Sunday, January 21, 2018

Personal Digest Saturday (but posted on Sunday!): January 13 – January 19

Life news this week:
  • Saturday I woke up late and made a 7UP cake before Meghan arrived to hang out with me for our birthday week! We made another cake together, but it was really brownies: layers of love brownies, which include white chocolate chips and caramel sauce. Then our party guests arrived over the next hour or so, bringing potluck items. The party was attended by our friends Victor, Jeaux, Joy, Kari, Yasmin, Arthur, Ralph, Derek, and Rachel. Mostly we just ate, opened our presents, and talked about nerd stuff, and then when the crowd thinned out a bit, some of us played Cards Against Humanity until 4 AM.
  • Sunday we stayed at home, cleaned up stuff after the party, and ate our leftovers. I did some laundry and Meg and I talked about family drama, of which she was having a fair amount while out of town. We watched the movie Guardians of the Galaxy and I began to draw her a picture of some Steven Universe characters as a gift.
  • Monday was the beginning of my mini-vacation from work. Meggie and I made waffles and ate them, and then we went to a special bakery and got cookies and also ingredients to make snack sushi. We made our food, ate it while bumming around about more drama, and watched the silly Captain Underpants movie. I drew more of the picture.
  • Tuesday we had cake for breakfast and went out to see the movie Coco in the theater. Meg had promised it was good, and she was right! We went to a Japanese restaurant after and ate some good food there, and then we went home, and watched an episode of one of Meg's favorite shows: The Great British Bake-Off. I finished drawing the picture that night.
  • Wednesday I turned FORTY!! Meg and I spent the morning together, and after she left I checked in with my mom and looked at my family's birthday gift options (they're getting me an outdoor table set, which is something I wanted but put off buying!). Jeaux picked me up later and we ate at IHOP (I had birthday pancakes), and we watched the movie Zootopia and after he left I tried to update a bunch of stuff I document.
  • Thursday I had to go back to work and it was too cold to ride the bus so I got a paid ride, but it wasn't bad. Work was slower than I expected and I didn't have much to catch up on, but I did what I needed to. I also began working on updating my Tumblr links page that died a while back for some reason. That night Victor called me while I drew webcomics.
  • Friday was kind of busy at the office and I made a bunch of business cards, brochures, and PowerPoint presentations. Meggie's 42nd birthday happened and she still hasn't been having a great time. After work I drew the rest of my comic and tried to relax. Didn't work so well. :P
Reading progress:
    New singing performances:

    This week's song was "Tom's Diner" by Suzanne Vega.

    New drawings: 

    My giant 17 x 14 poster of Steven Universe characters drawn for Meg's birthday.

    Webcomic Negative One Issue 0662: "Objective."

    New videos:

    Nothing this time! Sorry, I'll get on it soon!

    New photos:

    Meggie and I were making Layers of Love brownies for our birthday party.
    Birthday cakes for Meggie and me: One 7UP cake, one Layers of Love brownies.
    A quick candid shot of some of the guests at my fortieth birthday party.
    Presents brought to my fortieth birthday party for Meggie and me.
    Meggie and me opening our presents.
    Me opening some of my presents.
    Meggie and me opening our presents.
    I got a yodeling pickle as a birthday present.
    Meggie got a Mojo Jojo Pop toy for a birthday present.
    I got a Rocket backpack as a present.
    Meggie got a Doctor Who police box standup as a birthday present.
    Meggie got a Journal 3 book as a birthday present.
    Meggie's homemade sushi.
    My homemade sushi.
    Jeaux took me to IHOP on my birthday and I got confetti pancakes.

    Social Media Counts:

    YouTube subscribers: 5,274 for swankivy (4 new), 657 for JulieSondra (4 new). Twitter followers: 902 for swankivy (lost 3), 1,325 for JulieSondra (lost 3). Facebook: 297 friends (1 new--friended Arthur) and 202 followers (1 new) for swankivy, 658 likes for JulieSondra (no change), 55 likes for Negative One (no change), 125 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,489 (lost 1). Instagram followers: 133 (2 new).

    Thursday, January 18, 2018

    I'm forty!

