Archive: September 2018

Thirty-Four Little Kaylee & Jayne Things

Sunday, September 30th, 2018

2012-03-24 - Dogs Outside - 0004 [Original]

Dear Kaylee,

Last week my sis asked me to send her a few of my favorite pictures of you. I’m sure you can guess what happened next: I spent all night on Flickr, perusing and reminiscing, and was only able to whittle it down to twenty-six pictures or so. I don’t care what she says, you were by far the loveliest and most photogenic all of my doggos. I mean, that butt alone!

I also don’t care what you might say, you and Mags didn’t coexist nearly long enough. Among my absolute favorites are the photos of you two together: Mags trying her best to cozy up; you, snubbing her with all your might. I wish you two could have been friends, but I understand your position. You didn’t want to share me. I get it! I didn’t want to share you either. At least not with any other hoomans.

Even at eight, Mags looked so impossibly young in those pictures! Now she’s older than you were when you passed, and I find myself having to confront her mortality too. She was diagnosed with dementia in July, and things have escalated pretty quickly in the weeks and months since. We’re planning a move to New York in November; on her worst days, I fear that Mags won’t be there to see it. As difficult as this all has been, it’s that thought that hammers my heart the hardest.

I find myself measuring and marking time by you guys: Shane and I got married the summer before we found you, so it was June of 2016; or, we started house shopping the spring after you joined our household, so it was in 2017. We put that new walkway in the winter before Ralphie died – just in time for his stubby little legs to enjoy the new short steps – so it all went down in the last months of 2012. And so on and so forth. You get the idea.

You guys are the single most important thing to me, so much so that you are the things around which all else revolves. I don’t know who I am without you. I don’t want to find out, but it’s inevitable, I think.

Anyway, these are the thoughts rattling around in my head on your birthday/gotcha day. It’s a melancholy one, but then so are most anniversaries nowadays. Things have changed so much for me in the last few years, and I’m not even halfway out the other side yet.

One thing that will never change is how much I love you. I wish you were here for real to see me through it, and not just haunting my heart.

I love you so much, baby girl.

– Mom

2016-05-14 - Jayne - 0005 [flickr]

Dear Jayne,

Thinking of you still hurts my heart. I wish we could have done more for you…or less, as it were.

Though your final few months were mostly filled with pain and sorrow, there were good things too: You opening yourself up to us, if even just a tiny bit more. The spring sun on your face, and leisurely strolls at Smithville Lake. Trips to the drive-in with your sisters. Snuggles and naps and new experiences.

It’s not fair. Eleven was far too young. You should still be alive. Your Eeyore face would fit right in around here.

I miss you too, sweet girl. Even though you were more cat than dog, I never regret a bit of it. I’d adopt you again fifteen times over.

I hope your atoms are happy, wherever and whatever they are now. You deserve an eternity of sunshine after all you’ve been through.

xoxo,

– Mom

2011-12-06 - Kaylee & Jayne - 0154

2016-08-19 - Jayne Pop - 0002 [flickr] 2016-08-19 - Kaylee Pop - 0001 [flickr]

PS – One thing I’ll definitely find a place for in my new home are your funny little Funko peoples. That way I’ll be sure to think of you a dozen and one times a day.

(More below the fold…)

tweets for 2018-09-29

Sunday, September 30th, 2018

tweets for 2018-09-28

Saturday, September 29th, 2018
  • RT @ohboyson: Check out the big brain on Brett https://t.co/3nH4hxENzI ->
  • RT @girlsreallyrule: Can someone please tell me who did this video, so we can give you every award until the end of time??? #KavanaughVote->
  • RT @samstein: I talked to Maria Gallagher, who demanded Flake look her in the eye as she told him of her sexual assault. She had never told… ->
  • RT @Celeste_pewter: Ok, since it's total chaos and confusion right now:
    To recap, Jeff Flake announced before the committee vote, he wan… ->
  • RT @shannonrwatts: An Iowa firearms company has given the Bismarck Police Department nine AR-15 rifles for school resource officers. https:… ->
  • (More below the fold…)

tweets for 2018-09-27

Friday, September 28th, 2018

tweets for 2018-09-26

Thursday, September 27th, 2018
  • RT @danagould: “It is our job to make his pattern of revolting behavior clear, piece by painful piece.”
    – Brett Kavanaugh on why Pres. Cli… ->
  • RT @MuslimIQ: Years it took to expose sex abuse:
    •70yrs: Catholic sex abuse
    •50yrs: Hastert sex abuse
    •40yrs: Cosby sex abuse
    •30yrs: Penn… ->
  • Sunlight Foundation: Tracking Trump's Conflicts of Interest https://t.co/5SevtFaYyz ->
  • RT @JuddLegum: 14 women have publicly accused Trump of sexual assault and you still play golf with him. https://t.co/8gl2hlUOWQ ->
  • RT @AcevedoWrites: Morenitas on covers all day, every day. Head scarfs. Fros. Not smiling, not here to play games. But magical. But magic.… ->
  • (More below the fold…)

tweets for 2018-09-25

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

Book Review: Open Earth by Sarah Mirk, Eva Cabrera, & Claudia Aguirre (2018)

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

The future is queer AF!

