Carnival of Aces Round Up: Then, Now, & Tomorrow

Alright folks, this is the Carnival of Aces Round Up for June 2019. The topic for this past month was Then, Now, & Tomorrow.

<> Our first submission is an enlightening post titled “On Purity, Asexuality, and Timing” by Perfect Number . In it she talks about Christian purity culture and touches how she would like to see asexuality included in sex education:

…if I wasn’t in purity culture, would I have had sex I didn’t want, because I thought it was “normal”? The sex-ed stuff I read now, it’s not written in a way that’s inclusive of aces. (ace = asexual) I’m trying to imagine an alternative to purity culture, that teaches kids it’s okay to have sex before marriage, but also helps asexuals understand their asexuality and be confident in their feeling that “no, I really don’t want to have sex…

<> Next up Jess wrote about both physical health and mental health in a fantastic post that is sure to get everyone thinking about their own future challenges:

… over the past year or so, I have dealt with new challenges to my mental and physical health that have really made me reconsider my priorities… [Aro-ace] lives have the potential to be very different from whatever roadmap we envisioned when we were younger, and living life without that roadmap …

<> Ace Film Reviews wrote a riveting post titled “Unhappiness and Other Unexpected Blessings” that will hopefully get folks thinking about something to look forward to:

…Is there a word for the opposite of nostalgia? Whatever it is, it’s what I felt as I stood in that chocolate shop. Not a memory of the past coupled with sorrow and longing to return to it. But a memory of the past coupled with relief and gratitude that it was over!

<> The last submission this month IS A POEM! titled Then Now & Tomorrow by LoyalTiger06 so be sure to check it out and let them know how awesome they are in the comments

A BIG “thank you” to everyone who took the time to make a submission this month and I hope everyone had a happy Pride. To see past Carnival of Aces submissions and/or to volunteer to be a future CoA host (it’s super easy, I promise) please check out the master post on The Asexual Agenda. The next Call for Submissions has been posted by The Ace Theist

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Carnival of Aces Call for Submissions June 2019

First of all, Happy Pride Month Everyone!!!

This is a Call for submissions for the Carnival of Aces for June 2019. A “blogging carnival” is when a bunch of blogs get together and post about a single topic. The purpose of this is to bring awareness to the topic and to gain a variety of perspectives and voices. At the end of the month the host, yours truly, will collect all the links into a single post for everyone to see. To learn more about the Carnival of Aces, see past topics and submissions, and/or to volunteer to be a future host please check out the master post on The Asexual Agenda.

Last month was hosted by Demi and Proud on the topic of “Asexuality and Gender At Play” which you can view by clicking here.

For this month I picked the topic of “Then, Now, & Tomorrow“.

I’m turning 30 this year and my life is completely different from what I thought it would be when I graduated high school in 2008; Not better, not worse, just different. I’m actually pretty happy with how I turned out as a person, specifically as an aromantic asexual in an alloromantic/allosexual world and I’m looking forward to continuing that positive trend. On that note I’m curious to see how you folks have:

  • Grown as a person the last few years
  • What factors or people have helped you grow
  • What set backs you might currently facing, past obstacles, or even possible future obstacles and how you’re dealing with them
  • What you’re doing now to continue learning and growing
  • Where you see yourself in the next few years
  • Where you see yourself when you turn 25, 30, 40, 50, or whatever milestone is next for you
  • Any combination of the above
  • Or anything else you can think of along the lines of the prompt “Then, Now, & Tomorrow”

I’m looking forward to seeing where everyone is at in their life’s journey. To submit a post you can just put a link down in the comments or send the link in an email to LettreDeMarque(at)outlook(dot)com (mind the spelling) with your preferred name and pronouns. If you want to submit an anonymous post let me know in the email and I’ll put the post on my own blog. Just a friendly reminder that submissions are not limited to blog posts and that video essays, poems, comics, and other formats are perfectly fine as long as I can get a link for the round up post at the end. I’ll also take late submission up to 3 days after the deadline (I know the evils of writer’s block and that life gets in the way) which will be midnight Eastern Standard time on June 30th.

Happy writing everyone!

Carnival of Aros: Religion? What Religion?

Phew~ I feel like I’m barely squeaking by with this post just before the deadline. Hi again everyone, this is my submission for the Carnival of Aros for May 2019 hosted this month by aroacepagans on the topic of “The Intersection of Religion and Aromanticism”. Unfortunately this is a rather complicated topic for me so I’m first going to have to dump a bunch of backstory exposition on you followed by a long historical tangent. History isn’t pretty folks.

