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Sunday, January 24, 2021

DREAM: Bird Spiders - 2019/01/24

So, I don't remember
much of the dream now,
but there were bird spiders
who were frozen
and when they unthawed
and came back to life.

They had the heads of birds
and the bodies
of spiders with spindly legs.
My dream cat could eat them
without much difficulty,
if he could catch them.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

DREAM: Shapeshifter - 2020-01-20 (2 of 2)

I was a shapeshifter.

I went to a carnival act and it was presented by shapeshifters. There were three shapeshifters presenting prominently.

There was the leader who was dark-haired as a human, kind of a weasely face. A blonde fellow, looked late teens. Kind of like Rocky from Rocky Horror Picture Show, but he wore clothes. I didn't speak to him at all, he was just ways there.

The woman looked a bit like Salma Hayek.

Of course, I developed a crush on her.

I watched the show, then afterwards tried to talk with them. Weasel guy was very rude, but Salma and I went and hung out for a while.

After that, Weasel guy was very standoffish and argumentative, but not violent. I tried to keep seeing Salma at their shows, but he forbid it.

I didn't understand the problem.

I ended up sneaking into their house and walking around looking for them.

I wound up meeting Weasel, face to face, not explaining why I was in the house, but instead trying to get him to calm down about me, saying I was not a threat to him.

"We are in different leagues, neither is better than the other, they are just different. I am not a threat to you."

He kept yelling at me to get out and something else that I can't remember and that he didn't want me to be around at all.

Friend 1: I think the blonde shapeshifter represents a part of you that you need to remember to nurture (the baby from the previous dream grown up a bit). Don't forget who you are and to take care of yourself while you learn to interpret the ever changing, exotic people and surroundings you are currently in. ❤

DREAM: Baby - 2020-01-20 (1 of 2)

Someone gave me a baby to look after.

I was looking after the baby in my sister's house. The baby was white, blonde and his face was very animated.

The baby was cute, but had a problem with peeing. I held the baby close until I felt something wet and realized he peed. No one gave me any diapers so I had to carry the baby around looking for diapers.

I put the baby down at some point because I was hunting for diapers. I found diapers, but they may have been too small.

I heard whimpering and I turned back to see the baby peeing on his own face.

At first, I just watched the urine make designs on the baby's face, but then I put the diaper over him.

The designs stayed on the face, so I moved the baby to the bathtub to wash him off.

I filled the water pretty full (fuller than what is considered safe), and he sat up watching me grab a rag.

I used the water with the rag to clean his face.

Friend 1: My take is that you may have forgotten or overlooked something important and now it's gonna take more effort to fix.

Or it could be something you have assigned a huge importance to in your life really isn't a big deal and ya should treat it like a dog would.. Play with it, eat it, or piss on it and walk away.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

What’s been going on the past couple days/weeks/months/years – TMI warning

This story contains gross stuff, read at your own risk.
This is also a first draft and I'll probably not fix anything that isn't glaringly atrocious.

Before I begin, it should be noted that I was diagnosed diabetic in 2016.

Before this diagnosis, I was falling asleep while driving, also while at work (during working hours, not just during lunch breaks). I would fall asleep after eating meals too large and too full of simple carbs and sugars. I come from a family with a predisposition towards diabetes, but I resisted diagnosis largely because of money concerns and fear.

I took a trip to the 2016 National Poetry Slam and through the week I felt progressively weaker and misdiagnosed myself, thinking that caffeine would help me, but drank overly sugary drinks and pissed far too much as well as started falling asleep on the 10ish hour drive home.

Once I was diagnosed, I took sugar seriously. My highest sugar was 350. I was prescribed metformin and I also implemented cinnamon as a natural blood sugar regulator as well as other methods to bring my sugar down naturally. I also took on a low carb diet with increased exercise. Within 18 months (January 2018), my blood sugar was in normal ratios. My A1C was in healthy ranges not only for diabetics, but for “normal” folk.

Also, it should be noted, the metformin possibly started causing me lower digestive problems which may have increased a hemorrhoid problem which became prevalent in my last six months in the US (that and I used to spend an inordinate amount of time sitting on the toilet whether I was shitting or not). There was blood towards the end, but not a lot.

