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Dear Readers: A Huge Thank You

24 Apr

For about a week now, I’ve had a brain full of Ecuador. So full, that last night, with the tent donation count having barely inched up to halfway of the goal the team was hoping to reach before Monday, I couldn’t fall asleep until I’d done something, anything more, and I wrote that blog post that went out yesterday talking about the situation and asking you all, dear readers, for help.

I went to bed, hoping the blog post might garner some more help. I tossed and turned for about an hour more, but eventually fell asleep – though even unconscious, I still had a brain full of Ecuador, as I wound up dreaming about sending emails to more people about the wish list, because I want so badly to reach that goal of fifty, want so badly to get shelter to at least that many survivors, that many families. I want so badly for this relief effort to work.

This morning, I woke up and sat bolt-upright with the thought “ECUADOR TENTS?!?!” shooting first-thing through my brain. I rolled over and opened up my laptop and loaded the link to the relief effort’s wish list, hoping for at least a couple more donations…

…and saw that we’d gotten a full 20% more of the entire goal. Donations went up from 25 to 36 during the hours that I slept, and now, we’re only 14, a mere, doable 14 tents away from that goal.

The only thing different between when I went to bed and when I woke up was that blog post. The only thing different, dear readers, was you all.

Thank you. Thank you, so much.

I mean, I suppose I don’t know for sure that the donations came from my readers, but the correlation is strong, so causation seems likely. So, I’m just going to go with the assumption of justified faith in people and do the thing you do when someone helps you, and tell you all thank you.

Thank you. With all the force I can muster and all the adrenaline-based pseudo-energy of the entire pot of coffee I’ve downed today trying to make even more momentum happen, thank you. Thank you for being a part of this. Thank you for helping to make a difference.

And thank you, too, if you decide to join in now. Thank you for helping to keep the relief effort going.

Fourteen more tents, readers. Fourteen tents in (ideally) eight or (allowably) thirty-two hours.

We can do this.

You’re already doing this.

Thank you.


If you’d like to help send shelter to the survivors of Canoa, Ecuador, donate through the following link:

https://amzn.com/w/XLL6FUTGKU91

Making Magic for Ecuador: You, Canoa, and a Call for Tents

23 Apr

If you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time (also hey, welcome newcomers), you’ll know that “I was raised on fantasy literature” is a pretty common theme to my posts. And you’ll know that those fantasy books – the ones with Dumbledore’s Army, and wizards banded together for Timeheart, and troupes made of Luster and Earthfolk alike, the ones with people (a term loosely used, here) who went out and saw the universe and did important things in it, for it – those are the books that shaped who I wanted to be. All my life, I’ve pretty much wanted my job description to be something along the lines of “saves the world.”

It’s why I pick up litter on the beach. It’s why I’m a practicing emergency medical responder. It’s why I tell people when I care about them. It’s why I’m going to veterinary school.

And it’s why when a 7.8 earthquake happened on April 16th in a country where I knew people, I messaged those friends to ask how they were doing, how their country was doing.

They were sad, and frustrated, but hanging in there, they said. But the country? Not well, was their answer. Whole towns were in ruins.

The bodies, they said, were piling up in the streets.

…When your friends tell you there are bodies piling up in their streets, you goddamn ask what you can do to help. And when they tell you what that is, you do it.

In this case, what I could do – what you could do – is get them tents.

There are bodies in the streets, but there are survivors too. Unfortunately, their city being a pile of rubble and devastation, there is nowhere for them to survive in.

So they’re building themselves a temporary settlement, and it shall be made of tents.

A couple days later, and I’m now heading up the West coast efforts for the U.S. relief team working in conjunction with my friends’ local organization, the “Surfers for a Roof” Brigade. As for the U.S. team’s efforts, my East coast counterpart and I want to get 50 tents to Ecuador – Canoa, to be specific – by Monday to help make a dent in what the 200 surviving families will need for shelter.

There have been Facebook posts, and emails with city councils, and CARVE surfing magazine even did a piece on the effort, and so far, we’ve gotten 25 tents. I want so badly to keep the momentum going. I want to hit 50 before Monday arrives. I want the world to care, and to not just sit there caring, but get up or speak out or just do something about it.

Here in this world of dust and reality, we cannot fight the source of all evil for the fate of the world.

But we can fight devastation. We can fight disaster. We can join this effort, and throw relief in the face of the ruin. We cannot fight “ultimate evil,” but we can fight this one.

To put it more pragmatically: the relief effort has an Amazon wish list going. People can donate tents directly, or, barring being able to contribute the full cost of a tent, can email Amazon gift cards of any amount to the relief effort’s account, and we’ll pool those funds to purchase more supplies. We’ve already gotten one tent on the way from people’s compounded gift card donations. We’re about halfway to another one, with current funds.

