Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wednesday Factoid: Healthy Eating

Today's Wednesday Factoid is: Are your eating habits healthy?

I probably eat healthier than most people I know. I eat vegetables, don't end up with much saturated fat in my diet (you know, not eating meat helps with that), pretty much never have fast food, and don't drink alcohol at all. I also don't keep much junk food in the house. My "junk food" is popcorn and I guess cheese counts. Unless I baked the junk food myself, I probably don't have it in the house. Well, except for popsicles. But the ones I eat most of the time are low-calorie yogurt bars and they're very good but not particularly bad for you.

But I don't eat enough greens lately, do sometimes eat stuff like french fries or deep-fried vegetables (from frozen), and tend to put a lot of salt on things. I don't have high blood pressure so I figure there's no reason not to season my food how I like it, and it doesn't seem to have affected me negatively. And I drink diet soda and consume a decent amount of coffee, so if it's your belief that caffeine or artificial sweetener is bad, I'm pretty bad.

Man, this post makes me want a salad.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Out of love

I was looking at the bulletin board above my desk and how it features several people I don't talk to anymore.

A couple of them are folks I still exchange words with on Facebook once in a while. Most of them are not. This bulletin board is ten years old. It pictures seven people I really don't talk to anymore.

One I don't talk to because it's my grandma and she has Alzheimer's and doesn't really hold conversations anymore, so that doesn't count. Another is my friend Mike and he died when he was twenty, so that doesn't count either.

The others are just . . . people who aren't really in my life. One is someone I used to chat with online almost every day in college, and I don't know what she's doing now. One is an old classmate who remained close with me for years before she moved out of state and remained an extremely private person to those outside her inner circle (and I guess I am outside of it). One is a friend who was very invested in communicating with me until he got married and I guess I'm not filling that need for him anymore. One is someone whose opinions and thoughts I value but with whom I just don't have much in common. One dropped out of my life after being a fixture for years, but he tested me once too often and stopped coming around when I started deliberately failing his tests.

If I'd made a similar billboard twenty years ago, I imagine the same thing would have happened--attrition for many, but surprising endurance of relationships that stood the test of time. I'm sure some of the people who were in my inner circle back then were people I considered lifelong friends, and I would have been shocked to learn they dropped out of my life in the future. In most cases I kinda don't care, though I still hold a candle for some of them. But even though I grew in a different direction from some of those people or we just lost track of each other, I don't really think I ever fell out of love with them.

I still carry the warmth I felt for those people. I still treasure the memories, and there are only a few that feel bitter in my recollection of the past. If many of them came back into my life, I would most likely welcome their presence there, though in most of these cases I also don't feel a draw to deliberately seek them out and rekindle the flame.

It's sort of like the hobbies I used to engage in. Did I fall out of love with them? Not really. There are just certain authors, certain musical artists, certain movies, certain shows, certain pastimes I don't find as compelling anymore. I've changed since those times, but I haven't changed fundamentally. So I still see what was very good about those things and why they deserved my attention, and why they contributed to who I became. I don't look back on who I was when I liked those things or those people and think I was silly. I'm not embarrassed of my tastes or my relationships from the past. I didn't stop loving them.

We don't have to make a clean break from our past to continue forward. Even the painful things have surely been formative in some way, and I think it's damaging to suggest that the only healthy way into the future is to cut these pieces out of ourselves. We don't have to love them or want to return to them, but we have to acknowledge what they did for us. And if it was really awful, we can learn to counteract it. But burying it and being resentful of it and ignoring it and denying that it was important? That will not free you.

I'm looking at some of these people on this board and I'm sad they aren't part of my life anymore. In a couple cases I am certainly thinking "thank goodness I don't have to deal with that anymore." I'm also looking at the ones who are still here and contemplating which photos of them I should use when I update this thing. But it's okay that some of these people aren't going to make it to the current billboard. I can love who they were then, and love that they contributed to my life. I can wish them well and still be content if I never see them again.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Personal Digest Saturday: November 19 – November 25

Life news this week: 
  • Saturday I submitted some short stories to magazines, relaxed, and didn't get anything done on my other projects until the late evening. I chatted to my sister on the phone and made biscuits, though.
  • Sunday I cleaned out my e-mail inbox a little bit, chatted to my friend Paul, and did my usual Sunday stuff which includes laundry and karaoke.
  • Monday I had to turn in a letter at work, and then I did some reading and e-mail cleanup. I went to the grocery store after work and spent most of the evening writing an e-mail to Jessie.
  • Tuesday was a slog at work. I did some blogging and had a low-key day because I felt like crap. My mom came over and brought me some cough medicine and hung out with me a little bit.
  • Wednesday I did some holiday wrap-up at the office. Then Jeaux came over and took me to Zaxby's in the car he rented for going out of town for Thanksgiving, so we got to go to a restaurant we don't get to eat at often. But they were closing early so we got our food to go and went back to my place to watch a funny program where voice actors from Steven Universe were watching their own show and reacting to it. I made some cookies after Jeaux went to work.
  • Thursday I had to get up early to go to Jeaux's Thanksgiving. We drove to Citra playing silly music in the car, and we ate with his family. We caught the end of the movie Shrek and had some nice chats with his sisters. On the way back Jeaux and I played the Steven Universe soundtrack until it started repeating. Man we're obsessed with that show. (He tried to evangelize it to his sister, too, and made her watch clips on his phone.) Then I went to my mom's and did some webcomic drawings while hanging out with her and eating her potatoes. And I fixed something on her computer. Woo!
  • Friday I mostly spent either drawing webcomics or doing online shopping for friends for Christmas. And a fair amount of slacking off 'cause I'm terrible.

