Writing prompts at random

“Describe an important item from your childhood. Why was it important and where is it now?”

It was her eleventh Christmas that she go the pink teddy bear from her grandparents. Pink wasn’t really her color. Her initial reaction was confusion and a touch of disappointment. Actually that disappointment was strong. Her parents were there and expecting something more from her so she smiled and laughed in what she hoped was delight. Her mother asked if it had a name and she said something akin to not yet. She hadn’t decided if was going to have a name yet. Did it deserve that level of personalisation? Perhaps. It was so pink, that pepto-bismul pink… It wasn’t fair to the poor bear for her to judge it so. Her cheeks flushed with embarrassment for dismissing it so quickly. Sure it was a strange color but that made it stand out amidst her blues and purples.

She hugged it to her chest. It was soft and smelled of the cardboard box and fudge. Her grandmother so enjoyed sending things to them. It probably made her feel closer to them despite the infrequent and bridg trips her family made to visit. It wasn’t her faluth that she didn’t know her grand daughter well enough to know that pink was nearly as abhorrent as red or orange. She probably thought it was a safe color for a pre-pubescent girl. She likely was right and her grand daughter was too inflexible to be grateful.

That night the teddy bear stayed on her bed. It actually made a decent pillow. The size of the belly and arms, just a few inches larger than her head, made it comfortable to lean on. That and how soft it was though the fur tickled her ears and nose.

A week later she gave it a name. Lacie, the same as her half-sister. She loved Lacie, both the bear and her sister, in a rather abstract way. After all, it wasn’t Lacie’s fault she lived so far away and that her younger sister didn’t even know she existed until 3 years earlier. Lacie visiting always meant adventures and her parents taking time off from work. Lacie’s presence helped to bring them together. Her parents didn’t fight or get so angry. That bear could be a tiny piece of her sister and all the things she meant. Those nights when there was yelling and screaming and crying were the worst. The bear was there though, a tangible thing of comfort.

She would write to the bear and talk to it late night, imaging what it would be like to have her sister there instead. In a sense she was with a wee bit of herself within the bear, though her sister would never admit it.

A few months passed before her mother noted how much she fell asleep with the bear in her arms. “What’s your bear’s name?” she asked again.

“Lacie,” was all that the girl said. Her mother nodded slowly, understanding instantly the importance of that name. Fast forward fifteen years and she still has Lacie with her. She no longer sleeps with it, that right is now reserved for her cats who get as much comfort from the soft bear. They are smaller than it, a perfect companion for them to snuggle up to. Sometimes she still talks to Lacie, sharing her thoughts with that wee, tiny piece of her sister. She may not speak with the bear’s namesake but much like that abstract love her bear shifted into something deeper and real, so has the love for the person that is her sister. Each monologue to the smaller Lacie ends the same, “I love you, Lacie.”

Checking Off All the Little Boxes

As with any job there are trends that I have observed in the psych field that seem to occur every year. The transition from spring to fall is when we start to see those who are depressed come out of the wood work. Winter is when we see the more at risk population, low income, frequently homeless and those with a history of incarceration. Spring is when we start to see higher incidence of mania and/or psychosis. Summer is a bit of a hodge-podge, but I think there tends to be more family related stress and strife that plays into that. Kids are at home, there are higher expectations for temp workers to find employment and it’s hot. People get grumpy and pissy and irritated when they’re hot.

Let’s focus on that bipolar population, sorry, I really should say it as the population who has a history of bipolar disorder/suffers from bipolar (let’s call it BPD I/II from now on). Like I said above, most tend to go into a more manic phase at this time of year. Not everyone though. Some get the pleasant experience of a mixed episode meaning that they experience some depression symptoms and some manic symptoms. This group tends to be at the absolute highest risk of suicide: feeling suicidal, coming up with a plan and they have the fucking energy to be able to actually carry through with those plans. The sad part is that they have the highest rate of success. I’ll go look up the research again should anyone want to see that. My knowledge is coming from stuff I had discovered in 2007 when I was desperately trying to figure out the world of psych for my first job and then from observations throughout the years. Incidentally it’s also one of the major reason why people who start on anti-depressants are at higher risk for suicidal thoughts and carrying out plans; the antidepressants don’t affect their thinking and emotional state as quickly as they affect the physical symptoms of depression. They get the energy and even some motivation before they actually start to feel better. It sort of mimics what a mixed bipolar episode does for people.

Anyway, the point of this post is that I fall into the smaller group of people with BPD that are more likely to feel depression than mania at any change in seasons. That is partially because I have the type II version which nearly always tend toward depression rather than the hypo mania side. I think I’ve experienced hypo-mania only a handful of times in my life and those episodes are nearly always followed by a pretty strong crash into depression. I normally can observe the symptoms and act on them before they get to the absolute bottom. I start eating healthier, exercise more, attempt to read more, make a good go at trying to get better sleep, and all that good jazz. It’s actually the primary reason why I do any of these, not to lose weight, not to look better in my favorite jeans, though those are all really awesome bonuses.

