5 New Things!

November 9, 2014 at 4:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Every year, my only real New Year’s Resolution I make is to try five new things throughout the year. For some reason, I’ve been thinking a lot about my 5 things lately. I have completed my 5 for this year, so I wanted to share my excitement!

1. I went to a trampoline park for the first time. I love doing active things, but I don’t really like doing them alone. My Nerdy Girls helped me out with this one and went with me so I could get my bounce on. It was a ton of fun, and a great workout! I totally don’t recommend the foam pit, though. It’s a bear to get out of!

2. I sang karaoke for the first time. I used to be in choirs growing up, but I’ve never thought I had more than a middling voice. I’m quite self-conscious about it, and I’ve never, ever had the urge to do karaoke. I was persuaded(under duress!) to sing karaoke last weekend. It took a bit of liquid courage as well!

3. I peed in a stall with no door in a public place. I know this one’s a bit weird! I stopped by a rest stop on a long road trip. The first stall had no door. There was no one in the restroom, so I got a little crazy and used that one. It would have been quite awkward if someone had walked in!

4. I ate my first persimmon! One of the parents at school asked what our snack of the day was on Friday. She said that the kids said that it tasted like a pumpkin. As I was leaving school that day, the other teachers were talking about an old wives tale that had to do with the seeds. So, they called over the intercom to see if any of the teachers had leftovers. A couple brought some up. I had never had one before, so I had one on my way home that day. It tasted like a cross between a pumpkin and a pear, in my opinion!

5. I spoke on a panel at a Comic-con! I think this is my favorite new thing I did this year! As I mentioned, I’m a member of an organization called the Nerdy Girls. They are fantastic, and have been great friends the past year. Someone from Wizard World reached out and asked if we would be interested in speaking at a panel. We ended up on two! I only sat on one of the panels, however. My panel was about Feminism in Fandom. I was afraid that it wouldn’t be well attended when I saw that Tom Felton was speaking at the same time! I was pleasantly surprised, and our room was nearly full. The audience had great questions, and we were able to speak the whole time. I would love to do it again!

What are some new things you’ve tried this year?

Behind the Curtains

March 29, 2014 at 11:08 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Ubiquitous End of the Year Post

December 31, 2013 at 9:56 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Our calendar seems somewhat arbitrary to me. Who decided that January 1st was going to be the start of the new year? I’m not talking about the historic context. Why January? Why the cold months and not the end of summer? The dying of the summer seems more like a place to end the year to me. Or why not start the year in spring when life is blooming again? 

Regardless, we end a year and begin a new one. The new one inherits last year’s failures in the form of resolutions. The old year is discarded. We take those failures with us, hanging over our heads like storm clouds. 

I reject that practice. I do not want to take the year’s failures with me. I want its successes! I want the triumphs, the happy moments, the random acts of kindness, the celebrations! So each year, I try to sit down and make a list of the things I have accomplished in the past year. 

These are mine, in no particular order:

  • I applied for and received a scholarship to a local writing conference.
  • I participated in the Lexington Poetry Month challenge and wrote almost every day.
  • I wrote my first couple of duet poems ever.
  • I obtained my Oklahoma Teaching Certification.
  • I interviewed for and was offered the job that I wanted.
  • I managed my diabetes well, with my most recent A1C at 5.8.
  • I was able to make it home for my cousin Ryan’s wedding. 
  • I bought a new car.
  • I have a poem in an upcoming poetry anthology.
  • I was able to make the best of a bad situation when I was transferred mid-year and now work at a school I love.
  • I taught many people to knit.
  • I learned to bead Kumihimo-style.
  • I joined a Meetup Group and have become an organizer for them.
  • I am happy at my job, something that was missing last year.
  • I survived not one but two F5 tornadoes.
  • I had a lovely vacation in Arkansas with my parents and my aunt.
  • I met many new friends!
  • I was happy and healthy. 

