a garden in riotous bloom
Beautiful. Damn hard. Increasingly useful.
fresh cuttings 
laughing, joyous, frubbly
Five things make a post.

1) First, the ending. Long Hidden goes out of print on May 9th. *sob* The last copies are being sold at a steep discount, with proceeds partially benefiting We Need Diverse Books. You can get discounted copies of Hidden Youth while you're there. Go help Bart and Kay clean out their warehouse while they're still allowed to sell the books! All details at that link.

2) Now, the beginnings. J has a new job! He got laid off at the end of last year and the last few months have been challenging. We are all very super excited that his nonstop hustle has landed him an excellent gig doing work he enjoys at a company he likes for good money.

3) X got a bonus and a raise! They inch ever closer to being paid what they deserve.

4) I joined a Slack for queer writers (if you want to join, let me know! All I need is your email address and i can add you) and it's been amaaaaazing for my productivity. People do 20-minute productivity sprints and then share snippets of their work and praise/critique one another in very supportive ways. Sometimes I use the sprints for day job work and sometimes for writing. I've outlined both my novels and passed the 10k mark on Valour Advances the Man (though a good chunk of that is in scenes that probably won't make it into the book but shhhhh), which is my current focus project. I haven't forgotten the Persuasion retelling but it's on the back burner right now. They'll inevitably swap at some point. I'm just so pleased to be writing! And it feels so good!

5) I reworked my Story Hospital Patreon tiers and got more people into Story Hospital Slack, hooray! Now to figure out how to keep conversations going in there. For some reason they just don't catch fire. I will probably be better at that once I'm over this rotten stinking head cold.

6) Bonus sixth thing: the DST changeover happened and I didn't hate it nearly as much as I usually do, probably because I slept 11 hours that night to try to shake the cold. (Didn't work, alas.) Kit's body clock is on the same schedule, of course, so now they're going to sleep at 9 and waking up at 7 and it's WONDERFUL. They have dinner with us! J gets to sleep in instead of waking up at 5! Not sure what we'll do in the fall when the clocks go back but for now we're just enjoying this.


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angry, displeased, disgusted, disapproval, pissed
Disney is making a live-action version of Beauty and the Beast. The director, Bill Condon, did interviews with Attitude where he said two things that have been making waves:

1) LeFou, a comic relief character whose name means "the fool" or "crazy", will be openly gay... more or less. He's described as "confused" and someone "who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston". Of course you will recall that Gaston is a) the villain and b) obsessed with expressing his own heteronormative cisnormative masculinity by hunting animals, beating men up, aggressively pursuing a woman who doesn't want him, and flaunting his body hair.

2) The depiction of the Beast's curse is a metaphor for AIDS, thanks mainly to the work of lyricist and executive producer Howard Ashman, who died of AIDS a few days after the film's first screening.

Item one is appalling on its face. This is not anything resembling useful or appropriate gay representation. The "wants to be/wants to kiss" thing is pure pseudo-Freudian anti-gay bullshit; the gay narcissist is one of the most pernicious and persistent gay stereotypes. With one voice fandom cried "WHAT ABOUT COGSWORTH AND LUMIÈRE" but no, instead of a happy gay couple we get a bumbling buffoon whose lust object despises him (and, if the live-action film is true to the animated one, repeatedly assaults him in public for the amusement of others or just for fun). In addition, the live-action portrayal is downright swishy. Blech. If it turns out that Gaston is closeted and just stalking Belle as a cover, I may punch a wall.

Item two looks more sweet and heartwarming, a tribute to a gay man's last great work. But while I was searching for the original Attitude interview (because a screencap of the headline was going around with no additional link attached), I found Dan Rather's 1992 review of the animated film, in which he observed what appeared to be a metaphor for AIDS and asked Disney about it.
The folks at Disney tell me that Beauty and the Beast was well under way before lyricist and executive producer Howard Ashman tested HIV positive, and long before Ashman died of AIDS. They say this isn't autobiographical.
In other words, Disney was scared of getting gay cooties all over a children's film, so they erased Ashman's efforts to tell his story, all while his body was still warm.

If you have a box of tissues handy, watch Ashman's partner, Bill Lauch, accept Ashman's posthumous Oscar for "Beauty and the Beast". (h/t to [twitter.com profile] suzisteffen for mentioning it.) Lauch humbly thanks the people at Disney for the support they gave Ashman behind the scenes. But Disney still wouldn't admit in public that the story of the Beast was Ashman's own story of being cursed and running out of time to love and be loved.