This year hasn’t been so kind about it. Over the last 6 months I have continued to experience various symptoms of depression despite taking all the above actions and asking my doc for some med changes. What really has sucked is that the last three months I finally got hit hard by the complete lack of motivation to do what I need to in order to keep myself from tanking further. Exercise? Yeah, non-existent. Eating better? Forget it. Wanting to do much of anything? Ha! That’s funny. Feeling good about my job and what I’m doing there? Eh, still some of that, but it’s really damn hard to get myself to not be cynical and wanting to interact with patients much. By Saturdays I’m kind of useless. I try to get as much done in the morning since I developed that routine and if I don’t complete it, I’m fucked.

I wasn’t fully aware of just how bad things had gotten until my husband started to ask me about it. The fact that he was aware and able to ask about it is saying something because he really doesn’t have the awareness of such things that some/many people do. I had given him some reference material when we first started dating and even gave him a pretty clear (I thought) list of symptoms that I tend to experience, subjective and objective. A few months ago when I asked him about it again he told me point blank that he really couldn’t notice the subtle changes over time much at all. He’s never been very good at reading many of those things and whatnot so it’s honestly not much of a surprise. He’s a tech dude, he gets tech things really well and is great at problem solving but when it comes to things that he can’t do much about he is pretty apathetic about them. When it does get to the point that he is completely aware it really is hard for him to deal with. He wants to fix it. He wants to make it go away. But it’s not that easy, probably partially because I really am not good at listening to anything or anyone once I get to this point.

I think it’s probably a bad thing when all the things that I’m upset about in relation to myself are basically check boxes for the DSM-IV diagnosis for depression. Let’s look at this list from NIMH:
Major Depressive Disorder requires two or more major depressive episodes.

Diagnostic criteria:

Depressed mood and/or loss of interest or pleasure in life activities for at least 2 weeks and at least five of the following symptoms that cause clinically significant impairment in social, work, or other important areas of functioning almost every day

1. Depressed mood most of the day. Worse the last three or so weeks, but been experiencing some since November.

2.Diminished interest or pleasure in all or most activities. Reading? Meh. Exercising? None. Wanting to go out? Eh. I’ve really only gotten excited by a few select things, many of which I’m really not as excited about as I would have been a year ago. Even then it’s a very short-term thing. *sigh*

3.Significant unintentional weight loss or gain. Actually this one I’m not experiencing as much. Some weight gain, but that’s what happens when you go from a 1350 calorie a day diet and exercise to around 2500 and not exercising.

4.Insomnia or sleeping too much. Ugh, yes. If I don’t take something to help me sleep I toss and turn the whole damn night. I don’t actually seem to fall asleep and stay asleep until sometime after 6 or 7 am. Given that I only got to sleep past 8-9am two days a week until this last week that was pretty significant. Now I get four days a week, but holy crap is it hard to get up. Work or school were pretty much the only things that could pull me from bed from 11am. Now that I am not in school, well let’s just say I haven’t gotten much of anything accomplished this last week.

5.Agitation or psychomotor retardation noticed by others. Anytime I am not at home. Especially if I am with or around people. It’s not as pronounced at work, but it’s been commented on several times the last few weeks. Yay for nearly autistic like repetitive movements to decrease anxiety…

6.Fatigue or loss of energy. Why don’t they have this as number 5 rather than 6? It goes so much better with the insomnia question. Anyway, yeah. This is probably my biggest complaint. I am freaking tired all the time. Doesn’t matter how much or how little sleep I’ve gotten, whether I have plans or things to do or absolutely nothing at all to do, I am exhausted. It sucks.

7.Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt. Not too bad, not yet. I’m starting to feel some of this, especially since I haven’t been much interested in doing things I need to like helping around the house. Blargh.

8.Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness. Worse so than usual, yes. Indecisiveness is something I always experience, but not to this extent. Lack of ability to think or concentrate? Oh yeah. I am slow to respond or pick up on what others are saying and am definitely more flighty than usual. The only thing I really seem to be able to concentrate on is a book when I’m reading, but even that is iffy.

9.Recurrent thoughts of death (APA, 2000, p. 356). I don’t think so, though it’s hard to tell since there is a lot of conversation at work about our suicidal patients. What I really want is just to be able to sleep until I actually have gotten enough *good* sleep to be functional again. I don’t know if that counts or not, but I’m leaning towards no. Maybe some of the therapists/counselors I know would disagree, but really I don’t care all that much whether they disagree with me or not. I don’t feel like I’m suicidal. I haven’t actually thought about what it would be like for me to die or even thought about plans. I have discussed what people do that just seem silly or don’t actually work, but that’s about it.

Just for shits and giggles, let’s take a look at the manic side of things too.
Bipolar 2 Disorder, in which the primary symptom presentation is recurrent depression accompanied by hypomanic episodes (a milder state of mania in which the symptoms are not severe enough to cause marked impairment in social or occupational functioning or need for hospitalization, but are sufficient to be observable by others).