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through NetGalley.)

Out of the ruins of old Earth blossoms a new culture that’s open, sexually liberated, and queer AF!

Twenty-year-old Rigo is an alien, of sorts: a human being born in space. Of Earth, but not from Earth. Rigo and her peers are generation of pioneers: space, political, social, sexual. The California‘s motto – “Serve the Greater Good” – is applicable to all areas of life on the ship, including the bunks. Among the tweens, teens, and young adults, monogamy is seen as taboo: it encourages social isolation and jealousy and works against peak genetic variation. “Friends with benefits” kinda sorta goes without saying; same-sex couplings aren’t just tolerated, but accepted without question; and polyamory is the norm. Even the ‘rents are a little kinky!

So when Rigo begins feeling a little too drawn to Carver, her queer and geeky lab mate, she’s reluctant to give voice to these feelings for fear of being ostracized. Not to mention, coming as out conventional and old school, like her scientist parents. What’s a curvy, pansexual, polyamorous refugee girl to do?

Open Earth probably isn’t for everyone. There’s not much of a plot, save for Rigo’s attempt to navigate her love life while keeping her self-identity intact. While technically a science fiction comic, the story could take place anywhere. Or maybe not: perhaps it will take nothing less than hundreds of years and millions of miles from our current state of being to embrace such a radical and liberated (dare I say socialist?) ethos.

Anyway, I enjoyed the characters and the society and the general world-building. There’s wonderful representation here, and I’m not just talking gender identity and sexual orientation. I’d love to see additional stories set in this ‘verse, perhaps featuring characters we’ve already met (Rigo’s parents being first on the list!), or those from California’s past or future.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

tweets for 2018-09-24

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

tweets for 2018-09-23

Monday, September 24th, 2018

tweets for 2018-09-22

Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

tweets for 2018-09-21

Saturday, September 22nd, 2018

tweets for 2018-09-20

Friday, September 21st, 2018

tweets for 2018-09-19

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

tweets for 2018-09-18

Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

Book Review: Grace and Fury (Grace and Fury #1) by Tracy Banghart (2018)

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

A YA Spin on The Handmaid’s Tale Set in 1600s Italia

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through NetGalley. Trigger warning for violence against women, including rape. This review contains very vague spoilers.)

“One evening,” Serina had recited from memory, her recent singing lessons coating her voice with honey, “as the sun eased toward the horizon and the moon rose from its slumber, two birds flew along the path made on the water by the setting sun. They dipped and sagged, their battered wings barely holding them aloft. Every now and then, one would falter and fall toward the water, all strength gone. The other would dive and catch the first on its back, carrying its partner for a time.

“The two birds traveled this way for many leagues, until the path of the sun had faded and the moon’s silver road appeared. The ocean shimmied and danced beneath the birds, intrigued by their obvious love for each other. The ocean had never loved anything so much, to burden its own back with another’s survival. It didn’t understand why the birds didn’t fend for themselves—the stronger leave the weaker and carry on.

“It took the ocean some time to understand that apart, the birds would never have made it so far,” Serina had continued, wrapping an arm around Nomi’s shoulders. “That their love, their sacrifice, gave them both strength. When at last, the two little birds, their bright red and green feathers tarnished from their long journey, could no longer hold themselves free of the endless water, the ocean took pity on them. Rewarding their steadfastness, it pushed land up from its depths—huge, lush hills with fresh, clean water, towering cypress trees, and all the fruits and berries and seeds they could ever desire. The lovebirds alighted in the shady, cool branches of an olive tree, their tired wings wrapping around each other, their beaks tucked into each other’s feathers. And at last, they were able to rest.”

Every aspect of their world, down to Viridia’s prisons, pitted women against each other while men watched.

Serina and Nomi Tessaro are daughters of Viridia – which kind of sucks, since women aren’t valued very highly in their culture. Women are only allowed three vocations: factory workers, servants, or wives. Rarely do they get to choose which. Also on the list of no-nos: reading, disobedience, impertinence, wearing their hair above their shoulders, cutting their hair without the say-so of a man, and engaging in violence, if even as a means of self-defense. Women who break the rules – so-called criminals – are imprisoned on the imposing volcanic island of Mount Ruin.

Serina and Nomi are alike in that they’re both gunning for a way out: Serina hopes to trade her dirty industrial village of Lanos for the rich, opulent city of Bellaqua by becoming one of the Heir’s first three concubines – his Graces. Viridia is a monarchy, presided over by a sort of king called the Superior. The present Superior has two sons, Malachi and his younger brother Asa; at his upcoming twentieth birthday celebration, Malachi will choose his first three Graces. Serina is determined to be one of them. Success will mean that she and Nomi – serving as her handmaiden – will be spared a lifetime of drudgery. Failure is not an option.

Nomi is the younger sister, and also the more rebellious – the Fury to Serina’s Grace. Nomi’s escape – and her downfall, perhaps – lies in the magical worlds that swell and beckon from between the covers of books. When Nomi is tempted by the palazzo’s vast library, things go sideways. Before the sisters can utter a tart retort, Nomi has been chosen as one of Malachi’s Graces, while Serina is condemned to fight and die on Mount Ruin. Both sisters must summon up the other’s strength to survive – and maybe even overthrow the patriarchy.

