What I Did Here in 2012

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 6,300 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 11 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.


How to: Love Yourself the Right Way

HELLOOOOOO!

I’m breaking my hiatus because my hiatus is stupid and was imposed for no reason other than I was a little bit on the lazy side.  It’s true, dear readers.  I neglected you because I was bumming around playing video games.  And, y’know, college.

For my first post back, I wanted to talk about something that’s very near and dear to me, and that I take very very seriously.  Surprisingly, it’s not sex (although that’s a close second).

I want to get into what it means to love yourself.  I don’t mean the corny self-help book style of patting yourself on the back or giving yourself affirmations daily or anything like that.  I mean this on a deeper level, because I think “loving yourself” is a very subjective act.

***TRIGGER WARNING: EATING DISORDERS, SELF-HARM AND DEPRESSION***

For me, loving myself has many meanings.  It could be treating myself to a large iced mocha on a rough day.  It could be that extra five minutes in the shower.  I may be crazy, but sometimes “loving myself” means doing another set of a lift at the gym, because loving myself and pushing myself sometimes get conflated.  Sometimes I give myself an extra ten minutes of sleep before work, and that’s loving myself.

I didn’t always used to have such positive outlets for how I felt about myself.  Sometimes I still don’t.  I used to think that loving myself meant doing everything I could to be skinny like girls are supposed to be.  I didn’t do the greatest job of taking care of myself physically, and it took a toll on me in a way that I couldn’t notice back then.  When I got positive comments, I felt like I was flying.  It reinforced what I was doing (which was not consuming food), and it felt damn good.  When I didn’t get positive comments… I wasn’t very nice to myself.  I punished myself, and to this day I am extremely ashamed of this.

I don’t know when this changed for me, and I can’t promise that it will, because nobody can do that.  (If only…)

It turns out that I’m not actively trying to make you cry, and I’m definitely not searching for compliments or pity.  I want you to be aware that this acceptance of self is a process.  It’s a journey and it’s hard.  So, what does this have to do with you?

You never know where somebody is coming from in life.  You don’t know if that chubby kid goes home and tries to eat right and maybe has some other problems.  That weird quiet dude doesn’t need you to point out that he looks like he hasn’t washed his hair.  People are so acutely aware of their flaws, they really don’t need to hear another voice chime in and repeat them.

One of the most important things that happened when I started realizing I was worth more than cuts and starvation was that I became a nicer person.  When I was better to myself, I felt better and I passed that on to the rest of the world.  I’m not trying to be preachy and I’m not trying to brag about how great a person I am – I still have flaws, and maybe you have a different reason for being mad at the world.  It’s okay.

There’s that old adage that says, “you can’t love someone else until you learn to love yourself”.  I know it’s not healthy to base your worth on your relationship status.  However, I think there’s a very fine line between the healthy and unhealthy aspects of that.  For me, finding that awesome girlfriend of mine made me a great deal happier.  I’m about to sound EVEN LAMER (as if that’s possible at this point) and tell you that she has made me want to be a better person.

I wanted to share my experiences and opinions with you about this stuff for awhile, and I’m still not sure I managed to do it without sounding all “hurr durr look at how great my life is now”.  It’s important to remember that you ought to be kind to yourself.  Self-respect and self-worth are terms that get tossed around a lot, and it’s easy to get lost in the myriad definitions.

Take a good, hard look at what you view as loving yourself.  Does it harm yourself, physically or psychologically?  Does it harm someone else, physically or psychologically?  It doesn’t have to be a productive thing, necessarily (my coffee/chocolate consumption is hardly productive and mostly just delicious).

Be good to yourselves.  I think you’ll feel a lot better.


Self-Help Books Can Actually Be Helpful???

Okay I’m sorry, I didn’t fall off the planet, I’ve just been shirking my duty as your faithful advice blogger for… Well for long enough to risk falling off the planet, I suppose.  I haven’t really done much, apart from the usual going to the gym, going to work, and eating food routine that most people seem to have.  So exciting.

