Tuesday, December 23, 2014

On Things That Are Uncomfortable

So, it's been a struggle recently. A struggle pretty much in every way, even though I'm very aware of how 'not really that bad' things are. Funny how knowing that things could be so much worse than they actually are, doesn't do anything to make you feel better about the things that also aren't great at the moment.

Writing has been hard. It's not a matter of not having any ideas, but rather, not being able to settle on any of them. I'm like a deranged trout trying to swim upstream in every directing except right through the rapids where I need to go in order to get anywhere. Catskin is officially 'dead' for the time being. Yes, it's with an agent, and a small publishing house. But they obviously aren't *incredibly excited* over it, or they're so busy that even if they love it, they don't have the time to address new clients at the moment. That's fine, and also totally understandable. Maybe something will come of it, maybe it won't. At this point, though, I can't afford to keep dicking around with it (and I'd be wrong to) and since I'm not making anymore changes without professional guidance, I'm shelving it.

My current projects run the gamut of fantasy, to contemporary, to contemporary/paranormal/ghost to something dangerously futuristic/post apocalyptic. The problem is that in an industry that's currently undergoing a glut of self-publishing and independent publishing (good things, and cheers to those who can utilize them) I have no sense of direction, so I'm finding it exceedingly difficult to actually finish anything new. I'm perpetually second guessing myself and which project is more worth the time and might stand more of a chance at being successful. The recent largely publicized celebrity book deals haven't helped, just because on a purely emotional level, they're rather depressing to hear about. Especially the ones that don't bring anything new to the ring, or that involve 'authors' who never intended to actually write books, and were just writing 'for the fun of it'. I hold no grudges against them, but it's agonizing to have shaped my entire life around the goal of becoming a published author, and then see opportunities handed to people who DON'T WANT to be professional writers, but whom the publishing houses see as an 'easy moneymaker' for at least one or two books. Those not-really-writers will have the time of their lives, and if nothing else comes of it, fine. But meanwhile there are thousands of people like me struggling daily to attain that dream who have, essentially, maybe lost out on a chance to make it because a huge amount of money was tossed at someone else. Never mind the established very hard working authors who are literally just scraping by, and then are being brushed aside by these flash-in-the-pan deals.

Which brings me to my current emotional state. It's not an entirely happy one. While Mom is doing super well (YAY, omg, so grateful to the powers that be, still praying, but I'm so grateful) there have been a lot of other stressors. Mostly, the fact that I'm still not over the farm. I know, I drone on about it so. But it's the truth. It's a fight, trying to find the sort of happiness I had at the farm, when I'm no longer at the farm, no longer anywhere near it. I've got the scraps of two separate memoirs in regard to it, but they've been harder to write than I could ever have imagined. One of them focuses entirely on Di. I thought that I had at least acclimated to the fact that she's gone, but the more I work to write her story, the more I realize I'm not adjusted at all. Dwelling on her can send me into the closest thing I've ever felt to depression, or what I imagine depression is like. It takes a toll on me. So, of course, I only work for the briefest times on it, then stop. Which, really, only makes things worse, in some ways, because then I'm back to feeling as though I haven't gotten anything meaningful done on any manuscript. It's a vicious circle, but I'm still motoring around it determinedly.

Here's the thing about me, and things that are uncomfortable: I'm really good at dealing with them, if I know there's going to be an end to it. But when I can't see an end, I feel like I'm lying to myself, weaving untruths about how things are going to turn out just so I'll make it through. I've always been one who would rather face the harshest truth, than the kindest lie, so this floating around making up shit about how someday I'm going to be a real, published, writes all the time writer just sucks the life out of me. I don't want a handout, I just want a freaking chance. And now, I'm not even sure how to go about pursuing that chance, since at least the two memoirs are entirely different balls of wax than the YA that I usually write. Which, I don't even know if I should be spending time on those manuscripts. They are books that I want to write, and at least the one about the farm will have the local interest angle, along with my twin sister's photographs. Commercially, that one is the strongest simply because their aren't many memoirs written by one identical twin, photographed by the second twin, and revolving around a local historical estate. But what do I know? Sometimes, I feel like I'm just grasping at ideas, turning it into a spaghetti toss to see what sticks to the wall. I don't even know anymore.

Now that I've sufficiently blathered out my woes for the time being, I'll leave it open for opinions (I think you can leave comments, though I'd tried to turn them off at one point) and tell me what you think.  And know that I AM grateful for all the good things in my life, the fact that *so far* everyone is healthy (well, besides me, hello, shingles for the THIRD time in one year, but I'll live) and all my Christmas shopping is done. Tomorrow is Christmas with my sister, niece and brother in-law. Then Mom, Dad and I will have our Christmas on Christmas day, and go up to my aunt's for the family hoopla. It'll be a fun time for sure.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Craziness That Is Me

It's been more than a month since I posted, which is too long even by the standards of my craziness, so here I am jotting a short post down just for the sake of jotting one down. You know, in case some agent randomly checks me out, there will be proof that I'm at least trying to maintain a blog. I think part of my trouble is the fact that right now, it's hard to see why I need to have one. And maybe I don't need to have one, maybe I just feel like I'm supposed to have one because it's a form of social media. Anyway, here's my rambling attempt to blend in with the rest of the socially conscientious people. As much as someone like me can ever 'blend in' with anyone who falls into the normal range of the normal spectrum.

Let's see, what stories do I have with which to entertain you? Should I recount the accidental 911 butt-dial? That ended up being exceptionally exciting, since the officer who responded went the extra mile and very seriously informed me that I'd have to ride to the county jail with him and explain everything to his Captain. I, of course, totally bought it. Then there's the second 911 butt-dial, which wasn't nearly as exciting because it was a different county, and they didn't have to send an officer out. I fell out of bed once, and partway down the stairs. No, the highlight of things has to be when one of our clients asked me if I'd ever been told that I look like Lucille Ball. That's a new one, but I take it as a huge compliment. And if I can be even a quarter as funny as Lucy, I'm gold. He now calls me Lucy, rather than by my given name, which is fine by me.

There have also been two different water leaks (Do not ever buy a house with copper pipes. Ever.) and a health scare with sweet Mutton Chop (It's a fungus, not cancer, but treatment will be long, which, I don't care as long as she's okay) Here she is, snoozing on my legs. The stitches are from where the doc opened the lump on her nose in order to get material for a biopsy. They'll come out on the 8th when she goes back for blood work.

I got a new iPhone 6, which is pretty much made of awesome, and which would also be totally unaffordable if not for that AT&T Next plan. My insurance also threw me out the window (big surprise) and I then learned that I'd been getting shafted when I tried to see if I qualified for any subsidies, and the moment I had a broker, everyone backpedaled, and amazingly, I now have a policy that I can actually afford without cutting out things like groceries. Of course, I've got to find $252 to pay Anthem pretty much just so they can cancel me.