    It probably doesn’t surprise too many people that I am not at all hung up about turning forty, considering age is a kind of an arbitrary measurement and the associated expectations have rarely had much impact on my life. But here’s something relevant:

    There's this thing called the “unassailable asexual” phenomenon. It refers to how there are different aspects of a person's demographics that make them more likely or less likely to be dismissed as having an inauthentic "reason" for being asexual, and there is one set of traits that is said to be the closest to "ideal"--if you hit all of the "ideal" traits, you're much less likely to be told you identify as asexual for a false reason, and you're more likely to be believed as having a valid identity. People in this ideal pocket are said to be better spokespeople for the orientation because skeptics are less likely to write them off as, say, having a disorder, suffering from trauma, being antisocial, being too ugly to get a date, etc. And it is of course completely crap because a) there is no "perfect" asexual who will be believed in every instance, and b) placing some asexual people on a pedestal increases the likelihood that asexuality will be accepted ONLY if there's simply nothing else you could "blame" their orientation on--only as a last resort.

    Yeah, it's crap.

    Anyway, the "unassailable asexual" is often said to be between the ages of 20 and 40. In other words, if you’re younger than twenty people will blame your asexuality on the expected identity issues and immaturity associated with being too young, and if you’re older than forty people will consider your asexuality a natural function of being too old.

    Guys!!! I’m “too old”! FINALLY! Yessss!

    Let’s be real for a second and remember that no matter WHAT age you are, invalidation for asexual people and aromantic people is around every corner. No matter how supposedly unassailable you are, people will, um, assail. Even if there’s not something obvious to “blame” it on, detractors will pull out their pet theory and assign it to you, whether that’s an assumption of suppressed abuse, a case of hidden homosexuality, or a pervasive desire to “get attention” and “be different.” Isn’t that right, my fellow snowflakes? They know better than we do, and we should really stop trying to be so special. It earns us all kinds of positive attention, after all!

    But anyway, yeah, here I am at forty, that age where people (especially women, let’s not lie) begin to be processed as hardcore failures if they’re not married or partnered. (Actually, I’ve seen that for thirty, too, but I think forty is the new thirty these days.) And I gotta say.

    I can’t WAIT to be processed as a failure of an old lady.

    It’s at least a change of scene, you know? After all these years of having smug jackasses insist that I’ll spin on a dime WHEN I fall in love pretty soon, and all these years of dealing with science bros explaining that my biological clock WILL kick in and I’ll be forced to throw myself at a man, and all these years of being told one day I will “mature” and realize asexuality was a phase and a fake all along . . . I’m finally going to deal with the other side of the coin: the jerks who will tell me I must have tried and failed to get a mate in my youth, or that my asexuality is a function of a declining sex drive (lol), or that my aromanticism is based on a terrible feminism-poisoned lie that women should be ~independent~, or that they picture me crying myself to sleep in bed alone wiping my tears on my cats.

    They sure are nice people, aren’t they. Always gloating over my imagined misery.
    All because they can’t imagine that I could be happy this way.

    (Not to mention that if I were not happy, it would be disgusting of them to feel satisfied by that.)

    I think in truth it won’t be much different—setting aside that of course people won’t be able to TELL I’m past forty for a while (so I’ll still get treated like I’m younger), there’s also the fact that in practical terms “oh you poor thing, didn’t catch a mate while you still could attract one” will probably feel a lot like some of the terrible comments I’ve heard all along: “I bet she’s too ugly to find someone, so she pretends she doesn’t want it anyway”; “She’s clearly just so obnoxious that she drives men away before they would even try to get with her”; “She’s mentally ill/abused/autistic/damaged/secretly gay/hiding a terrible secret, so no one wants her.” 

    Many of the very familiar Asexual Bingo items are predicated on the idea that asexuality is a face-saving excuse for the unwanted. They prefer to frame me as desperately desiring a partner and wallowing in my lack of fulfillment. I’m completely used to cruel, willfully ignorant people reinventing me in their minds to represent a version of me they’re more comfortable with. 

    They really hate the idea that they’ve been waiting around to say I-told-you-so all this time and I haven’t given them an opportunity to say it. So now maybe some of them will give up and change their tune to "she hit the wall and doesn't want to admit she failed to get married while she still could! Ha ha sad and lonely old spinster!"

    Dangit. I don't even have cats. I'd better get on it.

