Monday, July 30, 2018

I wish you would

It's weird how adamant people are sometimes about making someone else try their favorite food.

You've seen this. Even if the person historically doesn't like the thing, doesn't like something IN the thing, or is otherwise resistant to eating the thing, some people won't let up. They're sure that you just don't like it because you've never tried it the way their brother cooks it, or they had it in a different country but not here, or they surely like something in the ballpark but maybe not that particular variety.

And then they won't. Stop. Pestering. Sometimes even to the extent that if possible, they will attempt to trick or pressure the person into eating the food.

Of course, this extends beyond food. People do this with their favorite books and movies, their favorite activities, introducing each other to their favorite people--humans are social and that's how it works. But instead of respecting each other when invitations to participate in someone's favorite thing are not received positively, it's very common to wheedle, beg, harass, pressure, and propose.

I get it, on one level. You enjoy the thing. You want the people you like to enjoy the thing too. It baffles you that they do not like the thing or have reasons for not wanting to experience the thing. So you default to assuming their reasons for not wanting to participate are not very important in the face of how good enjoying the thing is.

But the big issue with insisting and being persistent on an issue like this is that you're ignoring the damage you can do with your refusal to respect "no." 

If someone proposes something and the other person says no, the person who won't take "no" for an answer is either assuming the "no" isn't firm or assuming the "no" isn't reasonable. Either way, that person has decided that the pleasure that COULD potentially arise from experiencing the thing is worth risking any negative fallout. And because that person may not be listening or taking the other person seriously, it's easy to be insensitive or even cruel about downplaying that person's objections. 

I've had this happen on occasion. An example: A couple years ago, someone I know began describing a television show they enjoyed--a documentary series from another country in which viewers can actually watch patients get surgery. This is very, very far from my interests and I'm also sensitive to looking at images of blood and guts. When this person asked me to watch this program with them I declined, and then they began harassing me about it almost immediately--claiming the images were not or should not be unsettling to anyone, accusing me of having a complex, eventually telling me I needed therapy to "get over" this ISSUE I clearly have with looking at cut-open bodies because it's a normal thing to enjoy, and even accusing me of having a problem so pathological that I probably can't even get blood drawn for health reasons at the doctor. (This is not true. I have never declined medical treatment or testing due to my own aversion to blood and guts. I just don't look at the needles.) I was also told I was selfish for not trying to desensitize myself to such images because they wanted to watch the show with me. (They, of course, were not selfish for expecting this of me. My feelings are unreasonable; theirs are not.)

This is a common path for arguments like this. I left this conversation rattled that someone I otherwise had a good relationship would use such underhanded techniques to push me into watching a television show, of all things. I've seen other conversations that involved openness to entertainment, food, or experiences go the same way--the invited person is expected to stop having the sensitivities, tastes, desires, or preferences that are inconvenient for the proposer, and the invited person is portrayed as unreasonable, selfish, or pigheaded if they will not be "open-minded" to something they may actually have very strong feelings about. Those strong feelings, including aversions, moral obligations, and even allergies, are sometimes disrespected by people who just plain don't believe other people's convictions or feelings are as important as their own.

Before you project your wishes onto someone else and try to make them feel obligated to accept your expectations, you should think about the trade-off. If pressuring your friend or loved one results in their acquiescence, and they do indeed realize they enjoyed what you suggested, that's . . . a best-case scenario, I guess. And I won't deny that sometimes people who are resistant to an idea because it's unfamiliar can be led to enjoy a new experience because someone they loved encouraged them. 

But? Usually if you ignore what someone says about their willingness to try something (or even ignore that they've had the experience needed to say why they don't want to engage this content or experience), you're doing it at the risk of making your loved one feel harassed, pressured, cornered, maybe even unsafe, and most likely disrespected.

It really depends on your relationship with the person and also the other person's stability; some people will react to "come on, try it" with "okay, okay, FINE" and it won't be a big deal. But especially if there's a power differential (e.g., you are the person's parent, boss, or superior in some way), insisting that the other person defer to you is also potentially abusive, and it can be so even if you're not in one of those roles if the other person is vulnerable in some way. I'm not a particularly vulnerable person, but I was blown away by how awful it was to have someone take my refusal to watch actual footage of surgery on television and turn it into aggressive conversation about how I am exhibiting disordered thinking and need therapy. That's a bizarre reaction to someone not wanting to watch a TV show for a very common reason, right?

