Getting the Electric Chair and Living

As most of you know, I have some mobility issues that come with chronic illness. My body is always at a minimum of 2 on the pain scale, hates moving for long stretches, and has a tendency to keel over.

I bought my first cane more than a year ago, and it helps, but on the really bad days, I still had to stay home. I got a flimsy hospital-style manual wheelchair (“for emergencies only,” I told myself) but I wasn’t strong enough to push it far. I also discovered that Manhattan sidewalks tilt dramatically towards the street…which meant they were always trying to dump me and my wheels into traffic.

There are many different stages of denial that come with long physical illness, and this was one of them.

I needed a real wheelchair.

I put it off and put it off. I tried a Razor scooter, but I couldn’t stay on it. I allowed my social activities to continue dwindling, thinking that if I could just save up some energy, I could still do one or two things. I pushed myself to physical limits (and sometimes injuries) to make it to political rallies and marches, thinking this is important, this is worth it.

Then there was the Science March. My friend, who has a power chair for her severe arthritis and other conditions, brought an amazing sign with the accessibility stick-person in a wheelchair zooming along on it. It said “Science Moves Me.”

 

SciMarchGroup
That’s her beside me, far left

 

She was way faster than me. In fact, you’d have to run to keep up with her in that chair. By the end of the march, she was doing all right. I felt like I was dying, nearly falling over on my way off the bus and slogging all the way home. Nobody else seemed to be having trouble. The march wasn’t that long.

She mentioned that I should look into a power chair, which was probably obvious to everyone but me.

So I sat down and had a long think about why I didn’t get one yet.

I could afford one. No one who cared about me would judge me for using it. I just didn’t wanna. It broke down to something like this:

  • I’m not disabled enough. I have two legs and they still kinda work maybe sometimes
  • I know that accessibility in this city sucks and traveling would still be hard
  • Strangers who were weird about the cane would be even more weird
  • I could inconvenience my friends when encountering the dreaded enemy Stairs
  • I would suddenly become very short and I’m not used to that
  • The doorman might give me that awkward sympathy look
  • I hate being disabled
  • No, seriously, I hate it
  • I hate being disabled and I can’t make being disabled feel like fun
  • I hate it
  • I hate it
  • I hate it

So, obviously, we have arrived at the real problem here.

I fought my body over whether or not it was falling apart every step of the way. When I first started getting migraines, I spent more time throwing up than I really had to because I would try to ‘tough it out.’ (For those of you who have never had a migraine, imagine your head exploding…over the course of two or three days. It’s not just a headache. It’s a slow motion gunshot between the eyes, except you survive and get to do it again later.) When I couldn’t physically keep up with friends in college, I developed a caffeine habit to rival Mark Twain’s cigars. Every new symptom that appeared, I would do my best to literally pretend it wasn’t happening.

This only worked until I started losing weight and couldn’t stop. I finally had to quit my day job (working with animals, which I loved). I started seeing doctors. By the time I moved to New York (for better doctors) and saw one who took me seriously, I was 5′ 8″, 103 lbs, and most closely resembled Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

 

sally
This is fine.

I finally started getting some help, including vitamin shots, and so of course I went back to trying to pretend I was fine. I’m pretty sure the only thing that finally made me stop was that pretending to be fine is exhausting.

So, over time, I’ve made accommodations for myself. I say that I write full time, but honestly, I write part time and spend the rest of the time trying to hold it together. I got the cane. I got a tiny folding camp chair so that I can sit down at outdoor events without risking my inability to get back up. I shower sitting on the floor of the bathtub. I gave up bras. I walk a little slower. Life is easier. It still ain’t easy, and it never will be, but it was more manageable.

If all of those things made life easier, getting a power wheelchair was only smart. I went to Big Apple Mobility in Times Square and rolled out with one that same day. It had cherry red panels (not my style) and was small enough to turn around in most elevators (definitely my style). The battery runs for 12 miles before needing a charge. It has tiny stash bins under the seat, like twin glove boxes.

It has changed my life.

