bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

My Patreon -- part of my framework for making my new life as a full-time creative workable -- is up and running, and I'm both kind of stunned and delighted to have already hit one of my milestone goals: enough per month to justify working on a poetry chapbook.

(Wondering what I'm talking about? Click here to visit my Patreon page, where you can see my milestone goals, and the perks I offer folks who support my work.)

It's a project I've been kicking around for a while. Poetry's kind of a hard sell in terms of justifying the time to work on it. It's the kind of writing that isn't immediately marketable -- it might score a poet a few cans of soup here and there -- but it's a thing I enjoy and want to be doing. One of the professors who influenced me most during college (Dr. Pam McClure) was a poet, and encouraged us with an intensity that was literally life-changing for me.

I'm excited and a little intimidated that this is now a thing on my creative agenda. My current emotional state is best articulated as "" combined with a frenzied dash to dig out my notebooks.

Hello, newly real project. Yes.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit

bodlon: It's a coyote astronaut! (Default)

I've been talking about this in a couple of corners of my life, and putting various ducks in the appropriate rows, so it's probably time to post about it here, too: I'm making a life decision in 2015 to start prioritizing my creative work.

I've been thinking about this for a while.

My ideal life situation isn't so much "only write and nothing else and give up working for other people altogether" so much as it's "if I could do this for 40 hours a week, and then work some random-ass job for 20 hours a week to maintain some steady income to keep me afloat and get me out of the house, that would be awesome."

It's easy to get addicted to the creature comforts that 40 hours a week in an office can provide. It's secure to keep being a vested employee with a retirement account and dental and so on. From various reasonable perspectives it's smarter to stick around, to defer, to wait until the thing that gets attention after hours becomes sustainable on its own.

Almost two years ago, this plan would be unthinkable. I was doing everything I could to try and keep a sinking ship afloat in the Foreclosure House. When we gave up and moved on -- assisted in that choice by a violent incident in our neighborhood and our reason for moving into the house ceasing to be a factor -- I had a lot of holes to climb out of.

I'm out of most of the urgent holes and chipping away at the less urgent ones. My life stopped feeling like one long emergency a little while back. I'm sleeping. I'm functioning. I'm in a supportive, multi-income household.

I realized, as I neared my birthday, that I'm tired of trying to cram career effort into a hobby-sized space. I'd rather spend a few hours a week slinging fries or coffee or whatever, and then focus 40 hours a week on writing, reviving my Etsy shop, and continuing my work getting back into visual art.

I'm 35. For the first time in my adult life, I've got a reliable safety net. If not now, when?

So I put in my notice at the job where I've worked for nearly eleven years. The 27th is my last day as a full-time member of the conventional adult world.

I'm nervous. I'm excited. I am hoping I'll be able to make rent in April. Er.

So yeah. Wish me luck.

(Oh, and if you're in town and know someone who needs a dog walker...)

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

fireworks-8One thing I have failed to find on the Internet: a gif of the Fitbit Flex's goal success light show, which I have come to think of as "the tiny fireworks show that happens on my wrist."

I wasn't really going to blog about this until I realized I was mentioning it to friends in the context of being a small but real piece of positive reinforcement for accomplishing something. It's a simple-ish something -- taking a certain number of steps each day -- and the external validation I'm getting is from a tiny bit of electronics in a silicone band (I've named her Juliet to go with Crowley, my iPod), but it's a real enough thing that I experience all the good brain chemicals I get for being noticed for Doing a Good Thing.

That the thing doing the noticing is Juliet and the systems she connects to is immaterial. Who's got his Urban Boots and Marathon Badges? This guy.

I talk a good game about introversion, but external validation is still an incredibly powerful thing. I'm skittish about it in all kinds of ways, and I'm often reluctant to accept it properly -- thanks, life experiences! -- but I crave it. Most creative people do, I think. Not necessarily in the same ways, or to the same extent, but it's a real enough need.

Part of what I want right now in terms of rebuilding resilience is to feel less habituated to failure. I need successes. Some of those will need to be things I can feel good about on their own merits, but I also really love it when other people like those things. I want to do a thing I'm proud of then get the proverbial cookie from someone who is both relevant and trusted in that arena.

Those three conditions are really important. Being praised for things I don't have an emotional attachment is not unpleasant, but it doesn't do the thing. Being praised by someone I don't connect to the accomplishment, likewise. As for the trust...well, that's more of a tangle, and I'm working on it, but suffice to say that attention from wrong people at the wrong time does my process more harm than good.

(So, you know, if you're reading this, now is not the time to just dogpile me with effusive praise out of nowhere. I don't need the "You're Great!" thing my generation grew up with. Don't give me stickers for cleaning the bathroom. Wait for me to show you things, or comment on things that are already on display. If I start talking at you about a project, congratulations: you're trusted on that project. Whee.)

Which is why Juliet is my favorite right now. Juilet exists to collect raw data, and to praise me when I do the thing, and there's literally nothing else to concern myself with in that relationship. I walk until the fireworks go off, and it is the safest, sweetest thing in the world.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit

We go on.

Dec. 12th, 2014 12:38 pm
bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

This is perhaps one of the best talks I've ever seen on depression in terms of really digging in and describing the experience.

Like, my life continues, but there's a creeping blankness in which I cease, somehow, to have things that I like, things that are favorites, things that I can identify as exciting to me, even if intellectually I know that those things exist.

It's not darkness so much as absence; blindness rather than a blindfold.

I don't not know that a thing should happen. I am uncomfortably aware of a great deal of things which should and even must happen. And then my hands do other things, or no thing.
For example, I'm someone who normally reads 2-4 books a month. In April, that stopped short. Since then, I've finished one other book, and am stalled on a second. The fact that I'm working on reading a second is an indication that I am getting better.

It's slow. I hate that it's slow.

I am in a place where I am recognizing a lack of resilience, confidence, etc. When I'm well, I genuinely believe I have skills and ability. When I'm not, I have trouble identifying those things and believing in them when others point them out to me. I feel unworthy. I feel flawed. I look at all of my mistakes, missteps, all the balls that I have dropped -- most often because of the depression -- and use them to point out to myself how worthless and unskilled I am.

Often I am afraid to put my head up lest it get knocked down again. I am vulnerable to changes. For example, I recently lost an entire day's work because I found out about something I'm doing this summer. It's not a thing I wanted to do, and just thinking about it makes me feel heavy and panicked.

