So…

I made a new blog. I’m moving all book-related posts over there, so this blog will now be all ace, all the time. Here it is!

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Published in: on August 17, 2011 at 9:20 PM  Leave a Comment  

Touch

I think touch is wonderful and one of the best things ever. Which is somewhat ironic of me, as I’m not particularly adept when it comes to touch. Or, I should clarify, I’m not adept when it comes to casual touch. Except for a very few circumstances (and people), I don’t usually reach out and touch people, be it their arm, their head, their shoulder, anything. I’m horrible at giving and receiving hugs on a casual basis, mostly because I never know how long the person hugging me intends for the hug to lasts, and I might want it to be shorter or longer than what they have in mind. So what I spend almost the entirety of the hug doing beyond the first initial “mmph” of contact is worry over how long I should let the hug last and should I break first or let them do it? I’ve even done this when I’ve hugged people “for real” (i.e. not casually) because I didn’t want to make the other person uncomfortable if I hugged them too long, so I’ve usually been the one to end it, even if I could have continued for longer. I’m pretty much at the point where I’m seriously considering asking before hugging someone, “How long should we hug for?” just so I could have a time-limit that lets me concentrate on the act of hugging and being hugged, and not everything else I just said.

However, hugging is one of my top two favorite form of physical contact. I love that feeling of a powerful grip, the sensation of burying your face into their chest or shoulder because you do not want to let go, you just want to feel them, feel as physically close to them as the laws of physics and biology will allow. Good hugging experiences are worth their weight in gold for me.

Granted, this type of hug is very special, and I don’t want to experience it with everyone, but I wouldn’t mind experiencing a watered-down version of it when I hug people (and by people I mean my friends, I actually can’t stand hugging my parents for some inexplicable reason).

My other favorite form of touch is touching another person’s face. Again, not something I want to do with everyone, even more so than the hugging I just described. But there have been two or three people who I’ve felt the urge, particularly when thinking about having to say goodbye to them for one reason or another, to reach out and run my fingers down the sides of their face, around their eyes, their nose, just simply getting to know how their face feels. I should also note that I’ve never actually done this, but it is something that I would definitely like to do sometime in the future.

A big reason why I am not that adept at touch is because I find it so intimate. When I touch someone or let someone touch me, it is a pretty big expression of trust and closeness towards that person that I’m communicating. It’s a powerful action. A lot of times, touch is about perception, how you perceive someone through physical contact how that differs or coincides with other forms of knowledge or intimacy. One step further is that touch is a means of exploration and connection. However, at it’s core, touch is a means of affirmation. Touch says, “This person is here. They are solid, they are physical, and they are real. This person is here, letting you touch them, and you are here, letting them touch you.” Touch is the attempt to hang on, to make real and tangible out of what is otherwise abstract and indefinable.

 

Published in: on August 15, 2011 at 12:02 AM  Leave a Comment  

The 30 Day Asexuality Challenge – Day 19

19) What do relationships mean to you?

That’s a pretty broad question, but I will try to be succinct.

Up until a couple of years ago, I firmly categorized romantic relationships as being “more important” and “more meaningful” than just friendships. I did believe, as I do now, that the best romantic relationships were those in which the partners were friends/started out as friends, but I thought that romantic feelings and attraction added something “extra” that elevated that relationship beyond all others.

Since identifying as asexual, I have had to drastically rethink the importance of certain types of relationships and ask hard questions about what I stand to gain or lose in how I categorize them. Since the odds of me being in a successful, long-lasting romantic relationship, absent of any sex, are very slim, I need to look elsewhere for the types of feelings, experiences, and emotions I want to share with people. As a result, certain friendships of mine have come to mean more to me than they ever have before. And I’m continuing to open up to the idea, and accept, that the best relationships, regardless of type or categorization, will be the ones in which I am so amazingly happy to be in their presence and that we each share a space in each other’s life.

