Monthly Archives: December 2012

A Year in Review

temple heart bells

What was your proudest achievement?

  • Finishing the first draft of the story I started last year and letting someone else look at it.
  • Being present and available to support my mom during some health challenges.
  • Getting THIS website started.
  • Learning to use my new camera!

Your biggest change?
I initially felt that 2012 didn’t have any dramatic changes, and I still stand by that. But I became more attuned to subtlety in the last year, which has felt deeply satisfying.

Your happiest moment?
As with the previous question, there weren’t really any giant spikes that stood out. It’s just been a good year. But one thing that I totally enjoyed this year was getting more into birding – first with the barred owls and then nearly tripping over the snowy owl in November!

Your most exciting trip?
I only traveled 3 times this year – I would have to say the ski trip was definitely the most fun. Oh, I just remembered I went down to Portland for a couple of days to hang out with my little sister. That was pretty awesome, too.

Your favourite meal?
Probably the dinner I had at D.O.C. in Portland.

The thing that made you laugh the hardest?
25 funniest autocorrects was pretty damn funny.

What did you do that surprised you the most?
Started another novel.

What happened that you’d have never anticipated this time last year?
Marriage equality passed AT THE BALLOT BOX in three states and a homophobic law was voted down. And Anderson Cooper finally came out of the closet.

Your favourite book / film / poem / music / museum (could be for totally spurious reasons that have nothing to do with the book / film / music in question)?
Book: I had more than one. You can see the top titles here. I guess I’d say there were three:

  • Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson
  • Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse
  • Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Movie: The Cloud Atlas and The King’s Speech

Who made you smile the most?

My sweetie.

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Slow Blogging

turtle stencil

I never stated explicitly when I posted my manifesto, but when I named this site, I was tipping my hat to the slow movement – slow food v. fast food, etc. Today I learned there is a Slow Blogging Movement! I am not alone. Even though I might not see the other snails, it’s nice to know there are others out there.

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Icicle and red globe

I think most of you know that I’m not Christian, which means I do not celebrate Christmas – or at least, not in the way most Christians do. At the beginning of the month I attended a mass wedding where 25 same-sex couples got married. And they sang the Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah. I tend to just tune out and not pay attention to the words when anything related to Jesus comes up. For some reason, when they sang He shall reign I replaced He with love in my mind, and I just loved it so much. So I thought I’d play around with the rest of the lyrics that specifically referenced a deity and here’s what I came up with. Wishing you all light and love in the coming year.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
For the [LIGHT OF LOVE] [LIGHT OF LOVE] reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
For the [LIGHT OF LOVE] [LIGHT OF LOVE] reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
The kingdom of this world
Is become the kingdom of our [LOVE],
And of [THE LIGHT], and of [THE LIGHT];
And [LOVE] shall reign for ever and ever,

For ever and ever, forever and ever,
And [LOVE] shall reign,
And [LOVE] shall reign forever and ever,
[LIGHT OF LIGHTS], forever and ever,
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
And [LOVE] shall reign forever and ever,
And [LOVE] shall reign forever and ever,
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Original lyrics for quick reference

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The Next Big Thing

I got tagged by Janine Southard to participate in The Next Big Thing bloghop. This blog hop gives authors the chance to discuss their current projects, and then tag five others for the following week. I don’t have anyone to tag, so if you want to participate, feel free to hop on the bandwagon!

epiphyte on Royal Palm


What is the working title of your book?

Leaves Kick Grass – but honestly, that is just something I came up with because I didn’t want to save it as “Untitled”. IF it ever gets published, I am certain it will have a different title.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I am extremely sensitive to light – I feel energized when there is a lot of sunshine and almost instantly start to droop if it becomes overcast. I’ve often joked about being part plant, and when I decided to try a turn at fiction, I thought it would be interesting to explore what it might feel like if a human actually could photosynthesize. I also wanted to investigate what it means to be “other” in a very different kind of way.

