Saturday, April 28, 2018

Personal Digest Saturday: April 21 – April 27

Life news this week:
  • Saturday I shared my cool new comic with Tumblr and Amino but no one seemed to care about this one. Welp. I was pretty surprised because I planned it for a long time and thought it would be relevant and appealing to the fan base, but maybe it just didn't hit the right eyes at the right time or something. I cleaned up my place, talked to Meggie on the phone, and downloaded some transcripts.
  • Sunday I made some GIFs for Tumblr about Garnet with some analysis, and the post got a bunch of attention. Woohoo. (I got some new fans, too.) I practiced ukulele, did laundry, helped Mom scan some more stuff, and recorded a karaoke song.
  • Monday I had to work on marketing letters and a transcript, so that took most of the day. I worked on my monthly webcomic and recorded a new ukulele song. Made a cute drawing of chibi Crystal Gems to celebrate hitting 1800 followers on my Tumblr.
  • Tuesday I worked on some money stuff and helped set up a new employee at work. Took a short nap at home and made an asexuality video, and drew a few frames of a new cute comic.
  • Wednesday I continued my cartography classes at work. We had to learn math stuff and I couldn't believe I got all the questions right on the quiz at the end! Jeaux and I ate at Precinct Pizza and went to see his new place, which is little but cute, and he figured out how to organize it really well. He and I shopped at Target and went to my house, and had our usual chats.
  • Thursday I spent a bunch of time on marketing letters and updating databases. I helped our new employee with a bunch of stuff again. After work I completed a massive to-do list because I wanted to have Friday free to hang out with Victor: I made it to the post office JUST before they closed to pick up a package, I framed some new posters, I cleaned up my house and took a shower, I posted my video and subtitled it, and I finished drawing my webcomic.
  • Friday I worked on letters and databases at work. And the utility coordination is coming back up with one of our projects so it's tiring. I went home and finished posting my webcomic. Victor came over and we got some Chinese food, I caught him up on Steven Universe episodes (he was 4 behind), and then we made an ube roll which did not turn out as purple as I wanted but it was still good!
New reviews of my book:

Articles, Interviews, Mentions:

  • A thread on Reddit recommended my book to someone looking for help in explaining their asexuality to family members.

Reading progress:
    New singing performances:

    This week's song was "If I Were a Boy" by BeyoncĂ©.

    Stuff Drawn:

    We~ are the chibi Gems!

    Webcomic So You Write Issue 83: "Infodump."

    Webcomic Negative One Issue 0676: "Someone Littler."

    New videos:

    A new ukulele cover--here I am doing a relatively new Steven Universe song called "G-G-G-Ghost." I had to learn a new chord for this one.  

    As for info about the song. . . . I'm performing as a character named Sadie who just started performing in a band called Sadie Killer and the Suspects, and they have a spooky stuff gimmick. This was from their first big performance. But it's interesting to me because the character has a history of being ignored and overlooked, so her singing about being a ghost that no one can see is a pretty neat perspective. Check it out.

    Letters to an Asexual #57 is about a guy messaging me on OKCupid asking really personal questions and acting like he's looking for what's missing, while also sorta flirting with me.

    New photos:

    Jeaux in his new apartment!
    Selfie with ube roll!
    Victor acted like he was gonna eat the whole thing in one bite.

    Social Media Counts:

    YouTube subscribers: 5,282 for swankivy (lost 2), 671 for JulieSondra (4 new). Twitter followers: 922 for swankivy (6 new), 1,319 for JulieSondra (no change). Facebook: 294 friends (no change) and 204 followers (no change) for swankivy, 655 likes for JulieSondra (lost 1), 56 likes for Negative One (1 new), 133 likes for So You Write (8 new). Tumblr followers: 2,503 (no change). Instagram followers: 140 (no change).

    Wednesday, April 25, 2018

    Wednesday Factoid: Claim to Fame

    Today's Wednesday Factoid is: What's your claim to fame?

    Ah, that's an easy one for me. My claim to fame is my book and my asexuality activism. I've been on international television, nominated or won four book awards, written up in the New York Times and TIME magazine and a bunch of others, been interviewed by The Huffington Post, Salon, Marie Claire, The Daily Beast, in a documentary that was in mainstream circulation, and on radio stations and podcasts, and asked repeatedly to speak at colleges and events. 

