a garden in riotous bloom
Beautiful. Damn hard. Increasingly useful.
fresh cuttings 
17 January 2017 22:36 - "Never pay full price"
housework
X and Kit are planning to swap rooms, which means X needs to downsize to a smaller bed. Their bed is only two years old and really nice. If you're in the NYC area and interested in buying a full/double pine captain's bed with an extremely plush mattress, here's the full listing.


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4 January 2017 01:44 - "And wash your hands afterwards"
zombie, retro, tired, groggy, video games
I've been hanging out in the #yuletide IRC channel even though Yuletide is over, because it's a nice community of writers and that encourages me to keep thinking about writing.

Tonight it encouraged me well enough that I signed up for the Chocolate Box fanfic exchange (I'm on the hook to write 300 entire words over the course of a month, which is something like 20 minutes of writing for me on a slow day, so I didn't feel I was overcommitting myself) and then did a few rounds of "word wars", 20 minutes of writing as many words as you can. So I have 1100 words of Persuaded that I didn't have before, and 350 of them are pretty good.

The others, though... talk about your shitty first drafts. Maybe 400 words are okay and then the last 350 are awful. I could hear the dialogue going clunk clunk clunk as I typed it, and dialogue is where I'm usually strongest. The characters have no characterization. It's very sad. I said on Twitter that I was going to try to consider the shitty first draft a canon that I then get to write much better fanfic of, but characters are what make a canon worth ficcing, and Austen's characters are why I want to write this book, and if I don't have the characters at least somewhat clear in my head then I need to fix that before I tackle this.

I think I need to go give Persuasion a good close reread (thanks to Project Gutenberg, I just downloaded it to my phone) and maybe rewatch the 1995 film for good measure, and then replace the clunky bit with something worth reading.

In my defense, I'm fighting off the sort of head cold that has few physical symptoms (I had a sore throat for less than 12 hours) but leaves one utterly exhausted and oatmeal-brained. So it's pretty impressive that I wrote 350 words I'm happy with, and that I wrote 1100 words at all.

I need a better writing userpic. (This is not my writing userpic. I'm just aware that I need a better one.)

Now I'm going to go sleep a whole lot. A whooooooole lot.


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3 January 2017 03:22 - "You are your own muse"
story hospital
I finally made a [twitter.com profile] StoryHospital Twitter account! It'll tweet links to posts that can actually be retweeted. I'm going to change my post publication time to 10 a.m. so tweets go out when people are reading. Feel free to follow, RT, ask quick writing questions, etc.

Some great questions have come in but I can always use more! Ask me your writing questions!


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1 January 2017 23:40 - "Ask me anything"
story hospital
The 24th Story Hospital post is going up on Tuesday. That's pretty amazing. Almost half a year!

I haven't been able to boost the site very much this month, and it shows: no new Patreon patrons joined in December, and the question queues are running dry. I have one question left and then I have to start making them up or pulling them off of Yahoo! Answers. I'd really rather not do that. I want to help real people with their real writing problems.

I know a lot of you have written things: stories, novels, plays, articles, poems, fanfic, essays, PhD theses, instruction manuals, TPS cover sheets. If you've run into any kind of writing problem lately—or ever—and you have a few minutes to spare, would you please write to the Story Nurse about it?

https://storyhospital.com/ask_the_story_nurse/

The Patreon patrons are nice and all, but the questions are even more essential to the site than the money. Without people asking for advice, I can't really be an advice columnist. So I would really, really appreciate you taking a moment to send me a question.

Thank you v. v. much.


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design, writing, drawing
Yuletide reveals are revealed! My stories this year were "Two for Tea", a Questionable Content fluff-fic about Faye and Bubbles opening a tea shop with Hannelore as their tea sommelier, and "The Odds", a mashup of both* Ghostbusters films and Daniel José Older's Bone Street Rumba books, in which Holtzmann and Reza make out on the firehouse roof and Patty and Winston join the battle against the corrupt Council of the Dead.

* 1984 and 2016. There are no others.

Both stories were pinch hits. I've been on the list for ten years but this is the first year I've actually done anything with it, which is ridiculous! "Two for Tea" was done within seven hours of picking up the pinch hit; I got the central idea right away, and the only question I had was whether to do it as a story or as a series of scripts for comics. Then I started writing it as scripts and it worked and I went with it. When it was done it was done, minimal tweaking, totally painless. I am desperate for some Questionable Content fan artist to illustrate it.

While I was in fanfic mode, I started thinking that it would be fun to do a Holtzmann/Reza crossover sometime. Then a Holtzmann prompt came across the pinch hit list and I leaped on it.

"The Odds" took me a week, including pretty extensive workshopping. It was a really good week. When I reached the 1500-word mark the first night and realized how much more story I had left, I was a little daunted, but I kept going and kept going. One night I hit the wall of tired that usually means I need to stop for the night, and I thought "I'm not actually that tired, I bet I can write more" and I wrote another thousand words. I want to bottle that feeling.

Every time I needed inspiration, I found it somewhere. Of course there were some factual things I had to research—Baptist funeral customs, double underarm holsters, what kind of nuclear physics people do at Berkeley and how many women are in their physics PhD program, what the roof of the Ghostbusters firehouse looks like—and I reread Midnight Taxi Tango and rewatched Ghostbusters 2016 to study character voices and make sure I had my references right. But to my eyes the story is one long litany of other nods: to the original film and the awesome backstory for Winston that was cut from it, to Daniel's phenomenal word-portraits of Brooklyn and of black women building amazing lives for themselves (it's not coincidence that Patty has to leave the Ghostbusters world for the Bone Street Rumba world to find fulfillment), to a friend's experiences as a female physicist and other friends' experiences of being neuroatypical and hard of hearing, to someone I knew once who is way too much like Kevin, to my own queer New York life before and after my years in California, to the early days of my relationship with X, to my collections of books on urban history and astrological phenomena, to what it feels like to be building a happy life on the brink of a troubled era, and to my beloved city. I personally recommend every one of the Chinatown restaurants named in the story, by the way, and Ginger's is a pretty good place to shoot pool and chat up queer ladies. And if you're in Lower Manhattan in the summer, you'd better hope a thunderstorm comes through and makes it smell nice for a bit.

Being on vacation was essential. If I'd had work on the brain I don't think I could have sat down every evening and written a couple thousand words. Of course, if I hadn't been on vacation I wouldn't have been picking up pinch hits.

I was really nervous about the amount of AAVE in the dialogue and ended up haunting #yuletide and emailing people on the beta list and even spamming friends of mine in search of a native speaker who had the time to read a 6500-word story right before Christmas. (I did eventually find one.) I'm also not the biggest GB2016 fan and know nothing about how Holtzmann fanfic is typically written, so I found more betas who could cover that. Then one of the betas pointed out that a black woman having nothing to do except set up her white friend with a love interest was a racist cliché, and she was totally right, so I wrote the Patty and Winston scene and that made it 8000 words. I did a lot of nitpicky revision, pass after pass after pass, and made my last update about two minutes before the archive opened. And then I spent something like 24 hours feeling high as a kite on accomplishment. IT FELT SO GOOD. The writing, the critting, the revising, all of it just felt amazing.

