Ask Me Anything: Responses

I still identify you in my mind (my mind being a very me-centric world, I guess) as being a foreign-born American, although it's clearly been some better part of a decade since this has been the case. How do you see your place in the world? Is there an identity to it?

I'm Dutch, and have always been Dutch.

When I lived in South America, it was made very clear I was a foreigner, and my family was foreign. So I considered myself Dutch. In the Netherlands I was often odd, but Dutch. In the US I got mistaken for local because of the accent I got in American School and US TV did do a great educational number about US life to foreigners, but I never thought of myself as American--just very bound and excited by the country.

It was hard to leave. I missed it for a very long time, still often do.

Over here strangers mistake me for American, and I almost always correct them. Because I am Dutch. I just started voting again in the Netherlands because I worry about where the country is going. I know I will very likely live there again. I will be a stranger again there--people are very confused when I fiddle and search for change in Euros, I have to explain I am an ex-pat and never use Euros--but I'll blend in soon.

Ask Me Anything: Responses

Schoenen of klompen, Meneer?

Crisis, wie draagt er nou nog klompen? Toch de grootsts mogelijke onzin? Ja, mijn vader draagt soms klompen als hij tuniert, maar ik woon goddomme in Londen, ik ga toch geen klompen dragen?

Laarzen, natuurlijk.

GLBT Intersectionality

Over on another forum, someone asked what the Intersectionality meant to us in the context of an LGBT march like in DC on March 17th. I thought about this question and what I had learned participating in and reading reactions to the Women's marches a few weeks ago. My answer is about really practical things in a march. I am not sure I am fully there, but I'm trying.

Intersectionality for me means a more complete awareness that our oppression and marginalisation is part of a complex pattern that influences us all differently depending on how we fit in society. Therefore, for example, the pressures I am under as a gay white man are very different from a latina bisexual woman who lives with a partner who does not represent in the gender binary, and their children. So for this march it would mean for me:


  • It means being aware that having their back like I want them to have my back will involve me standing up against the racism that she will encounter and I will not, and which quite often will impact them more, or be indistinguishable, from homophobia. If I try to compartmentalise their oppression ("this is homophobia, this is racism, and I am only here for the homophobia") for my ends, I will lose her in our movement.

  • LBT women in the large cities were there for us during the HIV crisis, so we'd fucking better be there for their anger about shutting down of their reproductive rights. The same forces that will not allow a woman control over her body are the forces that want to regulate who and how I can fuck. I understand that since women make less on average, and women of color or of alternate sexuality make even less than that on average, shutting down free, or low-cost, women-oriented healthcare centres because they may also perform abortions is an assault of the health of the L & B & even T part of GLBT, and thus it is on me.

  • It means being willing to correct my over-representation as a white and male person in who speaks, who gets photographed, who gets represented (without whining that "women are taking over everything"). Basically, it means I need to be ready to sit down and shut up.

  • It means my kink and sex-positivity will need to be incorporated even if other people are uncomfortable, but it has to come from a place of inclusion. If we dump trans sex workers because of the politics of respectability, you have lost me and whomever I would want to walk with on a leash, if you hadn't dumped me already anyway. We are a sexual minority, goddamit.

  • It means, from my personal POV, acknowledging that while I may march to keep the rights we have obtained by now, and assimilate into the system even better so I can exercise all my options by, say, demanding federal EEOC protected status, they may be marching there to blow up the system because it will never give them any options at all. This mismatch is uncomfortable for both of us, but we have to meet. They may even convince me things will not get better without a radical change that might lower my options for a while.

  • It means getting in the way of any wailing suburban pale people who want to cry white tears of fragility when a black woman shows up with a sign that says "94% of us tried to warn y'all" or "White people elected Trump" and using my whiteness and stature and gender to remind them that a) the signs are actually true and b) it doesn't help anyone to try to sweep under the carpet that a lot of white people could look past nr 45s racism and homophobia enough to actually get us in a situation where we need to march, and that if you didn't vote for 45 the sign is not about you so acknowledge it and move on.

My Low-Sugar Cereal Recipe

Picture of my cereal. LJ doesa not allow Instagram embeds.


OK, so recipe. There's two components to this: the lentil crunchies and then the vegetable pillow shreds.

The vegetable crunchies, for a 5 day supply, are

3 cups of red lentils, and only red lentils, cooked for about four minutes so they are al dente. Spread on a baking sheet and put in a 150 degree Celsius oven for about 15 minutes, re-spreading them every 5 minutes. The idea is to dry off the steam. Put the hot lentils in a bowl, and add about three tablespoons of coconut oil, stir, and about three eggwhites. I also add half a cup of unflavored whey protein. Mix it all together, and then spread, as best you can (don't go crazy, it doesn't matter that much), on parchment paper on a baking sheet and back in the same oven it goes.

The eggwhites and oil will quickly make the lentils stick together. Over the course of an hour get in the oven every 15 minutes and break the clusters up (I use a spatula) and moving them around in the oven, making them smaller and smaller until they are bite-sized and pretty dried out and crunchy.

