Carnival of Aces August 2017: “Post-Fact” and “Alternative Science”

[This is my post of the Carnival of Aces for August 2017 hosted this month by Asexual Research. The topic this month is “Asexuality and Academia“]

I really shouldn’t have struggled with this topic as much as I have since I’m a) asexual and b) a student. For my post I’m going to write my reaction to This Article titled “In Post-Fact America, Alternative Scientists Put Belief Ahead Of Fact” by secondnexus.com.  I originally saw a link to the article on twitter.

My biggest issue with the article is this part-

“…this alternative science — that is, science based solely on opinion supported by no evidence or proof — is gaining influence and demanding equal access.”

“Science” that is not based on evidence or proof is NOT science and should not be called as such. The article is both criticizing and legitimizing pseudoscience by calling it “science” and its practitioners “scientists”. My concern is that media outlets are, intentionally or otherwise, legitimizing “alternative-facts” and a “post-fact reality” by how they talk about them.

My favorite movie of all time is Denial (2016), a courtroom drama based on the book History on Trial: My Day in Court With a Holocaust Denier by Deborah Lipstadt. It’s not really a “how-to” when it comes to dealing with post-fact individuals… actually, I’m going to do like they do in the film and call them what they are: liars. The film isn’t a “how-to” when it comes to dealing with liars and falsifiers, but it presents the problem in a “dragons can be beaten” kind of way which is something that I need on occasion.

Liars have it easy. The common man isn’t going to take the time to fact check, especially if there’s a grain of truth to what is being said. It takes tremendous time and effort to get to the bottom something. Researching is a learned skill and it’s not a skill I personally learned easily or willingly to be honest. I hated doing research for classwork because the emphasis was on the process, not the necessity. 

I realized research was a necessary skill when I had to sign my own medical consent form for the first time and the form said in plain text, “Medicine is not an exact science.” I looked at the receptionist and asked, “What do you mean ‘medicine is not an exact science’? Shouldn’t it be the oldest and the most exact science there is?” It’s no wonder that shortly afterward that I discovered asexuality by doing my own digging. I realized that I needed to seek out information relative to me. I had to start asking my own questions without relying on the answers being spoon fed. Research became necessary.

Unfortunately there is so little research about asexuality. 1% might not sound like a lot, but redheads (like me) make up about 2% of the world population and there are some very important, medically relevant quirks doctors need to consider when treating a red haired person. It really sucks when I’m in the middle of a dental treatment and the Novocaine is starting to wear off.

I’m worried that media outlets are fueling the “alternative-fact” mindset. I’m worried this will hinder asexual awareness efforts. I need asexuality to be taken seriously for my own health and sanity, but I have to wonder if the truth of asexuality is enough to compete against the much louder, more controversial, and perhaps more news worthy beliefs of liars and falsifiers. I also have to wonder, do they outnumber us?

My “Weird” Taste in Music

Yesterday work was a little chaotic. We had two call-ins and a coworker was injured and had to be sent home. It was “fun”. For the last hour since we were closed and there weren’t any families with young ears shopping near by I turned on my phone’s play list. My taste in music is a little “unusual” since most of my tastes lean towards the 100-200 year old range because there are oldies and then there are oldies.

A perfect example is “Finnegan’s Wake” which is an Irish ballad that was the inspiration for a novel by James Joyce by the same name. For me that’s a “fun fact” for most other people it’s “what the hell/why should I care?”. It also freaks people out when I say that I’m indifferent about music in general. I don’t have a favorite song. The music I listen to tends to be narrative. For me it’s more of a case of I don’t have time to read a short story or novel on my break, but I can listen to a two-three minute song/ballad and I’m generally not going to find these songs on the radio.

Sometimes an older song sneaks into pop culture. I had a lot of fun telling my coworker that “Whiskey in the Jar” is an old Irish song, not a Metallica original. I have a whole CD of modern artists covering pirate and sea songs in their own style and it’s one of my favorites. I can’t listen to it at work because some of the songs are NOT family friendly and it’s not labeled as such, but I guess they expect people to know that pirate songs will contain some sailor worthy expletives.

