Sep. 14th, 2014 02:23 pm
neversremedy8: (My Favorite Plot Twists)

The other day, I took my children to a homeschool resource fair, the first of its kind in our city, which surprised me. We were there two hours in a crowd that ought to have made me feel uncomfortable, but I felt oddly in good spirits despite carrying around a twenty-two pound, sleeping toddler on my shoulder for most of those two hours.

We stopped and talked to almost everyone at the booths, and even ran into another family we know. My PNWA bag slowly filled with brochures, business cards, and class listings, including the occasional goodie like pencils or a guitar pick.

At the end, before going back out to the Girl Scouts and their cupcake sale as our treat, we stopped and spoke with Dr. Glen VanDerPloeg of Writing Workbench, who provides instruction in a variety of writing-related endeavors to students (and sometimes adults).

We talked about my daughter's interests and goals, and I encouraged her to do most of the talking, and during this active discussion between the three of us, I let slip I was a writer (as if my bag weren't obvious enough). Fourth generation. I wasn't trying to brag, I've nothing to brag about, it was in context, but the moment he asked the inevitable questions, I felt embarrassed.

What do you write?
Sci-fi and nonfiction, mostly.

What nonfiction?
Oh, just advice articles, and the like.

(I felt myself getting smaller.)

How many sci-fi books have you published?
Oh, uh, none. My books are all just poetry. I'm still trying to break into sci-fi.

(Now I'm flushed.)

Poetry, eh? Where did you publish?
Um. Well, just self-published.

At this point I'm ready to retreat. He asked me about the books I was working on now, and told me how he loved getting into ideas with people. I told him I liked the same, and though I never got the impression he wanted to embarrass me or thought less of my work for it not being literary nor fully accepted through traditional means, I left feeling small and mortified. I'd done it completely to myself, because I have this internal bias, a hierarchy of worth that applies only to me.

In my mind, I don't think my work is good enough. So says the stack of rejection letters, right? It seems the only thing any legitimate publisher wants from me is poetry or advice columns, and no one's paying me for either. Yet, I have utterly devalued these things, despite having excelled at them.

But people have read my stories and novel rough drafts and given me hope -- a glint of belief that maybe I can figure this career out. Despite my fumbling about with endings and captivating middles, flaws I might be able to learn to overcome, I do create complex, living worlds and vibrant characters that people have enjoyed following (most characters, anyway).

But hope can sometimes be the cruelest gift someone can give you. I'm a sensitive one, and I take every rejection letter as a horrid defeat. I know it's part of the process, but the last one stung most because it was just a form letter. In the past, even Asimov's editor took time to scrawl an encouraging note post script.

I've been feeling lately like I'll never get endings right. I'm so caught up in each character's head (and they in mine), I can't always see the plausible way to get to the end I want. I give them riddles I don't know how to solve and knowledge I don't possess and this can't draw on to further the plot.

I feel utterly lost at times because I think, "This character knows how to solve this, but I don't, and they're waiting for me to give them the answer!"

And then there's the old stigma about self-publishing as a form of vanity. Though several if my poems were published in reputable journals, I still duck my head when having to admit my books were both self-published (and the first isn't very good).

This all stems from the same notion that I'm rather dumb. Book smart, in some ways, but my analytical skills fail in a variety of circumstances where I really needed them.

So, there's this doubt. A haunting sense that I'll never get where I want to be because I'm too dumb to get my characters through their journeys. It's no wonder my last short story submission failed, I still hadn't figured out how to wrap it up so it made sense as a stand alone story while also being a chapter from a future novel. Deadline came, so I sent it in.

And what baffles me are the writers I've been talking to who carry similar doubt, embarrassment, and dissatisfaction. Tad Williams, one of my favorites, and a generally good and funny man, talks often of how he feels his work isn't good enough. He hadn't had a best seller in a while and felt his body of work didn't live up to his personal ideal.
If he's still carrying around his malevolent ghost, what hope is there for the rest of us?

Oh, sure, I got some good news the other day ... about a poem. And I'm excited because I've sent in a poem every other year to this contest for fifteen years, so it's a big win. But it isn't a short story. It isn't a novel. It isn't sci-fi.

