Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween 2016

Look everyone, I'm a cartoon character!

Yours truly as Mabel Pines of Gravity Falls.
(For comparison)
What a cute nerd!
So yep, my costume is a cartoon character and it is not from Steven Universe, which is the most unbelievable thing about me dressing up as a cartoon character.

Mabel is half of a set of twins on the show. Her brother, Dipper, was played by good old Jeaux!

We make a good brother/sister team!
Dipper likes investigating mysteries and Mabel likes being a weirdo and sometimes helping.

This is a really cute show, and I've seen every episode exactly once. So I'm not a huge fan, but I am a fan. I haven't done a ton of specific characters in my Halloween repertoire, so this was really fun for me.

I used to go trick-or-treating every year. Well into my thirties. The logistics of doing so have gotten more complicated over the years, so I started just giving up and having a Halloween party, and figuring if I really wanted candy I could buy it myself (not as fun though). I hope I get trick-or-treaters tonight, but in past years I've gotten them very rarely. I do have candy and non-food treats if any little monsters visit me! And if they don't, I'm happy to eat the candy myself. 

I hope this tradition survives into more generations. There's really nothing like trick-or-treating and I don't want it to die. Things are changing, with more risks associated with approaching strangers' houses (our neighbors didn't used to be strangers in the past), and more risks associated with eating food from people you don't know, and more kids with food restrictions and allergies. (Hard to tell if allergies are increasing in frequency in this generation or if it's just that awareness is growing. I could probably look it up but I'm pretty lazy.)

It's weird that so many traditions that incorporated our neighbors have gone down the drain over the years, at least where I live. You really never see caroling or neighborhood celebrations for holidays. We don't know the people we live beside. (Well, I know my upstairs neighbors are buttholes who stomp constantly and are extremely inconsiderate with their various noise, but I do not know their names or their faces.) We've become connected in ways we didn't used to be through the Internet and through other available networking opportunities, but neighbors are less a part of our lives now. Which makes trick-or-treating, when it happens, a really interesting break from the walls we build.

I wonder if anyone would recognize us if Jeaux and I trick-or-treated? 

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Personal Digest Saturday: October 22 – October 28

Life news this week: 
  • Saturday was Drink and Draw. I did my necessaries before the event and Eric picked me up. It was a good time, and I got to meet a new person and drew some webcomics and character art. We had to leave early because Eric had a big job to do at his work, and then I went home and redecorated my apartment for Halloween.
  • Sunday I made a few videos--one for my writing channel, one with ukulele playing, and one for karaoke. I had to work around people being extremely loud outside with music and partying. Really frustrating. I practiced ukulele a lot.
  • Monday I started posting some links for Asexual Awareness Week on my author Facebook and doing some minimal posts about it here and there. I spent a bunch of time on a blog post nobody read, and read a comic book, tried on my Halloween costume, and took inventory so I could make a shopping list for my big Halloween party.
  • Tuesday was my Day Of Not Being Able To Get A Hold Of People. I made something like twenty phone calls that weren't answered. (Thirteen of them were my apartment complex though. I was trying to get on the list for pest control. Finally got through.) I had to clean out stuff in my kitchen and made some molasses-ginger animal cookies.
  • Wednesday I met Jeaux and did some preliminary shopping, and we hung out at my place. After he left I made pumpkin pie and did dishes and drew some comics.
  • Thursday my mom took me to Bonefish Grill for dinner and took me grocery shopping. I baked a pumpkin roll while on the phone with Victor and finished my webcomic.
  • Friday I didn't go to work because I'd asked for the day off so I could save my mental health while preparing for my party. I spent the day baking and rearranging my living room for people to fit in it. I baked cookies, two kinds of muffins, and a new kind of vegan brownies. And I even had time to mess around on the Internet. Hooray.

New reviews of my book:
      Interviews, Features, Mentions:
      Reading progress:
        New singing performances:

        This week's performance was "The Sound of White" by Missy Higgins.

