Gender education — Druid Life

Kids are not led astray by knowing more about the breadth of human possibility. You don’t turn people gay by telling them that gay exists. What you do is save them from having to live either as outsiders, or trying to fake being something they are not.

Gender education — Druid Life

This is why visibility is so, so important. That pervasive feeling of being a square peg in a round hole until you go to college and realize there are all kinds of…

Okay, I was going to say all kind of holes for all kinds of pegs, but that seems raunchier than it did in my head, so let’s just abandon that metaphor here and now.

Anyway, that feeling of not quite fitting in and not really knowing why sucks. And I say that as a cis, white, mostly-lesbian. I can’t imagine what that disconnect feels like for trans kids and other marginalized groups. The building block of consciousness is the self-reflective “I am,” and if you don’t have the vocabulary or even the vague concepts to complete that statement then… that sucks.

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IWSG April: I’ve got insecurity, You’ve got insecurity, We’ve all got insecurity!

Here’s some advice I recently came across on tumblr, which is apparently the source of most of my critical thoughts these days. (Which is… terrifying, honestly, because the site is kind of a dumpster fire. Oops.) Technically it was referring to sending emails at work, but it applies to any kind of writing.

Edit out “just.”

As a word, just strives to lowball the statement it’s attached to. “I just wanted to check in to see…” “Just saying!” “It’s just that, I was thinking…”

No. You’re checking in about something for a reason! You said something for a reason! You were thinking something for a reason! Be firm, don’t let that insecurity shine through! And yet, I write this way all the time. Women, especially, tend to be socialized to apologize for any strong opinion or statement they have. There’s a whole bit about it in Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens, where the girls stranded on a dessert island vote to eject the word “sorry” from their vocabulary. (And then forget, say it, and are like, “Oops, I forgot. Sorry. Oops!!” Because hey, it’s a comedy.)

As I’ve recently started a new set of duties at my part time job, I’ve gone through the email templates and phone call scripts to… well, check the basic sentence structure and stuff, do my usual “too many of these sentences/paragraphs start with the same word and it’s driving me up the WALL” thing… but I’ve specifically edited out every instance of “just” I can find. The results are messages that sound a lot more sure of themselves. Especially when it comes to leaving voicemails, which, while often preferable to the hassle of having to utter words to a live stranger, actually records whatever comes out of your mouth for posterity.

I have yet to really wade neck-deep into editing “just” out of my fiction. There will definitely be exceptions, because a statement like “I just started a few days ago” doesn’t lowball so much as indicate that something happened quite recently. It’s going to depend on where the emphasis is.

What do you think? Are you prepared to go on a crusade against “just,” or any other words?

IWSG March 2019 — Perspective

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Thanks to Alex for hosting this each month. Here is the complete list of participants.

Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero (protagonist) or the villain (antagonist)? And why?

I usually err on the side of the protagonist, because I think it actually depends more on which character I like the best, aka whichever one comes easiest to me most of the time. Which raises a question of my own…

If it’s from the antagonist’s POV isn’t that just a combination of anti-hero and unreliable narrator?

In real life, every person sees themselves as the hero of their own story. This is also true for any well-developed, well-written fictional character, so I feel it’s incredibly relevant when considering what a protagonist and an antagonist are.

I was haphazardly googling around for inspiration in writing this post and I found this thought:

“Protagonist and antagonist are not point of view characters but are character functions. The protagonist is the one who is the prime mover of the effort to achieve the goal. The antagonist is all about preventing the protagonist from achieving the goal. In our own minds, protagonist represents our initiative – the motivation to affect change. Antagonist is our reticence – the motivation to maintain the status quo, or at least to return to it.” ~ The Storymind Writer’s Library

But that still leaves it as a matter of how the story is written, and the reader’s perspective on what’s happening. Here are some dictionary definitions, also found via google:

Protagonist

  • the leading character or one of the major characters in a drama, movie, novel, or other fictional text
  • the main figure or one of the most prominent figures in a real situation
  • an advocate or champion of a particular cause or idea

Antagonist

  • a person who actively opposes or is hostile to someone or something; an adversary
  • (biochemistry) a substance that interferes with or inhibits the physiological action of another.
  • (anatomy) a muscle whose action counteracts that of another specified muscle.