I know that part of me has chosen the self-publishing route for my first novel because it's practical given the changing nature of publishing and the accessibility of ebooks and self-publisher tools online. Then there's the part of me quite certain that no "legitimate" publisher (read: traditional) would ever want my mediocre claptrap.

People might pay for a cheap ebook, and enjoy mental bubblegum, but the doubt makes itself clear every time I pick up Octavia Butler or Ray Bradbury or Phillip K. Dick. It's there to tell me I'll never be a Martin or a Williams. I should just pack it all away, write it off as a failed hobby, and go open my pie shop. But I've not got the recipe for the crust quite right, either ....

EDIT: To support his efforts and skills, I'd like to direct other parents and writers in the Seattle metro area to check out Glen at Writing Workbench.

neversremedy8: (Bunny Yay!)

Two parks in two days, and today was a much better experience. I went from happy dream moment to a good morning with the kids, had a little time during C's first nap to reconnect with my other honey Jod. After C was up and had been properly tickled by J, Craig and I took the kids out for lunch, got a few groceries, and visited a different Redmond park.

This one had enough trees in a cluster to give us plenty of cool shade. I laid down in the grass and kicked my shoes off while Craig and Ana fought with boffers, and C played with a badminton racket and cup of water. Then Ana shared her ideas for a story with some amazingly inventive world building, while the boys had male bonding time in the sand pit. A couple laying in the grass nearby laughed at some of our banter and shared a few nods.

I made okra and eggplant curry (smoky Indian curry) with coconut basmati, and we finished it off with homemade shakes Craig had been craving. It was bath night, too, so as C sleeps next to me, I'm sniffing his lightly scented hair. He loved the bath, couldn't wait to get in, so I'm hoping this is a sign he'll be more comfortable in the water next swim class.

It's been a good day. I needed one of these.


Aug. 10th, 2014 09:51 am
neversremedy8: (Leto & Ghanima)

At the end of my dream this morning, as I lay down in my bed with Ana helping me arrange birthday presents after weeks of running from a tyrannical space company, James McAvoy came home to me. I was too depressed to turn and look at him, but he climbed in bed behind me, wrapped his arm around my and comforted me with his gentle voice with its native Scottish accent.

Though I never saw his face, I could see his fingers, and the black cuff of his slacks. I could feel his cheek against mine, and his breath stirring my hair.

It was difficult waking from that, but a nuzzling baby with wide blue eyes was seeking milk, so what could I do but welcome the morning and his little face staring back.

Thank you, brain. I needed a little McAvoy love, even if it's only in a dream. Now I want to watch the first ten minutes of Trace or the last twenty of Children of Dune.

Growing Up

Jun. 25th, 2014 12:58 pm
neversremedy8: (Mama Kitty)

Not me, the kids.

My daughter just completed her first solo bus trip. She's safe at her Aikido class awaiting sensei, and though it was frightening, she texted to say she ought to do it more often.

My best friend's eldest just started working for Parks & Rec part-time at one of the aquatics facilities. He also passed his Compass test and will be starting community college in the fall.

She's almost fourteen. He's sixteen.

While I'm overjoyed for their growing independence and successes both small and large, it's also a reminder (no matter how clich├ęd) that they're growing up and moving toward independence. It's what we all want for them -- to become healthy, independent, responsible adults -- but it never lessens the pain of watching the move inexorably toward the day when they'll move out of their respective homes, away from their families. Their adventures will be great, even if only to them, for many have gone before them, yet it doesn't make it easier to watch as they grow, change, and leave.

I won't stop my daughter from this path, but a part of me really wants to hold on to her and not let go.

At least I have the illusory and fleeting comfort of a little one with many years to go before he leaves as well, and I'll be just as proud of him that day as I am my daughter and "nephew." I'll just tear up when they pass each sign post along their way toward adulthood -- each achievement that tolls their impending maturity. I'll wave the cheer flag and cry, because I get incredibly sentimental at times.

Today I'm reminded of one of my favorite sayings:

"In life, I wish for you two things: that you grow roots, and you grow wings."

Ok, I'll stop being melodramatic now and go back to editing. My sentiments have been uttered and felt more times than can be counted, it's just my turn to feel them.