If the other person doesn't like milk, has issues with spicy food, hates horror movies, doesn't like crowds, is afraid of heights and doesn't want to ride the roller coaster, can't handle flashing lights, says they have a food intolerance or allergy, or isn't comfortable in that outfit, you should consider letting them set their limits and giving them the space to do so. You should want to communicate the following perspectives to them:

  • I accept your reasoning.
  • I am listening to you when you describe your experience.
  • I do not believe my experience is the same as yours.
  • I do not believe my desire for you to enjoy something trumps your objections.
  • I will not treat you like you cannot have a justified reason for avoiding this experience.
  • I will not risk my relationship with you over this.
  • I do not feel entitled to your humoring me and will not judge you or shame you if you will not.
  • I respect you as the arbiter of what experiences you would like to entertain.
  • I am not in charge of what thresholds of discomfort you are obligated to tolerate before I will treat you like you're reasonable.
  • I will not create a dynamic in which you must regard my preferences as the default or your own as a less reasonable alternative.
  • I will not accuse you of "overreacting" or "being too sensitive" if your thresholds are not the same as mine.
  • I understand that people have different senses, bodies, experiences, and backgrounds, and that these differences do make us able to enjoy and tolerate different things in the world. I will be respectful of those if you communicate to me how I should do that.
  • I will not use manipulative language to make you feel unsafe or disrespected.

I love when people enjoy my favorite foods, favorite television, favorite experiences. But I don't take it personally if someone has a reason for declining. And--this is key--even if that reason is that they just plain don't want to. Sometimes my friends are vegan and don't want to eat the butter in my cake, or sometimes they are allergic to soy and can't have the tofu dish I made, or sometimes they just plain DON'T LIKE STRAWBERRIES and won't eat my strawberry cake. That's okay. Sometimes my friends are epileptic and triggered by flashing lights so they can't play my favorite video game, or hate epistolary stories so don't want to read one of my favorite books, or find it difficult to watch my favorite show because it includes regular references to a dead mother. Yes, I wish I could share the thing. But do I want to create a gross atmosphere of pressure and disrespect on the off chance that they're wrong about themselves?

No. Never.

Sometimes they don't want to eat the strawberry cake because they can't stand seeds, and if I'm respectful enough when I ask about it, they might disclose this to me and I am able to give them a cake made with strawberry flavoring, not seeds. Maybe I can recommend the books or TV episodes that don't contain the content they have trouble processing. Maybe I can make suggestions or--here's a concept--just say it's actually okay if they go the rest of their lives not experiencing one thing I enjoy.

Get some perspective, y'all. Do you really want to be the person who causes anxiety, ruins or poisons relationships, or sets up a gross power dynamic over wanting the other person to have a POSITIVE experience? Are you prepared for how negative that experience may suddenly become because you failed to offer respect?

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Personal Digest Saturday: July 21 – July 27 [GIF Warning]