What were your successes? What triumphs are you taking with you into the new year?

It is a Good Time to be a Woman

June 26, 2013 at 6:37 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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My mother raised me as a feminist. I learned about Margaret Sanger and birth control at an early age. I knew the names of the women who fought for my right to vote before I was ever able to vote. Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Juliette Lowe were household heroes, and I visited the National Women’s Hall of Fame as a pre-teen.

I took it for granted that I could vote.

I took it for granted that I had the right to an abortion whether I ever needed or wanted one.

I took it for granted that I could take birth control pills for any reason whatsoever, with no questions asked.

I never thought that I would ever have to fight to keep any of those rights. 

It’s not really a great time to be a woman in this great nation. State after state looks for ways to restrict women’s rights to abortion after decades without questioning the law. Whether you agree or disagree is not the issue. It’s guaranteed by the law. Yet lawmakers waste time, energy, and money arguing the matter over and over again. 

Women still make up less than half of our representative government, although we make up more than half the nation’s population. We earn less than men, whether due to our choices in career or the greed of men. We are still not in charge of our own bodies and medical decisions. 

At the same time, it is an absolutely amazing time to be a woman! We have spectacular role models, if you’re looking in the right direction. There’s Elizabeth Davis who stood for 12 hours yesterday to filibuster a bill restricting abortion in Texas. No leaning, no bathroom breaks, no food or drinks. That’s a real woman. There’s Leticia Van de Putte who left her father’s funeral because she cared so much about defeating the same bill. That’s a woman who puts the needs of the people she represents ahead of her own needs, her own grief. That’s a woman who protests the actions of the president of the Texas legislature with these words: “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?”

There’s Michelle Obama who hasn’t just been a pretty face as First Lady, but who speaks up on behalf of the causes that she believes in. There’s Hilary Clinton, who may become our first female president. It would be utterly amazing to me to be alive for both the first non-white president as well as the first female president. 

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who is the voice of reason on the Supreme Court and never fails to speak up when conservatives rear their ugly heads. Edith Windsor, who was the defendant in the DOMA case that was just today declared unconstitutional. All the other women(and men!) who show up, who protest, who stand, who fight, who go unrecognized for the work they do on behalf of all women. 

We don’t have to look to the past to find heroes. We don’t have to look to comic books to find heroes. If we turn our eyes away from size zero women who perpetuate the myth of the perfect woman, from women who make a spectacle of themselves in order to be news-worthy, women who work to prevent the rest of us from having a choice, we will see women who are heroes now, today. 

The Geek Life

April 14, 2013 at 9:54 pm | Posted in Essays | 3 Comments
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I’d like to come out of the closet. I’m not sure I was actually in there with my Star Trek uniform, my Ren Faire garb, and my Steampunk accoutrements. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a geek.

As I get older, I embrace the Geek Side even more. I don’t know if it’s the truth, but being intelligent is cool these days. The Big Bang Theory has gone a long way to improve geek perception. Who doesn’t love Sheldon Cooper?

One of the coolest things about geeks, in my opinion, is how much we’re willing to do to dress up. It’s really a freeing thing to dress up at a con. The better job you do at your outfit, the more likely you are to be a minor celebrity. And people will work hard or spend a lot of money to get the coolest outfit. I’ve seen the most amazing Weeping Angel and Predator.

Bonus points if you are the only one wearing that outfit. More bonus points for obscurity.

Another thing I love about the geek community is how much intelligence is prized. Can you even BE a part of the geek community if you’re not smart? Some of the sexiest men in the geek community are the most intelligent. I mean come on, Doctor Who? Sherlock? There are also plenty of kick-ass women in the geeky community. In almost every Predator movie, the woman was the last one standing. Ellen Ripley lived every time in comparison with the boatloads of men who didn’t!