    Wednesday, January 17, 2018

    Wednesday Factoid: New Kid

    Today's Wednesday Factoid is: How have you handled being the "new kid"?

    A variety of ways I guess. I was a new kid in my school a few different times growing up--in kindergarten of course, and first grade, and sixth grade, and ninth grade, and tenth grade. When I was little I didn't care about making friends or impressing other kids. I wanted the teacher of my class to like me and be impressed with my academic skills. I guess through middle school that desire for my teachers to respect and praise me blended into an awareness of the other kids and wanting them not to pick on me. I didn't reach out and I didn't want to be noticed, because other kids were almost without exception mean to each other.

    In high school I was a little more interested in my peers and I wore clothes that I thought represented who I was so I could find other people who were similar to me. Most of my "fitting in" behavior was just hiding, and most of the time I wanted to stand out was about wanting people to talk to me about shared interests--books, music, cartoons or whatever. I was pretty passive about my social interaction whenever I was new on the scene, and I mostly focused on surviving the day-to-day--figuring out where classes were, keeping up in the class's content, figuring out what the heck was doing on, trying not to miss the bus.

    Being new as an adult was more of an adventure, I guess. Being new in college, changing colleges, being a new "kid" at the jobs I got after school--meeting people and learning about them and having them learn about me seemed way more fun as an adult. I didn't feel like I was waiting for someone to mock me or do something mean to me--adults just aren't predatory in the same way. I got along with people better as an adult, and though I'm still not in any rush at all to socialize with the people wherever I happen to be "new," I don't mind it and sometimes it's fun. In work contexts I think I'm still more of a "speak when spoken to" person, though I will speak a lot if I have something in common with the person I'm talking to. I'm more curious about the environment and the tasks at hand than I am about other people. I want to relax and figure out what I'm doing before I care about the social aspects.

    Saturday, January 13, 2018

    Personal Digest Saturday: January 6 – January 12

    Life news this week:
    • Saturday was a fun day: I met my new Internet friend Ralph in person for the first time. He took me out for sushi and we baked brownies at my house. Had a great time and he gave me some Kinder Eggs with toys in them, which I had never had before. After he left I did my blogging and watched some cartoon reactions online.
    • Sunday I was invited to Queer Brunch but I really wanted some time to myself and just wasn't up to it. I did do dishes and laundry, and I talked to Mom on the phone and practiced violin. (I wanted to get a better recording of a song that requires a violin part, so I worked on it a while.) I also answered some outstanding messages.
    • Monday I had to hit a letter at work. It wasn't as intense as usual because this was the one we tried to get out last week because we thought it was due, but we were wrong about the due date, so we had more time to do it. We got it turned in on time. I practiced violin some more and made some french fries in the oven, and I drew these gross "Frybo" mascot faces on my bowl because I do a lot of weird things after seeing them on Steven Universe. (Frybo is a creepy fry mascot in the cartoon that comes to life because of space magic and the characters have to fight him. By the end he's got ketchup leaking out of his eyes and potato slop dripping out of his mouth. Super disturbing. So I ate my fries out of that.)
    • Tuesday I worked and printed business cards and brochures. Mom texted me saying she was really really sick and needed help, so I went to her house for the rest of the night. (She refused to go to urgent care because it costs too much money.) It was pretty awful that I couldn't do anything to make her feel better and she was having trouble keeping food down. I went shopping for her, rinsed out trash cans and did laundry, and kept her company. I went home late at night instead of sleeping over. The nice thing about the day, though was that photos I took of my silly fry monster got the front page on Amino again, and my friend Ralph who decided to start watching Steven Universe on my recommendation finally saw the Season 1 finale and got so excited about it he called me to chat about it. :D
    • Wednesday I got totally buried under work stuff and had to edit a letter of response against a ticking clock. We made it though. I checked in with my mom and she'd gone to the urgent care place but they just gave her some instructions and didn't need to treat her, and she was starting to keep fluids down again, so that was a relief. Jeaux took me to Denny's and shopping to get sodas for the party I'm having for my birthday! Then we went home and listened to Night Vale and watched two episodes of Search Party. After he left I played violin some more.
    • Thursday I had to hit a proposal for the City of Orlando, so I buried myself in that all day. I checked in with the mama and she was a little better, but she's lost too much weight. Then at home I finally got a not-very-good-but-passable recording of the violin part of the song I want. I talked to Victor, edited the video together, and drew my webcomic.
    • Friday I worked on the proposal for Orlando again and got enough done to send to my boss to take over. My co-worker Doug did a presentation about Microsoft 365, which kinda broke up the day. Then he drove me home, which was super nice. I finished drawing my webcomic and posted it amidst lots of slacking off. 
    Reading progress:
    • Finished this week: I did not get any books finished, though I'm halfway through my in-progress read.
    • Currently readingWishin' and Hopin' by Wally Lamb.
      New singing performances:

