In spite of the last couple of months, my 2016 was pretty good. Most of the good stuff pertains to things I can't talk about. (yeah. yeah. i know.) Cold Iron was reviewed on NPR's site-much to my shock and surprise. Blackthorne's big rewrite went extremely well, and I'm proud of it--or will be after one more pass. (Yes. I'm exacting with my work. It's important.) Other bits are boring health-related things.I've fewer migraines than I was having. I bought a bicycle. (I really, really needed one.) And now I've added daily 5 mile rides to the weekly Hakkoryu (martial arts) training. I've made a lot of headway, considering how out of shape I was. I can now get up from the floor without touching it with my hands for example, and sitting in seiza and/or Lotus position is comfortable. I couldn't do any of these things at the start of 2016. So, progress was made. I'm thankful for that. I also rewrote one short story and completed another. Both were rejected by the magazines at which they were submitted, but the second story is off on submission again. This is a good thing. It's been a while since I've done that. I'd given up on short stories. Hell, the second rejection was what my bestie, Melissa, used to refer to as an A++ rejection. (Personalized and from the top editor.) I'm trying again with short stories because a new friend I met at Worldcon recommended that I do so. She was terribly encouraging exactly when I needed it. I'm working on a new project that I'm excited about. Dane, my husband, is doing well, and we still make one another laugh. So...yes. All in all it was a good year--the election, the loss of a friend, and the celeb deaths asside.
So, happiest of New Years to you, dear reader. My hope is that 2017 isn't as vile as I fear it'll be politically and financially. Ultimately, I hope that each of you has a prosperous, healthful, joyous year, filled with laughter and love. May we all have the courage and persistence to do the right thing when it's most needed.
Goodbye, Carrie Fisher. Thanks for everything you did for women. Thanks for giving zero fucks about how you weren't pretty and young any longer. Thanks for returning to Star Wars and showing us how those Skywalker boys are weak as shit. Thanks for not giving up. Just...thanks. You were a bad ass and will be missed. Terribly.
[sigh] It's been a rough few days. Sorry I missed Monday. I've been having migraines. I knew those shots in my neck would be temporary, but I didn't know how much of a difference they'd made. Humans can adjust to just about anything. And I didn't know how bad it was getting. The good news is, it's still not as bad as it was because of the new meds. So, yay?
I can't help feel that we (progressives) are being abandoned by all our heroes because it's time to prove ourselves. We've hit that point in the story where the wise wizardly teacher/mother/mentor croaks it and leaves the student to grow into a new, more powerful role. Prince, Bowie...everyone...they're leaving us in droves, it seems. This is the architypical transition when everything looks the darkest. This is where the strong do not give up hope, but keep fighting and growing into the being they were meant to be all along. We've got this. To pull a quote from another of my favorite films...
Never give up. Never surrender.
Well, here we are. The Winter Solstace holiday is right around the corner. (Or was on the 21st, if you're pagan. ;)) Interestingly enough, Chanukah starts on the 24th this year, Kwanzaa is on the 26th, and today is Diwalli--the Hindu festival of lights. No matter what your chosen spiritual practice or if you specifically don't practice a belief system...I hope you and yours have a wonderful, safe, and joyous winter. May none of you go hungry or want for shelter or love. I've a feeling next year is going to require a great deal of positive energy from us all in order to prevent harm to those most at risk. May we all be strong enough to face down the darkness. May each of us blaze with the light of goodness, kindness, love, and courage when we (and others) need it most.
Dane and I celebrate a secular Christmas. I'm fond of Santa. Always have been. And every year I tend to look for just the right Christmas ornament. I don't always buy one. That said, this year's ornament was Wonder Woman. Even though I'm not generally a fan, I adore Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman. (Even though she's still wearing high heels and a fucking swimsuit into battle--something no experienced warrior would do in their right mind. Male gaze. ARRRRRGGGGH!) But whatever. If we waited for a perfect female icon, we'd be waiting forever--that is, in fact, part of what holds women back. So, fuck that. Back that sucker and always remember the symbology is a problem. I'm a grown ass adult. I can do that. So, I'm fucking in.
It is our sacred duty to defend the world. And it's what I'm going to do.
I've been thinking a lot about oppression lately. (Go figure.) And I've come to the conclusion that it's a virus that invades our subconscious and parks there, influencing our everyday mental state without our awareness. It doesn't matter what group you identify with. It's there. (See this tweet thread.) The deal is: we're not going to be rid of the system oppression as long as we permit ourselves to be privileged over other groups. We don't have to be consciously aware of this in order for it to sustain itself. That makes eradicating oppression complicated.