There’s some rampant sexualization of women in the geek community. Women almost always wear skin-tight clothing or are scantily-clad. How many men fantasize about Princess Leia in her slave girl outfit? I’ve been reading accounts of women who are groped and otherwise accosted because they’re dressed up at cons. I can’t say that it’s totally unexpected. A big part of the geek community is composed of men. Not all of those men, but quite a lot are social awkward, socially inept. They gather their information on appropriate behavior from the internet. As we all know, there are some shall we say questionable? sources on the internet. Even though it’s not unexpected, it’s not acceptable.

Post Number 50

January 13, 2013 at 2:48 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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It’s hard to be a writer when you don’t write very often. I write emails and letters, post updates on Facebook, but I don’t work hard at the business of writing. I have the feeling that this is a different iteration of the same blog post I’ve written before, too. I know that I need to make writing a daily practice if I want to be any good at it or accomplish anything. But I don’t.

There is very little in my life that I am consistent about. Every day I eat, sleep, shower. If it were up to me to make my own schedule as opposed to have one imposed on me by my job, those things would be done at different times each day. 

As a writer, I’ve lost my way in the past few months. I moved halfway across the country, give or take. I left my family and my friends. That’s enough to leave anyone floundering. I turned down a job I’d been offered, and ended up with a job that pays much less and has a much lower satisfaction level. I find little inspiring here, in the location or in my life. It means that I have to work even harder to be the writer that I want to be. 

Most writers wear many hats, and that is the case for me. Life feels like it will never be long enough for me to pack in all the things I want to do. It’s a struggle to try to pare down all the interests I have and to choose one thing to focus on. Writing is the hardest of the group, and so it usually falls by the wayside. 

I think the next step is to set some new writing goals. I have to choose whether to participate in the Poem a Day challenge or the Story a Day challenge. Do I seek publication? Where do I seek publication? Do I compile enough poetry for a chapbook and submit to a competition? What is a do-able goal for updating my blog without taking time away from the “real” writing? So many possibilities, so little time! 

Sorry for the bland and nondescript title. When I was signing in, I noticed that I had 49 posts. It’s a milestone to have gotten to 50 posts, as sporadic as they have been!

The Dragon

October 18, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Depression is a dragon. Every morning when I wake up, I have to battle that dragon. Some days I wake up first and I slay him. Some days, he never wakes up. Some days, I can’t find my sword or my armor. Some days, he wakes up slowly, uncurling and breathing fire in all the crevices of my brain.

Some days, I win.

Some days, the dragon wins.

But every day is a battle

Stop the Abstinence Only Education

October 2, 2012 at 10:15 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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There is nothing wrong with having sex. There should be NO SHAME in having sex. It is religion that brings in the shame where sex is concerned. Sex does not have to be tied to procreation. It SHOULD NOT be tied only to procreation. Not only do teenagers need to know how to be responsible in procreation, women and men in marriage relationships need to know how to be procreationally responsible. It makes sense that procreation is not tied to sex, both for the health of a woman and for the health of the entire family. There SHOULD be education teaching our teenagers how to have sex responsibly so that they can grow up and be adults who have sex responsibly!

Day 2–Memory

May 4, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My laptop caught a virus yesterday, so I didn’t get a chance to post a story for yesterday. I liked the prompt and had the story mostly written in m head, so here goes!

Ruth looked through the window of the kitchen in the parsonage. No one else in her husband’s clerical had wanted a posting in this poverty-stricken small town. So far, she liked most of the congregation members, but there were some other really nasty people in town. One of them lived right behind the parsonage, and Ruth had caught her staring in their window more than once already.

She could see the mostly dry creek bed from the window while she did the dishes. Many of the local children liked to play there after school. There were only a couple of girls there at the moment. She squinted and recognized one as the daughter of a congregation member, Alexis. The other girl wasn’t one she recognized.

They were about 11 years old, and their skinny legs stuck out under their shorts. She wasn’t sure if their legs were dirty or bruised. She remembered her legs being bruised up and down at that age from climbing trees, riding bikes, and other running around she did with her friends. She’d grown up in a town very similar to this one.

