27 March 2010


I had a dream the other day.  I looked in the mirror, and I saw the person that I am not.  So I ran: I ran to a different place, a different city, all while taking off my clothes.  Then, I looked in a different mirror, and I saw my naked body, the body that I am not.  Once again, I ran to a different place, a different city.  I put on clothes along the way, clothes that I thought would make me beautiful, clothes that fit the person that I am.  Fully dressed, I looked in the mirror (the same mirror my dream started with). Fully dressed, I still saw my body, I saw it on my clothes.  So I ran again, taking my clothes off, hoping that once I remove them, they will no longer lie, that I will just be me.  But, when I reached that second mirror it was just my body in the reflection, and my body wasn't me.  And so I ran, and the dream continued in a loop, a cycle, a trap with no escape.
"….So dirty laundry makes me think of clothes and closets.  Clothes to cover up gendered bodies and closets to hide them in."  -- Masculine Femininities Zine, Issue 3
There's no story to this blog.  No rhyme or reason, no transitions.  What I say next has nothing to do with what I said last.  I've just been thinking about clothes lately.

There was a time in my life when I used to smoke a lot of pot.  Back then, I sometimes asked myself: of the clothes I am wearing, which have I smoked pot in?  Almost every day, without fail, I had smoked in every single item of clothing on my body, down to the undergarments.  How quickly that changed once I stopped smoking!  I still play this game every once in a while, I ask myself: which of  these clothes have I smoked pot in?  It's never every item of clothing.  Most of them are "no"s.  But, almost every time there's at least one "yes", one shoe or shirt or bra that carries the past.  So quickly it changes, so much it remains; the person we are and the person we used to be, reflected, as if on a mirror, on the clothes we wear.
Which of these clothes did I question myself in?  Which did I pause before putting on, wondering what they'll imply about myself, about my identity, about the person that I am and that I am not, the person that I want to be?
Last night, another dream about clothes.  A dream of a time and place where a boy wore a skirt, a beautiful yellow and red tie-dye skirt, and I almost didn't even notice, because it was normal.  I can haz that world?

24 March 2010

Precious, and why it struck me as incredibly racist and classist.

Last night, with high expectations, I finally watched Precious; and, oh, was I disappointed. In fact, the film struck me as extremely racist and classist, and it made me very, very angry.

Spoilers follow, though I wouldn't be afraid. You pretty much know what to expect before getting into the film, one of those tales of a difficult life but the possibility of happiness and success.

Precious lives in Harlem with her single mother (played by Mo'Nique, who is such a good actress, that she almost made the movie worth watching). Stereotypes about poor people of color and people on welfare prevail through the entire film. Precious' mother is a monster: all day, she sits in front of her TV, watching game shows, while her daughter cooks her meals. She lives entirely on welfare, lies to the welfare officers, tells her daughter not to bother get an education, because it will never help her along the way. I have no doubt that people like that exist, that families like that are real, and they are awful, but I've heard this story plenty of times. It's the story we hear when we petition for less welfare and create programs like New York's WEP. Where's the story of my mother, who is only a successful doctor today, saving the lives of others, because the help of Washington state's generous welfare program? The story that could help other poor, single, working mothers along the way? Nope, we never hear that story. The only stories we hear are stereotypes.

Racist stereotypes are everywhere, too. Not just the obvious stuff (Precious steals an entire bucked of fried chicken), which actually might be somewhat realistic, but all of Precious' problems are blamed on the black family in which she lives. Her mother throws around insults, calling every white woman a "white bitch". On the internet, I've read several complaints by people insulted by the constant repetition of "white bitch". Not once does the film show that, perhaps, a poor black family is justified in being angry at white people in a white supremacist culture. Instead, the white people (and fair-skinned) middle-class people, in true Freedom Writers fashion, are the heroes, rescuing her from her terrifying family situation. Please, can you tell me a story I haven't heard before?

