The Sesspool 411

2015

Update post: I’ll be blogging on some of the topics included in this post

@bout The BLOG  – An Intersectional Approach to Life

  • Socio-Economic – The economic and social infrastructure. Its institutions that we survive on a daily basis.
  • Stockholm Syndrome – Sympathizing with your captors. Behaving in ways that sustain, support, and benefit your oppressors. 
  • SESS – Socio-Economic Stockholm Syndrome. Participating in our society in ways that ensure the well-being of the ruling class (1%) and the system that benefits them at the expense of ourselves, our own best interests, and our own survival.
  • SESSpool – The daily pool of SESS we are forced to navigate. Credit Juana Tango for definitions.

Contact Information:

If you’d like to follow me on twitter, please do. I tend not to add folks on facebook unless I’ve met you (or we have a lot of friends in common and you send a befriending message first).
If you have comments or feedback about this blog you can also e-mail sesspoolblog (at) gmail (dot) com.  I also really appreciate suggestions of intersectionality blogs that I may enjoy reading, so if you are an intersectionality blogger or if you have a favorite blogger please e-mail your recommendations!

Most Read or 2014 Loved Posts 

Gyms Hate Fat People (with Intersectional Body Positive Resources)
Consent is Sexy (For Colleges & Beyond, CA “Yes Means Yes”)
Attention NFL – Women are NOT Footballs
Bad Geepee, No Cronut (Say No to Grammar Policing)
Beyoncelogues (Feminist Microagressions)
Pumpkin Juice (Harry Potter Inspired Recipe)

2014 BLOG SCHEDULE

In case you seek a particular type of post the last quarter of 2014 I blogged under the following tagged topics:

  • Monday Munchies – Food for thought & the belly by a fat vegetarian of mixed heritage.
  • Troubled Tuesdays – Perspectives on happenings that result in mental, spiritual, and heartfelt indigestion – now with antidotes!
  • Wonderful Wednesdays – Highlights of something good brewing in the world.
  • Twisted Thursdays – a balloon creation with accompanying allegory, parable, or commentary.
  • Fat Fridays – Intersectional approach to the world of Body Positivity, Size Acceptance, & Fabulous Fatties
  • Sizzling Saturdays – Sexy, Sensual Corporeal Delights
  • Sapio Sundays – All things Geekery

Fat Activist Conference 2014 – POC Panel

I started this blog about a year ago, when I was asked to be a speaker for the Fat Activist Teleconference which is happening again on October 2015  The majority of the speakers had a web presence via blogs and other social media or book publishings they could link to. When I was asked to provide such a resource realized I’d best get crackin’. Sesspool manifested. At the time I did a one hour solo presentation on Invisible Intersectionality (which is too long to craft as a blog) and I was a panelist on Intersectionality – People of Color and Fat Activism.
Below is my presenter bio & contribution to the panel (sans the Q&A portion).

BIO:
I was born in a burst of glitter on a radical burlesque stage. A fierce advocate of manifesting inclusive, interactive, diverse and accessible safe(r) environments with personal connections to Social Justice, Fat Acceptance, Latin@/Latinx/Latina/o/multicultural & POC, Queer, pagan and Alternative Communities spaces. Juana Tango’s new blog https://sesspool.wordpress.com/ was recently created as a place to pen all things relevant to Socio-Economic Stockholm Syndrome. So, you know, pretty much everything.

Panel Contribution
Most folks are familiar with the Phoenix – its symbolic representation of rising from its ashes and being reborn or regenerated. In a way the introductory description of my glittery radical burlesque stage birth of my stage name (and nom de plume) represents a key moment in my life when there was a renewal of myself and an awakening of my becoming.

By the way I just want to acknowledge that I’m not a multi-degreed academic and my presentation will be from the personal.

Before I get into the meat of my presentation (can I use the word meat as a vegetarian? Before I get into the – green chile cheese tamales of my presentation) I want to briefly talk about my muggle background. I was born in Mexico to parents of mixed heritages that involved some of my grandparents fleeing genocides to survive and other ancestors surviving persecutions that were brought upon them. Despite being raised by activist atheist parents whose survival and ideology resulted in them feeling “El Picket Sign” was an appropriate lullaby, I still have ingrained family memories of my early childhood in Mexico, where Shabbat dinners were shared with a rabbi family friend, juxtaposed against flashbacks of wearing frilly dresses that would put any ballerina tutu to shame while sitting through baptisms and eternally long Catholic mass on stained glass church Sundays surrounded by images of the Virgin de Guadalupe and candles in front of patron saints.

