Coming in 2019…

A book! But not just any book. My book! To be a tad more specific…


…will be arriving in all her tetchy techy glory sometime in 2019. More details when I have them. ūüôā


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What is identity?

First, to preface this thought piece, yes, I am a heterosexual white. I am also something that American White Supremacists hate: a woman and a pagan. I do not hate other races because I am perfectly secure in my skin color and am not threatened by any other shades of flesh. I am secure in my gender and sexuality and am not threatened by any other genders and the only sexuality I am offended by is the one that does not take ‘No’ for an answer. I am content with my faith and not threatened by anyone else’s but those that show such intolerance they feel justified in doing harm to others simply because of it.

The rise of hate, the normalization of violence towards the ‘different’ and ‘others’ makes me sick. You can feel or think or believe whatever you want, no matter how abhorrent it is. But there is no place for taking action on it where it brings actual harm to others, or facilitates actual harm to others. This is why I disagree with someone like a bakery that doesn’t want to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. Being offended does not hurt you, but it does harm the couple who has to hunt for someone else to provide what they seek. But I agree with services like hotels or transportation services or financial services from denying known violent (and likely terrorist) groups their facilities and services, because it would be aiding and propagating the violence on others.

I served this country in the Army because I believed that it wasn’t right that only men could potentially be forced into military service. I didn’t whine about it, though. It didn’t seem like writing my congressman would be more than a waste of paper, ink and postage (because the internet and email wasn’t the ubiquitous thing it is now.) I chose to step up and serve. And my oath, to me, was to every member of this country. I do not say ‘except for White Supremacists’ because there is no exception to make. White Supremacists have chosen to exclude themselves because they are no longer Americans in my eyes. They are vile traitors who seek to take this country for themselves and turn it into the horror they envision.

But. I started thinking about ‘white identity’ after reading a meme that explained why there could be ‘black pride’ but not ‘white pride.’ And I agree that most black people cannot trace their heritage because of our stupid ancestors’ need to own people. They have every right to be proud of their color because that is exactly all the identity we had left them. While we utterly destroyed most Native American society, most still have their tribal identities. (Side note, really wish we could start doing better by them. They are beautiful, fascinating people.) Most Asians that were brought over here held their historical ancestry.

And yes. Most white people can trace their lineage back to their immigrant ancestors. But here is the thing. If the DNA analyzing sorts expand their databases to be able to give black people the ability to discover exactly where they came from…would it really mean anything to them?

I mean, sure. They could finally say where their ancestors originally came from. I’ve had my DNA tested and it’s cool knowing the mix of starting points I came from. Even found out that I’ve got a good percentage of Neanderthal in me.

But here’s the thing though.

I do not¬†feel anything for most of my heritage. Most of it are only places on a map. The cultures are not¬†mine because I have never lived it, celebrated it, nothing. Ironically, the one that I loved learning about the most — Irish — I apparently have the least genetic traces of it. I am mostly German and *vague handwave* Eastern European. (There a lot of different pockets of identity to that. Much smaller than *vague handwave* African continent, but still vague. Vagueness kinda sucks.)

So, let’s go closer to home. I was born in Pennsylvania in “Pennsylvania Dutch Country.” The PA Dutch are also known as “PA Germans.” These are people who were early settlers of this area from Germany and didn’t wander much farther. You know who are PA Dutch now? Amish. You know what I am not? That’s right. Amish. I wouldn’t even want to be it because frankly, I love technology. Sure, we have some things like foods, hex signs, and a few words or phrases that linger, but pretty much the not-Amish PA Dutch aren’t terribly different from others.