Now it's 25 years later and societal attitudes have changed. Here's how Condon describes it in the Attitude interview:
"Disney had been developing Beauty and the Beast for decades," Condon explains. "But there was a specific version they were working on developing in the Eighties."

"On the heels of The Little Mermaid they showed it to [composer] Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. Ashman had just found out he had AIDS, and it was his idea, not only to make it into a musical but also to make Beast one of the two central characters; until then it had mostly been Belle's story that they had been telling."
To be absolutely clear, Ashman's contributions and motivations are only being discussed by Disney reps because it won't harm the new film's chances of success. This is pure cynicism on Disney's part. Rather's review, which is quite wonderful, notes that the sympathetic portrayal of the Beast could really help to change the way people with HIV and AIDS were seen and treated by the rest of society. And those changes did come, arguably encouraged by Ashman's work on the film. But instead of sincerely honoring Ashman, Disney is coolly taking advantage of his legacy—and his death—after a quarter-century of just as coolly obscuring it, all for their own profit.

Unless they release a statement apologizing for their earlier denials, I see no reason to believe that this is anything other than a marketing ploy. And until they announce that a percentage of the new film's proceeds are going to an HIV/AIDS charity, they're not getting another dime from me.

If you were thinking of seeing Beauty and the Beast in the theater, please consider donating the ticket cost to God's Love We Deliver, the Names Project, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, or another HIV/AIDS-related charity, in memory of Howard Ashman.


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1 March 2017 01:41 - "Obvious in retrospect"
baby, kit
Porting two baby-related threads over from Twitter.

Kid things I had no idea about, but that totally make sense now: a short list.

1) When you teach a toddler some sign language, they will babble with their hands. Eye contact, big hopeful smile, incomprehensible hand motion. "Does this gesture mean anything? What about this?"

2) They will also come up with their own meanings for signs. We're pretty sure Kit signs "milk" to mean "I want".

3) Kids wrestling with object permanence and separation anxiety will apply it to EVERYTHING, like the end of a story. When we close a book, Kit looks worried until we show them that the story is still there when we open it up again.

4) The eye-contact look that will soon be "I'm doing a naughty thing" starts out as "I'm doing a thing that makes me happy"—maybe more specifically as "Will you come be happy with me as I do this thing that makes me happy?". It's so hopeful. And I can clearly see the seeds of "You AREN'T going to be happy that I'm doing this thing that makes me happy" in it.

5) So many things we think of as obvious delimiters are invisible to children. Social, not physical. Like "draw on paper, not table". To a kid with a marker, every surface is a surface that can have marker on it. I was in awe the other day watching Kit very carefully draw a line across the paper, over the clipboard, and onto the table. One line, no hesitation. It wasn't a transgressive thing. It was just where they were making their art. No differentiation between media whatsoever.

They also don't readily perceive verbal delimiters. Sound, word, and phrase are all one concept to them. When J says "turn the page" or I say "clap your hands" Kit understands those as whole concepts, like spoken pictograms. If I said "clap your feet" they'd be puzzled because "clap" as a verb doesn't exist for them yet.

I remember [twitter.com profile] oaknfell saying that teaching a kid to read is one long process of apologizing for the English language. Pretty sure teaching Kit to talk is going to involve a round of that too.

I get the phonics thing now—the struggle to explain to children that "clap your hands" has spaces in it, that "clap" itself is "c l a p". If you only hear language, those divisions are in no way intuitive.

An appallingly adorable baby anecdote

We have a blanket that has a hood. The hood has ears and a little bear face. It is very cute. Today X and I were curious about Kit's object permanence and had that blanket over them in the stroller, so we hid one of their hands in the hood.

"Kit, where's your hand? Where's your hand?" They didn't care. Too many other things to look at out in the world. So I tapped their right hand, which was on top of the blanket. "There's your right hand. Where's your other hand?"

They looked at the hood over their hand and immediately decided it was a NEW BEAR FRIEND.

They reached out with their right forefinger and booped its nose—I am not making this up, this really happened—and then they brought it to their face and face-hugged it. They were so happy. "The bear ate my hand and now I have a BEAR FRIEND HAND and everything is GREAT."

They did not appear concerned about their missing hand at all. Who cares when there is a fuzzy bear face to press your face against?

