Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Island Style

I hear this frequently: "I wish we had an asexual utopia."
Presumably, this means a place where aces can congregate and easily identify others of our kind.
When I think of an "asexual utopia", the first thing that pops into my mind is some kind of Jurassic Park-style island where a mythical group of asexuals will be lost to the mists of time.
I really need to stop that, because the asexual utopia can actually happen-- there will just not be any dinosaurs involved.
Look at San Francisco-- historically, this is the gay city. Gay folks flock here as tourists and residents alike, since this is a place where they can be accepted in a largely unaccepting world. I don't know why San Francisco came to be so gay, but I'm glad it is, and there isn't any other city quite like this. What we need is the asexual city. But we need to decide a few things first:

Do we pick a city decisively, all move there, and start inundating it with asexual community? Or do we wait for such a place to develop organically?

Who is actually making these decisions, and how will they get made?

If it's the latter, will we know it when we see it? How?

And most importantly, is there actually an interest in this beyond the theoretical? For example, if it was decided that Omaha (for example) was going to become the asexual city, would enough people move there to actually enable things to happen? Maybe saying "I wish there was an asexual utopia" is for most like my statement "I wish I could marry a billionare who was near death"-- something that might have interesting results, but a course I would never actually pursue. As usual, "mind-blindess", perhaps, trips me up. What in the world are other people thinking?

To get the pulse of the people on this issue, I made an unscientific poll on AVEN. I wrote in my post:

I think it would actually be somewhat realistic to designate a city as being a place for asexuals to congregate, much like San Francisco is "the gay city". While people seem to be into this idea in theory, I'm wondering if people would actually move to such a place, since it seems like that would need to happen if we were ever going to achieve a critical mass anywhere. I have no idea how we'd choose the place-- right now I'm just wondering if people would actually be interested in going there, if it did exist...

I asked, "Would you move to it?"

So far, 21 people responded.
5 said "Yes, wherever it was".
2 said "Yes, within my country".
2 said "Yes, hinging on another factor".
11 said "No"
1 said "Other"

For the record, the vision I was proposing wasn't exactly clear. From people's responses, it seemed like most were still envisioning a secret asexual society where no sexual people were allowed. The strange thing was this: while the secret asexual island wasn't, to my knowledge, implied in my post, people seemed to imply it on their own. (Like most aces, I'm close to many people who aren't asexual. I'd never propose an asexual-only society, even if it could actually happen.) What I was thinking was to have as many community-minded asexuals as possible congregate in the same city, which seems like it could be completely realistic...if there's an interest. I wonder how the poll will go with some more time.

I guess I just have a hankering for adventure...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

"I Need to Find Some Pleather"

A rather long time ago, I wrote about BDSM here. Today, I actually got to experience it-- well, vicariously, that is. Yes, an asexual person survived the Folsom Street Fair, which is "the largest leather/fetish event in the world" and a classic San Francisco event. There were many, many people showing off a wide array of bondage fashion...or lack thereof. I had to admire people's utilikilts and elaborate fake police uniforms. I saw a few of these too, which I found interesting:

Another interesting thing was a group of people standing around a booth where an organization was performing floggings as a fundraiser. There was an announcer standing up, and he's trying to get the crowd involved. He yells,
"So, who's had sex in the last week?"
I was expecting cheers from most, but the group was pretty much silent.
"Come on, who's had sex in the last week?"
Still...mostly silence. But amusement from my direction.
The announcer, obviously having a hard time energizing people at the beginning of the event, starts targeting one woman who's dressed in regular clothes at the front of the crowd. He says, "You look like you want to be flogged! Don't deny your sexuality?"
I was like, "Uh...what sexuality?"
I know, most people see something like flogging as sexual, perhaps overly so. But what's really intrinsically sexual about it? I know there are asexual people who are into S&M. I was also talking to my fair-going buddy about people who get a rush from the pain of piercings and tattoos. It seems to be an adrenaline thing, not sexual pleasure. I've heard this from multiple people, although I've never experienced it myself. To me, feeling needles in my body isn't "cool", as I've heard it described, just painful. But it seems meditative for some. Apparently, people's bodies work in very different ways. Which is strange, because I thought we all just had slight surface variations on the same thing.

