Category Archives: Fuckery

What the Internet is For

When I read Felicia Day’s You’re Never Weird on the Internet I was so delighted by her descriptions of how she approached marketing and promotion for The Guild, how everything was genuine, personal, and obsessively orchestrated by Day herself. As I stalked around my city on my lunch breaks hanging flyers in Cincinnati’s many coffee spots and libraries about my book’s launch and signing earlier this month, or when I still stubbornly respond to every RT and send thank you emails, I like how close to the work that I feel. I enjoy being a part of a community of writers and readers and dreamers, and growing that community all the time.

There are a lot of demands around how to market oneself online and create a personal brand, and I feel grateful to have gotten first involved in an internet before this was a thing. I started blogging in 2001 on Diaryland. I was 18 and it was then, at least for me, about cultivating a voice and entering a conversation. I made friends then that I treasure still now, as I did in subsequent years on Livejournal. At some point, blogging became less about play and more about product, and I’ve always been a little sorry for the change. But social media came along to fill the void at just the right time, and for a few years Myspace, and later Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr, allowed for the same informal socializing online. We shared things. We got giddy about things, and sad, and silly.

The medium changes, but my approach doesn’t.

Thinking about Day, again. She has always felt so authentic to me, and so kind, and that’s exactly what I’ve endeavored to be on the internet. I want people to feel as heard as they would if we were sitting across from each other over coffee. I didn’t grow up with the internet, but it’s been part of my adult life for my entire adult life, which is probably why I balk at folks who are just a few years older than I am, in some cases, acting like the conversations and speculations we’re having online are any less real than the ones we’d have in person. If I’m engaging with you, I’m engaging with you. The same goes, I imagine, for so much of my peer group and folks much younger than me, too. I’m just barely a Millennial – I remember when I was growing up, we were called Generation Y, and I’ve always felt there’s a subtle difference for those of us born in the early 80s, old enough to remember the world before the World Wide Web, young enough to appreciate both worlds as they are.

As a writer and a human with stories to share, I am always going to want to talk to you, learn about you, learn from you. I am going to pursue honesty and whimsy and friendship as ardently in a virtual space as I would in a real one – because both are real.

Don’t you think?

Leave Room for Wonder

I stared out my bedroom window as a kid and watched a running woman pursued at night down my rural street by a car with its brights on. I memorized her appearance – athletic build, white tank, grey shorts, fair hair in a ponytail – lying in bed repeating the details to myself long after I couldn’t see her or the car anymore. I figured, based on what I’d witnessed binge-watching Unsolved Mysteries before binge-watching was a thing, that the police would come to my house the next day to question me about this mysterious occurrence.

In retrospect, twenty plus years on, this woman was probably training for a marathon. The car was going very slowly, and she was jogging – maintaining her pace. But I was 10 or 11 at the time and had an extremely overactive imagination fed by conspiracy theories on television and reading too much. I had previously been convinced that the deadened indentations left in our yard by barrels were crop circles, and would in years to come hear indistinct music coming from our woods and assume there was a fairy circle I hadn’t discovered yet. There was magic in the world. There was mystery. And eventually, I would find myself at the center of it.

That day hasn’t come yet, but I’m still dreaming of it. It is the nature of the human mind to seek patterns, to organize and make sense of what we see and hear and touch, and when that’s coupled with a love of the fantastic and the supernatural, I think there’s always going to be a little room for wonder. When I was struggling with anxiety a few months ago, I recall a moment listening to Lore – a podcast I’ve admitted my love for before and not one I would necessarily call inspiring – where the magic of the unexplained came as such a relief to me. No matter how certain or how certainly terrible things seem, I want to always believe in the unbelievable.  There’s plenty of beauty in the known and the comfortable, and I treasure the worn-smooth edges of my life. But I never want to say no to the unknown.

Can you blame me?

Guilty as Charged

My second book has been out for a week, officially. Pretty weird, right? Here’s how I’ve celebrated.

On Tuesday, I shared a kids’ chocolate shake with my littles. Because there’s no not sharing something sweet when your children are awake.

On Wednesday, my husband went out of town for work, so I ferried and fed and bathed my children sans backup. We watched Reading Rainbow and ate leftovers and I stole a few moments to write after they were asleep.

On Thursday, I read a whole graphic novel before bed.

On Friday, my husband came home. We drank coffee, played video games, and did some writing and reading, respectively, before bed.

On Saturday, I mailed copies of both my first and second books to my parents, along with a late Mother’s Day card and an early Father’s Day card.

On Sunday, I folded a whole lot of laundry. We blew bubbles on the porch, watered the vegetable garden, and went to our girls’ first baseball game.

On Monday, I balanced an unpleasant but necessary errand in the morning by taking myself to see Wonder Woman.

Sometimes being a creator means a whole lot of guilt.