    Everybody who reads this blog certainly already knows about that because that's probably one of the main reasons anyone reads it. But I have a couple other small "claims to fame." Including how I made sort of a name for myself as an outspoken critic of a popular book series, to the point that people I didn't even know were routinely messaging me to find out if I was going to review the next book in the series whenever there was one.

    Annnnd also when I was in second grade I won a county-wide poster contest, so there's that.

    Tuesday, April 24, 2018

    Writing: An Amorphous Process

    I haven't been writing any fiction lately (except for my webcomics, which I guess still counts), but I'm still keeping up several blogs and making YouTube content, and I'm still in touch with a lot of spaces where discussion of writing is happening. Yesterday I noticed something happening on my fan-stuff-only blog for Steven Universe that made me want to talk about writing.

    Specifically, critics.

    Despite my experience as a pretty tough editor and my past as a vocal critic of some popular works, I do NOT consider my fan blog a critical blog. I occasionally analyze the source material and slant toward critical when appropriate, and every once in a while that gets my posts mistaken for critical posts even though they largely are not, but overall my blog is a celebration of the material, not a critical exploration. There are several aspects of the show that I feel were missteps--almost certainly just a symptom of overlooking the possible impact an implicit message could have rather than an explicit support of the ideologies I disagree with--and though I have never made posts "calling out" the writers for these issues, I discuss them when invited. Overall, I think some of the messages in the show that end up being confusing, morally gray, or incredibly complex are like that for a reason: life is complicated, relationships are complicated, and this show reflects that. Just because they include a message in an episode does not mean they're advocating that message. Some of the more troubling messages were seemingly deliberately left neutral. And sometimes a character learns one lesson and then learns the opposite lesson in another episode. For instance, in one episode a character's willingness trust is rewarded; in a later episode, that trust is abused; there's no way you can walk away with "trust people more willingly!" as a message for this show if "trusting people might get you killed" follows it, and just like in real life, some people deserve trust and some don't.

    This show depicts things that happen. Showing us things that happen sometimes is not the same as agreeing with them.

    And that's a risky game in children's media, yes. But I resented being talked down to by adults through my cartoons when I was a kid, and I appreciate that this one almost never presents its messages as uncomplicated, simplified dogma.

    But here's another thing. This show is created COLLABORATIVELY.

    Different people on the show want to bring different messages to the table. Sometimes those messages are very specific and very nuanced. And sometimes, when my commentary or discussion gets reblogged into "critical" Tumblr, I see a lot of objection to this. A lot of hooting and hollering about how the show is disorganized, or inconsistent, or even incoherent. And in response to some of the insight the show creators are giving us in behind-the-scenes podcasts, some of these critics are mocking the way the story has evolved. Sometimes the creative team has admitted that they planted clues without knowing what they meant, or that they didn't have an important part of the story solidified until halfway through the first season, or that certain initial intentions have been diverted or changed completely.

    I'm watching one of my podcast recaps getting pooped on by critics saying the show is a joke, the show is trash, it should be canceled, it's written by clowns, they wish everyone involved with it would "choke and die," etc. Because the creators shared their creative process and some of it was not a calculated, streamlined, single-mission, comprehensively plotted work of genius from greenlight to the present.

    Do these people have NO idea at all how writing works?

    Because it sounds like these people have no idea at all how writing works.

    So, writing for an ongoing television series in a collaborative capacity is way outside my zone of experience, but I can say with some certainty that I wouldn't want to be in a position where people were enthusiastically consuming one of my works in progress. Because when I start a book, I rarely know how it ends when I'm beginning. Characters pop up and act in ways I didn't really expect. I realize things I didn't anticipate as I go along. I've repeatedly had the experience of "discovering" aspects of characters--even very big elements of their character--sometime significantly after I had them acting in my book. And if you know what you're doing, you can kind of make it look easy; if by the end it looks like you meant to do that all along, you're doing really well. And I never would've been able to pull that off in some of my books if I hadn't been able to go back and tweak a few things that didn't line up in the beginning.

