Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Wednesday Factoid: Favorite Year

Today's Wednesday Factoid is: What was your favorite year of school?

I think the best year for me while I was actually going through it was probably my ninth grade year.

I had just joined the chorus on a whim after not doing any singing classes in my life (beyond, you know, elementary school chorus practice), and something unexpected (to me) happened: I was singled out for being unusually adept. The teacher had encouraged anyone with an interest to try out for the All-State Chorus and I was one of only three people in the beginning chorus to get in (and the one with the highest scores), so I was just kinda, I don't know, blindsided by this cool realization that I was really good at something and maybe I could build a life around this. 

Most of my focus and time went to my chorus stuff that year. I was really pretty obsessed with it--with my music, and learning new music theory stuff, and with spending time with people I knew from the classes. Along with All-State, I was also really excited about performing in the Madrigal Dinner event (even though my class as a beginner class had to play the serfs and do the waiting of tables), and I kinda looked up to the upperclassmen in the show choir as role models, thinking I'd get to do that one day.

Halfway through the year I was promoted to the advanced choir and learned more intense music, and I was totally living for it, it was great. I auditioned to be in the show choir (even though people kept saying not to do it as a freshman because very few sophomores are included since it's super exclusive), but I actually got picked to be in it the next year and was on top of the world. 

During the rest of the year outside chorus stuff, I also made some cool friends, got my first boyfriend, and felt really confident for really the first time in my young life. That was also the year I wrote my first novel, when I was fourteen.

It's weird to think about how quickly all of that was over, too. My dad's job got moved to a different city and the family had to pick up and go, so I didn't get to continue singing with that group, didn't get to be in the show choir that I'd been selected for, had to leave my friends. My boyfriend dumped me, my summer camp for the chorus was full of weird anxiousness and awful crap, and everything kind of went to shit when it was over. 

I am pleased to say I met some lifelong friends the following year and there were a LOT of aspects of that that made it way better than ninth grade, but since I was also dealing with some obnoxious boy problems for the entirety of my years at the high school I graduated from and because everything was a bit lower key in the music department, it just wasn't as weirdly magical a time as ninth grade was. Maybe if I'd gotten to keep any of it, it wouldn't have seemed so huge in retrospect. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Three-Day Weekend!

I had a three-day weekend because of Memorial Day this past weekend.

I got a few invitations to do stuff but after having so little free time to myself for the last entire month, I decided I needed a weekend in. So I spent it by myself.

May 5 & 6: Saturday was Free Comic Book Day out with my friends Jeaux and Victor; Sunday was Queer Brunch.

May 12 & 13: Saw Deedee Magno Hall in concert (had to drive out of town) on Saturday and had Mom over for Mother's Day on Sunday.

May 19 & 20: Out of town in Detroit for Jessie's wedding; flew out Friday, arrived back Sunday.

May 26, 27, & 28: FINALLY SOME ME TIME!

I spent Saturday doing my blogging and catching up with updating my photos and book reviews, and then I got to play online with updating some pictures of my cartoon merch and got some drawing in at night. And I recorded a new video.

I spent Sunday doing laundry, drawing my writing webcomic, talking to Meggie on the phone, subtitling and processing my new video, doing karaoke, and playing my ukulele.

I spent Monday, the day off, finishing my laundry, relaxing, and drawing comics for like eleven hours.

It was an interesting mix of productive and relaxing--because almost everything I love to do to relax also involves making something. I'm a little disappointed in myself that I decided to indulge in drawing fun cartoon comics instead of maybe taking the opportunity to do some writing, story submission, or website editing, but sometimes you just have to do something fun.

For a lot of people, "fun" means going out and "doing something," but the most fun activities I would default to are always solitary. It really is my idea of fun to stay in my house and draw for hours.

It was an overdue and much-needed break, and I feel like I got a decent amount of rest and achieved a satisfying level of creative output, but I still want another weekend right now. :/

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Personal Digest Saturday: May 19 – May 25

Life news this week:
  • Saturday I woke up in my hotel, went downstairs for breakfast in the hotel's restaurant, and got some blogging done in the room. Used the shower and got ready for my friend Jessie's wedding across the street on a boat! I had a little trouble finding it because I'm hopeless, but I let me phone talk me through it. I got to board the Detroit Princess and see Jessie get married to her love Max, and then we had the reception with some of the most fantastic wedding food I've ever had and some great cake, and I got to sit next to a really cute baby and some of the couple's friends. The boat crossed the border into Canadian waters, which was neat. I didn't get back to the hotel too late.
  • Sunday I got Uber to the airport and came really close to missing my flight; security was very crowded and moved very slow, so by the time I got through they were paging me to board! I didn't miss it though. The connecting flight was tight too, but not quite as bad and I was able to get a bagel before boarding. Back in Tampa, my Super Shuttle was kind of a disaster--the driver's system lied to him that I had checked in at a different place than I did and he kinda took it out on me even though there was no possible way I could have accidentally checked in at the ground transport area on the complete other side of the airport where he thought I was. Rude. I came home, unpacked, and took a nap for pretty much the rest of the day.
  • Monday I went back to work super tired. I edited a letter and didn't do a whole lot of other productive things, just adding to databases. My co-worker took me home because of the rain. I fell asleep after work and woke up again during the wee hours, finally finishing my laundry. Also found out one of my websites got hacked.
  • Tuesday I wrote a survey and did some office stuff, and I initiated steps to unhack my website. Made some progress. My friend Arthur picked me up after work and we bought some Thai food, then took it to my house and watched Steven Universe. (Arthur had asked to be introduced to the show, so of course I was happy to do so. We got through 15 episodes!) What's also fun is Arthur likes to play guitar and ukulele so whenever there was a song we'd stop and have a jam session. So much fun!
  • Wednesday was Jeaux Day and also Jeaux's birthday. He's 39! I took my cartography training and couldn't finish the exercises because my computer kept crashing when I tried to do animation on my maps. I got the hacking junk out of my site but deactivated it in the process. Jeaux and I ate at IHOP and grocery shopped at Target, and then at home we played around and I gave him his birthday present (one of those cool drones).
  • Thursday I managed to settle the issue with my website and it's back good as new. Also finished my cartography training and that was the last day so I got a certificate of completion. Hooray. Went home and drew a doodle of some cartoons and also talked to Victor on the phone while drawing my webcomic.
  • Friday I went to work, completed some reports for my boss, and went home after work to finish my webcomic. I fell asleep shortly after posting it because I've just been tired all week.

