Monday, April 30, 2012


Sometimes, the easier reads you find via Twitter kind of intrigue.  Also, "a pupton of apples" is just fun to say.

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig

Drive went smoothly today, and didn't even feel terrible and long.  It stayed overcast, which is good driving weather, but not actually rainy apart from a couple extremely minimal spits in Carolina.  I'm home in time for lunch, but more tired than hungry - and still too restless yet to quite lie down either.  Suitcase and bag are upstairs neatly awaiting unpacking.  Dog is outside, quietly being outside.  I am here, post-travel disoriented and anticlimacted.

When I came in, The Lolly was quiet, and I went back outside, got my suitcase - still no noise when I dropped it.  So upstairs I went, and finally heard movement (reassuring!).  She met me at the top of the stairs, hardly the worse for wear (she LOVES our neighbor, who was looking on on her), but with the Saddest Eyes in the World, of course.

I moved toward the bed to dump my things, and found the cover rumpled up by the pillows, and a little bit furry.  Aww.  Siddy never gets on the bed without permission anymore, and usually not even when she does get invited to hop up.  She must've missed me.

*Melty doggy mommy*

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Last Week

For the most part, I try to stay sanguine when I talk about Mr. X, but several thousand miles and several years do take their toll from time to time.  This past Sunday, in church, I prayed and just gave up.  I could call it giving it up to G-d, but I just gave up.

The next day, the conversation started.

And today, I am blogging from the hotel in another state, where almost three years ago I last saw X.  Where we met up yesterday for our first date since, and laughed and had a good time.

At first, the thought was that I would come down and help.  He's here unexpectedly, attending to a family issue.  But sometimes when someone is sick, or afraid of how sick they might be - and they don't know - they need the family and nobody else.  So I can't really help ... except to be here for X.

There are times it annoys me how self-sacrificing my relationship with him may appear.  Whatever the choices look like from the outside, they have been mine, and whatever the relationship may or may not be is ours to worry about.

I worry.  If I didn't, I wouldn't give up before G-d Himself.

But nearly ten years on, X and I are here together.  There are many (most) who don't have that much.  And for whatever it is, I have always been grateful.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

AP Day

Today has been Administrative Professionals' Day (one of my managers, wise to my ways, IM'd me to say Happy Secretaries' Day - and earned yet more points thereby, heh), and I feel like I should say something, but there isn't a great deal leaping to mind.  In a career widely envied by my peers, I've been fortunate to work for people I respect and like more often than otherwise - but, even out of a crop of bosses I've been enormously grateful for, right now my two officers are *remarkable* people.  I get to work for these guys.

Since the exit of the sexual harasser (not worthy of my time to go back and link posts about that), I also get to say - I really like my whole team.

This is among the blessings of my life.  I work for an entity which won't move away, merging with some other entity, which will then merge with another, degrading my career with every move along the way.  I can feel how valued I am, every day.  It gets frustrating, yeah.  Every job does.  This is why they pay us to do them.  But ... the frustration isn't dark and creepy.  The frustration isn't coming from within, it's not a sense I am wasting my time.  It's just the nature of having any job, of working with hundreds of people across multiple time zones, of things going wrong, or happening at the wrong time, or just my own having a headache and being cranky.

As much as I tell my management and colleagues how grateful I am every single day - they tell me it's mutual every day, too.  And, as I think about it, "every day" may really be a literal figure.  I am thanked, I am high-fived virtually and in person, I *know* what I add to my team, and they know too, and we are all pretty damned happy about it.

My job, when I took it, was partially to make myself a hub - to create not only an effective network of support for our group, but also to provide certain aspects of our identity.  I've done that both interpersonally and literally, taking ownership of our recognition program, taking ownership of our newsletter, being heard, reaching out.


All this is to say:  I love my job - and, what is more, I am grateful to have it.  Not merely grateful to be working in this economy.  Not merely hopeful, and even secure.  But incredibly, consistently, completely grateful.  I pray, for all the children of G-d, that everyone should be so blessed.  Should have such fulfillment, and the gladness in it.

Happy Secretaries' Day indeed.  And Happy Admins Day, to all!!  Heh.  G-d bless us, every one ...

Monday, April 23, 2012

Hey, Lookit Me

I've cut over 11k words.  Now to cut about 40k more I think ...

Hey, Leila:  I love you for it!  *Grin*

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tracking ... or ... Ding, Dong - The Sister's Dead!

Lanthechild (historical) and her husband Gaianus (fictional) are gone.  Also:  down to 156,983.

I Don't Think It Ever Occurred to Me ...

... but that Nordic God ex of mine might make a pretty good Clovis.

So weird, too.  I swear I have no use for blond men, and here I married one and have centered my life on *creating* another for years now!

Background to Writing

Looking for something I could listen to without watching carefully, I miscalculated slightly.  Though "Hercules - Legendary Journeys" is light occupation for my mind, I'd forgotten how extremely much Aeolus looks like my ex husband, and caught myself staring.  Heh.

Though, actually - Beloved Ex's eyes were bluer.  Like Windex.