Alongside of those memories, are the ones of my Mami being on a constant diet. I’d sneak sips of the saccharin nescafe crushed ice shakes that her ladies’ diet club drank each week. And in case you are wondering, yes, Weight Watchers exists in Mexico. There were times when my mom was more gordita than others, but there was never a moment when she didn’t strive to manipulate her bigger body into the tiny one she wanted to manifest. And this perspective also influenced what I was and wasn’t allowed to do or eat. Meals were nutritious and balanced not only to raise healthy kids by following the pyramid, but also to raise slender ones. There were no Bimbo wonderbread sandwiches in our lunchbox. My sister’s body seemed to take after my slender Papi’s and she was allowed desserts and trinket rewards more often than I. I who possessed a body desiring to be its glorious abundant self. And others outside mi familia would chime in their opinions as well. Chulita Gordita – cute chubby girl – delivered with a smile followed by their brand of dietary advice.  I was not oblivious to the unfairness of it – of different treatment based on body type, which I internalized to mean I was of less value.

The summer I was 8 we emigrated to California, where I’ve now lived the majority of my life. I was a slightly pudgy Spanish Speaking Jewish-Mexicana immigrant who learned to speak heavily accented proficient English by the start of the school term. This was because my younger sister and I were welcomed into our new neighborhood in the first few weeks by the following experience. The friendly kid who lived next door invited us to go with him and swim at the community pool. His mother overheard my sister and I speaking in Spanish. And looking at us – as if our Mexicaness was contagious (as if our cooties would rub off in the water and infect the other children) she said “sorry dears you can’t swim here with us.”

When my puzzled 6 year old sister asked why, I responded (en español) equally perplexed, “I think it’s because we speak Spanish.” Turning to face me the neighbor followed her previous statement with, “besides your people might not mind if you’re a little chubby, but you really shouldn’t be in a swimsuit.” My 8 year old face flaming with shame put a protective and humiliated arm around my sister as we walked down the road back home. As we made a pact to never speak in Spanish again. Córtalas, córtalas, para siempre.

When I talk about my personal connections to being fat  and when I talk about my cultural experiences – I cannot choose to ignore one for the other, for they are intertwined.  I cannot escape the intersectional experience of being me.

After having spent my teenage years trying to fit in to social norms and peer acceptance through a combination of dieting, wearing dickies and ratting my hair I stumbled into my early 20s discovering BBW events and size activism/fat activism movements. Simultaneously I became involved in non-profit feminist organizations, and in social justice movements focused on eradicating racism.  What I experienced was that each movement seemed compartmentalized. That they were not safe havens for me – or for anyone else manifesting a multi-layered identity.

Here are two examples that demonstrate my personal experience.

At my feminist non-profit job I was chatting at lunch with a petite coworker, also Mexicana. In Spanish we were discussing the frustrating behavior of a government official. I felt my body tense in response to my compañera’s words “Ay, ella me cae gorda.” An expression that means “I dislike her” but literally translates to she falls fat on me. When I expressed my distaste for the expression,  I was met with the dismissive justification, “oh, it’s just a harmless saying.” Harmless? In self protection – my fat body cringed as I resisted internalizing fat equals bad. Can a concept ingrained so deeply into the fabric of a society that it results in a common expression truly be free from repercussions to individuals living that description daily?

During this same week a white fat activist told me I was lucky to be born into a culture that desired fat women, because she was tired of dealing with oppressive body size attitudes. Really? Because growing up in a culture that idealizes a woman’s body as a size 10-14 rather than a size 4-6 is going to result in a significantly different experience for my then size 22 thighs? Is the inherent sexism in a woman’s worth being equated to her body size any less oppressive simply because the number on the scale of acceptability through the (cis)male gaze is 20lbs more? With one sentence my lived experiences were invalidated and rendered invisible.

What I believe from never ending similar experiences is that a movement that condemns one oppression while perpetuating another is never going to be one that manifests a better world. That an intersectional approach to fat activism isn’t a choice – it’s a necessity. That as long as there are some fat folks whose humanity is still being denied – it has an impact on every fat person’s right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.  And that’s not a movement for me – or for you.

ASL Learning – Size Matters the First Time

Some are straight, while others are curved.
Some are long, and some have girth.
Mine is stubby.