Religion is complicated in my family as we don’t really put labels to what we are exactly or even agree on what we believe. My parents tried to do the Christian thing when I was younger, but it didn’t work out because the greatest sin in my family is ignorance. Both of my parents are the first in their families to go to college and especially in the age of internet with most “common” knowledge just a Google search away, they don’t tolerate ignorance nor denial of facts. The example my dad gives between “facts” and “truths” is it’s true that the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. It probably did so this morning even if most of us (myself included) didn’t witness it. The fact, however, is that the sun doesn’t “rise” or “set” at all, it’s the Earth rotating on its axis. So, long story short, my parents stopped going to church because the pastors kept getting the facts wrong. There was one particular pastor who was “talking” about Islam (yup, they were Muslim bashing back in the early 90s too) and he said that Muslims believed that the “Earth rode on the backs of four elephants”. I can just picture a double face palm from my parents at that slip up of common sense. After that incident my parents were like “Screw this. We’re not exposing our children to this bullshit.” and we never went to Church as a family again. Several years later when me and my siblings were old enough to understand the basics my parents spent the entire summer break teaching us about all the religions from Amish to Zoroastrianism and basically said, “There, pick one.”

To make things even more complicated my dad is ethnically Jewish and his younger brother is a gun-toting Republican Jew from Iowa, but my dad was raised Lutheran because half of the family converted to Lutheranism after WWII (and that is a looooong story that I’m not going to get into here). My dad is constantly arguing with his brother and his cousin, a Lutheran minister, on Facebook about climate change. My dad’s cousin made the mistake of saying, “There are hundreds of scientists who say climate change is a hoax!” to which my dad replied, “Oh, yeah? Name ten.” and that’s why they haven’t been on speaking terms since last Christmas. My mom was raised Irish Catholic, went to a Catholic high school and that’s why she’s definitely not a Catholic. No one in my immediate family belongs to an organized religion so the short answer would be that we’re “non-religious”…

…depending on your definition of “religion”.

The word “religion” is a very western and a relatively new idea. The word religion comes from the Latin religio meaning “reverence to the gods” (compared to superstition which comes from the Latin superstitio, meaning “soothsaying, prophecy, or fear of the supernatural”). Citizens of ancient Greece and Rome were required by law to have reverence for the local patron gods or goddesses and blasphemy was a serious crime punishable by death (yikes!). Modern scholars have a difficult time trying to pin down a definition for religion that isn’t too constraining nor too loose.

Obviously you have the big three western religions, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam (and, yes, a lot scholars to consider Islam a western religion because of the HUGE impact it has had on western history and culture), but is Hinduism one religion or several different religions arbitrarily grouped together by western scholars? What about Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism; are they religions or philosophies? Where do you draw the line between philosophy and religion? How does it affect a person’s socio-political standing if they’re philosophical and/or spiritual but not religious in a very religion biased society? Are New Age religions legitimate practitioners or is it cultural appropriation? Mom and dad said, “pick one”, but holy jeepers it’s much more complicated than that.  This is not an easy topic for me to tackle and that’s even BEFORE I throw in the aromantic aspect.

It’s a sad fact of life that a lot of major religions are not LGBTQIA+ friendly and those that are might not take converts and even then converting to a religion is a major decision that you cannot take lightly. Okay, then instead of converting to an existing religion how about just creating your own? It’s a nice idea, but then you have to consider how it’s going to be organized, how you’re going to deal with the legal matters, how you’re going to handle internal disputes, and how you’re going to get the general public to take you seriously. Politics and religion have been bed fellows for a long, long time. It’s only thanks to a quirk of fate and a Roman emperor that there’s a bunch of Christians even running around quoting the Bible right now because all y’all were like two inches from being Manichaens.