My taste in music actually makes a lot sense when you consider that I’m an aromantic-asexual. The Top 100 Billboard songs will generally stick to a classic, yet very profitable theme. There’s nothing wrong with having love as a theme. I just prefer my love songs to have fermented for a couple of decades first. I’ll also lean more towards Celtic traditional songs as a nod to my ancestry. Why listen to a big label driven love song when I can listen to songs about battles, shipwrecks, smuggler stills, and history.

One song I stumbled upon recently is called “Viva La Quinte Brigada” by Christy Moore. It’s about a group of Irish volunteers who fought in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) which was something I didn’t know about until I looked up the song’s history. I like learning little bits of history like that. My dream job is a historical fiction screenwriter and those bits of history would be my focus. I crack myself up thinking about how the big trend right now is shared universe movies like what Marvel did and what DC and Star Wars is trying to do. Historical fiction is naturally a shared universe without even trying. 

I took one screen writing class as treat to myself and my classmates were very enthusiastic about my ideas and were like “Why isn’t this a movie yet?”. Well, I still have to make a living and pay rent so that’s why I haven’t written it. Then there’s the whole mess of Hollywood and TV being very tight-knit businesses to the point that unless you know somebody who knows somebody you’re not going to get anywhere. Producers get hundreds of scrips a day and while I might think a historical film about an obscure history reference is the coolest thing ever, the underpaid script monkey that has to read all the crap that comes in might not think so.

Another struggle is research. Personally, I don’t like doing research. It’s one thing to hear a “new” song I like and type the lyrics into Google or look at a wikipedia page, but actual historical research is super boring and difficult because you have to find first and second sources, look up historical documents, read diaries, and if your historical documents aren’t in English then you have to hire a translator and it just gets time consuming and expensive really fast. Once I take all that into consideration I usually just decide the world doesn’t need a movie; Somebody already when to the trouble of recording a song so why mess with perfection?

Carnival of Aces July 2017: Barriers to Off-Line Ace Meet-ups

Hi folks! This is my post for the July Carnival of Aces hosted this month by the Asexuality Archive under the topic of “Ace-ing it up Offline”. I decided to write about barriers that I’ve personally run into when it comes to meeting aces Offline.

Barrier #1: Location, Location, Location:

I live in a small city in Texas. I pass SIX churches on my 8 mile drive to work everyday. People in my area still can’t even say the word “gay” like it’s a swear word or something. My closest major city is San Antonio which for me is a 40 minute drive (we count distance in time in Texas because it’s makes the drive seem shorter and that’s going 5-10 miles over the speed limit like we do). I haven’t been able to find any info about meet ups in San Antonio because when you look up “aces in San Antionio” on Google it takes you to the local community colleges website which is called the “ACES portal” so not helpful.

According to Google there’s a pretty good Ace presence in Austin which is an hour and a half drive away and in Houston which is three and a half hours away, but then we run into the next barrier-

Barrier #2: Time and Money:

I don’t work a 9-5 job. I work part-time at a grocery and because it’s summer time we lost all our labor hours, but despite all that I’m still working 40+ hours a week! Somebody called in on Tuesday and my supervisor asked everyone and their mother if ANYONE was willing to stay. Even though everybody says they want more hours they’re not willing to work for it when we need it. I was already scheduled 40 hours this week, but I was the only one willing to stay so I worked 12 hours on Tuesday. Friday rolls around and I finished all the work in my section and as much fun as it is to get paid to stand around and do nothing, I asked my super if I could leave early since I was over hours from Tuesday. Literally one minute before I’m about to clock out my supervisor calls me and asks if I can stay because apparently one of our new employees (chick hadn’t even been there two weeks) had just quit on the spot. So, I end up working 11 hours on Friday.

You’d think with all this overtime I’m working, and remember I’m just a “part-time” employee so I should only be getting 30 hours a week, I should be rolling in money. I go to check my account so I can pull some cash to go on a pub-run with my coworkers (because this Friday I needed it) and I have $12.80. So, no Pub-run. I can’t pull from savings because my car needs new tires this month, plus I already owe over 700 dollars on my credit card. I get paid well above minimum wage, but clearly it’s not a living wage.