Another thing that might not be intuitive: Although being elaboretely tied up before noon on a Sunday morning isn't quite my idea of fun, I understand this kind of "alternative" sexuality more than I do "vanilla" sexuality. Is that true for other aces? Sex by itself doesn't seem exciting or interesting to me (except on a theoretical level), so it makes total sense that people would want to add some more adventurous elements. Leather dog masks? Well, life is short...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

This book might sound very familiar to you-- it's coming out in movie form October 5th.
It's written by two authors, Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (the latter who wrote the awesome Boy Meets Boy, which is, sadly, unlikely to appear in a theater near you anytime soon).
So, because teenaged boys don't usually find love (with each other) on the big screen, we'll have to make do with Nick and Norah. I was very attracted to the premise of the book, which was about people coming together through music in one crazy NYC night. But Playlist gave me an odd feeling of strong discomfort. I'll try to examine why this might be...

  1. My visualization of the Nick character as Michael Cera, who plays him in the film. I get that Michael Cera is riding the tiger right now, but I wouldn't have cast him as the smokin' hot bassist of an underground queercore band. It was just confusing.
  2. The book's status as "young adult" fiction, paired with stuff that I thought was really too sexual and "inappropriate" for young teens. Now, don't get me wrong, I know that many teens are having sex. But while Nick and Norah don't actually get jiggy with it in the book, it somehow manages to be extremely explicit, which weirded me out. That might seem like a "duh" statement from an asexual, but descriptions of sex usually never faze me. However, a large part of the book dealt with feelings surrounding sexual attraction, and I had a hard time relating to all that, especially since the characters are "kids" in my mind.
  3. On that note, the characters seemed to have concerns that didn't match up with their youth. Norah was extremely worried about the idea that she might be "frigid"-- I just wanted to shake her shoulders and say "Girl! You are 18! EIGHTEEN!" But, just because she didn't want to have sex with every guy, she started to believe this whole story about her fundamental "frigidity". I just felt sooo bad for her. Always awkward. I mentored some young kids when I was in college, and I learned that they take everything way too seriously. So I know that it's a kid thing, but that doesn't mean it's not frustrating to read about.
  4. I enjoy stories about young love as much as the next person, but on some level, they always make me feel strange. This is probably because that most-exulted experience, "young love", has never happened to me and never will. I have no way to say this without making it sound extremely sad, and that's part of its mystique. I'm not sad about it, actually. There has been no time in my life when I've had the racing hormones/lack of rationality that makes this kind of love possible, and I can't change that. But, when put to music, as Playlist tries to do, love suddenly makes perfect sense to me. Because music is love. But amid all the sexual stuff, I was sad to see that the musical aspect got a little lost. (Cheesy Godpseed! You Black Emperor references do not count.)
Playlist consists of a basic story that I've come to see is very common in literature, film, and our imaginations: The "magical night". Somehow, under the cover of darkness, people can explore the more adventurous facets of their personalities. At a club, bar, or party, under the influence of your favorite music, you will meet a mysterious stranger who you will fall madly in love with. I'm sure this actually happens to a few people about 3 or 4 times a year, which keeps this story very much alive in all of our minds. I'm not sure who's immune to it. In college, I remember many weekend nights walking/running around with my friends, looking for a "better" party than the one we had been attending. I'm not sure who we thought we'd meet, since we went to a school of 1,400 people in a rural town, but the possibilities of this "magical night" were always before us. And one time, I was even that person of the 3-4 cases a year fame. Standing around, bored, in a frat house, I absent-mindedly fiddled with a boombox. The CD inside happened to be Outkast's Aquemini, and I was lucky enough to fall in love that night. [Aww.]

But I want books like Playlist to have a disclaimer: "This may not happen to you. You don't have to haunt clubs and stand by the jukebox playing "Spottieottiedopalicious" 500 times in order to find someone to fall in love with. Maybe you'll meet them in a Scrabble group or a Weight Watchers meeting. Maybe you'll meet them at noon, totally sober. As Josef K said [and I think Cohn and Levithan would appreciate this], 'There are so many pathways that lead to the heart.'"

At least, I'd like to think so; falling into romantic love with other humans is something I know nothing about. And as the Smiths said [again, possible appreciation by C & L]:

"There's a club if you'd like to go, you could meet someone who really loves you. So you go, and you stand on your own, and you leave on your own, and you go home, and you cry, and you want to die."