Manic episodes are characterized by:

A.A distinct period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood, lasting at least 1 week (or any duration if hospitalization is necessary) Ugh, irritated mood is one of the major things that my husband noticed. I’m irritable, easily agitated and more and more frequently difficult to get along with. I know that some people actually have irritable or angry depression so I don’t know if this is depression related or not.

B.During the period of mood disturbance, three (or more) of the following symptoms have persisted (4 if the mood is only irritable) and have been present to a significant degree:

(1)increased self-esteem or grandiosity Not so much, no.

(2)decreased need for sleep (e.g., feels rested after only 3 hours of sleep) Definitely not.

(3)more talkative than usual or pressure to keep talking Maybe pressure to keep talking, but I don’t believe so.

(4)flight of ideas or subjective experience that thoughts are racing Is the inability to really control where my thoughts go or what they do part of flight of ideas or racing thoughts? I don’t know that they are racing except when I’m feeling massively anxious, but maybe? Probably not.

(5)distractibility (i.e., attention too easily drawn to unimportant or irrelevant external stimuli) Ugh, yes. Too much of anything overwhelms me and makes it difficult to focus or concentrate on anything, but again, this is also a symptom for depression or at least one of the things that tends to come up with depression.

(6)increase in goal-directed activity (either socially, at work or school, or sexually) or psychomotor agitation Psychomotor agitation, yes, but that’s also a symptom for depression and anxiety as well.

(7)excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have a high potential for painful consequences (e.g., engaging in unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, or foolish business investments)” (APA, 2000, p. 362). Luckily for me, no. The closest would be buying sprees, but I usually force myself to think about things for a while before purchasing. It also helps that I don’t have that much in the way of expendable cash.

So there may be some hypo-mania mixed in there too, but if so it’s nothing compared to this fucking depression. It’s interesting how easy it is to check those things off right now. Well, it’ll probably be more interesting when I come back and look at this in a few months, but I can look forward to that.

This post has gotten waaaay too long so I’ll just leave it off here. If you got all the way down here, wow, kudos to you. You are now free to return to your regularly scheduled day and activities, whatever those are.

Maybe Not So Crazy – Writing Idea

Mostly still not really edited but some revision to go with what the character wanted anyway. Still don’t know if I like the way the end went.

It had always been assumed I was crazy. My parents, friends, distant relatives, even me, we all knew I was crazy. Not the sort of crazy you see on street corners with people holding signs and talking to themselves and smelling really bad. Not like the crazy that rages against people and assumes the government is out to get them and that everyone is poisoning them. I don’t think I’m God or Jesus or a rock star or anything like that. But I have heard voices for as long as I can remember. I stopped talking back to them around middle-school. They never responded to me and never seemed to be talking about anything that was going on around me. They just… were. That’s all. I hardly notice them anymore to be honest. I stopped listening to them in high school. Well, mostly. I would listen to them at night sometimes, those times when I couldn’t fall asleep. It was my version of counting sheep. I’d listen to them ramble and soon would drift off to dream land and that was it.

Well, I guess that wasn’t entirely it. There are all the crazy, weird-ass dreams, too. Those don’t bother me much either. I do use them as jump off points for short stories. I’m told that I do talk when I’m dreaming. Loudly. My parents shunted me to the basement as soon as they could so they wouldn’t have to listen to me yammer anymore. That’s what they called it around me, but I’ve overheard them whispering about how scary it really is. Apparently I talk about assassination and plots and some sort of war that I don’t understand. Kind of fantasy stuff that only old school fairy tales are willing to hint at – Rumpelstiltskin sort of evil creatures. They’re really night-terrors actually. I don’t think of them that way anymore, but when I was little I did.

Really though, I’m not as crazy as I sound. I was a straight-A student all the way through school and college. I’ve got my bachelors in creative writing and have published most of my short stories and am in the midst of a novel. I have never been fired even though I have always worked at least one job from the age of fifteen and two or three jobs since college. Strangers at the bookstore and coffee shops I work at don’t know I’m different. My editor doesn’t know where all my crazy ideas come from. Publishers don’t care as long as my stuff sells.

So, I guess, in the long run it doesn’t really matter that I hear voices. According to psychiatrists that I’ve seen I’m not really diagnosable as anything because I lead a perfectly normal life. They’ve tried meds just to see if the voices will react but all that happened was that I slept. A lot. And felt really fuzzy in my head. My own internal voice was all jumbled and mumbling and couldn’t track at all (especially on Haldol, that stuff messes with you) but none of them fazed the voices. That was the part that really freaked out the psychiatrists. Nothing worked on the voices and I responded to the drugs the same way that a “normal” person would.

Thinking about that makes me feel even more crazy. A weird sort of crazy. The sort that even people who deal with crazies can’t figure out. That’s about when I stopped thinking about them at all. I wrote down my dreams when I woke up, went to the coffee shop, stocked books and answered the ridiculous questions customers came up with, went home to my cat and wrote then went to bed. The routine blurred the days and those blurred days dulled the voices.