They're growing up! And so am I.

neversremedy8: (Default)

Ana: He kept asking me to do piggies on his toes again and again.

Me: How did he ask?

Ana: He pinched his toe and cried.

Me: It's just a pinch of a toe,
Then he went to Ma-a-a-arket
But this one stayed home
And they ate some ro-oast beef,
But this one ate no-o-o-one.
And this one squealed a-a-all the way home.
Let's do the piggies again!

Ana: How did you just turn that into Rocky Horror?

neversremedy8: (Default)

To Our Dear First Lady,

Thank you for the reminder about the ACA. Its arrival is timely. While our family already has a mix of coverage, I spoke yesterday with the woman we've hired to help pick up around our house every other week (a service much needed since I'm disabled and have a new baby to care for). During our discussion, she said she had visited the Washington State exchange, but the best option she could find for her family of four was over $400 per month. Though a large number of people are now able to access insurance or care they could not previously (myself included), not everyone can afford the exchange as it currently stands.

Between her pay cleaning houses and her husband's blue collar job, they still must be extra careful with their money. After rent, food, utilities, and other necessities, they simply don't have the extra.

She shrugged her shoulder and said, "Uh. I'll probably pay the penalty." She later added, "If it were under two hundred, we could do it. For now, we pay for check ups out of pocket."

I'm worried for her, and many like her. I've been impoverished to the point where I was nearly homeless while the sole provider for my first child. Though I'm now living in better circumstances, I can't be on my partner's work insurance, so I receive Medicaid from the state. And providers -- doctors and clinics -- in my area have dropped their Medicaid patients in droves, leaving me with few options within a reasonable distance from my home.

While I'm not among those who blames every ill on your husband, and certainly don't see the current state of the ACA as his fault, we need better language and legislation. We need universal health care. And if you'll permit me a seeming tangent, we need better food care, too.

It may not seem like it on the surface to most, but since you grow your own vegetables, I'm sure you know how vital access to good food is in relation to the health of individuals, families, and communities. Despite this, there are many cities in our great nation that ban people from growing their own produce; citizens have been jailed, their property ruined, and their access to good food destroyed.

Our nation is filled with food deserts where large communities cannot access good food to meet their nutritional needs. Our small farmers, too, are under attack by large agricultural corporations.

If ever there were a cause for a First Lady to champion, encouraging the return of victory gardens in every yard, projects to provide community gardens to impoverished areas, and food forests in city parks is one of the greatest causes a great woman such as yourself could champion.

I'm aware you've been a voice for eating well, but eating a balanced diet is becoming a luxury in this country. Now, at the end of your husband's second term, and for years beyond, you are and can continue to be, an inspiration for changing the way America feeds its communities.

Thank you for your time and good works.

Be well,

Raven J. Demers

neversremedy8: (Default)

So, let's say there's a pair of women who like tartar sauce, and let's say they discovered a new kind of tartar at a restaurant ...

Now, for years I've been making a quick, traditional sweet relish tartar using mayo and sweet relish. When my girlfriend and I worked together, we discovered The Owl & Thistle's tartar, which added dill weed to the mix. Since then (late 90's), I've been making it with those three simple ingredients. Until now.

While I was pregnant, my daughter and I headed to the best burger joint in the world: 8oz. Burger Bar in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. Diving into their burgers and garlic fries together was a delight. Eating burgers never felt so luxurious! And as was common for us, we ordered the tartar for the fries.

It came to the table in a metal tin, somewhat olive green, and it was savory. Some people won't find that odd, but for us it was new and unique and delicious. Capers tartar, we were told, and we ordered an extra tin.

At our most recent visit (it was my third and her second time there), we ordered tartar. And. It. Wasn't. Capers. Tartar. My partner there for the first time enjoyed himself, especially since this tartar was spicy, it had chipotle in it. But Ana and I were disappointed to hear they weren't carrying it any longer.

So, I set out to try to recreate it from taste memory. Sometimes I get things right this way. I mixed my Veganaise (I'm sensitive to chicken eggs), the grapeseed oil type with the purple lid, with various ingredients.