I'm still working on my Appalachian YA, plus playing around with a new fantasy YA. I've also begun outlining and strategizing a nonfiction memoir sort of book about the farm where I worked for thirteen years and about what it's like to be an identical twin, and work with your twin. What I think will add a special facet to it, is the fact that while I'm writing it, my identical twin sister - who is a gifted photographer - will provide photographs documenting the historical building of the estate as well as many of the animals. The resulting book, I hope, will be an interesting combination of art photography, involving architecture, history, humor and animals. It's an entirely new venture for me, but I'm excited about it, and I think that there will be a certain amount of ready marketability to it.

Here are a few of my sister's photographs. Everything from posed to offhand. Vicario is in his thirties in this picture. Thirty-three, I think, but I'm not positive.

Now off I go to write a little.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Short Post, Busy Life

I'm writing a short post literally just so I can say that I wrote a short post, and posted, well, something.

Life has been crazy, recently, and I know they say that it just gets crazier the older you get, but for the sake of my sanity, I hope it doesn't get too much crazier. Leastways crazier in a not good way. Crazier in an awesome way would be just fine. And even though some of the crazy stuff that's been going on has been not good, it's been way less not-good than it could have been. Things can always get worse, so for that, I'm super grateful that the not good stuff has actually been as super awesome as not great stuff like it can be. And yes, I know, I'm not really making a lot of sense but I'm very superstitious (hey, my Great Nona collected fingernail clippings and hair trimmings so the gypsies wouldn't get them and put spells on the kids) and some things I just can't hardly talk about, either aloud or in writing, for fear of jinxing the good, or invoking the bad. Suffice to say, a family member has been dealing with something many women find themselves dealing with, but *so far* the treatment has gone very well, and the prognosis is awesome. *so far* So, pray or cross your fingers, or however you send good juju, for me and mine that this continues to go well!

In brighter, much more easily talked about news, I'm considering shelving Catskin (formerly titled Gone Missing Girl). Not forever, but for now. I've been thinking about it A LOT recently, while all of these not great things have been going on, and it's gotten to that place where each rejection is affecting me more than it should. The business is subjective. Rejections aren't something I should take personally. But I'm starting to be injured by them where Catskin is concerned. Mostly, I think this is related to being in a very stressful situation emotionally that has nothing at all to do with writing. But some of it relates directly to Catskin. Primarily, the fact that both I and my closest critique partner agree that the ms is at a point where needlessly fiddling with it will be a major screw-up in the making. Am I opening to revisions on Catskin? TOTALLY. But I need guidance from inside the publishing machine before making changes. Otherwise, I'll just be blundering along changing shit for the sake of changing it, with no direction or vision of what the end result should be. Definitely something I don't want to do. So until I get feedback/revision suggestions from an agent, or editor,  it's going to stay as it is.

That said, I do have the ms with both an agent (one whom I love!) and an editor (!!!) Which is not to say that anyone has requested the ms, these were just resubs, and while they make me hopeful and excited, I'm trying to brace for rejection. I think I've got the fortitude for two last blows before backing away from Catskin for a while and retreating to the writing den to work on the next submission-worthy project (code name Silver Cage) which I hope I can get written over the winter.

I also intend to maybe go back and dally with Evernow, which while I have no immediate plan to try and peddle (dystopia is still dead, after all) I still love and find refuge in.

Also, I've managed to collect half a bucket of pohickery nuts, which I plan on cracking (they're very tricky, and I've never tried it) and which always puts me in the mood to play with the few period pieces I've started, because they involved Appalachia and, well, there's just no place like home :)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Jaunt On The Hunt For Tree Bones, and Thoughts on Suicide

We've got my niece at the house today, which means that I get to take her adventuring with me in the woods. She and I do this a lot. It's kind of our 'thing' when she's here. Today, we went to visit the Great Swamp (which isn't actually there, all of a sudden, and we're not sure why, though you can see where the water once stood, and it's still very wet, so maybe it'll come back) and then on to where I'd found a pig skull earlier this year. It was still fleshy and in need of the attention of scavenger beetles, so I'd left it, hoping to return later and get it. Because, well, I don't have a pig skull and bones are so awesome. I know, I'm weird.

Anyway, off the two of us went, discussing what we were looking for, and what we might find. There is something glorious about jaunting with small kids. Everything is new to them, and it reminds you that even if you're looking at something you've known about and understood for decades, it's still just as amazing and awesome now as it was when you first discovered it. You've just slowly forgotten how to see the amazingness and awesomeness. I virtually never go out in the woods that I don't think of the literal years my twin sister and I have spent out in them running feral. I also never go out in them that I don't think of Eddie Coles.

I didn't know Eddie all that well, but I sure was fond of him. Tall and lean, with a shock of snow white hair. He was in his forties, I guess, and I was in my early twenties. A coworker at the farm had grown up knowing him, and in the horse world, everyone knows everybody in the manner of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Anyway. Eddie had an easy way about him, a good laugh. Horses loved him, and he had that elusive touch when it came to training and working with them.

Then, one day Eddie went missing. When we got to work, my friend who'd grown up knowing him arrived bleary eyed and exhausted. She'd been part of the search crew who'd been looking for him since the prior afternoon. That was how I found out he was missing. The area where the farm is located is a network of sprawling ancient estates, and old houses, but it's a close community. Most people have lived there for years, if not generations. They'd all been looking for Eddie since the prior afternoon. We went to work as usual, but opened one of the barns which wasn't in use, so that members of the search party could stall their horses and rest them. The farm was just two farms down from Eddie's place, so we saw a lot of those searching for him.

Eventually, they found Eddie up on the ridge, sitting against a fallen log, facing the east to watch the sunrise. His wrists had been cut, deeply and without hesitation. He was dead.

What I didn't know about Eddie, was that behind the easiness, the smiles and laughter and gentle hand with the horses, he suffered from depression. And he'd been fighting it for years. I have been depressed, but I've never suffered from depression. Not even close. Nor have I felt the side effects of medicine that's supposed to help the depression, but often causes all sorts of other problems. Back then, I knew even less than I know now. At that time, all I understood, was that for reasons I didn't understand, Eddie had gotten tired of dealing with the depression, the drugs, the therapy, the everything, and he'd decided that he'd rather be dead, than keep dealing with it. I cried because Eddie was gone, but I remember distinctly thinking 'But that must have been nice, sitting there watching the sunrise, and looking out over the land you love so much. I wouldn't mind going out like that.'

Of course, I didn't mean it would be nice to cut your wrists and kill yourself. But even then I didn't blame Eddie, or get mad at him for doing what he did. He'd done something that I couldn't (and, for the most part, still can't) imagine doing. But the way I saw it, he chose his own path, and I didn't have any right to an opinion about it.

Now, I'm older, I understand more about depression, and the fact that it's not as simple as making a choice. But since then, my Mother's cousin has committed suicide, and I've had other experiences with it. In my Mother's cousin's case, she was diagnosed with ALS (love the ice bucket challenge stuff!) and the disease was progressing very quickly. She chose suicide over succumbing to the disease. I get that. I would too, I think. I simply would rather die the way I choose to, than in a hospital bed like that. Many people choose to live with ALS. Maybe they're stronger than me. But I know I don't want to go out like that.

