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21st-Feb-2025 07:35 pm - Sticky: Introduction Post!
Combeferre
Hi there! I'm Sophia, and this is my journal. If you want to know more about me and about what you can find on my journal, this is the place!Collapse )
Combeferre
The thing that's surprised me most since figuring out I'm agender is discovering how many constraints on gender presentation I've always felt - and still feel, much to my dismay! THANKS SOCIETY FOR THE BRAINWASHING I GUESS.

For years I've had people tell me (mostly admiringly?) that I dress very me, that I don't pay attention to what I "ought" to wear, but wear what I want. And I always thought that was true!

But....it's not true. I've experimented widely, yes, but always within the bounds of certain rules I had no idea I was working so hard to follow.

For example: a few months ago I decided to switch to wearing button-down shirts on my top half, mostly mens-styled shirts. I've always loved that look, but before my breast-reduction surgery there was no hope of such shirts fitting so I never bothered trying. But it struck me suddenly that now I COULD, so I did. And I discovered this vast and intense feeling that I'm not allowed to wear clothing that doesn't accentuate my feminine shape. That wearing these men's shirts make me look slovenly and unkempt because they're baggy or whatever. The mirror tells me otherwise! The mirror tells me I look great! And I love wearing these shirts! But my feelings are all NOOOOOOOO HDU.

And yesterday I went to get my hair cut. Usually my mom cuts my hair, because that's free and salons are EXPENSIVE. Mom's entire haircutting education is having cut mine and my sister's hair since we were tiny children, so although she's competent enough at what she knows, she doesn't know anything fancy. So she gives me a pretty straightforward cut that mostly just says "short". But she's out of the country right now and I needed a haircut so I went to a professional, and described the haircut that I actually want that Mom's not capable of giving me. And I got it, and I look great, it's exactly the cut I've been low-key hankering after for years and I love it - and then I proceeded to spend yesterday evening in an emotional meltdown because this haircut is too masculine and I'm not allowed.

So this is something I'm working on: giving myself permission to present myself the way I actually want to. But it's hard! And I hope I don't discover other "not allowed" areas in my continued experimentation, because it's really not fun.

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Combeferre
As I do every year, here's a list of all the books I read this year, with links to my reviews of them, and with stars (1-5) indicating my level of appreciation for the books. Italics mean a book is a reread. "nf" means a book is nonfiction.

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And here's my list of abandoned books for the year.

and here"s the commentary on my books readCollapse )

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Combeferre
Time (...past time) for the latest edition of abandoned books! Here's the books I started in the year 2015 and failed to finish for various reasons, with commentary.


1. Fire: Tales of Elemental Spirits, by Robin McKinley & Peter Dickinson
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2. Beat to Quarters (aka The Happy Return), by C.S. Forester
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3. Phineas Finn, by Anthony Trollope
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4. Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
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5. Fanny Hill
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6. A Prince of Our Disorder: The Life of T.E. Laurence, by John E. Mack
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7. Zahrah the Windseeker, by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu
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8. Busman's Honeymoon, by Dorothy Sayers
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9. Miss Marjoribanks, by Mrs Oliphant
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10. Our Journey to Sinai: A Visit to the Monastery of St Catarina, by Agnes Bensly
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11. Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation, by Kate Bernstein and S. Bear Bergman
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12. The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology, by Simon Winchester
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Two books that fit into Karen Cushman's usual wheelhouse of historical fiction about a prickly girl who eventually finds a place in the world where she's accepted for who she is and with people who care about her. It's a good wheelhouse! I liked both these books, but particularly enjoyed Matilda Bone because of how unsympathetic Matilda starts the book and how uninterested she is in learning a different way of thinking about things. Also there's a community of medieval female medical professionals! What a great setting.