One thing I have done is finish reading a book.  An advice book, no less – something I normally avoid like a cat avoids water.

I’m not usually one for self-help books. I tend to find the advice therein trite, condescending, and in some cases enabling of the behaviors the person reading needs help with. Of course, when my mom handed me this book I went, “Yeah, sure, I’ll read this. Eventually.” Because my mother likes to hand out advice, wanted, warranted, or not, I really just rolled my eyes. And then my girlfriend read the book first. And then something ridiculous happened – she told me it was good. Not just good, but something that I should be reading.

Thus, I just finished reading, The Defining Decade by Dr. Meg Jay, PhD. The book is broken down into a few sections, on love, work, and being a grown-up. Really, the whole book centers on acting like an adult now instead of later, and getting your act together before you’re 30. There are a lot of examples that Dr. Jay uses to describe exactly what she’s getting at, whether it’s the twentysomething boy who was essentially homeless because he grew up in an unsettled divorced parenting situation, or the young Korean American woman who had grown up being teased for being different and a virgin in high school, so she never stopped to consider the sort of qualities she actually wanted in a partner – she just wanted to be wanted.

I wish I couldn’t identify so well with each of the people in this book. I’m way overeducated for my current job. I know this, and I know what I want to be doing, I just don’t know if I can actually put in the work to get there. I just keep assuming that everything will fall into place, because that’s what I’ve been taught to expect. I’ve also been hearing, “You’re young, this is what you’re supposed to do” an awful lot, too.

I think, contrary to popular belief, “YOLO” (you only live once) is part of this problem that leaves folks screwed over in their thirties. The twenties are apparently to be spent partying, traveling, working as a barista at Starbucks, and generally not giving a shit about the future because you’ll think about it “when you’re thirty” or “way later”…. Draw a timeline of how you want your life to go. If you have a picture like that, and “babies” and something like “medical school” are in the same place… You might have to reconsider what you’re doing.

What resonated most with me, for a silly reason, was the entire section on love. Every time my girlfriend and I have had problems of any sort, I have been advised by at least one person to break up with her and find someone else. I’m always told that I will have plenty of time to find my perfect someone, because my girlfriend and I are “so young” (I’m almost 24, for the record). I think getting together at a pretty young age, relatively speaking, is seen as a thing of the past. I have a friend who just got married, and she’s a couple years younger than I am. Do I think that’s too young? Maybe. I don’t know.

The point I’m trying (and failing) to make is that I feel really lucky in love. I don’t think I care if my perfect soul mate life partner match from heaven is out there in the world somewhere. There are another 7 billion people on this planet, of course. But, at this point, I think instead of stressing over whether or not my girlfriend and I are completely 100% totally perfect, I am going to focus on all the great things about being with her. At least in this respect, I feel like I have my shit together.

I wish I had an idea of what I want to be when I grow up. I wish I knew what I wanted to DO with my life. I want to do a million things, and I’m so afraid of all the possibilities that I don’t know where to start, and so I’m just paralyzed by all of them.

This paragraph I just wrote isn’t in the book, but there are a bunch like it. It makes me feel less bad, being as concerned as I am about my career future, because Facebook and the media seem to keep telling me that I should be gallivanting around Europe half-naked and fucking my way through hostels or something to that effect. Those same institutions tell me that I should drink more and do stupid shit because, after all, “you only live once”.

While that’s all probably a good time, I will take my amazing girlfriend, our tiny apartment, and a half-cooked plan for the rest of my life over drinks in an English pub any day. I may not know where I want to go, but I know who I want to get there with, and I really think that’s a big step in the right direction.

I’m not advocating for or against settling down at an earlier age, and I’m not even knocking working for Starbucks.  All I’m saying is that this book is pretty great, I recommend it, and I think we could all stand to get the ball rolling on the rest of our lives a little faster than age 30.

A little ambition never killed anyone.

…Right?


Fantastic Queer Superheroines!

I know you were all waiting for this.  This is probably the nerdiest thing I’ve ever written, except for that time I wrote some fan fiction for Gundam Wing.

