Monday, May 30, 2016

"But it's the truth!"

[TW for bigoted statements against women, LGBTQ+, and POC.]

I've had many a conversation with people who claim the cruelty of their commentary is justified by how "true" their statements are.

Purportedly motivated by this dedication to accuracy and logic, some of these folks will aggressively invalidate people who are vulnerable, and appear to delight in the distress it causes.

~I'm sorry but it's scientifically proven that women aren't as productive in the workplace, so when they're paid less, it's appropriate!

~I'm sorry but no matter what kind of surgery that person had to mutilate their genitals, it's their chromosomes that say what their gender is!

~I'm sorry but black people are less successful because they're inherently violent and less intelligent, which you'd understand if you'd just look how they act in their communities instead of blaming it on racism!

~I'm sorry but being gay isn't natural because we were designed for procreation--why can't people stop being so PC and accept that they don't deserve to get married?

And of course, as an asexual woman I've had tons of this directed at me to invalidate my sexual orientation, and a really shocking amount of it comes from people who believe they are confronting me with the hard truth. They believe their position is the scientific one; they believe their position is the rational one; they believe they are exposing my denial and my inability to examine myself and my hypocrisy.

And yet, they tend to be so gleeful about it. So emotional, honestly. For people who talk up the importance of unbiased examination and objective reasoning, they sure do get aggressive and sarcastic when their position isn't considered (you know, because their position is one that's been presented inelegantly to me a hundred times). 

"My main objection to this is linguistic. Homo- and Hetero- are prefixes. A- is also a prefix. The history of the meanings of these prefixes in the scientific community has a history that goes WAY back. Like long before the IDENTITY of 'asexuality' arrived. This new identity has very little to do with traditional definitions of asexuality. I'm talking about centuries of science here, not a fad for Oprah's show."

(Sure man, it's obvious this is a linguistic argument. People who are upset about the terminology we're using totally need to take a dig at us for having a fake fad-driven identity that deserves sensationalistic attention on a talk show.)

Here is what I would like people to consider before wading into potentially sensitive conversations intending to drop a so-called "truth bomb."

First, you should consider very seriously why you believe your truth is the truth. Are you actually basing your opinion of the situation on established facts, or are you going by something you believe is established but is actually what you think is common sense? 

For instance, suppose you believe "Nope, XX or XY determines boy or girl, there is no in between or switching it; therefore trans people aren't *real* men or women when they transition, and that's not an opinion--that's science." 

A person who believes that is ignorant of several things. Not only are they apparently unaware that there are chromosomal configurations besides XX or XY, but they don't actually consult any of the science on gender and sex--and if they would, they'd see that it's understood by experts to be much more of a spectrum than a dichotomy. Furthermore, they seem to be under the impression that a trans person would have to fundamentally change their body in some way to be identical to a cis person's before they would "be" the gender they're medically transitioning to, and that since that's impossible, they simply "are not" that gender. 

I've heard "but he doesn't have a uterus, he can't have children, he didn't REALLY become a woman!" used to invalidate trans women, even though cis women who are infertile or lack certain reproductive parts are not held to that standard of womanhood. It's not actually about the science here. It's about a choice to draw a line where a line does not need to be drawn. And it's about a choice to apply that line in a way that actively hurts, erases, and endangers people.

And so now I ask, if you've examined the "facts" and still come to the conclusion that your interpretation is accurate and the person you want to argue with is objectively wrong . . . 

Consider the following before you speak.

  • Is this constructive?
  • Is this compassionate?
  • Is this needed now?

"The truth" is not a person. "The truth" is not going to reward you or pat you on the back for defending it. "The truth" is something you may be using to excuse yourself for hurting someone. Ask yourself why you need to have this argument. Is their existence or their identity or their interpretation of their own reality hurting you? Destroying something you need? Denying you anything?

Are you helping? Or are you hurting?

Are you aware that people who are confronted with uncomfortable truths get defensive and less likely to listen? (I mean, 'cause that's some science right there.) Are you saying these things to them because you actually think they will hear you and do some self-reflection, or are you saying it because you want the experience of saying it? Are you actually talking to them because you believe you will be heard and that your interpretation will help them become a more authentic version of themselves, or are you saying it because you want them to shut up? Are you speaking to them at a time when they are ready to hear you, or are you charging in with "hard truths" when they are in no position to accept criticism or critique right now?

