Feeling Single Sucks

Maybe it’s selection bias, but I’ve read so many articles on how difficult being single is that it almost feels like a fun cliche. I can feel the editor salivating at the prospect of all of the hits from single people who will agree, and partnered people quick to remind us single folks it’s our fault or that being partnered is hard too.

As always, dear reader, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Being single is pretty rad. Regardless of if you’re poly (a friend’s ridiculously high-quality blog on navigating poly relationships, communities, landscapes, etc.), monogamous, or otherwise it can be a helluva fun adventure. You don’t have to be strong or support another person through times that are difficult for them. You don’t have to make someone else’s problems your own. You can hog the bed. You can treat yourself to an extra drink or dessert instead of going halfsies on a date. You can be entirely beholden to no one; no sinks on your time and no responsibilities to making someone else’s life decent or better by your behavior. Self-care becomes less an imperative and more a matter of course.

I think there’s a false equivalency that we all fall back on, this idea that we don’t fill our lives when we are single. There’s just some empty hole that we put away in the corner and ignore, like a missing piece of furniture. Surely, we shouldn’t be dedicating that time and energy to finding a replacement piece. Goodness knows, the right coffee table only comes along when you’re not looking for them. But also, if you don’t put yourself out there and visit some furniture stores, maybe browse around amazon, how will it find you? You can’t acknowledge that hole of time and space; you must live your best life you can with it sitting there in the corner.

The truth, however, is that we fill that space with a different piece of furniture or art (family/friends, cycling, rewatching past seasons of The Mindy Project and iZombie and crying, etc.) or we look to replace what was there before (a new relationship). By directing energy into other aspects, we are constantly reminded of our singleness. By directing energy into finding partners? Even more so.

Being single is pretty awesome. Feeling single sucks.

And this is the distinction that’s important.

I’ve been functionally single for some few years now; I’ve gone on a few dates with some people, but mostly I’ve spent the time hooking up or having lackluster first dates that end in a mutual ghosting. I’ve filled a lot of space with other things. I volunteered/studied overseas for five months, I’ve been teaching, I’ve been in performing ensembles and doing research and academic writing. For a while I filled that space up completely; I didn’t leave space for other people and unsurprisingly ended up being emotionally and physically unavailable for potentially significant situations. On the flip side, I’ve been very hurt by making myself available and being rejected continuously.

And both of these situations make me feel single. Not lonely, though I’ll admit to feeling that regularly in conjunction, but single. It’s a distinct feeling that we don’t have a word for, or at least not one that I’ve come across.

It’s not just being alone, but being told (implicitly, explicitly, accidentally) that we’re not worthy of dating. It’s being told to “wait” until our lives are more capable of handling a partner; meanwhile, other folks in our situation are dating or even getting married. It’s being told that it’s totally worth fucking us but not dating us. It’s being treated like an experiment for someone else’s sexuality and having them balk at the notion you’re looking for something with an emotional connection. It’s being told “I’m looking for what you are” and then having that person completely ghost, evanescing into the ether. It’s being approached by total strangers who will tell you the reasons why they would never date you, unprompted (yes, really). It’s being told “I can’t believe you’re single, you’re such a catch!” by well-meaning family and friends. It’s being given advice from people who have never been single for much longer than a year since they were teenagers or people who haven’t been single since before the smartphone was invented. It’s being told that you must love yourself (research says: this has no discernable bearing on your ability to find partners or to have good relationships) by someone who struggles with crippling self-esteem which they get support for from awesome partners. It’s seeing the eye-rolls when you discuss how lonely you are or how much you wish you had a partner or more. It’s hearing “being in a relationship is hard too…” said, followed by all of the problems you’d love to have.

And these are messages and experiences that many single people bump into while single for a long while, particularly if their dating pool is consistently shrunk due to things like queerness, fatness, transness, ugliness/unattractiveness, poly, poorness, ability et cetera. Don’t mistake it; these are value judgements from ourselves as well as from others.

Society has ingrained within us (even the poly people in the back) that being single is all well and good, but being incapable of not being single is abhorrent. Abominable. Disgusting. Horrific. [Insert your adjective here]. Our entire system of life is set up with the assumption that we will have children (and, hence, a partner because who is a single parent besides, uh, lots of parents) who will take care of us as we age, or at least a partner with whom we can save up with for old age. It’s more than just “it’s better not to be single,” it’s “how will I literally survive if I remain single?”

This puts a lot of existential terror on the prospect. That’s part of why being single sucks so much; it’s an “objective” measure of “failing” at life and what’s your prize? Derision, judgment, debt, and death.

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Is This Thing On?

Friday I went to see the new Ghostbusters flick. While it’s absolutely fantastic (seriously, I loved it; if this had been the original I would have been obsessed with the movies as a kid instead of thinking they were boring), what made my brain start churning was something I saw before the movie began. The trailer for Florence Foster Jenkins (WHICH I’M TOTALLY GOING TO SEE). Specifically the end of the trailer.

Every voice deserves to be heard.

And it hit me like a ton of bricks.

So much of my life is a pursuit of acknowledgement. I write to be read. I perform to be seen.

I don’t want to be famous. I don’t want to be rich. I don’t want to be well known.

I want to be heard.

Living within my complexities it’s almost funny. At the surface level, so many people see a cis white man and so what they assume of me is that I am heard, I am heeded, I am believed. I open my mouth to speak in feminist or activist circles and note the eye rolls. I find my input readily discarded in many instances (and note that I’m often correct in my assessments or predicted outcomes); not always, but often enough. It is believed that I am heard enough because people who look like me so often are. In reality, I speak when I am sure and those same complexities of who I am means that I am so rarely sure. I’m unsure of whether it’s my place to speak, I’m unsure of whether I’ll be heard, I’m unsure of whether I’m right (even in situations where I have solid expertise).

My queerness, my transness, even my Ashkenaz background and mental differences inform this.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s silly and self-indulgent, but I do think this is my main motivation right now. To be heard.

 

EDIT TO ADD: And that it’s my blogaversary just makes this even more poignant.

Posted in Identity, Personal Psychology, philosophy, queer, QUILTBAG, Writing | Leave a comment

Lady Dynamite, Laughing, and Being Bipolar

I have loved Maria Bamford since I was a kid and I first saw her standup on comedy central. The zaniness, the characters, the self-deprecation all rang true for me. That said, I’ve never been the type to follow through with a celebrity or act that I liked and to keep up with them, so when she sort of drew back from the public eye I never really noticed.

A short bit ago she released a show on Netflix, Lady Dynamite. This is… not a review of that show; however, I will say that I absolutely loved it, and I’ll be talking about some of the reasons why here. Lady Dynamite has gotten very positive reviews from critics, but as I sit and watch individuals review it negatively I wonder at it. Apparently some people can’t get behind the breaking of the fourth wall, the time jumps, the zaniness of all of the characters (even the ones playing themselves). These are some of the reasons why I love the show, why the comedy really jives with me, and why I’ve binge watched the entire thing twice and am watching slower a third time (it’s only been out about two weeks).

Lady Dynamite tells the semi-true story of Maria Bamford’s struggle with bipolar disorder in show business as a comedian and as I watched it I saw so much of my own struggles there. One of the best ways to put it is that I never know what sort of day I’m going to have; I am terrified of making plans in advance for this reason, what if I can’t handle the plans that day or what if I forget or get distracted? These are all things that other people relate to, but take them and turn them on their head; not only do I not know what sort of day I’m going to have, I have NO IDEA how I’m going to feel about it. I can go to bed absolutely jazzed and excited and wake up in tears and be unable to move from depression. I can be “stuck” to my chair for hours (or even days) and then suddenly pop up to go for a walk or vigorous exercise. I can be writing a paper at a good clip and then suddenly be incapable of moving my fingers to type with. Mood swings are unpredictable and encompass more than just how I “feel” about something or in general, but a physical quality that is often ignored in media representation of bipolar disorder.

Not so with Lady Dynamite. Maria’s team manages to encapsulate these physical pieces with subtle gags and specific techniques, many of which are the reasons why some folks are complaining about the show. To me, it’s clear that they’re complaining because it’s uncomfortable, and it’s uncomfortable because they’re being presented with a different perception of reality. A bipolar perception of reality.