Two thousand words gone just in the past hour.  *Contented sigh*

Why is it so many people hate killing their darlings?  I find it hard to find the right places to DO it - but once I know where to cut, I don't feel like I have *less* left.

157,083 now ...

Axing the Ax!

I was struck and amused at some of the ideas I'm bouncing off my SBC readers, and thought it was worth sharing, if only for the realization I came to in the final line of my note to these wonderful ladies ...

By the way, if you don't like having opening chapters of a novel "spoilered" - well, then, this contains spoilers. However, nothing of substance beyond the first few dozen pages will be ruined by this post.  If you're interested in "process", though - read on, because this is full-on authorial sausage-making!  (Note:  "Cloti" is my nickname for Queen Clotilde.  Other characters named are a mix of historical and fictional, mostly the latter.)


Kristi, to catch you up on brainstorming last weekend, Leila helped me to see that I could cut the character of Clovis’ older sister, Lanthechild (and her traitor husband, Gaianus) out of the novel.  Just because she existed doesn't mean she needs to exist in this novel!  This weekend, I decided I probably need to ditch Clovis’ own mini battle with trichinosis, too.  That thread doesn’t do anything but demonstrate Cloti’s administrative expertise, and I don’t think evidence of that is so short those scenes and their aftermath are worth preserving.  Your thoughts?

I’m also shifting the opening progression to move straight from Evochilde’s death to the battle with Syagrius, eliminating all the talk of horse breeds and cousin Wedelphus, and prep for five years, to tighten the progression of events.  It’ll be coronation, mother’s banishment, death of Evochilde, big battle, with very little exposition and blah-blah in between.  Any character I can eliminate, I need to - so if you think the little scribe boy, Merochar, needs to go, for instance, tell me.  For now, I’ve kept Mero since he does provide an ongoing thread through the novel - but he may not be essential, so throw ideas around there, too.

Pharamond’s parents may get to keep their names, but I may also eliminate the scenes where their deaths occur; it doesn’t add anything to the action, nor Clovis’ character (their deaths don’t even do much for Pharamond’s character, textually speaking!), so that will probably go.

Funny, how I can feel so “fertile” as a writer, coming up with so many darlings to kill!!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Finding Articles Like This ...

... is a large part of the appeal of Twitter, for me.

Mmmmm, rich medieval-y goodness!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Parts of Me

When I was a little kid, I had this thing with my closet.  My room was my apartment, and the closet was my bedroom; my white dresser, made of actual wood, and decorated with scrollwork and brass fittings, was a retired piece of dorm furniture from my dad's university, and that was about it for my kitchen.  The main point in this construct, this idea that I had a home of my own, was the closet, though.  In summertime, I used the front porch (my two windows opened onto the front porch, and I used those for egress; who needs doors?).  But the closet was the place.

I read in there a lot.  I kept it "arranged", in some way which satisfied whatever my juvenile needs or dreams were.  Space wasn't prescriptive to me, back then (my little wall shelves were Barbie's apartment, often).

There's a photo of my feet, sticking out of an appliance box; the ultimate, beloved nest - my brother and I loved big boxes (who doesn't???) when we were kids.

When I turned ten, mom and dad gave me a beanbag chair for my birthday, and I nearly imploded with joy at the extravagance.  I still remember getting up for my Cheerios, and finding this green thing in my bowl - a newspaper print picture of a neon green beanbag.  There must have been screaming.  I was a big screamer.

That chair went with me EVERYWHERE.  It was a fixture in the closet, it got hot and the vinyl would be soft and heated out on the front porch, it moulded into the rocking chair of my grandmother's I still love sitting in today, quietly creaking and perhaps quietly thinking, or simply being.  It piled onto the couch, into appliance boxes.  It lived in the closet an awful lot - but that was not because it was "put away".  The thing was my next.  I could cuddle up in my beanbag, the green and gold afghan my grandma made (the first one she ever made; the one I still have, so soft, much-beloved, and still bright), perhaps buried over even my head, sitting and reading.

I was into novels by the time the beanbag came along, and had that thing almost through graduation (it died in a hideous cat-marking indident ... I can still remember the sight of that bright-green, polluted thing in the dumpster beside my sleeply little apartment, too ... sad sigh).  I went through my "B.C." comics compilations in that chair.  I went through Mad Magazine paperback comps too.  I entered the "grownup" reading years devouring my mom's Jean Plaidy, Victoria Holt, and even at least one spy novel of dad's.  I pulled stuff off our shelves - Art Buchwald, of all things, or the acres of beautiful anthologies we owned, short stories by the mile.  Poe and Hawthorne, limericks by Bennet Cerf.  I was as scattershot then, I think, as I am now in my entertainments.

And always ensconced in screaming-green, smooshy, gooshy, beanbag vinyl.  I used to like to unzip its bottom, unzip its mesh liner, and stick my hands in the countless, tiny, soft little styrofoam "beans".  Attached as I allow myself to be to the artifacts of life, that big chunk of my childhood and teen-dom still makes me sad, when I think how it went.  My mom actually bought me a red one at some point, many years later, when I could no longer fit anything like that into my life.  It stayed in my basement a little while, and I gave it away at some point.  I understood what she was doing.  But you can't recapture some things.  Even IF I probably would still have had that green one around in some corner if the thing had survived my college years.