I didn’t realize this until I began to study fingerspelling. Nor was I aware of just how arched my sweetie’s is. Here I was studying a language and culture to increase my understanding and communication capabilities with others and instead I was expanding my knowledge of self.

imgres  You see I was trying to form the letter M, only I couldn’t get my thumb to reach under 3 fingers and just peek out between the pinky and ring finger. I had to scrunch up the fingers on top of each other, which was clearly incorrect! My left hand was a sliver longer, but still not enough. Was I going to be unable to learn fingerspelling because of Stubby Thumb SyndromeWhat was I to do? Would I need to strive for exceptionally long fingernails or nake nany nistakes nispelling every lexicalized fingerspelling word that contains an M? How could I teach my stubby thumb to enunciate more clearly?

I focused all my attention and realized learning ASL is a much better tool than new age woo-woo pseudotantric-yoga to develop mindfulness and being present in the moment. Maintaining eye contact while having an ASL conversation is not only polite, it’s imperative in order to be able to register all the nuances. My partner has a hard time looking directly at someone while conversing / conversating. So practicing ASL together resulted in deepening the intimacy of our in the moment connection through that additional directed focus.

Studying fingerspelling means paying attention to how my hands and body create shapes and what adjustments need to be made. As I begin to develop an ASL vocabulary, it requires being aware of my movements and face in so many ways that I usually don’t pay attention to. Are my eyebrows raised up or furrowed down properly to correspond to the phrase and ensure it’s understood as a question rather than a statement? Did I over or under emphasize my body placement in ways that impacted the urgency or enthusiasm level I’m trying to express? Am I’m signing too high above my chest (it’s hard to find space around a bounty of bosom) and obstructing view of my facial signals? ASL isn’t just in the hands – it incorporates body movements and facial expressions.*

Placement is vital. For example the hand shape for mother or father is identical except for location. Same with apple and onion. Having excellent spacial recognition is useful in ASL.

As I practiced, I realized my right wrist was developing an ache (carpal tunnel issues). So I switched to my left hand, which is likely to become my default dominant signing hand. Additionally, as I paid attention to my partner’s signing I saw whitening of knuckles being squeezed too tightly. So we both have been practicing relaxing our muscles a bit more while signing. Each time we make a modification, we’re not only improving our ASL, we’re also developing a deeper awareness and connection to each other.


*Just a quick addendum to state that if you want to learn ASL or about Deaf Culture I am not the resource to select because those are not my life experiences. I am journaling my path as a hearing person studying this and what the process looks and feels like for me to do so. To learn about Deaf Culture or/and ASL go to the experts – for example ASL teachers who are deaf or HOH (hard of hearing). 

ASL Learning – Beginning the Journey – Why

Why ASL – Accessibility & Shared Partner Interestsimages-1

If I were born a dog I’d probably be an Australian Shepherd. I say this because I am instinctively an organizer of people. The end result of my herder tendencies is that in many of my social circles I end up being the person planning the outings.

As I expanded this tendency into coordinating events to include unknown local folks with shared mutual interests and niches (such as a food truck outing for Spanish speaking Latin@ fat queers whose favorite cosplay is Harry Potter), I realized it was important to strive for an inclusive and welcoming space that incorporated an understanding of intersectionality.

In my perspective maximizing accessibility is key to manifesting this vibe.

Most of these gatherings are a volunteer labor of love. There is no budget to hire ASL translators for a free event coordinated by a financially strapped group of SF Bay area renters whose monthly budget is swallowed up by plunking down $$$$ thousands to sublease a shoe shelf to sleep on in the closet of a place that houses 60 other roomies. So the practical and ethical solution seemed to be to walk  sign the talk and for me to learn ASL. But I was still on the fence due to the longevity commitment required to become proficient and to practical physical concerns around carpal tunnel. I left the idea to percolate in my ADHD brain, squeezed in between thoughts of which crayon color to choose for my next DIY lipstick and if I should join the protests against power abusing racist murderous cops in Oakland or S.F., while I was busy doing social media promotions of my next event during the time I was keeping an eye on my neighbor’s kid and “oh, look a chicken!”

ASL

During this contemplation period, my main squeeze and I shared a relationship conversation. It began as an unsettled dispute on what to watch together. Our preferences in t.v. programs share about as much in common as Sarah Palin and Bernie Sanders share in politics. It meandered into a discussion about how divergent our passions are. Then on to an article we’d read on how partners who learn an interest together grow closer through the struggle.