Caught in her musings, she was startled by the knock at the door. Opening it up, there was Alexis from the creek bed.

“Mrs. Miller, my friend Amy stepped on a piece of glass, and she’s bleeding real bad. Can you help her?”

“Sure Alexis! Let me get a towel and I’ll go help her in.” She kept a few old dishcloths under the sink, clean but worn out. She grabbed one of those and headed out the door. Alexis and Amy weren’t far from her front door. Amy’s foot was bleeding, but not too much.

“Hi Amy, I’m Ruth Miller. My husband’s the pastor at the church over here. I’ve got a dish towel for your foot.” She bent to wrap it around the injured foot.

“Thank you, Mrs. Miller,” the girl said shyly.

Between the two of them, Alexis and Ruth managed to get Amy awkwardly into the house. She got the two of them seated on the couch, with the injured foot propped up on an ottoman, and went for her first aid kit.

“Don’t the two of you have any shoes?” She asked.

“Can’t stand ’em!” Alexis said. Amy nodded.

“There’s a lot of broken glass down there in that creek bed. Y’all better be more careful from now on!”

“Yes, ma’am,” they chorused.

The cut wasn’t very deep, just bloody in the way of foot wounds. Amy flinched as she cleaned the cut with alcohol, dried it off and applied a thick bandage.

“Now, I know you don’t live very far, but I want to call your mommas and give you both a drive home, all right? Alexis, what’s your phone number?”

“555-3790.” She told Ruth politely.

Ruth dialed the number and told Alexis’ mother what was going on. The woman agreed quickly to the plan.

“What about yours, Amy?”

“My momma’s dead, miss. My daddy won’t care.”

“Tell me anyway,” she pressed.

“555-3814.” Amy recited.

She dialed the number, but no one answered like Amy predicted. She loaded both girls into the car anyway. The two of them both fit in the front seat with their gangly legs and bare feet hanging over the edge. They giggled and whispered the whole trip, and Ruth smiled indulgently, remembering a similar experience from her own childhood.

They pulled up to Alexis’ house in less than 5 minutes.

“Thank you, Mrs. Miller,” she said with a smile as she slid out of the car.

“Now, where’s your house?” She asked Amy.

“It’s up the street here, and turn right at 3rd Street,” Amy pointed.

Shortly afterward, Ruth stopped her Honda in front of a rundown house with a dirt yard. There were two vicious-looking dogs chained out front, and several men with beer bottles sitting on the porch in chairs that had seen better days.

“Thank you, miss.” Amy said again as she slid out of the car. Ruth got the impression that the girl wanted her to leave as quickly as possible.

She opened her door and stood up to look at the group of men over the roof of her car in case Amy’s father wanted to know why his daughter was in some stranger’s car. She didn’t get any response from any of the men other than one of them who leaned off the porch to spit tobacco. Ruth watched until Amy made it up the stairs and into the house before she got back into her car to drive home.

Ruth told her husband about the incident when he got home, then forget about it until Sunday morning. After the church service, Alexis’ mother came up to her.

“I’m sure you heard about what happened to Amy after you drove her home this week?” She asked.

“No! What happened?”

“Amy’s in the hospital, has been since that night. Her daddy beat her for something or other. She’s in a coma, hasn’t woken up since that night.”

“Oh, no! You don’t think it had anything to do with me driving her home, do you?” Ruth’s hands flew to her mouth.

“No, that man’s mean as a snake. He’s been looking for a reason to beat her ever since her momma died.” Alexis’ mother replied.

“How’s Alexis holding up?”

“She’s had a hard week. I want to take her to the hospital to see Amy, but I’m not sure if she can handle it.”

“I can understand that,” Ruth told her sympathetically. “We’ll be praying for both the girls.