That beanbag, my Barbie cottage - the scent of new vinyl still smells like Christmas joy to me.  Heh.

Buchwald and "B.C." ... Doonesbury and Mary Stewart ... my first taste of Kristin Lavransdatter, and my last gasps with picture books and Golden Books too ...

I was a weirdo, a closet-dwelling little shy, backward kid.  This is still the main makeup of my personality, and in my self-image, this aspect utterly dominates.  Little brown-haired girl.

I had a good childhood.

Much as I hated it in the making.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Okay, Arianna Huffington on Colbert says "The Huffington Post is not about Right versus Left, it is about Right versus WRONG ..."

Oh, honey.

And I read HuffPo from time to time.

But THAT.  Is writerliness.  And this finally gets me off my bum to write that Writerly post I've been thinking and saying I was going to get to soon.



Writerly writing goes past self-consciousness and ends up in self-satisfaction instead, skewing either twee or superior depending upon its point.  And it always has a point, which itself is tiresome.

More often than not, the latter seasons of M*A*S*H represent for me the sins of writerliness - the didactic sentimentality, the heavily over-ground axes - but it is popular even in journalism.  In fiction, it can get pretty thick.  Fiction peopled with auto-characters, avatars for an author's self (or dreams of self) modeled into *ary *ues, cheap exposition working to be clever, would-be clever verbiage straining to teach.

The writerly writer can be heard finding their own work witty and charming.  On television, Sorkin productions sometimes fluff a writerly writer.  Sitcoms of course do it, see the old war horse referenced above.  In the seventies, before irony, archness, and meta came along (we did not know of these concepts of course, the human race before Teh Intarwebs), earnestness was done to a scale which might appear ostentatious to the wiser eyes of today.  (Is Diane being writerly?  The world may never know.  But as Mr. X knows, I was never suBtle.)

Cleverness and sincerity had a dangerously passionate relationship, and of course audiences had no critical eye for it.  This stuff was ENT-ertaiment!  (*Cue Lovitz doing his Thespian character.)  Even the quiet writerly moment - *especially* the quiet writerly moment - was thick with portent.  "Portent!" these moments cried, with their contrived intensity.  "Portent ..." they whispered, with the profundity of Lesson.

Ahh.  Writerly writing.

It's hardly gone the way of the dodo, since all us hayseed pre-'netters grew up and got iPhones.  Even reality TV occasionally falls prey to writerliness, don't kid yourself.  And reality serves us up intimate, powerful personal monologues by the multi-ton.  Purported human beings sell their lives to the highest bidder so they can touch people - and get touched - and let's not pretend this stuff isn't scripted.

Still, for me, the worst writerliness is the CLEVER writerly moment - the scene in "Sports Night" where the implied emotional payoff is pride in condescension, when an inconceivably wealthy white dude offers a sandwich to a homeless person ... and the older guy *cuts it in half* because sharing is so cool and so deep, man, and we're all just the same, even though one dude is going home to his posh bachelor pad in half an hour.  Hey, but he was HUNGRY - and the homeless guy was hungry - and we're all just in this together, man.

I resent these things most when I let them affect me, which is perhaps why I am suspicious of emotionalism in my own writing.

That - or ... Ax, at any rate, happens to be first-person male, and I'm steeled to the teeth for all the XY-chromosome-sporting Guitarists who're just sneering in wait for me to "fail" writing my character.  And guys have no hearts, or whatever the stupid cliche' (err, common wisdom) is.  Ahm.

But sometimes, writerly writing DOES work, mechanically.  It's egregious and overheated, but damn if the tricks aren't effective, even when you see them for what they are.  Good writers can be writerly - and those buggers can be lethal when you are having a good week's PMS.

But effective or no, I still speak out against the onanistic (that's writerly speak for Jillin' off, kids) and controlling will of the writerLYer.  I play Guitarist to their performances, I scoff and snub and pretend I'm superior.

Don't be a writerly writer.

ESPECIALLY if it is "what you know".  Writing what you know is almost odoriferously overrated.

And that whole, profoundly overacted, breathily delivered right/left/right/wrong thing above is SUPER writerly.  Don't be That Writer.  That dude is a tool (even if the dude's a woman).

No Kidding

Apparently bullcrap fantasy gameshow romance is only for the fairskinned.  It'd be nice to see the producers lose their shirts, but that might expose them to a tan - which'll never happen.


This sounds like a conversation I've had with my dad, and with Erick too.

Students gain lasting self-confidence not by being protected from failure but by learning they can survive it.
--Tony Wagner, teacher and author

Spotted Today ...

... the phrase "very in-depth" ...

Is that first modifier useful in some way I fail to understand?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


So now we have a major criminal syndicate on board - and it is run by a black guy.