        New drawings:

        I did one character sketch of Pearl with her spear at Drink and Draw this week.

        First time trying to draw that thing.

        And then the usual webcomic stuff.

        Webcomic Negative One Issue 0598: "A Different Secret."

        New videos:

        First, a very special unlisted ukulele video: I played "We Are the Crystal Gems," which was a hard song to learn because of all the new chords and key change. It's the Steven Universe theme song! I illustrated it with some visuals to help people figure out what the heck I'm talking about. Also I threw in some experimental strumming styles. So it's maybe kinda messy, but a LOT of fun.


        And I also did a writing video on my writing channel. It's called On Writing Characters from Different Religious Backgrounds.

        New photos:

        Playing ukulele in my Cookie Cat dress!
        These are some pretty awesome figures.
        My ace flag hair bow for Asexual Awareness Week!
        And there were some photos I got from Victor this week that were from last week's Thai Temple outing, so I'll share those too:

        My food!

        Eric making a masterpiece.

        I'm drawing cartoons.

        Joy in her Rose Quartz shirt looking lovely.

        Joy and me at the Thai Temple.

        Me by the river.

        Social Media counts:
        YouTube subscribers: 5,342 for swankivy (6 new), 604 for JulieSondra (lost 1). Twitter followers: 853 for swankivy (6 new), 1,314 for JulieSondra (10 new). Facebook: 294 friends (no change) and 203 followers (no change) for swankivy, 645 likes for JulieSondra (1 new), 56 likes for Negative One (no change), 126 likes for So You Write (1 new). Tumblr followers: 2,484 (17 new). Instagram followers: 87 (no change).

        Wednesday, October 26, 2016

        Wednesday Factoid: Viral

        Today's Wednesday Factoid is: Would you want your photo or video to go viral?

        Kind of a hard question for me actually.

        First of all, I've been a creator on social media for many years and some of my work has been popular. I don't really think anything I've made has ever truly "gone viral," but some things I've created have been shared hundreds of thousands of times and have resulted in a lot of attention. But I'm not sure where the line is to consider something "viral." I've never had commentary tweeted at me every few seconds for days, nor have I been approached by multiple mainstream media outlets to use my content. (That does happen once in a while, but usually not all at the same time for the same creation.)

        By and large, being mildly popular on the Internet is stressful. Especially when it's sustained over many years and you know anything you do under certain media accounts will be viewed and dissected thousands of times. I have to admit that it can take a toll, and that I've come to expect the worst every time I open my e-mail. Of course, it's really nice that most of the time it isn't a mean message. It's just that the awful ones can really take a lot out of you.

        The closest I've probably come to "going viral" is when I was targeted by trolls several times. 
        • I had one of my essays shared on early Reddit (resulting in a bombardment of vile e-mails). 
        • I had a writeup of how pathetic I am posted on Something Awful (resulting in a wave of "mysterious" criticism of every facet of my online life). 
        • I had a troll stalk me for fourteen days straight posting one of my popular videos on 4chan and pretending to BE ME while inviting questions and answering them in a deliberately condescending, elitist fashion (resulting in literally thousands of harassing comments on my YouTube channel). 
        • I had a /b/ forum member make a permanent post claiming my asexuality was connected to pedophilia and posted my full name in connection with this claim, and I had to get a lawyer to shut it down. 
        • I had two different people post pictures of naked women who vaguely looked like me in that they were blonde white ladies and claimed they were me, and that I didn't mind posing nude because to me bodies aren't sexual. 
        • I had a mainstream news organization use a vacation photo of me in a bathing suit in an article shared worldwide, announcing that I was a thirty-five-year-old virgin and other sensationalistic-sounding lines that led to men from various countries sending me abuse, threats, and weird aggressive marriage proposals on Facebook and Twitter. 
        • And of course nearly every time I've given an interview to a mainstream magazine or news outlet, the comments filled up with abuse commenting on my appearance (or presumed appearance if there was no photo), my likely mental illnesses, the awfulness that has manifested through feminism to let women think they don't have to have sex these days, my obvious selfishness, and my probable sexual abuse that "caused" me to be asexual. Sometimes people use the linked information in these articles to e-mail me privately and lecture me to see a therapist or a doctor, proposition me for sex while claiming I have an obligation to "try" the services of a self-proclaimed master of the art before I say I don't like sex, or invite me to a "debate" or hostile environment where they obviously intend to attack me in a semi-public forum. 
        I guess my point is that getting a lot of online attention almost always leads to stressful, negative experiences. Sometimes it isn't worth it.

