Friday, December 30, 2016

Resolutions for 2017

1.   Keep an eye on Trump and Co.
2.  If they do something particularly shitty, push back with all your might.
3.  Support politicians on the right side of history.
4. When it comes to social justice, pick your battles carefully. Remember the “life, liberty, pursuit of happiness” rule.
5. Don’t fake hate crimes.
6. Read good books, watch good movies and television, listen to good music – regardless of the melanin, genitalia, and sexual desires of the creators and the characters.
7.  Say “no” to things that suck (your definition of this may vary) – unless they help take you to someplace good.
8. Look upon beautiful people, places, and things as often as possible.
9. Create something that has never appeared on this earth before.
10.  [Free space for your own resolution]

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 19, 2016

The hope at the bottom of the box

I came this close to telling you how much I sucked.

How much ennui, melancholy, and despair turned me into an unproductive shell of the person I used to be.

How the belief that I’d always had that tomorrow would be a better day turned into just hoping that I would not lose what little I have.

But a blog post about how much I sucked would only add girders to a belief that I actually do suck.
And saying that I sucked would invite others to do the same. (The Internet is not always a kind place, my friends.) When a person says she sucks, it is often interpreted as jovial self-depreciation. When other people say it – those are fighting words. And you know what fighting on the Internet leads to:
Now, I have to say that the results of the 2016 presidential election did not help my inner suckiness. At all. It only moved it to an existential position, like the circles of a Venn diagram coming together and merging into a giant ball of suck:
But all of this is neither here nor there as of now. As the Mr. says in this year’s holiday card, “Yesterday is behind us, and tomorrow is on its way.”

As it has always been.

So where do I go from here?

Well, I could start by asking myself exactly what in my life is making it suck, and what I can do right now to start to change them.

Two of those stressors pop up with sirens flashing:

1.       Where I live.
2.       My income.

The place where I live is in a good neighborhood – which is essential, because I have lived in bad ones – but it is too small. I don’t have access to all of the books I own. I have to sit on the bed to use my desktop. I don’t have a real quiet space to work and write and read and think. I could walk to the public library, but it’s not always open. Moving to a home with more space would significantly improve my quality of life.

So would earning more money. Together, my husband and I bring in enough money to survive. But not enough to thrive. I enjoy freelance writing, editing, and graphic design, but I don’t earn enough money from those. If I had a few more good clients, that would help. If I had more income, I would regain some autonomy to save money and make donations and buy the little things that bring joy to life. (But I need to work from home for the time being because I have a driving phobia.) 

Those are the main problems. 

The hope at the bottom of the box is that these problems don’t have to be forever.

If I remember that they don’t.

I can help myself and help the world at the same time. I have no choice. When I help myself, I help the world, and when I help the world, I help myself.

The world needs me in a good place.

It’s time to start now.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

Those words in the Declaration of Independence are a simple, yet universal reminder of what is necessary for the good human life.

Life to be. Liberty to be who you are. The pursuit of happiness to be not only happy, but to just enjoy what life is in the first place.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is also where my definition of social justice begins – and ends. Whatever threatens life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (and opportunity) is a threat to social justice and must be opposed with full force. Whatever is merely offensive – well, that goes on the back burner, at most.

On November 8, 2016, the electorate of the United States (actually, 25.5% of it; 46.9% didn’t even vote, which is a whole other problem) picked a President who is a genuine threat to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This man is a threat to reproductive rights. To marriage equality. To people wanting to walk down the street without police harassment. To affordable health insurance. To our climate and environment, without which we could not live at all. Period.

As long as this man and his fellow travelers control Washington, I do not want to hear complaints about:
·         Halloween costumes
·         Sexy video games
·         Sexy comic book art
·         Who gets to use what slang
·         Who gets to use what emoji
·         Authors saying things you don’t like
·         Creators not apologizing for creations you don’t like
·         Legitimate criticism of Islam and all other religions

In the last few years, the definition of social justice has been stretched and distorted so much that it is has become illiberal. I’m sorry that a dangerous President may be what it takes for Americans to understand what real injustice is. I just hope we survive long enough to never forget.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

My bookshelves are not an affirmative action zone

Yes, I know my pile of books to be read looks short. The rest of them are on my Kindle.

In all of my time on Earth, I’ve only had one question when it comes to deciding what books to read (required school reading excepted):

Do I want to experience this story?

That’s it. Only seven words. It’s a seemingly simple question, but it is sufficient to its task, which is nothing less than creating the best reading experience for me.

Do I want to experience this story?

Not: Is this book on a best-seller list?

Not: Has the New York Times and NPR given it good reviews?

Not: Does it have “buzz” from the right people?

Do I want to experience this story?

Not: How much melanin is in the epidermis of the writer’s and/or characters’ skin?

Not: What kind of genitalia does the writer and/or characters have between the legs?

Not: What kind of people does the writer and/or characters desire sexual contact with (if any?)

Some readers care very much about the melanin, genitalia, and sexual desires of writers and the characters they create. They are not shy about saying so. They feel they are contributing to social justice by refusing to read books by and about the big bad cisgender, heterosexual white men. 

If that’s the thing that brings you joy, have at it. But it is a choice I will never make.

First, I'd miss out on too many great books that way.

Second, there is a word for denying people things that they deserve because of their innate and immutable characteristics, and it’s a word I don’t ever want to be.

Book Riot, a blog about the book world which has a good podcast and a raft of trendy clickbait articles, once said this: 

[If] you say “I just want to read a good story,” you’re in essence saying “Books from people from other backgrounds don’t meet my criteria for being a good story.” [source]

In other words, if you don’t care about race, gender, and/or sexual orientation when deciding what books to read, it’s exactly the same as refusing to read books based on those three factors alone. That argument is not only false, it’s a form of gaslighting. 

No discrimination on my bookshelves. No affirmative action. No KEEP OUT signs based on innate and immutable characteristics.

Just stories that I loved experiencing.