New reviews of my book:
      Interviews, Features, Mentions:
        • Nobody's talking about me now. :o
          Reading progress:
          • Finished this week: I AM STILL A SLACKER SO NOTHING
          • Currently reading: The Free Lunch by Spider Robinson.
            New singing performances:

            This week's performance was "Take My Breath Away" by Berlin.

            And there is a bonus performance, because my friend Paul chimed in with his half of the Tangled duet that I recorded my part for last week. Here's the completed duet for "I See the Light."

            New drawings:

            Webcomic So You Write Issue 66: "I Already."

            Webcomic Negative One Issue 0602: "Winter Coat."

            New videos:

            My latest unlisted ukulele video is "Galileo" by the Indigo Girls--the first song I ever heard by them.


            New photos:

            Didn't really take any pictures this week except this photo
            of my ruby and amber jewel cookies for Thanksgiving.

            And the haircut comparison photos:

            Front, February 2014
            Front, November 2016
            Back, February 2014
            Back, November 2016

            Social Media counts:
            YouTube subscribers: 5,337 for swankivy (lost 1), 612 for JulieSondra (1 new). Twitter followers: 863 for swankivy (2 new), 1,319 for JulieSondra (1 new). Facebook: 294 friends (no change) and 204 followers (no change) for swankivy, 645 likes for JulieSondra (2 new), 57 likes for Negative One (no change), 127 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,495 (4 new). Instagram followers: 92 (1 new).

            Wednesday, November 23, 2016

            Wednesday Factoid: Saver vs. Tosser

            Today's Wednesday Factoid is: Are you a saver or a tosser?

            Definitely a saver.

            Also, this list obviously wasn't written by someone British.


            Uhmm, so, anyway, saver here. There are people who might disagree with me, but I don't feel like my saving habits are even anywhere close to hoarding; I just prefer to keep things rather than throw them away, and am not eager to replace things if they're fine the way they are.

            I'm not obsessive about this, but I am definitely of the opinion that I'd rather keep something and not use it than throw it away and worry that I might need it again.

            Most of the stuff I "keep" is of sentimental value. First-draft manuscripts, keepsakes, old drawings, cards from friends and family, ticket stubs. One thing that's unusual about my keeping behaviors is that they are very organized. I keep a lot of junk, but every "keep-forever" box has a list of what's in it on the outside, and I have an entire shelf of folders that keep certain papers, including friends' notes from my school years, drawings, class assignments, and stuff that's actually really fun to go through from time to time.

            My family knows I'm the archivist so if they ever need a certain photograph or need information about something, I probably kept track of it. Not only do I have it somewhere, but I can put my hands on it. And I've always been a keeper--as a child I loved organizing and collecting information, and it doesn't surprise me that it became something I did as a grown-up too. I'm more sentimental than most, but I don't think it extends into impracticality. Keeping lots of stuff doesn't stop me from doing anything and doesn't impede my lifestyle. I also keep books after I read them, especially if I really like a book, partly because it's nice to be able to lend books to people and partly because books sort of display a sense of taste when they're on your shelves. 

            I also keep a lot of stuff digitally. I save conversations and e-mails sometimes, and I will usually keep a photo someone sends me as an attachment or whatever. I save phone numbers. I always have people's addresses and birthdays if they give them to me. It's a state of mind, not a habit. And I think those folks who are tossers (lol) wouldn't be as cavalier about tossing if there weren't keepers around to find them that thing or remind them of that other thing if they didn't keep something. :)

            Tuesday, November 22, 2016

            Who's queer?

            This may not be news for some of you, but did you know many asexual people consider themselves queer?

            It's possible that that sounds very weird to some of you. But especially for those of us who either spend a lot of time in queer spaces or have an identity besides asexuality that is also on the queer spectrum, it seems pretty natural. And even some of us who are heteroromantic and cisgender still feel that "queer" fits us. Why is that?

