Carnival of Aces March 2018: Sleep Hygiene

[This is my Carnival of Aces Submission for March 2018 under the topic of “Physical Health and/or Our Bodies” hosted this month by luvtheheaven. For more information about the Carnival of Aces, to see past topics, or to volunteer to become a future host please see the master post on the Asexuality Agenda blog]

It’s no coincidence that I’m dead tired as I’m writing this. Currently my sleep hygiene is terrible and I should know better!!! It wasn’t always this bad. I never pulled all-nighters to finished projects or study for test. Instead I would go to bed and wake up just a little bit earlier to finish what I needed then. Since I abstained from all-nighters I would do better on tests than the majority of my peers, I would FEEL better than the crammers and I could retain and recall the information better. In fact, I barely studied at all in school crediting a good night’s sleep for the cause of my good grades.

Now that I’m finishing up school and working more hours to prepare for a new career I’m finding that my stress and current lifestyle isn’t very good for sleep.

First things first, for anyone who doesn’t know:

sleep hy·giene noun
  1. habits and practices that are conducive to sleeping well on a regular basis.

I participated in a small sleep study a little while back. The study asked participants to change up to three habits to see if their sleep improved. All across the board, no matter what habits people picked up or changed, just being aware of their sleep hygiene and making small changes to their bed-time routine improved their sleep.

Here were the suggested habit changes:

  • Avoid caffeine after noon
  • Exercise for at least ten minutes each day
  • Avoid naps, especially naps longer than 15 minutes
  • Set a consistent bedtime
  • Avoid screen time (phone, computer, or TV) within 30 minutes of going to bed
  • Spend ten minutes engaged in meditation or mindfulness practices within two hours of going to bed

I’m going to be honest, I do none of those things. I did when I was participating in the study, but that was also before I decided to pick up a second major that I need to finish before the fall. I logically know that doing these things will help improve my mental and physical well being, but putting it into practice is hard. I could write six paragraphs of why I’m not doing these things, but I don’t think that would help anybody.

I use a program called f.lux for my computer to block blue light at night and that really helps me fall asleep faster after I use it. I recommend it if you’re tend to use the computer late at night. There are also equivalent apps for phones if you like to spend time on your phone at night and kindle fire has a similar program built in.

I also recommend investing in a comfy chair. I was looking at websites with sleep improvement tips nearly all of them recommend using your bed for sleep only (well, sleep and sex, but…) So, don’t read in bed…like I do…every night… these tips are hard. Another tip that I actually can vouch for is if you’re lying in bed and can’t sleep because your mind is racing; get up and sit in a chair. A really comfy reading/relaxing/thinking chair will give you a place other than your bed to do non-sleeping activities.

I was hoping to do more research for my post with facts and sources and all that good stuff, but I’m going to end it here. If this post at the very least gets you to start thinking about your sleep hygiene then that’s good enough for now.

In the meantime here are some TedTalks to fill in the gaps https://www.ted.com/playlists/223/talks_to_inspire_you_to_go_to

Pretty much all the experts say that a good night’s sleep is key to good mental, physical, and social health. Sweet dreams everyone!

 

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Sensual Attraction (Is Really Freaking Weird When You’re Aro-Ace)

I’m definitely aro-ace. Since puberty hit I’ve never felt sexual attraction towards anyone and I’ve only felt romantic attraction once. So, on an average day there’s zero blips on that radar. Sensual attraction is another story.

According to the AVEN website, sensual attraction is a “desire to engage in sensual acts with a certain individual (kissing, cuddling, hugging, hand holding, etc)” and I’d say this is pretty on par with what I’ve felt. The only problem is I feel that magnetic pull to kiss/hug/cuddle/etc without romantic or sexual attraction to provide context. It was hella weird in middle school and it’s still hella weird now.