A little extreme, sure, but I don't want anyone to have to go through that. Can we expand what a fulfilling evening could be? So, how about y'all? Any "magical night" stories?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Look At All My Many Friends

For a while now, I've been meaning to profile all the asexual-themed blogs in my "Homies" list. Don't get me wrong-- my friends who write on other topics are awesome too, and you should read their blogs with zeal. But, I wanted to focus on the asexy ones right now, because I find people are often surprised by how many there really are. I hesitated to describe other peoples' blogs, because I will invariably get some description wrong. If that happens on yours, please correct me. Here we go, in alphabetical order:

Ace of Hearts belongs to the Impossible K, who I was lucky to recently meet in person. She covers a wide range of topics, from media representations to people's common misconceptions about asexuality. (*Subliminal message about regional northwest meetup!*)

Edge of Everywhere was just started this month, but I'm interested to see what else it's author, Asexyfeminist, writes about. I like what she has to say in her intro post: "I value my role as a perpetual misfit, and look forward to a lifetime of making new connections and facing difficult questions. I know that those of us who view life from the outside will leave our mark on the world."

eFeminate is written by Natalie, an intersex, gender-neutral Australian who is also asexual (and has 11 toes!) She calculates that "there are about 1,669 people like me in the world". (Would it be horribly obnoxious of me to say, "You need an update!" I'd like to think it's a form of flattery.)

Glad to be A is about the personal experiences of an 31-year-old aromantic/semi-romantic ace from Scotland. It's interesting to get a perspective from someone who's had an asexual identity longer than most of the rest of us. As she says, "You won’t find too much asexual angst in this journal, because I’m happy with my status."

DJ, the founder of AVEN, writes Love from the Asexual Underground. As far as I know, this is the longest-running asexual blog. It used to be a podcast only, but now has written content as well. I'm glad to see this fellow San Franciscan at many meetups, and he always has interesting ideas about community and relationships.

Musings from Outside Normal Boundaries is the journal of Emma, a student in the UK who is very active in visibility. She recently appeared on a TV program representing an asexual perspective.

Asexual Explorations is written by Pretzelboy, whose study of linguistics gives him a unique perspective on the construction of asexual identity. Recently, he wrote about the definition of asexuality, something that sounds simple, but means many things depending on whom you ask.

Rainbow Amoeba's Petri Dish is written by a young French woman. She says of her blog: "So, you’ll find here my thoughts about asexuality, sexual orientation, love, relationships, dating, dreaming, hoping, losing hope, making sense of the world and of myself, and all that jazz." She covers many aspects related to the evolution of her identity.

Shades of Gray is about the complex issues that arise when, like many of us, your sexuality isn't totally clear-cut. Subtitled "Beyond Asex 101", Gray Lady tackles theoretical issues (with a personal perspective) and updates often!

Shockwave has two blogs: Meanwhile, Inside My head contains musings on asexual identity, among other things, where he most recently wrote about us/them attitudes in the A community. The Shock-Rave is a collection of "film reviews from an asexual perspective".

The Venus of Willendork is a lesbian-identified woman who found a lot to relate to in the asexual community. Her blog is subtitled "Exploring A/Sexuality and Gender". She's the head of her college's Gay-Straight Alliance, and recently wrote about her adventures trying to bring Erin Davies of Fagbug to her Catholic school. (I was also lucky to meet Venus at SF Pride this year!)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

They'll Give You Full-Body Energy

Last night, I got together for a totally last-minute gathering with 3 other A-team related folks. This time, we'd gotten together for the main purpose of showing a visiting South African AVENite what the locals did for fun (watch 'O Brother Where Art Thou' outdoors in Dolores Park). As I seem to hardly ever leave the city limits of San Francisco, it's nice to see all these people from other places and hear about where they've been. The meetup advice I might most enjoy taking is writing exciting recaps of the things we do. Hopefully, they'll entice at least a few people. I tend to have a hyperbolic writing style (infamous cover letter: "My proofreading skills are almost otherworldly"), so hopefully these will come naturally for me. This is what I sent to the local listserv, although I forgot to mention that the wandering vendor of "special" brownies was pretty amusing:

4 of us ended up meeting at Dolores Park. I think it's safe to say that a fun time was had by all. We enjoyed the movie, lack of strong wind, and meeting our visitor from South Africa. We learned some things about his culture, such as how to say "cotton candy" in Afrikaans, and the fact that in that country, traffic lights are called "robots". After the movie, some of us adjourned to Frijtz, where the phrase, "This night is going to be lege, lads!" was introduced to American shores. They may, indeed, never be the same.
If I didn't see you tonight, hope to see you soon!


