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This one is a lot of fun in some ways, but I have been working for the past 9 hours on shit that is not even remotely related to my actual PhD degree. At least I'm getting paid, but seriously, self, this way lies madness and burnout. SO MUCH madness and burnout. 

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I would like to be a little more active on DW. Most of my energy right now is going to Metafilter, but not all of it, and I'd like to be in the habit of writing for myself in my own space more.

So I've got a comment on this thread forming. It's a total derail of the conversation, it's not really helpful there, but I can totally write out what I'm thinking here, right? Right.  

Plus, the internet definitely needs to hear my feelings on socializing children via the Internet. )
sciatrix: (Default) know, the one I accidentally triggered [personal profile] kaz with a few days ago. Because apparently my initial reaction to being reminded that it exists and just how badly I reacted to it (and Kaz reacted to it, and several other aces I know) is to start poking at it and taking it apart to see why I found it so upsetting. Which, by the way, is why this post is here in the first place, under lock and also behind a cut, because this is not the kind of discussion I would like to get back to the author. (I am being very forthright in a way I would not be in a public sphere.)

Also, for those of you not under Kaz' access lock, this is a fic Kaz described quite accurately as (paraphrasing) 'a distilled, concentrated syrup of a "typical" aro/wtfromantic asexual person's fears about sex, being hit on, companionship, the devaluation of friendship, being alone forever, etc.' If this is triggering for you, take that as your warning. It also contains self harm and a suicide attempt.

And now to the actual discussion )
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That terribly sad moment when you look at your term paper and realize that your fun discussion of how your topic relates to the extinction of the dinosaurs has to be cut out, because the original paper proposing the relationship was more awful than you initially realized.

Sigh. And I was excited about that bit. Back to trying to write this thing, I guess.

Also, my students keep asking me for letters of recommendation and things. It is super weird, especially since I have a pretty strong suspicion that I would look pretty bad as a letter writer compared to an actual professor. I know they're asking me because they think I know them more personally than their lecturers, who have to teach hundreds of them simultaneously, but I have a terrible memory for faces and names so that may backfire a little bit. (Actually, TAing in general has been super weird, because I went from an undergraduate student to someone teaching undergraduate students in the space of about four months. Some of my students are actually older than I am.)
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Man, I am going to really, really miss doing these when I graduate. I hope I can find a way to keep getting involved in panelling at my graduate school, because this is fun. (Also, our panel coordinator told me today they wish they had four of me, which is always really warm and fuzzy to hear. :3)

Today's was pretty chill, overall. The obligatory religion question came up, and I got to mention the atheism thing again. I had one person bring up Sheldon Cooper and go "well, Sheldon is asexual but he has feelings for a woman on the show, do you have sexual feelings for people?" which was, uhhhh. Still, better Big Bang Theory questions than House questions, I guess. (I used that one as a springboard to discuss grey-As and emphasize all the grey areas in sexuality more generally; the fact that we also had a lot of discussion about lesbians/women who mostly date other women who also occasionally date men helped to reinforce that "sexuality isn't always clear-cut!" point.)

One guy asked us all about whether we felt the need to bring up our sexual orientations or whether it came up organically or what when we met new people. All my copanelists got to say things like "well, I just mention my girlfriend where other people are mentioning their partners" or "it comes up when we're discussing which celebrities are hot" and then there was me. Sigh. I went into a brief spiel about how bringing it up is something I need to proactively do or else I'm going to get a lot of really annoying curiosity later, and also about how I basically get to do a mini-panel every time I come out because really, and then mentioned some of the segues I tend to use.

Had someone who asked mid-panel for a more in-depth explanation of asexuality than the one I breeze by in my coming-out story; that hasn't happened for a while, and usually they ask as soon as the panel starts for real. (I don't define asexuality in my intro, I just describe my coming-out experiences and that usually involves a sort of implied definition, so it's clear we're talking sexual orientation and not sex or gender.) He was pretty relaxed about it, though.

