Surprise!

shutterstock_112860445I just surprised the hell out of myself, so I thought I’d share. In case someone else out there is working up to the same epiphany, maybe a little unexpected support will push them over the edge.

I don’t want to delay my plans to edit the witch story until tomorrow just because today will be partly sunny and tomorrow it’s supposed to rain all day.

Back up a little: I’m in Day Two of a four-day weekend. My first stretch of more than three days off since last June (I think so anyway—it sure feels like it!), and part of my birthday present to myself. Yesterday was for errands & etc., and today was supposed to be for going to Saturday Market and Powell’s and anywhere else I felt like going—just for fun.

But I’m going to crawl into the editing cave and finish. And while I’m at it, I’m going to write a couple of blog posts about this cool story. I’m still not quite sure where it came from, because it’s not like anything I’ve ever written—hey, there’s a post! 🙂

This is huge for me. I grew up being told I was lazy because I spent every free moment reading. You know, just sitting around doing nothing. So I grew up thinking I was lazy.

My home life was scary and violent when I was a child, so whenever I could I’d retreat to my room or the library or to school…anywhere but home. So another message I heard all the time was that I never finish anything, that I’m a quitter. While obviously not true, that voice is still there insisting it knows me better than I know myself, telling me—you won’t finish that, you’ll bail the moment it’s not easy.

But I’m not bailing. I’m editing. And I honestly don’t care whether it’s sunny or rainy or what’s in my bank account or how much fun I could have bopping around Portland today. Because I have a deadline, and I will meet it or beat it, but I won’t ask for an extension. Because that’s who I am. I’m a writer. Writers write. Readers read. Reading isn’t lazy, it’s amazing and wonderful, and reading just might save your life or your sanity. Maybe both.

A line from Fight Club just popped into my head: “You’re not your fucking khakis.”

I’m not the messages I heard as a child.

I’m not lazy.

If you’ve overcome a negative message from your childhood (or young adulthood, or anytime), I’d love to hear about it in the comments. We can all appreciate our current selves together! 🙂

Happy Caturday everyone!

The end text on typewriter

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Just the facts, man.

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Lately I’ve seen a lot of classist, shaming statements on the internet. I’m not usually one to call people out online—at least while I’m wearing my author hat (which, I’m told, is all the time now). IRL is different because conversations don’t tend to degenerate quite so quickly there, and though I haven’t been compared to Hitler IRL, I have been called a devil.

 

In addition to not calling anyone out personally, I’m not going to talk about the statements that prompted this post. I really just want to talk a little about my own holiday experiences, whether direct or observed.

  1. Some people can’t afford to buy all the ingredients to make a “traditional holiday dinner.”
  2. Some people have one or more of these attitudes toward cooking: I can’t; I won’t; I don’t give a fuck about it. All of these are okay.
  3. Some people don’t have families to gather with—either blood or made—and they’re fine with it.
  4. Some people don’t have families to gather with—either blood or made—and they’re not fine with it.
  5. Neither #3 nor #4 is “better” or a more valid way to feel than the other.
  6. Some people are grateful for the chance to work a holiday because they need the money to survive.
  7. Some people have to choose between food and holiday gifts, or between food and heat, or between heat and internet. Some of those choices are easier than others.
  8. Almost all of these people were born into a socio-economic class which precluded their participation in The American Dream (or, as it’s known to us, The American Myth).
  9. It doesn’t matter how smart they are or how hard they work, most of these people will be lucky to rise from the class into which they were born. Very few people are that lucky.

If you’re still with me, thanks for reading.

I won’t tell you what I hope you’ll take away from this post. That’s not my job. These are facts. I hope you’ll take a moment and think about them, even if you don’t see yourself in any of them. Especially if you don’t see yourself in any of them.

As always, I welcome kind, thoughtful comments. Any comments that are not kind will be deleted without acknowledgement or remorse. I love comments, please don’t make me delete yours.

Happy Holidays!

Who’s allowed to write, and what are they allowed to say?

tilted rose

I seek out good news. News about an athlete who, after many attempts, finally accomplishes their epic goal or about a scientist who makes a discovery that will change lives. Good news gives me hope, makes me feel like this planet just might be an okay place to live.

Sometimes, though, this kind of news carries undertones that hurt and belittle and erase people—or portions of people. If the accomplishment is made by someone who identifies QUILTBAG, it’s impossible to escape the attempt to straightwash or gaywash them. (Since I’m an author, my examples will use authors.) If the news is about a gay author someone will say—but why do they have to say they’re gay? Can’t they just be Accomplished Author? If the author is bisexual, someone will say that but also, why don’t they just say they’re queer?—or—but being pansexual is so much more inclusive—or even—I don’t go around saying I’m straight so it doesn’t really matter if you’re bi { or  asexual, gay, lesbian, trans, fluid, etc.}.

I’m sure most people don’t say these things meaning to hurt and bully, but if you’re straight and telling someone of another orientation that “orientation doesn’t matter”, then that’s what you’re doing. Almost nobody has to say they’re straight, because straight is the default for our society. Everyone is presumed straight until proven otherwise—and sometimes you are expected to prove it, even inside the QUILTBAG community. When someone says “orientation doesn’t matter”, what an LGBTQ person hears is a variation of “you don’t matter” or “don’t remind me that you’re different”.