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Bostonians

So, I read Henry James' The Bostonians. As I said before, I am a literary masochist.

The Bostonians, circa 1886, is about Olive, a feminist who hates men "as a class, anyway", and her cousin Basil, who thinks women are subordinate to men. They battle it out for the affections of Verena, an agreeable young woman with a gift for public speaking. During the course of the book, Olive and Verena move in together. Yes, the Boston marriage, one of my favorite relationship structures, gets its name from this book. It's unclear weather Olive and Verena had a sexual relationship or not. While they kiss and hold each other, that's nothing many asexuals wouldn't do. While Olive is obviously wedded to the suffrage cause, she tries to get Verena to promise that she'll never marry a man. Although Olive loves Verena, she also knows that she can use Verena's gift of speaking for her own purposes. Olive's true motives are ambiguous, which makes The Bostonians one of those books that become more interesting upon further thought. What's clear, though, is that their relationship is heavily strained by Basil's advances. While I don't think it's much of a leap to label Olive as a lesbian or as homoromantic, I'm not sure if I could call her asexual. The social mores of the time probably kept her from being sexual with women, and whether or not she had the desire to do so is a mystery. (Spoilers ahead!) Verena is probably heterosexual, as she eventually succumbs to her sexual attraction to Basil. Olive and Verena's relationship doesn't end well, and it speaks to some benefits of our modern awareness of sexual orientation.

This might be the first book I've written about that I'm not sure if I'd recommend. While James has a way with (some) words, he doesn't seem to understand phenomena like paragraph separation and dialogue. The book is billed as a comedy, but I think I was laughing out of exhausted delirium.

What this book really got me thinking about was peoples' opinions vs. their characters. Verena hates Basil's opinions, but she likes his character (or maybe she just thinks he's hot). Olive's sister likes Basil's opinions and hates his character. The fact that people, at least in a Jamesian world, can be separated from their opinions comforts me when it comes to the infamous "Ignorant Masses" problem. Although, I find it hard to understand how Verena, an outspoken suffragist, could fall in love with a man who would force her to abandon her beliefs. Who could possibly be that attractive? If this happens in real life, I don't get it. Perhaps Verena's beliefs weren't all that strong to begin with-- another ambiguity of the story. She seems to love and hate Basil, whose main draw seems to be his infinite persistence. This brings me to another thing I don't understand, but is seen often in books and films: Infinite male persistence.

There's always a woman who isn't interested in a guy, but he chases her over months and even years until she finally gives in and falls in love with him. Does this actually happen? Wouldn't most people just give up? And isn't it a little strange not to, when you receive no encouragement whatsoever? Isn't this kind of persistence, which contains a large element of not caring what the other person thinks, a total turn-off? Ah yes, Mr. James, I have many questions...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Uneasy Rider

[Above: Objects of affection. You can click on it to enlarge.]

You know this person. They're single and not too happy about it. They say things like, "All I see are couples holding hands! All I hear are romantic songs! Everywhere I go is love, love, love! Make it stop!" I used to think these people were probably exaggerating. I mean, what's stopping them from going to sit by themselves and listen to death metal for a while? But now, I get it. It's really a phenomenon that's unstoppable, and its victim can't do much about it. I know this because all I see is...scooters. Scooters of all shapes, sizes and colors are constantly passing me by. My desk overlooks the street, and all that seems to drive by are jaunty scooters. I even noticed that my longstanding Livejournal icon had a scooter in the background-- I'd never seen it there before. Ah, the thrill of the open road at 100 MPG...utterly romantic visions of not having to wait for the bus unfurl before me. Luckily, I can only think of one song about scooters (well, mopeds).