I love a good feminist yarn, and Grace and Fury doesn’t disappoint. Well, mostly. Initially the tone felt a little on the young end of YA for my taste, but I quickly warmed to each sister’s voice. I feel like the MCs could stand to be a little more fleshed out, but I’m hoping we’ll see this in the sequel. I thought Banghart did a great job with the supporting characters; I want to know more about Oracle and Maris and Helena and Anika – and Val’s parents, too.

I saw the surprise twist coming a mile away, and I bet more astute readers will spot it even sooner. (The clue for me was in the horses. Never trust a dude who abuses animals.) I almost had trouble believing that Nomi fell for the ruse (“It was so obvious now.” No kidding!), but once I sat back and tried to truly imagine myself in her shoes, I can kind of get it. I mean, she’s totally alone, completely out of her element, with no one to trust, and here comes this slithery little serpent telling her what she wants/needs to hear. And I mean, it’s not like she had any better options.

The climax of the story was well worth it; rarely do books compel me to talk (or shout!) back at them, but I was yelling and hand-waving at Serina, as though she could hear me (“Fight him! Challenge him to fight!”). The last scene just leaves so many possibilities open, I cannot wait to see where the story goes.

Also great is Viridia’s entire backstory, which prominently features strong, badass women getting shafted by THE MAN. How many centuries, and how little has changed?

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

tweets for 2018-09-17

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

tweets for 2018-09-16

Monday, September 17th, 2018
  • RT @riotwomennn: The Kavanaugh witness who suggests nothing happened, he would tell us that Christine Blasey Ford is a liar.
    I believe her… ->
  • RT @LEBassett: So Al Franken’s accuser is the only woman Trump has believed and stood behind in the entirety of the #metoo movement. ->
  • RT @DonCheadle: hmmmm … 🤔 https://t.co/LX1Yd5KZ5h ->
  • RT @GregAndree71: Pairing texts is awesome. We wanted to pair TKAMockingbird with THE HATE U GIVE. That was rejected.
    One reason was THUG… ->
  • RT @samswey: A system that gives men who’ve committed sexual assault the power to decide what Constitutional rights women have is an unjust… ->
  • (More below the fold…)

tweets for 2018-09-15

Sunday, September 16th, 2018

tweets for 2018-09-14

Saturday, September 15th, 2018
  • RT @Lin_Manuel: Gnight
    Take it easy on those who love you
    Life is short, you’re gonna need ‘em
    Take it easy on yourself
    Life is long, we’re… ->

Book Review: Flocks by L. Nichols (2018)

Friday, September 14th, 2018

A touching and whimsically-illustrated memoir about growing up trans and Southern Baptist.

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through Edelweiss. Trigger warning for homophobia, depression, self-harm, and eating disorders.)

L. Nichols was born in Louisiana (some time in the mid-to-late-1970s, if the rad TMNT reference is any indication!) and assigned female (“Laura”) at birth. Raised in a conservative Southern Baptist community, L. always felt different; an outcast, a freak, a sinner.

Throughout his childhood and teen years, L. tried to suppress his attraction to girls – and was further confounded by the occasional crushes he developed on boys. While he enjoyed some parts of the church experience – the emphasis on faith, the sense of fellowship, and the feeling that there are things bigger than oneself – his church’s virulent homophobia and adherence to rigid gender roles alienated L. and led to isolation, depression, and self-harm.

But whereas L.’s community failed him on one front, it succeeded on another: despite his being labeled “female,” L.’s family and teachers encouraged him to pursue his love of science and technology, culminating in a Master’s degree from the MIT Media Lab. It was during his college years that L. pinpointed the reason for the animosity he felt toward his body, and decided to transition.

Flocks is L.’s memoir, told in graphic novel format. The vehicle through which L. chooses to tell his story perfectly encapsulates the many contradictions in his life: while STEM majors aren’t typically considered artsy or creative, L. is indeed a talented artist. His sad little rag doll depiction of himself is at once whimsical and rather heartbreaking (doubly so when we witness stuffing fall out of self-inflicted cuts on his legs). Given all he’s been through, L.’s upbeat, optimistic attitude is downright uplifting. (And I typically consider myself an Oscar the Grouch type, so that’s quite a compliment coming from my neck of the dump.)

While the main thrust of the story is L.’s burgeoning sexuality and exploration of his gender identity, he tackles a number of other serious topics as well: his parents’ acrimonious divorce; the pressure of choosing a major and settling on a career path, post-graduation; polyamory; eating disorders; self-harm; depression; binge drinking; an appreciation of nature and the natural world; and the impact of community and in-group/out-group identity on one’s sense of self.

It’s an engaging, beautiful story, in both form and content. There’s a little bit of repetition of themes and ideas early on (and not between chapters, i.e. to string them together, but within the same chapters), which does detract from the story. Even so, it’s a must-read, and not just because it’s more or less a one of a kind story, at least at this point in time. (Dear publishers, please give us more of this! Kay thanks bye.)

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)