I Haven't the Foggiest

I haven't the foggiest notion what to blog about today. So, I will resort to a question of the day:

What is your favorite day of the week, and why?

Mine happens to be Wednesday. It's a day that I don't schedule work, or anything else. I even tell my friends that I might see them on Wednesday, but I rarely schedule ANYTHING on Wednesday. It's my "totally and completely free" day, and in that respect, I suppose it's how I keep some sort of sabbath.

And you?

Posted byPortlyDyke at 9:32 PM 3 comments Links to this post  

Stuff I Saw Today

*h/t to Chet Scoville*

Now, I'm off to design the labels for "Portly Dyke Ale", and "Kona's Beard-Stroke Stout" (don't ask -- I was in the Shaker's Virtual Pub tonight -- briefly, I swear -- but apparently, it was still too long -- now, I go photoshop).

Posted byPortlyDyke at 11:02 PM 1 comments Links to this post  

Something-Only Space

Shakespeare's Sister had a post about a Women-Only Beach today.

I have very ambivalent feelings about "women-only" space, or "men-only" space, or "anything-only" space.

Understand -- this comes from a woman (or womyn, should I say?) who spent 3 + years living on wimmin's land -- land held so strongly as a place for wymyn ONLY that the UPS guy was allowed only to the mailbox at the edge of the property, and my father, brothers, and sons could not visit me there.

For me, this was a good thing at the time. I could wander the land, shirtless (and pantless, if I could handle the weather), any time of day or night, without fearing for my physical or sexual safety (at least at the hands of human beings). I experienced a level of freedom than is unusual for most women (especially dykes) in our culture. I got to imprint a template into my own being which allowed me to move forth into the status quo world in a completely different way. It was like exercising a muscle that I had not known existed.

However . . .

I also experienced some things in that time that have resulted in an inadvertent pricking up of my ears whenever I see the phrase "Insert-Word-Here-Only".

While living in womyn-only space, I knew wimmin who were so "anti-male-anything" that they would not have roosters (or any other male animal) on their property. I was confronted by a butch dyke who treated me with the precise tactics of oppression that are associated with "maleness" in our society -- bristling up to me with a threatening stance because she was physically bigger than I. I watched people who were born with a vagina discriminate against people who went to incredible expense, and through incredible trauma, and gave up male privilege, straight privilege, and "normal" privilege just to have a vagina.

I also got to experience: Going to sleep at night with my doors unlocked and feeling completely safe, walking naked through the garden with narry-a-thought, and working in a business where my gender and sexual orientation were not a constant blip on the radar of my boss, employees, or co-workers.

See, there's that ambivilence thing for me.

I think that "Something-Only" space can very be useful for showing us how ingrained our training is -- to stay in the closet, modify our behavior based on our gender/orientation/spirituality/whatever. For me, it was like the negative space in a painting, which defined and clarified the thing that had always been with me, though I had not been aware of it.

Ultimately, though, I recognized that the "Women Only" space I inhabited was still a "going away from" -- an escape or haven from "Willy World" (the patriarchal theme-park in which I had been raised) into another form of insularity -- simply a new form of theme park. Gone was the familiar "Eternally-Present Dick" ride that I had grown up selling cotton candy next to -- now I had clambered aboard the "Half the Population is Evil" roller-coaster ride.

I want to be clear -- I am not condemning, in any way: Women-Only, Men-Only, Tranny-Only, etc., etc., etc.-Only spaces.

I just want to make sure, for myself, when I enter an "-Only" space, that I am moving forward or toward -- consciously heading into a space that is designed to bring me to awareness of what the "only" is meant to emphasize. So, in "Women-Only" space, I would want to have the opportunity to really study and experience what, if anything, is really unique to being a Woman (and I don't think that pedicures and manicures, or even simple the simple absence of all humans with penises, will necessarily allow me that).

In many ways, I think that "Something"-Only space is useful to show us what we are going away from. Like going on a fast, so that you understand how the foods you have been eating are affecting you , or hauling all your own un-recyclable trash around with you for two weeks, so you can comprehend exactly how deeply you have relied on a dysfunctional waste system.

After all, the women interviewed about the article on the women-only beach very clearly state that they are trying to get away from the cultural oppression that they experience daily as Italian women.

“Life is still quite tough for women in Italy. Men give us no peace.” She said that at Riccione, “no one stares at you to see if you’ve got cellulite. You don’t have to tie yourself up in a beach sarong to disguise your imperfections. Men are so critical. We can’t all be Miss Italy”.