So go ahead, bemoan the hand-holders. I'll understand. At least the object of your desire doesn't involve trips to the DMV.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Okay, So I'm Responding

I know, I haven't forgotten that the main goal of this blog is a "response to pop culture". Although since I don't have cable and movie tickets are more than $10, I sometimes don't witness as much pop culture as I'd like to. However, I've found something to respond to right here on network TV:

I've been known to watch Gossip Girl on occasion. Unlike many other shows that require you to have the grasp of a complicated backstory, this is all you really need to know about Gossip Girl: Rich teens who act about 40 scheme A LOT and wear outlandish (okay, very cool) clothes. The show is based on a series of young-adult novels by the same name. Like many viewers, my favorite character on the show would have to be Chuck, pictured above. He's evil, wears pants embroidered with whales, and seems to suffer from some kind of nostril-flaring condition.

Although I haven't read the books, thanks to the wonders of the internet, I learned that while Chuck is heterosexual in the show, he is bisexual in the books. (Apparently, he's also much more evil in the books, which would definitely not be appropriate for young teens, but anway...)
Upon learning this, I just felt so cheated! The show's creators had a chance to take a bisexual character, make him less evil (apparently, a rare thing in film portrayals of bisexuals) and they blew it.

If queer adult characters are rare, queer teen characters are even rarer. I racked my brains trying to think of some-- the conversation in my head went something like this:

I could have sworn there was a gay person on Gilmore Girls...didn't Rory have a gay friend?

Uhh...no. The only queer teen character I could think of was Marco from Degrassi: The Next Generation. While it's a popular show among those that love it, it's on a specialty channel and can't be all that widely watched. While I can think of adult characters that seem asexual (Withnail, Dexter, Jessica Stein), I can't think of any teen characters. And how many shows involve teens, and how many teens are the ones watching these shows? I find that I can often relate quite closely with gay, bi, or trans characters, especially if they go through some sort of tribulations related to their sexualities. Like I said before, who we're attracted to is only one (minor?!) difference between us all. Maybe that's a little too kumbaya for you, but I think that an increase in queer characters of all stripes would be good for all of us minority sexualities.

Maybe Chuck will discover an attraction to men later in the show, but I won't be holding my breath. Until then...nice ascot.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

And Then I Turned Into a Pumpkin

So, our visitor from London told The Impossible K and I many tales of the meetups there, and gave me a lot of advice on how to maximize our meetups here. I think I'm going to do most of these things. These were they:
  • Currently, we have a Bay A Team Yahoo group, and we also discuss meetups on AVEN. Posting about meetups, and tracking responses, on both sites seems like too much work and confusion. It would probably be a good idea to consolidate all meetup planning onto AVEN.
  • Make a new thread for every meetup. If London does it...
  • Write exciting accounts of what happened at the meetup for the benefit of those not present. "Wait a second...you've never heard about someone turning into a pumpkin before?"
  • Post a picture of myself (apparently, a "recognizable face" is essential).
  • It was suggested that we don't have enough people to have regular meetups, and I can't decide if I agree with this or not. A lot of cities just seem to have meetups whenever people feel like it. And maybe that's better, I don't know. But since planning meetups gives me a sense of purpose, it's a responsibility that I'm reluctant to relinquish.
  • And an idea I just had in the last ten seconds: Maybe we should take pictures at all meetups, even if it's just two people. Perhaps seeing friendly human faces would make showing up less intimidating.
Why do I bother telling you about every gory detail of the San Francisco meetups, and what seems to be my every thought process in relation to them? Because I think this can somehow help people plan meetups in their own areas. If you click on the tag "community" at the bottom of these posts, you can find pretty much everything I've ever learned or experienced about meetups in almost two years. I'm not sure how to measure success, but I feel like one of those commercials for Western Career College: "If I can do it, you can do it!" I'm not sure how to inspire other people to start meetups, but if I can do that, it would be the greatest.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Whoa, Married People Not Having Sex!

I'm not sure how many of you would have seen this, but The Guardian, a newspaper in the UK (where apparently, people actually read newspapers) recently published an article by an asexual guy, familiar to many of us, named Paul. You can read the article, called "We're Married, We Just Don't Have Sex", here. On Apositive, Pretzelboy commented: "Of the articles that have appeared on asexuality, I think this may be the best I’ve ever seen–they let the asexual person use his own voice for the whole piece, and the writing is quite good." I can't really say it much better than that. It was, indeed, a very good and informative article, proving that you don't need to show negative views to educate people on what asexuality is. I had already heard, through other articles and hearsay, most of what Paul wrote about his relationship (more on that later). What really stood out to me was this:

When my studies took me to New York, I got more involved with the asexual community there. I posted messages on their website and there were regular meet-ups in a little pink tea shop in the East Village - I guess you could call it the asexual equivalent of a gay bar.