It didn't taste like the tartar we loved at 8oz., but it was incredible in its own right. My daughter fought me for the last serving to go with our fish and sweet potato tots, and I've learned to make more. She says it tastes like the pakora dip at Clay Oven in Woodinville, and I agree it's similar, but I have a fair idea of how their ingredients differ.

So why am I writing this? To share, of course!

Mama's Savory Capers Tartar

4 T. Mayonnaise (e.g. Helmann's/Best Foods; NOT Miracle Whip!) or Veganaise (purple top or original)
1 t. Dill weed
1 T. Capers, drained
2 Cornichons or 1 medium dill pickle, chopped
1 clove garlic

Put ingredients in a bowl. Blend with hand stick blender or toss into a food processor. Hold cage match to determine who gets last serving, or go make more.

Possible ingredients for Clay Oven's dip: mayo, Indian spicy pickle (achaar), mint or mint chutney.

neversremedy8: (Default)

Given the subject, I doubted this piece would win the contest, but after starting two essays about my "most courageous moment," I found a deep need to write this out ... even if it didn't win. I meant to post it sooner, but didn't remember until reading the Dylan Farrow/Woody Allen letters circulating Facebook.

TRIGGER WARNING: details of sexual abuse

Read more... )

neversremedy8: (Default)

Conversation with Ana today in Chipotle.

Me: (starts to groove to the remix playing on the sound system) Oh yeah.

Ana: (moves away from me, trying not to look) Could you stop? Just stop.

Me: But I'm your mother, it's my job to embarrass you. Since you don't go to school, I have to find other public venues in which to do it.

Ana: Ugh.

Me: Hey, at least I'm not wearing my overalls. They're for summer.

Ana: What's wrong with your overalls?

Me: (stops dancing) My gardening overalls? Most kids you age would be mortified to be seen with a parent wearing those.

Ana: Eh. I'm used to some of your weirdness.

Me: Only some of it? After thirteen years, I would hope you'd be accustomed to ALL my weirdness.

(Woman in front of us started snickering.)

Blessed Imbolc and Happy New Horse Year!

neversremedy8: (Default)

I am incredibly grateful to the creator of The Newsroom. We just started watching the show (we're on the fourth episode), and it's refreshing to have a show that's intellectually stimulating, challenges the status quo, and demands its audience become more aware of the sociopolitical machinations going on around them. (It's a mini civics lesson amidst newsroom drama.)

The timeline is a couple years behind reality, but allows for hidden facts to come to light so we can at least pretend there was an honest, politically center news show that actually presented the news. Like journalism, ya know?

After the first episode, which with an active baby approaching toddlerhood took us three nights to watch, I got on my knees and said, "thank you! Thank you for a show that stimulates my mind instead of only appealing to base impulses." Seriously. I did that, but hey, cooped up mom with baby, right?

What surprises me about the show, are the little things I didn't know. For all the time I've spent over the last decade actually caring about politics, there are little things no one in any media outlet is saying that was said on the show. "Is that right?" I asked, as I backed up the show a couple of minutes to hear something again. Then I grabbed my phone to fact check. I've done this a few times now that we're on the fourth episode.

Craig and I started watching The Wire a couple of months before, and I thought the writing on that was excellent. (Ana did, too, and started watching them with us, though sometimes she draws and listens instead so she doesn't see upsetting images.)

The Newsroom is even better, though of an entirely different subject matter.

This may be old information to people with cable and time to devote to regular viewing, but for anyone not familiar, I recommend giving the first episode a shot. It's certainly a nice break fromMLP:FiM and children's audiobooks, and I can put The Newsroom on when my son's awake the same way I can music or an audiobook. We watch The Wire when he's asleep, though. Never know when he might glance at the screen.

neversremedy8: (Default)

I finally know what gaming geeks lack that team sports have: televised games. If we could just convince millions of people to get crazed out of their gourds every time someone misses a swing on an Orc or stumbles into the alien hive on an MMORPG, we could start getting contracts, signing bonuses, and bragging rights ... Outside of the circles of the other players.

Imagine some guys playing football or basketball and one of them is going on about his latest score to friends who weren't ... and the listeners just shrugged him off, rolled their eyes, and changed the subject.