I’m going to try to break it down into the things I’ve seen the most complaining about: self-deprecation, zaniness/craziness, time skips, fourth wall breaking. I can’t say that these were intentionally used to elicit these sorts of responses, or to metaphorically illustrate these things, but I believe they effectively did.

Self-deprecating humor

Being bipolar I often have a choice: take myself extremely seriously, or take everything very lightly. If I don’t accept some things about myself, I am set up for failure. I’ll talk more about time later, but if I don’t joke about the fact that I’m constantly late or super early then this becomes fuel and fodder for my darker mood swings. If I don’t joke and find humor in the fact that sometimes I literally cannot do some basic things because of my mood swing being too high (so I can’t focus) or too low (so I don’t have the energy), then I will obsess over these things and will find my moods cycling faster.

In one of the episodes Maria talks about her poor boundaries, and we see her again and again fail to assert those boundaries despite the best of intentions (and even practicing the assertion), then screaming into a sponge afterward. This hit so close to home for me; often I will have a plan to say or do something with a specific person and then when the moment comes do exactly the opposite. I don’t know why. It’s like my mind reboots and goes “ah, this thing we were practicing clearly we meant “do this” instead of “don’t do this” so let’s go” and suddenly I’m in a situation that I’ve never wanted to be in. When I am psyching myself up to these moments I begin to put so much effort and emphasis into it that I begin to cycle upwards, and we see this from Maria in the show; she clearly becomes manic, talking a mile a minute and making strange requests and roping strangers into her situation as the moment she’s prepared for gets ever closer.

And then there’s a dramatic drop in her mood afterward; this happens with me as well. How could I just go back on what I’ve been practicing/preparing to do, etc. etc., and this dark depression can last any random length of time.

Dear reader, my point in saying this is that if I find the whole thing funny, humorous, even in a tragic way, I can cushion that depression. I can cull my expectations and put a ceiling on that mania. I can exert some bit of control and order over my otherwise unpredictable and chaotic nature. This sort of humor is so important to me for my own coping. When I see its use in the show it hits so close to home; it’s a hindsight commentary on how Maria could have avoided it getting “this bad” and a reminder to me that without this sense of humor about being bipolar I will consume myself with guilt, shame, and disappointment.

Zaniness

What I see here is a lot of complaints that “life isn’t really like that” and that characters are too one-dimensional around this weird wacky quality.

Bipolar disorder has a way of making you rewrite what’s happening or happened to yourself; you experience reality very differently from more neurotypical people. I think it’s really important to remember that the perspective of the show, here, is Maria looking back or examining what’s happening to herself. Because of this that very one-dimensionality is cued so perfectly; it’s not that characters don’t have and contain an entire breadth of reality (and we even see that in snippets or when the fourth wall is broken), but that this recollection is both imperfect and inevitably modified to make it easier to cope with.

What to most people would be an average day at a restaurant and bar, for example, will take on these wild elements; I DO tend to characterize my bartenders and waitstaff and give them entire backstories and special elements of who they are… even going so far as to imagine them with wacky and inventive mustaches and personalities that they just do not have. Just like Maria seems to do in one episode.

What I’m trying to say here is that we cannot trust Maria’s perception of reality because it is inevitably altered. I cannot trust my initial perception of reality for the same reason; I generally need to take a step back and think about things more than other people. This is a great boon in some respects; I often get the compliment that I’m observant or that I can make really fast connections that other people don’t see initially. On the flip side, it means that I have an intense distrust of who I am and what I perceive; I am constantly seeking validation for these things which is a behavior we see from Maria constantly in the show.

And what’s a way that I deal with this reality? Humor.

If I can step back and laugh at my life, it helps me to really notice what I may be blowing out of proportion or what I may be forgetting altogether. This affects me no matter where my mood is at; even at the ever-coveted “baseline,” where I’m not in a wide mania or depression, I will still have these absolutely wacky days where things seem to all go wrong or really right and randomly. It’s pretty natural for neurotypical people to “color” days as bad or good but when a bipolar person falls into this behavior we go over the top; the universe is against us or propping us up on a pedestal that day. And the difference is that for neurotypical people? It happens and they go on with their life. For us? One day like this (even fallaciously remembered this way) and it can send us into a cycle for days that leaves us confused, and at war with ourselves.

I hesitate to use the word “crazy” or “craziness” here, not because of its negative implications, but because the truth is that yes my recollection of these events may be “crazy,” however that doesn’t accurately depict what’s going on. Still. This is the word that most people who are criticizing the show for this aspect keep using. Whether it’s Maria being randomly replaced with a lamb in part of a scene, or hiring a “loaf coach” to help her learn how to relax, needing to have sex before midnight, randomly looking into the camera and thanking a hair care products line, speaking nonsense in her “Diane voice” or any other aspect, these are all about how she recalls what happened, how she sees and is rewriting what she’s done. It’s less for us to laugh at the weirdness and more a really dark critique on the fact that she makes it weird because otherwise she may not be able to cope with what actually happened.

Time Skipping

I don’t recall if I’ve ever talked about my truly horrific relationship with time here before, dear readers, but let me do so now. I am consistently and constantly late or early. This goes with deadlines, appointments, dates, visits with friends, waking up, any number of things. This is not because I want to be or choose to be early or late. This is because my perception of time changes so wildly and randomly it is impossible for me to conceive of it in a linear fashion, let alone in a consistent fashion. If you ask me in a hypermania to measure the course of a minute you will likely find that I see a minute as anywhere between 25 to 40 seconds. In a hypomania, it becomes something more like 90 to 120 seconds. In a depression somewhere like 70-80 seconds. Even at baseline I still seem to measure between 40-50 seconds. If you have me listen to the same audio track in different moods I experience the tempo differently. I can’t go to movies when I’m hypomanic because I get so tired and drained by the experience; they just take so long!

Even further than just this experience of time literally changing based on mood, sometimes I “wake up” and it’s a few hours later. Sometimes I re-experience a memory randomly (often not attached to any triggers related to the memory) and lose time because I’m in the “past.” Especially during a hypermania I will do what’s called “hyperfocus” where the entire world disappears as I focus on one task, usually for upwards of four hours, forgetting to eat, sleep, drink, or even about appointments or other things that I have going on. Those hours become seconds to my biological clock. I “wake up” at the end of a hyperfocus and suddenly my body rushes me with all of these other stimuli, literal hours worth, and I’m overwhelmed.

These time jumps in the show so mirror that, I can’t help but be convinced that this was an intentional illustration of this phenomenon. At any point that a time skip forward, a flashback, or whatever seems to be nonsensical I can guarantee you that it hit home for me. If we remember, again, the positioning of the show as Maria’s recollection of it, this becomes more salient; for many bipolar folks (myself included) time isn’t experienced linearly. We experience it with these weird skips back and forth and the same activity taking up different amounts of time (despite a clock saying otherwise).

And if I didn’t laugh about this I would fall into a depression so heavy I might never be able to come out of it; I’d just cycle between depression and hypomania forever. And it’s so weird to me how others DON’T experience time this way that even the idea of it being jarring becomes a bit offensive before I remind myself that they aren’t bipolar.

Breaking the Fourth Wall

This is probably, to me, one of the aspects of the show I love the most. I have a very dry sense of humor in the first place, so self-aware and self-deprecating comedy makes me giggle on its own. Add in that it’s making fun of itself for being self-aware and self-deprecating and I’m gonna howl with laughter.

But this, as well, is being used as an illustration of a bipolar or otherwise neuroatypical experience. Often we will feel like we’re putting on a show, like our entire life is an entertainment piece and our entire purpose is to be entertaining damnit. Does this happen to neurotypical people? Sure, but it’s a different scale.

In clinical psychology psychosis is a term that is used for when an individual loses touch with reality, generally as measured by neurotypical standards; it can be present and caused on its own, or comorbid with other mental differences. While many things may cause psychosis, we see it often in bipolar disorder as someone “cycles out” into a really deep depression or high mania.