    This show's beginning is littered with stuff that doesn't actually make sense with the currently understood canon. Most people write those things off as the show trying to find its feet. It was more magic and less science fiction at the beginning, though it's still a fantasy/sci-fi show today as well. Building on plot elements you tried out at the beginning and leaving other ones behind is how writing WORKS. And because of the way television shows are greenlit, aired, and marketed, it's not feasible for an animation team to complete five seasons of a show and make sure everything's airtight before releasing the beginning of the first season. It IS an in-progress work. And I'm not saying the flaws and contradictions aren't there. I'm saying THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. I know what I'm looking at and I don't necessarily expect it to be perfect. I don't even necessarily expect people not to criticize it when it isn't; the show is a big deal and has a big stage. But when my tags and reblogs start filling up with people saying they want the creators to DIE, posting reaction pictures of drunk people and laughing, or writing the show off as hopelessly and laughably contradictory because they admit to not planning some of the stuff that developed as they went along, I just want them to wake up and acknowledge what a writing process is.

    It's okay to find its flaws inexcusable and quit watching it. It's also okay to acknowledge flaws and love the show anyway. I don't think I'm denying that the flaws exist if I say they're not inexcusable to me. But I'm seeing the critics equate liking the show with denying its imperfections, and it's really annoying. Most of all though, the guffaws I'm hearing from these people when the creative team freely shares what was planned and what was an accident make me think none of these people have ever tried to create anything. Imagine getting assigned to do a group project in school and the later parts of the project depend on how the early parts go. Imagine having to present your project to the teacher and the class as you go along and not having any option to alter anything once it's been seen. And imagine having the audience laugh at you because you didn't start with a comprehensive, accurate table of contents.

    This is how creative projects WORK, son. They're works in progress, and the medium for this one just happens to necessitate showing it to the audience as it's growing. With the creative team also fluctuating as the project goes along, the political and social climate shifting over time, and the individual team members' personal growth affecting everything involved, it shouldn't be a surprise that it's sometimes something other than a well-oiled machine. Rebecca Sugar has described, in several interviews, her experience writing a song for the ending credits of the first few seasons. At first the song was instrumental (written by her music team), and new instruments and slightly different vibes were threaded in as the story progressed, but then later Rebecca added lyrics. She then had the show slowly revealing more of the song as the show went on, and she explained that the lyrics themselves were not written all at one time either. The punch line: When she first wrote the beginning of the song, she thought it was about aliens trying to understand humans. The middle of the song reflected some dark stuff she was personally going through, only to later turn out to be about a very human process of questioning oneself and learning what love means. She thought it was about an outside perspective at first, but it ended up making more sense as an intensely personal, human perspective.

    And guess what?

    It still works. It's still a beautiful song. Just from LISTENING to it, I don't get the impression that it was written by someone who didn't know what the song would ultimately mean as she was writing it. That didn't come through in the product. I only know about that because she told us about her process. 

    The show itself is a lot like that. We know it's not entirely a masterfully calculated airtight project (nor do they claim it is), and we know that largely because they're allowing us a peek into their process, showing us that many of the details that seemed planned were not, or that sometimes stuff is thrown in to drop seeds for later with no idea what they'll grow into. We also still don't know what it will become one day; the end is not here yet, and I'm seeing people operating entirely on theories rolling their eyes and snotting at the plot developments based on where they THINK it's going to go next. This is contradictory! This doesn't make sense because I don't know the answer to the murder mystery so it must be something pointless! They BETTER do the thing I expect or it WON'T MAKE SENSE! I don't like this twist because it changed my perception of something I got attached to! I got invested in my interpretation of events to the point that anything the actual writers develop won't satisfy me! Something disappointed me in the show so even though I loved it until now I can't keep enjoying it if it did something that far out of my expectations! I don't like this character and the story keeps making her look better than I think she is! I like this other character and the writers obviously don't understand her as well as I do because they're writing her this way I don't like! They wrote a show that captured millions of people's attention but I found evidence of its imperfection so they must not know what they're doing! I only like this half of the plot so the show's focus on the other half of the plot is ALIENATING ALL THE REAL FANS AND LOSING ME. I trusted these writers and loved what they gave me up to one point, but now I think they owe me specific resolutions or else their show is trash!