The depression makes me fragile, the anxiety grinds me to dust.

There are times, when I look at this experience, and find myself afraid of being like this forever, with a side-order of fear about getting worse as well as getting better. Like, I'm still not quite well enough to look at "getting better" as anything other than an abstract concept.

But, you know, I also finished a rough draft this fall. That's a victory. But it's also something depression latches onto and tells me that if I'd applied myself toward, say, a project I've failed to complete in a timely way, I'd be allowed to feel good instead of guilty and ashamed.

It wants to make my victory is a stone for my pockets so that I can wade back into the river.

I'm silent about this more than I should be, but part of my silence is built into the problem itself. I'm bad at reaching out at the best of times. How am I supposed to do that when a ringing phone fills me with dread and terror on a par with having Jack Nicholson with an axe on the other end? Or when I want desperately to have someone to pour everything out to, but find that I'm really not sure I have that level of emotional intimacy with any other human being.

But like I said, those days are getting fewer.

I dropped a lot of things this year: involvement in a community group, involvement in the communal and public aspects of my faith, multiple projects, etc. I found a few toe-holds in mass and social media and clung to them like rocks. I've found tools to try and make sense of the incredible barrage of things that I've had to dig up out of.

I still slip. I still fail. But being in a "hi, I'm experiencing moderate-to-severe chronic depression and anxiety instead of being neck-deep in a major episode in which I spent multiple months on the edge of a 72 hour hold" place is still progress. I haven't needed to write on my wrist in a couple of months. So. Progress.

Solomon hits on something else, too: the privilege of care, support, etc. I have a lot of fear about running out of good will. I can only fall back on "charmingly disorganized" for so long. The digging-out feels perpetual. And, you know, we cope in public. I have "silent" panic attacks in public or group spaces because to suffer visibly is to show weakness. I fake functional because to fail at that is to be penalized by society in ways that would make recovery impossible.

At this stage, this is a precious tool. To lose the things I earn by faking functional would be catastrophic, and I know it. Hello, additional source of anxiety.

But again, these are realizations I get to have because I've moved forward. Most days of late I wake up, and instead of being in complete emotional and physical distress because everything is too much, I want to work. I want to do stuff.

Not too much stuff. Not all at once. Not with so much pressure. But some stuff. Stuff I can use to rebuild my confidence. Stuff that I can use as a staging point. Stuff that's languished but that I can unearth and complete with support.

I might freeze up when I try to start -- and by "might" I mean that I absolutely do -- but I actually want to do this stuff instead of knowing I'm supposed to do it but I can't.

So yeah. This is depression. It's a thing that's hard as hell to treat, that for a lot of people (including me) never goes away, etc. It's a chronic thing that could -- like my asthma, or my family's history of heart disease -- and even might kill me one day. But it hasn't yet. So, you know, we go on.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

Things that are basically fucking miserable: finally waking up after a major life/responsibility crash and being deeply aware of just how much shit one has to shovel to get back up to speed.

Like, just looking at the laundry, and stuff all over the floor, and the weeks-old e-mails, and realizing that groceries haven't really been happening consistently, and knowing that the only way out of all of it is to deal with it.

And, you know, that would be awesome except that as ability tanks, accumulated crap intensifies. So when you wake up on that morning knowing that Things Must Happen Finally, the difficulty level on the Happening of Things is absolutely ridiculous and totally inimical to the gradual reintroduction of Thing Happening.

Because if you Happen Some Things, there will still be a billion Things That Must Happen, and some of them will require an extra push because procrastination and inertia are both shockingly difficult things to confront and work with.

old-shovelSo maybe you figure, "Okay, I've got a shovel. I'll just take it easy and work my way through this pile as I have time and energy." Except that pile didn't just appear. It's the sum total of regular daily things left undone, and the regular daily difficulty level is already a challenge because you're not 100%. You're maybe 50% or 75%. So you do stuff, but the pile just gets bigger.

And that's if you're lucky. Because if you're not lucky, you'll be tooling along trying to get through this, promising yourself it'll get easier as you get stronger, just in time for the Shit Truck to mow you down and leave some new fresh Hell to deal with.

This is why picking up the shovel is terrifying, and why it can feel like leaving it where it is, or ignoring it, or nesting in the great big pile of shit feels like a reasonable life decision. I mean, if your options are: a) re-injure yourself trying to do a thing, or b) accept the status quo and/or perpetual downward spiral?

Well, let's just say that familiar pain is background noise.

So why even bother picking up that shovel? Here are some reasons:

1) Forfeit is no longer an acceptable option.
Not-doing is an automatic loss. Attempting to do at least comes with some potential margin for success. You might still lose, but at least there was a chance.

2) You do not exist in a vacuum; you matter.
I have yet to meet a person with no redeeming qualities, and who does not improve somebody's life by existing. It's hard to remember this if people never tell you -- which is probably the finest argument for small acts of kindness as a lifestyle choice I've ever encountered -- but even if nobody is saying it, you are beautiful. You are worthy. You are not required to hurt. You're allowed to dig toward the things that connect you, or to ask for help with the digging, or just to acknowledge the enormous pile of shit to others.

3) There's a light.
Sometimes you can't possibly move the whole pile, but maybe there's a thing you can get to that nourishes you and makes you stronger and at least gives you some comfort while things are a mess, and can give you a toe-hold on the whole shit-moving thing.

4) Something to do.
Maybe not right away. Maybe not even for a long time. It might even get worse for a while. You might fuck up and end up with an even more ridiculous pile of shit. But at least you got to have an adventure on the way, right? Vastly superior to treating life like a waiting room.

5) You are a mad scientist.
Human beings genuinely can move a shocking amount of shit if we try. We are wily and industrious and strong even when everything is coming down around us. We survive in absolutely murderous biomes. We have gone to space. We make tools and use reason and create art. And most importantly, we learn. We can spot patterns. We're freaky-clever. 5000 lbs of manure? That's not an impossible obstacle. That's raw materials. Admit it: building a castle out of that pile of shit, filling it with fireworks, and setting that bastard off sounds pretty cool, right?

6) It really can get better.
I'm not going to lie, it might take some time and a hundred false starts. The fight-to-reward ratio might suck. You might never get to be an astronaut. But having agency, even in a bad situation, is fucking magic. Never forget that if you are alive you can make choices and do things. "Better" doesn't mean perfect, and it doesn't always look how we expect it to, but it can and does happen. You can do this.

