Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Wednesday Factoid: Box Tops

Today's Wednesday Factoid is: Have you ever collected box tops for a program (or anything similar)?

Hm, when I was a kid I think I collected some kind of cereal points for some reason, but I don't even remember what the program was. I did collect some box tops for an offer to get a stopwatch, that's not really the same as what this question is asking, I don't think. 

The closest I can think of is that I collect bottle caps from Coke products and I enter the codes into a website so I can redeem the points for a variety of gifts in a catalog. Mostly I just turn them in for bookstore gift certificates. It's pretty nice (even though it's a little annoying to plug those codes in), because if you're going to be drinking the soda anyway you might as well get some free stuff if they're offering it!


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Last thirty-something birthday!

Woo-hoo! I'm 39 today, and it's my last year as a thirty-something.

Like, I don't care?

People kind of expect you to start having crises about your life when you're my age. I guess you're "supposed to" have crises right on schedule when you hit your thirties or something.

I had Meghan over for the weekend before my birthday. Her birthday is two days after mine so we usually celebrate together.

We decided to make a video together that vaguely relates to my usual asexuality subject but also discussed friendship and relationships. (I'll edit that and post it probably sometime next month, but my camera takes still photos while making videos, so I have some cute shots.)

We kinda talked about this whole "expected at your age" phenomenon. We are both regularly treated like we're "not adults" or something because of our interests and our values--neither of us drink, both of us like cartoons, I don't drive, she's obsessed with going to Disney World, etc.--and it's also been suggested that our friendship is childish because it matters to us. I guess women are expected to have other woman friends and maybe you have a girls' night out or a cards club and you drink wine and chat about men, but when you're like me and your friendships are the only thing you have relationship-wise, you're still expected to put relationships like mine with Meggie on the back burner in favor of finding a primary partner. And that is always supposed to be your priority--your family, based around your (probable) husband. Not having that and "just" having friends is childish.

And I've never cared what people think about that either.

Maybe I'm not as rattled by getting older because I've never done what I'm "supposed to" in reference to my age and I feel that expectations seeking to limit what I can do just based on my age are more or less arbitrary. If two fortyish ladies want to spend their birthdays geeking out about cartoons, eating ice cream sandwiches, and having heart-to-hearts (plus a little shopping, I mean we literally did go to the mall and buy shoes like Women Are Supposed To), we should be able to do that without feeling like we did something inappropriate.

I don't think this is all that unusual, of course. Plenty of people have relationships that aren't what the media tells us our relationships should be like. But the fact that Meggie and I have encountered opinions like "still? You're still hanging out with that girl you knew in high school?" and "What do you even still have to talk about?" makes me think our friendship is kind of an outlier. We are expected to dive into our (singular) Primary Relationship and more or less devote ourselves to the family that will grow from that, and that (with our career if we have one) is supposed to fill you up. Friends are treated like something you do, like going to a concert or scheduling a meeting. They're not supposed to be as fundamental to your identity and your lifestyle as they are when, say, you're a teenager. 

And maybe that's why so many people see my relationship with my ~friends~ as childish and like to throw "but [person] is just a friend, right?" into conversations. "Friend" always has "just" in front of it for them. So they can't imagine that it could be otherwise for someone who doesn't have primary relationships, or even for someone who does like Meggie. She's married with children and works very hard as a nurse. And our relationship is as important to her as it's ever been, even though we met at my sixteenth birthday party.

I rarely see maturity being discussed outside of a prescriptive sense. It's gotten so I don't even know what maturity means. Surely it can't be based on self-sufficience, because even though I used to think that was part of it, I understand now that many people who can't or don't take care of themselves can be mature. Surely it can't be based on "leaving childish things behind," because even though I'm interested in many things I've either liked since I was a child or presently like even though they're primarily made with children in mind, these interests do not depend on being childish or actively cause me to be childish. Surely it can't be based on financial or professional success, because plenty of people who do not achieve those things are mature. I think that I have matured since I first met Meghan, but the direction in which I grew did not require me to move away from her or leave her behind just because I was less mature when I formed a bond with her. It's disappointing to hear people conceptualizing some of my choices as if they indicate immaturity and lack of capability, and to be honest I doubt the maturity of anyone who weaponizes its definition to shame people into giving up what they love in the name of a perceived rite of passage.