Cue long historical context tangent: Manichaenism is a weird blend of Eastern and Western religions; It’s something like a lot of Zoroastrianism with a little bit Buddhism and Taoism sprinkled in. At its peak Manichaenism was the most wide spread religion of its day with churches spreading as far East as China and as far West as Britain. I was learning about Manichaenism for a class and how it heavily influenced some later Christian big names like Augustine of Hippo and it’s where we get the idea that Good and Evil are locked in this eternal struggle and you don’t even think about it because that’s such an established literary trope you still see it today in pretty much every single epic movie pushed out of Hollywood. Can you even imagine being there back in the day when that idea was something new? Some dude was like, “Yo, bro, what if, like, there’s this great power that’s just, like, all Good with a capital G, ya know? But, like, the reason people do bad shit is because on the flip side there’s this Evil force that is the reason for hate and ignorance and people are made of the bad stuff, but everybody has a spark of good in them, you know? And the way to live right is you gotta feed that spark of good inside until it becomes a flame, a flame of knowledge, and you gotta keep feeding the flame so it never goes out because if you let the flame inside of you go out then the darkness wins. You feel me?” Yup, I’m definitely sure that’s exactly how that conversation went down. 

Anywho, as I was learning about Manichaeism for class I kept thinking, “This sounds really cool. Why have I never heard about this before? Where do I sign up?” Well, turns out you can’t sign up because the entire religion is extinct, as in gone the way of the dodo, it is a looong time gone. A long time ago there was a Roman emperor named Theodosius I who was apparently kind of a big deal and he issued a decree of death for all Manichaen monks (hooo boy, that definitely escalated quickly) and declared Christianity to be the only legitimate religion for the Roman Empire. Waaaaay to be a buzz kill, Theodosius. All the Manichaen texts were destroyed, all of its religious leaders were killed in the name of Rome and Rome’s Christianity, and everything we know about it today comes from teeny tiny surviving fragments that just barely manged to survive in extremely isolated regions in China. That’s why nobody’s ever heard of Mani and his kickass religion even though it pretty much popularized everybody’s favorite epic fantasy trope.

So, now I have a  philosophical dilemma. History paints a dark and gritty story about how, like the empires that honored and celebrated them, great religions rise and fall and change with the politics that can both lionize them or vilify them. Theodosius didn’t put Manichaens to death because God said so, he did it for his own political gain. The US founding fathers didn’t say separate Church and State to protect the people, it was to protect the Church from political corruption. (Yeah, I know, joke’s on us.) So, just like my parents, I’ve got a problem. I have all these religious types telling me that they know this “great truth” and that they’re my “only shot at getting in to heaven” and “fuck those other guys because they don’t tell it like we tell it” and all I hear is these folks basically telling me over and over that tomorrow the sun is going to rise in the East and set in the West like it’s some great cosmic mystery…

But, like, dude, that’s just how the world turns. I don’t know how to reconcile being religious if it means ignoring the facts. I have tried for a loooong time, but I just can’t find a religion that calls to me, that that lets me believe in a higher power, be part of a bigger community, find a higher purpose, and be my aromantic, gender-queer, wisdom-loving self. Maybe, there was a religion like that once a long, long time ago, but then it got wiped out by political pressures bigger and meaner than it was. *shugs* History says it’s possible.

And I’m going to end the post there because that last bit is an existential crisis that can wait for another day. Hopefully this didn’t come off too much like religious-bashing because that was definitely not my intention and I just wanted to throw out some burning questions that I’ve run into trying to figure out what place religion has in my life and a lot of these are questions that I still don’t have answers for: Is it okay for me to believe and pray to a random deity that isn’t part of my culture and upbringing or is doing that disrespectful to the people who codified the deity and made it a pillar of their religious identity? Is it okay to mix and match religions like cocktails or is that just my white privilege/colonialism talking? How much of religion belongs to the private individual and how much belongs to the cultural group? Why is all this so complicated?!!! 

aaaaaand on top of all that I’m still 100% aromantic and I need to reconcile how that’s going to fit into a religious identity because right now there’s like zero intersection because I haven’t exactly “picked one” yet.

Thanks mom and dad. -__-

Carnival of Aces May 2019: Beyond the Binary

Greetings everyone! This is my submission for the Carnival of Aces for May 2019 under the topic of “Asexuality and Gender at Play” hosted this month by Demi and Proud. To learn more about the Carnival of Aces, to see past topics, or to volunteer to be a future host please check out the master post on the Asexual Agenda.

Phew! Gender is actually tough topic for me to write about because I don’t actually have one. This might be a hard idea for some folks to wrap their heads around, but I do not have the little voice in my head saying “you’re a girl” or “you’re a boy” or whatever. For the longest time my dumbass thought that 1) gender was a only cultural construct and 2) all genders were assigned. The way I understood it was that genders that were available to you were based on whatever gender roles existed in your culture; So the older and more complex the culture, the more diversity in gender roles and assigned genders. I know this idea is entirely bogus now, but that’s how I rationalized that Western culture only had two genders while older cultural groups like the ones found in Asia and American Indigenous groups had multiple genders.