New reviews of my book:

Articles, Interviews, Mentions:

Reading progress:
    New singing performances:

    This week's song was "As Is" by Ani DiFranco

    Stuff Drawn:

    Webcomic Negative One Issue 0680: "Sleep Mirrors Wakefulness."

    New videos:


    New photos:

    The outfit I wore to Jessie's wedding
    Jessie marrying Max
    Jessie dancing with her new husband
    Wonderful wedding cake! I got a piece of the bottom layer, which was minty.
    Classy wedding selfie with Jessie

    Social Media Counts:

    YouTube subscribers: 5,276 for swankivy (lost 5), 674 for JulieSondra (no change). Twitter followers: 936 for swankivy (4 new), 1,320 for JulieSondra (1 new). Facebook: 294 friends (no change) and 202 followers (no change) for swankivy, 655 likes for JulieSondra (lost 2), 56 likes for Negative One (1 new), 135 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,517 (lost 4). Instagram followers: 143 (no change).

    Wednesday, May 23, 2018

    Wednesday Factoid: Rafting vs. Gliding

    Today's Wednesday Factoid is: Would you rather go whitewater rafting or hang gliding?

    I'm not very interested in either and don't actively want to do either one, but if I were made to choose and had to do one, I'd probably pick hang gliding. I'm not afraid of heights and "flying" around would be pretty neat, while I'm not so good with water and I think whitewater rafting would probably be cold and a little more physically intense? I don't know if one is more dangerous than the other or if you need training or whatever. Plus I think with hang gliding you're controlling the apparatus on your own while in a whitewater raft you're going to be with other people, right? I'd rather do it by myself.

    Tuesday, May 22, 2018


    Gonna write about some petty stuff. 

    The example I'm using involves arguing with some kid about cartoons. The overall message I'll get to in a minute is broader.

    So! I had a pointless argument with someone on a cartoon fan site. It's about this Steven Universe character, Yellow Diamond.

    Because of the way she looks, some people have wondered whether her hair is a helmet. And it's so easy to mistake for a helmet that actually a couple of the people who work on the show have mistakenly called it a helmet. A popular cartoon analyst on YouTube made a video about this back when one of the show artists made this mistake during a drawing livestream, spreading the news to everyone that it must officially be a helmet because Kat Morris called it a helmet.

    I know, this sounds really silly, arguing about what's on a cartoon character's head. But stay with me here.

    Because I follow stuff about this show pretty intensely, I knew that this artist Kat Morris later published a clarification on her blog to say actually Yellow is not wearing a helmet, and she even had to correct some show art that made it look too much like helmet lines in the final drawings for the show. She apologized on her blog for saying the wrong thing.

    And then recently another show artist, Joe Johnston, accidentally referred to it as a helmet on his blog while answering a question, and when someone asked for confirmation he wrote this.

    I think he means it, y'all.

    So when I saw someone on one of my favorite sites posting that Yellow Diamond's hair is actually a helmet, claiming "Rebecca Sugar said so herself!" I was curious where they were getting that information. Rebecca Sugar is the creator of Steven Universe. I had my doubts that Rebecca was a third artist on the show to be making that mistake, so I commented on the person's article and told them that Joe Johnston has recently said otherwise pretty adamantly. (I shared the image of him writing "hair" over and over again.)

    So this kid's response to me was to be pretty snotty, sneering that *Rebecca Sugar* THE CREATOR OF THE SHOW YOU KNOW said otherwise sooooooo. I asked for where they'd gotten that info because two other artists on the show have made that glitch but I hadn't seen Rebecca do it. They linked me to the popular fan video I mentioned earlier, claiming "She says it somewhere in this video, skip to 1:30." The video was Kat Morris, NOT Rebecca, and nothing in the video misrepresents it as being Rebecca either. It's an easy mistake to make if you're not super familiar with them, but to mistake one for the other, you'd have to ignore the introduction and the captions. You'd basically have to assume any dark-haired woman with glasses drawing for the show must be Rebecca.

    Left: Rebecca; Right, Kat
    I came back and gently corrected the person, informing them that this was not Rebecca, and that the person who DID say it, Kat Morris, printed a retraction on her blog shortly afterwards. I showed the person a screencap of the blog and said I remembered the confusion when this originally aired, and I was glad that it's cleared up now.