Physical donations will ship to a hangar in Miami from where a volunteer pilot – the relative of local leadership in Canoa – will fly supplies to ground zero. Tent city construction will begin May 7th.

The Amazon wish list and the email account associated with it have been created specifically for the relief effort, to allow for specificity and transparency. Anyone with questions about our financial or other records is totally welcome to ask, and we will send you literally our entire backlog of documentation. Honesty and integrity, in this effort, are paramount.

So, dear readers, I invite you to join me. Consider this your official enrollment call. I cannot off you a DA badge or a manual saying you have joined the ranks of wizards, but I can offer you the knowledge that your help here matters. That herein is a chance to know that you have helped fight to make things better for the world. Whether you donate or “just” spread the word (social media, word of mouth, sky writing, traveling bards – it’s all good) – you will have been someone who, even if just for a moment, got up and looked out at what was happening to the universe and did something about it all.

And for me, at least, that is a little bit magic.

To donate to the Canoa tent relief project: http://amzn.com/w/XLL6FUTGKU91

To learn more about how the relief effort works: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1MzRn9oHb73jV3rQ0QmvPmI1twKFiNfhf7Xbk1gFKdEU/edit?usp=sharing

An Open Letter to Eric Bolling and Greg Gutfeld at Fox News

25 Sep #HeForShe

To Mr. Eric Bolling and Mr. Greg Gutfeld,

yesterday, September 24th, you two made some foot-in-mouth – or should I say dick-in-mouth, by your language – comments about Major Mariam Al Mansouri. Was it because she is a fighter pilot? Or a freedom fighter? Or a figure for justice? How about because she’s a trail blazer? Or symbol of refusing to sit down in the face of injustice?

No. It was because Major Mariam Al Mansouri is a woman.

What’s this, you appear to have thought to yourself, the first female fighter pilot of the UAB stood up against FOX’s sworn enemy, ISIS? Well, I could comment on her bravery… or how many social prejudices she’s overcome… or how she’s such an ally for US interests… Wait, I know! Better comment on her boobs!

Or make a low-brow, uninspired joke about female driving stereotypes that would paint Major Mansouri as less capable than a male counterpart, as Mr. Gutfeld seemed to think best.

Because sexist “jokes” are totally what all your viewers were itching to hear just then, right?

Wrong.

I’d like to introduce the two of you to a little something called the HeForShe campaign, a “solidarity movement for gender equality,” as the website says.

Oh, sorry, I used some large words that you two don’t seem to be familiar with, based on your performance yesterday. Let me break it down for you.

Solidarity means that hey, feminism isn’t just for or about females. The state of women – roughly one half of the human population – is something that affects and is affected by the other half, all you male-identifying folk. So hey, how about we stand together through all this stuff instead of making half the human race grind its teeth because of your stupidity?

Movement – so, we’re not just standing. Men have had to fight for their rights – like oh, say, freedom (ring a bell?) – and have come a long way. Women, we’ve been fighting too. But, as evidenced by men of your caliber, we’ve still got a long way to go to reach equal respect, freedom, and opportunity. Major Mansouri fought against an entire culture of disapproval for her opportunities. And now that she’s taken back her own personal freedom, she’s fighting for other women – and men – from the cockpit. That’s right, men. A vulva in the cockpit. Turns out genitalia doesn’t determine whether you can fight, metaphorically and very, very literally, for something you believe in.

Gender equality is what it sounds like – not women nagging men, not men belittling women. But rather, each of us evaluating the other based on individual merit, not our degree of mammary tissue or what kind of urethral exit we’ve got going. To demonstrate this concept, I’d say a fair evaluation of what Major Mansouri has done could be called “courageous, competent, and inspiring.” As for your Wednesday behavior, I’d put it at “unintelligent, unduly crass, and ignorant.”

I’m not the only one who thinks so. This is not some “feminazi” rant over a trivial matter. I am not some hormone-crazed female who “can’t take a joke.” No, I am justified in my outrage at your blatant and blind perpetuation not just of sexism, but of rape culture too. Your behavior treats a woman as if her body is fair game. As if the very fact that she is female makes her an acceptable target for jokes, for disparagement, for verbal undressing, for whatever your male mind may damn well please, really. But if Major Mansouri had been a man, would you have made comments about his bombing aligning it with his ball sack? Or his dick? I mean, you would have had a ready “joystick” joke right there. Would you have demeaned his skills as a soldier by saying that oh hey, he must not clean up as well on the bombing field because everyone knows that women do the household chores? Would you immediately jump to verbally jostling his sexual parts as a “joke,” instead of properly saluting this soldier who is fighting as an ally on your side for an entire fucking people’s freedom? No?

Then I think, sirs, that you have a problem.

