Monday, July 31, 2017

Ivy's Birthday 2017

Does anyone else celebrate character birthdays?

The first "serious" novel I wrote, shortly before I started college, began on July 31, 1996. I decided to also make that Ivy's birthday in the canon of the story, just because that's a cute way to remember when she was actually "born" in my reality. I used to celebrate that day as a "celebrating being a writer" day and sometimes do something associated with that fictional world to remind myself how important it is, even though I'm no longer writing those books.

I haven't been writing anything new really for a long time now. Not on novels, anyway, and a few things are in limbo publishing-wise. I'm not apathetic about it. I'm not afraid of it. I'm not stuck. But I'm focused on other things--in the "real world" of my life, I turned in a declaration to my apartment complex today stating that I intend to vacate at the end of my lease, which means I have to get serious about finding a new place to live, and then in other aspects of my life I'm mostly just being a massive fangirl--working on my costume and accessories for this weekend's convention, learning songs to play on ukulele to go with it, drawing a bunch of art. It takes time and attention, and though you all know how productive I can be, I still only have one brain and the same 24 hours everyone else has.

I'm focusing a lot of creative energy on art and music that I hadn't before when I was very deep in my writing. I believe fiction projects will always have my heart first and foremost, because they always have, but if you look at my history as a kid, there was always art and music right beside it. And if you look at my output during the very consistent years I spent writing, there is almost no art and only a little more music coming out of my creativity machine. But even considering that, I still sort of feel like my hiatus from writing is disappointing somehow.

I don't have clear plans to jump back in at any particular time. Last night (and at other random times in the recent past) I had a moment where I just wanted to open one of my works in progress, read through what I had, and continue it, but I can't afford to do that right now with the convention coming up and my ukulele repertoire a lot closer to being in the toilet than I wanted. I know how immersive writing is and it needs to stay on the shelf while I'm doing this convention and then it needs to share the stage with my pressing concerns about moving. I may not be able to return until after I'm settled in my new home.

Things change, and you grow in the direction that you can. One thing that changed for me, while working with Ivy, was that I grew more competent in my writing skills and eventually came to the conclusion that my novels about her would not go anywhere. I would have to give them a massive overhauling that would essentially transplant her in to a different story, and I didn't want to scrape her out of the place she grew. So I decided it's okay for her to not be in a marketable story, and made her story into a webcomic.

My writing fused with pencil art and talk bubbles to provide a continued life for Ivy, a character I love, and a path by which I bring her directly to my readers, who aren't paying for the privilege of reading about her and don't necessarily have any typical expectations of where her webcomic is going. In short, in webcomics I can do what I want, and no one's going to feel ripped off if the story meanders and does ridiculous things and seems self-indulgent. That's what it is--it's a place to put her because I love her and I wanted to share her somehow.

Maybe today, since I have to get my webcomic stuff done early this week due to the convention, I'll work on the drawings and give the art a little extra attention. She's my baby, even though I created her 21 years ago and she hasn't made it anywhere but a sloppy pencil webcomic with low readership. For me, she represents a love of writing that doesn't go away no matter how long it's been or how it's expressed, and she represents loving an idea to the point that it's always a part of you, your art, how you move forward.

I still love her and always will.


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Personal Digest Saturday: July 22 – July 28

Life news this week: 
  • Saturday was Drink and Draw! I had to get my comic stuff ready and my blogging done, and for some reason I stopped working on stuff a bunch of times to draw pictures and transcribe interviews I liked from a recent comic convention (featuring some of my favorite Steven Universe creators and voice actors). I was ready JUST in time for Eric to come pick me up! We went to the event and I drew my webcomic and some fan art. My friends and I had a good time and Eric slept over.
  • Sunday I did my usual music videos for karaoke and ukulele, but the ukulele cover was special because I also did a violin part. Unfortunately I'm not good at violin anymore so it sounded pretty bad but hey, I'm an amateur. Live with it. My Tumblr blog for cartoons hit 1100 followers so I got to post my milestone drawing, and for some reason the person who created Steven Universe followed my blog and I . . . have no idea why she would want to follow me!! Maybe it was an accident. Mom came over and brought me a lemon meringue pie and gave me a costume piece she has been helping with, so I tried my costume on and took cheesy pictures. ;) I did laundry and went to sleep.
  • Monday I worked late to help with a letter again. After work I went grocery shopping and didn't get much done because I fell asleep early.
  • Tuesday I woke up early because I fell asleep so early, so I did a drawing before work like a big dork. We had some stuff moving around in the office because we were getting a new employee the next day. I worked on some proposals, went home, practiced ukulele, and browsed some rental properties. And then I drew two MORE pieces of fanart. I'm really on fire with this.
  • Wednesday I worked with the new employee to get some new-person stuff for her, and I worked on a technical proposal for something we got shortlisted on. My co-worker took me home and I met Jeaux and we ate at PDQ and watched Wrecked and the first episode of the new season of People of Earth. After he left I drew more dorky stuff.
  • Thursday I had to work on a transcript of an interview at work. Kept me busy most of the day. My boss decided not to pursue some of the proposals I'd been working on. Oh well! My co-worker dropped me off at the music store where I went to get my ukulele restrung and I bought a new ukulele! It's a nicer one so I have an upgrade, plus I have plans to do a design modification on my beginner uke so I can have one that matches my costume I'm doing at the convention in August. Talked to Victor on the phone and drew webcomics.
  • Friday I finished the transcript and went to see a townhome but it wasn't really what I was looking for. Went home and got a cool package and listened to a podcast while drawing my webcomic's last few frames. Posted them and also drew a goofy one-panel comic of some SU characters (surprise). 
Articles, Interviews, Mentions:
    • Andrea F did a video review of my book, but it's in Spanish so my solely English-speaking viewers will not be able to enjoy this one. :)
    • Tumblr blogger asexual-society made an ace-spec YouTubers list and of course I'm on it.
    Reading progress:
      New singing performances:

      This week I performed "One Sweet Love" by Sara Bareilles. I really like how this one came out a lot!!


      New drawings: 

      I drew a LOT again this week. Sorry for the image spam. 

      Drink and Draw fanart. It's Mystery Girl on a date with Pearl, trying to feed her cake.

      Then an early-morning drawing of Steven and Garnet having breakfast. He's quite lucky to eat waffles in the best lap in the world.

      Random beach drawing of the Crystal Gems, featuring a return of their canon beach outfits.
      Here's an art experiment: I filled a grid with "photo booth" pictures of two favorite characters, in this case Garnet and Stevonnie being dorks.
      And then I did a more high-quality drawing of my favorite pose from the snapshots.
      And my quick drawing of Ruby and Sapphire with their message about fighting not quite figured out.

      Webcomic So You Write Issue 74: "Mary Sue."

      Webcomic Negative One Issue 0637: "A Bigger Challenge."

      New videos:

      Another unlisted ukulele video: This one is a duet, featuring me playing competently on ukulele and poorly on violin. It's called "The Jam Song" and it is from Steven Universe. Sorry, I'm not good at violin anymore.

      New photos:

      Here's a little preview of my Stevonnie cosplay

      My Lion plushie from San Diego Comic Con came in!

      Social Media Counts:

      YouTube subscribers: 5,294 for swankivy (lost 4), 646 for JulieSondra (1 new). Twitter followers: 878 for swankivy (1 new), 1,337 for JulieSondra (1 new). Facebook: 296 friends (no change) and 206 followers (no change) for swankivy, 657 likes for JulieSondra (1 new), 55 likes for Negative One (no change), 127 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,497 (lost 3). Instagram followers: 119 (1 new).

      Wednesday, July 26, 2017

      Wednesday Factoid: Computer Use

      Today's Wednesday Factoid is: How old were you when you started using a computer?

      Yay! Well, we had a good old green-screened Apple II back in the day. It booted from five-and-a-quarter disks that were actually floppy, did not have a mouse, and required several disks to store even a small amount of info. (I had three disks to save all the crap I typed into it.)

      I was about eight years old, I think. I enjoyed learning some stuff about computer programming, because it was there and it came with instruction books on programming it to do stuff and it seemed like fun to me, but mostly we just used it to play games. 

      There was a pinball game, a race car game, and even a weird game about running a lemonade stand. (I talked to my sister about it years later to see if she remembered it. She did, and remarked that it had taught us to be good little capitalists, changing the price of our lemonade based on whether it was hot outside to exploit the needs of the thirsty public.)

      I also recall that there was a text-based adventure where you would follow prompts and tell the computer what direction you wanted to go or if you wanted to open a door or if you wanted to take an item. It was called Cyborg. I unfortunately never figured out how to win it or get past certain places, even though I drew a map trying to figure out where else I could go. My preteen logic must have failed me.

      Playing it felt weirdly creepy, I think. There were some dark images.

      Anyway, after that either died or was no longer available for whatever reason, I didn't have a computer again until sometime in high school, I think. I played Jeopardy on that one, and got on the Internet for the first time with early versions of America Online. :)

      But the Apple II was the first time I really used a computer.

