I’ve been trying to use my Shut In Time to read this book I’ve been putting off, but there’s something about it that’s making it even harder now.

When I read fiction, I don’t really visualize it. I don’t think it’s necessary? The meaning is in the words. If you tell me Character A has black hair, I will certainly keep track of that fact, but I don’t consciously draw up a 3D polygon model to keep track of it or what have you.

That said, there must be some background process running in my brain, because trying to read this book–in Italian–I feel blindfolded, unmoored, like I can’t quite latch on to the situation, like there are no assumptions I can rest on.

Reflecting on the 6 Feet of spACE livestream yesterday, I find it feeling like a tight passage: there’s nothing truly impeding one’s motion, there is still enough clearance, but only just. Some parts had more room to breathe while others required more deliberate navigation.

I don’t think the hosts and guests noticed the banks, though. I was more and more aware as the stream went on that they were putting assumptions on the shape of the people in the passage, implicitly forwarding an idea of the ideal dimensions of ace (and arospec) people.

There was even a point where I probably could have squeezed through a particularly narrow strait, but I chose not to.

I’ve faced situations like this current Italian book with others before, and to that end, I know that gradually, as I keep reading, the story will become its own context, wrapping up more and more until it is a solid yarn-ball of a yarn.

But I have to dive into that disconcerting period with nothing to grab on to and no sense of up or down first, and right now, it’s hard to find the mental elasticity to do so. My river is running pretty high, and I’m being pretty conservative in managing the surge.

I shouldn’t have been asked to attempt that narrow strait. I don’t accept that the shores are the shores are the shores.

It wasn’t just the one that got me, though. There were plenty of others that were subtle, but that could definitely could have squeezed some people who weren’t the right shape. May have squeezed them, but I don’t know; I didn’t see any reaction to that effect, at least. The thing about passages, though: they’ve been more constrictive for lots of us in the past, led to us running aground, and so I wonder if people felt the squeeze or if they’re inured to it.

There was nothing truly wrong with the stream–there was a path from one end to the other. But it was so Basic.

Because of the ambient stress levels, I am also of course reading plenty of things that are easier to digest. In English, under 10,000 words, not particularly interested in anything philosophically or logistically complex. …Not asking me to pay the normative relationships tariff.

It’s not particularly uncommon to have it levied–AVEN tweeted a question about shallow compulsory romances just recently–but where I can find the type of emotional intensity that I want, sex is just mixed in as a matter of course. I’ve paid this toll for years and years as the “price of doing business,” especially through fanfiction, where the tags can at least give me an informed idea of how much it will be.

So seeing a tag like “take your pick of whether they’re bffs or kinda married or in a qpr or banging like a screen door,” that’s. That’s everything.

There was a rare moment right at the end of the stream. Most of the guests came back and David Jay spontaneously hopped on and the last thing before getting off, he said he had a question for all of them: What even is a relationship?

It was like. It was like a cold front and a warm front meeting in a tornado. Like two buff (super)men throwing simultaneous punches and when they are evenly matched the environment is forced to yield to the sheer power, inscribing a circle of rubble in the pavement around them. These two schools of asexual thought mutually threw each other into sharper relief than I’ve seen before

The 700 words preceding this (and the 200 to come) give a pretty clear indication which of the two traditions I adhere to, but in truth I don’t think David’s question has much substance, an example perhaps of a-sexual onanism. No, it was that it was emotionally satisfying to have such a smoke bomb introduced: his earnestness, his lack of guile.

Aces have a complicated relationship to naïveté because we are so often attacked on those terms. The spirit of the livestream was accepting the terms, so to see David effortlessly and unconsciously disrupt it was restorative.

Easy for me to call someone else Basic; a lot harder to justify it.

I don’t mean in absolute terms. There were plenty of things both scripted and un- that could stand refinement and broadening of perspective. But morally: my castle is made of sand, too.

I put gender- and sexuality-related topics through my own lenses, and I do think that can yield insight, but my training is in physics and modern languages. I lack the background or breadth to have started from anywhere but zero. Just because I showed up with my pail and shovel years earlier and because I’ve been architecturally ambitious–of course mine looks cooler.

I think a lot of queer people are showing up to the beach and having a grand time inverting their buckets, sticking on a few shells, and proudly snapping a few shots for the ‘gram.

I don’t want to take anything away from them, but. Upending buckets isn’t how experienced architects make sandcastles, to say nothing of actual castles.


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