What Kind of Blog is This?

I’ve struggled with this blog for a while. Trying to find a topic I can write about regularly that I had anything real to say about. I have plenty of opinions, but I’m not much of an expert on really anything. Amateur at everything I like.

It’s supposed to be my “author” blog, but I’m not an author yet. Plus, I’d honestly much rather people learn about writing from those who know a lot more about it than I do.

In thinking about what people might want to read, I thought the best option would be something interactive. It would help me get to know my audience, too, and provide more topics to discuss on the blog. I’m a critical person, so I could try critiquing old favorites of mine, or new hits, or latest releases, or or or. The idea being to bond with my audience over tearing something apart for its flaws.

But my whole country is tearing itself apart over its flaws right now. People arguing we don’t have flaws, people arguing what our flaws are, how to deal with them, how they’re being dealt with. I saw a Daily Show with Trevor Noah episode where they were talking about post-election recovery, and one of the men they interviewed ripped my heart out. He cried on camera about how awful everyone is to each other right now. Friends and family, tearing each other and themselves apart over differences in opinion.* He hugged someone from the opposing party, and possibly dribbled snot on the guy’s jacket.

This hatred and shit-flinging has been getting under my skin for a while now, as I’m sure it has most of the country and whatever parts of the world are watching it consistently.

I’m not turning this into a political blog. To the contrary, I’m turning it into a positivity blog. Things that make me happy, make me laugh, improved my day or my life. I could use more of that myself. I should spend more of my time being grateful and laughing than I do complaining and frowning.

I’m not sure yet how frequent it will be. Hopefully, I can turn it into a daily thing, but it’ll have to become a routine so I remember first.

 

*I’m not minimizing these issues. However, not all of them are as serious as others are. Yet all of them are causing these arguments. I’m not taking a political stance here, either. I’m calling people’s political stances opinions. That’s all.

Sleep Journal

Due to extenuating circumstances yesterday that involved hanging out with friends and a nasty storm, I didn’t actually sleep during the day at all. I fell asleep a little after midnight this morning and slept until about 5:30 am.

Bad mood persisting. I’m unsure how relevant this is to the sleep issue this time since I fell asleep not long after getting home, though I didn’t feel too warm when I woke up. I’m not sure what woke me up or why I couldn’t get back to sleep.

Sleep Journal

1/13/17

Started to do this yesterday, but got sidetracked.

Slept a lot, fitfully. I recall being awake around noon for a while, and waking up around 5 for a while, and getting out of bed at 9 pm.

I’m not sure what’s up with the pattern of waking up after a few hours of sleep in the morning, but I believe it has to do with the cold. My room is cold, and the space heater helps, but makes it difficult to regulate the temperature. If I leave the things on that make me warm, I wake up a few hours later, too hot. If I turn them off, I wake up a few hours later, too cold.

1/14/17

Slept a lot, but off and on. I know I slept from 9~12, and was awake until about 2 pm, but I remained in bed until work at 10 pm and slept fitfully.

Context: I ended up with some things to be upset about, and my feelings hadn’t calmed down yet. I spent the entire time awake sulking, occasionally messing with my phone, but didn’t get out of bed except to go to the bathroom once or twice.

Sleep Journal

I’ve started counseling not too long ago, and one thing she asks me about constantly is how I’ve been sleeping. Which makes sense because I’ve never been friends with sleep. Or even gotten along. Sleep never listens to me, abandons me with no warning for weeks at a time, and is fickle even when around.

Because my memory for this sort of thing is as bad as my ability to sleep, a journal seemed appropriate. For the interest or possibly assistance of anyone else out there, I’ll be keeping track of it here.

Slept from 7:30ish am to 9 am and 3~4ish pm to 10 pm (~7.5 total)
Woke up once around 8:30 pm, but went back to sleep.

Context: Took a nap after work, but had to wake up for tea ceremony late that morning.

Things to fret about: I had some minor drama with a friend that was as yet unresolved, but I wasn’t thinking about it the last I remember before sleep or upon waking up, so I’m unsure if it kept me up. I also realized around the time I laid down that I’d lost about a thousand words of writing I’d done the previous night, but after telling myself off for carelessness and promising myself to rewrite it tonight (which I did), I stopped thinking about it. Unlikely to be an issue.

Further context: I’ve had issues sleeping the last few days previous to this, getting max three hours a sleep at a time, for one day getting only three hours before work.

Pride and Judgment

I haven’t made a big deal about my sexuality. My impression of a coming out post on social media was my sexuality being relevant to a point I wanted to make, so putting it in as a piece of necessary information before diving into what I actually wanted to talk about. I tell people if they ask, but I don’t walk around waving a flag.