If you are ever discussing something uncomfortable with someone that's primarily about how they experience the world, and you're convinced they're wrong about themselves or need to change how they talk about it, understand that you will not be received constructively if you storm in adamant that your opinion is the truth and that theirs is bullshit. If you are not here on their terms, in a compassionate way, with an honest intention to let them talk to you as much as you're ready to talk to them, then this is not actually about helping them or proving anything. Before you start this conversation, seriously ask yourself: what is my objective? What is my intention? What is my ideal solution? What do I actually want from this person who I think is wrong, and how does it affect me if they don't agree with me? How does it affect them if they've got to have this conversation with me? Why is this important to me, and why is it important to them?

You need to be constructive, compassionate, and aware of whether this is the time to talk about this. If you refuse to consider these factors in a conversation, you are certainly not about to spread truth to anyone. You're making a conversation that you claim is about logic and reality and objective truth, and you're turning it into a destructive, traumatic, and inappropriate conversation. This happens to marginalized people every time you decide this is the right time (and you're the right person) to deny what they're saying about their own lives and call them to defend themselves (or, rather, to accept that your interpretation of their reality is objectively correct, and that it's very important for them to replace their experiences with your external understanding). 

They will not learn from you if you don't consider a constructive, compassionate, appropriate approach. And if you don't care whether they learn from you, you're definitely having this conversation for the wrong reasons. If you actually just want to hear yourself say things, you might as well not bother to have another person on the other side of the conversation.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Personal Digest Saturday: May 21 – May 27

Life news this week: 
  • On Saturday I talked to my mom on the phone and had Jeaux over in the afternoon. This is a pretty weird thing we usually wouldn't do, but it was for cartoons. (The official Cartoon Network station in France decided to show some new Steven Universe episodes this weekend and now their airing schedule is ahead of the US, so we watched the Saturday episodes from the French stream.) We got a pizza and hung out a while talking about the show. It's pretty amazing the level of same-sex couple stuff they're including in cartoons these days! After he left, I just did my blogging and checked out news on the Internet.
  • Sunday was kinda similar because the next cartoon episode was released in France so Jeaux and I did the same thing. The episode was cute. I also made a video and did some chores.
  • Monday I arranged the payment for the vacation home Meg and I are going to this summer! We have our house picked out. I worked, grocery shopped, napped, and addressed a bunch of editing for Bad Fairy 2 finally!
  • Tuesday I didn't get much done--I worked, and texted a bunch with my mom, and just kept feeling not real great so I napped a lot.
  • Wednesday we returned to Jeaux Day because we spoiled ourselves over the weekend and didn't get to have new cartoons for Thursday. But I did get to get a new Steven Universe comic book! #3 of the series came out and Jeaux and I biked to the comic store to buy it and ate at WTF Burger. Then we read links to each other and he left. I was sad later because the video game Jeaux is really excited about, No Man's Sky, has now been delayed, and he was texting me sad stuff all night. I reviewed my comic and went to bed.
  • Thursday was normal work stuff, and I chatted about the new cartoon episode that was on TV in the US that evening. Had my mom over and we ate really good popsicles together. I got a bunch of my comic drawing done.
  • Friday was more work stuff, and I went home and met up with Eric who took me to Mel's Hot Dogs. (I ate a veggie dog.) We hung out while I finished up my comic, and then I posted it after he left and went to bed. Exciting, I know.
    New reviews of my book:

    Interviews, Features, Mentions:

      • The Asexual Agenda included my essay about love and intimate nonsexual nonromantic relationships in their weekly linkspam.
      • Chrysocolla Town received the autographed bookplate she ordered from me and posted a picture of it.
        Reading progress:
          New singing performances:

          Here I'm singing "Lean On Me" by Bill Withers.


          New drawings:

          Some very detailed notes I took during a work meeting,
          featuring Greg Universe the rock star and Rose Quartz the star rock.

          Angry Peridot on my work calendar.
          She likes to talk to herself using a tape recorder.

          Webcomic Negative One Issue 0576: "Off Eastways."

          New videos:

          Letters to an Asexual #36 is out. It's about a guy who kept expressing that I "hadn't proved" I could not like sex, oblivious to the fact that I was not claiming to have proved such a thing AND SHOULDN'T HAVE TO.

          New photos: 

          I took a bad selfie as a joke in a Facebook thread but I don't think I need to share it here.

          Social Media counts:
          YouTube subscribers: 5,330 for swankivy (lost the 4 I got last week, haha), 567 for JulieSondra (lost 1). Twitter followers: 786 for swankivy (2 new), 1,242 for JulieSondra (7 new). Facebook: 291 friends (no change) and 199 followers (no change) for swankivy, 634 likes for JulieSondra (lost 1), 56 likes for Negative One (no change), 121 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,443 (2 new). Instagram followers: 72 (2 new).

