2012 The Slash Pile Q&A for ICoS

tumblr fucked up all my links on the masterlist and it’s been a pain trying to find some of them. For a question someone asked today I wanted to check the September 2012 Q&A we did at The Slash Pile but I had to search separately on livejournal. Just in case that page ever disappears, I decided to try to paste it here. The formatting may be all jacked but hopefully it will be readable.

SOME FOREWARNING FOR BELOW:

  1. I wasn’t able to easily remove anyone’s names/userpics because my computer would only let me select all for copy/paste. If you have an old lj represented on here and you want me to remove your name/userpic from this and replace it with something generic, I will absolutely do so. Please just let me know your preferences and your name/pic to look for.
  2. I didn’t reread any of this. If anything is problematic or different below from what we’ve said since, sorry. It’s from 2012 and some viewpoints may have changed since then, with more time and knowledge.
  3. My lj username is starlite_gone and Sonny’s was cancelsonny, just so you know who’s talking below.
  4. Thank you again to TSP for hosting this Q&A! It was really successful with the number of questions 🙂

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I’m on patreon now!

I just realized I posted about this everywhere but here.. Sorry if you already saw this on tumblr, but if you didn’t here’s a bunch of info in one post:


A bunch of updates!

For the midday folks who missed my late night announcement, and for those who saw that but want updated links of stuff I’ve done since, I present to you:

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I’m now on patreon! patreon.com/ais

Do you have to be a patron to get my stuff? Nope, most things will eventually be free to the public too, but patrons get early access on items plus more. They get at least one chapter a month of Incarnations, and a wildcard option I decide every month, and they get to vote on another small project they want to see that month. Their names are also on a thank you page on my site. Plus maybe more in the future!

What I’ve released on Patreon for Incarnations will be released every quarter or so for free to the public so you can read it too if you can’t afford Patreon or don’t want to. I may change that timeline in the future to more like every 6 months or something, we’ll see. This first month in September, though, I’m releasing a lot of stuff to the public so you can get an idea of what to expect on Patreon.

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Incarnations chapters one and two are already released! Find them here!

Incarnations chapter one
Incarnations chapter two

What is Incarnations/why should you care about it/what’s the quality of editing like on the releases? All those answers here: How edited is Incarnations, anyway? And other overview info

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Did you know I have a newsletter for my stuff? (aka, not an ICoS newsletter, but an Ais newsletter) If you didn’t, you can sign up here, find past issues here, and I just released the newest newsletter today!

It’s right here: http://mailchi.mp/6568f7557ee3/ais-is-now-on-patreon

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Also:

What’s the context on that? Find out here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/avoid-like-boyd-14434923

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I think those are the main updates but you should really check out my posts at Patreon because I’ve already made a bunch of them:  https://www.patreon.com/ais/posts

You are wonderful, you are not alone, and I want you to know that

The below post was originally written October 27, 2012, on my Goodreads blog. I’m posting it here on my wordpress blog now in case anything ever happens to my Goodreads account, so I don’t lose it.


Hey everyone.

First, I should clarify my previous entry: I posted that I might be absent because I hadn’t been on social media for about a month already and I didn’t want anyone trying to contact me and thinking I was ignoring them. So just FYI in general, if I ever seem to be ignoring you I probably just didn’t see it. I go in waves of being involved on social media and taking a break, because I’m an introvert so sometimes social media feels too, well, social for me. But my email (mikaaislin@gmail.com) is where you can always find me.

On to the main point of this post:

I love Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show. Is that what this post is about? Not at all, actually, except that youtube clips of her show are some of the things that first got this topic going in my mind and over the weeks it’s been snowballing. Especially after I read Unbearable Lightness. And especially after I’ve been reading some book reviews that have pointed out some pervasive negative themes in stories.

And that is this: all too often, people are made to feel like crap just for being who they are. All too often, people are bullied. All too often, societal expectations exceed what should realistically be asked of anyone. And all too often, it’s easy for people to fall into a state of depression or unhappiness as a result.

If this topic stands out to you as something you have experienced in your life– recently or long ago– first I want to say this to you:

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that people or society failed you. I’m sorry that you were ever made to feel less than perfect as you are. I’m sorry that you were ever hurt.

What we all need to remember is that gender identity, sexual orientation or lack thereof, age, body shape, ethnicity– none of these things MATTER. None of these things say anything about the person themselves. How much money you have to your name doesn’t matter, whether you have a prestigious title or you’re a peon like the rest of us–

It doesn’t MATTER.

What matters is who you are.

What matters is what you do.

What matters is you make up for it if you make a mistake and stand strong when you don’t.