Usually, some of the congregation members cooked lunch for Ruth and her husband, but she asked him to make their excuses this afternoon. The two of them drove to the hospital where Ruth spent the afternoon sitting with the little girl and her husband visited the hospitalized congregation members. No one else came anywhere near the room the whole time the couple were there.

“What a pity there is no one else to stay with this beautiful little girl,” she remarked to her husband as they left the hospital. She had plans to go back each day to sit with Amy again, but daily chores and errands kept her from getting back to the hospital.

Three days later, she read Amy’s obituary in the newspaper.

Story-a-Day May Day 1

May 1, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Posted in Short Stories | Leave a comment
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Claire walked up to the window, looking around furtively. She didn’t realize that her attempts to go unnoticed were making her more conspicuous.

“What can I do for you, ma’am?” The ticket seller asked.

“What time does the next bus leave?”

Impatient, the man snapped “In 20 minutes. Can’t you read the sign?”

Unwilling to admit that no, she couldn’t, she asked for a ticket for the bus.

“That will be $72.”

She winced at the price, but pushed four twenty-dollar bills across the counter. He pushed her ticket across the counter, and said curtly “Gate B4.”

She took her ticket and moved quickly away from the window and the man’s hostile stare. Heading out the door, she turned to the right and squinted at the gate numbers posted on the lamp posts. Those were all As with numbers. Looking to the left, she found the B lamp posts, and walked to the fourth one. There were some other people milling around and sitting on the broken down bench.

“Excuse me, is this gate B4?” She asked a nice-looking older woman. The woman nodded, looking tired.

Claire sat down next to her to wait the next few minutes. She pulled the money out of her pocket and counted through it again. The twenties added up to $220 now that she had bought the bus ticket. A cell phone ran and she jumped, then remembered she had left the cell phone in the cramped apartment she had shared with Luis.

A man approached the bus, opened the gate and boarded with the key in hand. Claire watched as all the other riders held their tickets out for him to check. She hauled her backpack higher up on her shoulder and held her ticket out for his perusal. He nodded her through.

Soon the bus was pulling away from the station and Claire felt some of the tension seep from her shoulders. She watched until she saw the lights of San Fransisco fade from view, then dozed off leaning against the window. It was an uneasy sleep, punctuated with nightmares.

She jolted awake when the driver announced that they had arrived in Portland. She stumbled off the bus with the rest of the passengers and stretched the kinks out. She noticed a coffee shop nearby and made her way there.

“What can I getcha, honey?” The waitress asked after she had seated herself.

“Just a coffee, thanks.”

“You sure, sweetie? You’re looking pretty thin there.”

“No, that’s all,” Claire smiled.

As she looked away from the waitress, she caught the eye of a handsome man across the restaurant. He grinned back and her and picked up his coffee cup to walk over to her table.

“Hi, I’m Jordan. What’s your name?” He asked.

“I’m C-Caitlyn.” She stumbled over the new name she’d chosen for herself.

“Nice to meet you, Caitlyn. Are you new to our fair city?”

She nodded shyly, then excused herself to go to the bathroom. When she finished, the waitress was waiting for her outside the door.

“Honey, you stay away from that one. He used to come into the shop with a cute little girl all the time. She started showing up with bruises and then wearing sunglasses and long-sleeved shirts. We called the cops, and they stopped by to check on her, but she never did want to press charges. She’s been in and out of that apartment with him for the last 6 months.”

Claire felt tears well up in her eyes and she threw her arms around the surprised waitress. “Thank you,” she whispered in the woman’s ear.

“I’ll get that coffee to go for you,” the waitress said. “There’s a door out the back way here, too.”

“Thank you,” was all Claire could think of to say.

She waited anxiously at the end of the hallway while the woman put her coffee in a styrofoam cup for her. She slipped quietly out of the shop into the alley and away from the coffee shop.

As she looked for somewhere to ask about a shelter, she realized how lucky she was to have avoided an encounter with an abusive man while she was trying to get away from another.

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