Humor, Life

Why I Will Never Play Marco Polo Again

I will never play Marco Polo again. Yeah, I mean never. Sure, I have fond memories of playing it with my best friend and her family, but that makes no difference to me now. Because last time I played it, I felt utterly humiliated.

It started out perfectly fine. Several players had turns being “it” and the whole thing went smoothly. There were not that many other people in the pool, and those people were concentrated in the shallow end.

Then came my turn to be “it.” Now, I am not that strong a swimmer, but I tried my best to follow the choruses of “Polo!”

I yelled out “Marco!” every few seconds as they got further and further away.

Then, I heard a voice that was not so far away, the voice of my younger sister. I decided to focus all of my energy on going after her. Sounds reasonable, no?

Anyway, I called out again and couldn’t hear her that time, but I did hear splashing in the direction where I had last heard her.

Our variation of Marco Polo had the rule that you didn’t have to call out “Polo” as long as your face was underwater, so I assumed that was the problem. Eager to be done with being “it,” I put my remaining energy into chasing that splashing. The closer I got, the more frantic the splashing became.

Finally, I got close enough, slapped my hand down on the swimmer’s back, and yelled “Got you!”

My victory was short-lived.

First thing I noticed was that this was in no way my sister. The second thing I noticed was that whoever I had just literally slapped was very hairy.

I opened my eyes and found myself staring into the face of the old hairy man I had chased around the pool. I blustered out a sorry and then disappeared underwater, only re-emerging at the edge of the pool. I hid on one of the reclining chairs behind a book for a good 15 minutes before I gathered the courage to go back in.

And that is why you will never see me playing Marco Polo again.

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Life

Characters I 100% Ship Despite Never Wanting a Relationship Like Theirs (Spoilers!)

Warning: Spoilers for Yuri on Ice, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, The Owl House, Kaguya-Sama: Love is War, The Legend of Korra, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Heaven Official’s Blessing, Fruits Basket, and Sasaki and Miyano.

I don’t like the typical lovey-dovey stuff that most couples think is romantic. You know, the hand-holding, kissing, cuddling, drama, passion, etc. I consider myself biromantic, but the kind of romance I want is very unconventional. Writing together, editing each other’s work, sharing music, having meals together, watching stuff together, having conversations late into the night….that’s my kinda romance. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a romance that is not my type. These romances are just plain cute and I love them. I will rank them from #10 to #1.

#10: Sasaki and Miyano from Sasaki and Miyano

I finished a review on Season 1 of this anime just recently. Miyano is a high schooler who is addicted to BL (Boy’s Love) manga, which depicts homosexual romance between boys or men. Careful to hide his interest in BL, he eventually shares one of them with a classmate named Sasaki who ends up really enjoying it. This begins a friendship in which Miyano gives Sasaki a new BL manga every time he finishes the previous one. Sasaki develops feelings for Miyano and confesses. Miyano asks for some time to sort out his own feelings. The only person he has had a crush on before was a girl, and he is unfamiliar with bisexuality so he has a hard time coming to terms with this.

Miyano discovers he is equally in love with Sasaki after a few agonizing episodes, and at the end they share a kiss and officially become boyfriends. Their relationship was sweet from the beginning and I found myself really enjoying this anime.

#9: Tohru and Kyo from Fruits Basket

During most of Fruits Basket‘s three seasons, there was an implied love triangle between Tohru, Kyo, and Yuki. Yuki annoyed me beyond reason most of the time. I eventually realized that his profound self-centeredness was his way of coping with trauma from the past and trying to move on, but I still didn’t feel like he was a good match for Tohru. Kyo always seemed to have a personality that was more fun, even if it was a little more angsty. Yuki and Kyo both had baggage, but the chemistry between Kyo and Tohru was always better. Eventually, we find out that Yuki sees Tohru in more of a familial way. So many obstacles seemed to stand in the way of Kyo and Tohru being a couple, but they made it! The anime ends with a flashforward to when Tohru and Kyo are old and living their lives together still.