      Tuesday, July 25, 2017

      A Hatemonger Returns

      Sharon Kass is a well-known harasser of queer activists. Her schtick is to send letters to leaders, spokespeople, and celebrities who are in some way related to queer issues . . . letters in which she shames them, encourages them to fix themselves with aggressive anti-queer therapies, and sometimes gets a little ranty about how terrible they are if they aren’t conservative or a Christian. She signs her full name proudly and publicly, clearly believing she’s a hero with a cause.

      I’ve had the lovely experience of being targeted by her twice for my asexuality activism. The first time, she sent me an ugly little letter begging me in an extremely condescending way to get myself to therapy because my orientation is NOT NORMAL. I answered her with a request that she educate herself about asexuality, including information about the support for asexuality in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (since she seemed to think therapists would agree with her, when in actuality their “Bible” agrees with US).

      At that point I was thinking she was just a typical jackass instead of, like, a notorious bigot who is not listening whatsoever—if I’d known her history, I would not have answered her at all. She sent me repeated e-mails after that, shaming me, screaming at me in what I’m sure she thought was professional-sounding language, rambling about how liberals have infiltrated the psychology community and are not to be trusted. (I’m confused as to how I’m supposed to fix myself with therapy if it comes from such a thoroughly corrupted institution!)

      I did a search for her name and she’s everywhere—sneering at activists, barking shame at them for being poor role models and teaching people Wrong and Ungodly Things, lecturing us all to get ourselves to therapy and let someone psychologically abuse the gay out of us or whatever. Really disgusting, but only unusual in that she is so devoted to this one obsession and has been harassing us with her vileness so consistently for such a long time.

      The latest encounter I had with her was this past weekend. I was recently mentioned in Slate’s “Dear Prudence” column, where Mallory Ortberg recommended my book to an asexual mom. (Fun fact: Mallory’s magazine The Toast bought my short work on asexuality when they were still doing that. Cool to see she remembers me.) But anyway, the steaming trashcan that is Sharon Kass decided to write a letter about this latest—in her mind—obscene mockery of advice, in which Mallory basically told the mom she shouldn’t blame herself for her daughter being asexual and gave her advice on where to find great resources to help them both. Sharon, as you’ll see, made sure to bleat that the mother SHOULD feel bad and SHOULD blame herself, and that everyone, as always, needs lots of therapy.

      This is most of the original part of her letter (the part that is not just her reprinting Mallory’s advice, though she also made sure to shame Mallory herself as “an out lesbian”) . . . which she not only sent to ME, but CARBON COPIED TO MY FRIGGING PUBLISHER.

      Because MY PUBLISHER apparently needs to know how corrupt I am and how much I need therapy, and how dysfunctional my family is.

      Subject: Asexuality–More Advantures [sic] in Political Narcissism
      Wrong.  So, so wrong.
      The trust-your-feelings idea is intellectually and morally bankrupt.  It works against the self-objectivity and responsibility-taking that is so needed when one is faced with psychosexual problems.
      Both Mother and Father here grew up dysfunctional, whatever they understood their home “cultures” to be.  Mother isn’t well grounded in her own body, and it isn’t surprising that her eldest child, a daughter, never got the quality or quantity of touch and holding from her mother that any young child needs.  People who carry neurotic emotional pain sometimes find that touch triggers it, which is not the same thing as causing it.  Babies can tell when their mothers aren’t fully present to them, and they tend to adopt the same inhibitions.
      Mother’s intuitive sense that she is to blame is right on.  Noted psychoanalyst Glen Gabbard said it well:  "[T]he experiences of infancy and childhood are crucial determinants of the adult personality.“  Author Decker, elsewhere, has revealed dysfunction in her own family system, with a homosexual relative on her mother’s side and a [sic] unfamilied one on her father’s.
      Fortunately, damage can be undone by depth [sic] psychotherapy.  This is what I would recommend to both parents and daughter.
      And columnist, come to that.
      See that, y'all? I’ve "revealed dysfunction” because I had a gay uncle (he died from AIDS in the 90s) and one of my aunts is UNFAMILIED (my dad’s sister, unforgivably, did not have children). She thinks she has DUG UP DIRT on me by revealing these things, and I have to wonder how much of my website and body of work she had to read to find out these relatively obscure things about my family. You’ll note that she seems to think my aunt not being married and not having kids is just as dysfunctional and worthy of therapy as my uncle’s being gay. This is something she thinks she should write to the publisher of my book about, as if she’s got a legitimate complaint about me instead of, you know, that she’s a raving hatemonger.

      The fact that the majority of psychotherapists today would find this woman’s views hateful and would not attempt to “heal” us through changing our sexual orientation does not seem to be important to her. YOU NEED THERAPY. BE ASHAMED. THERAPY. SHAME.