Women are dangerous sexbots.  The Brit is a perfidious ninny.  And crime is embodied in an African American.


(Edited to add - oh, goody - the first Asian man I recall seeing in this series gets to play the role of Henchman #WhoCares.)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Carbon Footprint Be Hanged ...

... when I come home, it's 80 degrees in the house, and Siddy is so exhausted she doesn't even get out of bed - and her face is a rictus grimace, because she's been panting all day - the air conditioning goes on.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Getting Limber as A 'Nartist

It was gratifying for me, in the workshop yesterday, when they began by asking a few questions of us - who has completed a work - who has *submitted* it - etc.  I've accomplished a good deal, even if I'm not yet published, and it's nice to sort of be given permission to be proud of that.

The assignments we had started with this:  write down a word.  Where it came from, who the heck knows or cares, but I put down Anglophilia.

When it was time to use that in a six-word story, I went to "My Anglophilia is unsatisfied, staying home."  I'd written "at" home at first - so there was that minor edit.  But I got the thing done well within our brief time limit.

Next it was time to round-robin our six-worders to the next person over, and we changed one word of each other's works.

I tended to stay within the rules pretty rigidly, and it was nice to see the way the rest of the class worked within the limits.  They seemed to suit me, which is an instructive realization.  Naturally, such structure wasn't comfortable for everybody - but everybody produced, and I was so impressed.

The 55-worder was our "big" assignment, and with five minutes, fifty seconds to do it, I finished in probably three or four minutes.  Faced with the job of inspiration on speedy demand, I found the sentence "I must, and am paralyzed" - and refused to take that to The Writerly Place (I really need to get my "Writerly" post written some time soon), so when perhaps the ultimate tale of conflicted "must" occurred to me, it was just a matter of placing Isaac before Abraham and bringing the ram onstage at the last, conflicted moment.  Angel ex machina, sure, but in fact, the story got a good response in the room at least.  I hated the overwrought dialogue, but it met my central criterion, which was not to write about sitting in a room where I was forced to come up with a short story.  Hitting the word count well within time limits was good enough for me to stay my editorial hand, so the work came out and remained essentially un-edited.

The weekend was good, but like last weekend, I've been so occupied I feel ready for a weekend.  Boy is the 20th looking good already.

I did actually complete my taxes, got a lot of bills done - RC was not my sole focus for the past three days.

But it will be a pleasure, next go round, to get back to my ordinary round of housecleaning, getting all the sleep I need, and ordinary amusements once another work week is under my belt.


This weekend was not good for me in the direct, applied way JRW's conference is, but even if only for the Wordsmith's workshop, I got a lot out of it for my writing.  I'm histfic, of course - not fantasy nor sci-fi - but the disparity in genres can be thin enough to become irrelevant.

I don't tend to do a lot of writing exercises, but the 55-word story was one of a bunch we did yesterday, which limbered up the muscles.  Equally as stimulating was the fact that I was lucky enough to attend with Leila.  It was she who gave me the 60-page cut late last year, and it was in a brainstorming session she and I were having I found at least two characters to cut entirely.  The 'smithing workshop also inspired me to tighten the opening scene right to a key event which should not be delayed by any intervening scenes.

So great stuff, and more inspiration than domestic sanitation or much of anything else this weekend.  Heh.  The house is a sty, but I did get some hand laundering done, and there are still socks and underwear enough to get me through the week.  Maybe even a few bits of actual clothing too, of course.

Inevitably, I kept comparing RC to JRW, and of course JRW is my nearest and dearest authorial event.  BUT, though RC needs to build in small improvements in timing/transition, and I'm dying to see attendance improve over the next couple of years, there are actually some things JRW could pick up from RavenCon.  Such as:  the workshops.  JRW doesn't offer the short bursts of creativity like that, and it was invigorating to actually *write* at an event which, for me, centered so much on that aspect.  It doesn't have to be innovative stuff; we worked on The Six Word Story before taking five for the 55-er, and it's not like The Six Word Story or flash fiction is widely unknown, but writing exercises survive because, even for contrarians like me, tools are worth picking up sometimes.

Plus, as a break from fairly static Q&A panels, they provide a great deal of relief.  I was entertained by everyone's work, surprised by the pieces we read, inspired, pleased.  The laser focus on *language* was incredibly appealing.  More than anything, having an active role in a session, which we tend not to do apart fro Q&A at JRW, was hugely engaging.

For me - for my writing - engagement is so deeply important.

In the "This Never Happens" Department ...

There actually was a markedly attractive guy at RavenCon this weekend.  All things considered, it's probably wrong of me to find a guy with a mohawk appealing, but the smile on this one is the most arresting physical charm I have seen in years.

(Edited to add:  hah!  And his geek cred is probably better than mine too.)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Geek Cred

My attire for the events of the weekend has me looking suspiciously vanill-esque.  BUT the photographic evidence says ...

... this woman is a nerd.

55 Word Story

The Wordsmith panel at RavenCon today was enjoyable and useful, and once I stepped out of it, I had some ideas, too, about more I can do with Ax here at home.