After the bulk of "The Odds" was done, I beta-read a bunch of stories for other people, which was fun and a good use of all my post-writing energy. A long time ago I gave up on the idea of writing groups, but I had such a great experience both beta-reading and being beta'd that I started thinking maybe I should reconsider that stance.

When I came down off the high I started poking at my original fiction projects and immediately froze up. I don't know what it is about prompted, tight-deadline fanfic that frees me to write so fluidly. I hope I can figure out how to write other stories that way, because it felt so good and I want to feel that again. I'm not one of those people who feels coerced by the muse; if I don't enjoy writing, I don't write. But I enjoyed writing these stories tremendously and want to enjoy writing Valour and Persuaded that much too. There must be a way to do that, right? Even after work picks up again? I really hope so.


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30 December 2016 23:51 - "Five things make a post"
design, writing, drawing
Poor Kit had night terrors last night, or something like it—sudden screaming, out of nowhere, red-faced, inconsolable. X and I were quite shaken by it. Eventually Kit came out of it and then played with their hairbrush for a bit and went back to sleep. Babies. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

For the last few weeks they've been coughing in their sleep sometimes. It's not a productive cough, they haven't had a fever at any point, and it only happens at night, so we figure it's from accidentally inhaling their copious teething-drool (that molar is taking its sweet time coming in). The first couple of nights they'd wake up but now they sleep right through it, which is a little disconcerting. How quickly children adapt. It seems like a strength at first but I see it as a vulnerability too; they can adapt to things that aren't okay and shouldn't be normal, and adaptation can take a toll. Nothing I can do about the coughing, but it's a reminder to be mindful about the other ways I shape Kit's experiences and teach them what "normal" is.

=====

I'm going to try to post more slice-of-life things here that aren't baby anecdotes. X and I sat down together tonight and wrote things by hand! The timing didn't work out for us to do it by candlelight, as the Hanukkah candles had already burned down, but I still felt very old-fashioned using my lovely antique lap desk. The angled surface made writing much easier on my arm, even using a skinny pen. I wrote the last of my notes and cards for holiday_wishes, and X wrote thank-you notes to people who'd given Kit birthday presents.

One of the people on holiday_wishes wanted cross-stitch supplies for teaching Ukrainian embroidery. I have a TON of evenweave fabric, some of which I've had 20 years or more. I also have a lot of unfinished and unstarted cross-stitch kits, and if my arms ever heal and strengthen to the point where I can do embroidery again—which I'm kind of skeptical about, though it's a good goal to have—I'd start with the kits rather than designing my own. And I'm pretty sure I'll never have the arms for doing knotwork with silk floss again; that was hard even before I developed the tendinitis. So I took all the silk I bought back when I thought I could make money making jewelry (what was I thinking) (well, okay, my head wasn't very clear at the time), and all the fabric, and put it in a box that I will ship off this week. An immigrant will get to preserve her culture and heritage, and there's more room in my crafting dresser for new yarn all the yarn I keep buying and not knitting with. Everyone wins!

=====

I just left this comment for a friend who made her first LJ post in a year and a half, about needing a refuge from Twitter:

It's good to see you here again.

A lot of us are looking for the same thing, and looking for it here (or on Dreamwidth). Twitter seems to have hit a toxicity tipping point, and the recent political news has sharpened our ideas of where we put our effort. Even for those of us who still have the wherewithal to shrug off trolls, we've got more important things to do with our energy and attention than fritter it away on shrug after shrug after shrug.

I locked my Twitter account for unrelated reasons and I'm really glad I did. The one time I unlocked it recently, within 24 hours I needed to flee back to privacy.

Back in the day when LJ was booming, I would compulsively refresh and refresh and refresh until it was late at night and for a little while no one was posting and I could free myself from it and sleep. Before that I did the same with Usenet, and before that with IRC. Twitter doesn't feel very different to me, except that, like IRC, it refreshes itself. But I suspect my usage patterns are unusual and most people get more of a dopamine firehose from Twitter than they ever did from other sources. Having been drinking from dopamine firehoses for a long time, I can tell you with some authority that they are really, really bad for you. And Twitter is unique in what you so beautifully call its "kaleidoscope of contexts"—where one rapidly scrolling IRC channel still only contained maybe two or three conversations, Twitter has dozens all happening at once. It's utterly wretchedly exhausting.

I hope we see a return to longer-form thought, threaded conversations, more order, less chaos. LJ or DW or Wordpress or Medium, doesn't much matter to me, but something better than the noise machine.


There's been lots of talk about LJ's servers moving to Russia. I will continue crossposting from DW, as I have been. If I were still giving money to LJ I would stop, but I've had a permanent account since forever, so there's not much I can do there. I suppose I'm actually a net drain on their resources. I don't have the sense that they make money off my data. I don't think I'm putting myself in danger or making anyone else more vulnerable by continuing to use LJ. So I'll continue to use it for now, and see what happens. If you're aware of reasons I should discontinue crossposting or delete my data from LJ altogether, please do share.

=====

I was looking for a book tonight and realized a friend had borrowed it. So I checked my "borrowed books" list and ended up emailing a whole bunch of folks to say "You borrowed books from us ages ago, can we have them back?". Many of them have moved house and gone through other upheavals and I will be pleasantly surprised if they even still have the books or remembered that they got them from us, but it'd be nice if it happens.

I immediately got an email back from one person saying (very nicely) "Didn't I already give those back?" so apparently I have not been so diligent about updating that spreadsheet. I'm pretty sure most of the books I emailed about weren't stealth-returned, though. Pretty sure. Mostly sure. We'll see. At any rate, it's an excuse to get in touch with some folks I haven't been in touch with for a while, maybe make some lunch dates with the local ones, and that's no bad thing.

=====

Vosges finally started making a dark chocolate version of their bacon bar and tonight the stars were right for me to have a nibble half of it (oops). I'm impressed with the crunchiness of the bacon bits. The smoky flavor is very strong, which somehow I wasn't expecting; it's the first thing you smell when you open the package and the last note of the aftertaste. It's good.

Of course, having had that much chocolate, I now shouldn't have hot chocolate before bed. I'm tired enough that it probably wouldn't wind me up too far, but better not to take chances. It's so annoying to have to make these calculations. But it could have been one of those nights when I can't have any chocolate at all, so I will count blessings etc. and maybe make some mulled cider for a hot bedtime drink instead. Or ginger honey drink; my mother brought me ginger cookies from England and they are the sort of thick hard cookies that are intended to be dipped into tea or equivalent, and if I can't dip them into hot chocolate (which would be awesome) then ginger honey drink is the next best option.

Or I could just go to bed. But I want to write up Kit's 12-month post (!) (!!!) so I'll be up for a little while yet.