And today, I’m thinking that for as momentous as it seems and as it really is to be authoring, not much has changed or is likely to change for me. I work. I mother. I help take care of my family and my home. I don’t spend enough time nurturing relationships with friends, I don’t read enough books, I never write enough. I will waste time on Twitter. I will never see the end of little socks and undies vomited forth from the dryer. I will bake things and eat them even when I know that I shouldn’t. I will be inspired to write on my commute only to have my ideas flee when I have a moment to devote to them.

I’ll live and love and daydream of living and loving differently.

I’ll always want to be and do better.

I feel like the question comes up a lot, why do you write? And my answer is always the same. I can’t not write. There are days when I wish I didn’t feel the pressure to create, because I’m usually exhausted and only want to relax like a normal human. Watch television. Play Skyrim. Pursue any number of leisure activities without guilt. But that’s not who I am, perhaps especially on days when I wish that’s who I could be.

So, my second book has been out for a full week, and my life goes on. I’m working on something new. I’m obsessively checking for reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. I’m cooking and cleaning up and putting in my 40 hours a week. I am trying.

And that’s okay.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Sithmas

Am I writing all of these posts just for the puns? Maybe.

Today we’re visiting one of my favorite fictional worlds, which I believe could use a little cheer after its latest installment. Which isn’t to say I didn’t love Rogue One, it’s just, my heart resembles something like a crushed up candy cane after seeing it.

I have to admit that I’ve never actually seen the real Star Wars Holiday Special. It was before my time, though with the internet I suppose there’s no real excuse. I still think, based on what I’ve read, that I prefer this one.

And another for laughs. This isn’t the worst Christmas song ever – I reserve that accolade for anything by The Carpenters and this melancholy number – but it’s close.

There’s No Place Like Chrome for the Holidays

Building on yesterday’s frivolity, I have some similarly foolish things to share today.

This one’s a real oldie but an absolute goodie – especially now that I am grown up enough that I listen to NPR, and it would be easy to mistake Lynne Rossetto Kasper for Molly Shannon or Ana Gasteyer. In fact, I think I’d be far more likely to listen to The Delicious Dish than I ever am to stay tuned in to The Splendid Table. Even without Alec Baldwin’s sonorous tones.

And of course Bustle has gathered an assortment of festive and hilarious SNL sketches, if you’re into that sort of thing. Because of course you are.

‘Tis the Season

In no particular order, here are some things that I would like for Christmas.

Star Wars Carolers

Please read a book. Let me know which one and I’ll try to read it, too. Then we can talk about it, maybe over coffee? But please don’t make me leave my house. It’s cold outside and I like my jammies.

Something you’ve made. We can trade – I write a mean short-short story. Or, at least a mildly amusing one. Shall I eviscerate someone in fiction for you?

A mid-afternoon .gif war. I’m most in need of stimulation around 2:00 PM, but as napping at work is definitely out, something to keep my neurons firing would be most appreciated.

An honest review of my work. Here’s a little secret: this writer would rather you shared my books than buy them. I mean, buying is excellent, but if I had to choose between the cup of coffee I can buy with my share of the royalties versus the priceless word of mouth recommendation, I know which one I would prefer. I’ve even got a few copies of my books floating about that I’d be willing to provide for your reading pleasure.

A book recommendation. These are surprisingly challenging to come by, or they’re too general and don’t feel like they’re really for me. I am diligent about what I like, though. Maybe we like some of the same things?

I’ve got some early gifts for you, too. Beginning this coming Sunday, December 18, I’ll be counting down to Christmas with the seven silliest and best things about celebrating in the age of the internet. I’m as nostalgic as the next person for the holidays of my youth, but there’s plenty to appreciate about being able to connect with fellow twinkling-light obsessed nerds at the speed of a tweet. If you don’t want to have to check back here for frivolity, sign up for my email newsletter and nerd out at your leisure in your inbox.

On Being Good, Being Kind

Current State My husband and I watched Kubo and the Two Strings last night and it was breathtakingly lovely. Near the end, for no specific reason that I can point to, I began to think about dying. Not the abstract certainty that yes, I’ll die some day because we all do, or the deep mourning I have felt when someone close to me or to my family has died, or the fear that comes on me when my children are too quiet or absent too long or running high fevers in the middle of the night. Deeper, darker, realer than that.

Being dead.

Going to sleep and never waking again dead.

Getting in my car and crashing into someone or something, feeling it roll over and over and over me dead.

Just, ceasing to be.

I had my head on my husband’s chest, felt his shifting muscles, his beating heart, my own seize up and tighten, tighter, as I imagined not being. Even now I can’t even capture the terror that gripped me. That I am, now, that I live and breathe and dream, now, and someday I won’t anything. One day I’ll be gone, and I might not even know that I’m gone because I’ll just. Be. Gone.