      The worst part of this is Sharon never seems to be recommending therapy in a loving fashion. Every single time she speaks on this, it’s accompanied by this crowing tone, this “I found out something is WRONG WITH YOU, time to REPENT” perspective. The first time I got harassed by her, I made a joke on Twitter about how she advised me to “see a psychodynamic psychotherapist” for my asexuality, and an acquaintance who IS a psychodynamic psychotherapist replied to me saying her views would be laughed out of the room in her practice. This information caused Sharon to point out that, you see, the profession has been hijacked by liberals. Because you know, an entire profession primarily moving toward a progressive understanding of human sexuality means the world is going to hell. It’s not something that should be a wake-up call for her or anything.

      I’d say perhaps Sharon should consider some therapy herself for the obsession she clearly has with hurting as many queer activists as she can, but ultimately it’s hard to say something like that without sounding a lot like her. I don’t know if her obsession could be addressed in therapy. I can’t bring myself to say “ugh, your views are terrible, get thee to therapy,” because the OH MY GOD YOU NEED HELP refrain is so often repurposed as hateful that I have trouble hearing it in a kind way anymore.

      I also think some people are just assbags, hateful frigging fountains of bullying essence, and it’s not because they have a mental illness or a curable condition. Terrible people aren’t terrible because they’re mentally ill, and we need to curb this idea that unchecked awfulness is probably mental illness rather than privilege and entitlement. 

      These folks are just awful, mean-minded people who aren’t able to accept the beauty inherent in diversity in this world, because anything that doesn’t look like themselves must be an aberration. It’s a really limiting, back-asswards view and I can’t imagine someone who spends this much time shaming other people can have a happy life. 

      Regardless of that, though, the world will be a better place when this model of human is made obsolete.

      Saturday, July 22, 2017

      Personal Digest Saturday: July 15 – July 21

      Life news this week: 
      • Saturday I did some drawings of my favorite cartoon character from when she was very young, so that was fun. My mom came over and took me grocery shopping, and she was gonna look at the list of possible rental houses with me but instead of that she got mad at me and left, so I just looked at them myself.
      • Sunday I finished my lovely collection of 16 Garnet doodles. :) Also Jeaux prepared for a job interview by getting his hair cut and buying a suit, so he had to keep coming by my place to show me. :D I practiced ukulele and did karaoke, and drew about half of a cute fan comic.
      • Monday I worked late to help with a proposal. We got it out in time. I got a better house listing from my realtor and looked through the possibilities. There are some pretty cool houses around. Then at home I finished the fan comic, which is about the characters Connie and Steven being cute. Jeaux said his interview seemed to have gone well.
      • Tuesday I had to stay late again for another proposal, and we got that one out in time too. My foot got a bad cramp in it so that sucked. I made a ukulele video at home and fell asleep early.
      • Wednesday I had a chill day at the office working on some upcoming proposals. Then I met Jeaux for Five Guys food and we watched Wrecked, and after he left I posted some pictures of my Steven Universe merchandise collection to Tumblr AND drew a fanart picture of Amethyst and Greg watching TV.
      • Thursday I did some very silly scribble doodles and took requests from nerds on Amino. I did some work at the office on a Pasco County proposal and at home I drew comics while talking to Victor on the phone. Someone on Tumblr liked my collections post and offered to send me a limited edition item they had because it should be part of a "real" collection. Haha. What a nice Internet person!
      • Friday I worked on proposals and a letter. There's a really big media convention, San Diego Comic Con, that went on on Friday, and it has some Steven Universe content. A panel happened and I caught a livestream of it, and I made a post about what it contained, which delighted people on the Internet. The posts I made are very popular now, hooray. At night I posted my webcomic and went to bed relatively early. 
      Articles, Interviews, Mentions:
        • Slate's "Dear Prudence" column, written by Mallory Ortberg, ran an advice spot including a letter-writer who is worried she passed her asexuality on to her daughter. Mallory gives the worried mom some advice, and recommends my book as a resource. (Fun fact: Mallory used to run The Toast, and they bought my short work on asexuality a couple years back. Literally the only thoroughly nice comments section I have ever had in all my time as an asexual activist. Good to know she still remembers my work!)
        • Tumblr blogger sarahdoanminh shared a nice quote from my book.
        Reading progress:
        • Finished this week: I'm very close to finished with the Richard Dawkins book but I'm not quite there yet, be patient my dudes.
        • Currently reading: The Ancestor's Tale by Richard Dawkins.
          New singing performances:

          This week I performed "Intuition" by Jewel.


          New drawings: 

          I drew a ton of new stuff this week so bear with me.