Even just using it to roll around the house, it means I have to stand up and sit down far fewer times each day. My frequent lightheadedness is now rare, and if I do faint, big deal! I’m already sitting down. It’s nice. Cleaning house has gone from a huge and painful chore to an opportunity to go for a joyride around the apartment.

And then there’s outside. Yes, some of the curb cuts suck. Yes, the subway is practically inaccessible. But I can go to the park without using up a full day of energy. I can march without it feeling like a survival challenge. I can take the bus without dreading the walk I’ll have left when I get off. Groceries? Bring it on. I’ve got a lap AND a backpack. I can roll right over to a doctor or dentist appointment, no worries.

I feel free.

It’s been a while.

 

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The Revolution From Under The Kitchen Sink

I asked Twitter what they wanted to know more about, and the initial overwhelming response was “DIY Resist Tactics.” That’s why I’m writing this blog first.

It can be tough to balance your desire to get a message out with the kind of predatory capitalist consumerism that crops up around any social movement. (You know the kind of thing I’m talking about.) For the record, I encourage you to buy from other indie folks like yourself via Etsy or direct sale at local events. Some of those people have invested in craft supplies to support themselves. (You don’t have to do everything yourself.) But before you impulse-buy a #Resist handbag from a major corporation, think twice. Was is made by ill-treated laborers? Will ten cents of your purchase end up getting donated to anti-choice candidates by the company’s overpaid CEO?

Look, sometimes you gotta buy things that aren’t perfectly ethical. (No ethical consumption under capitalism, blah blah blah.) Sometimes you have to photocopy things at Staples or eat at McDonalds before a march so you don’t faint. It happens. Forgive yourself. But sometimes you can do better, and you should. So here are some tips on making your movement without giving too much of your money to jerks.

NOTE REGARDING LINKS: There are a lot of Amazon links plugged into this to show you what you’re looking for, but most of all or these things can be found at your hardware and/or craft store. Get them there instead, if you can.

 

QUESTION:

Do you want to be an effective communicator, or a fucking punk rocker? Either is valid, and you can be both, but I’m going to divide this up into safe and…possibly significantly less safe sections.

 

If you answered EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATOR:

What you need are messages and messaging tools.

  1. Hone your messages. Study your main issue and memorize the pertinent facts. Get together with friends and educate them, then brainstorm images, words, and actions. This is where everything starts. (If you join an organization like Act Up, NOW, the Democratic Socialists, IWW, Planned Parenthood Action, or similar, they will have done the bulk of this work for you.)
  2.  Install GIMP. Back in the day, I would have told you to buy some letter stencils and markers. While you can still make flyers or signs that way, you can also learn the basics of a program like GIMP and create perfectly good material. Make sure that ever time you create a new image, it’s set to at least 300 DPI (under advanced settings) so it won’t be blurry if you print it out big.
  3. Make your own shirts. There are SO MANY ways to do this, but I’ll point out a few options: puff paint, household bleach, iron-ons, and good old-fashion marker. (They even make a Sharpie just for fabric now.) Remember to start with a cotton or mostly cotton shirt.
  4. Invest in a screenprinting kit. Only one member of your friend group really needs one, but maybe that member is you. Good for shirts, posters, banners, etc., and you can get artsy with it. If you’re going to run to the copy shop more than once or twice a year, it’s better to just DIY it.
  5. Turn paper into stickers, and posters into giant stickers, with wheatpaste. Remember to use it ASAP after you make it or it gets funky.
  6. Sidewalk Chalk is also your friend. Invite some friends to join you. Make a party of it. Leave popular Resist tags all over town. Chalk out #NoBanNoRaidNoWall in front of City Hall.
  7. Start a zine. Get collaborators online. Crowdfund your mailing costs.
  8. Anyone can make pussyhats, and they don’t have to be pink. Crocheting is literally one hook, one big ball of yarn, and a little patience. The Pussyhat Project has patterns, but basically, the hat is a big rectangle folded in half. You can do it. If you learn to knit or crochet, it’s also super easy to make things like pride-color bookmarks or even face masks.
  9. Take over your neighborhood. Take your posters, your event fliers, your stickers, and GO OUTSIDE. I know, it feels much easier to get the word out online, but it is not the same as existing in your public space. If you want online impact, put a hashtag on your media (#DIYResist, if you can’t think of anything else), but sooner or later, you have to take your activism outside. The most effective activism is intersectional, memorable, and PUBLIC.