We began to throw out possibilities that the other one kept nixing. Sparking chemistry like that scene from Ghost by taking up pottery? Bringing home fleas to a petless home by volunteering at the SPCA? Finally, we hit upon taking a class together that might have the potential to add to our employment marketability. We mulled over a few ideas, such as computer programming before it struck me. Folks on the Autistic Spectrum Disorder tend to communicate more effectively visually rather than verbally. We both suspect my significant sweetie is an Aspie (Asperger’s). So I suggested ASL. To my astonishment I received an interested yes as a response. It wasn’t sports related (if it’s not dancing nor swimming it’s not my thing) and it wasn’t artsy-crafty (if it’s not non-fiction it’s not my primary’s thing). We were good to go!


*btw did folks reading this notice the ASL pic lacks ethnic diversity in its signers? One way privilege manifests itself is that folks with it see visual representations they personally relate to and are oblivious to whom remains unseen. This is one area that some ASL charts have begun to take a more inclusive approach on and future posts I will do on this topic will reflect that as well. 

2015 – Update

So, It’s been a while since I’ve posted. In fact this is the first entry of 2015. I’m going to use this entry as an opportunity to catch up to date and set some writing intentions.

Busted Computer 😦

First off both my laptop and computer decided to crap out in December and my computer doctor tried valiantly to save them, before we both acknowledged they need to be laid to rest in the electronic graveyard. Which isn’t as cool as being sent to the Las Vegas Boneyard, but I digress. At this point, I’ve got an older laptop (thanks dad!) in the interim of getting our tax refund back for a tower.  Yay – for writing access!

NaNoWriMo – November

I did complete the 50K in 30 days challenge November 2014, despite switching story lines a few days in.

Published Author – December 1st

The timing was amazing. December 1st the day after NaNoWriMo I received a hard copy of an academic anthology in which I was a contributing author. The Politics of Size edited by Ragen ChastainThis will end up being a blog post at some point over the next few weeks. 

Cops Murdering Black Men and not being held accountable – December

While this actually isn’t something new, the way the internet and camera phones have impacted our access to such information is. On December 1st I was exhilarated over being a published author. On December 2nd I felt like the accomplishment was pointless in a world that has issues that are so much bigger than that that contribution to a book. Despite that the piece I co-authored focused on social justice issues that impact fat women of color it just seemed like there were tangible in our face issues that needed to be the focus with concrete action, rather than academic analysis of our world.  I used writing prolifically as a tool towards accountability and calling on folks in my social circles who weren’t black to step up to the plate on facebook – but ceased writing pretty much anywhere else. I may blog about this some, because the issue hasn’t gone away just because it isn’t being centered in the media anymore. I’m also likely to blog about a similar social justice issue that there has been a transgendered woman of color murdered every single week in 2015 and there needs to be a continuation of taking this too the streets and not.shutting.up. That systemic murders of people of color matter and that the intersectionality of transgender and female do not make it any less important to fiercely stand up for, call out, and insist that these murders and lack of accountability for them needs to stop. 
Below is an example of the types of postings I was doing in facebook (many of my postings were depending on which group or page I was commenting on).

Intersectionality in Fat activism movement and why it matters. The grand jury decided to not indict a cop who choked a black man to his death. The coroner’s report put the murder down to heart attack induced by asphyxiation. One of the justifications for his death that influenced the no indictment was that it was complicated because he was obese. Think about that a moment.

Fatness as a justification for racist murder.

If you are a fat activist and you are not taking an intersectional approach to your activitism. If you are holed up in a white fatosphere and you don’t pay any attention to addressing the issues of racism or other isms that aren’t directly reflected in you ….. then you are complicit in sustaining a systemic racism that allowed fat to be wielded as a tool of racism.

I don’t know Eric personally, but I viewed that video and nothing warranted his death. Nothing. Take the time to watch the video. Then do something.

BLOGGING GOALS 2015

I won’t be setting specific topics to specific days as I did in October 2014. However, I will still be blogging on similar topics and using a label for type of topic for ease in searching.  My intention is to blog about 3 times a week.

Below is a list of topics I aim to discuss over the next few weeks

Irony as a weapon –  when whom uses it impacts the effects (this will look at two recent incidents that crossed my social pages where folks on the side of privilege enacted irony thinking it would come across as allyship and instead it came across as futhering the marginalizations).