In the meantime - my five minute and fifty second 55-word story.


"I must, and yet am paralyzed."

He looked at the boy, eyes so deep, and put his palm on his tender breast.

How to obey ...  He was lost.  Those deep and trusting eyes.  Twice, he raised the blade.

"Oh, G-d," he breathed.

The ram came into the clearing as the angel's voice whispered to him ...

Not So Much Chat Noir ...

... as French New Wave.

Either way, tres bien.

Friday, April 13, 2012


Trying to keep the screed brief today, my point yesterday was not that the 1970s were a golden age and "kids today" just don't get feminism and grouse-grouse-old-lady-rant etc.  No, my point was that the machine which once spat out jiggling and airheadedness (but also happened to toss in the occasional "Maude" and even allowed non-white people on TV outside of the form of Magical Black Women and without Tyler Perry's, nor even Oprah's, influence) has bloated to an extreme degree, AND writers are a lot less common than they used to be.

I look back at some of the hyper-earnest scripts we used to have served up to us, and of course I can see how (a) naive and (b) self-importantly WRITERLY it was (there's a post in "writerly", to be sure - and a relevant one as an author).  A certain stretch of 70s TV tended toward didacticism, which isn't a load of fun.  When you can hear the writer's ax on the stone, it's not entertainment, and it's not sophistication.

But sheesh, at least someone tried on occasion.  In between Farrah  Fawcett and Loni Anderson, there WERE women like Erin Gray (cruelly reformulated in Season Two - to be "softer" and more "feminine" and "sexy" - of Buck Rogers, but actually a lot of fun, and rather strong, when they first debuted her) and of course Bea Arthur, bless her bones.

Mojourner points out to me that access is such, now, that awesome women of enormous talent are out there to be found in a quantity we would not have heard of when we were kids.

But the thing is, the quantity of trash has gone up, too.  My intention had been to comment on THAT - on the ubiquity of narrowly defined womanhood (and girlhood), and how much greater the flood is now than when I was a kid.

Not that "when I was a young'un, life was so much better" - that tiresome old song of the middle aged and geriatric, ditty of fear and judgmentalism and frank self aggrandizement.  No, it was supposed to be a note about how gross cheap culture is, and how in a world where not everyone chooses to refute and ignore it, surely it has some kind of negative effect.  I'm old, strong, and contrarian enough looking at fashion magazines only makes me feel BETTER about myself, it doesn't leave me barfing to a size three.

But I'm not typical, and I'm not convinced there aren't an awful lot of girls out there getting fed, essentially, a non-nutritious mental and social diet.  That bothers me, even knowing my nieces are not typical either.  Just because the people I love most may be safe from the vagaries of this vast, swirling morass of crap doesn't mean I don't care about the squillions who are submerged in it and who might not have life preservers.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

... Then I Will Shut Up

A second/final acknowledgement, and I will stop.  For tonight.

This blog is intended to be my pubic, authorial presence online.  I'm aware when it gets tangential, and believe it or not, this is not entirely unplanned.

Of late, between the anger I encountered, stopping me in my tracks recently, and the experiences with my past sexual harasser (his last day is tomorrow; today I was able to say exactly no goodbye, and will never lay eyes on him again), it may be obvious to some why the tangents have become increasingly focused on feminism.

I'm aware this alienates a certain audience, and perhaps someday I'll have an agent, publisher, or even a PR drone to tell me this must not be allowed in my public persona.

Today is not that day.  And I am no more a processed, telegenic Evil Sexbot than I am a published author right now.  When I feel a responsibility to something beyond The Ax and the Vase or my other products and work, it is still my freedom to use my voice.

I don't look forward to ever stifling myself again - though, to be sure, I may prove willing to provide a professional public face sans certain polemic.

But even with this awareness, the woman I am serves the work I have produced and will continue to put out.  (Yeah.  I caught the entendre there.  "Feminism" also doesn't mean I have no sense of humor - so it stands.)

I consider myself an essential storyteller in that I refuse to enslave myself to didactic themes - but the woman I am, and the beliefs I maintain, are the source of the things I write.

As a feminist, my female characters aren't allowed to be feminists.  Still, they aren't stifled.  They are remarkable to me, they teach me how to maneuver without denying the realities they faced.  They seem to love men, though the one central to the work in progress does so with all the complexity and even twisted impulses and motivations we as human beings seem to heap onto the process of loving.

I don't want to alienate anybody.

But damned, right now, if any of you will ever see me stifled again.

For the Record

"Feminist" is in fact not defined as "woman who hates men."  For one, I happen to quite like men, and boys too.  My first crush, at about the age of five, was on Mohammed Ali, and I haven't stopped having crushes for almost 40 years now.  Men are awesome - and any ex of mine, or Mr. X for that matter, would be unlikely to testify I'm a hater.

For two:  MEN can be feminists.

And should.

Men with daughters who refuse to call themselves feminists are doing their children a disservice, and the language to boot.  Perpetuating foolish stereotypes reflecting the narrow and hateful perceptions of what people who are not feminists wish to propogate *about* feminists reinforces the strength of those of little minds.