Oh, and the nature vs. nurture question came up. I have got to stop geeking out about behavior genetics when that comes up, I always want to babble on about how it's more complicated than "is it genetic?" can ever hope to get and how complicated behavior is and especially human sexuality and aaaaaagh. Er, and we got asked if there was anyone in our lives we weren't out to, and I got to explain about my very conservative extended family and how my grandmother never gets to be told and things. Can't think of anything else offhand.

Also, apparently asexuality came up in the panel for the class period before mine, and someone actually hung around from there for a whole hour to ask me a question before I got there. Apparently her best friend from high school's brother had quietly claimed to be ace all through high school and she and all her friends hadn't believed him at all or thought that was something you could be, so she was really interested in what I had to say--she was very respectful to me, but I felt bad for the poor brother! She also (again, politely) asked me my gender before she left, which I'm not sure if that was a genuine misconception about aces or just a reminder from M (who was in the panel for her class period and is genderqueer) that it's more complicated than just male/female plus my gender presentation being nonstandard.
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It was a pretty quiet crowd this time, honestly. I think it was noteworthy for being the only panel so far with two people standing for one identity (both my copanelists IDed as gay) and also no trans* representation. Most of the questions were pretty standard, although after the obligatory religion question I did have someone ask me if my parents had thought about encouraging me to be a nun. This is... really hilarious given my distinct tendency to turn into a waspish atheist when poked with the religion stick. My parents can be pretty emotionally obtuse but they're not actually stupid.

I also had someone ask me something along the lines of "Asexuality must be really, really rare--there aren't very many of you, right? So do you get hostility from gay people, too?" which felt pretty pointed given recent events. For that one I said roughly "yes, in some circumstances, gay-friendly =/= asexual friendly" and then emphasized very heavily that Lambda has been an actual safe space for me.

Also, I have hit myself in the head on inanimate objects four times today and yesterday I got a flat tire for the first time (now fixed!) and I would just like this week to be over now, please. Aaaaagh.

...but I did get a ridiculously cool mutant in my fly stocks which I am attempting to create its own stock of, anyway, so that will be an interesting side project. It had one extremely tiny eye with a ton of little eye-like blobby growths on that side of its head, which I thought was fascinating. My mentor says I should name it strawberry if I can get it to culture.
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Went grocery shopping today. Ran into not one but two of my professors in the grocery store. D: Thankfully (because I'm in a shit mood and didn't want to make nice) I was able to slink by without being recognized, but it was a near thing.

On the bright side, there was Thin Mint ice cream, which I will be stockpiling for the next two months and hissing if either of my roommates side-eyes it. MINE.
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So I just finished doing a panel! And I keep meaning to describe how they go for me, so here's a quick recap.

This panel was for a Intro to Women's Studies class, I think. My copanelists were a trans guy who has so far been on every panel with me but one and a genderqueer gay/queer-identified guy (?), so I feel like we had a pretty good mixture of people.

The questions were pretty interesting. With one exception, the ones I answered were directed at all of us, not me specifically, this time. (That one exception was "As an asexual, do you ever think about the future? And do you ever think about wanting kids or a family?") Some of the ones I remember were the inevitable "Are you religious?" questions--I think this is the first time I haven't been specifically asked about the relationship between my religion and my asexuality, actually, but I ended up discussing my atheism anyway. I was actually kind of sad I didn't get that question this time, since I'm sort of dying to use the new "only about 15% of asexuals actively identify as Christian" statistic.

We got asked about our relationships with our parents; mine actually ended up being the worst one. Someone asked how we dealt with people telling us our identities were just an attempt to be popular or get attention, and I waxed sarcastic about the trendiness levels of asexuality for a bit. Someone asked if any of us were in relationships, and so I got to use the phrase "Schroedinger's dating" again, which was pretty cool. And we got asked what our hobbies outside of Lambda were--my copanelists said "...uh, I'm an officer and it eats all my time, so... drag?" and "lying around and sleeping." I sort of looked like a deer in headlights and mentioned my brilliant decision to attempt to combine graduate school applications, my thesis, and a full courseload into one semester and cheerfully explained I had no other free time. (Which is true, although I should have mentioned knitting. Oops.)