    It can be a tough thing to be a fan of something that doesn't get everything right to your satisfaction. I've certainly had a few moments where I was disappointed in a creator or frustrated by some aspect of storytelling in the face of everything else I loved about the work. But at the end of the day, it's ours only in the sense that we're consumers of it. We engage and we enjoy and sometimes we even give back with our reviews and creations and money. But that doesn't mean we own it. It's THEIRS. They get to create it. If we don't like what they make, we have the choice of criticizing it, of ceasing to consume it, of watching less willingly. But it's not our domain to suggest creators betrayed us by writing the story THEY want to write how they want to write it, and it's certainly not our domain to spew personal insults and violent wishes like I've been seeing on my Tumblr. It's not directed at me, but it still makes me ill to see these people saying "I hope they all choke and die." What about that would make anything better for you?

    One silver lining might come from these people just flouncing and writing their own damn story. Maybe they'll figure out how hard writing is and how it rarely, if ever, comes out in a straight line. I wanna see their spit-shined rough draft presented as a final product. I wanna see what they think is content worth sharing.

    Saturday, April 21, 2018

    Personal Digest Saturday: April 14 – April 20

    Life news this week:
    • Saturday I got my blogging done and some comic planning finished in time to get to Drink and Draw. I got to see my friends Eric and Joy and others and had a great time drawing and having my favorite VLT. I got a writing comic done and worked on some fan art.
    • Sunday I did karaoke and then went to help Jeaux with his move-out. We ate at Moe's, then picked up my steam cleaner from my mom's 'cause she'd borrowed it, uh, months ago. Then we went to his old apartment and did some final cleaning, and then he took me home. At home I just did some cleaning up and some drawings.
    • Monday was a cold day. I played with Letters of Response at work, and then went to Dunkin Donuts after work to get more donuts and try to do a better rendition of the Dog-Nut. (Last week's attempt was terrible.) This one was way prettier than the last one! But then after I took pictures and ate some of it, I got a really bad foot cramp and had to go to bed early because I had to stay in bed.
    • Tuesday I wore sneakers to work because I didn't want crampy feet again. Spent the work day, well, working, and listened to the latest Steven Universe podcast (which was just a recap of one of the new episodes, a short one). I took some pics of my new shirts and finally finished all my drawings for the fan comic I've been making about depression! But the talk bubbles didn't get done.
    • Wednesday I started cartography classes at work. I made a map of Massachusetts and learned to sort some data and how it's represented on the map. I have to take these classes for the next few weeks. Whee. After, I met Jeaux and we ate at Perkins, shopped at Target, and listened to Night Vale. My sound system has randomly died. :( Oh, and I also picked up the latest Steven Universe official comic, which came out earlier in the month than I had expected. I posted some images and a review online, and got TONS of comments from fans and a bunch of new followers for some reason.
    • Thursday I did my usual database work at the office, then came home and helped Mom with some more computer stuff. (Her laptop has been giving her trouble.) We hung out for a while but then she went home and I called Victor and we chatted while I drew webcomics. I unfortunately fell asleep on the floor with all the lights on.
    • Friday was a sleepy day. I worked on letters and database stuff and making reports for my boss. Then I went home and finished my webcomic and also drew a cute picture of Ruby and Sapphire in highlighters. At home after posting the comic I tried to go to bed but a big spider in the room interrupted me so I tried to catch it but was unsuccessful. (It wasn't as big as the one I had in my shower when I first moved in, though.) Wonder if I will see it again. [Edit: Caught the spider right after making this post!]
    New reviews of my book:

    Articles, Interviews, Mentions:

    Nothing really this week except someone who criticized my book a few weeks ago over a perception that I'm cherry-picking my research is posting more criticism--mostly along the lines of being disappointed that my non-scientific book doesn't feature scientific research, ignoring multiple examples of personal testimony as evidence that certain experiences are common, and suggesting I imply things I didn't imply. Some folks appear to think all nonfiction books are supposed to be scientific texts, and some people seem disappointed that it is largely, purposely, about anecdotal personal experiences (no, not just mine, but I'm not a scientist and I have not conducted scientific research on this). I don't really think a statement like "many asexual people have been asked about their genitals or masturbation habits by strangers" needs a scientific cite or a set of survey numbers when it's clear this is a book written by an activist who talks to a LOT of asexual people. I've heard other asexual people mention that this happens to them many times. Hence "many." I'm not sure what people would do with "numbers" about this if they had them. It's clear this is an experience some of us have, so why not simply understand that as your takeaway?