 

If you’d rather be PUNK ROCK AS HELL:

You did not hear any of this from me, and I officially do not recommend doing most of it.

  1. First, the obvious: Steal from work. Or someone else’s work. Fuck paying Staples to photocopy a hundred fliers for you. Also, there may be snacks.
  2. If you’re broke, it is totally possible to tattoo yourself. Do your research first, and don’t get too drunk beforehand. If you do get too drunk, make your friend do it. DO NOT share needles, I don’t care how sterile you think you made it. If you wanna get a little more official than a sewing needle and a piece of string, someone has started selling DIY kits. Don’t use cheap pen ink. India ink is fine. It’s gonna hurt.
  3. There are ways to make sure that your public messages stick. Spray paint is well and good, but nothing beats a serious epoxy or etched glass. (Disclaimer ThisBlogDoesNotCondoneDefacingOtherPeoplesProperty, blah blah blah.)
  4. Likewise, go prepared to remove hate. Sharpie beats sticker. Hand sanitizer beats Sharpie. If some idiot kid in your neighborhood thinks he wants to be a nazi when he grows up, wipe his graffiti from the face of the earth.
  5. Parody everything, as offensively as possible. I used to have a D.A.R.E parody shirt that said P.U.N.K: Keeping Kids On The Streets. It was my fucking favorite, but it was tame compared to stuff I would encounter later. Go after their sacred whatevers. Dream big. (That said, don’t punch down. “Drumph is fat” is not a joke, it’s a fucking sad commentary on what we criticize as a society.)
  6. Learn your local laws so you can know when and how you’re gonna break them, and be prepared. See especially: mask laws, nudity laws, nuisance laws, graffiti laws. You’re out to be a pain in the ass, but be a prepared pain in the ass. They hate that.
  7.  Find and share the media. Introduce your friends who loved Sum 41 back in the day to Bad Religion and AntiFlag. Give your kissfriend a RiotGrrrl book for their birthday. Read banned books out loud in the park. Most of the stuff in the Anarchist Cookbook is obsolete, but we gotta remember those who kicked ass before us. (If you click that link, you have to promise me that you will not use any info you find there to hurt any living thing. Anarchy is a fundamentally self-defeating system and if you think otherwise, you are welcome to exit my blog.)
  8. Learn the many uses of bandanas; face mask, bindlebag, flag. And remember: Don’t go buy a fucking ten pack from Hobby Lobby, just hit a thrift store and cut up some old shirts.
  9. First, do no harm…then, take any radical, unapproved leap that makes sense to you to save the fucking world.

Hello, Hello World!

 

hello-world-cover

 

Today is debut day for Hello World, a lovely piece of science fiction by my sister Pandamoon authors Tiffany Rose and Alexandra Tauber. Jack from Phaethon and Scott from Hello World are very much kindred spirits. What’s great about Scott, though, is that he also brings much-needed asexual rep to the world of sci-fi hackers.

From the official release summary:

Scott’s skills as a surveillance expert come in pretty handy when he’s breaking down firewalls. But hacktivism isn’t enough; he’s going after the holy grail—UltSyn’s Human Information Drives, human assets implanted with cerebral microchips. While plenty of hackers are trying to save the world these days, all Scott wants is to find his sister.

After following the clues to London, he makes a plan to kidnap the technical marvel heading into town. When this Human Information Drive turns out to be someone unexpected his nerve waivers. The HID, who calls herself Sonia, would be priceless on the market, but born out of joint self-preservation the two team up.

