Feet and Ears

I have had trouble loving my feet. I have a genetic condition which means that the bones in my feet are not put together in the best way. This puts extra strain on my legs when I walk, and sometimes I feel so much pain in my feet that I have to stop and sit down until they feel better (fortunately, this has happened rarely in the past couple years).

Furthermore, my feet are wide at the balls, while narrow at the heels. Even though many women have feet just like mine, shoes manufacturers refuse to produce many shoes which fit this shape, which makes looking for shoes a literally painful exercise. My toes have been deformed by wearing shoes which almost fit for years.

Likewise, my ears also have problems. I’ve had tinnitus for as long as I can remember, though it’s still very mild and my hearing is still okay. Hardness-of-hearing runs in my father’s family. I’m nearly certain that, if I live to old age, that I’ll be hard of hearing too.

The last time I went to a hospital for something other than a routine health check was when my ears hurt so badly that I could not sleep at night.

However, while my feet and ears have brought me a lot of pain, they have also brought me a lot of pleasure.

First of all, feet allow me to walk and dance.

Second, feet are very sensitive. Our feet have to tell us about the way we are holding ourselves and the ground we’re treading on … while being tough enough to meet rough terrain with our weight bearing down on them. Because of that toughness, they do not seem sensitive right away, but when they are stroked the right way, they become deeply sensitive. It is a physical pleasure unlike any other. If I had more money, I would get foot massages frequently; since it’s been a while since the last one, I think the time for another foot massage is coming soon.

Likewise, ours ears are also extremely sensitive (it is a sense organ). When the ear doctor was cleaning my ear during the hospital visit mentioned above, I was surprised as how pleasant it felt. It is a unique sensual pleasure. I would not want to get regular ear massages because there would be a high risk of damaging my ear drums … but if I were not concerned about my ear drums (for example, if I were deaf) I think I would like to get that service regularly. When I use ear plugs, they sometimes feel uncomfortable … and sometimes trigger that unique pleasure.

What does this have to do with asexuality? When people talk about sensual pleasure, they often just mean sexual pleasure. That is one kind of sensual pleasure, but it’s hardly the only kind (of course, it could be argued that not all sexual pleasure is sensual). For example, pleasure I get from my feet and ears is not sexual.

Why I Don’t Call Myself a Liberal

People who have read much of this blog have probably figured out that my political views have a liberal flavor. So why don’t I identify as a liberal?

Ironically, I think part of it has to do with growing up in San Francisco. Most of my school teachers were very liberal, and most of my classmates were very liberal. And I was disturbed by the way they regarded Republicans and conservatives. I was not disturbed by them critiquing Republican or conservative ideas, I was disturbed by the way they regarded the Republicans and conservatives themselves. Republicans and conservatives were often regarded as boogey-monsters instead of people.

While I’ve had less contact with Republicans and conservatives, I know they also regard Democrats and liberals the same way. They are no better.

And in San Francisco itself, there is a split between the ‘moderates’ and the ‘progressives’, and they sometimes fight each other bitterly over minor differences. It’s as if it’s more important for them to fight each other than to get the issue handled in the best way.

Then there is Paul Rosenberg’s essay ‘What We Always Knew About Politics, But Couldn’t Prove’ by Paul Rosenberg (you need to scroll down to find the essay). I disagree with the conclusion that we should walk away from politics … unfortunately, politics affects the world too much for us to walk away from it. But we should find a way to engage in politics which does not destroy our empathy for people who disagree with us.

I think this is why I do not want to identify as a ‘liberal’, or anything else political. I want to be able to have empathy for any thirsty person in a hot desert, regardless of their political identity, and I think I am just as capable of killing my empathy as the average person.

And finally … politicians and elites use this ‘us vs. them’ psychology to cover up true evil. For example, many Democrats still support Obama and vehemently argue with anyone who criticises him, even though Obama has, among other things, failed to launch a serious investigation into Wall Street fraud. For an example of what I’m talking about see:

Glenn Greenwald: “Obama: I can’t comment on Wall Street prosecutions”
(Warning: ableist language) The People’s View: Fraudster Glenn Greenwald’s Trouble with the Truth

For my own (incomplete) response to the People’s View piece: you do not know whether there was illegal behavior or not if you do not investigate, and because there is plenty of probable cause, many people on Wall Street should be prosecuted. A prosecution is not the same as a conviction. And if the people who wrecked the economy are not held accountable, then they will continue to wreck the economy.

I know there is a lot of power in organizing around an idea or identity, and that unorganized people have very little political power. However, I want to organize around ideas like ‘Investigate Wall Street’, not ‘We are liberals’.

