Monday, February 27

Bicycles. Feminists. Science Fiction.

 

I'm not sure I ever thought I'd say something like this, but I'm hella excited to be included in this upcoming sci-fi collection, Biketopia: Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories In Extreme Futures, being put out by Microcosm Publishing in the summer, thanks to a Kickstarter campaign that is still going on (only ~2 days left to help out!). I'm in love. Disclaimer, I'm in it and I work there, but still, it's actually good. I promise. Check out that cover!

It's a really cool book with a kickass cover, and I genuinely encourage you to track one down now or later. As a person obsessed with progressive/feminist speculative fiction, AND as a woman, AND a woman of color preparing for life in Trump's amurika right now, a lot of these stories particularly impressed me.

So here's an excerpt from my story, "Shelter," but go check out the kickstarter and be a part of something rad...

My boots squeaked in short bursts as I paced. I’d been late before, when a wreck on the overstate shut down the outer neighborhoods. A lot of us got in trouble that day. It was made clear that it wouldn’t be forgiven a second time.

Now it was so late they’d probably already filed the dismissal paperwork. I’d probably get a phone call in an hour to inform me of my termination, then another from the Department of Women’s Services reminding me that a career change meant I’d have to re-file my Transportation and Needs paperwork.

No work meant no reason to travel. It meant no gas rations and barely enough transit slips to get to the store. It meant they’d send pamphlets to my house every week, reminding me of the many religious centers where I could apply for medical, financial, and spiritual services.

Not getting to work in the next fifteen damned minutes meant another string of months confined to my house, my neighborhood, my brother’s church. Even walking to the grocery store would require passing a checkpoint.
Izaac needed to get home now.
It was six when the phone rang.

Monday, December 19

Kickstarting Self-Empowerment with Microcosm Publishing

This month, I've been promoted to Publicity Director over at Microcosm Publishing. I love it, and am super frickin excited. For my first post-promotion blog post I'm glad our newest kickstarter project just began, because it's a great way to get introduced to Microcosm and what we do.

Microcosm Publishing is an independent press based out of Portland. We publish and distribute books that we feel are empowering or useful in some way, with the mission to give people the tools they may need to improve their lives, selves, or just have their voices heard. I've really lucked out to work here, and did I mention I'm super fricking excited about my new position here? Because I am. 🙌

From the Kickstarter:
"From fermentation to empowering queer youth, sewing to reporting on racial justice, bicycling to punk rock mysteries—these six colorful little books pack a serious punch. Back this project and help us bring these—and many future books—to life!"

So check out the video below, made specially for the project, and check it out at  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/microcosmpublishing/microcosms-spring-fix-your-clothes-guts-and-commun?ref=5isulm



Also, I don't think I've mentioned it, but I'll have a story in the upcoming feminist bicycle science fiction collection (yeah, you read that right) BikeTopia. More excite!!! [and check out that badass cover!]

Monday, October 31

Penny Dreadful project: The Beginning!

I've kind of fallen in love with classic, victorian Penny Dreadfuls. Like horror zines for Victorian England, these hand-printed and bound pamphlets were the beginning of the horror entertainment genre as we know and love it today.
Many of the classics we love were serialized either in zine form or as part of anthology magazines. The Picture of Dorian Grey, Dracula, Carmilla. This meant plucky heroes and long format stories that seemed to resemble modern television series' a bit more than your everyday novel.

So, I'm bringing them back.

The Dollar Dreadfuls series will have three lines: The Penny Blood Classics {aka Pennies}, The Penny Dreadful Tales {aka Dreadfuls}, and Moderns Fear, an anthology. All content will be as diverse, inclusive, and fem-positive as possible.

The Pennies will be the classic victorian penny dreadfuls, reprinted from public domain and with (hopefully) original illustrations.
The Dreadfuls will be serialized original horror stories, with short original pieces of literature and art. Something like a series of television show episodes.
And Modern Fear will be a horror anthology with original and classic works combined, along with any awesome genre stuff I can get my hands on.


