Monday, November 12, 2018

Your wrist

That scene
in Pippin.
Where Catherine sings paeans
to the arch of his foot.

In high school, that was illuminating
and silly...
and I liked it and laughed at it,
though not because
I understood.

Today
the picture of you
Your face is always visible from its place
but today
I saw only the line of your wrist
and for a moment
it was unfamiliar
wrong
but I stopped, I looked at it
and was reassured.

Your wrist is elegant. As are your fingers.
Long and lean, immaculate, powerful.

Your wrist.
I miss it.
It held me once.

Missed.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

I have eaten the plums

The sun is back out. America's midterm elections are over. My friend V ... well. Losing her is awful, it's cruel. But she is not hurting now. Doctors can't use her body to experiment now. And those who love her - I am humbled they embrace me. Her husband, her family, her beloved friends: beautiful, beautiful, wonderful people.

This time has been hard. Like so many families, the remains of our nuclear unit - just me, mom, and my brother now - endure terrible political strain in these times. But, just for this morning, it's virtual hugs and three courses of "I love you." Because these strains have everyday, real consequences - this has, in some ways, been even harder than watching my lifelong friend die. Or, perhaps, it only got in the way of comprehending and mourning. I only know this has been the hardest thing to bear, over this past week.

We are all enduring a confluence. My brother is traveling to the memorial of a friend of his, and beautiful V's will be remembered on Saturday. As her kids do this, my mom is now watching her own oldest friend in town "giving back", as some say in the South. It may be we all suffer the loss of our dear Deebo, my stepfather - and each of our dear friends.

The light of inspiration peeked out not too long ago - unsurprisingly, after The Conference, but also very much under the influence of other friendships. Leila, especially, uniquely lights my creative way. She and I have so much in common, but we write such different works, and about the time I did a recent beta-read for her, I also happened to find the ENDING for a short work we began an embarrassing number of years ago in our writing group. It's been drafted two different ways, I let it settle in a certain direction, and for now it is sitting quietly, resting, rising, awaiting both her feedback and my final attentions.

Writing. Feels. So. Good.

There truly is nothing else like writing.

And so, with voting done and the sun out and my family whole ... I open up the WIP, the big dog, the "real" work. The novel. Just open it. I shall scroll about in it, find something to alight upon, and read a little bit.

Research feels like a good way to go. I fear it may have to be, at long last, the pogrom. (Yes, now, of all moments.)

Sometimes, the way writing feels "good" is different from other times. It's not always pleasure.

Sometimes, it's memorial.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Getting the hang of Thursdays

Publishing late because ... that's how writing (even a blog) goes at times like this ...


Before me lies a sea of irritations. The thing I see is that they all ebb and flow in three currents, and all of these currents sway and merge, and the three are related.

On Tuesday morning, one of my oldest friends died. She has been there for me in situations where no other fried, not even Mr. X, could stand behind me. She has been quietly present, she has been raucously beside me, she has been kind and crazy and tolerant and irrepressible. She died with a hundred health issues, a good husband, a heart of gold, still fizzing electrically even after, really, our girl was gone from us.

Yesterday, I donned mourning - for a girl who loved Hallowe'en, I put on my looks-like-a-comic-character-makeup, and changed the dress to black. It was a hard day, but leavened by good people all around me (it will never stop being a blessing, how overwhelmingly human my colleagues and employer are), a good meal with my mom, and trick-or-treaters.

Today was harder.

Reaching the point, by 2:30, where I could not comprehend that the day was moving so slowly, I could barely pick up another envelope to open it. It took me all day long to open the incoming pile. Something far beyond "fatigue" pressed down on me, and I succumbed, I let it press. Exhausting and torturous. And it's strange, because last night and the night before, I have slept. Going to bed pretty early, indeed, and not getting up at the crack of 5:40.

I was putting off calling one of my guys. I knew he wanted to put me on a new project, and at the same time I was fighting off some niggling persnicketude from our "Services" center, and - did I mention about that succumbing thing?

My boss needed me to set up a call, so I toddled to his office, and the few steps that took, the conversation with a human, woke me up a little bit. So I called the guy back, and ... it turns out that he's fighting some niggling persnicketude from our "Services" center.

And a month ago, I was fighting a very related form of? Niggling persnicketude from our "Services" center.



Is it weird, that talking with my frustrated guy out in Texas, telling him that this is an "opportunity" for Operations wasn't even me taking a bullet or making a joke?

There is a sea of irritations, and there are three currents, and the currents are swirling in niggling persnicketude. And I can, perhaps - at least learn enough about the niggles to begin to deal with them.



I was in the hospital with V and her husband W two and a half weeks ago, when it looked like she might be dying. That afternoon, they "saved her life." She was transferred to a new hospital after that, maybe-diagnosed and then not diagnosed with yet another shockingly rare and dangerously mortal disease. They found a surgical complication we knew was a problem was worse than previously known. More surgery. More life support.

Really, though, no more *life*.

On Tuesday barely after four, W called me and I caromed around my bedroom putting some clothes on my body and thinking what I would need at the hospital. I got there at five. And we sat. Watched the sun rise. Family and friends came.

It was the first I have been with V in too long. All these hospital visits; I have been a poor friend over the past year. And it is too late. Except to be there for her family, for W.

She died with music playing.



I still can't believe she is gone.

I still can't believe she is gone ...

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Collection

The Lady of the Lake, in her own words. Yes, I have been slow to get to this story - but tell me this is not the best plot bunny ever - Nyneve becomes an actor in Paris ...

Aieeeee! Stephen G. Parks has a writer's worst nightmare. Sigh - but he probably did the right thing.

Ahh, the beautiful standards of art - where a woman's nudity is all but mandatory, but a man's is the time for censorship. Imagine actually thinking, "Okay, now I wish I'd seen naked Batman."

Thursday, October 18, 2018

I'm feelin' it!



2018 has not been a prolific year for me with writing. The blog has been a bit weirder, I know; and any activity I've indulged on Twitter's #AmWriting has been sporadic, if not an outright lie (in attempts to convince myself).

Lots of this owes to the facts of life - well, and death. But yesterday, there was some good news. This past weekend, there was The Conference - and, though I had hardly thought about it and wasn't even sure I was up for it, it was kind to me (even beyond seeing my WONDERFUL writing friends in the most glorious community you could ask for), and ... I feel like writing again. Maybe not the WIP, at least for a minute. Maybe time to take another look at that ghost story I've been trying to find the MDQ for for, literally, years. Maybe take a piece of The Ax and the Vase, and develop that ... Basina, or Lanthechilde (who was cut out of Ax entirely, actually). Maybe something altogether new.

It'll let me know.

In the meantime: we have spotted the sun a couple times of late, locally. It is not humid. The heat is finally letting go. Tomorrow is Friday (and pay day). One of my oldest friends, apparently is not dying. (This is was not a given, two weeks ago.) My mom's still in a bit of a state, but I am planning ways for the two of us to have a good time together. I've got some ideas.

Today is a blessing.

May yours be even moreso.



Friday, October 12, 2018

Collection

The Woman in the Iron Coffin - a title worthy of Poe, perhaps. Happy Hallowe'en season ... this should make a good start:


 


It is conservatively estimated that the public holds more than 500 million carats of gem diamonds ... more than fifty times the number of gem diamonds produced by the diamond cartel in any given year.

Even long before I ever met Erick, I said that diamond engagement rings really don't interest me anymore. For that matter, pointlessly expensive weddings (well, *or* engagements - ugh) seem such a senseless, consumerist waste. I imagine all the things it'd be possible to do or have,with overinflated diamond money, and it starts to bewilder me how many people have been suckered by De Beers.