Parenting in the Face of Ecological Collapse

I’ll be honest. I sometimes wish that I had been born in an earlier generation so that the imminent ecological collapse and extinction of humanity would happen well after I died of old age. But when I think about it, I realize that’s not what I really want. If I do not have an early death (such as by being hit by a car later this afternoon), I will live long enough to know whether humanity will get its act together and create a world where human beings can continue for generations into the future, or whether we are doomed by our own short-term thinking. Even if ecologically collapse means I will die under the age of 60, I think I would rather die knowing the answer than having a life of over 100 years worrying about succeeding generations.

Since I think there is a significant threat than the global ecosystem (and human civilization with it) will utterly collapse within my lifetime, why am I still interested in have a child? First of all, while I recognize that overpopulation is a major problem, the difference between me having one child and me having no children will not have a significant impact on the environment, so that’s not the issue I’m thinking about. If even my own life might be cut short by ecological destruction, the life of any child I might have would be even shorter. Why bother?

However, even if I am fated to die this afternoon, I do not regret having lived. I would really like to live to a ripe old age, and I would die with regrets if I did die today … but if my only two choices were dying this afternoon, and never having lived, I would choose to die this afternoon. Given a choice between only living to the age of 10, and never having lived, I would also choose to die at the age of ten. And so forth.

I want to have a child who will live happily for a hundred years … but even if that’s not possible, I do not want to not have a child just because I am very worried about the future.

And I want human society to get its act together and stop ecological overshoot before its too late. That means pushing governments to stop carbon emissions, stop the depletion of topsoil, stop the poisoning of the water, and to stop destroying the resources upon which our live depend.

You Will Meet Someone

I remember one time, when I was a little girl, I met somebody in a mall. She told me that everybody has a special person fated for them, and that was their future spouse.

Even as a girl, I thought that was bullshit, and I told her so (I did not use the word ‘bullshit’ because I was not old enough to use such language, but that’s what I meant). My parents have never been married, so that were pretty clear evidence that some people were not fated to marry a star-crossed spouse.

I remember one time, on a car trip, I mentioned that I never kissed anybody on the lips. Somebody else answered ‘Oh, you will, you will, it will happen’.

I remember one time, the subject of marriage came up:

Me: I do not want to get married.
Other person: Why not?
Me: I do not know anybody I want to marry.
Other person: You will meet someone.
Me: How do you know?
[At this point the other person had to actually think about this, and realized that, no, she does not know that I ‘will meet someone’]

I think the people who say things like to me have good intentions, and in situations #2 and #3 I think they were trying to reassure me. Society teaches us that we must get married to be happy, so people assume that the prospect I might never marry must make me unhappy.

The reality? It does not reassure me at all. It is because people make comments like this all the time that people get the idea that marriage is the key to happiness … even though it’s not. Marriage sometimes makes people happy, but it does not always make people happy, and many people are happy without it. And when people make comments like this, I feel society trying to squeeze me into some generic mold so I become an indistinct cog in the system instead of letting me express my humanity in my own way. I’m pretty resistant to this type of pressure – even as a little girl, I thought it was pretty ridiculous, but that doesn’t mean I want people to keep on pouring this crap on me.

Now, I have not taken a vow of celibacy, or even a vow to remain unmarried (though it would be very difficult to persuade me to get married – I would need some awfully compelling reasons). I think it’s okay if I do end up meeting someone I want to marry, and I think it’s okay if I don’t. I do not know if I will meet someone, and neither do you. Please stop saying it.

The Only Time I Felt This Way

I was fourteen years old. There was a girl at my high school, who I will henceforth refer to as ‘D’. I got really sweet on D. I was not interested in friendship with her. I also was not interested in sex with her. At least, my feelings didn’t feel sexual, but as an ace, it can be hard to tell sometimes what is sexual and what is not. I did however want her around me. I wanted to hug and snuggle with her.

Of course, I didn’t express this to D. I did not know how to explain to her that I wanted to be her snuggle-buddy, so I did not try. I didn’t even go out of my way to be around her because I did not want to be a creep. But I was happy when she just happened to be in the vicinity.

And then there was that one time.

It must have been right after class got out. I was talking to D, exchanging typical high school chit-chat with her. And suddenly … I had a powerful urge to kiss her. On the lips.

Of course, I did not carry through with it. While I could not read D’s mind, I figured the chances that she would be interested in kissing me back were really slim.

However, I thought about it the entire bus ride home. I was, of course, wondering if I was lesbian or bi. Even at the age of fourteen, I think I suspected deep down I might be what I now call ‘asexual’, but I figured that it was only a matter of time before I became romantic/sexual to an average level. I thought that, even though that was the first time I ever felt like kissing someone on the lips, it probably would not be the last time.

It is, however, still the last time I felt like kissing someone on the lips, and that was almost ten years ago. If I had felt that way a few times, either towards D herself or other girls, I would consider my self to be lesbian or at least romantically attracted to girls. But since it never happened again, it seems to be a fluke, not a pattern.

At this point, I suspect it will never happen again. Though if I ever feel that way again about someone, that’s okay. I am grateful that it happened, because to me it is a literally unique experience.