So what I’m saying is that while neurotypical people often get a sense of ennui or that they’re dancing at the end of puppet strings for some sort of cosmic entertainment, it’s possible that a bipolar person actually incorporates this into their daily belief and existence; it’s possible that a bipolar person is hyper aware of what they conceive of as a “fact” and, even when alone, act to be as entertaining as possible. When Maria breaks the fourth wall, I don’t just see her doing something silly and being self-conscious about her show, I see her trying to take direction from these cosmic influences (in this case presented as her fellow actors, friends, and the audience) to create the best “product” (her show) that she can to entertain them in a meaningful way.

I’m not being very articulate about it; it’s a tough thing to explain especially because many people will claim to understand and stop listening to how it’s different than what they’re claiming to understand.

What I’m saying is that this belief isn’t translated only to when I’m super manic or depressed; it’s this tiny little seed that’s ever present. Even now as I’m writing this at my desk, just in case my purpose really is to entertain or be watched by some other entity, I’m sitting in a very specific way, I am cognizant of how I look, and even occasionally I’ll talk “to nothing” or to my computer screen. I do this not just because it’s a quirk, but because deep down some part of me really does believe that this is possibly the reason I’m here.

And if I don’t find humor in that, I’d find an existential crisis instead. So I put my chin up, grin, and laugh at myself and the absurdity of life, because I’d rather laugh with whatever’s on the other side of that fourth-dimensional wall than let it laugh at me.

Posted in Blog, Personal Psychology, Psychology | Tagged , | 4 Comments

The Fluffy Guide to Dating Profile Writing

Something I’ve noticed over the course of the last few years with profiles on dating and hook-up sites is that people are really horrible at creating a profile that sings. Part of this is because there’s no one that teaches you how or what to write, we don’t know whether we’re attracting partners or repelling bad matches, many people don’t read profiles and focus only on pictures. Most popular services, such as OKCupid, or PlentyofFish, do their best to give their user-base guidance in profile essays; most also provide some sort of gimmick (such as OKC’s mysterious algorithmic questions or PoF’s cissexist and heteronormative chemistry quizzes) to help users more easily make a “good” match, whatever that means.

What I’ve found, however, is that short of actual conversation with someone the profile essay really is the best way to get to understand them.

So I’m writing this guide; I’m going to talk about how to write your own profile, including formatting guidelines to create a brief but informative essay, using some psychology tricks along the way.

Remember while you’re reading this that many people, unfortunately trained over the years by bad profile writing, skip or only skim over profiles. There’s not much you can do to counteract this except for reading context clues from their messages whether or not they’ve read them. Because of this pictures are almost a necessity. While I do have some thoughts about appropriate picture use in profiles, I’m using my space here to talk about the essay specifically.

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Glitter as Spiritual Awakening

​Glitter. To some the scourge of a well-stocked arts and crafts armory. To others a delightful toy. To still others a precision art tool.

And to some? A spiritual gateway.

The soul of glitter is one that sings to me. The idea that I could sparkle, catch what little odd pieces of light that stray and reflect them back into the universe delights me. The fact that it stays with me.

I have always loved glitter.

When I was quite young for the first time I had an inkling glitter might be a bad thing. My art teacher was out, for an entire week, because she had gotten one piece of glitter in her eye. Upon her return she had to wear an eyepatch for weeks.

I refused to touch glitter for a few years then. It was a gradual seduction back to it, first acknowledging the fun sparkle, then suggesting it in a poster, eventually to wearing it on my hands in wonder, to choosing makeup that had sparkles.

Glitter has always entranced me. In depictions of divinity and holiness we consistently see the divine and holy sparkle, shine, and yes, even glitter. We know them to be holy or divine because they glitter; only they possess that quality.

If I were asked to paint the colors of my soul it would be a dark glitter on a field of a color I can only describe by metaphor: the sky at midnight after a midsummer’s storm. To all that view it directly it would seem dark and ominous, but catch it from the corner of your eye and it would be alive with light, alight with color.

This describes me.

Sometimes I think I’m a good actor. I often manage to convince people of many things without any real intention of it. The fact that people can have any sense of surprise when they discover I’m an introvert, that I’m queer, that I’m Jewish, or any number of other things is a testament to my ability to meld into the fabric of spacetime into a shadow-figment that creates what they expect to see.

Glitter makes this impossible.

People must confront the fact that I have glitter on my brow. They must confront the pieces of me that shine when they look upon me.

That’s what glitter does for me.

It makes me visible.

It makes me bright.

Can you see me now?

Posted in Blog, Identity, Introvert, Personal Psychology, philosophy, queer, QUILTBAG, Writing | Leave a comment

Not all who claim manhood are men. Not all who are men claim manhood.

I recently had the absolutely wonderful fortune to spend five days in the woods of a very tall place in Pennsylvania, surrounded by queer men who are pagan (and some who don’t identify that way) in the pursuit of spiritual brotherhood. This festival was Coph Nia and this writing is about one facet of it.

The experience was fantastic, and while I can’t know for sure what my situation will be in a year my desire to go back next year is a direct result of the brotherhood we created, of the interconnectivity of very different lives and paths coming together to form a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

When pressed to explain my own religious path I used to struggle. Recently I’ve nestled quite comfortably into “eclectic Jewish hedonism” as the moniker I use for what/how I practice. At the core I think of there being three foundational pillars to my spirituality: Judaism (as both a religion and Ashkenazi culture), polytheism (as I believe that Judaism is inherently a polytheistic religion that places a specific deity at its core), and hedonism (as I believe that pleasure, and the pursuit of it, is not only a biological imperative but a spiritual one). There are elements that sit on top of these pillars, but they form the very basis of who I am as a spiritual being.

My life is filled with serendipity and it is very easy for me to lose sight of this sometimes. I am constantly trying to do better and hold onto the ability to take a step back both dispassionately and connected to the present. Going to Coph Nia was a blessing for me; it was only possible because a friend had a spare free ticket with a meal plan. I was able to find and buy a tent that didn’t break my bank because a friend posted on social media that they were wondering about a deal they’d seen. I was able to pay for the gas because I drive an extremely fuel efficient car, came into possession (legally 😛 thanks) of a number of Shell gift cards, and would maybe get some kick back on fuel. I was able to buy materials I might need (food, medicine, *water*) because they were not only at Costco but on *sale*. My collaborator for what I’ve been working on was out of town and unreachable for this same time period (and I was able to finish everything required of me before I left; I’m waiting on feedback to continue now). I return now to a life where I am waiting desperately for my medicaid re-application, some form of cash flow to pick back up, and often find a lot of my existence turning into subsistence if I don’t watch carefully. It was a breath of life into what was quickly becoming a dull and grey painting of what life could be like if it evolved with the intention of snuffing itself out.

I mention these things because when I say that Coph Nia was a gift from the heavens placed on my head, I mean it. It’s a gift I’m still unwrapping slowly, savoring every moment and impression it’s left on my body. I’m going to be pondering the implications of it for the next few weeks.

Rather than belabor the mundane and explain just what physically happened (I went to this workshop, gave that workshop, participated in that ritual, went to this event, etc), I think it’d behoove me to speak more thoroughly on the implications of gender on the event and my experiences there. I’ll continue to write more on other aspects but following the break there is a fairly broad and (quite honestly for me) heart wrenching look into my experiences around my gender in gendered spaces and then Coph Nia.

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Posted in Blog, Gender, Identity, Orientation, Personal Psychology, queer, QUILTBAG, Religion, Sex, Twitter | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Internalized Heterosexism Kills the Queer Male

So started an open letter on my twitter last night.

[NOTE: I have edited this at 3pmEST on 5/30/15 as there were some sentences I just, er, didn’t finish! Woops.]

I’ve talked at length before about heterosexism in the queer male community. As a transgender non-binary person who still identifies very closely with gay male or queer male experience I have a strange outlook about it all.

Likewise I think some context for what brought this on might be welcome; that will be below all of the tweets and details.

So let me share these tweets.