Since Robin Williams' shocking death (and I think it was shocking mostly because even though many people, me included, knew that he had his demons, we just never pictured Robin deciding to not fight them) there has been a huge avalanche of opinions on suicide. Some folks have called it the 'cowards way to go' some folks have said he didn't even understand what he was doing, because the depression had taken over. I think neither one was probably the case. Robin wasn't a coward. If he was, he'd have never flung himself before the American public into showbiz the way he did. And I don't think the depression had robbed him of his understanding of things. He was much too strong for that. I think that the only thing we can know for sure about Robin, and the choice he made, is that we'll never know quite what it was like to be Robin and have that choice to make. Just like I'll never know exactly what it was like to be Eddie, and have the choice he had to make.

Suicide is a funny unpredictable thing. You might stop on the street and tell a total stranger how nice they look, and your remark might be the one thing that makes her decide not to take too many sleeping pills that night when she gets home. You might smile at someone in the park, or make them laugh when you lose your shoe playing in the puddles with your niece, and that afternoon when he's sitting there looking at the handgun on the table in front of him, he hear your laughter and decide to put it back in the cabinet. And then maybe it's someone you know. Someone you love. Someone you've told of your love many times. Someone you've held and stood by. And it still isn't enough to keep them from deciding not to go on. Suicide is a twisted thing.

For me, I will always love Robin. I'll love Eddie and anyone else who chooses to do something I wouldn't choose. I will love them while I have them, do everything I can to keep them as long as I can, for as long there is something I can do to help them stay. But when, if, they suddenly aren't there, I will not blame them, I will not rage at them, nor will I blame myself, or rage at myself because I did not somehow stop them from leaving. I will just look back and know that I loved them, that they knew that I loved them, and that both of us did all that we could.

So, now I'm back to picking up pig bones (or not, because we never found the pig skull) and tree bones (my niece's knew term for sticks and logs) and turning over rocks, catching praying mantises, playing in puddles and dragging home acorns, nuts, stones, moss, and a myriad of bones. Eddie would have loved this kid. I like to think Robin would have too. I honor them by teaching her to love the outdoors, the sunrise, to laugh, even at the things that hurt, and to never lose her own little spark of madness.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Thoughts, Changes, Progression.

I've been thinking a lot about my blog lately. Mostly, about my lack of a blog. When I first began writing a blog, I posted regularly. Sometimes it waxed and waned, but invariably a post went up at some point. That's changed in the last year. A heck of a lot has changed in the last year.

Let's look at a little listy thing here:

Mrs. H died
Castalia was sold
I got a new job
My horse died
One of my cats died
I got Shingles
I got a bunch of rejections
My Mom got diagnosed with breast cancer
I got Shingles again
One of my sister's horses died

And not to leave things totally negative and dramatic-weepy:

I met my AWESOME new coworker, 'sister wife' and partner in crime, Valerie
I met Valerie's AWESOME husband, my new 'pseudo-hubby' and all around good guy, Cody
I got over Shingles
I got some AMAZING feedback along with the rejections
My Mom is undergoing chemo/treatment and *so far* things are looking GREAT and her cancer is fleeing at top speed
I've written so much, and learned so much more, and I'm still writing and learning

So, yeah, things have changed. Some for good, some for bad, but mostly just for different. And different isn't always easy. So my blogging has fallen by the wayside. Triaged nearly into oblivion because everything somehow became more important than jotting down posts for the blog. I've been thinking about it, about how it barely exists, and that maybe I should just put it down altogether. Then I was checking other blogs in my feed (it's easier to keep up with reading others' blogs, than it is to write on mine) and happened across Kristin Cashore's blog.

I utterly UTTERLY adore Kristin. She is an old soul, a deep thinker, someone who sees so much more than most people and perceives much more as well. I love her views, and how she shares her experiences. In short, she is someone I would love to know better. And some day, maybe I'll get the chance to. Way back, at the beginning, her blog was open to comments, but she came to a point at the beginning of 2010 when she decided to close her blog to comments. I miss the opportunity for interacting with someone I greatly admire, yet I understand the simplification of things for Kristin.

By closing her blog to comments, she made her blog more of an outlet for herself, and less of a podium behind which she had to stand, if that makes sense. Now, she's able to present ideas, share adventures, provoke thoughts on subjects that are important to her, but she's able to do so in the form of a written art installation. We experience her posts, but must digest them ourselves. She gives them to us, sets them free into the world and then is, herself, free of them, and is safe from hateful or argumentative comments. This is an important thing, in a world where there are no longer defined lines between oneself, and the belief that everyone has a right to have an opinion about the things that makes oneself their own. Sometimes artists (writers are also artists) need to be able to share pieces of themselves without being expected to somehow justify and explain those pieces of their shared self.

Now, I am no Kristin Cashore, and I don't have anywhere near the following Kristin does, but I find myself attracted to her policy of blog posting with closed comments. I've decided that I'm going to give it a try, simply to alleviate some of the stress that comes with the feeling that I must post something 'interesting' in order to post anything at all. I've got an active Facebook page, and I post all of my blogger stuff there as well, so there's still an option for anyone who wants to comment, to do so. Mostly, this is for me, to see if I'll find it easier to post on a more regular basis, if I know I'm able to just post tiny, interesting tidbits, etc. rather than long engaging posts.

For any of you who actually read my posts, I thank you for your continued support, and I promise I'll still be trolling everyone else's blogs! Take care, everyone!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Post I Never Thought I'd Write

I've really gotten into this #YesAllWomen thing. If you are (still) my friend on Facebook, you'll already know this because for the last few days virtually the only thing that I've posted on Facebook has been tweets or links concerning #YesAllWomen. Lots of people have written their thoughts on it (people who will have much more impact than anything I write will ever have) and the more posts and tweets I've read, the more it's made me think. Finally I decided to write my own opinions down on the matter. I'm still not positive it's the right thing to do, or the smart thing to do. But being unsure if I should write this because of the possible ramifications tells me that I need to write it because it needs to be said.

I feel like I've been deeply affected by the misogynistic thought processes behind #YesAllWomen. But not in the way that *most* other women (men/trans/whoever) have been affected.

Here are the biggest reasons behind why all of this hits me much differently than *most* people who've shared their feelings on #YesAllWomen

I've never been raped.
I've never been molested.
I've never been sexually assaulted.
I've never dated.
I am a virgin.

That last one is probably where your eyebrows hit your hairline.

There is no theological, idealogical, or psychological reason that I've 'saved myself'. I've simply never met anyone that I wanted to give that much of myself to.

It's that easy. Only, it's never that easy.

When Elliot Rodger killed six people and injured 13 more, he didn't do anything that hadn't been done by other unhinged psychopaths. What he did differently was blame - in explicit undeniable terms - women for not having sex on him, thus causing him to go off the deep end and start killing people. That is the only reason he gave (multiple times) in his manifesto, for why he intended to kill people. Yes, he killed men. He killed men because he felt as though they were inhibiting his chances for women to find him attractive. But he blamed women for not fulfilling his sexual needs, and acknowledging the fact that as an 'attractive, wealthy guy' he was entitled to have sex with women (specifically beautiful women) and since women were denying him his inalienable right to sex, he was going to kill everyone.