What matters is you help others if they’re down.

What matters is you won’t let someone be hurt in front of you if you have the opportunity to do something to stop it.

What matters is you care.

Not everyone can express themselves in the same way. Some people (like myself) really don’t like confrontation. Some people do. Some people feel more comfortable on the sidelines and some people like to stand out as the hero. Some people really care but are too shy or uncertain to say anything and some people care so much that they are continually brash or headstrong.

We are all different and that’s okay. One person’s way of life is not better than another’s; they’re just different.

We are also all alike and that’s okay. We’re all human and we make mistakes, we get scared or angry, we get uncertain or indignant. We say things we don’t mean and mean things we don’t say. We speak up too early or too late and miss opportunities to make a difference at the right time.

It’s okay. You’re okay.

You have to be yourself, that’s the most important thing. Beyond that, it’s a work in progress. Sometimes, even being able to BE yourself is a work in progress, because who you are might be something that causes you to be the target of negativity. In some places, just being who you are could be lethal or extremely dangerous. So if you have to hide for your own safety, that’s okay.

It’s okay.

You aren’t a terrible person for being yourself and you aren’t a terrible person if you can’t BE yourself because circumstances force you into hiding.

Maybe there’s no one else out there who ever feels that way but I know I did when it came to the idea of coming out.

I felt like I was flawed and wrong for not being “normal” like so many other people. I felt like I was defective. I feel like I have to hide who I am in some circumstances but in others I can be forthright. Constantly being on guard and having to consider context before comments can be stressful and, at times, distressing. Even just a couple of weeks ago I felt that distress rather clearly, and at the time what made me feel better was people telling me this:

It’s okay. You’re not alone. You’re not wrong. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re okay.

I’ve been thinking about it and I feel very strongly about saying the same thing to others. Because one thing that Youtube has reinforced to me is that people can be wonderful, but they can also be incredibly callous; they can be rude and spiteful and sometimes downright vindictive or mean. They can bully others because of their opinion, or insult entire continents, countries or cultures for something they don’t even understand. They can rush headlong down a path that will end in heartache for someone, and it could be that they don’t care or it could be that they just don’t understand.

Because words are powerful, and they can build a person up but they can also break a person down.

So please take these words as much to heart as you may have ever been depressed by negative ones:

You are beautiful. You are handsome. You are a good person. You are and can be loved. You deserve to be. You deserve good things. You deserve happiness as much as anyone else.

I don’t care what your ancestry is or where you live, I don’t care what your body shape is or whether you meet the impossible ideals that may be set forth by your society. I don’t care if the gender you identify with matches the gender you were born with. I don’t care if you’re asexual, homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual, or any other variation beyond. I don’t care what you believe politically, religiously, culturally, or whether you don’t believe anything at all.

I don’t care because all I need to know is that you’re there.

We may spend time on a virtual world of social media and websites and intangible ideas made visual, with our words spelled out on a screen and not spoken by voice. We may never meet in person and may not recognize each other even if we were in the same room.

But it doesn’t matter.

Because when I sit down and type to a screen, I know that a human being is on the other side of that communication. I know that out there, you get upset, you get happy; you get excited, you get down; you get curious, you get resigned.

You have a range of emotions like I do, and you have a life like I do, and you’re a human being like I am. And I know that because of that you’re important, and I know that because of that you deserve a chance at happiness and inherent respect the same as the rest of us.

Scientists currently estimate there are 8.7 million different species on the planet, and 7 billion humans.

There are a lot of us out there, and with such a large number maybe it does mean that there is a percentage that will hurt others without regard. Maybe it does mean that there is a percentage for a lot of variations, but that also mean there’s bound to be a percentage out there like you.

If you’re ever hurt, if you’re ever sad, if you ever feel alone in what you’re going through, remember that even if you’re in a vast minority, even if less than 1 percent of the world’s humans are like you, that is still up to 70 million people.

Remember that even if someone hurts you, there are others who won’t and who only want to help you. Remember that even if you’re sad, there are others who would want to make you happy. Remember that even if you ever feel weak or scared or vulnerable, it’s okay to process those feelings and it’s okay to take a break, but when you’re ready to come back there are others who will stand by your side.

Maybe these people aren’t always evident or easy to find. Maybe there are a lot of things that keep going wrong. Maybe you’re tired of fighting. It’s okay. You’re okay. You’re not wrong to have emotions and you’re not wrong to need time to work through them.

But you aren’t alone.

Because no matter what else may change, we’re all human. And with 7 billion of us in the world and counting, there’s bound to be someone out there who understands.