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29 December 2016 02:51 - "Gimme paw!"
baby, kit
Hilarious 3 a.m. baby anecdote time!

Kit's been really into clapping their hands lately. When they're sad they clap to cheer themself up. It is amazing. They've learned that when they clap the adults all clap back, and they get DRUNK WITH POWER and lead call-and-response clapping for quite a long time. Sometimes if you say "clap" they clap but that's not consistent yet.

Tonight they woke up just as I was going to bed. X is back on overnight duty (which is why I can go to bed at 3, which feels like absolute luxury) and got up to cuddle the baby back to sleep. I finished my nighttime ablutions and went into Kit's room for a quick snuggle. I had been reading a parenting book that was interesting and useful but also contained anecdotes about kids younger than Kit who can do things Kit can't do yet, and some part of my brain always freaks out about those comparisons. The best cure is to spend time with the actual baby and marvel at what a wonderful tiny person they are. I had been hoping they would wake up precisely so I could do this, even just for a moment.

Kit was sleepy but happy, and indeed, seeing them was an instant balm on my poor anxious brain. I kissed their forehead, tucked the fuzzy go-to-sleep blanket around them, and told X that I had finished all my chores and was going to bed. X held up their hand and we high-fived.

Kit looked interested. "That's a high-five. It's like clapping but with someone else's hand," I said. They had their right hand out of the blanket, so I gently tapped my palm against theirs. "See? Like that. High-five."

X high-fived them, and I high-fived them, and then they pulled their left hand out of the blanket. I held my hand up near their left hand. "High-five?"

They tried and missed.

It was the tiniest, funniest little limp-wristed attempt at a high-five that I have ever seen. X and I laughed so hard we couldn't breathe. Kit laughed along with us because people who are laughing are also funny, at least if you're a baby.

When we all recovered, I gave Kit a few more gentle high-fives, and then we all clapped for a bit because it's fun. Then I said goodnights and left the world's best and most hilarious baby to fall back asleep on X's lap, puzzled but pleased. And now I can go to bed suffused with joy at my child's accomplishments and eagerness to learn new things... even if it takes a few tries.


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28 December 2016 01:08 - "Onward and upward"
baby, kit
Dear Kit,

You are one year old today. It has been a very eventful year with lots of ups and downs for our family. Through it all, you have warmed my heart (and my lap) and made all the hard things feel bearable and all the good things feel even better. Your smile lights up my life. Your hard work and perseverance in the face of frustration inspire me. Your unstinting love and trust make me melt.

No offense to other kids, but every time I meet another child I think how lucky we are to have you. Of all possible children, I can't imagine one better suited to our family. You are goofy and ridiculous, opinionated when it matters, amiable when it doesn't, generous with demonstrations of affection, serious about self-improvement, vocal about your needs and easily satisfied, fascinated by the world. When people ask whether we're planning to have another child, we tell them honestly that it would be unfair to our second child to have to put up with having such a purely wonderful older sibling. Besides, we only ever wanted one baby. I'm so glad that baby turned out to be you, my best Kit. So glad.

I don't at all want you to feel pressure to live up to some ideal of perfection. You are perfect just as you are. You're perfect when you're clumsy and you're perfect when you're cranky and you're perfect when you lick the couch pillows with your mouth still half full of milk. (You will also be perfect when you're old enough to do your own laundry. The couch pillow covers are washed on cold and hung up to dry.) Don't ever think that I love or appreciate you "despite" some part of you. I love every single bit of you.

Sometimes I joke that you're my littlest roommate. Before you were born I occasionally worried that when you got older we'd have trouble living together; in the past it's sometimes been hard for me to share space with other people. But I love living with you, and I think we'll have a pretty easy time of it even when you're bigger and more actively making use of the house. You're already really good at showing us when you're hungry or tired or desperate to go outside, and I'm sure you'll only get better at understanding what you need and asking for it, whether that's time to yourself or quiet together time or shared activities. And an advantage of three parents is that there's almost certainly always going to be someone who wants to hang out with you if you're in a hanging-out mood.

I worry about you sometimes, but it's because I'm the worrying sort. By any objective measure you are a sturdy, healthy child. You rarely get sick and get over it quickly. When you fall down you complain for a bit (quite reasonably) and then get up again like nothing happened. You are so generous with your smiles that we never have to wonder whether you're happy. And you even snore just a little when you're asleep so I can hear it on the monitor and don't have to turn the camera on to make sure you're breathing. Every anxious parent should have such a reassuring baby.

The next year is going to bring us some exciting things. You'll learn more about moving your body the way you want to. You'll get better at crawling and then leave it behind in favor of walking. You'll learn to use some words and signs to communicate; I can't wait to hear you say our names. Maybe this will be the year you start to sometimes want one particular parent and not just whichever one is handy. The next time your birthday comes around, you'll probably want to eat the cake and not just stick your fingers in the frosting. And I bet you'll make friends with all the street cats in the neighborhood.

To quote a very kind and wonderful man, Mr. Fred Rogers, whose work I hope to introduce you to someday soon: "You are growing so well inside and out. I'm proud of how you are growing, and I hope you are too."

Endless love, my little bean. Thank you for being such excellent company for the past twelve months. I can't wait to see who you become this year, and beyond.

Your loving
Zo


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winter, snow
It's Yuletide! Hooray! I actually picked up two pinch hits this year because I was on vacation and the prompts spoke to me and why not? And then they ended up being 10,000 words combined. Which I wrote in eight days. D: I don't even know how I did that but it felt GREAT.

While we wait for the reveal, some fics I've loved so far:

ZOMBIE CANNIBAL SHIA LABEOUF. This is exactly the sort of bonkers amazingness that Yuletide is for. http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/8975062

I asked for trans!Ozma on the pinch hit requests page and didn't get it (maybe next year), but that reminded me to look through this year's Oz fics. This just barely slashy Ozma/Polychrome ficlet is super cute: http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/9001966

Two queer suffragists show Dorothy around San Francisco and listen to her Oz stories. So sweet! And full of good SF history, too. http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/8886220

A wild Oz/Labyrinth/Princess Bride/Neverending Story/Narnia/Arthurian legend crossover. Wow. http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/8973598

For Fifth Season fans, pregnant Syenite and tender Innon and adorable poly negotiations: http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/8829922

And one of Alabaster learning about, uh, that spoilery silvery thing: http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/8873668

Someone wrote about Aral Vorkosigan asking Captain Awkward for advice because the world is beautiful: http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/8924812

This teeny little Craft Sequence fic is sly and subtle. http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/8876092

80s movies! You wanted sweet sassy sexy Ferris/Sloane/Cameron fic, right? Yes you did. http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/8879641

Lydia Deetz house-sits for the Addams Family: http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/8888698

And this 21st-century Heathers fic redeems Veronica in a rather lovely way. http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/8879437

I don't know The Handmaiden, but I beta'd this fic and it's gorgeous. Kinky queer girls finding happiness: http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/8974219

Hamilton and Ghostbusters crossover with Patty staring down Jefferson? Hell yes. Expect to see this one on a lot of rec lists. http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/8952964

Ghostbusters F/F/F/F is the definition of "I do not ship it" and I still thought this was super cute: http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/9005827

There are THREE fics that mix Good Omens with "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" and they're all pretty fun, though my favorite is (of course) the one with the footnotes, "Crowley and the Golden Fiddle": http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/tags/Good%20Omens%20-%20Neil%20Gaiman%20*a*%20Terry%20Pratchett/works

And there are two Hark! A Vagrant pirate/nemesis fics and both are ADORABLE. "Duel to be Kind" just slew me, if you'll pardon the expression: http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/tags/Hark!%20A%20Vagrant/works

This adorable sexy postscript to The Grand Sophy is pitch-perfect: http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/8880568

I've got lots more bookmarked for future reading. If you feel like wandering around, the list of included fandoms is a good place to start.