That is exactly what I want! The asexual equivalent of a gay bar! I had no idea that, for a time, one actually sort of existed. New York, what happened? I hope folks there will be able to resurrect the glory of meetups past. (Also, down on Shortland Street, the "Asexual Society" meets every week for lunch. Maybe life will imitate art sometime in the future. True, you may not want to spend quite that much time with asexuals, but I, for one, can't seem to get enough of you guys!)

But back to the fact that I'm oddly famliar with Amanda and Paul's relationship, even though I've never met either of them. When you think about it, though, it's not surprising, as most publicity around asexuality seems to deal with married ace couples. And there have only been two or three that have appeared in the limelight. Although I'm sure there are others, I think it's safe to say that ace/ace marriages are extremely rare. It's funny, because you wouldn't think there's that much shock or entertainment value in two married people not having sex. As Paul says in the article, "
We like to joke that the longer we're married the less unusual this is. By the time we've been married five years we'll be just like everyone else." But, it's not just the wider world that's interested in asexual marriages-- it's aces themselves. The prevailing emotion that seems to surround the idea of ace/ace marriage seems to be great hope. Even though we have unusual orientations and most of us probably have unusual lives to match, many of us still hope to get married one day. It's kinda funny how we hold out this hope under huge odds. I think part of the reason is societal-- getting married is the social equivalent of getting 500 tickets on a Skee-Ball game. But it's also hard to find someone who wouldn't want to find at least one special person to love for their whole lives through. Hell, that sounds pretty good! I'm down. I'm not sure where I'm going with this, except for the fact that I find asexual views on marriage really interesting, and it's a topic I'd like to see more written about. If marriage didn't exist, what would be the chances of an asexual person inventing it?

(Oh, and if you're into marriage-- or heck, people in general-- remember to vote a big fat NO on Prop 8 in California!)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Start of a Bicurious Friendship

One of Gray Lady's comments on her blog got me thinking about the similarities between bisexuality and asexuality. It had crossed my mind before, but I thought it was time for a fuller exploration. To me, asexuality and bisexuality are like two sides of the same coin, and I think we have more in common with bisexuals than with any other orientation. If some people are sexually attracted to either gender, it would only make sense that others are attracted to niether. We have a nice yin/yang thing going on. I would also venture to say that we have MORE in common with bisexuals than not. Sexual desire is only one thing, and I've come up with 5 ways that we are similar. I know there are more, but let's start off:
  1. Invisibility. You can't tell if someone is bi or ace by looking at them. And if one of us is with a similarly-gendered partner, the first assumption will probably be that we're gay.
  2. Visibility. When was the last time you saw an openly bisexual character in a movie or TV show? Or even read about one in a book? The only one I can think of, off the top of my head, was Peter Sarsgaard's character in "Kinsey". (After reading the Wikipedia entry on bisexuality, I'm reminded of the show "A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila"...it's still a pretty sad selection.)
  3. Relationships. Since many aces date sexual folk, we both contend with the issue of often dating people with different orientations than ours. If I dated a man, for instance, everyone would see me as straight-- but I'd still be queer as ever.
  4. Organizing. Nicole Kristal, author of The Bisexual's Guide to the Universe, learned that "organizing bisexuals was similar to herding cats". Are bisexual-themed events frequent or even in existence in your area?
  5. Stereotypes. Although a few people think everyone's a little bisexual, many seem to tell you that bisexuality is just a phase, or an easier way to accept being gay. I even heard someone say once, "Bi now, gay later!". The awfulness of the pun aside, there seems to be that same old idea: "Your orientation doesn't really exist". And that's something all aces are familar with.
And here's a bonus:
  1. I think we have important messages to share. Bisexuality seems to say that love isn't sharply delineated over gender, and that people can have a greater freedom over whom they love. And asexuality seeks to inform people, for one, that we can have meaningful relationships without sex. If our culture caught on to both of these views, our world might very well be a nicer, more relaxed and open place to relate to others.
I wonder what kind of success we'd have partnering with the bisexual community. Would they take as little convincing as I do on how similar we really are? I'm not sure how bisexuals have tried to organize, but maybe looking into that could be instructive for aces. Hey, they got into the "GLBT", so they must be doing something right! (Although it is, of course, debatable what good being part of the acronym has done Bs or Ts...)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Only Fun in Town