THAT is what matters.

That is all that ever mattered.

some TV show thoughts

This post is mostly for me to remember but also in case anyone else has thought of watching these or has watched and is curious about other people’s thoughts. I currently have a hulu trial subscription so I’m trying to watch a number of shows on there that aren’t elsewhere. Also, recently I was trying out new stuff on Netflix.

Here are some thoughts on some of the shows I’ve started watching or fully seen recently, in no particular order. btw, I’m pretty blunt in my hatred of one particular character in one of the shows I mention. As I say at the end of the post, if I don’t love something you love, my feelings on the matter shouldn’t affect your own. We all react to things in different ways for different reasons. Some things I adore are the same things other people hate or dismiss. It’s all about perspective and subjectivity, and that variation in feelings and thoughts is awesome imo because it makes the world a more diverse place 🙂 I just wanted to get my thoughts down on these after finishing them because I’ve found my memory sucks on this sort of stuff, and if I do write down my thoughts it helps me later if I pick the show back up or try to remember if I did or didn’t like something.

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Seriously considering doing an assessment or walk-in to a program that helps with eating disorders. I no longer need help getting anorexia under control in terms of starving myself, but now I’ve run into the problem of not knowing how to safely lose weight to feel healthier and happier, without resorting to the means I used before, and without letting myself go beyond an actually healthy level.

I’ve only gotten professional help one time, and even then it wasn’t actually about the ED. I was talking about other things but realized in that session that maybe I did have a problem. But that was a very brief experience in college, and after that I dealt with everything completely alone. Part of me thinks I would fail if I asked for help, but the larger part of me knows it shows more strength to know when you need help and ask for it than it does to isolate yourself unnecessarily.

This is the reason I post about things like this on and off, because publicly saying I might do a thing makes me more likely to do it or at least not just pass it off immediately in my mind. And there may be other people who read this who are going through the same thoughts, and seeing this may not feel alone.

To The Bone, and thoughts on anorexia

I just watched To The Bone… it’s a Netflix original movie about a group of people with eating disorders, especially anorexia because that’s what the main character has.

I remember hearing about this before it came out–people saying they thought it would be triggering and/or glamorize EDs, especially anorexia. For me, it wasn’t triggering at all. I didn’t think it glamorized it at all. It just told the story from a perspective rarely seen, in a snippet often glossed over in narratives.

For me, if I had any issues with it at all, it’s one part I can’t reference without a spoiler, but that is more of asexual me responding than anything, and the only other “issue” I would have is I wish it were longer. I would like to see a sequel to this, although I doubt they will make it.

Personally, I didn’t have any issues at all with the ED part of it. I thought overall the movie was quite funny in parts, sad in others, awkward where it was supposed to be awkward, hopeful in other aspects. Just like life. It wasn’t as tectonically moving as I expected it to be for me, but that isn’t because of a failure on the part of the movie.

Actually, I think it’s a good thing. I think this shows that I’ve come a long way since the last time I watched an anorexia-themed movie or show. I think the fact that it didn’t dig emotional claws into me deeper than would any other movie, shows I’ve learned to tell the voice to fuck off, as Dr Beckman says to do in the movie, and it shows that I’ve come far enough that I can watch something like this and see it as the story it is first and foremost, instead of everything bouncing all around my brain worrying about everything else.

I’m not sure if the way I explained that makes any sense…

But then, maybe a reason it doesn’t affect me as strongly is because I never went through therapy or got any sort of help for my issues. And the movie is set almost entirely during therapy. I liked the story a lot, though. I felt like they didn’t try to glamorize or dramatize anything, really. The main character’s story feels like something that could actually happen right now in real life, and I like that.

I still need to release the bits and pieces I’ve written so far about my own struggles with anorexia. I have some parts written. I keep thinking I’ll share some here on my blog, and then I keep not doing it. Not because I mind if people know everything that I cover in it, but because I don’t know the best way to release it without it being super random, or without potentially triggering anyone.

On the other hand, that’s what everyone feared about To The Bone, right? That it would trigger people with EDs. But it didn’t trigger me. Granted, I’m not as deep in anorexia as I used to be, but I don’t think those thoughts ever fully leave one’s mind. It’s all a matter of how you categorize them in your head; the weight you give the weight you have. Every day, I think at least 2-3 times that I would be “better” somehow if I were 30-40 pounds lighter. At least 20. And every day I ultimately dismiss or ignore that thought, or argue against the voice.