I’m working on a new idea, and went with some character decisions that appealed to me. One of which involved making the MC bisexual. She doesn’t make a big deal out of it, either. It’s not even actually mentioned as her sexuality until long after it’s demonstrated that she’s attracted to both–crushing on a boy, then getting in a relationship with a girl. Even then, it’s mentioned because someone questions it.

Part of why I’m not so vocal, I think, is because I didn’t have a revelation moment. In fact, I spent the better part of a decade not even entirely sure. After all, it’s part of female culture to compliment the appearances (or trash them, depending on what kind of women you know) of other women. It seemed to be a trait of my gender to be able to appreciate the beauty of my own gender. And after all, I definitely was into men. I labeled myself bicurious, and left it alone until it mattered.

So, I find myself in a strange position of feeling both like an ally and part of the community. I’m not vocal. I’m often not even recognized as really a part of it. I don’t appear to be. I’ve been called “very straight” by someone who hadn’t asked before. Not just straight, but very. I identify with the confusion of trying to realize something about yourself you always thought was different and everyone around you said was different. But a lot of the oppression that the community receives has passed me by for the above reason: I pass as not part of it. So well that the community doesn’t notice me, either, unless I make myself known.

With Pride Month happening, I don’t entirely know where to stand or what to do. I’m certainly queer. But a lot of the experiences that are shared and being fought against aren’t my own. I recognize how incredibly lucky that makes me, and I’m not in any way saying I wish I’d been oppressed or violated or beaten. But they’re fighting something that’s actually attacked them. Even being queer myself, what do I have to contribute to the conversation other than, “What they said”?

Quite fortunately, I have several other friends who also identify as bisexual or similar. So, I have my own little miniature group that I can retreat to if I feel the need. Sharing memes that validate bisexuality while laughing at how invalidated it usually is so we can laugh together.

It’s so interesting to me–in a frustrating kind of way–how marginalized groups in turn marginalize others that they decide don’t fit into their group. None of my friends do this to me, but it’s not exactly unknown that some people think bisexuals are making it up. That we’re confused or going through a phase or we’re trying to keep one foot in the closet or we’re looking for attention. Bisexual experiences are labeled as just that by most major media: experimentation, phases. Not just from the straight community. Crossdressers get it, too, as if their lifestyle choices somehow invalidate the sexuality of complete strangers. Plenty of people don’t even know what asexuality is or think it’s a myth.

It’s like US history in a way. Our country was built on people not fitting in where they were and going somewhere else to build their own community. And every time they did, they found someone else to reject, so that those people needed their own community. Our entire history is about displacing or being displaced. And yet, when people invoke the name of the Founding Fathers, it’s not to welcome the displaced but to repel them.

I can’t fathom the disconnect between experiencing oppression and using that experience to oppress others.

My wish for Pride Month is for it to be for anyone who wants to participate. No matter how widely you wave that flag or for what reason. And for everyone waving the flag to accept the others who take it up alongside them, be they queer or ally. You don’t have to agree on anything except this: they know more about their own life and self than you do. Let them be the judge of themselves.

What do you Take for Granted?

Privilege has become kind of a controversial term. Some people use it to defend themselves. Others see it as an attack. Some are merely trying to inform. Others see it as a lie. It’s a hard term to listen to. You hear you’re privileged, and you think of every way in which you’re not.

So, instead of labeling you with that term, I want to ask you a question. What do you take for granted?

Personally, I take a lot of things for granted.

  • I’m short, so I take for granted I can walk through doorways without banging my head.
  • I’m small, so I take for granted I can fit in bathtubs.
  • I’m not threatening, so I take for granted I can walk up to anyone I like and strike up a conversation.
  • I speak English, so in the US I take for granted I’ll be able to understand the language around me anywhere I go.
  • I’m cisgender, so I take for granted I can use any bathroom labeled “women’s” without a problem.

Most of those were pretty mild, inane things you might think–unless you’re someone who has to remember to duck every time they go through a doorway so they don’t get a concussion. I didn’t realize I took it for granted until I made a friend who had to duck through every doorway he came across.

I also don’t take some things for granted. Actually, I can’t. I’m reminded every time I try these things. The safe assumptions from above don’t apply. And they can be the same things in different situations.

  • I’m short, so I can’t assume I can reach things on the top shelves in grocery stores.
  • I’m not intimidating, so I can’t assume when I speak, my words will be heard.
  • I’m bisexual, so I can’t assume I can make comments about appreciating women without meeting hostility.
  • I’m a woman, so I can’t assume I can go out alone and be safe.

