.

Heh heh heh….

Getting myself back on track. I don’t have much left of my EBT/food money. Eating gluten free on food stamps is hell. You think it’s hard with regular food? That box of granola bars is at least $2 higher for gluten free. I do limit my carbs. I try to eat alternate foods that are still reasonable. But I still run out of funds.

So I’m baking. Well, I will later. I have gluten-free flour, using the last of my butter, a little vanilla, and some sugar. So, what am I making?

Gluten Free Shortbread.

Something I’ve wanted to attempt for a few years now, but never bothered because I didn’t have the space and didn’t feel the need for cookies. I’m just going by a regular recipe. The flour I have is a 1-to-1 blend from Bob’s Red Mill. I’m letting the butter soften. I took the two sticks out of the freezer last night and put them in the fridge. Now they’re sitting in the microwave (long ago deemed the safest place for food to thaw… and no, I’m not melting it… microwave is not on… and by safe, I mean away from curious paws. Someday I’ll tell you about what Jack the Cat did years ago when I forgot to put the plate of brownies back into the microwave).

I’ll report later on the results.

~Dragon

Posted in anxiety, bugaboos, depression, dreams, eviction, grad school, homeless, job hunting, life, Personal, storage, student life

6/17: Falling Apart

I’m not totally sure what to do anymore. I have no back up, no resources. Remember: I’m homeless, jobless, and disabled. Trying to finish grad school has become an impossible feat. I owe nearly 5K to my school because I had to withdraw from my classes last term. I got a letter recently (I check my PO Box about once a week) saying if I don’t send something (and where is this money coming from?) before the 26th, it’ll go to collections.

So I’m at a loss. I’ve worked at this degree for nearly three years and the last two terms, due to depression and the eviction stress, I’ve tanked. Hard. I talked with my advisor and decided on just doing the one credit wrap-up capstone… but it’s one credit and financial aid only covers 5+ credits. I don’t have the funds to pay for one credit. I’m about ready to say, “sign me up for 5-6 credits for the fall term… fuck this, I’m going for the certificate.” Summer term has already started.

Maybe I’d get enough funds to pay off the school and a new term. Not sure.

So, here’s why I’m pissed off… they know I’m trying to finish the degree. There’s a damn good reason I’ve needed financial aid. I’ll try calling them next week and try to deal with this. Explain that with the debt, I can’t finish my degree… but I’m unemployed and fucking homeless so how the fuck am I going to come up with 5K??

I’ll call them next week and see what I can do. I don’t have the money. I’m trying to sell stuff out of storage so I can pay next month’s storage rent of a mere $280 (mere compared to 5K).

The letter from them states that enrollment will be frozen while I still have outstanding debts… I need a miracle of some sort. At the very least a small one to keep me from losing it while on the phone with them next week.

I’m frustrated. Partly with school, but mostly with myself and my life. I can’t fully put my finger on the WHY of the mess my life has become. I can’t blame it fully on either myself or “society.” Believe me, I wish I could figure it out. I wish I had that answer.

But it eludes me.

~Amanda

Posted in dreams, faith, job hunting, life, Personal, poetry

6/16: Perched

I’ve been working on different things, all while trying to let my body recover from over-exertion on Wednesday. Today, I did a few small things to help boost my visibility for social media work. But I also became a bit frustrated with the job hunt because I keep trying to break into that field and I get nowhere. And now my sites are down because I don’t have the funds at the moment to pay my hosting.
So I feel like I’m looking in the wrong direction, even though I’m good at social media. Anyway… the poem below is kinda how things feel right now. I feel up in the air, which is how I am in the poem. Enjoy!

******

Precarious perch
Where do I
Land?
The fence below is
Full.
So here
I
Perch.
On a wire just above.

I see land on
Both sides.
One is safe
But
Plain.
Grassy flat land
As far as
My eyes can see.

Others there mill around.
I cannot tell if
They bother
Looking up
Anymore.
Do they wonder
What may be
Beyond the fence?
Do they see the fence?

The other side is
Rocky.
Uneven.
I would be unsure
Where to safely
Land.
Less of my kind
There.
The unknowns
Outweigh
The knowns.

The clouds have
Yet to lift.
I hear they may.
Soon.
I cannot
Stay
On this wire
Forever.

~Amanda

Posted in feminism, life, Personal, society

6/13: Girl Power

I’m no Wonder Woman or Supergirl or… hell, even Black Widow (and she TOTALLY needs her own damn movie), but I have noticed (and been told) that I get a lot of direct-hire tasks on TaskRabbit. Now, sometimes the tasks are normal-ish things, but more and more, I’m getting hired for something that is stereotypically a “men’s job” … furniture assembly.

Most of the time it’s IKEA, but I also get Wayfair pieces (do NOT get me started on their shitty directions). I enjoy doing it, even when it’s a challenging piece (that one bed frame was hell, but I got it done). One of my last jobs before the eviction was that bed frame I just mentioned in the parentheses. The wife of that couple helped bring parts to me when needed. Her husband had just had surgery, so he couldn’t do it. She was one of a handful of my past clients who said they were happy to see a woman doing this type of task.

When you think about it, my work on furniture is very empowering. I enjoy it, but also it’s helpful for the clients. For one thing, they see a female person doing furniture assembly… again, something you mostly see men offering. The more important factor is that I’m typically going into single womens’ apartments. Many would feel uncomfortable having some strange dude doing this. And being a survivor myself, I understand that concern. I’m here for my clients so that they can feel safe and still have whatever furniture they need help getting assembled taken care of.

I think it’s only once I started talking to my clients about it that I realized this isn’t “normal.” As I’ve said in the past, I grew up around power tools and a fixer-upper house that never quite got completed. I’ve built my own rough furniture (I still miss my rolling TV stand). Assembling pre-fab isn’t usually too difficult. Because I’m such a tomboy, I don’t really think it odd that this stuff is second nature to me. Or that it isn’t natural for other women.

This is just something I do.

I had to take a break from TR during the eviction. I had too much on my mind. I certainly could have used the income, but I just wasn’t able to focus. Now I’m able and willing. I have to be careful with my back and such, but in short bursts such as these tasks, I can handle it.

I’m back.

~Amanda