I don't care to change people's beliefs.

But I do care to challenge those who hold to the equality of women, who believe in fair play and who do not believe in chauvinism, pigeonhole-ing human beings by genre, the imbalance of power and resources, and holding down those who do not share their pigmentation, age, geography, chromosomal asymmetry, or whatever else irrationally bolsters their faulty self-worth - and yet who squeal and clutch at their pearls at the merest whisper of the word feminism.

This word has too long been deployed as a weapon against itself.  Reclaim it, PROclaim it, love it, repeat it, be it.

Being it alone - unspoken - as if it is a dirty thing - simply is not enough.  SPREAD the word.  And take back the fight.

This is More Than a Comment

I started to respond to Mojourner in the comments, but - no - this goes right up in a post.


Wasn't on.  I've actually been contemplating the precipitous backslide of feminism for a while now, and I'm not the only one who sees it.

Sure, Free to Be You & Me is a weak example - but the point is, when I was coming up, even way back in the dark ages of the 1970s, in a Southern Baptist home, in the morass of beautiful downtown White Flight suburbia, the stone-age exposures I had to pop culture were FAR more enlightened than "The Bachelorette" and rather terrifying swaths of the YA urban fantasy lit now utterly saturating the populace.  As an agent I really like said a year and a half ago, "the boobs are getting smaller" ... but female characters in the vast majority of entertainment today are NOT what they used to be.

Even as recently as the 1990s, women - actual, human women (and not even all of them milky white) - were allowed to make money making music.  Now even the supposedly "edgy" ones (Gaga) conform to the blond, radically thin, porcelain-skinned model pioneered by Britney when she was a pedophile's delight.

Look at a movie made in the 1970s and just the physical appearance of the women alone is a revelation - but the characters written back then are almost alien today.  Sex was something they participated in - it wasn't imposed upon them - and it wasn't something they imposed upon those around them, either.  These days, there isn't a female character in television, movies, or "reality" TV who isn't using sex in one way or another - to that exhausting, inevitable end:  proving that women are either evil sexbots - or useless, decaying flesh.  The evil sexbot might well be appealingly drawn.  But it's a detestable and seriously tiresome cliche' I frankly didn't have to grow up with.

Yes, female characters have been "drawn that way" for millenia now.  Even the early Church's hysteria about feminine sexuality and its resultant He Man Women Hater's (and rather drawn out; it took centuries) decision to refuse priests the right to wives was a reactionary stance strictly by gender.  BUT.  When I was growing up, that was not the ONLY available model of femininity.  Love her or hate her, even "Maude" was an option once upon a time.

Now, though, there's Sullen Teenage Girl, the character whose life is utterly empty but for the empty veins of her chilly and much-aged vampire/boyfriend.  There are the "boobs getting a bit smaller" heroines of games, none of whom presents as a human woman ever really could.  There's "The Bachelorette" and every pneumatic, "perfect" girl hawking her body (erm, music) and a culture glorifying adolescent cat-fighting and vanity the likes of which even I can't hold a candle to.

I have never cared for Madonna - and she's become the very icon of everything I'm complaining about, as well as a hilarious travesty to boot - but in 1983, that girl had a gap in her teeth, armpit hair, and a belly on her.  At least she looked like a *person* - and still approximated that financial bonanza people equate with success.  Belinda Carlisle got a lot of flack 25 years ago for not being a stick - but she had a career (and, I doubt, ever got a boob job either).  Beautiful, talented women who weren't peroxided nor stamped with makeup straight out of Playboy magazine, standardized, sanitized, all vestige of talent rendered irrelevant before the almighty corporate trends of "sexy" and "perfect".  Melissa Etheridge could not get a break today, period.  And those years I was talking about, in the 90s? - when PJ Harvey and all those alterna-GRRLS who had something to say beyond "please observe my appearance" - are over.  I don't know when I've caught sight of an American performer whose own raw gifts could really overcome anything so important as the package she's served in.  (Yeah, yeah, Adele is doing well - and she has a curve, yes.  But Adele is already pissing people off due to oversaturation, and those curves of hers still come packaged in highly calculated vintage style, perfect false eyelashes, and a creamy envelope of beautiful skin so luminous a camera still adores her.  Holler at me when a woman comes on the scene who is homely by current telegenic standards, but whose assets and training are more luminous than that skin.  Particularly if she is not extremely pale, no matter her race.)

Holler at me, for that matter, when you see a female police officer, attorney, or actual romantic lead who has a waistline above 24 inches ... or an ID indicating she was born before the 80s.  Who has something more to say than platitudes or pining admiration for some man, or (worst of all) self sacrificing paeans of martyrdom which mouth a writer's cause, not a character's.  I have grown pretty sick of the self-martyring female character.


I need to go mow the grass, so I"m posting this while my thoughts are still roiling.  But still.  Keep on thinking for me.  And I'm not stopping either.