In addition to that, I’m constantly interrogating what it means to be human – even if that human is modified in some way. There is a queer couple who are central to the story, but I am so tired of the tropes that I wanted a story that a) wasn’t about coming out and b) didn’t have horrible things happen to the queer people (i.e. where they die or end up alone) and c) the queer people could be the heroes.

What genre does your book fall under?

Post-apocalyptic dystopian science fiction.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I honestly have no idea. The three main characters don’t look like any of the women I’ve seen in movies. Two of them are butch, which is almost never portrayed on screens of any size.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

What happens when your life depends on sunlight and you become trapped underground?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I have no idea if it will ever even see the light of day (ha!). IF it does, I was thinking I would like an agent, although with my understanding of the publishing industry at the moment, I’m not entirely closed to self-publishing.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About a year, although it was written in spurts. If I subtract the months I didn’t write at all, I’d say six months. I STILL need to edit it and fix some parts of the story. No idea how long this process will take.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

You know how they say to write the stories you want to read? Well, that’s why I wrote this one. I can’t think of any, but then, perhaps I haven’t read wide enough. If you know of any that sound familiar, let me know.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Inspiration is a tricky word for me. I will just say that I have wanted to write for a long time. I asked for some help and support and got amazing encouragement from Nicola Griffith and Kelley Eskridge.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s about women kicking ass. And collaboration. And long-term relationships. And queers.

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A Wife By Any Other Name

just married

Part I: Background

The legalization of marriage for same-sex couples became a reality in Washington state last weekend. It is my adopted state and I have lived here for 19+ years. As marriage equality becomes available in each state, it rekindles a conversation for me about labels. Specifically, a conversation about the labels that denote spouse in a gendered way, i.e. wife.

My mother and my sister, both married to men, both mentioned to me that they don’t like it. When I was a child, I thought I was going to grow up and get married and of course, be a wife. I had no concept of sexuality or of my own sexuality when these thoughts were planted. It was what I saw around me. It seemed natural, like breathing or eating.

Then I learned more about the history of marriage, and how for most of recorded history women were property and marriage was about the exchange of property – including human chattel. The idea of marrying for love was very new. I could go into a longer discussion about this, but entire books have been written on it in a much more cogent manner that I could speak. Then I came out as queer. After I fell in love with a woman, and chose to make my life with her, marriage became something for other people – that is, straight people or closeted queer people who were desperately trying for something else. As with other things that weren’t available to me, I suppressed any desire for it and put it behind the shop window.

When same-sex marriage was legalized in Washington state by the electorate last month, I felt as though that glass window I was pressing my nose against evaporated. I was destabilized and disoriented. Marriage, while recognized by my state but not the federal government, was suddenly something I could participate in, if I so choose. I feel solid in my relationship. I do not need any government approval or imprimatur. However, I recognize that marriage gives access to certain rights that might make things easier for me.

But let’s leave all that behind and talk about the word we all came here for: WIFE. Some of my friends know about my discomfort with the word, particularly as it applies to queers. I asked my friends on Facebook how they felt about the word. Their responses covered the spectrum, from utter joy to complete dissatisfaction:

1 – complete and utter enjoyment [ref]
“I like it. I worked hard for it. I use it all the time. I’m conditioning the masses. You’re welcome.” -RK
“That’s what I call [my wife] whenever I refer to her to people who don’t know her. I think it is important to use those terms to redefine them. She occasion [sic] refers to me that way too and I like it, although I prefer husbian.” KH
“I love being K’s wife. But it drives both batty when people refer to her as my wife. Total gender role comprehension fail.” -MG
“I like the term. I would be perplexed if someone used that term to refer to me right now, since I’m single. But I would like to be a wife someday. (and now it’s legally possible to even dream of it!)” -MS
“What’s weird is that now I have to stop using it until the wedding” -NG
“I love it. It’s also a much nicer word than “husband” but I like both because they’re the words for our commitment …” -TK
“I like “wife”. It makes it our relationship clear. “She’s not my friend. She’s my wife!”” -NN
“I like being a wife and being referred to as one, because it’s my husband who does the referring. Makes me feel like I made the right choice because it would probably grate otherwise.” -RR
“I like it. I didn’t like it the first time.” -RVW
“I think it depends on tone and context. It was a strange and exciting role name to grow into when we first married. K and I use “husband” and “wife” in similar contexts, so it’s not derogatory or offensive. But I could see how in some situations it could be used that way.” -LHS
“As a political statement, I love finally being able to call Z my wife and vice versa. As a cultural statement, I consider it more of a camp role. . . like, will you be the wife today?” – RG
“When asked my an ex-military man the other day at Boeing how my husband felt about my traveling so much, I replied in front of the whole group, “My wife handles it really well.” It had more resonance than expected inside me and felt different than if I’d said, “My partner handles it well…” Something about using his language in a way that made me feel powerful and proud. I liked if.”[/ref]