      This week's song was "Pretty Good Year" by Tori Amos.

      New drawings: 

      Webcomic Negative One Issue 0661: "Kids Grow."

      New videos:

      I performed The Jam Song from Steven Universe, featuring a ukulele/violin duet. Sorry, it has really been many years since I was competent.

      New photos:

      My disturbing Frybo fries.

      Social Media Counts:

      YouTube subscribers: 5,270 for swankivy (lost 1), 653 for JulieSondra (lost 2). Twitter followers: 905 for swankivy (no change), 1,328 for JulieSondra (1 new). Facebook: 296 friends (3 new--accepted friend requests from Ralph and his dog, and a new friend Jacob through my mutual friend Heather) and 201 followers (no change) for swankivy, 658 likes for JulieSondra (1 new), 55 likes for Negative One (no change), 125 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,490 (lost 3). Instagram followers: 131 (no change).

      Friday, January 12, 2018

      Troll dreams

      It's weird how sometimes you have a dream where some fundamental aspect of your life is changed and the dream is about you dealing with it.

      Sometimes you remember what it "should" be and sometimes you are just rolling with whatever the change is. Often it's bad, like the classic dream where you're in school and realize you have a final exam on a class you forgot to attend all semester, or the career version where you're back at a job you left ages ago with all your built-up work waiting for you. You're late for something and couldn't possibly catch up. You're in a relationship you left for a good reason and you're trapped in it again. A child you never had is calling you mom. A person you don't have contact with in real life is suddenly in your life badgering you for something and you must react.

      And then there are the catastrophic and/or impossible ones: where you're in a post-apocalyptic world trying to survive, or it's like a horror movie and you're trying to escape a supernatural creature, or you have to complete a fantasy quest that threatens your life, or you're in some nightmare scenario that you lack the resources to escape.

      You're relieved when you wake up, usually. You're glad things are the way they are and not the way the dream cooked it up.

      It's worse the other way.

      It's worse when you dream of a return to something you miss, or a reappearance of a person or pet who died, or the acquisition of an ability or accomplishment you've always wanted. You feel so secure in the dream, and you almost feel like it's so silly you never realized everything's fine, and you feel so fulfilled and content.

      Then you wake up and you realize again what you've lost or what you'll never have.

      Sad that what I dreamed was that my mom was okay.

      Not a fantastical dream at all, and yet in this broken country it's about as out of reach as wishing on a lamp. She didn't get medical assistance when she needed it because she can't afford to pay the hospital. It's awful seeing her clothes falling off because she's lost so much weight, being so fragile, saying she doesn't feel like she's even human anymore. And my brain thinks it's helping by cooking up a nighttime scenario of "lol what if everything was actually fine?"

      No thanks, brain. Don't remind me, okay?

      Wednesday, January 10, 2018

      Wednesday Factoid: Weird Interest

      Today's Wednesday Factoid is: What's an interest you have that people think is weird?

      How about . . . babies?

      I'm not a parent. Don't want to be a parent. Don't even want to be a babysitter or a daycare professional. But I really just like babies a lot!

      There used to be this website that posted adorable baby pictures and I would share them and squeal over how cute they were. I just love pudgy baby cheeks and videos of babies doing super cute things.

      I once had someone aggressively harass me over this, believe it or not. The person started a private conversation with me and explained to me that it is pathological to love babies you have no connection to if you've never had your own children. They insisted that the only reason parents have reactions to other people's children is that it's rooted in their own love for their children, and that people who aren't parents cannot have this and it makes no sense at all for us to have a response like that.