        It's really nice sometimes to get the messages from people who appreciate what I do, though. I've gotten tons of sweet messages from people who needed my content or benefited from it, and since I know most people who like something don't contact the creator, I have to imagine that the people who like my content are exponentially plentiful. When my content helps people, I appreciate the boost that comes with low-level viral sharing. But knowing what I know, I have to say that going legit viral would just be a bigger, more overwhelming version of what I've already experienced, and I've already had more than enough of that.

        So . . . in answer to the initial question. . . . 

        How about no.

        Monday, October 24, 2016

        Asexual Awareness Week 2016

        It's Asexual Awareness Week y'all!

        Here's a video I made some time ago consisting of NICE messages. We all know I get a ton of really awful messages, but let's focus on the people who have been so kind as to tell me how I'm making a difference for them, who have appreciated the work I've done, and have supported ME along the way.

        [If this doesn't play for you, try the version with different music.]

        Why do we have Asexual Awareness Week? Well, there's the obvious, of course: we want people to know asexual people exist, and we want people to know how to support us, and we want everyday exploration and examination of sexual diversity to include us.

        Here are some basics you can share from my cornucopia of resources:

        Saturday, October 22, 2016

        Personal Digest Saturday: October 15 – October 21

        Life news this week: 
        • Saturday I kinda did the minumum activity to not actually turn into a bump on a log. I recorded a new ukulele song, did a book review, and packed a bag for the early trip I'd be taking the next day. Ehh.
        • Sunday was awesome--it was my friend Victor's birthday party out at the Thai Temple, and almost everyone he invited came! My bus ride was almost a disaster but not quite--I almost missed the bus because my coffee mug turned out to be inappropriate at the last minute and I couldn't find a lid for the substitute! But I figured it out and ran for the stop, and made it with a minute to spare. Once at the Temple I got to see my friends Jeaux, Joy, Yasmin, Anita, and Eric. We ate good food and hung out for a long time, and I got some drawing done too! And then Joy was nice enough to drive me home so I didn't have to take three buses. I took a nap and spent the rest of the day chilling and doing laundry.
        • Monday was a long work day and was okay except a) my heels had blisters and b) I was hungry all day for some reason. I got computer stuff done, did grocery shopping after work, talked to my mom on the phone, played my ukulele, and got a bunch of dishes done--plus I decided to try the absurd Snack Sushi recipe I saw on a Steven Universe short (avocado sushi with . . . cheese puffs in it . . . yeah I don't know either). I took some weird pictures of it that are in the photos section.
        • Tuesday work was longer than expected because I stayed to finish a project but someone else wasn't done with their part so I didn't really need to stay. Then I met up with my mom and we ate at Burger Monger for the first time. She said her burger was good. I liked my grilled cheese! Then I showed my mom some ukulele songs. After she left I read and slept.
        • Wednesday I ordered pizza for the office and we had a spelling bee. It sounds weird, but we are a weird office. I didn't win it if you can believe that. Then I met Jeaux for Panera where I literally ate a cinnamon roll for dinner. We listened to Night Vale and didn't do much else, and after he left I also didn't do much else.
        • Thursday I woke up early for some reason and still didn't do anything important. I helped at work with a presentation and went home and read a book. Then I talked to Victor on the phone and played with some new toys that came in the mail. :)
        • Friday everyone at the office was out at a meeting except me and Jessica. It was a low-key day. Then I went home and did my webcomics and actually got some pretty important stuff done, like making a shopping list, buying a birthday gift, and making plans for my next webcomic storyboard. Also, I voted by mail.