Until about a year ago that is. Then they got loud. Really loud. Like I couldn’t move because of migraines and was having seizures and ended up in the hospital for so many tests that I am still paying for them even with decent insurance sort of loud. Again, the neurologists and psychiatrists were just as stumped as the previous psychiatrists were. According to the CT scans and MRIs and EKGs and sleep studies and whatever other tests they did my brain and body were perfectly normal. Absolutely normal. Like the sort of normal that is used in presentations that doesn’t really exist sort of normal. Well, there were some weird spots that would light up when I was asleep, but they’ve seen that in other people who have vivid dreams, so again, not really all that weird. Actually, I think they said that activity was absolutely textbook standard for night-terror brain activity. I think they were split on whether to use me as a case study, destroy all the evidence because it was too weirdly-normal or conclude that I was making everything up and just wanted a break from my dull life. I gave those last two a nicely worded letter telling them to go fuck themselves. Hindsight says it wasn’t the best idea but they pissed me off. Anyway, I sort of agree with the second group of docs. I basically think of my brain as so normal that it’s no longer normal but just on the other side of the dividing line between normal and freaking weird. Not schizophrenic. Not bipolar. Not depressed. No growths. No abscesses. Not even any concussions. Just weird. Basically the story of my life.

So I was crazy and weird but normal all at once. It probably should have freaked me out and led to some sort of breakdown at least sometime in my life. But that’s just not how I roll. Probably because my brain is too weirdly normal to accommodate such a normal response to so many weird things. Which sucks by the way.

I got out of the hospital after about a week when everything stopped. Just stopped. Migraine gone. Seizures none-existent. Voices missing. I never thought I’d say it but I was suddenly very lonely.

That lasted for about three days.

Then they started up again. Only this time they were aware. That’s the only way I can describe it. They started talking about what I was seeing and hearing and even feeling. They were violently loud the first hour then it was like a volume knob was dialed back. Not on my side, but on theirs. I don’t know how to say why that’s how it was, but I just know that my brain wasn’t capable of dialing anything down at that point. I was back in the fetal position and wishing I could find my way into a nice medication induced coma again. After a day or so to recover from that hour of arguing and my name being yelled back and forth, oh yeah, I forgot to mention that they knew my name, didn’t I? Well, they knew my name and they were saying it for the first time since I can remember, and they seemed to be arguing over what to do about me. Like whether to kidnap me or kill me sort of what to do with me. Awesome. That’s not disturbing or anything.

After the volume got dialed back and I more or less recovered from the blast of argument I still heard voices, but it seemed like they were only saying things that they wanted me to hear. I wasn’t hearing just random crap anymore, but intentional stuff. There were even times when they seemed to be able to blur the words, sort of like if you’re at the beach trying to listen to someone talking twenty feet away but the waves and wind are too loud to hear more than that they are saying words in what is most likely a language you understand.

While there were fewer voices overall, I finally figured out that there were two groups, one wanted to kill me, the other kidnap me and both were trying to figure out how to do it without the other knowing. Or me.

I already knew I was crazy. That was never in question. But now… now I was edging toward the sort of paranoid crazy that the people on street corners shout about. People were after me. They wanted to hurt me. Only they were still all in my head. It’s really hard to ignore voices that talk about how you need to die. I tried, I really did, but there’s only so much I’m capable of, even with my supernaturally normal brain.

Then there came the voice that started talking to me. Well, there were two eventually. One guy, one lady. They seemed to think I should know them and they started talking about how they were sending some people out to rescue me and just to wait and I’ll be back home and some other bizarre stuff. I initially ignored them. Then I protested that I was home, that I didn’t need to be rescued. I tried asking them what in the world they were going on about. They told me. I think. But it was more conspiracy theory stuff only they claimed to be from some alternate reality. Yeah, I stopped listening at that point. Like I said, conspiracy theory crap. And we had already established that I am crazy. Was crazy. I was crazy. I’m pretty sure I still am. Maybe I’m in an asylum somewhere and just don’t realize it. Perhaps it’s better not to know for certain. I had always assumed the old saying was true, “Only crazy people don’t question their sanity” or however it goes.

One year. One whole year spent spiraling further and further into the real crazy realm. Fun times. I have a lot more sympathy for the dudes on street corners now.

So yeah, I stopped wondering about conspiracy theories around the same time that two incredibly beautiful/handsome/oh my, can I bang you now, guys show up at my apartment and try to tell me that I need to leave with them right away before I get murdered. I don’t know why but I invited them in for tea instead of running off with them. Maybe I was hoping for some action, it had been a while after all. Instead they drank tea with me, tried to convince me I’m some sort of inhuman creature called Sidhe or Fae or whatever. I didn’t believe them, stopped listening and was trying to figure out the best way to kick the pranksters out on their asses when they killed a man.