      I was really baffled by that reaction, and I've certainly never had anyone else suggest liking babies is pathological behavior for non-parents, but people do sometimes think it's weird that I feel that way and yet don't want babies in my life in a more everyday context. I'll stick to remarking on their cuteness on diaper packages and watching baby videos sometimes on YouTube, thanks. ;)

      Saturday, January 6, 2018

      Personal Digest Saturday: December 30 – January 5

      Life news this week:
      • Saturday I woke up super cold because my heat was not working. The heat repair person came to my house and tried to fix it but didn't have a part and so I would have to be cold until Tuesday when they could order the part. Oh well. I went to Mom's and finally got to see Lindsay and Mike, and we had Chinese food together and opened some presents. I even got to do a little drawing.
      • Sunday was New Year's Eve and I had originally intended to make breakfast for dinner with family but just wasn't really feeling it. I stayed home and did laundry and talked to my friend Ralph on the phone while making biscuits. Lots of fireworks went off in my neighborhood but I had a low-key night. It was nice.
      • Monday I had New Year's Day off. My sister picked me up and we went to visit Dad in Sarasota. Got to see Grandpa, who's in his new place, and ate soup and other yummies at Dad's for dinner. (He cooked, which was novel!) Got some cool presents and just got to enjoy family. Had a nice chat with my bro-in-law and sister on the way home.
      • Tuesday I went back to work in the cold. I had been told it would be very busy this week but it wasn't. Went home and made breakfast for dinner with Mom and the visiting California family. I hadn't had time to really make anything before they got there after my work day, so I had a lot of help! We ate waffles, fruit, eggs, fake bacon, leftover biscuits, and hash brown crisps. It was a lot of fun. Then I watched cartoons after they left. Still no heat.
      • Wednesday was rainy and I couldn't get to work. I worked from home instead and had a big problem with a letter we were trying to send out. An hour before it was due, the power went out at the office and I tried to save their letter so we could send it out but I didn't make it in time. I was frustrated and grumping about it while going out to eat with Jeaux at Burger 21 and then we visited Mom's so we could hang out with family one more time before the Californians returned to California. Nice quiet night. But still no heat.
      • Thursday I found out we did NOT miss the deadline for the letter we were trying to send because it's due next week! Whew. I did some resume updates for the office and went home. Talked to Victor on the phone while drawing my comic and a promotional drawing for upcoming Steven Universe episodes. Annnnnnd still no heat. They tried to fix it and said it was fixed but it was not.
      • Friday I finished updates for the office's resumes, and then Jeaux picked me up for food at Moe's and cartoons at his house. The episodes, as expected, were bizarre levels of good. We talked about them for a while, went to my place so I could finish posting my webcomic, and then watched them again. Haha. And yeah. No heat. I lived under my electric blanket this week.
      Reading progress:
      • Finished this week: Nothing! I didn't ride the bus much this week so I didn't have as much reading time.
      • Currently readingWishin' and Hopin' by Wally Lamb.
        New singing performances:

        This week's song was "Try" by Nelly Furtado.

        New drawings: 

        Poster of the Off Colors for Lars of the Stars!

        Webcomic So You Write Issue 79: "Absorbed."

        Webcomic Negative One Issue 0660: "Interrupted."

        New videos:


        New photos:

        My New Year's Day outfit looks subtly like a cartoon character.
        My sister and I both baked biscuits for our New Year's Day dinner.
        Went to go see my grandpa on New Year's Day. Four generations in one shot!
        I was definitely cold at the bus stop. 
        Breakfast for dinner at my house.
        My mom made aprons for all three members of my sister's family, and they're so cute!
        My nephew and sister playing with my Animaniacs toys.
        Nephew Ash wearing a hat and climbing on my sister.
        Ash likes to shove his butt on people. His father has termed this "very aggressive butt."
        Excited for new cartoons! First time this year, but certainly not the last.
        Jeaux wearing his Cookie Cat hat in my room.

        Social Media Counts:

        YouTube subscribers: 5,271 for swankivy (lost 3), 655 for JulieSondra (lost 2). Twitter followers: 905 for swankivy (4 new), 1,327 for JulieSondra (lost 2). Facebook: 293 friends (no change) and 201 followers (no change) for swankivy, 657 likes for JulieSondra (no change), 55 likes for Negative One (no change), 125 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,493 (lost 1). Instagram followers: 131 (1 new).