You have several solutions before you. Heforshe.org has several to recommend. Personally, I’d advise issuing an apology. And no, not some flimsy sham of a guilt admission. I – and I suspect other men and women too – want remorse. We want acknowledgment of your ignorance and ill intention when you made those comments. We want recognition of your underlying prejudices. And we demand concrete measures for change.

Because if that does not happen – well then gentleman, if you will not remove your foot from your mouth, then perhaps it is time to get your dick out of the seat. Fox News obviously needs more female anchors anyway.

Sincerely,
Miceala Shocklee

———–

Let Eric Bolling, Gerg Gutfeld, and the rest of Fox News know that sexist comments like these are not only distasteful, but dangerous. Tweet this page’s url to the anchors and their channel, or leave a message for them on Facebook. Feel free to copy and past the letter above and add your own signature, or write your own message.

@ericbolling
https://www.facebook.com/EricBolling

@greggutfeld
http://ggutfeld.com/contact/
https://www.facebook.com/ggutfeld

The Five:
https://www.facebook.com/TheFiveFNC

Show support for the Kim Guilfoyle, who brought of the story and condemned her colleagues’ remarks on air.

@kimguilfoyle
https://www.facebook.com/KimberlyGuilfoyle
http://kimberlyguilfoyle.com/contact/

sample message:
Thank you, Ms. Guilfoyle, for deciding to highlight such a courageous female in our day and age as Major Mansouri. I support you in how you wanted to spin the story, and I condemn the comments that Mr. Bolling and Mr. Gutfeld made. Thank you for immediately calling them out on it and letting them know that their behavior was unacceptable. I thank you for your efforts and hope that you will keep standing up for women everywhere, beginning with yourself.

The Golden Rule

12 Sep

I wish I had not learned the Golden Rule so well. Then I would not let fuckers like you be so blatantly rude to me while I turn the other cheek, look the other way so that you might laugh in the other side of my face too.

I would not let you get away so easily with your attack on my sense of contentment with my value as a person. I would make you atone for your attrition – or else do it for you. I would pull a gun on you, as you sit there in your drop-ass car with your backwards hat, jeering at me through your rear view mirror like the fucking scum you are. Who fucking raised you that way? Who fucking let you become what you are? People like you, people who go out of their goddamn way to make somebody else’s day worse, to flaunt their privilege just to get in other’s way, to fucking get off on causing another’s misfortune – people like you, they don’t deserve to pollute the population on this earth. I would shoot you, if I had not learned the Golden Rule so well. I would be someone who carried a gun in the first place.

Sure, I might not have been there for you to inconvenience in the first place. But at least I would not have been the only one to carry that risk.

If I had not learned the Golden Rule so well, I would not have walked through my front door minutes ago crying, because once again, I let another person, another man do what he wanted to me while I sat there, silent. I would not be sitting here on my bed typing this in my bra and underwear, because I must be naked to allow myself this much raw and quivering rage. This is my rant. This is my anger. This is me.

But you, man with the backwards hat in that car on the road, you will never know this.

Keep calm, carry on. Seek justice, but only for those others, and never for yourself. This is the way that peacetime works.

Let the man push you. Let him threaten you. Let him prevent you from leaving. Don’t kick his car door in. Don’t fling the car door out, sucker punch him to the gut. Don’t pick up your bike and walk in front of the goddamn prick. Don’t show him any resistance.

Keep calm. Stay quiet. It’ll pass. Then you can leave.

But there’s no justice in that.

I wish I had not learned the Golden Rule so goddamn well.

How Ke$ha Did Rehab Right

28 Jun

I don’t really do celebrity junk magazines. But I do invest a fair amount of my glancing power in eating disorder recovery-related Facebook feeds. And recently, Ke$ha’s been showing up a lot.

I adore Ke$ha as an artist. Her songs are bold and crazy and unapologetic, just like Ke$ha herself. The singer has always put out a very “be yourself and take no prisoners” vibe – which is why I was rather surprised when it went public earlier this year that she was going to rehab for an eating disorder.

Now, like I said, I don’t really keep up with celebrity gossip. I’m more interested in keeping up on the latest book chatter or marine biology news flashes, thank you very much. But maybe if I did stalk the stars like so many others, I would have known more about Ke$ha’s lapse and anticipated her entering treatment more. Maybe I would have seen the signs. Maybe I would have noticed the gossip columns abuzz with slurs about how the pop queen was looking “scary skinny.”

But honestly, I don’t think I would have. After having come across the first article mentioning Ke$ha’s entry to rehab (and holding that up as a model for others who might still be suffering silently), I did some research. By which I mean Googling.

Hey, I’m only human. We are creatures of curiosity.

But that Googling – well, it didn’t really turn up much. No descriptions of paparazzi’s having glimpsed Ke$ha’s rib cage or clavicle or whatever. No star-spirals-downward slurring. Just more of the same sort of bare posts, saying nothing more than that Ke$ha was going into treatment for an eating disorder. They didn’t even say which one.

