Sunday, December 31, 2017

End-of-Year Book Survey: 2017!

Whoa! 2018 is here already. Okay, so here's a book survey I like to do at the end of the year. Its prompts are originally from The Perpetual Page-Turner

Number Of Books You Read: 47, according to Goodreads.
Number of Re-Reads: I don't really reread.
Genre You Read The Most From: 
Graphic novels and Young Adult I guess.

1. Best Book You Read In 2017? 

Natalka Burian's book Welcome to the Slipstream was excellent, but "best" is so hard to say--I'll just pick this one because I also had an extra burst of happy pride at having been her mentor in Pitch Wars!

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going to Love More But Didn't?

The last book I read in 2017, Queens of Geek, was like that. I read the premise and thought "wow, I'll be all over this," but then I couldn't get invested because the storytelling felt too deliberately set up to make specific points.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2017? 

Jem and the Holograms, Volume 1. Didn't expect to like a story with this concept as much as I did, but it was super great.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2017? 

I rarely push books sadly. I bothered Jeaux into reading the new Night Vale book by lending it to him!

5. Best series you started in 2017? Best Sequel of 2017? Best Series Ender of 2017? 

Best series started was The Colors of Madeleine. I read books 1 and 2 this year. I need to read 3!
Best sequel was It Devours! by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor. That's Welcome to Night Vale.
Best series ender was The Search #3 in the graphic novel series Avatar: The Last Airbender.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017? 

I read a lot of books by authors I was familiar with, and most of the new authors I tried I didn't love, so I don't have a good answer here. 

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone? 

The Conscience of a Liberal by Paul Krugman. Don't read many political books at all.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year? 

Gosh. Action? I guess I'll say Ender's Game because I read that for the first time this this year, and really liked it.

9. Book You Read In 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year? 

I'll admit it, I'm sure I'll reread Steven Universe: Art and Origins. But probably not in full. Rereading is uncommon for me.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017? 

Oh, I love the cover art from Cracks in the Kingdom.

11. Most memorable character of 2017? 

I'll remember Starr Carter from The Hate U Give for a long time.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2017? 

The Last Unicorn had some phrasing that brought me to tears.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2017? 

Steven Universe: Art and Origins, a nonfiction book about the initial concepts and creative process involved in bringing my favorite television show into existence, was a really moving read for me. The collaborative nature of the process is inspiring to me, as I'm a very solitary worker myself, and it made me think maybe one day I actually could play well with others in a collaborative atmosphere if I'm ever given that kind of creative opportunity.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read? 

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2017? 

Watching her companions as they slept, seeing the shadows of their dreams scurry over their faces, she would feel herself bending under the heaviness of knowing their names.

—From The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2017?

Goodreads says my longest read was The Ancestor's Tale by Richard Dawkins, at 688 pages.

Not counting individual comic issues, the shortest book I read was Fusion for Beginners and Experts by Rebecca Sugar and Angie Wang, at 64 pages.

17. Book That Shocked You The Most (Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.) 

Cracks in the Kingdom. I can't really nail down one aspect. I loved when the characters were fishing for spells; the whole scene made me breathless.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)?

I'm not a huge shipper. (OTP means "One True Pairing" by the way, if you don't know.) I guess I'll go with Prenna & Ethan (The Here and Now by Ann Brashares).

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year?

Seijuro Shin and Sena Kobayakawa from Eyeshield 21. I read Volume 27 this year and I love how their rivalry on the field is about the classiest thing I've ever seen.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2017 From An Author You’ve Read Previously?

A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty. 

21. Best Book You Read In 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure?

Gwenpool the Unbelievable: Volume 1. This never would have been on my radar at all if my friend Victor hadn't bought it for me and told me to read it. I didn't absolutely adore it, but the other books I read solely after being pushed to by others weren't good.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017? 

I had zero new fictional crushes on any characters from books I read this year. But some of the books I read did include Garnet from Steven Universe and I think it's safe to say I have a weird crush on her.

23. Best 2017 debut you read? 

Welcome to the Slipstream by Natalka Burian, obviously. 

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year? 

The Stone Heart, book 2 in the graphic novel series The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks. 

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read? 

Winger by Andrew Smith made me laugh out loud a lot, even though I wanted to punch the protagonist in the throat. 

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2017? 

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle.  

