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SwitchKnitter Posts


Posted in transgender stuff

I came out as genderqueer over nine years ago. And today was the first time I’ve ever anyone talk about me and use my correct pronouns (they/them) with no hesitation. Tommie Kelly and his friend Spud were discussing my Discord bots on the new episode of their podcast, and Tommie referred to me as “they” like it was the most natural thing in the world.

Do you know how fucking weird and validating and wonderful that was? Most people who try hesitate. I can see them mentally reminding themselves, and it comes out like I’ve asked them to call me Godzilla or something. Like it’s unnatural. Even with people who didn’t meet me until after I came out.

Of course, lots of people don’t even bother trying. “That’s too awkward,” they say. I apologize and tell them it’s okay to use “she”, and from that point on I cringe every time they refer to me. Not only because it’s wrong, but because I didn’t stand up for myself.

(This includes some of my dearest friends, by the way. Who call me “she” even though I hate it. I’m not bitching behind their backs, I’ve told them, and I share these posts with my friends after I write them. I’ve talked about it on Facebook, too, not that it helped.)

I should stand up for myself more, I really should. I just hate being disappointed. Like, a number of people abbreviate my first name. I hate that too. My name has two syllables. It’s not that hard to say both of them. But it keeps happening. I wind up resenting the people. And life is too short to be angry at one’s friends/loved ones over stupid shit.

Of course, Tommie’s never heard my voice, either. Which is pretty feminine. Lots of people start calling me “she” when they hear me talk. Why does androgyny have to be “mostly masculine” in this culture? I’m not about to start talking in a deeper voice just to pass. I don’t care if waitresses or librarians know I’m trans, but for fuck’s sake, my friends and family know and have for years. They’re the only people who matter to me. Why can’t they get it right?

A month of change

Posted in getting shit done, and magick

In the last month, my life has changed drastically. Maybe not by looking at it from the outside; I still spend most of my time sitting in my apartment, on my computer or spinning or reading. But what I’m doing has changed. A month ago I was complaining that I had nothing productive to do. Now I have almost too much.

  1. Building/fixing web sites
  2. Spinning commissions
  3. Volunteer gig
  4. Learning to build phone apps
  5. Learning to build WordPress plugins
  6. Writing my own original material

That’s a lot, at least for me. Some of those things, like the volunteer gig, have been ongoing for a while. But the writing is new. In the last month I’ve written a few Discord bots that have gotten popular, at least with certain demographics. (One of them is on over 150 servers so far!) I’ve written a graphic novel. I’ve made some new online friends. It’s been a busy month by my standards.

I credit all this to getting back into magick. The timing is interesting; a lot of this started when I began a 40-day sigil challenge 35 days ago. So I’m doing something spooky on a daily basis, which seems good for me. I’ll have to find a way to keep it up after the challenge is done!

The Jung and the restless

Posted in books

Forgive me for the title, but I needed a laugh. I’m reading Jung’s Modern Man in Search of a Soul, and it’s depressing me terribly.

My degree is in psychology. I’ve always loved the subject. But seeing how far we (haven’t) come since Jung wrote this in 1931 is soul-crushing for someone in love with the field. Because, in a lot of ways, psychology hasn’t been very useful at all.

I’m not talking about therapy. Therapy is awesome and amazing and has helped millions of people in the last hundred years. I mean experimental psych. Oh, sure, we’ve learned plenty of weird tics and foibles of the human mind. But acknowledging a thing is very different than knowing why the thing happens. We don’t know why for hardly anything.

And many of those things we’ve found aren’t as universal as researchers would like to think. Most experiments have used white, cishet, middle to upper class subjects, often college students. Try to apply them to other demographics and other cultures, and they fail.

Additionally, many studies can’t be reproduced. It’s a big problem in the field.

Jung is depressing me by pointing out the truth. For years, my dream has been to get a PhD in statistics so I can help experimental psychologists design better experiments. I find myself thinking there’s no point to that. Experimental psych is too flawed. Why work that hard when it’s not going to make much difference?

Honestly, at this point I’m not sure what to focus on. I have a lot of balls in the air, but I don’t know yet which ones are the most important to me…

The Infinite Self and the sacred

Posted in books, and magick

I finished Stuart Wilde’s’s Infinite Self today. And I had a wonderful experience this afternoon while reading. Wilde was talking about making life sacred, and I started thinking, well, nothing is sacred. No object, no person, no idea.

Suddenly I was overwhelmed by the realization that everything is sacred. Existence itself is sacred. Not that I think Hitler is sacred, but the fact that we’re born and can choose to be Hitler or Mister Rogers or anyone in between? That’s sacred.

Obviously this is a realization many people have had over the millennia. I’m not the first to feel this. But the emotional awareness was so deep, so intense, that I had to put my book down and close my eyes and just sit with the feeling for a long time.

Eventually my cat interrupted, because he is Eris and he’s very good at being an Eris. I just smiled at him. He’s a brat, but he’s sacred too.

I’m still feeling echoes of this a couple of hours later. I hope it lasts. Feeling it feels good, and there’s a particular joy in being humbled before the universe.

Thanks, Mr. Wilde.

Echo chambers and critical thinking

Posted in books, and magick

Lately I’ve been reading a ton of new-to-me authors. Books about philosophy and spirituality. I read a lot anyway, but my current selections have required a lot of deep thinking and critical thought.

I love it. Normally I read history or science, books where I am taking in facts written by an expert (or someone who has interviewed experts for the book). I don’t analyze them too much, just enjoy them. So flexing my mental muscles so much is delightful. I can almost feel my neurons lighting up with connections as I read and think. It’s glorious.

(And I’m thinking about doing a book blog. I used to, ages ago. Might resurrect that.)

I was talking to someone this morning about Jordan Peterson. I asked why he listened to the man, when he’s against trans rights. My acquaintance said he tries to listen to people whom he doesn’t agree with, and often finds value in some of their work even if he doesn’t like the person. And it got me thinking.

On the internet, it’s really easy to get trapped in an echo chamber. It’s also easy to write off someone’s work completely if they say one problematic thing. I think my acquaintance is right; it’s more nuanced than that. Someone can be both great and terrible, and you can learn from the good parts even while acknowledging the bad.

For example, I’m currently reading Stuart Wilde’s Infinite Self. It’s a roller coaster of reactions. About 70% of what he says is worth listening to, and he makes some good points about ways to approach spirituality. But he also believes we shouldn’t help those worse off than us, because it would be interrupting their spiritual journey. And that there is no such thing as a truly innocent victim. It’s repugnant.

But I am reading every sentence with more awareness than I normally have, because I want to take in the good ideas and make use of them. I can separate the wheat from the chaff as I go, and appreciate a great idea when I see one. I’m also not getting angry about the things I don’t like. I’m analyzing, not getting overly emotional about it.

That said, I have no desire to financially support someone who is, like Peterson, transphobic. I will not buy his books (if he has any; I’ve only heard of him making YouTube videos, but I imagine there are books somewhere), I will get them through the library or borrow from friends. I suspect it’s a fine line to walk.

I’m going through a period of great personal growth right now, I think. Taking in new ideas, tasting them to see if they’re congruous with my personality and worldview, and incorporating the ones that pass muster. I’m also learning to speak up for myself more. I attempted to read Alan Chapman’s Baptist Head trilogy last week, and when it wasn’t to my tastes I bluntly said so to the people who suggested I read it. I was polite, but explained my reasoning. It was accepted and we all moved on. Even last year, I would have made some bland but positive comment about the book and then quickly changed the subject because I was afraid of making people angry when I dissented. So that’s growth, too.

This journey I unwittingly started on a month ago is taking me to new and wonderful places. Stay tuned.

A Secondhand Anecdote

Posted in family

My eighteen year old nephew drives for a restaurant delivery company. He told me this story this week, and I asked if I could share because it’s adorable and wholesome.

He got an order for a made-to-order burrito chain restaurant: two kids meals, and nothing else. A little strange, but he picked up the order and drove it to its customer.

The house was large and fancy, and had a smart doorbell. My nephew pushed the button.

“Hello?” a male voice said.

“Hi. I’m from the delivery company. I have your order.”

The man shouted. “Goddammit, Marla, stop giving the kids the password!”

The sound of feet clomping down the stairs followed.

The door opened. Two girls, twins, about six years old, excitedly took their kids meals from my nephew.

And this, my friends, is why you should stop giving the kids the password.

Scales and codes

Posted in programming, and random updates

I did something stupid: I got on my scale last night. It depressed me. Which, it shouldn’t. I can see changes in my body, I can see my clothes fitting differently… I wasn’t getting on the scale for a reason, because I knew it might upset me, and it did, so I’m angry with myself. Note that this scale doesn’t actually show my weight; it’s old and analog and the dial goes all the way around and then over, because its limit is 200 pounds. (I am exceptionally tall for someone with a uterus, over 6 feet/184cm. At 200 pounds I look anorexic and have photos to prove it.) The last time I was weighed, it was at my doctor’s. I had planned to hold out until my next appointment, but I don’t have one scheduled, and I was curious… Fucking stupid of me.

I am trying to be kind to myself about it, though. Beating myself up accomplishes nothing.

On a lighter note, I’ve been working on writing a phone app. It hasn’t been going well, but I’m optimistic. At first I tried to use React Native. I knew it was a hack to make JavaScript apps work on mobile platforms, but I was hoping it would work enough for my purposes. The app I’m writing is super simple, so I crossed my fingers and went for it.

I had problems. Today I got my brother, a talented programmer, to look at my code and make sure it was RN and not me. He confirmed that it was RN. Which made me feel better — I hate it when I can’t solve a coding problem I created myself — but it meant I have to buckle down and learn Kotlin.

So I have Android Studio installed and am working on the app. Wish me luck. I am determined to successfully write this thing. One, because I hate backing down from something I want to accomplish. Two, it’s a skill I could monetize in future if I wanted. (The app will be free, but I can use it as a portfolio piece.) Three, the app would make someone happy and get them more exposure, which they deserve. Which is why I wanted to write it in the first place.

Okay, enough talking, more coding!

What the hell am I doing?

Posted in books, magick, programming, random updates, School, and spinning

I never updated the site about it, but I had to drop my fall 2020 classes because of mental health fun. I’m trying again in summer. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to apply for a full-time job, and did. Didn’t get it because I wasn’t willing to move, but I looked at jobs on LinkedIn and Glassdoor. Talked to my therapist and realized I’d be happier freelancing. So I set myself up an account on Fiverr — contact me if you want the link — for doing WordPress stuff. I’m thinking about adding some automation stuff, as I’ve been writing Python scripts lately to manipulate images and PDF files. So I could offer file processing. I might do that.

Meanwhile, I did a huge spinning commission, almost three pounds of yarn. I just finished it Tuesday, and shipped it off today.

So: freelance coding, spinning, and a trigonometry class. Should be enough to keep me busy.

While I spin, I read books. I have a Bluetooth foot pedal that turns pages in ebooks. It was designed for musicians, but it’s wonderful for hands-free reading. I do spinning purely by muscle memory in my hands; watching myself spin makes me screw up. So I have one foot on my treadle and the other turns the pages on my tablet.

I should start blogging about what I’m reading. During this last commission, I read:

  • Book of Lies: The Disinformation Guide to Magick and the Occult — Richard Metzger, editor. A really mixed bag. I didn’t enjoy most of the pieces in it, and there were few ideas that intrigued me. I enjoyed the biographies of women occultists, though.
  • Life After Death — Damien Echols. Echols was one of the West Memphis Three, innocent men who were railroaded into prison for being “Satanists” in 1993. He was in jail for 18 years. His story is depressing but ends with him being freed. Good biography.
  • The Science Delusion: Freeing the Spirit of Enquiry — Rupert Sheldrake. This book blew my mind. That said, I didn’t agree with everything in it. But some of the problems he has with traditional materialist thinking raised a lot of questions for me. I’ll write more about that a future post.
  • The Elements of Spellcrafting: 21 Keys to Successful Sorcery — Jason Miller. Interesting thoughts about the nuts and bolts of magick. I liked it, and plan to read it again.
  • Don’t Be a Jerk: And Other Practical Advice from Dogen, Japan’s Greatest Zen Master — Brad Warner. I don’t have a lot of experience with Buddhism of any type, despite my dad and sister both following it. This book blew my mind a little too. I plan to write about it in future as well.

What can I say, it was a big commission.

I got all of those books except the DisInfo one as recommendations from the Adventures in WooWoo Discord server. I’ve been talking to AIWW’s creator, Tommie Kelly, quite a bit lately. I built him a Discord bot for his Forty Servants divination deck. (I then modified it into a tarot bot, if you’re interested in such things.) He’s pretty cool. I haven’t actually read much of his blog (I should fix that) but I’ve been binge-listening to his podcast. I like people who freely admit they don’t know everything. (Especially occultists. There’s a lot of big egos out there.) I need to read his comics, too….

Speaking of occult podcasts, my other favorites are Anti-Fragile Tarot and SassafrasCast. I’ve been talking to the hosts of those as well; they’re friends (of each other; I barely know them yet), and Rorie Kelly (the Sassafras host) is a fantastic musician. I’m a goth and normally don’t listen to singer/songwriters. She’s different though.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to. Life’s been strange but I like it.

In the beginning…

Posted in magick

Once upon a time, I was heavily into the occult. I got out of it for several years, but recently got interested again. Since I was twenty or so my magick of choice has been the chaotic sort. Even when I stopped practicing, the basic principles of chaos magick influenced my life.

For this first post on the subject, I’m going to tell the story of how I got seriously into the occult.

By the time I was 13 I already a witchy-minded atheist who owned a tarot deck and read paranormal books from the library. But the life-changer was when my mom’s co-worker, the cop who was the city’s specialist in occult matters, hired me as his infant’s babysitter.

Understand that this was 1989, the height of the Satanic Panic here in America. Police departments had “occult specialists”. And Mark, my boss, had the most amazing work-related library ever. In the months I babysat his kid, I read all of LaVey’s works, several by Crowley, Buckland’s “Book of Witchcraft”… all kinds of books that were mind-blowing for a 13 year old who read fast and was hungry for knowledge.

So yeah. I can thank the Satanic Panic for the beginnings of my occult education.

I flirted with Wicca and Thelema, but then discovered chaos magick through Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles in 1996. It stuck.

About a year ago, just before the pandemic, I started feeling disconnected from any sort of spirituality. I hadn’t practiced magick in a few years, hadn’t meditated or anything… In the past two months I’ve started finding myself again. I hate that term, finding myself, but I really did feel rather lost.

I’m glad that’s changing. I can’t wait to see where this goes…

A moment to remember

Posted in books, and magick

I had a Moment. One of those where you get a taste of an idea and have to just sit there and process it because it’s too much to take all at once.. From this line, and what led up to it, in Brad Warner’s Don’t Be a Jerk (a book about Buddhism): “The universe and the self are one and the same. Time is another name for this thing. So is the “present moment.” You are not a person living in a time and a place. You are the person and the time and the place all rolled into one.” I’m just… wow. Yeah. Not becoming a Buddhist but it was a powerful moment.