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Fetch the Label Maker! A Discussion on Sexuality Terminology

It has been one year since the last time I posted on here and it’s been something of a whirlwind year for me. Last year, in observance of National Coming Out Day, I talked about my struggles to come to terms with my sexuality. At that time I was still embracing the concept and I knew that there was a chance that things would evolve from that point. I was quite new to the community and there were still a great many things that I didn’t know and this year has been a wonderful experience in learning and expanding my understanding.

I’ve since learnt that there is a whole other layer of terminology for sexuality types beyond the simple 0-6 Kinsey scale. Pansexual, demisexual, polysexual, asexual. And it doesn’t end there; there are even more specifications from that point. In the last year, I’ve been introduced to a whole new vocabulary and found a new label that fits me so much better than what I’d known before. (Biromantic demisexual, in case anyone is curious).

The most common question that I’ve gotten since my last post is why having a label matters? I admitted that I knew that I wasn’t heteronormal. The people closest to me already knew that I wasn’t heteronormal. Why did it matter that I have an appropriate label for my sexuality?

The thing that people doesn’t understand is that it was never about putting a label on myself. It wasn’t that I needed something to call myself or that I needed to have some absolute definition to attach to my sexuality. For me, the magic in finding a correct term was purely in knowing that I was not alone. If that term existed, it meant that there were other people out there who were the same as me. That was the single most monumental thing that came from this whole process.

That was the single most monumental thing that came from this whole process. It wasn’t in embracing myself for who I was or knowing that the people in my life would still accept me while knowing the truth. It was the realisation that I was not alone in this world. I haven’t actually met anyone with the same sexuality as me – at least not that I know of – but the simple fact that they are out there somewhere is comfort enough. Much in the same way that discovering communities for people suffering from depression provided hope and reassurances, knowing that there are enough other people out there who feel the same as I do eases the fears and uncertainty of reinventing my self-image.

So today, on National Coming Out Day, when so many people are opening up and learning to embrace and identify their sexuality, I simply want to let them all know this one crucial detail: Whether you are ready to shout your sexuality from the rooftops or if you’re still playing things close to the vest, it doesn’t matter. In the grand scheme of things, it isn’t about the labels we attach to ourselves. It isn’t in being able to tell the world that “yes, I am ____.” It is about belonging.  It is about knowing that there are other people out there that are like you.

You are not alone.

 

Packing Up the Stress

Baggage claim ecomo

 

Planning for vacation is stressful!

Now if I’m being completely honest, this is like the first proper vacation I’ve ever taken by myself. Before this all of my vacations were with family, so my parents handled all of the difficult stuff and I just tagged along for the fun. So I suppose there is the possibility that I just haven’t had enough experience to really get the hang of things.

I’m sure it also doesn’t help that I’m going out of country, which is something that is completely foreign – no pun intended – to me. I’ve never actually left the continental US before, but this March I’m flying out to spend two weeks in the UK. So I’m having to figure out a lot of this international stuff on my own.

These last few weeks – and the seven remaining weeks until I leave – have been a non-stop whirlwind of stress and planning. I’ve been scouring airline sites for the best deals on flights. I’ve been refreshing the page obsessively on hotels.com and cross-checking the locations of the cheaper hotels to find out if it’s worth the cost or if I’ll be paying that much in transport anyhow. I’ve been meticulously scratching out how much money I’m allowed to spend on food a day to stay within my budget and checking the costs of local transport to get around. I’ve been comparing international cell phone rentals to get one that works for what I need.

Sometimes the stress of it all makes me wonder if it’s going to be worth it in the end. I’m going to need the vacation just to relax from the exhausting ordeal of planning this vacation.

And then I remember that I’m finally going to be visiting my dream city and I feel better.

Along this tornado track of madness though, I’ve picked up a couple useful tips that I will definitely remember for the next international – or any, really – trip that I take.

1. Start early. Whatever you do, do not leave everything until the last minute. Not only will it save you a great deal of stress, but also a lot of money. Airlines and hotels will often give you discounts for booking early. (I just saved 150 dollars for booking my hotel so far in advance.)

