Harlan Ellison

Ellison was the first writer I fangirled over. I proselytized about him everywhere. I gave away his books, I collected old copies from the used store, I bought in auctions et cet. But I knew nothing about the man as a person. Somewhere in my late 20s when I had gotten more “serious” about being a fan (joined forums, went to gatherings, started writing my own fiction, interviewed folk et cet) I heard stories about him as a person. It did not take long to develop a very negative viewpoint of him. So then he became my first writer to feel conflicted over. As a woman, I despised what I kept hearing about him over and over. But his words, his writing still stirred something deep in me and fueled me to keep writing.

Ultimately, I believed the only way to enjoy his work was to dissociate it from the man whenever possible. The more I learned about him as a person, the more flaws I could find in his work but it didn’t change the fact that the man was monumentally talented and a workhorse to boot. But he was also a bully. This is not my personal opinion, it is well known that Harlan Ellison loved to mock and humiliate others.

So, I don’t feel one way or the other about his death personally. I feel like another chapter of my maturation has ended but that’s what happens when you turn the corner on birthday and swing into your 50s.

Bon Mots to you Ellison, you old talented asshole.

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Ursula K Leguin

Ursula K Leguin has died. She was the first sci-fi writer I read who was a woman. I was 13. I had read some fantasy stuff before but nothing could have prepared me for the brilliance that was The Dispossessed. She blew my mind. She made me hunger for more. Not just more sci-fi,. but more sci-fi like that. Playing with stereotypes, challenging tropes, and questioning our cultural mores. I honestly could not believe such writing existed before I stumbled upon her. She blazed a trail that was so necessary yet so welcome. Until I “found” her, I didn’t even know you could write things like that (and be popular!) She gave me hope and something to look up to. But it wasn’t just her books, it was her essays, her introductions for other authors and her missives she sent out for her fans. She was a bright spirit, despite what her writing was like,. with a quick wit, a sharp perspective and a very warm personality. I always wished I could meet her just to let her know how important her work was to me. But I take solace knowing that she knew, even if she didn’t know it was me personally, that her work was needed and loved by so many. The best part was knowing how happy she was to be doing what she wanted; sending messages to society, shouting into a void that whispered back in lines of gratitude and love. I am glad I was able to be a part of that. I will miss her. Even though I never knew her, she knew me.

Why I Take Selfies

1) I get worried I will die and my loved ones won’t have any current pics of me at my best

2) I want to remind myself that I don’t look as hideous as the world makes me feel sometimes

3) when I look good, I want to record it. Not so I can gloat about it later, but so I can build up a library of “i was looking good that day” – sometimes I will look back a month later and swipe through thinking “actually I had a lot of good days!”

4) Sometimes, it really is nice to have people say “wow, you look great!”

5) it helps counteract the reactions I get on the street sometimes

6) mostly I do them without makeup (or much makeup – sometimes I hide my face-picking which I think is totally fair) so later I can remember that I can look nice without exaggerating anything. I look okay as JUST ME

7) I imagine someday Lil Miss will look through my pics and maybe she’ll see her own looks peeking out behind my eyes and i want her to not be afraid of looking bad when she gets old

8) Some days I just feel good about myself and want to record that feeling

9) I remember looking at old photos of my parents (My step-mom and my birth-mom) and thinking many thoughts, all of them warm and wonderful. I want to pass that moment on to my kids

10) sometimes a selfie is a reminder of something that happened that was important. One of my favorites was “this is the face of someone who has taken her last final” – the day I earned my bachelors by taking my final final. It was a unique expression and I love looking at it because I feel that feeling all over again