The thing is, if you have an ED, if you dealt with anorexia for any significant time, you can’t trust your own eyes, your own opinion. I look in the mirror and what I see may not be what everyone else sees. I think some people think I’m a lot smaller than I am, but maybe I also think I’m bigger than I am. That’s the point, isn’t it? Those numbers, they mean nothing. They’re numbers only, just some digits taken from a scale and set to mind. They’re as arbitrary and subjective as opinions and beauty are.

There is no equation that solves all one’s problems. The only equation is living, and the only solution is continuing to live even when you think you can’t. Because those feelings will ebb and flow over time, like the tide at sea. Sometimes the ocean will recede, back and back and back into the horizon, and it feels like a drought will take over everything we know, and there will never again be water, there will never again be life. But the ocean always returns. The water will always be there again. Sometimes there’s too much water; the tide comes in too fiercely, and it’s not a drought of emotions, now it’s drowning in them, suffocating from an overabundance of something so ubiquitous it becomes inimical to life and living; a silent, unassuming partner for death. But that water, too, will eventually be drawn back out for tide. That water, too, will ebb. And if it goes out too far, if it comes back as a tsunami, it will take much longer to recover. But always, always, it will recede. If only you have the willingness and patience to wait for it, or to run and find the place where the tide is out if you don’t.

What is perfect? What is beautiful, or right, or wrong? What is humor? What makes one view of any of these more legitimate than another’s? If there is variation in the way humans view these things, why can there not be variation in how we see ourselves? Internally, on our own; a variegated, carbon-dated archaeological dig into our own self-view, self-worth, self-confidence, self-pity, just Self.

We all have stories we want to tell, and other stories we don’t. The dark stories we may not hide for any reason other than because they are hidden even from us, even though we may still feel them. Sick and slick and a dark balm on the soul. Something that feels like it’s helping us, healing us, but is hurting us, harming us; the slow dance down to a self-prescribed -cide, the only question being which it is. Suicide, homicide, fratricide, and more.

But why does that have to be the only end? Stories only start and end where you say. Give your story a little longer, and the line you choose to end on may give an entirely different meaning than even the one before it. Or the one after. We can’t choose what happens to us, we can’t always even choose how we react to what happens. But we can choose how we see that story, or how we make the story see us.

This world is not here to be perfect for you, so you don’t have to be perfect for the world.

You know… I write posts like this, and then I think about posting them, and sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. Do the words make sense? Am I conveying what I meant, or saying something unintentional that I don’t mean? Do I mean it after all and just didn’t know or realize?

Now when I think about anorexia, it makes me philosophical. Because inevitably it leads me to thinking about subjectivity. There was a time I thought the world was much more divided than it really is, as strange as that may sound given how divisive the norm has become.

But I believed in extremities. I don’t mean I believed extremities exist–of course they do–I mean, I saw the world in either/or fashion more than mediation. Black or white, right or wrong, good or evil. It wasn’t always that cut and dry, it wasn’t always that dismissive, but it was there. I didn’t believe solely in those concepts, because I’d lived so much of my life outside the norm. But maybe what I thought was accepted was only those extremities. Maybe I thought that to the general world, the general population, I only existed when my natural flow overlapped one of those pools of thought. Everywhere else, I was an in-between, a nothingness that existed because it breathed, but did not exist because it didn’t live the way it was supposed to.

And that was part of it, wasn’t it? “Supposed to” — an expectation, inexorable, unspoken but unavoidable, a question in every breath and a thought in every mind. That which we are expected to do, that which we are required. Being born so different, maybe on some level I thought it was my duty to align in some ways whenever I could, to give meaning to my life, maybe, or maybe to give context for myself.

I get philosophical because I think about all the things I thought, and all the things I think now, and they aren’t so different, honestly; I’ve always been pretty similar in some ways. But the way I see those thoughts is what has changed. I think.

The question is this: whose voice do you listen to, when you can listen to only one?

Is it the voice that tells you over and over you aren’t enough, you have to be more or less or better or different?

Is it the voice of others, not understanding or not trying, an accidental dismissal of everything you own and know and are?

Is it the voice of those who do understand, who do try, but don’t know the words to fix it, because they think they have to do the fixing even when they don’t?

Is it the voice inside, perilous and quavering and oh so uncertain about everything?

Is it the voice even deeper inside, quiet and questioning, unwilling to accept the status quo, unwilling to accept this is it?

For me, it was that deeper voice that made me always stop just before it went too far. That deeper voice that, for years, led to nights I cried alone, hushing my voice so the tears tracked my cheeks but even my gasps were silenced so I wouldn’t disturb anyone else. That deeper voice that would not let me accept the louder voices. That deeper voice that refused to give up on me.