There are certain prescribed ways for adults to let their hair down, and many of them involve alcohol, risky behavior, sex, gambling, or relatively expensive hobbies. There are a few "adult" celebrations I can get behind and find enjoyable, like having a relaxing beach vacation or going on a sightseeing road trip. But to be honest I can't think of a better way to spend my birthday than at home in a comfortable space hanging out doodling and talking about nerdy things and enjoying our homemade cake.

Off to enjoy the last year of writing my age with a 3 at the beginning. :)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Personal Digest Saturday: January 7 – January 13

Life news this week: 
  • Saturday Victor had slept over so we got up and had some coffee, and Victor ate a Cookie Cat from my freezer! He finally got to have one. :) After he left, Eric came over and we went to the flea market together, then had some coffee and snacks at a café and went back to my place to watch cartoons. Yay! It was a really good day and I also drew a picture.
  • Sunday I woke up when I wanted and mostly spent the day doing music stuff. Once I'd done my recordings and video editing I just did laundry and watched YouTube stuff.
  • Monday I had a phone interview with a real estate company in the morning before work! That seemed to go really well. Then I went to work and did grocery shopping after, and just kinda lounged around at home afterwards.
  • Tuesday I found out I got a second interview at the place I interviewed with on the phone, so that was cool. I spent the evening making a video for my asexuality channel and submitted some feedback for stuff I had bought on eBay and Etsy.
  • Wednesday I got called into work early to help with some data that wouldn't download properly, so I worked a long day because I still left at the usual time. Jeaux and I ate at Five Guys and watched one episode of a show called Crazyheads which was pretty good. After he left I made my plans for my Thursday interview.
  • Thursday I took off my current job to go interview at a potential new one. I took Uber to the meeting, got there early enough to hang out in the area a while, and had a really good time at the interview--I'm sure that if I'm picked to fill the position I can get along with the people I'd be supporting, and the job sounds similar enough to the one I'm leaving that I could do it without much stress. (The location of the office and the longer hours aren't as nice, but what can ya do?) I went home on the bus to see how long it takes, and got some reading time in. I can't believe I didn't get lost at all. After that I had my mom over for biscuits and eggs. I told her about what went on at the interview and we chatted a while, and then after she left I talked to Victor and drew my webcomic.
  • Friday I had to help my boss with graphics all day, with a little break when our traffic counter Yasmin came in to sign some stuff. Then I went home and processed my webcomic while hanging out with Meghan! She's in town for our birthdays. We chilled and got Chinese food delivery, and just hung out yakking until we fell asleep.
    New reviews of my book:
    Reading progress:
    • Finished this week: Almost done with the one I'm reading, but not quite.
    • Currently reading: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares.
      New singing performances:

      This week's performance was "The Boxer" by Simon and Garfunkel.

      New drawings: 

      Pen doodle of Garnet that I did to celebrate 100 followers on my fan blog.

      Webcomic Negative One Issue 0609: "The Heart Finds a Way."

      New videos:

      My latest Letters to an Asexual video is #43, which is about good and bad book reviews.


      My latest unlisted ukulele video is "Something Entirely New" from Steven Universe.

      New photos:

      Victor eats a Cookie Cat while drinking
      coffee out of a Cookie Cat cup.
      Giant gauntlets Victor made for me for my holiday gift.
      Eric with a giant pan at the flea market.
      Me at work wearing my Mabel sweater.
      What I wore to my interview.

      Social Media counts:
      YouTube subscribers: 5,309 for swankivy (lost 9), 618 for JulieSondra (lost 1). Twitter followers: 857 for swankivy (lost 2), 1,330 for JulieSondra (6 new). Facebook: 294 friends (no change) and 205 followers (lost 2) for swankivy, 649 likes for JulieSondra (1 new), 55 likes for Negative One (no change), 127 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,495 (5 new). Instagram followers: 101 (no change).

      Wednesday, January 11, 2017

      Wednesday Factoid: Watch

      Today's Wednesday Factoid is: Do you wear a watch? If so, what kind? If not, what timekeeping method do you use, if any?