What’s in a word – there are several sources discussing eradicating use of ableist words. Yet, some of these replace those words with other grossly oppressive suggestions. Why intersectionality matters when changing the way we talk about one oppression

50 Shades of Capitalism – My perspective on why 50 Shades of Grey – a dreadfully written book and slightly better dialogued movie but still problematic for it’s romanticizing of abuse (not the actual pseudo BDSM but the stalking type behaviors) seems to be bringing in lots of money for the folks involved.

Make your own makeup – similar to the chocolate DIY I’ll share the experience I had crafting lipstick (fun!)

Busty girl woes – follow up post on the difficulties locating bras (waiting on a Polish bra to arrive and document how it fits and feels to wear it before writing this article)

Chocolates DIY – the follow up post to the first one

The Politics of Size – Sharing an excerpt from what I contributed. Reviewing the book overall as a whole (some contributions were amazing and informative .. but  a couple of the contributions had points of contention)

Learning ASL – an intersectionality analysis of my foray into learning a new language.

Wonderful Wednesdays: Spacecraft Rosetta’s Philae Lander now resides at Comet 67P

I find it quite exciting that a 20 year undertaking to land a piece of human made equipment on a comet that could lead us to further comprehension of how life is formed seems to be a great success, despite some potential obstacles to a perfect landing. As I glued myself to the Rosetta Livestream, watching the European Space Web Agency webcast burst into cheering and clapping, I found myself joining in (yes, I admit it – it’s always good to give the neighbors something to wonder about).  But as I cheered, I confess that along with the excitement of what we may learn about the origins of Earth and possibly of Life Itself, some concerns also popped up.

Rosetta Lander

I wondered about what this means for the impact to the Universe as we further develop our ability to colonize beyond our own little globe. There is already a growing space junk problem, with over a half million pieces of debris in the Earth’s orbit alone. As we expand our colonization of the Universe, will we ultimately find out the answers to how the Earth and perhaps even life itself was created at the expense of it’s complete obliteration? 

I also cringed for another very problematic reason. It was impossible to ignore the glaring reality of the system of marginalizations/oppressions that determine whom gets to have the opportunities to work on these exciting projects to begin with. There are times when the imbalance is more visually glaring, and as they panned a room that was seemingly over 95 percent male and equally as white.

Rosetta-Philae1 Rosetta-Philae2 Rosetta-Philae3

I just couldn’t get passed that we can travel 300 million miles away from Earth, but still have not eradicated racism, sexism, and other oppressive barriers on our own home planet. It’s pretty telling that a historical article about NASA’s firing of whistle blowers addressing sexism and racism in the 1970’s seems to be a policy that is still in effect today. And it’s relevant because the majority of space ventures are an international/global effort. I highly doubt NASA and the European Space Center are so different in their staffing.

As we celebrate the forward miles we travel in space, let’s also do equally forward actions here on Earth.

Troubled Tuesdays: 100 Women

In an election with demoralizing (as predicted) results, we’re being given a reason to celebrate. A symbol of progress in the form of 100 women. For the first time ever there will be 100 women in Congress (combined numbers for Senate & House).

Call me bah-humbug, but my first reaction to this “great” news was I’ll celebrate when that number is three times that. Because last time I checked, statistics indicate that women are more than 19 percent of the U.S. population. Until congress has a gender representation that is in line with United States population (including non-binary, transgender, and cisgender) I will not feel comfortable celebrating.   More than that, until congress has representation that has the best interests of women (women being people and congress should have the best interests of all people) regardless of what gender the congressperson is themselves, I cannot celebrate. This means congress would need to break up with the top 1% and take on a different lover; the 99%.

But then I decided to do a little investigating (some of you may call that googling). Out of the 100 women 78 are Democrats and 22 are Republican. In a congress that has 219 Democrats and 294 Republicans the percentages across parties reflects a very different statistic. Approximately, 7 percent of Republicans and 36 percent of Democrats in Congress are women. Because manipulating data seems to be a technique used to effectively make a point lets put this in other words. Less than ten percent of Republicans in Congress are women, while over one third of Democrats in congress are women. This is a number that gives me a bit more hope. If one looks at the original chart I shared above and if the distribution keeps increasing at the same rate, the Democrats will achieve gender equality numbers within 60 years. My optimistic self, hoping for a spiraling effect thinks it will be more like 4 decades. So my nieces and nephews will see it in their generation.