#8: Xie Lian and Hua Cheng from Heaven Official’s Blessing

This anime was added to Netflix recently, though I watched it on Funimation. Xie Lian is a Heavenly Official and Hua Cheng is a ghost. They meet very early on in the anime, but they only officially talk and start living together after meeting on the back of a cart. Their relationship quickly develops into what seems like a more-than-friends kind of dynamic. The way they talk is notable for instance. It definitely seems like flirting with each other. And when they touch. And just every cute little thing they do. Season 1 doesn’t end with them officially a couple, but the manga does. It is a confusing anime at times, but the one thing that is not confusing is the love they have for each other.

#7: Aang and Katara from Avatar: The Last Airbender

Yep, I’m one of those Kataang shippers. Pretty sure we’re in the minority since most people seem to ship Zuko and Katara. Katara and Aang’s relationship was in question throughout the seasons until the end. Katara seemed confused about how she felt about Aang. Aang frequently feared that Katara saw him like an awkward little brother. It sucks to be friend-zoned by someone you like, so his consternation is understandable. Even the second to last episode it is not clear how Katara feels and there is the sense that they are running out of time. The kiss they share puts it beyond question in the final episode. I don’t know why people always seem to need a kiss as confirmation of love. It is like it is explicably intertwined with romantic love, even though there can be romance with no kissing. But anyway, I was happy to see them admit how they felt in the final episode, and I saw some of the continuation of that relationship in the graphic novels. It was cute, even if it gave Sokka the oogies.

#6: Korra and Asami from The Legend of Korra

Korrasami is a great ship, and I wish we had seen more of it on screen. But there were restrictions on how much the creators could portray of a LGBTQ+ romance, so ugh but whatever. I’ve seen enough of the two of them together to know that I ship them, and the ending with them going on a spirit world vacation but it beyond question for me. What’s awkward is that they both dated the same guy, and even were kind of romantic rivals for each other. It’s definitely a unique romance.

#5: Vi and Caitlyn from Arcane

So this one is just implied. HEAVILY implied. These two hit it off relatively quickly, making some people say it was too much too fast. All I have to say about that is that I doubt there would be that much complaint about a heterosexual romance that developed as fast. Being in dangerous situations where you have to depend on someone entirely can advance feelings like this pretty fast. I was so sad when they had the equivalent of a soap opera breakup in the rain. I mean, they weren’t officially dating, but DAMN. I really really hope when Season 2 of Arcane comes out, Vi and Caitlyn are a couple.

#4: Kaguya and Miyuki from Kaguya-Sama: Love is War

These two are awesome. They are freakin’ hilarious. The premise is, they are both hopelessly in love with each other. They also both think that it is a sign of weakness to confess their love, so they both subtly try to get the other to confess. It’s a big game to see who cave first, and they are both so adorable. They make formidable and intelligent opponents. As of the end of season 2, no one has confessed still, but I am rooting for them. They are perfect for each other! If only they could let go of their pride for half a second to admit it.

#3: Luz and Amity from The Owl House

Lumity is a wonderful ship, and I shipped them from pretty early in Season 1. Probably partially because it kinda got spoiled for me and I knew what was going to happen. The blushes are a dead giveaway to how they feel about each other. By the end of Season 2, they are officially girlfriends. Luz the human, and Amity the witch. I am pretty annoyed that the show got canceled, but at least they are canon. It’s always nice when one’s headcanon becomes actual canon.

#2: Adora and Catra from She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

Catradora is one that some people think is toxic. I should explain. Catra and Adora are besties until Adora switches sides in a war. Catra feels abandoned in the wake of this treachery, and they become enemies. Not frenemies. Actual enemies. The way they treat each other as enemies is physically and emotionally scarring. But when they become friends again and eventually girlfriends, they treat each other in a healthy and sweet way. So it’s an enemies-to-lovers situation and some people feel fit to call that toxic even though it is clear by the end that the relationship has a healing effect on both of them.

I love them. I didn’t think the cartoon would have the guts to let them kiss, but it did and it was precious.

#1: Yuri and Victor from Yuri on Ice

When I saw the way Yuri and Victor interacted with each other, I couldn’t help thinking that I would love a relationship as intimate and pure as theirs–although the touchiness and drama of their relationship is something I could do without. Though personally, my love language is certainly not touch, it is the genuine, deep love that they had that was what really stood out to me. They were so sweet and sincere, and were truly better together.