Worse even than the racist and classist stereotypes is that the movie pretends that the structure allows for success.  Precious goes to an alternative school where a loving teacher who's there because she "loves to teach" leads a class of maybe six kids in a beautiful classroom in a hotel, and gives Precious the one-on-one attention she needs to learn how to read, to dream of a brighter future. How does she get into this program? Through the help of her white principal. Clearly, children with such family circumstances as Precious require better schools than children with better family environments, but they seldom have the opportunity to receive such help. Instead, the environment of public schools in poor communities of color is significantly worse than that of middle-class suburban schools. Only the first five-or-so minutes of the movie take place in a Harlem public school, and, although somewhat rowdy and crowded, it's presented at overall normal. The building looks intact, the teacher tries to teach, it's the kids who just sit around, make noise, and don't do their homework. Those of you reading my blog recently know that I'm absolutely obsessed with Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol. Published in 1991, Kozol goes to New York City public schools during the very time that the film takes place, and gives tear-jerking descriptions of the circumstances in these schools. Precious simply didn't do the truth justice.

I'm still very frustrated. I simply don't know why it's ok for us to hear the same stories over and over again, while ignoring the real problems that are the reason why these stories even happen. Movies like this continue to discourage political and social change that might actually help poor people of color. The typical structure is entirely ignored, while the focus is on special circumstances and individual success stories. I am furious.

Now no one cares.

"Stand up for what you believe in, even if you're standing alone."

While stuck in midday traffic on I-25 North (Who knew lunch hour was so crowded? Maybe 1:30 is the new 5:30), my sister mentioned 7th grade. "That's my best year yet," she told me. Seventh grade. I tried to think that far back, but I can barely remember anything. All that crossed my mind was sitting in science class with a boy, joking and laughing, so that our teacher glared at us from the front of the room, telling us to be quiet. I was a lonely child, and he was the first person to ever make me laugh during class, the first lab partner I ever cared about. Three years later, when we were in 10th grade, Jack Payne committed suicide.
"One at a time suicides are revealed."
I feel like we live in a culture of suicide. I see it everywhere. Everyone knows someone who's killed themselves. A colleague of my mother's lit herself on fire in her parent's garage. Railroad tracks passed behind my high school in California. Multiple deaths per year happened on those tracks. There are signs beside them. "There is hope. Call the suicide helpline". Yet people still die. We're all dying, alone in this world, fading way. Maybe Durkheim has a point. Maybe we live in an anomie.
"One at at a time I watched them all forget."
No one cares. I used to say that all the time. I used to sit alone with a blade, dreaming of slitting my throat and bleeding until I am to weak to keep breathing. I felt sad and isolated. Everyone was too engrossed in themselves to notice anyone else; no one cared enough about their friends or acquaintances to even stop them before they kill themselves. I wanted to hug strangers, to tell them, "I love you, you changed my life, how can I help you?" I used to dream of saving the world, of stopping hate, of making the this beautiful place, a place with no more suicide. No once would care. No one stood with me, or believed in me. No one even cared enough to tell me they love me.
"So please don't wake me 'till someone cares, now no one cares."
I still feel this way. There's so much hate everywhere. Racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, sizism, -ism, -ism, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. Stop it, please. It's all I think about anymore. But no one cares. My sister snaps at me, tells me to stop talking about this serious stuff. She tells me she doesn't care. My mother tells me to stop going on about things, an aspie tendency of mine. But this is different! I should be going on and on about it, and you should, too. You think people who don't have good schools to go to have the privilege of not thinking about it, of not talking about it? Why am I standing alone? I shouldn't be. That's why I want to transfer out of CU. I want to go to place where more people care. Where more than "about 100 students" attend an on-campus event for higher education, when every student should have been there. I don't understand how anyone can stand such low diversity: don't you care?
"Will the flood behind me, put out the fire inside me."
If we never care, no one will ever care about us. If we don't save someone's life, no one will save ours. Please, don't wait until it's too late. Care. About someone. About anyone. Ideally, about everyone. Whoever you are: I care about you.

(All quotes but the first are from the song "The Missing Frame" by AFI.)

21 March 2010

Story of my life.

"The one you love and the one who loves you are never, ever the same person." -- Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters

17 March 2010

The Appropriation of Ethnic Identities aka Why I Hate St. Patrick's Day

I could never stand St. Patrick's Day. It always pissed me off, because it emphasizes an element of American culture that, somehow, has always angered me. Although everyone is American, everyone also claims that they are "Irish" or "French" or "Greek and Polish and Italian and British and Spanish and German and ...."  I understand that, as a country that prides itself on being multi-ethnic and is created through a history of immigration, it's important for people to acknowledge their heritage. I understand how this is especially important for people of Irish or Italian (etc.) heritage, who's ancestors might have historically faced discrimination in the United States. However, it's not heritage that Americans claim: they don't say "Kiss me, I am of Irish heritage" or "Kiss me, my grandfather immigrated from Ireland".  No, it's "Kiss me, I am Irish".  The thing is, you're not Irish. Chances are, you know nothing about what Irish culture is like, nor do you even have any clue what it means to be Irish.  You're an American, fully assimilated into American culture, melted away into the melting pot until we can no longer tell where you came from.