2 – more or less neutral [ref]
“I look over my shoulder to see who they’re talking about.” – ARG
“It’s odd. It took me a full year after being married to come to some sort of peace with it. I don’t think it’s bad, it’s just a descriptor, but it is definitely odd. Now I like it–it’s nice to be someone’s wife. And that someone else is my husband. And, I think it makes sense for 2 women who are married to be wives to each other. They are each someone’s wife!” – JS1[/ref]

3 – varying degrees of discomfort [ref]
“It’s odd. I guess I will learn to get used to it.” -RB
“A has never, ever called me that. With friends she says “boifriend” but usually she says “partner.” I like it that way.” -CC
“This hetero hates “wife” and “husband” we use spouse.” -RM
“After more than 14 years of being married to a man, I still don’t like wife or husband, but I tolerate it because, as someone said, it’s what connotes commitment in our society.” -JS2
“I’ve never cared for it, & now that it could apply to me, I’m checking in to see how I feel. So far, it feels a little like saccharin.” -MP
“M calls me her wife, which provokes all kinds of mixed feelings in me, even now after being married five years. I always react to it — always. On the one hand, I’m proud to be her wife. On the other hand, I grew up during the time of “partner” and it is 100% natural for me now. Wife always sounds like a bizarre and foreign term — like a foreign language (the language of other people and other relationships) has suddenly been applied to me. I feel like a married person but I’m not sure I feel like a “wife”. Partner always connoted equality and also a relationship that was not traditional. That always fit with me — I did not aspire to become a wife. It also provided a way to be known to others without triggering homophobia. I think in some ways, I am afraid to use wife — I don’t want to trigger shock or disgust. Partner can create confusion but it rarely triggers a strong emotional reaction. Taking over the straight word, on the other hand, does. I think, after 20 years, I’ve just hard-wired partner into my brain. Wife always feels shocking and even slightly dangerous. But it is the right word — maybe someday it will feel natural for me.” -SK
“I hated the word when I first got married because to me it had a negative connotation. A wife was someone who made you do chores and rained on your happy parades. So for at least a year I’d announce “I’m the best wife ever” as I walked through the door with pizza and beer. And there were never any honey do lists. After almost ten years, there still are no honey do lists. But now I’m off the I’m not the best-wife-ever idea. I’m not the grumpy mean no fun bitch I thought “wife” was. I’m just a wife. I make the word. I’m a female person who is married aka wife. I’m over the negative connotation as it applies to me personally but I still am not fond of the word.” -MW

4 – a few who liked “wife” but didn’t like “husband” [ref]

“I don’t mind wife but I hate husband because it feels like to have a husband means I am property. So I use partner and R says wife.” -JB


5 – A couple of my male friends responded and overwhelmingly they indicated that they love being referred to as “wife”.