          Wednesday, May 25, 2016

          Wednesday Factoid: Helicopter Parents

          Today's Wednesday Factoid is: Did you have Helicopter Parents?

          Nah, I wouldn't say I had helicopter parents. I did have supportive parents, and my mom especially as the primary caregiver was involved in my everyday life as a child. I didn't feel she was overprotective, as I was allowed to do things like sleep over friends' houses, go outside without supervision, choose most of my own entertainment, and attend events without a chaperone. I had friends whose parents didn't allow these freedoms.

          That said, if you had asked me this question as a teen, I probably would have brought up incidents that suggested my mom was inappropriately involved in my life--stuff like confiscating a tape I liked because it had dirty language, deciding based on stuff I thought was arbitrary who I was allowed to get in a car with (and changing the rules over things I didn't think made sense), and telling me I couldn't talk to a boy who was nineteen on the phone because I was only fifteen. (That nineteen-year-old boy was a total jerk, by the way. They were right.)

          When I was even younger, my mother was certainly quite involved in protecting me when issues arose, and though some people might have thought she fell into the "excessive" category, I didn't think so even then. I was a pretty weird kid and occasionally I butted heads with teachers or authorities who reacted to me inappropriately. My mother went to bat for me when a teacher decided I must be a remedial reader and put me in the lowest reading group (because the testing procedure included vowels with "long" and "short" markings above them and I'd never seen those before, so I was baffled and cried instead of trying, leading the teacher to conclude I couldn't read at all). My mother had a conference with a teacher on very short notice because I reported that she'd called me a liar. And occasionally my mom would poke into my social life, encouraging me to make friends and trying to push me toward social interaction in ways I wasn't fond of (but I guess she didn't really get at that point that I wasn't lonely). My parents (or sometimes just one of them) would generally come to all my performances in school, from elementary chorus to middle school violin concerts to high school show choir. I think the attention and support I received was just about right.

          Monday, May 23, 2016

          What is love?

          I wore this shirt for one of my videos about asexuality once.

          And someone in the comments said--among other ignorant statements--that it was "ironic" for me to be wearing a shirt that says "LOVE" in a video about asexuality.

          This actually made me really angry. And when I told the person how ignorant that was, he doubled down, insisting that everyone knows "love" is primarily only associated with the kind of love that requires sexual attraction to really count, and that it was therefore "irony" for me to wear a shirt with a generic "LOVE" message on it in such a video.

          Like, wow.

          People do tend to concede that it's possible to love your family without being sexually attracted to them (uh, yeah, I hope so), so I'm not sure why they are so resistant to the idea that other forms of love exist. Are familial love and romantic love the only possibilities? (And, as we've discussed, is romantic love only "real" if it's coupled with sexual attraction? Some assholes say yes.)

          I'm aromantic as well as asexual, so the kinds of love I experience toward others don't fall into sexual or romantic categories. This frequently causes people to claim my love cannot be as deep, as enduring, as intense, or as fulfilling as the love that develops between people who are romantically attracted to each other.

          The fact that some of my non-sexual, non-romantic relationships have lasted longer than the romantic/sexual relationships of some of these naysayers does not seem to strike THEM as "ironic."

          I'm thinking about this today because it's my friend Jeaux's birthday.

          Jeaux's great and I love him. We don't have a romantic relationship. We've never wanted to live together, we don't cuddle, we don't kiss, and he's never viewed me as a potential girlfriend even though he's straight--probably partly because he knew I was asexual since the day he met me, and kind of suggested later that when I told him that I basically went in a category with his sisters as far as romantic availability went.

          People in our lives have assumed that because we're close, spend a lot of time together, are a man and a woman, and clearly treat each other like an expected, enduring partner in life, we are probably dating. We have even been confronted by others in our lives who are convinced we're hiding the romantic relationship we must have, because I guess in our society relationships like ours just don't develop between people who aren't romantically attracted to each other. Those who believe we're not romantically involved often necessarily "rank" our relationship as inferior to romantic relationships, though, and I don't feel that's appropriate either.