With her contacts, they travel across Europe in the search of personal secrets and leave a trail of industrial espionage all for the sake of misdirection. As the unlikely pair digs deeper into restricted databases, Scott discovers that those who enlist with UltSyn get far more than they bargained for. Not only is this secret HID program is much bigger than he had imagined, students are lining up for a future they only think this biotech wonder company can provide. Even worse, these leads are getting him nowhere closer to his own goals.

Plunged into a world of human trafficking, Scott is determined to find his sister no matter the cost, which tests Sonia’s fragile friendship with him. But when the information reveals the people closest to Scott have been working for UltSyn all along, he has to find them—before UltSyn finds him.

I got to read this very early, so the temptation to tell you all about it is strong, but to avoid spoilers, I got you a quote from Tiffany Rose instead. Here’s her response when asked about her feelings on going back over the book in light of today’s sociopolitically charged climate.

“When I first wrote Hello World, I gave no thought to the use the guns in the book. Every fictional action hero in America uses them. But after being a peaceful activist for years, I have a new perspective on the action in the novel. In no way do I support running around causing chaos, but upon editing the story, it became a study on violence.

Is a silent and suffocating oppression more or less violent than firing a gun? I live in a country that over-values the second amendment, but what is someone really promising when they vow to “protect themselves” with a gun? What about hacking? Is that a “violent” attack? Thought experiments like the trolley problem have been discussed at length, and in the days to come, I believe it will continue to be without a real answer.

In the end, I’m glad I got to explore these ideas in fiction, since the one thing that continues to truly break my heart as an activist is how often I am unable to protect a specific person from harm. Hello World’s action allows me to explore the possibility that sometimes, no matter what violence you could resort to, saving one specific person may not be possible…but even in that case, you put your heart into it and fight for them all the same.”

I love this book, and I strongly recommend that you pick it up. And remember to leave a review on Goodreads!

Rolling Your Activist Character

Problem: Every person who is distressed by current events is trying to do everything possible to fix it all at once, reducing efficiency and causing burnout.

Input: My friend Tiffany Rose says “Pick a lane and drive like hell.” A woman at a protest, whose picture ends up on Twitter, wears a cardboard sign on her backpack with her name and what she can provide (“I have charger cables, power strip, tampons, cough drops, ibuprofen. Please ask!”). These things swirl around in my head with my experience at the women’s march, trying to pack everything anyone could possibly need. One tiny backpack full of snacks, water, first aid kit, back-up batteries…too many things, making them all more difficult to get to.

Solution: Character sheets.

Start With Your Stats:

Are you strong? Creative? Agile? Huge? Smol? Fill out that part of your sheet to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. (You can print the sheet or make a new copy to edit from.) This should help you pick a class.

Pick Your Class:

Team Lead: The team lead makes phone calls, organizes events, starts chants, and has ideas. They know their friends & who has what skills, as well as how to put them to good use. They also have to be watching the news for new things to jump on. They have everyone’s emails, phone numbers, etc., and protect that data. Probably a job for extroverts.

Tank: If push comes to shove at a protest, you get to the front. Take serious self-defense classes and swear to only use your new skills to prevent harm coming to yourself or your friends. Try something (other than boxing) on this list. Get some good combat boots and a thick hoodie.

Medic: This requires training. Get an education in first aid, CPR, and household hedgewitchery. Learn your legal rights and responsibilities. You are the one who needs to carry a full first aid kit. This includes protest-specific things like L.A.W. You can find some resources here.

Supply: Carry all the necessary stuff. Bring food, water, phone chargers, ear plugs, bandannas, heat packs, basic first aid kit, hygiene supplies, and a little book of helpful phone numbers & addresses (like lawyers, hospitals, friends, local orgs, etc.). Get a good backpack and a quick-access bag. A little grocery cart or tough-wheeled wagon wouldn’t hurt, either. If you live outside a major city, you should also have a car. A van is even better.

Engineer: Those awesome LED protest signs? The messages projected onto buildings? Those are your job. If you can program an Arduino, you can do even better. You have the gadgets; flashlight, laser pointer, 2-way radios, multitool, anything you think might come in handy. It would also be good to learn basic household emergency skills.