Thus began the birth and subsequent rise of #YesAllWomen on Twitter. Thousands (millions?) are supporting this movement, but many others are either confused or resentful of it because they're focused on the specific people Elliot killed, and don't realize that those six people represent thousands who are and have been killed/raped/assaulted/maimed/harassed/belittled every day, every week, every year, and every decade since people started recording time, all because of misogyny in various formats. People think the term misogyny means only hatred of women but it's much greater than that. It's the idea that just because you got born, you deserve something.

Back to me being a virgin. It isn't some secret that I hide. Virtually all my closest friends are aware of it, and friends/family who aren't, probably won't be all that surprised to find out. Most girls I meet or know casually, however, would never guess the truth. It never even seems to cross their mind to wonder because I'm normal. This includes lesbians, bi, what have you. But guys know. Maybe not at first, but eventually, guys always ferret it out. Even gay guys. I'm not a wilting daisy. I can cuss most Navy folk under the table and I don't shy off from dirty jokes. But no matter how run of the mill I act, guys always figure out that I'm a virgin. And then it always becomes this thing they can't un-know.

I actually once had a guy cut another guy off - after learning I was a virgin - and stop him from telling a sex joke because, well, you know, she's a virgin. And that was uncomfortable. For them. It didn't bother me, but it bothered them. Which is where all of this #YesAllWomen thing comes in for me. None of my girlfriends give a rat's ass that I'm a virgin. None of my lesbian friends (or any lesbians who happen to have hit on me in the past) give a rat's ass that I'm a virgin. But guys? Straight heterosexual guys? *Most* of them? They want to know if I'm a lesbian (you know, because then I'm only a man-virgin). They want to know if something's wrong with me. They want to know if I've been attacked and I'm scared to be with someone. They want to know how, I'm still a virgin. Like it's not possible for virgins (who fit into the 'male ideal of attractive' specifically) to survive to adulthood and beyond. Like there's no reason for them to exist.

One time I was at a local club (yes, I went clubbing and dancing as a teen/twenty-something just like everyone else) and this guy hedged over and did his best to hit on me. He was perfectly nice about it. Flattering, talkative. When he tried to buy me a drink and I declined, he didn't get huffy like many guys. But he did ask why. I told him that I didn't accept drinks from guys because I felt like it would be leading them on because I already knew they weren't going to get anything out of it. He asked me how I could already know that, if I didn't know the guy. I told him I knew they wouldn't get anything because I knew I wasn't interested in dating, I was single and I liked it that way.

Do you know what he said then?

He said, 'That's tragic.' Like humanity was being struck a mortal blow by the loss of my DNA in its system. Like the fact that I didn't want to date anyone or have random sex with anyone would somehow bring down the free world.

What the guy really meant, was that it was tragic for him. It was tragic because (and this is where, I guess, I was supposed to feel flattered) he'd picked me out of all the other girls in the club, and had put in time and effort into talking me up because he wanted the chance to put his dipstick in my oil pan, and now he'd been told in no uncertain terms that ain't happening. That was pretty much the end of our conversation. The guy sidled off toward a college coed and I went and burned up the dance floor (badly) with my best friend and had a great time.

Some people will say that I'm reading into what one guy said, but he'd not the only straight (and, frankly, white) guy who's had a similar reaction to hearing that I'm not interested in dating. I've been told point blank - in various more-playful and less-playful ways - that I'm a 'waste of a beautiful woman' because I'm not 'in the game'. Which is a nice way of saying 'it's not fair that I don't have the chance to fuck you.'

I'm not even going to get into the catcalls and comments. I've dealt with my share of the like, but I, personally, have never been intimidated by the guys (again, straight, usually white, guys) doing it. I don't live in a large city (just outside a city of something like 150k people) so that probably has a lot to do with it. Something else that probably has a lot to do with it is the fact that I carry a sheath knife on my hip all the time. I don't do it for safety, I do it because after 13 years working on a farm, carrying a knife is habit. But the fact that I have the gumption to carry one openly in public probably stops harassment before it starts. Because right there on my side is irrefutable proof that I have a way to deal with asshole guys, and they have no way of knowing for certain if I'll actually use that weapon against them or not. So guys who might normally act like asshats tread cautiously around me. Basically, if I *look* like I'm capable of causing them bodily harm or death, I'm too much trouble to meddle with.

That says a lot about mainstream American men. Not that there aren't men in other countries just as guilty of objectifying women, but I've had a very limited (very non-gropy, non-catcally non-agressive) experiences with men from other countries.

So, yeah, I'm all about #YesAllWomen. The fact that guys think it's 'tragic' that my vagina isn't on the turntable for their perusal is misogynistic. The fact that discovering I'm a virgin means most guys see me as either the best score ever, or something they have to coddle (and I don't mean in the noble fashion, I mean in the 'I have to curb my behavior because she can't handle guyspeak like a non-virgin can' way) is misogynistic. The fact that I wonder how many stalker-types might try and friend me on Facebook after I post this, is misogynistic. And that I'm worried about how many guy friends I already have and am very fond of on Facebook might be weirded out, or treat me differently after reading this, is misogynistic.The fact that the fact I'm a virgin even matters to anyone, is misogynistic.

I am not a man-hater. I have LOTS of AMAZING guy friends. I love my guys. But the guys I love, they get me. They aren't all weird about my virginity. They don't act like I 'need a man' in my life. They don't abstain from saying 'guy things' in front of me. And they don't step up to defend me unless I need them to. The guys I love will look at a guy who is getting in my grill and then tell him something like 'I'm just going to stand over here and watch her verbally hand your ass to you.' because they know I can handle myself.

If I ever truly needed help, my guy friends would storm the gulag to get to me, to be there for me, and to help me. They would do whatever it took to protect me, if I ever needed protecting. The rest of the time, they stand back and let me be the strong woman I am. Because they understand.

This is not about all guys acting like shitheads toward women. This is about the fact that all women at some point in their lives have been treated like crap by guys who are shitheads. It's about how in our current society, girls who worry about walking alone at night are called drama queens, but girls who trust strange guys and subsequently get taken advantage of are naive bimbos who put themselves in harms way in the first place. It's about the fact that in our society we're supposed to do everything we can to look like airbrushed computer manipulated unrealistic models in magazines, but if we actually do - by natural fate, or surgeon's knife - look like those models, then we're inviting men to treat us like the objectified sexual object they created. It's about the fact that if we don't 'keep up appearances' by society's standards, we're somehow failing at being 'women' but if we're attractive or dress provocatively and suffer assault or harassment, it's our fault for looking too good to resist.

#YesAllWomen is about the fact that a guy felt like women owed him sex just because he existed and when he didn't get it, he killed people. And at least a small percentage of the population actually thinks he was justified in doing it.

#YesAllWomen is, for me, about the fact that that same small percentage - at the minimum - can't grasp the fact that there might still be a few virgins who just didn't feel like giving it up to anyone yet. Because in the mind of that small percentage people like me don't have a right to refuse to give it up to whoever feels entitled to it. And it's about the fact that so very many young girls and women out there buy into the idea that they don't have a right to say no, even when they want to.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Open Letter to Rick Holzman, Executive Vice President of Programming and Strategy at Animal Planet.