Typically the issues that are raised by people who are trying to rationalize through their own internalized oppression come down to a few points:

  1. People who bareback “hunt” partners. The suggestion here is one of coercion, that the only reason they’re talking others into barebacking is not because, surprise, both people choose and want to bareback, but because they somehow trick partners into it. This can be anything from money, sweet talking/looks, or even “renegotiating” for it after sex has started and a partner’s more pliable. There’s a complete denial of the truth that some people CAN and DO assess the risks of barebacking and *choose* to do so with partners.
    1. Of course, important to note is that by denying that they also deny the simple truth and needs of sex education. I talk about this later.
  2. Everyone who does drugs lies. I can even understand where this stereotype comes from… but it’s a) patently false and b) frustratingly common. The simple truth is that, YES, while meth specifically and drugs in general can lead to erratic behavior (especially when you add into it addiction), people develop problems with these drugs because they use them to cope. The issues are in fixing what they’re coping over… which is typically a demonization of their sexuality. So. Y’know. Good on you for both contributing to the systemic issues that cause drug abuse and then the systemic demonization of drug abuse and addiction.
  3. Guys with HIV stealth and lie about it! Stealthing, for those who don’t know, is the practice of engaging in unprotected sex dishonestly, with a partner who believes you are having protected sex. There are a few different ways that men go about doing this (from puncturing holes in condoms to taking them off mid-intercourse), and many reasons. Typically the people suggesting this stereotype hold to the idea that the virus has somehow deranged men into wanting to infect as many people as possible.
    1. The truth is that those who DO stealth probably do so due to a combination of not being able to find (at least openly) willing bareback partners. Regardless, it’s a phenomenon we don’t know or understand well, yet… but its roots are surely in the vein of heternormativity that suggests bareback sex is wrong conflicting with their internal desires to do so, necessitating that they do so “stealthily” to avoid shame, guilt, and similar emotions.

It is also important for me to note that I do not think understanding the circumstances around these behaviors when/if they DO occur necessarily negates the responsibility of individuals. However we must not get confused by levels of system. The issue is that people holding to these stereotypes do so because of heteronormativity that says that drug use, bareback sex, and STIs (specifically HIV) are bad and evil. Meanwhile heterosexism denies the full breadth of diversity to non-heterosexual people; this means that the same internalized oppression that demonizes these things also puts them into the same class as the people who do or have them.

Cognitive dissonance then occurs which necessitates lashing out in order to relieve an internal sense of guilt, shame, or anger at being considered the “same” as someone who does something “evil.”

My words here are very general; the nuance necessarily depends on a more individual level. Generally, though, these are the overarching patterns.

Here’s I’m talking about the roots of what made this systemic. The people who engage in indiscriminate unprotected sex and who use (or abuse) drugs regularly have always been a minority in queer male history. Of course, between film and art and anything else that depicts that history you’d never think that and because these acts are so wildly against the dictates of cisheteronormative hegemony, they are both demonized and used to consolidate all queer men under that set of behaviors.

Unfortunately what that means is that those who are decidedly less “radical” in their actions and desires then feel attacked by public perception. They reject those who are like them in order to be better accepted by the oppressive group. All this does is isolate. If they instead dropped that “shame of affiliation” and reversed it onto that hegemony for even thinking to extend it they would find themselves less isolated.

In the past when criticizing those who hold these stereotypes that is what I get told. That I am proactively trying to guilt/shame men into having indiscriminate sex bareback while high on more meth than they can quantify. It’s a straw-man argument that they’re suggesting I’m making. I haven’t talked about their behaviors at all, simply their beliefs.

Regardless, the truth is that I AM looking at real and viable change when I talk about these things. Drugs are a problem in the queer male community not because they’re drugs and drugs are bad, but because people are abusing drugs and dying in an effort to cope with their lives. It’s irresponsible to suggest this isn’t true.

It’s also irresponsible to not note that the plague, the current HIV rate, and the rise of activities such as “stealthing” aren’t tied to drug use… because people who are demonized for their sexuality and desires will tend to find other ways to cope. Indiscriminate sex and drug abuse ARE two ways in which this happens in addition to disordered relationships with food (hello, that’s me), money, family, and more. Put simply, the reason drugs are a problem is because people who do drugs even recreationally and responsibly are seen as a problem and we’re not doing anything to combat the frankly appalling conditions of our lives that make them an easy coping mechanism instead of something done for fun.

Likewise, the only reason why indiscriminate sex should be a concern is because it’s indiscriminate and we have a culture of not talking about sex which then leads to us making decisions about our sex lives that are uninformed, uninvestigated, and quite dangerous. Were we to discuss sex education more completely, especially under the philosophies of risk awareness, acceptable risk, and clear consent whether we would see a drop in sexual activity or not is immaterial; we would at least see men and others making more informed sexual decisions.

And teaching about clear consent would both give people tools to recognize coercion, as well as to reify the fundamental agency of every person. The only people who would then “stealth” would be those who have been doing it all along (and if you think the behavior is new to this decade you are quite naive; queer men took notes from straight mens’ playbooks when condoms began to become normalized in queer male sex).

Again, I’m talking about how succumbing to the ‘monolith’ created by cisheteropatriarchy means reifying and participating in our own oppression.

(a note “I support you” in that first tweet, but character limits are rough, and a reminder that not all people in the queer male community identify with masculine terms like “brother,” hence “sibling”)

Just a rehash.

And here’s the context I promised:

When it comes to politics of sex and sexuality in the queer male community one heavy influence has always been (and likely always will be) pornography. Regardless of an individual’s thoughts/feelings on this it certainly does bring out some interesting issues. Recently there was an awards show known as the “Grabbys” where a certain porn blog that is iconic in that industry won an award. The owner of that blog, for the first time in history, accepted the award. It was also that owner’s first time “coming out” into the open as the owner of the blog. Another blogger (who was up for the same award as far as I can tell) took the opportunity to then document the other one’s  legal name, previous occupation, and more. This resulted in an uproar by the porn community (as he’s both done this before and it was unnecessarily punitive) including calls to boycott and remove his blog from affiliate links.

This is neither here nor there. The important bit is in this blogger’s reactions to those calling him out on the behavior and calling for boycotts. This blogger considers bareback pornography, men who bareback (even if they are on PrEP), and men who are HIV positive (even if they don’t bareback) morally reprehensible. He also considers men who do drugs (crystal meth specifically) similarly morally impaired. He’s pushed these ideas pretty heavily about some of the people in the porn industry and also in general.

I’m not saying that some of his points are without merits (especially about directors and such who are very coercive to their talent), but this fundamental idea that barebacking is WRONG or drugs are WRONG, when they’re literally a fabric of the history of being queer and male is offensive.

In the end what I think is important is for us to take the pressure off of each other and apply it where it’s really necessary: the hegemonic systems that want us to fight, police, and maim each other.

Posted in Argument, Identity, Orientation, Politics, queer, QUILTBAG, Sex, Twitter | Leave a comment

Pitch Perfect Queerbaiting

Pitch Perfect 2 was one of my most anticipated movies of the year. The moment I found out about its creation I knew I would see it on opening day. Imagine my surprise when I got a chance to see it even earlier, the day before it officially opened to be precise. While I enjoyed the movie on the whole, I was struck by its use of intense and unresolved queerbaiting for humor.

This is not really a movie review, but context is important; a continuation of Pitch Perfect, this sequel is about a group of young women at “Barton University” who sing in an a cappella group named the “Barton Bellas.” The original Pitch Perfect is far from a perfect movie, however the fundamental core of the movie was an ensemble cast of women living, struggling, and competing together in a spirit of sisterhood and friendship. This core was so well-formed that the included “love story” felt like a second thought. Indeed, the fact that none of the women talked about their love lives or men for most of the movie (blowing the Bechdel test out of the water) was extremely refreshing.

Were there faults? Of course. Casual racism, and almost celebrated fatphobia and slutshaming were par for the course of the average big studio film. Likewise transmisogynistic and ableist jokes had a regular presence. On the other side, though, there was a distinctly subversive use of anti-queerphobic humor, portraying queerphobia as both unreasonable and inappropriate. One of the things that I did expect from this sequel was a similar handling of both the only openly queer character returning, and any new queer characters.