I know.

And even if you weren’t, that’s okay.  Whoever follows me on tumblr (ahem ahem shameless plug) will have noticed a pick-up in the superheroine-type things I’ve been reblogging.  It happens.  It started with me wanting to learn more everything about Wonder Woman and went on from there, so without too much ado, I present in no particular order, some really amazing super- and meta-human ladies!

Holly Robinson

I can’t be the only one who sees it

Did you guys know Catwoman had a sort-of sidekick?  Who was gay?  Because I didn’t until I started looking into these things.  Holly manages to stab Batman in the leg and then end up at a convent.  At some point she comes back, takes over being Catwoman while Selina is on maternity leave, dies, but not really, and she’s Selina Kyle‘s BFF/roommate/probably girlfriend sometimes.  At least, that’s what happened In My Head.

Sailor Neptune/Sailor Uranus

Image by AmayaKouryuu at deviantart

I have to include these ladies as a pair, because they’re a couple.  I don’t really care what the English dub of “Sailor Moon” that you watched on Toonami said, they’re not cousins.  Cousins don’t have pot points like Sailor Uranus (Haruka) kissing Sailor Moon, or dressing up as Tuxedo Mask, or, y’know, sexin’ up Sailor Neptune (Michiru).  I really love the two of them, because Haruka is super flirty and Michiru is quieter and super-polite.  They balance each other out so well and I can’t help it, they’re so effin’ cute.  Seriously, I’m still not sure how I was so naive to think lady cousins should be so friendly.  I know better now, and so do you.

Renee Montoya

Look at that striped shirt and blazer. Hot!

So Renee Montoya is was a cop, which is pretty sexy and superhumanly in and of itself.  HOWEVER, she’s also The Question!  AND Batwoman‘s girlfriend, for a hot minute!  Can I sum it up decently by saying she’s a fabulous representation of a person of color (her parents are immigrants from the Dominican Republic)?  No.  I can’t really sum her up neatly, she’s more complex than that.  This lady has some srs bznss in her background and I would need more coffee and at least three blog posts to cover it.  She dated Batwoman, has alcohol issues, and kicks the crap out of people.  And she wears a tie while doing a lot of these things.  Unf.

See? Ties.

Knockout

I think I’m in love

Holy CRAP, this woman.  Those biceps.  Wikipedia says “Her hidden identity was that of a super strong stripper who worked at a club called the BoomBoom Room”.  Does this explain what I’m about to say?  Maybe.  Knockout is really more of a villain than superheroine, but this is my list so hush.  She’s been on the Suicide Squad and the Secret Six, and has died or almost died a couple of times.  No, really.  It’s canon.  I like Knockout because 1, her name is a great pun and 2, she’s like eight feet tall and 3, she was dating the next lady on this list…

Scandal

Also: tattoos

Scandal scares me a little bit.  Maybe it’s that crazy combat mastery, or her really freaky weapons (seriously, “lamentation blades”?), but it’s probably more that she can re-grow her guts.  Her dad’s immortal, so what do you expect?  But I do love a lady who’s tough, and she’s fought freaking Talia al Ghul (a sometimes-Batman girlfriend) and lived through being shot and almost blown up and such.  I think she’s a big softie, judging from her reaction to her girlfriend Knockout’s death, so… I like her.  Is it weird that I find the tough girls attractive?

Batwoman

Kate kissing Not Renee (Detective Maggie Sawyer)

I couldn’t notput her on this list.  Kate Kane‘s Batwoman is easily the most recognizable of the women I picked, not to mention the most gay.  She gets booted from a military academy for dating another (female) student, and gets it on with attractive lesbian cops a lot.  Mostly I love how complicated she is, she’s not just the token gay title character.  Seriously, I can’t tell you how big a deal that is.  Also she’s a redhead with tattoos, and that’s never a bad thing.  If you’re not interested in the storylines of the most recent Batwoman issues, just go for the art.

Look at this, it’s beautiful, now go get it!