To be fair he did sort of have it coming. A man jumping through a window with a lot of wicked looking knives probably doesn’t want to sit down for a cup of tea. Two of those knives would have impaled themselves in my chest had one of my actually invited in guests not knocked me out of my chair while his buddy wrestled the other dude into my kitchen. Which he spent the better part of three hours cleaning up afterward. Or so I’m told. I spent most of those three hours plus another twelve in my bathroom throwing up every meal I’ve ever had. While my tea guests/rescuers slept somewhere out front, I slept in my bathtub clutching my cat. I think I slept. I’m assuming they slept. I don’t actually know. The next morning they were still in my apartment and insisted I leave with them. I refused at first, but then they pointed out the daggers that were still embedded in the wall and said something about more killers on their way and that I was lucky and yadda yadda yadda. I didn’t argue much more. I’m sure they disagree with my point there. They didn’t want me to bring my cat, Snickers. I refused to leave without him. Made sense to me at the time. I didn’t want to come home to find him dead waiting in front of the door. They complained, something about cats being a massive nuisance and not welcome where we were going. They relented after I told them they could go fuck themselves if they thought I was leaving without my cat. Apparently that’s my fall back when I’m pissed. I need to come up with something else more creative to say.

Three days and a lot of miles later we ended up in BFE (that means butt-fuck Egypt, just in case you were wondering) nowhere Pennsylvania and hung out there for days. I didn’t know what we were waiting for. They kept saying we’re waiting for the right moon or something, but I didn’t really understand why and they said they can’t tell me why until I see it for myself.

On the plus side I haven’t heard much in the way of voices in my head since they showed up. Oh, the occasional thing from the lady and man that keep trying to tell me that they’re so glad I’m on my way “home”. On the bad side I recognized both these guys voices when they asked to come in to my home. I forgot to mention that, hadn’t I? That was probably why I invited them in for tea. Why shouldn’t I? My voices materialized in the form of some of the most handsome guys I’ve ever seen, may as well take advantage of the eye candy before I get hauled away to the funny farm. In this case they were the ones that did the hauling rather than the police like I had expected.

You know, I’m sure you’re as confused as I am, well was. Let’s go back a bit. A little more detail would probably be good. It’s not like I don’t have time. It seems like all I’ve got is time.

So, from the beginning. Maybe not the very beginning. That’d be too boring. Let’s start with the day that I met my two rescuers, captors, whatever. The day that I found out I’m a Changeling and the daughter of ambassadors for the Seelie Court to the Unseelie Court. The day I found out I’m either crazy as a loon or never was crazy. Man, do I wish I was still crazy. That’d be so much easier than the other. I really hope I’m locked away somewhere, else this is going to be the most unbelievable thing ever. So here goes, story time.

Not so long ago a crazy lady was startled from her manuscript by three loud knocks on her front door…

Reading!

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

Let’s see, if I look at my goodreads account I am reading several books and apparently none of them are things I’ve picked up in the last two weeks. Whoops! So what am I actually reading?
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

This is the first of what is planned to be 10-15 books in a series called The Stormlight Archive. Brandon Sanderson has been thinking and writing this series since he first started writing as a teenager. Even with only one book out (the 2nd should be coming out late this year, yay!) it’s clear that Sanderson knows where he’s going and what’s going to happen and has developed his writing enough that it promises to be a great high, epic fantasy story. I’m actually re-re-reading it right now along with several hundred other fans through a Tor sponsored guided re-read thing where everyone gets to have details they missed pointed out to them. I’m loving it! I’m also going through my kindle copy of the book and highlighting all the things that I feel are important to reference later or beg questions that may be answered later.

He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut, and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know by Jessica Valenti

I’m sort of on this feminism kick and have been finding all sorts of interesting things to ponder and think about. This book has been feeding some of that interest and desire to know moar.

So then what did I just finish? Funny I should mention Jessica Valenti. My most recent finished book was another one she published, The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women.

It was really eye opening. I hadn’t realized just how lucky I was to grow up in the county and state I did. It also pisses me off to realize just how much this country is being dragged backwards by people who really have absolutely no right to be determining what is best for others. But I’m going to stop here before I go all grr argh so late at night.

Anywho, what’s on my to-read list?
Well, I need to finish my Star Wars stuff.

I have more Robert Heinlein to read.

And of course, I have a whole bunch of steampunk authors to catch up on, starting with this book:


From there, I’ve got several other books on my to-get and read list including the other two Penny Dread Tales books. Yay for books!

Bits and Pieces of Thoughts While I Think on my Next Bit o’Fiction

First things first, or at least things that excite me – My English teach really liked my video game essay. There are a few teensy things I need to clean up, mainly a few awkward word choices and left over “on”s and things from my massive number of edits. Once I’ve done that, she wants me to enter it into an essay contest that happens at the school every year. The winner gets $50 and entrants get to put their name out there for teachers to get to know. When it comes to more subjective classes like English, psych, etc. I feel it’s important to have your name associated with the idea that you are a good writer before you enter a teacher’s classroom. Perception means so much and teachers are more willing to gloss over errors if they already “know” you can write, as humans are wont to do. Even my current teacher did something like that for my 2nd essay when I had two really bad cut/copy/paste-based errors. She didn’t take off points for those like what I would have expected her to because she knew that they were editing fails, not writing fails, if that makes any sense.