If you were to ask what any of this means, what any of this matters, I couldn’t tell you. It’s just the thoughts I have when I watch movies like To The Bone. The philosophy that emerges when that deeper voice rises to the surface, once more discontent with the silence, once more questioning all that I thought I knew, and everything I accepted since the last time we conversed.

The Equality of Differences (full text)

I had posted part of my Equality of Differences post here on my blog previously, but I wanted to post the full text here in case QRM ever needs to purge its old posts for space or something else happens that causes it to accidentally disappear.

While it’s still around, find it here: http://www.queerromancemonth.com/ais-lin-2015/

The Equality of Differences by Ais Lin

I have spent most of my life feeling like an alien on Earth. The main reason for this is because it has often felt like, at every step of the way, I was different than what society expected.

My earliest memory is of being at recess in elementary school and running up to a teacher to ask, “What’s a lesbian?” I know I asked that question because somebody called me one, but I don’t remember exactly what they said, nor what the teacher’s response was. All I know is whatever the teacher said gave me the impression it was something very bad, because I remember running back and yelling at the other kid that I wasn’t a lesbian at all.

I was too young back then to know I actually was a lesbian, and way too young to know I was asexual as well. Maybe if I’d known I wouldn’t have denied it to that kid, because later I would grow up to realize how important it is to be myself. Even when that means I feel like I don’t belong.

For anyone who’s interested, I wrote a blog post earlier this year called An Asexual’s View of Love which talks about how, to me, romance can seem like a fetishization of love. I don’t want to be repetitive so I focus on different topics in this post than I did in that one.

The topic of having romance be accessible to everyone is something very dear to me, as a woman who is definitely a romantic at heart but who also happens to be both asexual and a lesbian. I’ve often felt that the things that are expected of human beings, and especially female human beings in the US, are things that are utterly foreign to me.

There are different ways of feeling alienated or consistently “not normal.” For me, it’s always been a whole lot of little things that added up to me feeling like a freak of nature as far as mainstream is concerned. Stereotypes shouldn’t be expectations, but in aggregate they are.

Women are overtly sexualized in the US (which creeps me out as an asexual), with the expectation that men should get the most out of her and have some control of, or accessibility to, her beauty (which creeps me out as a lesbian), and with the further assumption that her end goal in life must be to have children, marry and settle down (which creeps me out as someone who didn’t like kids as a kid and doesn’t want to be around them any more as an adult).

In short, if you imagine what is assumed to be “normal,” I was almost always the opposite.

One of the most pervasive differences in my life has been related to what are expected to be basic experiences of all American youth. Unlike most people I knew growing up in high school, college, and beyond: I didn’t drink, smoke, use drugs, or party. To this day I’ve never smoked cigarettes nor tried anything even as low level as pot, and I have zero interest in doing so. I didn’t have my first full drink of alcohol until I was probably twenty-three, didn’t own a single wine glass until I was thirty, and generally could happily live my life without alcohol.

In a country that seems obsessed with religion, I was raised without religion but surrounded by various denominations of Christianity (some more hardcore than others). Yet, when I chose my own religion at age 14, I became Wiccan (Pagan) which, at the time, was very misunderstood and resulted in some religious persecution, mostly for my friend. Later, in college, the first time I found a group of people who understood the feeling of Otherness from not drinking/partying, was when I spoke to Sunni young Muslim women who struggled with the same issues. I came to have a lot of respect for Islam, and to day this naturally feel more comfortable around Muslims because they were the first group of people who both welcomed and understood that feeling.

At 14 I also became vegetarian, at a time and place when it was very uncommon to be so (and not entirely accepted). I became a Reiki Level I practitioner at 16, way before alternative healing was acknowledged in the US and I had to drive hours to find someone who could teach me. And when kids got in trouble for sneaking out, I got in trouble for staying up too late reading books.

There are more examples, but that’s a basic overview.

I was very fortunate to have a great family who told me to be myself, and a handful of close friends who didn’t question me being me. For that reason, I had some stability. But in the greater scheme of things, I always felt like I was damaged goods. Broken. In greater society, I felt a lot of pressure because I knew I was inherently wrong. I knew it would be easier if I conformed, but that was something I couldn’t do, even if I wanted to.

I’m proud of being different even though that also means I have often felt suffocated by it, and at times I wished to the depths of my soul that for once in my fucking life I could just be normal. For fucking once, I could fit in with mainstream.

Because a lot of stories are informed by mainstream expectations, I feel like it’s rare to find characters who represent me in any medium. The few times a character represents a piece of me, it often feels like their difference is dismissed or turned into a joke or sometimes even mocked.

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