Becoming Vegan

I’m not good at letting go. I know I’ve said this before, but I always struggle with change. I collect things. I collect lots of useless things because I don’t want to throw away a part of my life. I collect mugs, tea cups, toilet paper and tissues, badges, food packets, books I’ve never read, rubbers, pencils, socks, shirts that no longer fit… I have the same three posters on my wall since five years ago. I still always pick the same colour toothbrush. And yet again I have come to a point in my life where I have to change. It’s a positive change, but I’m still scared. But I’m going to do this. I know the younger version of me would be proud of my choice. I’m going to become vegan.

I’m writing this post now because I have failed myself. I decided to stop eating meat and fish before dealing with the eggs and lactic products (did you know some people are addicted to cheese?). I thought it would be much harder than it was, but I managed to maintain my composure in front of the delicious food I could no longer eat during three weeks. On the first day of the fourth week, my sister’s boyfriend made sushi. I had informed him earlier about my new eating habits, so he kindly made some maki with vegetables for me. And then I saw the salmon. I told myself to ignore it and just eat what I could eat. I tried to focus on the rice and soya sauce, but I couldn’t look away. I love the salmon’s colour, its texture, its taste. I reminded myself of the moral reasons of why I became vegetarian and promised myself I wouldn’t touch it. But then I looked up and when I saw nobody was looking, I darted my chopsticks towards the sushi and swallowed it down. And another. And yet another. I never remember feeling so ashamed of myself in my whole entire life. To punish myself I swallowed some wasabi. I screamed a swearword in my head and excused myself from the table as soon as I finished eating. What’s worse is that I ate the salmon because nobody was looking. I ignored the pain and life of the animal that had been murdered and acted upon my own selfish desires. I was much more worried about what the other people would think of me than the morals behind my initial decision.

But I’ll try again. And again. And as many times as I need to until I finally manage. I won’t succumb again to the power of the tastiness of salmon. Becoming vegan will be a process for me, a goal that will need a lot of strength and will-power. But I know it’s worth it and I know I want to do it. I know I can do it if I keep that in mind.

I promise it won't happen again.

I promise it won’t happen again.

Walk your talk

I haven’t visited the internet for two weeks –unless it was homework related-. I finally started University on the 15th of September, and can successfully now call myself a college student. I was hoping to go to a big campus like my sister does, but I had to go for a private design school since it was one of the few places that offered the course I was interested in. Anyhow, I got in without breaking a sweat: I got a mark of 9/10 on my entrance exams when the standard mark was only a five (which kind of makes me worry about the level of the school).

The first week I hardly had any classes. The first day we got a guided tour around the area, which was completely useless considering I’ve had a guided tour three times, and then an inaugural speech. I didn’t realise it was only an inspirational speech until halfway through, which had me panicking the first forty minutes when I could see that I didn’t understand the main topic of the act. Great way to start off. The next four days of the week we met our teachers and classmates. I’ve somehow become the voice of reason of my class since I always knew where we were supposed to be and was the only one who managed to ask questions and speak up publicly. I think at least ten people have come up to me already and asked what the teacher’s name is / what homework we have to do / what materials we have to bring to class.

I have a tendency to talk more than usual when I’m new somewhere. I adopt a calm and collected air that has me become the gateway between other people. When everyone is sitting silent and nervously in a room I’ll always manage to talk until everyone becomes comfortable with each other. The problem is that once my task is over, I disappear into thin air and take a seat in the back rows (metaphorically speaking, I love being in first row of the class). Making the most of my momentary attitude, I decided that it would be a good time to find some friends and get to know people.

Unfortunately, my confidence boost doesn’t offer any social ease, so I am currently having what I refer to as a “social breakdown”. I made sure I got the house all to myself this weekend and won’t be talking to or seeing anyone in two days and a half. Just enough time to recover and start off fresh on Monday.

However, what did come alongside my change of attitude were my new year’s goals. I make these when school starts, instead of when it is actually New Year, since I’m most likely to make them last longer. I actually don’t really make a big fuss over Christmas or New Years Eve. Last year I nearly even forgot it was Christmas day. So the whole idea of starting over on the first day of January doesn’t really make sense to me.