          I trust Jeaux as much as I would trust a life partner, and there are certain lines of intimacy (not of the physical sort) that are open to him that are not open to most of my other friends. We have done things with and for each other that "partners" would do. For instance:

          • I let him sleep at my house.
          • I'm always invited to his family's Thanksgiving.
          • I turn my air conditioning down when I know he's coming over, and he turns his air conditioning up for me.
          • We keep each other's favorite sodas around for when we're hanging out.
          • I ironed his shirt before we went to his mother's funeral.
          • He drove me to eye doctor appointments when I needed help.
          • We take turns buying dinner for each other every week.
          • We text each other a lot these days, about everything from social commentary and personal issues to silly jokes and theories about cartoons.
          • He'll come over at the drop of a hat and help me with my computer if I'm having problems.
          • I let him get a loan partially in my name because my credit was better.
          • We get each other really good presents because we know what each other likes.
          • He moved to Tampa when I moved to Tampa--not just to be near me, but because he could be anywhere, and this is nicer.
          • We know what each other's talents and interests are. On the things where we're talented in different things, we lend our expertise to each other. On the things where we have different interests, we still support each other's passions.
          • We say the same thing at the same time a lot.
          • Arguing doesn't happen very often, but sometimes if we disagree on something, we can have a difference of opinion in a bubble without it making us resent each other.
          • We borrow crap from each other whenever we want.
          A lot of what I'd consider intimacy and trust with Jeaux is built on mutual understanding of boundaries. He knows what's okay to do at my house and what I'd rather he ask about. There are certain non-verbal things we do that communicate messages unique to us. Neither of us is jealous of or intrusive with each other's relationships outside of ours (and he's actually told me that if he got a girlfriend who wanted him to change or limit his contact with me, he would dump her first). And we can vent to each other and expect it to land on a sympathetic ear.

          And yet, some people would still categorize our relationship as incomplete, lesser, or on its way to "something more" because it is a friendship and not a romance. Or, as mentioned, they say ours is necessarily a romance even though that is not the flavor of our feelings. The idea that our relationship hasn't matured because it isn't a romance is especially galling to me. I mean, if you define something as a romantic relationship early on, does that mean it's reached its pinnacle? Of course not. It continues to grow within that relationship category. I don't know if it's accurate to say romantic partners get closer and closer, because I don't think it's a question of closeness--it just changes over the years and adjusts to who you become. My relationship can do that too. Even though it isn't a romance. I want people to understand that there's not a thermometer out there measuring feelings which only allows relationships to be classified as important, enduring, or fulfilling once they become "enough" to be romantic. It's not just one channel of emotions that becomes the realest after it grows past a certain point. My relationship with a friend does not have to become romantic before it's one of the most important, satisfying, lovely things in my life.

          So when people either say I don't love because it's not romance or say any kind of non-familial love makes it romance, I have to shake my head. It's them who doesn't understand love, not me, even though they're the ones telling me they feel sorry for me because I'm missing out.

          Sorry, people. I more than deserve to wear this shirt in a completely unironic way.

          Saturday, May 21, 2016

          Personal Digest Saturday: May 14 – May 20

          Life news this week: 
          • What a week! Didn't do much on Saturday except talk to Meg and get some chores done, and Sunday I did karaoke, laundry, and a little mail, plus talked to my sister on the phone. I guess I was preemtively resting for the week I was about to have.
          • Monday the president of my company flew in but I didn't see him at the office. A bunch of busy stuff started brewing. I went grocery shopping and got some webcomic planning and money management done.
          • Tuesday I had a LONG day at work trying to hack away at difficult tasks, and then it rained when I was going to leave. My mom came and picked me up, and spent the night at my place. She brought a rhubarb pie! Mmm! We had shribble soup and the pie. I got some drawings done for the comic and we watched some silly videos.
          • Wednesday was NOT Jeaux Day, again. It was, however, a party for my principal, who was celebrating 20 years with the company. I ordered lunch for everyone after they came back from a big interview. We had barbecue. (I had a salad.) I struggled with some lease stuff for my apartment, completed my comic drawings, and upgraded to Windows 10.
          • Thursday was another transplanted Jeaux Day. We ate at Moe's, and then headed back to his house for a new episode of Steven Universe. Decent episode, but it didn't kill me. We then went back to my place to hang out and listen to Welcome to Night Vale and watched an episode of Adventure Time. Also, I gave him his birthday present: a Gravity Falls hat!
          • Friday I got caught in the damn rain on the way to work. The office was still busy but I got out early. Eric came over after work and we ate some food and watched cartoons. Then we went to Drink and Draw. I had a very light amount of drawing to do for the next webcomic, so I finished early and started drawing Steven fanart. (Then a couple people around me started doing Steven fanart too, haha.) It was just some cute pencil sketches of Steven. I'm studying what shapes he's made of so I can draw him more easily. :) A crappy guy (not a Drink and Draw attendee) stole money out of the café's tip jar and there was sort of an altercation over it. After the event, Eric took me home and crashed at my place after watching me open more blind bag SU dog tags. :)
            New reviews of my book:

            Interviews, Features, Mentions:

              • Nothing worth mentioning here.
                Reading progress:
                • Finished this week: Nothing, because I am busy.
                • Currently reading: Living With Intensity by Susan Daniels & Michael M. Piechowski.
                  New singing performances:

                  Here I'm singing "I'm Like a Bird" by Nelly Furtado.