I propose to you that when someone calls you “privileged,” what they’re really doing is asking you to pay attention to something you take for granted. Because I can rewrite all of these sentences using that hated term, and it doesn’t change their meaning at all:

  • I’m privileged to be short, so I take for granted I can walk through doorways without banging my head.
  • I’m privileged to be small, so I take for granted I can fit in bathtubs.
  • I’m privileged to not be threatening, so I take for granted I can walk up to anyone I like and strike up a conversation.
  • I’m privileged to speak English, so in the US I take for granted I’ll be able to understand the language around me anywhere I go.
  • I’m privileged to be cisgender, so I take for granted I can use any bathroom labeled “women’s” without a problem.

I propose to you that when someone is asking you to “check your privilege,” they’re trying to point out that they can’t take some things for granted, something that you do, and they’re asking you to notice, to acknowledge it:

  • I’m not privileged to be tall, so I can’t assume I can reach things on the top shelves in grocery stores.
  • I’m not privileged to be intimidating, so I can’t assume when I speak, my words will be heard.
  • I’m not privileged to be straight, so I can’t assume I can make comments about appreciating women without meeting hostility.
  • I’m not privileged to be a man, so I can’t assume I can go out alone and be safe.

I saved the most controversial for last: what I take for granted because I’m white. It’s a long list. These are some of the more petty ones that are just as true, but maybe not so hurtful to listen to.

  • I’m white, so I take for granted most people around me are, too.
  • I’m white, so I take for granted most role models around me are, too.
  • I’m white, so I take for granted I can find doctors, hairdressers, and cosmetics that know how my body works.
  • I’m white, so I take for granted “flesh” color is the color of my flesh (or near enough).
  • I’m white, so I take for granted I can create a video game character that resembles me.
  • I’m white, so I take for granted people compliment my unusual name instead of complaining about it.

Every one of these, once again, could be rewritten to say, “I’m privileged to be white,” and the meaning of the sentence not change at all. Calling myself privileged is just the word that’s been chosen. It means taking things for granted. Needing to check your privilege means you’re blind to what you take for granted.

Not a single thing on this list is a crime. Not a single thing is something I need to apologize for or feel guilty about. Not my privileges nor my disadvantages. Having privilege doesn’t make me a bad person. Everyone is privileged in some ways, and everyone has disadvantages.

However, there’s a world of difference between being unaware of what I take for granted, and refusing to admit that I take anything for granted at all. It’s an honest mistake if I use a term I thought was descriptive that turns out to be racist. It’s racist if I continue to use it after someone makes me aware. It’s an honest mistake if I use the wrong pronoun to describe a trans* person. It’s bigoted if I continue to use the wrong pronoun after being corrected. Honest mistakes are a product of my privilege, but not acknowledging it makes me an asshole.

I don’t need to apologize for being ignorant. But once I’m not ignorant anymore, I have a responsibility to not be an asshole.

Next time you’re asked to “check your privilege,” before you say something angry back, before you turn off the internet and walk away, take a moment and ask yourself, “What am I taking for granted right now?”

When You’re Accustomed To Privilege, Equality Feels Like Oppression

The Boeskool

I’ve never been punched in the face. Not in an actual fight, at least. I’m not much of a fighter, I suppose… More of an “arguer.” I don’t think I’m “scared” to get into a fight, necessarily–There have been many times I have put myself in situations where a physical  fight could easily have happened… I just can’t see myself ever being the guy who throws the first punch, and I’m usually the kind of guy who DE-escalates things with logic or humor. And one of the things about being that sort of person, is that the other sort of guy–the sort who jumps into fights quickly–tends to not really be a big fan of me… Not when he first meets me, at least. They usually like me later. Not always. You can’t win ’em all…

fight-club-brad-pitt-fight-image.jpg The first rule of White Club is you do not talk about White Club…

When I moved to…

View original post 1,543 more words

Words Branded on my Self-worth

Allow me to preface this with a brief explanation about myself.

I’m tiny. I’m a weight class below the itsy bitsy spider. I’m short and thin, I’ve always been short and thin, and going by my eating habits and family I’ll probably always be short and thin.

In actual numbers, I’m 5’4 and I hover between 85 and 95 pounds. I’ve never once in my life broken 100. I’ve tried.

I don’t have an eating disorder of any kind. I never have. No matter how much I eat, I never get any larger. No matter how much I sit around on my mysteriously round but small ass, I never get any larger. This is the way my body is built. I have no advice on how to achieve this kind of body because I have no idea how I did it. I just am.