And that, I think, is incredibly important.

Since leaving treatment, Ke$ha’s put out a few comments on her pre-rehab self and what motivated her entering treatment, but none of the comments that I’ve come across have talked at all about the physical specifics. Unlike so many other stars – and regular ol’ non-famous ED victims – Ke$ha doesn’t indulge in some sort of victorious litany of what her symptoms were, how skinny she got, how much she purged, or anything like that. All she says is that she wasn’t loving herself properly and wasn’t really confident in herself.

Thank – well, thank the stars. Finally, one of them who talks about what eating disorder are really about. They are not a disease of skinniness. They are not a disease of food. They are a disease of self-hatred. Doesn’t matter what it looks like, that is what goes on, in every single patient, underneath the physical symptoms.

I laud Ke$ha on focusing on what eating disorder recovery is really about: learning to take care of yourself and value doing so. Learning to love fighting for yourself, instead of fighting yourself. Finding contentment in being a whole person, instead of in stripping away your very existence.

Ke$ha could have talked specifics. She could have talked diagnosis, labels, numbers, gritty details that would have gone viral on gossip sites. But instead, she clamps down on the triggers and talks about what’s really important. It’s her recovery she promotes, not her eating disorder.

For the millions of adoring boys and girls hanging on her every word, that is so important. For the casual magazine browser at the grocery store check out, that is so important. For the eating disorder victims who are honestly really damn done having celebrity nonsense about our disorder thrown in our faces, that is so important.

For Ke$ha, who will still be fighting to keep her hold on recovery for a while, that is so important. She clearly invested herself in rehab; it’s good to see she’s doing recovery right, too.

Misogyny, Misandry, and Father’s Day

15 Jun

I hate Father’s Day. I by no means hate fathers. I don’t even really hate my father. I just hate the nationally celebrated day that will overstuff my Facebook and Twitter feeds and force me to think over and over again about the complicated relationship I’ve had since, well, ever with that terrible, wonderful, intimidating word. Father.

Honestly, I’m pretty confused about how I happened. Yes, yes, I do technically know how I happened. I have two heterosexual, reasonably fertile parents with differently sexed genitalia. I remember that talk my school gave us back in sixth grade. But as for the why of that how – I am confused, since I’m generally under the impression that my parents have been fighting since before I was even born. But apparently passion, like humans and their human relationships, is a complicated thing.

And so I was born, thanks to the complicatedness of existence. Naturally, that meant that my existence has been consequentially complicated too.

I know that there were good times with my father while I was growing up. Afternoons of hide and seek, nights of my father’s consenting to play barbies before bed. My dad is the reason I was thrown into the water and turned into such an aqueous creature so early on. There were giggles and smiles.

But there were tears, too. Oh so many, many tears. And I, built for better or for worse to register the negative over the positive, tend to remember those tears first and foremost. I was three or four the first time I encountered the word “divorce.” My parents were shouting it at each other downstairs in the kitchen. I heard them from my hiding place, crouched just around the corner at the top of the stairs, where they couldn’t see me. I heard my father shouting, his yells deep and growling. I heard my mother shriek back, her words shrill and defensive. Even at three, I knew that one of those timbres was the one with the threat, and one of them was not. My mother’s yelling carries hysteria. My father’s yelling carries violence. His is the anger that has always scared me more.

Now, at the age of 23, I understand that my father is human, a damaged individual with a backstory of dysfunction that explains so much of his threats and narcissism and alcoholism and distance. He is doing the best he can with what he himself was given to work with. But at the age of three, that higher reasoning hadn’t kicked in yet. All I knew was that my father, the man I was supposed to believe was there to protect me, was someone of whom I was deeply, deeply afraid. And while that is something I have come to understand, it is not something I can yet entirely forgive.

I grew up living in fear. The man who taught me that promises are important with the force behind the words he used to tell me that he would always keep them is also the man who taught me more with his actions just why that is when he broke oh so many of them. The man who said he would always be there for me, no matter what, is also the man I would come to think of as “the bachelor who happens to be married to my mother” because of how often he was away on business, golf trips, hunting vacations, or affairs.

I am so much of who I am because of having preferred the counter examples to him. I am trusting because my father is manipulative. I am a giver because my father is a salesman. I am a pacifist because my father is a predator. I am widely accepting because my father can only believe that what he wants is right. I will ask for help because my father will keep on blundering ahead. I am supportive because my father is so critical. I lack so much self-confidence because my father is so self-assured.

I am perhaps equal parts broken and strong because of how I have reacted to my father’s lessons, direct or otherwise. I have spent a lifetime trying to defend who I am as a woman because of the man who acted as if women are nothing more than pretty tools for his disposal. I grew up expecting to be assaulted, in one way or another.