I distinctly remember feeling sensual attraction for the first time in (I think) the 7th grade because it was such a weird and random feeling. I was in science class and I just got this really, super strong urge to kiss one of my classmates on the cheek. I was naturally freaked out as hell by this because 1) I didn’t know this student very well, 2) certainly didn’t even like this student in any capacity (romantic, sexual, friendship or otherwise), and 3) I don’t actually like people touching me randomly without warning. I’m relieved that I have a label for it now.

I would say the most common sensual attraction urge I get is to hug or cuddle people I’m sensually attracted to, but occasionally I’ll feel the urge to randomly kiss someone. I don’t get these kind of sensual urges with my closest friends or with my family, but I’ll sometimes feel sensual attraction towards coworkers or acquaintances. It’s just a weird feeling I get sometimes and I don’t really want to go through the mess of trying to explain it to people in RL, but I felt I should at least elaborate on it a little bit since I do hint at it on my bio pages. I feel sensual attraction towards other people and it just feels weird to me. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

Personal Updates

I literally have no bandwidth left and I still have 10 days before it rolls over. It makes school work interesting since I’m currently sitting in a Starbucks at 8PM downloading what I need for my ONLINE classes.

I saw a couple tweets about this week being Asexual Awareness Week, which awesome! But I can’t find any daily writing prompts like I usually do so I’ll have to come up with something. This month’s Carnival of Aces is about fandom which I have become less involved in because of my internet situation or rather my lack of internet situation.

Seriously, this Starbucks closes in like 30 minutes so I have to make this quick.

So, when I’m not bemoaning my lack of internet I’m playing with my 10 month old puppy who is FEAKING HUGE. He’s not Clifford size, but he’s a BIG puppy. His shoulder comes up to my knee and he’s not even a year old. He’s at least 50% boarder collie so he’s a hyper cuss. I’ve been doing three different training classes with him including agility. I’m freaking amazed at how fast he picks up on things. He’s so food driven that he’ll do anything for a dog treat. I think I’ve mentioned before that he’s a rescued puppy; a family friends found him and nobody came forward to claim him so I ended up keeping him.

border collie wearing a tie
My puppy the last day of his Circus tricks class

Seriously, who would abandon that face? Who?!

Since I have no regular internet access I’ve been stocking up on audio books. When I’m done with school I’ll probably drop my home internet service completely and look at mobile only options. It’s just really hard to blog over a phone, but I’ll give it a shot. My goal is to post more regularly with actually substance, but school comes first (after all my other procrastination methods of course) so I’ll just have to wait and see.

Here’s one more puppy pic for the road:

boarder collie in a pumpkin patch

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.

Carnival of Aces December 2016 Round Up

Happy New Year everyone! Here is the Carnival of Aces Round Up for December 2016. The topic was “Asexuality and Privacy

Ettina  made an awesome post about how Asexuality and Privacy related to their autism and being a survivor of CSA (child sexual abuse) in their post “Privacy, Sexuality and Shame

Kasey talked about the process of opening up about Asexuality through years of blogging and slowly coming out to people in their life and how that creates a confusing dynamic when it comes to privacy in their post “Am I a Private Person? I Can’t Even Tell Anymore

Sara talked about how being an aromantic asexual affected their view on privacy and how that affected what they shared with others in their post “I Do No Need More Privacy as an Asexual, but The Privacy I want is a Bit Different

A big thank you to everyone who made a submission! The next Carnival of Aces for January 2017 will be hosted by Ace Advice!  Happy blogging!

Snake Oil (or “I really just want to rant about health for a minute”)

daily_paint__1082__snake_oil_salesman_by_cryptid_creations-d9fwxiq

One health food fad that really irked me when it was at it peak was chia seeds. My literal reaction when my coworkers told me about this was, “Wait, you mean the seeds from those Chia pet things? That’s what you’re eating?” because it struck me as a pretty weird coincidence. Think about it. Suddenly the company stops showing chia pet ads (like seriously who bought those anyway?) which I remember being on all the time and starts selling the seeds as a “superfood”. Also, nobody could really give me a straight answer on what exactly the seeds were supposed to do.