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9 December 2016 01:09 - "Out of order"
noisy brain, agitated, manic-bad
This story has a happy ending.

What it"s like to have OCD and misplace somethingCollapse )

Now I am going to take a nice relaxing hot shower and go to bed. And tomorrow I will still be in the universe where I have my sunglasses and at least that little part of everything will be okay.


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3 December 2016 03:25 - "I heard there was a baby"
baby, kit
Kit happenings today:

1) Our crib mattress board has three height options. It's been on the middle one since Kit was born; we got a thick mattress and a crib bumper that meant the top setting was never quite workable. Today they were sitting in the crib and pulled up to standing without any help, and I realized that the crib rail came up to only slightly higher than their waist. I promptly took them out of the crib and lowered the mattress to the lowest setting for safety. As soon as I put them back in, they figured out how to pull up to standing again, which is good—I really didn't want to respond to their accomplishment by making it harder for them to accomplish things. They generally seem quite happy with the change. Such an amiable child.

2) X pointed out that Kit really likes our laptops and phones because they see us using them so much, and suggested that we do more non-digital things with the baby. So this evening Kit and I cuddled up on the couch and read books together. We probably spent most of an hour like that, me reading an advance copy of Daniel José Older's Battle Hill Bolero (very good), Kit playing with and drooling on That's Not My Owl (they adore that whole series of books). Occasionally I'd take pictures or answer a text, and while my hands were occupied Kit would steal my book. They liked turning it upside down and tugging at the cover and opening it to the middle and attempting to eat it. I encouraged all these things except the last one. It was one of the best hours of my life.

This morning I got to bed late because the baby had woken up and all I wanted to do was spend time with them, and then I barely got any work done because the baby was home from daycare (J's parents were here in the morning and early afternoon) and all I wanted to do was spend more time with them. Right now they're fast asleep and I'm resisting the urge to go into their room and scoop them up; it's great that they're sleeping so well lately but it means we don't get our mid-night cuddle time and I miss it. I just can't get enough of this happy cuddly squeaky squealy serious hard-working baby.

Aw, they just woke up babbling happily and I could totally justify going in to cuddle them. But I don't want to go in because we're trying to encourage them to go back to sleep on their own when they wake up. Nnnngh. I knew parenting would take willpower but was not aware it would take this particular kind of willpower!

EDIT: They started to get fussy so I indulged in some cuddling. Such a good snuggly baby.


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16 November 2016 23:58 - "You're taking a stand"
feminist-militant, activism, activism-feminist
Tonight I went to a civil rights speak-out organized by Jesse Hamilton, my state senator. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was actually really useful!

PoliticsCollapse )

Hamilton is going to start holding monthly civil rights task force meetings, which I plan to attend. He said the next one is going to be specifically queer-focused. It's really nice to see non-queer people doing these things.

Bonus: a high school acquaintance was there and recognized me, so we caught up a bit and swapped contact info and like that. So I got everything I wanted out of it and then some.


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14 November 2016 14:45 - "God damn it, you've got to be kind"
love, family, community
I have a thread on [personal profile] kaberett's love meme post if you feel like leaving me a comment. Lots of other good people are there too. Spread the love around. Also check out [personal profile] swan_tower's tikkun olam open thread.

I'm offering free training over Skype for anyone who wants to learn how to effectively call their elected representatives and ask them to support bills or otherwise take useful action. If you're interested, PM me. Feel free to let others know about this offer; it's available indefinitely.

I downloaded a URL blocker for Chrome and set Twitter and Tweetdeck to redirect to an eight-hour video of birdsong. It's doing wonders for my mental health. I also ate two full meals yesterday, took the baby to visit my mother for lots of intergenerational hugs, got a haircut, and solidly slept seven and a half hours. Now I just need the last of this head cold nose-cloggery to go away and I might actually start to feel human again.


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10 November 2016 02:47 - "Where were you when—"
patriotism-dissent, fandom-dissent, uppity
This userpic has never felt so apropos.

=====

Our plan for Election Day included a plan to make sure we ate dinner, and I am very glad for that, because I haven't managed to eat a full meal since. Maybe I'll be able to eat tomorrow.

I haven't cried. I guess I'm not shocked enough to cry. Or maybe I wasn't personally invested in Clinton enough to be devastated when she lost. I don't know. But whatever it is that's making people cry, I'm not experiencing it. I've been anxious all day in a sort of abstract way, and now I've talked to both my parents—the Clinton voter and the Trump voter—and somehow both those conversations calmed me way down. I can't explain why that's as true of talking to my father as it is of talking to my mother. Maybe because he couldn't actually bring himself to tell me he'd voted for Trump. He said, "Each of us knows how the other voted, so let's just leave it at that." My father's never shied away from a political conversation over a long lifetime of holding contrarian and often outrageous opinions. If even he feels abashed about this vote, maybe there's a little hope yet.

My mother, with six decades of leftist activism under her belt, assured me that this, too, shall pass. I needed to hear that, and hear the sincerity in her voice.

=====

I've been glad to see so many people posting to LJ/DW today. We need spaces like this to get all our many thoughts and feelings out.

I called in sick to work—I am actually sick with a dreadful head cold that just will not go away, which is the other part of why I'm not sleeping or eating well—and spent the day activisting on Twitter. Replicating some of that here just to get the various words out:

I'm really pleased to see so many white cishet people saying "We need to step up". Step 1: LISTEN TO THOSE WHO WERE ALREADY DOING THE WORK. Don't let your guilt or eagerness or habituation to privilege con you into thinking you lead this movement. The movement against white supremacy did not just begin today. It has been around for decades. Respect and follow those who are already in the know. Educate yourselves.

This thread points to a major area where white people need to do the work: talking with our white relatives. I will personally add the caveat that I know there's significant overlap between "my relatives who hold different political views" and "my relatives who are so toxic I can't safely interact with them" and I continue to support people in not interacting with relatives who are not safe to interact with. But if you can have those conversations without significant harm to yourself, do.