I used to waste giant trolls and floating eyes with my mind, had people throwing gold at my feet to give them bonuses, became the best guild ambassador Norrath ever saw and in less than a month had a guild of my own with major connections and a huge following. I walked the desert barefoot without complaint, shot wyverns out of the sky with a single arrow, looked the undead in the face and did not cower ... and I did it all while wearing a yellow apprentice's robe and some enchanted jewelry as armor.

In Middle Earth I climbed a rope to the top and stood at the edge of one of the great statues of the kings of old just to take in the view, and then wiped out an entire encampment of cannibalistic halflings all before afternoon tea.

What do those men of sports get paid millions to do? Run around, chasing after a ball.

You might say, "But online games take no skill. It's just a matter of pushing buttons."

No. Gaming is an art. At a convention I attended, I ended up stumbling into a situation where a vampire prince won me in auction (long story), and finding him detestable, proceeded to convince him he'd be better off ending his life ... Out of a desire to gain something. He wasn't depressed or suicidal, I just convinced him he was missing out on something amazing.

Roleplaying* takes skill, and if not for the kids, I'd be signing some major deals for all of mine.

*No offense to power gamers or hack-and-slashers, your styles have their place in the gaming world, but playing the game to win points or level up doesn't draw the fans like building up a character's backstory and playing it true within the context of the larger game ... that'll win the big bucks. Or it ought to; if only we could get the sponsors.

neversremedy8: (Default)

Only one week left until the deadline for this year's Epeolatry Contest. The theme: This Isn't Romance. Be bold! Be brave! Just don't be sexy. More details at Satyr's Garden

neversremedy8: (Cecilia After Death)

An Open Apology to All My Weight Loss Clients

I read this and cried and cried and I'm crying while I type. I *know* all of this. I lived it as the skinny, active child put on diets, I lived it as the daughter of an exquisitely beautiful woman whose husband kept telling her she needed to lose weight. I lived it as the orphaned daughter of a woman who died a slow, painful, humiliating death because of what all that dieting did to her. I know better now, and I'd begun learning when my mom quit the dieting game (until the last two years of her life) and started advocating for size acceptance.

"As an individual, as women, as a company, hell, as a nation, we don't stand up for that girl? What is wrong with us? There ain't nothing right about that. Nothing."

No one stood up for her when she was a size 12 and an active chess player, student, and photographer with three daughters to care for. No one stood up for my 10 - 13 year old self when I was put on Jenny Craig, Optifast, Deal-a-Meal, Weight Watchers -- not because I was fat, but because I could become fat, and because it was easier to have us all survive on tiny Lean Cuisine portions than feed a growing child what she needed. And the gods forgive my mother, as I do; the worst beating I ever got was the day I was hungry and needed breakfast so I tried to make the Jenny Craig pancake mix and they turned out horrid. I didn't understand then that she was starving, and I'd just eaten one of the few things she was "allowed" to eat, but I now know what it means to go hungry, how hard it is to stay in control of one's emotions.

I stand up now and speak out for my daughter whose friends teased her for thinking her fat Nana was beautiful. I stand up for friends who believe if they just eat a little less, if they just deny themselves a little more, their bodies will be acceptable in the eyes of society.

The author wrote, "When did everyone stop eating and become professional dieters?"

Now I really have to be careful. Careful not to eat the growing list of foods that make me sick, careful to eat *enough* fats and protein and nutrients and probiotics and the Betaine HCL to be able to digest it all and not have it fail to be absorbed and simply pass through my body. I've had surgery to have a part of me removed because of dieting.

Stop buying into the message that fat is a disease. For some, it's a size, for others, at most, it's a symptom of a larger issue. Stop buying into the message that fat is ugly. Fat just is, and beauty, attraction, and what feels good are subjective. If you're fat, active, and feel great, don't change a thing. Don't feel good? Figure out if there's a food allergy, move more in ways you find pleasant, eat whole foods, and love yourself. Find what works for you. But starvation doesn't work to achieve healthy bodies. And all this goes for people of all sizes, too.

neversremedy8: (My Favorite Plot Twists)

Hooray! It's year three of the contest!

I'm turning 35 this year, and since I'm busy with baby, let my daughter take a peek at my list of contest ideas and SHE picked the theme. To find out more, visit Satyr's Garden.