I have seen some people complain that the romance was too vague, but my god, I don’t see how it could have been more obvious. Yuri blatantly speaks of how his figure skating shows how he loves Victor. Victor surprises Yuri with a kiss after one of his performances. And yes, it was confirmed to have been a kiss, for all you naysayers. Victor cries at the idea that he may not continue to be Yuri’s coach. Earlier on, Yuri cries at the same thought. Yuri buys the two of them matching rings as a gift, and watching them put them on each other is adorable.

It’s so unbelievably cute. I was so worried about the ending, but it turned out really well and I was impressed and so happy for them.

Conclusion

So do any of these ships sound like the type of relationship you would want? Do you have a favorite out of these? Any more cute ones to recommend I watch? If so, leave a comment!

Life

Guess What? This is Me Coming Out as Ace and Biromantic

Introduction

My life in the last year has taken a complete 180. In early 2021, I was a devout Catholic. When it came to matters of faith, I didn’t half-ass it. I listened to religious podcasts. I attended church. I participated in Lent. I was involved in the Newman Club as a secretary and attended two meetings a week. I watched religious videos. I tried to maintain an active prayer life. I’m not saying I was the perfect Christian, but I took it seriously.

Being Catholic came with a large dollop of internalized homophobia. It’s basically built into Catholic doctrine, in which homosexuality is considered a sin. Some Catholics clarify that same-sex attraction itself is not a sin because usually Catholics don’t consider feelings that are not acted on to be sins, but sexual acts between members of the same sex are considered a sin….but that doesn’t help the Catholics’ case.

Over most of my years of college, I was ultra-Catholic. I went to a Christian college with predominantly Protestant students, to the point that there were maybe fifty Catholics max at a college with 2,500 students. The Protestants ranged from acceptance of Catholics, to not believing Catholics were Christian, and to what could only be called anti-Catholicism. I was questioned so much as a Catholic that I learned as much as I could in self-defense.

By the time I graduated from Grove City College, I was no longer Catholic. There were a few crises that influenced this. One of the things was that my sibling came out as a trans man and bisexual. That utterly confused me. As in, I barely understood what that meant, other than gay = bad.

You see, not only was I predisposed to be uncomfortable around the topic, I had also been sheltered enough that I simply didn’t understand it. I had never knowingly encountered anyone from the LGBTQ+ community. My only knowledge came from the annual pride display at the retail art store I used to work at. Basically all I got from that was RAINBOWS ARE GAY. Some lady gave me a mask there and I remember not wearing it because it had rainbows on it and I didn’t want to support the LGBTQ+ community. After all, I had to be a good Catholic. (How ironic.)

Anyway, my first crisis came from my brother coming out. It was 100% not his fault that my life was thrown into utter chaos. It was my own fault for being ignorant. Not going to use ignorance as an excuse to get off scot-free either; I was definitely to blame for not trying harder to see things from the perspective of people in the LGBTQ+ community.

After my brother came out, I researched everything gay, tentatively at first. I asked my brother for more information. I dedicated everything I had been putting toward religious study to trying to be a good sister. I began using his new name, Finch, and his pronouns, he/they. At first I just used them around him because I wanted him to be happy and comfortable, and didn’t want to trigger dysphoria. Then, as I became used to the change in my own behavior, I started using his name and pronouns around other people, including my friends, who were almost all very Christian. Admittedly, this was not the best way to do it. I should have switched to the right name and pronouns with everyone he was out to.

Through an amazing feat of doublethink (think George Orwell), I managed to maintain my Catholic faith and my acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community at the same time. That didn’t last long.

The Catholic Church presents itself as totally right about all of their doctrines, without much wiggle room. I was under the impression that the Catholic Church was correct in every way. When I discovered that I no longer believed what the Church taught about the LGBTQ+ community, it was a crack in my faith that widened much quicker than expected. If the Catholic Church was wrong about that, what about the Eucharist? And confession? And its stance on abortion? Heck, what if they are wrong about that Jesus guy entirely?