Dear Mr. Holzman,

When did Animal Planet stop teaching people about animals and start turning animals into larger than life monsters who stalk humans for the sheer fun of it?

In recent years I've watched as Animal Planet's ratings have skyrocketed while the roster of its programs has foregone scientific facts for exciting (and often completely erroneous) theories. Shows like the 'Call of the Wildman' and 'Gater Boys' are little more than backyard movies featuring tired semi-domesticated animals which are kept on set in small cages until the time arrives for them to be released, only to be 'captured' by 'Turtle Man', or wrangled by the 'Gater Boys'. Other shows like 'Monsters in America' and 'Finding Bigfoot' don't even contain animals, only postulate theories on what animals might yet exist, while alway driving home the idea that they should those animals actually be found, they will pose an immediate threat to humans.

The problem is, Mr. Holzman, many of the people watching these shows believe most, if not all, of the bullshit that Animal Planet is feeding them. They actually believe that catching coyotes with your bare hands is an appropriate way in which to deal with them, provided that you 'know how to handle them'. Grabbing a coyote bare handed is NEVER appropriate. Neither is chasing raccoons, or skunks or any other animal around until it's completely exhausted.

I've loathed Animal Planet for some time now, but it's a free country. I let Animal Planet produce what it wants, and just don't watch the shows. But this 'Monster Week' gimmick is the last straw for me, and I can't take it anymore, so I'm writing this open letter to you. I'm just one person, and I'm quite sure that you don't actually give a shit about what I think. You probably wouldn't give a shit about the opinion of someone much more important than me, like Dian Fossey. But that's okay. It's a free country, and just as you endeavor to create television shows that grossly misrepresent animals to the American public, and shape the way that public will perceive animals - and subsequently treat them - I'll endeavor to tell you what I think about the joke you call 'animal based' programming.

No, 'joke' isn't the right word for what you and Animal Planet are doing, because 'joke' implies that it's amusing or funny. There is nothing even remotely amusing about the lies you're telling the American public.

'Man-Eating Zombie Cats' - There have, indeed, been outbreaks of canine distemper among groups of big cats. No, there is not a global epidemic, of the disease. Yes, the woman whose story you cited was attacked by a mountain like in Southern California. Yes, that lion had killed a man prior to attacking her. But that cat was not suffering from canine distemper. It was a young, malnourished animal ill-equipped to sustain itself via natural prey. Much of the video footage used in the program was in no way related to actual outbreaks of canine distemper. In fact, none of the footage at all showed a cat known to be suffering from the disease. The closest was footage of a tiger in Russia shown walking despondently through heavy traffic, apparently disoriented and suffering from some unknown malady. In reality, cats affected by canine distemper are sluggish, disoriented, unable to feed themselves properly. They do not go on rampages, and begin viewing humans as prey items.

'Man-Eating Super Wolves' - This was the one where I knew I couldn't leave it be without saying something on the matter. Wolves have been persecuted and hunted nearly to extinction since be beginning of recorded history. Only in the last few decades have they begun to make a comeback in the contiguous United States. Mr. Holzman people like you are the reason wolves were driven nearly to extinction. Yes, there has been some trouble in Siberia wherein multiple hard winters have forced wolves to hunt livestock when they normally would have. Yes, many reindeer were killed, along with a number of horses (though the is a huge difference between several hundred lost horses, and the thousands your show says were lost to wolves) yet you offer no actual documentation of the losses. It's a proven fact (look up the statistics yourself) that when wolves were first reintroduced in the midwest, the reported cattle kills attributed to wolves measure about 500 head. However, the total number of cattle lost over the winter did not change from years prior to the reintroduction. Meaning about 500 cattle were reported lost to 'natural causes' each year in the years before there were any documented wolves in the area, and after the wolves arrived, about 500 cattle were lost over the winter, but according to the cattlemen making those reports, ALL  500 hundred lost cattle were specifically killed by wolves. You can see where I'm going with this. In America, even with the facts laid out before them, people refuse to acknowledged that wolves couldn't possibly be killing the cattle they were being blamed for killing. An now you come along with your eye-grabbing title declaring that there are 'man-eating super wolves' stalking the globe in massive packs of 400 animals. The show cobbled together various stories, leaving out important information, and heavily utilizing two separate incidents involving wolf hybrids, NOT actual wolves to 'prove' how dangerous and given to hunting humans wolves really are. In both those cases, the wolf hybrids were being kept in huge numbers by unqualified caregivers and the animals were starving, diseased, and desperately just trying to survive. In one story, the narrator intones that the 'vicious animals were euthanized to protect the public'. No sir, Mr. Holzman. Those animals were euthanized because their health was such that there was no other option. The 'public' was never in danger. The animals were sick, and had fed off of a human, so they were humanely destroyed, that's all. Just one more overlooked reality among all the other overlooked realities within your so-called reality show.

Where do you get off producing programs which intentionally misrepresent animals to the populace and lay out falsified facts as if they're common knowledge? When will this end? After all the animals that you've vilified  have gone extinct because people see them as monsters and not part of the natural world? You even misrepresent dead animals. The 'Montauk Monster' and similar reports of bizarre animal carcasses are nothing more than common animals which have decomposed in water. Yes, they look disturbing, but here's a secret: death is not attractive. Decomposition disarticulates what is perceived to be a normal animal and leaves it looking like something people have never seen before. And honestly, how many people have the opportunity to see a sloth or other animal that's been floating dead in water for a week? In the absence of knowledge, ignorance reigns. And thanks to programs like those Animal Planet is currently producing, ignorance now has a firm and all-encompassing grip on the American public. I hope you're happy with all the hard work you and Animal Planet have done in the name of destroying the very animals you claim to support.

I don't expect you to reply to this. I don't even expect you to read it. And, frankly, I'm not sure I want you to respond. Reading some sort of canned Bullshit: The Apology Addition is only going to piss me off all the more. So go on and sit in your corner office and enjoy the fact that your channel is number one in the ratings (or whatever rank Animal Planet holds) Who cares if it got those ratings by lying through its teeth? The public loves to hate things, and right now they hate predatory species of animals. Keep feeding humans garbage, and they'll keep coming back, just like a raccoon habituated to eating out of a trash can. I'll just be over here trying, one day at a time, one incident at a time, to correct the irreparable damage you have done, and are doing, to the relationship your viewers have with the world, and animals around them.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Cover Reveal for WHO R U REALLY?, by Margo Kelly!!!

So, Blogger got froggy and posted the cover reveal for my critique partner's book Who R U Really? earlier than expected. I was supposed to write a post to help celebrate it, and of course, pantster me, I didn't have anything together, so now I'm scrambling to get something up. Here's the cover:

In a world of 'body part' and 'girls in random gowns' covers, I adore this one. It's different, yet classic, and definitely one that would make me pull the book off the shelf.