Unfortunately, it did not deliver. Unfortunately the form that queerphobia took was in queerbaiting.

Queerbaiting happens when media hints at or constructs a relationship between characters that is purposefully ambiguous and romantic to excite and entice queer consumers, or for the titillation of heterosexual consumers.

Sometimes this happens in media for purposes of “plausible deniability” so that creators can keep queer characters while ensuring the continued life of their creation. An example is Legend of Korra, the nickelodeon animated series that includes a canonically bisexual main character (Korra) who ends the series by entering a relationship with a woman (Asami), all of which rendered entirely through suggestion and post-airing confirmation by the creator.

In Pitch Perfect 2 Becca, played by Anna Kendrick, finds herself speechless when faced with another character who she describes as physically flawless and beautiful. Indeed, Becca goes so far as to blatantly state that character is making her question her sexuality. Consistently throughout the film Becca becomes inarticulate when faced with the character who happens to be a rival she is trying to trash-talk, and compliments her profusely (my favorite was “…your sweat smells like cinnamon!”). This alone is innocuous, if annoying. The issue is that the character never really confronts being confused about her sexuality at all throughout the film, despite there being a clear discomfort and tension. It plays solely for comedic effect. But wait! There’s more.

In addition to her rival, there is another Barton Bella Becca gets close to. This relationship comes off as romantic; I asked my mother and another random person in the bathroom while we were both washing hands (because I am all about breaking taboos apparently) to ensure it was not me creating a headcannon. It was clear that there was more implied in that relationship than stated and literally one word or one more long look would have made it a clearly romantic one.

This alone would normally not be an issue; after all, Becca has a boyfriend, right? Well. Sort of. The love story between Becca and Jesse (Skylar Astin) continues to feel contrived. Indeed, with Becca’s increased intimacy and regard for this new character it throws her relationship with Jesse into stark contrast and honestly Becca completely ignores Jesse for most of the film (and not in an intentional way). The simple fact is that the relationship between Becca and this “friend” feels more authentically romantic than that of her and Jesse.

When coupled with a clear questioning of her sexual orientation, the increasingly intimate relationship with her fellow Bella made me palpably excited to see what was a main character make a very well done discovery to bisexuality. Instead the writers chose to pair off this new character with another (male) returning character in what was sweet but ultimately disappointing; even this was made with a tacit message via nod from Becca, probably meant to show happiness for that character finally “finding someone” but which instead read to me as “this is ok; we couldn’t be together anyway.”

I could have easily changed the entire film’s queerbaiting by adding two lines, both said by Becca. 1) “Wow, I think I might be bisexual; she was just so beautiful and I just… wanted her” to her boyfriend later when describing the rival, and 2) “Wow, no, it’s… it’s ok. You two are great together” (with Kendrick’s perfect delivery of the awkward smile) when she sees the “legacy” kiss the other character. Neither of these lines would change anything in the plot or anything about the characters, and yet they would completely diffuse the queerbaiting (done for both humor and titillation) into a three-dimensional experience.

Upon leaving the theater, I had a heated debate with my mother (who is a cisgender heterosexual white woman in middle age) over this queerbaiting and one thing really stood out for me: she could not understand the impact that this unresolved issue had.

Overall queerbaiting may seem innocuous, but it leads to a whole host of systemic issues. Those with privilege on a given axis will go out, see films like Pitch Perfect 2 and subconsciously draw conclusions about bisexuality, “same-sex” attraction, and any one of a number of other things that the film gets “wrong” that continue to reify structural oppression on that axis.

By positioning Becca’s confusion around her sexuality as unimportant and incidental (to the point that it is a joke), it suggests that confusion around sexuality is both abnormal and unimportant. This sends the message to those struggling with or confused by their sexuality that there is something wrong with them for not being able to shrug off that confusion. Likewise, it confirms the idea that even if you are confused/questioning you will eventually “get over it” while sexual orientation is truthfully in constant flux and change.

By not addressing an intimate relationship between Becca and another female character that eclipses the intimacy of both of their romantic relationships with men, it suggests that intimacy and “chemistry” is less important than dating a man. The incredibly biphobic idea that a bisexual person should or would choose to date and “pass” as straight is one that asserts heterosexuality/straightness as normal and anything else as abnormal (which is the literal root of queerphobia).

By leaving the question of Becca’s bisexuality (or at least questioning sexuality) open and up in the air the creators made a very safe choice. Those that want to see Becca as bisexual can. Others will see it as a lark, as something that just happened to the character, which had no real impact on her characterization. The problem with this plausible deniability is that it continues to add to an air of queerphobia (and biphobia specifically) which suggests that queer/bisexual relationships are 1) fleeting 2) fickle 3) unimportant and finally 4) not as intense or real as heterosexual relationships. Despite the fact that Becca’s relationship with the “legacy” is clearly more intimate than that with Jesse, we see her default to the latter. Whatever the reasoning is ostensibly, the simple truth is that she does so because he is a man and why should/would she realistically question her sexuality when she’s already in a relationship (no matter how dull) with a man? Likewise the “legacy” is paired off with a character who is the typical “nice guy nerd” trope, unable to talk to women and when she goes to kiss him he pulls scarves out of his mouth. I’m not saying their relationship is poorly constructed (it’s actually very sweet), however it is not as well constructed or as well supported as a relationship with Becca would be.

When it comes to depictions of queerness (and transness) we still see a lot of reliance on old tropes or creation of new tropes, instead of a real and thoughtful interaction. Hell, we still see this a lot of the time with race and binary gender roles. Part of the issue is that media creators are not regularly held responsible and to a higher standard. Because we do not hold media responsible for showing three-dimensional experiences of people who are not white, cisgender, and heterosexual (because it’s “just entertainment”), there is a carte blanche acceptance of a lack of three-dimensional experiences.

My issue with Pitch Perfect 2 comes in the fact that I honestly expected and could see it doing better. The only reason it did not was that it did not have to.

Posted in Blog, coming out, Music, Orientation, queer, QUILTBAG, Reviews | Leave a comment

“Zoning Laws” – Or, “Putting People into Boxes” Or, “Friend-zoning”

NOTE: I’ve embedded here an audio file of the following essay; please feel free to listen to it while reading. If you cannot view the embedded player, you can download the file from here. It is about 19 minutes long. Please feel free to comment and let me know what you think of this format!


https://archive.org/embed/zoninglawsfriendzoningputtingpeopleintoboxes

The Preamble

I “friendzone” people. I also “acquaintancezone” people. I see no fundamental issues for deciding where a person fits in my life and deciding to restrict that even if my restrictions are tighter than they’d prefer.

In the kink world, we call those “boundaries.”

I dunno. I’ve always said that I really like the entire concept of “friendzoning” as a useful word for how I conceive of my relationships. It’s really a shame that it comes from tear-and-cheetos-stained MRA/PUAs (“mens rights activists”/”Pick-Up Artists”) complaining that the objects of their desire aren’t sex vending machines, vending all of their sexy goodness for seventy-five seconds of being treated like a human being. It’s a pity that MRA/PUAs can’t view women and others they’re attracted to as autonomous people with personal tastes that don’t include them (simultaneously forgetting that they themselves have personal tastes that mean that not all women or others they’re possibly attracted to are attractive to them).

Fluffy, What is Friendzoning?

I’m, well, not *glad* you’ve asked, but I don’t really mind explaining. If you know already and don’t want to read about it, go ahead and skip to the next heading “Zoning Laws.”

For those who’ve been living blissfully unaware of this particular piece of rhetoric, the foundation of it is this idea that people (usually cisgender women) withhold sex from “nice guys” (usually cisgender men) while “using” them for favors like… listening to their problems,  helping them move (or move things they can’t alone), going out on platonic dates, and anything else you can think of. Fundamentally one might respond “hey, aren’t those, like, things friends do?”

Yes. Exactly.

The problem is that these MRA/PUAs have so conceptualized the idea that men “buy” sex from women by doing “favors” that they wouldn’t otherwise do. Like paying for the occasional meal, helping them move across town, sharing expertise or knowledge, listening and offering advice on their problems, among other things.