So “protagonist versus antagonist” has been explained variously as “initiative versus reticence,” “motivation to affect change versus motivation to maintain status quo,” and/or “leading character versus someone opposing/counteracting leading character in some way.”

What if it’s a character who’s trying to save the world versus a character trying to return the world to its less complicated, pre-human state? Or, to put it another way, a character who’s trying to destroy the world versus a character trying to stop them and maintain the status quo?

Frodo trying to get the One Ring to Mount Doom and destroy it vs Sauron and minions trying to stop him? Or, Sauron trying to conquer Middle Earth vs the Fellowship setting out on a quest to keep it free?

Raise your hand if you had instinctive knee-jerk answers to the previous two paragraphs, because I know I do. Most of the stories that I can think of at the moment are that first way around.

Now consider, if you’ve seen it, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.

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Wikipedia

On one hand you have the obvious good guy Captain Hammer, who’s as much of a tool as his name suggests and who gets the girl because, duh, he’s the good guy. On the other you have Dr. Horrible, aka Billy, an aspiring super-villain whose application to the Evil League of Evil keeps being rejected and who doesn’t get the girl because, duh, he’s the bad guy. Without giving any outright spoilers, let’s just say that in trying to get his crush to break up with Captain Hammer by proving that he’s actually a selfish, self-involved jerk, Dr. Horrible accidentally causes a death, is finally accepted by the League, and is so emotionally shut down by what he’s done that he accepts.

Who’s trying to accomplish something? Dr. Horrible. Who’s the main character and champion of a cause? Dr. Horrible. Who do we see the most of throughout the story and who does your heart break for by the end? Dr. Horrible, even though he could easily qualify as an antagonist under different circumstances — i.e. if you didn’t get primarily his side of the story.

… I haven’t really answered the IWSG question, have I?

Or maybe I have. I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.

Top Surgery Part II

Top Surgery Part II

https://musingtopieces.wordpress.com/2019/02/17/top-surgery-part-ii/
— Read on musingtopieces.wordpress.com/2019/02/17/top-surgery-part-ii/

My beau wrote a poem about his top surgery! ❤️

And for the record, I would like to add that during his recovery he’s been a very agreeable patient. The wedding’s still on!

IWSG February 2019

I missed posting this on time, but whatever. Here’s my answer for the Insecure Writer’s Suport Group prompt.

Besides writing, what other creative outlets do you have?

Writing has been my main creative outlet for a long, long time — second only to daydreaming, probably, which is absolutely where my drive to write started. Some of my other creative hobbies have, similarly, come out of writing, and others have come in on their own.

Drawing

I guess I’ve always been a doodler, always been very fussy about my crayons and color pencils and markers. For a long stretch I didn’t do anything with those because I was too much of a perfectionist, and the colors weren’t going down consistent enough. Have you ever looked at something you colored in with a Crayola marker and didn’t like it because the pen strokes were at slightly different angles or overlapped to much and made a dark/light/dark stripe effect? That sort of thing. Anyway, in college I ended up taking a life drawing class and I loved the control of graphite, the messy straightforwardness of charcoal, and, omg, my fave, coloring in a sketch with watercolor.

But oddly enough, what really made me feel like an “artist” was making fanart comics. And because I’m a fan of the economy of simple lines (and I can’t draw backgrounds for the life of me, lol), I got into the habit of drawing stick figure comics. While it wasn’t exactly High Art, it was a really entertaining way to convey a story. And I did do other, mostly watercolor based fanart as well.