What all the hell am I buying? Bills. Food. I like a hot lunch and why reheat rice&beans when I could just steam a bag of frozen veggies in the microwave (2.65 plus employee discount) or have a nice hot bowl of soup (2.99 plus employee discount). My personal favorite is the single oatmeal cups (99 cents) because I like to toss in some trail mix (45-80 cents). I’m having flashbacks to Les Miserables “All the bits and pieces/Jesus, it’s amazing how it grows!”

Barrier #3: Making a Connection

One of my friends from high school is aro-ace like me! How amazing is that? Think of the odds. We share the same awkward “what’s wrong with me?” “Am I broken?” “What’s an ace?” experience. I was the one who blurted “I think I’m asexual” and she said “me too” so we should totally be besties hands down, right? Yeah, not what happened. I actually don’t really know what happened other than we had our own crap to deal with and lost touch. I’ve talked to her maybe twice since I came back to Texas. It sucks, but the reality might be I’m just not enough or the right kind of support she needs right now. If I had to make a guess I would say that it’s because she’s black and I have the genetic diversity of Wonderbread. It doesn’t mean I’m not a great person, it doesn’t mean we don’t have anything in common, but I will never be stopped by a cop and fear for my life or freedom. I trust that she knows what she needs in her support network and I’m not going to be offended if I don’t fit those needs. Sometimes people just can’t connect or the connection doesn’t hold up when people change.

I personally have a hard time connecting to people under the age of 25. I run into this problem when I’m online too. Sometimes I just want to vent or I need emotional support over a topic that a younger person hasn’t had to deal with yet. For example my parents are having marriage problems. That means something completely different when you’re closer to 30 than it does when you’re still a teenager. It would be nice to talk about it over a (as in singular) beer and some nachos because I have work at 6AM the next day. I really like talking to my older coworkers because we’re all going though similar experiences and it’s nice to have that “is this normal?”/”oh, yeah. Me too,” conversations.

Honestly, being ace is old news to me now and it gets kind of tiring hearing the same conversation of “Last year/month/week I realized I was ace because…and my family reacted like…” Now I need the conversation, “I’ve identified as ace for X amount of years…” and then what? I want to connect with other aces offline, but emotionally I need to connect with other adults more.

Preferably somewhere less than an hour away with a budget under 20 dollars and I can’t stay too late because I (more than likely) have work the next day.

Carnival of Aces June 2017: Here’s Why I Don’t Do “Asexuality 101”

The short answer is because I live in Texas. Texas still does “abstinence only” for sex ed and that stupid “Bathroom Bill” is still making headlines. I don’t generally talk about asexuality in my everyday life. I’m proud to be asexual. I have ace art on my walls, collect ace patches and stickers, and 90% of my wardrobe is ace colors. But I don’t talk about it because it’s exhausting when every conversation I have about asexuality turns into “Asexuality 101”

Since last March almost all of my weekends I’ve been doing what my job calls “demo”. Basically I put on glittery make-up (yuck), flutter my eyelashes for all their worth and try to talk people into buying  really expensive imported cheeses. Unfortunately for me I’m very good at it. It’s that communication’s degree finally working for me. One of my coworkers has complained that he’s bought cheese every weekend since I’ve started doing it (mwahaha). My job is to convince people that a) this not only the best cheese they’ve ever had in their life, but b) it’s definitely worth the sixteen-seventeen dollars per pound they’re about to spend on it only to let it sit in the refrigerator until it goes bad, and then I get to do it all over again next week. My coworker says he still has three different cheeses sitting in his freezer that he’s bought from me. ;-]

What makes me so good at my job is I know I’m not going to be able convince everyone to buy this cheese. I’m not even going to be able to convince half of the people who take a sample to buy this cheese. I would say a good 90-99% of the time by the time someone reaches my station they’ve already made up their mind that they’re either a) Not going to buy the cheese and they just want the free sample or b) They already buy cheese every week regardless whether or not I’m giving out samples. There’s no way I’m going to change these peoples minds and it’s not even my job to change these people’s minds. My job is to persuade the tiny number of less than 10% of people who haven’t made up their mind yet. Sometimes they buy cheese, sometimes they don’t, but my boss says I’m the one most qualified, experienced, and skilled to convince them.