I’ve been trying to figure out what I’m going to use as my topic for my next argument essay, but haven’t really had anything stick out to me. Well, I’ve got two things, but I can’t decide if I really can argue either of them effectively because I am just a wee bit passionate about them.
The first is equal marriage rights. I’d end arguing for a case that would include marriage licenses being granted to two or more people above the legal age of consent who are willingly entering into the civil contract regardless of gender, sex, procreation status etc. Most people have an issue once the “more” part is added in, and to be fair, with the way current laws are written that affect civil marriage law contracts it would get really convoluted and tricksy. Especially things like inheritance and social security benefits and whatnot. Especially if the primary bread winner/head of house passes or decides to divorce one or more of the other parties. What happens to the rest of the contracts? Are they will that primary person or binding amongst all parties? Oy, such a headache and the primary argument against such marriages.
The second is abstinence only versus full disclosure sex ed. I (luckily) grew up in county that taught full disclosure sex ed by default and started in fifth grade. Yes, parents always had to sign permission slips to say “sure, teach my kid about sex” or “find them something else to do cause I want to be the one to educate them about sex” or not educate them as the case would likely be. I think I only saw maybe three kids not have permission to be educated in sex ed from fifth through twelfth grade. That’s pretty awesome in my opinion, especially considering that it was a requirement for every year of school up to high school and then was taught in bio and two or three other classes that were required for graduation.
Anywho, the point is that I feel pretty strongly about these topics, but think I could maybe argue either one of them. My teacher did give me the okay to write my essays on more divisive topics should I choose to because I could “handle” them maturely. On the other hand, this next essay is going to be sent out to the rest of the English dept. and I’m not sure that I want to write about anything so politically charged, no matter how well written, and be known as the student that is too opinionated/liberal/socialist/controversial at the end of my first semester of school.

On a completely unrelated note, I’m excited about the weather here. We’re supposed to get a pretty decent amount of snow between tonight and tomorrow night and I have nowhere to go and no one to meet until Wednesday morning, which means I get to just enjoy the snowfall. Huzzah! Pretty weather will be nice.

Anomalycon 3: Thoughts and ramblings with pictures!

One family enjoying themselves at Anomalycon

I spent this past weekend in a fantastic and improbable place. Some very smart and mad people created a time and space anomaly right inside a hotel in the Denver Tech Center. Hundreds of the quirkiest and geekiest people in Colorado were pulled into this anomaly (I promise, I’ll stop) and all sorts of mostly controlled chaos and fun ensued.

This was my second time attending Anomalycon, a steampunk/alternate history and science fiction convention. Really, the only reason why I went last year was because I happen to know the person who was that right combination of insane and incredibly organized and motivated and started the whole thing and is still in charge. I came back this year because I enjoyed myself so much and because I like supporting cool causes of which new cons ran by friends falls under that category.

I already had an agenda when I went in. I was going to watch every performance of Pandora Celtica because they absolutely rock. In a faerie, acoustic, punk, but not really rock, sort of sense. My husband has spent much time the last year randomly surprising me with their music just showing up in my phone or home, but the live performance is where they go from awesomesauce to completely made of win. This weekend was absolutely no exception. I greatly enjoyed their two shows, and as usual, wish they had performed at least one more time. Though where I would have fit that into the very busy weekend schedule is anyone’s guess.

I spent pretty much all of my time at the con in the writing panels. Thirteen of the twenty panels/performances we attended were in the “writing” room, much to my husband’s dismay. Or so I imagine since he spent the majority of his time reading programming manuals or looking up tech stuff. *sigh* For myself, each panel increased my interest in writing, real writing, and poked at that dream I had put away of ever doing anything with it. The panel on overcoming writer’s block (ugh) sort of knocked loose some of my excuses that I always come up with for why I can’t/won’t/couldn’t/shouldn’t bother. Sometime around Saturday evening during the NanoWrimo panel, I decided that I was going to give this whole thing a go. Again.

There were a finite number of authors/guest panelists, which means that by the end of day two, several of the authors were recognizing me. Rather than hide and shuffle off to a corner as is usual for me. Instead I hung out and talked with them and some of the artists. Some of them even autographed my copy of an anthology they took part in writing, Penny Dread Tales Vol III. Some of them even gave me the go ahead to Facebook-stalk them and I did! O.o Just in case you were curious, that is waaaaaay outside my comfort zone. Majorly so. But, they were really friendly and gave some great advice, and even if I never actually do anything further in writing, I can always watch for their new projects and all that good jazz.

None of that really gives a good indication of what Anomalycon is though, does it? Just me rambling on about stuff. So, let’s go on to pictures! Most of these come from Westword, a local paper that has been coming to Anomalycon all three years.

Authors S.J. Chambers and Gail Carriger at a free-for-all panel

Probably my favorite “costume” of the entire event

Taking a break between events

The tallest member is hiding behind the speaker...

Pandora Celtica!

Gizmos! Gadgets! Doohickeys! Thinga-ma-jigs!

Why not?

Equality?

Today is a pretty important day in the fight for civil and equal rights for LGBT folks in the US. Tomorrow is too. However, it also looks like the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is completely aware of how important this issue is. They are also aware of the fact that it is only in the last year or so that the majority of people in the country support civil unions equivalent to marriage or marriage rights for LGBT couples. If they make a ruling about this divisive issue in the next few weeks they will be continuing the forward march for civil equality but also giving a new rallying point for those against equality.