27. Hidden Gem Of the Year? 

Just about everything I read this year wasn't particularly "hidden." I haven't seen enough talk about Welcome to the Slipstream so let's say that one again.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul? 

This is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp. Mainly just the idea of it, school shooters, and the people they indelibly affect . . . just kinda kills me.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2017? 

It Devours! by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor. Still off-the-hinges weird.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

The Magicians by Lev Grossman. Its protagonist was insufferable and his misogyny was off the charts.  

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Personal Digest Saturday: December 23 – December 29

Life news this week:
  • Saturday I did some blogging and posted some very silly fan art but I'm not going to post it here because it bounces off someone else's art and I don't want to repost someone else's art. Played the Steven Universe video game until sister P, brother-in-law Y, and nephew Ash came over. We played together and Ash got to ride the tire swing. We also made cookie dough and she made rugelach, and I got to play with old toys with Ash. After she left I cleaned up a little and slept.
  • Sunday I made a Together Breakfast (waffles with popcorn, haha). Did some karaoke too. And made a Yule Log cake for the next day. Managed to also make cookie icing for our cookies and wrapped presents.
  • Monday I had Christmas Day off, which I spent at my mom's house with my friends Victor and Jeaux and my sister, brother-in-law, nephew, mom, and David. It was lovely! We spent a bunch of time frosting cookies together, and then we had a meal mostly made by my mom (with vegetarian shepherd's pie created by my sister and me), and later we ate the Yule Log Cake I brought and some cookies, plus presents. I got some cool stuff from my friends and family!
  • Tuesday was wacky at work. I was sort of helping a co-worker with photos on his project but he wasn't quite ready yet. I documented some Steven Universe podcasts and went home on the bus, with some dude hitting on me trying to find out if I was married. I ate the rest of the shepherd's pie at home and read a new Steven Universe tie-in book about relationships.
  • Wednesday Jeaux was sick and I worked on photos at work all day. I picked up the new Steven Universe comic book on my way home from work and read it and reviewed it online. Talked to Meggie on the phone and fell asleep on the floor.
  • Thursday I got a feature for one of my posts on Amino (basically a weekly occurrence, haha) and went out with Jeaux who felt well enough to hang out. We ate at Perkins, shopped at Winn-Dixie, and hung out at my house. After he left I talked to Victor on the phone and drew comics.
  • Friday I finished the comics, worked by myself at the office until the afternoon, and went home to post the comic. I texted with a new friend and got him to watch my favorite show which was fun. And fell asleep accidentally.
New reviews of my book:

Reading progress:
    New singing performances:

    This week's song was "Hard Candy Christmas" by Dolly Parton.

    New drawings: 

    Webcomic Negative One Issue 0659: "This Transcends."

    New videos:

    My latest writing video is called "Don't Become a Writer If...." It's about five things you should keep in mind before you do something like this to yourself.

    New photos:

    Ash plays with the robot his grandpa got him!
    Ash enjoyed the tire swing in my back yard.
    Together Breakfast that I ate alone
    I am a gift
    Ash and his mommy horsing around at his grandma's
    A Steveny cookie.
    Mmm, cookies.

    Sunbathing snowman!

    Look at those beautiful cookies.
    Present time at Mom's!
    Ash got so many presents.
    Ash liked selecting a cookie, eating the candies off it, and not eating the cookie.
    Whoop whoop, the Steven Universe relationship book is here

    Social Media Counts:

    YouTube subscribers: 5,274 for swankivy (2 new), 657 for JulieSondra (no change). Twitter followers: 901 for swankivy (2 new), 1,329 for JulieSondra (1 new). Facebook: 293 friends (no change) and 201 followers (no change) for swankivy, 657 likes for JulieSondra (1 new), 55 likes for Negative One (no change), 125 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,494 (2 new). Instagram followers: 130 (lost 1).

    Friday, December 29, 2017

    Year-End Survey 2017 [GIF warning]

    Here's my year-end survey for 2017! HUZZAH! 