            Believe me, the pushback is astronomical sometimes. If you're an asexual person whose partner is a different gender and you're perceived by society as a straight man and a straight woman, exactly how is that queer, you might ask? Well, I think asking that question assumes that queerness requires visibility and negativity to "count." And if you're aromantic (like me) and/or you're not actively partnering with anyone the non-queer world would interpret as a same-sex partner, some folks will say you have no right to use the label "queer."

            For those people who have been labeled queer as an insult or against their will, it certainly sounds bizarre for anyone to embrace it voluntarily. I can understand that. But since it is also becoming an umbrella term (and has been for years) for community, especially for those who fit under several rainbow stripes or whose identity is complicated, I think it's not ultimately helpful to interrogate and exclude people whose identity isn't one of the more traditional four letters of the LGBT. Not to mention that the B and the T are not universally accepted in the LGBT community either, considering how frequently bi folks are accused of not being queer enough if they are less visibly queer or have a partner who is or is perceived to be cross-sex and considering how frequently straight trans people who are commonly mistaken for cisgender are told they no longer have a reason to be supported by their community if they're "stealth." It doesn't make sense to base need for support or community on other people's perception of whether they can experience violence or oppression. (And in my experience, if we say we DO experience it along axes they haven't thought of, we are often told that it isn't painful enough or that we are lying about it.)

            If you want my opinion, asexuality is inherently queer. We're raised in a society that tells us our sexuality should look a certain way, and when it doesn't, we can and often do experience shaming, coercing, harassment, and subjection to rejection that mirrors homophobia. We're told we're unnatural and we're treated like we won't be fixed/happy/normal/satisfied unless we learn to be properly straight. And the actual experiences of aces in our society are not what they're often portrayed to be; sometimes people react with bafflement at this, saying "nobody cares" if we "don't have sex," but the act of abstinence is not what people are reacting to, and "not having sex" is not the definitive aspect of most asexual people's orientation. We are NOT, by and large, regarded as virtuous or pure for not having sex (which again is not necessarily what defines us as asexual), and if anyone thinks we're just pretty much left alone or ignored over our sexuality, they are not listening to us.

            But the harassment and potential violence we can and sometimes do experience is not what defines queerness, even if it's one of the reasons many of us want the support of community. Queerness would have a meaning even if homophobia and transphobia disappeared tomorrow. I believe it marks a sometimes transgressive search for identity, and that it calls into question assumptions that many straight cis people have never had to think about, and that it necessarily requires self-examination of a flavor that doesn't compute for cishets. That's not to say queer people are enlightened in a way non-queer people are not--that's not at all what I'm suggesting--but when we have seen the Way Things Are in expected sex and relationships and it seems wrong or exclusive of us somehow, we are forced to either find another place to fit in or create it ourselves. Well, that or hide and pretend. 

            When the picture of a happy future painted in nearly every piece of media and demonstrated by nearly every relationship around you fits what yours looks like, when it resonates with you, that is not a question you ever even have to ask yourself. Though you might. You might question whether you're queer and determine that you're not. But if you're cisgender and straight, I'm saying you probably did not have to do this and it was easy to skip that step during whatever your journey is/was. It doesn't mean it was therefore easy for you, or that you were guaranteed to succeed. It just means that was never an aspect of your search for happiness that you had to resolve, because the default answer fit you already. 

            It's like if your body is sized and shaped for common clothes on the rack, and you've always been able to find a variety of items in your size that also appeal to your taste and style. You may have never thought about friends or family of yours who find very few items off the rack that fit them, or those who have to get everything they buy altered, or those who cannot buy off the rack at all and must go to specialty stores that cost more or have little variety. And you may have never thought what it does to a person to have them think, every time they have to buy clothes, that they must be unacceptable in some way if they have to go to unusual amounts of trouble or cost to get clothes when other people don't have to think about it. And then you'll still see conversations that sound like "well my life isn't easy either, I have to roll up or hem every pair of pants I buy because I'm short!" "oh yeah? I can't buy off the rack at all, so miss me with your whining about hemming." You see people trying to avoid acknowledging greater struggles by drawing attention to their own lesser struggles, and you see people denying that lesser struggles are worth discussing or supporting at all because some people suffer greater clothes-related indignities. And you might even see tall people claiming they can't help being tall but fat people can help being fat so the big-and-tall stores shouldn't extend their support to fat people sizes since it takes resources away from outfitting the tall people. Welp. Or we could acknowledge that in general it sucks to struggle with clothes shopping, and we can stop putting moral value on struggle. We will probably have more luck changing the system if we lobby for clothing companies to acknowledge and design for body diversity, period. Though that is not to say we can't talk about these things within our communities--about why being too slim for common clothes is a different kind of message and has a different kind of effect than being too fat for common clothes, and how not fitting in clothes off the rack easily is not the same for everyone.