The first Penny will be Carmilla -- the story of a young woman whose new friend is hiding something dangerous. Volume 1, Issue 1 is available now.

Sunday, July 31

I don't know where I lost the will to write.

Writing is work. Even if that work is just sitting in front of a keyboard -- I still have to keep my fingers moving and sometimes, for a long time now, that's hard.

I was never great at being consistent. I never wrote daily or blogged regularly. But it got worse a year or two back. Then somewhere along the lines I had the incredible opportunity to interview Francesca Lia Block, but I wasn't in one of my blogging-success patterns and I really, really didn't give it my all. This was one of my dreams, people, and I didn't give it my all!
Thanks depression and dysphoria, so glad you could join the party...

After that I was caught up in the whirlwind of moving across the country and trying to find work and succeed at all in another place where the odds are stacked against us. Against everyone, really. I lucked out like crazy with an internship to get me through the doors and part-time job(s) to pay the bills, but lost essentially all of my creative energy and motivation.

Over time, this started to create a fuzzy little noise in the back of my mind, like a tumor reminding me that I've given up my creative and artistic goals and never accomplished anything. Then came poverty.

I love this city, but everyone knows it's kicking us out. My rent is literally double anything I've ever paid for housing before. My car is constantly one step away from repossession [I've since sold it --read; paid a lot of money to not have to pay for it any more]. We haven't bought groceries in over a month. Every time we've thought we were almost caught up, something else happened and we were at the bottom of the money hole again.

It's like all of my energy and motivation and hope has drained away in the last year, maybe it's just been too long struggling to make things work here, fighting possible homelessness over the last few months, going hungry for the first time in my adult life. I worked three jobs (one unpaid) over the summer and two after that fo
r months. When I lost one (the one I hated, luckily), I spiraled. I'd spent so long working 40+ hour weeks that I exploited my new-found free time. I'd go to work and I'd come home and I'd watch tv. Over and over. For months I overcompensated for a year of overworking. Getting to work on time became a small win. Doing the dishes; a big win. Working for more than 5 hours a day; huge.

Everything fueled this depression trying to creep over me, but I smoked lots of weed and curled up on the couch to watched tv. First I stopped writing. Then I stopped reading. Then I stopped being social. Then I stopped doing pretty much everything. It wasn't like my past depression -- curled up under piles of blankets with a black hole inside of my chest -- this was... almost functional. I assume, perhaps logically, that this difference is due to my being medicated now versus then, but who knows.

And we got through it pretty decently. We started to take walks more often, just to get off the couch. We found local resources for free food. We found ways to make a few extra dollars -- selling plasma, selling furniture, etc.. We played with our dogs more and we cuddled more and we keep our heads up and kept moving.
Mood-wise, we were okay: it was like doing yoga next to a crumbling cliffside-- sure, you're keeping your cool, but any minute now that wall of rock is going to collapse on top of you and kill you, and you know it's coming. This was my feeling pretty much all of the time. And every time I thought about something I could do to help myself -- write, read, be social, clean -- I just... didn't. I didn't have even the slightest bit of willpower to get my ass up and do anything.

Now is a little bit different.
Now I'm the sales manager where I was interning, a rad [i say rad, now, cause i'm a west coast grl.] publishing house that is getting bigger and bigger every year, and I'm excited to help them grow and succeed. They've been incredibly patient with me and my situations over the last year, and it is an amazing opportunity. I work with books all day and, basically, am doing exactly what I came here to do. If I work a full forty hour week (which I'm still working up to and it's slow-going) I have almost enough to pay my rent and car payment, and hopefully the electric bill (not our other bills though, of which there are many).
We're not even close to paying any of our bills, our taxes (holy shit it's a lot), our loans, my car payment, or being able to buy groceries any time soon. But we still have an apartment and we're constantly looking for somewhere cheaper. I have a reliable, grown-up sized paycheck coming in.
For the first time in months, there's this underlying feeling of possibility.