I’m pretty sure I’m missing a good deal of lesbionic butt-kickers, because not every superheroine who doesn’t necessarily need a dude to save her or partner up with is queer, so drop me a line on Twitter, or tumblr, or down in the comments and talk to me about your favorite queer superheroines!


How to: Talk About Sex

Hey!  HEY YOU GUYS!  So remember that one time I wrote about kinks, and about how some people give crappy advice to people when they come up?

My girlfriend and I went out to eat the other day, and I picked up a copy of The Onion.  In the back, they run Dan Savage’s column, Savage Love, and  as I was reading this particular issue, I noticed that people seem to 1. have a disturbing love for this book, 50 Shades of Grey, and 2. apparently have no idea how to talk to partners about sex.  Savage’s response to one of these women actually made me pretty annoyed, and almost angry.

And then, as if things could not get any more timely, a close friend of mine said that he and his partner were having some issues in the bedroom.  I did the, “Well, did you talk about it?” line of questions, and he kept balking, talking about how he did not want to hurt his partner’s feelings, how he didn’t want to cause trouble in the relationship, blah blah et cetera.

Talking about sex is a lot like talking about kinks.  The biggest difference is that usually, sex is not quite so shame-ridden as kinks can be.  There’s a larger number of people having sex in general, versus however many people might share a kink.  With a difference in numbers and with “everybody doing it”, you’d think it would be a hell of a lot easier to talk to one’s partner about sexytimes, right?

Well…. No.  It’s not.  And it’s not easy because of the reasons my friend brought up.  Hurting someone’s feelings probably is going to make you less likely to get sex from them, at least in the immediate future.  This isn’t necessarily a fact, but if you make someone feel bad, like, say, where sexual prowess is concerned, it doesn’t seem likely that that person will turn around and go, “Okay well how about we fix that RIGHT NOW?!” (however if you do have a partner like that, you have won at life)

Telling someone they’re not doing sex with you right is really difficult.  There isn’t a way to sugarcoat it, but there are a few ways to make it less awful for everyone.  You can always go with the direct approach.  Being as straightforward as possible and saying, “Look, this is something I have noticed in the bedroom and here is how I want it to change, can we work something out?” leaves practically no room for losing.  A similar way of getting your point across is by, in the heat of the moment, saying something like, “Hey, you know what would be hot?  If we ___________”, and then you let them know what you want.  This works especially well if it’s asking for a tweak in a sexy routine, e.g. who gets to be on top?

Another thing that works pretty well is a nonverbal approach.  If it’s a matter of one partner not getting off (and this being a problem), take some more direct control, if you know what I’m saying.  Move the other person’s hand to where you want it, and see where things go.  If they don’t go the way you want, either try again or talk it out.

Now, these tactics are all contingent on one thing – your partner agreeing with your suggested change.  If this does not happen, then a few things need to happen: you have to figure out how important this change is to you, you have to be absolutely certain your partner understands this is an important thing, and/or you have to start reconsidering your relationship with this person.

But wait – why did I bring up Dan Savage?  Because his advice sucked.  And why did his advice suck?  Because, if you go and read the third letter of the link above, he suggested that a 43-year-old housewife use a time machine to solve her problems.  I know this has a little more to do with kinks and fetishes, but a lot of Savage’s advice to women seems to be to DTMFA (dump the motherfucker already), especially if they are writing to him about their sex lives.

This is kind of unacceptable.  It’s funny that he has no problem talking to some cops about semi-public (male) masturbation, but when a woman wants some advice on bringing her husband into her experiment with BDSM, he dropped the ball.  The answer is not to go back in time and not dump the weird kinky guy she may or may not have dated twenty years ago.  The answer is to talk it out.  Bring up reasons she wants to try it.  Say things about how hot BDSM might be, give the husband an out and say, “Let’s just try it a couple of times and see if we like it.”

The one thing I want you all to take away from this is to not be afraid.  The absolute worst-case scenario of getting dumped because you want to improve your sex life with that person probably will turn out to not be a worst-case scenario.  And who knows?  Your partner might even surprise you, agree, or say, “I’m SO glad you brought this up!  I was wondering about this!”