            There are absolutely people within the queer community who experience, overall, less hostility, and some of that is always going to be intersectional with their other gender and sexual identities, their class, their race, their ability/disability/illness, and where they live. I don't believe it's useful to single out any subgroup of queer identity and say "YOU--you do not experience oppression along this axis, so you do not belong here." And some people who are asexual may feel that the queer community is not the place for them and do not feel asexuality is inherently queer. Or maybe they have no use at all for that term and don't personally have enough connection to LGBT spaces or individuals to feel that the label has any meaning to them. (Just like, you know, there are trans people and same-sex-attracted people who aren't out or aren't loud and proud and don't join queer organizations.) 

            In my opinion, nobody should be gatekeeping who relates to such a broad term and who can be present in broadly defined spaces. In more specific subgroups, I think it's fine for someone leading an organization or group to call the shots on who they accept, but there shouldn't be a blanket block on cisgender asexual people who don't have same-sex partners, any more than there should be a block on bisexual people with a cross-sex partner or straight trans people who are primarily read as cis. Inclusion will generally result in better, safer spaces, and though there are exceptions to this, they should be made on an individual basis. Certainly not as a shaming technique to banish people whose queerness isn't enough like someone else's.

            Saturday, November 19, 2016

            Personal Digest Saturday: November 12 – November 18

            Life news this week: 
            • Saturday I had an adventure! I got up early to get on the bus and go meet Victor. We went to the flea market together and bought some stuff for our friends, and we also got to have lunch and boba tea while out and about, and shopped for used books! It was a great day except for getting hit on at the market by a gross dude.
            • Sunday I ate macarons for breakfast and played my ukulele a bunch. Also recorded a karaoke song that's half of a duet so my friend can do the other half! I ended up unexpectedly Facebook chatting with a couple friends for a bunch of the day while doing laundry, too.
            • Monday at work was full of slow fires I had to put out. Then after work my sister Lindsay picked me up! She was in town with her husband Mike, and we ate dinner at my mom's. She cooked us pasta and broccoli (and chicken parmesan for the meat-eaters). It was really nice to see my sister. Such a cutie. :)
            • Tuesday was a super late night at work because I had to print and bind a presentation. Well, 55 copies of a presentation. After work I just watched a bunch of cartoons and ate food that was bad for me.
            • Wednesday was more small, slow fires. After, I met Jeaux for Moe's food and we hung out, listened to Night Vale, and grocery shopped because I wanted special ingredients to make Cookie Cats. The next day was going to be a special episode of Steven Universe so I wanted to make a special food! After Jeaux left I did make the Cookie Cats. They were a pain as usual.
            • Thursday I had to count parking spaces. Hwaaarf. Then I went home after work, got my Cookie Cats out of the freezer, and went to Jeaux's for cartoons! He'd ordered pizza, too. So we sat around, watched the cartoons, ate the food and talked about the cartoons, and then I went home. I talked to Victor on the phone while drawing my webcomic, too.
            • Friday I had a nice short day to offset Tuesday, went home and finished my comic, and didn't really do much but eat leftover pizza and watch cartoons. :)

            New reviews of my book:
            • None!
                Interviews, Features, Mentions:
                  • None! Guess I stopped being famous!
                    Reading progress:
                    • Finished this week: I AM A SLACKER SO NO I DID NOT READ
                    • Currently reading: The Free Lunch by Spider Robinson.
                      New singing performances:

                      This week's performance was "I See the Light" from Tangled. This was a special request from my friend Paul, who wants to do this as a duet with me, so my side of it is here, but he hasn't done his yet.

                      New drawings:

                      Negative One weekly webcomic is up:

                      Webcomic Negative One Issue 0601: "More Like Us."

                      New videos:

                      My latest unlisted ukulele video is "Be Wherever You Are," which is a sweet song about being present from Steven Universe.


                      New photos:

                      Victor and me with our boba tea.
                      Victor's pretty cute in this shot!
                      Macarons for breakfast.
                      Lindsay and Mike eating Mom's din-din!
                      In-progress Cookie Cats about to hit the oven.
                      A complete Cookie Cat with ice cream inside!
                      Jeaux eating a Cookie Cat while wearing a Cookie Cat shirt. Nerd!
                      Enjoying the fruits of my labor.

                      Social Media counts:
                      YouTube subscribers: 5,338 for swankivy (lost 8), 611 for JulieSondra (7 new). Twitter followers: 861 for swankivy (1 new), 1,318 for JulieSondra (1 new). Facebook: 294 friends (no change) and 204 followers (1 new) for swankivy, 643 likes for JulieSondra (2 new), 57 likes for Negative One (no change), 127 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,491 (no change). Instagram followers: 91 (2 new).

                      Thursday, November 17, 2016

                      600 Issues

                      My webcomic Negative One hit its 600th issue last week.

                      In honor of the milestone, I tried a slightly different art style, using neutral gray markers instead of my usual sketchy pencil. It was an interesting change.