It's especially frustrating when, upon telling people I was born in Russia, they respond with "Cool, I am half-Russian". You and I have nothing in common. I've am bilingual and bicultural. I speak Russian, read Russian poetry, eat Russian food, discuss Russian politics; I know what it's like to live in Russia, to breathe Russia, to suffer Russia and enjoy Russia.  You are an American. If, every once in a while, your grandma cooks borscht, that's fantastic! We can discuss Russian cuisine and maybe even Russian grandmas. Still, chances are, you are not Russian. My children will not be Russian. They will be American, because I don't know how too cook Russian food, because I don't embody much of Russian culture, because I, their mother, more than anything else, am an American.

Pay attention to how I talk about my ethnicity and heritage. You won't hear me say "I am Russian" or "I am from Russia". Instead, when someone asks me where I am from, I carefully and consciously phrase it: "I was born in Russia".  I identify as an American, and only recently, as I've been working on self-pride, did I begin occasionally being comfortable identifying as Russian-American, or, rarely, even Russian.  I have an accent. My name is Russian. No matter how hard I try, I can't escape this. People know I am Russian. And, you know what? I hate it.

It started in second grade. Our teacher read us a children's story about a Russian man (he was a famous artist or musician or author, but I don't remember who specifically he was) who felt homesick after moving the to US. The kids looked at me and asked : "are you homesick?" No, I am not homesick, I answered. I wasn't, and I hated the attention. I hated being different, being singled out, having to defend myself. No, I am not homesick, I said over and over again, and they all looked at me and said, "You're homesick." This was right before recess, and I had an Aspie breakdown, I hid myself in the corner and tried not to cry, and I hated myself, and I hated being Russian, and I hated being associated with some stupid story that had nothing at all to do with me.  That was the first time, but not the last.  I know people identify me by my heritage. I know they speak of me as the "Russian girl" or "that girl with the Russian (or sometimes they don't even know it's Russian, and name some other random European country) accent".  And it bothers me.  I hate it when people associate me with other Russian people, when, chances are, we have nothing in common. I hate it when people attribute my behavior to my ethnicity. And, oh, it happens. I've often had people say that I do something "because I am Russian", or, when my behavior or words are deviant, they say "you Russian people are crazy".  I feel like people look right past me. For a long time, I avoided telling people my name. I avoided speaking around people who'd never heard my voice. I avoided this because I knew that, if they found, out, they would think of me as "the Russian one". I hate that every time I speak, every conversation I have, every time I say my name (although my new name of "Kae" has done something to liberate me), the conversation, without fail, always goes to "Where are you from?"  I feel like everyone looks right through me, right through my words and their meaning, and they can only hear the voice saying those words. And, somewhat rebelliously, I identify as American. I envy my sister. Two and a half years younger, and she has no accent; her name is Sasha, unique yet simple, easy to pronounce.  She has friends that didn't know she was Russian until they met me and she said "this is my sister".  "I didn't know you were Russian," they say. "I am," she answers, she proudly says, "I am Russian".

But I am proud of being Russian. I love my experiences with Russian culture, the opportunity I have to speak two languages and to know two different lifestyles. I love that I have an experience that so few have, an experience of infinite value.  I love telling people about Russian culture, telling them the ways in which it's different. I love discussing Russian politics, and trying to get other people to understand it (I also love discussing it with people who already know a lot about it, possibly more than I do myself).  In fact, I feel like I have more pride than my sister. Sure, she's never consciously tried to hide her heritage like I have, but sometimes, I feel like she sees herself as "Russian"  in the same way as all the other "Russian" people that live in the US.  Whenever she says our last name, she pronounces it the way most American's pronounce it - [k l ɛ p I ts k a j a] with an accent on the first "a" - rather than how it's correctly pronounced - [k l jɛ p i ts k a j a] with an accent on the "i". (Wow, I put a lot of work in to this IPA, I hope it's correct; I suppose it's a good thing I'm a linguistics minor.)  I see how that's convenient, especially when someone else needs to spell it. I even understand her saying it to a friend when the friend is curious to know what her last name is, although I wouldn't, because that's not my last name. But, at times, I've heard people ask her to say her last name because they want to hear what it sounds like, and she still says it in the incorrect way that English-speakers pronounce it. Now come on - that's just disrespectful, they want to hear how it's really pronounced! Perhaps it's hypocritical of me to complain about the attention I receive for being Russian and identify as American, and then insist on pronouncing my name correctly all the time. Maybe that's true, but I can't stop: it's part of who I am. I am an American, but I also have a Russian name, and I also lived much of my life in Russia.