The owner of the beach (a man) says, in the article: “It is simply for women to be themselves.”

Which implies that women cannot be themselves in the presence of men.

I felt very sad as I read this, and I bristled in the same moment -- because the services offered at this beach are pedicures, manicures, fitness classes, and hair-stylings -- things that are probably designed to make the women more attractive to the very people they exclude from the beach. Does that seem weird to you? (Maybe it's just me. I consider that it is a possibility that it is just me.)

OK. That's my rant.

And here's my pro-active statement:

I declare Teh Portly Dyke a Consciousness-Only Space. If you are not conscious, don't tread on my beach.

Posted byPortlyDyke at 3:47 PM 10 comments Links to this post  

Stat-Heads and Integrity

The internet is strewn with information. It's my delight, and my dread.

Recently, when perusing one of Kate Harding's fabulous posts on Shakespeare's Sister, there was what I affectionately refer to as a "Stat Fling".

I'm a Stat-Head. I admit it. I can calculate a mean, median, mode, and range with the best of them. I worked for the guberment -- for ten years (don't get me started).

Basically, a commenter was citing some studies in order to reinforce their point.

So, being the dutiful commenter that I am (and it being my day off and all), I followed the link to the cited study and actually scrolled down to the research abstracts at the bottom of the article, and went from the abstracts to the full text of the study and determined who funded the study, and researched the funding entity, and, and, and . . . . (you can read it in the comments to that post).

The long and short of it is this: Statistics mean exactly SHITE.

I know this, because I used to generate a quarterly report so that the Reagan-Era Congress would not cut a wonderful program that helped low-income elderly people. I never lied. I never falsified anything, but you can be damn sure that I highlighted, in my abstract, the statistics that backed my point of view, knowing that the abstract was all that most decision-makers would ever see.

The grace and grotesquery of the information age is this:

I have, at my literal fingertips, a world of information--

And I can pervert that information it however I want, if I want to.

So it is, that my electronic experience has challenged my own integrity in ways that I never imagined.

The other day, I actually typed (yes, I did, I admit it) an insult about the size of some person's (I would say "guy", but that was an assumption, I now realize) pee-pee. As if I would care what size his/her pee-pee was -- even if I was his/her lover. As if that is in any way an adult or thoughtful or emotionally mature manner in which to communicate (and I do generally consider myself adult, and usually, thoughtful and emotionally mature-- although I did warn you about Teh Temper).

It's worse than that, though -- I wrote the insult in a way that was very oblique -- stated in such a way that , if the commenter had confronted me, I could have said "Well, I didn't actually say that you had a small pee-pee -- if you inferred it, then what does that say about you." How Ann Coulter of me.

It's been haunting me a bit. That is NOT who I want to be. It's just so tempting when I'm feeling pissed off and over it and all righteously wrathful and shit.

And there is the little, nasty voice inside me that says: "It's one comment in millions -- no one will notice."

I notice, though.

Those of you who read my entry from yesterday may note that I commented about "an unexpected turn of events" at home. It wasn't anything huge -- but it touches on what I'm speaking to today.

I'm fairly smart. I have a big vocabulary, and a memory that has a peculiar facility for assimilation of facts and figures. I was on the debate team. I can remember shit, and if we're in an argument, I can whup you up one side and down another with these combined skills/propensities.

I didn't actually have an argument last night. I just talked with a friend about an argument that I had in the past, and her perspectives on this argument. She pointed out to me (in her own rather oblique way) while my particular skill-set might enable me to "win" the argument, it might actually prevent me from connecting with the human at the opposite podium.

I hate that, but I think she's at least partially right.

The whole point of this post is that I want to lay down my "statistics stick" -- partially because it's a lame weapon anyway -- if my own logic and knowing can't support my position, why would I go running to some study that backs my opinion? Because the fact is, at this point, I can pretty much find a study that will support or oppose any particular opinion I want it to.

Sure, if someone parries and thrusts at me (or my friends) with a statistic that's lame, I will probably be tempted to "fight fire with fire". I may even give into that temptation. I adore research, and the internets, and a good argument. (No to mention the excuse to break out Teh Temper once in a while.)

Yet somehow, in my digital guts, I sense that it takes me away from the intention with which I float out to the great electronic ocean each day -- to connect with other beings, and through this, to connect with myself.

In parting I will just say this: I fucking love my computer.

Posted byPortlyDyke at 6:54 PM 5 comments Links to this post  

Must excuse myself for the night -- back in the morning

I've had an unexpected turn of events at home tonight, which requires my rumination, so I'll post this tiny bit now, and more in the morning -- in the meantime, please enjoy one of my favorite videos, and I'll explain everything in the light of a new day.