It took a long time (all the way until I was almost 26) and some serious research for me to understand that there’s a psychological component to gender and that your self assigned “gender identity” actually pretty much fully developed by the time you’re four years old. The reason I was so confused by this for the longest time was because every time I ping my brain for a gender identity I keep getting an error message back (usually in the form of dysphoria). So, just like I’m asexual I’m also agender.

Whenever the topic of gender was brought up in an academic class setting, whether it be history or anthropology, I didn’t have my own gender to use as a comparison and it got frustrating really fast when I was clearly not understanding something and the instructors don’t know any other way to phrase it because they assume everyone had a gender to use as a comparison. It’s like being 100% asexual and having to ask people what sexual attraction feels like and they look at you like, “What do you mean you don’t know?” Actually, I should say that asking cis folks is what was frustrating. After figuring out that I was asexual I was able to sit down and actually talk to transgender aces (online because I live in an area full of Bible toting conservatives) and finally ask “How did you know you were really a boy/girl/nonbinary/whatever?” and every single time they told me “You just know”.

Boom! Light-bulb moment. I know a lot of young and questioning non-binary folks find the “you just know” answer to be a pain-in-the-butt and very unhelpful, but I was actually able to gain insight from it because I didn’t “just know” and I used that as my starting point. I went to the gender wiki and just went straight on down the list, “Does this sound like me? Nope. Does this sound like me? Nope. Does this sound like me? Nope.” Until finally I went back up to agender which, for me at least, is a nice and neat “none of the above” and said “that’s me”. Which means that I am an aromantic, agender asexual. Sweet!

Continue reading “Carnival of Aces May 2019: Beyond the Binary”

Stoicism (My Personal Best)

Coin with the quote

I’ve mentioned before that I’m currently studying Modern Stoicism; In a nutshell Stoicism focuses on what makes a virtuous person and how a virtuous person should act as the starting point for answering life’s big Philosophical questions. Stoicism advises that a good life is one where you “live in accordance with nature”. By “nature” Stoics aren’t talking about flowers, trees and butterflies (as lovely as they are), but rather they are referring to human nature which they define as 1) humans are social animals and 2) humans are “rational” beings, as in “capable of complex thinking”.

Stoicism is definitely not a one-size-fits-all way of thinking. In fact, I wasn’t even sure if it was going to work out for me, but I’ve been practicing and I’m happy to say that I’ve made some progress. The main exercise I’ve been working on is being rational in emotional situations. Like I said, this is a work in progress. I’ve gotten really good at calming down quickly after irritating instances, particularly at work. I’ve ranted about dumb customers on the blog before and how I dwell on the issue for waaaaaaaaaaaay too long and so being able to calm down almost immediately is huge progress for me.

Naturally I want to continue this positive trend of improvement so I usually like to try and find courses and lessons and the like that the folks in the Modern Stoic movie are kind enough to publish. Most of the courses are usually free because the folks in the Modern Stoic groups generally do really want to help people.

It just so happens that I picked up the latest book for beginner Stoics and I keep running into the same problem; Their examples aren’t really geared for an LGBTQIA audience so I have translate their heteronormative jargon into something I can actually use. 

Here’s an excerpt from the introduction:

Mike’s twenty-five-year college reunion was supposed to be fun. Instead, it has turned into an exercise in inadequacy. His classmates, Aziz and Slaiah, are still together, ever since their first date during sophomore year; Mike’s marriage lasted less than five years, leading to financial trouble and insecurity about romantic relationships that persist to this day. Steve, Mike’s former roommate, has maintained his athletic physique while Mike’s potbelly has only grown, a charming accompaniment to his thinning hair. And his roommate’s business major propelled him into the C-suite, while Mike has stagnated in middle management of a company whose products he doesn’t even believe in. Everywhere he looks, Mike sees success, but when he faces himself in the bathroom mirror after the cotail hour, he can’t help but feel like a failure. ‘No wonder I’m unhappy’, he thinks. ‘It’s because my life is bad. Everything is awful.’