Messenger: This encompasses artists, writers, and people papering the streets. Make sure any facts you use to craft a message are accurate before you use them. Run a blog, a Pinterest board, a local mini gallery inside a coffee shop. Make powerful art and make sure as many people see/hear/read it as possible.

Spy: Not as much fun as it sounds. Involves some technical setup (likely running TOR inside a vm, for starters) and hanging out in hate groups anon/pseudonymously. Would have to keep an eye on places like Stormfront, 8chan, and Breitbart, and report on them to their potential targets. Get lots of screencaps. Not for those with PTSD. Will be stressful. Can also spend time reporting hate groups on social media.

Specialist: You’ve got a skill that other people don’t. You speak three languages. You make phone apps. Somebody needs you. You might want to volunteer with a local organization who needs your skills. If your skill isn’t full-time useful, you can still choose one of the other classes and use your skill where you get the chance: teach your friends sign language, knit hats and scarves in cause-promoting colors and patterns, cook for a gathering.

 

It’s just an idea. But it might help.

For more protest advice, see this slightly older blog post.

Stay safe out there.

 

Winter Solstice (On the Whole)

Living with your own body as it devolves via chronic illness is, as I have mentioned before, no fun. It’s a bit like getting covered in layer after layer of ash until you feel heavy and small, until you start to wonder if this is your own personal Pompeii and soon you’re going to be a ruin.

So, that is a thing that happened to me for years.

And then there was this year.

This year, we lost icons. We saw war. We were set up for a political future that will try to destroy us.

On a separate plot line, I started to get control of my illness. I started to lock down the habits that would let me fight another day. I figured out what food was killing me and banished it. I swapped out the drugs that were killing me for ones that help my body get better.

Things were looking up, but my heart still felt the weight of all that ash.

Years of can’t. Years of worse. Years of no.

I didn’t think that part was getting better. But little by little, it was.

And sometimes that carbon layer over my core self cracks open a little wider.

I’m writing this to let you know that it can happen to you, too.

Maybe some night, you’ll be sitting at your desk, listening to “Out Tonight” and thinking about the people who care about you, not for you as an invalid, but about you as a human, realizing that even though you can’t stand up for long without fainting, you have nonetheless become a excellent and expressive chair-dancer. You will be absentmindedly poking around inside your memory and the rest of who you are will come back to you.

Maybe some night, Pompeii will crack wide open and you will shine out, remembering that you are still a force of nature.

***

Tonight is the Winter Solstice.

It will only get brighter from here.

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We Will Fix This: A Story of Writer Twitter

There is always a lot of need floating around on the internet. From massive organizations to one person’s medical bills, everyone turns to their expanded social network to raise funds. Many people in Writer Twitter can’t afford to donate, but we collectively have a network of millions, and sometimes, when life gives someone a flat tire, Writer Twitter steps up to fix it.

During #Socktober, I got tipped off to the event by another writer. As a result, my friends and I donated hundreds of pairs of socks to local shelters. Even my publisher, Pandamoon, got in on it.

When my writer-friend had emergency surgery, we crowdsourced the cost and turned a potential financial disaster into a mild inconvenience.

When a friend wrote a brilliant book but couldn’t afford the cost of self-publishing, Writer Twitter came together and got one job done at a time; editing, proofreading, cover art, and so on, until the book was released.

And right now, we’re doing it again.

A writer who has pushed for diversity and community in SFF applied for a grant from the SFWA to help cover the medical costs of a serious physical illness. She got a letter of approval…and then one that said “Oops, sorry, we didn’t mean to send you that. Best of luck!”

The amount of money is negligible to an established organization like the SFWA, but would have made a world of difference to a writer struggling with medical costs. The SFWA screwed up big time.

But Writer Twitter stepped up.

A storm of tweets and retweets blew in. Over the last few hours, we have raised $2000 of the $4500 it will take to replace the broken promise made by the SFWA. We’re still going.