Baking

For some reason, my grandma and I are the only people in my family who seem to really enjoy making pies. I probably started because of the apple tree in my parents’ backyard, and because I knew my dad’s friend Jane also baked and was willing to share her pie dough recipe with me. (A few years after doing so she made me cry over not refrigerating the dough in the right shape… and that, more or less, is why she’s not invited to my wedding this summer. Life’s to short to make a nineteen year old cry over spheres vs disks, come on.)

I do follow recipes. I think partly because I started in baking, where ratios and things tend to be Very Important, but also because I’d rather produce something tried and edible than an experimental disaster. The more I learn about spices and different flours and lower carb options, the more I’ve become willing to experiment. Started with tweaking the spiced sugar mix on the apples, and so far I’m up to subbing a mix of almond and coconut flours for regular flour because my grandpa has celiacs. (Coconut flour burns, like, at the drop of a hat though, so maybe I’ll do a 3:1 blend or something next time.) And, branching out from this, there’s also…

Cooking

Again, I follow recipes. But I spend a lot of time googling substitutions. My spice rack grows in fits and starts, but if I don’t have something I’ll try something else instead.

There’s a thrill in trying a new recipe and discovering a new favorite. I’ve made keto tortillas several times, made cauliflower fried rice a lot, made a keto French onion soup not often enough because it’s amazing. There’s a pride in creating edible things. And I’ve even started collecting the recipes I tend to reuse into my own recipe binder for future, plastic-sheet-protected reference. Someday it might even rival the massive Holiday Recipes cookbook my grandma gave me one Christmas (each of the grandkids got one) with every cookie, candy, chocolate, and brittle recipe she has (and possibly also my great granny had) ever made.

Plus, getting more into cooking has allowed me to get more into healthy foods, and it feels really good to have kept off the thirty pounds I lost last year. Hashtag confidence boost.


Overall, I think a creative outlet is something that should boost you up. Having a finished product afterwards is nice, but not always necessary because it’s more about how you feel. Like, clearing out the cobwebs and putting good, accomplished feelings in their place.

IWSG February 2019

I missed posting this on time, but whatever. Here’s my answer for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group prompt.

Besides writing, what other creative outlets do you have?

Writing has been my main creative outlet for a long, long time — second only to daydreaming, probably, which is absolutely where my drive to write started. Some of my other creative hobbies have, similarly, come out of writing, and others have come in on their own.

Drawing

I guess I’ve always been a doodler, always been very fussy about my crayons and color pencils and markers. For a long stretch I didn’t do anything with those because I was too much of a perfectionist, and the colors weren’t going down consistent enough. Have you ever looked at something you colored in with a Crayola marker and didn’t like it because the pen strokes were at slightly different angles or overlapped to much and made a dark/light/dark stripe effect? That sort of thing. Anyway, in college I ended up taking a life drawing class and I loved the control of graphite, the messy straightforwardness of charcoal, and, omg, my fave, coloring in a sketch with watercolor.

But oddly enough, what really made me feel like an “artist” was making fanart comics. And because I’m a fan of the economy of simple lines (and I can’t draw backgrounds for the life of me, lol), I got into the habit of drawing stick figure comics. While it wasn’t exactly High Art, it was a really entertaining way to convey a story. And I did do other, mostly watercolor based fanart as well.

Baking

For some reason, my grandma and I are the only people in my family who seem to really enjoy making pies. I probably started because of the apple tree in my parents’ backyard, and because I knew my dad’s friend Jane also baked and was willing to share her pie dough recipe with me. (A few years after doing so she made me cry over not refrigerating the dough in the right shape… and that, more or less, is why she’s not invited to my wedding this summer. Life’s to short to make a nineteen year old cry over spheres vs disks, come on.)