I guess it comes back to, again: if you are less vulnerable and marginalized, you need to do more of the work on behalf of those who can't. Challenge your Trump voter dad on behalf of the trans teen who can't safely come out to their Trump voter dad. Speak up in your Trump voter cousin's Facebook comments on behalf of the queer cousin who doesn't read Facebook anymore. If nothing else, you're telling the queer cousin who does still read Facebook (but never comments) that you're an ally for them.

If you can't or won't reach out to that Trump supporter in your family or social circle, maybe you can reach out to their kids. Tell the marginalized teens you know that you're there for them. Tell them directly and plainly. "I see you. I've got your back." If you suspect a conservative's kid is queer or trans, never EVER put them at risk—but do show them extra love. If you're a white parent, put your kid in the least segregated school you can find, and fight de facto school segregation in your city/town. Write letters in support of prosocial children's television. Tell Nickelodeon how much you love those gay dads on The Loud House. Buy #ownvoices children's and YA books and donate them to school libraries. And join campaigns against whitewashed, queerphobic, and transphobic children's media.

=====

Organizations that are doing useful things:
https://our100.org/ and its various signatories
https://www.hias.org/
http://www.bendthearc.us/
https://www.plannedparenthood.org/
https://www.cair-ny.org/
https://www.lambdalegal.org

Donate if you can. If you can't, sign up for mailing lists and click every one of those petition links when they come through.

Some people are talking about writing to electors in swing states and urging them to break faith and vote for Clinton. I don't see the harm in attempting this, but it's important to remember that electors are ordinary citizens, not public officials, and that hunting down their home addresses or calling them is a really terrible idea and certain to be counterproductive. I think the best way to write to them would be via the state GOP office.

=====

This thread has good info on taking care of your mental health right now.

This is a useful illustrated guide to bystander intervention if you see someone being harassed in a public space.

This post has some interesting post-election thoughts. Not sure I agree with all of them, but I think they're worth reading.

The #TransLawHelp hashtag connects trans people with legal help if they'd like to get name or gender changes before Trump takes office. I've seen recommendations to prioritize getting a passport with the correct gender marker, as that's usually faster and easier than a name change and the passport can be updated with the new name later. Good info on that is here.

This post from someone in the U.K. is lovely and kind.

Some wise words from maryanndimand.

[personal profile] xtina is collecting suggestions on activism for introverts.

=====

I picked up Kit from daycare. Their daycare teacher (a Black woman) and I just stared at the babies with teary eyes for a bit. I told Kit, "Reagan was elected when I was two and I got through it. We'll get you through this."

"Really?" the teacher said. "I liked Reagan. I remember my grandma had Reagan things all over the house."

"I was in Greenwich Village," I said. "People had AIDS. No one was a Reagan fan."

And we looked at each other like "nothing's ever simple, huh?" and then talked about how we're going to take care of our kids.

It's horrible but true that there are people who didn't survive Nixon and Reagan and GWB, and there are people who won't survive Trump. All we can do is try to keep our communities together, to support our most vulnerable. Pay one another's bills when we have to. As an EMT once told me, you can't save them all. But you don't stop trying to save the ones you can. And we will keep making art and arguing ideas and having children and otherwise creating things that will live on after we're gone.

=====

I put a post up on Story Hospital about writing goals and deadlines in a time of strong emotions. It's nominally about NaNoWriMo, since I had a NaNo post to do and I think people doing NaNo are going to feel particularly stressed by the combination of deadline pressure and election fuckery, but it's pretty broadly applicable. I hope it helps someone.

I wish I felt up to writing tonight. I suspect Nathaniel and Algernon would be talking about the raid on the White Swan.

=====

This, too, shall pass. Let's do everything we can to make it pass faster and with minimal harm.


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6 November 2016 23:37 - "A mixed bag"
zombie, retro, tired, groggy, video games
Today Kit had their first real playdate! It went great!Collapse )

=====

Yesterday was one of those days where you have to say "Everyone is fine" before talking about how the day went. But don"t worry, everyone is fineCollapse )

=====

I am trying really hard not to think about the election. Really really hard. I have plenty of other things to think about. But it intrudes constantly.

I have phonebanked and texted and done everything I can to get the vote out for Clinton. I will do a little more tomorrow and Tuesday. I have researched all the down-ballot candidates (including the one who's on the judicial ballot by mistake). I have a plan to vote. I just need to remember to wear white.

I will be so glad when it's Wednesday and we can at least stop waiting for the results, whatever those results are.

=====

The Brooks Brothers shopping trip consisted of me walking into Brooks Brothers, saying "I don't belong here", and bursting into tears. The way Brooks Brothers does masculinity is really not the way I do it, for all sorts of reasons. Also, I couldn't bear the idea of letting their tailors anywhere near my body. On the way to the store I'd gotten really tense trying to figure out how to project the "right" sort of masculinity and when I realized that was impossible the tension kind of went boom. So we walked out again, and J will find some way to sell the gift card, and then we'll spend the money at Bindle & Keep or on getting good tailoring for the shirts I already have. In the meantime, I went to Express and got some really nice curve-hugging turtleneck sweaters in gorgeous colors. And then I ordered more sweaters from the Express website and a couple other things from H&M (they were on sale!) so now I have a fall femme wardrobe and am very pleased about that.

Ever since I decided not to go on T, I've been feeling very femme. I don't think it's coincidence.

=====

I'd hoped to use the DST change to get myself back on an earlier sleep schedule, but X was totally wiped today because of being up with the coughing teething baby all night last night after the whole ER happy fun times, and I'd gotten plenty of sleep, so I said I'd take the overnight shift. Staying up until 5 is much harder when 5 feels like 6. But J has just woken up, so I'm going to hand off the monitor and go fall asleep a whole lot.


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baby-whee, me and kit
Kit's getting over a cold, poor bean. They've held up very well through it but have endured a lot of snuffling and coughing. Last night they technically slept ten hours straight, but there was pretty frequent sleep-coughing and sleep-fussing. (I don't know what other people mean when they refer to babies as "fussing". We use it as an all-purpose term for any brief vocal complaint, the baby equivalent of "Ugh" or "This is bullshit!".)

Tonight I put them to bed as I usually do, and about five hours later they woke up and complained for a while. I waited to see whether they'd fall back asleep on their own, but instead they started coughing, which went on for a bit, so I went in and scooped them up and cuddled them under the fuzzy blanket that's one of our signals for "time to sleep". They tried to gnaw on my knuckle, so I gave them a pacifier; we've been mostly avoiding those while they're sick, because they have trouble breathing through their nose and the extra saliva makes them cough more, but sometimes they just need it to fall asleep. Once they'd settled back to drowsiness, I put them back in the crib and asked them to try falling asleep on their own.

This whole self-soothing thing is still relatively new. When they have trouble settling, I stroke their back and the back of their head (they insist on sleeping face down, stuffy nose be damned) to help ease the transition. Tonight they shifted around a bit and grumbled, so I stroked their back for a bit and then stepped quietly away—avoiding the creaky floorboard next to the crib is an art we are all gradually mastering—and waited to see whether they'd relax.