                  New drawings:

                  Steven pencil sketches from Drink and Draw

                  Webcomic Negative One Issue 0575: "Too Quiet."

                  New videos:


                  New photos: 

                  Mom's rhubarb pie!

                  The work crowd at Jerry's 20-year party.
                  Sandwich selfie at Drink and Draw. Very fond of this sandwich.
                  Drink and draw selfie. Evan's poster.
                  And the haircut comparison photos:

                  Front, February 2014
                  Front, May 2016
                  Back, February 2014
                  Back, May 2016
                  Social Media counts:
                  YouTube subscribers: 5,334 for swankivy (4 new), 568 for JulieSondra (no change). Twitter followers: 784 for swankivy (1 new), 1,235 for JulieSondra (2 new). Facebook: 291 friends (lost 1, dunno who) and 199 followers (1 new) for swankivy, 635 likes for JulieSondra (lost 1), 56 likes for Negative One (no change), 121 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,441 (7 new). Instagram followers: 70 (1 new).

                  Wednesday, May 18, 2016

                  Wednesday Factoid: Competition

                  Today's Wednesday Factoid is: How competitive are you?

                  Complicated question actually. I generally don't feel like I'm in competition with other people in, say, life or everyday stuff. If someone makes more money than me, got better scores than me, succeeded sooner than me, or accomplished something I can't, I really don't care. I have a pretty solid ability to separate their triumphs from mine, and recognize them as NOT in competition with me because I can ALSO succeed and I would like to be able to be genuinely happy for them.


                  The one place I'm competitive is in sports.

                  I guess that sounds weird because most people think I'm not much of a sports person, but I actually do like to play sports. And I like to win, even if it's not something I'm good at. I'll contribute to a volleyball game and get really excited about helping my side, or about beating someone's score on Dance Dance Revolution, or about achieving victory in ping-pong, or about winning a tennis game. And though I'm not a sore loser and I don't taunt others when I win (and I'm not much of a trash talker), I find games with stakes to be much more compelling. When people just want to hit the ball back and forth and not keep score, I'm impatient and I get bored. But if there's a score, I'll play harder and for far longer. I like having something to work for, and I like being the winner.

                  When I beat Mikey at tennis

                  Monday, May 16, 2016

                  Things you do

                  I recently finished reading Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler. She's historically one of the writers I've always enjoyed. I was just kinda meh on this one.

                  There was lots of good to say about it, though the main reason I didn't find it that enjoyable was a pretty solid emotional disconnect throughout. Things happened that should have been really heart-rending and I just didn't really feel it. I don't know how a first-person story was this shallow of feeling. Concept-wise, it was pretty good, though I felt like a lot of questions it asked just drifted away as the main conflict eclipsed everything else. But one thing about it sort of creeped me out, and I was surprised to realize Ms. Butler employs a variant of the same thing in several of her books. It's a Thing She Does.

                  In the book, the main character is a sort of vampire who depends on human blood to survive. Unlike the usual vampire legends, humans cannot be turned into vampires, but they do get sort of hypnotized into being fed from, like many vampire books. The humans actually develop a dependence on the vampires alarmingly quickly, and it's not just mental--it's physical, in that the vampire venom causes them to produce too many red blood cells or something, and they'll die if they don't get their blood drained regularly. The vampires also love and depend on the humans, but their situation isn't quite the same--if one of their humans dies, they can get more. If a human's vampire dies, they're screwed, and they have to find another vampire to take them in, and the transition is painful. So there's definitely this feeling like the vampires are sort of keeping the humans as pets, even though most of the good guys at least seem to be respectful to their humans.

                  Making humans dependent on a non-human creature through a sexually charged, seductive, permanent, not-entirely-consensual process is something Ms. Butler has done in four different works of hers that I've read.

                  One was a short story where these bug alien things needed to lay their eggs in humans, and the main character's central conflict was deciding whether to let an alien do it to them. (At the end, they did.)

                  One is a novel where an alien microorganism forces humans to infect other humans, who then--willingly or not--give birth to mutant children. Once infected, they are overtaken with desires that force them to have sex with other infected people.