Here's the deal: by this point they are simply flavourless filler, like white rice with your evening meal. Several ways to solve this:


  • Add a third or a half a cup of erythrol (or splenda or stevia or agave or even sugar) and a bucket (ok, 4 tablespoons) of cinnamon to the egg and oil mixture.

  • In the above picture I added sugar-free chocolate shavings in the last 10 minutes to the clusters.

  • You may (I have not tried this) use flavoured protein powder instead of unflavored protein like I did, and maybe it will survive the baking. At your own risk.

  • Maybe when eating just crunchies mash them with a banana, coconut shreds, apple sauce?

The other half of the cereal is made by combining about 2 cups of shredded carrots, 2 cups of shredded raw sweet potatoes (I was them hard but don't peel them), a cup of chopped mixed nuts, again three tablespoons of coconut oil, two or three egg whites, half a cup of unflavored whey, random spices (cinnamon, ginger), until you get this mixture of wet vegetables. I spread this on parchment paper on a baking wire rack so it is a large flat rectangle (I only have one baking sheet), about a centimeter thick. It goes into the oven as well (I put the crunchies low and this rack high) for about twenty minutes, take it out, cover the vegetable rectangle with parchment paper, put a another rack on top of that like a some demented sandwich, and turn the whole thing over using oven mitts because the bottom rack is 150 degrees Celsius. Take the hot, now on top, rack off, peel off the old parchment paper on the top, and put the vegetables back in the oven for another twenty minutes.

When done, let everything cool. Cut the vegetable rectangle into small rectangles, mix with the crunchies in a big bowl. I also add sunflower seeds and perhaps shredded flax seeds.

It is not super sweet, so some might want to add more sweeteners, but I really like the combo of textures in milk. I do 5 to 6 days with this, but I like a big breakfast.

Girl LEGO

So I'm in the Lego store, it's this new store LEGO opened in Leicester Square, that has all the lines and models, with my friend who is a bit of a Lego addict. We're walking past the shelves and he is explaining how all the lines fit together, scale and adventure-wise.

We get to the shelf that is very pink and purple. The Friends line, targetted to girls. But right next to it is a new line: DC female heroes. I light up, just as a female store help is removing a Frozen castle model from a display case. She stops when she hears me gushing to my friend.
"This is wonderful! This is action! And LEGO! And fun!"
We ended up in this whole conversation how it was selling, and that it actually was the same scale as the Friends line so it makes great expansion either way. I do remember looking up at the big set again and looking at the characters and saying "And she's wearing trousers!"
"Uh-huh." She knew exactly what I was looking at (the depiction of Wonder Woman).
I look at the actual minifgs. "And A-cups." I blurt out.
"Uh-huh."
We both knew what we were saying without saying: LEGO is actully doing superheroes without the bimbo aspect and it is wonderful. I told her how how I had my doubts about the Friends line, but anything to get people of any gender into LEGO, you know, and the Superhero Girls to go with it is even better. It's like Barbies, but better, with creativity.
And then I noticed the elves line again and she laughed at me describing it as "LEGO for baby goths!" and I could totally see the cross-over between the sets.

And then me and my friend started gushing about how it was playing with LEGO as children that got us into IT and then into IT Design and was responsible for our actual current good jobs and careers. I keep wondering if she gets those kind of conversations a lot, where people just ask about a set and before you know it they tell you about their lives.

Carry

Chop wood, carry water. Chop wood, carry water.

Chop wood carry water, prep your protein secondary meals for the week. Take those hours on the weekend to shop the week, make your meat and sweet potato soup, make the frittata, make the breakfast. Chop wood, carry water.

Chop wood carry water. Do your best at work. Chop wood carry water, another wireframe, another presentation, helping out another person, speaking up but paranoid it is too much, take the long train to remote meetings. Chop wood carry water. Chop wood carry water.

Chop wood another gym session carry water twice a week with an intense trainer. Pre-bed shake. Supplements.

Chop wood fight your weekend laziness to be on time to see your friends. Carry water fight your social passivity to even show up. Carry water worry you are neglecting those that want to be with you.

Chop wood, carry water: don't get wrapped up in the end goal. Laugh because you realise you'll never make them anyway, you are just trying to get as close as you can to accomplished, or maybe just safely continually employable, safe, and muscled big and socially apt and have a super friends posse and make the planes home. Chop wood it's all self-centred anyway.

Carry water, run through an airport again.

Chop wood carry water, portion your energy when fatigue hits you. Keep executing at work, keep working out to create energy, carry water stop maintenance on other things so you can sleep longer. Chop wood efficiently find time with minimum time off to get checked out. Carry water just keep showing and waiting and pushing to get a diagnosis.

I think my version of adulthood is that I no longer try to reward myself with food or hiding or stopping. My version of adulthood is being in an outpatient waiting room for a procedure you know will suck, and having woken up and time, and selected the bag from your collection of bags that will be the most useful in the hospital today, and finding yourself carefully folding and rolling your cardigan and shawl so they will take the least space.

Chop wood carry water, don't do anything stupid. Chop wood carry water, indulge in sugary stuff only on Sundays, notice how defined your arms and legs are, be leaner than ever. (If only you could add some real mass). Chop wood carry water but somehow everyone around you does lines of coke on weekends and doesn't sleep and makes Director as a banker and has killer bodies and they all know each other.