X and I could hardly walk for laughing. Kit happily hugged the bear friend all the way home.

I must get this child some hand puppets. It will be epic.


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23 February 2017 01:17 - "It's so hard to say goodbye"
baby, kit
Kit's developing some separation anxiety (yes, only now, at nearly 14 months!) and started crying tonight when we began the bedtime routine because bedtime means saying goodnight and everyone going away. We still did what we always do: big family hug, two parents say night-night and leave, and the third reads stories and provides cuddles and puts the baby in the crib. They clung to all of us during goodnight hugs, glumly (and sleepily) submitted to storytime, and finally fell asleep after only a little more fussing. Then we all sat around feeling heartbroken because it is so hard to see the baby so sad.

Tonight's bedtime story was No Matter What, by sheer coincidence; I spotted it while Kit was demolishing their bookshelf (a favorite activity) and realized we hadn't read it in ages. I'm never sure how much Kit understands of the actual words we say, but I think the meaning was clear, especially with the way I kept kissing and hugging them as I read. And I think it helped.

They've started getting upset when books end, too. We always have to open the book again to reassure them that the story is still there and they can reread it whenever they want. Sometimes they flip through it to find a favorite page before reluctantly accepting that the book is done. When we let them turn pages, they turn them really fast, without waiting for us to finish reading any text; one long look at the images on the page and then it's on to the next. It's so very like the way I blaze through books and then feel disappointed when they're done that it makes me laugh every time.

Kit endured their first ear infection this week, poor thing, and has been taking amoxicillin for it. As soon as they started on the antibiotics, their fever went away entirely and their vigor and appetite returned. (Their first full day of betterness ended with them not being able to fall asleep until 11 p.m. because all the energy they'd lacked while ill came roaring back with a vengeance. Fortunately that was a one-time thing and they're back on their usual sleep schedule.) I'm so glad for our access to good medical care, and also extremely glad to have a baby who sucks obediently on medication syringes, even when they hate the taste of the medicine, and doesn't appear to have allergies to anything. We were all very relieved that they went back to daycare today, because five days in a row of sick (and then recovering) baby at home was very challenging for all of us, especially as we were dealing with another family crisis at the same time. As always, I have no idea how single and stay-at-home parents do it. No idea whatsoever.

We're all quite convinced that Kit has psychic powers that only activate when they're asleep. Whenever X goes to bed—which doesn't happen at the same time every night—Kit sleep-fusses just enough to set off the monitor. Just now I returned to writing this entry after a while of doing other things, and Kit promptly made a few tiny noises. So I'm thinking at them as hard as I can: See, silly baby, I told you that we think of you even when you're not right in front of us. Rest now. No one is too far away, and we'll always be there when you need us.


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20 February 2017 00:47 - "IT ME"
oblivious
Thanks to a link from [twitter.com profile] tgstonebutch, today I learned about queerplatonic relationships (a term coined in 2010 by [personal profile] kaz and [personal profile] meloukhia) and spent several hours going "WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME THERE'S A NAME FOR WHAT I DO". A good primer is here and a post on QP not being "romance-lite" is here. I want to quote both of them at length. I want to hug them. This is amazing.

I'm not aro or ace. But there is absolutely a third category of relationship in my life, in addition to partnership and friendship. I've been calling it "partner-level friends" or "my [name]" because I didn't have a word for it. And now I do. Wow. I haven't felt this seen since I read the relationship anarchy manifesto. (Which is very relevant.)

While discussing this with a friend, he asked how "romantic" was being defined, since both "aromantic" and "platonic" were being defined in opposition to it, and I realized I didn't have a good answer. (Merriam-Webster doesn't either. Their definition of "romantic" points to "romance", which points to "love affair", which points back to "romantic".) After some discussion on Twitter, [twitter.com profile] numbathyal pointed me to this piece by a possible aromantic who asked a romantic to define romance. The definition that came out of their conversation was: "Romance is a natural high that occurs in the presence of certain people, without obvious connection to sexuality, 'good company', or emotional intimacy." That jibes pretty well with my experience, which I described as follows:
When I look at people I'm in love with, my body responds. My heart swells—that's literally a feeling I get in my chest, not a metaphor. My heart rate goes up and I feel a little breathless. My pupils probably dilate. I want to be physically touching the person in some way. I'm SUPER touchy-feely with X and J. Constant small touches as I walk past them. Always sitting as near as I can get.