I don't see anything wrong in having pride in your ethnicity. I don't have a problem with celebrating other cultures. I think that's a wonderful thing! But Americans, going out and getting drunk because they are "Irish" - I just think that's ridiculous. Everyone is Irish. You know why you're Irish? Because you're AMERICAN. Because, in this country, people of different ethnic backgrounds intermarry. That doesn't happen as often elsewhere. It seldom happens in Russia. I am not Irish because I actually am an immigrant, and actually might have had some of the same experiences your Irish ancestors have had. (However, I want to be careful here not to appropriate discrimination - I definitely think that some of the experiences I described in this blog are disadvantages, but not nearly as serious as the things immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe have faced in the past.)  Yet, although, chances are, as an American, you have some Irish blood in you, the chances of that being true for someone who immigrates to the US from elsewhere in the world are very, very low. And no one celebrates my Russian heritage! No one celebrates immigrants that still come today from all over the world, adding spice to American culture. (That's what I really want - a day to celebrate immigrants of all national origins and races in today's US.) No one cares - everyone just appropriates St. Patrick's Day, because everyone is Irish. Goddammit, yes, it makes me jealous, yes, it makes me feel left out, and yes, it makes me pissed.

Now, this was a significant rant, and, before I end it, I think it's essential that I acknowledge my white privilege. I have the privilege to call myself an American, despite the fact that I was born outside the country. Right here in our nation, in our state, people of color - specifically Latino/a people - are singled out as immigrants and non-American, even if they've lived in this nation all their lives.  It is unfair and discriminatory, and they face arbitrary traffic stops and arrests, teasing, and physical harassment and beatings. No matter how long their ancestors have resigned on this land, people of color still don't have the privileges that I have today. Sure, I have the right to complain, but I can't do so without first stating that I have it much better off than most.


But, hey, I do enjoy wearing green, and I even left a splatter of green in this blog entree. Hope you guys have a fantastic St. Patrick's Day and - BE SAFE.

15 March 2010

Life Takes Decisions

My mother teases me for not making up my mind.  She tells me how she graduated highschool at 16, and went on straight to med school. She tells me how, by the time she was my age, she was already deciding on her speciality as a doctor.  I can't even imagine that.  At sixteen, I literally had no limitations on my interests. Physics or literature? Performance music or primary education? It all seemed like a viable option.  Upon entering college, I'd realized that my interests focus in the humanities, and began zooming in. Even now - nineteen years old, second semester in college, and a sophomore if you take a look at my credits - I can't even decide what to major in, I can't even decide if I even like this university.

But life, it takes decisions, and it's time I start making decisions, too. Last Thursday, I declared a Linguistics minor. The day after tomorrow, I'm declaring a Philosophy major, and then going on to find out about the Cognitive Science certificate program.  I'd considered a philosophy major since before I started college, I knew I'd do it as either a major or a minor, but deciding on a major seemed impossible: so many credits in one discipline! So many credits not in a variety of other disciplines! So much I would have to sacrifice for a philosophy major. I had to be sure, and it's the Cogntivie Science certificate program - restricted to Philosophy majors, among others - that served as my final push: Philosophy major it is; it's worth it.  I love this feeling - I am on track, I know what I am doing.  It feels so right, it feels great to make decisions pertaining to my life.

I'm on a roll with making decisions now, and I suddenly found myself rolling into new territory. I'm filling out transfer applications.  I am considering leaving CU. Maybe it's the recent rainy weather, or the fact that, due to my birth control, I've been bleeding heavily for more than a week straight, but I've been feeling depressed, lonely, and out of place. I really don't like CU or Boulder. I need to get out of here.