Fiber and antioxidants, apparently. Oookay. This is where I do that thing that irritates my coworkers to no end. The thing where I say, “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” meaning sources. After spending years having to defend my opinion I basically have Google Scholar as my homepage. I might suck at making friends, but I keep some smart acquaintances in the form of Master’s and Doctorate students. “Oh, you read that on facebook? Well I got five webpages including the Washington Post that says that click-bait post is a load of bull.” And then I wonder why I don’t have any friends.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Anywho, fiber isn’t my issue. My issue is with the magic word “antioxidants”. You keep using that word; I don’t think you know what it means. That’s okay, I hated chemistry too. There’s the mentality that an antioxidant rich diet is going to protect you from cancer which is not true. There is NO SUCH THING as a cancer prevention diet. Advertisers just like to make you think there is.

There is a significant deficient in nutrition research and there is nothing that’s been published that has promising results for a “cancer prevention diet”. All we have is the “don’t eat this thing that’s everywhere, shoved in your face, greasy, sugary, over processed goodness that makes up 90% of what’s in your local grocery store” diet. When I’m walking past the shelves at my work (I work at a grocery store) I’m mentally going (salt, sugar, sugar, sugar, salt, sugar) because US food really only comes in two flavors.

So, what exactly are antioxidants? Well, hopefully you remember from your high school biology and chemistry classes that the human body is a complex organism, but one of the main important processes is “making” energy. Since energy can’t be created out of nothing, the body uses chemistry to convert “fuel” (food) into an energy the body can use. Since there’s no such thing as a “perfect” conversion, the chemistry process is always going to have byproducts. Heat is usually always a byproduct, a few other things we don’t care at the moment, oh, and “Free radicals”. (Cues dramatic music)

Free radicals is another one of those terms that everyone’s heard of, but they don’t really know what that means.

Free radicals are unstable elements that come spinning off any oxygen-using chemical reaction in the body. They are unstable because they are missing an electron and, in a bid to restabilise themselves, they steal an electron from elsewhere. This could be from the fats in cell membranes or from your DNA. The damage they do when bullying other elements into handing over an electron is called oxidative stress, and this can be associated with heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
The Guardian, Feb 2015

Sounds awful right? Except free radicals also play a small part in the immune system by helping against invading bacteria and viruses which also happen to have electrons too. To prevent any real serious damage to cells body makes it’s own antioxidants. The antioxidants found in chia seeds and other plants are different than the ones we make for ourselves so they might not even work the way advertisers are telling use they do. Nutrition studies are very hard to conduct and find funding for so actual scientists aren’t saying chia seeds are magical. The best I’ve been able to find is “Well, it’s probably not going to hurt you.” three emails later. (Yeah, I know the dissertation’s not going to write itself, but my sanity is important too!)

A good nutrition study will last for years. This study had 10,000 participants who were studied for 4 years. I can’t even even follow a diet for a week without breaking down and buying a donut and that’s one study. Think about how many fad diets have come and gone since then.

So anytime somebody tells me about this “amazing” superfood I won’t believe. Well, guess what. I don’t believe it. I know there was no ten year study to back up that claim. I know the FDA can’t do a damn thing about it unless somebody dies. No, seriously. People can literately sell poison in a bottle without putting all the “nutrition facts” on the label and the FDA can’t force it off the market until somebody dies from it first. Those daily vitamins you take everyday? A) They do nothing because you get most of your nutritional needs from your food anyway. B) I sure hope as hell they were honest on that label because C) You won’t know it’s bad for you until it’s too late.

This is not the same paranoia that prevents parents from vaccinating their kids because that HAS been thoroughly researched and nobody wants a measles outbreak. No, my paranoia about the health market is that it’s a market. People are there to make money and they’re gambling with people’s health to do it. If you really want a cancer-free diet, maybe you should hold off on the snake oil.