        Wednesday, January 3, 2018

        Wednesday Factoid: Doing Nothing

        Today's Wednesday Factoid is: Do you feel that "doing nothing" is a good use of your time?

        You know, I have a REALLY hard time "doing nothing."

        I have a tendency to be pretty active and engaged in specific activities. Always working on something, and when I'm done with the thing I'm working on, I'm generally on to the next thing. I don't have a lot of idle moments where I'm trying to find something to do or lolling about in the space between things to do "doing nothing."

        Now, one could certainly argue that I don't spend my time on productive activities sometimes. And that's true more often now than it used to be. Some of the things I'm doing might look like "nothing," or might look like a waste of time, but I'm usually creating something I care about even if it's not something, you know, objectively valuable. (Drawing elaborate fan art comes to mind.) 

        That said, I think "doing nothing" would actually be a good use of my time if I could get myself to do it. I sometimes have to remind myself to turn off and relax, and I'm still not very good at it. I think it'd be good for my mental health if I did nothing more often.

        Tuesday, January 2, 2018

        Floaty thoughts on the new year

        2018 is here!

        I'm kind of dissatisfied with how I managed my time in 2017, though I did some things right. 

        Stuff I did successfully that I'd like to keep doing:

        • Blogging regularly
        • Creating great fan content for my favorite cartoon
        • Making karaoke videos
        • Posting my webcomics on schedule
        • Posting my YouTube videos on schedule

        Stuff I need to do better at: 
        • Maintaining my online presences
        • Keeping photos up to date
        • Using Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter 
        • Cleaning the house
        • Recording more ukulele songs
        • Playing Dance Dance Revolution (hey exercise!)
        • Submitting short fiction to magazines 

        One thing I'd really like to do is redesign my entire website. I actually never completely got through the last redesign that I began in 2007. I'm planning to create a site that's more easily updated and added to, more automated, so adding content isn't as labor-intensive. Plus it all needs a massage and some stuff I posted a long time ago needs to be sort of . . . demoted in the hierarchy of my site. Stuff that I update every week is sort of mixed in with stuff I never change, and even though I have a sort of "what's new" jumpoff point I don't think people who come to my website really know where to look for new stuff.

        And of course the other thing I need to do is give some love to my writing. I have a novel in progress and would like to rework its existing chapters and continue from there. I think it'll be a good one. I want to get as excited about this stuff as I used to.

        Roadblocks: After my visiting family leaves in a couple days, my birthday is around the corner and I'm planning a party since it's a big milestone. On the one hand, it'd be cool to just sort of focus on the birthday event and not jump back into something that's usually pretty intense if I'm just going to have to pull back out of it to do party planning and spend some time with BFF Meghan. But on the other hand--I need to get used to writing all the time again, and there's no reason I shouldn't relearn how to work writing into an already packed schedule.

        And I also have a huge distraction coming up before that: Steven Universe is airing a new two-part special on Friday, and when there's new stuff (especially if it's intense, like this promises to be), I am usually very drawn in by the desire to read and make fan content. This show has new content so rarely that it's hard to NOT get caught up in the hype, so I feel like because it's so rare I shouldn't limit myself to enjoying it when it's brand new.

        Maybe I'll just . . . try to ease in and see if I can do a little bit before my birthday. Overdoing new regiments at the start of the new year makes TONS of people give up what they've resolved to accomplish, and I don't want to get overwhelmed and slip back into the patterns that dominated 2017. 

        Historically, if I want to do something, all I have to do is decide to do it. Then I start and it basically does itself. (I mean, it's not easy, but I have no problem with motivation.) The problem is deciding to start. I know how physically, emotionally, and mentally difficult it is to bust out a project, and because of that I sometimes have to protect myself when I know I'm facing other pressures. (Cartoons and birthday parties, incidentally, are NOT the only pressures I'm looking at here, but the real-life scary ones are also not issues I want to dig into on a public blog.) I guess it's a form of self-care to recognize when I'm not ready to give myself so completely to a project, but at some point you have to wonder whether you're in avoidance or excuse mode.

        We'll see what happens.