Life news this week:
  • Saturday was the second day of Metrocon for me! I was supposed to go with Jeaux but he was sick. So I dressed up in my Stevonnie costume and went to the convention without him. I spent the whole day there alone enjoying costumes and checking out the dealer room. It was SO MUCH FUN. Also people who came up to ask if I could really play my ukulele got to ask for song requests, and I actually knew every single song they asked for so I looked cool! I came home and relaxed. Boy did my feet hurt.
  • Metrocon happened at the same time as San Diego Comic Con, so all day I was also getting little bits of news regarding announcements for Steven Universe. They played a whole new episode, announced a movie, and announced a crossover. WOW!
  • Sunday I did my usual household chores and sitting outside to answer e-mail at my table. I could have gone back to Metrocon but I was too exhausted. Took a shower, did laundry, did karaoke. And then Cartoon Network took pity on the people who did not go to San Diego Comic Con and actually released the new episode of Steven Universe on their app for us, so Jeaux and I got on Skype and watched it together. (He was still sick.) It was great! I also opened a bunch of keychain toys and drew pictures of them. :) I didn't get the whole set but I got pretty close.
  • Monday was a pretty productive day at work with three letters going out. I also was setting up trades online to get the keychains I'm missing. Hooray! I got a ride home from my co-worker and spent the evening watching panels and drawing little pictures to go in my trade packages. I fell asleep very early.
  • Tuesday I mailed my stuff at the post office in the morning and took a paid ride to work because it was rainy. I had to do a bunch of utility coordination and printing at the office. Then my friend Arthur picked me up and we got Thai food and watched cartoons, episodes 63 through 69. We had to stop at 69 because there was a song in it and Arthur wanted to drop everything to learn it. :) Then after he left I got in an online fight with a confused person who disagreed with a Tumblr post I made because they thought I had remembered details of an episode wrong. (I had not. But they kept telling ME to go rewatch it. Uh. They finally gave up when they realized they had it wrong.)
  • Wednesday we had more rain. Very busy day at the office printing and dealing with utilities. I didn't get to hang out with Jeaux because he was STILL SICK. Also made a video of my new color-changing mug!

    • Thursday was busy AGAIN. I also got to listen to the Steven Universe podcast and made a highlights post about it, which was very popular online. My mom came over to give me a paper she needed scanned, and then she fell asleep on my couch for a while and said some hilarious things in her sleep. After she left I talked to Victor and did some drawings for the webcomic.
    • Friday was very busy at the office. We finally got the resubmissions done for the utilities. After work I was ready to settle down and finish my webcomic but it turned out Drink and Draw was Friday instead of the usual Saturday, so I scurried out there and finished my comic drawings at the event. Got to talk to Joy, hooray! Came home and finished the comic, uploaded an asexuality video I made last week, and fell asleep on the floor.

    Interviews, Articles, Mentions:

    Reading progress:
    • Finished this week: Nothing this week, sorry!
    • Currently readingNative Tongue by Carl Hiaasen.
      New singing performances:

      This week's song was "What Can I Do (For You)?" from Steven Universe. It's a duet with another member, and I do the man's part!

      Stuff Drawn:

      Greg Universe razzing Amethyst
      Cookie Cat index card included in a mailout
      Pink Diamond index card included in a mailout
      Ruby and Sapphire index card included in a mailout

      Ruby and Sapphire index card included in a mailout

      Webcomic Negative One Issue 0689: "Where You're Going."

      New videos:

      Letters to an Asexual #60 is about a jerk who habitually sends judgmental e-mails to queer activists and has targeted me twice.

      New photos:

      Ready for this? Here's all my Metrocon photos.

      Getting ready at home: Stevonnie from Steven Universe
      My cute belly Gem: Stevonnie from Steven Universe
      Princess Bubblegum and Marceline the Vampire Queen: Adventure Time
      Blue Pearl from Steven Universe

      Popuko and Pipimi from Pop Team Epic
      Rose Quartz from Steven Universe
      Me as Stevonnie with Rose Quartz from Steven Universe
      Lapis Lazuli, Ruby, and Sapphire (in creative outfits) from Steven Universe
      Lapis Lazuli and Rainbow Quartz from Steven Universe
      Opal and Rainbow Quartz from Steven Universe
      Opal, Rainbow Quartz, and me as Stevonnie from Steven Universe
      Past Pearl from Steven Universe
      Rainbow Quartz, Past Pearl, me as Stevonnie, and Opal from Steven Universe
      Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender
      Battle Steven (a fan concept) from Steven Universe
      Peridot from Steven Universe
      Pearl from Steven Universe
      Sadie and Lars from the specific episode "Island Adventure" of Steven Universe
      Steven in wedding clothes from Steven Universe
      Blue Diamond from Steven Universe
      Two Stevonnies from Steven Universe
      Bad Pearl from Steven Universe
      Holly Blue Agate from Steven Universe
      Me as Stevonnie taking a selfie with Steven from Steven Universe
      Musical Steven, musical Stevonnie from Steven Universe
      Mystery Girl from Steven Universe
      My feet
      Vanellope from Wreck-It Ralph
      Wendy from Gravity Falls
      Mystery Girl from Steven Universe
      Cowboy Ruby from Steven Universe
      Nerds fighting with lightsabers
      Nerds fighting with lightsabers