        New reviews of my book:
        • None.
            Interviews, Features, Mentions:
            • Nothing I wanna talk about. 
            Reading progress:
              New singing performances:

              This week's performance was "Love Don't Live Here Anymore" by Madonna.

              New drawings:

              I did some new Steven Universe drawings, one colored and one not.

              Messy pencil sketch of younger Steven
              learning ukulele.
              And the colors are off but this is my group Gem Hug. :)

              And then the usual webcomic stuff.

              Webcomic So You Write Issue 65: "Five Times."

              Webcomic Negative One Issue 0597: "In Our Hearts."

              New videos:

              I decided to start uploading my ukulele videos to a hidden list on YouTube, so here's the latest: Linger by the Cranberries. I know this isn't very good but I'm getting better at it, really.


              New photos:

              Victor making a weird face for our selfie at Thai Temple.
              Jeaux exists, though some don't believe it.
              Eric is a pretty princess.
              Joy is enjoying the noms and the sun.
              Eric and Jeaux.
              More Eric and Jeaux. I couldn't tell what I was photographing because it was bright.
              Jeaux and Anita.
              Making my Snack Sushi.
              Completed sushi rolls.
              Gonna feed some to my Lion like in the cartoons.
              Here's the cheese puff sushi up close. It's way good.
              Voted by mail!

              And the haircut comparison photos:

              Front, February 2014
              Front, October 2016
              Back, February 2014
              Back, October 2016

              Social Media counts:
              YouTube subscribers: 5,336 for swankivy (no change), 605 for JulieSondra (4 new). Twitter followers: 847 for swankivy (1 new), 1,304 for JulieSondra (lost 6). Facebook: 294 friends (no change) and 203 followers (1 new) for swankivy, 644 likes for JulieSondra (1 new), 56 likes for Negative One (no change), 125 likes for So You Write (lost 1). Tumblr followers: 2,467 (lost 1). Instagram followers: 87 (no change).

              Wednesday, October 19, 2016

              Wednesday Factoid: Introvert vs. Extrovert

              Today's Wednesday Factoid is: Are you more introverted or extroverted?

              Introvert, definitely.

              "Introvert" is frequently misinterpreted as a synonym for "shy." It's also frequently treated by extroverts as a problem to "get past," as if introverts are having less fun or limiting their opportunities or suffering from fear if they admit to being introverts.

              I think information about introvert vs. extrovert is becoming more common now; I don't see the misinterpretations as often as I used to. But people still sometimes express surprise that I could consider myself an introvert if I am not shy, if I'm not scared of public speaking or public performance, and if I can visit crowded public places or interact socially without a problem.

              Introversion isn't some kind of character hangup that stops people from doing things. It's an expression of personality and comfort; it means that where a "people person" would feel rejuvenated by human contact, I find social interaction to be more of a drain on my resources, and I need alone time to recuperate. That doesn't mean that crowds in general bother me at all--in fact, I'd be far more drained from intense social interaction with an individual or small group than I would be moving through a crowd or performing for strangers. It also doesn't mean I resent or suffer due to social interactions. I just don't need it or want it all the time, and like to spend a lot of time alone.

              It strikes me as very odd when people interpret this as a defense mechanism. As if the only reason someone might make a claim about preferring their own company would be if they didn't have friends or couldn't get anyone to give them attention. But I guess I shouldn't be surprised. A certain type of person assigns their own beliefs and desires as normal and default, and casts suspicion on anyone who doesn't value the same things. The easiest thing to do is shame them, accuse them of lying, or frame happiness as necessarily containing very specific factors that everyone "needs." I would never tell someone who felt fulfilled with a whirlwind social life and spent almost no time alone that they were clearly compensating for not being able to handle their own company, nor would I make condescending comments about them not knowing themselves very well if they're always bouncing off someone else. I understand that people's wants and needs are diverse. So it's weird how I encounter so many challenges to mine.