I settled for CU when I was selecting colleges. It's not like I didn't try. I'd been looking since tenth grade, but I didn't know what to look for. I didn't know what I'd major in, I didn't know whether I wanted in or out of state, I didn't know whether I wanted a city or a town. I knew I wanted a place that's bigger than my highschool of 4000, which did cut many colleges out of the picture, but not enough. I toured universities around Colorado and the Bay Area - a place that's very special to me, very close to my heart - but none of them seemed just quiet right. My counselor wasn't much help, either. His only suggestion was the University of Oregon. I am well acquainted with and absolutely adore Oregon and the Pacific North West, but I'm so glad I didn't go there. Even Boulder, just twenty minutes away from Denver, is too small for my taste, and, in a little rainy town in Oregon, I would have gone insane. In the end, I applied to three public Colorado Universities: CU Denver, CSU, and CU Boulder.  Boulder was my top choice, lying near the upper bounds of a "good match".  I got into all three. Even before I started college, I already began thinking about where I want to transfer.

I can't do this small town thing. I find myself dreaming of cities, of highrises and lights, of strange blocks and public buses.  Every time I go down to Denver, my heart starts to beat a little faster. I crave a city life, I'm begging to get to know it's every street, it's every turn. I crave to live, to really live, and I feel like I can't live here in Boulder.

I don't like CU. I hate how there is no diversity. I hate how everyone is white, and either from Colorado, California, Chicago, or New York.  I hate how everyone is rich and spoiled. I hate how no one cares, how they all think they are these cool hippies just because they smoke weed and wear overpriced "bohemian" clothes. I've found myself saying the same things I used to say when I was in highschool.  My sister told me I need to branch out more (of course, by that she means I need fewer queer friends, but that's beside the point), and I told her that I have no where to branch out, that I don't like the vast majority of people at CU, that I don't get along with most of the people here, and thus I have much fewer options. I've been saying that people don't care, and that they're too alike. In fact, this is just like Creek. I see Creek kids everywhere. I can't seem to get away from them. I don't know what to do. I feel trapped. A few weeks ago, I went to march for higher education down in Denver. It took off from Auraria campus - CU Denver, Metro State, and Community College of Denver. Midday on Wednesday, I looked around the campus, and I though, I love it here. I want to be here, the people here look real. Sure, they're still all white, but at least they resemble actual individuals, not like those in Boulder.  When I was waiting for acceptance letters, I was secretly hoping CU would reject me. Then, I would go to CU Denver, and I liked it there more.

I am currently applying to New York University, Washington University in St. Louis, and Denver University. The first two will be really hard to get into, and, if I do get in, I'll have to find some time to visit them before making a decision. I am fairly certain I'll get into DU, but I'm not sure if I'll accept of I do. I doubt my problems with CU will be successfully remedied in DU, except, perhaps, the part where I really want to live in a city. If I don't succeed this semester, I've got a few schools in mind that I'll apply to next year. University of Washington (ok, I know that, here I am, whining about the rain, and then considering life in Seattle, but I really love Washington state, it's one of those places I can already call home), Tufts, and Stanford (now I'm just getting ridiculous; however, I never took a risk when I first applied for colleges, and I want to take one now, I want rejection letters, please).

It's a bit very scary, but I know this is right. If I'm having these thoughts after one year, I'll never make it through my entirely undergraduate career alive. Most of all, if I go any of these places, I'll miss Colorado - the mountains, the skies, the whether, the cities and towns, the culture and people. But I'm a nomad at heart. I've lived four years in a row in Colorado now - longer than anywhere else since I was seven. I need to move on in this world.

07 March 2010

"The Sorrow is Sacred"

There's one thing about myself I've never understood, a personality trait that never quiet made sense to me. Why is that I get so much pleasure out of being miserable? Whenever something sad happens in my life, I snatch the sadness and hold it close, doing my best not to let go, not to let it squirm free of my fierce grip.  I don't move on, I don't look forward to the future, but I dwell, as long as I possibly can, on whatever most recently broke my heart. I feel so content crying, sobbing, and wearing dark make-up, that I fear that next step: I fear once again facing happiness.

There was a time in my life that I identified solely with my depression. I was never a particularly happy child. I was serious when I was kid, and very realistic. As I began growing up, I developed an affinity for tales of death and sorrow. I loved reading books that made me cry, and I loved reading realistic poetry about suffering.  I began writing poetry when I was in eight grade, and, right away, I focused on sadness. Something about the grimness of life always appealed to me. I wasn't much fond of life in general, and seldom saw past that which was not well with the world. I thought I was a realist who saw the truth clearer than most.