People who do good, especially people who do good via internet, are very rarely noticed or lauded. They get to help someone else out, and know that if they need that support network someday, it will try to be there for them, too.

But that’s not good enough for me, so I’m going to boost some of the writers who stepped in and made a difference in someone’s life today.

If you want to help, the fund is here.

Below will be a list of people who stepped in to do a good thing today. This post will be updated over the next week.

@justinaireland, who went to bat with the SFWA to call them on their bad behavior.

@DailyJulianne, who started the crowdfund.

@FromPawnToQueen, who alerted me (and many others) of the writer in need.

@nickyoflaherty, who offered books for donors.

@CyborgN8VMari who offered to write custom insults for anyone who donated.

@KristineWyllys, who offered custom inspirational morning greetings for donors.

@LJSilverman1, who offered personal letters of thanks to donors.

…and many more.

 

msmarvelgood
Ms. Marvel, G. Willow Wilson

 

 

 

What The Hell Is Our Problem?

Does anybody else feel like their well-being is suddenly dependent on winning a game of political Whack-A-Mole?

Or like they’ve been dragged out in the middle of the night and dropped into Rebellion Boot Camp, despite the fact that they need to go to work in the morning?

Or how about the vague sensation that someone spilled cheap coffee on the world we were working on for years and now we have to start all over?

Do any of those things sound familiar?

 

If you’re anything like me (and I suspect a lot of you are, because this blog attracts like-minded people), all of those things sound familiar. And maybe you also feel that you must act. That you must find who has caused this mess and shake them until they fix it. I wish it was that simple, too. The trouble is that it only works in small groups.

You are not a member of a small group with a problem to address.

You are one tiny white blood cell in a system that contains billions of cells, a system that also includes this constant barrage of hostile infections.

The job of a white blood cell is to detect a problem in the immediate vicinity and attack.

Millions of us have to do this. It will not be orderly. It will not be pretty. It will not always be the idyllic decisive victory of watching Captain America punch Hitler in the face. Sometimes it will mean writing a letter. Sometimes it will mean cleaning up graffiti. Sometimes it will mean telling your racist or sexist family member that they are wrong, even if it means committing that unforgivable sin, Making a Scene.

Sometimes it may mean putting your money, job, or safety on the line.

You have to do it anyway. Because if you—all of you—aren’t doing your job as white blood cells, this whole body is going under, and all the people you ever cared about or respected or admired are going with it. Free speech, access to medical care, your right to vote…if we don’t do our jobs, these things we take for granted will vanish, and we’ll be left groping around for them in the dark, saying “I know I just had it a minute ago…”

Are you ready?

 

Let’s say you’re ready. What do you do?
You’ve seen the thousands of ideas, right? Sign a petition, write a letter, go to a protest, donate to an organization, make a phone call (ugh). You should do as many of those things as you can. But don’t mistake them for a finished job. That job will never be finished, and it will also never be enough.

The title of this post was not hyperbole. I spent a lot of time thinking about it today. What the hell is our problem? Fake news? Corporate greed? Is it the fast-food-ification of organized religion, or a decline in public education? Sure, it’s probably all of those things, a little bit. But when we examine what allowed those things to flourish, when we really go for the roots, we start finding answers. Your discoveries might be different from mine. But here’s what I found after rolling it around in my brain for a while.

People have learned to think cynically, but not critically. They distrust the government because we created the perception that only a fool trusts the government, but they don’t know why. Everybody wants to seem smart. Not everyone wants to put in the work. Research is hard. Facebook is easy. This widespread cynicism, unpaired from critical thought, is why so many damaging and erroneous ideas have done so well. I tested this hypothesis against many of the mechanisms spreading hateful thinking. It looks to me like it panned out.

Which means the best thing we can do is to think critically, and demand that others do the same.

You’re never going to convince your racist uncle that his Facebook feed is wrong unless you force him to defend his position. Let him google things. Ask what evidence he has that his source is the work of reputable journalism. Ask him how he knows it’s true.