                  And one is a novel where aliens come to Earth and attempt to absorb humanity into their race. Humans encounter the aliens' mating groups (which come in three sexes--a he, a she, and an it, all of which are needed to mate), and are bonded with these aliens and made to desire them.

                  So, I'm kind of sensing a pattern here. It's not like the other patterns--the ones where the protagonists of Ms. Butler's stories are usually black and usually exist as outsiders in their communities somehow. I've got to admit it's kind of disturbing how this one very specific element keeps popping up in her work.

                  I think if you're a writer with multiple works, something like this is inevitable. The easy patterns will be identified first--you write a certain gender more often, you set your work in space, your protagonists always have a dog--but the more thematic elements underlying your work might be a little less obvious and may contain messages you as a writer aren't aware of. (Though I do think Ms. Butler was aware of this one. She wrote human/non-human symbiosis in so many ways that I'm sure there was something she was trying to say. Though the fact that so many of the "victims" of it were not initially asked if they wanted to participate and their drive to submit is often at odds with their intellectual opinion of what they're doing.)

                  I wonder which Things I Do might be identified by readers if I get to publish multiple novels? I imagine it will be noticed that I write mostly female characters who are cerebral and tend to avoid traditional relationships, but other than that I think many of my characters are not like each other and not like me. I've also noticed I write a lot of major characters who can fly (though one of them only did it in a dream-fantasyland thing). I guess only time will tell!

                  Saturday, May 14, 2016

                  Personal Digest Saturday: May 7 – May 13

                  Life news this week: 
                  • Saturday I took a trip to Target, but I'd set aside time to talk to my friend Victor on the phone and get some cleaning done, so I kinda slacked off the rest of the day. Then he didn't call, so I ended up doing the cleaning and stuff really late. On the up side, I got to catch up on my cartoons. :)
                  • Sunday Mom came over and we ate quiche together (I made a second one exactly like the last week!), and then we got on Skype with my sister P and she opened presents. Ash is so cute with his trains! After, Mom and I went out to shop, and later that evening I did laundry and argued with Jeaux about cartoon theories.
                  • Monday was uneventful at work and I grocery shopped after work and did some book editing.
                  • Tuesday Mom didn't come over. I took a nap and texted with my friends and read a book.
                  • Wednesday was NOT Jeaux Day. After work I talked to Victor, got some drawing done, and read/reviewed a book.
                  • Thursday was the transplanted Jeaux Day. We ate at Flippers, and then headed back to his house for an exciting double episode of Steven Universe, which is back with new episodes for Season 3! We watched the show, and then went back to my place to hang out and listen to Alice Isn't Dead. (That's the new podcast by the Welcome to Night Vale guys.) I also drew some more of my comic and listened to a podcast interview with one of the voice actors from Steven Universe.
                  • Friday I worked, then went out to eat with my visiting dad. We ate at Macaroni Grill and I wisely decided not to eat all of my food. Now I have the leftovers for tomorrow! After food with Dad, I posted my comic and watched cartoon things until I fell asleep.
                    New reviews of my book:

                    • NOBODY REVIEWED ME BAHHHH

                    Interviews, Features, Mentions:

                      • NOBODY'S TALKING ABOUT ME BAHHHH
                        Reading progress:
                          New singing performances:

                          Here I'm singing "I'm Not That Girl" from Wicked.


                          New drawings:

                          Webcomic Negative One Issue 0574: "Brave."

                          New videos:


                          New photos: 

                          New Guitar Dad shirt. I wore it the day the new SU episodes came out. :)

                          And I got some new SU dog tags and one of them was a rare one! Look at its shininess.

                          Social Media counts:
                          YouTube subscribers: 5,330 for swankivy (5 new), 568 for JulieSondra (lost 1). Twitter followers: 783 for swankivy (5 new), 1,233 for JulieSondra (no change). Facebook: 292 friends (no change) and 198 followers (2 new) for swankivy, 636 likes for JulieSondra (lost 1), 56 likes for Negative One (no change), 121 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,434 (5 new). Instagram followers: 69 (1 new).

                          Wednesday, May 11, 2016

                          Wednesday Factoid: Hairstyle

                          Today's Wednesday Factoid is: What is your most common hairstyle right now?

                          I seem to be partial to having my hair parted on the side and held up on the right by barrettes or clips.

                          Not sure why.

                          But here are some photos from a hairstyle collage I made a long time ago, featuring all the ways I've been creative with my hair over the years.

                          Tuesday, May 10, 2016


                          My best friends are people who listen.