So yeah. Talk to me about life shit management. Talk to me about your poop-based technologies. Talk to me about small kindnesses, things you have blown up just to survive, and what you do with your shovel when the party's over and things are back in order. Talk to me about the things that make it hard to dig.

Let's do this.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

1A few years ago, my mother gave me a journal she kept when I was younger. I have never opened this book until today.

It's been a challenging month and a half, and I haven't really been talking about it here, but the short version is that coming out of a long period of survival mode has consequences, and those consequences take time and courage and energy to work out. I'm working hard at making room for the work, and having to be brave in new ways. When I have hard days -- like yesterday, when I had a difficult call with the people who care for my mother -- it knocks me down.

Being vulnerable is hard.

This morning I felt like I needed some answers. It started with me wanting to know something sure about my father and guessing maybe mom might have had something about him in the Red Book, mostly because I assumed she'd started it the year I was born.

I was wrong, as it happens. Her first entry is from January 30, 1987. And this is in it:


The full section reads:

"And you came down stairs [sic] telling me the doctor who delivered you 'made a mistake' and you are a boy not a girl cause you like cars more than dolls etc -- had to remind you that boys are made a little different than girls -- at least you are sure your [sic] a girl now."

I knew. I wasn't quite seven and I knew.


And then I spent nineteen years believing her, haunted by little things around the periphery, and the way I never fit, etc.

Eerily, the final entry in the Red Book is from 2010, and is about my legal name change:


One of the things we talk about as writers is that the difference between fantasy and reality is usually the fact that fantasy has meaning in it, and symmetry, and that stories wrap themselves up by fulfilling the promise of their premise. You start a thing in one place, and it has to end in a place that makes sense in relation to that starting point. That stories end is also really important, since even when life things come full circle one still goes on (unless one is dead, in which case other people do that bit).

Life just gave me symmetry today. I'm startled, and I'm angry, and I'm glad. I am in no place to forgive, honestly, and I think I'm giving myself permission to hang on to this for a while. After all, with my mother's dementia I will never be able to process this with her or hold her to account (which feels like a continuation of the way I could never communicate anything important to her because of the ways she chose to wield her hearing loss).

I know that I knew. I know that there are things that I loved that she talked me out of, ways that I saw myself that got lost, and that I can have them now if I want them. It hurts. It's liberating. I don't need a blue fairy to prove I'm a real boy.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

I'm still thinking about fandom, and the way my anxiety about the (increasingly fictional) fan/pro divide sneaks up on me.

Some of my best, most enduring friendships started with fanfiction. Mostly other fanwriters -- like any breed of bird, we flock -- but also some of the people who enjoyed reading the stuff I posted. Fanwriting is social and performative all at once, like DIY punk or Raqs Baladi, and a fair few of us also do pro work as well.

I mean, cue complete lack of surprise. We've officially entered the age of the fan-who-is-creator at more or less every level, with high-interaction environments like Twitter and Tumblr. The membrane is porous, now, and we fan in public where the creators can see.

I think this is mostly good, though I confess to a lot of anger when I see fans (a group with whom I identify) take out their anger on creators (with whom I also identify) in ways that drive them back out of these fora. It's a multi-layered feeling of shame by association, desire to defend, and frustration at the loss.

"This is why we can't have nice things" colliding with "They're not with me, I swear," basically.

And I spend a lot of time looking at people who are very much in that pro realm framework, and think concretely about how very strange their lives are, going from eating breakfast with the family to sitting in an auditorium with a thousand screaming people who've got these parasocial bonds with a character or a public image or a book or whatever and have expectations based on that, and how deep that divide must feel in that moment.

In my head this thing is huge and tough to navigate. As a human, I want a lot of the things that fans want: to be chosen, to be seen, to be affirmed by someone close to the thing I love, to say thank you to a stranger. As a creator, I feel weird and bad about some of that, because I know that writing a story or playing a role doesn't confer superhuman graciousness, psychic ability, and resources or desire to fulfill everyone's emotional fantasy, or just to withstand the barrage.

Let's pause here to reflect that sometimes that barrage looks like people randomly giving celebrities dead sharks.

(Side note: I am not a celebrity and I do not need any dead sharks. I already have one, preserved in a jar, on my bathroom counter. That is enough dead sharks for anybody who is not a marine biologist. Send me denture bracelets instead.)

Potential for creepiness aside, though, I'm almost painfully interested in the effect this interaction has on the real production of things. Characters whose tenure is meant to be short -- think Ianto Jones or Castiel -- become fan favorites and regulars. Subtext gets acknowledged by showrunners and actors at conventions. Shows like Castle and Supernatural play with the fan/pro relationship in within the text. Richard Castle and Kate Beckett both cosplay, for example, while Sam and Dean occasionally have to deal with the implications of their story having been published by a prophet as a series of novels with its own fandom.

Outside the text, we get videos of Misha Collins taking Diestel brand products to mailbox stores to "ship it," Gail Simone and Matt Fraction being incredibly conversational with readers on social media about their characters, Gareth David-Lloyd and John Barrowman kissing on convention stages, and...hell, Orlando Jones. That man is his own damn category.

Where I'm going with this is that authorial intent and fan desire collide so much more audibly than I remember growing up, and the implications of that. I think about, as a writer, how much I hide my work when I'm not ready to talk about it, because for me there is a fragile stage. I think about reading episode codas for shows I like in fandoms in which I might want to commit some fic, and stopping because I don't want my process contaminated.

There is a concept called "death of the author," which basically comes down to the idea that once a creator puts a thing into the hands of the public, authorial intent ceases to be relevant. I have mixed feelings about this, mostly because my philosophy about creative work is that it exists in a space between the work and the observer. It's the creator's job to put the data in the work. If somebody gets the work and doesn't get the data, something has gone wrong.

(Side note: I recall, but cannot find, an interview with Jon Stewart about that idea that communicating an idea successfully is the responsibility of the author, from around the time he and Colbert did that big rally. Anyone remember it?)

The nice thing about death of the author is that we can, in our fan roles, engage a text however we want to. Happy (or unhappy) accidents in the text are ours to comment on and play with. I think, though, it's also a tricky model to believe in now that the channels are this open. What we really get is the author creating a text, releasing the text, and then existing in an environment where text feedback is present, and sometimes very explicitly so, and people either fervently desire more info about intent or want to silence the author entirely.