If an advertising company tells you that they work with a fake news site or a hate site because it is not company policy to screen clients, ask them why they are doing business that will damage their reputation. Ask if they would work with a client who came into their office and punched them in the face. Ask how that is different than working with a client who supports the abuse of women or minorities. Ask them for an official statement, because you are going to make it public.

If you write to a politician and get brushed off, don’t stop there. Get your letter printed on a giant poster and sit outside their office with it. Rewrite it and get it published as a letter to the editor, and then send the politician the newspaper with highlighter all over it. Rainbow glitterbomb the sidewalk outside their door. Persist creatively.

That’s my advice.

Think critically, strike tactically, act globally.

Rachel’s Rules of Cooking

Cooking is not one of my arts. Even baking is a project I grudgingly undertake in order to produce warm, sugary results (or use up spotty bananas). Being chronically underweight, I also do not—in the traditional sense—diet. I am allergic to several things that are considered basic components of American food, like gluten and paprika. I like overcooked burgers and consider really sharp cheddar cheese to be the height of refinement. Basically, I’m the last person you should listen to when it comes to putting food in your face.

But today, I made this joke:

And people said “Hells, yes. I would buy that.”

It’s good to have company.

All the same, I thought I might spare you the embarrassment of having it on your bookshelf by reducing this concept down to a blog.

***

Rachel’s Rules of Cooking:

For Millennials Who Gives No Fucks

 

Rule #1: If it makes you sick, don’t eat it.

This is, as I have regrettably discovered in my adulthood, a very good rule. If you feel sick a lot, you might be ingesting something that is causing that or making it worse. So be your own lab rat. (Not your own doctor. You still need one of those.) If you learn that gluten, dairy, corn, soy, spice, red meat, or an all-popcorn diet is making you feel bad, stop eating that thing. If someone tells you that you’re wrong, that you don’t know your own body, that x-intolerance “isn’t real” or “is extremely rare,” smack them with your lunch and move on. If not eating a thing makes you feel healthier, then don’t eat that thing. The end.

You will note that this rule says nothing about food that makes you “fat.” That’s because there is no rule defining a “fat” person, how “fat” a person is allowed to be, or at what point “fat” becomes “unhealthy.” Conflating the two is a concept driven by gross objectification and commodification of bodies. Eat what makes you healthy and happy.

Rule #2: Not all food has to be complicated.

You know what makes a great dinner? Pan-seared chicken with a flavor-thing on it. I’m sorry, were you looking for the rest of the recipe? That’s it. A piece of chicken. Salt. Maybe that lemon-pepper combo shaker thing they sell at most grocery stores.

I hear the objection that it isn’t “balanced” because it has no vegetables, but that’s okay. Tomorrow, I’ll have a bowl of corn with butter and salt. And then people can complain that there’s no meat in it.

There is nothing wrong with eating one thing at a time when you’re hungry. This habit of having a meat and a vegetable and a load of side-starch is just that: a habit. You don’t have to keep it up every day. It’s not manners, or prayer, or anything particularly important. It’s just food.

 

Rule #3: Make peace with rules 1 & 2, then eat whatever. It’s okay.

If you’re anything like me, just the thought of planning a week’s meals, shopping to that list, and preparing all the things is exhausting. I sometimes suspect that this laborious approach to food was invented to keep housewives drained of energy so they wouldn’t get ideas about equality and voting and such.

Don’t buy the idea that you must grocery shop with a complicated plan. Get some peaches because you like peaches, throw a bunch of store-brand staples in your cart, and go home. If you really want to cook something complicated, do that, as long as it’s fun, but don’t take it as a mandate. It’s an impossible standard.

You are still an adult if you eat microwaved meals. You are still an adult if you drink Soylent and keep some fruit around for variety. You are still an adult if every lunch is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Even if you skip the sandwich part and just go straight at the jars armed with a spoon.

So eat whatever. It’s okay.