Now to today… well… January 2021.

I kept up with low carb until I came to China. When I came here I wanted to indulge. I wanted to taste everything China had to offer and for a while I was fine. I was exercising fairly regularly. I thought I would be fine.

The hemorrhoid issue never really went away, but it did die down a bit at first. Then it came back with more blood than before, around January 2020 (just before Skylark came to visit me). I saw a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) doctor for a remedy which worked pretty well at first.

I finished the medicine and I thought that would be it. But a couple months after, the blood and discomfort returned. This time the TCM treatment was not as effective. I knew something had to change. I tried a change in eating habits, but it was too far gone and there frequently was blood in my stool or on the paper when I wiped. I tried to increase my exercise, even exercises specifically targeted to the lower digestive tract, but there was only temporary and limited success.

Finally, after some grunting and straining, there was a great deal of blood in a bowel movement and I had to contact my boss and let him know I wanted to get checked out. In October 2020, I went to the doctor for a check up and they confirmed, not only that it was hemorrhoids, but that surgery was the only option for it to be healed completely.

I started making mental and fiscal preparations to afford an expensive surgery that would happen over the winter vacation (January 2021). The bleeding got so bad at one point that I had to cancel a trip I’d booked for Wuhan (they were a safe zone from COVID by then).

The Fall 2020 semester was kind of stressful for reasons I won’t get into here (but maybe later). I tried to keep a positive attitude. Unfortunately, the way I did that was comfort feeding. Yeah, this meant a lot of carb foods to “make me happy.” I tried to offset this with drinking diet soda, thinking the caffeine and lack of sugar would help keep a balance.

Unfortunately, I started getting dizzy whenever I would stand up or change positions. I don’t know if it was related to blood loss from the hemorrhoids or the aspartame in the sodas, but I needed to make a change. I switched from the sodas to bottled tea with not a great deal of sugar, but not zero sugar. I also started allowing myself to drink fruit juices, which on the surface seem healthier… but they (more often than not) are also packed with sugar.

I started becoming more and more lethargic. I attributed this to depression and stress. My toilet started smelling sickly sweet. I started feeling thirsty constantly. My mouth felt dry all the time, unless I had something in my mouth to make my saliva work. I was drinking a lot to counteract the dryness and thirst and it wasn’t working, but I WAS peeing a lot. Thankfully there were no long drives to make it through.

At last, the end of the semester came. My exhausted self was finally ready to be rid of the hemorrhoid problem. I had the money to pay for the surgery. The process began with a health check. Everything scanned normal until they took blood.

It was intended that I would stay in the hospital for 7-10 days to recover from the surgery, but I ended up staying in the hospital for two days and one night to try to treat the high blood sugar. I realized that I wasn’t going to get the surgery and it was just going to cost me so much more than the initial surgery, so I opted to treat it at home.

When I was first diagnosed diabetic, my body was ALL fucked up. I had been so bad off that my kidneys were actually damaged and spilling protein (I don’t know if they were spilling it, but that’s how my Doc made it seem). Kidney damage is no joke, it can actually be fatal. When I started getting my shit together (and proper meds) I was able to repair the kidneys over time.

This time, thankfully, there was no damage to my kidneys and all of my other metrics were normal, this time it was just my blood sugar and A1C were too high. FAR too high. My high before was 350. China measures blood sugar differently, but the conversion was 428 (it actually ended up going higher during my hospital stay, but I don't count that, I'm not sure the doctors knew what to do with actual diabetes, they were suggesting I eat rice and bread).

If you didn’t know, if you have surgery with high blood sugar it can lead to blood clots which can be dangerous, even fatal. No way I want to die from complications related to hemorrhoids. So the surgery had to be postponed due to my high blood sugar.

When I realized this, I felt ashamed. I thought I was doing okay. I didn’t feel like my sugar was out of whack, but I realized after I thought about it (and as I type this), the lethargy, the thirst, the dehydration it all makes sense.