They reached a hand back and stroked their own head. Several times. Very gently. And then they tucked their hand under their face and fell asleep.


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busy-bad, spontaneity, scheduling
Hi. It's been a while.

J's job rather unexpectedly ended at the beginning of October, and he's been pounding the pavement looking for a new one (and getting lots of interviews because he's awesome). I was sick for a week with a horrid intestinal thing and then had to put my annual best books lists together, which is always quite an undertaking. X has been in work crunch as well, and has been bringing their new boss up to speed. The baby has been absolutely lovely but also, well, a baby—and teething a lot, poor thing, which is no fun for anyone. The cats all needed their annual checkups and so did we, because last October was when we did the whirlwind round of all our doctors to get it out of the way before the baby arrived. I've barely been finding time to breathe, let alone chronicle all the busyness. But October is nearly over, and we're in the calm before the winter storm of holidays and birthdays and anniversaries.

The Story Hospital patron drive was a smashing success. I'm at 54 patrons, and it's not even the end of October yet! So I am definitely going to do NaNoWriMo posts and am very excited about it. I love this project so much. It just brings me pure joy.

I'm having one of those precious evenings where everyone is asleep and the washing machine is chugging away and there's nothing I need to do except keep an ear out for the baby. I could even go to bed early for a change, except that X has been fighting off the 24-hour cold virus I had on Thursday—it quite literally hit at 4:30 p.m. Thursday and was gone by 4:30 p.m. Friday—and really needs a full night's sleep. So I'll stay up until J gets up, just like old times.

A couple of weeks ago I spent a weekend in Boston with [twitter.com profile] emilytheslayer and [twitter.com profile] ordquelu. It was my first time away from the baby. And I slept. Oh, how I slept. I entirely ignored the deadline looming over me. I hung out with my hosts, we went shopping at Goodwill for fall femmewear (a previously unnoticed deficit in my wardrobe), I did some knitting, I phonebanked a bit, and I slept. The second night there, I ran out of things to do around 1 a.m., so I decided to start getting ready for bed. I was in bed with the lights out by 2:30. And then I slept until nearly noon. It was magnificent.

Of course then I came home and stayed up until 10 a.m. meeting my deadline. (I am very pleased with my selections.) And since then there have been a few up-until-6 nights. But I think it's gradually getting better. It was so good to be reassured that I can still go to bed that early. Apparently I'm much less anxious about needing to be awake in case something baby something something when I'm a few hundred miles away from the baby. And the baby was perfectly fine while I was away (though my spouses were extremely happy to have me come back and resume my share of babycare duties). So on those nights when I feel the anxious urge to stay awake, I remind myself that if I were in Boston everything would be fine, and therefore I can sleep.

I joked today that six months from now I'll be writing a clickbait article called "How Sleep-Training My Baby Cured My Sleep Disorder". It's kind of true, though. Every time I say things like "Your bed is a nice place to sleep" and "It feels good to rest" and "The clock says it's sleep time now" I feel like I'm talking to myself. I've also been feeling a lot of regressive urges to have someone tuck me in or cuddle me to sleep. Maybe it's time to finally replace my dear departed teddy bear, which the cats kneaded into threadlessness. I try not to entirely indulge my parenthood-induced regressions—and incidentally I am so glad my therapist warned me to prepare for those, because otherwise I'd be totally baffled by what seem like random bouts of feeling like a little kid—but when they don't require anything from anyone else or do me any harm, why not?

On the more adult front, I have killed an unexpected amount of time contemplating tomorrow's long-awaited shopping trip to Brooks Brothers. I'd been meaning to get a suit, and have a $900 gift card that will very nearly suffice for that purpose. (Brooks Brothers suits: not cheap.) But I hardly ever have a reason to wear a suit, and for $900 I could get a sport coat, a waistcoat, a pair of very nice trousers, and two or three shirts, all tailored to fit me, all of which I would wear frequently. I already have a sport coat, a waistcoat, trousers, and shirts, but they're nearly all secondhand and the fit is far from perfect, so upgrading is not a bad idea. I'm also undecided as to whether to present as my indefinable self or as a trans guy. Probably won't wear a binder, but probably will bring one with me, though the very wise [twitter.com profile] ifthenelsa pointed out that a shirt or jacket that fits me at my bustiest will also fit me if I'm binding, whereas the reverse is not true. And I should bring my elevator shoes, because if I get a suit I will want the trousers tailored for the 3" lift. So many factors to factor in!

The thought of hauling around my elevator shoes (which are somewhat heavy) is enough to put me off of getting a suit, actually. I guess that tells me where my priorities are. And when I was wandering around the Brooks Brothers site, I liked the look of the sport coats and trousers much more than the low-end suits. (I also started coveting a $300 skirt, but I can get skirts anywhere.) Okay then, waistcoats and shirts and sport coat, and maybe trousers if I find some I really like. No binder, no lifts.

The baby woke up just now and needed to be cuddled back to sleep, and that is beautifully simple. I nearly fell asleep myself as they snored on my lap. The need to teach Kit good sleep habits (and to spare my neck the ache from sleeping in the rocking chair) won out over the urge to stay like that until dawn, but it was a close call.

I was going to knit for a bit, as a thing to do to stay awake, but I'm too sleepy now and it would be all dropped stitches. And it's 4:30, so J will be up soon. I will do my bedtime things, and by the time they're done he'll be awake and I can actually go to bed. And then I will sleep a whole lot.


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27 October 2016 00:01 - "I believe in you!"
you're welcome, origami, gift, helpful
I'm doing a Patreon patron drive on Story Hospital, my advice column for writers! If I get to 50 patrons by the end of October, I'll do four EXTRA posts in November, one per week, with advice specifically aimed at people who are doing NaNoWriMo. Writing 50,000 words in 30 days is a big challenge and I want to give those writers some support.

I'm totally fine with people signing up as patrons just for one month (though of course I hope you'll stick around!) and the minimum pledge is just $1 for the entire month. And if we make the goal, all the NaNoWriMo advice posts will be made public on the main Story Hospital site, though my patrons will get to see them early. So even if you can't chip in, feel free to subscribe to the site, ask a question or three, and share your favorite posts with your friends who write.

If you like the site and are interested in supporting it, please become a patron and/or spread the word about the patron drive. We've already gone from 39 to 45 patrons in just a few days, and I think we can make this happen by October 31!

(Proper personal journal entry to come soon, I hope. It's been a very hectic month over here.)


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confused, trying to understand, hair
The other night I dreamed I wrote a book and forgot entirely that I had done so. Blocked it out of my head. So when mrissa said "I read an ARC of your book and it's pretty good" I was utterly confused. And then she said "But there were some problems with the way you portrayed the Middle Eastern market" and I was even more confused. I felt bad that I had committed racefail and I couldn't really fix it because I didn't remember writing it.

Then there was a lengthy dream scene about rolling up RPG characters. The DM wanted us all to have 200 [something] but the base character I picked from the book only had 60 [something] so we agreed that on any day when I was in a bad mood I'd get an extra hit die because I hit harder when I'm grumpy.