Kip Thorne, Stargate: Atlantis, the wonder of space, and the Hollywood-scientific feedback loops (figure eights, if you like your figures Hidden). So cool - there is even more to the creative-scholarly dynamic than I knew. (And, I mean: I knew - I'm a Trek nerd.)

Port Arthur will receive only about twice as much funding as cities with less than 1% of its population. Beaumont will receive less than twice the funding of cities that are 0.5% of its size.

Okay, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. When white life, property, and loss are literally, actually *valued* so much higher than black life, property, and loss that even the phrase "pennies on the dollar" fails the disparity: this is what we call institutionalized racism. For those at the back of the class: next time you want to say "slavery ended 150 years ago," please refer to current facts and stow your get-over-its in the overhead compartment. Some shifting may occur in transit to reality.

Government *by* few people, *for* few people, unanswerable *to* The People. It's exhausting.

In closing, cats.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Collection

(I)f there’s one thing women* don’t need, it’s another reason to feel unwelcome...
(*or anyone)


For all the brouhaha about political correctness, and my own grappling to find the line(s) I will not cross, and the boundaries to delineate in interaction with others, I've never found a better phrase than the now-problematic "PC" itself. Thank you to Joel Kim Booster for providing the best conceptualization: "As a human being, I find accountability to other people extremely important... I don’t think we’re really willing to do that math. Is this joke worth being an asshole?" This laser-focuses the fact of community, of the dynamics of interaction. Also, this is a nice, multifarious view of retroactive linguistics. Balance.

"The politics of a Dick Wolf police procedural are simply less visible to many—including, apparently, Wolf himself—because they mirror the politics of the privileged. For middle-class and affluent white people, a pro-police, pro-institution worldview is apolitical because it’s neutral to them. It is neutral to Dick Wolf. That worldview is not politically neutral for black men, or trans people, or victims of sexual assault, or impoverished people, or basically anyone who isn’t a wealthy white person." It is unnecessary for me to add anything to these words but the link.

Art. It's cool. It's wearable. Let's take a breather from my recent posting and look at neat wearable art - more than mere costume, here we have musings from science fiction to avant garde to "red" to under-the-microscope entries. I think my favorite is Quantum, but "shell" packs a pointed punch today of all days.

penetration without consent

If the accepted legal definition of rape is penetration without consent: two boys raped me in my youth.

I have been raped twice.

That is one hell of a brainful. And one, I'll be honest with you, I am not prepared to accept.

To explain ...



I have long said that my experience of sexual assault has been pretty tame. Even if we change the name of experiences of my past, this is true.

But, of course, this week, I have been forced , like millions of others (not all women, but probably most of us), to grapple again with old experiences.

Like Dr. Ford, this is nothing I asked for, nothing I desire - much as the two penetrative acts in my past were without my consent. Revisiting these things is no pleasure. Does not feel constructive. And I am old. These things long past. Redefining my very life is difficult both emotionally and just in literal *terms*.


Twice.


The first was a boy in my crowd. We were friends, we flirted, one night he gave me a ride somewhere, we started kissing, and he started something more. I didn't even get in his back seat, he just crawled over to my seat.

He didn't get far, he didn't get violent, he didn't finish anything, and I tried to tell myself I was not broken.

Broken.

Broken.

It's a word choice both literal (not that most girls of seventeen or eighteen, whatever I was, had intact hymens in the mid-80s; we were physically active enough that that was mostly an antiquated measure of virginity) and figurative. No, this guy didn't make me bleed. But he broke a TABOO, in the most human-lawful, mystical sense.

I was raised with the most intense focus on virginity. To this day, when I am fifty and have been in the process of menopause for just over a year now, my mom has nightmares of me turning up pregnant or promiscuous. From the youngest age, I understood that the consequences of sex were not merely that I would be a sinner, but that I would lose the life I understood. Sex all but *equalled* pregnancy in my instruction, and pregnancy was a one-way ticket out of my family and my home.

Whether this would have ended up actually happening is academic: I expected it, and the moral fury with which it was presented as inevitable was sufficiently cowing.

Fourteen years ago now, on a trip with my mom to her hometown ... I came to a real understanding of just what drives her sense of sexual morality. Mom was considered an "old maid" by twenty-one, in a place where some of her high school friends were married before graduation. Oh, their sex was sanctioned - but it started young - and so mom was an odd bird, working and unmarried well past her sell-by date. There was alcoholism and abuse in the community, and she protected herself from all of these things by having a plan for her life. She set her mind upon marrying a college man. She preserved her virtue, she found my dad, they were discussing marriage by date #3 (my mom does not fool around - pun intended). They were married that December. She may have seemed old to some, by her marriage, but it's not because mom could not act when the time came.

Between her religious faith and her rigorous life plan, my mom's dedication to extramarital purity is something I finally came to appreciate in a real and practical sense. I met those who had formed her, other than my family, and things snapped into greater focus.



Focus is not something we have when we're very young.

As a kid ... my appreciation for virginity, being more conceptual than anything else, took on the hue of my own spiritual values.

And I was named Diane.

There was a boy I "liked" twice - the first boy I ever kissed, whom I actually dated later, during my junior year - and not one of the boys this post really is about. But he gave me a formative brainworm of sorts.

This boyfriend once talked of The Daughter Goddess. We were both theater nerds, we were also at "that age", when philosophy is still both breathless and Ever So Arch, and his talk of me being named for the goddess of the moon, and chastity (and childbirth and the hunt and virgins etc. - this was not a new obsession to me, even then) led to his proposing an archetype. In the mythological family, there is the Father God and the Mother Goddess, and a guy looks for the Daughter Goddess, when it comes to love. Whatever his idea of that is, and this guy had a type - I once thought a pic of an ex-girlfriend of his was me - he cements that in this archetypal family myth, and seeks her.

My identifiable goddess being rather wrapped up in virginity - and mom's and my church's morality - and consequences being ever present in my life ...

Well. Virginity was not merely that thing I needed to keep track of, lest I lose the comforts of home, it took on a talismanic magic, and was MADLY important to me. It was romantic and dangerous, and fundamental to who I was, particularly at that age when sex starts to become a serious issue in our lives. Virginity was the greatest treasure I understood was wholly mine.

This spiritual view provided me a cover story in a time where some of the people around me were losing it, and was a shield I began to burnish in my imagination.

I actually dated a decent amount in high school, and I also had flirty friends both in and away from school.


It was one of the mall guys who got horny, didn't quite take my whole mythology and good girl thing seriously, and ... he took a shot. He also did back off, even if too late by my standards. Bottom line:

He never would have gotten that far at all if it were not for the given cultural dynamic, which still stands: his gratification was more important than my consent. Hell, than my actual, specific and clear DISsent.

Even if only for a minute. Even if he backed off.

Is this rape?


I remember odd details. He said he was convinced the "smell" of a girl's intimate body was urine. I can still remember his pronunciation of that word - not intentionally cruel at all, just a steeped, conditioned, unthinking and unconsidered contempt. Like, this thing I want so much, this thing I think I need - it's still gross. It's dirty.


He drove me back to my car, I guess. I don't know where we were, or where we went. The moment eclipsed the context.

The effect of those few moments, for me, were pretty difficult. Semantically. Emotionally. How could I rewrite this story to make myself not broken?

Whatever the medical scope of the thing, or complete lack of anything I now would or could sanction describing as "sex" - for that girl I was: my virginity was gone. My shield.

I hadn't "let" anyone do anything. That I did know, never questioned. But I also hadn't succeeded as any sort of archetype, *nor* as my mother's daughter. After that, I was ... compromised. Broken?

From there, it was technicalities and playacting. *I* thought I was altered - I thought I knew I had been damaged, lost that thing that was wholly my own. But the horror of that being "true" - being  known - kept me acting like nothing had changed. Nobody else in the world needed to know. Nobody else could anyway. Even right now, I think.