    Reading progress:
      New singing performances:

      This week's song was "Where I Want to Be" from the musical Chess.

      Stuff Drawn:

      So first, I made a really cool comic about depression this week. It's my take on a conversation between Steven Universe characters Lapis Lazuli and Peridot. Lapis struggles with depression pretty hard in the show, and Peridot doesn't really understand. I made this comic for fans, but it's easy to understand the overall message even if you don't watch the show (despite a few references to past trauma for both of them that don't really require context for you to get that they were bad). 

      Ruby and Sapphire flirting, drawn in highlighter
      (based on a pose that was in the official comic this week)

      Webcomic Negative One Issue 0675: "I Feel My Sleep."

      New videos:


      New photos:

      Day kinda sucked but I wore the right gloves to punch it
      Much handsomer Dog-Nut
      The happy couple

      Social Media Counts:

      YouTube subscribers: 5,284 for swankivy (lost 1), 667 for JulieSondra (1 new). Twitter followers: 916 for swankivy (3 new), 1,319 for JulieSondra (no change). Facebook: 294 friends (1 new, it's actually 2 because I friended two new people but I also defriended someone) and 204 followers (no change) for swankivy, 656 likes for JulieSondra (1 new), 55 likes for Negative One (no change), 125 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,503 (lost 4). Instagram followers: 140 (no change).

      Wednesday, April 18, 2018

      Wednesday Factoid: Far from Home

      Today's Wednesday Factoid is: What's the farthest you've ever been from home?

      Definitely when I went to Japan in 2003.

      My sister was living there and at the time she was teaching English. She invited my mom and me to come see her in Japan, so we got to check out her neighborhood, go shopping, enjoy real Japanese food and karaoke, try out an onsen (the hot springs), take sticker pictures, go to her school and get interviewed by her students, visit a few different shrines, and of course . . . ride the train a lot.

      Monday, April 16, 2018



      Why do so many people insist on making noise and doing it in places and situations where others have to listen to their noise?

      What is it about FORCING YOUR NOISE ON OTHERS that makes it more enjoyable?

      There is no way that the volume most people blast their noise at is necessary for them to hear it or to enjoy it. There is no way that whatever pleasure they get from having their music vibrate the walls could be worth the irritation they cause others, unless of course they're A BUNCH OF SELFISH JACKASSES who actually don't care at all if they annoy others and/or don't give a passing thought to the comfort of other people in their everyday lives.

      This is just baffling to me honestly. People just moving through life aggressively unaware of how their habits affect other people. I mean, y'all know I moved out of my previous apartment because the people upstairs were so consistently inconsiderate that my daily life became unlivable. And my apartment management did not think it was important enough to address with more than a single wimpy unspecific note on their door; this boosted my suspicion that the management I discussed it with were similar to my neighbors in that they honestly don't think it should be a big deal to live with excessive noise that you cannot sleep through or get away from. These are the types of people who believe you are the problem for being annoyed instead of the people being inconsiderate being, well, inconsiderate.

      And the thing is . . . THERE ARE SO MANY WAYS FOR PEOPLE TO STILL ENJOY THE THINGS THEY WANT TO ENJOY WITHOUT INFLICTING IT ON OTHERS. Wear headphones if you just must catch up on the sports scores while sharing close quarters with someone else! Wear headphones when you want to watch that video on the bus! Speak on the phone quietly and not on friggin' speaker phone when you're in public! Close your garage door or lower your volume if you really must listen to the country station while you sit in your yard drinking! Don't ever jack your music up in your car or your home to the point that the walls shake BECAUSE MAYBE SOMEONE ELSE DOESN'T WANT TO BE FORCED TO LISTEN TO YOUR MUSIC! I don't care if you think it's good! But behave as if you share space with other humans and show them some common freakin' courtesy.

