Body Baggage: Chronic Pain, Trauma, Aging, and Asexuality

This post is for the March 2018 Carnival of Aces on the topic of “Physical Health and/or Our Bodies.”

I don’t talk about my body much. I tend to think that people don’t want to hear it, and that the world needs more body positivity rather than contagious insecurity, especially coming from someone of average weight and relative privilege. But not talking about these things doesn’t make them go away, so for this one little post, since it’s on-topic, I’m going to try to stop ignoring my discomfort and examine it for a little while.

Fair warning: it’s mostly trauma and aging-related stuff, with some mention of racism. I’m not getting into weight or diets or anything like that, though.

Feel free to tune out now, but listen in if you want. Maybe a few people will find this relatable. Continue reading

Identity vs. Labels, Culture, & Change

This post is for the January 2018 Carnival of Aces, on the topic of “Identity.”

This is going to be completely off-the-cuff rambling, so bear with me if you will. There’s some stuff that I’m trying to get at that is very difficult to describe, so I’m doing it in a roundabout way. I’m also barely editing this post before I publish it, because I tried writing about this before and then scrapped the entire draft last minute because I didn’t like how it was going. Instead, I’m just going to do a “thinking out loud” style post.

I don’t really like writing about (my own) identity.

There. I said it.

Maybe that’s surprising to you, I don’t know. Maybe not. It seems like it might be surprising to some, considering that the entire reason I started this blog was to discuss a particular identity, asexuality—and more specifically, gray-asexuality, which I no longer identify with. There, I suppose, is part of the reason I don’t like talking about identity. When you’ve come to be known for having a particular identity, and then that changes? Well… Continue reading

3 Post-Apocalyptic Games I Played in 2017

As my final farewell to 2017, I’m writing up some game reviews. The year had a very definite mood for me, and I found that the commonality within the three games I played the most of (besides Pokemon) was being post-apocalyptic. So here I want to compare and contrast them a little bit: what kind of outlook do these games present? What can we learn from them?

My first horse in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

My first horse in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

This game is amazing. I don’t know what I can say about it that hasn’t already been said about a million times before, but seriously, it’s incredible. Before this game came out, I thought it was probably over-hyped by an extremely dedicated fanbase. I had never played any Zelda games and never been especially interested in them, so I thought it might not be as great as people were making it out to be.

Then I played the game.

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2017: Reflecting, Revising, Restructuring, Recovering (Part 1)

Let’s be real: 2017 was a bullet-hellscape full of dumpster fires orchestrated by a cartoonishly evil rich white predator, surrounded by a bunch of rampaging swamp monsters spewing corrosive acid at the foundations of democracy and decency. This state of affairs is not normal.

We all know this. But this post is not about politics. I’m not going to let the bitter, caustic acid of hatred and bigotry we’ve had to endure all year be the focus of this post.

Instead, as the year draws to a close, I’m looking back on it intentionally with an eye towards what progress I’ve made, in my own personal life, so that I can take from it what lessons I’ve learned and apply those toward the future. Because I’m definitely going to need them. There’s a long, hard road ahead and many more battles to fight.

[Content note: So this is a pretty personal post and usually, I would put some content warnings right here, but honestly, I’m not really sure what to warn for in this one. It’s mostly a very general discussion of PTSD/trauma symptoms, with mentions of abuse, and some discussion of lack of access to medical treatments and med-shaming. But I’m actively avoiding getting specific. If you see something else I should warn for, please let me know.]

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Help Save Net Neutrality!

The FCC is about to vote to kill net neutrality. Only Congress can stop it. CALL CONGRESS

Net Neutrality is important. Here’s why:

  • Neutrality means that Internet Service Providers like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T cannot block or throttle internet traffic based on what kind of website you’re looking at.
  • Without Net Neutrality, it would be legal for ISPs to discriminate. They could offer basic plans that allow access to only a small portion of the internet—powerful companies like Facebook, Amazon, or any of the ISP’s own services (Remember how AOL worked? People abandoned that for good reason.)—while either putting everything else behind a paywall, or making it extremely slow to load.
  • For marginalized communities, like the asexual community, this will have a chilling effect as fewer people are able to access services. If this happens, a lot of ace people who rely on the community may be left with a severely reduced support network.
  • The ace community is already dominated by white people. If this happens, it will very likely become even more so, because POC will be more likely to be affected. I worry that the association between asexuality and whiteness will be even more strongly reinforced.
  • If fewer people are able to access Resources for Ace Survivors, how will we continue to provide support to those who need it most? For that matter, if we end up having to pay much more both to access this part of the internet (dwindling our pool of potential volunteers) and to keep the site running, there is a real risk that we may not even be able to keep working on it—or at least, not in the same way we do now. We’ve already been facing severe burnout and most of us have been on hiatus for the past year. It could still get worse.
  • This will also have a chilling effect on free speech in general and make it much harder to organize resistance to the Trump regime and whatever new horrors await us in the future.
  • Verizon has already been caught illegally throttling Netflix and YouTube. Imagine what they would do if these protections disappeared!
  • ISPs are already doing this in Portugal. This could really happen here.
  • So, like Sara K., I have also been re-evaluating how much I need and use the internet this year. This, among many other things, has partially been to blame for how much less I’ve been posting here.