I haven't had the opportunity to read Who R U Really? even in part yet, and I cannot wait to get my hands on it! To that end, I've already entered to win a ARC of the book on Margo's blog. You should too! And don't forget there are multiple ways to enter, so get to tweeting and sharing! You can find the reveal post and entry form here.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Go Forth and Don't Fear to Live

A lifelong friend, Carlton Dickerson, retired this past weekend. He was a choir director for a local church, and had been in that position for the last fourteen years, but he's held the position of choir director in other churches and has done numerous other things involving music, including founding a group called the Dogwood Chorus, which has put on various performances for the last thirty-five years. Really, Carlton's achievements are far too numerous for me to list. When I was a kid, my sister and I took piano lessons from him (my mother hoped for concert pianists, but ended up with dirty-loving pony girls. She loves us anyway) and that's really where it all began.

The thing is, Carlton doesn't have blood in his veins like the rest of us. He's got music. It just trails out of him wherever he goes, and leaves this lasting residue which affects anyone lucky enough to be nearby. Music is insidious that way. It gets under your skin and seeps into your muscles, settling against your bones. And anytime you encounter things that strike a chord with what you already carry inside you, it just rings that much deeper in your soul. Because of Carlton, I hear music everywhere. All his immeasurable skill couldn't force my sister and I to love the ivory like concert pianists do, but he showed us how to love the MUSIC. And he showed me to be fearless in loving that music. To dance when I felt like dancing or to sing along (albeit badly) just because acting on your love increases the joy you feel tenfold. How can you truly embrace the sensations music bring to you, if you chain them off inside yourself and don't acknowledge them?

And that was something else Carlton taught me, without even knowing he was doing it. He taught me to never hold back. Never stand on the sideline wanting to dance or sing, or do something, but not do it because someone might judge you. The world is an immense place and there will always be people in it (a huge number of people) who are too afraid to do the things they want to do. Sometimes it's a small fear (they don't want to dance in a public space, even though there's a song playing that they love) or a big fear (they dream of traveling the world, but can't bring themselves to leave home) and sometimes those fearful people are quiet, and you don't even know they're afraid.

But sometimes the people who are afraid, are loud, and they take out the frustration their own fears cause them on other people. People who aren't afraid. People who are dancing in public, or traveling the world, or else wise putting themselves out there because they're following their dreams. Maybe they call you silly, or stupid for dancing in front a of a street musician in the afternoon. Maybe they say you're being irresponsible, because you'd rather take a trip around the world than have a full time job. Maybe these people say something right then, out loud in front of everyone else who's standing around, or maybe they say things behind your back, or even try to convince other people that what you're doing or how you're living is wrong. People sometimes do a lot more damage to those around them out of fear than they do out of actual meanness. And sometimes they're truly just mean.

You can't stop people like that. But you don't have to let them stop you. They live (or don't live) the best way they can. And maybe their best way, involves hurting or ostracizing the people around them that look like good targets. But you can choose to live the best way you can. And maybe your best way of living is to live the way you want to, no matter what anyone around you thinks about that. It might not be easy, but you can do it. And doing it will make you happy, even when it's difficult.

Your friends and family, those of them who really know you and understand you, they'll try to protect you, and they might worry about you, but they'll never try to hold you back. They'll catch you when you fall, and they'll warn you when you climb back up, but they'll never stop you from climbing. They'll never tell you not to try, and they'll never tell you that you're wrong for trying.

Yes, I learned this in part from my parents, but I learned it from Carlton too. I learned it by watching him create, face adversity, and move on to create again. I've watched him choose to embrace the wonderful things in life, and seen him take joy from spreading it to others. Nothing seems to give him as much happiness as the ability to create happiness. Those are lessens he never meant to teach me, but he taught them just the same. And while my questionable piano skills have faded into history, Carlton taught me much more important things that are as clear in my mind now as they were when I first came to understand them.

Here's to many more years teaching people without meaning to, Carlton! And to many more years spent exploring the world, laughing, eating good food, surprising friends with convertible rides and spreading music, the universal language of emotions and connection.

I'll leave you with a link to a video of Carlton conducting the Hallelujah Chorus. This was a surprise mini-concert put on during his last Sunday service before his retirement by just a small number of the people who have performed under Carlton's guidance over the years. It was organized by his longtime friend Cyndy Kelly. I should note that there were only two rehearsals before the performance, and that almost no one made made both rehearsals. So, essentially, they've never practiced together until this moment. I dare you not to be moved by the performance, and the utter joy with which Carlton conducts.

Hallelujah Chorus

*Anyone interesting in knowing what my mom looks like, that's her in the front row with the shoulder-length black hair. And that's Cyndy in the black and white top, who's responsible for putting all of this on.

Friday, April 18, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour

Margo Kelly (check out her blog here) author of the upcoming novel Who Are You Really? and one of my critique partners, invited me to join in the My Writing Process Blog Tour!!! So, here goes... let's see if I can actually articulate my process...

The questions:

1) What am I working on?