          First, the baby Garnets!! This is just an exploratory series of sketches I did because I eventually want to draw a comic where she had this form--this is her first one, when she was first "born." (Gems aren't really born. Garnet herself even less so. It's a long story.) So I thought it would be fun to figure her out during a time of her life when she was figuring herself out!

          Look at how frickin' cute they are. Ugh. I died four times drawing them.

          And then a little comic about Connie and Steven, which can be understood and enjoyed even by people who have never seen the show:

          Then I also drew Pearl and Young Greg being catty:

          And then I did this weird picture of Greg and Amethyst watching TV. I wanted to play with lighting or something.

          And then there were these goofy pen sketches I did taking requests from kids on Amino. They were all scribbled with ballpoints and drawn without references.


          Webcomic Negative One Issue 0636: "More Exciting Than Words."

          New videos:

          Letters to an Asexual #48 is out. This one is about a dude who insisted ASEXUALITY IS A CHOICE and I DID SCIENCE TO CONCLUDE THIS, and then accused me of "bullying" him and being mean when I told him he was misinformed.

          Another unlisted ukulele video: I seem to be in a Jewel mood because this week's cover is "Standing Still."

          New photos:

          My Cookie Cat leggings came in!

          Front, February 2014
          Front, July 2017
          Back, February 2014
          Back, July 2017

          Social Media Counts:

          YouTube subscribers: 5,298 for swankivy (7 new), 645 for JulieSondra (no change). Twitter followers: 877 for swankivy (3 new), 1,336 for JulieSondra (2 new). Facebook: 296 friends (I accepted a friend request from a friend of a friend, Billy) and 206 followers (no change) for swankivy, 656 likes for JulieSondra (no change), 55 likes for Negative One (no change), 127 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,500 (6 new). Instagram followers: 118 (4 new).

          Wednesday, July 19, 2017

          Wednesday Factoid: Birth Symbols

          Today's Wednesday Factoid is: Do you know what symbols are associated with your birthday (birth month flower, astrological signs, birthstone)? Do you identify with/like them?

          I am familiar with some of them! I find associations really fun and interesting, even though I don't believe in astrological influences or whatever. Here are my stats:

          Date of Birth: January 17, 1978.

          Day of Birth: Tuesday--"Tuesday's child is full of grace." I like Tuesdays.

          Zodiac Sign: Capricorn (bordering on Aquarius). Western astrology is fun to read the mythology about, and though my dad's side of the family has a running joke about the proliferation of Capricorns in our family taking over everything, I think Aquarius-related traits match me more often. I don't have any special affinity for the Capricorn "identity" or whatever.

          Astrological Element: Earth. That's not my element of choice--I tend to "test" as an Air person--but I can appreciate the aspects of groundedness and practicality in Earth. I haven't always been the most traditionally practical of people, but as an adult I'm very good at planning, being realistic about how much time something will take and carrying it out, and managing my household.

          Astrological Ruling Planet: Saturn. Saturn is way cool.

          Astrological Color: Brown. I can roll with that! Not the most glamorous of colors but it doesn't have to be. I can make it look good when I wear it.

          Astrological Animal: Goat. This obviously ties into the Capricorn myth. I don't know much about goats except they're agile, good at climbing, and will eat anything. So not at all like me.

          Chinese Astrology: Year of the Snake, and my day sign is "Earth Rabbit." Some people mistake me as being part of the Year of the Horse because I was born in 1978, but the Chinese New Year is not the same day as the new year in the Western world, and by the Chinese calendar I was born in the equivalent of 1977. People born in Year of the Snake are intuitive, private, wise, good at communication, hate failure, prefer working alone, are easily stressed out, are materialistic, and tend to be enigmatic. There are supposed to be five types of snakes based on elements, and 1977 is a "fire Snake" year, which supposedly indicates a person who is smart, insightful, communicative, active, and fond of the limelight. I would say most of this is accurate, though I think I talk more than the mythology says Snakes do and am less enigmatic because I share everything about myself.

          Birthstone: Garnet. WELP. I actually used to not really care for my birthstone much because it's very deep red and not particularly shiny and reflective--at least, in most of the cheap birthstone jewelry I had as a kid. I maaaaaay have developed a new appreciation for my birthstone since it's my favorite character on Steven Universe, but we aren't talking about cartoons right now. (For once.) Let's just say I would be much more interested in wearing garnet jewelry now, and the dark red color is pretty boss. :) Garnet symbolizes peace, prosperity, good health, loyalty, and enduring affections. Yes, I think those work for me.

          Starstone: Black Onyx. It's supposed to stand for self control, decision-making, intuition, and protection. I can get with that--I like to think I have a lot of discipline and good decision-making abilities, and that I can be intuitive and protective.