Then, at the age of 15, as I began my sophomore year of highschool, I experienced heartbreak, loneliness, and depression like I never had before. My whole life changed that year as I dove into despair with no way out. I wore only black with thick eyeliner, and each day, I was crying for help, asking for someone to notice me. The only thing that made me me, the one thing I understood about myself was that I was miserable.

After I overcame depression, I was lost. I didn't know where to go. I was no longer in misery, and I was much more optimistic (also, realistic) than I ever was before.  I had no direction on life, no identity, no understanding of who I am or what I think of the world. I had more questions than ever before, and I was very confused. Every once in a while, I'd still dwell on sadness, and I chased after heartbreak. It made me feel complete and human like nothing else could. But, as I grew up, it got more difficult. I cried less often, and fewer things could bring me to tears (thus, I was really surprised recently when Kozol's Savage Inequalities made me weep). I'd become a realist: a real realist, someone who knows good and bad, not the pubescent emo "realist" I once was. As I grew older, I learned that things are transient and impermanent, and that life goes on regardless.  I've begun praying and following the principle of wu-wei, and I've found it easier to get over things, to move on, and to enjoy life.

Then why does this make me feel lost? I am honestly disappointed when I notice myself getting over something or someone. I feel trapped when I can't cry. I feel confused when I am moving on.  What am I supposed to do when logic, instinct, and desire tells me to suffer, yet I feel fine? It would be a lie to say that I enjoy feeling sad. That's an oxymoron.  It's no fun to cry, to suffer, to feel torn, empty, desperate, hopeless. I don't enjoy being weak, unable to move, unable to focus, to study, to get out of bed in the morning. There's nothing pleasant about torture, nothing good about being miserable. Only these are all sensations I understand. But feeling fine, feeling neither optimistic nor pessimistic, neither regretting what happened nor looking forward to what will happen: what is that? This is everything I want, everything I've worked to feel, This is my goal and destination, and I should feel amazing; yet, somehow, I am just not happy. I miss my sacred sorrow.
"I know the sorrow is sacred,
And I'll never break you
I'll softly save you."
-- On the Arrow by AFI

05 March 2010


(There are a lot of parantheticals in this post.)

Often, I feel lonely. I crave a friend for the night, and I crave a lover for the week.

Overall, throughout my life, I haven't been especially successful in the field of love.  My longest relationship was also my first, spanning six months March 2006 - September 2006, and I ended it because I moved. I was fifteen years old. My next one was about two to three months in the fall of 2007. (I've had a hard time calculating how long this one actually lasted. For a long time, I considered it three months long, simply because that's how long it felt. Recently, I tried to count the exact number of weeks we were together, it seems closer to two months or perhaps even a month and a half, half the length I anticipated. I even discussed this with my ex, and he also guessed it was about three to four months and was surprised when he realized it was actually a lot shorter. Strange how these things work.) I ended that one as well, because my feelings had changed. My last relationship was also my shortest, and lasted a month in the spring of 2008. I don't remember who ended this one, but it was a rough, immature relationship that meant very little to me.

As you can see, there's a trend: downward spiral, eventually leading to a long, lonely span of two consecutive single years.

However, in those years, my love life hasn't been entirely dormant. I've loved and been loved, though it was always different people. (I use a very vague definition of love, for I've yet to figure out what love really is).  I've learned a lot, and I've experienced intimacy, butterflies, and heartbreak. I've gone on dates. I've had casual sex with many men. (I've had very good experiences with casual sex. It always came at the right time in my life, and it was always enjoyable, entertaining, and comforting.  Casual sex seldom created a backlash for me, for I've never felt emotionally threatened by it, and I continue to have good relationships with the men I've slept with; it did, though, cause a problems between me and my gal friends. Silly girls. However, perhaps because I am asexual, I never got much out of it sexually or romantically.)

Somewhat recently, as I was getting to know a new friend, she asked me about my past relationships. "I ask because I think a person's exes tell the most about the person," she told me. That really got me thinking. I disagree, and I really don't feel like my exes say very much about me at all. In fact, I feel that my past has been dictated much more by chance than by choice. (Personally, I decided that the single factor I believe tells the most about a person is their childhood.)  In fact, I often feel ashamed talking about my romantic past, because my best relationship happened when I was just a child (fifteen years old!).  I'm so much older now, and still I look back to that first boyfriend when I think about what I want out of my love life.

