Random Thoughts Roundup

Winter is coming.

Autumn is already here, seasonally speaking. The calendar will catch up soon. And I fear winter’s going to cut down on opportunities to safely spend time with other people, what with the pandemic & all. I wish that wasn’t true.

Some of my favorite memories are cold weather ones: campfire parties with bunches of Girl Scouts, all sitting on logs bundled up, hot drinks in mittened hands and marshmallows blazing over the fire; comet watching with Spouseman, lying on the warm hood of the car, staring up at stars on a back road in a forest preserve; all alone on a sunset walk through the neighborhood, ice crunching under my boots, ice forming on my eyelashes, ice making the bare tree branches creak in the -40 degree wind chill.

Gonna pause here to note that I was rarely cold out on any of those occasions. Did I did mention I hate feeling cold? Yeah. No cold toesies for me once I was old enough to buy my own boots.

I hate being cold, but I’m willing to keep having outdoor hangouts all winter long, if I can find other people to hang with me. It’s partly about having the right gear, and all about the good company.

MURICA AMIRITE?

I am a citizen of a country whose federal government throws people into concentration camps, keeps them in wire cages, starves them, experiments on them, & sterilizes them. I’m a citizen of a country where local and state police forces promote violence and consort with thugs, neither serving nor protect the communities that provide them with budgets dwarfing the ones funds given to public aid and education. I live in a country where the haves are unforgivably selfish and dangerously blind, and the have-nots are willfully ignorant. Where far too many people have no idea how their own government works, and are so secure in their willful ignorance that no narrative truth can reach them.

It’s painful, that’s what it is. I’m not helpless, and I am not a bystander, but it’s hard, not being able to do more without breaking myself. I don’t do as much as others, but I give, and I speak up, and I support where and when I can. Not everyone is built for battle. Not everyone is strong enough to hold up themselves, much less others. It ain’t fun being fragile, is what I’m saying.

FFS All opinions were NOT created equal.

When did the absurdity of “We can agree to disagree, but it’s my opinion and I’m entitled to it,” become an acceptable conversation topper? It isn’t true, it isn’t right, and it’s responsible for a lot of evil in the world. That’s my opinion. And if you disagree with me, you’re wrong. Period. So there.

Vote Dammit.

I have voted in nearly every election since I turned 18. That’s a lot of elections, and a LOT of disappointments. I have known all my life the system was rigged and broken and the only chance we had to fix it was to vote in people who were willing to change it.

I’ve preached about the importance of voting so often my friends who think it doesn’t matter get annoyed and edge away from me every time it comes up. (YOU WERE FOOLS AND NOW LOOK WHAT IT’S COME TO) Ahem. Sorry. Not helpful, but GD*#$#)$&^#@ it’s frustrating.

And this year…oof. This year I am feeling very gloomy about the outcome but still hoping I am wrong. We’ve got this one last chance to steer away from the precipice. Maybe. But by golly, whatever happens after the election, I’m gonna go down knowing I did everything I could to make a better future out of this mess I grew up in.

HAHAHA-OOOPS.

Last week started off more cheerful than it wrapped up, can you tell by the way the entries deteriorated into rants? SORRY. In writing news, things are going okay. I’m grinding through the end of the 3rd of 6 sections in Sharp Edge. I’ve hit a plot point that doesn’t want to polish up, but things will work out.

ANYway. It’s Monday night, so this is going out now. Until later!

The latest in thinks

I hear an author blog is s’posed to be an Authentic but Also Curated Internet Presence, topical, focused, even in tone and always showcasing the author’s brand.

I…uh…problem is, authentic me is a bit flaky on the outside, thick and juicy once I get going, sometimes salty, sometimes sweet, relentless and omnivorous in my research & reading interests but unfocused in same, opinionated and cranky. It’s impossible to tell whether I’ll feel like writing a until I dig into it. And some posts are both. Hm. I think my brand is “pie.”