I’m asked sometimes, and in order not to sound like a complete asshole (“be born thin?”), I offer the easiest answer: exercise. I don’t do it all that often because I’m lazy, but that seems to be the general good advice for losing weight, right? At the least, it can’t hurt. (As opposed to dieting, which absolutely can.)

I’m so painfully aware of how my own body is built that I don’t find fault in anyone else’s. Maybe it’s the way they were built or maybe it’s their fault. I have no way of knowing. I have no reason to care. It’s their body, and not my responsibility or business.

By complete coincidence, my shape resembles this society’s ideal to a degree. Enough of a degree that it elicits concern for my health. I’m often told to “go eat a sandwich.” A group that I very much love knew me as “Twiggy” for a while when they couldn’t remember my name.

For anyone who’s never been thin and may not think about this end of the body size spectrum, these are shockingly similar to, respectively, “put down the ice cream” and “fatso.” The comments come from the same line of thinking. But because I’m the ideal, right, it’s not hurtful somehow.

The internet has a lot to say about a wide variety of topics. Body positivity is one. I’m a huge advocate for it. (See what I did there?) Everyone should feel comfortable in their own skin, and not be made to feel ashamed because of the arbitrary shape of their hips.

If you’re on the large end of the spectrum, I want you to feel more comfortable. From the bottom of my heart, I do. I want you to look in the mirror and find the things you see that are beautiful, and I want them to be numerous. Finding them in myself did wonders for my personal happiness. Not just confidence: happiness. I want everyone to feel that.

Including myself and people my size.

Years ago, a friend posted a meme to Facebook. It was years ago and a stupid meme, but I remember every word of it.

“Love women with curves and tattoos,” it said, “because no one wants a stick with no imagination.”

I wouldn’t think I’d need to explain why that was branded on my self worth, but the fact that a friend posted it in the first place suggests I probably should.

Insult #1: According to this meme, not having a tattoo means you have no imagination.
Insult #2: I’m not a woman. I’m a stick.
Insult #3: Because of the choices I made about what happens to my body, and the arbitrary shape of that body, no one wants me.

I politely pointed out that her meme was hurtful, and she said she never meant to hurt me, but sometimes she would be posting things like this, and maybe I should unfollow her if I didn’t want to see them. Which was not the point I was making.

Here’s another example I saw the other day.

“Curvy women are beautiful,” said this meme. “Bones are for dogs; meat is for men.”

Insult #1: The second half of the meme implies that the first part includes an understood “only” and should be heard as: “Only curvy women are beautiful.”
Insult #2: …I’m sorry, I can’t find another way to put this. “Bones are for dogs” is hurtful enough without finding a new way to say it.

I politely asked him not to spread things like this because we shouldn’t lift up some by standing them atop of others. He did not take it down. Far more people liked the meme than liked my criticism of it. He did not even respond.

I will never understand why spreading hatred of other groups is supposed to spread love for your own.

Yes, I’m Sensitive. So What?

If you don’t think “sensitive” is an insult, I’m not talking to you. But if you do, lend me your ear for a second.

I’m not mad at you. Or accusing you of anything. Or talking down to you. At the very least, none of that is my intent, but you’ll take it how you take it. All I’m asking is you hear me out. Okay?

If you’re still here, beautiful. Thanks.

On one level, I get it. I do. You say something, someone got hurt, and you don’t have a clue why it happened. Clearly, they’re just being sensitive, and you didn’t do anything wrong. They took it wrong.

Some people, they intend to hurt those around them, but most people, we don’t. Words happen, feelings get hurt, and you don’t want it to be your fault. Especially if it happens often. I do it all the time. Yeah, I’m terrible about it. Stupid falls out of my face, and the next thing I know, people I love are mad at me. Hell if I want it to be my fault.

Just as often, if not more so, I’m on the other end. It might be a friend trolling me as a joke and going too far. It might be one of my students trying to get a rise out of me. It might be a fellow teacher who doesn’t want to listen to me. It might be an off-hand comment that mashes that big red button in my thick skull.

Why doesn’t matter so much for this point. My feelings were hurt. Because I’m sensitive.

I am. I’m all kinds of sensitive. The thing the negative connotation of the word doesn’t represent is emotional sensitivity is the whole range. My favorite high is an emotional one. And I can make it to space on it. I’ll be driving home from a good day at work and bust out in giddy laughter at how amazing it was. One second, I’m singing along to Barenaked Ladies, then I’m giggling for five minutes. I’m so damn pleased with myself.

My emotions leave a huge impact on me, too. If you leave a consistent good impression on me, I’ll continue to believe that good feeling about you for a whole slew of bad stuff. I’ll doubt any bad thing said about you. I’ll emotionally take your side in a fight. (If it’s against another friend, that doesn’t mean I’ll actually take your side, though, because dragging other friends into fights that make them jeopardize their friendship with someone else is a dick move. Don’t do it. Plus, I’m probably on both sides, in that case which is emotionally totally possible.)