Everyone should write the stories they feel inside and everyone should identify the way they choose, without worrying about backlash. Most people would probably agree it’s not right to censor another person’s fiction, to tell them (for example) that authors should only write characters who are of the same gender and orientation as themselves. I hope everyone will think about it before trying to censor another person’s identifier.

I am a bisexual woman who’s been out since the early 1980s and writing fiction about LGBTQ and straight characters since the early 1990s. I didn’t get published in more than small literary journals until I started writing about two men falling in love. Are my stories less valid because I’m not a gay man or a straight woman?* Ultimately, that’s not for me to decide, but I think I have as much right as anyone else to tell the stories of the people who live in my head, regardless of gender/orientation/etc..

My orientation, my right to identify as bisexual, is as important to me as being treated like a human being. Because they’re the same thing.

Erasure = discrimination = dehumanizing = wrong.

Please think before you speak.

tilted rose*This post wasn’t inspired by anyone attacking me personally, or any single post/comment, but by a mindset that I’ve been trying to change for decades. I’ll keep trying until it goes away.

You’re not alone

 I want to send out a big hug to everyone who feels left out during the holidays.

To everyone who has been disowned by their “family” for being LGBT, or having a criminal record or a mental illness, or any “reason”.

To everyone who doesn’t have anything “extra” in their budget to spend on gifts or a tree or a big fancy dinner.

To everyone who grew up dreading December because it shone a bright light on all the ways you were different, on all the things you didn’t have, or just because it was the most dangerous month of the year.

I’d hug every one of you if I could, just so you’d know you’re not alone. Because I get it. I grew up being teased because The Salvation Army brought my presents in a truck while I was in school.

I get it. I spent most of my adult life volunteering for any and every holiday shift and saying it was to help co-workers who had plans to travel out of state or do special things with their kids, when I really needed the money to turn on my heater.

I get it. I took a lot of shit for being bisexual. My “family” kicked me out of their little club after my daughter came out as trans.

Don’t let the holidays get you down if you can help it. Do something that makes you happy and join me in resisting the urge to compare our private lives to the public lives of others…as much as possible, anyway. Down that path lies a world of hurt, and besides, most people—especially on social media—take great care to show only their best side. You probably don’t show most of your struggle and pain in public, and most people are the same way.

If the whole deal seems to be too much, reach out. Someone will be there to help you through the next minute, or the next hour, or the next day, until things feel manageable again. Because they will. I’ve been there and back enough times to say that with confidence.

Check out my Resources page for a worldwide collection of hotlines and websites just waiting for you to reach out or use your Google-fu and find a new one.

Hang in there. *hugs*

tilted rose

pictures 1-4 taken by Charley Descoteaux.

A short break from Romance, in observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month

I’m going to school three mornings a week this term and Wednesday when I left class, my brain happily numbed by oversaturation with legalese, I was greeted by the sight above.  In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month the Women’s Resource Center on campus sponsored this T-Shirt Project to get people talking.  It’s not a romantic subject, but it’s one where I have to contribute my $0.02.  Change happens when we refuse to stop talking about something.

Love makes people do crazy and often stupid things, like make excuses for the bad behavior of others.  I’m happy to notice that this abdication of personal power seems to be getting less acceptable.   And not in the “s/he’s stupid if s/he stays” kind of way of 20-30 years ago (at least not exclusively).

Today on the train into town a young man was acting inappropriately.  It started with what he may’ve seen as flirting, and it would’ve seemed like flirting if he hadn’t followed it up the way he did.  He sat behind the young woman beside me and after a few minutes she turned around and told him not to touch her hair again.  She said it nicely but firmly, probably giving him the benefit of the doubt whether it had been intentional.  Well, I didn’t hear or see his answer, but she told him more loudly not to do it again.  A few moments later she stood up and moved to the doorway of the train.  I’d been paying attention in case she needed me to step in but didn’t see him do anything so I’m not sure of all the details, but we both got off at the next stop.  Another young woman talked to her before I had the chance, she said he’d been walking around hitting on women and wasn’t it horrible.

Now, I figured he wasn’t going to stop until/unless something or someone made him, but before I could figure out how to get the driver’s attention the gal did it herself.  She marched right up to his window & knocked & told him what was happening.  It would’ve been so easy for her to just go on her way and try to forget it ever happened, but she didn’t.

Obviously she had no feelings for him prior to this exchange, and what she felt afterward was nowhere near love, but her actions spoke loudly to me.  This gal has boundaries and doesn’t suffer their breach in silence.

I can only hope her response would be the same if someone she loves and trusts were to cross those boundaries.  Given the right support system and her habit of taking such actions seriously, she could end up staying safe in the long term.  And if more and more girls (and boys!) grow up with this kind of awareness it’s reasonable to expect Domestic Violence to become far less common in only a few generations.

None of us can control the actions of others, but we can control how we react to them and to what extent we give them power in our lives.  If you know someone who’s struggling with Domestic Violence, the conversation could save their life.  Feel free to use this story to open the door—use anything, just get the door open.  You can’t make them walk through it, but I guarantee that if you don’t open it they won’t even realize it’s there.

Thanks for listening.  Be safe out there!