Love is arbitrary, random, and illogical. I posted a facebook status on January 13 at 1:16PM (yes, I did just scroll way back on my wall to find it) that went like this:
"Some have lovers and still feel alone. To some, it doesn't matter, somehow. Some are perfect yet lonely, we all wonder why. Some go from one to the next and hate their life and others envy them. Some are heartbroken because they know love, and some are crying because they've never known heartbreak. Some are lucky and happy for years to come while some people fall for the wrong guy at the wrong time over and over again.
I loved this status, and felt that it really captured how I see romance. There really is no reason that things work for some and not for others, and that's just something we have to live with.
I've always lived by the philosophy of "Someone will come along eventually." It's worked well for me in the past: it's really kept me optimistic and prevented me from experiencing the I'll-be-single-forever phobia, which I personally find really frustrating. However, recently I've rethought this perspective. I've been following an asexual blog called a sexy beast.  Often, this blog discusses ideas such as singlehood and loneliness. One quote that really got me thinking was this:
In our culture, there is always hope that a single person will marry, regardless of the situation. "Don't worry, you'll find someone." But will we? Asking that question can feel like staring into a cultural abyss. If I was "holding out hope" for doing anything else that has the same odds of two asexuals marrying, I'd be called crazy. But when it comes to romance, it seems, no odds are too small. (here)
Naturally, some people have a much smaller dating pool than others. Theoretically speaking, I probably have a larger potential dating pool than most: I am panromantic, and thus not restricted by gender; I am comfortable with both monogamous and polyamorous relationships; I am a sexually active gray-a sexual, open to a relationship with any level of sex and physical intimacy from very little to very much (although, I'd never had a relationship with both sex and emotional intimacy at the same time, and I'm unsure how I would feel in such a relationship or whether I would be comfortable). In fact, it would appear that there are almost no restrictions on who I am willing to date.  Still, I don't think the calculated dating pool alone can determine the chance someone has at getting hitched. After all, if love is as random as I just suggest it is, then anyone could find themselves single long-term.  I don't consider myself someone who has been single long-term, and I think my love life is more active and healthy than many people's.  Still, as a potential relationship comes to an end, I am cautious to look forward and say "someday, another one will come along".  I mean, what if it doesn't? And, although this may seem very depressing, I find this perspective no less cheerful than the one I held before.

I've also been thinking a lot about how media perceptions of relationships impact my loneliness. I have no doubt that our culture really pushes us to get in a relationship. Love is constructed as important, essential, even, often, as the meaning of life.  If this were not the case, I doubt most of us would feel as lonely being single, although we would still experience some romantic frustration. (What if our culture didn't have a concept of romantic relationships?) Interestingly, I often measure my romantic success not from my personal feelings, but from the way I would imagine it would appear from the outside. For example, one reason I've found casual sex satisfying is because it's made me feel less unwanted and undateable, and made me more certain that I am not entirely alone. I analyze these situations entirely from the outside, as if I were someone else looking in. I have no doubt that a big factor concerning how I experience loneliness is society's pressure not to be alone.

Whenever I feel lonely, platonic loneliness and romantic loneliness tend to happen side by side. Platonic loneliness is the more powerful by the two, and it has the most control over how lonely I feel in general.  Except in cases of heartbreak, if I feel platonically content, I do not experience romantic loneliness, and, if I do, it's brief and insignificant. Likewise, whenever I feel platonically isolated, I always get romantically lonely and desperate. Not only is friendship a lot more important to me than romance, but friendship also influences my love life, for, when I have more friends, I meet more people, get to know more people, and am thus more likely to get close to more people. Platonic loneliness kills me so much and makes me very jealous of other people. I wonder whether my friendships are as plentiful, as close, as intense. In fact, ever since I became interested in friendship, this has become a constant stressor for me. I compare myself to others constantly and I am always trying to measure my platonic success. Every little thing someone tells me, every time I spend a night with someone or get invited to a party, every time someone texts me or comments on my status, I throw a little party with myself. Every time I spend a night alone or realize that someone is texting more often that I am, I feel empty and lost. This social insecurity, I believe, is mostly a result of my childhood and my autistic tendencies.

As I've grown, loneliness has become constant. Although, at times, it's very stressful and painful, most of the time, it's just a fact of life that doesn't bother me. After all, loneliness itself really means nothing until we lend it meaning. Besides, once I stop counting and weighing things out and just listen to my heart, I can tell, I'm really not doing so bad.