You leave a consistent bad impression on me, though, I’ll be upset at the mere mention of you. I’ll acknowledge you’re capable of being a good person, but I won’t want any of it near me. Whatever good you might do, whatever you might think of me, go do it somewhere else, thanks. I might hate you, but that’s rare. Usually, all I want is for you to stay away from me so my entire existence near you doesn’t suck.

That’s what being sensitive is. It’s everything amplified. The hurt is amplified, but the joy is, too. So, when you say, “you’re too sensitive,” you’re damn right I am. I feel everything. And when the getting’s good, there’s nothing like it. It has the side effect that, yeah, sometimes I get a bruised heart at the turn of a phrase.

You know what’s way worse than the fact you hurt my feelings, though? The fact you won’t admit it. Calling me “sensitive” when it happens is blaming it on me. No, you didn’t mean to, I believe you. I do it on accident all the time. To the people I most want to never see hurt. I’ll get over it, maybe even as fast as it happened, if you don’t try to pass off the blame.

Sit down. Let’s talk about what happened. What you said. Why you said it. If you mean it. What you meant, if it didn’t come out right. If it’s true, why I need to hear it. Because if you don’t sit down and tell me these things yourself, my brain will come up with answers on its own. My brain’s answers probably won’t match yours. And either: A) you’ll come out the worse in those answers, or B) I will, further damaging my self-image, and making my heart bruise even easier.

No one wins if I answer those questions for you. It doesn’t have to be right that second. Cool down if you need to. Preferably, tell me you need to instead of storming out without a word, but hey, you do you.

So, look, being sensitive is just as much a good thing as it is a bad thing. Don’t use it like you’re calling me names. I can be very forgiving, but I’m not interested in forgiving something you won’t admit you did. I’m sensitive, remember?

Do I Have My Own Voice?

This question has started haunting me.

I’m a mimicker.

I have one friend who sends messages online in a series of short sentences or fragments, never all at once. When chatting with him, I do the same.

With another friend, “eww” replaces dislike for anything because that’s a thing she does. “It’s cold and windy outside.” “Eww.” “I hurt my ankle.” “Eww.”

I was rewatching Lie to Me recently, and immediately started overusing “oi,” using extraneous sentence endings (“You’re a jerk, you are.”), and saying “pull the other one.”

I never saw this as a problem growing up. It was fun to adopt my friends’ speech patterns. Partially because I felt more accepted when using something I knew they approved of. Partially because I usually feel like my friends are more creative, witty, and clever than me, so using their unique speech patterns makes me feel more creative, witty, and clever despite that making zero sense.

Age really has nothing to do with my current problem. It’s that I’m a writer, now with a goal of publication. If I don’t have my own unique voice, I’m screwed. The internet says you absolutely, one hundred and twenty percent, nothin’ but net must have a unique, compelling voice. (As we all know, the internet is always right.)

If my voice depends on who I’ve been talking to that week, am I doomed to never have a consistent voice? And thus doomed to always land in the reject pile?

I’ve heard that some professional writers can’t read while they write because the voices of others mess with their voice. But it’s not just books that do this to me. It’s literally any words I consume. Who I talk to. What I listen to. Music. Conversation. TV. Books. So, what, I have to isolate myself from life while writing? That’s not gonna work out.

Also, I notoriously try too hard. I want to impress people. I want to be liked. I want to sound as creative, witty, and clever as I see my friends are. And I often impress myself with these stupid little phrases as alternatives to cliches, and watch them go completely unnoticed at best. Meanwhile, my friends say something, and everyone laughs. I’m probably right that they’re way cooler than me. Damn I’m lucky they put up with someone as lame as I am.

And how do I separate someone else’s opinion from mine? Quite often, I hear writers say that they hate their first draft as they write it or upon looking at it again after some time has passed, even as little as the next day. For me, it’s after hearing an opinion about it. If I write something I really like (let’s be honest with myself here, I’ve got an ego the size of Sirius–Black’s or the star, they’re about the same size–so I pretty much love most stuff I come up with. Also, I’m hilarious), I don’t change my mind upon further reading. My “damn I’m good” feeling doesn’t vanish.

Then I get a critique, someone points out a flaw, and then it looks like it belongs in the plastic bag in a dog walker’s pocket.

I’m not going anywhere with this. I don’t have a solution or a point. Merely fretting, which is a beloved pastime of artists everywhere. “Dog with a bone” doesn’t even do it justice.