What that means in my preferred philosophy of the work existing between the text and the audience, then is that it's doing that thing, but in a triangle with the author, and the position of the work is continually shifting closer and further away from the author, the text, and the audience.

In my head I love this, both as creator and fan. In reality, I'm completely intimidated by it, just like I'm intimidated by my own weird attachments to works and creators. These are things we love -- the things we make, the things we read and watch and identify with -- and it's hard not to be afraid of getting hurt.

It's like falling in love. You take the risk, or you hide it away.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

tattooI've been thinking this week about fan tattoos, and stigma, and the way stories matter.

When I met Kate Bornstein, my brain interrupted my moment of being starstruck with the very important information that ze has a TARDIS tattoo. This of course led to excited geekery, me showing of the giant Seal of Rassilon I have on my right calf, and hir pulling the sonic screwdriver out of hir bag. It was a short, magnificent, amazing, wonderful moment of connection, not least because I got that tattoo to celebrate starting on testosterone as part of my transition.

I have others. I have the spider from Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys on my right bicep as a reminder of the salvific power of creativity. I've got the Corsair's ouroboros (albeit turned 180) on my left wrist to remind myself that my complicated body and gender is beautiful, and that I don't have to feel guilty and afraid about it with other people.

I have other tattoos, too. A rose on my back that I got with one of the first friends I made when I moved to Columbia. A wren with a needle through its ankle from the Mabinogion to celebrate my name change. Gautama Buddha, from when it looked very much like I was going to become a lay minister with a small Buddhist church (and possibly the only story I regret putting on my skin because without context it looks...well, not great from a social justice perspective). A drawing I did based on the Burney Relief that was the "ring" from my messed-up, failed marriage in my twenties. The pseudo-nautilus a friend got me for my eighteenth birthday.

I even have a scar on my shoulder from the tattoo a friend's friend did for me when I was a teenager using a sewing needle and India ink, which was summarily removed by the dermatologist my mother dragged me to. I like this scar. There's nothing else like it on my body. It's the memory of a story.

People can be weird about fan tattoos, though. I'm not sure how much of that is the stigma associated with being really into a thing -- or, rather, certain things because it's apparently okay to be really into sports but still kind of weird to be really into a sci-fi show -- or the idea that those stories aren't important enough to get etched into our bodies, but John Lennon quotes and pin-up girls are. Or maybe it's the idea that these things are ephemeral or imaginary? Or that somebody else's story is the wrong language, and we should all be required to make up our own stuff using an acceptable symbol set? It it too close to brand names?

And yeah, I think there's an element of misogyny happening here -- women in fandom get a disproportionate amount of flack for profoundly irritating reasons, and body policing is a thing -- but that can't be the whole story.

This is really bothering me. I'd love to hear what others think about this, not least because I'm getting the ink itch again, and there are things I'm considering that fall into this range, and that's more emotional than I expected it to be.

Wow me, Internets. I love you all.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

learnA few weeks ago I started to fall off of the "well-maintained depression and brain chemistry" train and basically landed in the "missed a couple of days of Celexa just in time for insomnia and stress" ditch.

Which, you know, I was aware of as it was happening, but it's the same kind of awareness you have when you're doing home repair and the thing you're doing above your head comes loose and everything moves SUPER SLOW but there is nothing you can do but watch while it happens. And let's face it, I'm a popcorn kind of guy with the human condition (See Also: my ridiculous and awful Greyhound stories), including my own condition as someone living as human.

In any case, I learned some things this week that I'm finding amusing enough to share.

1) There is a liminal block of time in my day in which I am Very Eloquent with my hands and utterly useless with my mouth.
It runs roughly from 4-7 AM, after which I obtain the power of human speech. I've now got multiple proofs of this, including from this morning's adventure to Starbucks (because they open at 5 AM and I have some funds on my card and I wanted to write away from the house) in which I knew what I wanted and had to try something like four times to get the words "grande Earl Grey" out of my mouth. To his credit, the barista was very kind and did not laugh at me too much.

2) I have really strong feelings about blogging platforms.
During a workshop, I actually questioned a presenter who contrasted a WordPress-style blog (which looked like a slick and traditional website) and a Tumblr-style blog (which had stylistically consistent photography but was more magazine-style) who tried to use the Tumbl-blog as an example of website fail. I don't know if it's a generational thing, or if I'm just more inured to social media than I thought, but people, neither of these things is "better" than the other except that you'll have different audiences, and different intentions, and just because this one individual gave up on her project does not prove your thesis when I can point to more successful examples than I have fingers.

3) Getting Better is a Ridiculous Process
As things improve incrementally, I keep noticing that when I stumble, I react differently. Like, this week instead of just going silent and having panic attacks, I was joking about how I had "exhausted my vulnerability pool and moved on to my hostility pool." I mean, things were still raw, but they were raw in ways that allowed me to simply behave in possibly socially inappropriate ways rather than removing myself from society completely.

4) Falling Down the Fanfic Rabbit Hole is Both Satisfying and Frustrating
Satisfying because I really do love it as an art form and reaction to media, and the culture has many things to recommend it within the in-group once you abandon the stigma (which, let's be honest, is all about misogyny). Frustrating because being more or less not involved in this side of things for a while means that the signal to noise ratio in my reading attempts aren't yet well-tuned.

5) Sometimes People Pick Up When I Drop the Ball, and Those People are Awesome
So yeah. That thing with the train and the ditch? Means I am not always doing simple things in appropriate ways. Like, little stuff that supports bigger stuff? Comes apart. Gets ignored. Big stuff gets put off. Good choices get replaced by bad ones. And then someone is like, "Hey, so I have seven cakes in my car for the thing" and I am like, "HOLY FUCK, THANK YOU UNIVERSE FOR THIS INDIVIDUAL, AND THANK YOU INDIVIDUAL FOR SAVING ME AND OTHERS FROM ME." This is not a thing I ever want to expect, or to feel entitled to, but so grateful. Wow.