2. Make a checklist. This has helped me keep my head on straight and make sure that I’ve not forgotten anything. It’s great for keeping track of costs as well, especially for those of us that are travelling on a tight budget. Not to mention, there’s something really satisfying about being able to scratch off each thing as you complete it.

3. Ask around. Have a friend or family member who’s visited there before? Don’t be afraid to check in with them. There are a lot of cultural and economic differences that you need to consider when travelling to another country, and the best place to get that information is from someone who’s been there. Having a friend who lives in the UK has been invaluable for me, not to mention he’s been coaching me so I don’t make social faux pas and get grouped in as one of “those Americans.” You know which ones I mean. And if you don’t know someone personally, check the travel sites forums. There are a lot of great people there willing to offer free advice.

4. Don’t forget the little things. This one bit me in the ass hard. When planning a trip it’s easy to remember the big stuff; the plane, teh hotel, packing your things. But don’t forget to think about the minor details too. Are there eating constraints to plan around? Have you looked into how the public transit works or rented a car? Do you know the basic driving laws? What about communication; does your cell work abroad or do you need to activate your international calling? They might seem like little things now but they can really ruin a trip if you’re unprepared.

5. Breathe. Seriously, remember this one. Don’t let yourself forget that you’re doing this for fun. When it gets stressful, step back and take a deep breath. Think about all the fun things you’ll do once this stressful planning part is over. Exhale and dive back in.

There’s a lot of work that goes into planning a trip, but if you remind yourself that this is something that you want to do it becomes that much easier. After all, isn’t every thing worth doing a little bit of work? It’s worth it in the end.

I’ll keep you all updated as my first international holiday draws closer and then I’ll share all my adventures once I’m home. Until then,

Bon Voyage! 

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Random Roadtrip! | Beyond the Pale: Daily Prompt

When was the last time you did something completely new and out of your element? How was it? Will you do it again?

For a person consumed by an insatiable wanderlust, I’ve done an abysmal amount of actual traveling. I’d never actually taken a vacation for myself before, never picked out a destination and simply gone there. I’d never done a single impulsive thing in my life. And last spring I was feeling sluggish and stalled and full of pent up energy.

At the time I was working at a gas station, part time and minimum wage, and going to school taking classes that I hated. I was living in a shabby rental house that had more problems than perks – although it did have a tree swing, which was kinda fun. I was, to put it succinctly, miserable.

Now I have to preface this by saying that nothing fun ever comes to Utah. Sure we get some concerts and stuff but the things I’m actually interested in – i.e. nerd stuff – never ends up here. Things like book signings and theatre companies and the Tour de Nerdfighting. So the opportunity to go to events I like is a very rare one and usually involves driving a state or two away. Hence why I never go.

But Team Starkid was in the middle of their Apocalyptour and out of curiosity I checked their site for dates. They were performing in Denver, Colorado on a Thursday night. I casually checked my calendar and, by some miraculous stroke of luck, I had that day off. So on the spur of the moment, I bought a ticket to the show and booked a cheap hotel room. The day of the show I got in my car at four o’clock in the morning and began the ten hour drive from Northern Utah to Denver.

It was a long and tedious drive, lonely and exhausting. I nearly got lost in Wyoming twice and got a speeding ticket along the way. Then I actually did get incredibly lost in both downtown Denver and in Commerce City because the google map I’d copied to get to my hotel included a highway turn-off that didn’t actually exist anymore. So finally, after calling my mother at home to get on the computer and get me unlost – I didn’t have an internet capable phone at the time, don’t judge me – I finally dropped off my bag and went into Denver.

I had to park two miles from the music hall because there was a Rockies game across the street and hiked up through the city toward a music hall that apparently none of the local cops had ever heard of because none of them could give me directions. Thankfully I finally walked far enough to see the line running out of the front of the hall – which went all the way around the corner of the block – and I jumped in at the back.

So there I was, a socially awkward and anxious person who had driven a total of eleven and a half hours – factoring in the time I was driving around in circles lost – standing in a line full of people I’d never met to go into a noisy, crowded, loud concert. I had never been further out of my comfort zone.

