Tuesday, June 20, 2017

National Fudge Day!

This holiday was on Friday. I love fudge! It's kind of a novelty for me. I feel quite a bit different about hot fudge. I like it, but it doesn't seem as unique. Sunday was Father's Day. I feel a bit weird about this holiday. I want to think that every parent's day is honoring my dad. (I've mentioned why it's weird before.) I did read about what a non-binary parent wants to be called by their child, recently. That was Ren or Renny. They used the 'ren' in parent. Also, Renny in place of Daddy or Mommy. Very interesting. Makes a lot of sense. There's also a Parent's Day, but it's not nearly as big or as recognized as the other 2 holidays. 

Saturday night, we went to a local Japanese restaurant to celebrate Father's Day. Sadly, what she got as an entree wasn't very good. She liked the grilled squid that was an appetizer, though. The entree was, I think, braised black cod. The texture wasn't great, and there were too many bones. It was small, too. It also came with a salad. They're salad is basically just lettuce and a creamy ginger dressing. She doesn't like that, and it was bigger than the fish...So, she ended up getting sushi. At least, she had some things that she liked. I got their beef yakisoba. It had a decent amount of vegetables, and the beef had a little char to it which I like. Very good. Everything comes with pickled bean sprouts and miso soup first. I really love the sprouts! The soup is usually not that great. This time, there was a lot of miso that settled on the bottom. It made a lot of grit. Usually, there isn't much that settles. Maybe it was the bottom of the pot or something. Made it somewhat worse. Miso soup can be good, and sometimes very flavorful. Theirs isn't.

I finally decided to identify as agender. Agender is lit: without gender. It's starting to make more and more sense. I don't think I've felt similar to any of the women I've been around about gender. I don't feel like a man either. In the past, I just thought I was 'lazy' about being a woman or something. Most of the time I'd forget about it, or really not feel anything that way. I think I mentioned about how I like some of the things that are thought of as feminine, but it's all like pretty and fun decoration. It doesn't do much more for me. What got me going in circles recently about it, boiled down to one question. What does gender truly feel like? I couldn't answer that, which might be an indicator that I am agender. I'll still go by she/her for now, since that's what I'm used to. That might change in the future. I don't know. Not sure what else I'll do about it, but it's nice to find out this side of me. I mentioned this in a facebook aro ace group, and a couple of agender people responded. They really related to what I wrote. Got quite a few loves and pride reactions. One said there's no wrong way to be agender. Just do what you feel is comfortable. This was nice to hear. Interestingly, there's a higher percentage of agender people in the ace community than there is in the general population. Of course, this still means not everyone is. It's still a small population. I also came out on facebook about it. Got quite a few likes and pride reactions on that. I think some people didn't really know what that meant, and didn't react or comment. That's ok, I suppose. This makes me a triple A. (Aromantic Asexual and Agender.) Yay!

In a conversation recently, someone mentioned that they don't understand labels. That's how they grew up, and why can't we all just be human? This seems a bit troubling to me. It's ok to not understand them. However, to say we're all just human and should identify as that, is kind of narrow-minded. The thing is what's considered 'human' in general, is really just a tiny narrow sliver of the human experience. In general, people think others are just straight (heteroromantic and heterosexual) and cis. They consider that the norm, and eventually what makes us 'human'. That can be dangerous. I know they probably didn't mean it this way, but this is what's seen as normal or human quite often. There's a vast diversity of people that this just ignores. They're like different lenses on the overall human experience. If people ignore it, it's kind of a disservice to us all. I'm glad we're not all the same. That would be boring. Straight and cis people do matter too, but they aren't the only type of people out there. I think it's amazing. Nature apparently loves diversity, but people shun away anything that they don't know. It's too complex, too 'nuanced', they seem like new words, etc. There have been people feeling the way they have since humans came into existence, and now we finally have words for them. That is awesome in itself. It might be my anthropological part of my mind kicking in, but it's interesting to learn about. (I was majoring in anthropology and loved it.) There are some people will invalidate their identity, and tell them that it doesn't exist. This is basically telling them they themselves don't exist. 

