You could read my various thinky-thoughts here at this blog … or you could read about a single woman fighting a bunch of Daoist monks. If you think the woman fighting a bunch of Daoist monks is more exciting, head over to my new guest post at Manga Bookshelf, The Condor Trilogy in Manhua – Fighting.
Recently, Ily shared her most recent thoughts on dating. I personally have no interest in dating. My lack of interest in dating (and sex) means that I cannot rely on traditional social formulas to get a life partner. However, my definition of ‘life partner’ is loose.
I already have two life partners: my parents. Sure, it has been months since I’ve talked to them, and it’s been over a year since I have been on the same continent as them, but we see this separation as temporary – even a preparation for the long time we are plan to spend together. I always envision myself living with or near my parents once I return to the United States, and I know they have the same vision. I am currently living away from them and paying my own bills with money left over to increase my savings, so currently no economic force is compelling me to live with them. I know I am not cut out to be the traditional spousal life partner, so I appreciate already having two people who want to spend the rest of their lives with me.
American culture considers adults who live with their parents to be losers – I call bull. My parents will need me – in fact, they already need me, and I sometimes feel bad and selfish for not being with them now. I prefer the way Taiwanese culture views them (though attitudes are changing) – as good people who respect their family. Indeed, while living with one’s parents is a minus in American marriage market, in the Taiwanese marriage market it is sometimes a plus – the adults who have good close relationships with their parents are also perceived to be the kind of people who would be good spouses and parents.
I want more life partners. I do not want to rely on a single person to be my life partner, and I do not want the responsibility of being somebody else’s sole life partner. If I have my own child, I hope we would become life partners. I would also like to have a good relationship with the father of any child I might have, though life partnership would not be required (it would be nice, though). Having life partners who are not blood relatives would also be wonderful, however I think it could only happen by chance – by meeting the right person.
And you know what? I am glad that the mainstream route to life partnership – marriage – is the route I have the least interest in. Many people pursue marriage due to cultural conditioning, not because it is what they truly want. I want somebody to be life partners with me because we have found a genuine connection, and I think in the context of marriage – especially het marriage – the trappings of mainstream culture would make it harder to form and confirm that genuine connection.
Why would you want to read my thoughts about life when you can read about kung-fu fighters in fantasy-medieval China instead?
Even I would pick the kung-fu fighters over my thoughts about life since I spend a LOT more time reading wuxia than ace blogs.
So, since everybody is more interested in the kung-fu fighters than this blog, check out my guest post at Manga Bookshelf The Condor Trilogy in Manhua: Introduction.
There is a dance ball. It’s outdoors. There’s a pool full of water lilies and lotuses. Everybody is dressed like the 1930s or 1940s, and I am too – I am there in a tuxedo.
I meet a sweet young woman, and we dance. I lead, she follows. We dance and dance. The dance intimately connects us – I feel what she feels, she feels what I feels. Through the dance I take care of her and make her feel like the most wonderful dancer in the world.
Indeed, I make this night the best night of her life, and my pleasure comes from knowing that I made it so.
As the music fades, we sit down, hold hands, and enjoy each other’s presence for a few, final, precious moments. We part, never to contact each other ever again.
When I was 15 I went to an outdoor masque ball, and a couple hours before, I decided I would pretend to be a boy and dance with all the girls. With so little preparation, I sucked as a boy, though I did dance with girls, and I even fooled one into thinking I really was a boy.
One time, I brought some female friends to downtown San Jose. I drove. One friend commented ‘Wow, you can drive a stick!’ That pleased me because of the masculine connotations of driving stick-shift. I navigated, because I was the one who knew downtown San Jose best. I picked the restaurant – and everybody really liked it. We saw a mounted policeman, rode on a ferris wheel, then saw a play. The play was disappointing, but that was not my fault. Then, I drove them back home. It was exhilarating be responsible for giving girls a great evening.
I once took a swing dance class, largely because of this fantasy. During the first class, I followed, but dancing with guys felt wrong. Next class, I led, and felt much better. I was the only female leader in the class. One girl asked me if I was a lesbian, and I honestly answered ‘no’, but quite frankly I did not care what people thought. I really do want to take another swing class some day, and actually go to swing dance clubs on a regular basis.