Born in Pennsylvania. What does that mean? There are different regional identities within my state. There are the coal mining regions. The steel factory regions. The urban. The rural. Eastern. Central. Western. South Central. The things that make them unique are more nuanced, thus harder to claim as an identity or show pride. Which just reflects the difficulty in trying to show pride as an American because every region is different and if you move from somewhere else to join it, I’m pretty sure that most do not claim to¬†be that identity because they were not born and raised as¬†it.¬†If I moved to Ireland or Germany or *hand wave* Eastern Europe, I am pretty sure even if I got citizenship there, I would not¬†feel like and Irishman, or German, or *hand wave* Eastern European.

So, back to the question. What is identity?

Identity is connection. It is community. It is feeling a part of something. I suspect that if we really dug down, most of these people who fall into the White Supremacist groups do not feel like they belong anywhere. Not even with their families. Black Americans, as terrible as it is, have one unifying aspect they all share: their ancestors were slaves and they can look at other black people and know they share that heritage.

White Americans…don’t have that sense of community because of shared history. We can only tell it by things. Geeks can pick each other out pretty easily. We have conventions to gather at, even. Sports people can find each other if they’re wearing their team’s logo, or go to the games, but not everyone can get to their team’s games even locally, and then there is simply watching sports; you can’t share the event if you and your friends have different work schedules that precludes that moment.

My grandmother was Ukrainian. My grandfather was Slovak. They were first generation immigrants. In their effort to assimilate into this country, they stopped speaking the language when my mother was a very young child. They didn’t do anything to hold that identity. My mother had a few words and phrases they used, but otherwise, she is not Ukrainian. I know that my grandmother was from there, but I do not even ¬†have those few words or anything. I do not identify as Ukrainian, I only had them as ancestors.

I am not excusing the violence and hatred of the White Supremacist movement or their ideology. But I am saying that maybe the reason it exists at all is because we Americans are losing our sense of identity. Our sense of community. Some of us find communities elsewhere that are not harmful. Some get lost in addictions to drugs or alcohol or other unhealthy things. And some fall into hate and misguided belief systems.

We can’t ostracize people completely. This would be akin to backing something into a corner. If you give no way out, they aren’t going to change and they are going to fight back. Especially because we are Americans and it is in our national heritage to never give up, never surrender. But we need to make it okay to be able to change or Charlottesville will not be the pinnacle of the hate and conflict in this country, it will be a point in continuing escalation.

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Growing Up Without Representation

Wonder Woman was an incredible movie. And I have been seeing one post/article after another about the importance of representation in superhero movies. This has been minorly irritating me.

Don’t get me wrong! I think it is fantastic Native Americans and women of athletic build (not twiggy wisps) and people of different colors or faiths or whatever were portrayed in not insulting ways. And about time.

But I grew up when there wasn’t much representation. Or at least, it wasn’t really taught or brought up and the internet wasn’t a thing to search for anything myself. So those who I might want to emulate or at least admired were usually men. (Carl Sagan was a childhood inspiration of mine.) But I never thought, that because I didn’t know anyone in the areas I was interested, I couldn’t be something. I was just not a huge risk taker because failure was terrifying to me. (Whole other story.)

Now, true, I had no clue how to get where I wanted to go, and my school guidance counselor was of little help, but it didn’t make me feel I couldn’t because there were no women to model myself after. 

I dunno. It just feels like a lack of representation is an excuse. I know it is helpful, and some may need that bit of inspiration. But just…how do you inspire anyone to pioneer? To strike out onto the path never trodden instead of the one merely less travelled?

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On Writer’s Block and Grieving Muses

So, in my schizophrenic attempt to rekindle the writing flame since my husband’s death, I have started therapy to deal with depression and other issues that are hard to combat without him, started reading a physical book called Outwitting Writer’s Block and Other Problems of the Pen by Jenna Glatzer, reading an ebook called Journaling: How to Write a Journal that Improves Every Aspect of Your Life by Kyial Robinson, and using a meditation program called Headspace – meditation by Headspace, Inc on my smartphone.

Honestly, not real sure the therapy is doing much to help, but I’ll keep going for a while.