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WHAT A GOOD omg. A portal fantasy where the main character is a scientifically-minded adult, and when she goes to the alternate world she's all just shiny-eyed trying to figure out the biology and geology and history, and how things are and aren't related to our world, and all that stuff. ugh probably this is spoilersCollapse )

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1. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Power
2. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel You Know It's True
both by Ryan North, illustrated by Erica Henderson

WHERE HAS SQUIRREL GIRL BEEN ALL MY LIFE.

I was cackling with delight all the way through. I don't even know what to say. I say thingsCollapse )

AND SO FORTH, I could keep going with many exclamation points for a long time. The long and the short of it is: yes good more please.

And like: I know this is an ongoing comic and I know there are more issues out that have not yet been released in trade paperback. So I COULD read them if I wanted to pay ridiculous prices for short and flimsy single-issue releases. But that's not how I prefer to read/buy comics. Sigh, my life is so hard.

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Occasionally one just needs to reread the Queen's Thief series. I didn't bother with Conspiracy of Kings since I wanted to end on the high note of my favourite book in the series. Of course because I'm me, at one point in King of Attolia, DESPITE me having read it multiple times before and knowing exactly what happens, one bit got too stressful for me and I had to put the book aside for like three weeks before I could continue. *facepalm*

Anyways, I don't really have a lot else to say about these books that I haven't said before. I like them a lot!

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Butch is a Noun, by S Bear Bergman

Huh. I wasn't expecting to bounce quite so hard off this one. Bergman is clearly a good writer, and with interesting things to say, and I enjoyed reading about hir experiences of gender, but I did not click with anything ze said at all. I guess it's how clearly ze connects with having a gender. Ivan Coyote and Rae Spoon felt much more relatable to me in their book Gender Failure.

And also how Bergman connects gender with behaviour/actions, like how to hir, being butch is strongly associated with being gentlemanly, which I find kind of offputting actually? idk, maybe that's a generation thing. The whole thing with pulling out chairs for femmes and always walking on the outside of a sidewalk and all that, it just really rubs me the wrong way.

At any rate, I continue to appreciate reading books about gender outside the gender binary. I've got a third one sitting by my bed to read at some point (....along with at least a dozen other books, whoops).


Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, by Steve Silberman

REALLY good book covering the history of autism. Features a lot of child harm (physical and emotional abuse as well as murder!), but does a great job of covering how autism has been seen in popular understandings and who/what has shaped that. I think the ending is a little too optimistic, given the amount of crap that is still done and believed, but it is pointing in a helpful direction at least.

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15th-Jan-2016 05:21 pm - I made an origami x-wing! [fandom: star wars]
Combeferre
You can see it on my tumblr here because I'm too lazy to go look up how to embed images again.

also yes I know I am way late in putting up my summary of books read in 2015. I haven't yet put up all my book reviews from 2015 yet is the problem! I'm getting there. Probably.

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Combeferre

Oh! I suppose I should mention the fics I wrote for yuletide - that was a thing that happened!

My assignment was to write a 12 Dancing Princesses fic, which was great fun. I always love writing fairy tale fic! My recipient articulated various particular themes of interest, all of which were things I could get behind, so I did my best to run with those. The hardest was giving the story a romantic happy ending. Me writing romance! Oh dear. So I gave the main character and her love interest a relationship founded on mutual trust and respect and liking, which I know is not the usual definition of romance but is probably as close as I'm able to come :P It seemed to go over well at any rate!

This is also the longest fic I've written in over four years, which I know isn't exactly impressive for a fic that's less than 3k words long, but it's major for me, and I'm very pleased with myself.

last dance for a ticket home (2665 words) by sophia_sol
Fandom: 12 Dancing Princesses (Fairy Tale), Fairy Tales & Related Fandoms
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Eldest princess/retired soldier
Additional Tags: Misses Clause Challenge
Summary:

As Helene and her sisters climbed slowly back up the long staircase in the early morning, she tried to summon up the determination and pride she used to feel - but she only felt tired. It had been another long night of dancing, and she could hardly bear to face the thought of doing it all over again the very next night.

I also wrote a treat, which was actually me finally finishing a fic I'd begun like half a year ago (whoops) for Mad Max: Fury Road. I'm pleased with how it turned out in the end!

don't want to look like someone else (1537 words) by sophia_sol
Fandom: Mad Max Series (Movies)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Toast the Knowing, Furiosa (Mad Max)
Additional Tags: Misses Clause Challenge, Post-Canon, Hair
Summary:

Furiosa is growing her hair. Toast doesn't know why it feels so strange to look at her and see a soft halo of hair beginning to form about her head. Toast had kept her own hair as short as she dared as a form of minor defiance against Immortan Joe's desires, and surely Furiosa had also constructed her appearance in reaction to the situation. Things have changed; hair can change too.



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Combeferre
OKAY THERE I have now watched the original trilogy of star wars as well! I had a deadline for myself: I'm seeing The Force Awakens again on Monday (my dad wants to see it, and I was totally amenable to seeing it twice) so I wanted to see the originals before then, to be able to understand the new movie with the depth of context.

This meant I have watched a lot of movies in one week! Which is PRETTY WEIRD for me.

At any rate, I really did enjoy the original trilogy, and more than I expected to? There were some tedious bits (eg the entire opening sequence of Episode VI with Jabba the Hutt, and all the extended fighting sequences in the movies) but overall they were really enjoyable.

I came into these movies with a lot of pop culture informing me what to expect. But pop culture didn't tell me everything! The five things that surprised me most about the original trilogy:

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Last night I went to see the new star wars movie!

This is the first star wars movie I have ever seen in my life. All my prior knowledge is cultural osmosis. And I have apparently osmosed a lot! I managed to catch quite a few call-backs/references to the previous movies, though I'm sure there are also plenty that I missed. The weirdest part though was how I had these intense feelings of nostalgia as the movie was beginning despite having never seen any star wars before.

At any rate: as a movie it worked quite well with solely my level of prior knowledge! And it was a HELLA FUN MOVIE.

cut for spoilersCollapse )

In conclusion, I feel weird about having seen a star wars movie now. I've always been annoyed with sff gatekeeper fans, and star wars is one of those major things that's held up as being obligatory for nerds. And I tend towards contrarian, so I've actually been kind of deliberate about not bothering to watch star wars? Like, SUCK IT DUDES, I'M AN SFF FAN EVEN IF YOU THINK I DON'T BELONG. (see also: me never having read or watched lord of the rings. see also: my lifelong struggle with being weird/wanting to fit in/defiantly not even trying to fit in because I know I'd never succeed, and how that relates to whether it's okay to like popular things.)

But now I've voluntarily seen a star wars movie, and LIKED it, and now have intentions of going back and watching at least the original trilogy. So. There's that.

Time to dive face-first into reading fic now!

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I had a lot of feels, reading this book. I'm not good at feelings so I have no idea WHAT my feels were but I definitely had them. I spent a reasonable portion of the book in tears, but I think in a good way? It's just so - ....reading an entire book by and about two people whose identities don't fit in the gender binary was a really affirming experience, I think. It's like, my experience doesn't exactly line up with either of these two people but it's SO MUCH CLOSER than any other published works I've read in my life. Also Rae and Ivan are both very good writers/storytellers so it was a very good book as well as being a very personally-relevant book. I liked it a LOT.

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A reread! Because I couldn't not after watching the movie. (Can you tell how far behind I am in posting my book thoughts?) I still love the unrepentant nerdiness at the level of science detail going on in this book. And the amount of things that can/do go wrong! It made me realize JUST HOW MUCH the movie had abbreviated Watney's problems.

But I was also reminded of just how little depth there really is to any of the characterization. And the writing quality stood out to me more this time as being... mm, not exactly the work of an experienced writer. It gets away with this in Watney's logs, but the narrative parts back on Earth (and the Hermes and so forth) are a bit more unfelicitous.