We're not okay, but every week it's more and more likely that we're going to be. There's something inherently freeing in that possibility.

Friday, May 27

Paper Girls

First: I didn't read the description of Paper Girls before I started reading. As a steady fan of Saga and others like it, I just trusted Brian K. Vaughan and Image Comics to intrigue me.
The result?
They did.

I don't know what I expected -- a realistic drama about paper delivery girls on some adventure. For some reason, I wasn't expecting science fiction, some creep-tastic moments, violence, and a fight for survival. And while all of those things are kind of minimal, they're handled with a realism and emotional gravity that each situation deserves.

I loved it.
I was able to get a digital galley of the book just before release, and while I waffled at first, the colors on that cover just nagged at me every time I saw it, and I finally sat still long enough to read it. After the first few pages I was drawn in and blazed through it.

I'll edit this post more later when I have more time, but for now I'll just say: read this! If this is an ongoing series, I look forward to what they do next.

Wednesday, January 27

if i wrote a letter to my self



i would remind myself that i need to practice kindness more. and patience. and that i might be smoking too much, and what if it's messing with my health? is it making my life simpler or making me dumber? that i should walk my dogs more and spend more quality time with my husband. i should worry less about my libido and just try to feel more. to love more. maybe i should read more. i should probably stop making choice that i know aren't great just because it's easy or i'm lazy or it's just what i want. i can't be a better person without trying and i can't have the life i want without working for it. i can and should wake up earlier and keep my home cleaner. i should live and experience more through my own eyes, not from a distance and not with the little thoughts that always make me feel encroached and incapable of actually being myself. i should let myself see through my own eyes instead of processing my experiences and actions through a lens of my past self. maybe i should look into the definition of arrested development. but on top of the things i do to make good choices, there are things i shouldn't do, too. don't hold a grudge. not against myself and not against others. don't lie. don't go to work when i'm sick. don' pretend to be sick to get out of work. if i really want to skip work, maybe it's time to ask why. don't hesitate to cry when i actually need it, especially since the zoloft makes it hard to cry and i should take advantage of any time it seems like it could happen. don't watch tv when i could read. or write. don't forget the most important things: i'm loved and i'll be okay.

Wednesday, December 2

The Newest Girl's Guide to Portland

Ten months ago, I lived in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Today, I live in Portland, Oregon.
People ask me, all the time now, about the differences between "the South" and here, and there are a few stories I love to tell. I love to inform my new co-workers that my previous co-workers didn't believe in evolution -- and I love the look on their faces, as if it's crazy to even suggest such a thing.
I love describing the ways that "southern hospitality" proves itself a myth, and how everyone here is so fucking nice I can't handle it. How it feels like that commercial where the guy thinks his gas station attendants are there to rob him, because gas station attendants here actually do some of that, and it surprises me so much that they're so helpful. Kids play in the street -- like, actually play, like they do on tv! -- and the department of Human Services actually treats you like a human -- as if helping you was their job, or something. People thank the bus driver.

Really, I love to badmouth my "home"state (i wasn't born there, so i don't have to completely claim it, you know?) because I never belonged there. I never fit there-- though I found something close in Greensboro (which is why I stayed there so long) --and I continually felt disappointed and outraged by so many of the ignorant, sexist, racist, biased, hateful people, religions, customs, and laws that were present in everything. The country is tearing itself apart out of sheer delusional, belligerent ignorance, and I won't shy away from my thought that it all bubbles and begins in the South. And, yes, it was my home for a very, very long time, and I didn't realize how much I hated it there until I entirely and completely gone. Don't get me wrong, I knew I didn't like it where I was, and that I hated my family's town, but the extent of that.. I didn't realize it until I didn't have to be there anymore-- didn't have to settle.
I love reminding people of how lucky they've been to have lived here-- whether their whole lives or a couple years -- by describing where I've lived, and what I've lacked because of it.
But I'll stop whining for a minute.