    Well, the person replied to me a couple more times but I wasn't able to read the comments because before I could they deleted the entire thread. Okay, fair enough, you're embarrassed that you tried to shove evidence in my face without making sure it was what you thought it was, and now you want to delete all evidence because you're kind of a turd. But what really irked me? Is that the person left the post up with no clarification, apparently happy to still claim they'd discovered THIS WAS OFFICIALLY A HELMET NOT HAIR AND REBECCA SAID SO, wow, and didn't seem interested in being corrected.

    This is where it gets kind of frustrating. See, ultimately? It doesn't really matter to me if someone chooses to be ignorant, especially over something very insignificant like a cartoon character's design. But I was wondering if there had been some explanation for this in the comments they deleted (and if they realized the comments never got to me), so I commented again to ask what messages they'd tried to send. They said it wasn't important and I said I thought it was disingenuous to delete a conversation that disproved their claim and then leave it up like nothing happened--especially since they were putting words in someone's mouth, claiming Rebecca said something she has not said.

    The kid deleted what I said there too, went to my account profile, and posted "TRASH" on it.

    I replied with a funny GIF of one of the characters yelling "I'M REPORTING THIS!" and did so. They protested that ALL THEY DID WAS SAY "TRASH" and oh well later hater and blocked me.

    Now here's the thing.

    Again, ultimately? Arguments like this aren't important.

    But in the grand scheme of things?

    Why are some people SO DEAD SET AGAINST learning new information?

    Why do they react to well-researched, indisputable, accessible counterpoints by erasing evidence, doubling down on their demonstrably wrong positions, and lashing out at people who tried to help them learn?

    When this happens, I always wonder if there could have been a way for me to change my approach to reach a better conclusion. This person behaved like I had attacked them. Regardless of the fact that new information on a topic you're not informed about should not feel like an attack, they behaved exactly as if I was out to HURT them or EMBARRASS them. I mean, I don't know how old this person was (and I'm assuming they were a child because a) there are many children on that site and b) they type in a certain slightly incoherent way that's common with kids--I'm quite familiar with it after hosting kids' chat rooms for years). As the "mature" person in a situation like this, it's really my responsibility to do something so my audience receives my intended message, right?

    This is very hard when the other person is wrong, full stop, and there is no room for concession or negotiation on it. It's a little different if it's a matter of opinion, but we were arguing about an established fact, and I was absolutely right and they were absolutely wrong. I had more information, and I was willing to show it to them, and I did so without taunting them or trying to make them feel bad, but I think the problem is that certain kinds of people always feel threatened by being corrected NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO.

    I immediately became less willing to make allowances for their probable youth and their possible embarrassment or hurt feelings as soon as they sneered at me as if I'm the one who doesn't know who Rebecca Sugar is. I was not going out of my way to make sure this snotty person had their negative feelings assuaged after they demonstrated willingness to shove evidence in my face without examining it. But if some kid responds to being corrected by arguing shrilly, deleting everything when they realize they look ridiculous, and responding with namecalling, well, I'm thinking there probably was not much chance that I would have gotten through to this person no matter what my initial approach was.

    Is there ALWAYS a path to amicable settling of differences with people like this, or are people like this just impossible to argue with because they will not, under any circumstances, accept any input that amounts to "you're wrong"?

    I've known people before who were like this--it didn't matter what I said or how I said it; if I corrected something they claimed or asked for clarification, first came the aggressive defense, then came the personal incredulity, then came either the deflection of blame or the complete derailment. "It is too XYZ!" "How dare you suggest I'd be wrong about this!" "Okay fine but So-And-So told me XYZ and HE'S an expert/Well I guess I can never be right about ANYTHING because you went to college and I didn't." This pattern would immediately begin as soon as I requested more information about why they believed something I thought was wrong or explicitly told them it was wrong.

    In short, correcting someone like this is OFFENSIVE, and there is no acceptable way to do it.

    If possible, I look for face-saving possibilities if the other person is displaying signs of reacting this way. I remind them that it's a common misconception, or agree that if someone billing themselves as an expert told them that, it's not their fault for being mistaken. I can braid in some understanding, or point out that lots of people have repeated their wrong belief without including the full context that would allow them to know why it's wrong, but so, so often, they're simply hostile to changing what they believe even if it's a very simple argument with an incomplex answer. If I'm correcting you about which Founding Father is on the twenty-dollar bill, I shouldn't have to pat you on the head soothing you with the assurance that yes that guy DOES look a lot like that other guy, or give in to your misconception that maybe it USED to be the guy you thought, or let you get out of the conversation by insisting that you remembered the information perfectly from third grade but your teacher taught you the wrong thing. I just . . . you're responsible for your own education, and if you want to know the real answer and you have respect for logic, you should never respond like this to new information--whether it's about a cartoon character's hair or about your whole world view.

    You need to be able to evolve and learn new things. Being actively hostile to new information because it makes you feel silly for not knowing it is not a rational option.

