…and when she looked at the calendar it was the year 2022

Hello everyone. I hope this post is finding you well and sans covid, or any other ailment of physique, psyche or soul. It is a wish I have for all of us these days. Plague, the slow collapse of of capitalism, and now war is the landscape against which all our individual stories play out. Throw in a soupcon of hate, a splash of terror, perhaps a wavy, razor thin line between our collective understanding of how to discern fact from fiction and everything moves obliquely, the ground beneath our feet lost to sublimation. You thought you were standing on a bedrock of granite except now it is actually a cloud of radon.

And of course I have to acknowledge that not everything is as dire and dramatic as that previous paragraph might suggest. There have been moments of wild laughter and unfettered joy amid the struggles, both global and mundane.

Since the last aeon in which I have left written record of my weird existence in this particular digital space there have been changes, reversals and odd serpentine paths I have gone down. And it seems that most of this has happened without having actually physically done very much. Whole universes of experiences have birthed, lived and passed (while leaving their indelible marks, of course) as I’ve been hunkered down in my apartment for the past few years. I’ve been on hiatus from Prentis trying to reconfigure a work life that will, well, work. I’ve been away from the sphere of creating via written word as this chunk of overwrought prose might have, so far, given away.

I’m still doing creative work. It’s like in spite of everything I can’t help it. It just takes a different form. And I likely will come back into the writing space at some point, there are certain things I just always circle back to and that is one of them. It just remains to be seen whether or not there will be any kind of ambition attached.

Right now – I have absconded to the land of woo, reading tarot and making things out of wire. These are both things that I love to do. It feels like ripping off a toothed bandage to talk about the tarot side of things out loud, to let past professional identities merge with the present after compartmentalizing things for a really, really long time. But I have come to the slow realization that tarot practice and putting creativity into practice have at least one really strong parallel and that is no matter how much products of both are consumed, they both remain poorly understood. So I can do this. I can say it out loud. I am tarot reader, hear me riffle shuffle. Or something.

That’s not going to change the content over here in any major way, particularly given the infrequency of posts but, for handful of folks who might be curious about what’s going on with me these days, there it is.

News

Hey there.

So, I have been a bit busy. I almost forgot I had this website hanging out on the interwebs, collecting digital dust and cricket noise.

I have picked up a new gig as an acquisitions editor for Prentis Literary. 

I am really excited to be doing this work and so very pleased to have the opportunity to learn about another side of publishing.

May the Lords of the slushpile smile upon your works!

 

New work from Paul Shapera: Reposted: A Few Notes On The Upcoming Carnival Album — A Steampunk Opera (The Dolls Of New Albion)

It will be released in early July. Of course close to the ending there will be a suicide. I mean, that’s a no brainer. I have been struggling with the concept ever since one of my closest friends on this earth hung himself. Damn straight there’s gonna be a suicide. This is not, however, a […]

via A Few Notes On The Upcoming Carnival Album — A Steampunk Opera (The Dolls Of New Albion)

Random Thoughts: Personal year in review…

A recap of life since January…

OH GOD WINTER.

OH GOD WINTER AND THERE IS A TANGERINE NIGHTMARE IN OFFICE.

OH GOD WHAT DID THE TANGERINE NIGHTMARE DO NOW?!?

I CAN’T LOOK.

*looks*

NO REALLY I CAN’T LOOK I AM GETTING TO DEPRESSED.

*looks away. still feels depressed but deals with it a little better*

Wasn’t there all this stuff I was supposed to do?

*does a bunch of stuff*

YAY BOSKONE!

*does some more stuff*

*internally yells at the Tangerine Nightmare for months*

*works on getting her stuff together*

*goes to a bunch of concerts*

Says to self, “Hey, self, don’t you have a website?”

Looks at website.

Blinks.

Waves at the internet, tentatively.

 

Another excellent post from Pete

Given the sheer number of sexual assault survivors I know and their visceral reactions to Trump, it’s clear that his election has created a new division on the political landscape. You have to recognize that Trump is an abuser at the highest level. It’s not difficult to see. Before and after the election, people excused […]

via Abuse. — Peter is in the Forest

GO PETE!

Tonight at COG general forum I asked that we move to adopt a resolution recognizing immigrants’ and refugees’ rights. It will go back to our townships before coming back to the COG. Other members of the COG forum, from the State College Borough in particular, have taken the first steps to getting a resolution before us. I […]

via We are better than walls and bans. #NoWallNoBan in the Centre Region — Peter is in the Forest

Random Thoughts: Still wearing that hat?