          Birth Month Flower: Snowdrop or carnation. Snowdrops are pretty white flowers that symbolize purity, hope, rebirth, and consolation/sympathy--seems like a funeral flower, but I like it better than the carnation, which symbolizes love, fascination, and distinction. Carnation's a nice flower honestly, but it's just kind of bulky and maybe a little on the garish side, while snowdrops are sort of delicate and humble.

          There are probably other birthday-related symbols that I don't know about, but I'll end the list and analysis here!  

          Tuesday, July 18, 2017


          When it comes to having personal experience with a difficult thing, there are two types of people:

          A. People who are forever changed by their experience and become more compassionate about other people having to go through it

          B. People who gloat at, mock, or contribute to the suffering of people in that situation

          You might go "huh?" at this but think of it as the Senior Phenomenon. In high school, it's very common for freshmen (or whichever class is the youngest in the school) to be viciously harassed by the seniors (or whichever class is the oldest in the school). The seniors treat it like it's their right to pester and torture the youngest class, and freshmen who complain about it are often laughed off as if it's just a rite of passage that they are required to suffer through.

          Some freshmen think this is obscene, remember how awful it was when they're older, and choose not to contribute to it.

          Some freshmen can't WAIT to do it to others when they themselves become seniors, and derive a great deal of delight from torturing the next generation even though they aren't hurting the people who hurt them.

          I understand (though don't personally engage in) actual straight-up revenge. If someone hurts you, sometimes you want to hurt them--either to make them have to experience something negative because they caused you to, or to teach them a lesson. But this kind of weird delayed "revenge"? I don't get it at all.

          Here are two ways I've seen this manifest in my real life.

          I know someone who used to be fat and now says casually fat-shaming things a lot. When I have called them out in the past, they have consistently defended their behavior by making reference to when they used to be fat and suggesting that frees them of the responsibility of being sensitive about their language. If they say it, and THEY used to be fat, after all, how could it actually be offensive?

          I know someone who used to work in a restaurant and now goes out of their way to torment servers. When I've tried to counteract, apologize for, or request a change in their behavior, they frequently say something like "Look, I did my time working in these places, now it's their turn." Knowing how awful restaurant customers can be, they still knowingly "test" them, ask for special treatment and comment on the server needing to hustle for a tip to their face, try to get free food by implying the server needs to do back flips to get a good tip, and even sometimes sexually harasses them. Since they had to put up with it back in the day, how could this be anything worse than good clean fun?

          If I'm honest, I hate this more than I hate obliviously inconsiderate people. At least with people who have never been in those shoes, you figure it's ignorance--they don't realize that what they're saying or doing could be hurtful, obnoxious, or just generally ugly. I feel like there are a lot of people out there who have to be personally connected to an experience before they have any sympathy for it--like all those people who bluster about how you just need to suck it up and pay for medical insurance until they or their family member ends up uninsurable, and then suddenly they realize the system is broken. You really shouldn't HAVE to have personal experience with a situation before you can realize you're being callous or actively hurting them, but I can at least see HOW that can happen. Because other humans are an abstraction to a lot of folks who want to avoid feeling guilty about those they're harming (or not helping), so it's easier to blame strangers for their own misfortunes than it is to stop making their lives worse. He should just lose weight if he doesn't wanna get harassed. They should just get a better job if they don't wanna deal with difficult guests.

          I used to work in retail. I was not a jackbag to retail people before I had my turn on the floor, but working in a store for six years gave me additional insight into what customer behaviors make life difficult for retail workers and what the employees are handling when I'm not looking at them. I used this experience to further inform my behavior in public while interacting with these workers now, and I will even sometimes inconvenience myself to avoid inconveniencing them. (I don't expect the average person to do that, but I hope that they wouldn't deliberately inconvenience them.)

          I cannot imagine, after walking in those shoes, feeling justified in ruining current retail workers' day or contributing unnecessarily to their workload. I know that most employees genuinely want to do a good job, do not become more willing to help me if I vent my anger or disappointment at them, are not personally out to cheat me, and aren't in danger of losing their jobs if customers stop making messes. Honestly, the "I'm GIVING THEM A JOB" attitude some people have when justifying their wanton destruction is so entitled and obnoxious. The number of hours I was given on the clock were not affected by how much customer cleanup I had to do, so self-importantly defining yourself as a provider of job security as you inconvenience me is vile. And to get back to my original point, it reminds me a LOT of the people I know who engage in fat-shaming and restaurant worker abuse.