This year I’ve aimed for things that I really really want to maintain, even if they are hard. Here’s my list:

  • Study more. I got through high school without hardly having to open a book; it wasn’t difficult but of course this means that my marks could have been higher if I had tried. College isn’t high school. It’s expensive and it’s the start of my future, the foundations of the rest of my life. If I want to be successful and have a job I like and a house I can call home, I need to get rid of my laziness once and for all. Images of Hermione Granger and Alex from Modern Family keep appearing in my head. They’ll be my role models this year.
  • Become vegan. After finding out that P was vegan, I became sort of uncomfortable eating sushi with salmon in front of them. After some time this feeling turned into guilt and I became extremely sensitive to animal’s rights. I feel like a horrible person every time I eat meat or wear my gorgeous leather boots, but I decided it was time to become vegan when I fainted in the butchers’ after seeing all of the meat. I’ll write a post about this one day, so I don’t want to say too much now.
  • Stop spending so much time on the internet. Enough said.
  • Be creative. I have been very creative this summer. For a couple of years I’ve been wanting to make a big sandcastle, build an amazing Lego house, play with play doe, etc. ; all which I have done in the past month. I love creating things and want to be able to make time for more things like these. Hopefully I’ll be able to relate them somehow with my studies? Who knows, maybe I’ll have to do a project that requires the skill of someone who has made the Eiffel Tower out of wax.
  • Finish the Senbazuru. I write this down on my list every year, and still having completed it. It only means I have to make a thousand origami cranes, I should really get on with it.

And that’s about it. If I add more it will turn out to be more like a bucket list than goals, so I’ve ended it here. I probably won’t be around so much anymore, but I’ll try to keep the schedule of one post a week. Oh, and it’s my turn to host the Carnival of Aces next month, so I’ll write something about that on October the first. See you until then!

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Offensive Friends

I don’t consider myself a very sociable person, and this thought once again popped into my head last Saturday, as I was sitting on the pavement outside the train station with a few friends from class and hoping that the world would suddenly freeze and I could get up and go back home before I had to spend four more hours with them. Things eventually got better once we visited the comic shop and played a Japanese role-playing board game, but before then my friends had already said a great number of things that made me cringe.

I won’t get into everything they said or this would turn into a very long ranting post (ableist language, rape jokes, using the N word everywhere, insulting my lunch, etc.), so instead I just chose five things to talk about. I think I should tell you that all of these friends love manga and we went to the area in Barcelona which specializes in comics and Japan related merchandise, so be prepared for the amount of references to otaku lifestyle. Enjoy five of these stories!

1. Soon a drawing competition is coming up, and the winning picture will be the poster announcing an anime convention near Barcelona. Which means the picture will be printed many times, hung up around the streets and be in the background of every event related to the convention. They might even make clothing pins if it’s popular. Having this in mind, I wanted to draw something that would show awareness of some kind of minority or un-privileged group. Pear and I sat down on a bench and discussed what we’d be drawing, and when I said that I was thinking of having a main character with a disability, she said that it wasn’t very nice of me for drawing something like that because, if it won, kids would see it. She thought that having a disability was something that children shouldn’t see, that it would destroy their innocence. As I said the other day in a different post, there is nothing wrong with having a disability, and I don’t see why kids shouldn’t know that it’s ok and nothing to be ashamed of. There is nothing bad, mean or shameful in drawing somebody with a disability. There’s nothing to hide. Because of this I am definitely going to be drawing somebody with a disability for the poster.

2. At the comic shop they told me that the euro note I used to pay wasn’t real, and therefore they wouldn’t accept it. Don’t fear though, I had another one which I paid with. I put the fake one back into my pocket and intended to bring it home and show it to my mother (she loves looking at fake money ever since she came back from China). Later on I went with Pear to buy a drink in a small nearby dairy, and as we left the dairy with our drinks she told me off for not paying with the fake euro note. The dairy belonged to a Moroccan guy and therefore, according to Pear, “he probably had lots of fake money”. Apart from the amount of racism in this stereotype and in what Pear wanted to do, I would never use false money. I was devastated when I found out that my money wasn’t useful and that somebody had tricked me when giving it to me, it wouldn’t have occurred to me to do the same thing to somebody else. Also, if the police happened to find a Moroccan with fake money, they would probably make a big deal out of it, search his contacts, question him or something, but if I had a fake euro note, they would do nothing at all. White privilege. And I wouldn’t want to be the one who put him through all of that.

3. A friend of mine stole a 75 euro Link figurine from a shop. I was not there to stop him, by the way. When I was nine I used to go to what would be a Catalan version of the boy scouts or the patch girl scouts (with no distinctions between genders). One time we went out camping next to some gorges and there happened to be three boxes of costumes and old clothes for us to dress up in. I became very fond of a pair of pants that were there and wore them during the whole week we were out. The last day I secretly put them in my bag and took them home with me. If I had asked to keep the pants they would’ve probably said yes. But I didn’t ask for them. Nobody had ever cared about those pants and they wouldn’t even notice that they were missing. I hardly realised that I was doing anything bad, let alone that I was stealing something, but the point is that I did steal them. When I was thirteen I understood that what I had done was theft and from that point on every time I looked at those pants I was consumed by guilt. I still have them and still feel ashamed of what I did.