                          When I first start to become friends with people, an early sign that they're a keeper is that they demonstrably listen to me. And I'm not saying I want passive listeners who become a sponge while I yammer. I like when I find out that not only was the person listening; they were synthesizing information, using it to understand me, and applying it to our further interaction.

                          Recently on Facebook I came across a husband/wife quiz where each member of the spousal arrangement is supposed to answer for the other. It's mostly cute little questions like "Which of these two things would she like better?" or "What's his middle name?" or "If they've had a bad day, what would you expect them to eat afterwards?" Answering well requires active observation and receptivity when someone talks to you. I found myself thinking I would be able to answer these questions pretty successfully for my best friends, and for the most part they would be able to do the same for me.

                          They give good gifts. This is something I appreciate not because I want stuff, but because I know it means they were listening to things I said and incorporating those facts into an understanding of who I am. It's not just a trivia quiz--oh, she likes licorice, coffee, and the color yellow. It's about observation--oh, she's always cold so I'll get her a cool blanket. She puts cute things in her hair and wears funny socks so I'll get her things in her style. She reads this author so maybe she'd like this one.

                          I make myself a really open book most of the time and am eager to talk about what interests me. I love when it's clear they are thinking about what I've said and when they add new information. It's so cool when someone reads one of my books and can talk to me about who the characters are or ask complicated questions. It's amazing to be able to discuss entertainment or social issues in depth with someone who's paying attention to the same things I am and has the same values. And it's so cool when talking to the other person doesn't feel like a trade--like first you talk, then I talk, and we've both had our turn. I've met people on the social websites I go to who are like that--they're actually just waiting for their turn to talk, and the questions they ask are obligatory. 

                          The people I love talking to are here because they want to be, and they are giving as much as they take. 

                          Asking about their lives and interests, getting pulled into what they love, getting invested in who they are, is not a chore or a project for me. It's a natural process that happens much more easily when I know that person is listening.

                          Saturday, May 7, 2016

                          Personal Digest Saturday: April 30 – May 6

                          Life news this week: 
                          • Saturday Mom had stayed over, and she helped me with a trip to Michaels to get a bulletin board and then we chatted to my sister on the phone. Later I made a quiche and we ate some, and then did Skype with my sister later so we could see my nephew. What a cutie. I did a drawing for a birthday card and hung out with Mom.
                          • Sunday we ate quiche again and Mom helped me do my redecorations for May Day. She left earlier than I thought she would. I paid my bills and took a nap. Then just worked on some book edits.
                          • Monday I had to come in early to make sure some important paperwork was turned in on time. And at night a package I'd ordered containing some fun stuff--including Steven Universe dog tags--had arrived in my mailbox so Jeaux came over to watch me open it. Haha. There are 24 designs and you don't know which you'll get when you buy it, so I was hoping for not too many duplicates, but out of the 10 I got 6 that weren't duplicates. Of course, it's hard to be disappointed when most of the duplicates were my favorite character. :]
                          • Tuesday Mom didn't come over so I spent the evening reading and writing a comic book review.
                          • Wednesday was a rainy Jeaux Day. We ate at Burger 21 and waited for the rain to stop, and it did. So then we biked to the comic book store where I got the new Steven Universe comic and an Invader Zim comic. Then we came back and listened to Night Vale and shared funny Internet things. After he left I reviewed the comic I read. Next week Jeaux Day will be on Thursday because we want to watch cartoons together! I'm going to melt.
                          • Thursday was uneventful mostly. I read a bunch of a book but didn't finish it, STILL.
                          • Friday I had to work early to finish something for a co-worker. Maintenance workers were making loud noises doing something to our building, and at one point it sounded like music! I didn't really do anything in the evening except draw my comic. I had a lot to do because I didn't do any of it earlier in the week, so it was close to deadline. :X
                            New reviews of my book:

                            Interviews, Features, Mentions:

                                Reading progress:
                                • Finished this week: I still didn't finish the book I'm reading, but I've got a couple comic reviews up for the Steven Universe comics: Number 1 and Number 2.
                                • Currently reading: Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler.
                                  New singing performances:

                                  Here I'm singing "Reflection" from Mulan.


                                  New drawings:

                                  A pretty Rose Quartz I doodled on my work calendar
                                  for Mother's Day. ;)

                                  Webcomic Negative One Issue 0573: "This Honest."