Imagine systemic oppression is a squeezy toy.
The more pressure you put into crushing it, the more it seeks out weaknesses in which to release that pressure rather than succomb to destruction. This is that "why can't [fill in the blank minority group] wait in line behind me and others like me?" feeling. If we allow that reasoning space in our heads, we're contributing to the problem. No one gets a pass. No one. We have to approach this thing from all sides all at once. United. White people aren't exempt from this work as those poor, white Trump voters all those stupid articles were written about are about to find out. Anyone loses, we ALL lose.
To quote Benjamin Franklin: We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.
 Yes, White Feminism, I'm looking at you.
Today's the day when we find out if the system designed to save ourselves from ourselves is actually going to operate. I've got my fingers crossed. My hope is that the establishment's self-preservation kicks in, and they slap down the orange money-clown with extreme prejudice. At the same time, I'm prepared for the worst.
Things have taken on a more personal note of late. A friend (who happens to be a trans woman) ended up in an online exchange with a former friend and as a result...struck trolls. The whole situation is deeply depressing. First, that the former friend (and I should probably just use the plural because it's more than one) has gone to the dark side. I had a lot of hope for him once. We met in goth circles. We dated. He introduced me to quite a lot of my favorite bands and my love of muscle cars. He's creative. We stayed friends over the years in spite of drama because he does have a generous, wonderful side to him. Not too long ago, he had one of those big, life-changing brushes with death--just as I did--and--as I did--saw how beautiful life and humanity can be. And instead of sticking with that lesson, I watched him return to self-destructive behavior. That saddened me. Still, I had hope for him. Substantive change isn't easy for anyone. It takes a lot of courage and determination. Not everyone is made of that stuff.
I knew he had his dark side. We all do. But I honestly thought he would change. We stayed friends in spite of sexist behavior and misogynist talk. I used to tell myself that he'd grow out of it because anyone who was good with men wearing skirts and makeup and homosexuality and non-Christian religions...and well, the whole alternative scene...couldn't possibly hold on to sexist bullshit for long. Sure, there was a whole sector of libertarian bullshit running thick in Austin Goth circles. I just chalked that up to punk's anarchy politics. Goth does have punk roots. I ignored it as a fad. When folks didn't seem to be waking up...I spoke up. I withdrew from the scene when that didn't seem to do much but piss off people. A number of folks I know finally saw the light as I knew they would, but there are a few hold-outs. Most aren't people I hang out with anyway for much the same reasons I didn't see my ex very often. I didn't feel comfortable hanging out with people who think that my rights to exist as an equal human being were merely fluff. Thing is, I don't actually enjoy being around people who think that the value of my intellect and my very being is affected by my gender and that it can be affected by the color of my skin or any of the other things that prevent me and others like me from being a white, cis, het, male exactly like them. Go figure.
Fuck that shit. And fuck them. Women's rights are human rights. Nothing has made this more clear to me than this moment.
Today marks the day when I actually start getting my holiday on. I enjoy running around amongst the shoppers, listening to the holiday music, smelling the holiday smells, and so on. It works for me--provided I've the energy at all. Of course, I'd prefer it if we had our tree at the start of the month, but it often doesn't work out that way. That's just part of the cost of being a creative in a society that doesn't value creatives. Nonetheless, I'm excited.
Yesterday, I collected a list of Feminist titles for research. As usual, I started with audiobooks. (Did you know there are ZERO books on Audible written by Bell Hooks or Judith Butler? ZERO. Annoying.) Finished: All the Rebel Women by Kira Cochrane. Largely, I think it was intended for those who haven't been paying attention for the past decade. It documents events that I've been watching from the front row (or as front row as you can get online without actually being a primary participant) during the time period the book covers. So, I didn't learn much of anything new. The only exception was on fashion during the '00s. I didn't watch Fashion until recently. (I hate window shopping when I'm broke. It's depressing.) I like how Ira Cochrane described it. Models were pressured to be thinner than ever before in the entire history of the industry. See Size 0 Culture. (The story about eating tissues to fill one's stomach is horrifying.) As a result of starving themselves, a number of models died. The 'Look' was all about making the models teeny waif-ghosts, and the products (hand bangs, jewelrey, watches) over-sized and visually dominating. Literally, the products (consumerism) was more important than the woman. [shudder] I'm glad that fad is on the way out.