              Tuesday, October 18, 2016

              More thoughts on bullying

              Last week I wrote about bullying on my Wednesday Factoid prompted blog, but I have some thoughts on its mechanics now. And it happens to be National Bullying Prevention Month, so here are my thoughts.

              In recommendations regarding bullying, we usually see a lot of commentary on what you should do if you are bullied, and a little bit of weak commentary on how bullies shouldn't bully without much examination as to why they do. But I want to talk about the enablers.

              The victim blamers.

              I touched on this last week when I mentioned several times that adults assured me I was being picked on because a boy liked me. This goes hand in hand with any comment that responds to "I'm being bullied" with "they're doing this because of X." Trying to explain the bullying, and trying to either frame it as inevitable or frame it as something you, the bullied person, have a responsibility to handle properly. Or else it will just keep happening to you. You, who did not choose your bully, but were chosen by your bully. You, who presumably did nothing to deserve the bullying or negative attention, and you, who now get to deal with other people suggesting you have caused the bullying by one of your own actions or inactions.

              The message this sends is that bullying is a natural occurrence that just "happens"--it, unlike whatever you did to deserve it, is not a decision. It's just Thing That Happens, and there's no use in addressing it at the source. Bullying will happen unless You Do Something About It, and it has to be the right thing, and it has to work, and if you won't handle it properly then hey, guess you'll just have to suffer.

              I have been told as an adult and also as a child that the "answer" is "just ignore it" or "don't let him know he's getting to you" or "bully him back" or "laugh with him" or "stop letting it bother you" or "it's because you make yourself a target." Whenever I've had these things suggested to me as an adult (usually in more subtle ways), I instantly remember all the times I was shamed for not "handling it" as a child. It really hasn't changed, though I of course have these issues far less frequently. But even in adult life if I complain about a difficult work situation or discuss a bad experience with another adult talking to me in a disrespectful way, I still occasionally get told that it's because of something I'm doing to attract it.

              I'm not sure if people understand they're essentially saying "You're not respectable, because if you were, people would respect you." I'm not sure if people understand they're reinforcing the bullies' ideology--that the bullying isn't something they make the decision to do, but something that happens to you if you're weak in a certain way. I'm not sure if people understand they're giving victims less power, not more.

              In a different but sort of related situation, I had a recurring problem for a while in my young adulthood when I would visit someone else's home and get jumped on, scratched, and licked by a dog they would not control. I'm not really afraid of dogs (unless they are violent), but I don't really like touching them or interacting with them. I just kinda like watching them. But I do NOT like when they jump on me or lick me. I usually respond to this by turning around so the dog a) can't jump on my more tender areas and b) sees a signal I'm not interested in interacting. But during these times I was repeatedly told that the dog did this to me because I didn't preemptively say or do something I was supposed to do to stop them from jumping on me, or because the dog just wants to play awww why don't you just give him a scratch, or because the dog could inherently sense I was afraid (I was not).

              Notice that the dog owner never acknowledged that it was okay for me to not like this behavior, and that they never acknowledged that they had the power to control their dog.

              When you let someone undergo an experience they have been vocal about not enjoying, and you tell them it's happening to them because they did the wrong thing/failed to do the right thing/inherently cause the situation . . . congratulations, you're enabling bullying. Not that I would ordinarily want to compare a doggie to a bully, though. In human interactions, human bullies are making those decisions, and those with the power to put them on a leash don't do it. Usually it's because they either make noises about the bully's right to not be on a leash (irrespective of the bullied person's greater suffering) or because they don't believe or don't care that the bullied person is suffering at all. It's not that bad, I'm sure you've heard. And it's so inconvenient when we mind. If only we just liked or humored every dog that jumps on us and slobbers on us while ripping our shirts and leaving scratches on our skin. If only we said "no" in the right tone of voice that we were supposed to somehow know, or if only didn't attract enthusiastic dogs with our body language.