    1. What did you do in 2017 that you'd never done before?

    • Helped my workplace shut down to go out of business

    • Took driving lessons from a professional
    • Sold something on eBay
    • Did a YouTube video for my channel with a friend 

    • Made krumkake
    • Hired a financial adviser, a lawn care specialist, and a pest control specialist
    • Had my art stolen multiple times
    • Learned how to do some very minor design work for my job

    • Became a notary
    • Taught myself how to use Microsoft Access
    • Won an art contest (well, first time as an adult, anyway)
    • Ran a fan convention panel (accidentally)

    • Cosigned a loan for a car
    • Called 911 (twice)
    • Moved into my own (rented) house
    • Went to my first coordination meeting at the DOT

    2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

    Last year, these were my resolutions, and whether I kept them:

    •     Finish editing Bad Fairy and get it to my agent. Kept it!
    •     Finish writing Ace of Arts. Did not!
    •     Get at least one more short story published. Did not!
    •     Get a great job in 2017. Kept it!
    •     Lose 10 pounds. LOL NOOOOOPE
    •     Have at least one awesome vacation with Meghan. Not really, just a couple visits.
    •     Be more responsive to communication. Hmm . . . No.
    My resolutions this year:
    • Actually finish Ace of Arts.
    • Be more consistent with Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.
    • Lose some weight, for real tho.
    • Write two new short stories.
    • Try a new recipe.
    • Redesign my entire website.
    • Do cosplay at at least one convention.
    • Progress with my ukulele.
    • Continue reading about a book a week.

    3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

    I think my old high school friend Heather must've had a baby this month, but we're not close anymore and I don't have news. My friend Avi, with whom I really no longer communicate either (sadly), also had a second child with his partner this past summer.

    4. Did anyone close to you die?

    I didn't lose anyone. My beautiful friend Meggie lost her stepdad this year, though.

    5. What countries did you visit?

    I stayed home.

    6. What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017?

    • As always, a three-book deal from a major publisher. ;)
    • A balance between fun and work that I find satisfying.
    • A much better diet.
    • Better video editing software (which means a better computer).

    7. What dates from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

    January 31: Last day of work at DKS.
    February 16: Accepted a new job at BES.
    March 1: Drove a car for the first time in 20 years during a driving lesson.
    March 6: Started my new job at BES.
    July 8: Welcome to Night Vale show.

    August 4 – 6: Metrocon event.

    September 10–11: Weathered Hurricane Irma.
    September 25: Moved into a new three-bedroom house.

    October 28: Had a big Halloween party.

    December 18: Family from San Francisco arrived to visit.

    8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

    Honestly, just surviving a ton of changes: moving, driving, changing my job.

    I also successfully ran a cartoon blog that I grew from less than 100 followers to almost 1400 followers, and I ran it anonymously so people wouldn't start following it just because they know me from somewhere else. I also got my fan content featured 38 times on Steven Universe Amino. Wow.

    9. What was your biggest failure?

    Again, like last year, my biggest failure is not treating my writing like it's important.

    10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

    Injured my ankle a little this fall, had a weird several-week bout of dizziness and a bad reaction to drugs, that's about it.

    11. What was the best thing you bought?

    A new ukulele, some great cartoon swag, and Welcome to Night Vale tickets.

    12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

    • Mommy, who has managed to do an awful lot in spite of being sick. She made me some really cute pillows, and at the times she could drive, she helped me get to work and over to my new house while I was moving.
    • Sister P and brother-in-law Y, for doing such a great job with Ash and P taking the steps to leave her job and find something that fits her better.
    • Meghan, for soldiering on another year with a sick husband, a mother who needs her help, two kids and a gaggle of pets, and a challenging job, all in the wake of losing her dad.
    • Jeaux, for helping me a lot during the hurricane and letting me cry on him, and for having the courage to leave his old job and get a new one.
    • Heather, who went on submission and got a new house this year.
    • My dad for supporting his parents in such difficult conditions.
    • My LGBT friends who came out this year, began using self-affirming labels this year, and got gender-affirming surgeries this year.
    13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
    • Upstairs neighbors, whose fuckery made me leave my home this year.
    • Selfish people who ignored suffering just because it wasn't them.
    • Racists, homophobes, and transphobes whose violent and bigoted attitudes have led DIRECTLY to life lost and blood spilled.
    • YouTube trolls, anonymous Tumblr haters, and whoever got my Amino account banned just 'cause they were snotty and jelly.
    • Donald Trump and his supporters.
    14. Where did most of your money go?

    Rent, moving expenses, and lending other people money.

    15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? 

    Steven Universe, amazing books, Night Vale, compassionate people in queer activism, Steven Universe, comic books, learning ukulele, food, my cute friends, drawing, when Rebecca Sugar followed me on Tumblr for some reason, Steven Universe, my nephew, my cool new house, delicious desserts, art supplies, Steven Universe.