And yet, his misogyny has not instilled in me an equal misandry. Yes, for much of my life, I was flat-out afraid of males. My all-girls school education and sheltered childhood spared me having to interact with guys on any sort of regular basis. But the occasional visit from male neighbors, or uncles, or cousins, or, you know, going to a restaurant and having to talk to a male server – I was routinely petrified.

A slow introduction to the male half of the human race and a college education at a male-heavy college where I was the only girl in the room often enough that I eventually stopped noticing has helped a bit, but there is still some amount of inherent distrust in me. I was taught, by action rather than doctrine, that males are a people who could very, very easily hurt me. Physically or otherwise.

And yet, I have also grown up craving male attention. Approval. Affection. The things that I did not at all register sufficiently getting from my father. It was somewhere around middle school when I first realized just how desperately I was searching for a surrogate father. I had a male music teacher, and after I’d used an untraditional medium for a project in his music appreciation class, I asked him over and over again, for something like a week, whether or not that had been okay. The answer was obviously yes, every time. I stopped asking after I realized, in a moment of horror, that I was continuing to ask the same question of this music teacher not because I was still unsure of whether or not how I’d done the project had actually been okay, but because I knew that it was, and I wanted to hear the music teacher say that. I wanted to hear him tell me that yes, it had been a good idea. Yes, it had been okay. Yes, I was okay. Yes, he approved of me.

Hello, daddy issues.

I have since worked very, very hard to pull back those daddy-seeking tendrils. There’s been a lot of therapy.

And yet, somehow, I continue to become close to males who treat me in some way or other like my father did. I actively try not to, try to make friends and lovers of the guys who display qualities that I value, rather than qualities I grew up fearing. Still, I too often wind up with quick-tempered, stormy friends. Guys who will say things with their words and never follow through with their actions. Recently, I realized that I was staying with a guy who completely ignored me because I feared my emotional turmoil of a life would be harder without the paltry reassurance I got from that flimsy titular relationship than it was with it.

In other words, I was staying with him for the exact same reason my mother has stayed with my father. Down to the very words she’d used to explain it to me.

We broke up shortly thereafter.

So. Father’s Day. Such a complicated day for me. “Father” is the word for the man who gave me my first real taste of misogyny. “Father” is the word for the man who made me seek so desperately a desire to find his counterexample, rather than falling into easy misandry. “Father” is the word for the man who was causative for so many of the bricks that build me, and for the cracks in them as well. “Father” is the word for the thing I view with equal parts despisement and yearning.

“Father” is a word that has only ever been associated with the word “happy” in a negative sense. So how can I not hate the phrase “Happy Father’s Day?” There is so much unfulfilled wishing in that phrase for me. So much history, so many complications and contradictions.

I find it difficult to wish people an oxymoron.

Become a Story Patron!

4 Jun

patreon

Hello lovely readers! So, here on my blog, I post stories, flash fiction, poems, ramblings of highly variable levels of coherence… And you all read it. And like it. I think. I hope.

And because this is blog, free here on the interwebs of cat gifs and other soul-stirring content, I am not ever going to charge my readers for it. This blog is free. The end. Period. Anyone tries to change that and I’ll… I dunno. Hunt them down with a shovel and friendship-is-magic murderous pony and some other sort of nonsense and stare at them scarily until they back off and let my blog be free again.

Ahem. Please excuse the minor blip of insanity. Been holding it together at the seems today.

Anyhoo. This blog is free. But my writing career is not. And in order to sustain that writing career, I’m asking for help. From you. My readers. The people who would presumably like to see my writing get even better! and more interesting! and fuller of awesomeness! and not just drop off into an ugly slug trail of mucusy drivel.

Sooo. In order to keep up with the costs behind the logistics of maintaining and improving my wordcraft, I’ve set up a Patreon page. While my blog content will always be free, through Patreon, lovely patrons can pay $1-$5 per Patreon post. Each of those posts will be a sort of behind-the-scenes look at what I’ve posted here (or published through other mediums). What was the inspiration? Where are the secret messages? What’s the story behind the story? SECRETS SECRETS SECRETS!

Patreon is pretty cool because it allows patrons to decide how many and what kind of emails they receive, whether they want to donate once or a million times, and whether they want to cap their monthly donations. So, if you sign up to give $1 per behind-the-scenes post, you can cap how much you want to give at $5 a month, and then, if I suddenly go semi-manic and write 500 behind the scenes posts in one month! you, the patron, will still only donate $5 for the month. Not $500. And you can end or change your patronage at any time.

So. If you’ve got some change to spare and enjoy reading my writing, I as a starving artist sort would appreciate a monetary tip of the hat. To become a patron of my writing, visit my personal Patreon page at:

http://www.patreon.com/miceala

Thank you kindly, sir, madam, or whatever title of respect you’d prefer. I give you a bow in my minstrel garbs.