Afterwards one of the people in the class came up to commiserate with me about how confusing romance is and how frustrating societal conceptions of romance are, so that was kind of awesome.

Now to spend the rest of my evening listening to Frank Turner and planning my Halloween costume. \o/
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A while back, I signed up for a thing my campus queer group does where they have people go into classrooms and related situations and answer questions from the standpoint of a Real Live gay/bi/trans/etc. person. Today was my first panel ever.

It was actually a lot of fun! The class was very polite and did not ask the Dreaded Masturbation Question, and I got a lot of questions directed specifically at me. Besides which, I got thanked personally by three or four people for talking about asexuality, which was kind of awesome.

I'm also working on setting up a panel-type thing for Asexual Awareness Week here. Out of curiosity, anyone in travelling distance of Athens interested in showing up and answering questions for that? I figure it's probably going to end up being just me and the other ace in said queer group, who definitely wants to be involved, but the offer to join us is open in case anyone is interested in a bit of fairly low-stress visibility.


Sep. 29th, 2011 10:40 pm
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I finally wrote up the first draft of my personal statement! I have completed the hardest bit of the hardest bit of graduate school applications! AHAHAHA YAY. Now I just have to get everyone I know to read it and proof it!

(To anyone who's been wanting actual communication with me: I am so sorry, I've been v. busy and wrapped up in work again and hitting a low-communicative phase a little bit. I'm trying to get to all the things I need to respond to but this has been taking priority, so.)
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And, uh, am sorry for not responding to comments in the last post--life has gotten away from me again and I am not good with communication when I'm stressed. Thanks to everyone who sent me comforting comments, though!

Have spent a lot of time on self-care these last few days doing things that are low-stress, trying to make myself avoid tumblr, going out to eat with friends and attempting to indoctrinate my baby sister with more geekery, that sort of thing.

I was debating writing a birthday post for Writing From Factor X, since I created the blog as a birthday present to myself last year, but I just don't have the energy to write anything right now. I feel a little bit bad about that, because it's not that I don't have things to say, but more that I just don't have the time and the energy to sit down and write out something polished and acceptable to me and, you know, self care.

(Offhand, the topics currently lurking in the back of my head are: the limits of anger in activism and the point at which you write someone off, the ways in which we are arguably reclaiming 'asexual' for ourselves from the very pejorative way it is often used to apply to people, something cogent about how isolating invisibility can be, oversimplification of concepts when doing visibility and how we can avoid that, and that godawful post about the brain worms that being aromantic/wtfromantic/whatever the hell my affectional orientation is left me with, the one that's written almost entirely up but that I'm still hesitant to post. I am not exactly hurting for topics! Just... time. Would be quite willing to have conversations about any of those, though.)

Also, I have photos of my birthday cake! (Birthday cupcakes? Birthday EXTRAVAGANZA?) We did finish making it, about five people attempted to eat it, and I am currently trying to get my lab to eat most of the rest with limited success. Next time I do something big like this, I'm going to make sure I have more mouths. Anyway, photos!

cut for large photo )


Sep. 14th, 2011 08:08 am
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So Drs. Rosemary and Peter Grant are coming to speak at my university tonight.

They are the people who did the Galapagos finch work on the adaptation of finch beak sizes to specific climate changes causing changes in the local seed populations, which is simultaneously REALLY REALLY INTERESTING and also some of the most influential work demonstrating natural selection in action. Which is VERY VERY COOL.

Going to engage in all the evolutionary biology hero worship tonight~

Also, in about an hour I should be finishing up my experiment almost completely and finishing collection of the main data on it. Which is amazing and wonderful and also slightly scary--what on earth will I be doing without actual crosses to make?