    16. What song will always remind you of 2017?

    "Glad You Came." For some reason I sang this with my ukulele as a goodbye song when I left my last job.

    17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

    i. happier or sadder?

    Afraid sad is the answer.

    ii. thinner or fatter?

    Can't believe it but I've gained more weight this year.

    iii. richer or poorer?

    Richer, sort of.

    18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

    Writing fiction instead of blog posts.

    19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

    Redoing work I've already done because of assholes.

    20. How did you spend Christmas?

    I went to my mom's with my friends Jeaux and Victor. We decorated cookies, ate a meal, and opened presents. It was pretty great!

    21. How will you be spending New Year's Eve?

    I don't know, hopefully something with family.

    22. Did you fall in love in 2017?


    23. How many one-night stands?

    24. What was your favorite TV program?

    That is unnecessary

    25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

    My tolerance for certain people has diminished, leading to unfriending occasionally.

    26. What was the best book you read this year?

    I really can't decide for sure but I'll say Welcome to the Slipstream by Natalka Burian for fiction and Steven Universe: Art and Origins for nonfiction.

    27. What was your greatest musical discovery? 

    I had no significant musical discoveries this year.

    28. What did you want and get?

    More Tumblr followers, cartoon nerdiness, a great new house that's beyond my expectations in most ways, fulfilling hobbies, love.

    29. What did you want and not get?

    A driver's license, a completed book, and a smaller butt?

    30. What was your favorite film of this year? 

    Definitely, definitely Hidden Figures.

    31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

    I turned 39. I had to work. Jeaux and my boss both got me a cake and I ate both. My mom took me out for pizza and I got some reading done in the evening.

    32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

    If I didn't have to watch my loved ones struggle with money. Also, having a different President.

    33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017?

    Cartoon superhero. 

    34. What kept you sane?

    Blogging, Jeaux and Meghan, cartoons, music, art therapy.

    35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

    I've been watching/hearing/reading a lot of Rebecca Sugar interviews and I really connect with what she's saying. I would just love to talk creativity and queerness with her.

    36. What political issue stirred you the most?

    Everything surrounding #MeToo. I didn't participate but I watched.

    37. Who did you miss?

    I miss being able to talk to my grandma, I miss working with the people at my old job, and I miss my friends who died, Jim and Mike.

    38. Who was the best new person you met?

    New friends were few and far between this year. I did just meet Iri at Queer Brunch and they're my most recently friended Facebook person so I pick them.

    39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017.

    I can handle emergencies. But it helps a lot if I can cry on somebody after.

    40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

    "Take a moment to think of just flexibility, love, and trust."

    Saturday, December 23, 2017

    Personal Digest Saturday: December 16 – December 22

    Life news this week:
    • Saturday I woke up and had pie with Victor. Yummy--we had carrot, bean, and butternut squash pie, and all were tasty, but I think I like the bean pie best still. After he left, I did my blogging and talked to Mommy on the phone.
    • Sunday seemed really long and I got an unusual amount of stuff done. Did four loads of laundry, made a karaoke video, and got my holiday decorations up. Also got all my holiday shopping done--finally decided that I would get inexpensive gifts for people instead of no gifts. :)
    • Monday I spent the work day doing databases for marketing contacts. I also designed a fry carton. Then I went home and made "the bits"--it's a food they eat in the Steven Universe cartoon. Steven likes to get the pieces of overcooked fry dregs out of the fryer and eat them. So I made my own version--one that adheres to how they're described, and the other that adheres to how they look in the show. Both were good and I ate them and fell asleep from potato overload.
    • Tuesday I woke up early because I fell asleep from all the potatoes. I got my Christmas cards done and put the last decorations on my tabletop Yule tree. Then I took a Lyft car to work and did more databases. I went home and my sister P came over with her husband and son--I got to see my cute nephew, who had his face painted like a puppy! We chilled for a while and P and I made chocolate cake for nephew's birthday the next day. After she left I fell asleep early again.
    • Wednesday I worked on a consultant plan and then met Jeaux for our sort of usual Jeaux Day. We had Which Wich? food and did some quick shopping, then to my place to meet my family for Ash's birthday party. My sis made icing and iced the cake, and we put up some decorations and wrapped some presents. Can't believe the kid is four years old! We ate cake and watched him unwrap his toys, and after everyone left I cleaned up a bit and went to sleep.
    • Thursday was the Solstice! I had to work. And I made a new quiz on Amino. Talked to Victor on the phone while drawing a pretty dramatic episode of my webcomic.
    • Friday I didn't feel like shopping for groceries so I ordered some using Instacart and ended up not getting exactly what I wanted so that was ugh. (I do not like peppered food and one of the replacements was a peppered version of what I wanted!) Anyway, I made bagel sandwiches similar to those Steven throws at Crystal Shrimp in the cartoon (I'm really into making cartoon food right now!), but then I was too full to eat both bagels so I saved one. I finished my webcomic and posted it and didn't do much that was productive after that.
    Reading progress:
      New singing performances:

      This week's song was "My Immortal" by Evanescence.

      New drawings: 

      Merry Christmas from the Shorty Squad, where Peridot is a reluctant tree.

      Webcomic Negative One Issue 0658: "This Destructive Truth."

      New videos:


      New photos:

      Victor opening pies for breakfast
      I made "fry bits" as seen on Steven Universe, trying one recipe for how they're described to be and one recipe that looks more like the picture.
      Enjoying my fry bits.

      I have a nephew who believes he is a puppy sometimes.
      Ash and Yusuke (nephew and brother-in-law) enjoying pillows made by Mom.
      My nephew is a four-year-old!
      Sister P frosting her son's cake.
      Ash's cake for his fourth birthday!
      Ash about to get his cake.
      Happy birthday, Ash!
      These bagel sandwiches are a favorite of Crystal Shrimp.
      Bagel sandwiches are good distractions to clear a path through an infestation, you know.

      Social Media Counts:

      YouTube subscribers: 5,272 for swankivy (3 new), 657 for JulieSondra (no change). Twitter followers: 899 for swankivy (lost 1), 1,328 for JulieSondra (lost 3). Facebook: 293 friends (lost 1, dunno who) and 201 followers (no change) for swankivy, 656 likes for JulieSondra (lost 1), 55 likes for Negative One (1 new), 125 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,492 (lost 2). Instagram followers: 131 (3 new). I don't know which friend I lost this week, but I did figure out that last week's weird drop was from an old friend deleting his Facebook account, so it wasn't personal!

      Wednesday, December 20, 2017

      Wednesday Factoid: Old-Fashioned Way

      Today's Wednesday Factoid is: What's something you like to do the old-fashioned way?


      I guess it's not that "old fashioned," because I certainly use modern equipment like microwaves and ovens, but when I bake I generally do so from scratch and tend not to use electric mixers or other aids. I don't even own an electric mixer. 

      Some people think it's weird that I know how to make things from scratch and that I don't just buy a box or buy the cake already made, but I really enjoy being able to just kinda make whatever I want right then. I make cookies, cakes, breads, pies, whatever . . . and most of it doesn't require ingredients I have to plan for, with the exception of if a recipe needs milk. I don't typically have milk in the house because I'm lactose intolerant, but in some cases almond milk doesn't work for baking purposes very well. In others it's fine.

      Monday, December 18, 2017

      All about you

      We all know that there are unreasonable people in the world who expect everything and everyone to revolve around them and their needs. But I want to talk about one specific thread of that behavior that tends to rear its ugly head during this time of year.

      The "War on Christmas" people.

      Who insist that it is an insult to them, their religion, and their country if you do not privilege them.

      The insult, say these folks, is in people's failure to respect their holiday, their beliefs, their freedom by refusing to acknowledge it. And what they process as "refusal" to do these things is a tendency to be inclusive of everyone; in other words, if you just wish someone a happy holiday, this type of person will get super shirty and perhaps pointedly say "And a MERRY CHRISTMAS to YOU." Which does not, of course, feel like a well-wishing attempt. If you ask Jews, Muslims, atheists, anyone who doesn't celebrate Christmas, they are by and large NOT about to make a stink about being wished a merry Christmas, and for the most part Christmas-celebrators DO NOT behave like this either.


      I'd think reports of "War on Christmas" jerks were largely exaggerated if I had not spent six years in retail.