Today, we had a meetup. It was me and a fellow from London enjoying a rare very warm afternoon at Crissy Field. I tried to pick his brain as much as possible about the London meetups-- hopefully it wasn't too annoying of me. Anyway, the London meets are what all meets aspire to be like. I think that I should just do what they do. Even though we're a different country, the current SF meetups don't seem to be working that well for anyone. So I'm going to make the meetups bimonthly (next one will be in October), in the same location each time (TBA) until someone protests. If people want to do something in between those meetups, they are more than welcome to schedule something, and I can't speak for anyone else, but I will show up with bells on. I can try to organize the most exciting activities possible, but if we can't get at least a few people to have an ongoing interest, then this is a doomed enterprise.

I just wish I had some idea why, despite everything you would think, meetups in San Francisco are so poorly attended. I briefly entertained the theory that it's because Californians are flaky. (Apparently, I'm not alone in this.) I hope no one takes offense at this-- after all, I've been a Californian myself for over 10 years. But flakiness is saying you'll do something and not showing. What we have at meetups is people doing neither. And I've long thought that it's because public transportation is so lacking here. But, it's still better here than in most American cities, and most local people seem to be mavens at using it. Perhaps it's a whole constellation of reasons; trying to figure it out is probably a waste of time. But it's hard to improve something if you don't know why it has problems. I'll probably always theorize about meetups, but I can at least try to take some of the stress out of planning them.

Also, thanks for all the comments on the Epicurus post! It's cool that something from ancient days could still actually be a valid option for lots of people...now I just need to figure out how to do it!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Epicurean Delights

I always have my feelers out for ways that asexuals can improve their lot (and people in general, I suppose, but that goes beyond the scope here). One thing that I think about from the austerity of my studio apartment is how I could better my living situation. I've always envisioned my ideal living space as being spacious, full of people and animals, perferably with plenty of gardening space, close proximity to trees, and with a huge kitchen. I think most people eventually assume they'll move in with a significant other, but I can't reasonably plan for this. Last night (and I promise this all relates), I re-discovered Alain De Botton's Consolations of Philosophy on my bookshelf. I adore this book, so I was happy to see that I actually owned it. De Botton devotes a chapter to Epicurus, one of my favorite philosphers. Epicurus was cool because he was one of the only philosophers to tell us that the pursuit of pleasure was important for a good life. But whatever the term 'Epicurean' means today, the real-life Epicurus was a fan of the simplest pleasures in life: A piece of cheese, growing his own vegetables, or a meaningful conversation with friends. De Botton writes:

On returning to Athens in 306 BC at the age of thirty-five, Epicurus settled on an unusual domestic arrangement. He located a large house a few miles from the centre of Athens, in the Melite district between the market-place and the harbour at Piraeus, and moved in with a group of friends. He was joined by Metrodorus and his sister, the mathematician Polyaenus, Hermarchus, Leonteus and his wife Themista, and a merchant called Idomeneus (who soon married Metrodorus' sister.) There was enough space in the house for the friends to have their own quarters, and there were common rooms for meals and conversations. Epicurus observed that: "Of all the things that wisdom provides to help one live one's entire life in happiness, the greatest by far is the posession of friendship." --56-57

At the risk of sounding like Oprah, I love how Epicurus actually lived his ideal life. Unlike Seneca (also appearing in the book), who spent most of his difficult life engaged in cultivating an indifference to fortune, focusing on the positive seemed to have worked for Epicurus. I like how he combined married and single people in his household, and how they were able to somehow have enough of their own space to truly enjoy each other's company. When the couples wanted to do couply things, I could just hang out with the mathematician Polyaenus and such. Some people have likened Epicurus' project here, known as "The Garden", to a commune, and perhaps that's accurate. I've joked that I'd like to live in a commune, and maybe it would be a good idea afterall. (As long as I don't have to give all my posessions to the group. I'm not sure I could exist properly without my own books and music!) Maybe a better word would be "co-op", as the word "commune" does kind of freak me out. Anyway, I don't know if Epicurus' housemates were cool people or not. Even though my first brief "large group of friends living in a house together" experience could be truly difficult at times (that's where Seneca comes in), I'd really like to give it another go. But this time, I'm not choosing a room that floods in every strong rain.