Don’t be afraid to talk about sex!!!!


Moving Update

Well hello there!  Remember how I was moving?  Well, I moved.  I’m actually technically not done moving, but that’s really just how I work.

All in all things went better than expected, but due to crap planning on my part we slept on the floor the first night.  Not so comfy.  The next day I went out and bought a queen mattress, and there have been vast improvements in a lot of departments.

I am also now the proud mother of ridiculously fast internet, which I’m pretty sure is totally worth it.  It’s so nice to be able to cruise Tumblr and have all those .gif images loaded and moving properly!

All this aside, I’m really happy.  I’m actually a lot happier than I thought I could be, given that my girlfriend and I have been together so long and we know each other… I didn’t expect this weird feeling of relief mixed with utter elation.  Plus it’s awesome – I can walk to my gym, or tell people I have to get back to my apartment instead of my parents’ house. It’s basically like I’m a real adult!

We’re also down the block from some AWESOME bars.  Hellooooo alcohol consumption!

My advice to you, if you’re on the fence about moving in with a long-term significant other, is to freaking do it.  And then go buy a big mattress.  You’ll thank me, really.

Apart from all of the above, I’ve got some great stuff planned for you guys later on this week – another awesome list, and then some other things.  WOO.


How to Survive: Moving In Together

So my girlfriend and I are moving in together.  I mean in an official “both names on the lease” way.  We pretty much live together anyway, and not seeing each other on a pretty daily basis makes us both really sad, so obviously living together is the solution.  (Plus, this means I get epic pit bull snuggles from her dog whenever I want!)

Here’s the kicker – we’re moving in nine days.  NINE.  DAYS.  I haven’t packed a thing.  I sorted through some stuff about a week ago and threw away a bunch of crap and then went back to playing Dragon Age writing papers and studying for finals.

Still… I have a lot of stuff, she doesn’t have as much stuff, and moving is creeping closer and closer, and I know it really bugs her that I haven’t really done anything proactive about this.  Without further ado, here’s a quick guide to surviving the big move!

Sort Your Shit

You HAVE to know what stuff you’re intending to take with you and what you’re going to get rid of.  Also, you have to know if you’re going to donate things to charity (clothing that you don’t like or doesn’t fit should fall into this category.  Old magazines you never read can be classified this way as well.  Your rock collection that you don’t actually care about?  Throw them in your garden!)  If you’re holding on to a stack of old bookmarks or notebooks from high school… Well, I would advocate setting them on fire in a safe situation, but I still don’t know what I’m doing with mine (Yeah, I have a stack of bookmarks – what?)

Pack Your Shit

No, really.  Even if it’s just throwing crap in boxes and maybe labeling them and maybe not, making your stuff portable is going to make everything easier.  If you leave out some clothing to wear for the next few days/week or so, and have a way to get those clothes from old digs to new, you’re set!  NO EXCUSES.

Stop Making Excuses

Yeah, I have finals coming up and I work a lot…. So?  I also have a buttload of free time that I tend to squander on silly things like playing Dragon Age.  It happens, it’s annoying, and I know I do it.  I don’t really have any good advice for this aside from “realize you’re wasting time and cut that out”.

Don’t Get Stressed

If you’re on the other end of this situation, and you have all your things ready to go and someone else is dragging their feet…. Step back a minute.  Take a deep breath, realize that this doesn’t mean this person is having second thoughts about living with you.  Try to figure out why this person is avoiding packing their things up.  For me, I just hate packing.  I hate the thought of sifting through all of my things, and because I come from a family of pack rats, I am genetically predisposed to not throw things away.  I have too much stuff and it’s scary going through it.  This might be a familiar story with someone you love.  Don’t freak out.

 

I mean… The other options are to not move in with this person, or to not move at all.  You could always do the packing yourself, right?  (“Dear girlfriend: please pack my stuff for me” is not exactly the greatest way to get things packed.)

Try not to leave things until the absolute last possible second.  I’ll let you know how well that works out for me.