My version of adulthood. Chop wood, carry water do the right thing. You're on antibiotics now so take your pill, properly, twice a day. Don't let anyone, including yourself, down. Chop wood carry water people can count on you. Chop wood carry water but the years only make it harder.

I don't want to be any other way. I don't want to regret not having been diligent enough or not tried hard enough. I just wish it worked better.

Triumph Of Muscle

I just look at the results of the election, especially now the stats are in, and it just screams Triumph of Masculinity to me. The celebratory pictures all feature bros to the hilt, the 87+ reported nation-wide hate crimes all have bros at the center. The vote difference is barely a percentage or two, but the polarisation of it goes all to white men and women, slightly better off ones, versus everyone else. It feels like a vote for keeping the opportunity to get ahead over other people's backs versus creating a truly level playing field, a vote for sending destructive rage to Washington versus a vote to send someone to continue the current lines for social justice, a vote for chaos over policy wonkishness.

America doesn't like wonks. Al Gore lost because it felt like he'd spend time devising policy instead of going out for beer with you. Literally, that was the family commentary I got in 2000.

It is a vote for muscularity, bias to action, robustness, speed, with a big dose of chaos, and may the chips fall hard--which is why it feels like such a fascist vote. It was not a vote for sharing, policy, balancing, stability. And gender-wise, it literally was man vs woman, and the man won in large part because the woman got unbelievable misogyny sent her way for her continuing ambition.

It feels familiar. No, not W, though the current days of grokking that That Guy with That Dudes Family will now get to live in the White House, currently inhabited by a model nuclear family of love, intelligence, and class, is just like when I realized That Smirk would now run the military. No, the way this feels is Reagan, what I grew up watching. Individualism, bootstraps, me-first, muscularity. A counter-notion to all this chaos and freedom being unleashed by people exploring themsleves in millions of directions of tie-dye and hippies and New Age. Yes to coke that keeps you awake at the office for days, no to toking that makes you passive and accepting. Yes to power suits, no to freaks and punks (who flourished in their counter-cultures). And yes to bodies being grown big in gleaming palaces. The 70s era of boogieing--where a Rolling Stone article about it led to SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER--gives way to an era of aerobics, freshly repackaging boring calisthenics, and pumping iron--where a Rolling Stone article about that scene leads to another Travolta classic, PERFECT. Me me me in red power ties and tubs of whey in their duffle bags; yes, this election reminds me of the 80s.

White maculinity, white muscularity. The 80s body cuture created the 90s heroin-chic reaction, but ever since then bros soldiered on, chugging protein powder and they are even lifting bro. But now there's a 010 twist to it: Instagram life. Massive amounts of boys and mens are posing their muscles like Kim K and all her knock-offs sell their boobs and ass, to a degree that would not have been acceptable as masculine in the late 80s outside certain circles of Death Metal. But then again, we've gone way past the 80: Jersey Shore globally already over a decade ago normalized Tan Gym Laundry as a lifetsyle, Guido Juicehead as an archetype to tap into a market with, and now 10-year-old boys have eating disorders and typing in #fitness gets you as many men as women posing their almost-naked bodies for the explicit goal to create envy and lust, and they're seriously not just gay men.

Why, though? Why are boys showing off that much? A year ago some article posited that the body-obsession was one of the escapes young men had to the Millenial con game where Boomers extracted all value by borrowing on the future and the bills were now coming due in such a way that young people with massive student debt and no good job or safety net had absolutely nothing to look forward to but roommates and three barista jobs. You can't get a deposit for even a new car, but you can invest your time and sweat in lifting weights, injecting roids, and getting those hearts on your pics. Besides, eating only vegetables and chicken breast is cheap. It's an utter drag, but it is something. The article made the need for control and pride sound like anorexia.

So, a victory for bros. A victory that at best will unleash chaos if Trump follows through with putting nobody with any experience in any post, and at worst is already shaping up at having even more insidery insider lobbysist run Washington. I'd be surprised if things got better for young people, or older people, or anyone under $200K a year. The trends are on track, and they are not going to change for social sharing, respect, and empathy. Expect the ideal male body to get a lot bulkier again, the bros to seriously turn their 6-week light steroid cycles into 15 week drags, action heroes to be played by IFBB pros again or have the current crop be digitally altered to look like that, and locker room talk to be the new vernacular.

But let me tell you a little secret I know from inside the iron halls: it's never enough. The biggest guy is always worried he is not big enough. The middle guys are always checking each other out, and because they believe in individuality and hierarchy, they are consumed by ranking each other and fear of losing. The drag to get there is unbeleivable, with every step to 'the next level' taking the same amount of will power and time and effort as the 5 before it together.

Nothing was never enough for Trump. Nothing is ever enough in the muscle game if you are doing it for comparison and your sense of pride is counted in other's looks. No remedy is ever enough when you see your prvilege being chipped away as minorities come to equality and the smaller guys or even women lift almost as much as you. It will never be enough, and you will never be happy if all you can see is the next level, and what you are now and the amount of hearts you got today is not enough.