The difference between my friend and me was that I was nine and he’s twenty-two. I didn’t know I was doing something bad and he had planned to steal the figurine before he got to the shop. I felt guilty and he probably doesn’t. What I stole was free and useless and what he took was expensive and needed. He was caught and I wasn’t. I’m not trying to justify what I did; there is no way to justify it, but I don’t think it can be compared to what he did. I hope he feels sorry for what he did and never does anything like that again.

4. Pear thought it would be appropriate to say that she had never ever seen or met a good-looking boy who liked manga (what about me?), which means she was pretty much saying every boy in our drawing class and every male at the anime conventions we go to every year aren’t worthy of anyone’s aesthetic attraction. Which I think is slightly exaggerated, needless to say a bit rude. Throughout the day I could hear her counting the boys she remembered looked good.

5. “Emo’s aren’t cool and they all cut themselves” said Pear. First of all, the coolness factor usually has more to do with popularity and the type of hobbies one has, and less to do with their style. Though a dark attitude is usually considered cool, so that would invalidate the first half of the sentence. Second, an emo is somebody who is emotional (hence the word), usually on the depressed side of emotional, but the word also comes from a genre of music called emo –similar to screamo and heavy metal if I remember correctly- which many emos listen to. The way they dress is also important (type “emo boy” or “emo girl” on Google if you’re not familiar with their style). That is basically all the word emo claims, and it states nothing in relation to self harm. So no, not all emos cut themselves, and even if they did, it’s not something to look down upon or laugh at. Instead we should be helping them.

I found this statement offensive because I had an emo faze when I was more or less thirteen or fourteen. I would’ve actually been considered scene instead of emo, because even though I took example of the way of dressing, I didn’t listen to emo music or feel too emotional. But a couple of years after my scene/emo faze, I had the depressed feelings, contemplated suicide and felt like destroying the whole world. Nowadays I have a way of dressing which has many influences from that faze of my life, a slightly critical and negative view towards the world, and friends that helped me during the harder times. It was the emo community that helped me get over my depressed days, and not the supposedly happy and positive people. People who have/had bad experiences but still manage to help others, people who are unsatisfied with the world and who do things to change it, people who are strong enough to stick around even though they are miserable; that is someone I would consider to be coolest of them all.

I sometimes wonder whether I’m just too sensitive or if I’m doing right in getting angry about these things. Nobody else seemed to be bothered at all.

Blogging Against Disablism (Four Months Late)

(I accidently ruined the layout of my blog, and can’t seem to find the theme I used to use, so I’m afraid it’ll have to stay like this.)

I once read a book about a girl in a wheelchair. A different Life by Lois Keith, if you’re interested. After finishing the book I felt like I knew everything there possibly is to know about people with disabilities, as if the character of that book acted as a spokesperson of her whole community, and every other person in a wheelchair felt exactly like she did.

But really the only thing I learnt was to not stare if somebody who has a disability passed by. I learnt to treat them as people, and not as people in wheelchairs. I learnt to not think of them as incapable human beings who can do nothing but rely constantly on others as they go through life (though there are some people who have disabilities that leave them no other option than to rely on others, I learnt that not *every* person with disabilities has to live with somebody who will look after them). I learnt to talk to them just like I’d talk to anybody else. I learnt to not be afraid of them.

But I shouldn’t have needed to learn any of that. I should’ve already known it; I should’ve taken for granted that a person would want to be treated just like I treat any other person, and not have me looking at them nervously before walking off and looking for something else to do that would make me less stressed. I thought that this way of acting was valid because I didn’t want to feel uncomfortable around them. And I was sure that they wouldn’t mind too much since everyone else pretty much did the same.

Why is it that I’m so blinded by my able-bodied privilege that I couldn’t even see that my behaviour could hurt other people? Why is it that I had to wait until I read a book written from the perspective of a person with a disability to be able to realise and change this behaviour? What if I hadn’t read that book? Would I still walk around keeping a distance from blind people, people in wheelchairs or people without arms? Would I still be scared to talk to them in case I offended them, not realising that I’d be offending them more by avoiding them? What about everyone else who hasn’t read a book?