    Saturday, May 19, 2018

    Personal Digest Saturday: May 12 – May 18

    Life news this week:
    • Saturday I had a nice slow morning, got my blogging done and had time to do a little cleaning too. In the afternoon, Jeaux picked me up and we drove to Sarasota to see Deedee Magno Hall in concert. We met up with my dad and Connie, hung out with their dogs and got dinner at an Italian restaurant, and saw the concert at the stadium. Deedee and her husband Clifton sang very well! Then we had some refreshments at Dad's before going back home.
    • Sunday was Mother's Day, so I had my mom over and let her help me with curtains 'cause we're weird like that. I also got her a new laptop for her present because her previous computer just hasn't been able to do what she needs for a while and I know she doesn't know how to go about buying and setting up a new one so I did it for her. She was so excited! After she left I made a ukulele video and also made my own potato chips!
    • Monday was rainy so I got a paid ride to the office. My co-worker drove me home after work. The day wasn't too busy but we did have a couple letters due. Then in the evening I redecorated my place for summer, did my dishes, and blogged about a podcast.
    • Tuesday I did a bunch of utility stuff at the office and also got some blog stuff and comic planning done. And in the evening I had a Skype chat with a journalist who's writing a book about asexuality. Pretty nice in-depth conversation, made possible by the fact that the journalist is also asexual and gets it. I drew comics starting early this week because I was going to be traveling on Friday.
    • Wednesday a new Steven Universe comic came out so I got up early to read it and review it before work. I used a paid ride again because of the rain. Stuff is getting busy at the office with the utilities, and I did my cartography lesson which was about map text. After work I met with Jeaux to buy comics, eat at Which Wich?, and shop at Target. (I had to buy airplane snacks.) Then at my house we listened to Night Vale while I finished my drawings for Negative One.
    • Thursday I handled some more utility stuff and got a big step accomplished. Then I got assigned to do a transcript of an interview. I chatted with a new friend who's good at piano on Amino, and then my co-worker drove me home again to avoid rain. I got a bunch of comic stuff processed before Victor called, and I chatted to him while I packed my suitcase for my trip. After we finished chatting, I finalized the comics and packing.
    • Friday I worked from home because all I had to do was do the transcript. It took longer than I wanted though. I sent it to my boss and finished some last-minute packing and preparation. My shuttle picked me up in the afternoon and my Tampa Airport experience was uneventful except that people were weirdly rude on the elevators. I flew to Nashville, switched planes, and flew to Detroit. I got a cab from the airport to the hotel where I was staying. It's a pretty fancy hotel on the 23rd floor with a nice view! I stayed up a while decompressing, probably too late, but it was cold in my room so I turned on the heat (yes, in May) and drank hot decaf coffee from the mini coffeemaker in my room until I fell asleep in the awesome king-size hotel bed.

    New reviews of my book:

    Reading progress:
    • Finished this week: I got a lot of rides to and from work this week so I had minimal bus time and therefore less reading time too. But I did give a four-star review to the latest Steven Universe comic, #16!
    • Currently readingInterim Errantry by Diane Duane.
      New singing performances:

      This week's song was "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Misérables. I chose this one after having been inspired after seeing Deedee Magno Hall perform it on Saturday.

      Stuff Drawn:

      Webcomic Negative One Issue 0679: "Heartbeat."

      New videos:

      I have another new ukulele video that I actually left public instead of making unlisted this time. It's called "That Distant Shore" and it's Steven Universe's latest song.

      Here's the original. :)

      New photos:

      One of the pics I took at Deedee Magno Hall's concert with the Sarasota Orchestra
      Mom hanging curtains on Mother's Day. I was afraid she'd fall, glad she didn't.
      Homemade potato chips.
      View from my fancy hotel room in Detroit

      Social Media Counts:

      YouTube subscribers: 5,281 for swankivy (lost 5), 674 for JulieSondra (no change). Twitter followers: 932 for swankivy (3 new), 1,319 for JulieSondra (2 new). Facebook: 294 friends (overall I lost 1, but I must've lost 2 because I also added someone this week, the ace journalist who interviewed me; one was a high school friend who said something condescending to me and peaced out when I asked him not to talk like that to me, but I don't know who the other is) and 202 followers (lost 1) for swankivy, 657 likes for JulieSondra (no change), 55 likes for Negative One (no change), 135 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,521 (6 new). Instagram followers: 143 (3 new).

      Wednesday, May 16, 2018

      Wednesday Factoid: One Year Ago

      Today's Wednesday Factoid is: How different was your life one year ago?

      The big difference is that I lived in a different part of town in a two-bedroom apartment. Most other aspects of my life have stayed the same; I'm at the same job (but I've gotten a small raise), my schedule is about the same, I still have the same interests and hobbies, and my friends and family are mostly the same except that my grandfather is no longer living. I also regularly go to Queer Brunch once a month.

      Living in my old apartment meant I would usually ride my bike to the bus stop in the morning and chain the bike to the fence, and now where I live there's nowhere I'd trust to do that so I have to walk at least 20 minutes to the bus stop. The huge difference is the awesomeness of living in my 1500-square-foot house with extra storage in the garage. Not only do I have the wonderful ability to arrange my belongings without cramming them in and host gatherings comfortably; I also NO LONGER HAVE TO DEAL WITH INCONSIDERATE UPSTAIRS NEIGHBORS.

      The neighbors were the actual reason I left. I wouldn't have moved at this time if the problem could have been addressed, but the neighbors did not respond to a note on the door, and the generic courteousness notification was literally the only thing my apartment management ever did to try to address the issue despite the more than a dozen complaints I filed complete with video evidence showing the wall-shaking racket they issued every single night until 1:30 in the morning. You know, I'm not bitter. But at least I LOVE where I live now and don't have to deal with that.

      Tuesday, May 15, 2018

      Our Turn

      "Can't we just stop all this in-fighting and work together?"

      This is a sentiment I've been seeing here and there among people in my circles, and I want to address why it's misguided.

      Let me provide details first. Let's say a person who is on your side of the political fence makes a statement you agree with, but chooses their wording poorly and ends up sounding racist or ableist, or perhaps they declare support for a law you want passed but they say something bigoted, sexist, or otherwise problematic in the process.