Long Weekend

I was off today at 12:30, a five-hour day succumbing quietly and with no resistance to four hours off.  Mmm.

Lunch with my priest, whom I love.  Dog food for my dog, whom also (but differently) I love and sometimes serve.  Home, to lie down, because the headache was indeed very bad.  It remains so, a couple of hours later, but it also remains to be seen how much this defeats me.  The plan has been to mow and to clean.  The house, given a once-over last week for family but not "really" cleaned, is showing its heavy use over the holiday, and another week's neglect.  Not a mess, but the number of things out of place at this point is excessive.  Picking up alone would make such a difference.

If I ever get the energy, picking up alone may be all I do.


Tomorrow begins the nerdly-indulgent fun of RavenCon, just after I do my taxes.  Running up into Sunday, there won't be much time for other pursuits this weekend.  I don't see time for revision.  From the midst of a headache, I don't see much cleaning, if I'm honest.  Discomfort and lassitude (and nobody HERE but me) feeds a false content with the status quo ...

It is a long weekend.

But no vacation!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


When I was a kid, we had this.  NOW, little girls have sullen teenagers who believe life is incomplete without shiny, sullen vampires.


Yeah.  NO.


Readership (by actual human beings!) has gone UP this week, and I am grateful to all.  Keep coming, and don't be shy to comment, please.

Number of coworkers who've discovered this blog in the past month - at least three.

Number of coworkers' spouses who've fallen for The SBC (hee) - at least one.

Tell a friend, kids.  I might even post about writing again, and fake like I'm relevant and capable of concentrating on a theme of sorts.

The One Place ...

... Mr. X could actually be replaced.  Heh.

NPR Sadness

The least saddening thing about this is that at least nobody is talking about "winning" anything.

Still.  Sigh.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hat, 'fox, Beyond Thunderbrowse

I think today's hits break a site record for variety of browsers bumping into this place.

And look!  Someone with an iDevice even looked in here!  It's almost like it's not the 1980s in at least one tiny corner of my luddite life!

NPR Badness

Am I the only person who listened to the piece on Myanmar this morning, agape and occasionally yelping with outrage at the Western man who continually referred to the nation a few years ago as "MY" Myanmar ... ?  Is it possible I am the only person who found that preposterous?

I don't see the phrase in a relatively quick reading of the transcript.  But I heard it about five times or so this morning.  See if you can find it (audio or transcript) - I don't have the stomach to look yet again.

Leftover Pot Roast - and Pride

Mmmm the house does smell good.  Late leftover dinner still has that delicious Sunday-dinner fragrance.  Yum.


Jeff, my friend, it may be a pernicious weed, but darn it makes for an excellent and entertaining post!

Sunday, April 8, 2012


This weekend started when I worked from home on Friday, and was actually almost relentlessly productive for my half day.  I always *feel* like WFH isn't as good for me, but this week wasn't allowing for any dip in accomplishments, and indeed I ended up with a touch of OT as well, along the way to resolving a high priority question I'm not sure my own feedback didn't have any influence in finally answering.  Not too bad, and the ultimate decision was one which makes a lot of work I did earlier this week very useful, instead of a mistake to be rectified as soon as possible.  Heh.

Once work was done, mom happened to pop by at EXACTLY the right moment, so we went for lunch, which was lovely and somehow ate up much of the afternoon - so I eschewed mowing the lawn.  Hey, any excuse with no storm.  *Grin*  Did hit up the grocery, and got some housecleaning done (... *some* - the place was presentable!) and cousins came in the evening.

I cooked my first pot roast Saturday, the whole fam got together for Easter and my stepfather's birthday, and a good time (I think) was had by all.  I have fairly low recall of most events outside of eight a.m. roast browning and *then* breakfast - BUT I do hear from Mojourner that our mom put her stamp of approval on the roast!  Major accomplishment there, egregious name pun and all.  *High fives self*

We had family movie night last night, with goodies from the Mediterranean Bakery as a lighter supper and given extremely light leftovers after family pot roast, with Rango for a feature.  After a bizarre nervous breakdown from Siddy, who suffered hideous, acute terror for forty-five minutes or so - from no discernible source, and with complete resolution once I pried myself out from under her - I made homemade popcorn (the most remarkable process and treat for the kids), and we all went to bed reasonably early once the flick was over.

Today, gloriously beautiful day and a good long walk with the boys, including cousin dog and The Lolly, then a fun outing to the Science Museum, which was open but nicely not overcrowded for the holiday.  Home for Chinese delivery, and then they got on the road.

I am exhausted, and the weekend is gone, but it was good, and sometimes exhausting yourself with family is in its way relaxing - and certainly fun.

The settlement check from the accident came on Saturday, so that adventure is closed (though - ack! - my back is pretty beat, after this weekend!).

And now for a new week.  And a short one, too.

Time to shut down, rest, and be ready.  Good night, all.  Or good day, depending on when you are reading.

Friday, April 6, 2012

My Stars

It seems moments ago I was marveling at the first lightning bugs of the season.  Last year.

Maybe it's only because we never had a winter that seems too near in time.

