Category Archives: Musing

Spooked Cat Climbs the Blushing Tree

To clarify, because we all know this is going to come up.

I’m having trouble describing the feeling wherein:

  1. You say something nice about someone you admire (assuming they will never hear or acknowledge you),
  2. and then they pop out of nowhere and say thank you,
  3. and you’re so surprised that they
    1. are present
    2. and heard you
    3. and said something back
  4. that you have the overwhelming urge to run up a tree and hide in its branches until everyone has left and it’s safe to come back down

(without using the word “dork,” because there’s nothing here that merits a pejorative)

My friend said, “I’m sure there’s a German word for it.”

So I tried, unsuccessfully, to translate “the spooked cat climbs a tree in which to blush,” into German, so I stuck with the English.

In conclusion, if you ever hear me mumbling that phrase, “spooked cat climbs the blushing tree,” it means I am starstruck and trying to recover.

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I’m gender-fluid.

Gender-fluid is a gender identity which refers a dynamic mix of male, female, neutrois, or any other non-binary identity, or some combination of identities.

I’m gender-fluid. Here’s what that means to me.

My buddy and I went for a hike the other day, and back in their kitchen we got to talking about gender. They’re changing their pronouns in public for the first time, and they’re not sure if it will go over well, or smoothly, or if their self-description will accurately convey their being.

When I say I’m gender-fluid, here’s what I’m trying to convey:

As a kid, I was occasionally seen as a boy and told that the things I was interested in were boy things. I played a dude, as a dude, in a high school play. I sang with the boys for a few songs in choir. While I don’t feel un-female, I’ve come to understand that my stance shifts relative to the group I’m in and the role I take within that group. So now, when the vast majority of societal messages and cues tell me I do guy things, and act like a guy, I figure, “ok, I’m a guy. This is correct.”

Yet, the skin I wear fits, and I feel no need to change it.

I’ve met women that are tougher, harder, and butch-er that identify 100% as women. My experience doesn’t invalidate theirs, or vice versa. It’s a different mode.

For me, publicly identifying one way or the other helps set the tone. It contextualizes. It arranges for the response I want, and helps smooth interactions based on finding common ground.

That said, how you see me and what you call me has no bearing on what I am, which is why I’m not too hung up on pronouns… but I would feel like less if I were unable to shift. I would feel like less if I were asked to start, or stop, a particular gendered expression.

Identity is made up of a zillion categories and groupings, all of which have varying importance in someone’s life. Gender’s only one, like spirituality, or lineage. It’s not the first thing I’d mention when self-describing. Not because I’m ashamed, or not “out,” but because it’s not the most important lens through which I see myself.

It remains true, regardless.

If you feel like you’re this way, but didn’t have the word, now you do. If you feel like you’re alone in the way you are; you’re not.

While the language and the concepts might at first seem alien, or frustrating, or ridiculous, I appreciate that the conversations are becoming more commonplace. The more language we have, the more specific we can be — the better we’ll be able to understand, and be understood.

ar3-magazine-revised-final-web

This month, PodCastle, Pseudopod, EscapePod, and Cast of Wonders are running Artemis Rising 3, a celebration of female-identified and non-binary authors. Check ’em out.

I work at PodCastle now

A few updates:

  1. All the writing tips on this blog prior to 2017 are crap. they will probably continue to be crap for the next five years.
  2. I’m not 100% sure what I’m going to use this blog for in future. I use Facebook most, Twitter least, and the rest not at all. The archival properties of social media are crap — I keep losing notes and content. Maybe I’ll repost it here for safekeeping.
  3. I’m taking a year off from conventions, so no travel in 2017.
  4. Voice acting creds and non-fiction creds will continue to be linked out.
  5. I just got a job at PodCastle as assistant editor, under Co-Editors Jen Albert and Khaalidah Muhammed-Ali. So that’s neat.

Maria Bamford is the Best.

“It takes tenacity and courage to use a glue gun, and it’s the easiest thing in the world to criticize stuff. Click, don’t like, boo.

But if you sing out your Batman poetry to a largely hostile Barnes & Noble crowd; or if you crank out a raw, unedited skull of a granny smith apple, pop that on a Bratz doll torso, upload that to Etsy, price it high. If you think of doing a nude clown opera, you write it, you cast it and you actually fucking do it? That doesn’t show you’re insane. It shows the symptoms of being hard-working—and a huge success.

Now if you’ll excuse me,
I need to get back to La Quinta,
because I have faces to make
in the bathroom mirror.”

— Maria Bamford

 

Shut up and cope, you fucking weakling

Frustrated with talk of anxiety and trauma? Think that this generation is full of mewling pussies?

Have I got a rant for you!

If you have said the above sentence to yourself, I’d like to suggest that you’re coming at the sensitivity/politically-correct culture from the wrong direction.