These people honestly believe that these are not activities that you can or will do with/for friends, I suppose; only when one expects a (usually sexual) reward. That’s the only way that I conceptualize of this line of thinking making any sort of sense to them.

And if you think that’s true? Hey, you’re a shitty friend.

Friends help each other. Typically that help comes with an expected reciprocation, yes, but it’s not a transaction. I don’t help my friends and then trade that favor later. I help them because it feels good to help my friend.

If you only help people with an expectation of that being reciprocated, and then get pissed when it doesn’t happen, then I’m going to give you some advice:

  • Charge for that help. Use the money you make from doing it to fund the help you need in the future.
  • Alternately, you can barter directly for it. But don’t pretend that you’re doing it because you’re a friend. Literally say “I will help you if you’ll help me.”

I mean, hey, if (platonic) friends don’t help friends move then I have about five people to whom I owe at least a blowjob. That’s the going rate, right? Or does “lifting heavy things up a flight of rickety steps” equate full-on coitus?

The basic flaw with this is that “everyone knows” that some things are worth certain interactions and/or sex acts.  Except that *no one actually knows* what the hell these so called “standards” are. Oh, sure, some PUAs have codified them; but they’re far from experts in having sex with other people (their self-proclaimed proficiency notwithstanding). MRAs have suggested standards, but they pretty much boil down to “women are obligated to have sex with me because they made my dick hard” and, not unsurprisingly, differ depending on the source, the cultural background, and whether or not they have PUA influences.

So. That’s the origin of the friendzone.

Zoning Laws

I am a relationship anarchist. Maybe in a past or future writing I wrote/will write about exactly what that means to me and in practice, but the basic idea is that I establish my relationships without rules that restrict other relationships.

This primarily affects my romances, but informs platonic relationships as well. Essentially I view each relationship as unique, its own, and only impacted by those it intersects (eg. those who are married or dating).

Perhaps a bit counter-intuitive for something with the word “anarchy” in the name, I enact this by use of what I call “Zoning Laws.” Essentially these “laws” are for my own benefit and consist of constructing (often artificially) the boundaries of a relationship to ensure that it does not overlap with others. Sometimes I do this in collaboration with the people I’m “zoning” but often-times I do not.

Mostly these “zones” define the *potential* of any given relationship, not necessarily where it “is” or where it “will be” because, as a relationship anarchist, I recognize that relationships fluctuate, change, grow, and shrink. What may today be an intense and impassioned romance may tomorrow turn into a really wonderful (but platonic) friendship. Because of this I also place a huge emphasis on the *now* instead of *prospects for the future*;  that is, I care about if they’re funny *now*, if I like the sex *now*, etc. because that’s all that I can really be certain about.

I’ll talk more about collaborative vs. non-collaborative zoning in my next section, “Putting People into Boxes” but for now I’d like to talk about my process for zoning relationships.

I go through a few tiers of decisions when I come across a new relationship or otherwise decide to reassess one. This might seem artificial to describe, and to be honest it is fairly artificial. The amount of time it takes depends entirely on how much time I’ve invested in the relationship already, how much time I expect to invest in the relationship in the future, and whether or not I *enjoy* the person. The more positive each of these become the longer the exploration period before I make a real decision. In any case, any decision can be repealed (and often is).

Level One – Zoning (Change) Request

This level of decision making is entirely based on superficial questions and primarily focuses on the amount of time I’m comfortable around a person. Typically this ends up defining acquaintanceship vs. friendship for me. Often I need to re-evaluate because I’ve been spending more time than previously expected with the person(s).

  • Does this person make me laugh?
  • Do I make this person laugh?
  • Do we communicate relatively well?
  • Does this person bore me?
  • What method(s) of communication work best?
  • Are they clean? Self-sufficient?
  • Do they “need” more than I can provide?

 Level Two – Investigation

Here I primarily do fact-finding and try to gauge what the other person’s level of interest, and what type of relationships they’re interested in with me. Sometimes I will ask this outright and try to do this cooperatively. Mostly I just decide on my own. This process is considerably longer; while it’s definitely a precursor to having a relationship with someone, if we’re fucking I’m more likely to speed through this. I think of this more as “friendly vs. intimate” friendship.

  • Am I interested in romantic activity with them?
  • Does this person make me think?
  • Do I want to kiss them? Hug them? Fuck them?
  • How much time do I spend with them before I need alone time?
  • How honest are they?
  • What are their current and past relationships like?
  • Do I like their friends?
  • What do they do for fun?
  • What is their relationship (if any) to their family?
  • Are they kinky? In what ways?
  • What is their orientation and experience with “queer” spaces and lexicons?
  • How well versed are they on gender? Are they able to learn & retain?

Level Three – Inspection

This level is almost entirely about romantic viability. The difference between friendship and possible romantic partner. This is probably the shortest process of all of them and completely non-cooperative.

  • How often do I think of them, even when they’re not around?
  • How good is the sex?
  • How good is the kink?
  • How good is the conversation?
  • Do I feel safe around them?
  • When I look into their eyes, do I feel a warm sensation on the sides of my neck?

Level Four – Drawing Up Plans

This is only ever a cooperative process, and more about understanding the dynamics of the relationship I have with the person. It’s the end of all of tiers, even if some are skipped or denied. Essentially, this is the big decision. I generally have a few concentric circles, one of which a person ends up in:

  • Acquaintanceship: I know you. I may forget your name (I’m really horrible at them) but I know you well enough that I don’t mind giving a hug and saying “hey!” and I’m likely to wave, say hi, or stop to have a quick chat if I see you randomly.
  • Friendly Friendship: I know a lot about you and, in turn, you probably know (or have had access to) a decent amount of info about me. I really like to talk with you both one-on-one and in a group, but I don’t really feel the need/desire to “hang out” with you or make plans. I consider anyone whose birthday party I would go out of my way to go to a good baseline for a “friendly friend”
  • Intimate Friendship: Like a Friendly Friendship only I DO feel the need/desire to “hang out” or make plans occasionally. Maybe we’re fucking, too. In any case I share more with you than I do others.
  • Romantic Friendship: Flirty, fun, but low or no commitment. Essentially an intimate friendship only we make it a point to see each other regularly and/or fuck regularly. (I really hate these types of friendships so I tend not to accept them; I don’t exactly *want* to be friends with my romantic partners. It’s a whole thing that I have, but I’ve found it makes for bad partners for me)
  • Romantic Relationship: “Committed” relationship, by which I mean we both openly (at least to friends) acknowledge that we are together.  We definitely make it a point to see each other regularly and to foster the right conditions for love to blossom.

Putting People into Boxes

To continue my metaphor from before, once I’ve “zoned” a potential or ongoing relationship, I then enforce those boundaries.

This absolutely means that there are people whom I view as friends and that I resist (or deny) any attempt to move that interaction further. Whether I’ve decided that it would take too much emotional investment, time, or simply that I don’t enjoy the other person’s company, I’ve found that I have a good sense about these things and get very few “false negatives” when deciding on boundaries. That is, if I’ve decided I do not want to be more involved than a cursory acquaintanceship for instance, I’ve found that original decision is usually  correct and disregarding (or re-evaluating) it leads to disaster (or at the least drama that could otherwise be easily avoided).

Human beings rationalize and categorize. We want to be special and also to belong to something. Ultimately we want to have the sense of control over our lives and the factors that impact them (known as an “internal locus of control”) and generally fight to achieve that. Because of these factors the idea that I might pick someone up without their input and put them squarely in the box of “friend” without a chance to push that friendship into romantic territory is supremely frustrating, especially if they move slowly.

And to be truthful, I think that’s where the blue-balled history of “friendzone” as a MRA/PUA term comes from. People don’t like the fact that those they’re interested in don’t “play the game” by their rules, that their interest (or intent, or reading of a situation, or, or, or) does not, actually, matter.

But here’s the truth: it doesn’t matter.