Which is what caused my second crisis, a crisis of faith. Many of my friends are not aware that I am no longer Catholic. Or Christian, for that matter. I guess they will find out if they read this, but I am okay with that. As long as no one tries to convert me, it’s all good. So now I am agnostic in general, atheist at times.

The third crisis was my oh my gosh moment when I realized that not only had I abandoned my religion and embraced the LGBTQ+ community, I also am a member of said community. The pay-off for my research was an identity crisis that was eventually resolved when I accepted that I am both asexual and biromantic.

What asexual means

It’s been about a year since I discovered the term asexual. Well, that’s not completely true. Being a student, I had certainly encountered the word, but only as part of the term “asexual reproduction.” That concept has no bearing on my current topic of conversation, which is about what asexual has come to mean in terms of the LGBTQ+ community.

Asexual these days means having no sexual attraction at all towards others. It’s simple. There are other things that are stereotypically ace (which is another word for asexual), but I will go over that in my section about how I know I am ace.

The differences between sexual, romantic, and aesthetic attraction

Sexual attraction is the desire for sexual contact or showing sexual interest in another person. Romantic attraction is wanting to do romantic stuff with another person, but does not necessarily include sex. Sexual and romantic attraction often go together but not always. Society and the media often conflate the two, but they are different, and you can have one without the other.

Aesthetic attraction is appreciating how someone looks, kind of like how one would appreciate a work of art, but does not include any romantic or sexual interest or attraction.

I do not experience any sexual attraction whatsoever, and have trouble understanding how anyone could. Sex is such a weird thing to want, in my opinion. Not shaming anyone who does want it; I just don’t get the appeal.

Romantic attraction I do experience. I have had crushes on both guys and girls. Some were short-lived, others were longer term, the longer ones I considered my “real” crushes. I want a romantic relationship, but I could also pretty easily be single for my entire life without really feeling like I am messing up.

This is super ignorant, but since I felt the same way about guys and girls even as a Catholic, I wrongly thought that all people had feelings for people of all sexes, but if they were moral they only pursued those crushes that were on the opposite sex. In my head, lesbians and gays were people who chose to have relationships with the same-sex–they made the “wrong’ choice, I had thought as a Catholic. On later reflection, I realized that I only thought this because I experience the same or very similar levels of attraction to both males and females. (I have only met two people who are non-binary and I am not sure if I am attracted to non-binary people as well, since I didn’t have feelings for either of those people.) I suppressed the feelings I had for people of the same sex and only allowed myself to pursue relationships with guys.

Aesthetic attraction is not something that I have experience with either. I don’t care what the heck people look like. I have a bad memory for faces and even general appearance, which may be a factor in that. (That’s not an ace thing, that’s just a me thing. Aces can experience romantic and aesthetic attraction–just not sexual attraction. I personally cannot recall faces, which may factor into my particular lack of aesthetic attraction.)

This is a very short explanation that goes straight to the point–if you have any specific questions, feel free to contact me by social media or leave a comment.

How I know I am asexual and biromantic

Now these next things that I will describe are not true of all aces, but are common among them.

I think the best indicator of how I am asexual is how very sex-repulsed I am. The idea of it makes me shudder. Graphic descriptions of it make me feel like I will vomit. Honestly, even mild descriptions of it gross me out.

First off, I want a romantic relationship with someone without any sex. Honestly, I don’t even want the typical romantic things most people want. No kissing, hand-holding, or cuddling is desired on my part. In fact, it is pretty darn undesirable. I was in a relationship with a guy who constantly wanted to hold or caress my hand. I tolerated this despite my discomfort because I wanted him to be happy and knew that relationships required sacrifice. It only really felt like it was going much too far when I had my first kiss.

It was the most disgusting thing I have ever experienced. I was thinking the whole time, why the heck do people ever do this? Why do some people enjoy it? I always assumed before I had my first kiss that despite my aversion to the idea, if I just tried it I would enjoy it. Every movie or show with a romantic plot I had ever watched made kissing and romance almost inseparable. Same with books. When I felt like washing my mouth and lips with peroxide afterwards, I figured something was wrong with me. I figured it was just connected to the mental illness I struggled with. It was not until I came upon the ace community that I realized there were many other people who felt the same way.