I have acted that way to this very morning. THAT night is not one I have ever allowed to be what ... it was. Even now, to relinquish the power of that thing that was wholly mine, which I lost without my consent, is more than I can bear - even just the semantics of it. Now, it is the idea I really wasn't a virgin that sounds contrived to me, sounds not real.

The revelation this morning ... is that I need that still. This is shocking to me. That this still holds. Right now. Today. That I am not past this place.

I needed it that much. I needed not to have been violated. Because violation made ME impure. Imperfect.

Wholly mine, no longer whole.

Broken.

Broken.



Life moved on for a good while. I think I told nobody; TEO, did I ever tell you? Mr. X, did I ever tell you? That guy and I still hung with the same friends, but more rarely as I lived somewhere else in college. I recall no anger and no animosity. Life shifted, and he was an irrelevancy.

And then there was the roiling pit that is white, privileged University life.



Dating is not a given in college, but I actually managed "relationships". More-advanced crushes that got mutual. The guy with the metaphorical towel. The guy who took me to a movie, and gave me his coat (I found out this summer, BEx still has that coat - and no, it wasn't his - hah!). The one in the pink shirt.

It was in a relationship that The Thing That Was Not a Rape took place.

That is what I literally called it. Until this week. The Thing That Was Not a Rape. I was penetrated. I didn't consent. But (that dark secret I had not told) I wasn't a virgin in my own mind, and maybe my defenses were down. Or off. The Thing took place in a pretty charming relationship, actually. He was *sweet*.

And here I tread un-surely, thinking ... It can't not be possible to convey the psychological blow to me this thing was. The spiritual chasm over which I was propelled, flailing away like Wile E. Coyote over a canyon. Flailing for decades, disbelieving I could fall.



The Thing That Was Not a Rape ... wasn't even about me. It was barely about sex. He was drunk (the only time I remember that happening), and eating his heart out about someone else's accomplishing something before he did.

He took me home.

We'd gone out on a date, and *both* of us had a rotten time because he was feeling bested. He was young, and got drunk easily - precipitately.

He did not hold me down. He did not even silence me. His body was just ... bigger. It was on top of mine, and a certain body part was in a certain state. And I had left home without a chastity belt that night.

I complained. He was a bit woozy and focused on his upset. Something he'd ... lost. Nothing permanent. It was just an act of frustration, of taking something else, when his real interest and goal had been usurped. Sour/other grapes. In fact, he achieved his goal himself, in greater fashion, soon enough. Not soon enough for me, that night. Thinking that now - it is a sickening coda. My stomach revolts, I edit, I pause, I write again.


It literally had nothing to do with me.


That is when, even now, I believe I "actually" lost my virginity. The guy who actually meant something to me. That made it ... better? Something not acceptable, but supportable? Less-worse. I wonder now, is that even sicker ...

Endurable, as you get older, as you form yourself. These are the things that form our selves. No longer having deniability is a release.

Really, the vase was broken. That was when I could no longer deny it, anyway.

Whatever justifying superstructure or semantics or Jesus-appeasing earthwork defenses I had built around that first time I was violated ...no longer fit as scaffolding this time. The earthworks were breached, and so was I.

This *broke* something important to me, about me, in my fundamental self.


Maybe for a week, I reproached, and, though the stewing never stopped for me, I quit talking to him about it. The relationship continued. Then it didn't. Ultimately, that was because of the Thing, though I don't know that we ever spoke about it again. I sabotaged things other ways, he sucked in other ways, relationships end.


To this moment, I have never concerned myself with whether he even remembers the Thing, never mind what he'd think of it after, or might have thought at that time. He may not be aware; many men are not. I'm NOT sure I would ever reach out to say what I am saying here. It might be illuminating for him. It is possible that to communicate whatever weak sauce might hint at the flavor of that moment in my life, of the way it's changed the whole recipe of my existence, would be constructive beyond myself.

But I am old, and I am tired. Honestly, I give not two shits about his illumination, and am skeptical it would lead to good for me or for/from him.

And, ultimately: this has nothing to do with him. Could have been once, perhaps. Not anymore. His life is his to reckon with, that is not my job nor my desire. This is wholly mine now.

Why would I fight him on the facts, or burden him with the truth? What the hell is the truth? "I was raped." It might be a fact, but I've never let it be my truth. Can't conceive it.

Least of all in this moment, when I am grappling - again - with this Thing ... That Was a Rape.

... ?

Was it? Without question - ever - it was violation. Both of these things were violations, physical and in every way. But sex is a murky thing. Humans are a soup of atoms and events and subjectivity and real facts, which sometimes are untenable, even internally contradicting.

I have made excuses for the second guy for decades now, and I don't despise him. I just can't deal with remembering that, or contemplating it.

Were he be nominated for high office? what would I do?

I honestly do not know.

TODAY is the day Dr. Christine Blasey Ford must do what I, right here, both am doing, and am refusing to. Doing and not doing.



Life went on. That was the choice I, and most other women on Earth, have made.

For me, life going on was unexpected. It left me confused.

I punished myself for years. There is no doubt I punished certain men. And ... my mom.

I punished her for giving me this simple standard, which I had built up to very literally mythic proportions, to shore up and even justify my own behavior (or lack of it), and which became the core of the worst parts of my experiences and who I was.

I was a punishing wife to BEx, and it stemmed from my broken faith. The silly mythology being so important to me I had trouble even with faith for many years ... my resenting its breaking. My great personal story had been rejected. I had been damaged in the violations, and finally, irrevocably, could not be remade nor reborn. Sex and men. I had to remove myself from both, and I did so ungracefully, because I had gone and gotten married. There had to be time. To learn, and breathe, and hopefully grow.

I saw it when I became a wife. The bitterness, and its metastasis. It made me angry to know I was so angry, and I was positive I had no room, if I were in a relationship, to find the way to stop. These things are a path, and it wasn't a path I could travel with him. It's why I took a hand in destroying our marriage, not that I was alone in our failure. BEx had and has his faults, but we were doomed very much because I was broken, and had not admitted it, and thought there was no room to remake anything out of my pieces. Flailing, I broke things.







This is probably the most edited post I have ever produced for this blog, and even still it feels incomplete and raw. I'm not ready for some of the words in here. The concepts may marinate with me for the rest of my life.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Yet more reasons we call him "Beloved" Ex

He shared this with me, and the love is sensational. It's way out.

Enjoy.



The click beyond? Shine on You Crazy Diamond. Which is just worth it for SYCD, because seventies progressive trippy music is impossibly, irreplaceably magnificent. Memory, memories. Yes.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Hatched. (AGAIN.)

Why didn't she say anything?

Because the assault was violent and harrowing, and because speaking about it led to death threats and her entire family being forced into hiding. She is being violently attacked (AGAIN) and having hands put over her mouth (AGAIN).

And she spoke not entirely voluntarily - her initial communication was anonymous, but she was outed, doxxed, and now harassed.

Attempts to assassinate her character, even before the character in question revealed her identity. Attempts to dismiss her, falsely, as “a major Democratic donor with a long history of left-wing activism.” To question her motivation under the (also entirely false) premise that Kavanaugh’s mother had once ruled against Ford’s parents in a home-foreclosure case. To brush aside the specific allegations she has made about what happened to her as a 15-year-old girl—being trapped in a room; being pinned down, her mouth covered so as to muffle her screams; being groped at so violently that she thought she might die—as the delusions of an unreliable narrator. It’s not her fault, Orrin Hatch, the Republican senator from Utah, concluded this week, magnanimously: The matter is simply that Christine Blasey Ford, in her recollections, must simply be “mixed up.”