                      My mom was watching me draw this issue while she was hanging out at my house. She asked me to tell her what everyone thought of the different illustrations, and I told her I probably wouldn't get many comments. She disagreed and I said, "No, really, almost nobody comments on the comic." And she said, "Well then why do you do it?"

                      No offense to my mom of course, but this is kind of a bad question to ask an artist. I think she was asking because she wanted to know why I do it if not for feedback and evidence of audience enjoyment, but as a creator you can't help but wonder if such a question implies that you shouldn't make a work that gets little attention.

                      She understood and validated my response, though, and made it clear she accepted the inherent worth of the art form based on my relationship with it. I'll share that with you here.

                      Negative One is the result of my decision to "retire" a fantasy series I wrote in college. I wrote it during an enduring stream of enthusiasm for a good number of years, and for a while I thought I would be able to sell it, but I didn't even really work up to a solid try for publication before I'd realized (along with my research on how one approaches selling a story) that these particular books were never going to be publishable. At least, they'd never be publishable how they were, not even with significant editing, unless I fundamentally changed the nature of the books. And I didn't want to.

                      I didn't want to change what the books were about to make them more mainstream, and I ultimately decided this was a personal story that I wanted to tell without restrictions. There's a time and a place for that, and as a form of self-publishing, webcomics felt like that time and place for me. 

                      I don't intend to sell this. I don't intend to make any money at it (don't even, in fact, have a system in place to collect money for it even if I wanted to). I just want to make it on my own terms, once a week like I have for over eleven years, and keep telling the story I like about the characters I like to enjoy it the way I like it. It's out there for other people who like stories like this to read if they please. It's out there to ignore if people want to do that, too, and they do. There have been a few random fans of the comic who have interacted with me intensely for a while and then disappeared, and I have some friends who follow the comic either weekly or off-and-on. I see a little spike in the stats on its update day, so I know it has some loyal readers. But it's not popular, and I'm not interested in doing anything differently to change that.

                      I'm satisfied with it and I love it. My more "mature" and "advanced" work has been molded by feedback and publishing expectations and restrictions and reading environments. That's also fine. But as a person who has accepted feedback and incorporated foreign perspectives for plenty of other works, it's comforting to have one thing where I don't do that. That I've created a little niche for myself where I make something that's just mine. I'm free to do it however I like since I ask for nothing from my audience and depend on no one for the means to share it (beyond, you know, paying for my website and the utilities that allow me to access my computer/Internet). If someone doesn't like something I do or how I do it, they can deal with it by not reading, and absolutely nothing changes for me. And I think having an oasis like that is a good grounding opportunity for a writer who usually does field a large amount of feedback and compromises with plenty of restrictions.

                      Negative One is a quiet story that I do for nobody but me, but I invite people to participate by putting it on the Internet. If it's your thing, I hope you enjoy it. And though I adore feedback from people who connected with what it's saying, I don't need my readers to speak up. I think a lot of people who like Negative One are the quiet types who don't need to communicate with creators for the creators to communicate with them.

                      I recommend that any writers who are struggling with feedback or are feeling overwhelmed by expectations carve out a sanctuary like this for yourself. A story that's yours where you can retreat if you need to. It might not seem like much, but it's made a big difference in my life. Maybe you'll feel the same.

                      Wednesday, November 16, 2016

                      Wednesday Factoid: What Era?

                      Today's Wednesday Factoid is: What era do you wish you had lived in?

                      I'm gonna do something mighty weird here and say I wish I'd been a millennial instead of Generation X.

                      Maybe that doesn't really count as answering the question? I'm not sure. Because obviously I am living now and I was alive when millennials started being born. So technically the question is kinda asking me what era that I DIDN'T live in that I wish I had, and therefore the only choices are really bygone eras. I mean, unless I'm allowed to pick the distant future, too, and in that case I don't know what I'd name it.

                      I don't romanticize the past. There are aesthetics and movements I think are awesome from the past, but actually living in those eras Does Not Appeal To Me, like at all. And given what the Internet did for me as a college student, I am retroactively salty about it not existing for me when I was a kid.

                      Then again, I probably would have been one of those early adopters who would have done something terrifyingly embarrassing on YouTube while in middle school and would have become a meme or something. So who knows. But I was SO ready for the Internet before I even knew what it was. I was sort of making proto-websites on my Apple II using multiple five-and-a-quarter diskettes. Julie's Disk 2. Julie's Disk 3. Because I filled them up with crap and each disk only held like less than 200 K of my text crap. And as you all know I like to write a lot of text crap.

                      Anyway, I feel like if I had gone through childhood with access to the Internet, I would have learned much earlier what I needed to know later to become a better writer, and I wouldn't have gotten what I feel is such a late start in publishing. I really feel like I was a slow learner and that it just wasn't ubiquitous in my generation, and maybe that's also why I've got a circle of friends that starts half a generation to a generation younger than I am. Those are the people who communicate like I do about the things I communicate about.