I do follow recipes. I think partly because I started in baking, where ratios and things tend to be Very Important, but also because I’d rather produce something tried and edible than an experimental disaster. The more I learn about spices and different flours and lower carb options, the more I’ve become willing to experiment. Started with tweaking the spiced sugar mix on the apples, and so far I’m up to subbing a mix of almond and coconut flours for regular flour because my grandpa has celiacs. (Coconut flour burns, like, at the drop of a hat though, so maybe I’ll do a 3:1 blend or something next time.) And, branching out from this, there’s also…

Cooking

Again, I follow recipes. But I spend a lot of time googling substitutions. My spice rack grows in fits and starts, but if I don’t have something I’ll try something else instead.

There’s a thrill in trying a new recipe and discovering a new favorite. I’ve made keto tortillas several times, made cauliflower fried rice a lot, made a keto French onion soup not often enough because it’s amazing. There’s a pride in creating edible things. And I’ve even started collecting the recipes I tend to reuse into my own recipe binder for future, plastic-sheet-protected reference. Someday it might even rival the massive Holiday Recipes cookbook my grandma gave me one Christmas (each of the grandkids got one) with every cookie, candy, chocolate, and brittle recipe she has (and possibly also my great granny had) ever made.

Plus, getting more into cooking has allowed me to get more into healthy foods, and it feels really good to have kept off the thirty pounds I lost last year. Hashtag confidence boost.


Overall, I think a creative outlet is something that should boost you up. Having a finished product afterwards is nice, but not always necessary because it’s more about how you feel. Like, clearing out the cobwebs and putting good, accomplished feelings in their place.

A Bunch of Months In Review: Fall & Winter 2018

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’m dusting the cobwebs off this blog as best I can, in the form of a review.

Writing

I have a confession to make… I didn’t do NaNoWriMo this year, breaking my three year streak. It was a hard choice, but I’m still underemployed — my weekend job is juuuuust shy of paying my half of the rent — and I needed to focus on applying to jobs and doing freelance writing. The latter is going well. I’ve made $30 so far, and it’s just a matter of gathering my remaining brain cells between holidays to do more. The former is going… Yeah. It’s just going. I had a few interviews last week and I’m still waiting to hear back on both. One is full time with benefits and would be so much fun, according to my inner foodstuffs marketing nerd, plus the company is international which bodes well for maybe moving abroad someday. So, fingers crossed.

As far as writing goes, I’ve been creating fanfiction works somewhat regularly. It’s fun, it helps me keep my edge, and the community aspect of fandom is always a source of entertainment. Side bonus: in doing so, I’ve also got a front row seat in watching tumblr sink itself with the staff’s new ban on “female presenting nipples.”

Planning

In wedding news, we have sent out our save the dates! Most of them, anyway. With a few stragglers still letting us know their current mailing address, there will be another small round going out this week, and then that’s all done. We’ve also signed a catering contract and it’s a huge relief. Yesterday the wedding planner came over for a Facetime with a potential DJ who, considering she knew exactly what I meant by “White Horses by The Rolling Stones except the specific cover that was on the prom episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” definitely has the job. Now it’s on design, wedding website final touches, figuring out a couples shower date that works for some key people, etc etc. (If my mom has a bell concert schedule conflict with this one like she did with the engagement party, I am going to lose my shit. But that’s another story.)

Making

Courtesy of my work’s Thanksgiving potluck, I got to take a turkey carcass home and make stock from it. It’s funny, considering I went off to college unaware you could actually just buy stock (thanks Dad), but this is the first time I’ve done it. The other night I used some to make keto onion soup, and it was excellent — though certainly different, considering I usually use plain chicken stock from the store instead of turkey stock that was made with rosemary and thyme simmering in there.

The thing about being my father’s daughter, though, is that he obsessively freezes and vacuum seals this sort of thing in very specific portions. I just sort of used whatever tupperware I could find, and didn’t thaw anything in advance because pfft, that would require being organized. So I actually used two cups more than the onion soup recipe actually called for… Whatever. It turned out fine. It’s just that next time I’m going to have to pick between the giant brick of stock or the teeny tiny cylinders of stock, and I don’t know how much volume any of the containers hold. Fun!