      "Oh come ON," say some of these folks, "stop fighting people who are ON YOUR SIDE! It makes us look disorganized and oversensitive! It causes divisiveness and discord! Our side is never going to win elections or get bills passed if its members keep biting their own tail!"

      Nope. Wrong.

      The problem with this is that people eyerolling and dismissing the objections are necessarily creating a hierarchy of what's important--namely, the thing THEY care about is of highest priority, and all that racism stuff, or sexism stuff, or disability rights or whatever? We'll deal with that later when we've solved the Real Problems, the Big Problems, the ones I see every day because they affect me!

      Those callouts for people on our side are not attacks, and they are not petty, and they are not evidence that certain people have dubbed themselves the PC Police and need everything to be perfect before it can be useful. No. They just rightly believe that our side can do better, and they don't think it's unreasonable to hold our representatives to a set of standards. It is completely possible to support any cause without being racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic, transphobic, or bigoted in any way.

      And let's put it this way. If a person didn't mean to say/do the bad thing? Then they should want to be notified and corrected, and the right response is to apologize sincerely and try to do better. If a person DID mean the bad thing, OR THINKS IT'S MORE IMPORTANT THAT WE RECOGNIZE THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS OR THEIR GOOD INTENTIONS, AS IF THAT OFFSETS AND EXCUSES HARM THEY HAVE DONE, we shouldn't want someone like that to be our representative anyway. It's true that nobody is likely to be perfect, but you can recognize someone's wrongheaded beliefs and actions while supporting what they're doing right, and calling out the bad stuff means attention will be drawn to the issue.

      Let's also acknowledge that it's usually very privileged people whose mainstream issues are represented by the banner they expect us to unite over. And what happens when representatives who are only held to a privileged person's standards of acceptable is that they take office or accept responsibility and proceed to be BAD FOR MARGINALIZED POPULATIONS. Maybe the ways in which they are bad for marginalized populations work out to more hardship for them, and the more privileged people don't even realize it because they think their version of fairness is everyone's "most important issue."

      I hear this kind of arguing in the activist communities surrounding sexual orientation a lot. Since I am asexual, issues that affect me and my community as a result of our orientation are not as visible as those that affect the lesbian and gay populations. Bi folks and trans folks have more in common with us as we're all frequently told that because of perceived privilege and/or smaller numbers, our issues are always of less importance than the LG issues. Marriage equality! Discrimination! Meanwhile the Stonewall riots were not about same-sex marriage. They were about POLICE BRUTALITY, and this historic event was instigated by trans women of color. And yet, some of the more mainstream queer activism still points to Stonewall as a pivotal event while talking over its central message and co-opting it for the benefit of more privileged cisgender queer people. When asked to acknowledge this and join forces with people who are oppressed more violently on more axes, mainstream leaders sometimes say "can't we just get some solidarity here? can't we UNITE? if you keep wanting our mission to include every little thing for every special mini-population, we will never get anything done!"

      And then what "gets done" is what's important to the more privileged people. There is NEVER a time when they sit down and acknowledge okay, things are good enough for us now that we can prioritize the issues that most harshly affect you.

      As an asexual activist I've even been told my work ACTIVELY TAKES AWAY from queer positivity and progress, and that I am STEALING resources from LGBT by advocating for asexual inclusion. This isn't an incredibly common position, but anything I say that spreads far enough gets a comment like this somewhere. Well, it's never going to be "our turn," and furthermore, I'm not going to let YOU decide when we get a turn, because you're not the Gay President.

      In general all of the LGBTQ organizers, organizations, and activists I've met in person and most of the ones I've coordinated with online have been asexual-inclusive, and they instinctively recognized that heteronormativity has an effect on everyone who's not heterosexual. I've never had to explain to most of them why we're uniquely qualified to support each other even if our rainbow stripes are different colors (and especially since most of them realize a LOT of blending and overlap occurs in that there are trans aces, gay aces, etc). But once in a while somebody thinks it's okay to discriminate against us or actively wish violence upon us for wanting our issues to be important, giving us the speeches about selfishness and "first world problems" because our issues surely aren't as important as people being killed coming out of gay bars. (We don't have bars to come out of, so it's hard to tell how much of the violence against us is hidden by the cloud of ignorance around it, but I digress.)

      If you think there's a singular mission in activism or politics, you're wrong. Other people on the same side as you are not diluting the mission by saying their interests should be part of it, and they're certainly not causing unnecessary conflict by criticizing people who are damaging them while working toward goals they want. When you ask them to be silent in the interest of forwarding "the primary goal," you must recognize that you are asking them to accept your assessment of what's most important and asking them to relegate their important issues to secondary goals--as usual. How we speak about these issues reflects how we legislate, how we vote, and how we treat each other in the streets--it is NEVER just words. And how people react to getting called out--and how their supporters react to them getting called out--reveals a lot about what will be done with power if it is given to them. It's a common misconception that "the other side" is somehow unified while we're fighting each other over issues that don't matter. It is not conflicts like these that is destroying any group from within, and it certainly isn't going to drive marginalized people to vote for someone who represents their issues even less.

      It is not unreasonable to hold activists, representatives, and politicians to basic standards of decorum. It is not unreasonable to ask them to represent us while, you know, not being racist or whatever.

      If we're supposedly so much better than they are (whichever "they" you mean), it shouldn't be a stretch to speak and act responsibly without throwing people under the bus, and educating said people about why their actions are harmful should not be blamed for hurting the cause. If you believe "the cause" is only the stuff that affects you, you're an apologist who's making it easier for attitudes like these to remain. If you're agreeing that the person who misstepped was wrong but defending it with "now's not the time," you are part of the problem.