And once, I was in a tap dance performance – and not only was I wearing a tuxedo, I was paired with a girl in a dress.
In this fantasy, I think of myself as being an extreme tomboy, not truly male. My cis-female identity does not change. I do not even consider this a romantic fantasy in the traditional sense because, while I do become psychologically intimate with the girl, we do not kiss, or even hug. Most of all, I think it is a fantasy about transcending the mundane and, for a moment, connecting with another human being, a moment made all the more precious because it is fleeting.
Paul Groth wrote an excellent book, Living Downtown, about the history of hotel life in the United States, particularly San Francisco. One of the many interesting points made in the book is that, prior to 1950, hotel life was one of the best options for queer people – it was affordable, it was not unusual for people of the same gender to share a room to save money, and they could get away from family and anybody else personally interested in their private life.
I myself have lived in a hotel.
One of the advantages of life in the hotel is that there was a ready-made social life . If I ever felt like chatting, I could just go up to the common room and there would be somebody to chat with. I formed friendships with some of the other residents, and I talked to many travelers. I even got a job through one of the people I met at the hotel. Having the built-in social network was very important to me, considering the instability of my life at the time.
Now for a disadvantage.
While I generally don’t go around outing myself as asexual, the hotel was the only place I have ever been where I felt it was important that people not discover I am asexual. Almost everybody at the hotel espoused left-wing political views – but I cannot say they had a truly liberal world view. If anybody challenging their rigid notions about how people’s lives should work, there could be a nasty blow back. For example, if one suggested that someone should not use the word ‘retard’ – and that word was used quite frequently – it could start a long and tiring argument about how people should use whatever words they want, and then the next day they would go back to using the r-word and then make jokes about how politically correct one is.
One time, it came out that I have never been drunk. At first they didn’t believe me, but once they believed me, it became a running gag, and they put me under some pressure to start drinking. It wasn’t a big deal, but if I had known that would have been the outcome, I would not have disclosed my teetotaler status. And that’s when I knew for sure that I could not tell anyone there that I was asexual – if that’s how they reacted to me not drinking alcohol, how would they have reacted to the fact that I had never had sex? While I do not think it was likely that they would take it as far as sexual harassment, I was not able to dismiss the possibility. I did not lie about my sexual orientation … fortunately (or unfortunately) asexuality is still so unknown in the public consciousness that not commenting on one’s asexuality is enough to hide it.
The more time I spend outside of the United States, the less I identify with the United States of America.
The United States is too big for me to identify with it.
Aside from some days spent in Kaohsiung, I have spent all of the past year and some months in Northern Taiwan, which is about 6,000 square kilometers. The United States – not including Alaska, Hawaii – is well over 7,000,000 square kilometers.
And while I think I’ve finally managed to scratch a bit below the surface of Northern Taiwan, there’s the rest of Taiwan … and the idea of a place as big as the United States breaks my brain..
The reality is, I am not from the United States of America as a whole. I am from the San Francisco Bay Area, which is merely corner of the United States. And I spent most of my life in San Francisco, where it is easy to forget that the rest of the Bay Area exists (I did also live in Oakland and Mountain View, so I feel connected to the greater Bay Area as well).
I have done a bit of travelling around California, particularly Northern California, and I took a California history class in college. Yet I have spent more time in Kaohsiung than Los Angeles, and I’ve never been to San Diego. There only other states where I have spent a significant amount of time are Oregon and Florida, but I’ve spent only weeks in Oregon, and I have not been to Florida since I was eight years old.
What connection do I feel with people in, say, Vermont? We have a common language, some common history, and we are both under the power of Washington D.C. Government. But I have spent years without thinking about Vermont even once, and I know almost nothing about Vermont (I did, when I was a kid, read a novel that partially took place in Vermont – that ‘s about it).
And people often ask me questions about the United States and what people there think. To which I often have to respond ‘I only know what it’s like in San Francisco / California’ or ‘I don’t know’.