And it turned out to be one of the greatest experiences of my life.

The concert itself was amazing. If you ever get a chance to see Starkid perform live, do it. They know how to put on a fantastic show. In line I met a couple other girls who had come out from Utah and we spent the evening together. I jumped around in a nerdy mosh pit and sang until I couldn’t speak anymore. I had the time of my life.

After the concert ended I went back to my hotel room and crashed for all of five hours before I had to get up and start my drive back – my best friend was coming up to spend the weekend and I had to get back before she arrived. So I grabbed a quick breakfast from the hotel dining room and then drove the ten hours back home. I went back to my awkward, miserable, menial life without a voice but with a speeding ticket to pay.

I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

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A Brand New Me

I am terrible at keeping New Year’s Resolutions. It probably doesn’t help that I always seem to make the same, cookie-cutter resolutions: eat better, lose weight, get fit, save more money. They’re the same typical resolutions that everyone makes and at the end of the day I only feel committed to them because they are what I should want. I’m pretty sure that I’ve never actually kept a resolution before in my life and I think it’s because I just don’t care enough.

Do I want to lose weight and get fit? Of course I do. Do I want to save up more money? Absolutely.

But do I care enough to actually put a year’s worth of effort toward it? HA! More like I make it about two months and then I get knocked off track and give up for a couple months before trying again some time in June-ish.

Which is why this year I am going to make entirely different resolutions. Instead of the same, generalised, broad resolutions that I make every year, I’m going to make some different, specific resolutions. Things that pertain exactly to me. Things that I really care about seeing accomplished.

1. Have an adventure!: This is something I’ve always wanted to do and this year I’m going to make it finally happen. I’ve done new things and taken trips before but I want to have an actual, genuine adventure. I want to see new places and do new things and meet new people. This is a task that will hopefully be checked off during my spring break trip to the UK.

2. Lose 30 pounds: Yes, this is still the same old resolution, but this time I’m being more specific. I am setting an exact number. This isn’t just a vague plan, it’s a concrete goal. (An FYI, I’m already 2 pounds in. Booyah!)

3. De-clutter: I own a lot of s***. Like, a lot. For someone who doesn’t have much space, I have sure accumulated a lot of things. And a lot of unnecessary things, at that. So this year, I’m going to thin down the stuff and get rid of a lot of things I don’t need. The bonus is it’ll clear out more space for books, which is always a good thing.

4. Learn something new: I’ve been thinking about crocheting. Or cross-stitching. Something crafty like that.

5. Stop making excuses to cancel plans: This is one of those things I’m really bad about doing. I make plans to go do something, and then at the last minute I come up with some excuse to stay home. “I’m sick.” “I got called in to work.” “I had a family emergency.” The truth is I’m a little bit anti-social. I want to make new friends and do things and live, I’m just always too socially anxious to go through with things. This year, that changes.

6. Go to a bar/club: As a 24 year old, I am ashamed to admit that I’ve never actually been inside of a bar or club before.This is partly to do with the fact that I’m social awkward and don’t do well with big crowds. Also doesn’t help that the majority of my friends are LDS housewives. But it’s one of those things I feel like every person should do at some point in their life, and I want to give it a shot.

7. Go out on a date: Another shameful moment here. I’ve not been on a date in well over a year.

8. Give up soda: I’ve been trying to do this for years, with moderate success. This is not just for health reasons but money as well. I spend way, way too much money on Dr. Pepper. Not to mention calories.

9. Take one day a month to tech-detox: We live in such a technologically dependent world, and I especially spend the majority of my time on the computer. And when I’m not on the computer, I’m on my phone. So I’ve resolved that at least one day a month, I will turn off all of the tech – the phone, the computer, the tv, the radio – and I will just exist.

10. Finish (and publish?) my novel: By and far, this is the most important resolution I’m making this year. I actually made this one last year and failed it epically. This year though, I will finish my novel and I’m going to start sending it out to publishers. If things don’t pan out with the contacts I’ve already made, then I’m going to self-publish by the end of the year. Either way, come 2015 I will be a published author.