-From the Introduction section of A Handbook for New Stoics; How to Thrive in a World Out of Your Control

I understand that this example is playing on a series of well known tropes to help the reader easily pick apart the points of the lesson later on, but I’m already frustrated by this example because, dude, Mike is obviously coded a cis-hetero male and it’s actually really distracting how unrelatable he is. They made him too much of a cardboard cutout person and I really can’t deal so I’m going to have to write up my own, hopefully more relatable, example:

Continue reading “Stoicism (My Personal Best)”

Carnival of Ace April 2019: The Languages of Luv

[This is my submission for the Carnival of Aces for April 2019 hosted this month by luvthehaven.wordpress.com on the topic of “The Five Love Languages”]

I’ll admit the title is me being just tad facetious because this topic physically pains me. As an aromantic I get major hebee jebees when people start tossing around words with romantic connotations particularly when the required reading for this topic is based on a book called “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate” (Thank you Wikipeda), but I’m going to suppress my baser instincts that are screaming at me to run for the hills and try to form a rational, and hopefully relatable, opinion on the “Languages of Honest Affection” (there, I fixed the title in my brain so I can stop freaking out over the L* word, *shudders*).

It’s important to note that not all asexuals are allergic to tru luv like I am. One thing I’ve had to internalize for my own mental health is that attraction is a physiological response, meaning it’s not something we can control; like ever, no way, no how. It’s a knee-jerk reaction it just happens and ya have to just deal with the aftermath. It’s like when you brush your hand on a hot stove, your body just reacts and you move away from that hot stove as fast as humanly possible. What you do after that supercharged flinch is what’s actually in your control. Do you kick the stove for having the audacity for being hot or do you run to the sink to cool off your scalding flesh? Knowing that attraction is a weird thing the body just does because, I don’t blame people for feeling attraction and I don’t blame myself (anymore) for not feeling attraction.

Now that all that is out of the way, are these languages of honest affection applicable to me in my non-romantic reality? I’m going to go with “no, not really.” I actually don’t think this model would work in any reality because it’s way too simplistic. It’s like any other personality quiz or your daily horoscope. Sure, it might be true in a very broad, general sense if you only look at positive supporting anecdotal data and ignore quantifiable negative refuting data, but I’m totally bias against horoscopes and I want to keep an open, rational mind on this specific topic.

Physical Touch: It’s actually pretty complicated.
I’m going to tackle each point in reverse order and physical touch as a form of affection is actually hella complicated and I know this because I have a B.A. in Communication studies and one thing they stressed is physical touch is hella complicated and varies depending on the cultural group or subgroup. In the US polite social distance is about 4 feet or an arm’s length away so we tend to get wigged out when we travel to other places and a stranger gets up right in our face to talk to us. Guys walking down the street holding hands will get some looks where I’m from, but is totally acceptable if not expected in other places. French cheek kisses? Hispanic hugs? Where do you draw the line between what’s intimate and culturally expected? Where do you draw the line between what is friendship and romantic? Is it based on what is expected by the individual or what the in-group understands as the social norm? To say physical touch is a “language of love” without addressing all the nuances and meaning that come with physical touch makes this, in my opinion, an ineffective model already.

Acts of Service:
My first thought on this topic is, “I love my country, but I hate my job,” and I think that’s just me be facetious again. I spent two years working as a “professional volunteer” (which was literally my job description) for community service projects so I could receive and education award that would pay off my B.A. I currently work full-time in food service so that I can continue my education. For me personally “service” has too much of a “tit-for-tat” connotation. Everyday I serve people, often times very angry and mean spirited people, because I get paid to do it. When I take that extra step to help out my coworker it’s because that fosters a beneficial relationship that encourages them to help me out later on. If that mentality is applied to a relationship, any kind of relationship, I think that has the potential to negatively impact the relationship. I’ll use the example from the wikipedia article of the one spouse showing affection by doing the laundry and the other spouse is like, “Wtf? That’s not affection. It’s a chore that needed to be done so it doesn’t matter who does it.” In this hypothetical relationship both people are able to do the chore and it was a chore that needed to be done so does it really matter and is it really a sign of affection that one person does it over the other?