      I guess it's getting more typical these days to not wear a watch. I don't.

      Nowadays almost everyone has a smart phone and can easily glance at it to find the time, and that's how I do it. But I must admit that if you need to know the time regularly, having it right there on your wrist is more convenient than digging out your phone and turning it on to see the time.

      I spend a LOT of my life in front of a computer so the time is always in the lower right corner for easy access while I'm working. But when I'm not, I do generally use the phone for time. I think I would use a watch if I had one I liked as a piece of jewelry, though--if I liked how it looked as a bracelet and it was also functional. (I might consider wearing a watch if I found one I liked. It might be a fancy classy one, or it might be a chunky cheap plastic one. Just depends on what kind of mood I'm in.)

      When I was in middle school, Swatch Watches were the big fashionable item. I had one.

      And in high school, my timepiece was far from fashionable, but I loved it: it was a stopwatch with Animaniacs characters on it that I ordered from a Life cereal offer with four box tops and some cash. I used to wear it around my neck.

      I had a series of other watches in college. Mostly I'd like a watch and wear it until its battery ran out and then I would buy a new style instead of replacing the battery. (I still have a lot of those sitting around.) 

      Here I've got a plastic Animaniacs wristwatch.
      And then in my post-college job at the bookstore, I had to keep track of the time pretty meticulously because of break-scheduling, so I always had a watch. During that time I almost exclusively wore clip-on keychain-style watches on my belt loop.

      It was at the tail-end of that job when I got my first cell phone so after that my timepiece was always the phone. 

      I'd kinda like to go back to wearing a watch just for fun. :) 

      Monday, January 9, 2017


      This weekend I went out with my friend Eric and he floated the idea of having me (and a couple other people) help him reboot his apartment. He needs some help purging and reorganizing what's left, and he thinks I have a pretty sweet deal going when it comes to organization in my own space.

      I guess he's right. Everyone compliments me on my filing systems and everything-in-its-place home. My sister even gaped at my freezer over the holidays and commented on its perfect organization. I mean, it's not like the veggie burgers and frozen pizzas are in alphabetical order or anything, but yes, it's organized practically so I can reach and see everything, and there are no mysterious foil-wrapped packages that no one can identify. I am the only person who lives in my space, and everything more or less stays where I put it. I almost never lose stuff. I can almost always immediately find a piece of paper from 20 years ago if I'm looking for it. I really like it that way.

      However, I don't tend to throw much away at all. I just organize it. I have sometimes done practical stuff like box up items I legitimately never use, but I still rarely throw things away. I've tried in recent years to become better at purging, and I can do it if I have to, but I prefer not to. some people acknowledge that even though I'm very organized, I also have a lot of what looks like "clutter."

      Now that I'm leaving my job after ten years, my office is in a similar state. (And this is not a function of my personal organizing preferences. We keep a lot of stuff here that we don't really have to, by design.) I'm in the process of helping sort the files we have into "keep" and "purge," and I've got to say that while I'm doing it, I really wish we'd done it when we were still staying here. This place would have been so cool to work in if we'd purged like this and then gone on with our lives working out of this space.

      Too bad.

      I'm going through a lot of changes in my personal life, as you can imagine. I've worked at my current job since before I lived at my current apartment, and both it's been about ten years. Ten years of the same thing. Living in the same place, living the same way. I'm not tired of it and I wish it could stay the same. But now I have to change my job, and chances are very good that I will end up either living pretty far from where I'm working or having to move to be closer to work. (Most of the firms looking for a position like my old one are downtown, and that's almost TWO HOURS away from me by bus. ONE WAY. I do NOT want to spend FOUR HOURS of my life every day dealing with the public transit system.) So there's a possibility that if I get a job downtown, I'll end up moving to be closer to there, and will have to purge and pack up in my own home too. Yikes!

      I'm getting a little ahead of myself, obviously. I haven't been offered a job (well, haven't been offered a job that I want to take) as such, so planning what I'll do isn't really practical yet. But considering the options, I will probably end up working downtown and will probably have to either move or get a car. Hard for a hippie like me to think about owning one, but it wouldn't be difficult for me to afford a car. There'd just be the whole logistics of getting one when I've never owned one before, and like, learning to drive it. Until then, I have dependable ways to get around but they aren't as desirable as either owning my own transportation or living close enough to not have to worry about that.