Next up on the reading list is The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer because someone I very much respect recommended it. And well, I think it's good to have the important works within a subject covered. After that, I'm moving to The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg. The topic of girls passing themselves off as boys appeals to me as a former tomboy. I can't help it. Although, I'm aware of observer bias and I'm cautious about reading articles and books whose themes seem to be "OMG! Look how [fill in the blank non-Christian group] treats women!!!" Hello? Christianity doesn't have a great track record either, people.
And on the political side of things...
After some thought...I've decided to plunge into HBO's Westworld even though I do so with a great deal of dread. Ultimately, I'm a SF&F writer, and this show is part of the discussion SF is having about AI and related issues. I can't stay completely away from it and participate in that discussion. I'll just state up front: I do not trust HBO to work with Feminist themes in a way that is thoughful or inclusive. With A Game of Thrones, they've repeatedly demonstrated that they've a strong straight male bias and very little regard for the damage they do regarding the abuse of women. So, consider me a hostile viewer. It's going to take a great deal to win me over. I will not give the show the benefit of a doubt. HBO lost that chance when they did what they did with G.R.R. Martin's work. In addition, I've seen the original 1973 version. (I'm a bit of a Michael Crichton fan.)
I've only seen one episode of the new Westworld so far, and already I'm not impressed. Let's start with that image up there. Now, let's compare it to the original artwork. Shall we?
They've opted for a (sexualized) flayed woman even though the scene from which that image is taken contained a man. The symbolism alone isn't so hot. It also doesn't fit the theme of the series. (Which I assume from what I've seen so far--revolves around the evil that humanity harbors within themselves. A point better made by a skeletal/flayed verson of a man.) So, that's -1, HBO, and we haven't even gotten started.
Now, let's compare the original trailer with the new one.
Good morning, y'all. I hope you had a great weekend, and I hope your Monday is a good one too. Shall we get that blood pumping with positive power and righteous anger? All right-y then. :)
Action Items: Here's Jen Hofmann's to do list for this week. I'm going to add that if you're one of those going on about how you're willing to grab a gun and rise up against the evil empire and you're too chicken to pick up a phone and call a Congressman? You're 100% full of shit. How to find your representative: WHOISMYREPRESENTATIVE.COM
I cannot wait to see this film. Here's a review: Hidden Figures review – black women Nasa boffin pic defies its formula. Based on the review, I've only two disapointments. Nonetheless, I'm so seeing that film--probably three or four times.
And now, on to the links.
Happy holidays, y'all. This is...I think I should admit...my second favorite time of year. Largely because of how it tends to bring out the good in people. I love seeing the warmth and smiles and consideration that people show one another. It warms the cockles of my black-black heart. Yes. I know that it's awful that humanity doesn't seem to catch a clue that we can create room for our inner light all year round, but at least we have this time, no matter how short. And that's why I'm repulsed by efforts to make it less than that. This world doesn't suffer from a surplus of love, joy, and light. One month a year isn't too much to ask, for fuck's sake. But is everything associated with this time of year perfect and beyond reproach? Fuck no. It's important to see things as they are--even the flawed things we love. If we're aware of the flaws, we're less likely to cause harm to others. No one is saying ditch the happy memories or that you're a terrible person for liking something problematic. If they are, they're probably hypocrits. Our entertainment is definitely fraught with flaws because the human beings that create them are flawed.
And that brings us to an argument I had with a friend of mine about the song Baby It's Cold Outside.
If you're like me (and an American), your white-hot rage over the election is switching gears. It's become a slow burn with healthy doses of "not the-fuck on my watch." I've felt a little bad for that change, but to be honest it's a healthy one. We can't afford to burn out. We have to sustain our energy for four years. It can be done. I've seen it--yes, even in the USA. So, I've signed up for Jennifer Hofmann's weekly action items alerts. (There's a phone app that tells you what bills are up for review in Congress too.) Anyway, here's one from Jen's to-do list:
Petition President Obama to dismantle NSEERS, the inactive Muslim registry system established by President Bush after 9-11.
I like that Jen provides fact checking. Given the issues around false news, it makes me happier about the whole thing. Also if the idea that there's an inactive registry system in place doesn't creep you out, it damned well should. In pre-Hilter Berlin, the police maintained a list of homosexuals because, due to the economic situation, there was an active blackmailing ring (several, actually) operating in Berlin. The police chief wasn't interested in arresting homosexuals. However, he was interested in arresting people who blackmailed homosexuals. When the Nazis came to power they took advantage of that list and used it to round up homosexuals.
So, yes. Having this information ready-made for bigots in power is a problem.
And now...about Roadies.