These same people seem to conceptualize the friendzone as this place they’re banished to, or that they have to “work” out of. But again – their work doesn’t matter. Not everyone even WANTS or IS OPEN to romantic, let alone sexual, activity; the fact is that most folks friend-zone *every person they meet* until-and-unless a person “makes a move” by asking for special consideration to be put into a different box. Unfortunately, even the men who DO seem to get this often get frustrated or angry when their requests are denied, falling back to this same rhetoric, though perhaps with different diction. Their individualism and locus of control is so internalized that they fail to recognize that other people exist as individuals with agency.

My process is a bit different, I suppose. As of this writing I consider everyone fair game for the first three months or three meetings I have with them, whichever comes first. During this time period I keep them in a special box that I call “new relationships.” At the end of that 3/3 review, they then get moved into one box of many others (some of which I’ve described above).

Perhaps boxes aren’t a good analogy, because some people DO interact and intercept within multiple areas of my life. A better visual effect is, perhaps, multiple circles which over-lap in varying ways or a network of nodes and connections. In any case, I typically think of any person for which I have “multiple” boxes as having one box: a special box that is all their own.

Realistically these boxes are meaningless; they represent the potential of the relationship, not the actuality, so a person may grow or shrink within that depending on our most recent interactions. If a person in a box marked “acquaintance,” for instance, tries to set up meetings with me regularly outside of gatherings with multiple friends, I will likely gently decline or gradually phase them out of communication entirely. If a different person in the same box never talks to me one-on-one but we still see each other occasionally, despite not living up to “the potential” of acquaintanceship, they’ve stayed within their “boundaries.” In general if someone continually tries to “break out” of the boundaries I’ve set for our relationship (knowingly or unknowingly) it constitutes one or two conversations and eventually a complete phasing out of communication.

So. The first three months are for, essentially, the first two stages of “zoning” I mentioned above.

Typically if I’ve known someone for three to seven months and there’s never been a hint of romantic chemistry or desire (whether that be by physical “moves” made from them like kissing, playing in the dungeon, or direct communication of that desire) I friend-zone someone. Obviously, the extent to which I’m interested in intimacy with them determines exactly when in that window of opportunity I decide to close the door.

If we haven’t moved on to an explicit relationship within a year despite deciding to leave that door open, I friend-zone them.

But what does a Fluffy-FriendZone look like? It looks like someone who I am very close to, but who I (generally) don’t fuck, and for whom I don’t go out of my way to see. If I’m not setting up regular, consistent times to see you, you’ve probably been friend-zoned.

And yet, you’re still a person I will help to move if I’m available, whose issues I’ll listen to if I can handle it, and whose input I will occasionally seek on my own issues and needs as well. Sometimes we may even be intimate together or even fuck if it satisfies a need we both have. I don’t think that’s so bad.

I do this for a multitude of reason. The biggest of which is that I have a tendency to pine. In the past there have been people very happy using me as an “intimacy mule,” who would very happily cuddle, kiss, even occasionally fuck, but who would either flat out deny our interactions in public or reject me when I requested to move our interactions “further.” They were very happy with the situation as it was and I was not. I don’t blame them any more than I blame myself; when I develop feelings for someone they are strong and they last. Not having the strength of will to recognize capacity for feelings with someone who could/would not reciprocate them was as much my fault as their using me for intimacy.

Put simply, if I develop feelings of love for someone, those feelings don’t go away. Because of this I’m extremely protective of myself and of allowing the environment for love to grow. I suppose that I view friend-zoning others as a method of ensuring that it doesn’t happen again, and simultaneously a way of ensuring that I don’t do it to other people. Once I’ve decided that I’m not going to pursue romantic and/or sexual attractions to someone, or have decided with the person that it is not a possibility, I subconsciously stop *feeding* those desires toward that person.

BOOM lo and behold, my emotions (eventually) match my behavior.

And this is part of why I don’t really like mixing “romance” with “friendship.” It’s not that I see these concepts as directly opposed or even remotely related, it’s just that “friendship” is so platonically coded for me that superseding it with a romantic and sexual relationship becomes difficult.

That is, because I (generally) don’t fuck my friends or go out on dates with them or “love” them, romantically, I tend not to think of romantic relationships as “friendships.” I don’t like this idea that romance “grows” from friendship. For me romance tends to grow from good sex, curiosity, and physical intimacy. Love and romance are processes that happen EARLY in a relationship, for me, not late, and they happen easily. Conversely, friendships take a long time.

And that’s why I friend-zone people. Because unless we are creating the room for love between us, it is one-sided and painful.

Not because I enjoy “getting something for nothing.”

Posted in Blog, Gender, Orientation, Personal Psychology, philosophy, queer, QUILTBAG, Recorded, Sex, Writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Fluffy’s Bad Day (Or: I Laugh So I Don’t Cry)

[NOTE: A few months ago I wrote this on my facebook; after much hemming-and-hawing I’ve decided to repost it here. Please be aware that it contains swearing.]

“How was your day today?”

Let me tell you.

From the moment my eyes first cracked at the sound of what was, apparently, my third alarm of the day I knew that today was going to be “interesting.” Not only did my first two alarms (and, interestingly, my last) not go off inexplicitly, my phone intimated that they’d never existed and who am I to question them in such a rude tone of voice at this ungodly hour of 8:50am, thank you very much.

After apologizing profusely (a.k.a. resetting my phone) I managed to snuggle into bed for another minute before harrumphing at my fourth alarm and getting up to turn it off.

This alarm, clearly intent on singing the song of its people, did not take kindly to me turning it off. It played again, and again, and again even after I dismissed it three times. “Fuck you,” my alarm said, “THIS IS MY SOLO!”

Disgruntled, I turned my phone to the youtube app because I woke up singing Zedd’s Clarity (because apparently my brain knew just what kind of relationship I have with my alarms and the morning). As the ads played on my app I got into the shower and listened. Something about a superb owl and someone being “up for anything” and beer. Lots of beer.

I think my phone was trying to send me a message that it was well hung over because once the ads (which played without a single delay) finished it proceeded to play Clarity. In five second stints. Five seconds, you may be interested to find out, is exactly how long it takes to get Fluffy singing at full voice before the song cuts off.

Additionally, there was no hot water. When I say “no hot water” this is maybe a small exaggeration; water came out of the spigot if I turned on the hot water knob, however it was just not hot. I merely looked at my razor, which replied with a glare that said “don’t even try it, buddy” and gave up.

Somehow I broke my unbreakable comb in the shower. I’m not entirely sure what happened. I kinda blacked out there for a little bit from the rage. All I know is that it was in two pieces when I got out of the shower, “IF OUR LO…” playing overhead “VE IS TRA” like some sort of “DGEDY WHY ARE” perverse alarm clock “YOU MY REM” made with mu”EDY!?”sic.

Stepping out of the shower, I began the process of drying my hair and body, during which I dropped my towel in the toilet. I’m not exactly sure what made my towel shout out “SCREW THIS I’m going to a REAL beach!” as it leapt from my hands and body into the open bowl of the (thankfully recently flushed) toilet, however it really did soak up something. Unfortunately it wasn’t rays of sunshine.

I grabbed my deodorant, understandably irritated and bemoaning my already-ruined day and began to apply under my arms. I say began because my deodorant giggled as it then decapitated itself, bouncing on my carpet at the foot of one of my poodles who proceeded to pick it up and run away. After chasing her down and castigating her I sighed and threw out my deodorant, thankful for the fact that I had a backup.

I say had. I wish I could use the present tense instead. I opened my extra deodorant to find it practically LIQUIFIED in its holder. Assuming that this was likely not a good sign I (wisely in my humble opinion) opted to toss it in the garbage as well.

I let out a roar. I’m not actually exaggerating here. I roared. It scared the crap out of my dogs who, freaked the fuck out, decided to bark back at the animal that had clearly inhabited my body to tell it to evacuate “or else.” Now, remember, my dogs are poodles. Were I to actually be inhabited by some terrifying, roaring creature I’m not entirely sure what they expected they’d be able to do. Still, I appreciate their efforts.

Pulling on my pants they ripped down the middle seam. No, no, not ON the seam. Next to it. You know, where it’s not really repairable in a way that isn’t noticeable.