I do not think of myself as being from ‘the United States’, at least not in a way that is central to my identity. I am from San Francisco, which happens to be in the United States, but I feel connected to the United States through San Francisco rather than having a direct relationship. When somebody asks me ‘Where are you from?’ my default answer is ‘Jiùjīnshān‘ not ‘Měiguó’.
Continued from Part 1.
I often think about fiction. Particularly melodramas. Particularly moments when passions reach their zenith. When I rate how much I love a work of fiction, I often base it on how much it can get me into The Zone, and how much it can keep me in The Zone. Though I mostly use stories made by other people, I also sometimes make up my own stories. They generally are not good stories, because they are made to keep The Zone going, not to be told.
I think about the reality too – in The Zone, the lines between fiction and reality get quite blurry. Indeed, often in The Zone, I often cast my own life as if I were a fictional character. Most of the ideas about what to write for this blog come from The Zone. Indeed, I am experimenting with this blog as a management mechanism – perhaps by formally recording my thoughts, I will have a little more control over The Zone. It’s too early to tell if this is working.
Why did I use the ‘asexuality’ tag on this post?
I am an extreme teetotaler. I not only not drink alcohol (I have never been drunk), I have only two cups of coffee in my lifetime (both decaf) and one – ONE – coke (also decaf – it exists). Until last year, I never drank tea – and even now, I usually drink teas (such as green tea) with lower caffeine content. I have friends who say they would be scared if I ever had a caffeine high. My interest in recreational drugs in general is very low.
I think it is because of The Zone.
I suspect the effect The Zone has on me is like the effect of many recreational drugs. Many recreational drugs manipulate endorphins. Exercise also triggers endorphins. And someone once asked, sincerely, when I was in The Zone, if I was on drugs. Moving my muscles keeps endorphins pumping, and the endorphins keep my thoughts racing, and my thoughts keep my muscles moving – this cycle keeps going until I reach my muscles limit. And I think I am addicted to The Zone. Because I have The Zone, I feel no need for drugs. Indeed, I am worried that recreational drugs could mess up my biochemistry in such a way that I lose The Zone.
Is The Zone tied to my asexuality?
While I almost certain that The Zone is tied to my endorphins, I suspect it is also tied to my hormones. I started getting into The Zone around puberty. And I know that my thyroid is a little irregular, which could cause my blood to have an unusual hormone cocktail. Which might also be why I am asexual. I don’t think The Zone is a replacement for sex drive or sexual attraction … but The Zone might have the same cause as my very low sex drive and level of sexual attraction.
I often find myself in “The Zone”. In The Zone, I am so full of energy that I cannot stay still – I must move. Sometimes I skip and jump. Sometimes I turn and toss. Sometimes I clap my hands and tap my feet. Sometimes I pace and pace. It is not just my flesh that has to move – my thoughts also race. My muscles to keep my brain thinking, and my brain thinks to keep my muscles moving.
However, I lose some control in the zone. I am less aware of my surroundings. I am less aware of other people (and social rules). Even though I think very quickly in The Zone, I cannot direct my thoughts nearly as well as when I am calm. Thus, while The Zone is great for random insights, it is not good for careful thought on a specific topic.
When people see me while I am in The Zone, they often remark “You look really happy”. Indeed, The Zone is one of the most important pleasures in my life, and I am certainly excited. It brings immediate glee. It does not bring deep contentment. It’s not the same as being happy to the bottom of my heart.
Over the years, I have had to learn how to manage The Zone for my physical safety (crossing the street while in The Zone is a bad idea) as well as to maintain proper social relations (I do not let myself get into The Zone at work, for example), and to get enough sleep (getting into The Zone late at night can induce insomnia). I have found the best way to manage the Zone is to let myself get into it at appropriate times and places. For example, getting into The Zone at home is not so safe, considering that I can easily get injured – it’s much better to be in a open space, like a field, where there are not many things I can bump into. If I do get into The Zone at home or other closed space, I have to divert the energy to activities like clapping, which is relatively safer. And I have to make sure I get adequate exercise, because if my muscles get tired, I cannot get into The Zone, whereas if my muscles are peppy, it can be difficult to prevent myself from slipping into The Zone
So what do I think about in the Zone? And why am I tagging this post with ‘asexuality’? Read ‘Part 2’ to get the answers.