We started playing the game, and I guess we were LARPing because I started doing a folk dance with five of the other players. We danced in pairs and I mostly remembered the steps from my country dance days but it was hard to keep track of the steps and play my character at the same time. My dance partner was much better at it than I was and kept gently reminding me not to keep my legs so straight because this was a different era than the one I was used to dancing in.

In character I was snooty with racist undertones to the other characters who were dancing and as myself I felt bad about it. "Feel bad about racism but have plausible deniability" was apparently the dream theme. Ew. >.<

The dream ended with a giant Jewish holiday dinner with lots of friends and friends of friends. rose_lemberg and prezzey called to tell us all that they were getting married, except their child actually made the call because he wanted to and they thought it would be fun to let him. It was very sweet. And the more observant Jews at the table taught me some interesting things about holidays and fine points of observance and schisms and so on.

And then I woke up, wondering how I managed to write an entire book and forget.


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peace, garden, home
I wrote this last year, on October 2:

All the fans and air conditioners and open windows that noisily let us survive the summer are quiet now. The dryer and dishwasher have finished their tasks and fallen silent. The laundry is folded and stowed. The people and cats are asleep, except for me. There is such contentment in this moment of stillness.

My brain promises me that if I do enough, and if I do it well enough, I will reach a moment of the house being perfect, at which point I can finally relax. My own work on coming to terms with my brain has helped me to expand my definition of perfection. There are little untidinesses around me, to be sure, and I'll tidy a few of them before bed; but those untidinesses also make a house a home. I don't want to live in a museum exhibit. I want to live in a place where the stray bits of cat fur and scratched-up furniture remind me of our adorable cats, and J's shirt draped over a chair and X's water bottle abandoned on the corner of the table remind me of my marvelous spouses. Soon there will be toys underfoot, and parts of bottles scattered over the kitchen counter, and tiny mismatched socks in inexplicable places, to remind me of my beloved child. And I will sit in this battered but extremely comfortable chair, and put my mug down on the fluff-attracting but gorgeously vibrant red tablecloth, in my beautiful lived-in home, and it will be perfect.


Tonight I turned off the ceiling vent fan for what is probably the last time this year, and such a beautiful hush fell. I tidied just enough to make the morning easier for J and X, and did a load of laundry mostly out of habit. Now all the machines are silent, and I'm sitting at the table in the comfy broken-in chair, and there are candles casting shimmery golden light on the red tablecloth, and everyone is asleep. There was even a tiny unmatched sock in tonight's laundry.

I was right: it's perfect.


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commitment, wedding ring
Tonight my therapist made me cry in a good way. I was talking about the cycle of "I gotta do the work/chores" "but I don't wanna" "but I gotta" "but I don't wanna". He said, "That's the cranky kid and the authoritarian parent, but where's the third voice? The compassionate parent?"

"Oh," I said. "That's the one I call my wife." (I've decided I'm not going to poke at why my wife is still my wife even though I'm NB-identified now. It's just how it is.)

"Where's she?"

"...I forget to look for her."

"Well, try inviting her into these conversations."

Oh right, being kind and compassionate to myself, I forgot about that.

So, some things my brain is telling me lately, and things I can say back to it with kindness and compassion:

I don't want to do work right now.
"I'm sorry it's hard. It needs to get done, even though it's hard. And once you start it will be easier and go faster than you think, and then you'll be free of the burden of needing to do it."

I have so much to do and I don't want to do any of it because there is so much.
"It sounds like you're tired and need to go to bed. When you're rested you'll be more confident, more efficient, and better able to prioritize."

I can't go to bed. I have too much to do.
"Right now, while you're as awake as you're going to get, do anything that has a real serious deadline between now and noon tomorrow. Then go to bed. You can do the rest after you get some sleep."

I can't sleep. Something bad might happen to the baby.
"You're not on duty overnight anymore. X has the monitor on and reliably wakes up when the baby makes noise. J is getting up in a few hours. The baby is very healthy and will be totally fine. Also, it needs to be normal and okay for you to sleep while Kit is sleeping instead of hovering over them and fretting. Let's practice that tonight--just do it once to see how it goes. Remember that the last time you went to sleep before J got up, everything was fine."

I don't think you understand. SOMETHING BAD might HAPPEN to the BABY.
"The vanishingly unlikely worst-case scenario is that J wakes up, discovers something is wrong, and wakes you and lets you know. And that would be horrible, but you have survived other horrible things and you would survive that too."

There was another two-voice scenario that should be three. When I'm getting things done during the day, I feel like "This is very challenging and I'm totally on top of it!", but when I'm flopped on the couch after dinner, all I can think is "There's so much to do and I feel it on top of me like a weight". The third voice there isn't agitated or despondent but calm and relaxed, both capable of doing things that need doing and fully present for times of rest and fun. I'm not sure what to do to get there, though. Having less to do would help, but isn't going to happen anytime soon. I will think more on that.

In the meantime, I'm going to pet my cat (I've been home from the office for three hours and she just came into my room yelling WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN because she is oblivious) and then talk myself into going to bed. Maybe even before J wakes up.


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zombie, retro, tired, groggy, video games
I have been tweeting only a bit, and posting here not at all. I have some draft posts saved as text files, which is very unusual for me, but I've been too wiped out to finish any thoughts that are longer than a paragraph or two. So here, have some random catch-up blather.

The baby's great--eight months old now and much more interactive, so I'm enjoying time with them a lot more. Story Hospital is going really well and I'm really enjoying doing it. (Ask me questions!) My arms are doing super duper great and I have officially graduated from occupational therapy; I can stir pots and write by hand and carry shopping bags and fold laundry and all sorts of exciting things like that. I have been hoping to try knitting again but haven't managed to find the time. The weather is finally cooling down, which means we can cook in our kitchen and eat in our dining room and stand to touch one another for more than two seconds at a time. This is doing wonders for our feelings of family togetherness.

J and I have started shared therapy for some longstanding issues around physical intimacy that we just were not managing to tackle successfully on our own, and it's going fantastically well, but it's also bringing up a lot of feelings I have about my body that I had been mostly ignoring. One outgrowth of this is that I'm hoping to make an appointment for a consultation with Zil Goldstein at Mt. Sinai Hospital's new Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery to discuss low-dose testosterone supplementation. I also bought some shiny new men's shoes, including a pair with lifts in them, which I've been wanting for years. They are fancy shoes for fancy occasions, same as my femme high heels, so don't expect me to be 5'7" all the time--my knees would never forgive me--but I'm really glad to have them for when I want them.

I am, as always, struggling with workload and time management. I keep staying up until 5 a.m., or even later (today I went to bed at the appalling hour of seven ack emma), even though I don't need to anymore; months on that schedule got it into my head that 5 a.m. is when I stop being responsible for the baby and am allowed to go to bed, and even though I'm now permitted to turn X's monitor on after either Kit's mid-night feeding or 2 a.m. (whichever comes first), I still find myself staying awake way past that. I am so tired, all the time. I want to go to bed earlier. I want to sleep more. I don't know what to do about this. I keep rejiggering my schedule and setting up alarms and nothing works.