So let's talk about new life things.
Money is, so far, the biggest hindrance here. It's expensive to live here and I wasn't quite prepared for the very very high general living expense. I could get by with taking days off of work before, but here I need to work every day, sometimes at two different jobs, to make enough to maybepossibly pay my rent and car. And food... that Portland nice-ness was integral for my "food assistance" application, and thank the universe and the US government that foodstamps is pulling us through. Being able to buy food, at all, without worrying about which bill won't get paid, is a big deal -- being able to buy healthy food (and not-so-healthy snacks, too) is nothing short of a life-saver. While we indulged during our first month here, we now rarely eat out/take out food more than once a week, except when we're truly desperate or lazy. While the food trucks here are amazing, they're not any cheaper than a regular restaurant, and cheap eats aren't particularly common. And moving to any new place always comes with a pile of brand new bills, fees, and security deposits, on top of the ones I brought with me.

But it's beautiful here. With tree lined neighborhoods all over the place, and a tiny little metropolis in the center, volcanoes on the horizon and bridges in every direction. I even love the rain, when it's around.
Activities are plentiful to the point of confusion. There is always, always so much going on that it's hard to keep up with or afford. I've talked to a lot of people that grew up here, and they're always "there's nothing to do heeeere..." which blows my mind. (So I kind of feel like Weetzie, thinking about all the awesome LA things people don't notice.)  But there's fairs and festivals at least once a week somewhere in the city, sometimes every single day, especially during the weekends.
We try to do at least one interesting thing per week. Back in the fall it was Rose City Comic Con, before that it was my birthday so it was busier, with a street fair saturday and a trip to the nickel arcade. The weekend before was $2 day at the science museum so we went to a planetarium show. Before that was $3 movie theaters (with beer of course!) bands at people's houses, movies in the park, a variety of farmers markets several times a week. Fireworks for seemingly no reason. A haunted corn maze with a mini circus/cabaret in the center.  Friendsgiving with almost-strangers. Breweries. Street fairs. $2 happy hours. Shakespeare plays on top of a small mountain (volcano!).
There is so. much. stuff.

Here's a list of the basics to start you off: The things you will learn literally as soon as you get here.
» it's Will-Am-ette not will-ah-met. Think Willamette like Damnit
» Couch street is pronounced Cooch. Don't even ask why, there doesn't seem to be a reason.
» everyone drives slow. Traffic sucks here because nobody seems to know that they're supposed to go the speed limit.
» Oswego is pronounced Osweego for some reason.
» pick up a copy of This Is Portland: it's a quick read and crazy on point.
» it never seems to rain for more than an hour at a time. But it will drizzle for hours on the worst days, and winter is coming, so...
» there's four main districts; NW SW NE SE; depending on where they are in relation to the river. So any time you have an address, you know the area it's in. There's others, but not as big of a deal.
» Technically the cities on a grid system, but it's a convoluted lopsided grid. Streets curve in weird directions and stop randomly to pick back up blocks later. Google Maps is your friend.
» There are four main methods of transportation; the light rail (the max), the street car, the bus, and bikes. People love their bikes here.
» There are a lot of bridges. A lot. They're beautiful.
» people are weirdly, frighteningly nice. Not just polite, but nice, helpful, friendly, etc. It's weird.
» there's lots and lots of homeless people. Not just panhandlers but straight-up sleeping on the streets and pitching tents under bridges homeless. It's unpleasant and painful to see, but isn't usually harmful, safety-wise.
» this is a 21+ city that makes it kind of hard for minors to attend events. We're actually considering a fake ID for my sister just to get into shows or late night movies and restaurants.
» everything is expensive, get a good job. Seriously.
More Portland info to come.
“How I Live My Weetzie Way in Portland" coming soon, as well as my own photographic love letter to my new city.

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