So yeah. That's...yeah. That happened.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

BooksMy resolution for 2014 is to intentionally read only books written by women. There are three exceptions:

- Books already in progress prior to January 1, 2014 may be finished regardless of the author's gender
- Books in a series I am already reading may be read regardless of the author's gender
- Books needed for a class or specific project may be read regardless of the author's gender

Also, last month I introduced guidelines for how to handle anthologies, and books with multiple authors or editors:

- Anthologies edited by a woman are acceptable even if the collected authors are not all female, but books with 50% or better representation are preferred
- In the case of multiple authors and editors, a single woman will suffice, but books with 50% or better representation are preferred

So! Here's what I read in March.

Empress, Karen Miller
I actually started reading this one a few years ago, put it down because college got overwhelming, and only just picked it back up this year. It's the first in Miller's Godspeaker trilogy, and focuses on its main character's journey from slavery to power in a brutal desert country called Mijak. Not a gentle book at all -- lots of blood and violence, and Mijak probably couldn't be more of a patriarchy if it tried -- but Miller is writing fairly rich epic fantasy, and I found myself binge reading this. It's a pretty chunky book, so prepare to take some time on it.

The Ninth Floor, Liz Schulte
When I mentioned my resolution to Doug at Village Books, he handed this one to me. Schulte is a local author, and the whole premise of a nasty community secret and possible supernatural goings-on was really appealing to me. That being said, Schulte is mainly a mystery writer, and mystery isn't one of my preferred genres. It was a quick read, and I liked the set-up a lot, but I think I went in expecting a different sort of book than what I got.

Being a Pagan, Ellen Evert Hopman and Lawrence Bond
My "Not a Book Club" title for March over at The Land, Sea, and Sky. This one definitely goes onto my list of books people new to Pagan religions should read within their first year or so of practice, even if the info in it is increasingly outdated (the interviews took place in the mid-1990s). Good context and oral history.

The Riven Kingdom, Karen Miller
The second of Miller's Godspeaker books, this one mostly focuses on the matter of succession in Ethrea, which is sort of the Western European Island Trading Nation answer to Mijak, which is significantly less militarized, lower magic, and marginally kinder to women. Like Empress, The Riven Kingdom is focused on a woman's rise to power, except in this case she is the sole heir to the dead king, fighting against having being made chattel by the church. This one is just as chunky as Empress, which is hilarious because I actually acquired the second and third books as part of an omnibus edition of the trilogy, which is bigger than some family bibles and dictionaries I've met. (Side note: anticipate a longer discussion of this trilogy when I've finished it.)

That puts my counts for 2014:

- 16 books finished
- 13 read in their entirety
- I have no idea how I want to do ratios now that I've introduced multiple authors/editors, but I can count the number of men on one hand without needing extra fingers, so I'm guessing that's a win.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

tobyI've been aware of The West Wing for a long time. I've even seen a fair bit of it here and there, but I've never seen all of it, nor watched episodes in order, and so when I noticed the whole series had finally gone streaming on Netflix, that was it.

Decision made. Mainliney bingewatching behavior engage.

Well, mostly I'm hitting it a couple of episodes at a time, mostly in the evenings or on weekend mornings when I've got a couple of hours to have downtime and knit, and it's so good for me in these weird, unpredictable ways.

Case in point: the word "okay" is now in my secret fannish lexicon. It started with Danny Concannon (whose lines in S1 are about 97% basically just this word, I think) and has branched out to every "okay" in the universe.

Which is to say, Sorkin has managed to make the most bland and invisible of words a Glowing Goddamn Beacon to my brain. "Okay" is like "said." It should essentially be invisible under normal operating conditions. Instead, it is now a Thing in my skull. Like, every time I hear the word, I wonder what the subtext is. Every time I say the word, I get a little zing of nerd happiness, like I'm secretly communicating a thing.

I am probably not communicating a thing.

I am pretty sure I don't care that I'm not actually communicating a thing.

It's tiny. It's ridiculous. Like, this has to be one of those writer things that doesn't make sense to the rest of the planet, because I never hear people having this problem. And, predictably, I am enjoying it immensely because language is fun and weird and the way human beings relate to language and character and media is so unpredictable, and that this tiny thing keeps lighting up my brain is so beautiful.

Things like this are why I fell in love with language.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

...a piece of black duct tape on the light switch for our back porch. Given that I live with four other people, I figured one of us must have had a good reason to do this, and that I'd eventually find out what that good reason was.

A little later, three of the roommates were heading out for breakfast while I was making my second cup of tea. They asked me about the tape. I told them I didn't know, but that we should probably switch the tape out for something that wouldn't leave sticky residue on the switch plate.

They left, and this short showed up on one of my social media feeds:

Well-played, Roommate J. If you are still alive, that is. Me, I'll just be covering myself in glow sticks and covering the walls with LED tap-lights.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

raygunThis is my raygun. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

This has been an interesting week. DST is still the enemy, though I think I've finally cleared the hump. Trying to ease in last week by getting up at 3:30 instead of 4 for a few days did basically nothing on the getting to sleep on time front. If anything, it may have just prolonged the agony. By Sunday night, the body was not even remotely interested in going to bed. At all.

It wanted to go onto its own native schedule, which looks a lot like what I do anyway except it wants to do it in GMT. Late nights and even later mornings, you know? Especially since the weekend is the only time during the week that I nap freestyle (i.e. "Oh, it's mid-morning and I've got free time...") and so by Sunday I was well-rested and didn't even twig that I should be considering losing consciousness until about two hours after I should have.

Basically pain.

Combine that with a weird burst of impostor syndrome and the way my current writing-related projects are not playing well with one another at the moment, and I hit a serious low around Tuesday this week. Doubt, frustration, anger, depression -- really every negative feeling I could be having came to a head in the most miserable way.

For my birthday, my friend Chloie (who is a hell of a writer, and has amazing taste to boot) gave me a Mystery Box. The Mystery Box lives on my desk, and is full of odd trinkets and packets of tea, most of which are wrapped like wee gifts. I am allowed to use the Mystery Box as I see fit, obviously, but in general I use it as a reward system when I feel like I should get a treat, or as a kindness dispenser when I need something wee and shiny to improve my life.

Not that I really believed it would help on Tuesday. Which was ridiculous given that I'd not only sold something in the night from my Etsy shop, and I was doing paid work and blah, blah, blah. Feelings aren't rational. But any port in a storm, right? Plus, the fun thing about friends and gifts is that they seem to derive enjoyment when they give you things, and I derive enjoyment from my friends' happiness. So. Mystery Box it was.