              So my message isn't for the bullied people or the bullies themselves. It's for the enablers. The people who make bullied people feel there's no escape, or that they cause the bullying, or that they shouldn't complain about it if they're not willing to try (usually) impractical, superficial adjustments to their own behavior, or that they should fight the bully on their own terms so they'll never mess with someone again (ha, ha, ha). If you have advice, ask if they're looking for perspectives before you tell them what to do, and never phrase it as "why didn't you just X?" or "that's happening because you Y."

              Express sympathy, and don't say anything that blames them for the behavior they're tolerating, even if you think you know why bullies react to it. Don't just tell them bullies are weak or are jealous of them or are interested in them romantically as an explanation of their behavior; this frames bullying as a force of nature. You might consider helping them look up resources, but don't dump judgmental advice on them in a way that makes them feel like standing up to bullying might be worse than the bullying itself. Or that you as their friend (or whatever you are) can't be trusted as an ally. You don't want to be one more person who wouldn't listen or wouldn't understand. You don't want to be one more person to tell them they're bullied because something in who they are is wrong, not because bullies decide to bully.

              And yes, before anyone says it, conflict resolution skills can sometimes be helpful. It's not abusive or cruel to offer coping ideas or engagement techniques if the person is asking you what to do or seems open to your suggestions if you offer. What you want to avoid is making them feel like they deserve to be bullied unless they "handle it." You also want to avoid teaching them that they're a target, or that any trait they have is a natural magnet that they should just expect people to harass them for. People can get very self-conscious if they're trained to believe bullying types are instantly noticing something about them and zooming in on it to start torment. Not many people who are bullied react to this by "toughening up" or changing the traits that are changeable. Mostly they just end up losing more confidence, which--as you have probably noticed--makes them less prepared to handle if a bully targets them.

              If you truly want to help bullying victims, don't make them feel responsible for their bullying. First and foremost, express sympathy and remind them they don't deserve this treatment, and secondly, identify the source of the bullying as the bully, not something they do to make it happen to them (e.g., "if you weren't so girly they wouldn't tease you," "your clothing choices make people think you're awkward," "if you didn't talk that way they'd have nothing to mock you for"). And if you're dealing with a child or someone who is being viciously bullied in a way that's potentially dangerous (e.g., it crosses the line into destruction of property, physically painful pranks, stealing personal items, or stalking), you might help them contact the proper authorities--supervisors, principals, or law enforcement.

              And please, don't try some inspirational movie–inspired tactic like pushing them to show them who's boss by issuing a worse/more effective prank, getting the bully in trouble with a ruse to embarrass or shame them for something they didn't do, or harassing the bully yourself. This is not a good idea and doesn't help, even if movies usually show the bully getting theirs and then running away or swearing off bullying forever. Real bullies are vindictive people who hurt others for a variety of reasons, and not all of them do it because of lack of confidence, attempts at compensation, jealousy, or deep dissatisfaction with their own lives. You don't necessarily know why they do it, and you shouldn't pretend to know or prey on them for their weaknesses. Point is, if you try to get back at them, they will usually lose their temper and bully far worse, not back off forever and sit down defeated. People who retaliate in mean-spirited ways or use underhanded tactics also can't appeal to law and order as easily if a feud gets out of hand. The focus should be on stopping the bullying, not punishing the bully.

              I don't care to offer specific anti-bullying instructions because a) I'm no authority on that and b) the situations where bullies bully are so individual and diverse, but I did want to say this for people on the sidelines. Do not become an enabler. The bullies are the perpetrators, but you, as an enabler, would be one of the people who makes the world safe for their bullying.

