The Phoenix Rises

Out of the ashes of the tragedy that was the untimely demise of my Fiesta, the Phoenix rises and I am blessed with this gem:

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I went backward two model years but way up in bells and whistles and driving experience. Sure it doesn’t have the same fuel mileage but damn it’s got some guts and is just a much more fun drive.

Really, you should have seen the look on my face the first time I gave it the juice and just took off. The clutch is super smooth, very easy on the leg, and engages at just the right point – not too high or too low. Responsive throttle, but the accelerator is floor mounted so you actually press the top of the pedal instead of the bottom. The only thing I don’t like about the car? No blind spot mirrors. I’m sure I can purchase those without too much cost though.

I guess everything does happen for a reason. I cried tears of anguish when I went to collect my things out of the Fiesta and say goodbye one last time. I’m crying as I write this post, but for the total opposite reason. This is a far nicer car than I ever thought I’d be driving in this life.

Sure, there’s still a grieving process, but having this will definitely ease it along and in due time I will be back to normal. In the meantime, I’m going cruising for a bit. Catch you soon.

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On Being Asexual, Etc.

Since it is LGBTQIA+ pride month, I couldn’t let it go by without mentioning something of my own sexuality and how I deal with it. It’s no secret that I’m very much asexual, which is maybe the least understood sexual orientation of all because we’re all so different. So I figured I’d put to rest how I deal with it personally and quash some misconceptions.

First of all, what is asexuality not? It’s not a number of things, but here are the the big ones in my view:

  1. Asexuality is not “aromantic.” Asexuals can be involved in romantic relationships just the same as those who have sexual attraction. It is different for us, admittedly. Some of us are heteroromantic, others homoromantic and some biromantic. I’m the last one of these. I can be romantically involved with anyone, regardless of biological sex or gender identity. I’m just not right now because I’ve not found anyone with whom I would be romantically compatible. That does not mean all of us are in that situation, but some are indeed aromantic entirely.
  2. Asexuality is not the same as celibacy! Some are in indeed celibate, but that’s not universally true, especially for those married to someone with a sex drive. Asexuals might or might not engage in sexual relations. For some, it’s “optional” – a take or leave kind of thing. For me, sex is a no-go and the thought of it disgusts me, but some can tolerate it or maybe even enjoy it for the sake of a partner. It’s just that it isn’t the “end goal” for us.
  3. Asexuality is not a lack of “libido.” Our bodies function the same as anyone else’s. Just because we don’t take interest in sex in and of itself doesn’t mean our biological programming doesn’t sometimes take hold. Most of us (maybe even all of us – though I hesitate to make that claim) are not aroused by looks alone. I know I’m not (even though I do appreciate attractiveness). It takes some serious stimulation, but even as a male I do have erections. Actually, if I didn’t, that would point to some other health problem.
  4. Asexuality is not depression! For whatever reason, so many seem to think a lack of interest in sex has to be related to some sort of clinical depression. Though they can be correlated among those with a normal sexual appetite, asexuals are not by default clinically depressed.
  5. Asexuality is not an “excuse.” I get so sick of this. Many people think aces claim to be that way because they just can’t “get laid.” Whatever. This is one asexual males especially hear in a patriarchal cis-het dominated world. I’m sick of it. See my previous post on virgin shaming.

So what is asexuality? Simply put, the lack of sexual attraction. Nothing more. For us, sex can be anywere from optional to downright disgusting. As mentioned in a previous post and above, for me, it’s the latter end of the spectrum. I don’t know many 32 year old males who have never had any type of sexual contact, but I am one of the few, and that’s how I will die too because I just can’t bring myself to engage in it. I just can’t get past the thought of it.

I will admit, for me that does complicate romantic relationships a shit ton. That’s largely why I’ve not found anyone with whom I would be romantically compatible, among other reasons. I’d have to have someone who felt the same about sex as I do, but as we seem to be few and far between, that’s unlikely, and I’m perfectly fine with that. I’m not one who could “put out” for a romantic partner, even though some aces can. I don’t judge either way mind you.

Alas, not all asexuals are the same, and here’s one key way I am personally different. I’ve discussed this before, but you all know I am very physically affectionate even with close friends – something I’ve discussed prior. I can go all the way up to “make out” level with a person who is not a romantic partner and whom I have no romantic interest in! I’ve done it before with more than one such person (and a mix of biological sexes/gender identites). For me, I totally separate physical affection from romantic love. For me, even “making out” isn’t a romantic exchange, though it can be.  To me, it’s an exchange with someone I love, be it that or a friend/familial relationship. Now, that doesn’t mean I do so with just anyone, and I usually wait for the other party to initiate such contact, but I will respond if initiated and I genuinely love that person. Just stay in “safe zones” (i.e. non-private areas) and I’m just fine with that.

