A Difference of Philosophies

Hi folks! I’m still not ready to get back in full swing when it comes to posting, but there is something that I wanted to reflect on. I don’t know it this story will help anyone, but I wanted to get it off my chest.

Continue reading “A Difference of Philosophies”
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Apologies for Being MIA

I haven’t been able to keep up with my blog the last couple of months; the main reason is I don’t have internet at home and I’ve been too busy and tired to go to coffee shops and the like to use their wifi. The main reason I’m tired is because of work. Work is very stressful right now for what are frankly BS reasons that I have no control over. I don’t want to turn this into a work bashing post, but that unfortunately plays a huge role in why I haven’t had the energy to write.

In my defense, there were maggots. Labor Day weekend was especially difficult and I ended up lashing out in a note to another employee, my manager found the note and I got in trouble. It’s purely coincidental that the same day I got chewed out for my note we do a deep clean of the department at closing time (at my urging, since it’s what was stressing me out) and we find maggots in the wooden shelf that our register sits on.

The meeting I had with my boss earlier that day basically amounted to me being chewed out for being unprofessional, but in retrospect I have no regrets. We’re a food establishment. It’s not enough to only be spotless when the health inspector comes around. We need to be safe and sanitary. It’s my job to keep the place safe and sanitary and when I literally can’t do my job because we’re understaffed, don’t have enough labor hours, and the place was built incorrectly to begin with and nobody knows how to follow up on problems. I was just stressing about how dirty the floor was after we’d “finished” closing duties, but in the meeting my boss was like, “Oh, but we have all these other problems you’ve obviously overlooked because you’re focusing on the negative. You need to look on the bright side.” Bad paraphrasing I know, but no, I don’t have to look at the positive of anything. It’s been ten days since we found the maggots under the wood and nothing has been done other than us, the employees, dousing the floor with heavy duty cleaning chemicals so the best case scenario is there’s a bunch of dead maggots under the register. I am literally disgusted and going out of my mind with stress.

My boss is on vacation this week and I’m supposed to have a follow up meeting with him and his boss eventually, but I’m just so done with everything. I applied to another position in the same company and it’s looking promising. I’ve already done the interview, background check, and drug test. My mom wasn’t exactly supportive of me applying for a new job. She said I was being emotional and acting rashly and I should have waited until I had a cooler head and honestly all that really hurt my feelings. She was throwing Stoicism in my face. Her view is I should have kept a stiff upper lip and rode out the bad stuff at work; My view is I saw my chance and I took it and I’ll be fine whatever the results are. If I get the new job, great, a change will be healthy for me. If not I’m not going to be any worse off than I currently am and my boss will know that I’m not playing games.

My saving grace is twice a week I have my one calculus class. That’s right, I go to calculus class to decompress and just have a moment that’s all about me and what I think. My boss gave me an info card with the company’s mental health services on it and I haven’t contacted them because my queer status automatically makes me very leery of corporate sponsored mental health care and I’m terrified that they actually can’t help me because I might not actually be the problem. We’re very understaffed because working at my job sucks. People who have been there for years finally go fed up and left. New people coming in just wait the 90 days and then transfer out. The corporate office doesn’t care at best and at worst is stupidly incompetent. It’s been ten days and nothing has been done about the maggots.

So, that’s the gist of it. Happy belated Labor Day everyone. I can’t promise to write more consistently since all of my writing projects are currently on hold until the work situation stabilizes, but I did want to at least give an update on why I’ve been absent for a few months. I really miss doing the Carnivals, but I couldn’t even find the energy to do that and decided to focus on my mental health which is complicated right now, but overall getting better compared to ten days ago so I’m very happy about that at least. I hope to get back into writing soon, but I won’t be too hard on myself if I need a little extra time to pull myself back together. I really am enjoying my calculus class and look forward to hopefully passing this time and finally start calc 2.

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

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)”