2. True story: my brain is weird,

The weirdnesses run in my family, so because of that, I didn’t know I wasn’t “normal” until I went out & about in the world in my teens and later. Some examples:

From the time I could tell time & read, I was given a reading light, lots of books, and tacit permission to do whatever I wanted all night long as I stayed in my room and was quiet enough not to get caught. Quelle surprise to me that other people slept all night EVERY night, not just some nights.

It turns out most people’s parents did not read bedtime stories backwards as well as forwards. Or make games out of recognizing full words and phrase rather than alphabet letters. Or encourage little kids to memorize long passages of text. My dyslexic dad did all those things.

Things I learned from classmates: other people did not go outside and play (read: burn off energy running around) BEFORE doing homework. or again afterwards, after dinner, as a reward for sitting still. The concept of napping after a meal remains alien to me to this day.

I was taught from forever how to set up my personal spaces and daily routines to counteract an innate inability to find anything stored inside another thing. Dressers and desks are like magic disappearing devices. I have solid “put it where it goes” habits, EVERYTHING I OWN has a specific home, and all important items are stored in full view. Wall hooks, open shelves, and nothing layered inside shelves.

3. this week’s grouchy voting rant.

I do not care if you hate the system or hate Joe Biden because he’s a rapist or too moderate or too progressive OR you feel your vote doesn’t matter OR you want things to change some other way. I don’t care.

Look. I don’t do hyperbole here. I wrote a whole scifi series set in a United States that collapsed like a socio-political soufflé, deflating into death one crisis after another, and I did a LOT of research into trends and danger signs and what makes good countries go bad…

and I gotta say I am pretty pissed off to be watching it happen in real time. I keep hoping we will step back from the precipice, but we are already witnessing–and too many of us are enduring–civil warfare at the local & state level while our national leaders publicly flout the rule of law, gloat about it, and bring down the full force of those same laws on everyone they dislike, guilty or no. Oh, and then there’s the climate collapse & the virus disaster and-and-and UGH.

If you think not voting means you don’t have skin in the game, you are so, so very wrong. That isn’t how civics works. SOMEONE gets into every office. Not voting only guarantees that you’re stuck with someone else’s choice. And the fewer people who vote, the more likely an extremist will get in and do things you don’t like. At. Every. Level. This is how Home Owners Associations go bad. This is how bad people become mayors who give their buddies big pensions. This is how creeps voted up through the ranks into the Senate.

“IT DOESN’T MATTER/IT DOESN’T AFFECT ME” IS HOW WE GOT HERE, careening through history into a future I have really, really fought hard to prevent.

4. Once more thing.

Not to end on a brooding grouch, here’s a recipe for fresh pickling solution that works with a wide variety of veggies. I went to a lot of trouble to make sure if was reproducible using measuring tools I’ve been winging it for literal decades without any, basically doing it to taste to fit whatever size receptacle I had. The below proportions work.

  • 1 c vinegar
  • 1 c hot water
  • 1/2 c sugar or sweetener
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • dealers choice of aromatics. I like to slice in a yellow onion, maybe some fresh seeded jalapenos, a few peppercorns. Garlic clove & dill leaf or seed are a popular choices, but I don’t like it. YMMV, whatevs.

That’s it. Mix up until everything dissolvable has dissolved, then pour over sliced or small veggies in a container you can refrigerate. If you use plastic, be warned it will take on the scent of the vinegar & veggies inside.

And that is that all there is to read from me until later. Unless you want to go out & buy my books, insist all your friends buy them too so you can enthuse about them together, and then write reviews all over the internet. In which case, you have lots more fun ahead of you.

No? Okay, then. Until next blog!

Last week’s random thinks.

Here be thoughts that stuck in my brain over the last week. They aren’t quite big enough for their own posts but too big for me to ignore, so I’m sharing them here together.

One

I got into a great conversation with a friend about Ann Leckie’s Ancillary series. (IT’S AMAZING OMFG GO READ IT IF YOU CAN.) Specifically, we chatted about the characters Breq & Seivarden, & our different take on their genders.

I read both of them as male in my head, or at least as “not female” despite the default pronouns of the dominant culture in the book being she/her, and despite descriptive cues in the text that show Breq is not male. (It’s complicated. My research indicates she’s agender.)

