i need a new username.

This has been sitting as a draft since Jan 2009! This week I ran into more real life friends on Flickr and Twitter and it brought this all up again. Ugh, leftover old username. I think I’d been working around this problem by avoiding places where I had a username at all. Maybe that is the right solution anyway, to just use my real name everywhere. But, as drafted two years ago, something about having no nicknames makes me sad. And something about being renamed seems timely right now.

i’ve been “ookpik” online since 1997, when i took the name from a kids’ poem that i liked. it’s an inuit word for owl. it’s also the name of a kind of furry owl doll made for tourists. i thought that was ok for a long time, but now i think it’s too much appropriation and colonial weirdness. so i need a new username.

i’m posting about it here to ask for help. i have a common first name, a last name i don’t like, and no nicknames. ookpik was unusual enough as a name, and i’ve usually been early enough to register on sites i use, that i have no backup names at all.

something about having no nicknames make me sad.

So. Ideas?

A book I once stayed up all night reading.

“Hello?” she answers, and I pause. I hate her for the fact that I know she’ll hang up, but I hate her more because there is a chance she won’t.

“When I pluck my eyebrows, I’m becoming more of a woman.” I say, “When you stop plucking yours, you become less of a woman. When I fuck a man, or his boyfriend,” I say, “and my chest is shaved, and my eyebrows are plucked, and his expensive underwear is pulled aside so that his cock springs free into my mouth, what do you have? Is gender really just tits?”

“Who is this?” the woman says.

“And women who develop breast cancer, who have their tits cut off, who wear the same breast form fakes as I do when I’m all dressed up, are they less than women?” She hangs up and my anger is confused because I don’t know what I believe anymore myself. If that’s what gender is, just an illusion, then why don’t I fuck women?

Lockpick Pornography by Joey Comeau

I remember that being the question that made me decide to keep reading.

Ghost slaves

If the energy provided by the fossil fuel to support the average inhabitant of the US had to be produced by human power, we would each have 120 slaves.

— cit. Weston Price, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, 2000, p.4.

I forget where I found the phrase “ghost slaves” to describe this idea, but it helped me get my head around some more radical criticisms of agriculture and civilization.

Ooh, a mini-sequel to “A Massive Swelling: Celebrity As A Grotesque, Crippling Disease”

In the lack of a dialogue about political economy and its effects on individual psyches, capitalist nations instead indulge the delusion that these things are unrelated. We are tacitly encouraged, as a society, not to see corruption as the product of elitism and power— not class-related, in other words— but accidental every time, a result of the personal weakness of the powerful individual, who we are encouraged to view as an aberration— mentally ill, an addict— an exception to the rule, rather than the norm.

The super-rich are so over-engorged, so coddled, so disgusted with themselves, they are turning into demons, because they have lost all touch with reality and all faith in the boundaries of a sane world. And when tyrants and stars, nation-states and classes believe they are Nietzschean übermenschen, beyond good and evil, there is, quite frequently, a body count.

— Cintra Wilson on The toxic seeds of John Galliano’s fall (via Constant Siege)

Tree appreciation, old quotes, ex-vegetarians again.

Plants are in constant communication with each other. … Any place that roots touch other roots or their shared mycelial network, they can also exchange chemistries, medicines. One plant will send out a chemical distress call. The others will respond with precise antibiotics, antifungals, antimicrobials, or pesticides to help. Like my chickens when they sight a hawk, plants will give out an alarm call when a predator is near. Lima beans will release chemicals that warn other lima beans when they are being attacked by spider mites. When something ambulatory brushes past a plant in the woods, not only does the affected plant respond by stiffening as best it can, it also sends out a chemical warning that allows all the other plants nearby to stiffen their branches in preparation.

And there’s more. Buhner talks about archipelagos of plant communities, groupings of interconnecting plants around a dominant or keystone species, usually a tree. These archipelagoes form in response to mysterious and unpredictable cues, and often announce the wholesale moveent of ecosystems. The process begins with an outsider or pioneer plant, who literally prepares the soil for its cohorts. When the soil is ready, the nurse plant sends out the chemical message, join me. …

Once established, the keystone plant then calls the bacteria, mycelia, plants, insects, and other animals necessary to build a healthy and resilient community. The keystone’s chemistries arrange the other species and direct their behavior. “This capacity of keystone species to ‘teach’ their plant communities how to act was widely recognized in indigenous and folk taxonomies.” Elder trees are called elders for a reason.

The Vegetarian Myth page 88, talking about The Lost Language of Plants by Stephen Harrod Buhner.

And on and on about the amazingness of trees. Using 2/3 of their water to feed other beings, making masses of chemicals for other species, living for thousands of years. “They literally control life on earth.” I swoon. I love appreciating plant activities.

When I was vegetarian I would regularly find myself in conversations with folks who loved animals and joked that as vegetarians, their role was to kill all plants. I know it’s a joke, but I did find plant appreciation kind of lacking overall in vegetarian discussions. Some love for produce sometimes (local tomatoes, etc), but it’s funny to me to read this wide-eyed tree worship as part of an author’s journey to meat eating.

Interdependence, ex-vegetarians, crossing the streams.

Been thinking so much about being vulnerable with people and asking for help, while sorting through surprising and painful life changes. Noticed this old quote kicking around as a draft and liked it all over again today. It’s about food, but I’m thinking about feelings when I read the bit about not trying to get out of debt, not trying to be self-contained.

In his book Long Life, Honey In The Heart Martin Pretchel writes of the Mayan people and their concept of kas-limaal, which translates roughly as “mutual indebtedness, mutual insparkedness.” “The knowledge that every animal, plant, person, wind, and season is indebted to the fruit of everything else is adult knowledge. To get out of debt means you don’t want to be part of life, and you don’t want to grow into an adult,” one of the elders explains to Pretchel.

… This is a concept we need, especially those of us who are impassioned by injustice. I know I needed it. In the narrative of my life, the first bite of meat after my twenty year hiatus marks the end of my youth, the moment when I assumed the responsibilities of adulthood. It was the moment I stopped fighting the basic algebra of embodiment: for someone to live, someone else has to die. In that acceptance, with all its suffering and sorrow, is the ability to choose to live a different way, a better way.

— From The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith, page 5.

Ex-vegetarian inspiration strikes again.