The books are entertaining at least. I prefer to read through first and then implement as I can. ¬†Glatzer is funny. Kinda has my sense of humor. (Basically, she’s a smartass. At least, the right amount of smartass. I like that.)

Headspace is actually helpful. My husband had always advised (and admonish my reluctance) to meditate. It’s kinda hard to focus on your own when your brain is constantly bouncing around. Even in its silence, it avoids focusing on things especially when there is a high discomfort level.

The one thing I am grateful for in all of these avenues is that, save for one brief exercise thus far mentioned in Glatzer’s book, there are no “visualization” components. I really dislike those because, at least when I’m awake, I cannot see things in my head. It’s called aphantasia and it’s annoying as all hell. (And depressing because my husband avoided the camera like the plague and I can only see him with photos.)

But the thing that is annoying is that there is literally nothing out there that deals with creative slumps when something major/tragic happens. Oh, there are vague suggestions to “just do it,” and the “it will happen! Give it time,” consolations. The former makes me want to bite people’s Achilles tendon and the latter I refuse to disagree with but not without some worry that I might be wrong.

I worry for a lot of reasons. When you lose someone in your life, especially the one person you were supposed to spend the rest of your life with, you see your own mortality, and how fast time passes. I had already had a 10 year hiatus that ended when I finally finished and published The Raging One. As I’m edging ever closer to the half century mark (that my husband avoided, the brat,) and seeing all the celebrity deaths of those who lived long and well and those who left too early, I worry I will start again too late.

I worry because I don’t want to NOT be a writer, but the longer I am away from something, the harder it is to return to doing it. I used to do text-based role-playing for many, many years. You could argue that my ‘hiatus’ wasn’t that much of one given I would be “team writing” with others for hours upon hours, day after day after day, for over that decade. ¬†But for many reasons, that avenue is gone, and now my muse’s candle is snuffed.

And there is NOTHING out there to guide a grieving artist through this sort of things. Some use their art to work through their grief. Some find their art during their grief. But finding those few who have endured loss and still found their voice…I wish there was something. Even a brief suggestion. Even if it doesn’t work for me, to know that I am not alone, that it’s okay because yes, it’s hard to get through, but it is possible. Something to give me a little hope.

Perhaps it is something I need to do. Not that it is something I ever wanted to do. I’m not even sure where or how I would begin such a venture. I’m not even sure right now anything I would suggest would be useful since I’m still struggling to find my way. I won’t be a hypocrite and promise something that I can’t honestly say worked for me. I don’t even know how I’d find others to talk to about their experiences because….well. Grief and tragedy are painful things and few want to discuss those matters publicly.

Damned vicious circles. Annoying shits.

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Rant On All The Things

One thing that most people discover about me is that I will rant about things that irritate me. Today, I will share a little bit of that with you. Not political, though. Not only is that extremely frustrating and depressing, everyone and their third cousins are doing that these days.

Okay, I lie. Here’s a teensy political rant. Yes, our entire political system has turned into something that puts dumpster fires to shame. Can we stop focusing on the flaming turds that are deaf to the anger, panic and fear and focus on those who are thus far dodging the scorching limelight? The ones who are enabling this madness? The ones that you can directly affect with your vote?

And for the love of gods, stop attacking people if they don’t agree with you! This is how we got to this level of divisiveness in the world. Figure out what everyone wants. I mean really wants. But what they want for themselves. All these opinions and whatever steeped in race or religion or gender or whatever…ask how it affects them directly. Because really all these people who want rules and such to prohibit others from doing things want control. Everyone feels like everything is out of their control, and they will try their damnedest to control¬†something.

Okay, so now that that is out of the way. Two rants I had elsewhere on the web.

Advertiser manipulations.

Three of my four work days, I commute into work. (FYI, I work 10-hour days so I have one weekday to be able to get shit done I can’t on a weekend as much as possible.) After I lost my husband, I stopped listening to the radio in the car. For a while, it was all music. Then I started listening to music from my phone. For one, it was more variety since what I wanted to listen to isn’t played on any station in my area. For another, no commercials whatsoever.