But oh well I LOVE IT ANYWAY it's charming and suuuuuper nerdy and that's enough to make me happy apparently.

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12th-Dec-2015 04:53 pm - gpoy [me: my life]
Combeferre
My new glasses signal "queer nerd" much more strongly than my old ones did. I am pleased.

photo of me behind cutCollapse )

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Combeferre
I recently decided to start going through my pinboard and labelling fics according to ship type: gen, het, dudeslash, femslash, multi, poly, and other. And all of a sudden I am reminded why I haven't tried to do this before: because for some ships it involves gendering a character whose gender identity is not definitively stated in canon. For example: what gender is Albert of the film Albert Nobbs? I don't feel like I have any right to decide what gender Albert really identifies with! (...especially since I haven't seen the movie in question and am going solely by the wiki article and the fic I once read.) And other doesn't feel right either because what if Albert does identify as a gender that would then cause the ship to be categorized straightforwardly as het or femslash? I've had to create a ??? category, which feels like an annoyingly unbounded category.

(the "other" category: probably for anthropomorfic and genderqueer characters, mostly. Or does a ship still count as het if one of them's a dinosaur, or does that make it other?)

At any rate: I still have a long way to go with doing these pinboard edits. And once I've finished tagging all the shipfics, getting all the genfics will be really tedious because I won't be able to do things like go to the "arthur/eames" tag and mass add "dudeslash" as a tag to all hundreds of fics at one go. I will have to go through all my fics one by one to see which are gen. Ahahaha why do I do this to myself.

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7th-Dec-2015 05:54 pm - Swing Time [post type: movie reaction]
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Yesterday I watched a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers picture - I don't think I've ever actually seen one of them before, though I've certainly watched clips of them dancing on youtube. The movie was called Swing Time and it was.....well, the dancing and singing was great.

I watched this movie with a friend who dances, and it was really cool to hear her rave over HOW GOOD Astaire and Rogers are. She knows enough about dancing to be able to see how hard they've worked to be really great at it, whereas I know nothing and am just like "yup, pretty" when I see their dancing. It rather makes me wish I knew more about dancing to be able to appreciate them the way they deserve!

The plot was rather less great. And there was surprise blackface urghhhhh. The character Astaire plays is a rather thorough asshole and I was really not a fan of him, and his friend Pop is even worse. Mabel Anderson was probably my fave character in the movie, except for how she kept on being randomly shoved together with Pop.

The one scene I genuinely enjoyed, other than the dancing/singing bits, was the one where brief spoilersCollapse )

At any rate: would definitely watch more dancing movies!

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22nd-Nov-2015 02:21 pm - Labyrinth [post type: movie reaction]
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I have finally seen the cultural phenomenon that is Labyrinth! Thank you to housemate E for watching it with me because otherwise who knows how long it would have taken me to getting around to watching it. It was....you know, pretty much what tumblr had led me to expect, yup. Very 80's, very weird, very compelling.

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The full title of the book doesn't fit in the post title section - the complete title is "How to Shit Around the World: The Art of Staying Clean and Healthy While Traveling".

Someone loaned me this book, so I read it. It's fine? Covers pretty much what it needs to cover. I already knew basically everything important from this book though, mostly either from personal travel experience, my parents' sharing of their travel experiences, fascinated poring over of "Where There Is No Doctor" when I was a kid, and reading "How to Shit in the Woods" when I was a teenager. But I kinda figured going in that I was not the target audience so that's not a surprise.

I'm not a fan of how the overall image you get from reading this book is that the developing world is full of nothing but terribly unhygienic people. Also it was weirdly anti birth control pills. Like, overall definitely pro birth control? but it had a lot to say about birth control pills in particular being unreliable and more trouble than they're worth.

At any rate, overall the book does certainly have useful information for new travelers who are not used to having to think about food and water safety and haven't yet learned about what one can expect from bathrooms in other parts of the world.

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