I don’t prescribe to any particular faith. I never have, and perhaps I never will. A very good friend of mine recently told me of how she prays during times of uncertainty and trouble, how she’s learned to recognize the answers to her prayers in herself, in others, in the world. It sounded to me like a pleasant dream I’m not sharing, a guidance I sorely lack but don’t even know how to begin to crave. I have always been firmly agnostic, though I feel it’s one of those things that lacks firmness. I’m not sure what’s out there, what’s after, what came before, but I’m not ready to say there’s nothing.

Neither am I ready to say there’s something.

The movie ended and I sat up and when he started to talk to me about how he felt about it, I started to talk, too, and my mouth just hung open. I started to cry. Harder. And then I couldn’t breathe, and my heart felt slow and fast at the same time.

“I’m scared,” I told him. “It’s scary.”

I’ve not had a panic attack of this magnitude since college, and I’ve never contended with my own mortality in so visceral a way. But I’ll tell you what’s the same between this response and the crippling anxiety I experienced as an undergraduate: stress and lack of control. At 23, I was so overwhelmed by my course load, my job, my family, and my aspirations that I quit two of those things and sought counseling. Eleven years later, I have the presence of mind to know that this is just a moment in time, and eventually I’ll feel better. Unfortunately, my scope of worry is now so much bigger.

I feel maddeningly powerless about a number of things right now, but I’m painfully Type A, guilt-ridden, and suffer an unreasonable sense of duty that urges me to continue to try anyway. To throw myself against the wall until it breaks or I do. I look at what’s in my life and tell myself I can’t quit anything, but that’s not really true. I can and I must, because it’s pretty clear to me I can’t keep on like I have been. I don’t have any more to give to stress and fear and uncertainty and speculation. I need to focus on what I can do: raise strong girls. Elevate the stories, amplify the voices, and share the incredible transformations in schools and communities through my work. Love my husband and my friends. Tell my own stories, not to escape the world I am living in, but to put magic into it.  I can’t be sorry but I already am.

I need to believe that this is enough.

This is plenty.

This is good.

 

34 in 34

I just celebrated a birthday, and I decided that in my 34th year, if only makes sense to combine my love of lists with my love of ambition. In no particular order, here are 34 things I hope to do while I’m 34.

I might need your help.

I will not be making one of these lists when I turn 111, but I dig this mural from breath-art on DeviantArt all the same.

I will not be making one of these lists when I turn 111, but I dig this mural from breath-art on DeviantArt all the same.

  1. Finish writing another book.
  2. Continue to work out at least three times a week.
  3. Read 34 books.
  4. Watch Star Wars: A New Hope with my oldest daughter. It’s not that I think four is necessarily old enough, it’s that I just can’t wait any longer.
  5. Attend Books by the Banks as a guest. With my second book slated for publication in May, I am cautiously optimistic.
  6. Finish one new costume for Dragon*Con. Of course I have more than one planned, but I’m being realistic about my sewing follow through.
  7. Run a successful writer’s retreat. After the holidays I plan to hit the ground hard plotting for a writer’s retreat in April at a castle. If that sounds like something you’d be into, you know how to reach me.
  8. Go swimming.
  9. See a play.
  10. See Bethany and Stephen get married!
  11. And my girls are going to be flower girls, so, weep profusely.
  12. See Alex and Christopher get married!
  13. Go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Dreaming big, friends.
  14. Grow vegetables.
  15. And then eat them.
  16. Blog twice a month.
  17. Sew something for each of my girls. I’ve actually already managed this, but I’m not letting myself completely off the hook.
  18. Write real letters. Volunteers? I have a lot of stickers to compliment my poor handwriting.
  19. See live music.
  20. More candid photographs of my girls with my actual camera.
  21. LARP more. After years of playing I took a break when my littles were very little, but I found time again last autumn and I want to keep it going.
  22. Send Miss E to kindergarten in style with a Schultüte.
  23. Grow my hair out.
  24. Or cut it off if I’m really feeling it.
  25. Watch Gilmore Girls in its entirety. I love it now but never watched it while it was on the air, so I am woefully behind.
  26. Knit. I may as well if I am going to be watching television; these hands are so rarely idle.
  27. Finish the quilt that’s languished half-assembled since before I was married.
  28. Discover some new music. Any recommendations?
  29. Visit my dad at least once a month.
  30. Endeavor not to fight with him.
  31. Acquire a Stratton compact. While Peggy Carter turned me on to these vintage beauties, I’m not attached to hers unless I get lucky.
  32. Read, paint, dance, and dream more with my girls.
  33. Appreciate my husband in word and deed.
  34. Elect a female president. #sorrynotsorry

Going Down with the Ship

Would love to be able to caption this one, but couldn't find the original creator. My favorite of the too many I've collected.