      Every. Year. I'd have at least several people a day snot at me on the phone, at the register, or in the store if I wished them a "Happy Holiday" like I was instructed to. I have had people ask for my manager. I have had people come to me to complain about the bag design not specifying "Merry Christmas." I even had one person complain that the Christmas music was too secular--not enough Jesus in the music, too much Frosty the Snowman and Santa. You know, it was their holiday but not explicitly religious enough for them to feel comfortable shopping to. And of course just the everyday snide "Yes, and Merry CHRISTMAS to YOU" or "you know it's CHRISTMAS right? The reason for the season?"

      (The reason for the season is the Winter Solstice, actually, but I digress.)

      Here's the thing. These types of people feel attacked, they feel othered, they feel persecuted, if their holiday is not explicitly centered TO THE EXCLUSION OF OTHERS' HOLIDAYS. If someone attempts to be inclusive, to acknowledge that there ARE other holidays at this time of year, to take care not to assume what someone celebrates, THEY ARE MAD THAT WE DO NOT ASSUME EVERYONE IS THEIR RELIGION AND CELEBRATES THEIR HOLIDAY.

      They consider that an attack. They consider that unacceptable.

      Can you imagine being so selfish, so entitled, that you explicitly want everyone in your world to treat everyone as if they believe like you unless otherwise indicated? Can you imagine being so privileged that people not discriminating against others for your benefit feels like they must be attacking you?

      This is why those folks feel they're fighting a war. The war they're fighting isn't the right to celebrate how they want, or believe how they want, or have freedoms associated with their religion. They are not being stopped from praying how they desire. They are not being asked to worship in secret or being asked to avoid displays that show off their beliefs on their own personal property. They do not have anyone coming to their religious places to burn them down or demonstrate outside of them. They do not have anyone in schools teaching their children that people like them should go back to their country of origin.

      The "war" they're fighting is a battle to live in a theocracy. 

      They don't want diversity, despite that it is one of the major founding principles of the country they claim to love. They don't want religious freedom, because that means people who are not their religion might inconveniently practice or preach it in their own spaces or spaces that intersect theirs. They don't want freedom of speech, because that entitles people with ideas they don't like to ~poison their children~ (isn't it always about the children?). They pretend to believe in all of these things, but they only like them as vehicles for their own dogma. As soon as you advocate for actual diversity, religious freedom, or freedom of speech, it paves the way for people who believe differently to embrace what they want, and that's not actually the goal for people like this. What they want is complete freedom for THEIR group, THEIR religion, THEIR speech to be, worship, and say what they like. If someone else simply is, believes, and says something different, even if it doesn't contradict theirs or prevent them from doing as they want, it can still be spun as a threat.

      Frequently, the way they accomplish this is to claim that anything explicitly un-Christian (even if it isn't anti-Christian) is also un-American, violent, negative, or perverted. Suddenly your love for your country or your decency as a person is called into question if you do not demonstrate so-called Christian morals and values. They have had a pretty established chokehold on moral messages since the Puritans established their codes of conduct, and despite the well-meaning religious freedom laws of the Founding Fathers, we're still so obsessed with the connection between Christianity and moral values that our elected officials are "sworn in" on something they believe in, and it's so frequently a Christian Bible that some elected officials literally believe it has to be the Christian Bible. That somehow, despite our religious freedom laws being there in black and white, we still all realllllly know the United States is a Christian nation and our REAL ruling document is the Bible, not the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

      They smugly believe their religion is and should be in charge of how the country is run (despite how many explicitly un-Christian things our government does). It's about the show: it's about the Christmas tree, it's about saying "Merry Christmas," it's about the nativity scene in the yard. Those things "prove" that you have the "right" beliefs, and if you refuse to trumpet your supposed faith to everyone you know and see, you're the opposition. 

      It's all about them. It's all about being forced to center them in everything, or be accused of un-American, un-Christian, therefore immoral lifestyles and morals. This is what oppression and persecution look like, by the way. It is being committed BY them, not against them.

      As soon as you create hysteria over an attack on you predicated on the notion that you are oppressed because you are not explicitly preferred, you are demonstrating that you do not understand privilege or struggle or oppression. If you feel attacked whenever you see evidence that others share your freedoms, you are on the wrong side of this "war." You are on the side of the fascists, the racists, the dictators, the oppressors. You are not under attack because someone won't say "Merry Christmas." You are not under attack because others aren't being subjected to your religion against their will. You are not under attack because you are not free to attack others for being different from you. You are not under attack from an inclusive society.

      It should not be all about you. Especially at a time of year that is supposed to be about togetherness, charity, and love.