Right. So it is somewhere between 4 and 5 am and I cannot continue the fight against insomnia, so I figured maybe it is time for a blog post. I know that my output here doesn’t look like the next statement is true, but I do write every single day. Fiction and journaling work marches on though it goes, mostly, unseen. Once upon a time I tried to keep some pretty rigid rules for myself around what I put into a public space, particularly if it isn’t related to writing work, but you know WWIII could start tomorrow so screw it.

It’s no secret that sleep has been sort of hard to chase down. I suspect this is true for a lot of us watching events unfold and dealing with the impact of this political moment in our daily lives.

I have probably discussed this one before, but it is hard to describe the sense of alarm I feel whenever I see one of those red hats with that bullshit statement on it. Any red baseball cap in that red color makes me reach for my mace and I still don’t relax even if it turns out not to be THE hat. But the notion that there are people still, at this point, willing to advertise their enthusiasm for fascism in the White House disturbs me for a couple of reasons. One: If this one person is gauche enough to announce this affiliation to the world how many are there out there that I can’t identify? Two: The ones in the hats seem particularly rabid and hostile. Three: How does the person not understand that no, I don’t want to talk to them and why that might be?

I’m not saying that noticing someone’s proud republican bumper sticker hasn’t caused any reaction in the past, but I can’t remember actually feeling afraid in the way that I do when I see a Trump hat. Someone’s poster declaiming political views that I don’t share might irritate, or spark some sort of ranty internal monologue, but I have never reacted with the level of paranoia that the Trump hat engenders. I’m not saying it’s right, but I am saying it is something I have to work through to get through my day. I am not alone in this. And this is only a very small detail involving American life under the current regime.

You know, on inauguration day eve in my new town, I saw one person wearing that hat. It was a young person, he was by himself and all smiles. I avoided eye contact and kept on walking, probably at a slightly faster pace. I was on my way to a march in a major city nearby. At that moment, I did not feel all that threatened, the only threat I felt was the possibility that the person might draw me into unwanted conversation if I did the friendly thing and smiled back in spite of the hostility implied by his head wear. I marched and felt hope for the first time since the election. There was a moment when I was struck by the beauty of all the voices raised in solidarity echoing off of the tall buildings and I cried. I am in a new place. Everyone there was a perfect stranger to me, but I don’t remember a time when I felt so connected to the humanity around me, so at one with something so much bigger and more important than my own individual turmoil. At least, it has been a long time. Selfishly, it turns out, civic action just feels amazing.

And then the week after inauguration happened.  ( If you want a list of all the atrocities already in play, I recommend presterity.org. ) Of course I’ve got the day to day to attend to. Day job. Bill-paying. Chores. Writing and workout schedule. All the usual stuff we would be grumbling about at any other time. But during all that there is this constant backdrop of anxiety, anger, restlessness. A desire to be doing something further than making phone calls and ranting on twitter about what is wrong with the political landscape right now, a need to do something meaningful about it. Sometimes the road is clear and then sometimes it is not. There is one firm, incontrovertible constant and that is that this is wrong, it is not normal and we must stand against it and support others who are standing against it. It is the guidepost that keeps me moving forward.

The next time I saw a Trump hat, it took me by surprise and it upset me more than I thought possible. But by then it had been a week and the terrifying executive orders had started. I believe that day the issue that had my brain spinning was freedom of the press. I was at the laundromat. When I do laundry I tend to go for a walk between wash and dry cycles, rather than sit around waiting. But during the dry cycle, it’s a habit to take advantage of the television there. It is always on local news. I don’t have television at home, so it is kind of a nice thing. Standing in front of that television was a guy in that hat. I wasn’t exactly sure what the broadcast was about except that I heard the word “Trump” and saw the guy in the Trump hat standing alone with a smile. I saw him before he saw me and so I went over to the corner where my laundry was in the process of losing the last of its moisture and hid behind a long row of machines. Why did I hide? Well, one of the things about hanging out in a laundromat is that generally, people like to engage in small talk. It was crucial, at that moment, to avoid the possibility of interaction with that person. His smile at the mention of the Neon Narcissist’s name registered as creepy. And anyone, who by this particular time could proudly declare support of that man, seemed a person to avoid, at best.