Seriously. Thanks.

Warning: Contains Swear Words

17 May

Alrighty, folks. In case you didn’t read the title, I’m going to warn you right now that this post will contain swear words. If they offend you, you should probably stop reading. Right. Now.

Or keep reading. Whatever. It’s your choice. I’m not forcing you to read this blog. You did so of your own happy accord. Which is why it confuses me, a bit, when readers call me out on language. Which happens, funnily enough, in just one place on my blog: in the comments on the post about how I don’t think Frozen *quite* managed to be an all-out progressive movie.

Since posting, it’s been one of the pieces that’s driven the most traffic on this blog. However, it is on this blog. It’s not in a letter to you, or your hypothetical children. It’s not plastered all over windows, or on billboards. It’s here, in my own little writing space on the internet, on my personal blog that I’ve designated as “PG-13” in the WordPress rating section. I’m nowhere near as prolific as Chuck Wendig when it comes to beautiful bomb-dropping of words beginning with f and c and s and damn near every letter of the alphabet. But I do curse occasionally. A fuck here, a damn or shit or a fuckshitdamn there. I use the curses for emphasis. For color. For tone. For a multitude of reasons. Keeps me honest. Which, interestingly enough, is actually something that science has found a correlation between. Swearing and honesty/trustworthiness, that is. The more someone swears, the more likely it was they were being honest about what they said. Probably because swearing usually means you’re not fucking putting a filter on what you say to goddamn please some other person’s stunted sensibilities. If you’re swearing, odds are you’re not being too cautious about what you’re letting out. You’re not dodging around, beating bushes, sweeping under rugs in an attempt to conceal or deceive or mask. You’re just saying what you’ve got to say.

And here, on my blog, I’m going to goddamn say what I’ve got to goddamn say.

I, too, used to be someone who flinched any time a swear word surfaced. Whether in conversation, or on TV, in a movie, even in a book. But I didn’t sling some shit of a criticism at the speaker/author about having dirtied what they trying to say by using a swear word. Their words had no less effect, no less relevance or truth or fucking simple fact to it just because it happened to have some other random word that society has arbitrarily designated as a bad word in front of it. Unlike, apparently, some of the readers of that Frozen post I mentioned.

I’ve gotten comments that my use of swear words “distracted” the reader from the substance of what I was saying. Honestly, I’m not going to apologize. At all. In a post containing 1,849 words, if my use of three shit’s and one fucking distracts you, I’m pretty goddamn sure that’s a problem with your reading comprehension, not with my writing. Especially since those four swear words make up less than one fucking percent of the pure word content. Those four words, in fact, make up 0.2% of the post.

If fat made up 0.2% of a cookie, the FDA wouldn’t even require it being noted. If smog made up 0.2% of your city’s atmosphere, the climate scientists would be weeping in joy. If swear words made up 0.2% of a (not to toot my own horn too loudly) very intelligently written critical piece on the issue of continuing misogyny and sexism and body image slaughter in movies we show our goddamn children, if it is a set of letters that represent less than 1% of the blog post that offend you, then really, I think something is wrong about your priorities.

To the readers who have commented on the Frozen post in an actual attempt to have a real discussion, I applaud you. I appreciate you. I love that you’ve commented. Even – especially – the ones who brought up counterpoints disagreeing with what I said. The whole point of the post was to think critically. And you did. You’re wonderful. Thank you.

To those of you who might be reading this who instead felt the need to deliver a below-the-waist jab at four little words instead of spending that energy being disgusted by unrealistic standards or promotion of repression or the perpetuation of a system in which women are told they can only fail at making choices, then please, I have a request: Go. the fuck. away.

Good riddance.

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Also, I might love you forever if you buy me this shirt. I’m a size small. Please and thank you. 😉

The Kindle Addiction

2 Feb

books in kindle

Lovely readers, I know that it is absurdly late for a typical day to be so desperately under-caffeinated as I am, but hey, it’s Sunday, and Sunday isn’t a real day, so you’ll just have to forgive me. Well, you don’t have to. But you get what I mean.

As I sit here on this Sunday morning I MEAN IT’S TOTALLY AFTERNOON AND I DEFINITELY DIDN’T JUST GET UP, sipping my way into my first cup of emotional and ever more physical addiction that is properly composed French-press coffee, I discover another addictive activity that the corporate behemoth that is Amazon has slowly dripped into my life.

Kindle shopping.