11) I like to record how my hair changes

12) I notice how little my face changes

Single Mom A La Mode

its weird being single mom again. or rather I guess I should say its weird being a single mom who is *old*. No, I know 50 is not really that old but becoming a single mom is something I did in my youth- I was barely out of my 20s and it was perfectly acceptable for me to go dancing and partying and hooking up every night that my kids were gone. At my age, nobody would look sideways at me for doing the same now I suppose but it would feel different (it wouldn’t be new) and also its not what I want to do. I don’t have the same energy levels or good health that I did back then too so there’s that slowing me down.
WHat’s really different though, what really matters this time around is how I feel about everything else. WHen I was a single mom before, I cast aside the notion of companionship as some kind of luxury item I had no time or patience for. I couldn’t see much advantage to having a partner other than emotional and possibly financial. Eventually I decided to try again for both of those reasons and really not much else. I wanted certain things in life that are far easier to get when you have a decent partner. I also wanted a friend to come home to every night. It was something I had gotten used to with all my roommates and I wanted it again. My second foray into domestic bliss went even worse than my first. I suppose some of that was simply due to our different aims. I got what I wanted from teh arrangement but I had to deal with all the messy details that come with having a partner. I didn’t MIND the details themselves, but I did very much mind the person I ended up with. His version of love, partnership and commitment are very different than mine. So another attempt at partnership failed.

Looking at it now, I realize that what I want out of partnership at this point is a *very* different thing than what I wanted the first time I got married. Its very different than what I wanted the second time. Its very different than what I wanted the two times I entertained the notion but did not complete the act.

So this time around, being a single mom has a very different flavor than it did before I got married the second time. OBviously there’s a grave differnce in how parenting is for me as well: I’m a different age, in a different circumstance and have kids who are very different than they were back then. The world is somewhat different too but really not that much. Not enough that I can point to that as being part of what makes my experiencce feel so …odd.

I often wonder how odd I really am… how many other single moms are there out there who have grown kids AND a elementary age kid? How many are geeks? How many are bisexual? how many are monogamous? How many are starting a second career? How many have experience with chronic health issues?

Its not that I think I am so terribly unique (beyond the obvious) but that I wonder how this oddness keeps me from connecting.

When I was younger, it was easy for me to float through different cultures and subcultures – I was a retail store manager and wore a femme suit every day to work. I was a shooter girl in a strip club and rocked the “whore look” every night. I was a student and threw on whatever smelled reasonably fresh. I was a class mom and wore suburban blah-clothes. I was a weekend Goth and had a good collection of black dresses and boots. I was a baby butch and sometimes stepped out as a man.

Now I just want to find a group I can chat with and not worry about how I look, whether I have the right clothes or attitude. I just want to feel like I already am “there”
So every day I start over with what I’m going to present as.. am I femme? Butch? Tight-ass corporate? slightly slutty? Haphazard egghead? Wise crone? Ditzy student? know-it-all mom?

I don’t know… I wonder if all those years I drifted through groups I was wasting my time.. did nothing leave a mark on me? Why do I feel like i have no culture of my own?

I thought it would at least be parenthood… but that’s not working either… I’m older, uglier, more tired, less intense and less patient than every other parent I meet. Children are the only thing in my life that has never stopped being important to me yet I still don’t feel like I really fit in with other single moms….

…. who will I be tomorrow?

downer days

THere are times I still want to find someone and unload all the pain of my marriage onto. All my friends already know, they’ve heard it all many times over. I want new validation, I want to feel less alone in this. I’m certainly not the first, only or most wrong divorced woman on the planet (or anywhere) but sometimes I feel the wrongness of it all over again. It makes me wish it were a tangible thing, this darkness that I could cast out, throw it somewhere and have it stick instead of staying inside me. I do believe time heals in a way, but it doesn’t cure. Old griefs don’t ever go away and old wrongs are never righted; they just erode slowly into a past that you can remove yourself from. You take steps forward in life and the pains of the past get that much smaller and easier to look at head on.

Yes of course I think about all the things I did wrong. Yes, I look inside myself and check to see if those unsavory parts of myself are still there, still ruling me because if I catch even a whiff, then I have things to do, boulders to push uphill again until I feel safe that those flaws will not crush me should my time for love ever come again.

But even knowing what I know about myself in the past, even being able to recite all the things I did “wrong” I come back to the same pain, the same plaintive persistant question “was I *so* wrong that I deserved to be treated like that?”

