December 6th, 2016
My weekend was pretty good. As I mentioned earlier, I was invited sort of last minute to do a signing at the Holiday Geek Expo. The only time I really had available was early Sunday morning, but that worked pretty well. There wasn't a huge amount of foot traffic, but I had a secret weapon: I was giving away
I have an overabundance of copies of RESURRECTION CODE. That book was the one that was published by Mad Norwegian Press and when they reverted rights to me, they shipped me, like, three or four boxes of printed books. Each box contains about 40 books, so that's a lot of books not only taking up room in my already cluttered house, but which I have to count as "inventory" for my taxes every year. I could have taken the books to sell; I am set-up to charge sales tax. I don't, however, have a smart phone equipped with "Square" or whichever lovely small business app I should really have, and so I would have had to have cash on hand AND MAKE CHANGE, which I dread.
Plus, let's be honest. I've been kicking around the Twin Cities a LONG time now. I'm sure there are plenty of people who have never read a word I've written. HOWEVER, I'm not likely to run into those people at a very geek-specific event run by a lot of the folks connected with CONvergence, now am I? So, giving the books away seemed like a lovely way to get rid of them. Who can resist a FREE... well, anything? Even a second copy of a book you already have seems like a good deal when it's FREE.
I ended up being able to give away at least half of them. The books I couldn't give away, Anton took. I told him to give them away to charities or as freebies at cons or use them for doorstops for all I cared. I mean, don't get me wrong. RESURRECTION CODE is a lovely book. I just don't need boxes and boxes and boxes of them cluttering up my house, is all.
So, that was Geek Expo.
I came home and picked up Mason who has been agitating for a haircut ever since he started swim team. His hair was not only starting to curl at his ears (something which *I* find adorable, but which he hates,) but also the constant chlorine exposure was making it kind of frizzed and frazzled looking. That took up all the time I had before rushing back out to Claddaugh to finally meet up with my contact at Quatrefoil, Nanette.
Nanette and I had a lovely talk. I have no idea if I impressed her or not, but she did invite me to the next board meeting and talked a lot about what kind of commitment being a board member would entail. So, that felt cool. When I was talking to my friend Josey about this position, she said something that's been sticking in my mind a lot. "It's such a grown-up position!" It really it. Being a board member of a non-profit? That's like totally something people who are ADULT do.
In all seriousness, I do think supporting a queer library is super-important right now in this time of ever growing darkness. If we are saved at all, it will be not only by our history and out stories, but also locally--city by city, county by county. One of the things I learned about Quatrefoil that I didn't know, was that they now have a space that they can offer to any GLBTQ+ group that needs one. (I don't think they charge, but you'd have to double-check. I just went and it's not terribly obvious from their website. But I did just discover they have a monthly D&D group!! What? Why did no one tell me THIS!!????)
Otherwise, I've been doing a lot of letter writing. My membership in International Pen Friends nets me 15 names of people all over the world, as I think I've written about here before. That's a LOT of letters. Plus, I'm discovering that this does NOT seem to be a one-to-one exchange. For instance, on Saturday I got a letter from a woman in Germany who was _not_on my list. So... my thinking is that I may be getting an additional fifteen pen friends... ?? .... Eep! But, I will say, the letter from Germany was pretty cool. The woman who wrote is about my age and LOVES stickers and fun paper and she inspired me to get crafty and make my own stationary from the scrapbooking supplies we have leftover from Shawn's mostly-brief foray into scrapbooking (Shawn still does this ocassionally, just not with the same focus as when she started). I may have had WAY too much fun doing that yesterday. It's also amazing to me how doing silly little artistic things like this actually brightens my mood. Highly recommend as aggressive self-care during the Orange One's reign.
Speaking of, my friend Theo Lorenz has made a lovely "Aggressive Self-Care Coloring Book" to help you survive the end of 2016 and onward: https://gumroad.com/l/YyBkJ
This is a "pay what you want" project, so your self-care doesn't have to come at a steep price! it's a print-your-own, so it won't make a good stocking stuffer unless you get crafty yourself, but... you might just need to hide under a blanket, turn off the news, and color while more horrific cabinet posts are filled by people less qualified to run the country than you are...!
December 5th, 2016
Today marks the anniversary of my legal adoption of Mason.