I think the easier question would be, what am I NOT working on? As an author still in the process of trying to land herself an agent, I find it virtually impossible to resist indulging in any new idea that crawls into my mind and makes itself at home. Even ideas that I know intuitively won't end up being terribly marketable get a fair shot at being put on paper. I really feel very strongly that every single story you write betters you as a writer, even if it's a story that's never going to hit the shelves. That said, I do try to give the majority of my writing time to manuscripts that will hopefully get an agent to take a chance on me. Currently, I'm immersed in edits on my Contemporary YA, CATSKIN (formally Gone Missing Girl) which were brought on by receiving detailed feedback from not just a prospective agent, but also that agent's intern!!! In addition to these edits (and I *should* be sending chapters to Margo as well... but I've been delinquent recently) I'm working on a few projects that are just in the first draft stages. One is completely different, as it's a fantasy, but not YA. The other is YA (my true love) but I haven't settled on which sub genre it will fall under. Most likely paranormal, or magical realism. I'll have to wait and see how the story unfolds :) I've also got several manuscripts in various stages of editing, shelving, dusting off, possibly resubmitting, etc. It sounds super productive, but really, it's just that I'm only happy when I'm writing, thus, I write as much as I can.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Hmmm. Part of me would love to make a dark self-directed jab along the lines of how it apparently doesn't differ from others all that much, since none of it has landed me an agent. But I'd be selling myself short, despite that I'm still agent-hunting. For starters, the MC of Catskin is a six foot four albino guy named Ansel who lives in Healy, Alaska. Not many of those in current YA listings :)  I hope that one of the things setting my work apart from others is a mixture of unique characters, unique points of view, voice and the mix of humor and seriousness that I try to infuse into each story.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I began to write, I mean really write, when I was a freshman in high school. Now, that wasn't writing with any intention of ever being published, it was just writing because I had to get the stories out of myself. People would invite me to go out places and I would say 'No, I can't, I've got to write tonight.' Finally, my mom took me aside and said 'Honey you don't ever have to write. You can go out and do stuff with your friends.' That was when I understood I was a writer, and I just hadn't realized it yet. I am the most happy when I'm pouring stories out of myself and onto paper. The truth (which I came right out and said, once I understood how to articulate it) was that I *could* go out with my friends whenever I wanted, but for the most part, while I love my friends, I would rather be writing than going out in social situations. So, that, in a nutshell, is why I write to start with. As to why I write YA specifically, and why YA is what I want to make a career of writing, all has to do with that precarious borderland between childhood, and everything else. I was different from many kids growing up. I'm an identical twin, and as small kids, my sister and I would spend literally days out in the woods. We had each other, and we didn't care if we 'fit in' with any particular 'crowd' at school. Then when we were 8, my parents got us riding lessons at a place where you had to take care of the horses as much as ride them. Thus began a time of growth that involved other horse-kids, animals, working with nature no matter the weather, caring for ancient creatures even as they're dying, helping new babies grow up and all sorts of other things that didn't include television, technology, or popular 'it' crowds. So right there I got a toe into life that was outside the mainstream. Then at thirteen, we moved (to a place in the country, it was awesome) and I found my Dad's 'stash' of fantasy novels. I'd already read Tolkien and other fantasy works, too many to list, but these were Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms series, as well as several others. Those books changed me, and shaped the person I became, and that's what I want my books to do to other kids balancing on that cusp between childhood and everything else. I want to write things that some kid reads and by doing so, understands that they don't have to be like every other kid. I want them to read my books and realize that being different is awesome, and that the world can't change them if they don't let it. I don't care WHAT the 'mainstream' says, you don't have to have a boyfriend or girlfriend to be fulfilled. You don't have to go to college (though education is a great thing) or love a certain type of person, or look a certain way. You don't even have to grow up if you don't want to. Not in all the ways that matter. I'm perfectly capable of caring for my little niece responsibly, but that doesn't mean I'm going to pass up the chance to tie bread bags on my feet and play in mud puddles, just because I'm a 'grownup'. There's a huge difference between being responsible and mature, and being so consumed with 'acting like an adult' that you lose sight of all the things that make life fun. Kids nowadays are so pressured to conform that they're too afraid to be happy, if happy falls outside the defined edges of expectations imposed on them. And the worst part, is that those perceived expectations are complete hogwash, but kids don't understand that until years later, and then many of them never try to reclaim the people they were before they gave up and stuffed themselves into type of person they felt like they had to be.

4) How does my writing process work?

I am a panster. I've said it, and it's true. There are times when I sit down and list out characters and points, but for the most part, when I write, I throw it right out on the paper without obsessing over the details. I'll get an idea, but instead of immediately jotting stuff down like many other writers, I do nothing. I mull and mull and chew like an unknown species of ruminant, regurgitating plot lines and characters and devouring them again until the first line rises up inside me. Then I start writing. With a pen. On paper. Yeah, I still do that. There is just something so satisfying about writing on paper. I'm a scripturient. Yes, it's a real word. Look it up, and know that I am that word. Seriously, it'll be inked on me eventually.

Anyway, usually, the more I write on a story, the more clear the details become. Now, it is true that you're much better off knowing where your story is going when you start it. Despite being a panster, I do, almost always, know how the story will end, even if I don't know exactly what will happen, or how the characters will get to that point. Once I'm writing, I'll make supporting documents, not quite outlines, but lists of points and markers, details about characters, or if there is a magical system or different world, facts about it.

So there you have it. Me, in four small questions, and big longish answers! Now, let me introduce you to the next three lovely authors on the tour!

First up, Rebecca Fields!

Rebecca Fields is a modern gypsy, roaming from place to place in search of – well, she’ll let you know when she finds it. Writing has become a way for her to share her adventures, both real and imagined. When she’s not planning her next move (okay, even when she is), she’s busy writing, reading or playing… ahem… networking on social media sites.


And the lovely Shveta Thakar!

Shveta Thakrar is a writer of South Asian–flavored fantasy, social justice activist, and part-time nagini. She draws on her heritage, her experience growing up with two cultures, and her love of myth to spin stories about spider silk and shadows, magic and marauders, and courageous girls illuminated by dancing rainbow flames. When not hard at work on her second novel, a young adult fantasy about stars, Shveta makes things out of glitter and paper and felt, devours books, daydreams, bakes sweet treats, and occasionally even practices her harp.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Long Ago Gone

It's been far too long since I wrote a blog post. Every time I write one, I feel as though I swear I'm going to 'get back into the swing of things' and start writing posts on a regular basis. But now some folks are saying that blogs are dead anyway, so I don't know that it matters much. So I guess I'll just try to write now and then.

*I will be participating in a blog tour about the writing process in March, so there's that. And I'll be throwing my hat into the ring for Pitch Madness (which you can read about here) with a newer project, Ravina of the Twains, a YA fantasy.

Otherwise, however, I suspect it'll be hit or miss with my blogging.

I've just been distracted by other things, things like writing, and family, and getting more exercise which is something I've missed dearly since leaving the farm.

And most recently, I've been distracted by memories. Specifically memories pertaining to the black pony mare, Di, whom I lost last March 1st-2nd. I still miss her so very much, and keep finding little ways to keep her memory close.

With the anniversary of her death just having come and gone, it's left me aching, mostly in the ways that tend to spill out onto paper. I wrote so many little fanciful poems about her when she was alive, I haven't written a single one since she died. Then in the wee hours Saturday night - the time last year when I was standing in the darkness with her while Death slowly pried the two of us apart - verses started wheedling their way into my mind. I wrote them down, but it's taken me a couple of days to get it together enough to be able to post them without blubbering. Here they are.

In the dark of the night All Hallows' Eve
When across the earth, all spirits weave

I seek out but one through all of the throng
Her form most plain, her ears too long

Eyes shifting brown like liquified earth
 Stout little legs but most impressive in girth

Little black mare so skittish and wild
Under my hand your temper turned mild

Down through the wood and up in the vale
On the seas of the wind together we'd sail

In the dark of the night, we waited alone
As Death crept close to take you back home

He rested his hand upon my cold brow
Forgiveness to beg for the loss I bear now

Then off you did go, with gentle Lord Death
Left me standing alone still struggling for breath

Onward I've trudged through time never-ending
Afoot now I am, no black pony needs tending

In the dark of the night All Hallows' Eve
When across the earth, all spirits weave

I seek out but one through all of the throng
A cherished black pony, so long ago gone.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Our Society Emasculates Singularity

As you might have been able to discern from the title, my first blog post in months will involve ranting, on at least some level. Please, forgive me. There have been a few rough spots in life recently, not the least of which was the loss of our beloved GodzillaCat, whom some of you may remember as the 'cat three times as big as that baby!'. As far as losing animals go, it was gentle and we got more time with him than we thought we would have. I am grateful for that. But with illness comes vet bills and tax season is nigh. Then I've been sick myself (sicker than I thought, since I went in for what I thought was a Eustachian tube dysfunction (blocked ear canal) and instead learned I had a festering ear infection with a side of sinus infection) and of course that meant human doctor's bills. Bills I feel a lot more since being forced to restructure my health insurance.