      Social Media Counts:

      YouTube subscribers: 5,286 for swankivy (lost 1), 678 for JulieSondra (no change). Twitter followers: 968 for swankivy (7 new), 1,325 for JulieSondra (lost 1). Facebook: 295 friends (no change, but I figured out who disappeared last week: a friend deactivated his Facebook) and 206 followers (no change) for swankivy, 648 likes for JulieSondra (lost 1), 57 likes for Negative One (no change), 139 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,524 (1 new). Instagram followers: 147 (1 new).

      Wednesday, July 25, 2018

      Wednesday Factoid: Left Brain or Right Brain?

      Today's Wednesday Factoid is: Are you Left-Brained or Right-Brained?

      Putting aside the fact that there is not necessarily a definitive way to tell this, I think I'm a pretty good mixture but if I had to pick one I'd say I lean left-brained.

      An overview:

      If your'e left-brained, you think in words, sequentially, linearly, and you like math, facts, and logic. You like to analyze, organize, and function verbally, and you are better than right-brained people at reading, writing, and figuring.

      If you're right-brained, you operate by visualization and feelings, imaginatively, intuitively, and you like rhythm, arts, and the big picture. You like to daydream, go with your gut, and base decisions on more amorphous emotions, and you are better than left-brained people at nonverbal communication, visualizing, and being artistic.

      I come across to most people as a pretty artistic person so some people are surprised that a writer, artist, and musician would say "yeah I'm probably more left brained." But the thing with me is that I approach art in a more organized way, I think. I'm pretty big on emotion and intuition in some ways, but my verbal skills and analysis skills are very good for communicating and editing, and my thorough standards for organization sometimes blow people away when they find out how comprehensive they are.

      I guess that's why I'd say I'm more of a mix. But overall in the WAY I think, I guess it's pretty solidly in the left brain.

      Monday, July 23, 2018

      Metrocon 2018

      I went to Metrocon this year by myself.

      Friday I went with Jeaux (dressed as the Pines twins from Gravity Falls!) but he was feeling under the weather and then the next morning he woke up really ill. He told me he'd meet me at the convention Saturday later in the day if he was feeling better, but he never did feel better, so I did the con by myself, dressed as Stevonnie from Steven Universe, armed with a ukulele and a Cheeseburger Backpack.

      And . . . that was great?

      I've never been to one of these things by myself before so it was a new experience to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, and doing it made me realize how much I worry about other people when I'm with them. Are they tired? Hungry? Bored? Want to go somewhere else? Need to rest? Are they cold? Are they hot? Are they okay? Do they want to go before I do? Do I want to go before they do?

      It just seemed like the natural thing to do--and to some extent you obviously are always supposed to keep checking in with your companions whenever you do something together--but I really never noticed how much time and energy I spend on monitoring others' experiences and trying to make allowances for them. And that's a little weird because I don't even have any kids--I have no reason to be constantly in Mom Mode.

      At the convention by myself, I spent almost all of the time walking around looking at costumes. I went up and down and all around, visited the vendor room, looked at all the stuff, took pictures, talked to people, played music with a couple people (because I had my ukulele!), and only went to one convention event (the music video contest, which made me laugh and cry!). I think what I did would have gotten repetitive for most other people, but I really, really liked it. I kept seeing new things and when I didn't have anything else to do I'd just go somewhere else. Look at dancers, look at gamers, look at stuff to buy. And of course if there was someone in a cool costume, I'd stop and tell them how cool it was and sometimes have a chat about it.

      And anytime I needed to sit down, to rest, to give my feet a break, to go outside so I could warm up . . . I could always do it right when I wanted to instead of waiting for someone else to be finished with something or compromising. I know a lot of people would say it's more fun with other people because then you get to share your experience with others, and of course that's valid, but I realized from this that I spend so much energy on making sure the others I'm with are having a good time that I don't really think about myself.

      It was definitely worth doing. I hope I get to go again next year.