Posted byPortlyDyke at 11:10 PM 2 comments Links to this post  

No, Seriously Folks -- Community

I've been following the posts and comments at Shakesville's temporary old/new platform for the past four days now.

I was directed to view Shakesville (may it emerge in Splendor again SOON) many months ago by a friend whose intellect I greatly admire, and whose ethics I trust. I had read/sampled/surveyed many blogs, but something about Shakesville (at that time, Shakespeare's Sister) captured me. I lurked for a long time before commenting.

Here's what I found that kept me coming back to that blog:

  1. Smart people (bloggers and commenters alike) who did things like read books, think about things, write/talk about things, watch film and television and surf the web with some kind of consciousness about how they think the things they were taking in might affect themselves and others.
  2. People who possessed the courage of their own convictions, and spoke forthrightly about them, but who were also willing to be challenged by virtually anyone who would engage in intelligent dialogue about those convictions, even if the opinions presented were contrary to the poster's.
  3. And, perhaps most importantly -- Melissa McEwen, who, in my mind, "holds the space" that is Shakesville, allowing other wonderful bloggers to speak and express and convey, while bringing her own unique intelligence, humor, craft, and art to her posts. I've read a lot of comments at Shakesville, and have witnessed Melissa stepping in to confront even those who might be considered "allies" if she thought their logic fallacious or their expressions in violation of the blog's stated terms -- I've witnessed her rising to the defense of people whose stated opinions don't agree with her own. I call that equanimity.
All of this brings up all sorts of questions for me.

How is it that I can feel a certain void in my life because my usual mode of connection with posters/commenters -- people that I have never met, and may never meet face-to-face -- has been shifted?

What role does this one woman play in creating a point of gravity to which so many intelligent, witty, and delightful people (imo) have been drawn?

What responsibility, if any, do I have in supporting the community that has so supported me, by feeding and nurturing me daily with their thoughts, expressions, arguments, dialogues, and discussions?

It is strange, and exhilarating, to me, that I somehow "know" people that I do not know. That somehow, we are connecting through the mathematics of electronic communication, and that these questions are stimulated in my brain. I can imagine the 1s and 0s of my computer thinking "Thank You! Did you finally figure out what we're really good for? Took you long enough! -- Asshat!"

I said in a previous post "Here's to the asshats! (OK, maybe not so much.)"

I'm re-thinking that. In truth, I'm not sure I would have come to full awareness of how much Shakesville had become an extension of my concept of community, if this DOS attack had not been perpetrated.

So now, I'll say to the asshat perpetrator(s), in total sincerity: Thank you.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to understand my privilege. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to know what I had gained from, by providing me with its absence.

See, I told you I would alternate between wild rant and cross-transferent empathy.

Posted byPortlyDyke at 9:46 PM 4 comments Links to this post  

Teh Tag

I didn't realize it, but I'd been tagged by JackGoff and many days ago, at that.

I'm not normally responsive to anything remotely resembling chain mail, but heck (I mean "hell" -- must keep that rating up), I needed a subject to post on, I've just committed to daily blogging, and the blog's fairly new. So in the spirit of . . .

And anyone one can tell
You think you know me well
But you don't know me.
. . . . . here goes.

Rules (per Jack): Each person posts the rules before their list, then they list 8 things about themselves. At the end of the post, that person tags and links to 8 other people; then visits those people’s sites and comments, letting them know that they have been tagged, and to come read the post, so they know what they have to do.

1. I am pierced in exactly five places. Guess where correctly, and you win 500 irredeemable points (h/t to Phydeaux for the concept of irredeemable points).

2. I have a tendency to alternately rant wildly and then collapse into a puddle of cross-transferent empathy.

3. I have had a maximum of 3 concurrent cats living with me at any given time.

4. I have "kept" (if that's the correct phrase -- as in, "she keeps cats") a total of 13 cats in my lifetime of 50 years. (A pitifully low average, IMO -- only .26 cats per year. I hope to remedy this in future. Please be kind. My mother was allergic . . . I got a late start . . . . and for good measure --- The dog ate it.)

5. I possess a completely useless college degree, but a very good education.

6. My best hours of the day are 10 am - 2 pm, and 10pm -2 am.

7. I have a temper which I have not taken pains to tame, as it has sometimes been my best friend, and once allowed me to transcend a queer-bashing. I keep Teh Temper in a specially-marked drawer in my Wiccan cupboard. Keep your hands off the cupboard, and no one will get hurt.