      There's something exciting about a clean slate, of course. And I can appreciate it. But when you're actually going through it, it's very stressful too. I hate moving with a passion, and part of the reason I do is that I'm so organized. I hate things being in disarray. I hate them being in transit, in transition, in progress. So when I move, I tend to be really aggressive about unpacking, basically killing myself to settle in and get everything just so. I hardly slept when I first moved to my current apartment in 2007, and I lost a lot of weight because of the stress and distraction. I spent so much time and energy organizing for permanence--putting shelves into cabinets manually (like, I got out a saw and made shelves!), crying over stud finders to put up wall hangings, lining drawers with contact paper, getting my closets and drawers in perfect order, all kinds of nonsense.  

      And I label my boxes obsessively so I know what to unpack first.
      But sometimes, having change thrust upon you does help you take inventory of what you need and what you want to have going forward. It can make you take a more practical, realistic look at your material possessions and even push you into evaluating certain aspects of your life that you may not have realized were no longer useful to you in a less material sense.

      I'm not sure how much purging I'm going to be looking at, but it will necessarily be at least some. We'll see how extensive it will be as time rolls on.  

      Saturday, January 7, 2017

      Personal Digest Saturday: December 31 – January 6

      Life news this week: 
      • Saturday was New Year's Eve!! I decided to have my family over for Breakfast For Dinner in celebration, so after finishing my blogging for the day, I got cooking--literally. Made some of my mom's favorite jam cookies, and then mixed up some batter for waffles and got a bunch of stuff ready. Eventually my family showed up--Mom, Patricia, Yusuke, and Ash--and I enlisted Patricia's help making the waffles while I made a pan of eggs, some hash brown buds in the oven, some vegetarian bacon, and some sautéed mushrooms. We ate the breakfast on TV trays in the living room and had a great time horsing around and coloring. My family is so cute! My brother-in-law even did our dishes. After they left I just cooled down and chilled.
      • Sunday New Year's Day. My sister and her family flew back to San Francisco that day so I was just on my own enjoying some leftover wine (a vanishingly rare event for me) and eating a few leftovers. I got in some karaoke singing, ukulele playing, and bill-paying. :) Also worked on fan comics and updated my website for 2017.
      • Monday we had the day off at work so I spent it drawing fan comics and reviewing the year's notes so I could post a 2016 retrospective. I was a good little girl working on my tasks and then late in the evening I found out the Steven Universe episodes that were supposed to start airing on the Cartoon Network at the end of this month had been surprise-released through their mobile app, all at once. I was kinda disappointed because I love those "StevenBomb" events and had been looking forward to it, but also I couldn't exactly leave them alone because I'd get spoiled by the Internet, so I called Jeaux in a weird cartoon panic and invited him over in the middle of the night to literally watch cartoons with me at midnight! We enjoyed the hell out of ourselves and watched the last episode twice and we miiiight have talked about it 'til 5 in the morning but who's counting?
      • Tuesday was back to work. I caught up on some paperwork there, did some package mailing and grocery shopping, and applied for a bunch of jobs online.
      • Wednesday I did more paperwork and more packing up old files at the office. Then I used a gift card to take Jeaux to Carrabba's for dinner. We basically talked about cartoons the whole time and then went to my place where we watched the rest of the first season of People of Earth, which I liked. After he left I also did some job applications.
      • Thursday was more of the same at work--doing graphics for my boss and sorting through old files to see what we keep and what we purge. After I went home, Victor called me and we chatted while I drew my webcomic, and then my mom came over and hung out with me a while, letting me have some of the food my sister left behind that she won't eat. She was there a really long time chatting to me about some everyday stuff, so I didn't get to call V back. We made plans to hang out Friday night!
      • Friday I went to work early so I could do some paperwork for our traffic counters, and I got to see my friend Yasmin and got to give them a tiny traffic cone. After my boss left, we were alone just chatting for a while until they had to go and I had to finish some work. Then I went home, finished my webcomic, and Victor finally came over about 11. We made waffles, exchanged holiday gifts late, and watched cartoons. It was awesome. Also, I got my first job interview! It's next week.
        New reviews of my book:
        Reading progress:
        • Finished this week: Haven't finished any books yet this year. Teehee.
        • Currently reading: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares.
          New singing performances:

          This week's performance was "Big Yellow Taxi" by Joni Michell.