...oh, right, writing my thesis up. THESIS DEATHMARCH 2011 IS GO!
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There's a new census going up as an Asexual Awareness project! Granted, the questions are mostly basic demographics, but it'll still be pretty cool to look at when the results are in.

And hey, they're learning--you do not need an AVEN account to fill this one out and it's actually being promoted in non-AVEN spaces! Mind, they've missed two asexual communities I can think of--neither [community profile] asexual_fandom or the Transyada forum are mentioned--but this actually looks like AVEN-based asexual organizers taking baby steps to acknowledge other communities.
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...mostly because I honestly have been exhausted. I've alluded to having a finite level of energy to communicate before and I've been using it up almost entirely on meatspace stuff lately. This is my first weekend of down time in two weeks and I have been savoring it.

Cut for rambling about what I've actually been up to )

Yeaaaaah. I have no idea when I'm going to have the energy to start blogging again regularly, unfortunately. I have a bunch of topics I want to say things about, but I just have so little energy to say anything with that I've mostly been lurking in the background and hiding from just about everything.
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I have black hair now. I do not normally have black hair, but I am doing a slightly half-assed cosplay (of Young Justice Animated Superboy, so not generally labor-intensive) and so I have dyed it for Dragon*Con.

...admittedly, normally I have medium-dark brown hair, so it's not that intense a difference. Mostly I am wandering around, glancing in mirrors, and wondering why my hair is still wet. (Oh, and my friend who helped me dye my hair gave me black lipstick for fun, so I also keep going "when on earth did we get goth!Sci?)

I also have got greyish stains around my face, especially where sideburns would be from where we dyed my feathery little hair in front of my ears bits. Am hoping I can scrub those out before work tomorrow... erk.
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I really, really want to know more about the make-up of asexual communities. Not just because it would be interesting, but because it would be really useful to have that information when it comes to thinking about ways to more effectively help our community.

I mean, there's the 2008 AVEN poll that's pretty big, and that gets cited a lot, and there's the 2004 Bogaert demographics survey, but the thing is that asexual communities have changed dramatically even in just the past year with the AVEN exodus, let alone in the past three years or the past seven years. I'd like to see gender identity numbers now, just to start with; I know the visibility of transgender aces, especially nonbinary aces, has skyrocketed in the past two years.

And I want to see something that's accessible to everyone regardless of their log-in status, not another freaking AVEN poll or something specific to one format of community.

Huh. Is this worth trying to set up, I wonder? There's been a couple of interesting things done by the Asexual Sexologist, but she doesn't seem to be setting up monthly polls anymore at the moment. And anyway, I'd want the raw data, personally--I like playing with numbers and I like having charts to show people.

What demographic questions would be good to see? Offhand, I want to know about things like levels of suicidal ideation, romantic orientation identity breakdowns, relative numbers of asexuals, demis, grey-As and people who identify as sexual in the asexual community, breakdowns of gender identity and trans* identity, age people first identified as asexual vs. age people first found the asexual community, that sort of thing.

And also, what would be the most effective way to send something like this around to as many people as possible? If I'm going to try to get this set up at some point, I'd want it to be properly pan-community, not just DW-specific or tumblr-specific or AVEN-specific. That's the biggest flaw I've seen among so many "pan-community" asexual initiatives--they don't do a good enough job of reaching multiple people.

Huh. Thoughts? I don't know yet whether I'm going to seriously make this go, but I'd really like to and it doesn't seem like any of the academics are doing anything similar.
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The thing about me and Dog Oliver is that, as a team, we're a dog with anxiety and overstimulation issues working with... a human with anxiety and overstimulation issues.

Cut for discussion of my training issues. )
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So. Yesterday I did all the things. (Seriously, I was on the internet barely at all, which is why I've been so slow with comments and things over on the main blog. Lab meeting, terrifying neuroscience seminar I spent the first hour of wondering whether I'd ended up in a gruadate class by mistake, first classes of the semester--all that kind of stuff. It was a good day, just very very busy.)