Resolutions are made for a reason. They are made to give you goals to work toward; to give your year a direction and purpose. 2013 might’ve been a year of stalling and stagnancy for me, but everything is about to change. I’m going to do things differently. I’m going to be a different person.

And 2014 is going to be a whole new year.

Scars | An Original Poem

Isn’t there something so profound about a scar?

To the creative mind it is a mark full of promise,

Its knotted length bloated with symbolism and meanings.

An enduring sign of infinity,

Everlasting,

Remaining beyond the stretch of memory.

Every person has a scar someplace,

Most of us more than one, I would guess.

As for myself, I lost count after eighty.

There is one on my wrist from a chain link fence.

A shiny white patch gleams on my calf,

A memento of the dreaded chicken pox.

As for the countless more, they tell of nothing

Except that I am a klutz.

All but the one;

A shallow line on my cheek

That heralds of something much more.

A tragedy.

Brought on not by a tripping of feet

But by the terrible thirst of a man.

I will not say

For I’m sure you can imagine

What comes of a man, a small girl, and a knife.

With the blade on my cheek

He partook of his wants

And it was never spoken of again.

He went his way with something I could not regain,

And I went mine with my scar.

Oh what a glorious thing, a scar;

So ripe with colorful metaphors.

The tribute to eternity that always reminds

Of which the mind wishes it had forgotten.

30 Random Facts

So I’ve been posting here for a week or so now and I released that I haven’t actually introduced myself. Here’s thirty facts about me: old-school Myspace style survey questions type facts.

  1. My name is Nicole Anne Simpson, although I never answer to Nicole. Call me Nicki. I was named Nicole after a character from my mom’s favourite soap opera at the time, and Anne is the middle name I share with both my mum and my maternal grandmother. Online I mostly go by my pen name Anne Neilsen, the story behind which is long and complicated, but the short is that it’s family names.

  2. I am twenty-four years old and my birthday is the 19th of August. If you’re into zodiacs that makes me a Leo, but I always take those sort of things with a grain of salt.

  3. I have lived my entire life in Utah, a fact I’m not proud of in the slightest but don’t have the finances to rectify. My family lived in West Valley, which is pretty much the Utah equivalent of “the hood,” until I was ten years old. After that we moved from the city out to a very, very little cow town called Grantsville, where they still live now. And yes, I live in their basement. I’m poor.

  4. Physically, I’m five-foot-eight and weigh more than I ought to.

  5. My hair is naturally a rather bland shade of brown, although I’ve taken to dyeing it every few months since getting out of high school. At the moment it’s currently my favourite shade of so-dark-brown-it’s-nearly-black.

  6. Depending on the day, my eyes are anything from bright green to very dark brown.

  7. I used to have enough boobs for three women, but I recently just went through a reduction surgery and I’m finally built more like a normal person. Hurrah for science!

  8. My favourite colour is silver. Don’t give me that look, silver is too a colour. It’s a crayon colour after all. But if you won’t accept that, then my other favourite colour is blue.

  9. My favourite animal is the white siberian tiger, closely followed by sea otters and penguins.

  10. I love animals and having pets, most likely because I’ve been raised in a house that has always had more animals than people. At the moment, the family has a combination of four dogs, four cats, five chinchillas, two pygmy goats, and about ten fish. Only one of those is mine, a seven-month-old Welsh Corgi puppy named Hermione Jean.

  11. I’m technically single, although I’m not looking for anything right now. I kind of sort of have a long distance thing going, I think, but it’s not something that’s been given labels. I’m fine with that anyway, I’m bad at dating. Like really bad.

  12. My greatest passion in life is writing. I’ve been writing since I was ten, and I finished my first novel at thirteen. It was terrible. I still have it on a shelf up in the back of the closet.

  13. I graduated from Grantsville High, have an Associate of the Arts degree in English Language and Literature from College of Eastern Utah, and I’m halfway through a Bachelor’s in English.

  14. My top five favourite movies of all time are TRON, Inception, How to Train Your Dragon, Warm Bodies, and The Muppet Movie (the original one.)