I have a much better example; A lesbian couple that I follow and adore on YouTube. One of the ladies is disabled and the other works in the medical field unrelated to the disability, but is more familiar with how the system works than your regular citizen. When they first started dating the abled lady noticed that her new girlfriend wasn’t doing so hot and she knew that things could be better so she used her knowledge of how the medical system worked so that her girlfriend could see all the specialists she needed and sat in with her during all the appoints and asked all the relevant questions so that she could have the happiest, healthiest life possible with the limitations of her disability. The two of them are happily married now and it’s not a matter of whose chore is what because they don’t have a tit-for-tat system and they credit that as one of the reasons they have such a loving and healthy relationship (along with open and honest communication of course). I usually point to them when I want to point out what an “ideal” relationship would look like and I seriously want to know what the secret sauce to their relationship is because compared to them all the straight couples I know look like they’re trapped in Hetero-Hell because social norms instead of Tru Luv.

I don’t think there’s any reality where someone can say, “Look, I did the laundry today as an act of love,” and not sound like an asshole. I don’t think the lady in my example would even classify taking her new girlfriend to every single doctor’s appoint as an act of love more so than as someone in the medical field doing everything they can to make someone’s life better even if they don’t get anything out of it besides making someone’s life better. I just have a really hard time wrapping my head around this language because if you’re doing something for someone for the appreciation then you’re disappointed when it’s not, then it’s not really an act of love if you were hoping to get something out of it in the end.

Words of Affirmation: Now we’re talking.
This is probably the one point where I will agree that this a love language. I’m all for open and honest communication, but something that seems to be overlooked is the listening part. I feel like nobody knows how powerful and appreciated listening to another person without judgment is. Do you know how hard it is to listen to another person without judgment? I practice everyday and I’m still not good at it, but I can tell when somebody does it to me and it feels amazing. Having somebody just listen to you and not judge you feels amazing. When we listen to people our first instinct is to either contradict them, voice our own opinion, or offer advice, but if you can manage to turn that off you have the ability to do so much good for other people. I’m terrible at this because my instinct is to try and fix the “problem” when really the best thing I can do is just shut up and listen. Like I said, I practice everyday and it’s still a work in progress so I want to shout out to people who have this superpower.

Quality time:
Actually no disagreement here. Spending quality time with someone you love is awesome so keep doing that. It’s probably going to look different depending on the person’s involved, I literally can’t think of a downside to this if you can make it happen.

Receiving and Giving Gifts:
Well, we’re back to the age old question of your grandmother gave you a shit gift, what do you do? No, seriously. My Grandmother gave me a Mini Mouse watch that probably had been sitting in her closet for years for my birthday. I hate it and it’s just going to end up sitting in the back of my closet because I don’t even want to look at it, much less wear it. Giftcards are a godsend. It takes all the guess work out of figuring out what to buy and people can finally get things they need or want. The last time I got someone a gift that wasn’t obligatory I got the standard, “Oh, you didn’t have to do that!” Yeah, I know I didn’t have to do that, but I did anyway and you know what? It hurt my feeling when they said that because and that was the last time I gave a non-obligatory gift. So, when my grandmother gave me a gift and I hated it I made sure I said “Thank you, it’s amazing!” Gift giving/receiving sucks. Maybe it’s just that I don’t have the best experience, but it’s not my favorite and I have a really hard time seeing it as a language of love since there are weird social norms about it like saying, “Oh, didn’t have to do that!” when it’s not an obligatory gift. Ugh.

Conclusion:
The languages of love seem like any other personality quiz. It’s cute, it’s fun (probably), but I don’t recommend taking it as relationship gospel. If you take the quiz again after lunch you’re probably going to get a different result than the one you took earlier because the results are too generalized to actually be useful. Relationships are complicated because it’s not just 1 + 1 = 2; Humans are infinitely complex and in a relationship you’re taking one complexity with its own wants and needs and trying to match it up with another complexity and you basically end up creating unpredictable mathematical chaos. It’s perfectly human of us to try to fit big, scary chaotic topics like love and relationships into five neat little boxes, but that’s like trying to stuff and elephant into a shoe-box. If being asexual has taught me anything it’s that neat little boxes don’t exist for things like love and relationships and that’s why I don’t think this model actually works for anybody.

Carnival of Aros March 2019: It’s Great to be Aro!

This is my submission for the Carnival of Aros for March 2019 hosted this month by Aromanticism on the topic of “It’s Great to be Aro!” For more information about the Carnival of Aros or to volunteer to become a future host please check out https://carnivalofaros.wordpress.com/

I probably can’t stress this enough, but I actually love, love being aromantic. The first time I took myself to a movie was after my dad and brother went seen The Martian (2015) without me even after I had told them repeatedly that I wanted to see it too. I decided to go by myself to the movie theater two blocks down from where I worked. I was still in my work uniform and it felt awkward saying “one ticket” at the counter, but I got through it and had the brilliant insight to buy a cup of coffee instead of popcorn and soda. With a warm cup of coffee in my hand and an entire row to myself I had the best movie experience of my life. Now if I want to see a movie I’ll pick a day in the middle of the week when it’s not busy and buy a cup of coffee instead of movie snacks.