I’m a pretty big introvert. I’ve gotten better at being superficially friendly over the past two years, but I’m only close to – as in really good friends with – a couple of people. My goal and my hope is that my ability to create friendships and relationships will continually grow, such that wherever I go, there will be people who exist, in whatever capacity, to share my life with and to share theirs with me. Granted, I’m not looking to love a whole city (like I said, I’m an introvert), but I would like a core group of people that I love and who love me back. Love is love, no matter what form it takes, and I want it to always be there, no matter what.

Published in: on August 14, 2011 at 11:18 PM  Leave a Comment  

The 30 Day Asexuality Challenge – Day 18

18) Tell us a funny joke about asexuality.

“So two asexuals walk into a bar…”

I don’t actually know any ace jokes.

Published in: on August 14, 2011 at 10:59 PM  Leave a Comment  

The 30 Day Asexuality Challenge – Day 17

17) Your favorite “asexual” movie.

Same deal as with the last question. I can’t think of a movie that I’ve specifically enjoyed for its lack of romance and/or sex as the main focus. Hopefully I can provide better, more satisfying answers for the upcoming questions than what I’ve been giving the last couple of times.

Published in: on August 6, 2011 at 10:10 PM  Leave a Comment  

The 30 Day Asexuality Challenge – Day 16

16) Your favorite “asexual” book (as in, sex and/or romance are not the main focus).

This question bothers me for two reasons. The first is that I love and adore many books for multiple reasons that, even when given parameters from which to select a “favorite” book of any type, it’s practically impossible for me to select just one. The second reason is (and I could be reading the meme creator’s intention incorrectly) the way the question is phrased seems to suggest that think of an “asexual” book is a difficult task. Maybe if you only read a few books or only lit fic or adult fic in general. If you read widely, and particularly if you still read children’s books and count some of them as among your favorite books (which I do), then you have a lot more books to chose from. In general, there are hundred upon hundreds of books in which sex and/or romance aren’t the main focus. The only genres of books in which the books consistently present sex and/or romance as the main focus are romance and erotica.

I hate to cop out, but I don’t think I can really think of a favorite ace book because there hasn’t really been a book I’ve enjoyed and applauded specifically for not having one or more of those things as the main focus. When sex and/or romance is written well, I enjoy it. When it’s written horribly, I think more poorly of the book in question. Again, this is how I’m interpreting this particular question. It’s parameters are such that I can’t give a personally satisfying answer.

Published in: on August 6, 2011 at 10:07 PM  Leave a Comment  

The 30 Day Asexuality Challenge – Day 15

15) Your favorite asexual character/celebrity/person.

I’m actually going to hold off on answering this question, as the next Carnival of Aces topic is about asexuality in literature and the media. There is a character, who I consider to be one of the best characters ever, who says and does so many ace-positive things over the course of multiple books that I want to explore them all, in great detail. So I will wait to write that post and link it back to here when I finish it.

Published in: on August 5, 2011 at 8:57 PM  Leave a Comment  

The 30 Day Asexuality Challenge – Day 14

14) Tell us about a time when you met another asexual, whether in real life or online.

I sort of wrote about this in a previous post about how I first learned one of my college friends was ace, and in turn she learned I was ace as well. However, I first met her in the beginning of my freshman year, right before the semester started. We lived in the same dorm and her room was pretty near mine, and my roommate and I happen to see her unpacking while talking to two of her friends. We stopped in to exchange the usual “Hello, how are you, what’s your name?” kinds of questions.

We managed to know each other for about a year and a half, none of us realizing the other was asexual. Then during Paideia (the week before the second semester starts at my college when students are allowed back on campus and hold informal classes on any and every topic that interests them), one guy (who I’d never met before) put together an Asexuality 101 class, which I thought would be intriguing to go to, since I’d never seen asexuality explained or discussed in space outside of ace spaces on the internet, and I also wanted to lend support to the person doing the class. At the end, I went up to thank him for running the class and doing such a great job. He asked me if I was ace too and I said I was. I turned around to see my friend, who I hadn’t even realized had been there during the class, and she said, “You’re ace!?” “Yeah,” I said. “So am I!” she responded. And then we high fived.