Many ace people have no crushes, have few crushes, or have crushes later in life. When I was a kid, all the girls I talked to had crushes on guys. One day, when I was with my former best friend and a couple of her friends, they decided we should all say the name of the guy we were crushing on. I panicked. I had never had a crush on anyone before. When it came to my turn, I named the first guy I thought of. Having very few friends and almost no interaction with guys, this person was not someone I knew well at all. It backfired though, because my former best friend was shocked. I had named her brother’s friend, who was nice and all, but he was several years older than me and we had never had a conversation.

Embracing the concept of me being a “normal girl,” I proceeded to tell my family that I had a crush on this guy and they just kinda shrugged it off. Phew, I thought. I guess people won’t think I’m so weird after all. I never actually talked to the guy I told everyone I had a crush on after that because I literally had no feelings for him whatsoever. And I doubt he heard about it.

Another thing about me that seems very stereotypically ace is that I have no understanding of what it means for someone to be “hot.” I thought there was just criteria like a checklist people thought of when they DECIDED people were hot. Like: Skinny, check. Muscular, check. Tall, check. Lack of acne, check. Big breasts, check. None of these criteria made sense to me, but it seemed to apply to the people on the front of magazines. My brother gave me a bit of a reality check when he said people didn’t decide other people were hot. It is something that is felt, and has to do with attraction, and is different for everyone. I was like…what? People actually like other people due to appearance? I thought that was extremely rare and mostly only happened in movies and fairy tales.

When I was asked what my type was by some of my friends, I named aspects of personality and shared interests. When they pressed me for details about what my type looked like, I made stuff up. I thought, well, I have a ton of trouble recognizing people because of an issue with my visual memory. So my type should be someone who is distinctive. So I made up a type. Dyed or red hair, since both are uncommon. Shorter than me, because I am 5’2″ and anyone shorter than me is also pretty rare. Tattoos or piercing perhaps? Something that stands out. It wasn’t a serious type and not at all set in stone. But it was an answer I could give friends and family to seem “normal,” even if it also made me seem super picky. Besides, the supposed pickiness conveniently explained to them why I made it two decades without having a boyfriend.

Here’s another story. I was at youth group and a bunch of the boys went to the gym. One of the girls found out the guys were playing with their shirts off and let us all know. They got all excited and asked me if I wanted to come watch the guys with them. My immediate response was “Ew, no.” The girls teased me for being uncomfortable, and the youth group leaders praised me for being “innocent.”

Another youth group story. We often got lectured about not having sex before marriage. And all the other teens were talking about how hard that was, and I was like, JUST DON’T. How is that hard? You can’t control yourself? What do you mean?

As a kid and young teenager, I also eventually got into the habit of telling people I was never going to marry. That was because I connected marriage to all that stuff that made me feel uncomfortable, like hand-holding and kissing, and later the idea of sex.

It’s not that I haven’t fallen in love before. I have. I’ve had a few very strong crushes and thought, wow, I would happily spend the rest of my life with this person, in a completely non-sexual way. It just didn’t work out. Those people didn’t see me in the same way, or they wanted sex and I didn’t. We’re still friends, but it’s all platonic on both sides now. That’s how I know I am not aromantic–since people who are aromantic do not experience romantic attraction or have crushes. I am biromantic–I have crushes on both men and women.

Before you say it, it’s not just that I haven’t found the right person

People who simply don’t understand say this to aces and aros (aromantic people) all the time. People also do this to lesbians, saying things like “you haven’t found the right man yet,” or to gays, “you haven’t found the right woman yet.” All I can say is, who do they think they are, telling other people how they should feel? If someone wants to identify as asexual or aromantic and does not feel this attraction, why try to saddle them with the idea that they have just failed to find “the one”? This is not a fairy tale where each eligible bachelor inevitably has the perfect bachelorette to hook up with, and they all live happily ever after. I have found people I have fallen deeply in love with, but I have never once thought that I would actually desire to have sex with them. I have found people who could have been “the one” if they just felt the same way, but sexual contact was always out of the question. And it’s not because I’m “pure” or “innocent”. It’s because I am ace. We’re not broken, we’re not missing out, and we deserve to be accepted for who we are just like anyone else.