Commercials are just not that entertaining anymore. In fact, the more they vex me, the less I’m inclined to buy an advertiser’s product. (Imagine the conundrum in the offices when everything marketers learned doesn’t work like they were taught! They’d be like every other person who’s endured higher education and discovered most is outdated or not how the real world actually works.)

So, for whatever reason, possibly just to get variety in my day, I started listening to the radio again. Now, I’m on the road well before ‘prime time’ in the morning. From 5am to 6am, to be more precise. Anyone who’s watched late-night-slash-early-morning television knows that’s infomercial and bizarre products time. Lots of ads for assorted medical conditions (WebMD symptom search right on your radio!) And two different offers for free testosterone enhancement.

Really? I used to get spam email for this sort of thing. (Now I get spam for porn and money. Do they think I’m a guy or a lesbian or some shit?) No wonder men are so fucked up in the head with “performance” and “manliness” and even the slightest lack of it being drilled into their heads. Not to mention the whole “how women should look/behave” thing skewing their expectations.

Look, guys. You know what might be causing some of your “performance” problems? Stress. Stress fucks up everything in the body. All the cholesterol and blood sugars and hypertension and sleeping disorders and pissing and pooping issues? Likely stress, which is messing with your outlook on life, which is messing up your food intake, which is circling back to cause more stress…figure out how to get your shit together for yourself and then start treating people like people around you.

And avoid commercials. If you can’t avoid commercials, train yourself to think the opposite of what they want from you. Anytime they throw in a pretty woman or insinuate that if you get/use their product the pretty women will throw themselves at you? They want you to think that. What they’re thinking is that you can be manipulated by your dick. Trust me, if anything advertisers sell would attract women these days, we’d be getting it for ourselves. Or the unscrupulous women would be using you to get your things and figuring out how to keep the things and get rid of you.

Bonus service: How to attract women 101

Don’t be an asshole.

And now for my other rant of the week…

Comic books

So, apparently Marvel’s being a whining little snowflake about the sales of their physical comics. (I’m sure DC is, too, but the article I read was about Marvel. The Real Reasons for Marvel Comics’ Woes) Their “study” has turned up that “diversity” is hurting them. (Despite that sales for those titles are actually doing pretty good.) Couldn’t have ANYthing to do with their business practices.

First, they sell only through comic dealers/stores. I mean, come on. Back when I was in high school, the only way I noticed comics existed was on the little spinner stands at Waldenbooks. When Amethyst had started, I was ecstatic because it looked like a fantasy-based thing and it was new.

I was also naive to believe it would be independent of the rest of the Marvel universe. See, I wanted to get into comics, but it was daunting. Most of the time, they were in the middle of some sort of story arc that I had no clue what was going on. And their helpful ‘references’ to past or other comics were really no help at all. A few times, the location reference had another location reference.

And then there were the multiple-story lines for single characters. Which Batman was the ‘real’ story in? Or the multiple Superman? The whole X-Men and massive team things mystified me completely.

I had hope when a comic book shop appeared in the malls my family would visit. (I lived in the country. There was no going anywhere without Mom or Dad driving me and if they had nothing to do near where I wanted to go, well, then I wasn’t going.) But the only things there were single story lines for, and they were few, were not of interest to me. (Also, in the middle of arcs and no way to get the complete set of those issues before to get the whole arc. Always a few were missing from the old issues they had on hand.) Even my beloved Elfquest went into multiple story issues.

And my allowance was pitifully limited. For a while, it was $3 a week, then $5, and eventually $9, and I could afford one thing. Maybe. When I started reading paperbacks (not the kiddie books, the real novels in the ‘grown up’ genre’d sections) I could afford one book a week. It never lasted long, but I would re-read things during the summer and had school stuff that limited my reading time otherwise.