      It is never "our" time if we just wait for you to say when it's our turn. I promise you. That really is the way it works. We don't get what we want on one front and then come back to help our stragglers.

      What we end up doing is collecting our dead.

      That's the reality, and you're choosing not to look at it.

      Saturday, May 12, 2018

      Personal Digest Saturday: May 5 – May 11

      Life news this week:
      • Saturday was Free Comic Book Day with my nerdy friends! I went out with Jeaux and Victor to get free comics at the participating stores. We got ALL the comics we wanted and also went toy shopping, so I was able to get a set of toys I hadn't been able to find anywhere, and I was so happy! Since Jeaux drove us around all day, Victor paid for his gas and I paid for his lunch. We ate at Red Robin and had a great time! When I got home I just updated all my collection lists and did my blogging. :)
      • Sunday I made vegan biscuits and went to Queer Brunch with Yasmin and Arthur. We had a good time and then at home I did my karaoke and my laundry, and talked to my dad and Meghan on the phone. Mom came over later and helped me finish constructing my patio furniture, so now it's done!
      • Monday I worked on letters for the office, and after work Jeaux picked me up to see the new Steven Universe special. We got pizza and enjoyed the heck out of it, talked theories for a while, and went home.
      • Tuesday I wrote some essays about cartoons, drew some fan art, and watched people's reactions on YouTube. Haha.
      • Wednesday was my sister's birthday and I got her a gift certificate for knitting yarn. :D I did my cartography training at the office and after work I went with Jeaux to see the play Puffs, which was hilarious. We ate at BJ's and I had a good portobello sandwich which was interesting because I usually don't like those.
      • Thursday I finished the cartography lessons and after work I talked to Victor on the phone while drawing.
      • Friday I worked on reports and helped our newest employee, then chatted with Mom on the phone while drawing. Posted my webcomic and played online until bed.

      Articles, Interviews, Mentions:

      Reading progress:
      • Finished this week: Didn't finish my current read this week!
      • Currently readingInterim Errantry by Diane Duane.
        New singing performances:

        This week's song was "I Wish I Could Go Back to College" from Avenue Q.

        Stuff Drawn:

        Rose Quartz's tears
        "Paint me like one of your Amethysts"

        Webcomic Negative One Issue 0678: "What Makes Sense to Us."

        New videos:


        New photos:

        Comics I got during Free Comic Book Day!
        Victor really enjoyed his cream soda.
        Nerds having lunch after Free Comic Book Day.
        Yasmin, AKA Gay Dad, achieving dessert perfection at Queer Brunch.
        Jeaux and me having pizza waiting to get our faces ripped off by cartoons.
        Got the new Pink Diamond Funko Pop so I took a new
        picture of my collection!

        Social Media Counts:

        YouTube subscribers: 5,286 for swankivy (8 new), 674 for JulieSondra (1 new). Twitter followers: 929 for swankivy (5 new), 1,317 for JulieSondra (2 new). Facebook: 295 friends (1 new, new friend from Queer Brunch) and 203 followers (no change) for swankivy, 657 likes for JulieSondra (no change), 55 likes for Negative One (lost 1), 135 likes for So You Write (1 new). Tumblr followers: 2,515 (2 new). Instagram followers: 140 (1 new).

        Wednesday, May 9, 2018

        Wednesday Factoid: Annoying Habits

        Today's Wednesday Factoid is: What is the most annoying habit that other people have?

        Oh. I thought at first I'd already answered this question but it turns out I've just answered a different question about MY habits. Okay then.

        I'll say loud chewing.

        I can't stand mouth noises and it just drives me up the wall when people chew loudly and don't close their freakin' mouths.

        I also really hate interrupting.

        People interrupt me a LOT and they just act like it's time to start talking because they want to start talking. What I'm saying can't be as important as what they want to say. I have a variety of ways of dealing with this--and most of them do NOT involve just resigning myself to being interrupted--but sometimes if it's at work or something, I have to be much more polite than I would be in ordinary circumstances. 

        I know one person who has a habit of interrupting to finish my sentences with what he thinks I'm going to say. What's awful is he's also terrible at anticipating what I'm going to say, so I have to just stare at him, hold eye contact for a moment, and say "No, that isn't what I was going to say. Do you want me to tell you?" He doesn't seem to realize that I'm basically reprimanding him for interrupting and trying to train him to stop doing this, but he doesn't process what's happening and just goes on to steamroll what I was saying with his prediction of what I was about to say. I've even gone as far as saying "I don't have to tell you if you're already happy with your version." It just doesn't track, and it's so, so obnoxious.

        Monday, May 7, 2018

        The Standard

        One of those clickbaity stories from Facebook recently notified me of a controversy surrounding a tweet made by biracial pop singer Halsey.

        I looked at the comments and they were generally one of three sentiments:

        1. Why do YOU PEOPLE always think everyone should cater to YOU?

        2. Halsey, you're rich, why are you complaining that they don't give you free shampoo to your liking?

        3. No one likes hotel shampoo! It's not good shampoo for white people either!

        I'm astonished (except not really) at how thoroughly these people are missing the point.

        So, first of all, let's start at number 3--yes, it's white people shampoo. Very basic, suitable-for-cleaning-only shampoo, and probably doesn't do much in the way of moisturizing for white people who prefer that in their hair products either. If you have any kind of special hair needs besides "just clean it," you probably don't want to use that shampoo. But since, based on the white-person standard of what constitutes "special hair needs," just about every black person has special hair needs, this shampoo is still indicative of a white standard.