          They feel they have earned the right to hurt other people because of an experience they've had, and it's pretty gross to me that they find hurting others rewarding. Why is it delicious to them that someone will suffer? And when someone (like me) suggests this is bad behavior or may be evidence for them being a terrible person, they are so very quick to suggest their behavior is ultimately helpful, despite it lacking empathy and making the world a worse place. Fat shamers frequently suggest their behavior is contributing to a healthier existence for the fat person, and people who abuse service workers frequently suggest they're incentivizing the employees to move up in the world. I promise that these folks do not need your personal help to make changes in their lives and they do not appreciate "help" that comes in the form of making their lives awful. 

          Making a space or experience so awful that people will be desperate to escape it is not a healthy way of "helping" anyone, and furthermore, it's a transparent lie that you're doing this for them.

          You're doing it for you, because it makes you feel good.

          For some reason, the way you support your belief that you've moved up in the world is to abuse people who are currently where you were, and you then convince yourself that this is happening to them because they deserve it. 

          That's toxic, unhelpful, and bad for everyone, including you.

          I try, but I fundamentally don't understand why tearing someone else down feels good to anyone. I realize, after living in the world for forty years, that it does accomplish this for some folks. People revel in the suffering of others far too frequently for me to suggest that they aren't really enjoying it. But if I hurt someone I didn't mean to hurt, it ruins my day, and if I have to do something that I know will hurt someone, I will look for ways to avoid it and do it reluctantly if I have to. I don't relish the experience and I do my best to make reparations (not excuses) if it's in my power to do so.

          But for people in the "B" camp from my initial description, something different is going on. I think it must have its roots in selfishness; those people don't care who they hurt if it isn't them and theirs, and if the pain they've caused arrives on their doorstep and forces them to look at it, they'll usually do one or more of these three things: a) blame the victim for doing something that naturally caused the hurt to "happen" to them; b) deny that the hurt they caused was caused by them or that it hurt at all; or c) claim that their action should not hurt the victim, despite that it was designed to do so. In other words, once they cause pain and it's humanized, they have to jump into distancing themselves from their actions somehow. 

          Especially if you've been in a certain pair of shoes, really imagine what it would be like to be in them again, right now. You're fat and someone calls you a gross name and laughs at you. Now, really. Realistically. Did that motivate you to lose weight? Was it that person's business what your weight is? Do you now feel like you owe it to society and yourself to be thinner? Are you convinced that the sneering, guffawing person screaming at you from a car did that for your health? You're working at a restaurant and someone changes their order but accuses you of just remembering it wrong, and then shames you for contradicting them because the customer is always right and you should be working on your tip. Do you sigh and nod and understand that unreasonable, lying people out to blame you for their mistakes are inevitable, impersonal speed bumps in this trade, not individuals making choices? Do you just shrug when the gloating customer stiffs you on the tip and accept that this is your just deserts for failing to kiss ass properly and go home to put in applications for a "better job"?

          You probably don't do these things when people abuse you. You probably just feel depressed, hopeless, and helpless. For the record, studies show that berating someone is far more likely to result in self-hate and withdrawal from positive engagement. It does not often motivate someone to make changes they weren't previously inclined to make. You can find an occasional story where a fat person snapped after one too many comments and ~decided to get in shape~, or a restaurant worker was abused by one too many unreasonable dinner guests and ~decided to start their own business~, but that is not to say these people owe their success to unkindness, and it is also no excuse for those who choose to dish it out.

          You can help through compassion. Be better than that. Don't be the senior who dumped their lunch on a freshman--the person that freshman remembers for the rest of their life as a cruel, laughing asshole who taught them nothing and made them want to vent their impotent rage onto a future generation. You aren't helping them, and you aren't helping yourself, if you choose this kind of "revenge."

          Be better.