If you are a U.S. citizen, please consider calling your representatives today or tomorrow. I know this is daunting for many of us, including myself! To make it easier, provides all the numbers you need and scripts to help you know what to say. Battle for the Net also provides info on who to call and what to say.

A deluge of calls has worked before, to stop the health care bill. We shouldn’t give this one up without a fight.

We only have two days left to make an impact. The vote will happen on December 14th. Spread the word!

UPDATE: In a stunning show of jovial viciousness, cavalierly ignoring the massive outpouring of support for net neutrality, the Republican-controlled FCC did vote 3-2 in favor of eliminating it. This was not unexpected, but it’s still a huge blow. It will have major negative consequences in the years to come.

In case you are freaking out about this, keep in mind: things are not going to change overnight. This will be a gradual, slow change. And we’re not giving up.

The fight is not over. This decision will be challenged in court, and congress can also overturn it (hopefully, we will be able to elect enough Democrats to do so in 2018).

Read more here:

A Tumblr accessibility trick I wish someone had told me about sooner

An old screenshot of a tumblr argument showing a long list of usernames with vertical lines beneath them.

An old screenshot of a tumblr argument that visually represents why tumblr’s design is the worst. Who can follow this kind of conversation?

I hate Tumblr. I’m sure that many of you who have been reading my blog for a long time already know this. I think the site is designed in such a way that it creates confusion and friction rather than facilitating good discussions.

To the right, you can see an example of exactly why the site’s design is so awful. This is an old screenshot from 2015 that I found on my computer again recently. I made this image and shared it with a few people privately, but I didn’t post it anywhere because I didn’t want anyone to feel like I was picking on them or talking about whatever the actual content of the discussion underneath these usernames was, which I no longer remember at all. It isn’t important. But notice how it looks. It doesn’t look like a conversation, it looks like a labeled bar graph. In order to really follow this conversation, to know who exactly is saying what, you’d have to scroll up and down with your mouse on each of the lines to match up the username with the text. And trust me, it was a veeeery loooooong  conversation, with each post being pretty substantive, so that was a lot of scrolling.

That isn’t the only problem, of course. With conversations decentralized, it’s difficult to even see other parts of the same conversation topic going on, so you have to click through a lot of notes—sometimes many thousands, most of which are just likes and reblogs—in order to actually see the full range of responses that a post spawned. I don’t have an answer for that problem, other than to wish that a better site would come along that could actually compete with tumblr, and spark a mass migration to the new platform instead. It will happen eventually, I’m sure. It’s happened many times before. (Hardly anybody still uses MySpace or LiveJournal, and AIM is about to be shut down for lack of use too.) It will take someone coming up with something better, and then lots of time and dissatisfied users. Until then, I’m going to be stuck reading a lot of things posted on tumblr, because such a huge portion of the asexual community resides there.

So for now, I’m just going to share a little trick that I eventually learned to help manage reading these blogs as someone who has vision problems.

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How I spent National Coming Out Day

Another year, another National Coming Out Day.

I’ve long since stopped making a big production out of coming out, and I don’t really even have anyone to come out to anymore. No one important, anyway. The people who should know, know. The people who don’t? Meh.

More than anything, I guess I tend to come out via actions rather than words, to acquaintances, or random strangers on the street or wherever. I don’t make much of an effort to hide affection for my partner, although I also don’t go out of my way to show it, either. I have no idea who I’m actually out to anymore. Who is clever enough to put two and two together? Certainly not that one chatty grocery store cashier, who asked us if we live together and took it to mean that we’re roommates. But our next door neighbors probably more or less get it, because they’re a lesbian couple with two kids.

I don’t really bother coming out about asexuality anymore, most of the time. If I happen to meet another ace, I’ll come out. I wear an ace ring sometimes. Occasionally I might make a casual reference, but mostly nobody gets it, and I don’t care to explain. I just don’t have the energy to get into it, for the most part.

This year, I was pretty much by myself doing work all day. I read some Amy Lowell poetry and got mad about heteronormative interpretations of her work and homophobic smear campaigns leveled at her. If you don’t know her work, check it out. It’s well worth the read. She was also one of those women who engaged in Boston marriages, and if you’re interested in learning more, here is a great article that focuses on that aspect of her life.

I feel it’s pretty appropriate to spend some time thinking today about historical Sisters who came before us, obliquely open, veiled but still brazenly living their lives. These days, I often feel like I’m in a liminal space between out and not-out in my everyday life, but really I’m able to be a lot more open about all of these things, if I feel like it, than they were, and that’s thanks to all of those who have come before. I want to honor their efforts today.

The comments problem

I’m changing my comments policy. From now on, comments will automatically close after a post has been up for 90 days. I have also updated the rules to be more concise, and put them on the sidebar.

Why? Well, because people haven’t been reading or following the rules, and honestly, the amount of awful comments that I get is seriously draining on me. It makes me not want to log in and check comments. It makes me not want to even publish anything at all. It is also interfering with my ability to keep up with conversations with other bloggers across WordPress. If I’ve dropped a conversation with you at some point in the past several months… or really, the past couple years… well, this is probably why. I’m sorry. Continue reading