                      But to be honest, it's kind of fun being the old lady. Because then I get to talk about the 1980s and how the music was not bullshit and talk about the toys, TV shows, and clothes we had from a perspective of actually being there rather than understanding it secondhand through people who don't quite understand what they're trying to imitate when they sort of make fun of it or make reference to it. And I can remember the way computers changed and the way Internet culture developed in a way that they can't. It's especially shocking to me how little people understand sometimes about websites and Internet--how some people literally don't realize that it hasn't actually been possible for most of my life to watch television shows whenever you want, and that you actually had to do stuff like program your VCR to record a show because there honestly was not a way to watch it later through the Internet. I once spent an entire evening trying to download a 20 MB file of the Animaniacs doing the macarena. And then I had to start all over because someone called me and it knocked my connection out. I'm not kidding.

                      And now you can watch it immediately. Sweet.

                      Saturday, November 12, 2016

                      Personal Digest Saturday: November 5 – November 11

                      Life news this week: 
                      • Saturday the most exciting thing I did was eat a pizza all by myself. I did some blogging and photo updating online, and cleaned up some leftover stuff I'd been ignoring after last weekend's party.
                      • Sunday I hung out with my friend Joy. We went out to Mojo Books to drink coffee and shop for used books, and we hung out at my house until pretty late at night just talking about everything. She's someone I'd like to see more often but really don't get to.
                      • Monday was made weird by Daylight Savings. My company's president was visiting from Portland, but I didn't get to see much of him because he had so many meetings. I got my grocery shopping done after work and read a bunch of old journal entries.
                      • Tuesday my work computer was acting weird and it messed with my ability to do work. After work my mom got some GrillSmith food and we spent the evening watching the pretty baffling results of the election. She left before anything was called, but I stayed up until the final results were in. President Trump? Bizarre! After my mom left but before the end of the election, I recorded a video for my asexuality channel, too.
                      • Wednesday my work computer was still screwy so I had to work with the IT guy all day to get it back to how it needed to be. It wasn't too bad but it was tiresome. I then met Jeaux and we ate at Flippers and talked politics because that's what everyone does the day after elections. After he left I did some processing on the video I'd recorded but I didn't have time to finish uploading it.
                      • Thursday at work was super busy, probably partly because I didn't get much done the day before. Then I went home in the dark and accidentally uploaded my video to the wrong account so I had to start all over. I talked to Victor on the phone and finished drawing my comic. It was my 600th issue of Negative One so I put some extra work into the frames and did it all in marker!
                      • Friday was uneventful--pretty busy at work, uploaded my 600th comic, and finally made a dent in my new video's subtitling. (Still hadn't finished it by the end of the night, but I'll finish later.)

                      New reviews of my book:
                      • "Amazon Customer" gave it a five-star review.
                      • And yet again the number of reviews on Goodreads has gone up by one and yet the newest review the site will show me is one I already saw last week. No matter what you do, sorting with "newest" at the top, it still mixes reviews from years ago in with the newest ones and does not actually have a way to see what's newest. I'm really frustrated with that because it keeps happening.
                          Interviews, Features, Mentions:
                            • has an article called "No, Asexuals Aren't Sociopaths And Robots and it mentions my book and me. It's a little oversimplified and sometimes misleading, like where it says asexual people might want romantic relationships but that they'd be "without the sex, obviously."
                              Reading progress:
                              • Finished this week: I AM A SLACKER SO NO I DID NOT READ
                              • Currently reading: The Free Lunch by Spider Robinson.
                                New singing performances:

                                This week's performance was "My Life" by Billy Joel.

                                New drawings:

                                Negative One weekly webcomic is up:

                                Webcomic Negative One Issue 0600: "Cry On Me."

                                New videos:

                                My latest asexuality video is "Letters to an Asexual #41," which discusses some negative experiences I've had regarding asexuality in my everyday life. 


                                My latest unlisted ukulele video is a messy version of "Fireflies" by Owl City, which I dedicated to Jessie.


                                New photos:

                                Just a coffee selfie that I took while out with Joy.

                                Social Media counts:
                                YouTube subscribers: 5,346 for swankivy (no change), 604 for JulieSondra (no change). Twitter followers: 860 for swankivy (no change), 1,317 for JulieSondra (1 new). Facebook: 294 friends (no change) and 203 followers (no change) for swankivy, 641 likes for JulieSondra (lost 1), 57 likes for Negative One (no change), 127 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,491 (3 new). Instagram followers: 89 (no change).

                                Wednesday, November 9, 2016

                                Wednesday Factoid: Trusting the Government

                                Today's Wednesday Factoid is: How much do you trust your government?

                                Hah. Hahahahahaha. Oh, wow.