              Saturday, October 15, 2016

              Personal Digest Saturday: October 8 – October 14

              Life news this week: 
              • Saturday I actually mostly just did things I'd been meaning to do all week! I also played my ukulele a lot and reviewed a book. Sigh.
              • Sunday I banged out a bunch of content--some videos and Internet maintenance, mostly. And I got the dishes and laundry done. I know it is super fascinating.
              • Monday I worked, went grocery shopping, and made sushi at home! I had never made sushi before and it was sort of successful but I made the rolls too big. And at night I did some video editing.
              • Tuesday I actually got a battery changed at the office so now it's not beeping all the time anymore. Mom didn't want to hang out so I did some drawings and made sushi again with my leftover materials. Came out much better this time!
              • Wednesday was spent buried in wires again and I helped the folks with graphics. I met Jeaux for Burger 21 food, and we went to my place to consume media: a news program, a silly Internet video, Night Vale, and a recording of a Steven Universe panel at a convention. I drew a picture while we were listening to the podcast. After he left I just worked on video editing and played ukulele.
              • Thursday was uneventful except I talked to Victor on the phone and drew pictures for my comic. It was a really good talk though.
              • Friday was sort of long at work, and afterwards I met Mom and we went shopping at Target together. I got a final piece for my Halloween costume and bought some fun plates for my party.

              New reviews of my book:
                  Interviews, Features, Mentions:
                  • None.
                  Reading progress:
                    New singing performances:

                    This week's performance was a duet with EmmaJane: "What Is This Feeling?" from Wicked!

                    New drawings:

                    I did some new Steven Universe drawings of an experimental sort this week.

                    This one is my favorite Crystal Gem, Garnet, giving you the eye. Well, more than one.

                    Pretty sure you will not succeed in hiding from her.

                    And here I tried to draw her without using any references for the first time. I mostly got her details right, and it's decent for not using a model despite the variations.

                    "~this is garnet~!"
                    And finally, I tried another reference-less doodle of other characters, which was not quite as successful but it's still cute.

                    Ruby and Sapphire, the show's power couple!
                    And then the usual webcomic.

                    Webcomic Negative One Issue 0596: "Faraway Shot."

                    New videos:

                    I decided to start uploading my ukulele videos to a hidden list on YouTube, so here's the latest: Cecilia by Simon and Garfunkel.

                    And my latest asexuality video is Letters to an Asexual #40, which is about terminology we use and interpretations of contradictions in terms.


                    New photos:

                    In the process of making sushi for the first time.
                    I made sushi rolls that turned out to be too big for my mouth.

                    Social Media counts:
                    YouTube subscribers: 5,336 for swankivy (lost 9), 601 for JulieSondra (no change). Twitter followers: 846 for swankivy (4 new), 1,310 for JulieSondra (4 new). Facebook: 294 friends (no change) and 202 followers (2 new) for swankivy, 644 likes for JulieSondra (1 new), 56 likes for Negative One (no change), 126 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,468 (1 new). Instagram followers: 87 (1 new).

                    Wednesday, October 12, 2016

                    Wednesday Factoid: Bullying

                    Today's Wednesday Factoid is: Were you ever bullied in school?

                    Oh yeah. You better believe I was bullied.

                    I don't think it was incredibly intense. I don't recall being the specific target of any large-scale bullying campaigns or anything, but you know, you do the math. I'm quiet and small and daydreamed a lot and read a lot and took advanced classes. People like me were always targets.

                    I don't recall any extensive physical bullying, thankfully. I did have a boy in fourth grade who used to try to touch me on the playground (petting my hair and stuff) and when I'd run away from him he'd chase me, catch up to me easily, and then put both hands on my shoulders from behind and jump so his weight went down on me and I'd fall. He also used to pester me to give him my snacks in the classroom. I told the teacher and she got him to stop, though I also got to hear from other people that I should find it flattering because he probably liked me.