I was not expecting something as perfect and ridiculous as the ray gun. It is so tiny as to be unweildy in my adult-sized human paws. It makes little noises. It lights up.

In a culture that can't decide whether it wants to buy all the guns and take them absolutely everywhere or punish anyone who so much as considers simulating a weapon, it feels subversive in my pocket. It pushes all the buttons in my head where my not-entirely-factual idealizations of classic sci-fi tropes live, and gives me the same tingle I used to feel when I was very small and playing Star Trek out in the yard with my cassette recorder tricorder, or running around with the glow-in-the-dark She Ra sword the neighbor kid eventually broke because he was a jerk who broke everything, or the toy lightsaber I had that went "vwoom" because it was open at the end.

Oh, and I can use it to shoot doubt in the face with extreme prejudice.

It could not be more perfect. The more I think of it, the more sure I am that even the timing was perfect. I'd be enchanted by it, sure, but getting it in precisely this way at exactly this time?

That's what makes it a talisman. That's what makes it magic.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

chainMost mornings, my alarm goes off at 4. I get up, I work -- writing, editing, etc. -- I shower and dress, and then I get into my car to go do different work for the rest of the day. About two or three times a week I do something else (e.g. meeting up with friends, going to org meetings, projects, etc.) before I come home, veg out for a little bit, and then shuffle off to the soft, dark place for a few hours.

A couple of days ago, I realized that DST starts this weekend. I moved my alarm back to 3:30.

The idea is that two little shifts would be less bad than a whole hour. If I'd been really smart I'd have started a couple of weeks ago, and bumped back to 3:45, 3:30, 3:15, etc., but so far this is working okay. I am unlikely to want to die on Monday when that hour I am using disappears out from under me. I may not even notice.

I'll tell you what, though: the idea of 3:30 is almost a little much. Like, I say I'm not a morning person, and that what I'm really doing is getting up in the middle of the night, but I'm still having to balance that with a diurnal life, and 3 AM is perilously close to what is probably a red line in terms of making that work. So.

At least I get that hour back at the end of haunt season.

And now, links:

30 Cats And Dogs Losing The Battle Against Human Furniture
I dispute that all of these animals are losing a battle, and not all of the human objects are furniture, but this is still magical.

10 Things That Every Brand New Creator of Science Fiction Should Know
I was surprised how good this list is. I'd also challenge that it's only for "brand new creator(s) of science fiction," since a lot of it is applicable to fantasy as well. And literary fiction. And so on.

Snake vs crocodile: A dramatic showdown
This is not a SyFy original movie. This is a thing that happened at a lake in Queensland where people swim. Australia: kind of amazing.

Ghosts of the Tsunami
Describing this essay as an account of the relationship between the living and the dead after the tsunami that cased the Fukushima disaster hardly does it justice. Longish, so set aside some time.

YouTube channel: Mahafsoun
Belly dance plus metal. Commentary should be entirely unnecessary, right? Beautiful stuff.

150 Journalism Cliches
I remember one of my teachers in high school had a list of bad writing habits to avoid, written in such a way as to demonstrate each habit in the instruction. "Avoid cliches like the plague" was one of those gems. Personally, I think we should use this list to make cable news bingo cards.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

BooksAs I mentioned in January, some folks expressed an interest in my New Year's resolution to (mostly) only read books by women. To review, here are my rules for what I can read in 2014:

All books should be written by women, with the following exceptions:
- Books already in progress prior to January 1, 2014 may be finished regardless of the author's gender
- Books in a series I am already reading may be read regardless of the author's gender
- Books needed for a class or specific project may be read regardless of the author's gender

I realized this month I needed rules to accommodate anthologies and books with multiple authors and/or editors:
- Anthologies edited by a woman are acceptable even if the collected authors are not all female, but books with 50% or better representation are preferred
- In the case of multiple authors and editors, a single woman will suffice, but books with 50% or better representation are preferred

So! With that out of the way, here's what I read in February:

Midnight Blue-Light Special, Seanan McGuire
This is the second of the InCryptid books, and pretty much entirely pleasure reading. I don't click with this series as deeply as I do with McGuire's Toby Daye series -- I don't really identify much with Verity Price -- but McGuire does a good job of making the interpersonal relationships interesting to me. Plus, you know, urban cryptids and secret societies. So.

Our Vampires, Ourselves, Nina Auerbach
I actually bought this in around 1999 when I was working for a textbook warehouse. I saw it on the shelf and was so delighted by the title that I knew I needed to read it. It's probably my favorite scholarly analysis of vampires in English-language literature and film, and deals with everything from pre-Stoker (e.g. Polidori and Byron) up through the Reagan years, ending more or less with Near Dark. This was a re-read -- it's relevant to some things I'm working on at the moment -- and very satisfying.

Spooky South, S.E. Schlosser
This is a collection of short folk stories from the Southern US as retold by the author/compiler. Schlosser's a folklorist, and I probably had higher hopes for this one than it was able to deliver, in part because I'd kind of hoped for a bit more context -- think liner notes, if you remember what those were -- when really the Spooky series is kind of like Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark for grown-ups. Lighter than I like, which is less a fault of the book itself than a mismatch of my tastes with the text. Still not a bad value as impulse buys go.

Weaving Memory, Laura Patsouris
My "Not a Book Club" book for February over at The Land, Sea & Sky, and probably not of interest if you're not into the idea of ancestor reverence as a part of one's spiritual path. You can find my full write-up here.

That puts my counts for 2014:

- 12 books finished
- 9 read in their entirety
- 2:10 ratio of men to women

My plan for March is kind of opaque at the moment, but if my latest trip to Village Books is any indication, fiction will be at least half of my reading load.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

chainSo it's True/False time in Columbia, and everything is beautiful.

I've got about twelve films on my list this year, the first of which (Jodowrosky's Dune) I caught last night after work. It was, I think, an auspicious start: beautifully made, full of heart, and exactly the thing my heart needed this week. I had to laugh at the timing, too, given that I finished the last Dune book all of a few weeks ago, so the idea was fresh in my mind.

If you want to see a story about what may be the happiest and most influential creative failure ever, go see this. It's apparently going to have relatively wide distribution in coming months.

Tonight is a longer haul, with films at 6, 8, and 10. I follow that up on Saturday and Sunday with four films each day. The range of topics is going to be intense, from particle physics to human trafficking to Nick Cave, so I'm anticipating going into Monday a little bit exhausted and a lot incoherent.