Also, I tend to feel giddy and bubbly when I debate or try to clear up a misunderstanding. That's usually in various forums online and in facebook groups. Although, I usually don't do it much on facebook. On Saturday, someone in an ace spectrum group asked if we're a complete ace or on the spectrum. I mentioned how I found 'complete' ace problematic. Someone misunderstood, and it took a while until they got it. I felt saying complete would make it sound like ace-spectrum people aren't whole or authentic in their own right. They eventually said: "Well, if you're such a complete ace, why are you in an ace-spectrum group?" It seemed weird. Technically when people say ace-spectrum, they mean everyone under the ace umbrella. This would indeed include me. I'm just on the far ace side. In groups like this if they ask you if you're on the spectrum, it means the area in between aces and sexuals. The grey area. Truly all sexuality (including aces) is on a spectrum. Once they understood, they apologized profusely. They said that they were constantly invalidated by people for so long, they were defensive, and didn't really read clearly. My heart goes out to them. I really do care about all of the community. That's why I try to speak up when people say they'll allow aces into LGBTQ+ spaces, as long as they're not heteroromantic. No, you accept all of us or none of us. You can't pick and choose.

I've seen some ace 'discourse' on facebook lately. Usually, you'll see it on Tumblr, not fb. This has come up lately because of Pride and the weird vid that has been going around. The one put out by a gym (?) company promoting inclusion, and showing identities and meanings represented by letters from A-Z. They totally erased aces from it. They could have used aros or agender people, too. Quite a few to choose from. Instead they used ally. Allies are supposed to be an outside force helping the community. That's an extremely important role. I'm not dissing them on it. They aren't LGBTQ+, though. Anyways, someone did basically a rebuttal article on it, and it's being shared around, too. It's not the best, but it wasn't bad. The LGBTQ+ gatekeepers have been coming out to hate on aces since then. Luckily there really isn't that many, but it's disheartening. For some, if they just replaced ace with gay, it would be very homophobic. It's sickening. 

After someone was explaining to another person that aces are not cishet, they kept repeating that they were. Cishet is sometimes used almost like a slur to people outside of the community. It usually means cisgender and heterosexual. That doesn't mean heteroromantic aces fall under this category. You can't be both heterosexual and asexual at the same time. That's having an attraction and not. Also, there are trans people who are ace. Saying that they don't want cishets in their community, and then turning around and saying cishet allies belong; makes absolutely no sense. Someone was saying that all aces should be raped or kill themselves. Really nasty stuff.

Some keep saying that aces don't face oppression. Yet, every time aces share a study or their own experiences, they say it's really just because of something else. It can't be because you're ace. They oftentimes think being ace just means you don't like or are scared of sex. (So wrong!) Reading the personal stories aces have shared has been really difficult. However, I think they're very important. Many have gone through corrective rape or assault. Some were put through conversion therapy, and knew other aces that committed suicide because of it. Many were forced on hormones in order to 'turn' them sexual. Many can't rent an apartment. There was a recent study where people would rather rent out an apartment to a gay person than an ace. It's just too different or they don't understand it. Some were fired when their boss found out, because they didn't know what it meant. Some have been kicked out of their family's homes. Some of those families have disowned them. Some have heard about others being killed because they either fought back to prevent being raped, or just because they're different. There's a lot more. For many aces, this ace 'discourse' or Oppression Olympics is too much to take. Especially from a community that's supposed to help us, and be inclusive. 

A few aces have said some hurtful things within some of the ace groups I'm apart on fb. It can get to people more when it's other aces doing close to similar things. Saying why should we be in the LGBTQ+ community? All they are is about sex. This is absolutely false. If they knew the history of it and what it stands for, they wouldn't say that. Also, some of them seem to have invalidated people in the grey area. Saying they're just sexuals trying to be special and invading. There are ace elitist, which are really damaging for the rest of the ace community, and people outside of it. They think you have to be a certain way to be a 'true' asexual, call people who want kids 'breeders', think they're superior to sexuals, hate aces that have or like sex, they think if you're ace you must be aro, etc. As soon as these people are found, they're banned. The damage has already been done by then, though. This environment of some of the LGBTQ+ community, the people outside of it, and some people within our own community is very toxic. Luckily, most of the acephobic stuff is really done by the community outside of the greater LGBTQ+ one. There's just a small percentage in the LGBTQ+ one and among aces. However, they can be loud.