Essentially, the justices really don’t want to make this decision until we’ve reached a greater than 60% majority in support. Or at least that’s how I’ve been reading it.

Some reasons for that assessment: The argument against Prop 8 (the California constitutional amendment from 2008 that banned marriage or civil unions for anyone besides a single man to a single woman) is literally only arguing against Prop 8. They are not arguing for sweeping, nationwide changes. They are arguing explicitly for the amendment to be overturned and made null and void. Justice Roberts verified the point with the Solicitor General of the Obama administration, “[Y]ou are willing to wait in the rest of the country,” Roberts said. “You’re saying [same-sex marriage] has got to happen right now in California, but you don’t even have a position about whether it’s required in the rest of the country.” I don’t believe that the court really wants to get involved in something so sticky as ruling one way for a state but ruling another way for the country, as could happen with the DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) case they will be hearing tomorrow. There is a very high likelihood that they will defer ruling on Prop 8 and send it back down to the previous district courts (where there will be even more confusion about what to do next) because they will instead rule on DOMA.

What does this mean for the fight for marriage equality? That it’s not going to be so easy as having one or two hearings before SCOTUS. It’s going to continue to require a state by state battle to get equality of some sort. It’s going to require enough political action to actually get people to the voting booths, which is no small task. It’s going to require that we wait for older generations to pass on before the younger generations, where there is a clear majority of supporters, become the majority of voters. Or it’s going to require someone bring forth a clear, valid argument against a defense that could actually be valid long enough to be considered in court for why there should be sweeping, nationwide changes like what there was for Loving vs. Virginia in 1967. The repeal of DOMA and even overturning of Prop 8 are not going to make it happen, though either one being overturned will be a huge victory and add momentum to the equality cause.

I hope, I really do, that I am wrong. I hope that SCOTUS will rule in favor of overturning/repealing both. As much as it will be a rallying point for opponents of same-sex marriage and equality, it could be enough to convince those who have been waiting to see who the winner is going to be that they ought to throw their support in for equality. That would be super awesome and make me a rather happy camper.

Honestly though, I think it would be rather nice if the whole marriage vs. civil unions thing would be figured out. I have a few friends that really deserve to be married but are only just now being given the opportunity to have a civil union. It’s nice and almost there, but not quite the same idea. Now, if government decided to get their noses out of marriage in general and only have civil unions recorded and all that for state records for everyone, I’d be down for that. Religious institutions could figure out what the hell marriage is and what it means and who or who can’t get married, but that special snowflake definition would only matter and be recorded within that particular institution. I think that would totally be a win-win for everyone. The religious folks could get a civil union with all the legal and tax benefits that come with it and get married through their religious institution and life would be good. There are enough open and non-denom and “we just like to have community!” sort of places that even non-religious folks could still get “married” if they really wanted to.

But hey, maybe I just don’t care all that much because “marriage” has always been an odd concept to me and I’ve always found it to be rather controversial anyway. The history of marriage has never boded well for women, even civil unions never really boded well for women. I would be completely fine with something that came with less baggage and was more personal. But, marriage is important to some people, including my husband, so… *shrugs* I say we make it so that everyone who wants to get married can. *nods*

Reflections on some not so awesome memories

Video

I have had this song come up several times on Pandora lately. I initially really liked it because it’s got a lovely piano playing in a predominantly minor key and the singer’s voice matches the tone of the song so well. I like the bridge transitions, especially the way she transitions from the bridge to the chorus by using what I’ve always thought of as chunky, melancholy chords. It’s one of those songs that kind of makes me want to cry, but that’s because the song is intended to elicit such emotions. That was all I paid attention to the first half-dozen or so times I heard it.

Then I listened to the lyrics. I was in the shower, my thinking place, and just sort of stopped to actually hear the story Ms. Grey painted with her words. It was sort of like getting punched in the gut. Or maybe the throat.

I’m sure I’ve referenced it a few times here, though nothing overt or glaringly obvious. My ex was something of an ass to the Nth degree. If it weren’t for the fact that he was in the Army and it’s a big no-no to get an Axis II diagnosis a psychiatrist would have diagnosed him with Narcissistic Personality Disorder with Antisocial (personality disorder) Traits. In case you don’t actually want to read the wiki articles about those two disorders, just know that they both are pretty much what they sound like they are. He was charming, suave and subtly manipulative the first 6-12 months that I knew him. Then he not-so-slowly transformed into something of a clearly manipulative, emotionally and mentally abusive, controlling, delusional, lazy-ass, *insert your favorite descriptor for a waste of space here* moocher that I had the pleasure of having to deal with outside of work. Except he was really great at sleight of hand maneuvers so that I and anyone casually interacting with either of us wouldn’t realize something was going on or that it whatever they noticed was my fault, my failing. He even managed to convince me that all our problems, his problems really, were my fault. He couldn’t keep a job because we lived too far away from all the places he could work. He lied to me because I wasn’t strong enough to deal with or know the truth. It was my fault that he turned to one of his exes for support, talked shit about me and was making promises to leave me and go off with her as soon as I was “strong” enough to not kill myself over him. The list goes on and on and on.