8. I eat animal flesh, although I was vegan for many years, and for many reasons.

I really can't bear the thought of "tagging" anyone without their consent, so I hereby "tag" the first 8 volunteers who make a comment on this blog indicating that they have consensually agreed to be "tagged" by me.

Are you It?

Posted byPortlyDyke at 4:23 PM 6 comments Links to this post  

Solidarity -- Having the Shakes

Yesterday, a friend of mine declared that she would be blogging daily. Since I am jonesing so bad from lack of Shakesville, I am making the same commitment. For those of you who don't already know, Shakesville is under a DOS attack.

And in solidarity with all the Shakers, I am sending out a dykely/witchly chant that all Shakesville's servers may be healed and become eternally invulnerable to twits, wimps, weiners, and bullies everywhere. I will also be making a donation.

I happen to believe in the concept that "what you resist, persists".

I can't believe that the asshats who are perpetrating the attack don't see how precisely they validate the importance of the voices at Shakesville by their actions.

This will simply draw more readers to the blog, stimulate more donations, give more press. Here's to the asshats! (OK, maybe not so much.)

Ironic, no? Far from moving me into the silence they hope for, they have simply stiffened my resolve. Yesterday, a luke-warm lazy-ass blogger, today a keen and dedicated blogger.

I will not shut up. I don't believe that any of the Shakers will shut up. I notice that Phydeaux is Speaking, Mustang, WKW, etal -- and thank heavens for that. I loved that, even while one group that I think of as my community (Shakesville bloggers) were down with the electronic flu, I could get word of them via the rest of the dedicated souls who WILL NOT SHUT UP!!

There are various comments flying about regarding who perpetrated the attack -- and why -- Was it Christians, Fat-0-Phobes, Rape Apologists, or Wing-Nuts?

Were they complaining about the sacrilege of portraying Jesus in chocolate?

Were they maddened by the perversion of displaying beautiful fat women as . . . well . . . beautiful fat women?

Were they aghast at the audacity of 'Liss calling "bull-shit!" about one-liners about rape on the carpet by displaying the not-so-subtle heinousness of these toss-off comments?

Were they protesting the supposedly traitorous activity of examining the state of our nation from a rational point of view?

I've got my money on a lunatic response to fat-acceptance or the possibility of real change in awareness about rape in our society.

I think that folks in the business of hatred and separation must realize, at some visceral level, if not consciously, that shifting consciousness about these issues works at a completely different level than simply talking about politics or religion.

Cause the fat girl is next door, or in your house, or in yourself, and the rape victim is, too, and if you had to change your awareness and behavior about something that close to your own actual life, who knows what kind of cascading transformation might be set off by it?

I've been a full-on, in-your-face political activist, human rights activist, and anti-war protester at various times in my life. I've worked on skid-row with addicts and alcoholic homeless folk. I've confronted screaming homophobes in parking lots.

But the toughest choices I've ever made, and I think, the most powerful activist moments I have participated in, have been in the comfort of my own living room talking with my best friend about why it was important to talk about the sexual abuse she had experienced, under the flourescent lights of my parent's house as I told my Dad that I was fine with how much I weighed, or standing in the yard with my neighbor as I asked him not to vote for a measure that would deny gays the right to foster and/or adopt children, even if he is a Christian.

I gave up "traditional" activism because I believe, from experience, that the up-close and personal approach is more effective.

I think that's what I feel at Shakesville -- a sense of community, though we may be miles, or continents, apart -- a sense of the willingness to get up close and personal with one another as we discuss the issues.

That's why I go back there. That's why I "Have the Shakes" tonight.

Let's have a Phoebe Snow moment, shall we?

"Never shutting up, never shutting up, never shutting up . . . . "

Posted byPortlyDyke at 11:07 PM 5 comments Links to this post  

Thinking of the Children

Here's my blog rating from Mingle2:

What's My Blog Rated? From Mingle2 - Free Online Dating

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

  • dyke (10x)
  • ass (1x)
I am infuriated.

(Thanks to Shakespeare's Sister for the link. I think.)

Posted byPortlyDyke at 10:46 AM 4 comments Links to this post  

What if I laugh when I shouldn't?

I've been thinking a bit about things that I will laugh at, then think about, and think that I shouldn't actually think it's funny.

Here's an example:

See, on the one hand, I actually laughed at this ("What the hell's a bedazzler?"). On the other hand, I'm fully aware that it plays on a shit-load of gay stereotypes.