So, all of this money stuff has subsequently caused me to look long and hard at my situation, and even though I've sort of known this was true for a long time now, I have officially reached my capacity for 'grinning and bearing it' and feel the need to scream my case into the ether just to have out with it. Our society emasculates singularity. I don't mean in a droning identical masses, no individuality way, I mean in a you are penalized repeatedly for being a single, unattached, childless person sort of way.

We'll start with health insurance. I am not interested in debating Obamacare. I will not argue about it, I will simply state the facts of MY situation. They are as follows. In direct response to the initiation of the new plan, my private insurance raised my premium to over $300 dollars, which at the time was a fourth of my monthly take home. And I do have other bills. When I went through the process of getting an estimate on the Obamacare site, their premium for me for the most basic package available was about $275, which included a $7500 deductible. Well, right there, I may as well not have health care at all. There is no way possible I can afford $275 a month PLUS paying out $7500 dollars before I ever reap any benefits. I am, for the most part, a very healthy person. There are years when I never go to a single doctor. I don't even have a yearly gyno appointment (I have a gyno, and they're the ones who said I'm okay with every three years, in my partnerless situation) so really, I'd be paying out for nothing. So I went back to my current insurance company and restructured my coverage, raising my deductible. Now I have to pay in $2500 before I see benefits, and I had to stop my birth control because under the new Obamacare, my insurance stopped offering 'any' birth control and narrowed the field of options to (in my case) precisely two choices, one of which was promptly taken off the market. Now I've been told repeatedly 'Shop around!' or worse 'You're *staying* in this situation, when you could change it by looking for better policies.' and the worse yet 'You need to hire (like I have money to spare) an insurance broker because they'll find you deals within the Obamacare. What people don't understand is that there ARE NO 'deals' within Obamacare for a single, childless, young person. There aren't SUPPOSED to be. The entire system is designed to aid the indigent, and those without current insurance, or preexisting conditions etc. It does nothing at all for me. I qualify for none of the subsidies because I make too much money, and have no other person under my care, and besides that I live in a household with other income. Which strikes me as funny, that the entirety of the household income is considered, yet the fact that I put into that household, and if anything happens to my father or mother, I'm pulling the extra weight, is disregarded. If I got married tomorrow, I would instantly be eligible for multiple subsidies. If I got pregnant, I'd be eligible for even more. But I'm single, and childless, and I'm staying that way.

Next, consider taxes. I have loathed taxes for as long as I've been paying them. But the thing is, I while I loathe them, I'm willing to pay them. But I want to pay a fair amount. At first, it seemed like I was paying a fair amount. But then as coworkers got married, or got pregnant, or got both, I started noticing a change. While my coworkers received breaks in their taxes, and got back more in their returns, my taxes slowly increased, and my returns decreased. I was always taught that ideally, you pay in just the right amount, and get nothing back, because you haven't paid too much. What I could not, and cannot understand, is how someone like me can have $4800 in taxes taken out, and then receive a $700 refund check, while a married working mom has $3000 in taxes taken out, and then receive a refund check for $2800 dollars. Where does that equal out? People cite the fact that they have a child to care for, but the thing is, they ALSO have a husband (obviously not all of them, but still) And their child will take up tax money by going to school (which is how it's supposed to be) while I have no child taking up taxes through schooling and no husband to help me pay for life. But I'M the one paying for THEIR child through MY higher taxes, while they receive breaks designed to help with affording those children. The government looks at me and judges me based on the fact that I'm single, I make money, I *should* have minimal expenses. They note that I'm part of a household income, and have access to that other incoming money. However, they refuse to acknowledge my family unit as something I actually PAY INTO. By tax standards, I'm not 'responsible' for anyone but myself. Likewise, my parents cannot 'claim' me on their taxes because I'm an adult. But the truth is that my parents and I function as a unit together. All of us bring in money, and that money goes to pay for whatever needs to be paid for. But in the eyes of society, that's not a 'legitimate' family unit that I can claim. Despite the fact that I could use more money throughout the year to help cover household bills, I'm not given the opportunity to file for that. And for whatever reason, I never qualify to recoup any of that hard-earned money at the end of the year. Meanwhile anyone with a 'legitimate' dependent will put in less, and get more back. If I popped out a baby, my taxes would instantly be chopped in half (right now, roughly 1/4 of every paycheck is vaporized by taxes) and I would get four times the money in a refund check. If I got married, there would also be a sudden, if not quite as dramatic, decrease in money taken out, and increase in money refunded.

Right now (though things are still developing, and it isn't perfect) in *most* places (and the number of those places is slowly growing) gay couples are more recognized than a single person. I think gay couples deserve every right that straight couples already enjoy. I'll fight for gay rights and recognition every day of the week. But as a single person, I feel like I'm standing on a corner watching the workings of a society that I'm not a part of. Boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives, life partners, common law wives, common law husbands, single moms with children, single dads with children. All of these are recognized as family groups, individuals who work together to support each other. But that dying breed of us who remain single and childless, we're banished to our own corner of the economic world, unfit to receive aid, supposedly able to pay more, because we have no one else to be responsible for. Even though we might live with our family and be financially responsible for helping keep the household afloat.

And while I've ranted about things related to money, it doesn't stop there. Books, movies, tv, within all of these venues, you'd be hard pressed to point out one, single creation that focuses on a single, childless main character. Are single people so boring that we can't be intrigued by them for themselves? Are they less authentic humans because they aren't sexually engaged with someone? Because they have never fathered or mothered a child? Try getting an agent to read a book where the main character is completely uninterested in another person in a sexual manner. Then, if your story and writing is so amazing that you actually get an agent with it, try getting a publishing house to publish it. Without forcing you to add at least a 'hint of a possible love interest' first. I would argue that if you're not already an established author, it would be an impossible task. Possibly even impossible for a well established author, if they're writing for a YA audience. Why? Because from the time kids are old enough to understand the concept, it's drilled into them that in order to be successful or complete as a person, they NEED a significant other (whatever the sexual orientation) or offspring.  Without one or both of those things, they aren't validated as an adult person. Kids don't want to read about someone who doesn't love someone else because society has taught them that no matter what feats that person might achieve, they won't ever be complete unless they love someone 'that way'. Even Firekeeper viewed Blind Seer as her mate. Even though that relationship was outside the norm, (refreshingly so, even though I never finished the books) Firekeeper was not 'single' she was the mate to Blind Seer.

All of this is something I've pondered over for most of my adult life, watching as friends and family date, get married, have kids, not always in that order, but always in some fashion. It's not something that usually bothers me. I've never been one to get concerned with what society thinks of me. But it IS something close to my heart, this obsession with exalting couples and those with children while ignoring the existence of single, childless people. I love children. Don't see this as an attack on kids and having kids. They are our future. But I don't have one, and I may never have one. And I'm okay with that. I don't have a boyfriend/girlfriend wife/husband, and I may never have one. And I'm okay with that.

So why isn't society okay with it?

Enough blather. If you've made it this far, I congratulate you. Really this has turned out as more of an exercise to just throw my thoughts down and look at them than anything else.

But what do you think? Am I a crazed, repressed, paranoid, single girl? Or is there some truth to my perceptions? Some validity to my feelings on the matter?