I was thinking about this yesterday at the Holiday Geek Expo, because a friend and I were talking about Trump (like you do.) I have no idea if married straight people who conceive via artificial insemination even have to think about 'second parent adoption.' (Given that I just Googled second parent adoption to see what its history was and ONLY found GLBTQ+ links, I'm guessing not.) I'm pretty sure dad just gets to put his name down on the birth certificate, whether or not it was his sperm involved. That was not an option for us.
Of course, neither, at the time was legal marriage.
The process of adopting Mason was a lengthy one. I was not required to have a home inspection, because I could prove that I'd been living with Shawn since before the conception. (And, since we did insemination in a clinic, we actually know the EXACT date of conception.) Not that that mattered, at that point I'd been with Shawn for nearly twenty some years. I was still required to gather affidavits, however. Character witnesses, basically. Our lawyer (whom we had to hire and pay for) suggested that, I should try to get as many family members on-board as possible. We hired a lawyer who knew the judges likely to grant second-parent adoption, but she still wanted to stack our deck as much as we could.
I knew my parents would write one, but that kind of tapped me out for my side of the family, since I'm an only child. I picked a couple of long-time friends as well, and then... tried to suss out who would be the most likely on Shawn's side of the family. I initially thought that one of Shawn's brothers would be a good pick.
It turned out I was wrong.
This whole moment in my life has a lot of echoes in the current political climate.
A lot of people are being 'woke' as they say, to the idea that maybe the people you interact with--friends, relatives--don't actually support you. Maybe, you've come to realize, these people you've broken bread with, joked with, bought Christmas presents for... would actively block your right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. FOR REAL. They actually don't want you to have the same things they do, because they don't actually think you're like them, that you're not worthy in the same way.
They'll take your offers of genuine love and affection, and shit on you in return.
It's an awful feeling.
And is something I've lived with, in Shawn's family, for a long time now--since that day, when Shawn called to remind her brother that the deadline was coming up for the affidavit for me and, after some back and forth about things he needed to do instead, finally admitted "Yeah, you know, I'm not comfortable doing this. What if Mason gets out of Rounds' control?" Shawn and I puzzled over this term "Rounds' control" for a while, but whatever it meant specifically, it clearly meant, generally, that I was not family. He did not think Mason was MY child. He thought that if Shawn died, Mason should stay with his BLOOD, which did not include me. He did not want to grant me the ability to adopt a child I was living with, raising, loving... as a parent. He wanted to be able to have the legal option to take Mason away from his other mother, if Shawn should die.
Can you even imagine? And I would have had no legal recourse, because the law would not have recognized me as ANYTHING to Mason.
This, try to remember, AFTER Shawn and I had both lost Ella. This brother was very much there, during our grieving process. But, apparently, no part of that made him think I was Ella's parent, either.... UGH.
And, then they wonder why I'm not super-keen to come over for a holiday dinner....
Anyway, luckily, we had enough time to find someone else. On a whim and though I thought it was a long shot, I asked Shawn's father( who was still alive at that time). Shawn's dad wrote the affidavit for me so fast and with so much love, it let me forget, most days, about what happened with the brother.
The actual adoption was very formal, very quick; We had a court date, and went though the process. The one thing I remember about that court appearance is that at one point the judge goes through this whole thing about whether or not I approved of Mason's legal name (I guess people sometimes use this as a chance to add or change a last name), and I had the weirdest impulse to lean into the microphone and say, "No, his name shall henceforth be Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate!"
We were later married in the EXACT same courtroom as the one I adopted Mason in.
How cool is that?
Take that you bigots and haters!
December 4th, 2016
if you're interested in stopping by, I'm going to be signing at the Holiday Geek Expo
(at the Bloomington Doubletree) from 10 am - noon.
I will write a proper entry soon, but my morning slipped away because we found out that Shawn's brother, Mark, is in the ICU. So, there was a lot of calling and freaking out and such. Apparently, Mark is stable at the moment. He's on dialysis and got an infection at the site... so it was very touch and go because he's not exactly ship shape to begin with. Keep him in your thoughts!
K. Got to run!
December 2nd, 2016
Like a lot of GLBT couples, Shawn and I have made up our anniversary. It's a fictional date, convenient, easy to remember. It doesn't mark anything, other than the fact that we're PRETTY SURE we went on a 'date' to Target to do Christmas shopping together. This was 1985 and I don't even think we were on each other's Christmas lists even, yet. We probably actually met months earlier at one of Michael J. Batman's D&D campaigns, where I remember very clearly telling Shawn she had the most beautiful eyes I'd ever seen. I'd been sketching people's D&D characters for them and Shawn told me to make hers have blond hair and brown eyes, and I said, "No one has that combination!" (Keep in mind I was 17, what the hell did I even know? At that point I was sure Chicago was in Wisconsin.) She said, "I do." And I looked up... and, yeah, I'd say that was the moment fate was sealed.