But I am betting it's my age.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


The conversations I had last week were the culmination of many weeks' anger and confusion.

They weren't the result of these things.  But they were an almost too-tidy culmination of the effects of forty-four years' self-censorship, anger, fear, and hideous frustration.

I'm unaccustomed to living in a state of anger, so to find it in myself - as suddenly and overwhelmingly as I did, when it came - was confusing in the extreme.  I didn't understand its source - I understood its trigger - but not its roots, not the depths from which the anger sprang, and grew.  And so I had to search it out.

Erick's been the only person I could talk with about the full panoply of everything that went into last week.  He didn't even point the way; but just something about his brain works with and against my own in a way that seems to stimulate mine.  He makes me work in ways I could not, before I knew him.  And what that has given me, I'm so grateful for.

The harasser resigned this week.  He had another offer.  So I know this isn't the result of my painful decisions.

I still did the right thing.  He can't take that away from me.  It *is* a shame the next employer may be exposed to the risk his behavior represents (I know I was not the only person he upset).

But mine isn't.  And my employer is the one who matters - and not only to me.

And, however it dovetails - or absolutely doesn't - the risk is removed.

Not eliminated.  I'll pray about that part.

But removed, and from me.  Interesting, that.  I'll pray I don't take credit for it, but give thanksgiving anyway.


Am I the only person who notices that, in the reboot, BSG has some gender issues inherent?  Not one of the female cylons does her job without dragging dreary old sex into the action.

Because, after all, women can't competently accomplish anything unless they're Evil Sexbots.

Geez the mindest of the writers boggles the mind.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Man, Love

"No father could have loved a son more than Aeneas loved Ascanius, but Ascanius had not yet grown into the generosity of heart that would let him simply accept that love; he thought he had to earn it by proving himself superior to it."  --Ursula K. LeGuin, Lavinia   

I've known more than one man and boy who labors under the misapprehension that love must be earned.  It reminds me of the rather Victorian theme of a young male character who runs away from the life he begins with, in order to "earn his way" (and, theoretically, come back to the young ingenue, whom he will marry when only he can afford it ... has "earned" it).

Such a heartbreaking way to waste a blessing.  Especially the ones who go for those last three words.  Who harden, measuring love as a detriment and, finally, eschew it - and, perhaps, even come to think they are "above" it.

Acceptance ... takes such generosity of heart, few people ever manage (or even want) to attain it.


Sarcasm? Why Yes, I'll Take Two!

There might be people who would find their name and the word sarcastic in a search string either offensive or something to give them pause.

Me, I think it's pretty funny.  (Even if the adjective *is* only because I'm an original SB.)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Passion, or Love?

Writers talk about passion all the time, and there are quite a lot who talk about love, in discussing the creation of their characters.  Working on Clovis' emotional urgency, I've been thinking about this a good deal lately.

Being a middle-aged suburban hausfrau ... Clovis has never been an avatar for me.  He's not in any way my "ideal", someone I wish I could be, nor wish I could know or be with personally.  Characters are so often an expression of desire on the part of an author (or writer or 'Nartist) they often become meaningful in a very real emotional way for their creators.

For me, the emotional power of my characters is ... very different.  Perhaps, rather than passion, what I get from the inspiration of my story or my characters, or even the setting in which they live, is ignition.  Something indeed burns - but it's not my heart, not even my sighing admiration for these people or what they do.  To this day (and I have lived with Clovis now something like seven or eight years in the making), I could not say definitively that I quite "admire" the king.

I have enormous respect for the character as he seems to me, and a deep liking born both within his story and from what I brought to telling it myself.  I am fascinated by the dynamic of his choices, his legacy, his unquestionable charisma, ambition, power, and accomplishment.  Clovis is both intimately familiar to me and still almost alarmingly alien.  There is an extent to which gaining too much affinity for the man he was (the character he is) doesn't appeal to me, as it would sink me so far into the work I'd never be able to deal with it honestly.

Finally, though "admiration" is a bit of a precious offering to put before someone as pungent and (dare I say this) frank as the old Frank.  It seems a bit twee - like leaving a frilly Valentine card for Attila the Hun.

Certainly, I don't fear my own creation.  He lit a fire in me, and I do confess a hope almost as potent as prayer I brought forth a little more than a glowing ember.  Along with the respect, the liking, comes immense gratitude as well - to have known this story, this monarch, this husband, this founder - and to have had the privilege of relaying his story.  If there is kinship at all, as an author, with the character, that is the link through which we are bound.  That I was the conduit here, that - if a subject chooses its teller, not the author in control - I should have been chosen for this story.  This fresh tale, so new for my audience - and yet so fundamentally riveting.


I sit here tonight, an afghan poorly bunched up behind my back, not supporting it nearly enough - and in more pain, I believe, than I've been in throughout the past month and a half - and there it is.

Ignition.  The passion of a girl who won't do pink love notes.  The inspiration of a woman who can take on a man like Clovis.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Pretty, Feminine Garden-osity

I love stuff like this.  Here's hoping Mojourner does too.