During these hideous moments, during this crime that was perpetrated against her without any repercussions ever having come for Judge or Kavanaugh: she thought she might INADVERTENTLY DIE at these boys' hands. This is a fear an awful lot of women and girls have to live with. This fear is commonplace. It is all our lives, all of us "boys" and "men" prey upon constantly.

This fear has repercussions for us. If we "fail" to act, "why did she not say anything?" is the desserts for a girl, or the woman she becomes who gains courage to speak. If we act ... it can be worse. From the vulnerability that is routine, new risks arise. I've known of a young woman JUST THIS YEAR who did not prosecute a stalker. And I understand why she felt she could not.



Senator Hatch, I remember you from Anita Hill's testimony. I have never forgotten you, and never been able to so much as hear your name, in the GENERATION since then, without anger and horror.

Senator Hatch, you were loathsome then, and you are possibly even worse now.

Senator Hatch, you are a serial molester of women's agency and humanity.



He held her down. He covered her mouth to stifle her screams.
He held her down. He covered her mouth to stifle her screams.
He held her down. He covered her mouth to stifle her screams.
He held her down. He covered her mouth to stifle her screams.
He held her down. He covered her mouth to stifle her screams.
He held her down. He covered her mouth to stifle her screams.
He held her down. He covered her mouth to stifle her screams.
He held her down. He covered her mouth to stifle her screams.
He held her down. He covered her mouth to stifle her screams.
He held her down. He covered her mouth to stifle her screams.
He held her down. He covered her mouth to stifle her screams.
He held her down. He covered her mouth to stifle her screams.



He held her down. He covered her mouth to stifle her screams.
He held her down. He covered her mouth to stifle her screams.
He held her down. He covered her mouth to stifle her screams.
He held her down. He covered her mouth to stifle her screams.
He held her down. He covered her mouth to stifle her screams.
He held her down. He covered her mouth to stifle her screams.
He held her down. He covered her mouth to stifle her screams.
He held her down. He covered her mouth to stifle her screams.
He held her down. He covered her mouth to stifle her screams.
He held her down. He covered her mouth to stifle her screams.
He held her down. He covered her mouth to stifle her screams.
He held her down. He covered her mouth to stifle her screams.

And ALL that he stands to lose is a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States of America. That is the entire peril faced by Kavanaugh.

She is in hiding, and her entire family under threat of not at all inadvertent death.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Knowing, and not knowing

2018 spent, so far, wrapped up so tight in my own family, in our loss ... I only just found out a friend has been, essentially, widowed. The last time I saw her, late in May, was the last time she worked where I knew her.

Tears fall on my chest, and I think of Mr. X - about whom I have not even blogged now, maybe in years - and my whole soul begs ... please. Don't let this be us. Him *or* me.

It is a bruise, it is a guilt.

It is horror, the truest sense. Guilt must be the greatest horror.

A friend told me, "She was always excited to see you."

I had no idea. It means ... too much.

Tears fall on my chest. This brick, this fat, this bone, this blood.



Life is so brutal, and short. Surely, that is to some point.

Surely.


?

Friday, September 14, 2018

Collection

The hard-knockers won...

How about a good old history-of-fashion link again, for the first time in a while? Or would you prefer astronomical pursuits? Here we have science and style in one. "My seamless isn't space-less anymore!" Or is "My Barbaloot (space) suit's a convolute!" better? Hidden figure shapers? Choose your pun ... Either way, click away; worth the story, especially its ending. On the development of NASA's first space suits - by way of Racked.

You don't wick power from the powerless. Equilibrium is conductivity: the process of greater resource dissipating into areas with lesser resource - heat is drawn into chilled space, a concentration of density expands into less-dense space, etc. Where there is greater power, lesser power doesn't creep in, it absorbs whatever is released.

Okay, and SO. MANY. PLOT BUNNIES. I love so much of this, every paragraph seems to have a brilliant idea for another story or novel or play or movie or graphic art. I'm not even working on the WIP anymore, this is too cruel! Even The Atlantic's unconscious bias toward theoretical blue collar workers (who, "perhaps" might be a load of alcoholics) is interesting ... Hmmmm.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Florence and the (disaster preparedness) Machine

Yes, it is coming this way. Forecasts, of course, vary - but the upshot in more than one tracking-map I've seen seems to point to pretty intense inland flooding, which means: for all the frustration it took me dealing with JES (ugh) to get it, I *am* provisionally glad I have a pretty new sump pump and waterproofed basement.

For all the frustration JES caused me over a year and a half trying to get it right, I will also be WATCHING carefully to see how well the 'proofing and pump will perform.

As for the rest of it ... I stopped this morning for gas. There was a pretty impressive (but blessedly not static) queue, and this at a station with ten pumps. There are several gallons of water for me and the fur kids, kibble enough for them for more than a week, and for me some less-perishable foodstuffs and a non-electric can opener. Tonight, I need to remember to throw several large bags or bottles of water in the freezer; these can help it act as a cooler for at least *some* period of time in the event of an outage. Other than that, plentiful candles and funeral fans.

Funeral fans, for those not familiar with this Southern tradition, are good-sized stiff paper fans, most often provided by funeral homes for those ladies sitting beside a burial in the hot Southern summer. These fans outpace any folding fan I've ever had, for maximal air-movement output. And, fella babies, I can tell you: as a woman enjoying the frequency of hot flashes reserved for those of us passing out of August and our fertile years, moving air is not low on my priorities list in facing this possible emergency.

It tends to be hard for me not to be amused at the way my hometown responds to the merest whiff of emergency. We go mad for grocery stores and water when weather calls for anything beyond routine, and so when a disaster may actually be looming, the drama still looks quaint - because, frankly, I've seen this city go nuts time and time again, when six flakes of snow were in the offing. Sixty miles away.

So, facing what could end up being a twenty-four-incher on uncertain heading, but looking likely to visit here, even if peripherally ...


Yeah. I'm amused by my community. But don't think I didn't buy gas on purpose, and that inventorying the hand-fans and water available are just entertainment.

As seldom as I have troubled to actually *write* anything here since my stepfather died, I will check in.

For those of you so much closer to the impact of winds and real danger: my prayers are with you. Be well, and check in when you can too, please. Donna. Colin. Anyone in the Carolinas.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Collection

It's the processed-everything and SUGAR, stupid. I'm so glad this science seems finally to be getting out more, let's hope it prevails.

Four(-eyed) flushers. It's probably been about fifteen years since I learned that putting anything other than effluvia or the tissue we use to deal with it into a commode yields problems for the sanitation systems which process our sewage. Now and then, I do still flush the hair after I clean my brush, but usually I do try to stick by the rule, sensitive to the cost of waste management (astronomical, in case you've never wondered). Hit the link above for another reason.

So, consequences are over I guess. Inevitable, but dispiriting nonetheless. Weinstein gets to be "relieved" because Asia Argento is also facing allegations of harassment. Lauer wants to be on TV again. I'm sure there are people who'd watch that; personally, I feel a bit dirty just pointing it out. But the thing is, lots of disgraced men are eyeing comebacks. Not everyone resides at the same level of repellence. But that is the point - they ALL apparently (think they) are owed careers and money and our attention. Sigh. I guess it's true. If you own it, you get to get away with anything.

Please do not click on the links in that last paragraph. If you don't already know what they are (and I suspect everyone does, or is smart enough to guess), you can just hover and read the URLs. That is 100% of the content of the clicks, and *not* clicking will save these outlets the information that we "care". Thanks.

...

...

...

Okay, let's lighten up after THAT, shall we?

My brother and I spent a good fifteen - maybe even twenty - minutes laughing about this last night:

What a great country, where a fella can offer up hot spuds to whoever wants to eat 'em! Ka-pow!

3 full pounds of consternating comedy, y'all. Click away.