And here it is 3 a.m. and I haven't done any work yet tonight. And I need to take the trash out. I will go do that first, and hope that moving around helps me wake up enough to do at least some editing and then go get a lot of sleep.


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relaxed, contemplative, pensive, thoughtful, comfortable
Year meme thing from [personal profile] yoyoangel. Year: 2003.

Age then: I turned 25 in June 2003.
Age now: 38.

Relationships then: I was partnered with Josh and Jen and Joe, and pursuing X like my life depended on it (I sort of felt like it did). "Just the N of Us" was starting to coalesce, and in particular I was building a wonderful friendship with Kathleen. I had become very close with Liz and David. I could not possibly count or name all the people I was on smooching terms with. The N in "Just the N of Us" was really not a joke; I think it was 7 <= N <= 13 with considerable variation over the course of two years. And there were many non-JTNOU people in my life as well, both platonic and not. I was a social butterfly and loved it.

Relationships now: Happily married to Josh and X; happily parenting Kit. The last time I smooched someone who wasn't Josh or X was... uh... years ago? It's been a while, certainly. The baby has made it hard to do evening social things like the KGB readings, so these days I'm focusing on maintaining and building on existing connections. I Skype regularly with Kathleen, Miriam, and Graham; hang out in Slack with the Subtlefriends; and get as much in-person time with Tea and Veronica as I can. My interest in relationship categorization has gone from "not much" to "zero", so that's really all I can say about that.

Where I lived then: San Francisco. In May I moved out of Kiri and Doug's grubby Sunset District walk-up and spent a month in a lovely little room-to-let with all my stuff in storage; I'd begun rental-hunting with Josh and Jen and Mik based on my lease ending in June, but my roommates broke the lease and moved out a month early, and I couldn't afford to pay a full month's rent on my own. In June the four of us moved into a much nicer* four-bedroom house in Glen Park. I had a downstairs bedroom with one small window and an enormous built-in closet. Other than the boring beige carpeting, it was basically my ideal room. The upstairs had two big open social rooms where we put mattresses on the floor and lined the walls with bookshelves. It was pretty great.

* This was before it became infested with rats and J's bedroom ceiling developed horrible mold and the cat brought in fleas from the garden and we discovered that our landlord was a useless asshat. And even with all those things it was arguably nicer than the walk-up.

Where I live now: Brooklyn. Josh and X and Kit and I have a four-bedroom apartment that's genuinely lovely without any asterisks or caveats. My room here has a slightly larger window and a much smaller closet, but hardwood floors count for a lot, and the window looks out onto trees. We sprawl on the pull-out couch instead of the floor and the walls are still lined with bookshelves (some of the same ones, even). The kitchen is VASTLY superior, the landlords are splendid, and there are no infestations at all. I hope we stay here a good long time.

Was I happy then: Often. In a post from June 2003, I wrote (rather defensively), "I'm happier than I can remember being, I'm doing a fucking fantastic job of completing my recovery from devastating emotional trauma, I've met the only real lifetime goal I've ever consistently had--a wonderful house full of happy friends--a full decade before I expected to have a chance at trying for it, I treat myself well and require the same from those I associate with, I never indulge my bad habits to the point of damaging myself or others, and I'm completely and fully satisfied with the life I live except for not being in New York and not being near australian_joe. I am happy and satisfied, and those who choose to rely on me for support of any kind have no complaints." I was surrounded by lovely people who liked me, and was starting to really recover from grief and disordered eating. I quit school after a year of studying architecture, which I was a little sad about, but I got my job at LegalMatch, which I really liked even though it stressed me out a lot (and eventually wrecked my arms, but that didn't happen until 2004). I was full of hopes and dreams. By the end of the year the dreams were starting to get a little worn around the edges ("I don't think I'm cut out for living with anyone full-time," I wrote in December. "Not unless it's a mansion and each of us gets a wing") but on the whole it was a pretty good year.

Am I happy now: Often, and in a way that feels much more sustainable and anchored in reality.

If you'd like me to pick a year for you to post about, leave a comment.


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12 August 2016 21:20 - "The least among you"
genderqueer
The National Center for Trans Equality asked me to take action on behalf of trans students. So I wrote a letter to New York State's schools commissioner.

Dear Commissioner Elia:

I'm writing to you as a transgender New Yorker who attended NYC public schools, and as a mentor for trans youth, to ask you to please create and implement trans-positive policies for all of New York's schools.

Trans children are especially vulnerable to bullying and discrimination. For trans teens, puberty can be horrifying and traumatic. New York's schools need all-gender toilet facilities so that questioning and non-binary teens don't have to pick a gender or a presentation in order to safely and comfortably use the bathroom, and they need a directive from the state level affirming that it's imperative to permit students to use the bathroom matching their gender identity. They need teachers who know how to respond when a student changes their name or pronouns. They need school counselors who are educated in the needs of trans kids and will support them through the daunting process of coming out to peers, teachers, and family, or through the anxiety of needing to remain closeted for their safety. They need school nurses who will help them access gender-affirming medical care or just take their meds on time. They need safety officers who have been trained to respect students' genders even when those students misbehave. They need administrative staff who know to greet them by their correct names, even if those aren't the names in the database. And they need peers who have learned in school, both from the curriculum and from watching the adults they look up to, that being trans is totally normal and that teasing and bullying trans students is unacceptable.

I have often found myself in the position of having to educate people around me on how to interact with me. It's exhausting and sometimes scary. We should never place that burden on a child. The burden is on you, Commissioner, to properly train school personnel and make sure that all of New York's schools, from the wealthiest suburb to the poorest neighborhood, have the facilities these students need. It's on you to create trans-affirming school curricula. These students need you to lead the way--not to make them beg for something so basic as being able to use the bathroom.

A new school year is coming. Please help make it a safe one for trans students so they can dedicate themselves to learning and making friends, just like any other student.

Thank you,
Rose Fox

If you're in the U.S., please send your own letter through NCTE's site--they'll find the address for you and even make some suggestions about what to say--to support trans students in your state.


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5 August 2016 21:02 - "IT'S ALIVE"
creativity
https://www.patreon.com/storyhospital
https://storyhospital.com/

Story Hospital is an advice column published on four Tuesdays a month. Each column answers a writer's question about their work in progress. These columns are focused on the craft and practice of writing. I don't tell you how to get an agent or quit your day job; I get right into the heart of the relationship between the author and the work.

Please feel free to share either or both of those links around. :D I am very nervous and excited! I've never done a Patreon thing before. And this project relies heavily on people sending in questions--if they don't do that, I'm kind of sunk. But people are becoming patrons already, and tweeting lots about it (I unlocked my Twitter account so that my announcement tweet could be retweeted), and I am optimistic.


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