Now, I am not a shopper by nature. That genetic (or perhaps epigenetic) quality went to my sister. Growing up, my birthday money was more likely to go into the oddly unbreachable bounds of a plastic piggy bank than into yet another new handbag. Even when it came to “fake” money in the form of gift cards, I more often had to throw them away because they’d expired than because I’d used them all up. (Note: this has since changed in the case of book store and coffee shop gift cards. Bring ’em on.) Shopping? Especially clothes shopping? Terrifying activity. Oh god, the decisions, and the arbitrary evaluations… it’s quite honestly panic attack-inducing. Major ethical decisions? No problem. New wardrobe to replace the one I’d grown out of or worn to bits? Fuck no. Send me and my sister into the same store, and I’ll come out of the dressing room looking like a passably style-informed person. My sister? She’ll come out of the dressing room looking like a fucking super model.

I may have delegated all of my dress and shoe shopping to my sister for a few years back in high school…

But anyhoo. The Kindle. So, I do not like shopping. But I love books. Holding a new book in my hand and opening it up to a virgin page, the words of which I’ve never read before – might as well be shooting up heroine. Hand me a book to have, and you’ll induce some mega-oxytocin-bonding in my view of you for a while. And let’s be clear: I do prefer physical books. The shape, the size, the feel of the cover under your fingertips as you hold it on your lap or against your chest – it’s what makes a book an individual, an entity unto itself. There are memories that get enfolded between the pages, sensations locked into the very book itself. Time and again, I have clutched a book that’s been with me since childhood to my chest and cried while holding it, the same way you clutch onto a friend in a time of needing comfort. And the times that I’ve come across old bindings of books, first print run versions or tombs that have stood on shelves for decades – ooh, there is a magic to the crackle of opening that cover and gazing through the cloud of dust released into the air to the life of old ink within.

So. If you hold out your hands and offer me a physical book and a USB with its .mobi file on it, I’ll choose the physical book, every time.

Buuuuut sometimes I’m not offered that physical book. Sometimes, authors only release certain writing in Kindle form. And sometimes, Amazon’s lovely daily email to me that might as well be titled “oh, you just bought a book from us, so here are five hundred more we know you’ll enjoy funneling all your money to us for” doesn’t feature physical books – it’s about some releases for Kindle.

And those releases for Kindle… there is a seductive gleam to them. As I said, I am not a shopper. I flip out over spending money. But ah, therein lies the magic of Kindle advertisement. Amazon may send me an email about a book that I’d have quite the inner debate over when it would come to buying the physical version of the book – $15? Is this book really worth that? I could spend $15 on another book that I know I’ve been wanting to read. $15 doesn’t seem like a justifiable amount on a book impulse purchase… I should really just save this $15 anyway…

And tack on shipping costs? And the delay while I wait for the book to get here? $15 for a physical book that I don’t know much about becomes an inhibitory high cost to purchase. No new book for Miceala.

Enter Kindle.

What’s that? This book that I’m not so sure about has a Kindle edition? And I could have that book right now? (*cue dilated pupils and heavy breathing of a tempted book-lover*) And the Kindle version is only $5?

kindle buy

Done and done.

Behemoth Amazon really took a step back and figured out what they were doing when it came to creating Kindle. Instant gratification of owning a new book? Check. Reduce price to eliminate deliberation over justification of cost value? Check. Suggest five hundred billion other books you could have right now for less than the normal price of their hardcopy and not require you to re-enter your credit card information and so allow you the time to think about this purchase but rather let you hand us that money with one click and move on to the next morsel of literary goodness? Check, check, and check.

The space efficiency of Kindle is pretty damn attractive, too. I would have loved to have had a Kindle as a kid. I’ve always read pretty damn fast, so one measly book wasn’t going to cut it for a family trip somewhere. No, I needed at least two. Probably three. And then what if I changed my mind and decided I actually wanted to read one of these other two books? Better bring them too. And of course I have to add in this entire shelf, considering it’s my favorite series and is going to give me just as much comfort as bringing along a stuffed animal would have for another child.

And just like that, I’ve filled my two-foot-by-one-foot kiddo roller suitcase with fifty books and two items of clothing. Make that one item of clothing – couldn’t believe I’d forgotten I’d need that space to bring a notebook and pen!

Yeah, this kind of travel packing did not fly with my parents.

The first few times, I managed to get away with it. My parents would make some joke about “what are you bringing, bricks?” as they hauled my suitcase into the trunk of the car, and I’d just nervously mumble some non-words and hope my awkward laugh slid by.

But then, oh dear god, then, my mother decided to open my suitcase.

“WHY THE HELL ARE YOU BRINGING FIFTEEN BOOKS?! THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE! YOU CAN’T DO THIS! GO PUT THESE BACK!”

But Mom! I NEED them!

Yeah, that didn’t work either.

So, I’d have to mope back to my room, tear out a piece of my soul as I was forced to designate two thirds of my beloved books as not worthy enough to come along with me, and return to my parents with a much, much lighter suitcase.