In other completely bizarre vintage culture, this:




I'm still agog.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Collection

Something about changes in fashions (whether in apparel or not) always fascinates me, especially when particularly long-running trends are finally bucked. It's been liberating to watch delicate (or no) necklaces overtake ugly plastic "statement" pieces, and few miss the once-ubiquitous Stupid Platform Heels, I suspect. But now it's going to be a showdown ... When grey paint dates in a few seasons, we can take it. When subway tile comes back - and then goes back out again, we soldier on. But fella babies, ROOMS are making a comeback. It's exciting in the same way fear of death is exciting for some - whatever will the world come to, if they put walls into our houses? Hang on tight, y'all. Purpose-built rooms and privacy could be returning soon to a domicile near you.

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL CAT DAY! I think this Aussie moggie is my favorite.


From: The Atlantic

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Collection

The epic *advice* of Gilgamesh.

My day is made, I have encountered the word excrementitious, which actually strikes me as one of those "probably a mellifluously beautiful word, if you don't know what it means" coinages ... Also: scatalogical archaeology! Always fun. Thanks, The History Blog.

Brace yourselves: this is me, not even trying to be clever. Just click. The world's most beautiful libraries. You're welcome. (The click beyond.)

Ahhh, the tedium of FASHION as opposed to style. We all know it's not just clothes, or at least in the form of textiles.

Remember when book covers were done by artists? Remember when all too many of them became photos of headless women? (Remember when we laughed at salads?) Apparently the current trend in cover design is flowers. This seems to surprise some people, but the development seems obvious to me, especially timed after November 2016, when stock photo libraries, advertising, entertainment, and so many visual aspects of the cultural landscape finally began to show women in active contexts, not strictly as pretty presentation objects. We were all sick of the ubiquity of book covers featuring decapitated women and sexualized women (the latter not being mutually exclusive of the former, which: ew). What's the next best sexual image? Flowers. Duh.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Reunion

My vacation this year was a trip to go see Beloved Ex. Back in our day, BEx was in a band, and a few months back he mentioned to me they were planning a 30th reunion show, with the original lineup. Intriguing! I thought it'd be funny if I showed up, and ... ended up, somehow, deciding to actually show up.

I haven't seen that town or those guys in 24 years and a month. BEx and I split one week before our first anniversary, and though that wasn't quite the end of our marriage, it was the end of my time in Ohio. I never even saw my in-laws again, and only one of my friends from that time.

Driving into that city for the first time in all those years was cognitive dissonance extraordinaire. The old classic rock station was playing the same music they played back then (not "classic" at the time, I suppose ...). I knew how to get around, but the look of the place was alien to me. It was something like the reverse of a phantom limb - I could touch, I could see, but the sense was gone somehow. The texture, the earth from which the town rose and was built, was impossibly strange.

Being of a Certain Age, too, hormones got the best of me and I cried coming into town. Pearl Jam's "Black" didn't help, though the reasons for that are a bit personal to get into.

Before hitting my hotel, I spun briefly around my college campus - BEx was my "townie" back then - and was struck by how easily I found the places I lived and knew, and how strange they looked to me. And how TINY that campus is.

BEx and I had a date that night, and of course I wanted to look good. I got a bit of rest, cleaned up from the road, curled the oddly-colored hair, put on a dress. When he called to say he was on the way, I was ready. I saw him out the hotel window, and watched his car arrive, watched him get out and look about a bit, head inside. He looked good, but I knew that. How I look these days was a concern, but there's nothing you can do about that once it's time to answer the door.

I got a hug to "squeeze all the mean juice out of me" (he learned that one from my dad - aww), and we went to one of those places that was out of our price range in the 80s, has probably been there since the early 60s, and seems to have the same wait staff and decor it always had. The pizza was good, the service ... personal. Heh. Then we went for a walk on campus, through a night impossibly blessed with a lovely breeze and beautiful sky. He drove me around town until fatigue took over, and we called it an evening. I hadn't recognized much, beyond the walking-distance environs of my college years. Our stomping grounds after marriage, we didn't even get to.

Day two, something changed, and I operated more as if I were in a place I once called home. Whatever was different, my brain adjusted to, and it wasn't so strange.

I picked him up this time, and we spent a while with his mom. Let it be said here, if my Ex is "Beloved", so too were his folks. Though it made no sense on paper, his dad and I always liked each other, and his mom is a lovely lady it was always nice to have women's time with. They were generous, my F-I-L was really funny, and she was as sweet as BEx. Catching up on a drizzly morning was nice, and she seems to be well.

We wandered about for the day, among other things finding a GREAT bookstore, and came back in the evening to meet both his folks for chicken, which we brought along. Dinner was convivial, his dad more laid back than years back, and it felt like family. Maybe in some way it was family (hey, apparently I'm godmother to one of their grandkids; and we never did hate each other, so it works out). Even if not, it was just a nice, easygoing meal with people I enjoy.

The Really Big Show was Saturday, and the guys in the band had let BEx invite me to come see them and get the chance to actually hang out a little outside of the show. The drummer gave me the biggest, warmest greeting I got from anyone through the whole visit. Sweaty from loading out and some rehearsal, he grabbed me in a bear hug and rubbed his sweaty face on my face. Heh. He seemed genuinely happy to see me, and I've always loved the guy, so that was pretty great. Hey, and - sweaty drummers - what're you going to do, hate 'em? Nope.

All the guys were good to see, generous and still the great guys I remember with a lot of fondness. Sound check was impressive, and I sat through a couple songs before wandering off to let them do their jobs.




Campus is just up the hill from the venue, so taking some time to go up there, I was serenaded by the band in the distance - walking the student union, heading up the hill to the chapel.

The chapel on this campus is absolutely filled with mid-century design and really amazing art, and as the rain stepped up, I stayed in there for a good while, taking lots of pictures. The stained glass windows, the floor, the meditation chapel, the whole sanctuary. Even the lights. I even tried to go up the steeple tower, but it was locked at the top. No harm/no foul, I was very glad the chapel was open.

Back down to my car in the rain, the whole campus was empty. Not silent, of course, though the reverb from down the hill was low. Here, the familiarity was at its height, and when I saw the statue of the undergrad I had forgotten existed, I was genuinely happy to see it again.

In the brick walk were a few memorial items ... my creative writing professor and his wife ... a girl whose unique surname and year of attendance might have made her the daughter of the one single "boyfriend" I had from the school itself. Huh. He was a nice guy too. Physics major, actually.

The show was perfect, and two of my best friends from those years, the other "girl with the band" and a singer from our crowd I always remembered with a smile, were there. "Come to my bosom!" the first said, which was hilarious and so absolutely her a thing to say.

The whole visit kind of felt like coming to a welcoming bosom, really.

I've shed my prejudices about that town - my snobbery towards it was bitter for long, stupid years - and never did resent the people in it. Seeing the place again, and those old friends, was a balm.



One of the things several people said to me, unbidden, was how much I needed to get away. Some knew I'd lost my stepfather, but that they could see how much that and everything since has been "on me" was a bit of a surprise. I don't know that BEx troubled to say anything other than to family - I would be surprised - so apparently, my sense of relief to be out on my own was pretty palpable.

And it was a blessing and a blast.

He and I wandered around again on Sunday, one more great bookstore (this one with a cat; I do love cat-owned bookstores) and an indulgent dessert at the local dairy. And that was it.



I'm grateful to have been able to see my friends, even my old school (of which I am less forgiving than this city I used to hate, though the grounds are not responsible for that), and my old home. I was there for most of almost nine years, which astonishes me to count out on my stubby fingers.

Geez, all those YEARS I knew that place. It was my home, even when I wanted to deny that.

And it welcomed me back and said, "Come to my bosom!"

Good trip. Good vacation.