      I'm just really sick of having other people's LOUD entertainment inflicted on me and then either being ignored or treated as rude if I ask them to stop!

      Saturday, April 14, 2018

      Personal Digest Saturday: April 7 – April 13

      Life news this week:
      • Saturday I slept late and had coffee in the morning, and then my friend Kari came over for a Steven Universe marathon. We got pizza and watched 18 episodes in a row. After she left, I made Lion Lickers, which is a frozen dessert inspired by the show.
      • Sunday I talked to Jessie on the phone and bought my tickets for airline travel and hotel stay for her wedding! Then I got some donuts with Jeaux and gave him some boxes so he could use them for moving, and at night I made fry bits and fire salt donuts for a party the next day.
      • Monday at work was pretty typical--we sent out one letter to the DOT, and kinda abandoned work on another because my boss thought we didn't have much of a chance to win the work. I went home and got ready for the party, and Jeaux picked me up. We went to St. Pete Beach to my friend Iri's house and had a Steven Universe party in honor of the airing of a new episode. (It wasn't new to us though because it was pre-released on the network's app a few weeks ago.) Enjoyed meeting their friends and hanging out. Jeaux and I ate at IHOP on the way home and I crashed.
      • Tuesday was a rainy day and at work I couldn't get some of my stuff done because I didn't have a file I was promised, so my work had to get moved to the next day. :p I got a ride home and I made a Dog-Nut. I took a nap and slept too much, then got up and spent a few hours playing around online and finishing a drawing.
      • Wednesday I didn't see Jeaux because he was busy moving! I worked on the project I now had the file for all day, and then after work I went to my mom's just to hang out. Nothing eventful but I got some drawings done.
      • Thursday I spent some time on downloading pictures for my boss and preparing some letter stuff. I forgot my wallet at home so I had to take Lyft to and from work. Came home, made a Nut-Dog, and drew my webcomic while talking to Victor. I posted my webcomic before I went to bed because I had a concert the next day.
      • Friday I worked like usual, then went home and got ready to go out. I took Lyft to the Straz and met up with my old friend Steven whom I have not seen in eighteen years. He had invited me to take his extra ticket to go see Randy Rainbow, with whom I was unfamiliar, but it was pretty funny--the guy does parodies of popular songs or show tunes and they all make fun of Trump. Steven and I got to catch up a little over Taco Bus and then he took me home and he went back to Orlando. Hooray.

      Reading progress:
      • Finished this week: Nothing! I rode the bus really rarely this week because of getting rides home, forgetting my wallet, and rain.
      • Currently readingStill Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins.
        New singing performances:

        This week's song was "New York City" by They Might Be Giants.

        Stuff Drawn:

        The real story on why Garnet now wears oven mitts for baking
        even though she has enough heat tolerance to swim in lava

        Webcomic Negative One Issue 0674: "Foreign Dimensions."

        New videos:


        New photos:

        Lion enjoys a Lion Licker
        I enjoy a Lion Licker
        Fry Bits in cups from Beach Citywalk Fries (actually homemade by me)
        Iri, host of the Steven Universe party
        Jeaux and me with our fry bits at the SU party
        Xander enjoying one of my donuts
        Matt enjoying one of my donuts
        Strech enjoying one of my donuts
        Adults having a cartoon-watching party, that's the best
        Watching cartoons, comfortably
        The Fire Salt donuts I brought!
        My rather sad drooping Dog-Nut
        Delicious Dog-Nut!
        It was actually REALLY good!
        Went to see Randy Rainbow
        Haven't seen Steven in 18 years! But we had a blast!

        Social Media Counts:

        YouTube subscribers: 5,285 for swankivy (6 new), 666 for JulieSondra (3 new). Twitter followers: 913 for swankivy (1 new), 1,319 for JulieSondra (4 new). Facebook: 293 friends (lost 1 and don't know who, hope it was no one important) and 204 followers (no change) for swankivy, 655 likes for JulieSondra (no change), 55 likes for Negative One (no change), 125 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,507 (7 new). Instagram followers: 140 (1 new).