To their credit (or not -- I'm just not sure about this one), they didn't use a kid who was, to my mind, absolutely 100% verifiably a FOF (part of my new candy line: "FOFs and DOTs" -- Fags of the Future and Dykes of Tomorrow).

My gut sense is that this is supposed to be a joke about cultural attitudes, rather than gays themselves, but I found myself hesitating when thinking about posting a link to some of my straight friends. I would assume that they would follow my lead in terms of thinking it was funny if I said something like: "Watch this! Funny!" -- but that seems unfair to me somehow.

I received a link to that video from a dyke friend. She thought it was funny, and told me so when she forwarded the link. I laughed, too.

But now, I'm wondering if I was laughing in connection with my friend (whose sense of humor I completely enjoy), or because the video was actually funny.

This plays out in terms of what I call my "wit-demons" -- sometimes I'll post a comment just to "be funny".

I like funny.

I think humor can be an incredible tool for changing consciousness.

I notice though, these subtle halts when I'm about to email a certain link . . . . tiny little "uh-ohs" that tell me that I should probably look again.

A friend once told me that he thought that Joni's lyric "laughing and crying, it's all the same release" was literally true, and that most humor was centered around some kind of painful truth -- that something literally could not be funny unless it held that seed of truth -- and that what determined our response to the painful truth of the "joke" was whether we are connecting to that truth (which results in crying -- "Yes, that's true -- and that's me! Ouch!") -- or are disconnecting from that truth (laughing "Yes, that's true -- and thank god I'm not like that! Ha Ha!")

I do not, by any means, have this figured out. I just noticed it, and wanted to post today, so this is what I'm posting today.

What makes you laugh? Do you know why it makes you laugh?

Posted byPortlyDyke at 9:22 PM 4 comments Links to this post  

Best of Portly Dyke

A Few of My Favorite Posts (or posts that explain something about who I am)

Posts That Went Viral

Posts That Stirred Up Some Shit
Posts About Sex
Some Funny Stuff
  • The National Bible Week Series:
On Queers and Being Queer
On Privilege
On Love, Family, and Relationships
On Troll-Management
My Spiritual Beliefs:
You can also use the labels in the right side-bar to browse topics of interest to you (such as Feminism, Racism, Queers, Religion, etc.).

Posted byPortlyDyke at 5:41 PM 0 comments Links to this post  

Long, Chaotic Conversations

I've been commenting on blog threads recently. Long comments, as is my wont.

And, Yes! I will too blog about blogging!!!

I will begin my blog by blogging about blogging!

"I'm a loner, Dotty -- a rebel."

There have been some days when this constant comment has proven the most perfect and delightful distraction for me. Others, when it has been the hair shirt I wore, complete with a lining of irate bees.

Regardless of tone and timbre, there is something in these long, chaotic conversations that fascinates me.

Comments cross-posted that ask and answer the same or different questions, creating conversational vortexes of their own.

Dialogue gone violently askew in the maelstrom of lagging ISP connections, moderation queues, and server errors.

Words dangling in limbo, divorced from the fingers that typed them, with no softening vocal inflection or quirk of eyebrow to modify their spirits-- only lone smileys and valiant punctuation marks, bravely attempting to nuance meaning.

"Why do I do it?" I sometimes wonder.

I have concurrent and paradoxical beliefs that what I type may matter immensely, and that what I type is simply another bit of throwaway byted-ness in the Abyss.

I simultaneously long for someone -- anyone -- to throw me a bone ("Good point, PortlyDyke!") and for everyone to leave me in my blissful anonymity (". . . .*the sound of silence* . . . ").

I try to wait until a comment is boiling up within me before I comment, and to say something really "meaningful", but sometimes my "wit" (yeah, right) demons intervene, possessing my hands with a fearsome energy that compels me to toss off some clueless bon-mot -- which I invariably regret.

I try to resist trolls while holding a compassionate mind-set that the person writing might simply be a) uneducated on the issue, b) a poor typist, c) dyslexic, d) tired/drunk/cranky, or e) all of the above.

Then, a certain sun rises, and I get a case of the Fuck-Its! for the entire day -- for no discernible reason -- I blast lightning from the tips of my fingers, and shoot sparks out my ass.

I have no idea what exact quality that particular sun emits. I have no way of predicting its comings or goings, or of parsing its plasma and flares.

Blogo-sphere! Quake and Be Still! Teh Portly Dyke Has Arrived and Shall Thunder Her Mightiness Upon Your Comments!

Or . . . not.

Posted byPortlyDyke at 2:15 PM 6 comments Links to this post