Anticipating

Six parts Christmas, half a dozen parts the wedding.

My family has a… complicatedly haphazard system of demanding Christmas lists from everyone and then claiming different gifts via email sound-off. This year my list was basically gift cards, no socks, and no aprons. (I have so many aprons. Do I ever actually wear aprons? Nope.) However, since we sent our save the dates, including a link to our wedding website, people already have access to our registry and someone, somewhere, has purchased a flame colored Le Creuset casserole dish that I am Very Excited About.

I have one Le Creuset pot already and I have never known love of a piece of cookware like this.

Reading

Currently I’m relistening to Clariel by Garth Nix in the car, and when I’m done with that I’ll listen to Goldenhand again. I’d explain why, but technically that would be spoilers.

But I just added a new audiobook to my collection this week, for the first time in a while — Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.

Watching

We always have something on, once we clicked into holiday season mode my fiancé started playing all the Halloween, then Thanksgiving, and now Christmas episodes of Friends, That 70’s Show, and occasionally Fraiser.

Did you know that Friends, in all ten seasons, only ever did one explicitly Halloween episode??

Also, if you haven’t seen The Haunting of Hill House, I recommend watching it twice. Once for the story/context/family drama, and again so you can catch all the hidden hints and the ghosts staring at you from the background of almost every scene.

Feeling

Happy, but slightly restless. I need a job. I need… a project?

I’ve focused a lot on self-improvement this year, with going keto and making more of my own food and losing weight and attending Mindful Eating classes at the local health center. I’ve been using my Fitbit to keep track of how much I sleep, how much water I drink, and how often I get up and move around, to make sure it’s enough. (Protip: The feature that’s kept me the most tuned in is Hourly Activity. You set the range of hours you want to be active get a dot for every hour you take at least 250 steps.)

I think part of why I’m restless is because I haven’t been creating as much as I’d like. I need to get back to working on my original novels — though there’s nothing that says I can’t still noodle around with fanfiction on the side. 😛

Needing

To hear back from the places I interviewed with last week…! I sent a follow-up email yesterday to the place I’m really hopeful about and got an “out of office until Dec 10” reply, so maybe that’s all the delay is about.

I just. I owe my parents a lot of money while they’re also paying for half of the wedding, my credit card bill is ridiculous… That’s all the debt I have, at least, but I’m anxious to be able to chip away at it more effectively.

Loving

The holiday season. My fiancé is an excellent decorator. Today he has promised that he will do the tree, which basically means he plans to spend several hours lovingly wrapping every single branch of our seven foot tall live tree in string lights. This is not a requirement I have set for him, it’s all his doing. He and his mom are obsessed. However, the results will be beautiful and cozy, so I’m just going to sit back and revel in the joy of not being required to help.

Hating

How many different, ahem, political and/or public figures that I could mention in this section of the review. But I won’t.

No, what I chose to side-eye with seething dislike is the way my family treats my uncle. Now, admittedly, he is a few cards short of a full deck sometimes, but I hate the way certain people openly act so done with him. It’s like an attempt to publicly shame him into better behavior or something? I don’t know. I’ve had some rocky relationship stuff with my fiancé, similar enough on the mental health front that I can understand the deeply embedded frustration and sadness and anger and helplessness of it all, but I would never wear that so openly on my sleeve and vent all the crap until the crap is all anyone else knows about.

If anyone is going to take anything from the cryptic paragraph above, please… please let it be that kindness is a virtue, especially towards someone who is struggling with some deep shit. Even if they’re a pain in the ass.

Hoping

For better things. Better political leaders, in the US and elsewhere. Fewer wildfires. More compassion. More creativity. More sustainability. Lower carbs, lol.

And that my wedding dress will fit! I have lost thirty pounds since February — I just got my official 30 lbs badge from Fitbit this past week — and I want to shave off a little bit more.