(I offer as my context: I grew up in New York, and I now live in Norcal. My best friends and I say “go fuck yourself” instead of “I love you.”)

The primary goal of sensitivity, inclusion, unpacking, safe spaces, intentional communication, etc. is to to make the world less harsh and scary. In and of itself, that’s not a bad goal.

The process of unpacking all the horrible shit we’ve done to each other as a species is part of achieving that goal — looking personal and institutionalized cruelty (and the banality of evil) in the face and taking ownership of how those systems continue to screw people over.

So we’re looking at everything from considering natural African-American hair “unprofessional,” to quite literally beating each other to death over what… having to piss? Turning down a date? For fuck’s sake.

But sEtSu, everyone’s playing the victim! They use their “anxiety” and “trauma” to take up all the space in the room!

Well, I mean, lots of people have some form of social anxiety, ranging from, I’m a little nervous, I hope my peers like me, to full-blown can’t-go-outside-because-the-world-tried-to-kill-me agoraphobia. Acknowledging these things is usually meant as a way to show vulnerability — to bond — with the people around you. If the psychological vocabulary, or gender-studies vocabulary, or concepts relating to intersectionality are now widely available… why shouldn’t we use them to better understand ourselves and each other?

Especially in a world of social media, where it’s normal to not only air, but curate your thoughts and feelings. Our inner life is just as much on display as the clothes and cars of yesteryear. The thought police have nothing on social currency.

It’s also why you can’t really compare today’s struggles with the Victorian era, or WWII, because the stakes are so different. We can’t abstain from being online, from participating, because we’ll lose currency. On top of that, internet records are forever; and likely something your bosses and lovers (and now, possibly children?) will find.

Consider also the heightened insanity created by political echo chambers; pushing us further to one side or another in any game that has stakes… On top of terrorism, which is perpetuated somewhat by bombs, and much more by our media and government. There’s nowhere to run from any of this. We can’t avoid being online, and Syria is online. France is online. Nigeria is online. Radicals of all sorts are readily available 24/7, and we’re all watching each other.

I’m not saying the internet is the cause of our so-called fragility; but it’s been absolutely instrumental in changing the way we interact with each other as a people and as a species. The language is also changing and evolving incredibly fast. I’ve started seeing CW (content warnings) instead of TW (trigger warnings) to more accurately convey the purpose of the note.

As connective as this is, we could (and do) readily use that kind of information to exploit one another socially, emotionally, physically. We’re that much more on our guard for harm, because it can come from so many directions, with great intensity, at any time. We live in a world where you can get booed off stage by thousands of people from the comfort of your own living room.

It’s like that nude photo leak a few years ago. Some argue that the starlet shouldn’t have taken the photos, but they were stolen and distributed without her consent. Take a second to consider what you’re arguing in favor of. A kinder, gentler world wouldn’t slut-shame.

In my opinion, without shame, there’d be more orgasms for everyone. If they want them. No requirement either way. Consent. Vulnerability. Safety. It’s all good.

If someone cops to the fact that they feel off, and as such, are likely to do awkward things (like be insulting or draining, which is an honest mistake), surely you have as much ability to say, “it’s not my preference to shoulder that kind of vulnerability. Can we shift to a different topic?” Which lends itself to that kinder, gentler world folks are aiming for.

“Shut up and cope” is perfectly reasonable for some. Often, it’s exactly what I need to hear to pull myself out of a funk. For others, it leads to a sense of isolation, projecting, bad temper, alcoholism or other crutches, suicide, etc.

So I mean… it’s all about choice, spotlight or no, right?

Still annoyed?

Quit whining, whiner. Go for a walk or something, damn.

Don’t Ruin Your Life (Today)

Supposed to be studying something else last night but decided to watch a documentary on H.R. Giger instead.

I wonder if, to really dive deep into story and borrowed/vicarious/masked/translated experience… One needs to develop comfort with the subject matter. Or if one can go there while, or because, they are deeply uncomfortable.

Maybe, if you can’t do it sober, you can’t do it.

Got to chatting with a buddy with whom I share some of the same, shall we say vices. It was comforting, because it made me feel like less of a freak; but also discomforting, because it reinforced the boundaries of what is acceptable and unacceptable.

And why, based on how many steps we can take toward manifesting real-life nightmares just to give me something to claw through.

Looking at Giger’s art in Giger’s house, the omnipresence of Eros and Thanatos, got me to thinking about vices, addictions, and fascinations — and how deeply they’re ingrained into who we are. They indicate something vital, maybe not what kind of life we want; but what we want to use our lives to explore.

It’s up to us how we channel those frustrations and fascinations.

Which makes me wonder if procrastination and alcoholism function the same way, and if mastering both is something we have to take one day at a time.

As my brother says, “don’t ruin your life today.”