But, in all honesty, I wasn't even out to myself yet that December. I still thought I was a straight girl (kind of... ask me about how I was already reading Gay Comix I bought at a head shop in LaCrosse my senior year). Thing is, I would go on after December 1, 1985, to have a couple of more boyfriends and a several girlfriends. Shawn, too, had boyfriends post that fateful meeting.
Yet, we count December 1, 1985 as our anniversary because we were certainly already living together at that point (
and having sex). I moved in, and never, ever moved out. By the end, my girlfriends would look at me and say, "How can I compete when you're living with the one you love?"
They were right. I was cheating on all of them with Shawn.
The story would have been pathetic and sad, if Shawn didn't also finally have the same realization when we were living in our first apartment on Franklin Avenue. After a friend of ours visited and regaled us with the stories of his gay single life and his heartaches, we looked at each other over the top of his head and knew. We knew it was time to make things official. Why keep seeking when we'd found love already? If we could remember the date of that day, that would probably be more accurate in a very strict sense.
But, relationships are messy, so why not just count from the real beginning? Why not skip the mess and embrace that first wonderful moment? So we do. Your rules do not apply to us. Or, at least, before we were mainstreamed by marriage, there really were no rules, no sense of how any of it was supposed to work, so we just made things up as we went along. I think most people do, anyway. It's just that the majority of people have... well, I guess, traditions and institutions to fall back on. Marriage dates. First dates. We never thought to mark any of those, either. I'm sure we eventually picked a date because people asked us how long we'd been together and we had no idea.
Ask me when Shawn and I were married, and I'll say, "It was a Monday! Oh, and hot!" I'm sure it was in August because that was the first month it was legal and we did the official thing in front of a judge as soon as possible because I'd gone over a decade without any decent health insurance.
Of course, I'm generally terrible about dates. I feel like I must be the only mom in the universe who hesitates when health professionals ask for Mason's birthday. I've finally got it down, but for a while I used to switch the last number of his birthday with the last number of the year he was born. I also have memories like this, "It was hot." (Apparently important things in my life always happen on the hottest days of the year.)
So last night we celebrated our made-up anniversary the way we have been for decades. Actually, maybe more like a single decade, since we started this tradition when Mason was an infant and Shawn and I were too exhausted to even consider dressing up and doing something fancy. I remember complaining to my friend Ember about how it wasn't going to be romantic with a baby, and she suggested that I surprise Shawn--that I get take out from a favorite place and fancy up the table with candles (and the high chair.) It was PERFECT. I picked Vescio's in Dinkytown. Vescio's was one of the first restaurants I remember taking Shawn to when we did finally become 'official.' And, miraculously, it's still there. It's still EXACTLY the same and has the EXACT same menu. Bonus: Mason loves it and always has, even when he was in his toddler "I will only eat noodles" phase.
We had a lovely night.
Here's to another thirty-two years!
December 1st, 2016
One of the ways that I'm finding helps me cope in this post-Trump-election universe is, basically, journaling. This is why you've seen me here so often lately. I'm finding that just taking time to reflect on my day helps me get through it. I have a couple of friends that I've been writing letters to, too, and they've seen an upswing in correspondence, as well. (This may, in part, be in compensation for my inability to fiction ATM, but I've been feeling a drive to write the queerest queer book in the history of queer fiction, so who knows?)
On the other hand, I don't necessarily want to inundate my friends with a letter a day. I mean, MAYBE they'd appreciate it, but I've been trying to keep it to one letter a week. But, I LOVE actual correspondence. I LOVE getting things in my mailbox that aren't bills or advertising. I LOVE stationary and pens.
So, on a whim, after talking about my failed attempt at an international pen pal in 4th grade, I decided to see if there were still organizations that did this--that matched strangers up with other strangers in foreign countries. There are! So, I signed up with the International Pen Friends, paid my membership dues, and have been waiting somewhat impatiently to see what would come of it.
Well, today I got my list. 15 people!