When I look at people I'm in QP relationships with, I have a different set of reactions. Hardly any physical reaction at all. I do like hugging them, but I don't feel the same urge to be in contact. I get much more of a squee reaction. My brain lights up. It's still something I would call chemistry, but a different kind of chemical reaction.

Things romantic and QP relationships have in common for me: I feel a profound sense of safety. I can relax around the person. I say "I love you" and it's never by rote. I want regular communication of some sort. I feel more myself in the person's company.

All of this is shaped by my tendency toward feeling very definitely like I "click" with certain people. Often upon meeting them. A little alert box pops up that says "You and this person could have something amazing together! Pursue it!". I can tell you the exact moment that happened with both X and J, and with all four of my QP people. So I don't know what "romantic" looks like for people who don't have that zing or sniff test or instalove or whatever you want to call it. I spent literal months knowing I was going to fall in love with J and waiting for it to happen. Had to WD40 the "in love" switch. But it finally flipped hard and has never flipped back. <3

This is also not what my romantic relationships looked like when I was in my teens or 20s. Much healthier now. :) Twenty years ago, desperate longing to be loved and valued was part and parcel of romance for me. Now I love myself.
Some of the useful links that came up in conversation (h/t [twitter.com profile] tgstonebutch and [twitter.com profile] numbathyal):

Sexuality and romance as pet elephants that are invisible to ace and aro people
Limerence and "platonic attraction"
How to write about queerplatonic relationships in fiction (lots and lots of useful links there)
Various concepts of greyromanticism

I was amused to choose "oblivious" as the userpic keyword and have this userpic come up, because at first it seemed totally inappropriate for a post discussing nonsexual relationships. In its original context (Sluggy Freelance, if anyone remembers it), it's being said by a guy who is very into topless women and sad that he missed a chance to ogle some. But I've always used it because I am genuinely the sort of person to not really notice that an attractive woman is topless, because we're too busy talking about other things and connecting on other levels. So maybe it's appropriate after all.


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13 February 2017 01:46 - "A toast!"
Judaism, congratulations
Today was my mother's 75th birthday party. Instead of making a traditional toast, I wrote her a poem.

~~~~~

A warm baguette with fresh unsalted butter
Good whiskey served in glasses meant for wine
Fine art and jazz and clothes with flowing lines
I learned appreciation from my mother

Speak from the heart; don't ever silence others
Defend our rights and fight to right what's wrong
Wave signs, wear buttons, sing those protest songs
I learned my activism from my mother

Write eagerly, then edit out the clutter
Read lit and genre, dictionaries, poems
A wall of books will make a house a home
I learned the joys of language from my mother

Immense affection for my younger brother
No matter how we'd argue, snark, and fight
"You'll sort it out," Mom said, and she was right
I learned both love and patience from my mother

Abundant hugs and kisses, but don't smother
Praise every scribble as a work of art
Be honest and respectful from the start
I learned to be a parent from my mother

Find endless ways to cherish one another
Build families from friends through joy and trust
Each day, she teaches that to all of us
Please join me now to toast my splendid mother

~~~~~~

Happy birthday, Mom. :)


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31 January 2017 04:02 - "Every little bit helps"
feminist-militant, activism, activism-feminist
I made supportive postcards to mail to my local mosques today. And then I made more to send to mosques that have been attacked. And I designed more postcard fronts with awesome public-domain clip-art images. And I bought a roll of 100 postcard stamps because it turns out this is a thing I can do easily that is at least a little bit effective and feels really good.

If you know people looking for ways to speak up that don't involve phone calls or marches, and if those people have printers and funds for printable postcards and stamps, point them to http://tinyurl.com/angrypostcards for customizable templates with useful addresses already filled in.

I also finally got a PO box, so when we apply for/renew our passports tomorrow, we'll have somewhere safe to send them. Packages get stolen from our front steps a lot, and having Kickstarter rewards and online purchases sent to the office is always a bit awkward, so it'll be good for that too. But mostly I care about the passports. Just in case.

And I supported this fundraiser for a Bed-Stuy knitting shop that's in danger of closing, because direct giving matters as much as giving to organizations and sometimes goes even further. That store has been a haven for black women who need a place dedicated to peace, creation, and community. I want to help it stay alive. Please help if you can.