Published in: on August 3, 2011 at 11:00 PM  Leave a Comment  

Relationships and Friendship

I’d been intending to participate in the Carnival of Aces for a while now, but each time I either missed the deadline or couldn’t think of anything to write about that I really wanted to say. However, this month’s topic of relationships let me write about something, and a relationship, that I’ve been tossing around in my head for a while. It’s kinda messy though. Feel free to pick it apart.

Among the asexual community, there has been a lot of discussion about the difference between a friendship and a romantic relationship and why the latter is so privileged over the former among many people. However, my question is this: how on earth can a decent romantic relationship exist without friendship?

Good friendships, the ones that endure, take a long time to develop. For them to succeed, they require the potential for and continuation of growth of camaraderie, trust, affection, and understanding. Friends are often defined as those with whom you can be yourself around and who will accept you for who you are, warts and all. In my opinion, all of these factors are essential in a romantic relationship as well. However, I also think that those with the best romantic relationships are those who have learned to be friends with their partners, who have built their relationship on a solid foundation of friendship that coexists with their romantic feelings for each other.

I have been in exactly one romantic relationship in my life with a friend of mine who I developed romantic feelings for. This person has, and continues to be, a good friend of mine. I don’t think I would have been romantically attracted to him if we hadn’t been friends already, nor would have I continued to crush on him for as long as I did if we hadn’t become close friends over that year. Even though it’s been years since we broke up and I am no longer romantically attracted to him, I would still say that I love him, and not simply “as a friend”. I am glad we are friends and I am happy to keep it that way, but from our friendship, I have grown to love him as himself, as the person that I’ve known for so long. Even when he enters a romantic relationship of his own, I will most likely continue to love him, because how can I not?

Some of the best romantic relationships I’ve seen among my friends and other people are those that arose from a pre-existing, firm friendship. What I don’t get are romantic relationships that begin just weeks or days of the people first meeting. How can those relationships last when there’s no foundation to build them on? I know some people do have happy, satisfying romantic relationships that began the way I just described, but it still boggles my mind. Attraction of any kind, be it romantic, sexual, whatever, is way too fickle to be the sole basis of any kind of relationship.

Now that I think about it, I think the boundary between friendship and a romantic relationship is a lot slimmer than it looks, to the point that I, too, am confused as to what exactly (besides increased physical contact, in many cases) is supposed to differentiate a “mere” friendship from a romantic relationship. When my friend and I started going out, I wasn’t sure how our relationship was supposed to change. This occurred before I knew I was ace, but even at the time, I wasn’t crazy about touching him the way I knew everyone else was expecting we would, i.e. sexually. Other than that, I had absolutely no clue what we were supposed to be doing differently. We had already developed a pretty good connection with each other when we were friends. Why was the fact that I was romantically attracted to him supposed to change how we interacted?

Also, I think friendship is such an essential part of a romantic relationship because it not only provides a foundation, but it also widens the boundaries of that relationship. In a friendship, each person is allowed space to exist outside of that friendship. They can see other people or do activities that don’t fit within the space of that particular relationship. In Mad Ship by Robin Hobb (one of my favorite authors), one character tells another that it is possible to love someone while remaining free, but in doing so, it is necessary for each person to recognize that they each have needs that the other can’t fulfill, which means allowing their partner to let other people into their life. And that’s how any kind of relationship works. No one but my parents will ever know me as their daughter, nor will I know them as anything but my parents. Romantic relationships, in which the expectation is that this relationship will be the sole important relationship in each person’s lives, make me feel like I can’t breathe. I have room in my life and my heart for many people, why must a romantic relationship eclipse all the others, even if that person is the one I’m “closest” to?

In the end, I continue to love my friend, and we continue to build and maintain a friendship that the both of us value. We have a lot of history between us and he means a lot to me, as a person and as a friend. However, like I said, I don’t think I could have ever grown to love him if we hadn’t developed the friendship we did. Romantic attraction and feelings come and go, but relationships, solid, meaningful relationships of any kind, are what allows love to grow between people, and friendships are prime breeding grounds for love.

Published in: on August 1, 2011 at 8:34 AM  Comments (2)