          New drawings: 

          First, I made this goofy Happy Birthday Amethyst for my friend Joy:

          And then I also finished a really cool Steven Universe fan comic about Pearl and younger Steven! You can view it on the blog where it's posted or click on babbu Steven to go look at the whole thing.

          Webcomic Negative One Issue 0608: "Where It's Going."

          New videos:

          My latest unlisted ukulele video is "Are You Out There?" by Dar Williams.

          New photos:

          Breakfast for Dinner on New Year's Eve:

          Ash's E.T. TV tray!
          Smurf TV tray!
          Kid was coloring.
          Ash gives big hugs.
          The cookie monster.
          Ash takes a li'l rest.
          He liked my butterfly wings.
          Happy New Year!
          My New Year's Day wine.

          Here's Yasmin and their Tiny Cone of Justice.

          Victor's midnight waffles.
          Waffle selfie.

          Social Media counts:
          YouTube subscribers: 5,318 for swankivy (1 new), 619 for JulieSondra (2 new). Twitter followers: 859 for swankivy (lost 3), 1,324 for JulieSondra (lost 4). Facebook: 294 friends (no change) and 207 followers (lost 1) for swankivy, 648 likes for JulieSondra (2 new), 55 likes for Negative One (no change), 127 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,490 (lost 1). Instagram followers: 101 (1 new).

          Wednesday, January 4, 2017

          Wednesday Factoid: Petty Pet Peeve

          Today's Wednesday Factoid: What is a petty pet peeve of yours?

          Unsolicited advice, I guess.

          I dunno if that's petty enough. I guess so.

          I think I just hate the entire dynamic surrounding unsolicited advice, too. Not only do people think complaints, rants, or discussions are an invitation to dump advice, but then if I don't want the advice and I (gently) ask people not to offer it, I'm treated to condescending clucking about how ungrateful I am because that person is just trying to help.

          Quit telling me what to do
          One good way to feel out whether someone would like the advice you want to give is to just ask!

          "Oh hey, I heard you're frustrated about X--can I tell you about something that worked for me when I had the same problem?"

          "I saw your post about looking for a job--would you like any help with your resume?"

          "This tweet reminds me of a similar situation my friend went through--would you like a link to some perspectives/advice?"

          I don't mind that kind of response at all. After all, if the person involved genuinely wants to help me and is doing so in the spirit of helpfulness and concern, they will also be understanding if I'm not in a good place to receive advice or if their perspective is unlikely to be helpful for me because of specifics I haven't disclosed. If it is about helping me, how they feel about opportunities to offer advice should not be the focus. 

          But there are people out there who just want the experience of telling other people what to do. And people out there who believe anyone who talks about a problem automatically wants help solving it. And people out there whose privileged position in the world allows them opportunities that aren't available to some of the rest of us, but still talk to us like what works for them will work for us.

          THOSE are the people who immediately get salty if you reject, ignore, or request they withhold their advice. I'm just trying to help notwithstanding, if I didn't ask for your perspective, your advice, or your thoughts on it and you're about to say something prescriptive, you're probably not helping. Especially since so much of the unsolicited advice I've received in recent years starts with the phrase "Well why didn't you just . . . ?" Which subtly blames me for my situation and suggests I should have known better than to have the problem in the first place. Telling me my problems are my own fault isn't constructive unless I'm asking you to help me figure out how to avoid getting in the situation again.

          It's true that sometimes people who need advice or would be better off following certain advice are not receptive to it. I understand that. I also don't think it's appropriate to assume when it's one of those times, or to disrespect people's autonomy, or to assume your opinion is relevant. I can tell you from experience that most of the unsolicited advice I've received has either been unnecessary because I already knew how to handle the problem OR has been unusable because the person misunderstood/miscalculated the situation. People who wander into your spaces and tell you what to do rarely feel they need to ask questions, because it isn't really about understanding your situation.  

          They don't want to truly understand the problem. They just want to be the one to say they solved it.