                    When I was older, in middle school, there was a boy whose last name was so close to mine that we were always next to each other if lockers or seats were arranged in alphabetical order. He was an absolute ass, and used to do stuff like waiting until I was done with an assignment before leaning over and scribbling on my paper with a pen so I'd have to copy it over, or wiping spit on me, or one time he hit his own head on my locker door when he wasn't looking and he blamed me for it (and "punished" me for it by slamming my own locker door against me so I had a bruise, and weirdly he called me a "faggot" while he was doing it, so I guess he didn't know what that word meant). 

                    That same guy used to chase and kick my best friend, and I mean they would kick each other very hard and practically wrestle. I counted myself lucky that no one would do that to me, but she was bigger than him and I guess maybe it's not very satisfying to hit or hurt someone who's really small. When we were in high school he tried to be nice and sociable to me and I didn't accept it.

                    Boys who rode my bus in middle school latched onto harassing me pretty early on. These two clowns from my neighborhood would sit behind wherever I sat, and they would make fun of me for not having friends to sit with. One of them would lean over the seat and ask me over and over again "Are you a loner?" and then both boys would laugh. One day one of them put gum in my hair and everyone laughed at me for crying about it. I was also again told that these boys liked me and didn't know how to show it.

                    I'm not really sure if the bullying "stopped" in high school or if I just didn't give a crap? I had a lot of other stuff going on and had things to be passionate about, I guess. I was also more confident and had more friends around me who had common interests, so I guess I looked like less of a target. I did tend to be friends with people who weren't typical, though, so I guess I'd occasionally deal with nonsense, but nothing like elementary and middle school.

                    I did have a couple weird little incidents in college, though. And again, it was a symptom of being alone, apparently. In music school we were required to be in an ensemble, and for singers that meant choral groups. I auditioned to get into the audition-only selective group, University Choir, figuring if I didn't get in I'd just join one of the open groups, but I did get in. Which, unbeknownst to me at the time, meant singing with people much older than me (upperclassmen and grad students). I believe there were two freshmen in the group of fifty. So I didn't know anyone from my classes.

                    I took to reading before class and during class breaks instead of talking to people around me--most of my interactions with the older sopranos around me were weirdly antagonistic, so I kept to myself. At the end of the year there was a sort of unofficial yearbook that someone made, and it had some photos of the members. All of the photos of other people were with groups, smiling or posing, and then there was a shot of me, by myself, reading. I don't think there was a caption. At an event celebrating the culmination of the year, I got a gag award for being an airhead. It was called the "Hello! Up here!" award. Yeah, I got to get called to a podium during an event and receive the "award." That's a really gross thing to do. Though I do recall that a bunch of the awards were in poor taste. (I don't remember the title of this one, but one girl received an "award" that implied no one knew who she was or could remember her name unless you refer to her by the size of her boobs.)

                    There was also this dude in that class who took a liking to pestering me. He had a girlfriend and was a frat boy, but people I talked to about it STILL said he must just be an unconfident guy who didn't know how to talk to girls. (I'm really, really sick of that narrative.) I actually forget what he even did. I just remember he'd come find me and say inappropriate things to me and then laugh when I didn't like it. And the interactions always felt like he thought we were playing, but I'd make it clear I didn't want to play and didn't like him, and he'd still give me the "you know you like it" nonsense. Weirdly, this bully had a redemption. We did Secret Santas in our choral group, and I have a history of getting secret partners who literally give me nothing or get me something inappropriate (in Girl Scouts my secret pal never got any gifts for me except ONE time and it was a candy cane pen--for the girl who doesn't celebrate Christmas). But that year I got a couple really nice packages, including a tee shirt for a cartoon I liked.

                    When the secret partners were revealed, I found out not only was my Secret Santa this guy, but that he'd gone to the organizers and requested me. He wrote me a note saying he realized he'd been teasing me all year and had only recently realized that he'd gone too far and wanted to make it up to me. That was relatively cool of him. Still kinda felt like too little too late (and people somehow always manage to underestimate how small I am; the tee shirt was too big), but it's a way better story than most.