One of these things involved visiting my campus queer organization. You know, the one I've been anxiously sniffing around the edges of for the past year and a half. (I was not sure whether I was welcome--the acronym they use is LGBTQA, yeah, but the "A" stands for "Ally" which is massively depressing. And of course I can never be sure that anyone will count me as queer, so it's always possible I fit under none of their categories.)

They were very nice. And in fact, more or less by accident I ended up attending their mixer on Sunday wearing my "Asexual: Confusing the fuck out of your gaydar like a boss" shirt, for which I got several compliments. Which was pretty awesome in and of itself, really.

So yesterday I wandered over to the actual first meeting. One of the people behind me explained the A on the acronym to a freshman as "asexual" while we were waiting for the meeting to start, which was heartening and depressing simultaneously. (They haven't actually changed it--still stands for "ally". She was just confused.) There was a lot of emphasis made on not policing anyone's identity or telling anyone what they were, which I found comforting, and I tentatively like the officers.

The one thing that did bug me was this: we were doing a icebreaker activity, this game called "Where the Wind Blows" where you place a bunch of dots around in a circle, and everyone stands in front of a dot except one person in the middle of the circle. The person in the circle was supposed to call out a trait that applied to them, and everyone who that trait also applied to was supposed to try to run to a new dot. The last person with no dot then became the person in the circle, and they got to call out the next trait. All well and good. (We were specifically asked not to call out "All the gay people!" or anything like that in case people didn't feel comfortable with a particular label yet or were confused.)

Someone called for "all the people who are single and ready to mingle!" Which.... uhhhhh. Define "single." I have two zucchini--am I single because I don't have a romantic partner? What on earth does "ready to mingle" mean? Is it supposed to mean you're looking for someone to date?

I think I ended up waffling and choosing to stand in place, but it was confusing. I'm not used to trying to fit myself into the "single" vs. "dating" dichotomy any more, not least because it feels like it doesn't really apply.
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So this popped up on Tumblr today. And I read it and got very excited--not even entirely because the idea of Tim Drake being asexual is awesome, but because it had a creator discussing an asexual character and acknowledging that asexuality is a sexual orientation that real people have, and oh my gosh I never get to see that.

And then I noticed that the source was broken. And that when I Googled around I could find no other mention of it. And then I stopped to consider what the actual likelihood of DC Comics doing something like this was and... yeah. Unlikely.

I just. I don't even. Why would you lie about this?! What possible reason would someone have to create this hoax? Why would you do this?

I'm angry and upset and frustrated, because it feels like someone dangled a delicious sandwich in my face while I'm starving and then snatched it away. And now, on top of everything, I'm feeling especially sensitized to the way creators frame asexual characters in media. Because you know that creators never bother to mention that asexuality's a sexual orientation, or that actual asexual people might want to see themselves now and again. That alone ought to have tipped me off, and I am so angry and sad that I feel that way.
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So [personal profile] nami_roland and I have been making cupcakes. And we helpfully took photos so as to document our amazing creations!

A white plate with a black-ringed rim on which sit three cupcakes. The tops are black, broken up with white and purple spots, and the cupcake cups are purple, white, and black swirled.

More photos behind the cut! )
We had (and have) plans to experiment with mixing the layers up a little more so they're less black-heavy and maybe reverse the order of the cupcakes to see what happens. Unfortunately I'm a bit clumsy and managed to drop the entire second tray in the crack between the oven and the door, so we didn't get to see how those would have turned out. The plan is to redo them tomorrow to see if we can't get them looking even nicer.

Hilariously, the roommate I am not yet out to came home after we had finished, noticed the cupcakes, and spent something like twenty minutes gushing over how awesome they were and how we should totally remake them for my birthday. (My birthday plans involve making the Periodic Table in cupcake form with different flavors of cupcake for each of the subfamilies of elements--we're running out of flavor ideas.) I have to say, this idea seriously pleases me!


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