      Saturday, July 21, 2018

      Personal Digest Saturday: July 14 – July 20

      Life news this week:
      • Saturday I made some cheese biscuits and went over to my mom's and hung out the whole day. We didn't really do anything, just hangin' out!
      • Sunday I did my usual household chores and sitting outside to answer e-mail at my table. Also did karaoke and some other singing, and I made a YouTube video but I haven't processed it yet. Also finished a drawing.
      • Monday was Katelyn's 20th birthday, man she's old. Went to work and didn't have that much going on for once. (Mondays are usually busy.) After work I had a long chat with a journalist about an upcoming book she's writing that will include a chapter on asexual identity. Got some comics drawn while talking.
      • Tuesday I had to help my coworkers with a lot of plotting and printing. After work I practiced ukulele.
      • Wednesday I got the new Steven Universe comic and read it, so that was great! Work was low-key. Jeaux picked me up after work and we ate at Five Guys. We shopped at Winn-Dixie and watched a sort of funny horror movie. After he left I practiced my uke some more.
      • Thursday I worked and did some forms for upcoming letters. I received a funny pajama suit that looks like a cartoon lion. I had a convention coming up so I got some costume stuff ready at home and talked to Victor on the phone while preparing my stuff for the next day.
      • Friday was another sorta low-key day at the office. After work Jeaux picked me up and we had sandwiches and went to our convention dressed as the Pines twins from Gravity Falls. Had a good time but man it sucks when wigs give you a headache. We saw some cool costumes and a panel. 

      New reviews of my book:

      Reading progress:
        New singing performances:

        This week's song was "Elephant Love Medley" from Moulin Rouge. It's a duet with another member!

        Stuff Drawn:

        Concept drawing of Garnet Fusions

        Webcomic Negative One Issue 0688: "What Kids Are Like."

        New videos:

        No new videos.

        New photos:

        My new Lion sleepwear lol
        Jeaux and me as Dipper and Mabel Pines at Metrocon

        Social Media Counts:

        YouTube subscribers: 5,287 for swankivy (4 new), 678 for JulieSondra (1 new). Twitter followers: 961 for swankivy (2 new), 1,326 for JulieSondra (3 new). Facebook: 295 friends (lost one, don't know who!) and 206 followers (1 new) for swankivy, 649 likes for JulieSondra (lost 2), 57 likes for Negative One (no change), 139 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,523 (no change). Instagram followers: 146 (no change).

        Wednesday, July 18, 2018

        Wednesday Factoid: Movie Title

        Today's Wednesday Factoid is: What movie title describes your life?


        (It's funny because it's true)

        Okay, in all seriousness I actually was pretty annoyed with that movie because even though it had some nerd-positive stuff in it, it ultimately showed this guy "growing up" by getting rid of collectibles and stuff because he found a lady who would deign to have sex with him, even though he also kinda fought back against that mindset for some of the movie too, and . . . okay I'm not going to have a rant about this movie when the question is about what movie title, not what movie, describes your life.

        How about instead of that, we do Stranger Than Fiction?

        It is actually a really good movie besides being a good description of my life I guess? I have a lot of stuff relating to fiction in my everyday life, but to be honest I don't necessarily think my life is particularly strange. It's just that a lot of other people seem to, and even though it actually ISN'T THAT WEIRD to live by yourself and be happy doing art and writing and music but not really going out much, not having a romantic partner, not having pets, and not being lonely . . . it's largely the media and stories about humanity that tells us what I want is weird. Fiction would have you think my life is empty, and fairy tales have been demonizing unmarried and childless women as bitter and disgusting and dangerous for centuries, but my real life? It's not like that at all.

        But I write some pretty weird fiction so maybe this is not appropriate at all. ;)

        Monday, July 16, 2018

        Who doesn't drink?

        I was talking to a friend about this concept recently and realized it's really interesting.

        In the United States at least, it's pretty commonly accepted that "everyone" drinks, unless they take medication that prevents it, are avoiding it because of alcoholism, are allergic, or are pregnant. It's basically so associated with adulthood that people use "grabbing a drink" as a shorthand for typical adult interaction.