Seattle's Pride parade will be on Sunday. The local Pride group has a float in it this year. That'll be cool to see. I'll be marching with them. They said the volunteers should wear white shorts or pants. I don't have any white pants. (Don't really like shorts.) I guess I'll have to get some by then. Not much time for it. They'll give us shirts, too. Apparently, they're mostly blue. Don't know what the significance of the colors are. Hopefully, it'll be ok to have my flag. I'm leaning more towards wearing it now. It won't be as in your face this way, I guess. Maybe I'll meet other aces through wearing it. Should be fun. 

There will be a Bat Mitzvah the day before. We know the mom and her daughter who's becoming that Bat Mitzvah. So, that should be good. 

I'm starting to think the Pride group isn't going to be in the local 4th of July parade. It's not on their event schedule. At least, not that I can see. They didn't mention it at the picnic, either. That would be sad if they're not in it. Pride fest is still going to happen, of course. It'd be good to have something more local for people who can't go to Seattle, though.

I'm really moving along on both the sequel to Alliance and the memoir. Wrote so much of the sequel today that my hands hurt. They still hurt a bit. I'm close to 30 pages for both now. Basically, double that when thinking about paperback versions. (In that way, that'd be 120 pages.) That's quite a bit.  I'm several pages into chapter 3 for both. I thought I had briefly hit a wall with the sequel, but ended up being barely there. The ideas for that are just flowing. The memoir's 3rd chapter is on the topic of pets and animals in general. That's becoming longer than I expected. The one before that was on Judaism. I like how it's coming along so far.

Both the ebook versions of Alliance and Sweet Endless Terror have promos at the moment. Decided to have Alliance's as the free one this time. Last time I did that with SET. I think I'm selling more free copies for Alliance so far. 19 last I checked. I think I sold about 6 at this point with SET when it was free. Alliance's going up in ranking. Interestingly, I've looked at the ranking graph, and it has been steadily increasing each day since January. That's pretty cool. SET has the discount countdown one right now. It's not doing anything really. Next week it'll have the same promo on the UK site. Maybe they'll like that more? I was too nervous to see how many I've sold of both before the promos. Still unsure if I want to see. I have it set to show me sales from 2 weeks ago and on. 

I finished the Japanese course on Duolingo about a week ago. I don't think the course's completely done with development. It didn't have the chatting with a bot, and then a native born person talking on the phone with you part yet. Plus, it seemed awfully short. I learned a lot from it. Filled in a lot of the stuff that I needed to go over. I looked briefly at their Hebrew course. They teach it to you without the vowels right off the bat. Makes it even weirder. Most people start with the vowels, memorize those words, and then move onto learning it without the vowels. So, this seems a bit advanced. Weird sentences, too. Like: Mom, when is love coming? There's also a heart this time that's apparently your health. If you run out of bars on it, you have to start over or wait until the bars load up again. Seems like this one has been out longer. I've wanted to get back to French, too. So, maybe I'll do that. Learning other languages would be awesome, as well! Might do the Greek, Irish, Chinese, Korean, Thai, etc. courses in the future. I love learning this stuff

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

National Cheese Day!

This holiday was on Sunday. Yay! A day devoted to one of my fave foods! There are some cheeses I can't stand, but there are many others that I really love. Haven't really been doing my cheese 'journey' for the last few months. Most of the ones I've tried I liked. Maybe I'll try another new one soon. Right now I have a garlic and herb jack cheese and grated parmesan. Still, both of those are good stuff.
This is my wallpaper for June. It's Rin on top of the demon form of Kuro, from Ao no Exorcist or Blue Exorcist. Kuro looks like a regular cat most of the time. Except for in that form he still has more than one tail and, I think, horns. Looks like a fun one. 

With the Pusheen calendar, it's instructions on how to make a 'muffin'. Pusheen has a chef's hat on and a pink striped bowl is next her. With #1: You will need a bowl. Pusheen looks at the bowl close up. #2: Get in that bowl. She's trying to stuff herself in. #3: Nice work. She managed to get her legs and tail in, but the rest of her is the muffin top. She looks like she's stuck, actually. Even making a frustrated face. At the bottom of the calendar, there's a regular muffin. Cute but kind of sad at the same time for this one...I liked the cafe one from last month more.

I don't think I mentioned it, but we're in the month of Sivan on the Jewish calendar. Specifically, it's the 12th. Shavuot was from the night of May 30th to June 1st. It's a holiday to celebrate the giving of the Torah. It lit. means Weeks. It's also referred to as the Festival of Weeks. It marks the end of the counting of the Omer, too. The Omer is counted between Passover and Shavuot. Many people celebrate by eating dairy foods. Particularly cheesecake and blintzes. Dairy food has a few meanings. First, it's to symbolize the land of milk and honey. Next, that the Israelites didn't have time to change to a kosher diet once the Torah was given, and could only eat dairy. To be on the safe side, basically. Then, King Solomon compared the Torah to milk: "Like honey and milk, it lies under your tongue." Also, the gematria of the Hebrew word chalav or milk is 40. In reference to the 40 days and 40 nights that Moses spent on Mount Sinai before bringing down the Torah. Gematria is a numerological system where Hebrew letters correspond to numbers. Words can have more meanings this way. It's really interesting. Another way people observe the holiday is to study Torah all day and night. They also read the book of Ruth. I think that's the only holiday during Sivan. 

The month-long holidays for June are: National Candy Month, National Dairy Month, National Iced Tea Month, National Seafood Month, Pride Month, National Camping Month. Some are for important causes, some are to make you appreciate things you may take for granted, and some are just for fun. Yay, it's Pride Month! I haven't gone camping in a long time. I kind of miss it.

Speaking of Pride, it's going to be a busy couple of months. This weekend is the LGBTQ+ picnic and rally. I think last year it was just a picnic. It seems to be at the same place as last year. Our local Pride organization has been asked to be in the Seattle Pride Parade at the end of the month. Supposedly they have a float there...Not sure. I don't think they were in it last year. That would be really cool to see and maybe be apart of. I think the Seattle Trans Pride is a couple of days before that. On July 4th, the local Pride organization will march in a local 4th of July parade. That will be like our local Pride parade. It's much smaller, though. Later that month, there's also the local Pride festival. I think there are a few festivals around locally at about the same time. So, lots to look forward to.

One downside is that I don't have a pole for my ace flag yet. I've been looking online to see what size I would need, and what they had on Amazon. Apparently a 7' one is best for my 3' x 5' flag. A lot of the 7' ones are 1" wide. I think the holes on mine would only fit a 1/2" wide one. They do say I can find them in places like Home Depot, Lowe's, or another local hardware store. So, I'll see. If need be, I can just put it on like a cape and tie it around my neck. I'm a bit worried that it'll get dirty or I'll trip on it, though. It is bigger than me. 

If I do find a pole, it's probably going to make a statement no matter where I go with it. (It was the only size they had for ace flags at last year's local Pride fest.) I hope it'll be a good one. Hopefully, the 'gatekeepers' won't be there and berate me. On the other hand, there hasn't been much representation for us, so maybe it's time that someone is 'loud' and proud about it. There might be other aces that find me, and maybe want to join me or something. Maybe become friends that way, too. Also, a way to tell people about our group. I feel like I'll be the only ace there, but why not support others who aren't there? Also, it'd be cool to have at least a mini aro flag with it. Aros have even less representation. I can tell people about it if they ask, though. If I have a pole, and I wave the flag in the Seattle Pride parade, I think it'll end up on TV. That's another scary thing. 

My health stuff hasn't been too great. I've found 2 weird lumps so far. One behind my left ear that I've had for about a month and a half. It seems to be slowly moving down my jawline. Still a similar size, though. Another one's near my right earlobe on part of my cheek. It seems to be growing a bit. They're kind of scary. I'm wondering if it's from the new med? Also, feeling a lot more gut pain lately. Sometimes it sounds like water is sloshing around in there. Sometimes it feels like something really hard and big is scraping through my insides. With that, it's so intense, I've felt like throwing up during it. I'm really wondering if things have changed since I've been off of azathioprine. I'm technically not on anything to monitor, keep in check, or slow down any inflammation at the moment. Scary stuff. I also feel like needing to go to the bathroom constantly, but can't. It's weird.

Tomorrow, I'm going to try to have a phone appointment again with my primary. I'm going to bring up a lot of this stuff with her in addition to what I was going to bring up last month. I'm going to ask if I can have some blood work done. Like a normal blood panel, sed rate, ALT, etc. When I was flaring before, my eosinophils and white blood cells were really high, and a few other things were off on the blood panel. The sed rate can indicate how my inflammation is. My highest value was 44, and it took a while to get it within 'normal' range. I think that was around 20. I know I've been told that it's not the perfect indicator, but I'd still like to know and compare it. I'd be shocked if it was up to 44 or more, but it'd be good to find out. Also, the liver can be affected, so that's why it'd be a good idea to find out with the ALT just in case. I haven't had any blood work done since March, I think. Might even be longer. They say if you're in remission, the most time doctors recommend in between is 3 months. Even that's a stretch for some, since it's so unpredictable and they want to stay on top of it. Plus, they have to monitor whatever meds the patient is on, and one of the best indicators is looking at their blood work. The gastro I'll have next will most likely put me on Remicade. That's another thing to think about. If I have that done, I'll have to go to a local hospital for the infusions. Plus, we don't know if I'd be allergic to it. They apparently make you wait a while afterwards. Especially on the first day. It can have many side effects, too. But, so does Humira, which is the other possibility. I have to be on something, though. Remicade can actually help with repairing the scarring of the colon that was caused by the disease. So, it'll at the very least help that way, if I really am still in remission. Plus, having a 'safety net' for if things go crazy, is a good thing. 

I did finish and post my drawing of the personification of colitis. Sadly, I don't have a lot of the colored pencils I wanted for it. I like how most of it turned out. Especially considering I haven't drawn a full body in a while. I haven't had much practice in it anyways. I tried using the old anatomy book for artists as reference. I think it was once my grandma's. It's actually really interesting. The only things I didn't like about the anatomy were the hands being too small, and the limbs were slightly off. The torso/hips and head were pretty good. I'll only get better with that stuff if I practice it more. I still think it was better than some of my other drawings. 

The skin color was supposed to be similar to what the color of my colon was in my first colonoscopy. That was like an angry red color. I put tiny and huge ulcers all over their body. The ulcers in that colonoscopy were like a bright orange color. They looked like stars in an angry sky. I didn't have the right color for those. In that colonoscopy, I didn't have the big ulcers that I had in the drawing. I drew kind of a crust around those. The little lines all over their skin represented scarring. They also have somewhat red puffy eyes. Some people get inflammation in their eyes along with IBD. There are many extraintestinal symptoms we can get. Places you wouldn't think would be connected to our gut. They're wearing a hospital gown, slippers, and hospital bracelet in the drawing. Blood is seeping through the gown, dripping from their hands, and pooling beneath them. I personally didn't have a lot of visible blood coming out, but many people also bleed internally from the ulcers. They have brown hair, with a huge ulcer popping through a patch of it. Wasn't sure if I was going to show them with their hair coming out or not. Many people lose their hair either because they have malabsorption issues from the disease, or because of the meds. I did have, and occasionally still have, malabsorption issues. Towards the beginning, my hair was coming out more than normal since I wasn't getting certain nutrients. It was just going right through me. I still have issues with getting enough protein. I'll have to break down at some point and see a dietitian. I don't want to, but I think I need to figure out what supplements I might need to add, or adding more of a certain type of food, or something. Only someone trained in dealing with IBD can help me. That's hard to find. 

Anyways, I decided just having the ulcer in their hair was enough. I wasn't sure how to illustrate the fatigue, so I left that out. Even when in remission, most patients still have horrible fatigue. It's one of the most common symptoms. (And, no, exercise will not help with this type of fatigue. Might help with other things, but not with this.) There are studies currently being done on why this is. 

Ended up looking like a very pained and miserable person. But, that's how we feel on the inside. We may look fine on the outside, but on the inside it's a different story. One person faved it right away on dA. So, that's something. I didn't add it to any groups, so not many people will see it. I kind of want it that way at the moment. I wasn't sure if I should put it under the mature tag. It's gory, but I don't think on the level of being mature. If it was more realistic looking, maybe. I don't know. I said at the beginning of the artist's comment section that if anyone told me I should tag it as mature, I will. So, it's up to whoever sees it, I guess.

I have some ideas for more drawings, so I might get a little more into it again. One of them is of someone with wounded wings outstretched. That'll have their back turned toward the front. I wanted to do something similar a while back when I was having a lot of pain between my shoulder blades. I might draw scenes with Alliance characters in them. Another idea is drawing buildings/interiors from the story. That might be easier and fun for me. For some reason, buildings and scenery come pretty easy to me. 

I'm really coming along with the sequel to Alliance and the memoir. I'm on the 2nd chapter for both of them. 18 pages for the memoir, and close to that for Alliance 2. (It's essentially double the amount of pages if comparing it to a paperback. So, 18 is really like 36 pages.) Not bad. I hope I can end up writing more pages at a time soon. It still feels somewhat slow for both. Although, I only started them last month. I don't think it's even been a full month yet. First time trying to write 2 books at the same time, too. Although, I'm alternating every other day with them. For instance, I'll start with the memoir one day, the next it's Alliance 2, next it's the memoir, and so on. If I skip a day, I just go with the one I skipped and keep it going. I don't write on Saturdays, since that's Shabbat. 

Netflix is amazing! I decided a few days ago to search for international movies and TV shows. I love international stuff. In fact, I took a foreign film class in college. It was awesome! Anyways, I searched for things like Swedish ones, Indian ones, Brazilian ones, Mexican ones, etc. It seems that the Netflix for this region, mostly has stuff from the US, Canada, and the UK. I like watching a lot of the UK and Canadian stuff, so that's ok. Found quite a few things from other countries. In fact, I found so many things, I doubt I'll ever get through them all. (Especially with how much I usually watch.) That seems like a good thing, though. Before, I didn't have much on my list. Certainly not many TV shows. Most of the recommendations were horror movies. I love horror, but honestly, there's a lot more out there. I found quite a variety of things.

I started watching The Doctor Blake Mysteries today. It's an Australian show that's set in 1959. He's basically an ME and helps the police solve murders. Only he does more than he's supposed to. He also is a regular family doctor, and took over his father's practice in his hometown. His nurse lives with him, and he has a housekeeper. He also seems to be a big feminist, which is interesting to see. Especially back then. Very open minded, and seems impulsive. 

Been watching Shetland for a little while with Dad. It's a Scottish detective show. Apparently, I started watching during the 2nd season. I like it so far, though. 

Started Mind Game recently, which is a detective show from Singapore. The head detective is a very tough kickass woman. Most of the guys are really nice looking, too. The only thing I don't like is the background music doesn't quite seem to fit the scenes. It's very interesting so far. I'm surprised with the occasional smattering of English. Most of it's in Chinese. I know it's a very mixed place, but I really don't know much about it. The current case is about a guy that first kidnaps women, then he pours glue down their throat, and decapitates them with an axe. Pretty brutal, but it looks like it might be nearing the end of this case. I hope each case doesn't have 3 episodes devoted to it. Really stretches it out this way. They've shown some of the traditional food there too, which has been an interesting little extra thing.

Started Bates Motel. So far, I'm unsure about this one. Also, started Between. I think this one has been better than I expected. Started an Israeli tavel/food show. I think there are only 4 episodes to that one. There are a few other travel/food related shows based in other countries on my list. Also, some nature, science, and astronomy shows. Found a lot of other detective shows from around the world. Seems to be something many countries like to make, which is great to me. There's a non-fiction (or is the actual genre called true crime?) Hong Kong show about forensic specialists and how they've helped police solve crimes. Very interesting. 

There's a Korean detective movie about a trans detective who wants to quit so she can safely transition. If this is as good and interesting as it sounds (after I watch it), maybe I could recommend it as the next movie for when we have another potluck. The group has been having a difficult time finding suitable movies. Also, there's an Indian movie about a woman whose fiance dumped her just before her wedding. She decides to still have the wedding, and celebrates herself. Sounds interesting. I don't know why, but I'm getting aro ace vibes from it. It'd be cool if it was like that, but doubt it. With all these movies and shows, I won't feel like watching regular TV. Plus, there are no commercials, which makes it even better.