Part II: Discussion

(For the sake of this discussion, I’m going to use the term “parents” but please feel free to replace it with any term that suits your experience.) It’s easy for me to get sidetracked about the personal feelings about this label, but after our friends got married last weekend, we had an interesting discussion about the ramifications and ripple effect adopting this label has for parents, particularly ones who may be having difficulty accepting their children’s same-sex relationships, but even for families that are accepting. There is often this funny ballet that occurs when a parent gets the opportunity to introduce the couple. Sometimes no mention is made of the nature of the relationship between the couple; sometimes it might be indicated by partner, which imparts its own ambiguity and confusion[ref]”Oh, you work together? What sort of work do you do?” (This was actually said to me by an aunt.)[/ref]. I have often wondered if the reticence is based on a desire to protect the people being introduced, although it might equally be a desire for the parent to remain closeted, such is the power of the stigma attached to homosexuality.

But having the decision taken out of the parents’ hands may relieve this confusion and pressure. Now, it is not up to the person making the introduction to be the interlocutor; the state has made the determination. The parent is not seen as condemning or condoning their child’s relationship. It is a legally binding contract. They are stating a legal status.

Wife is a role, but also a legally defined status and relationship. We impose meaning on everything. It’s what humans do. Like President Barack Obama, my own feelings about wife are evolving. I love being shocked and surprised when I hear a woman has a wife (or a man has a husband). It signifies I am not alone. I am always looking for connections, overlaps, ways in which I am like other people. This one little word can convey so much. Wife encapsulates so much meaning and is being reinvented as access to marriage spreads across the country. I keep trying to imagine the label for myself, tripping over the word as I apply it to my relationship. Instead of feeling like I have to adopt a role or become what I think a wife is, I can allow myself, like my friends, to reinvent the word and create and expand the meaning so it can be comfortable for everyone.

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The Girl Who Knew Too Much

green water drop

I’ve been helping my friends Amy Benson & Scott Squire, Seattle-based film makers, get the word out about their kickstarter campaign for their documentary, The Girl Who Knew Too Much. They are investigating among other things, the global epidemic of suicide.

While they met their fundraising goal in TWO WEEKS, the level they set was the bare minimum required to fund their trip to Nepal to finish filming. Any amount you can give will be put to good use. The kickstarter ends in six days.

I’ve written a couple of guests posts for them:

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I’m diving into the waters of blogging! For my very first official blog post, I thought I’d share my humanifesto to give you a sense of who I am (although I imagine that most of you reading this already know me at some level). This is still a work in progress. Without further ado!

  1. Be kind. To everyone. That includes yourself.
  2. Be honest. See above.
  3. Life is too short to tolerate assholes. They might get to you sometimes. You can let them go.
  4. Find the people who value you and cultivate them in your life. This is your community.
  5. Not everyone will like you. That’s fine. You don’t like everyone. You aren’t supposed to. But treat everyone with respect.
  6. Value experiences over stuff. You really can’t take it with you when you go.
  7. Your mind will close/become accustomed to things. Be open to the possibility of something new/different.
  8. Find people who make you laugh. Make sure to spend time with them. Daily, if possible.
  9. Move your body in three dimensions. Swim. Dance. Swing on monkey bars.
  10. Go on adventures regularly.
  11. Flirt!
  12. Eat good food that is good for you.
  13. Go outside. Notice what is there. We are part of nature, not separate from it. Everything is connected.
  14. There is a time and a place for quality and quantity. Try to recognize when it is appropriate for what.
  15. You are perfect. Just the way you are. You are good enough.
  16. Earnestness is the antidote to cynicism.
  17. Words have power. Stories are how we make sense of the world. Pay attention to the stories you tell yourself and the ones you believe. If you don’t like the stories you are hearing, you can make new ones.
  18. Collaborate.
  19. Honor those who came before and those who have paved the way to make things easier for you. Know that this road has been trod and you aren’t alone, even if you can’t see anyone else at the moment.
  20. Let love be stronger than your fear.
  21. Celebrate all your victories.
  22. Failure is a sign you are trying something. Real failure is when you stop trying altogether.
  23. Create space: in your home, in your mind, in your life.
  24. Cultivate a mindfulness practice.
  25. Rest. A lot. More than you think you need.
  26. The speed you are going is exactly the right speed. No one yells at a flower for blooming too slowly.
  27. I look forward to hearing from you!

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