Being candid here as long as we are governed by a 2 party option,  I think it matters a lot more if we get those numbers up in the Democratic party. Frankly, I don’t trust Republican women to have the best interests of women in the 99 percent anymore than Republican men; they will continue to govern in the best interests of the 1%. On the other hand, I think it is more likely that the Democratic party will incorporate the impact of a Democratic Congress that reflects the diversity of the constituents it serves (and while this post is focused on women I mean that in an intersectionality way).  So for folks choosing to work within the system (rather than voting for political members that are less capitalist in nature than both the Democratic & Republican parties are) the diversity light at the end of the tunnel is actually within seeing distance now. And that gives me some hope, after all.

During the month of November I am prioritizing NaNoWriMo. As a result, my blog will suffer from articles that are unedited and more opinion pieces without as much linked & documented research.. I’ll return to more researched pieces in December. 

Monday Munchies: Pumpkin Juice (when Harry Potter comes to town)

There’s been whispering in the muggle world that I’m a Harry Potter fan. It’s true; I’m a culinary witch without house elves around to do the magical work of creating my cauldron concoctions. Hallowe’en being the perfect time to attend a Hogwarts Holiday Party, I took quill to parchment, solemnly swore I was up to no good, and affirmed my intentions to arrive at my wizard friend’s Witching Hour Ball, wrapped in a blue & bronze house scarf magically crafted and gifted to me by Mrs. Molly Weasley (née Prewett) herself.

Assigned to beverage duty my contributions included Butter Beer and Pumpkin Juice. In order for y’all muggle peoples to take advantage of pumpkin season (and because the beer isn’t buttering yet), I share this recipe post All Hallow’s Eve. It will pair well with the upcoming holiday foods, if you’re looking for a creative accompaniment to turkey and cranberries or ham and latkes (but that heresy is best saved for a future post). Pumpkin Juice is a unique and unexpected beverage to serve.

Anyone familiar with Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration realizes that I cannot simply wave my wand and produce an edible beverage, so I browsed through my copy of Cooking the Muggle Way by Mordicus Egg. To my dismay I found no helpful recipes. Determined to get pumpkin pie flavors into a liquid form I trounced off to that most magical of food stores: Trader Joes.

Some of you may be familiar with their no photo policy, that got me into trouble last time (shudder). So here is an artistic rendition of the products that I picked up.

Pumpkin Juice

For this Pumpkin Juice Recipe you will need three ingredients (with optional garnish ingredients).

  • Spiced Apple Cider (If you can’t find it substitute apple cider and add your own spices – clove, nutmeg, cinnamon)
  • Pumpkin Puree (canned pumpkin that TJ’s had organic)
  • Pumpkin Butter (potentially you could substitute apple butter if necessary)

Just to ensure there is no confusion by pumpkin butter I mean the fruit pulp (aka vegetable) not the seeds, not a pumpkin seed/pumpkin nut butter.

Take the three ingredients and mix them in the blender (or shake them all together in the cider bottle).

Make sure to do this a few hours in advance of the party. This is because the pumpkin will separate and unless you are going to keep blenderizing before each drink, what you’re aiming for is to infuse the pumpkin flavors into the cider.

I found that the pumpkin butter was a necessary addition in this recipe to add sweetness (the pumpkin puree has a savory quality). The butter also enhanced the color of the concoction.

A nice perk of the blender is that it does leave the drink a bit frothy. If you are the type of person who hates pulp in your orange juice, you can strain the concoction before serving. If you prefer to keep all those nutrients in your drink serve as is and it will have a slightly thicker consistency.

Garnishes.

  • You can serve plain and folks are just delighted to try something inventive.
  • You can add a dollop of whipped cream to the top of each glass (mmm creamy)
  • If you are feeling creative and have extra time, you can make candied pumpkin (or candied orange rind slivers) to place a slice on each glass. I may experiment with this and make a hybrid version that incorporates the flavors of Calabaza en Tacha, while preserving the shape of pumpkin wedges. If it’s succesful I’ll turn it into a future post.
  • If you want to violate Top Chef’s no unedible garnishes rule those leftover plastic spider rings from Hallowe’en make a great visual.

By the way, I did poll the party goers and the consensus was it tasted like a liquid pumpkin pie. Mmm-mmm.  Sadly, I forgot to take pictures pre-service and there was none leftover to show you the finished product. 