Oh, and very satisfied and happy. Yes.

And now, links:

- 100 LGBTQ Black Women You Should Know: The Epic Black History Month Megapost
A fantastic post about women who deserve more visibility in history and modern media than they get. Definitely great for starting a list of media to check out if your horizons need some expanding.

- Stanford scientist unveils 50-state plan to transform U.S. to renewable energy
This is not my area of expertise, but it seems to be a fairly comprehensive challenge to status quo. If I were Warren Buffett rich, I'd seriously consider working with this guy on making at least some of this happen.

- Muslim, queer, feminist: it’s as complicated as it sounds.
I've spent some time over the last couple of years intentionally making time to learn more about Islam, and I think this woman is a fantastic example of how people within that faith challenge the expectations most of us have based on media coverage of Muslims. High five, awesome Internet stranger!

- Inside Amtrak's (Absolutely Awesome) Plan to Give Free Rides to Writers
I love this idea like burning, even if I'm not sure it's for me. I'm kind of Internet-dependent when I work, partially because I benefit from additional stimulation when I'm writing, but this also looks like the kind of novel experience that would teach me a lot of interesting things. I like the cut of Amtrak's jib right now. Yes I do.

- Op-ed: Coming Out As An Evangelical Pastor
As someone who lives his life in a lot of fear some days because of the political force of the US Evangelical movement, I hurt when I read this. I hurt for the people who are struggling in these environments, and I hurt because the people who most need to take these words to heart are more likely to ignore them than any other group of people.

- The Blood Harvest
This article about the biomedical industry's harvesting and use of horseshoe crab blood is both mindblowing in its own right and full of sentences I had no reasonable expectation of encountering. Like, this is information I literally could not have known I wanted. Wow.

- Your Spirit Animal Is Here To Take You On Your Vision Quest
This is making the rounds again, and it's both funny and near to my heart in terms of respecting the spiritualities of others.

And now, pants.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

chainLast night I started feeling pretty rough. I chalked it up to the tail end of travel fatigue, popped two Aleve, and went to bed. This morning, I was like, "Man, I'm glad I took that Aleve, because I still feel kind of meh, and this would be so much worse if I hadn't!" and tried going to work. By 11 AM I was back home in my pajamas, trying to stave off chills and aches by curling up with the nearest dog.

And then I fell asleep for most of the day. As one does.

I'm pretty sure this is the non-influenza viral thing my roommates have been passing around since last week, but there's a chance it might be Billie Piper's flu. Or what my friend V had on the last day of Gally. Or something I picked up somewhere else.

I mean, I don't want to have flu -- I'm immunized and everything! -- but come on. It could be Billie Piper's flu!

(Please don't let it be flu.)

And now, links:

Stone Towns of the Swahili Coast
This? Awesome. We never learned about African history in any depth in public school, and I never had an opportunity in college.

How Single Photographs Are Saving The Lives Of Shelter Animals Across The Country
It seems obvious that better photos of shelter animals -- photos that make them seem dynamic, fun, and individual -- would make people more interested in adopting them, but the difference in before v. after is so striking. I'm glad this is a thing that people are doing.

On The Gay Thing
One of Dragon Age's lead developers talks about the challenges inherent in working toward better representation in games without it becoming a Thing. I hadn't realized that anyone on that team was part of the LGBTQ population, but that game (and its sequels) grabbed onto my heart in ways like the anonymous fan commenter's, so it's nice to see a post about it from the development side.

"Tainted Love" played by floppy disk drives, now with Marc Almond vocals
Because sometimes the Internet is magical.

Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park
Does exactly what it says on the tin. Unsurprisingly, a lot of the art is both beautiful and alien, thanks to being submerged in a live environment.

Arizona lawmakers pass controversial anti-gay bill
Gee, I can't wait to see what the gays-only drinking fountains, lunch counters, and toilets look like! (Hint: People tried using Christianity to defend racism too. Stop it. Religion isn't a license to treat people badly.)

Floating in Space
Fun with depreciating space suits! Also, kind of scary if seeing something that looks like a human floating around untethered makes you tense.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

bearAnxiety is a Thing for me.

When I say it's a Thing, I mean to say that it's a significant obstacle to my ability to function. When the volume is high, I kind of explode into a bundle of coping mechanisms, most of which are essentially different flavors of procrastination. If I need to do a task that tenses me up past a certain threshold, I'll do almost any other task instead. This isn't always a bad thing -- I benefit from having an up-to-date to-do list and a clean desk, and would rather be doing something than nothing -- but the problem with running away is that sometimes you end up cornered against a fence.

Those are the times my brain likes to go limp and play dead.

"Task paralysis" isn't quite the right term, though the experience of competing tasks does contribute to the "man, it's so loud in here" effect. It's more like a certain volume kicks my process into a state of full-on tonic immobility, which may or may not be bracketed by distracting numbing/soothing behaviors like rearranging stuff, social networking, tasks I can pretend are useful and important, etc.

Watching myself do this is kind of like watching a mouse trying to scramble its way out of a fishbowl, except that the mouse doesn't exist; it's the fishbowl trying to get out of the fishbowl.

Knowing this happens isn't the same as being able to fix it. Recognize it, yes. Try to hit the reset button, yes. Many days, I keep the volume to a healthy, dull roar and just take a little break now and again to stay oriented. Some days, the best I can do is try to control the damage by channeling things so that I come as close to hitting a target as I can. Other days, I'm hitting the reset button every fifteen minutes because everything -- including things that should help, like lists -- makes things worse.

The best fix I've found for this is probably the least appealing: keep going. It's not the advice I want at my nadir, because when I'm down there all I want is for things to work instead of overwhelming me so much I lose the ability to focus, but it's the only thing I've ever found to work. It might not work the same day -- in fact, it sometimes takes me a few to get back on the horse if things are especially tense in other areas of my life -- but sooner or later the rhythm of things begins to assert itself again. As for motivation, I'm possibly lucky in that I appear to be someone who believes that not trying is at least as bad as failing, only without the potential for success.

(And yes, I can think of scenarios in which a good choice results in something even more catastrophic, but I'm able to do that in almost every single arena of my life because my brain is unpleasant like that. I'm also smart enough to decide to draw a thick line between being kind of neurotic and pessimistic and being profoundly self-destructive. So.)