  15. I currently work as an overnight city government paper pusher. It’s not my dream job but it’s great for being a student because it gives me eight hours a night to do homework and chill. And write blog posts. I plan to work as an editor in a publishing firm after school until I can publish novels of my own.

Hmm, okay, these are all boring facts. Let’s spice this up, talk about more interesting things.

  1. I have an addiction to Converse sneakers. And Dr. Pepper. And Oreos. And the internet.

  2. I think the sexiest thing on the planet is a man in sneakers and a cardigan, especially if he’s wearing nerdy-specs. Mmm, tasty.

  3. I own about seventy pairs of socks, none of them white. They are colourful, patterned, anything but plain white boringness.

  4. I have a lot of random phobias: snakes, open heights, the creepy possessed children that show up in horror movies, marionette and porcelain and ventriloquist dolls, chickens, dialing phone numbers, street grates…  I only understand about half of them.

  5. I have a tattoo of three stars on my right foot in memory of my grandma, great-grandma, and great-grandfather. I plan to get several more, including a couple Harry Potter themed ones because I’m a nerd.

  6. If I could live anywhere in the world, it would be London, England.

  7. I have a secret dream of being a stand-up comedian, although it’s more than slightly dampened by my incredible stage fright.

  8. Part of me doesn’t truly believe in marriage. I just so rarely see functional and lasting marriages in my life and it’s made me sceptical, I guess. My idea of a perfect relationship is basically best-friends-with-benefits.

  9. I hate cauliflower. Like with a passion. I dunno what it is, but I do.

  10. Christmas makes me irrationally happy. Like little kid in a candy shop with no spending limit happy. I don’t really believe in the elaborate gift-giving commercialism but there’s just something about that time of year where everything smells nice and it’s all peppermint and scarves and sweaters and hot cocoa and sparkly lights. I’m getting all excited just thinking about it.

  11. I have an extra bone in each ankle.

  12. Harry Potter saved my life.

  13. My guilty pleasures are 90s pop music, Power Rangers, pancakes with peanut butter and syrup, and the “Geeky” tag on Pintrest.

  14. When I’m in relationships, I am a notorious jacket and t-shirt thief. I love to steal boyfriends’ clothes, it’s incredibly comforting and I like that feeling of closeness.

  15. I have a crush on a lot of fictional characters including Aladdin, Neville Longbottom, and Ezio Auditore from the Assassin’s Creed games.

Yay that was fun. I feel like maybe you know more about me now, so that’s a good start. I promise that tomorrow’s post will have more substance to it. Thanks, for those of you who stuck in there through all of that.

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Fear Factor

Everyone is afraid of something, whether they will admit to it or not. Spiders, snakes, heights, clowns. I’ll be the first to admit that I am afraid of a lot of things. Like, a LOT. Including those four things I listed above, I’ve got a lot of strange, irrational fears as well. Yeah, those ones that you can’t make any sense of or figure out where they came from, but you’re still freaked out by them anyway.

Perhaps the weirdest one I’m afraid of is calling people. I’m not afraid of answering the phone or talking on the phone to people, but I get so freaked out when I have to actually dial someone’s number. My heart races while I fumble through dialling the number, and if I manage to properly dial the number, that few seconds of dialtone waiting for the other person to pick up is so nerve-wracking. I can’t tell you what the hell caused this one or even why it bothers me so much, but I will go to great lengths to avoid having to calling anyone.

I’m also afraid of most barnyard birds, like chickens and geese and occasionally ducks. And swans. And pigeons. And crows. But mostly the barnyard poultry birds. This one I actually have a reason for, since I’ve been chased about by both geese and chickens before. They’re mean. They peck at your ankles, the dirty buzzards.

Then there’s the weird fact that I am not afraid of the dark or of enclosed spaces individually, but when combined together they are the thing of nightmares. There are few things in the world that I hate more than being stuck in dark, enclosed spaces.

Except maybe the dentist. God I hate the dentist.

I’ve somewhat tempered down my fear of spiders. I can handle spiders until they reach about the size of a nickel, and then I want nothing to do with them. That’s the point when I jump up on furniture and scream for mom to come save me.

And I never, under any circumstances, want anything to do with snakes. Ever. At all.

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