And now ... back to work.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Monday, July 16, 2018

Framing

Yesterday, my mom and I got together for lunch, sat and waited a little while I got my car cleaned up a bit, and shopped. The first retail excursion was to the crafts store, where she had recently left a couple things to be framed.

One of these is the circa-1960 map of her home county. It includes a legend of several local businesses, and in the top right corner are two images of bank branches; one, the new and super modern DRIVE THROUGH branch. The other, the older building: where mom worked when she was a single lady. She pointed to the second floor corner window.

"That is the window where I looked out and saw your dad when he came for our first date."

They were set up on a blind date, so this was where she saw dad for the very first time.



The other thing she had framed was dad's system. He designed a certain system for CEBAF, now known as Jefferson Laboratory, the national accelerator facility. After sketching it out, he had a student put it in a proper rendering, and this, now, is in a really nice frame.

Dad worked with Jeffy Lab when they first started calling it that, and you can see by the nickname how Virginians are about change. Heh. Plus, it's fun to say - Jeffy Lab.



The framing guy did a splendid job with both pieces. The map was pretty fragile, even had small holes in it, but ironed out and mounted with UV glass, it is a gorgeous faded color, but the blue ink is really pretty. The frame is wood, with a nice interesting grain. It's warm.

The schematic is less amber, though the paper was decades old - and you can discern, if you care to, where it was folded. There is one whiter spot, where it was stored for years next to some smaller piece of paper that left a paler, un-faded square where it had lain. It is in a black frame, white-matted, but with the thinnest under-mat of black, to create a little outline around the document.

For someone into industrial design, this would be a pretty cool design piece. For me, it is an image literally mined out of the mind of my dad; who, not that I've ever mentioned this before on my blog (hah), happened to be a stupefyingly brilliant teacher and scientist.

The system's exactingly thin lines and detailed intricacy are beautiful; not entirely unlike a flow chart, balanced, and filled with information I don't understand. It all comes to a result that ... is an ongoing piece of the scientific community of the world.

My dad did that. He is *still* a part of the mechanism of study and discovery. Gone fifteen years and more, he still lives - in this little avatar of his work, which is an artifact we can enjoy - and in his WORK, which is still a part of the engine of science and study.


It's easy to remember, as his kid, that my brother and I, his grandkids - and mom, who lived with him for over forty years, and started this branch of family - are the products of his life. But it's heart-swelling to think: dad contributed to so much more than just "me" in this world (as good fathers do, right?). That his being a teacher frustrated and challenged and maybe inspired hundreds of others. Maybe thousands.

My dad touched so many things, as curious intellects do. He *made* much more than I probably ever will. Which so few of us will ever be able to say.



And it's out that second-floor window ... where that all began, just before the blind date did.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Collection

When an article features Terry Crews and mentions Rosey Grier, I'm going to be all the way in for clicking THAT. When that article fully displays the principle and ever-perfecting manhood, well pre-dating Crews' current testimony before the Senate, and how sumptuously he expresses not only his humanity but his convictions, I all but weep. He's proving what we know - and most need to know. Additionally, he's funny as hell.

A joke I heard on Twitter once: "White people upset about BET asking, 'Why don't we have White Entertainment Television?' ... We do, it's HGTV." Worth the click because sometimes online discourse is fertile.

In other TV musing, something struck me about Pose recently. Having watched other Ryan Murphy works, I knew early on that the discussion I'd seen regarding how unrealistic Pose is was almost funny: Murphy's not interested in realism, he presents setpieces, and he does that nicely if you choose to take it on his/those terms. (Feud felt intentionally setbound; even outdoors scenes are claustrophobic and closed-in. That plays to the emotional worlds of the Crawford and Davis characters in play.) For Pose, the archness is not as visually obvious, so I've seen complaints about, say, just how glamorous the scene is made to look, or the opening sequence for the series itself, where "real" historical costumes are stolen from a museum for a gay ball. Preposterous! And duh. Here is the thing: Pose is 80s TV. Figuratively (it's set in the late 80s) and literally (its emotional beats are ALL Very Special Episode-worthy). The depth of plotting is *veeeerryyy* much like 80s TV - sitcom or drama. The pacing is extremely 80s; when TV took time to lay things out. For many, this seems slow or dry or even insulting (making the implicit explicit). But this is so, so true to its time. It takes the 80s seriously, AND it tells stories no network (remember, we really had three back then) would have told in the time itself. I kind of think that's genius, and it's not Murphy's first time reining pace enough to slow things down like this. Given his current influence, you wonder how this might bear out in others' work. Imagine a vogue for *less* cinematic TV; imagine the VSE's regaining ascendance. I've seen surprising amounts of ink on VSEs over the past couple of years. My guess is nostalgia is bringing it back, in service of subjects even the original concept never served.

Leaping from television to literature, who has read Connie Willis's Doomsday Book? I actually re-read it a year or two ago, and - forget Jurassic Park - this book will scare the willies out of you, in both its plague-ridden timelines. So reading about the extraction of leprosy from centuries-old skeletal remains ISN'T HORRIFYING AT ALL. Just as long as you haven't read the wrong books. Yeep.

Finally ... hmm, and more hmm. Yes, fella babies, it's Adventures in Science Reporting again!

I have written in the past about Penelope's ancestry, and as little obsessed as I am with pedigree, it's not beyond me to admit fascinated with the idea my beloved Pariah descending from millennia of fascinating forerunners. Oddly enough, it seems like cancer is about all we really have left of pre-contact canine breeds. Still - being a critical thinker - it is hard not to wonder about previous DNA studies, pointing to modern Amercan dogs' long history here. Hmmmm. Keep us posted, Dr. Ostrander.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Independence Day

I'm an American.

American dreams are built on words we dare not say.



Are you at liberty today? Remember those who are not; maybe help them out.

If you are American, are you one of the (shamefully few) who vote? This right is under attack. We can fight that.


Are you enjoying Teh Intarwebs? Do you believe all media should be controlled by one party? Is a free press worthy of protection? Defend it.

Be well today - and every day. Be safe. And let's hope we get through this holiday without that uniquely American institution, the mass shooting.



Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels - men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.
--Eisenhower


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

3.5%



I have never read better news than this. As the United States slinks into democratic decline and incipient dictatorship, this is something to remember, repeat, to cling to. To act on.

It takes 3.5% of a population to TOPPLE A DICTATORSHIP. Nonviolently.

We don't need pitchforks. We need to care, and to stand up for our concerns - for our fellow people. We need to stop this dictatorship at its beginning, not listen to the myth that "this can't happen to us"  and "we are a democracy."



Tools (not weaponry).

Nonviolence.

Commitment.



3.5%.

It makes the job we have as citizens - as decent human beings - seem within our grasp.

(Edited to add an important paraphrase/link: nonviolence can be militant.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Consumeration and Cred

We’ve shifted from seeing ourselves primarily as makers of things, craftspeople of one variety or another, to seeing ourselves primarily as consumers
... I'm not saying that this sort of referencing ... is bad writing or poorly conceived. I’m arguing it isn’t writing or conceiving at all.
It’s scratching an itch that we have somewhere.

Oh my, this was a Lightbulb Moment for me. It's one of those things we know but don't "realize" in general, and it's the very shape of our lives. See also: memes. There is some kind of truth in this observation well beyond comedy. Memes live as something more than comedy, they're indicators - we point to those things we want to make sure others know we have seen, just as we post pictures of those things we want to make sure others know we have eaten, people we have met/known/hated/adored/had sex with ... We've gotten awfully pointy in my lifetime. (Oh yeah. I did that on so many purposes.)