Anyway, I’ve just painted with some broad strokes, and the above are solely my opinions on the topic so nobody murder me here. It’s just my personal take, for what it’s worth. I’d love to hear about the experiences of other aces, so please comment with your thoughts. No two of us are alike, so I always like learning more. Please do share your views, even if you disagree with mine. I might just update or follow up with other persepctives.

“Everything Happens for a Reason…”

Does it really? I know a lot of people seem to believe that. It’s definitely hard to think what reasons something would play out the way it does (especially what seem to be misfortunes) but is it really true?

Last night on the way home from San Antonio, I missed a turnoff onto another road that set me back a few minutes as I found a convenient place to pull off and make a U-turn to get back on track. It was dark after all and this is a tricky part of the return trip due to the layout of the roads at that intersection. I thought nothing of it and got back on track, but it did set in motion a bigger misfortune that likely wouldn’t have taken place had I made the correct turn in the first place.

As it was, after making my way about another 20 miles or so I collided with a deer that popped out of nowhere. I was lucky in that the point of impact was on the very corner of my car, taking out only the driver’s side headlight and the quarter panel and just barely denting the hood and front bumper. I felt no recoil at all, nor did the seatbelt engage. I was able to “limp” my car the rest of the way home as there was only a small drivability issue in that the way the quarter panel was bent it was skidding the tire on bumps and such. Just taking it slow minimized this and I got home without further issues.

Needless to say I was shaken up at the outset though. I pulled over to assess the damage and immediately called Laina as I needed someone to talk to to calm me down, which she gladly took 30 minutes out of her evening to do so. She reminded me that “everything happens for a reason” even if we don’t know that reason. Maybe it could have saved me from bigger problems later?

Well, maybe it did. Just before my next major turn I came across another deer, and this one appeared to be freshly hit too. I thought that was an eerie sight at the outset, but after marinating it in my mind, would I have hit that one more directly with much more catastrophic results? Or would someone in front of me hit it to where I would not have had time to react and then I collide with the car?

Who knows? As badly as I felt for myself at the time, maybe something worse would have happened had I not missed that turn. I’ll never know, other than to say the universe has a really sick sense of humor at times. Yeah it sucked at the outset, but it could have sucked so much worse. In a way, I got lucky.

So does everything happen for a reason? That’s purely conjecture and we’ll never know for sure. Alas, I know there are worse things that could have transpired, and at this moment I’m just glad they weren’t worse.

I wouldn’t have felt this way a few months ago mind you. I’d have still been feeling sorry for myself. I would have been focusing on my own misfortune and thinking it was the worst thing in the world. Now I know it isn’t.

Funny how time flies, and funny how it changes you.

A Look Back at Three Years of Blogging

So this popped up at 11:00 PM or so give or take last night. Has it already been three years of blogging? In the words of the great Roland Orzabal, “funny how…tiiiiiiiiiime fliiiiiiiiiies…”

Anyway, I have to say it’s been a wild ride since I started this blog three years ago. I honestly had little expectation other than this place being a personal diary of sorts and little or nothing else. I thought I might get a comment here and there but I wasn’t anticipating any real interaction or networking.

Well, I have to say I got way more than what I bargained for. Sure, I’ve had my share of PR nightmares, a couple of trolls (here’s looking at a certain assistant professor of biostatistics and a little local troll who I have an idea might be but I’ve not proven his/her identity yet) and this blog has gone through tough times along the way, but man has it been a crazy ride.

Of course, this wouldn’t have been possible without my early followers. Rachel at Illuminated Literation, KirstWrites, Helen at SLS, Angie at King Ben’s Grandma, among others come to mind straight away. I love you all to pieces, especially for sticking by me during the major PR nightmare.

My blog is as much for you all as it is for me, for without you none of this would have been possible. I hope you’ve learned something about tattoo culture, life on the spectrum, or any of the products I regularly review. I know a lot of you seemed to enjoy my terrible singing when I posted it, for reasons I don’t yet understand (oh man, I know someone is about to say something about what I just said!).

Anyway, that’s all great, but I can’t write this post and not make a special shout out to a special someone. Someone who I crossed paths with for the first time in December 2016, right in the middle of the shitstorm. Though she was on the opposite side of the argument, she took up for me. We must have annoyed the shit out of each other at times, but she stuck by me through it all. Though we didn’t agree, we had our commonalities and developed a deep friendship straight away.