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patriotism-dissent, fandom-dissent, uppity
I did not go to JFK tonight, because that seemed like a recipe for being arrested, and I don't participate in actions where arrests are likely due to that whole parent of a baby thing. But I really really wished I could.

Instead, I shared a bunch of action ideas on Twitter, and now I share them here.

Here's a list of basic action steps from [twitter.com profile] HIASrefugees, a Jewish pro-refugee organization.

Some things you can do if you have a printer, or have access to one:

Download this "Everyone Is Welcome Here" poster from Dropbox, print it up, and post it in your school, library, store window, etc. Print up extra copies and hand them out to your neighborhood shop owners to post in their stores. (The original poster is from here, via [twitter.com profile] FwdTogether, but that site requires you to put in a credit card even if you're just getting the free download, so I recommend using the Dropbox link instead.)

Invest in a pack of printable postcards and use them to write to your reps, mayor, governor, etc. This Word doc has the "Everyone Is Welcome Here" image formatted to be the postcard front. This doc has addresses filled in for Trump, Ryan, and the State Department; change the addresses depending on who you you feel like writing to. Write your message, print, sign, stamp, mail.

The Women's March folks also created these all-purpose cards for expressing your political views. Print on one side of the postcard sheet, flip/rotate it appropriately, print on the other side.

Feel free to share those links around.

UPDATE: All the postcard files are collected in this Dropbox folder. Bookmark and visit often, because I'll keep adding more. The latest: supportive notes to mosques.


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24 January 2017 20:28 - "Don't panic"
noisy brain, agitated, manic-bad
This is a compilation of things I tweeted today about not poisoning the social media well with anxiety and panic. It's primarily aimed at Twitter users, but I expect it's probably useful for Facebook too.

As a person with an anxiety disorder, I really understand the urge to conflate being ANXIOUS with being MOTIVATED. The reason I understand that so much is that it is a lie anxiety whispers—or sometimes yells—in my ear every day. "You need me!" anxiety says. "Without me you wouldn't notice or accomplish the important things! Without me you'd be a useless lump!"

This is a LIE. L I E pants-on-fire lie.

For one thing, anxiety often paralyzes. For another, it occludes judgment. "Fight, fly, or freeze" is the choice anxiety presents to you. These are immediate, adrenaline-powered responses to immediate threats. They are USELESS in the long term. Their only purpose is to keep you alive long enough to HAVE a long term. Panic consumes all your energy in a single explosive burst and leaves you exhausted. It is very bad for your brain and your body.

Right now, what we are facing is a very large, multifaceted set of threats, short-term and long-term but not immediate. Panic will actively impede our ability to respond to those threats. It will not motivate us. It will only harm us.

If you have been feeling anxious or panicky about the news, please take a moment to make a PLAN for how to prevent and treat your anxiety. "I will go on social media and say I'm scared and everyone will reassure me/be scared with me!" is not a plan.

Read [twitter.com profile] TGStoneButch's #DailyCoping threads (that's a roundup link on a blog for those who don't read Twitter) for some really good specific pointers on dealing with different kinds of stress responses.

Right now, my primary anxiety prevention strategy is CLOSE THE TAB. Anything that makes me panic is harmful and I will move away from it. This doesn't mean cutting myself off from all sources of information—only panic-inducing ones. I get a lot of political emails. If they fearmonger, I unsub. I keep the ones that are about concrete action, like http://tinyletter.com/resist and http://tinyletter.com/re-act.

I unfollow even dear friends who only post about being angry and frightened. I love them, but I need to protect myself. And I reach out to them by email and IM instead so that we can connect in other ways.

If I am feeling anxious, I take anxiolytics. I make myself do this even when the anxiety is screaming that I need it to survive. It is very hard to treat anxiety. Sometimes I envision it as a living entity that wants to survive at any cost. I even feel bad for it. But I need my brain more than my brain parasite does. So I take my anxiolytics, and breathe and meditate, and do other #DailyCoping things.

For longer-term treatment of anxiety, I work with my therapist and my family on various strategies. In the past I've taken SSRIs.

So that's my plan. I really strongly encourage all of you to make one too. Especially if you haven't been anxiety-prone before now.

I spent yesterday in crisis mode. I spent today having the belated panic reaction that would have kept me from functioning yesterday. So I am SUPER AWARE right now of the difference between panic and responding appropriately to a crisis. We are in a crisis. We can't let our totally understandable anxiety about that prevent us from taking appropriate action.