NaNoWriMo: Birthing a Novel as Motivation for Other Endeavors

Five years ago I participated in my first NaNoWriMo experience. And it was glorious. For folks who have no clue what that is, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days, and if you succeed you’re considered a winner. The premise is that everyone has the creativity to write a novel, but that most folks require a set deadline to achieve it. Also, you’re granted “permission” to write crap; the focus is on quantity not quality (but in the end you usually end up with both).

Over the years NaNo has grown to be quite the community, with all sorts of motivational resources. I’ll be candid, while I do attend some of the write-ins (it’s a surreal experience to keyboard or write in a notebook with 20 other strangers furiously doing the same thing – it would make a fabulous scene in a creepy Halloween movie) most of the time I’m ignoring those daily e-mail pep talks (and you tube videos, and tweeting cheers and facebook statuses that pound it into your head to write write write). Instead I’m focused on the writing itself during my spare moments, and that cheerleader stuff makes me roll my eyes. For folks who thrive on a cheering squad of strangers, however, use the tools that work for you! Also, some of those videos and such really are helpful in moments requiring inspiration. Or you know browse the forums titled “adopt a snarky character” or what have you on the NaNoWriMo website. NaNo does have it’s funny bone intact. 

If you’ve never participated in the process, a quick google search will bring up many ideas to ensure success. I’ve found that different years different things work for me, as long as I stick to limiting the editing (don’t edit is strongly suggested). Also when I’m drawing a blank to take a break, interview my characters, or if possible immerse myself in their world for a little bit (go to a bar they’d go to, listen to the music they’d hear, etc.). And while I haven’t succeeded every year, haven’t reached the destination, the journey along the way has always proved amazing. That road is paved with hair pulling agony when my mind goes blank and can’t write or my fingers & hands ache from too much keyboarding. When what began as exciting potentional has turned into the drudgery of daily obligation in order to achieve the desired outcome. But those times are balanced by the frenzy and vibrancy of flashes of brilliance, that would never have made it to paper were it not for the road being walked, the paper being penned. 

Besides the actual written work, one of the main reasons I continue to participate in it each year is that by realizing that I can achieve this goal I’m motivated to achieve other objectives that I may have feared to previously attempt (but sky diving is never gonna happen). It serves as a platform to manifest other endeavors and focus my ADHD wired brain to see a task through to completion. I credit participating in NaNoWriMo as one of the reasons, I felt I could say yes to the opportunities that have come along over the past 5 years that have lead to

  • Becoming published in an academic anthology
  • Presenting or teaching on non-academic topics
  • Chairing a unique conference that will bring in about 500 folks
  • Participating in mundane month long completion tasks (like clearing out a storage space)
  • Creating a social organization with 2000 online members
  • Starting this blog

Taking on a challenge that seems as daunting as NaNoWriMo, creates an awareness that it can be achieved. And even when failing, there is the accomplishment of having written a few thousand words along the way. That process in and of itself is huge for someone who may never have written before. If you’re wondering whether or not to take the plunge; I encourage you to just go for it. The worst that will happen is you realize it’s not for you, but something else is. The more likely outcome is you become the proud (or sheepish) parent of the novel you just finished birthing. The journey of a 1000 miles…..

Also, I’m trying to blog daily about the NaNoWriMo journey (as a personal motivation tactic), but that is unlikely to be of interest to most folks keeping an eye on thie Sesspool Blog. The writing is less.. intentional on the NaNoBlog and more a stream of consciousness than most of the writing I’ve done on this blog. It’s unlikely to hold interest for most folks who aren’t also Wrimos, but those who want to see it http://nanowrimoblog.tumblr.com/. In some ways it’s my place to go when I’m procrastinating/avoiding/need a break from the actual novel focused writing. 

Twisted Thursdays: The Business of Learnin’ – Banned Books, Corporate Education, & MOOC

It’s Banned Book Week and you may be honoring it by reading a banned book (if you reside in Colorado I suggest starting with Orwell’s 1984). Colorado is busy protesting  the Jefferson County School Board’s conservative censorship of how they expect history to be taught, which essentially boils down to suppressing the inclusion of any material that would acknowledge or discuss any aspect of the United States doing anything wrong in its past. Instead, they want history taught that  “promote[s] citizenship, patriotism, benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and for individual rights.”  My assumption here is that by individual rights they mean it in a corporations-are-people kind of way that supports corporate rights and ensures the well being of ruling class/upper class abled bodied heterosexual cisgendered caucasian males at the expense of everyone else (poor, queer, trans, disabled, POC people of color, your huddled masses yearning to be free). Given that they specifically state they want to avoid anything that may lead to dissent, it’s pretty obvious that this educational system is not interested in developing people capable of independent thinking, but rather is focused on producing good little worker bees for a conservative capitalist economy.