Ah, but then I grew older, garnered a larger suitcase, and decided to try my hand at being devious.

Well, devious enough for a ten-year-old.

I’d learned that leaving my books in plain sight clearly wasn’t going to work. So I’d just have to hide them.

I learned to tuck my books into the various compartments of the suitcase, even behind the weird cloth strappy swath thing attached to the back of the suitcase that I think is supposed to go in front of your clothing to help stuff it in but I’m not really sure. I’d wrap my books inside shirts. Stuff them up pant legs. Stick them between layers of clothing. Then I’d put a decoy book or two on top of it all, to make it seem like I was still just leaving all the books I planned to pack out in the open. Of course, I never meant to read those books at all. I had ten others stashed away. Those decoy books were entirely expendable.

“Miceala, why is your suitcase so heavy? You’re not bringing lots of books again, are you?”

“NO!” *frowny huffy face meant to make me look clearly offended* “I’m only bringing two!”

*Parents open suitcase. Only see two books on top of clothes.* “Oh, well, okay then…”

Ahahahaha! I am a villainous mastermind!

A couple trips later, my parents learned to start looking *behind* all the clothes, and the gig was up. Damn them.

But my point here, other than to tell you all a very long story about one of the many things that made me a ridiculous child, is to point out that if I’d had a Kindle, this whole parent-child literary warfare could have been spared! I actually could have taken along entire shelves’ worth of books, all in one lightweight little technological gift from the gods. Had Kindle been invented when I was young and hungry for words and without more hours of homework than there are hours in the day to do it, I would have been unstoppable.

Or, you know, really pleased. Something like that.

And so here I am, I twenty-two-year-old writer with her own bank account and a Kindle she got some time around sophomore year of college. I’m really rather surprised I still *have* a bank account. You know, one where the digits that show up on my monthly statements aren’t in red because I dug myself into a literature-haze-fueled hole of debt from all the Kindle books I’ve bought.
The un-shopper in me may still have some hold on my inhibitions.
But anyhoo. Thus goes the story of my Kindle addiction. Click! Book. Click! Another book.
And oh! Have I mentioned the fantasies I’ve been having about Amazon’s latest e-reader release, the Kindle Paperwhite? “What’s that? You prefer that your ebook experience feel more like reading an actual book page than a laptop screen? Oh, okay! Well, here ya go then…”
Next thing, Amazon’s just gonna set up a system where we hook up an IV directly from our bank account to their Kindle headquarters. Seriously.
But oh, it would be worth it… 😉

Names, Not Labels

31 Jan

I love words. Obviously. I’m a writer. “Love words” is kiiiiind of in my job description. Words are lovely, useful, wondrous things with a great deal of power. And I understand that it’s important for people to have words, to have specific terms with meaning, they can use to describe themselves. To understand themselves.

But all the same, sometimes I wish we didn’t use some of the words the way we do. Because as important as naming terms are, there can be a lot more damage done when they get turned into labels. When a word is no longer purely an identification but a categorization. Identifications expand an existence. Categorizations shrink them.

I wish that certain words would describe but not delineate. Specify but not separate. Define but not divide.

Words like trans, male, gay, butch, woman, and straight. Words like disabled, elderly, mentally ill, druggie, cutter, and poser. Words foreigner, Democrat, GOP, Libertarian, celebrity, homeless.

These words are not an evil unto themselves. But too often we – you and me, people – use them to draw a line between us, the “people,” and the others. By calling someone a label that we don’t share, we push them beyond the realm of the experience we have in being human. By carving humanity into little boxes of likeness, we lose sight of the fact that we are all, in the end, human.

And inevitably, some – even ourselves, even if unwittingly – are bound to assign a “naturalness” to one of the terms out of a group. “This is what’s normal, this is what the null hypothesis looks like, this is the ground state of humanity.” And the ones who don’t fall under that term become something strange. Something different from that which resides within us. We deny full legitimacy to those without our particular label and come to understand them only in terms of deviation.

Thanks to The Lazy Yogi for the image.

Thanks to The Lazy Yogi for the image.

But what if we didn’t look at all the ways humans can exist as deviations from ourselves? What if we recognized each as a fully true expression of all the possibilities of what humanity looks like? What if we viewed the human condition not as bound and filed in a dictionary but as interwoven with no particular hierarchy into a novel? What if we stopped categorizing all the words we might type out of those four keys in our DNA and started seeing how they all fit together to make a larger sense? What if we gave ourselves names, instead of mere lists?

I’d like it if human thinking as a whole could move beyond trying to force us all into our separate encyclopedia entries and started using all the words we’ve got around to describe, not prescribe, instead. I want an identity, not a categorization.

You can get more information out of a narrative, anyway. Encyclopedias and dictionaries have always been so limited in what they have to tell you.