Little did I know at the time I had just found my long-lost (non-blood related) twin sister. The writing was on the wall, but the recent events are the pudding and the proof is in the pudding. It was more than just placing two cats in a loving and deserving home (one of which we are convinced really was just going back home in a new body). It’s about finding the right person to show me my true value, regardless of what the world of the FAA might think. It’s the special bond we share that goes beyond the comprehension of even myself sometimes.

Never in a million years did I think anything like this would come of my blog, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Why else would I be looking at dropping everything leaving the place I’ve lived since 1999 (with only short breaks in between), not just to pursue self employment, but to be able to hang out whenever we want?

Thank you, Laina. Thank you for everything and more. Words cannot express how truly grateful I am. I don’t know how I could possibly repay you in this life.

Just…thanks.

PS: My left shoulder is still a bit sore. ;-P Damn you!!! (LOL J/K!!!)

Today’s Humor Has Been Brought to You By the “Throat Monster”

So my neuro-sister and twin soul Laina and I have been having a really snotty morning to say the least. Don’t believe me? Check out a snippet of our back and forth:

Yeah, the “Throat Monster” has been kicking both of our asses this morning. Anyway, it reminded me of this, which I just had to share. I guess there is someone for everyone after all.

Hope it brightens someone’s day who needs it.

Cigar Review: Epicure Short Salomone

This 6″ x 54RG “Salomone” (seriously – how many fucking spellings are there of this shape?) vitola from Crux Cigars features an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and long fillers.

Using one snip with my Colibri V cutter, the first light revealed a perfect draw producing plentiful medium-bodied smoke. Dry, heavy wood dominates the flavor with a tinge of black pepper on the retrohale.

Getting into the first third we see more of the same, but with the addition of a dried roasted nuts and the pepper backing down. The body settles into a mild/medium and a slightly sweet cream enters the mix.

Getting into the second third we see a very welcome transition as the woody notes take a back seat and are replaced by a tinge of vanilla. I also detect a fleeting hint of cocoa, mainly on the finish and retrohale. Everything is smooth and well blended. Only subtle changes toward the final third as the cocoa is now on the draw also and the vanilla takes on a hint of a spicy note. The body also ramps up slightly again, wavering between mild/medium and straight medium. Ending at 1 hour 5 minutes for a truly impressive burn time for a Connecticut and bringing in a subtle nicotine strength.

Flawless construction featuring a razor-sharp burn and the ash holding on for solid third chunks at a time. The band slid off easily without damaging the delicate Connecticut wrapper.

This is one of those few Connecticut cigars I actually enjoyed. A great morning smoke, it went beautifully with a Sumatra Mandheling coffee. Rather pricy for a mild stick at $13/pop, but worth it to kick-start an epic day. These will enter rotation for me. Rating: 4.25/5.

Cigar Review: Aging Room Quattro F55 Nicaragua

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This offering from Rafael Nodal’s Aging Room line is a Nicaraguan puro featuring all Nicaraguan wrapper, binder and long fillers. The size reviewed here is the Vibrato – a 6″ x 54RG box-pressed Toro vitola.

First light revealed a perfect draw producing ample full body smoke. Flavors of dark chocolate and earth on the draw followed a huge red pepper and cedar blast on the retrohale. Not at all what I was expecting.

Getting into the first third the body settles down slightly to a medium/full while a nice sweet caramel joins the draw as well as a dry toasted nut. The initial pepper blast dials way down, hence the slightly lower body. Everything is well blended and no one flavor dominates the others.

We see a very welcome transition into the second third as the earthiness takes a back seat and is replaced by a natural black cherry note (not the artificial cherry candy flavor that I absolutely despise but usually get). The final third sees more of the same but with the pepper ramping back up a bit. Ending at 1 hour for an average burn time for a Toro size and the nicotine strength settles in at a solid medium.

Construction was flawless with a near razor sharp burn. Ash blew off in small chunks but it was windy outside. High quality self-adhesive bands that came off easily and did not damage the wrapper in any way.

Given that most of the Aging Room line are mellower smokes, this one surprised me in a big way. I was expecting the typical, hence I reached for it as a morning smoke. While not over-the-top, I’d probably opt for it again as an evening cigar with a hefty red wine or a bourbon. Nonetheless, it was a very pleasing cigar and one that will enter my rotation. Rating: 4.25/5.