Friday, May 25, 2018

I did the thing!

If I had a nickel for every time I've seen a blogger mention "secret projects" or other things they'd just love to tell you, but can't, I could demonetize pretty much everything and retire. Unfortunately, I am one of those bloggers.

But, that situation is no more!

Awhile ago, I mentioned something I was quasi-secretly working on, and, I'm pleased to say, I've actually done the thing.

Now, in addition to this personal blog, I have witchpaint, an art blog dedicated to the intersection between art and magic. If that sounds like a thing you might think is neat, please check it out, subscribe, comment, and so forth.

Thank you for reading here. I really don't have the words to express my appreciation. I hope you'll enjoy (or at least get some decent snark out of) my other writing and artistic endeavors.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Secondhand Good Enough?

Trying to buy new clothes is a minefield.

I don't just mean trying to fit my body or find things I like, either. (Though that's plenty difficult enough, between drastic weightloss and my attempts to get back to a healthier weight and build more muscle.) I always end up having to answer a lot of questions, like:

Was this made in a sustainable fashion? Is it at least going to biodegrade sometime this century?

Was it made with sweatshop labor? Are those sweatshops the primary means of economic advancement for people in that area?

Does this company secretly donate to politicians who are not-so-secretly giant buttholes? What kind of legislation does the parent company support?

Is there a chance that this is counterfeit, and my money is actually going to support organized crime?


It's exhausting. I just want a pair of pants so I am legally allowed to leave the house ever.
Preferably ones that didn't cost a malnourished eleven year old their eyesight.

One of the easiest ways to avoid most of these is to buy things that were handmade in the U.S., but that's expensive. The next best way? Buy secondhand.

Except I'm starting to question that, too.

One of the biggest things driving fast fashion is the idea of owning a certain label or distinctive look, or, if you can't drop the dosh for an actual designer, something that at least looks the part and won't fall apart before it's no longer in style. Since clothes age in dog years, that bar is basically low enough to crawl over.

Not shown: the worker handcuffed to a sewing machine.

To frame it another way -- if I wouldn't buy unsustainable sweatshop clothing from a certain label when it was new, is it really more ethical to buy it used? Either way, I'll be wearing that label, and, considering the bizarre way fashion works, essentially advertising that brand. Even if none of my money went to the original manufacturer, I'm still basically paying to promote them. (Truly ethical consumption is pretty much impossible with modern economic and production models, but trying to be more ethical is at least a little better than nothing.)

On the other hand, there's also the somewhat-questionable practices of big name secondhand shops. While they can do great things for charitable causes, the Salvation Army's relationship with LGBT people could best be described as "complicated," and Goodwill's model relies on the fact that it is legal to pay disabled people pennies per hour. That... doesn't sit right, and I feel like I should be able to do better. If you're looking to make upwards of half a million per year as the head of what is ostensibly a charitable organization, you should probably find a different job.

I swear -- if I was able to forego this entire process and just be a full-time nudist, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

... And that's how I time-traveled fifteen hours into the future.

In some circles, people are fond of talking about herbs as a superior alternative to medication. They're less harmful than prescriptions, have fewer side-effects, you get the jist.

While that may be true in some cases, I am here to tell you that that doesn't mean that herbs will not mess. You. UP.

From what I have seen in other herb fans I know, there's a lot of, "It's just a cup of herbal tea, it can't do any harm!" or "It's just a couple of drops of tincture, it'll be fine." The puzzling thing is that this is often said in the same breath as, "Herbs are just as effective as prescription medication."

But which is it? Are they as effective as pharmaceuticals, or are they harmless? Being both at the same time isn't physically possible, people. 

Usually I'm pretty good (read: fanatical) about researching drug and food interactions. Part of this is my fear of taking pretty much anything anymore, part of this is habit after having to choke down the handfuls of pills intracranial hypertension demanded of me.

Yesterday? I goofed. I goofed bad.

Not in an enormous way, either -- it was as simple as having a cup of tea with a bit of lemon balm with a late dinner, because it was tasty. Then I took a Zyrtec, because it's spring and that's what I do. Then, about an hour later, I drank a double-strength cup of chamomile tea to help settle my stomach. Like a lot of people, I usually think of tea as closer to "food" than "medicine," but there's a reason why websites highlight a drug's interactions with medicine and food.

The next evening, I was Robin Williams in Jumanji.

Robin Williams "What year is it?" Jumanji gif.

Not just a little bit, either. I had managed to sleep fifteen hours straight, through phone calls, knocks at the door, and (apparently) several attempts by my very concerned cats to bop me in the face and wake me up. It was not good.

That's four -- count 'em, four -- relaxants in the space of maybe two and a half hours. While not one of these alone is enough to make me tired (which is probably why I didn't think much about what I was doing) the combination of them knocked me completely out for more than half a day. (And my most-of-me still feels like Jell-O.) I'm fortunate in that I can set my schedule and can't drive anyway. If I'd had to leave my home for basically anything, I would've been completely boned.

So, yes. Chamomile and lemon balm are pretty gentle herbs (I think most people would consider them foods before they thought of them as drugs), and antihistamines aren't exactly what I would think of when I think of "serious drug interactions," but, when their powers combine, they are Captain Knock-You-Out.

Consider this my tiny PSA about researching all of your medication's interactions. It could save your life, or at least keep cats from trying to poke you in the eye for most of an afternoon.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Not that kind of fertile.

"You'll change your mind."

It's a refrain I think every childfree person has had to hear, many, many times -- like some kind of incredibly irritating Ludovico technique usually used by older people, all of them with children.

As if that weren't enough, it's common to come up against it in religious or spiritual pursuits, too. A lot of Mormon and ex-Mormon bloggers have given their opinions on their church's emphasis on motherhood, and the particular pressure they felt when receiving these messages. Emphasis on fertility isn't the sole province of patriarchal religions, though -- I wish I had a dime for every time I've rolled my eyes at the emphasis many forms of paganism place on reproductive sex. Half the books out there categorize herbs and stones as "masculine" and "feminine," relying on lazy heteronormative tropes rather than useful, accurate terminology.

So I was worried I would have to bite my tongue when I was studying Druidic virtues. Fertility ranks pretty highly... Fortunately, it's a definition of fertility I can live with. Part of what drew me to this path is the emphasis on creation. Not entirely -- or even mostly -- referring to reproduction, either. The creation of art, music, poetry, and prose all fall under fertility. A fertile mind is prized as, if not more, highly than a fertile womb.

Which is pretty good, because even if I wanted kids, I kind of balk at the idea of what my body would do in the process. I have accepted the fact that my innards are essentially a soggy sack of horrors, albeit not without a kind of subtle, creeping dread. I mean, how many more extra parts am I going to sprout?

(But maybe that's actually some kind of super power. I make too much cerebrospinal fluid, and my organs appear to be trying to bud like hydras. Maybe I'm secretly some kind of mutant with the dubiously useful power to literally be extra.)

I like children just fine. I enjoy having them in my life. But I don't want to have my own and never have, which is pretty fortunate because it seems biology has made that decision without requesting my input.

And still, I get haunted by a Greek chorus of, "You'll change your mind," and things holding up fertility as the ultimate virtue.

It makes me worry, to be honest. I know my mind pretty well at this point. Why does the world keep insisting I'll change it?

Am I inevitably going to end up with baby fever? Mourning the loss of the one would-absolutely-have-been-a-goddamned-catastrophe anembryonic gestation I did experience? Am I going to end up regretting it when it's too late, and even adoption is no longer an option?