                                Well, I'm not a conspiracy believer or anything--I don't believe there are nefarious plans to take down people like me, take rights away from me, convert everyone to a single religion, create a hostile takeover to make my life worse, or line up people like me and throw us out or kill us. But no, I don't trust the government, and my answer to that doesn't change depending on who's in charge of it at the moment.

                                I believe some choices are better than others, but when the candidates I vote for get elected, my being pleased at that fact does not mean I trust them.

                                Here's the thing. Governments have eventually reflected the will of the people pretty much only when we make them. The people who rise to government are largely privileged people who actively do not know what the everyperson deals with, and probably never have. (There are exceptions.) Women and black people did not earn the right to vote because people in government just looked at each other one day and said "Hey, that's not fair." It's only after enough people who were affected and our allies got through to those in power by making so much noise and creating so much discord that it eventually became unacceptable to ignore us anymore. And worse, for politicians, it became unpopular

                                LGBTQ+ people did not receive rights and protections we deserve because the government "gave" them to us. We had to scream and fight to get here, and we had to talk to important people who had decision-making power, and we had to talk to enough of our neighbors to convince them love deserved to win. We will continue to do that work regarding all the issues that currently enshrine oppression and marginalization in law. The government, in spirit, wants to take care of its people, but it sometimes disagrees on what's a problem and who's a person.

                                The government is a lumbering gestalt that frequently injures its subjects and itself through ignorance and occasional deliberate strikes. Sometimes their inaction is violence, and sometimes their action causes violence. I don't believe the government is out to get me (usually), but I've certainly seen it get me and people I consider vulnerable. I think some individuals in government are capable of influencing their fellows to improve certain situations or minimize damage to others, but no, I do not "trust" that they want to, or that their wanting to means that they will, or that they know what helping us looks like. Sometimes the violence is caused by them actively hurting us, but ignoring need and denying damage is sometimes worse because they can always turn around and claim their intent matters more than the result.

                                The only time I accept "it's the thought that counts" is in the event of a bad gift.

                                Claiming you want to help us or don't want us to be hurt when it's partially your job to take care of us is a big reason I certainly can't put my trust in you, government. 

                                Monday, November 7, 2016

                                I used to be so funny

                                Man! A long time ago, for a period of a few years, I used to regularly update my LiveJournal followers on my adventures with an entertaining but annoying co-worker. I kept the entries private because there are far too many stories of people getting fired for talking crap about their co-workers or superiors or workplace on social media, so as a result only about two dozen people (probably) ever read them.

                                Last night I had a friend over and we were chatting about work stuff and somehow I ended up flashing back to talking about this guy. I explained how he was basically a complete caricature of a person--complete with oversimplified and ignorant beliefs about women and black people, privileged obliviousness, obsession with his hairstyle, and incessant rambling about his golf game and his townhouse and his failure of a romantic life. Women, you see, never wanted to date him because they were so "crazy" and immature. This led to such unreasonable actions as telling him they have a boyfriend after he harassed them at work three times, walking away from him without a word when he hit on them at a gas station at 7:30 in the morning, and agreeing after a year of pestering to go on a date with him and then mysteriously not answering his calls or texts. Crazy women, I tell ya! And these were tales he told us in the office. We didn't have the kind of workplace where talk like this was common, either (though maybe it was partly because the secretary is non-partner-seeking and everybody else was married). 

                                And let's not forget how his demands for very specific, unnecessary aesthetic specifications on proposals and other documents caused me to spend an inordinate amount of time on design that was ultimately not necessary. We'd snipe at each other a lot over this--me insisting that content was more important, him claiming that the look of the document sent a vital message (to the tune of keeping me in the office long into the wee hours sometimes, because he wanted the page number of the proposal to be encased in a line-art palm tree, or because his dividers needed to have custom-designed full-page designs on them that used up all my printer ink and required processing in a copy shop because he was adamant that the color go all the way to the edges and my printers could not do that).

                                Some of these logs were absolutely hilarious. I can't believe I used to be so funny.

                                I don't really write stuff like this much anymore. I don't have a place where I do it. This blog is supposed to be relatively dignified, and though it's not entirely focused on my writing, it is associated with it--with me as a brand as well as a blogger and human being. I actually do still maintain my LiveJournal with a weekly post that's very similar to my Saturday Personal Digest, but I don't tend to post personal rambles there anymore. Maybe partly because very little of what I have to say needs to be private anymore.

                                Still, the uncensored, unfiltered version of me is explosive and far more entertaining than I thought I was. I hope that doesn't sound egotistical, but seriously, I was reading through these old logs thinking what a shame it was that they were friends-locked and couldn't be consumed by the public. It's almost to the point where I wish I could adapt the content so it wouldn't be able to be associated with the real people in the story and share it in a way not connected to me.

                                Maybe I will someday.