And please, if you feel anxious or panicky, DO reach out for help. But DON'T just broadcast your panic; it's infectious. Call a friend or a hotline or your therapist. Email or IM or DM someone. Enact your plan.

Twitter has been our collective id for nearly a decade. It's very vulnerable right now. Please take care of it.

BTW, I'm really pleased to see a lot of people returning to LiveJournal/Dreamwidth. That's a great place to write about big feelings! You can filter them, and cut-tag them, and let people opt in to them, all while expressing yourself at length. Dreamwidth accounts are free and it's a wholly user-supported company with great community aspects. I recommend it highly.

Comments are off to discourage trolls. Please feel free to share this link around.


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20 January 2017 21:27 - "We'll try to stay serene and calm"
confused, trying to understand, hair
Today I joined the general strike. Instead of working, I wrote a post on how to make art in scary and difficult times, and then I met with the teens I mentor and talked about writing and reading and why we read SF/F and how to overcome writer's block and stop procrastinating. It was exactly the way I wanted to spend the day. I boycotted the inauguration so hard that I mostly managed not to even think about it.

When I was getting dressed I wore all black, which I basically never do. I hadn't planned to, but I opened my dresser drawer and went "Oh, yes, I think the black turtleneck is what I want to wear today, and the black trousers too". I dithered over jewelry and ended up with my origami peace dove necklace. I came out of my room to greet [twitter.com profile] peripateticmeg, who was here to babysit Kit (they've had a nasty head cold since Tuesday, poor thing), and she was also wearing all black. X said several people at their office were too.

It's been a really spectacularly terrible week in a lot of ways. The baby being sick means all of us have had our sleep and work schedules disrupted, the power to our house went out for five hours on Tuesday (some sort of wiring issue, apparently), I had some shitty family stuff to deal with, a company made J a job offer but is now delaying on finalizing it, our bank messed up our rent payment (no doom, fortunately, as we have a great landlord and a spotless payment history), Alex-the-cat has been an aggressive asshat to the other cats, Sam and Sophie have been hairballing everywhere, friends are also dealing with unhappy and stressful things, and of course the inauguration. But we are holding on and even finding ways to feel good:

* We've had lots of good family dinners, even when we were all almost too tired to talk.
* J and I shared some good hugs today and went for a nice walk in the drizzle. We've both been so busy and tired that we barely see each other. It was wonderful to get a companionable hour together.
* X and I have been having lovely nightly half-hour hangouts on the couch before they go to bed. We talk about the day and make plans and send each other into bouts of exhausted hysterical laughter. I just remembered that we used to do this when they first moved to NYC; I guess we naturally gravitate toward that time of night as together-time.
* Kit is coughing less, and when their fever spikes occasionally it never gets higher than 102 (which is also much less worrying now that they're over a year old) and responds very well to Tylenol.
* [twitter.com profile] grammar_girl livetweeted an episode of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and it genuinely made me cry.
* I had a quick but delightful dinner with teaberryblue on Thursday.
* Long Hidden contributor [twitter.com profile] nbarischoff and her husband came to visit me at work and we had a good conversation about crowdfunding for anthologies. (Support her fundraiser for Problem Daughters, a marginalized feminist SF/F anthology!)
* I made plans to see my mother and brother on Sunday to celebrate my mother's birthday.
* Just now Kit woke up and seamlessly transitioned from lying down to sitting up while I was watching on the monitor. It's been clear for a while that they can do that, but I hadn't seen it. They're super perky right now because their fever is down. They're lying in the crib squeaking contentedly and playing with the teddy bear, who was recently named Face Hugs. (Kit believes teddy bears are for faceplanting onto.)
* I've been catching up on laundry. I always feel better when the hampers are empty.
* I've been really on top of my work schedule since coming back from vacation, even with everything else going on. Hanging out on #yuletide has been wonderful for my productivity because people do "word wars" or "productivity wars" that are basically Pomodoro timer installments except in 20 on/10 off instead of 25 on/5 off. I also reworked my Persuaded outline from scratch and even wrote a little bit of the opening. The character voices are much clearer this time around, though the story hasn't quite found its own voice yet. It'll get there.

And now the baby is finally asleep, so I'm going to do some knitting for the first time in ages. I still hold out hope for finishing this sweater before Kit outgrows it, though I think I'd better hurry. They keep getting taller!


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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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nbcc, writing, reviewing
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"
nbcc, writing, reviewing
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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


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