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.

Some Thoughts on Health and Fitness

For my Tai Chi class we do a fitness test twice, at the beginning and near the end of the class. Today was the second fitness test and, in my opinion, I pretty much bombed it. How do you bomb a fitness test? I would say it’s because the majority of my results were worse than they were at the first test.

For the fit test we measure a couple different things. The first one was weight and height. I’m 27 so my height isn’t going to change unless I do some yoga before hand. My weight was back up to what it was when I first started Tai Chi last year. This doesn’t surprise me because work is hell, I’m a stress eater, and I work next to a bakery with 50 cent donuts. I think this change is what negatively affected the rest of my results. I did fewer crunches in a minute than I did last time. We do a “step test” were you step up and down on a step for three minutes and then measure your heart rate after resting for ten seconds. The lower your heart rate is after the 10 second rest period, the healthier your are. My long jump was shorter than last time. Lastly my flexibility and ability to hold a horse stance was the same:
Related image(Horse stance)

The one outlier in my results was my blood pressure. The last time I went to the doctor my blood pressure showed I was pre-hypertensive and my first fit test results showed the same thing. This time that was not the case. I was so shocked by how low my blood pressure is that I tested it three times and tested it again when I got home.

So what does this mean for my health? Honestly, it means I’m not going to sweat it (pun intended). I’m stressed because it’s coming near the end of the semester (meaning two weeks until finals) and work is awful. The reason work is awful is because we’re too understaffed to meet the performance standards that the powers-that-be want and we have a bunch of new folks so I spend half my time babysitting and the other half playing catch up. Yesterday they screwed up my schedule so I had 20 minutes to get an hour’s worth of work done and then run to class in time for a test.

Schedule conflicts are literally my worst nightmare. I haven’t been sleeping well these past two nights because of terrible nightmares about scheduling conflicts. I would much rather be dreaming about world domination. Also, three quarters of my paycheck goes to tuition so I can finish this fall (fingers crossed for luck). At this point I just want a job that gives me the chance to sit down for dinner and has dental insurance. And a linen closet. I’m told the epitome of functional adulthood is owning a linen closet.

So basically I’m stressed, tired, not sleeping well, not eating well, and what the HELL is up with my blood pressure? Right now, I’m not going to sweat it. Right now’s problems aren’t forever. I’m not going to be paying for tuition forever. I’m not going to have to deal with bratty high schooler coworkers forever. I’m not going to be living with my parents forever. Fitness goals are great, but I have to deal with reality too. The best I can do is keep up with some small changes, tea instead of soda, oatmeal instead of a doughnut, and go from there.

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-

March 8th, “A Day Without Women”, but I’m not a Woman.

March 8th is International Women’s day and the #womensmarch folks are trying to organize a strike called “A Day Without Women” (similar to the “A Day without Immigrants” strike) and my mom was encouraging me to take the day off from work.

But I’m not a woman. I’m not out to my parents as agender because I had a negative experience coming out to them as asexual. For me I think it would be an even more powerful symbol not to participate in the strike/boycott because it asserts my identity as a non-binary gender. Currently I have both work and school that day so I won’t be taking time off from either. Early on I felt pressured because of my mom, but I’m much more comfortable with the decision now that my schedule is set and it’s too late to change it.

Over all I think I’ve been doing better taking care of myself with regards to my gender identity. I’ve used self-help techniques (mostly diet and exercise) to help manage my gender dysphoria and it’s to the point that I haven’t had a major dysphoric moment in several weeks. I can look at my self in the mirror now and actually smile and feel comfortable with my image.

There’s still a long way to go on many aspects of human rights and I still plan to stay committed to social change, but this March 8th just isn’t the event for me. So, I’ll just wish for the best to everyone else who wants to participate.

Edit:
Somehow I accidentally deleted this post from my phone, so oops. On March 8th my mom brought up the issue of the protest again and I once again declined to participate despite her urging because it was more important for me to assert my agender identity than protest as my assigned gender. I still haven’t told my mom I’m agender, but I have told a coworker and my two youngest siblings. When I came out to them I felt comfortable asserting my identity, it felt real, it felt like I wasn’t just pretending, and I was very happy after the fact. I don’t like that I have to give an Agender 101 lesson every time I open up to someone and that’s another reason I don’t come out often.

 

 

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 February 2017: Resistance, Activism, & Self-Care

Carnival of Aces February 2017: Resistance, Activism, & Self-Care
[This is my submission for the Carnival of Aces February 2017 on the topic of “Resistance, Activism, & Self-Care” hosted this month by The Asexual Agenda (click link for more info on what a “blogging carnival” is and to see previous topics)]

Frustrated by recent political actions and inspired by the Women’s March, a wonderful group of folks came together to hold an 8 hour conference this past weekend called the Rise Up – Texas Action Event in Austin, TX to talk about current issues, ways to take action, and to exchanged some ideas and best practices for resistance and activism. I was able to attend this event so I’ll be sharing my 6 take-aways from this conference for my Carnival of Aces submission.

Continue reading “Carnival of Aces February 2017: Resistance, Activism, & Self-Care”