                                But it brings me back to when I wrote so often, about so many things, and spent so much more time producing enjoyable content. I miss doing that now that I'm in a sort of unproductive phase (writing-wise). Writing has always been a way I record what I'm thinking, share my emotions, and entertain people (including myself), but I'm not using it as much or in as many ways these days. And I think I'm probably kinda out of practice being as funny as I was, too. I never really thought I could write humor, but man. Maybe I should give it a try.

                                Saturday, November 5, 2016

                                Personal Digest Saturday: October 29 – November 4

                                Life news this week: 
                                • Saturday was THE BIG HALLOWEEN PARTY. It was probably the least stressful Halloween party I've ever had, as I didn't do that much preparation for it and my costume was easy and no one was early so I didn't get frazzled! Awesome party with awesome costumes. I was dressed as Mabel from Gravity Falls (and Jeaux was Dipper). You can see our pics below. Many friends came, about a dozen people, and we ate my food. Some stayed until the wee hours playing Cards Against Humanity. Yay!
                                • Sunday I just recuperated from the party. I didn't even wash dishes or clean up. I just ate a bunch of leftovers and was lazy! I invited my mom to come help me eat but she didn't feel like it so she waited until the next day. And I worked on my novel for the first time in a while! Incorporating some feedback from Bad Fairy from readers. I really need to consistently get back into this, but alas, I am so lazy! I also recorded a ukulele song.
                                • Monday was back to work and also Actual Halloween. I wore a pumpkin sequin shirt and skeleton earrings to the office. Nobody else wore a costume or anything. I didn't go grocery shopping because I still had so much food left over! I brought my molasses-ginger animal cookies and my autumn leaf cookies to work to help get rid of them. Mommy came over after and ate up some pumpkin roll and pie! Oh and I paid bills. I didn't get any trick-or-treaters. :(
                                • Tuesday was a nice slow day and I wore my Garnet-inspired superhero dress to work like a nerdo. I also drew some fanart, washed some dishes, and played my ukulele. And fiddled with my in-progress novel Ace of Arts a little bit, but didn't write anything new.
                                • Wednesday was uneventful. I had IHOP food with Jeaux, and after we hung out at my place and listened to Night Vale. He ate my last piece of leftover pumpkin pie. :)
                                • Thursday I didn't do much but I was asked to play admin on a company Facebook page and didn't want to use the existing page I have so I made a separate Facebook account to use for managing it. Heh. That night I drew webcomics and talked to Victor on the phone.
                                • Friday was low-stress and I just did my office work, came home and finished the webcomic, annnnnnd kinda fell asleep in my clothes.

                                New reviews of my book:
                                    Interviews, Features, Mentions:
                                      • Blogger geekgirlmae mentioned my book as figuring into a search for a label. It's a neat little blog ramble.
                                        Reading progress:
                                        • Finished this week: Sorry, nothing. :(
                                        • Currently reading: The Free Lunch by Spider Robinson.
                                          New singing performances:

                                          This week's performance was "I Will Remember You" by Sarah McLachlan.

                                          New drawings:

                                          I did two character sketches of Steven characters this week.

                                          A very sketchy doodle of the Gems from above,
                                          doodled while listening to Night Vale without references.
                                          Garnet with Baby Steven.
                                          If you wear glasses babies will always do this to you.

                                          Negative One weekly webcomic is up:

                                          Webcomic Negative One Issue 0599: "Honest People."

                                          New videos:

                                          My latest unlisted ukulele video: I played "Everything Stays," which is written by Rebecca Sugar and featured in Adventure Time's series "Stakes." I love this lullaby-like song.


                                          New photos:

                                          First, Halloween:

                                          My costume: MABEL FROM GRAVITY FALLS!
                                          Good likeness?
                                          Autumn Leaf Cookies
                                          Pumpkin Pie

                                          Jeaux came as Mabel's brother, Dipper.
                                          Yes? YES? Yes. We did a good job on these.
                                          Some photos of my guests:

                                          Benny as Spider-Man
                                          Joy as Rose, Derek no costume
                                          Katie in her Loki dress
                                          Meggie in her Rose Quartz dress
                                          Michael/Rachael: pirate/Kenshin
                                          Room of guests

                                          Joy as Rose Quartz from Steven Universe, doing something
                                          that's pretty scary in the context of the show
                                          Obligatory food selfie

                                          Not from the party: Me in my Garnet-inspired dress,
                                          being a secret superhero at work

                                          Social Media counts:
                                          YouTube subscribers: 5,346 for swankivy (4 new), 604 for JulieSondra (no change). Twitter followers: 860 for swankivy (7 new), 1,316 for JulieSondra (2 new). Facebook: 294 friends (no change) and 203 followers (no change) for swankivy, 642 likes for JulieSondra (lost 3 lol), 57 likes for Negative One (1 new because my new fake Facebook liked it oops), 127 likes for So You Write (1 new for the same reason). Tumblr followers: 2,488 (4 new). Instagram followers: 89 (2 new).