Remember, this is just for fun and an excellent creative exercise. Prizes are generally handmade by me, and stories are a gift I enjoy receiving. Once again, this contest is open to anyone: all ages!


Jul. 29th, 2013 06:23 pm
neversremedy8: (Default)

I'm listening to a CD by the mulitialented [ profile] wytchcroft.

Thank you, my dear.

neversremedy8: (Default)

Dabbed my mouth with my napkin for me at lunch, mimicking me. (Those halibut tacos were messy!)

Sat up on his own in his car seat when I unhooked his harness.

From sitting in my lap, pulled himself up to a standing position by holding onto my thumbs. He stood for nearly five seconds before his legs gave out and I guided him back to my lap. (This is different from his usual standing/walking attempts, which involve me supporting him under his arms.)

Was highly engaged and enraptured by the camp wrap-up with all the kids in a circle. The three howls at the end excited him beyond words. And speaking of ...

Lately, he's been talking and mimicking sounds less, though he still coos a lot, uses "apple" to ask for his toy apple, says "mama" when distressed and wanting me to fix it, and occasionally still says "hello" or "loveyou" for greetings, just not with me anymore.

I'm not sure if he's just bored with word mimicry or if it's something else, although he has tried to say a couple of things lately I can't discern well enough to help show him how to say properly (those linguistic anthro classes being put to good use). He did start VERY early (a clear "hello" at five weeks), which even beat Ana's three month old self, so he might just be accommodating more development. And he did try to say "alligator" the other day when wanting to play with Craig's puppet ("ah-lee" + mouth movements). Maybe I should stop worrying about this, and just enjoy his ability to communicate with us, despite our failure to learn his language.

He'll be three months this Wednesday. So hard to believe.

neversremedy8: (What Big Eyes You Have)

Re: Angry Letter to MLP fan artist

Dear Twilight Sparkle fan,

It's become clear here an intervention is required on your behalf. We need to have a Come to Starswirl moment and admit that in this world -- the one where you and I live and breathe -- isn't filled with talking ponies. Oh sure, they're on the television screen or computer monitor, and some fans look an awful lot like them because they're exceptional costumers, but in THIS world, Twilight Sparkle is a cartoon character. While she may be a symbol for hope for a better, more peaceful and cooperative world, she doesn't exist as a living being.

I'm a fan of My Little Pony, and even cosplay Pinkie Pie (and some day I'll try my hand at CarrotTop/Golden Harvest). However, while the joy inspired in me by the show is real, I know the characters are simply a creation -- first created by the illustrators, writers, and voice actors of the show, and then a further creation by the shows fans.

This means that 1) the characters belong to all of us to enjoy, even artists who draw images of ponies in compromising positions, 2) wherever you live, beastiality is most likely illegal and marrying outside your species and reality won't be legally binding, so this chaplain who has agreed to marry you is ripping you off, and 3) you're making the rest of the MLP fans look as crazy as people outside the fandom suspects we are, so cut it out.

If you want to imagine Twilight as your bride, by all means, go for it. Enjoy so long as it doesn't hurt anyone, but keep your declarations off the Internet and under the radar, because we don't just think you're crazy, you are. I hope you're comfortable with this state of being, because I'm not sure if people come back from where you are.

Your friendly, neighborhood Pinkie

neversremedy8: (Default)

I'm struggling with the author bio and synopsis of this collection. I realized that along with the usual obstacles for many writers facing these seemingly simple tasks, I'm also having to push through some old baggage.

See, I always thought of self-publishing as embarrassing. It was a shameful, self-aggrandizing act, unless you're publishing something of a political, whistle blowing nature that no publisher would touch.

Now that "indie publishing" has been come commonplace with even Neil Gaiman endorsing it, you'd think I'd be ok with going forward, but like many long-held messages from childhood (see: body issues, self-esteem, identity, et al), it's going to take a conscious battle on my part to see this through. It doesn't help that this is poetry; who wants to pay for poetry from an unknown?

(Oh, and hi LJ! Had my baby, will post about it soon, now working on assembling poetry collection for publishing through createspace.)

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.


neversremedy8: (Default)

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