I get to write to 15 people around the world! HOW COOL IS THAT? Seriously, I'm supposed to send a letter to everyone on the list. !5! I'm going to have to allocate these people days of the week! Anyway.... I got 2 Australians, 4 in England (all from tiny sounding towns like North Wolverhampton), 1 from Belgium, 3 from France, 4 from Germany and one from the Netherlands. Interestingly, I asked for people all over the globe, from every single continent (well, minus Antarctica because it wasn't an option), and I entirely got placed with Europeans. But, that's still cool. I can't wait to get writing to them!
This was going around Facebook this morning and it's too awesome not to share. http://ecc-poetry.tumblr.com/post/153369153630/revenge
Since you mention it, I think I will start that race war.
I could’ve swung either way? But now I’m definitely spending
the next 4 years converting your daughters to lesbianism;
I’m gonna eat all your guns. Swallow them lock stock and barrel
and spit bullet casings onto the dinner table;
I’ll give birth to an army of mixed-race babies.
With fathers from every continent and genders to outnumber the stars,
my legion of hapa babies will be intersectional as fuck
and your swastikas will not be enough to save you,
because real talk, you didn’t stop the future from coming.
You just delayed our coronation.
We have the same deviant haircuts we had yesterday;
we are still getting gay-married like nobody’s business
because it’s still nobody’s business;
there’s a Muslim kid in Kansas who has already written the schematic
for the robot that will steal your job in manufacturing,
and that robot? Will also be gay, so get used to it:
we didn’t manifest the mountain by speaking its name,
the buildings here are not on your side just because
you make them spray-painted accomplices.
These walls do not have genders and they all think you suck.
Even the earth found common ground with us in the way
you bootstrap across us both,
oh yeah: there will be signs, and rainbow-colored drum circles,
and folks arguing ideology until even I want to punch them
but I won’t, because they’re my family,
in that blood-of-the-covenant sense.
If you’ve never loved someone like that
you cannot outwaltz us, we have all the good dancers anyway.
I’ll confess I don’t know if I’m alive right now;
I haven’t heard my heart beat in days,
I keep holding my breath for the moment the plane goes down
and I have to save enough oxygen to get my friends through.
But I finally found the argument against suicide and it’s us.
We’re the effigies that haunt America’s nights harder
the longer they spend burning us,
we are scaring the shit out of people by spreading,
by refusing to die: what are we but a fire?
We know everything we do is so the kids after us
will be able to follow something towards safety;
what can I call us but lighthouse,
of course I’m terrified. Of course I’m a shroud.
And of course it’s not fair but rest assured,
anxious America, you brought your fists to a glitter fight.
This is a taco truck rally and all you have is cole slaw.
You cannot deport our minds; we won’t
hold funerals for our potential. We have always been
what makes America great.
November 30th, 2016
This has become my new battle cry: "Don't be Rory!"
For instance, after writing up my whole long screed about the Gilmore Girls mini-series, it occurred to me that a good journalist would actually try to pitch that as a column. So I did. You can now read my thoughts at: http://bitterempire.com/gilmore-girls-year-life-whiny-baby-rory/
. Ha! Take that, girl with no ideas to pitch!
Then, today I got a reply back from Quatrefoil Library about the volunteer positions I was interested in. The woman who contacted me said she would love to have a resume. My first thought was a very Rory-like, "What? For a volunteer position??" and then I thought, "No, don't be Rory."
Thing is, I think there's a real shot that Quatrefoil might consider me for a board position if I play my cards right. So, I actually spend a good deal of time a professional resume that highlights the skills and experiences I have both in the GLBTQ+ community, professional fiction writing, and in various library and archives positions I've had over the years. (I'm still actually fine-tuning and making sure Shawn, who gets a lot of resumes as part of her job, not only reviews it, but proofs it too!)
The upside? You know what? I actually look pretty damn good on paper. I've worked in libraries/archives for a LONG time: my current work at the Ramsey County Library system is very focused on practical library skills, but I also worked as office manager/processing assistant/receptionist at institutions like the Immigration History Research Center, the Ramsey County Historical Society, and the Minnesota Historical Society. At all of those jobs, while I wasn't always doing actual archival work, I learned a lot about what the point of archives is and how they function. Add to that the fact that I have a lot of general publishing knowledge, have been a teacher for DECADES at the Loft, and, you know, even my reviews of yaoi/yuri count towards a broader sense of the GLBTQ+ book/writing community. I mean, I used to be a regular contributor to Equal Time! (Oh! I should find a place to note that on the resume!)