How does it relate to the song? Well, note that he started out only subtly off. Then he turned into the sort of person that I never thought I would attach myself to. Eventually I came to the conclusion that I didn’t actually deserve to be happy. I really was the cause of so much misery and heartache. The fights were all my fault. The things that went wrong were my fault. I just wasn’t enough. I failed again and again when I tried to make anything better. I was never good enough. I never knew what I was talking about, even when I did. I deserved all the bad things that happened, all the lies, all the half-truths and misdirection. It was what I knew, what I expected and it was, as so often happens, normal, comfortable in that horrifying sort of way. I wasn’t happy, but I knew the routine, I knew how it would end, change was scary. I accepted everything because, well, what other choice did I have? (I know the answer now, but not then.)

Except that I (finally) got space and time away from him. I lived half-way around the world from him and discovered that I could actually be happy. It took over a year, but I gathered my courage and told him I was no longer going to be his thing to manipulate. I left him. And I suppose that is where my story differs from the one told in this song. She doesn’t leave at the end. At least not yet. I escaped. I found a life that I am happy with. I found people who love and support me and whom I love and support.

Sadly, that doesn’t keep me from going back to those memories. I still have times when I revert to behaviors I learned while in that relationship. I suppose I’m still a work in progress. Aren’t we all? We’ve each got our own demons, some are just more obvious than others. I just wish they couldn’t haunt us after we have exorcised them from our lives. Their shades can be just as painful and scary as the demons themselves were.

Right. Well, something more pleasant to come in the near future. Probably something about Anomalycon or the zombie apocalypse or something.

Daily Prompt: Silver Screen – “There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.”

“There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.” Gandalf the Grey, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

This line is probably one of a few lines that struck me as *important* when I first read LotR. Some were remembered because of the scene, “You. Shall. Not. Pass!” (read exactly like that) or perhaps because I liked the idea of something, “It’s a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might be swept off to. ” Still, none of them rang with the same sense of truth like what Gandalf’s words to Frodo within the Mines of Moria did.

I believe, that at its heart, this is what LotR is about. It is not about saving the world from evil. It’s not about the corruption of man and the loss of magic. It’s not about industrialization and how it will destroy the world. It’s not about war and the havoc it wrecks. It is about this one, simple truth. That there is something more in this world, something that guides people to be where they need to be. It doesn’t mean that evil will be thwarted at every turn-there is still free choice and free will-but there will always be those who can make a difference.

The greatest hero in LotR gets little credit, but he has the biggest heart and the strongest determination. He has something more to look forward to beyond ending the war with Sauron and destroying the Ring. Samwise Gamgee has his role to play and he plays it well. Not even Gandalf understands Sam’s role within the whole, though he knows it is important. Regardless, he gives Sam his only order, “Don’t you leave him Samwise Gamgee.” Sam, being the most loyal of the entire party follows his directions and ends up carrying Frodo and the Ring, physically and metaphorically.

I know it’s pointed out ad nauseum that LotR depits how it is the actions of the smallest of the characters that makes the greatest impact and the most sacrifices. However, I believe it is applicable to real life. We may not all be fighting this grand battle against an evil entity that is threatening to take over the world, but we are each have a role in the overall well-being of our fellows. Small kindnesses have a big impact. Small acts send out ripples that can either join and enlarge the ripples caused by others or oppose and diminish them. We were born here for a reason, there is some sort of plan. While most of us are but the smallest of players upon this large stage even our small roles have an impact in how the show (the world) turns out.

I just hope we’re all getting our lines and stage cues kind of right. Most of what we do and know is unscripted, but there are those special moments where we are caught up in a bigger scene and there is actually something we’re to do right then and there. I don’t know how many times we are given to get it right, one or fifty or however many we need, but I still take heart in knowing that there is something out there, some greater part of ourselves, that can nudge us in the right direction. Maybe not quite with the same authority and directness of a stage manager, but still some whisper of a hint of what we ought to do.

Seems kinda odd for someone who claims to be agnostic to hold such a firm belief, but then again, I don’t believe that the nudging comes from something that is omniscient or omnipowerful. It just is and it likes balance and there is an overall direction that we’re all traveling and thus there is a collective general intent that guides it as well as us. More or less, give or take.

Wow did that go in a very different direction than I thought it would when I started.

Daily Prompt: Ghostwriter

John Ringo. He’s funny, he writes science-fiction set in this world and urban fantasy that seems just as plausible. I believe he could totally write a biography about a normal person and make their life something most could read.

If he wasn’t available I’d go for Brandon Sanderson or Neil Gaiman. Sanderson because he has come into his own as a writer in the “epic” side of fantasy and I believe could weave a tale of suspense of even the most mundane of things. Gaiman because his perception of this world and all those in his head are something like 217 degrees left of “normal” which is awesome.