This week has been interesting. This morning was a multi-reset day. I'm not sure about the rest of my week. I'm hoping the weekend will be kind. Really, as long as I can keep myself from wedging myself under the furniture, I'll call it a win.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

chainFor a week in which I essentially had two weekends -- this week's storm shut things down pretty comprehensively around here for Tuesday and Wednesday -- I feel surprisingly overwhelmed and ready for another weekend.

Like, seriously? How does this happen?

Part of it involves a project is rolling into a more active phase at the same time as some social obligations ramp up. I'm frantically trying to prepare for Gallifrey One, the beginning of the month is the busiest time for my local Grove, and so on. Lots of things going on more or less all at once can be really energizing for me, but the flip side of that is that I wind up really excited and then wonder how to cram all of it into the time allotted.

Given that I didn't feel this way before I went back to my 4 AM wake time, this all suggests that putting myself back on farmer's hours is Super EffectiveTM. The tingle means it's working.

Given that I've been focusing more intensively of late on eating whole foods, I should not be in love with the idea of Soylent. But I am. Not because I look at this and think, "Oh hey, convenient complete nutrition!" but because I look at it and think, "OMG SPACE FOOD SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY."

Share this with all the schools, please
"We talked about shaping little hearts to become contributors to a larger community – and we discussed our mutual dream that those communities might be made up of individuals who are Kind and Brave above all." People, my heart grew three sizes. Go read this and then go hug a teacher.

Ghosts of Murdered Kings
Look, if I can't link to documentaries about bog bodies, what is the Internet actually for? Gods bless you, PBS.

Compassion, Transformation, and the Power of Community
The Wild Hunt is a site that focuses on Pagan topics, news items, etc. Of late, however, it also seems increasingly focused on how ordinary activism works as enacted by members of that community. Alley Valkyrie's piece about working with the Whoville settlement in Oregon is an incredibly solid look at what works with homlessness and what doesn't in terms of helping to build stability and wellness for those on the fringes, including reducing the amount of time they spend bouncing around in the legal system.

How to: Make a DIY Modern Concrete Fire Pit from Scratch
I see this and think two things. First, that I am not allowed to have this knowledge. Second, that I will never need to buy an outdoor flower pot again.

1980s New Wave Major Arcana
Look, I know I just had a birthday, and that I don't read a lot of tarot these days, but...well, I suspect I know what I'll be spending some money on when I have properly disposable income again this spring.

Inside the Iron Closet: What It's Like to Be Gay in Putin's Russia
"Elena Kostyuchenko knew she would be beaten. It was how hard she went down that surprised her. Not immediately. When the fist connected with her skull, she fell, yes, but then she stood again and raised her rainbow flag. The crowd was silent. Their mouths were open as if screaming, but there was no sound. Her hearing was gone. Then the police grabbed her, and Elena's first gay-pride parade was over."

Too Insane To Ignore: Marjane Satrapi On Her Fascinating Sundance Horror-Comedy 'The Voices'
I have never wanted to see something with Ryan Reynolds in it so badly in my life. This is a very strange feeling indeed.

Living Without Lights (or water, or electricity…)
This was interesting to me for several reasons. While the post itself is mostly just instructive, I found myself thinking about the strange trend of my generation toward extremes of more and less, and how only a portion of us actually choose less, and how uncomfortable the implications of the whole thing are. Like, yes, I am "interested in simplicity" and I sometimes daydream about living in a tiny house. I am also able to say these things because of my privilege as an employed, able-bodied, male-passing, white person with friends kind enough to make him part of their household, not someone experiencing genuine privation in the dead of winter. To some extent we may need to recognize the simplicity movement among people from traditionally privileged groups as possibly being both a symbol and a symptom of increasing inequity.

Meet Terri Conley: The Psychologist With an Alternative Theory of Hookup Culture
"In a series of papers published in 2011 and 2012, Conley’s lab put forth an alternative explanation: Women were passing on sexual advances out of fear of being judged as promiscuous and doubt that a one-night stand with a new partner would be pleasurable. When her researchers controlled for these factors, the casual-sex gender difference evaporated." Fascinating stuff. Her lab is currently researching consensual non-monogamy.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

BooksWhen I posted about my resolution to read (almost) only women in 2014, a handful of folks asked me to share what I read. While I do maintain a Goodreads page, it occurs to me that blogging my progress is probably a lot more interesting and flexible for everyone.

So. Here goes.

This month, I finished three books that I began reading prior to the new year: a general book on fitness, Frank Herbert's Dune, and Tiffany M. Gill's Beauty Shop Politics. Of the three, Gill's book is the only one that would meet the criteria of my challenge, and is also the one that I'd recommend most highly.

The history of beauty culture in the American African American community is not something much discussed, and in particular I don't think I really understood the centrality of it in terms of bolstering the Civil Rights movement and empowering women of color. I can't say as a white guy that I have a bone-deep understanding after reading a book, but this adds context I didn't have before.

Other books I finished in January:

Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
This is actually a re-read for me, and enjoyable because while I know the story well, I'd forgotten the particular shape of the original text. I'd also forgotten how much it references the works of others in her personal circle, so those parts of me that delight in minutae got a nice workout.

Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant by Veronica Roth
I was aware of the upcoming film for Divergent, and I'd started seeing copies of it floating around in public, so I figured I'd give it a go. I ended up binge reading the whole series. It hits me right in the sci-fi dystopia buttons, and the story is one in which there's a lot of opportunities to think about identity, justice, conformity, courage, bias, etc. The diversity level in the text is middling -- lots of PoC, very limited LGBTQ, good gender variety -- and I kind of want to start watching IMDB to see how badly Hollywood sucks out the good stuff and replaces it with crap. Also, like any trilogy there's a necessary shift in the third book, but I'm still trying to decide how I feel about some of those changes, and if there was a better way to tell that part of the story.

Exploring the Northern Tradition by Galina Krasskova
I realized around the late middle of January that I'd enjoy engaging in book club-style behavior with my Pagan studies without going to the trouble of actually starting a book club. Krasskova's book is the one I chose for January. You can find my write-up here.

That puts my counts for 2014:

- 8 books finished
- 5 read in their entirety
- 2:6 ratio of men to women

For February, I'm already working on a good blend of fiction and non-fiction, including another well-loved re-read, and a possible exception to my resolution (under the "required for a project/study" provision). So, uh, stay tuned if you're into that sort of thing.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit