Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Standing In the Way of Control

The song on the radio
makes you shiver
and want to curl into a ball.
Makes you want to be 17
and forget the future shrinking.
Life was so open then,
now it's closing in.

--Trembling Blue Stars, "Idyllwild"

"I'm 28. I'm too young to wear a suit to work everyday."

--Eric, "Entourage"

I guess it's inevitable that "growing up" would become one theme in this blog. Part of it is my own situation, being 24 and having been at a transitional time in my life for the past few years. The other part is that asexuals are often accused of being childlike, of being late bloomers or immature. Of course, this warrants an exploration of what "immature" even means. The Beauty Myth got me thinking about “normal” things (ie, complaining about cellulite) that actually function as forms of social control (in the case of cellulite, distracting uppity women from their potential power). This made me think of our common notions of being “grown-up”, which Edge of Everywhere also wrote about somewhat recently.

When I think of growing up in the typical way, two things come to mind: Self-denial and independence. Naomi Wolf, author of The Beauty Myth, would definitely agree about self-denial as it relates to adult women. Mature women, we are told, watch what we eat, wear shoes that hurt our feet, spend our hard-earned cash on cosmetics, and aren't allowed to relax and accept that we have a few wrinkles. More universally, we're supposed to acquiesce to jobs that range from uninspiring to expolitative, because that's what adults do. We strive for money and prestige out of some vague idea that we're just supposed to. We're supposed to give up our own dreams for the benefit of children and spouses, which usually doesn't end up benefitting anyone.

And then there's independence. As adults, we're supposed to support ourselves fully with no help from anyone else. (Of course, our employers are extremely fickle forms of support.) However, is this ideal something that's actually good? Independence can also mean isolation, which might be the last thing we need. As always, my heartily asexual passion for community is coming through. Independence is personal power, but community is political power. Guess what the "world order" wants and doesn't want us little people to have?

I'm not just making this up. Independence hasn't been important to all times and places. For example, Joanna Macy writes about Buddhism, "The Buddha called our interconnectedness paticca samuppada, dependent co-arising...perceiving all existence as a dynamic, self-sustaining web of relations..."

Don't get me wrong, independence can be good. Independent music and movies are (often) good. Energy independence is definitely good. And the Independent is a good concert venue here in San Francisco. Independence can feel really good. But I think that sometimes, all the emphasis on it can unnecessarily drive people apart.

The more I think about it, the more it seems like our ideals of "growing up" are just another way to funnel youthful rebellion into existing social norms. If that's maturity, I don't want any part of it. We all had different childhoods, so I don't see why we can't all define adulthood in our own ways. Of course, the world order doesn't want that, but obviously, I really don't care what it wants.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Beauty Myth

I've been reading The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf. The book, according to its cover, is about "how images of beauty are used against women". It's very thought-provoking, and you'll never look at fashion magazines in the same way again. I'd definitely recommend it for anyone to read, whatever your gender. One main criticism I had was that I would have liked to know if the Beauty Myth had any different effects on queer women, but I suppose that'll have to be another book. Anyway, a lot of us have wondered if our society has different views of asexual women and men. Wolf's answer is a good one, even in a book that claims all women have an overwhelmingly sexual side just waiting to be unleashed when we can stop worrying about how we look. She says:

We see that, sanctioned by the culture, men's sexuality simply is. They do not have to earn it with their appearance. We see that men's desire [or lack thereof--ily] precedes contact with women. It does not lie dormant waiting to spring into being only in response to a woman's will. (156)

I completely agree with this analysis, and think that greater freedom for women to choose our own sexual destinies will result in greater freedom for all genders to do the same. Wolf's answer seems to apply to any orientation. Like I've said before, women's sexualities, or lack thereof, are entirely our own. Just like our identities are our own. However, the "world order", as Wolf calls it, doesn't make that fact obvious. As a kid, it was hard to find female role models and archetypes that were as fiercely independent as I was. It's still hard-- while I have to search, men's are what a co-worker calls "low-hanging fruit". I know there are lots of women like me out there; we're just not portrayed. If we could all find each other and band together, the world order would be going down...which of course, it doesn't want. Wolf ends her book with this missive:

Let's be shameless. Be greedy. Pursue pleasure. Avoid pain. Wear and touch and eat and drink what we feel like. Tolerate other women's choices. Seek out the sex we want and fight fiercely against the sex we do not want. Choose our own causes. And once we break through and change the rules so our sense of our own beauty cannot be shaken, sing that beauty and dress it up and flaunt it and revel in it: In a sensual politics, female is beautiful. (291)

Go girls, go!

(One more tangentially related thing: The Beauty Myth was written in 1991. Have we made any progress? Maybe a little...Wolf claims that women don't want men to love them "as they are", because we have so many imagined physical flaws. But, remember Colin Firth telling Renee Zellweger "I like you...just as you are" in the Bridget Jones movie, and suddenly every woman thought this was the sweetest, most romantic thing someone could possibly say? There may be no relation, but I just thought I'd mention it. Oh, Colin Firth...)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mixed Relationships

A very dear reader recently asked me, "Would you be willing to be in a heterosexual relationship?" I'm pretty sure I just mumbled something inaudible, because I wasn't sure how to answer the question. Of course, I only realized why I couldn't answer the question until after the conversation was long over. This was why the question seemed impossible to answer: The only non-mixed relationship I could ever be in is an asexual one. If I dated a straight guy, it would be a heterosexual-asexual relationship, not a heterosexual one. Straight people don't absorb our orientations into theirs.

The issue of passing also presents itself here. If I was dating a bisexual man, we'd be an asexual-bisexual couple. However, we would be pass as a straight couple to almost everyone. Even people that know me well and know I'm ace would still probably view us as a straight couple.

The original question seems like a simple one, since most people are in relationships where the partners are the same orientation, usually straight. Only bisexuals, asexuals, and those who date them seem to encounter the "mixed relationship" situation. What seems to be a hard sell, even (or even especially) among asexual people, is that asexuality doesn't come with any attatched behaviors. If you're asexual, you'll always be in a half-asexual relationship, no matter who you're with or what you do or don't do with that person.

And there's something else worth mentioning-- the richness of expeience that can come with mixed relationships. In other sorts of mixed relationships, most of us can aknowledge the positive, whether it's learning the customs of a new culture or raising more accepting children. I have one parent that comes from a Catholic family, and the other comes from a Jewish family (hi guys). It was always great to have double the holiday traditions. Is there really a good reason why sexuality is so much more divisive than hot topics like race or religion? We usually just talk about the negatives in mixed-orientation relationships, but I think the outcome can be just as interesting, as long as couples remain open-minded (and that's a big "as long as"). I can't speak (much) of the heterosexual experience, but I know that someone could reap benefits from incorporating asexual culture into their own. It does, after all, involve cake.

Monday, April 20, 2009

For the Asexual (and Friends) About Town...

Our next San Francisco-area meetup is set for May 17th, Sunday, at 3pm. Our exciting locale will be the Dolores Park Cafe, which is in the Mission, close to the 16th Street/Mission BART station (corner of Dolores and 18th Street). It's also across the street guessed it-- the popular Dolores Park. If people bring park stuff, we can frisbee and Nerf-football to our heart's content after we collect everyone. As usual, you can identify us by our mascot of a giant blue-green algae.

Also, I've thought about starting a blog or website just for our San Francisco AVEN chapter. I know, I know...I don't want to do any more blogs right now, and I don't have the expertise (my mad HTML skillz from 7th grade might not count) or time to make my own website...although I can forsee us having one in the future. So, I decided to make us a page on Twitter. I think this could be a good way to network with other nonprofits, who seem to jumping on Twitter, at least in this area. I don't quite understand its mass appeal myself, but I'll be trying to update often with interesting information. Check us out here and follow us if you're on Twitter also.

One more thing...AVEN turns 8 on May 29th. And for an organization that started on the internet, 8 years is nothing to sneeze at. Some cool AVENites are putting a podcast together in which people are going to be submitting short audio clips about what AVEN means to them. Of course, I looooove creating media, so I'll definitely be participating in this project. Find out how you can do the same here; the deadline for submissions is May 20th.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Ma Petit Amoeba

I don't mind being referred to as an amoeba, as long as it's used as a term of endearment and not a bizarre insult. The first known asexual group was called Haven for the Human Amoeba, afterall. (Does anyone think there were other, pre-internet groups of asexual people, who didn't use the word "asexual"? I'm tempted to think there were...much like how we don't know if there's life on other planets, but there probably is just because there's so many planets.)
Anyway, I thought the asexy community would get a chuckle out of this shirt:

Amoeba with a monocle!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Good Intentions, Still Annoying

Warning: Spoilers ahead for The L-Word's final season, if you're like me and wait for things to come out on DVD...

So, I was watching some episodes of The L-Word's final season. My favorite character on the show, Max, is a female-to-male transsexual who recently found out he was 4 months pregnant (yeah...the show has gotten extremely soapy). When he goes to meet his friends at their usual hangout, Jenny says that he should be proud to be a mother and that he looks beautiful. Max storms away crying. If this had come from anyone besides Jenny, who seems to only be concerned with herself lately, this would be a classic example of good intentions gone awry. We know our friend is upset about his accidental pregnancy, so we try to make him feel better...and end up only making him feel worse. In other episodes, people keep referring to Max with female pronouns or even reduce him to an inanimate object. I thought that some sort of list was definitely needed, like "cool and uncool things to say to transpeople" (they would not be very different from cool and uncool things to say to anyone else). This got me thinking...we talk a lot about the uncool things people have said about our asexuality, but what are some cool things that they could be replaced with?

Once I started on this train of thought, I realized that a large proportion of the unwanted things people say when we come out are actually attempts to make us feel better. Maybe this is obvious, but since I tend to assume everyone knows the same things I know, it took me awhile to figure out. Being told "You're just a late bloomer" is supposed to give us hope, as is "You just haven't found the right person yet." If the other person can convince us that asexuality doesn't exist, we're supposed to find that a huge relief. Someone with little understanding of asexuality might think it's a negative thing, and assume that we want to be talked down off the edge of identifying as such.

What to say to asexuals is nothing that's going to "make us feel better". I think the perfect response to someone who comes out is "Okay, thanks for telling me". We don't want to be complimented, unless it's on our moxie for telling you. When I was told emphatically "But! Straight men would want to date you!", I was exasperated. But it was the same as Jenny telling Max that he was a beautiful mother. The person was trying to make me feel desirable, but it didn't work. By the time most people come out, they're pretty positive that they're asexual. And any protest to the contrary just hits the wall of our identities, new as they may be.

Back in January, Rainbow Amoeba wrote a post about her experiences coming out as asexual, and she also found that the people she told in her first go-round were attempting to make her feel better. However, this didn't achieve its intended effect. In a comment, I wrote: "What you said about your mom trying to console you by saying asexuality didn’t exist is perceptive and well-said. I, of course, wanted people to tell me it DOES exist, but I know now that the world isn’t ready (although there have been a few exceptions)." I know it's weird to quote yourself, but I think what happened to me and Rainbow Amoeba happens to a lot of us. What people thought I wanted was totally different from what I actually wanted. It makes me feel better to know that people might mean well, even if they don't express it in a way that's actually helpful. These sorts of effective communication skills are something most of us are never taught.

Recently, I went to a work-related training on "Building Partnerships and Collaborations". There was a long section on active listening that was actually pretty interesting. Apparently, we're constantly trying to make everything all about us. It's natural, and there's nothing inherently wrong with it, but we need to realize that it takes effort to really listen to another person without bringing the conversation back to you. I'm as guilty of this as anyone else, although I'm going to try to be more aware of it now. When you come out to someone and they try to swoop in like the savior of modern sexuality, they're making it about them. They're so caught up in being the one to "solve" your "problem" that they don't actually listen to what you're saying. The cool thing to say to anyone coming out, in my opinion, is actually very little.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Making Condoms Asexy

"I want to live and I want to love. I want to catch something that I might be ashamed of."
--The Smiths, 'Frankly, Mr. Shankly"

I suppose it's as it should be: Even though I’ve never had sex, I seem to have a good handle on healthy sexual practices. When I heard that the third date is, supposedly, a common juncture to have sex for the first time with someone, all I could think was: “But aren’t you supposed to talk about testing for STDs, birth control and stuff before having sex? And isn’t the third date a little early for that?” I knew that people had sex without talking about these things, but my response was the old chestnut: “If you’re not comfortable talking about sex, are you really ready to be having it?” Maybe you are, but I maintain that it’s a good thing to talk about.

And at the risk of sounding like your high school gym teacher, that’s what we’ll be talking about today: Birth control and STD prevention. Yeah, I feel a little awkward writing about this, but, as someone with no emotional attachment to sex, I actually think I’m a good candidate to talk about how our culture views these things. It’s odd that while we see commercials for birth control every 15 minutes on TV, the condoms are locked up at Safeway, presumably because people keep stealing them, so embarrassed are we to admit we might be having sex.

Related to that, it REALLY bothers me when characters in movies and TV are constantly getting it on with no discussion or representation of safe sex. I know that these depictions aren’t supposed to be realistic, but people complain when someone smokes in a movie and it’s portrayed as “cool”…and isn’t having unsafe sex, especially with someone you haven’t had that “have you been tested?” talk with, pretty dangerous to your health? Hello, HIV, duh! Is it really going to derail the plot for a character to break out a condom? I think not. Maybe having sex without thinking of consequences is the sort of wish-fulfillment that we find in movies. I guess I come from this old “theatre should entertain and educate” school. But a lot of people don’t seem to be figuring out this whole safe-sex thing—it’s something we need to start seeing as integral to sexual activity. However, as any fan of This Film is Not Yet Rated might tell you, it might be the censors' apparent love of disembodied, "artistic" sex scenes that is partially to blame.

In her blog Ace of Hearts, the Impossible K recently asked, “I’m kinda surprised this issue [of birth control] hasn’t been discussed more amongst asexuals. Is it because it’s really such a non-issue for us?” And then, “I’m curious though - how do other asexuals view birth control, especially on a personal level? Would it be safe to assume we all favor the most effective method - not doing “it” - or are there valid reasons why other options need to be considered?” As someone with self-imposed blog productivity demands, I’ll bite on this—and pretty much any topic, to be honest. Sure, I could just comment, but expounding’s more my style.

I’m trying to think of my attitudes towards birth control as a teen, and I’m having a hard time recalling them. I was pretty sure, though, that everyone (female) started on the pill when they got older and inevitably started to have sex. I wasn’t crazy about messing with my body’s hormones (which, as far as I know, are completely normal). For me, something like sex wasn’t a big enough draw to make me want to go through even the slightest inconvenience. For me, birth control has always been a “let’s cross this river when we come to it” sort of thing. However, it’s always bothered me how the onus is completely on the woman. Sure, we’re the ones that actually give birth, but usually there is another person involved in the process. Apparently, hormonal birth control is possible for men, but it’s not marketable. So it’s cool for women to mess with their hormone levels, but men just won’t go there? I’m not down with that double-standard. However, even if there was hormonal birth control available for men, I wouldn’t want to convince men to take it when I would be resistant to taking it myself. Let’s not even get into the issue of health-related products not being available for anyone to use just because they’re not marketable to a large population. I get why they’re not, but it seems like a shame anyway.

So that’s pills. The only other form of birth control that’s commonly discussed seems to be condoms. In health class, we were taught about all these exotic methods (I remember female condoms, which sort of looked like those plastic showers you use when camping). However, in general talk (if there is any), these two kinds are pretty much all that’s discussed. It’s funny because even in terms of condoms, obtaining them is still seen as the woman’s responsibility. It’s also our responsibility to talk resistant male partners into using condoms. But really, think about it: If a dude refuses to buy condoms, and you have to use various strategies to get him to use one, is this really someone you want to have sex with? When you read literature about sex education, especially for young people, there’s all this advice on how to make condom usage sexy and romantic. Even I can see that this seems like way too much work; no wonder so many women go with the pill. Somehow, I doubt people are really as resistant to condoms as we’ve been led to believe. They are 99% effective after all, but only when used properly. And I’m guessing that a lot of the time, that doesn’t happen, considering that I also happen to be well-versed in all the things that can go wrong on that front.

I’ve never really understood the concept of abstinence as a form of birth control. “Don’t have sex and you won’t get pregnant” is logical, but as someone who is technically “abstinent”, it’s not a concept that resonates with me personally at all. If you’re not having sex because you have no desire to do so, does that make your abstention birth control? I don’t think it does. It seems like not having sex is always tied into fear of risk, when that may or may not really be the case. For some of us, the risk may be a mental one—but that’s an entirely different animal.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Ultimate Peer Pressure: Motherhood

Or, "Night of the Iguana"...

When I was 12 or 13, I was in a conversation with a bunch of girls. They were talking about how many kids they wanted to have in the future. I don’t remember whether I was asked, or if I just declared: “I’m going to have iguanas!”

Looking back, isn’t this an odd thing for young girls to discuss when they’re still kids themselves? Have you ever heard an adult say to a young person (BEFORE they start dating and having sex) that they shouldn’t be thinking right now about having children? No, apparently it’s charming for kids to name their own future kidlets, just like it’s charming for young girls to plan their future weddings. Pregnancy really is the ultimate peer pressure for girls and women of all ages, and we start grooming ‘em early. Sure, we talk a game about girls planning careers and making choices about their lives, but girls and women also get the very strong message that all we should be planning is families. Mixed messages are nothing new; we can at least recognize them for what they are—messages, not facts or commands. They could be just as valid as what your drunk ex-boyfriend leaves on your voicemail at 3am on a Friday night.

What’s really sad is that when women do have children, whether out of desire, pressure, or not knowing what else to do, we don't get a whole lot of support. So we've fulfilled our "major function" in life, and we can't get affordable child care? Nice... And while men are praised for being good fathers just for spending time with their kids, women are encouraged to be perfect mothers in every way-- no amount of effort is enough. It’s a tough nut to crack and if I follow this thread too far, it'll just get depressing.

I actually got the idea for this post many months ago, when I found myself in a conversation with two women, one in her late teens and the other in her late twenties. The older woman had given birth to a child when she was my age, and the younger woman wanted to know every single detail of the process. I was just sitting there like, "Wait for it...wait for it..." Boom: "Isn't it amazing how we can bear children?" And etc, etc. I'm at the age where some people I know are starting to have kids, and honestly, it freaks me out a bit. If I ever wanted kids as much as I wanted iguanas back in the day, then I'd like to adopt them. But I don't understand the desire women have to give birth, and how far some of us will go to do so. Although I know some asexuals do want to give birth, it's not a need I can personally relate to.

Maybe part of it is because I'm a huge enviro-warrior and am concerned about overpopulation. What use are kids on a dead planet, right? But besides Ralph Nader, who might be asexual, I don't think there's a correlation between environmentalism and indifference to child-bearing. If you say my biological clock will start ticking at some point, that's no different from saying that someday I'll "find the right person" who will make me desire sex. I shudder to think that if I ever got married, people would constantly be asking my spouse and I when we were having kids. I always feel impotently frustrated when I hear asexuals talking about how their families are pressuring them to have children or just bugging them about it. Because “Sure, Aunt Enid, the annoyingness of this family is really something I want to pass on”. I consider myself extremely lucky that my family doesn’t do this, but it shouldn’t be too much to ask.

Reducing people to biology ("But the species must be perpetuated!") is such a cop-out. As if personal freedom is the only think holding back a state of nature. Motherhood isn't natural, "amazing", or inevitable for all women. It's viable for men to have other outlets of creation-- novels, music, scientific discoveries, and it shouldn't be any different for women. I don't think having biological kids is out of the question for me-- maybe a physical struggle will be preferable to a bureaucratic struggle if and when I do decide I want kids. I can guess why "your own kids" are so important to people...sort of...but I don't feel it viscerally. Maybe I never will, and that's just fine.

(PS-- If you want more reading material on the topic, check out a great post by Cree at Naturally Curvy here.)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Faking It

I seem to be in the mood for embarrassing admissions. On that note, I've always kind of liked the song "Crush" by Mandy Moore. This is for two reasons: First of all, it states what exactly a crush is, in no uncertain terms-- "I get a rush when I'm with you. I've got a crush on you". And second, it seems oddly asexual for a mainstream pop song, in that, like me, Mandy doesn't seem to have any plans for actually pursuing her crush. Much like the situation in this song, whenever I had a crush, I had no expectation that it would be mutual or lead to anything more than that.

But this post is a little more specific than crushes in general. I guess everyone fakes it to some extent, and asexuals are no different. The last crush I had, about four years ago, seemed to be largely inspired by the power of suggestion. I'd received an invitation to a party, and it was suggested that I bring whomever I had a crush on. This made me feel bad, because what, did everyone have a crush besides me? Was having a crush really so standard? So I sat around listening to Weezer's "El Scorcho", which happens to be about a massive crush. Of course, I wanted a crush of my own, so I somehow developed one on the next guy I saw. Although this was my only sucessful "manufactured" crush thus far, what I felt was real-- I did, indeed, get a rush when I was with him. (Although, like all my crushes, I'm no longer sure why I liked him so much.)

Another crush I had was inspired by a boring work environment. And now, I'm stuck in one again. I found myself wishing I had a crush on one of my co-workers, which would make the day pass in a more exciting way. The only problem? I would have to make one up, since it wasn't presenting itself organically. Here's how I went about it: I decided to target straight men, since they would be the most numerous group. I didn't want to have a crush on someone who had no chance of ever reciprocating. So, I zeroed in on one of the very few youngish, straight men in our office. I chose this particular guy, let's call him Pablo, because he dressed fairly well and seemed like a genuinely nice person. He also shared a name with an infamous celebrity, which I found highly amuisng. So now all I had to do was...wait? Whenever Pablo passed by my cubicle, I tried to conjure some giggly, schoolgirly twitter deep within my core. But mostly, this was just funny, not crushworthy. After that, and sure that Pablo was not attempting to do the same thing, I was, like Mandy Moore, not sure how to proceed.

But there was a larger obstacle. I wasn't sure how to conjure up a crush in such a sterile, unlovable environment. I mean, what do you think of in a place like this:

Large armies of zombies hyped up on caffeine? Overthrowing capitalism? Aren't crushes, at their heart, sort of about hope, and cubicles are sort of...not? However, I'm hoping that my constant efforts to decorate my portion of my cubicle will make me an object of affection around the office. I guess I'll have to save my own crushes for after hours.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Strangers in the Night, Second and Final Part

I don't want to admit what I'm about to admit. It feels like an admission of some horrible , embarrassing weakness. But I'm not sure why this is, so I might as well come out and say it: I like to come back to my house at the end of the day and know roughly what to expect there.

I know, I know, I'm a huge wuss. You'd think I have some kind of aversion to adventure, but that's not true at all: I've climbed Mount Fuji in a monsoon, worn Hawaiian-print pants, and came out as asexual. I think that because I'm a writer, I can handle any weird situation that happens to me. You know, I can just use it later for material. However, I still want my home to be my relatively uneventful castle. Is that really so strange?

And this is the problem of living with strangers-- a problem that I think asexuals in the San Franciscos, Londons, and New York Cities of the world are especially likely to face. Maybe I'm just extrapolating my own situation to other people-- I tend to do that. But I really do think that asexuals, who are less likely to have live-in partners, are more likely to live in inadequate situations. When I lived by myself, this was the most unusual thing that happened: I came back from a trip to find that my friend who had been cat-sitting had left the hot water running in the bathroom, and every surface in the apartment was covered with condensation. I can't remember walking into any unexpected circumstances in my time living with friends. I usually just came home to people sitting around playing MarioKart. But when you live with strangers, you're never quite sure what will happen. You could come home to your housemates doing anything from building a spare room to growing marijuana in the garage to having their friends live in the house while they're on vacation. All that, plus sharing a cubicle with 5 people during the day, is just more than I can handle.

I feel like as a "young person", I should be able to take this all in stride. But saying I "should" do something doesn't change anything. You've probably heard of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs-- frankly, I'm tired of hearing of it. But from my recent experiences, I've been able to come up with my own hierarchy of living situations. Here it is, from best to worst:
  • Living with people I know, whom I like, and who would be good housemates (similar neatness levels, schedules, etc).

  • Living by myself.

  • Living with people I know and like, but who may not be compatible in living styles.
  • Living with people I know, but not well enough to know if I like them.
  • Living with strangers.

  • Living with people I know and don't like (I tend to think the devil you don't know is worth a shot).

I don't know why I value "living situations" so highly-- enough to make them a semi-regular topic on this blog. I wish I could just live anywhere, but apparently, I get extremely indignant if a place isn't up to my standards. While I can joke about crashing on the Velvet Undergrounds' manager's couch a la Jonathan Richman, I'd find doing that for more than about a week profoundly unsettling.

My current situation would be fine-- and not even worth mentioning-- if it had a forseeable end. But it doesn't. Even though the economy is in the outhouse, rents have stayed stubbornly astronomical here. This isn't just a personal problem or an asexual problem-- it's a social problem, especially in places like San Francisco. I've talked here before about how asexuals seem to have greater rates of mental illness. But mental illness, and stress-related illnesses, are on the rise for everyone. I think a lot of this could be ameliorated (woot, SAT word) if we just had a little more peace, quiet, and personal space. Sure, some of us have chemical imbalances in our brains. I am absolutely not making light of anyone's problems, especially when I've had them myself. But should we really be trying to adapt to a crazed world? According to the Stoics, the key to happiness is living life in accordance with nature. How I'm supposed to do this in such unnatural surroundings remains largely a mystery.