So, I have to get myself back on track. I can still indulge in the Chinese cuisine, I just have to make sure I avoid simple carbs (rice, noodles, a lot of snack foods) or if I do have these things, I have to eat them in small, easily manageable quantities.

It’ll be a little harder to do here because Chinese nutrition charts are… you know… in Chinese. Also, they determine the daily values of things by 100 grams or liters so I’ll have to do the math myself. Thankfully, I’m good enough at math (for a poet) that I can figure these things out easily enough.

So this is me, standing against the wave of diabetes with a low carb diet in one hand and hemorrhoid symptom treatments in the other about to wage war with myself, again. I’ve got to stay focused and disciplined. I know I can get myself back under control. I can do it! I can win!

Thanks for reading!
Azriel Johnson

PS – If you’re facing similar or not similar challenges and want someone to talk to, feel free to contact me on social media.
Twitter: @AzrielJohnson
Instagram: @azrieltobiasjohnson

Saturday, November 28, 2020

RIP Azriel Johnson on Facebook 2008-2020

*Note - I'm angry, so if I type badly or make typos, I apologize. This will likely be ranty and maybe even long. I'll try to be entertaining and engaging.*

I started using Facebook back when it was still called "thefacebook." I just looked up the date... it was in 2005... the times are sketchy in my head. I don't remember a lot of the 00s, haha.

It was the upstart, right? Myspace was king and all that.
I had an OpenDiary (I even paid for that for a year, I think... before that it was FreeOpenDiary) which still exists by the way. I never really got into LiveJournal (also still exists), I tried, but I never got the kind of traction on LJ as I did with OD.

DeadJournal... I considered it, but it seemed a little hokey and I was already immersed in early social media.

I've spent all goddamned day fussing over this. That's what happens when I get angry. I hyper-fixate. I actually meant to do something today. I was going to write, work on stuff for classes... instead I've spent the whole day trying to get a hold of someone from Facebook to hopefully resolve this issue.

I understand Facebook's point. They want to protect people who bully others. If someone says bullying things to people or threatens violence, I absolutely understand making them verify their account to stop that sort of behavior... but I'm not a keyboard warrior. I barely post anymore as it is. I frequent one group of writers and I post on my own wall, but I try to stay pretty positive.

The AI on Facebook is infuriatingly bad! Facebook NEEDS to have human reviewers to turn accounts back on when they are wrongly disabled. Facebook NEEDS to turn off the AI that is turning off accounts wrongfully in the first place. Facebook NEEDS to stop requiring legal names to have an account.

Assholes that are posting racist/homophobic/transphobic/xenophobic remarks and comments need to be banned, not people who are just living their lives, trying to stay in contact with their families.

If you all remember, Facebook is the main way I (in China) stay in contact with my family (in the US). 

I think mostly I feel pissed off because I have a lot of China videos on my Facebook that I have been meaning to download from there and post on my Youtube, but I've been been knackered lately so I haven't done it.

I sent some emails, I submitted some forms. I hope I get my account back long enough to download my videos, but I'm done with facebook. If I do get my account back, I'll get my videos from there, the statuses I want to keep and save them offline. I thought I had the videos on my computer or phone, but they are all gone and I don't know where... so I'm pissed about that.

If my reinstatement campaign works, I'll make a post on how I did it.

Until then, I'll be on Twitter (@AzrielJohnson) and Youtube (just search for Azriel Johnson, there are only a couple of us).



Friday, October 23, 2020

PAST POST: Gender Division in Sports

Click to Enlarge
Original Post: In combat sports, I think there should still be men's and women's divisions. But I also think there should be an intergender (or maybe omnigender or pangender) division per weight class. There is no reason for any sport/activity that doesn't involve physical harm that there shouldn't be a catchall division open to men, women and everyone else in between.

(image here)

Friend 1: I regularly beat men who are larger than I am in fencing. I have beaten three men at once, in HEMA-style fencing. Gender divisions in everything except maaaaaybe weight lifting (and even those are nullified if there are weight classes) are sexist stupidity designed to cosset male fragility.

          Me: I want this to be correct. I would even be willing to see an
          experiment and be proven wrong.