And now, to complete my "Don't be Rory" I'm reading the History of the Quatrefoil Library so that when I go into this meeting, I won't be completely clueless about the organization!
So yeah, always ask yourself: what I can *I* bring to this organization?
Am I right!?
But I'm also excited to be volunteering for them (potentially) because I really feel like in this up-coming political environment, we're going to need our history. Particularly the history of marginalized and minority groups. Who knows, maybe we'll need these collections as a resource for how to rebuild a revolution, you know?
But one day at a time. Stand up! Fight!
November 28th, 2016
This morning started out rough.
We have a cat who has bathroom issues. I came down stairs to start a breakfast for Mason (normally, he just grabs himself a bowl of cereal, but today is his first day of swimming practice and so I thought I'd start him off right with eggs and bacon!), and I saw Inky, the problem cat, crouched very suspiciously over a paper grocery bag we'd left out. Sure, enough, he was doing his business.
I blame myself. Inky has pills that he takes to help with this problem, but I keep forgetting to pill him. Plus, I slacked a bit this last week on the boxes. But, so not only did I have to do emergency clean up and pilling, but I also decided I'd better get off my butt and change a few boxes.
All this before my morning cup of coffee.
Plus, it's just gray outside. Gray with rainy gray highlights.
The only silver lining in all this gray is that I still have some birthday cash leftover so I stopped by my favorite coffee shop, Claddaugh, to get a fancy latte. I chatted up a guy there who was playing Pokemon Go. I don't play myself, but I think it's fascinating, but a bunch of my friends play and I'm familiar enough with the DS Pokemon that I can have a passably intelligent conversation when I see other people playing. Anyway, I asked him what he was catching in downtown and he said "Mostly Pidgeys." (I'd known from another friend that downtown St. Paul is pretty much Pidgey territory.) But he wasn't too bummed by it, because they'd released Ditto and rumor had it that Dittos were hiding among the Pidgeys. So I wished him luck Ditto hunting.
Once here at home, I had a ton of yesterday's dishes waiting for me. Last night was our traditional, post-Thanksgiving making of the knoephla with the leftover mashed potatoes. They're basically homemade potato noodles so there's a lot of pots involved, especially since Shawn's family traditionally eats them fried in bacon grease.
I decided to watch another episode of "Yuri on Ice," to help lighten the load. If you're looking for an respite from the current political climate, you really can't go wrong with an competitive ice-skating sports anime with SUPER GAY subtext.
Speaking of TV, Shawn and I binge watched the new "Gilmore Girls." We were fans back in the early 2000s and so we thought it'd be fun to catch up. I had mixed feelings, but I think it was a perfect echo of the earlier show. This sequel just reminded me of all the issues I had with the original. (Rest of my opinions have been removed for the moment, pending an article for Bitter Empire on the same theme.... because Rory Gilmore can SUCK IT. Seize the day, Motherf*cker~!)
November 25th, 2016
Normally, we host our friends the Jacksons for Thanksgiving, but for reasons of other travel plans, they came early, in October.
We could have, I suppose, just skipped the making of the giant turkey, but we decided to invite a couple of our other friends, Eleanor and Patrick, over instead. I made all of our usual trimmings, except I decided to try a new brussel sprout recipe. In the past I had good luck with our one Martha Stewart cookbook, and foolishly thought that maybe her recipe for bussel sprouts would be as good as the Cuban sweet potatoes.
NOPE. They were a disaster.
Luckily, only Eleanor and I even like brussel spouts and I actually have more (uncooked) so I can try again (for myself, for leftovers.)
The rest runs like clockwork these days, though, of course, Eleanor and Patrick came just at the point where I start to get a little frantic about the timing of everything. I don't think Eleanor has ever seen me so.... fussy/anxious before.
But we had a lovely meal and lots of wonderful conversation. It was just exactly how Thanksgiving should be, IMHO.
I've long advocated for Thanksgiving to be the holiday of 'choice/made family.' It really can be quite lovely when celebrated that way.
Today is a pajama day which has started out perfectly with pumpkin pie for breakfast and binge watching "Yuri on Ice" while doing the Thanksgiving dishes.
November 24th, 2016
Often these pictures don't show up, but hopefully this one will. Photo credit to: Thaiphy Phan-Quang.