Even then, I might have been able to afford 2 or 3 comics. But as fast as I read? I was done with between the time I left the register until I got to the store entrance.

And that comic¬†Amethyst? They must have switched up artists, so it wasn’t pretty anymore. They started crossovers with other Marvel characters, and I couldn’t find the references or they made no sense when I did find them. And the story just got weird, so when considering my limited funds and what I wanted? I funneled it all into mechanical pencils, notebook paper, and ring binders. Then I’d get the stories I wanted, when I wanted them, or at least, as fast as I could write them.

Look, I get that artists need to eat, too. But I think that the big media companies and their shareholders need to worry less about how much money they get and how to squeeze out even more money, and more about investing in the people and the time it takes to make good products, especially when it is a more artistic product.

I am pretty sure that people would be willing to pay more for a single Batman comic if there was more quality content per issue that took more than two minutes to read. If they can find them when there is no comic book outlet near them to discover them.

Why are the movies doing so much better? YOU GET THE WHOLE DAMNED STORY AT ONCE. IN ONE FILM. WITHOUT FOOTNOTES TO OTHER OBSCURE FILMS THAT CAME OUT AT THE SAME TIME. (which movies only come out one after the other in the MCU.)

Today’s rambly ranty is done.


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I’ll Wear My Sniper Glasses At Night…

I have terrible night vision. Which makes life challenging when your one-hour one way commute exists in darkness, especially in winter up here in the northern hemisphere. Headlights hurt. Some rather intense streetlights hurt. And don’t get me started on actually seeing in their mighty glares.

My daughter heard that yellow-tinted glasses were supposed to help, so I figured why the hell not? I got clipon yellow-tinted lenses to see because screw the cost of prescription ones. (I am a few degrees away from being legally blind, it seems like. My husband claimed it was why I thought he was handsome. I just said I liked the Braille method.)

So I wear these things on my 5am commute in to work and they did help! But more in the “no pain” instead of “everything sharper.” I had started seeing things for yellow-tinted computer glasses so looked up what they are supposed to really do.

What they do is filter out blue light. Which apparently is not so great for us. And is becoming more of a problem from device screens, florescent and LED lights, and everything else. So, I am trying them for the day today all day. I live in a sea of office cubes illuminated by evil florescent lights. 

I have noticed my eyes do not feel as strained. This is weird. I like it though. But the first thing I think of with yellow lenses are people at the gun range when I was in the air rifle club as a girl. And snipers. So, they will be my sniper glasses because that amuses me.

And to those who say “OMG you need as much light as possible at night?” Screw you. I am willing to lose a light frequency to be less distracted and in less pain and have less eye fatigue, thank you.

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Today In My Life

Have you ever had one of those laughs where you can’t stop, you have people urging you to breathe (not that you can,) and tears come out of your eyes?

Had one of those yesterday. I had gone to the Harrisburg Comic Con with my daughter because I wanted to meet the cosplayer D-piddy. (Basically, a famous-to-me person. And as close as I am ever to likely get to meeting someone like Ryan Reynolds.)

He was running a bit late but when he arrived, my daughter and I went over to wait for him to set his stuff out before asking for a picture with him. As did several others.

Now. We have all heard of fangirling. Perhaps witnessed excitabilaty of someone nearby. But I had never seen fangirling like I saw yesterday. First, there was a loud squeal of excitement. Suddenly this young woman dressed as DC’s Enchantress suddenly appeared. ¬†This DC Enchantress, btw

Now, I have been giddy about things. I don’t think I looked like I was going to pee in myself. D-piddy handled her amazingly because she was damned near stalkerish. But gods, he made me laugh so hard. I hadn’t laughed so hard in probably literally years.

Today, I feel a touch lighter. Exhausted if only because the night before was nightmare hell. Bad when you can’t quite escape the bizarre shit the subconscious throws out even when half awake. Wish I would have thanked him before we left.

DPiddy HBG ComicCon 2017

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