        I don't like drinking. I generally avoid it because I don't like being drunk and I don't care for the taste of most alcoholic beverages, though there are a couple wines I actively like or don't mind.

        But since alcohol is typically more expensive than other beverages, is high-calorie, and can be bad for you, I don't really see the point of drinking it if you don't enjoy being drunk, don't like the taste, and don't have a social life that revolves around it.

        And surprise, surprise:

        My best friends Victor, Jeaux, and Meghan don't drink either.

        In fact, all three of them drink LESS THAN ME. Jeaux didn't even want to drink the champagne at my sister's wedding (I drank his). Victor has tried alcoholic beverages here and there but mostly feels they taste horrible. Meghan does not like it.

        And of course, all of us have had our lifestyles in general questioned with regard to our maturity. Not just because of alcohol, of course, but we've all been in social situations where people were SHOCKED that we don't drink and wanted to know why. People also demonstrated a surprising investment in getting us to drink. 

        Since drinking is considered a vice by some people, I wonder if that's part of the reason they really, really want us to participate? If my experience as an asexual woman is any indication, I've noticed that people who really love a thing but have also been made to feel that enjoying it is sinful and decadent tend to assume that anyone who abstains is trying to claim the moral high ground. If we don't drink, it must be a statement! And it's commentary on THEIR LIVES!

        Honestly, I just don't like it, so leave me alone. That's where it should end.

        It never does.

        Humanity is really, really nosy, and acts in some unacceptable, embarrassing ways when it feels defensive. 

        Maybe they just think if we're ALL doing it, then nobody's judging them? 

        Would be cool if maybe they'd stop writing meaning into an abstention and stop judging US.

        Saturday, July 14, 2018

        Personal Digest Saturday: July 7 – July 13

        Life news this week:
        • Saturday was a nice break. I did very little of value because I was just checking out the aftermath of all the new content we got on my favorite cartoon. :)
        • Sunday I spent a whole morning and part of the afternoon out at my patio table. I ate breakfast and lunch out there! Got e-mails answered and did some reading. Then got stuff done: shower, karaoke, laundry, and did a review of the Steven Universe video game that I finished playing months ago. :D
        • Monday I sent out some letters to the Department and I did a cute pencil doodle. Nothing too intense after all the art last week. Whew! My co-worker drove me home and I spent the evening making GIFs about exciting TV and transcribing an interview.
        • Tuesday I worked on a letter that turned out to have had its due date changed. I got a bad headache and went home early. Listened to an episode of the official Steven Universe podcast and made a post about it. I took a nap and did chores.
        • Wednesday I worked on a tutorial of how to write good quizzes for the fandom and did work stuff at work. Jeaux picked me up and we ate at IHOP, shopped at Target, and I deposited my latest royalty check. Hello money! Jeaux and I listened to a podcast and watched Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
        • Thursday was a little slow at the office and my boss is back from India. After work I talked to Victor on the phone and drew comics.
        • Friday everyone showed up at the office for a farewell lunch for two of our co-workers who are moving to Tallahassee. (They're opening a new branch office there, yay.) We also had a busy day with submittals and other stuff. A co-worker drove me home and I finished my webcomic and looked at a bunch of really cool new merchandise online. :)

        Reading progress:
        • Finished this week: Didn't finish any books this week!
        • Currently readingLove is a Many Trousered Thing by Louise Rennison.
          New singing performances:

          This week's song was "Black Velvet" by Alannah Myles.

          Stuff Drawn:

          Ruby and Sapphire's wedding, in a sketch on the back of an order form :D

          Webcomic Negative One Issue 0687: "You Wanted It Fast."

          New videos:

          No new videos.

          New photos:

          Social Media Counts:

          YouTube subscribers: 5,283 for swankivy (2 new), 677 for JulieSondra (2 new). Twitter followers: 959 for swankivy (4 new), 1,323 for JulieSondra (lost 1). Facebook: 296 friends (no change) and 205 followers (no change) for swankivy, 651 likes for JulieSondra (lost 1), 57 likes for Negative One (1 new), 139 likes for So You Write (1 new). Tumblr followers: 2,523 (lost 2). Instagram followers: 146 (1 new).