passerine: Picture of Sparrow from Dykes to Watch For (Default)
[personal profile] passerine
[Admin post current as of April 9, 2009]

Basic demographic info: I am 31 years old, female, bisexual (and reasonably open about this), married (to [personal profile] invisionary) and the mother of two girls. As of this writing, they are 3 1/2 years old and 5 months old. I am white, but apparently my facial features occasionally led people to mistake me for Asian back in my goth, black-dyed-hair days. My ethnic background is predominantly Polish, with some Ukranian and various other Slavic thrown in as well. My family of origin is Catholic (some more observant than others) and I identify with the cultural traditions if no longer with the faith itself. I was raised in a very small town, and hated it. I am more comfortable in medium-to-large cities, but my current circumstances have led me to living in Cohoes, one of the "small cities" of New York State's Capital Region.

What I do: I work for the state Office of Children and Family Services. I have one of those strange titles that isn't terribly informative about What I Do All Day, but I am part of a team that has fiscal (and some programmatic) oversight responsibilities for adoption agencies, domestic violence shelters and programs, foster care programs, the residential portion of Special Act Schools, runaway/homeless youth shelters, Supervised Independent Living Programs for youth who will age out of foster care soon, etc.

I also am a joint MSW/PhD student at the University of Albany's School of Social Welfare. So far, I'm enjoying the program very much.

As mentioned, I have two girls. [personal profile] invisionary is their primary caregiver, and working towards a social work degree himself. It's the family trade, I guess. (That's part of the origin of this username - "passerine" is the Latin classification for sparrows and other "songbirds", and [personal profile] invisionary and I are an awful lot like Sparrow and Stuart in the Dykes to Watch Out For comics.)

I am somewhat active in the Society for Creative Anachronism. For many years, I was a chirurgeon (health and safety officer) and occasional security staff person. I am also interested in dancing and cooking, in particular, and in researching medieval herbal medicine.

A bit about me and religion: As mentioned previously, I was raised Catholic, though fairly loosely. While I identified as Catholic, I was probably more observant than my parents. My religious identification has evolved from Catholic, to Episcopal, to "generic Christian", to "generic Pagan", to ADF Druid, to Unitarian Universalist, and has finally settled as Quaker.

My personal beliefs are, basically, pantheist - I see "That of God" within everyone and everything, or at least make a sincere effort to. I also find that Isaac Bonewits' concept of the Switchboard makes sense to me. I also see religion as an attempt to answer two questions: "How did we get here?" and, "What should we do now that we're here?" I prefer faiths that place more emphasis on the second question.

Although these experiences are not my own, people close to me have been damaged by religiously-motivated abuse, usually of the Dominionist/Christian Reconstructionist variety. I believe that this particular set of allegedly-Christian cults is extremely dangerous, especially to the safety and well-being of the children unfortunate enough to be raised in families that subscribe to these beliefs. I will be posting about this quite a bit, since it is a major research and activism focus for me. I try to be cautious with my language so that when I discuss this topic, I make it clear that I am not referring to all Christians, or even to relatively conservative Christians (including some who might call themselves fundamentalist or evangelical). However, the issue makes me so angry that sometimes I am not as careful as I should be. I am working on this.

A bit about me and education: I was a bright kid (taught myself to read at the age of two), but clumsy and awkward physically, and various educational settings didn't know what to do with me. I went to a private (and horrible) Montessori school, a Catholic school, and a public school at different points in my childhood. I was also homeschooled for four years. I began college two months before my 14th birthday via the early-admissions program known as the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted at Mary Baldwin College. After two years there, I transferred to SUNY Geneseo. I finished my undergraduate program at 19, with a major in communication. I toyed with the idea of going on to graduate school for a while, and finally looked at it more seriously in late 2004. I completed my Masters in Public Administration in 2006, and am a member of Pi Alpha Alpha, the honor society for public administration/public policy students. THEN I discovered the concept of macro-practice social work and realized, "Oh, THAT was what I wanted when I went for my MPA!"

A little bit about my health: I was given a diagnosis of "possible mild cerebral palsy" when I was not quite four. I think that the more accurate technical term would be dyspraxia, though I have it in a very mild form. Essentially, sometimes my brain and body miscommunicate and some part or all of a physical "instruction" ends up reversed. This is particularly problematic when I am either under stress or learning a new physical activity. I was hit by a car and broke my right tibia just above my ankle when I was 14, severely sprained the same ankle at 19, and it has "never been right" since. Pain and loss of function related to this do create limitations on how much of what activities I can do. I also have mild-to-moderate panic/anxiety issues, many of them centered around cars and traffic.

Politics: I was a registered Green for several years, and voted for Ralph Nader in 1996 and 2000. I re-registered with the Democratic Party in 2004, after realizing that in my particular corner of the world the Democratic Party primary is often the real race. [personal profile] invisionary and I were somewhat active in Howard Dean's 2004 campaign, and the good Doctor is high up there on the list of People I Admire. I like and admire our current President, though I don't always agree with him.

I'm going to list some things now that may be expanded into posts or explored further in comments if readers wish:

- I am pro-reproductive-choice (which encompasses many more issues than abortion and birth control).
- I support same-sex marriage. (Aside for pet peeve: I don't much care for the term "gay marriage". I am bisexual. I might have married a woman. I would still be bisexual, not gay.) However, I consider civil unions/domestic partnerships acceptable as a step in the right direction, because the rights are more important than the name. I was unfortunately very close to a situation in which the lack of these rights made an already tragic situation - the unexpected death of a dear friend - much worse for her surviving partner.
- I have mixed feelings about the death penalty in theory. I am strongly against it in practice.
- Likewise, I have mixed feelings about gun control. I agree with Howard Dean that we need to make sure we're talking about the same thing when we talk about it, because there really is a lack of cultural understanding involved in this issue.
- I support the legalization of marijuana and the decriminalization of possession of controlled substances. I consider addiction primarily a public health problem rather than a criminal problem, and I think we could learn a lot from Rat Park. I am particularly interested in seeing marijuana legalized becuase of the many applications of industrial hemp.
- I'm not so fond of the "OMG OBESITY!" hysteria that is going on right now. I'm fat, and have been fat for most of my adult life, though not always this fat. I am choosing to lose some weight right now because after a certain point, my weight interferes with my overall well-being. However, my personal goal weight is the weight that I felt the healthiest at in my adult life - which is still somewhere between 40 and 60 pounds more than I "should" weigh. I'll also add that at a "healthy" 24-25 BMI, [personal profile] invisionary looks like a starving stray kitten.
- I have a lot of ideas about social problems, though I try very hard to avoid the "simple, neat and wrong" approach to solutions. I realize that while a particular solution might be the right one for most of the affected population, there will be some people for whom that solution will be Exactly The Wrong Approach.

I feel like I should be saying more, but this is a start. Feel free to ask questions. Anon comments screened - they will be unscreened if they are constructive in nature and signed with some sort of distinguishing alias.
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passerine: Picture of Sparrow from Dykes to Watch For (Default)
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