        The white standard is what black people are complaining about. Not shampoo itself. The derail into nitpicking shampoo itself is pretty offensive.

        I saw so many people in the comments using slippery slope arguments ("Oho! So you expect us to cater to alllll your specialized toiletry needs! I need this specific aftershave! I don't like that brand of toothpaste! My son is allergic to your mouthwash--you must bring him bubblegum flavor! Gasp! Next you people will demand complimentary makeup and expect a hairstylist to visit your room!"). I also saw tons of people doing the usual pearl clutching ("Ugh! So entitled! Must be millennials!" "Ugh! People will complain about ANYTHING these days!" "Get a grip girl IT'S JUST SHAMPOO!! You won't DIE if you don't get to clean your hair for free!"). All of this is. Missing. The. Point.

        As for numbers 1 and 2, Halsey isn't saying this because she expects herself and other black people to be catered to, and she isn't saying this because she can't bring her own hair products. (I mean. Obviously, she and MOST PEOPLE WHO TRAVEL bring the specific products they want to bring if it's very important to them to use a specific product. Almost everyone does this.)

        The issue. Is. That. The. Complimentary. Product. Uses. White. Hair. As. A. Standard.

        And this is part of a larger problem. When white is the standard, black and other nonwhite standards are dubbed special and extraordinary. If you're a white person and you got to the hotel room and the only product available was something specifically labeled for "ethnic hair" you know white people would get upset, even if they'd brought their own hair stuff and even if they "don't go around expecting others to cater to them." There is an expected standard, and in the United States it is based on white. For everything.

        Halsey's tweet is not really about shampoo. It's absurd to discuss it as if she really is demanding hotels offer a variety of "specialized" products. Her tweet said 50% of their customers can't use the shampoo and that it is "annoying." And I imagine it would be. As a person who actually never had any trouble with hotel shampoo, I must be one of the people it's made for. Guess what, I'm a white people. Hotels offer travel sizes of items for people who might have forgotten theirs or might just assume it will be available and therefore not bother with the mess of packing it. They also offer items like toothbrushes, mouthwash, and razors. Most of these things will work for anyone, and most people know that if they need something special that's not likely to be offered, they have to bring it.

        So what's especially weird about white people whining about black people expecting to be catered to is that they already are catered to (though some insist that hotel shampoo isn't appropriate for them either). If there was "black" shampoo in the room, with no explanation and no alternative, these same people would likely feel alienated, and would probably come up with some of the same arguments: Well if you're going to give it to people for free, why am I being excluded? I didn't come in here expecting free stuff, but I don't think I'm out of line saying the free stuff offered should be usable for anyone (or several alternatives available).

        One comment I also saw popping up in the response area was very specific to this situation: criticism of Halsey herself because she is, on many levels, white-passing. Some were insisting she "is white" and is therefore appropriating black women's struggle by claiming the shampoo isn't usable for her. And even though she specified that she does have this problem and her black heritage is an important and real aspect of who she is, people kept guffawing at her for having the gall to claim this as one of her own issues. Some were even other black people, exaggerating what she said to suggest she's claiming oppression equal to that of more visibly black people and not staying in her lane. I thought that was also pretty uncool because when you're biracial or multiracial, you also have a mixed experience, and from what I've seen, Halsey acknowledges her white-passing privilege but doesn't think it justifies asking her to forgo embracing her own heritage.

        Halsey followed up on all this nonsense by specifying that yes, of course she is fortunate enough to bring her own hair products, but some of the folks who travel for work and aren't as lucky aren't afforded the same access that people who fit "the standard" do. She says this is a small manifestation of a larger problem, and I agree. But when people do this--when they show an example--detractors roar in to criticize the elements associated with the RESULT, even though the complaint is clearly about the SYSTEM.

        Considering how many examples we have of this standard adding up to an overall disadvantaged experience for many members of our culture, I would like to suggest that people like me who are privileged to be catered to stop seeing that catering as natural and stop seeing themselves as the standard. You might notice more aspects of how the world actually works for people who aren't you that way, and you may be better positioned to offset some of it when you encounter it.

        Saturday, May 5, 2018

        Personal Digest Saturday: April 28 – May 4

        Life news this week:
        • Saturday Victor left pretty early in the morning and I spent some time chilling before my mom came over and helped me build my patio furniture. (We got through three before she was too tired to keep going so we had to stop.) She also tried my ube roll and thought it was delicious! After she left I did some drawing.
        • Sunday I did laundry, karaoke, and funny comic doodles, and finally posted the comic. It wasn't a huge hit but some people enjoyed it!
        • Monday I had to work on four letters and a database. It was a long day--I spent ten hours at the office. Also, Amazon wrote to me about my Steven Universe reviews on their service and asked me to accept a "Top Contributor" designation, so I did. Wow, someone noticed what a nerd I am. At home, I made some more Garnet GIFs, ate sherbet, and paid bills.
        • Tuesday I bothered people for meetings and did some timesheet stuff. I also blogged a podcast. A gigantic, catastrophic leak happened at Cartoon Network and revealed a bunch of really big spoilers to fans of Steven Universe, so everyone kinda spent the night freaking out.
        • Wednesday I continued my cartography classes at work but couldn't finish the exercises because I was busy. I had a lot of utility coordination stuff to do. Then I met Jeaux for Five Guys food and shopping. We listened to Night Vale and did drawings.
        • Thursday I finished the cartography lessons and did more work on the Fletcher coordination. I did some reviews and Tumblr stuff, and at night I made square pizza from scratch and talked to Victor while drawing webcomics.
        • Friday I nailed down some meeting stuff at work. I received a surprise Crystal Gems battle flag in the mail--I thought I wasn't going to get one because they sent it as a free gift to people who preordered the vinyl record collection, and I did, but I never received the package, so I figured I'd just been left out. Then I got it forwarded from my old address. So I guess they used the original order addresses instead of the updated versions. (I had given them my updated address.) I took some fun pictures of the flag. :) Posted my webcomic and went to sleep on the floor in a pile of pillows.
        New reviews of my book:

        Articles, Interviews, Mentions:

        • An AVEN discussion quoted my book in a discussion of the term "sexual" vs. the term "allosexual."