Conclusion

So…now you know. And everyone who reads my blog will know. Sorry to my friends and family who found out this way. My verbal communication skills are lacking, and the only way I could possibly come out was through writing. I am good with that, and I hope you are too. If you have any questions, I am here. Please be polite, and as my brother says, don’t contact me if you “just want to convert me to your flavor of Jesus.” And please don’t try to tell me the biology or hormones or reasons involved in my asexuality, I literally could not care less–as far as I am concerned, it is a part of my identity and I have accepted it.

Also, a disclaimer. I know that people have all sorts of different relationships and I don’t intend to shame anyone for having sex in their relationships. Just because I can’t understand the appeal doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate that most people are very different from me in that respect. Love is love.

Also, as a head’s up. I want to be the kind of writer who creates great ace characters, so look for ace characters in my books when they are published.

Helpful resources

Books, Humor, Life

Bleh & Yuck! It’s not worth the effort. Don’t read “Heartburn.”

by Nora Ephron

3 out of 10 stars

So … I went to P. A. Wilson’s list of how she rates her books. This one was so awful I wanted to give it a ZERO. However, reading her list I realize that per her method, this would rate a 3 out of 10. Why? First, at least there is a story. A story, albeit a bad one. It does have a beginning, middle, and end. The biggest thing? I was able to finish it for the purposes of this blog. … and I WOULD read it again if someone paid me money to read it!

Pros & Cons of Heartburn

PROS

There is a story arc about a robbery that is mildly interesting.

CONS

It’s often vulgar. I have read novels with heat in them, but this isn’t heat. This tale is comprised of a woman relating things in a way that appear to be meant to shock the reader.

Adultery is assumed as a norm.

It plays heavily on Jewish stereotypes.

Rachel tries to be funny about a subject that is far from funny. Her attempts at humor are actually pathetic and sad. The poor woman doesn’t own the pain, she brushes is off in her desire to not be the topic of gossip. It’s a sorry excuse for not working through her emotions.

The Bleh of it

The main character is Rachel. She continually cracks these horrid Jewish jokes/references which give me the feel of ”I am allowed to make this joke because I AM Jewish.” As I read, I kept trying to remember that the book was published in 1983. Would her remarks have been funny then? I don’t see how it could have been … The whole story is quite pathetic. … I also know that if people today made the comments like she does, they would get lambasted, pasted on the wall as a hater of men, Jewish people, and perhaps marriage.

Frankly, I didn’t find the funny of much of what she portrayed at all. Most attempts at humor were based on overused stereotypes.

The Yuck of it

So, Rachel is seven months pregnant. She discovers that her husband Mark is having an affair. Of course she is devastated… but instead of owning the devastation and anger and betrayal, she instead tells of her own infidelity at another point of the marriage. And so yuck. Like does his indiscretion make her past one ok?

And as she is moving through the story Rachel looks at men on the subway, in cafes, everywhere, and fantasizes about what it would be like being married with them. Umm, really? Wouldn’t the focus of a devastated woman be more about how she was going to move forward with a new baby and her three year old as a single mom now? It felt unbelievable and contrived.

The Heartburn of it

Later in the book, Rachel explains that when they were dating, Mark had been unfaithful to her, and so she is not really surprised when he cheats on her now. Ok. So looking back, she can see a red flag, However, the thing that burns me is that when he arrives to come get her to come back to him, he shows no remorse, no love, no emotion or desire for making things right between them at all.

And Spoiler Alert! Guess what? He doesn’t give up his relationship with the woman he is having his affair with: he actually has plans to buy a home with her – and Rachel finds out … so what the heck? I mean this is pathetic. It’s sad. Just sad…

A Moment of Redemption?

At the very end, Rachel decides not to accept this behavior. Which I applaud. But there is no discussion about her own dignity as a person, or her growth through this … She is the same person now, only trying to share her story to give herself a voice that doesn’t make her the center of gossip. And truly, it doesn’t work. This is just a horribly bad read.