Would love to be able to credit this one, but couldn’t find the original creator. My favorite of the too many I’ve collected.

I have a shipping problem.

Probably you’re enough like me that I don’t need to clarify that I’m not talking about postage rates, but just in case.

I don’t read romance novels, but some of my very favorite books and television shows include pretty spectacular romances. I crave adventure and love, which I feel is pretty fair. I need my OTP making out in space, or castles, or castles in space, perhaps prior to an epic throw down with an interstellar vessel stuffed with dungeon trolls.

I’m also a notorious canon shipper, and have very little patience for pairings that go against what an author has written – unless it’s written very poorly, in which case I don’t care enough to feel invested anyway. But, to each their own. One of the few exceptions is probably Captain Janeway/Chakotay, after she’s been a determined and frosty badass and gotten them home safely from the Delta Quadrant, of course. And Trip/T’Pol. What is it with Star Trek effing with my heart?

But really, I’m just a Hermione/Ron, Katniss/Peeta, Lizzie/Darcy sort of gal. I trust the writers whose stories that I love and enjoy re-reading and re-watching, picking up the sly sweetness at the start of a relationship that I missed the first time around. If it’s a good ship, it’s good whether I see it coming or not. And the best ones, at least for me, are always intended.

Which is why I am feeling like a bit of a pariah after a recent re-watching of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Because if I was shaken by the chemistry between Rey and Kylo Ren during my first two viewings in the theaters, the privacy of my own home – and replaying their scenes – has me reeling.

Reylo is on my mind, you guys, in a big way. I’m a fan of the Rey is a Kenobi theory, and at the very least, feel it would be far too easy for her to be a Skywalker. It just seems to me like it would be an absolute waste to ignore what’s going on between these two every time they’re on screen together, to the degree that their scenes seem intentionally charged. That we see his face first when she does. That she overpowers him, and his first response isn’t to try and break her.

And the bridal carry. Come on.

I also feel like Reylo gives me, at least, what I need out of the series. In KOTOR, there’s an interesting precedent for those who have fallen to the dark side to return to the light, and I need to see a Skywalker truly redeemed – Ren’s slavish devotion to his grandfather’s work renders Vader’s last scene with Luke pretty hollow. Can Vader really be saved if his progeny continue to wreak havoc on the galaxy? Where’s the balance we were promised?

And then there’s this, which is honestly such a lovely parallel I can’t even deal.

Kylo Ren and Anakin

 

So I suppose I have my first trash ship. I am unlikely to let this go until 2017, at which point I hope I’m shouting, “Canon, bishes!”

 

Top 5 Television Crushes

If you’ve ever fallen for a fictional character, we should get a drink sometime and discuss our unreasonably broken hearts. Or at least obsessively YouTube clips of the following. Because really, it’s my love of their stories that’s really behind all of the blushing. Sure, they’re hot stuff, but the way they move… through an expertly crafted narrative, that’s the thing.

Right.

John Crichton

John Crichton is the first and the finest of men I’ve fancied on the screen. My attachment is likely aided by a serious girl crush on Aeryn Sun. Who doesn’t want to be Aeryn?! I actually didn’t watch Farscape when it was on the air, but caught The Peacekeeper Wars when it aired for the first time when I was in college. I was hooked. Despite having seen the end of the story first, I found the series full of surprises. And delicious wardrobe changes for Commander Crichton.

Trip

Because I do love a man in a space-faring uniform, Commander Charles “Trip” Tucker III from Star Trek: Enterprise is a forever favorite. Enterprise is the most underrated Star Trek series, and not just because this Chief Engineer is worthy of more than four seasons and a better end – don’t even talk to me about the series finale, because I’ve never watched it, and I never will.

Ten

They say that you always love your first Doctor, and while Christopher Eccleston as Nine surely occupies an eccentric corner of my heart, Ten will always be the TImelord I’ll pine for. His suits. HIs swagger. His silliness. Though I grew to appreciate Eleven in time, I’m not sure I’ll ever weather the oncoming storm.

Malcolm

Why wear my heart on my sleeve when I can wear a brown coat? Malcolm Reynolds, of all the fellas to admire on Firefly, is just my type: a guarded asshole who nevertheless FEELS ALL THE FEELINGS.

Logan Echolls 2

Which maybe explains why I love Logan Echolls so much, the man who occupies the one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-others place on this list. Veronica Mars may not be set in space, but it’s clever girl noir and exceedingly worthy of all your love and attention. Logan is a surprisingly dynamic and genuine character, and hot enough that you’re willing to ignore the puka shell necklace.

ETA: And an honorable mention to Jamie Fraser of Outlander, because, obviously. Perhaps I initially failed to include him because he really would’ve taken up two spots: one for himself, and one for his amazing shoulders.

Jamie Fraser