Seivarden is described w/facial hair and other physical/traditional male characteristics, so I’m sticking with that being a reasonable take, but how do I get from a character being called “she” to a read of “he?”
Is my internalized acceptance of patriarchy that sneaky? Am I that brainwashed?

NOPE. It’s the Q. The name Breq is unisex, but (in the US anyway) names that end in a hard K sound are assigned to boys far more often than girls (350+ to <20) so my brain migrates to “boy name” in the absence of overwhelming description. Regardless of pronouns. Otherwise I generally default to reading characters as female/agender — my mental visuals for most characters in that trilogy are…androgynous like the pyramid aliens in Stargate. Now that’s a thing you know about me.

TWO

Presidential elections are different.

I can have nice, rational discussions about politics and principles right up until people start talking about “voting their conscience” by not choosing a candidate or going with any third party candidate in a presidential election.

Think your favorite local libertarian should be school board president? Great! Vote’ em in! Want to be represented by the Green Party in your state legislature? Brava! Check that box. Really want representation to take off? Start pushing ranked-choice voting at all levels of office.

But presidential elections are different. The existence of the Electoral College plays merry hob with our already-weighted “most votes wins” system, and THAT means when it comes to presidents, you either pick one of the two leaders, or you might as well vote for whichever of that top two has less support going in.

It’s math, and numbers, and I’m not explaining how it happens here, I’m just venting. If all this is totally new to you, I recommend fairvote.com as a good starting point and also all the Schoolhouse Rock America Rock videos. Yes, really.

If we end up with a United States dictator in November, I’ll blame very frikking person who didn’t vote because their candidate “got cheated,” and every joker who thought it’d be hilarious to vote for Kanye because “sure, Trump’s bad but Biden’s a rapist and they’re all equally awful, it doesn’t matter who’s in charge?”

I’m gonna be permanently pissed off at alla y’all if the US ends sliding into civil war and full-on civic collapse like I wrote into my Restoration series, because that IS what will happen if we let the kleptocrat-in-chief steal our country out from under us.

Vote. Vote like the future depends on it, because it does. It always has. Now ‘scuse me, I’m going to chase some kids off my lawn.

Text: On Undecided Voter​s: "To put them in perspective, I think​ of being​ on an airplane.​ The flight attendant comes​ down the aisle​ with her food cart and, eventually,​ parks​ it beside my seat.​ “Can I inter​est you in the chick​en?​” she asks.​ “Or would​ you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broke​n glass​ in it?”

To be undecided in this elect​ion is to pause​ for a moment and then ask how the chick​en is cooked.” 

--David Sedaris
this is about undecided voters, but it has bearing on the 3rd party/conscience voter argument too.

Three.

I have spent my whole life being uncomfortable with feminist organizers for reasons I had a hard time pinning down.

Once I hit college I flat-out refused the label because I really didn’t see eye to eye with the students who ran those groups there. They called homemakers/stay-at-home-moms traitors to the feminist cause, women who enjoyed their sexuality in the “wrong” ways sluts, and women who didn’t want to do it all weak. Basically, they had this weird idea that “equality” meant “we get to decide what’s right for ALL women,” which meant they got to define whether other women were “feminists.” And…uh…NOPE.

I didn’t get around to reading a lot of pivotal feminist texts until my 40s & 50s because I was so turned off by the exclusionary snobbery, judginess, purity tests and racist bullshit that floated around the movement like a toxic cloud.

And that pisses me off on the regular, because feminism is critically, objectively important. Societies should guarantee women the same choices and opportunities as men at every level and in every forum. So if someone wants marriage and kids and a career, or one, or the other, if they want to flaunt their sexuality or wrap themselves in chastity, ALL those options should be open. THAT is feminism.

I’m glad that younger & older, wiser, more energetic women than me stuck with it, kept shoving aside the bullshit spewers and are redefining the movement.

TL;DR: I’m really bad at being a nice white lady feminist.

That’s all for now. Until later. Next week, probably. Unless I get excited about how well Sharp Edge of Yesterday is coming along and decide to gush about it.