          Saturday, July 15, 2017

          Personal Digest Saturday: July 8 – July 14

          Life news this week: 
          • Saturday was the live show of Welcome to Night Vale: All Hail! I spent the morning getting ready for the evening, and then my friends came over and we ate at Taco Bus before heading over to the show. I was feeling pretty dizzy and weird but still had a good time. The performance was really fun and the musical guest was great. At home I hung out with Jeaux a little before going to sleep.
          • Sunday I got up late because I went to bed late. Did some ukulele and karaoke stuff, and I finished my Bismuth comic that I've been working on and posted that online. Had a chat with a new online friend as well, and felt pretty crappy all day.
          • Monday it rained bucketloads so I got stuck at work until really late. (A co-worker took me home which was nice.) The proposals I was working on were bouncing around--one got postponed and circumstances got weird on another one so we weren't even sure if we could submit. I went home and pretty much just went to sleep. Also I shared my cute comic on Amino and hoped they would pick it for featuring on the front page, but they picked A DIFFERENT POST OF MINE that wasn't really very special and put THAT on the front page. Hmph!
          • Tuesday I was incredibly dizzy and had other really super weird symptoms but I went to work anyway but it just got so bad that my co-workers were like "you should go home." I decided they were right and let one of them take me home. I had a doctor's appointment already scheduled for the next day but I called my doctor again to see if I should take it more seriously and he said take Benadryl and go to the ER if I got any worse. Eh. I just toughed it out and tried to enjoy the cool new book I got in the mail: Steven Universe: Art and Origins came out! My mom came over and brought me a few things to eat, and she also gave me a sick toy, haha. I spent the whole day reading and reviewing the book.
          • Wednesday I went to my doctor's appointment and the doctor decided I should have a CT scan and an X-ray. I decided I didn't want to go to work after that and just went home, but I did some work from home on some of my proposals. The one we thought we couldn't submit on ended up getting back on the agenda, so I worked on that and then had Jeaux over. He picked up dinner from 4 Rivers so I wouldn't have to go out. We watched Wrecked and looked at the art book together.
          • Thursday I felt significantly better so I went to work. I busted out some stuff for the proposal and went home. I also contacted a realtor about my upcoming move and he sent me a list of houses to look at for renting! I'm going to go through them soon. Talked to Victor on the phone and drew my webcomic, and that was it.
          • Friday I still felt a little better, and went to work to do proposal stuff and go to a meeting. I only worked until about 2 PM because I had to leave for my tests. I got my CT scan and my X-ray and went home. Posted my comic and then just kind of sat around doodling and playing online.

          New reviews of my book:

            Incidentally, that discussion actually 100% acknowledges that LGBT people are oppressed (sometimes in different ways than we are; sometimes in very similar ways), and that the prohibition against gay men giving blood IS OPPRESSIVE. (LOL at the idea that I would ever, ever say gay men aren't oppressed over this. Oh my god.) My point was that some LGBT people--lesbians, in particular, among others--don't have this prohibition, but no one would ever say their ability to give blood proves they aren't oppressed. And yet, that HAS been said to me--"talk to me when you're barred from giving blood!"--even though I have been excluded from giving blood for a completely non-oppressive reason (being under the weight limit). They tried to say I was equating those things, too, which is really underhanded of them because that was not at all the thrust of the conversation. If someone has a question or comment about this, feel free to ask me for my position.
            Reading progress:
              New singing performances:

              This week I performed "These Are the Days of Our Lives" by Queen.


              New drawings: 

              I made a little mini-comic about a character named Bismuth from Steven Universe. In the show, she basically teases the main characters about stuff they're actually pretty sensitive about, but it's sort of in a reclaimed-slur way if you can sort of understand that? Anyway, even though she was dishing out teasing comments at Pearl and Garnet, they never did it back to her. I thought it would be cute if they did, so I made a comic about that happening. (Bismuth's role in society is to build things for the Diamonds, and she defied them by making weapons for the rebel army instead. That's what they're teasing her about.) Sorry if it doesn't make much sense for those who don't watch the show. :)

              Webcomic Negative One Issue 0635: "Yes Sir."

              New videos:

              Another unlisted ukulele video: "Tower of Mistakes" from Steven Universe, a melancholy little ditty about regret. It's got a sort of complicated chord situation and I'm not that good at executing it. Sorry about that. Here's the original song from the show if you're curious, but . . . if you don't watch the show, this won't clear up any context, because it's weird.

              New photos:

              Here are some from the Night Vale show:

              Me with my tickets
              Friend group on the way to the show
              Victor and Jeaux having Taco Bus before the show
              Katelyn, Meghan, and me at the show
              Me and Meggie in our seats
              The theater has a starry sky ceiling
              Eliza Rickman was the quirky and wonderful musical guest.
              Cecil doing his Cecil thing
              Cecil is possessed by a glowing cloud
              Cecil and Tamika deliver the Glow Cloud's message
              (Cecil is played by Cecil Baldwin and Tamika is played by Symphony Sanders)

              Night Vale cast (Meg Bashwiner in the front)

              I got my Art and Origins book!
              Mom brought me a sick toy--a slime dispenser to squeeze onto candy.
              Jeaux enjoys the art book

              Social Media Counts:

              YouTube subscribers: 5,290 for swankivy (lost 1), 645 for JulieSondra (2 new). Twitter followers: 874 for swankivy (3 new), 1,334 for JulieSondra (5 new). Facebook: 295 friends (I friended Michael G.) and 206 followers (no change) for swankivy, 656 likes for JulieSondra (1 new), 55 likes for Negative One (no change), 127 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,494 (lost 1). Instagram followers: 114 (no change).