The Definition of MOGAI

TOP DEFINITION

MOGAI

Marginalized Orientations, Gender identities, And Intersex. it’s meant to be an all inclusive umbrella term for asexuals, homosexuals, multisexuals, trans people, and intersex people. Alternative to LGBTQIAP+

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The Issue

 

As long as we live in this society—one born from a mix of cultures and genders all trying to improve a country theoretically founded on Puritan ideals—we’re going to need words for the “other.” Anyone deviating from a straight, white, cisgender, reasonably affluent male is considered “other.” This single-viewpoint standard is (obviously) ridiculous, but we’re immersed in it. Some might say drowning.

Still, these “others” defying it by existing, creating, pushing, asserting their rights, and making us all talk about them. And as long as that’s the case, we need words.

Words for varying races, genders, sexual orientations, and other “deviations” change over time. Words commonly used as slurs get replaced as society evolves. Words that were intended to hurt get reclaimed. And sometimes, new words come in to common use through a genuine societal desire to be accepting and understanding. This is rare, but it happened in the case of “LGBT.”

LGBT, as you probably know, is “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender.” It includes many people who have been historically maltreated based on a part of their core identity. It is the phrase that has been adopted up to and including politicians to describe certain collective communities. It’s a good start.

But LGBT isn’t enough.

People are DIVERSE. People experience gender, attraction, identity, and relationships in as many ways as there are individuals. While LGBT covers many of those people, it leaves out whole categories and completely ignores those who search their own identity and find a shade of grey.

Here’s a very short list of some people not included in “LGBT”: Asexuals, aromantics, people of non-binary gender, two-spirit, queer, questioning, pansexuals, panromantics…all kinds of different words that people feel match them best. And so “LGBT” became “LGTBQQIAA+”

“LGBTQQIAA+,” of course, has its own  problems. For one thing, it’s LONG. People started referring to it as “the alphabet soup.” For another, it still doesn’t include everyone.

 

The Proposed Solutions

 

I am (obviously) not the first person to reach for a better term than “LGBTQQIAA+.” To be perfectly frank, that is too many characters long for something I tweet about so much.

One possible solution is “QUILTBAG.” (QUILTBAG stands for “Queer/Questioning, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Trans, Bisexual, Asexual, Gay/Genderqueer.”) While reasonably inclusive, this has its own troubles. For one, it’s still long, and the longer something is, the less likely it is to be assimilated into the language. For another, imagine a political candidate saying it; “Our friends in the QUILTBAG community…”

Some people have proposed “GSD” for “Gender and Sexual Diversities,” which is short and inclusive but also can lead to confusion. For one, it hasn’t achieved anything like common use, and for another, the acronym has other meanings (German Shepard Dog, “Gettin’ Shit Done,” etc.). Related short acronyms have been suggested, but most suffer from the same problem or questionable origins.

Finally, we come to “MOGAI.” Though Urban Dictionary gets it a bit wrong (“A” obviously stands not for “identities” but for “alignments,” this acronym covers a very wide variety of people. It’s short, and it’s unlikely to be confused for anything else. It fits all the criteria.

 

MOGAI: Discussion

 

Sadly, though MOGAI was initially proposed by a someone with good intentions, it was co-opted by people trying to say that asexuals shouldn’t be included because some of them are “cishet.” This was totally inappropriate and a gross misinterpretation of both the term and asexuality itself.

Some opponents say that asexuals are not a marginalized identity.

In response to that, I dare them to try being an ace woman discussing it with an angry drunk dude, or trying to begin a romantic relationship while being honest that you just don’t feel “that way” about your potential partner.

Some say that because MOGAI does include people who are heteroromantic and/or cisgender, the term shouldn’t be used at all.

This is essentially an argument against inclusivity founded on the principle that some people aren’t “queer enough.” Heteroromantic and heterosexual are not the same thing.

Since all arguments against it seem to be based in this “queer enough” nonsense, many (myself included) have decided to use the term and consider it a step towards including all people who find that the standard molds for gender or sexual orientation don’t fit them.

So there it is, folks. MOGAI. Let’s make it the inclusive solution, instead of a tool of exclusion. Let’s make it our own.