          Me: Not just one woman out of 100, but consistently.

          Friend 1: I'm sorry man, but you are ignoring a hell of a lot of
          evidence. I can find videos of my wins, but look at the evidence
          already available in terms of times and results from gender segregated
          competitions. The male and female numbers consistently match up. Races
          are the easiest to measure, of course, because they're based on plain
          speed. But the fact that you are questioning this is, in itself,
          evidence of ingrained sexism.

          Me: Races, definitely. Swimming, women do better than men consistently.
          I am talking about things like MMA and boxing where people are
          legitimately trying to hurt one another.
          And like I said, I would be interested to see a practical application
          and be proved wrong.

          Friend 1: Only way to do that is to do it, and it will never happen if
          men refuse to allow women to compete with them until they see 'proof'
          that they can keep up. But you should really talk to Matt about this
          because he's seen plenty of women kicking experienced male ass in Judo.

          Me: I want to see it. Trouble is, I am not an MMA/Boxing gatekeeper.

          Me: Every new venture needs proof of concept. This would be a business
          risk. I think people would come out for it. People in the MMA community
          probably want something like this to be available, because they
          have seen it. Ronda Rousey trained with men because there were no women
          on her level (at one time). The more public outcry we get the more
          likely something like this can happen.

Friend 2: We need to figure this out, in part because there should be no reason that trans athletes are forced off gendered teams.

Friend 3:

I thought about the NBA and MLB and how the play styles are different that it makes sense to have women’s leagues, but allow women to play in men’s leagues

Friend 4: I've seen this debate floating around in other circles of the internet as well. It seems that this issue is definitely complicated, and it is unlikely to come to a conclusion that everyone can feel good about. Trans people deserve to feel included and a part of normal, everyday society. Cisgender people deserve to feel like they are permitted to compete under fair circumstances. I would be interested to find more research and statistics on the actual differences between biological females and males in various sports both in comparison to the top athletes in their field, as well as the average athlete in a high school and collegiate setting.

Friend 5: In the US gendered sports divisions are largely results of Title VII of the civil Rights act which mandated schools support sports for both males and females "equally.". Prior to this most schools just didn't let girls compete in sports at all ... Without Title VII patriarchal forces would probably collapse almost all women's sporting, in the USA. There'd be some kind of feeder system for Olympic events, and a lot of for fun leagues, like Roller Derby and Softball and bowling and what not, but HS and colleges would race to covertly defund lots of women's sports, sigh ...

Friend 6: There's been a real push on the Indy circuit to make pro wrestling gender neutral. Part of that is because there's still a serious disproportion in the number of women wrestlers compared to men. You can see that in WWE, even now, where the women feel like they're fighting the same five people for years at a time. The other is based on the idea that wrestling isn't a sport in the strictest sense. The idea that whatever potential percieved risks to women in intergender competition is mitigated by the fact that performers are cooperating with one another rather than competing with them.

I don't feel that intergender competition is a problem, but I can see it needing to be its own division or its own league. I don't see compulsory intergender competition being well received by anyone.

However, it would open up doors for women to thrive in sports where no women's league/division exists.

Friend 6: I also feel that the whole trans athlete argument is a red herring, meant to distract us from the discussion we really should be having about gender neutrality in sports. Transphobes want talking points to support their bad takes on gender and lean on stereotypes rather than recognizing that there is no "right way" to be a gender.

          Friend 2: 🤔 If I fed into that, I apologize. I brought it up because I
          had recently listened to the experience of a trans friend being kicked
          off a gendered team, not by the players or coaches, but by higher ups.

          Friend 6: I was speaking more as a society in general.
          The discussion goes to whether or not trans folk should compete as
          their gender, not realizing that this conversation is inevitably going
          to force to examine gender specific sports overall. Like focusing on
          the symptoms rather than the sickness.

Friend 7: Sports is pretty much bullshit anyway for the most part, and I say that as someone who has three medals that I received for athletic achievements.

          Friend 6: thus, why I follow a farce of a sport that
          was originally meant to be a scam to increase attendance and milk more
          money from the public.