Whenever I end up talking about asexuality it’s the same thing; I’m either already talking to someone who already knows about asexuality and they’re talking about their personal experience or I’m talking to someone who just wants everyone to be happy and in love like a Disney princess. Both of these groups have already made up their mind/opinion and it’s going take an act of heaven to get them to change their minds either way. It’s very rarely that I’ll find someone on the fence about any topic actually. The flat-Earth theorist coworker has already made up his mind. The peta-propaganda-peddling vegan that also works at my deli has already made up his mind. They are going to pick and choose the facts that support their preexisting biases and ignore facts and circumstances that might disprove those biases. This nasty habit of ignoring facts is called, “confirmation bias” and once again all that college is finally paying off.

My Best Example of Confirmation Bias: I have Never. Dated. Anyone. Ever. in my 27 years of living. My parents are still somehow convinced that I “just haven’t found the right one” yet. Obviously they just want all their children to be happy and healthy even if that means ignoring facts and circumstances that might suggest that happiness might not look the same for everyone. My version of “happiness” isn’t going to be featured in a Disney and/or Hollywood movie anytime soon.

When it comes to spreading awareness and asexual education, the individual level just isn’t very effective. Advocacy groups are going to have more power. By banning together, showing strength in numbers, and reaching out to ally groups, that’s how change is going to happen. I hate to say it, but we need to find a way to “normalize” asexuality if we want to spread awareness. Instead of having one or two shows with a token ace character, we need ten shows with multiple ace characters. We need books, articles, news stories. But to do that we need more organizations. AVEN is the one everybody knows, but we need more than that and we need them to be as equally well known. We need groups and we need people willing to lead those groups and be willing to sacrifice personal time and their personal lives to the cause. The individual ace isn’t enough.

Tired as Hell, but Here’s Why Being Aro/Ace has (sorta) Put Me Ahead

[OMG! I finally have a post Idea]

So, classes have been out for three weeks now. I feel like I’ve complained about this before, but I’m taking the Summer “off” just to work and it is KICKING MY BUTT. The week before finals I ended up working 11 hours overtime, I took my final exams off so I could just take my exams and then crawl back into bed, and then my summer hell began.

After finals I was scheduled to work eight days in a row. The schedule is made weekly so I don’t think this was malicious at all and more of my boss going “F*ck, I’m ten people under-staff and the redhead is the only employee I trust”. At first I was like, “It’s cool, It’s cool. I just had finals off. I’m well rested.” So I worked my eight days, the last of which was a special catering event that was really fun to work. Eight days in a row is actually pretty normal because that usually leads up to a three-day weekend! Boom! Three days of solid videogames and no homework. Yes!

Then the next week schedule came out and I was working seven days in a row. This was much harder. Plus we had a major thunderstorm on the sixth day that knocked out the power for at least 5 hours. I work at a grocery store. Losss of power is REALLY, REALLY bad. We had to close the store and customers were like “don’t you have a generator?” and I’m like, “Yes, we do. That’s why we still have emergency lights and the bathrooms still work.” Seriously? This kind of storm only happens once a year so why would be have a super-mega generator that we don’t even NEED 364 days a year? Fuel? Upkeep? Matenence? No thank you, we’ll take the loss of profit. It’s cheaper.

So because we lost power we loss refigeration and ALL perishables had to go into crates and on to refrigerated trucks. All employees on staff lined up and we just went department by department by department. It was actually kind of fun because we got to (briefly) see what some of the other departments had. All the “I didn’t know we had X” reactions were amusing. Before we went home for the night my boss asked for volunteers to come in at 4AM to put everything back with the promise of overtime and I was like “No, thank you. I’m good.” But the folks who did come in did a fantastic job because they got everything back on the shelves by 6AM when the store opened and then they went home for a few hours and then CAME BACK to close. Since none of us were running on all cylinders that day we didn’t get out until midnight.