        Reading progress:
          New singing performances:

          This week's song was "Hide and Seek" by Imogen Heap.

          Stuff Drawn:

          Click this to check out the #NotAllRubies comic!

          Webcomic Negative One Issue 0677: "Accidents."

          New videos:


          New photos:

          My delicious square pizza.
          My gorgeous two Rose Quartz battle flags!

          Social Media Counts:

          YouTube subscribers: 5,278 for swankivy (lost 4), 673 for JulieSondra (2 new). Twitter followers: 924 for swankivy (2 new), 1,315 for JulieSondra (lost 4). Facebook: 294 friends (no change) and 203 followers (lost 1) for swankivy, 657 likes for JulieSondra (2 new), 55 likes for Negative One (lost 1), 134 likes for So You Write (1 new). Tumblr followers: 2,513 (10 new). Instagram followers: 139 (lost 1).

          Thursday, May 3, 2018

          Broad and shallow vs. deep and narrow

          So like, I have a habit of looking at the ground instead of up and around when I'm walking somewhere.

          When I was a little kid I'd get "look where you're going!" as a pretty regular scold, and even though I understood what was meant by that, I also kinda disagreed with it in principle. I was looking where I was going. I was looking at the ground and where I was stepping.

          This morning I was walking to work and the sun was really bright in the direction I had to walk, so I was looking pretty exclusively at the ground and only looking up and around when it was necessary for safety. I got to thinking whether looking at the ground a lot is a symptom of light sensitivity or if it's a combination of issues. I kinda lean toward the latter.

          It's not WRONG to tell someone they should look around them, absorb the surroundings, give themselves a chance to see something other than what's under their feet. You're not WRONG if you tell someone there's worthwhile stuff to see and value in absorbing the big picture. But here's the thing. Looking at the ground isn't necessarily the limiting, narrow focus it can be made out to be.

          When I was a kid, I also had a funny little reputation for always finding money on the ground. It was almost spun like I had some special luck to magically find coins and small dollar bills, or like I had a particular eye for it or something. Well, no. That's where I was looking. And if there's a shiny thing there, you see it if you're looking there more often than other people are.

          Okay, so broadening that concept to life philosophy.

          I fall pretty extremely in the "narrow and deep" category of how I live my life. And most people seem to prefer (and praise as superior) the "broad and shallow" category.

          In other words, I tend to do a few things very thoroughly, instead of a bunch of things in a more superficial way.

          Neither is better.

          It's just that some philosophies match better with certain personalities.

          I've been criticized before for the detail I put into my special interests, with people suggesting my book reviews are too detailed or I spend "too much" energy on things I like--INSTEAD OF choosing to do more things. It's presented as if doing MORE things would always be better, ignoring that the experience of doing many things necessarily means you sacrifice the opportunity to do any of those things thoroughly.

          Let's put it in terms of musical instruments. Some people can play seven instruments passably. Some people only play one, but do it masterfully. Is it "better" to be able to pick up any of several instruments and kinda schlep your way through a song, or is it "better" to be able to play more advanced music with more polish?

          There isn't a right answer here. There certainly is value in being so versatile--maybe having enough knowledge of the trumpet to fake your way through a band piece even if you usually specialize in piano, or maybe knowing just enough to be able to write for the instrument. But I really don't think anyone would go up to a master violinist and say "you know, because of all the time you wasted mastering violin, you denied yourself the opportunity to know what it's like to play an instrument from every instrumental family."

          When you focus only on the value of experiencing a large quantity of things, you actually do miss what it can be like to escalate an interest, to enjoy it on another level, to experience it to a DEGREE that people can't if they don't put the time in. Someone who's lived in a city for 20 years has a completely different understanding of it than someone who vacationed there and did the tourist things. I'm really kinda tired of the judgment from people who think you need to "see the world" by going everywhere at the expense of really knowing that town. Think there just can't be anything worthwhile to the experience of putting down those roots? Well, you haven't tried it, so what do you know about it? Who are you to say that experience must be defined in terms of what it lacks instead of what it includes?

          The term "broad" versus the term "narrow" feels weighted; you'd usually see "narrow" perspectives as a bad thing. But when you hold it up next to the opposite comparison--"shallow" versus "deep"--you'll see how it balances out. In life, you have a limited amount of time and resources. You cannot be both broad and deep. You cannot dig very deep holes if it's more important to you to dig a lot of them. If you choose to go deep, you are committing to limited geography. If you choose to go broad, you are committing to a reasonable limit for how far you'll dig.

          I'm seeing things in soil layers you don't even know about. It's okay with me that you're digging holes in places I'll never explore. We want different things. I choose the holes to be deep and few in number, and I do not think that makes me better than you.

          Just please stop acting like your embracing of the reverse DOES make you better than me.