                                  New videos:


                                  New photos: 

                                  My quiche with soy bacon!
                                  Mom helped put flowers in a wreath for May Day.
                                  Mr. Universe drove his van into my heart, so I wear his tee shirt.
                                  My starter collection of 10 SU dog tags. :)

                                  Social Media counts:
                                  YouTube subscribers: 5,325 for swankivy (5 new), 569 for JulieSondra (1 new). Twitter followers: 778 for swankivy (6 new), 1,233 for JulieSondra (8 new). Facebook: 292 friends (2 new--friended Christian and Daria) and 196 followers (lost 1) for swankivy, 637 likes for JulieSondra (no change), 56 likes for Negative One (1 new), 121 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,429 (7 new). Instagram followers: 68 (no change).

                                  Wednesday, May 4, 2016

                                  Wednesday Factoid: Childhood Shows

                                  Today's Wednesday Factoid is: What were your favorite childhood shows and characters?

                                  As you might imagine, I kinda dug cartoons when I was a kid. And continued to dig cartoons as a teenager, and currently dig cartoons as an adult. So even though from my vantage point as pushing-forty adult type my teenage years were "childhood," I'm only talking about my favorites from childhood childhood.

                                  My favorite cartoons as a kid:
                                  • Alvin and the Chipmunks 
                                  • The Care Bears
                                  • Charmkins
                                  • The Ewoks
                                  • The Gummi Bears
                                  • The Hugga Bunch
                                  • Inspector Gadget
                                  • It's Punky Brewster
                                  • Jem and the Holograms
                                  • The Littles
                                  • The Mysterious Cities of Gold
                                  • The Popples
                                  • Rainbow Brite
                                  • She-Ra
                                  • Shirt Tales
                                  • The Smurfs
                                  • The Snorks
                                  • Woody Woodpecker  
                                  Hooray for the 1980s.

                                  For the record, I didn't really like any live-action shows as a kid. I had a weird belief that kids' shows were animated and adult shows were not, and if a show was not animated, I thought it was not for me. The exception was Sesame Street, so I guess that technically belongs up there too. I didn't like a lot of the other live-action shows I knew to be for kids like Electric Company and Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood

                                  I didn't really start developing favorite characters for most of these unless I was really into them. I didn't even know the characters' names in some cases. But I had favorites in a few cases, and sometimes when my sisters and I would play games, we would pretend to be our favorites and act out stuff from the cartoons.

                                  For Alvin and the Chipmunks, my sisters and I actually just liked the Chipmunk Adventure movie, and we dug the Chipettes. I would usually be Brittany. Largely because she was the bossy/leader type and I thought as the eldest I should be her, and I liked her leg warmers.

                                  I was honestly not huge into The Care Bears but my friend Ellen was so I enjoyed it along with her. My favorite was Birthday Bear and I still have a little pillow plush of him.

                                  For the Ewoks cartoon I was kind of obsessed with Princess Kneesaa and I got my mom to make me a cape that was like hers, with little Ewok ears on it even. To be honest I'm sure I only liked her because she was a princess and a girl.

                                  I liked Sunny from The Gummi Bears and Huggins from The Hugga Bunch. And I really wanted to be Penny from Inspector Gadget. She had a computer book and could talk to her dog on her wristwatch! Sometimes my sister would pretend to be Brain the dog. I don't think we ever came up with any actual ideas for mysteries to solve though.

                                  I liked the Punky Brewster cartoon and thought Punky herself was a lot of fun. Jem and the Holograms made me think I wanted to be in a rock band, and I thought Jem was awesome. I used to sometimes play I was Lucy from The Littles. I had a Rainbow Brite coloring book and Rainbow herself was my favorite. I sometimes pretended to be She-Ra and loved playing with the dolls. And even though I was obsessed with The Smurfs in early elementary school, I did not have a favorite Smurf.

                                  Probably my favorite cartoon character throughout elementary school was Potato Chip from Popples though. I had a HUGE thing for Popples, for what had to be a couple years. I had all the different Popples' color combinations memorized and could tell you which Popples were in which size categories (there were three big ones, three medium ones, and three little ones).
                                  Gosh, and I still feel weirdly happy when I look at her. :)

                                  When I was a child, the formula for being my favorite seemed to depend on a) being a girl; b) being a blonde; and c) having some association with pink. I just automatically liked girls who looked like me and wore pink. It's weird how consistently that played out, with Jerrica/Jem being a blonde sometimes and a pink-haired rock star sometimes and Potato Chip being a yellow-furred pink-haired Popple and Brittany dressing in pink and Huggins being the pink doll and Birthday Bear being yellow with a pink cupcake on his belly and Sunny being a yellow bear and She-Ra looking like what I thought I would look like as a grown-up. Amazing how easy it is to find characters that look like you if you're a blonde white girl, huh? Yeah.