I would say this, though: this is more about cred than about advertising our consumption. We get to the cred BY pointing out the references that signify whatever area of the cultural landscape we wish to live upon. For my part, I get my cred by NOT knowing certain references - I am old, I have earned the privilege of never having heard of all the recent 20-year-olds who have died tragically and had articles written about them. I have earned respite from the effort of keeping up with what on fleek means, or who is doing what on YouTube or anywhere at all. I have earned the right not to have an Insta, and to have some fuzzy idea, "Is Snapchat over?" or be entirely surprised that Grey's Anatomy apparently was not canceled like seven years ago or something.

Nobody gives a hang what anybody else is eating, or quoting, or in-meme-ing about. They are interested in, culturally, where somebody stands. If someone is familiar with my political/comedic/subcultural/art cred, I'll be interested in references they might make I don't already know. We judge by where someone places themselves on these social, virtual maps - they just quoted the third Doctor or the Stones or (not Taylor) Swift or Childish Gambino or the Christian Bible or made a Left Shark joke or hollered back to All Your Base, and I love them for it: we share this.

Our consumption is a signifying - UNIFYING - communicator.

Pretty deep, even if it isn't writing.

I need to go marinate in some Trek now.

Half Life

June 26, 1993.


... and this would be Beloved Ex.
Posted with permission.



If I can't believe it's been just over three months since my stepfather died, or fifteen years since I saw my dad's face ... believing that (a) twenty-five years have passed since this day, and (b) twenty-five years is half my life is WELL beyond my wee and paltry brain's capacity.

Huh.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Drag RACING

Royal Ascot fun.




Isn't this composition absolutely perfect?

And don't tell me for *one second* that drag isn't mainstream.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Thought

I am a living binary of faith and skepticism.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Collection

Fourteen-to-eighteen-year-old me would have of course DIED of this piece of news, just because: Cornwall! Tintagel! There is nothing here, of course, even theoretically pointing to a young Arthur learning literacy and practicing at a windowsill. Still I would have come up with the dreamy idea.

Medievalist intercessionality.

Tony Mattera has a beautiful piece on patriotism and our times. A short, perfect read.

Women are perpetually asked to be the cops, the police, the bosses of their bosses, the judges of their judges; the ones held responsible for patrolling and controlling and meting out punishment against — or graciously forgiving — men who trespass. And God help us if we get it wrong.

The Cut has an eloquent discussion of the current Bill Clinton moment - which, as timesome as it is and he is, does bear consideration right now.

In related non-news, the Patterson brand and the Clinton/Patterson ghost(s) aren't great authors. Who knew? Absolutely everybody. Gary Sue, let'r rip. Two reasons I will not read this book - incidental and not even applicable anti-Muslim villain naming, and egregious use of the term Dark Ages. Y'all know how I feel about *that*.

Unfortunately, the title, “The President Is Missing,” depends upon what the meaning of the word “is” is.
--WaPo

BAAAAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA! Also: oh, SNAP.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Contrarian Collection(-ish)

Funny how clicking through can go. You're reading about how nostalgia can be a societal ill, and within two clicks the news is how great nostalgia is for us.

Of course, it's a matter of restrictive dieting, where we forget about simple balance in favor of magical prohibitions.

Maybe you need a little escapism just to unkink. And maybe you don't want to fiddle with credits. But wait, credits are culturally vital. And then *again* ... Stingers are really the evil that will destroy us all.

If it appears I am picking on The Guardian, this is largely an accident - you could argue that they're pan-opinionated in these non-news pieces, but it might also be said the flexibility is itself destabilizing and crippling, deconstructing any integrity by offering all options.

Really, it's any thinkpiece these days. Like this post itself, there is so much inspirtation/opinion/guidance on offer in the world that it can be all too easy to cling to one given social, philosophical, or would-be-scientific outcropping just to hold on for dear life.

And that always ends up as a restrictive diet. It doesn't matter the hill, too many of us are willing to pick ONE to die upon, and this is the danger of our times.

There are many vistas, from many hills. It might not be a bad idea to trek to more than one outcrop just to see the perspective another one doesn't offer. And build a worldview from more than one point. Staying fixed leads to resource collapse, and we die of the entropy.

#CriticalThinking may be the best tool we have to stave off incivility, insensibility, insularity ... insurrection. Because dying on one hill, or living on just one outcropping: insanity.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Collection

There is NO reading like in-depth, contextualized journalism! The more I read of it, the more I want of it, because: fella babies? I am a history nerd. And well-researched, well-rounded journalism is HISTORY, kids. Here we have a stellar piece from The Guardian about sugar, fat, and nutritional fashion/factions. The history here goes through decades of science, reportage, politics, and real-world effects. It is brilliant, and genuinely gripping reading. Please read it, please? Pretty please with ... sugar on it?

Here is a point where we have to engage in critical thinking. Have you heard the stories about those missing 1500 unaccompanied immigrant children? I will disclaim: I have not researched what is said in this thread, but I haven't researched the screamy headlines in-depth either, and I find this counterpoint worth a pause, if not facile endorsement. Is this analysis dangerous? Or is it dangerous when we call these unaccompanied kids "missing", indulge screamy headlines about it, and fail to understand (or try to) what is really happening with them. The dangers of clicktivism, y'all.

(E)ventually something horrible will happen, something dynamic and powerful. It’s going to have to be cataclysmic for people to wake up and say: ‘OK, is anyone gonna do this?’

Now yet another History Blog link, because although I depend upon the HB perhaps too much in these Collection posts, it's because they're so resource-rich. Oh, and the content is pretty spiff. Here is a rare piece on a Hawai'ian artifact repatriated - and I am a sucker for repatriation. I'm also a sucker for Hawai'ian archaeology, but that is another link.


Oh, here is a sigh of a piece, a 2014 interview with Bill Murray, including a quote from Harvey Weinstein which might turn your spine to chalk. Still eminently worth the click. (Also, next time I march I STILL won't wear one of Those Pink Hats, but I might just indulge a Murray Mask ...)

Talking of icons of the 80s, have you read the Molly Ringwald piece in New Yorker? Pretty fascinating reading, for many reasons, and her penchant for research adds to the layers here. She's also an excellent writer; thoughtful, open, interested and interesting.

Hey, and this is a writer's blog (of sorts), so how about a literary link - that is also timely?

We need to reflect on the way the literature we celebrate supports the idea that women who are sexually frustrated create problems for themselves, while men in the same situation create problems for the world.
We have always treated the alienation of men as if it deserved thousands of pages of analysis, perhaps because we feared it had the power to endanger us all.

Yep.

How we KNOW

Through the past several months of #MeToo and all of the stories we all have endured, one of the less-spoken throughlines comes down to something like "how do we know not all men are like this?"

Granted, we certainly have the #NotAllMen hashtag to 'splain about these things. Ahem. And lots of us will note the guys in our lives we're sure are above it. Men themselves discuss how abhorrent certain behaviors are.

It is not a fact that the only good men are the men who live in the imaginations of others, idealized out of reality. I don't know there are Good Men just because I think my dad and my brother are good men. I know there are good men because there are men who have unequivocally demonstrated goodness in (cis and otherwise) manhood. And, yeah, it's not all binary either. But let's look at the binary that binds so many, ant look at it.


There are real STORIES, real moments in time, which prove the lie that All Men (whatever that can possibly be thought to mean) are creeps.

And, you know? I think these stories really need to be told. The unambiguously clear stories about non-predatory behavior.


***


Names, obviously, are altered to protect folks I have not seen in years, but let's start off with a couple Tales from College - and I went to a college where tales of the #MeToo sort abounded, to be certain. Hell, the earful my parents got the night before my graduation is enough to speak to the sexual entitlement of drunken frat boys.

But.

Then there was my "brother".

He and I became friends early out of the gate, freshman year (1986/87). It is not unlikely he had a bit of a crush on me, at least at some point, but he never acted upon it. Literally never - and we spent a lot of time together, at all hours and at that age when Not Acting On Things was more an anomaly than an expectation.