We are taught that bodies with any kind of disability are inferior to bodies that don’t have any, instead of acknowledging simply that they are different kinds of bodies; neither inferior nor superior. And this is a big problem. Actually, thinking that any kind of body is inferior to another is what causes many of the problems nowadays in (first-world) society. People need to fight to make sure everybody knows that women aren’t inferior to men, that black people aren’t inferior to white people, that trans people aren’t inferior to cisgender people, that people who are skinnier or fatter than society’s image of an ideal body are not ugly (always keeping in mind that anorexia/bulimia and overweight are problems that should be addressed).

I want to see all of this represented everywhere. I don’t want people running away from these problems, saying that they aren’t important enough or ignoring them completely. I don’t want to have to wait until people read a book about a girl in a wheelchair to start treating people with disabilities properly.

I haven’t ever talked about this kind of topic before, but yesterday I found out that every May bloggers unite to talk against disablism, ableism and disability discrimination. I’ll be looking forward to May!

Modernization

Ladies, gentlemen and (moving) between thereof: I have stepped into the modern world. How, you ask? Well, up until now I had stuck to understanding computers, televisions, radios, electric stoves and mostly anything technology related that I could get my hands on, all items which I manage well enough and am mostly quite fond of (especially computers), but you might have realised something missing from the list that is really very used and important. Mobiles. Or I think some of you might call them cell phones. From today on I have a portable telephone in my power and will soon proceed to become obsessed with it, pretty much like every other teenager who has one. And it’s not one of those flip-phones or a flat screen with buttons as numbers, but a tactile one. It looks all smart with the black flat surface (not an iphone though, just a Samsung mini). That also means it has anything you could possibly imagine. It even tells you what time it is in Japan.

I broke it the first day, so then I had to go and give it back. I somehow convinced the people at the shop that the insurance had to cover the cost, since it was technically not my fault, so they assured me I’d have it back in fifteen days time. Fifteen days passed very slowly, but it finally returned safely home into my hands.

The reason I haven’t been around lately is because I haven’t touched my computer during the four days since I got my phone (record!). I’ve been downloading a whole lot of apps and programmes to enjoy myself with my phone. My sister says the memory card will be full very soon if I keep on going, but I’ll deal with that when the time comes. I actually just finished downloading a thing called What’sApp (lovely word joke there), which allows me to talk with all my friends without having to log on to facebook. I’ve also arrived to level 7 on a game called Temple Run, which is me virtually jumping rocks and ducking under logs as I run away from a monster that wants to kill me. Apparently the monster is the guardian of a treasure I just stole.

I think I’m more or less over the “new relationship fever” and will be back to the blogosphere any time soon. Just please let me get to level 10 first, okay?

Mine is very similar to the white one!

Mine is very similar to the white one!

The Song Project

My sister asked me the other day what I feel when I listen to music. She was referring to the amount of allosexuality represented in pretty much every song and themes that I as an asexual can’t really identify with. The best answer I could come up with was “Pse, nothing. What is there to identify with?” so I apologize to her for such an un-thoughtful and vague answer to a question she had probably been thinking about for a while (she reads my blog sometimes, so I’m guessing she’ll read this?).

I do identify with some songs. I usually try to squeeze out the romanticism and sexuality of many so that I can relate to them, which is actually kind of interesting and fun, but sometimes very difficult. If not, many songs that are supposed to be romantic don’t really have to be about a partner; they can be about a friend, a family member or anyone you happen to be fond of.

Anyway, in honour to that question I came up with an idea. I clearly have feelings when I listen to music, whether I like or identify with the song or not. Moreover, I constantly criticise songs that appear on the radio. I don’t know whether this is good or bad, but I do it all the time; every single song that I hear or every video that I see, I feel an imperative need to say “Well, I think this could change” or “I don’t agree with this” or “I do/don’t like the message of this song”. So every now and then I’ll be publishing a post about a song that I have strong feelings about, whether they be positive or negative feelings. I hope you all enjoy it!

Being made a victim

binI haven’t been around much these past weeks, since I started a web design course. You’d think summer is a good time to do everything you don’t have time to do during the year, so I’m up and down all day long. Anyway, the classes are just about finished, so I’ll be back soon enough. To make it up for you I’ve written a long post today.

A few weeks ago my class was asked whether bullying in our school is a thing. Everyone immediately shook their heads; bullying? What were they talking about? Bullying doesn’t take place here! The worst part is that they actually believed these statements.