I won’t deny that humans are social creatures by nature, but some of my best moments when I feel the most like myself are when I’m alone doing my own thing. When I’m hanging out with other people the need to fit-in and avoid social faux-pas kind of sucks the fun out of it. It’s much easier to dance like no one is watching when you know for a fact that nobody is actually watching. I feel like I’m constantly flirting the line between being my best self and a crazy loner and some days are easier keep that healthy balance than others. I definitely felt some minor angst when I first realized I was aromantic years ago and realized that wouldn’t get that classic Hollywood ending promised in almost every movie ever, but I did eventually learn to accepted it as my normal and I’ve been focusing on celebrating my singularity rather than worrying about my nonexistent relationships.

It’s kind of like…well, for example, a lot, and I mean a LOT, of folks at my work play Magic the Gathering. One of my coworkers even offered to give me $50 to build a starter deck, but Magic is seriously not my thing. Sure, I feel left out when they talk about planning game days and I see a bunch of them leave together with chips and soda under each arm. It’s frustrating to hear all the talk about trading cards or meeting up to open new packs and I can’t join in, but Magic just isn’t my thing. It’s an expensive hobby that I have zero interest in. You can pitch it to me anyway you like, but I don’t do trading card games. I will play Liverpool rummy any day of the week. Hearts? I’m down. Spades? Sure thing. BS, Slap Jack, Black Jack? You bet ‘cha. Hell, I’ll even play Crazy 8’s in a pinch, but Magic the gathering is just. not. my. thing. and I’m not going to force myself to play a game that I know I don’t like just so I can fit in. My view on romance is like that almost verbatim. Most folks love to gush about mushy stuff and I’m like, “….uhhhh what about all these other awesome stuff that isn’t, ya know, romantic?”

I don’t get crushes on people. I get “let’s-quit-this-dead-end-job-and-run-away-to-become-space-pirates”es on people which is sooo much cooler in my opinion. I haven’t quite figured out how to explain to people that I don’t want to “date” them so much as just slay a few dragons at the ol’ 9-5 together before they go home to the wife and I go home to my cat. I want to belong to something magical, epic, heroic, that doesn’t have the executive meddlers saying “Hmmm, this needs an unnecessary love triangle and more romantic tension to boost ratings.” As an aromantic I have all these wonderful, unique and different feelings that nobody talks about that I think are worth exploring and celebrating in media and in everyday conversations.

Aromanticism is the most dominant of my identity labels. Most of the time I don’t even think about being asexual or agender, but hoo boy, my aromanticism is cranked up to 100 all day everyday. That might have something to do with how pervasive romance is in western culture, but that doesn’t change that my aromanticness has the most impact on my way of thinking, feeling, and behaving. I’ve literally never dated. I’ve never pursued any possible romantic ties and I’m uncomfortable when people try to ask me out. I’m also get very defensive when people even joke about me dating. One of my coworkers was poking fun at me because someone had asked me out and they were like, “I’m going tell him you changed your mind. You would look so cute together.” and I got super defensive and reminded him that it takes something like six weeks for knee caps to heal. The reason I was so defensive is because I felt like my identity was being targeted. It’s like telling a gay guy, “Oh, you should totally go out with this girl, you’d make a cute couple.” and that’s super not okay and very hurtful, but for some inexplicable reason it’s soooo hard for people to understand that.

Jerk-ass coworkers aside, I really do love being aro because I wouldn’t be myself if I wasn’t. I’ve worked really hard to become comfortable with who I am and what it means to be “me”. I think Liverpool rummy is more fun than Magic the Gathering. My ideal “date” is when I take myself to coffee and a movie. I think there are other feelings and relationships besides romantic relationships that are worth celebrating and talking about. I treasure the journey of growth and self discovery it took to get me to this point in my life where I can appreciate and celebrate being a single person. So, I didn’t get to slay any dragons with anybody today and people still don’t understand that a life without romance is just as fulfilling and rewarding, if not even more so, as one where romance is the central focus, but that’s not going to stop me from celebrating being aro.