          Friend 7: The other day I was at an open mic that allows all kinds of
          performers, and one of them was an old-timey strongman who did things
          like bending horseshoes and ripping up phone books. The whole bar paid
          more attention to him than anyone else who performed. I saw that and I
          was like "This is true athleticism. Just a guy showing off what his
          body can do." And then I told him that I want to be him someday.

          Friend 5: Meh, I guess I think it's good to let people
          geek out about what they want to. If people wanna do competitive
          fencing, or Mario world speed runs, or volleyball, or watch folks play
          basketball or whatever, I think we can allow enjoyment without needing
          to call bullshit. But we can get a a bit more attacky when the funding
          gets dodgy (public funding of stadiums, or high school atheltics vs
          academics, or people of color sustaining numerous concussions for the
          profits of their billionaire team owners, etc.). It's be nice if we
          could let people enjoy their entertainment without all the BS of
          patriarchy and capitalism, and such intruding, but oh well ...

          Friend 7: I guess I could pick my words better.

          I meant bullshit as in silly and arbitrary and ultimately made up, not
          as in unimportant. That's just it: its importance is not inherent, but
          made by the fact that people care about it.

          Hence when people think that the rules are hard and fast and natural,
          that's what I call bullshit.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Week 1 - Day 4 - Island Walk (27 photos)

Contact and I went for an explore of the lakeshore. They took me to an island which used to house a 1930s, pre revolution mansion. I kind of imagined it as Papa John's mansion might have been if it was back in that time. The inequality was bad.
(click a photo to enlarge and click through the series)

Friday, July 31, 2020

PAST POST: Super Power with a Sacrifice - 2019-07-29

To acquire a superpower you give up something you love.
What is the ability?
What do you give up?

Friend 1: Hmmm. I truly can’t think of anything in either category.
This might be why I’m in therapy? Lol

Friend 2: I will trade my bf for the ability to conjure anything I
          Friend 3: would there be the loop hole that you could
          conjure your BF back
          Friend 2: hmm....maybe he does make good coffee lol

Friend 4: My most desired special ability heal myself? Giving up a chance at a “normal” life.

Friend 5: 1 single person has not 1 ability but many
          Me: special ability, like a super power.
          Friend 5: I see each power as an individual

Friend 6: What if I want to give up one of my abilities to keep/protect something I love?
Because I'd give up a limb or my sight if it meant my family would be safe from poverty or violence.
          Me: Interesting turn. That might be tomorrow's question.
          Friend 6: Okay came up with an answer to the original question. I'd want
          the ability to teleport (and bring other things/people with me) and I'd
          give up any 1 of my favorite pieces of media (as in, it's erased from the
          world and my memory).

Friend 7: I’d trade the ability to turn a little into a lot, in exchange for everyone having exactly what they need.
          Me: wait, what?
          Friend 7: Instead of solidarity being necessary, equity would already be everywhere.

Friend 8: I'd give up the ability to fly in order to have (husband)

Me: Edit for clarification of the question.

Friend 9: Ice cream.

Friend 10: Give up something I love??? Love how much? 😃
          Me: enough that you would say honestly
          that you live the person/place/thing

Friend 11: To love. My left hand.

Friend 12: I want the ability to speak with animals. I would give up... almost everything. Maybe not my job or my home.

Friend 13: Perfect instant proofreading skills, for which I would give up dark chocolate

Friend 14: The ability to stop (and re-start) time. Give up my sweet little house here. I mean, I just rent, but I'm hoping I won't have to move! Unless, of course that time thing works out for me, I love ~sigh~

Friend 15: Well that only means giving up food that I love to eat. Not happening. Time travel

Friend 16: Super Power - Ability to teleport wherever I need to go. Give up - Listening to podcasts and audio books

Friend 17: always knowing the best thing to do in any situation - for which i would give up music during cleaning.

Friend 18: Telepathy/Give up least the annoying voices in my head would be other people and not STACKED neuroses.
          Me: that sounds like a good trade.

Friend 19: Telekinesis..watermelon flovored candy..sshh..i hate that shit..only watermelon is watermelon.