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.

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”

Carnival of Aces for November ’16: Relationship Anarchy

Carnival of Aces for November ’16: Relationship Anarchy

[This is my submission for the Carnival of Aces November 2016 hosted this month by Dee of It’s An Ace Thing for the topic of “relationship anarchy”. The Carnival of Aces is a monthly blogging carnival centered around a particular topic. For more information about the CoA see the >>Master Post<<]

When I first saw the topic for this month I was a little skeptical (having never heard the term before), but after reading into it a little more I can see how relationship anarchy would appeal to many people (including myself). As an aromantic asexual I shy away from the idea of relationships because of the expectations that come with them. We’ve all seen the Hollywood romance model: Boy meets girl, they date, they sex it up, they fight, they make up, sex it up again, roll credits. It’s all very formulaic and I am all for breaking that standard model.

I’m slightly romance-repulsed. If a random person walks up and tries to hit on me I’ll either a) not realize that’s what they’re trying to do or b) internally-freak-out-and-give-them-the-choice-of-solving-three-riddles,-completing-an-impossible-task,-or-going-on-quest. Then to make things even more complicated, I’m a nonbinary gender (agender). So following the standard relationship model does not work for me and my only option really is relationship anarchy.

What’s the point of a relationship without sex or romance?” Well, just because I don’t feel romantic or sexual attraction doesn’t mean I don’t feel any attraction at all. I still feel sensual attraction. If I were to confess to a ‘sensual-crush’ (and I did that just today actually), I would say, “I want to hug you. You are allowed to enter into my personal space.” and I would consider them an acceptable cuddle-buddy. Words like “dating” freak me out, but despite all that I still want to have healthy and wholesome relationships.

Relationships of all kinds are defined by unwritten rules that dictate what you can and cannot feel and what behavior is considered normal. For me that is very oppressive. I would love to live in a world where my “before everyone else” is a mutual platonic partnership. I would love to live in a world where my “love” for my mentors is just as celebrated and talked about as a romantic love for a significant other would be. I would be over the moon if the social norm was that one of the first questions people ask me is NOT “do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend”?  and instead, “what is your most significant relationship?”

Right now my most significant relationship is with my tai chi mentor because they are making the most positive impact on my life right now. I want to be able to talk about and celebrate that relationship with others, but I can’t because of the social expectations. If I talked about a mentor like I want to people would think it’s weird or they’d mock me for having a “secret crush” when it’s not like that at all. I usually do fall “in love” with my mentors, but it’s always in a non-romantic way. I see those kinds of relationships as reverent and worth celebrating and talking about, but because of our social norms I can’t do exactly that.

I want Hollywood to tell a “Falling in Best Friends” kind of story. I want Hollywood to STOP KILLING OFF THE MENTOR CHARACTERS because that’s the only way they know how to talk about the relationship. I want us as a society to stop worshiping romantic love like it’s the end all, be all way. I believe all kinds of relationships are worth celebrating and talking about. I didn’t have a word for it before, but I guess “relationship anarchy” is what I’ve been wishing for all along.

15 Day Aromantic Challenge: Day 15!!!

15 Day Aromantic Challenge: Day 15!!!

What do you like about being aromantic? What do you dislike?

Likes:

I like the fact that I’m different. As a writer my worst nightmare is being a cliche. Some cliches are okay, but I don’t want to be one. I like the independence that being aromantic gives me. I wasn’t like several people at my High School who married young and had two kids by the time they were old enough to drink. I like that I get to wear a lot of green and I like the look of the pride flag. I like that my aromanticism complements my asexuality. I like that I can feel platonic and family bonds more strongly. Comrade is one of my favorite emotions. I like that being aromantic has forced me to have a unique world view. I don’t have any romantic emotions or worries or entanglements to distract me from my goals in life. I think I can focus better and have more time to improve myself as a person. I like that I feel complete without missing “another half”.

Dislikes:

I dislike how lonely it can be sometime. I dislike being the third, fifth, or even sometimes the seventh wheel when I go out with my family and their significant others. I dislike that one of the first questions people ask when they try to get to know me is if I have a boyfriend/girlfriend. I want there to be more non-villain aromantics in media. I want there to be more aromantics in media period. I want there to be more representation for my demographic not just the crappy, “Oh, you just haven’t met the right one” or “Prince/Princess Charming is waiting for you, don’t give up!” blog posts. People try to empower single people and in the same breath say that single people just need to “hang in there!”, because there’s someone out there for everyone. I dislike how few aros there are. I don’t belong to an aromantic community or know too many aro blogs or resources. I basically just want more aro stuff and aros to hang with.

Final Thoughts:
I enjoyed doing the blogging challenges. Because of my school and work schedules I can’t do the deep and wordy blog posts that I want to do. The blogging challenges are a nice compromise since I can be as wordy or brief as I want or have the time and energy. I’ll probably continue to search for challenges to do until such time I can fully commit to the post type that I want. If anyone else is doing similar challenges I would like to hear about them in the comments section, Thank you!

15 Day Aromantic Challenge: Day 13

What is your ideal job/career?

My ideal job/career would be a screenwriter. I’m not a terrible writer, but I don’t have the connections needs to make a living in writing for television or movies. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Sure, I got a grade of 102% in my screenwriting class (extra credit, boom!), but nobody is going to pick up a no-name writer for their new TV series.

That doesn’t stop me from writing. Even if I can only write a small measly blog post a day, I will continue to write a small measly blog post every single day. On days when I’m flat out of ideas I have prompt books that I write in. I make it a point to write at for at least 15 minutes every single day. I make it a point to continue learning about writing and learning how to make my writing better. I’m listening to an audiobook right now on how to write better sentences. I have a whiteboard on my wall with the three act structure written out in permanent marker so all I have to do is fill in the blanks. Hard work isn’t enough. Working damn hard isn’t enough. If I want to break into the writing field I’m going to need to work insanely hard and be damn lucky at some point in time. I don’t have kids. I don’t have a relationship. Writing is the love of my life and my stories are my babies.

Basically writing is already my job, it just doesn’t pay the bills.

15 Day Aromantic Challenge: Day 12

15 Day Aromantic Challenge: Day 12

Who is your favorite aromantic character?

I haven’t really ready anything with a canon aromantic character. I’ve seen hints and winks and speculations, but I haven’t read anything that in plan text say “This character is aromantic” outside of fanfiction. Which is probably why I read a lot of fanfiction. A friend of mine was trying to create an aromantic character, but the interpretation was all wrong and I had to come in and say “No, that’s not it. Stop it. Stop making us look like unfeeling robots.” And then they stopped taking my advice, so that clearly didn’t go over well.

I think part of the problem is people who aren’t aromantic don’t really understand what it’s like to be aromantic. Heck, I’m aromantic and asexual, so I have no idea how it feels to be aromantic and lesbian, or aromantic and bi, or aromantic and pan. They would have a completely different experience than me and I would probably conduct some interviews before I even think about making a character.

I don’t know what’s worse. Having no aro characters or having bad aromantic characters. I read a lovely post a while back about how aromantics are often the villains in stories. We don’t know what love is so we must be the bad guys right? Because True Love always wins in the end? I’m really hoping some beautifully talented people out there are busily working to change that. I think we are long over due for an aromantic hero, so I’m going ot say my favorite aromantic character hasn’t been written yet.