Then there was M.

I worked in the scene shop, and he was an associate in the drama department, I think 25 years old or so and himself scarcely past the college years (and so forth). He was wonderfully moody and intellectual, scathingly funny, and pretty well fixed up with all the things I still dig in a guy: dark, curly hair, sardonic wit, and a level of subcultural nerdliness/marginality.

I spent a lot of hours alone in the shop with M, and (as faulty memory implies) probably not without hopes that something drastically inappropriate might occur with him. Memory of any specific ideas I had about him are not clear, but I do have recollection of one particular day, when Beloved Ex and I were on the outs (I met BEx sophomore year, but worked in the scene shop for several; so by this point, I would have known M for a good year and a half - taking a class with him, working with him, making sure of course to display my intellectual cred at every opportunity). We talked a long time, and he let me go on a bit about whatever bothered me - maybe "boys" as a general caste, maybe just BEx specifically. I am fairly certain I made my vulnerability and availability for "reassurance" pretty plain.

And M didn't do a damn thing about it.



Now. Let it not be said I think I was some irresistible thing, so to resist me must be a feather in any man's cap. But I was fairly cute, making myself clear, and oh about twenty to, by then, his maybe 26 or 27. It wasn't exactly out of the question.

But M not only cared about the preservation of his job: essentially, he just was not that guy. He wasn't the guy who would mess with a student, even one he knew well, even one who wasn't "out of the question" - in circumstances other than the situation we actually did share.

Plus, I believe he had a girlfriend.

So, not only is it a dead-cert FACT that some men don't infringe upon women who might even be up for some level of infringement, but some men don't mess around on their girlfriends to do it. This is unquestionable.

There are men who do not use power - authoritarian, financial, or physical - to extort or demean a woman. There are men for whom that could never be sex (etc.) at all.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Empathetic Magic and Writing: Lose Yourself in the Cheetah

This essay on writing by Cutter Wood (and how great a name is that?) speaks to something I definitely understand.

The moves in the book that felt most freeing were not taking on the perspective of the victim or the murderer, but these brief dips into other points of view—a minor character, a bird sitting on a branch. Those moments where, in the space of a single adjective, the lens just shifts slightly. As a writer, that’s where I feel happiest, I guess.
All of this is a way of trying to move past our fundamental loneliness. ... we have these amazing computational organs in our heads, and seemingly the only thing they can’t do is connect to another one?

When I was a kid, I used to play by myself all the time, and much of what I played at was mental - empathetically occupying the body of our dog, or the neighbor's cat, imagining what it felt like to be "big", to use the counter without climbing anything ... to be a boy, or to be old, or to lack a limb or the use of them.

I envisioned my body in states other than the state I lived in, other than the species I lived in, and really tried to imagine what a tail must feel like, or limbs all one length, carrying me all at once, without free hands, with my head out front instead of on top. It was especially interesting to imagine inhabiting a snake or a worm - something ALL tail, or something without bones. To project myself into fish was difficult, but elephants, fascinating.

Really, it's the most concentration I can think of ever honestly applying to *anything* in my life. I'm not good at physical endurance, I never was an intellectual. But play? Solitary play, imagining myself out of my life, into something else's? Irresistible. Wonderful.

The connection, for me, to writing - what Wood describes in his experiences, the ineffable transfer out of self or transformation of nonself internalized ... his feeling is different, but I understand it.

Diana Gabaldon says something to the effect that "write what you know" is a drag, that the very point of storytelling is to evoke - to occupy - a world other than one's own. This is elemental, for me, as a writer. I could not be less interested in replicating myself, or my environs - for me, the entire point of reading and writing both is the escape from the everyday, the release from myself.

Irresistible. Wonderful. And who needs a story without wonder?



All this is not to say I dislike living in my own skin. It's good skin, and I've cultivated quite a nice life in it. But it is JUST too interesting to think about what others' lives, worlds, experiences must be. I know my own life pretty well, so reading about it or writing about it doesn't have the same draw as reading about altered landscapes, different eras, unknown people.

The point Wood makes about fundamental loneliness, too: I considered myself a bit friendless as a child. I wasn't - it's just that childhood is not a perpetually social experience, and (looking back) being alone might have been the only way to stretch my brain and get away from ordinary old family life. I used to sit in my closet alone, I'd appointed it with books and my beanbag chair. I would take Speedy, my gerbil, and read and let him scritch and tickle around my knees and arms. Sometimes, it was the front porch or back patio. Or even the loft in the shed my dad built.

I would read, or just throw myself into some imagined world - desiring to be grown up, glamorous, living in the 19th century, or the first ... surrounded by people, in my mind, but people I created, maybe controlled. Costume excited me, and history. And animals, of course.

My older niece went through a prolonged period as a puppy. She had a "tail" (a pink leash, clipped to whatever pants or skirt she was wearing), she was always in character. And the character was complete; she would not break it, not even for her granddaddy, sometimes only reluctantly for mealtimes. She wasn't even telling a story, she WAS the story.

That seems a long time ago, but I can remember that too - watching, and knowing I had once been the same, though without her levels of sustained concentration. I might make it an hour, building my consciousness inside an imagined body, but she sustained this for months, maybe a year. And, it happens, this was during a difficult time in our family, in her life. That puppy life probably, for her, provided the control I got out of living in another century with characters I got to conjure.

Each borrowed gesture—whether it’s an intentional homage or just something a writer adored and internalized‚ is a sign someone or something broke through.

There is both danger and security, wearing the skin of another character, of an animal. And, like Richard Pryor's cheetahs ... just a WHOOSH of your own breath ... and the cheetahs disappear.

But they were there. They were real.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Collection

I have long felt this way about the (w)racking of the nerves. Oddly enough, though, I don't mind seeing either spelling. Free rein, however, reigns for me.


Okay, THIS THIS THIS THIS SO VERY THIS, when it comes to complaining that Al Franken is out but the GOP tolerates worse abusive and demeaning behavior than his. "There is a difference between the actions of Harvey Weinstein (accused of rape) and Franken (accused of forced kissing and groping women). But that doesn’t mean women should have to choose between the two. The ideal is none of the above." (Emphasis added.)

And here we are with one of those sites I always depend upon ("Too much?") for Collections posts, with a great pairing:

You may have heard of the partially mummified baby, but The History Blog, as they always do, has excellent background of its own along with their usual collection - ahem - of links. Make with the clicky for the clicks beyond on this story! Also: yay, science!

THB link #2 *may* not be for the squeamish - note, the words "gnaw" and "bones" occur togehter in an analysis of burial practices. But, for my gravedigging money (there's no research like grave goods!), funerary finds are the richest finds of all. So make with the clicky here, if you can stand the phrase "four pelvises on a stick" in service of a REALLY interesting look at Celtic warfare and military burial.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Catastrophe! Hee.

Holy CATS, it is fascinating when science can tell a novelist their historical fiction may have been fiction in the historical documents themselves. I was happily reading along, this Atlantic piece about Greenland ice core sampling and how it correlates to the Roman economy and conquests ... when it casually BLEW MY WEE AND PALTRY MIND with an aside about the Plague of Justinian. Which just happens to be awfully important to my WIP's action, themes, even those aspects of my work which I literally don't even believe in.

The mention, in the article, of absence of evidence of Justinian's Plague in the ice record does not equate to evidence of absence. (Evidence of exaggeration? Always possible. Discoveries can indicate many things.) I am content to accept Procopius, amongst others. Lucky thing: I am neither scientist nor historian, and as a novelist of historical fiction, I need not dash down the twin rabbit holes of history *nor* science to justify my theories as to how the "Dark Ages" (I don't even believe in) began. Ahh, liberty!



Do you know, I do believe some authorial bits of my brain may be awakening? Well, my my my ...