One thing that crossed my mind is that all of these people in their creepy red hats might be baiting the opposition. Do you think they might be baiting us? If they are looking for a reaction, they certainly have one. In my case, it is simply avoidance.

The trouble with that is there are plenty of scenarios where we cannot avoid them. The co-worker who voted for Trump and won’t stop talking about it even when you politely decline to engage for the sake of a harmonious workplace and, oh, I don’t know, keeping the job. The family member you have to see at holidays and family gatherings if you have a desire to maintain relationships with other, less insane family members. How do you balance the mandate to rail against with the need to survive your daily life? The answer is somewhere in that old cliché, pick your battles. I have no easy answers. There is no panacea. Sometimes the stream is clear and other times the river is muddy. (Feel free to use that quote for pee jokes, Alec Baldwin.) I’ll speak freely with my allies and strategize for meaningful action. I’ll yell on the streets in a march, I will state my case on the phone or in a letter to my representatives in congress. But I can’t reach across the aisle to directly engage with what amounts to Nazi support.

So how about you guys? How do you navigate the daily with this crap in the air that we breathe? What do you use as the metaphorical face mask to filter out the poison? What are some of the small details in your day to day that are different? I ask because I think it is important to note these things. They are the things that will become normal and hard to pinpoint later. There’s more to say, there always is, but for now, coffee, workout and words in the fiction project I am working on. Fingers crossed I see no red baseball caps today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Peter on Climate Change and Rick Perry

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry spoke before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee yesterday. He is seeking confirmation as Donald Trump’s Secretary of Energy. In his opening statement, he said “I am committed to modernizing our nuclear stockpile, promoting and developing American energy in all forms, advancing the department’s critical science and technology mission, and carefully disposing […]

via Rick Perry is 50 years ahead of the Republican platform and 20 years behind where we need to be. — Peter is in the Forest

From Devon Miller – A most excellent blog post

I was fortunate enough to attend the Women’s March on Seattle, a sister to the Women’s March on Washington DC. Before I lose you, I have no intention of talking politics in this post. What I am going to talk about is something I can’t believe is still controversial: the importance of strong female characters […]

via On the Importance of Strong Female Characters — Trust Me, I’m a Writer

Random Thoughts: Author “Platforms” and Politics

Okay, so yesterday there was an article circulating around writer internet (that has since been removed from the site it was on at the request of the author) that advocated political silence on social media from fiction writers.

Um.

No.

Now is not the time to advocate political silence, particularly from those whose work has hopefully lent itself to the development of an articulate voice.

Before I continue my rant I do want to say that the person who wrote it was probably well-meaning. The main concern of the article was about potential loss of readership, marketing, your “author brand” and while it is valid for a fiction writer to consider all of these things when expressing things in public spaces, it is not appropriate to URGE silence. I mean, we are writers. If we cannot express ourselves particularly in times like these then what the hell are we doing? Who would advocate suppressing the practice of the very art that we provide? Come on now. Art is political whether that is our intention or not. And you want us to not talk politics? GTFO. I mean that literally. If it bugs you there are tools you have. Block, mute, unfriend, unfollow, etc…

Here’s the thing, we are going to talk about the things we care about whether political or not. Because we are thinking human beings. And no, I am not always thinking about my “brand” or whatever. I tend not think of myself as a brand. If I thought that way, I’d work in advertising.

One thing I’d also like to point out is that I have read plenty of authors whose politics I either had no clue about or didn’t care for. The reasons we read or don’t read a thing (as readers) are as varied as the shape of leaves turning in the wind. If we assume that we can’t speak about things that matter to us because we might lose audience for the stories we tell, doesn’t that leave the work dead in the water?

On the personal side of this I think of all the things that work against artists from the start. No one wants us to do this work when we begin, you know. Our families worry for our finances. Sometimes our ideas or the places we have to go in order to tell a story well make people uncomfortable. I resent receiving a message, yet again, that I should reconsider speaking about something that matters to me. I have been silenced throughout my whole life in ways that have had severe consequences for me. Don’t tell me to shut up when speaking out is already difficult. I had to fight hard to get to a place where I can, where I want to.

I was not a person who discussed politics a lot on social media before this past year. But I will hang on to my freedom to do so. I certainly won’t let the opinion of someone else who is worried for book sales in the abstract keep me from saying stuff. Neither should you.

Talk about what you want to talk about, whether that’s cats, cartoons, or politics. Just remember it isn’t up to anyone else.