moneysign

In case you think this battle is limited to Colorado, you need only conduct a search on Texas textbooks to discover it’s a problem endemic to the United States. Previously, Texas history books have been criticized for insinuating that  biblical Moses & Solomon were founding fathers of the  United States Democracy, and now Texas is getting heat for their misinformation campaign on global climate change.  Furthermore, while the textbooks may be written in Texas, a significant issue is that once they become standarized they become the textbooks used in the majority of the other states as well.  This means this misinformation is not only coming to a town near  you, but you’re immersed in this sh*t and boy does it stink! Bless their hearts. 

As one reaches adulthood, there is the oft given advice that receiving a college degree is the means to a financially comfortable life with an opportunity for better employment options. But in a system where costs to attend University are skyrocketing, forcing huge student loan debts onto anyone who seeks to take that path is it really the guarantee that it was once envisioned to manifest? People who have student loans are more likely to have bad debt & lower credit scores and less likely to be able to afford homes, despite a slightly lower unemployment rate than folks without a college degree. Yet, rather than helping out students, the U.S. government has decided to not mete out consequences for colleges that bailed on their loans  while continuing to hold students accountable for their individually cumulative debt.  In other words, once again the U.S. government is helping out the corporations at the human expense of the peoples. So if Universities are not institutions for learning, but rather a capitalist tool resulting in a lifetime enslavement as one makes valiant efforts to pay back their eternal debt, what’s someone who  enjoys actual learnin’ to do? Especially a broke someone?

Enter the wonderful world of MOOC (Massive Open Online Coursework).  One can take classes for free, so if learning not debt is your goal it is a really good option to consider. It’s also a growing way of receiving an education, and while some universities do participate in this method offering their courses online for free they do so without offering full on degrees. However, this is slowly starting to change. I believe this will become a valid method of obtaining low cost degrees and certificates, in part because the costs of education are not as high in other countries. Which means folks pursuing knowledge may not get that Harvard or Stanford degree, but they may get a degree from a respected University overseas. It’s not quite here yet, but it’s coming.

One key part to how successful this may become will be convincing corporations to hire folks, who obtained their knowledge in this manner. But keep in mind they too are growing up in this student loan chokehold of learning, and may be quite sympathetic to the plight a future mired in debt results in.  So I may not yet, be able to receive an actual degree via MOOC, but that doesn’t mean that the learning in and of itself doesn’t have the value of enriching my life in ways that I’m curious to begin exploring.  Now the question is do I want to learn some Computer Programming, take a beginner’s course in Italian, Unlock the Secrets to Medieval Spain or focus on a course such as Revolutionary Ideas in Political Philosophy?

While I may do a future blog just on MOOCs you don’t have to wait for that blog to get started on your own path to a free online education. Google MOOC towards your own path of learnin’ 

Wonderful Wednesdays – Images that Manifest Activism’s Humanity

My purpose in the images I chose today is to show that one can sometimes find humanity in the general cruelty of Riot Police. These are the exception, that a quick interwebz search will easily prove. We just need to figure out how to manifest a world where this becomes the norm. Where we stop dehumanizing those who are different from us and realize that we are all people who deserve access to basic dignity, shelter, love, food, compassion, humanity.

Loukanikos is a stray dog in Athens who is always on the side of the protesters.  Always, (according to Wikipedia) includes the time a police union was striking. Louk was confused – looking back and forth between the marching uniformed police, and the riot geared police. When the Riot Geared Police attacked the Union Police Loukanikos sided with the Union. Since 2008 this street dog has joined protests despite being caught in the tear gas and kicks of riot police (he believes in the cause of the peoples).

evil cops kicking dog

Romania

Child Protester gives Riot Police Heart Shaped Balloon

Flowers

Istanbul Protesters throw Flowers at Riot Police

Washington D.C. – handing flowers to riot police

Police Handing out Roses in Thailand (the day after they’d been tear gassing the same protestors)

Colombia. Riot Police hugs Protester who gave him rose.

Lay Down Weapons

Thailand – Police lay down weapons join protesters

Tears

Phillipines. Police Tears Up during Protest