It was at this point that a moment of “CLARITY” hit both me and my phone (which decided, apparently, that it was going to play through the entire song and “off” button be DAMNED) and I realized… I was using up ALL of my bad luck for the day right now. This was happening to give me perspective for what was about to be an insanely GREAT day of amazing happenings.

How naive I was, nine hours ago. How naive.

I finished the process of getting dressed with little other fanfare, thankfully. Picking pieces of comb out of my very frizzy hair, I went upstairs, closed the gate to the basement, grabbed my coats and put them on, got in my car to just DRIVE goddamnit.

Apparently god really did damn it. The drive, I mean. There aren’t really words to explain what happened to me on that drive beyond “everything short of actually crashing and causing damage to my car.” On one hand, I’m very thankful there was no one in the left lane when I had to violently swerve out of the way of a very insistent semi-truck. On the other hand, having to simultaneously slam on my brakes to not hit the person driving, with their blinkers on at 40mph, who decided to cut me off into the left lane as well maybe ten seconds later was less than stellar. I got to practice driving while fishtailing though.

Getting in to work I sat down and preceded to start my day. I turned on my computer which threw up a delightful black screen with white text. Apparently 2048MB of RAM failed between Tuesday at 4pm and today at 10:45am. Fancy that. Unfortunately I work with/for people who I’m not entirely sure understand the concept of what RAM is who are also the people I need to go through to get said RAM fixed or replaced.

While at work I managed to troubleshoot about three issues that they’d been waiting for over a week for IT to come see us for. Because I’m me. The nice new secretary, who is much older and not very computer literate, boggled at my skills.

“You know this so well,” she said, “you could do this for a living” she actually said.

“No. No I can’t, unless I want to live on substandard wages that make it difficult to even pay back my student loans, let alone become completely self-sufficient in my life. I’d make more money than what you guys pay me but not much.”

Instead of actually saying that, I smiled sweetly, thanked her, and pointed out that, actually, unskilled IT support is widely devalued and poorly paid. I’d need to get a degree if I wanted to make any real money and I’m not smart enough for computer science. I’m just competent because I’ve grown up with computers.

I proceeded to teach her how to use windows explorer (you know, to look at files on her computer), internet explorer (including helpful hints such as “no, you don’t actually have to type the url INTO google. You can just type it in the bar up top), microsoft office (“yes, if you just highlight that text right there, then right click you can choose “copy” and then right click where you want it to go and choose “paste” to make it appear”) and, even more fun, Microsoft Access (which I’m still not very competent with).

“This is hell,” I thought, not for the first time, “I’ve died and I’ve gone to hell, where I work as an IT person for someone who has been a secretary for forty years and can’t use a computer for $10/hour.”

Around 12:15pm I noted that I really needed to go to my 12:00pm meeting that was all the way in the library. She was very understanding and thankful for my assistance and told me to have fun. Practically running to the library, my uncooperative phone refused to let me see the GLASA facebook page to find out what room/area the meeting was in today. Indeed, stubborn to the last second, I ran outside and got to the elevators (wearing only a hoodie, not my coats) before it finally loaded and informed me “actually, dimwit, you didn’t really need to go outside. Hope you like hypothermia mothafuckaaaaaaaa” before turning off for some inexplicable reason.

Jogging back to the main classroom I went to the third floor where, apparently, Rubik himself decided on the numbering system of the rooms. “Fuck you, Fluffy,” he thought, as he painstakingly labeled 343 after 315, “and fuck your sense of logic.”

Finding the room, I settled in for GLASA which was lovely, if kinda negatively charged (though it had to be). Afterward I talked to the awesome Hyacinthe for a minute then got my food.

“Grilled Chicken 4-piece meal, please.”

“We aint got none.”

“I’m sorry?”

“We run out of grilled chicken.”

“I… what?” My consternation, you understand, stemmed from the fact that…they bread their own breaded chicken strips.

“We used ‘em all up.”

“Oh. Well, I guess I’ll have the normal kind then.” as she heaped them into the paper holder I sighed. *So much for gluten free. Hello hives tonight.” I’d forgotten to eat beforehand, you see. Well. Forgot is a strong word. Unfortunately no one except Sonic serves lunch before 10:30am which means that I can’t really eat gluten free from fast food (where I typically just get french fries).

As I pumped ketchup into the little ramekin the pump decided that I needed a spring in my step. “Here!” it said enthusiastically, “have some EXTRA!” right as I was finishing the last pump into the last ramekin and SPLAT all over.

“Thank you Ketchup. I really needed that today.”

I returned to my office only to have to continue teaching my new coworker by… re-teaching her everything I’d taught her that morning only in less than an hour ’cause she left at 2pm.

Did I mention hell? Oh, I did? Ok, good.

After she left I began to do research like I was supposed to do. Unfortunately, my computer disagreed with that notion. Apparently in addition to breaking its own RAM to spite its speed, my computer’s decided that it doesn’t really like the APA website. At all. Fuck APA. Who needs to know anything about psychology not on ask.com? Not my user!

Eventually I got so frustrated I sent a quick update email and left, intent on doing work from the comfort of MY computer and beating traffic. I’m not exactly sure why I expected anything to go right, at this point. I think I was still holding out the hope from before. Surely, SURELY, something amazing was going to happen. Something. Please dear god. Anything. A call from the Ohio lottery or something. I don’t even know.

Instead god apparently thought that I needed a remix of my morning drive! It was great, like a remix of everything Skrillex has ever done by Metallica, Ozzy Osborne and the creature from the black lagoon. Haunting. Tragic. Fraught with something that feels like it could be talent but is so covered in shit you can’t REALLY tell.

After surviving the majority of the drive home, I merged off the highway and decided that I deserved french fries, goddamnit, and I rolled into Wendy’s. These french fries, guys… I can’t even. They smelled delicious, were piping hot, you could SEE the salt on them (in that “OMG MOUTHWATERING” way not the “WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME WITH BLOOD PRESSURE!?” way). I decided that I would save them for home and, despite my current track record with ketchup, would use just a touch. I was salivating.

Waiting to pull out of the driveway there was a helpful person behind me also turning right but, for some reason, in the left turn only lane. This person proceeded to beep at me, and hold down their horn. I can only imagine that they had more confidence in my car’s ability to become incorporeal than I did or were overestimating its ability to move quickly because, of course, there were numerous cars blocking me from getting out. When I looked over to them to see what the hell was wrong, they raised their middle finger at me and shouted something. Lovely.

Eventually I pulled out of the driveway and they pulled up tight behind me. After the first traffic light they began beeping at me again… despite the fact that I was behind a very slow dump truck that was much bigger than my car. Thankfully, at the second light this person turned left, but not before being sure to raise their middle finger at me one last time.

At this point I think I’d finally given up on hoping for something great to happen. I was just looking forward to going home and resting. To letting the world sort itself out.

Precisely as I was verbalizing that fact to myself the car in front of me (the truck had merged right) stopped so shortly I had to slam my breaks. My bag of french flies FLEW across the car (it was kinda pretty, actually) and landed, top down, on the floor. My comb from my center arm-rest console flipped out of said console, breaking one of its teeth on the way out. My glasses nearly came off my face.

I began to cry. My mood had finally gotten to a point where, if not optimistic, I was at least ok and able to cope. Losing my delicious, PERFECT dinner to this godforsaken traffic? That’s what did it. That’s what broke me. I was broken.

As I rolled up to my house I stopped in the street, crying. I texted my mother about my meal and horrific day and I decided, no. I won’t let it end like this. FRIES WILL HAPPEN.

I went to McDonalds. It’s about a half a mile from my house (instead of the 1.75mile the Wendys would have been to go back to) and while the fries are inferior they’re better than NONE. In the line, apparently, the person behind me decided I needed a gentle tap to get my attention that I was ready to move forward.

Unfortunately we were in the drive-through. I wish I were joking. Luckily there is no damage (it seriously was a tiny tap but still). I paid for my fries and headed home. Once home I cleaned my car of floor-fries and headed inside.

Luckily since I’ve been home nothing terrible has happened… but I’m having trouble shaking that feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop. I think I need to step away from everything electronic.

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