As always, I’m still trying to figure out exactly what I want to do with this blog. Perhaps I’ll start sharing some of the random things I find as I go through my drafts on tumblr — prompts, interesting images, worldbuilding ideas, that sort of thing. I’ve got to back that stuff up, just in case that ship finally sinks.

Wishing you all a happy and as drama free as possible holiday season!

What’s up with all these Weddings?

In the past two months, I’ve been to one bachelorette and three weddings, while in the midst of taking the first major steps into planning my own.

In some ways it feels like I’m on an episode of Four Weddings — a reality show where four brides attend each other’s weddings, rate them, and the one with the highest score gets a free honeymoon. I don’t watch this very often because, you know, it’s a reality show. The contestants can be very bitchy and backstabby sometimes because, duh, they really want to win. But sometimes you get a good episode that feels a little more wholesome and almost like the ladies could actually be friends after filming is over, which is nice.

Anyway, after attending all these weddings, I’ve come away with a few observations — a compare and contrast, if you will, of what other people wanted for their celebrations that I do not. Out of all of these, I really only have one “what’s up with that” bone to pick and I’ll get that out of the way first.

MY WEDDING WANTS

  • I absolutely want to go around to every table during the wedding dinner, thanking people for coming. At two of the three weddings I attended, the couples didn’t do this and it seemed odd. To be fair, one of them had several days of events leading up to it where the couple did have the opportunity to talk with everyone at least for a few minutes. But, um, if you’ve put some family friends at table 9, they’re going to feel like an afterthought if you don’t at least come say hello on the day. (We’re not doing that kind of seating arrangement, but still.)
  • I don’t want a sweetheart table, head table, or anything like that. My fiancé and I have known for a while that we want long farm tables, ideally just one long one but two if we have to, and a family style dinner rather than plated service. We can do this because we have a sixty to seventy person guest list; the three weddings we’ve been to this year have all been closer to a hundred or one hundred fifty.
  • I want realistic vows. I don’t want flowery, poetic “I’ll be yours forever and a day” fluff. I want, “we’ve been through a lot and I’ve got your back.” I want the occasional chuckle from the assembled guests. I want real world statements that actually mean something. I want to feel the love, not feel like I’m watching a poorly done chick flick.
  • I don’t want a ton of flowers. Bouquets for the ceremony are a separate thing, but other than that I don’t want to blow too much on florals. For one thing, they don’t last and it seems wasteful. For another, we have a pretty tight budget and it will be better spent on amazing venue and spectacular food. For yet another, big arrangements at the dinner table doesn’t work well with family style, because of all the dishes being passed hither and yon. Have you ever been to a party where the centerpiece gets in the way of even seeing the person sitting across from you, much less talk to them? What we want instead is greenery with occasional pops of color — all colors, because as a queer couple we’re dead set on a rainbow theme.
  • I don’t want both rings held by someone on the groom’s side. My “person of honor” will be my brother, and I want him to be the one to hand me the ring I put on my fiancé’s finger. At all the weddings we’ve attended this year, the Best Man had both rings and passed the groom’s ring over through the officiant. Nah. I want my bro to feel like, “I’ve got this.”
  • I wish we could do fireworks! But we’re in a wildfire danger zone (thanks Northern California), and cant even have sparklers. But, the wedding we attended in the French countryside (it wasn’t exactly a destination wedding, both the bride and groom are French and have family in the area) had the most AMAZING firework show in between the main course and dessert. We will have to be content with a bubbles and glow sticks sendoff, or something to that effect.
  • I don’t need an official videographer, but I absolutely want to designate a family member or two as the iPhone videographer for vows and speeches. It doesn’t need to be professional, but I do want to remember those moments in their full-motion glory.

That’s all I can think of at the moment. Not very many things, but the impact they’ll have on our big day ranges from kinda big to very significant. Some I already knew — but the rest, I am so grateful to have thought of. Attending weddings while planning your own is a fantastic source of inspiration!