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Tactical Ninja — LiveJournal

Mar. 16th, 2017

10:25 am

This last year I’ve been doing a lot of volunteer work. A *lot* of it. Like, up to 20 hours a week of it.

First, there’s the harm reduction stuff. It’s getting a lot of traction, we have support from some agencies with budgets, and we attended 8 events this season. This is an 800% increase on previous years, and gives us enough data to do something really interesting with, both academically and politically. This is awesome, but it’s also a lot of work. There isn’t just the data and the writing up to deal with, there’s the setting up of an entity that allows the work to scale, collating all our support into a single point of contact, developing processes and induction for our volunteer base, advocacy work, and furthering the long term strategy (changing the law).

The cool thing about this work is that without fail, everyone who finds out about it is positive. People go out of their way to tell me how great they think it is, how much they admire what we’re doing, and how wonderful they think we are for our efforts. It’s very validating. I mean, I’m sure there are people who disagree with what we’re doing and I’m seeking them out so that we can assess how to approach changing their minds – but in my experience, the response has been universally positive and supportive.

Contrast this with my other volunteer work, for Kiwiburn. When I took it on I said I’d do it for three years and I have. It’s been a productive three years for the event, starting with a restructure and continuing with the development of process and job related paperwork (not a lot of which existed prior and which has felt a lot like pulling teeth since nobody’s keen to spend their vollie time writing process documentation). Last year was particularly tough with a review by NZ’s state health and safety agency, a mass exodus of Operations volunteers and replacing them, and a number of unprecedented spanners-in-the-works that required delicate handling and weren’t ever going to have a friendly outcome for me personally. And then there was the bit where in order to have an event at all, we had to have a volunteer drive, 3 days into which the Volunteer Coordinator quit and I’ve been doing that ever since too. On top of Chairing the ExCom which mostly involves trying to facilitate a group of opinionated people to some kind of constructive consensus on some really tough decisions, again and again and again. Essentially, I worked my arse off for Kiwiburn last year.

All of which added up to – well, not a lot tbh. We do get thanked, on occasion. Some of us who work on the main decision-making committee make a point of thanking each other occasionally, because, well, if we didn’t then it just wouldn’t happen. I can count the times I’ve been thanked by the Kiwiburn community for my work this year on one hand. Mostly they complain about the decisions we make, tell us we are power hungry and hypocritical, accuse us of being corrupt (which is probably ironically funny since KB is a not-for-profit and nobody gets paid but oddly enough it still hurts when people say it), and make suggestions that involve doing anything except what we actually did. People seem to forget that those who volunteer to organise Kiwiburn are community members who simply care enough about it to donate their time throughout the year. I’m not sure why they think we do it, but I can say with conviction that it’s not:

- money
- power
- validation
- appreciation

Because we don't get those. Anyway, I’m stepping down from Kiwiburn on 31 March. We’ve almost finished voting in a new Chair, I’ve got some applications to replace me as Volunteer Coordinator, and I’m considering dropping the Cleanup Manager role too because I really struggled watching my friends drive away and leave me behind after the event this year, and because despite asking multiple times I still haven’t had an update from the landowner as to whether we did a good job or not. Frustrating and saddening is not what I want in a volunteer job.

Basically, I’m over it. And while I’ll work up until the day I finish because I said I would, the ongoing struggle to turn opinions into cohesive action is increasingly a chore. I ended yesterday feeling like no matter how hard I try my work for Kiwiburn will never be appreciated and I’ll never be good enough. Then I thought about the slew of communications I have received in support of the harm reduction work, the positive media we’re receiving, and the way I feel as if I’m making real change in the world through my work and people are appreciating it, and I realised it’s another no brainer.

I would love to be the person who turned Kiwiburn into a great environment to volunteer in, but I think that’s up to other people. I hope they do better, I hope the work we did supports the new team to have time to work on feelgood exercises and morale. Meanwhile I’ll be over here, doing something that actually makes me feel good about myself.

Tats’ Year of Being Selfish, underway.

Feb. 4th, 2017

01:19 pm - Finally got my pics back from the Water Witch shoot!

Here are a few of my favourites:

More under here including some doublesCollapse )

Feb. 3rd, 2017

08:55 pm - Caption contest!

Please explain what is going on in this photo.

Feb. 2nd, 2017

11:04 am - We got married! At Kiwiburn!

Sort of, anyway.  Our celebrant got his certification just before the event and we decided that the paperwork was too much stress to get done in the time we had, so we had the ceremony anyway and will do the paperwork later.  We had a sort-of official photographer (a friend who is a photographer who agreed to take some pics for us).

It was a burner wedding, the vows included such words as 'hot as fuck' and 'entropic heat death of the universe' and everyone said we were adorable*.  It was very sunny so there was a lot of squinting.

Here are two pics (not the official ones)Collapse )

Jan. 20th, 2017

03:38 pm - Question

If you're not from New Zealand, have a listen to this and tell  me if you can understand any of it.

(it's mostly in English)

Jan. 19th, 2017

05:38 pm - Here is a picture

Of me displaying the grace and poise for which I am known...

This was taken during the photoshoot I did back in December.  I still don't have the final shots but as you can see I'm sure I will look like an elegant queen in them.. *cough*

Photo by Brett Stanley (http://brettstanleyphoto.com/)

Meanwhile, Kiwiburn is just under a week away and I have almost all the costume stuff done.  And the props.  So naturally now I'm having brainwaves about things that will take just over a week to make.  *ahem*

I'm back on holiday after taking on a 4-day contract last week because I'm a filthy capitalist.  I could get used to this sporadic working thing.  Just to make sure I don't, I'll be spending the next month doing almost nothing but volunteer harm reduction work at festivals.  It's normal for me to lose about 5 kilos over the summer, but I usually only go to one event. I have three more before I'm done and I may just fade away to nothing.  This is why I haven't made my wedding dress yet - I have no idea what size I'll be by March.

On the upside, I wrote my vows today. Weddings are weird.  I hope I don't fart.  But if I do, I know at least one person will find it funny and that's one of the many reasons I'm marrying him.

Jan. 12th, 2017

10:58 am - Tats Year of Being Selfish

Sometime over the Christmas period, the realisation dawned on me that I've been subordinating my needs for the sake of peace/getting along/being liked for a very long time.  Not in every way - I have no qualms defending my views on drugs, feminism, human rights, politics etc.  And if someone has a go at me I'll generally defend myself.

But for things that don't really matter, things like deciding where and when to eat in a group, asking for what I want, and putting my own needs before those of other people, I've been a bit hopeless.  We are all taught from an early age that people won't like you if you're selfish, but I think Mini-Tats may have taken this admonishment a little too literally.  As a kid I  was constantly struggling with big emotions in a world where any emotions are frowned on, and moving from place to place all the time trying to make new friends (but never having to keep them long term because hey, we'll move again soon), and generally just wanting a set of rules I could abide by for emotional safety.  Turned out that being low key and easy going and non-demaning and never prioritising my own personal wants and needs over those of others worked quite well for Mini Tats.

Now I'm a grownup and subordinating my needs leads to resentment of people I love, who are actually often unaware of the extent to which I've told myself that what I want is the easiest thing to let slide for the sake of having friends. And I've realised that actually, I matter.  What I want is important, if only to me, and I am the best advocate for my own needs.  I will be a happier person if I do put my wants and need forward for consideration sometimes.  And true friends are not going to ditch me for saying that actually I'd like my needs and wants to be prioritised.  But in order for them to prioritise them and thus make me feel like I matter, I have to express them first.

So I've decided to make a conscious effort to recognise when I'm shoving what I want aside to avoid being 'selfish', and to attempt to advocate for myself.  Hopefully gently and thoughfully, but since I find it so hard, to start with it'll probably mostly be aggressively.

Oh look, my navel has lint in it.

Anyway, I think I'm doing ok so far.

One of the thingsCollapse )

The other area in which I've decided to push myself forward more is harm reduction.  I've been working at it for 9 years and it's starting to take off (mostly because of my work) and people with more resources and status are becoming involved and I am probably going to have to fight to stay in the conversation.  Happy has been saying for a while that I should be considering how to make sure I get credit for the work I've done, and I think it's time to start listening to him.

Be assertive not aggressive.  How does that work again?

Jan. 5th, 2017

07:30 pm

Today I lifted my bulbs and put them away for the summer.

Bulbs are really easy but they are also an exercise in delayed gratification. In summer I dig them up and store them away because otherwise they rot in the ground. They live in a box in the shed for four months and in April or early May I plant them. Then it's another four months before they do anything but then it gets really pretty for the next two months when there are no other flowers around and it's worth it.

Also I planted these.  They are so bright my camera can't handle them and they makie me happy:

I like the way gardening (and farming when I get the opportunity) has a rhythm that you have to work with, it facilitates a kind of thinking that I reckon is good for you.

Jan. 3rd, 2017

08:04 am

4:30pm yesterday afternoon, it's over, he can finally be at peace.

I was thinking of him when he died.

Jan. 2nd, 2017

12:13 pm - Dark post - sorry to the new people

I have been advocating for drug law reform since 2008. If anyone is interested in why, here is a post I wrote when I made the decision to do it (with bonus NIN lyrics).

In the last couple of years, my focus has been on pill testing/substance checking at events as a way of reducing the harms associated with drug use. It's pretty simple - in an illegal market there is no real quality control and people are not able to know for certain when they ingest something that it is actually what it's supposed to be. We use chemical reagents or infrared spectroscopy to tell people what's in their sample and they can then make an informed decision about how they treat that substance.

I can say with conviction and also with the data to back it, that users of drugs make sensible choices when they have information about what their drugs actually are.

This is what I was doing over New Years, with the help of some friends who are passionate enough to risk being arrested alongside me. I can tell you exactly how many people were able to avoid ingesting something that wasn't what it was supposed to be because of us. How many people who might have died, but didn't.

I will be telling the authorities that.

I can also tell you that if I told you the name of the event, they could be shut down because the law makes them criminals as soon as they admit they know people use drugs at their event.

So providing harm reduction services is essentially illegal. To avoid legal risk they are supposed to turn a blind eye and let people risk death. This is stupid and wrong and there is absolutely no logical reason why we should allow this ridiculous situation to continue.

I will be telling the authorities that too. It won't be the first time.

When we got back into internet range, the first email I opened had news of a good friend and a member of our harm reduction crew, who has been struggling with mental health and addiction problems for several years. I had known he was in a relapse cycle, and over the holidays he took a deliberate overdose of a legal substance and now he is going to die.

There is a lot that can be said about the inability of people with mental health and problematic drug use issues to get the help they need, about the artificial stigma associated with drug use that means users are criminalised instead of helped, about how support agencies are underfunded, about how problematic drug use is most strongly correlated with trauma and social isolation and how our law exacerbates that in the most vulnerable people and the stigma makes them feel even more alone. But you're smart enough to figure that out for yourself, right?

My friend has a heart bigger than Texas. He wanted to expand on our testing service and set up a project that looks after people who are having difficult experiences with drugs. He wanted to use his own struggle to benefit others because he knows what it's like to struggle alone, and he wanted to provide the emotional support that is so lacking for people with problems in this society.

Now, he can't, and he'll never be able to, and I place the blame for a lot of that squarely at the feet of those who continue to perpetuate the stigma around drug use and made him feel so alone in his struggle.

I will be telling the authorities that too. They are doing it wrong and people I love are getting hurt because of it. No more.

Dec. 27th, 2016

03:37 pm

This is one of the few songs I can sing along to and hit all the notes. Also, the lyrics resonate.

If being wrong's a crime
I'm serving forever
If being strong's your kind
Then I need help here with this feather
If being afraid is a crime
We hang side by side
At the swingin' party down the line

Dec. 25th, 2016

09:53 am - Merry Christmas from the future!

It's going pretty well so far.  Coffee and presents in bed, one of which was a horse calendar in which we have this fine example of Cool Horses Don't Look at Explosions.  The calendar is Australian so that could explain why having a background of certain fiery death is considered normal and calendar-worthy.

splosion horse

Also, shark tracking!  This is Carol.  Her tracker battery ran out last year, but not before she took in Cape Reinga, Fiji, took a quick spin across to Tonga, then followed the Trench down to East Cape, paid us a visit in Wellington, and generally had a fantastic South Pacific cultural experience.

Yes, I am actually getting excited about sharks on Christmas morning.  Look at my life, look at my choices.

Also I have a pretty dress.  Enjoy your Christmas folks!

Dec. 24th, 2016

01:53 pm

Today was the first official day of Dr Wheel's holiday*.  Naturally, I woke up at 5:45 and then woke him up going "Entertain meeee!"  Well actually he wanted to get to the supermarket early to avoid the Christmas rush and buy a chicken.

In NZ, even though it's summer for Christmas, folks still seem to go for the giant roast meal - usually lunch - full of stodgy and hearty winter-filling goodness.  And pav.  It's not Christmas without pav, preferably decorated with kiwifruit (note Americans - it is *not* called a kiwi, that is a type of bird) and strawberries thus:

Basically if it doesn't look like this you're doing it wrong.

Consequently, after lunch on Christmas Day everyone sits around nursing their foodbabies, but unlike those northern hemisphere types, it's also quite often 25 degrees.  Some folks go to the beach.  We usually host the Christmas for our lot because we're the ones with a house big enough for Dr Wheel's large and boisterous family.  Dr Wheel's large and boisterous family also enjoys shared feeding.  This means that everyone brings something, usually in large enough quantities to feed everyone, and so we end up with enough food to feed about 20 people. Everyone makes a valiant effort to make it disappear, and whatever's left over ends up being our meals for the next 6 weeks**.

In my family, the traditional Christmas meal was eggs, beans, and chips.  My Mum believed that fancy Christmas meals were often the result of unsung labour by one person while everyone else had a holiday, and she wasn't having that - thus, the simplest meal anyone could think of.  Also, not huge.

In my view there is something to be said for not consuming your own bodyweight in fat and sugar in the name of capitalism/religion.  But .... PAV!!  Pav will always be my downfall.

* Not mine. Mine started on Wednesday and goes gloriously till the end of February,  the fact of which I'm reminding anyone who will listen because it's the first holiday longer than 2 weeks that I've had since I started working my first proper job and OMG.
** Slight exaggeration alert.

Dec. 22nd, 2016

03:39 pm

There's an LJ revival thing going on - ironically, on Facebook. But it inspired me to make a post.

This year I've struggled to post regularly. Main reasons for this include:

- moving to a contracting position where I'm actually busy at work and don't need to kill hours at a time
- feeling like everything I've wanted to say, you've all heard before anyway
- virtually none of my real-life friends post here any more, or read, which means that a lot of the funny shit that used to happen in comments doesn't any more and comment threads are often a bit awkward with people who don't know each other well posting things that are safe and supportive rather than challenging and/or amusing. It's really hard to come up with anything other than 'thanks!' to those, even though they are lovely and well meant
- feeling like I can't keep up with my flist and feeling guilty about posting and expecting commentary when I fail to comment on other people's posts.

I even thought about deleting it. But then I thought "Fuck it." I've kept this journal since 2003 for a reason, and it has some pretty major milestones in it. The deaths of both my parents, buying my first home, the day Trent Reznor convinced me to become an advocate for legal acknowledgement of responsible drug use, getting together with Dr Wheel, my first through 11th burns...

Yeah, so it's still here. Maybe I *do* have more to say. Maybe someone *is* still reading. And right now I am on holiday, with two glorious months of not-working stretched in front of me (thank you contracting for paying well enough to allow me to do this). I will be working, but it's volunteer work doing harm reduction at festivals, and keeping the data so we can prove that it's effective. I'm excited about this and grateful for the way things have miraculously aligned* to allow this to happen.

For today, instead of profundity, have a pic. This is a screenie from a video in which a friend and I swum around in a dive pool with a pole, a photographer, 250metres of tubular crin, and masses of chiffon. Proper pics to follow once we've gone through the proofs and picked out the ones we like. So far the winning shot has neither of our faces in it. Oops. :D


* When I say 'miraculously aligned' I actually mean 'I've worked my arse off on this for the last 8 years and finally people have noticed and got behind it.'

Sep. 7th, 2016

06:40 am - I just made The Most Hippyish Thing Ever

This is from the fleece of a sheep I shore, except the hood. Comment on Facebook - "I bet it sprouts it's own hemp beans!". :)

Geek notes: the shading on the hood came out reasonably well even though I messed up the colour gradation a bit. Next time I'll measure out the fleece for each spool before I start spinning.

Next project: shiny shaded silver leg warmers!

(I may have slipped and accidentally bought 6kg of moorit merino/polwarth and 4kg of silver and grey/ black gotland)

Sep. 4th, 2016

04:43 pm - Pole kittens!

That's what we apparently call the people who clean the pole between acts at a show.  I was one with these two hot laydeez at my studio's student showcase last night.

pole kittens
Discovery of the evening - I can climb in gogo boots.  Also, from some angles I have cleavage.  Who knew?

Sep. 2nd, 2016

10:29 am

OMG woolgasm! SO much beautiful wool!

Backstory - I've had an arapawa/gotland fleece sitting in my stash for a few years, from a flock in Tawa. I've always wanted to do that thing where you take the fibre all the way from shearing the sheep* through preparing and spinning the wool to making an item of clothing for myself.

A few weeks ago, I dug out the fleece and started on it, teaching myself to crochet in the process. I finished the item, and it looked hippyish enough that it needed a hood. Half way through the hood, I ran out of wool.


Joel suggested I do stealth shearing - sneak back to Tawa and shear the sheep for enough wool to finish my project. I figured buying a bit online would be easier and involve less running around paddocks at midnight and potentially getting shot for worrying.

Anyway, I went hunting for arapawa/gotland online and in my travels I accidentally slipped and bought some merino, polwarth and straight gotland fleeces in a variety of natural colours. Oops. I have a project in mind that involves playing with natural variations in coloured wool, so now it can be a really big project!

Pictured is the hippy thing I made from my own shearing on the left, and the wool that I'll finish it with on the right. I'll have to pick the darker bits out, but it's close enough. I'm stoked!


PS I think that the history of fibre and textiles is the history of civilisation, up to and including the fact that looms were the first computers. But I'm geeky like that.

* Even better if I bred the sheep myself. Working on that.


Aug. 31st, 2016

08:29 pm - So this happened

We just got betrothed!
Joel is irresponsible

Another soppy Hawke/Cullen pic under cutCollapse )

Aug. 26th, 2016

08:40 pm

Putting this here because Facebook just feels like egoposting and here is more private. This is the first time I got horizontal in iron x practice and held it steady, this Tuesday just gone.

It's here because I struggle a lot with confidence and self esteem these days, and I want something to remind myself that occasionally I'm starry. That not all my practices are failures, and that I am making progress.

When i get that second leg straight, I'm going to be insufferable. :)

Aug. 21st, 2016

10:59 am

Over the last few days, whenever I've seen that naked Trump statue posted, I've dropped in and left a comment along the lines of "I'm really not down with body shaming, even of that scumbag."

A statement of my own view, or so I thought. It's been interesting to see how many people will vehemently tell me I'm wrong to feel that way, and work very hard to convince me that my perspective is invalid. Arguments used include:

"It's art!" (it is art, because art is supposed to elicit emotion and discussion - but that doesn't mean it's not also body shaming)

"Think about it in context!" (you mean the context where almost everyone is bombarded with reasons to hate their body every day, or the one where Trump is not smart enough to realise that a lot of his belittling of other people probably comes from an unacknowledged desire to make himself feel big? which probably stems from the same crap this statue is perpetuating regarding self-loathing)

"He started it!" (what are we, 4?)

"He does it to women all the time!" (and we think he's scum for it, so why is it ok to now do the same thing? does that make us scum too?)

"He said he had a huge penis though!" (and? since when are tiny penis jokes any kind of argument about anything relevant?)

"You just don't understand how it's supposed to represent the Emperor with no clothes!" (which I do actually understand, I'm just not ok with the way we're focusing on the 'nauseatingness' of his naked body as a representation of his ugliness)*

"Not everything is about you!" (um, yeah - i got nothing)

* I actually think it had the potential to be a lot better. If his naked body were painted in representations symbolic of the people who would be (are being) harmed by his policies, for example. As it is, we take the Emperor's clothes off and what's revealed is a fairly accurate representation of the body of a fat old man, and we are supposed to be nauseated by that.

I'm sorry folks, it's body shaming and I'm still not ok with it.

Note - one person out of everyone I've commented to responded with "Oh, I hadn't thought of that." and took it down. There's a reason that person is in my inner circle of friends, just saying.

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