After two years, I’m certain the answer is “no, I did not”

The failure of my second marriage may not have been “all his fault” but the failure of our partnership was in fact, his fault. I believe that with all my heart.  I carry the blame for ending things and I accept responsibility for my flaws and mistakes but I know without a doubt that even perfection could not have made that relationship work. This is something I remind myself of still to this day – as I did every day since deciding to end my marriage: a partnership is TWO people. If one person cannot carry their weight, cannot support the other, cannot hold the other’s heart with love and respect, then there is no way it can work. A partnership is TWO people. Hard work, communication, therapy, kind words, gestures of love – none of them save a relationship when they are one-way. That is reality no matter how much it hurts.

And it did hurt, knowing at the end that no amount of increased effort on my part was going to change things. No matter how much I loved him, no matter how much I tried, no matter WHAT I tried, I could not make that man love me as a partner. Maybe he never loved me, I doubt he even knows for sure, but to be sure, at some point, he could not love me as a partner. And that is why my marriage failed.  Because marriage is a partnership and a partnership is two people who work together. He did not want to work together because it would have meant focusing on someone else in a real tangible everyday fashion. Something he would never be capable of doing. Hollow temporary gestures are not aspects of love they are only smoke and mirror shows designed to impress whoever was around at the time. Romantic moves are not aspects of love, they are only silencing methods designed to shame the other person into acquiescence.

Aspects of love are mundane, natural and feel as real as the sun on your skin, as comforting as a warm drink on a winter’s day, as secure as a blanket around your shoulders, as poetic as a snuggle in front of a fire in the middle of the night. Aspects of love are plain and simple and show up as often as a text during lunch “hi how is your day?”, as sweet as dishes washed when the partner is putting the kids to bed, as common as checking schedules together so we can go see a movie on date night.

Aspects of love aren’t showy, flashy or loud. They are small, and full of kindness.

THere were no aspects of love that I did not pay for in my marriage. Everything was given not in kindness but in quid pro quo. And no one deserves that kind of treatment.

Caitlyn Jenner isn’t the epitome of “brave”

I don’t happen to think Jenner is brave. Not because its a competition but because she came out AFTER the kids were grown and out of the house and her investment portfolio is securing her mega-huge income for life since the show was over with. She waited until she had absolutely nothing to lose. Where was Jenner during the decades when the queer community was fighting to stay alive? Did Jenner ever do or even SAY anything helpful? NO. So yay for Caitlyn Jenner but let’s not pretend she did anything risky at all. She didn’t. She made damned sure there was as little risk as possible.

I don’t think Caitlyn Jenner was brave at all. The definition of brave is taking risks. Transitioning is a brave thing to some extent, yes, but Jenner was about as non-brave as it gets. THAT’S OKAY. No one is *required* to be brave about such a personal journey. I do not fault Jenner for that. I DO fault the media for propping her up as a darling of the trans community. Before she was outed, she never did a damned thing for anyone in the queer community. That was her choice and I am okay with that. Sometimes bravery is not worth it. No one should make that choice for you. But let’s not make fools of ourselves pretending she was exceptionally brave.

Let us not forget, either, that Jenner purposefully married Kris Kardashian knowing full well he wanted to eventually transition fully yet he did not reveal that to her until after they were married. Jenner wanted to have a cover and that’s what Kardashian was. Kardashian was not at ALL happy about that. The kids from Jenner’s previous marriage already knew about her transition goals and they felt the reality show was a terrible idea because of all the exposure it would bring to everyone involved whether they liked it or not. Jenner did not exactly handle this with other people’s feelings in mind. That was Jenner’s choice and I don’t know her internal life so I can’t judge, but I can say it doesn’t fit the definition of “brave”

If I was going to pick a transperson in the spotlight I think is brave I’d choose Wendy Carlos. She was a respected composer of electronic New Age music when she transitioned. She had been transitioning for years by the time she won grammys. There was no way she could come outt privately unless she chose to give up touring and posing for pictures. This was in the late 80s. She had in fact been outspoken for the queer community before transitioning. Once she decided to do it, she went back and changed all the labels on any recordings still being printed so they all had her name and picture current. That wasn’t cheap and it couldn’t have been easy being shunned afterwards. The type of music she does is respected but not actually that popular and she wasn’t any kind of millionaire either. Her interview in Playboy magazine was extremely brave considering how shitty the interviewer was to her. She’s still very private because of how she was treated but she was never secret.

If you doubt my claims about Jenner, read her own words:
here