I’ve never talked about my bullying experiences before but, the truth is, I have been bullied my whole life. Well, compared to what you see in movies and the mental image I have of American schools, I can assure you nothing that bad has ever happened. I’m not sure how the education system works where you live, so I’ll assign age groups to what I’ll call school (until 12), high school (12-16), college (16-18) and University (18+).

I finished school as an innocent little kid. Too innocent, really. I still had swordfights with the other kids during playtime, ran around and climbed… whatever I could climb, which wasn’t much. Playgrounds in Catalonia could be better. I had screaming competitions with my friends and made chewing gum balls which I later froze. All of this was taken away from me when I came face to face with the high school kids.

I was very nervous during my first day of high school. I could nearly call it a success if only I hadn’t had a boy tell me I was very ugly when I was about to go home with an air of relief. The second day I was introduced to a new set of words I must use in order to be “cool”, all of which were swearwords and ruder versions of saying vagina. I had been educated to not swear, so you could say I earned my first badge from the victim team fairly soon. I didn’t realize then, but the first week of high school is when everyone is sorted out into those who laugh and those who will be laughed at. The teens from second year walked around making this classification. They did so with a great number of methods; judging your reaction when they told you to high-five them, when they called your name from the other side of the school, when they bumped into you, how you presented yourself, what your name was… I think I failed all these tests. But what wiped out my competition to the title of Loser was defending those who were being laughed at.

I remember my friends and I were talking to a girl who suddenly found herself up against a wall, surrounded by mean people insulting her, about to cry. I thought she was nice, so I stood next to her with my head high during the fifteen minutes their laughs lasted, only to realise that my friends had quietly left and were making signals to me, telling me to get out of there before they turned on me. They couldn’t possibly think I was just going to leave her there could they?

The first two years were hell. I was called any name you could think of: lesbian, ugly, marimacho (Spanish version of tomboy, but with negative connotations), giraffe (I’m tall), fake goth (I was trying to be emo, actually), ugly, bulimic/anorexic, pimple-face…

People came up to me and asked whether I wanted a sex change, if I could understand Spanish or if I was scared that I wouldn’t ever find somebody who loved me. They told me that I had to look prettier. I had people pour water onto my food. More than once they wrote my name on the blackboard and changed a few letters to make a rude word joke out of it. They threw basketballs and pinecones to my head if it occurred to me to go outside during lunchtime. Scratched on a table in any classroom you could find my name alongside another girl’s name with a heart around them. I couldn’t walk down the hall without being laughed at. I was locked in the bathroom by a boy who broke off the handle. They threw eggs to me from a window when I thought I was finally out of the danger zone. I am thankful I wasn’t assigned male at birth or they would’ve beaten me up.

The third year was ok enough if you don’t count the kid that pretended to fall in love with me and then humiliated me in front of everyone. It was my femme year after all. I had adopted the girliest position I have ever had and tied my hair back in a ponytail, drawing the attention of many boys (and girl(s), actually). I even dressed in female assigned clothes. They decided to leave me alone for a while.

The fourth and last year of high school started out rough and then progressed smoothly until I discovered the difference between sex and gender. Then I started fighting my inner battles.

After that I can’t really say much bullying happened to me. Apart from a bunch of fourteen year olds that thought it would be fun to criticise my gender expression but, you know, they were fourteen. I was over that.

My older sister was studying mediation as an extracurricular, so she helped me through the toughest situations. My father and younger sister were oblivious so, unfortunately, I can’t really say I could depend much on them during those times. They thought it would pass soon enough and that it wasn’t too serious (of course they didn’t know the details).

My mother told me a few things every now and then to try and keep me strong, mostly that they were jealous of me. The thing is they weren’t laughing at me because they were jealous. They were laughing at me because I was uncool, because they hated me, because making fun of me would increase their position on the social ladder. I was everything somebody wasn’t supposed to be, not at that age at least.

I thought once or twice about suicide, but I mostly just wished the bus would explode or something so that it would look like an accident. Sorry to the bus driver. You might be wondering what got me through all of this then. It was manga. Mostly Naruto. I’m not embarrassed to say that comics made me stronger, despite the laughs that that might provoke. I sometimes still picture one of my favourite ninjas standing back up after being defeated in a battle and telling the opposition that he will never give up, that this is the path he has to follow. For good and for bad, I’ve learnt a great amount of morals and attitudes from comics, which have shaped me into the person I am today.

Next year I’ll be starting University. I hope it’s not high school all over again.

I guess the moral of the story is “stay strong, ignore people and they’ll probably get over it”. Sometimes. At least I got something out of all of it; insults bounce right off me and I know a lot about manga.