So, I’m very tired, but here’s why being aro/ace is extreamly advantatious. All my coworkers in my same age bracket are tired AND married. I can’t even imagine having to do all this nonsense and then having to go home to someone at the end of the day and work my schedule around them. One of my coworkers is married to a nurse and she works three twelve hour shifts a week. They have schedule clashes. He works weekends, plus school, and she doesn’t. My schedule is so tight right now I don’t even have time to write a grocery list. If I need to pick up something I’ll write it on my arm and pick it up after work.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m debt free. I paid off all my school loans in two years because of the AmeriCorps programs, but another reason I got to do that was I was single at the time. I could take off at the drop of the hat and work in a new state for a while and come back. I remember some of the other Corps members at the time trying to keep up their relationships at the time and it really didn’t work. There were sooo many breakups including some broken engagements. I never had to worry about that. I didn’t know I was aro/ace at the time, but in retrospect it really was a blessing.

Being single is kind of lonely especially with all the romantic media thrown in my face all the time, but without relationships causing complications I’m really much further in life than I would be other wise. I have a college degree and I have a good job that pays above minimum wage and gives me discounts on groceries. I was able to do the AmeriCorps programs without worrying about how it would affect my relationships and get out of my student debt.

Relatively speaking, I’ve got it made. I probably have a skewed view on relationships because I usually just hear the complaints without the perks, but right now being able to put myself first is a huge plus. Right now I would rather have the flexibility of being single with the option of changing my mind later on.

Carnival of Aces March 2017: “Showing Ace Pride”

[This is my submission for the Carnival of Aces for March on the topic of “Ace Pride” hosted this month by (Purr)ple (L)ace. For more information on the Blogging Carnival see the Call for Submissions link.]

Since I’m not out to the majority my friends, family, or coworkers my Pride symbols are going to be very subtle. I have a couple ace rings; my favorite is one with a heartbeat line on it because to me it says, “I’m here! I’m real!”

asexual pride ring

I’ve sewn a couple pride patches into my favorite hoodie. I have one on each arm for aromantic and agender and then one over my heart for asexual because the patch was heart shaped. ace pride patch

I also buy clothes specifically in pride colors only. It helps that the ace, aro, agender, and nonbinary colors are all very flattering for my coloring. I’ve actually made myself a cheat-sheet for when I go shopping. For me it’s pride colors or no sale except for bluejeans.

Lastly I have a couple pride posters on my wall in my room. Here’s one for asexuality-

wp-1489542550932.jpg

It’s my favorite ace artwork. I love simplicity.

Blue is technically my favorite color, but I invest in a lot of purple, black, and gray things. I’m super lucky those colors are flattering for me. I’m not a fashion expert so this has actually made my life a lot easier when buying and picking out clothes and outfits. I do most of my pride shopping on Etsy and Redbubble. The pride patches are my favorite pride item because I can undo the stitches and reuse the patches if I get a new hoodie. So far nobody’s asked about what my patches mean and I take comfort in asserting my identity quietly in public.

That’s pretty much it. This was a fun topic and I got to show off my stuff so I won’t go any deeper than that for this post.

 Edit: I forgot my ace pride sticker that I wear on my name tag. Here it is-

Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week

The week following Valentines day is Aro Spec Awareness Week where arospec folks and their friends raise awareness and talk about aromanticism. Several tumblr blogs are hosting prompt challenges and posts, but this year because of time constraints I’ll just be making one post. I’ve touched on being aro before, but for this post I’ll try to get more in depth. I’ve been identifying as aromantic for about a year now. I found out about asexuality first, but because romance is so ingrained in our culture, including in several of the ace resources I was looking into early on, it took me some time to figure out that I was actually aromantic.

Being aromantic means I do not experience romantic attraction. In simplest terms it means I don’t get the warm fuzzy urge to date or be romantically intimate other people, but that description barely scratches the surface. I was cleaning out some old boxes on Monday and I came across a diary from the 7th grade and another journal from the 10th grade. I had only glanced at random pages but in diary entry I had written, “I don’t have any crushes” and in the journal from the 10th grade I had written, “I don’t like romantic themes [in stories] because I don’t understand them.” I didn’t even know aromantic was a thing until much, much later. I feel cheated for not knowing about something that is a core part of my identity sooner because it’s not something people readily know or talk about.

Continue reading “Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week”