Saturday, June 27, 2015

Marriage Equality

Liberty and Justice making out, credit: visiblefriends.net

Marriage equality. It's too big for my next post to not be about it.

When we got it in Oregon I was surprised at how relieved I felt. After all, yeah I'm bi, but I'm in a long term committed relationship with a man. That being the case, why should I feel such relief? But it turns out that it's really nice to know that the law will treat me the same regardless of my significant other's gender.

And now that we've got marriage equality throughout all the states? I'm delighted. There are a few points I want to address though.

The first point is that I and other bisexuals grit our teeth whenever same sex marriage is called "gay marriage." Yes, gays in all states can now get married. And for them, it is gay marriage. But this is also a big win for bisexuals, many of whom are in same sex relationships, and whose marriages will be no more gay than I am. I know many might say that I and other bisexuals are just getting nit-picky here, but it's a matter of whether our existence is being acknowledged. "Same sex marriage" is very inclusive, whereas "gay marriage" ignores that marriage equality benefits us as well. If you're one of those who call marriage equality "gay marriage," please think about this.

It's a detail that doesn't prevent my good mood, but it is something that needs to be discussed even in the midst of celebration.

Point two is that even while I'm happy and looking at this wonderful reason to celebrate, I remember there's still more work to be done. I'm tired of reading about the murder of trans people just because they're trans, I'm tired of hearing about the suicides of queer youth, I'd prefer for our mental health rates to not be so bad...and there's so much more, but I'll limit myself to listing three things. Basically, we've come a long ways, but there's further still that we need to go. And I think we've proven that we can accomplish a lot if we put our minds to it.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Former Dream House

Koi pond

It's a bit funny how the above photo led to this post.

I was amazed to find how relaxing it as to relax with my feet in a koi pond, and it reminded me of a dream house I was sure that I had once sketched with a koi pond stretching from the front yard into the living room. Well, I was unable to find that particular sketch, if I ever did draw it, but I decided to share another one.

(And I really would love a koi pond. They're amazingly relaxing.)

The idea behind the house below was that it would be placed in a forest (full of Douglas fir trees because, I freaking love them and spent much of my childhood surrounded by them), and as many of the walls as possible would be windows so that I could look outside and see the trees and wildlife any time I liked. When drawing it originally, I even remember imagining being able to see bears when looking outside.

Cleaned up sketch

Above is a cleaned up sketch, I think it's easier to understand, though it's lacking certain details like curtains and ventilation. And yes, there really are lots of windows, even between rooms whenever possible. I notice though that although there is an abundance of bookshelves, which I love, things are also a bit sparse. If I moved in to that house today I'd put dressers in the bedrooms, and fill up the front room a bit. It also occurs to me that with that sort of space, I'd be able to put in a few cat trees.

Original messy sketch

Just go give a written description of the house...

I've got a front room with lots of open space, and only containing a sofa, piano, and small bookshelves. There's a hallway going all around the outside of the house, with the outside walls being windows. (Floor to ceiling? I don't know.) I've got my bedroom, a guest bedroom, one corner has lots of bookshelves with a comfortable chair. Then of course I've got the necessary kitchen, with a dining room, plus a utility room and a bathroom. And, as stated before, windows between them whenever practical.

I guess I was pretty excited about the windows and having everything as open as possible, so that I could quiet enjoy forest life.

Desk

And, just because I've been getting excitable with photos recently, my desk as I was redrawing the house blueprint.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Halfway to Halloween Ball

Have you ever heard of a Halfway to Halloween Ball? I hadn't, but I'll take any excuse to dress up Halloween style at any time of the year.

People talking and a makeup artist

The ball was last weekend, and I had a ball there. There was music (too loud for my tastes, but pleasant from another room), a dance floor, booths selling cool things, a bar, someone doing professional makeup, a professional photographer doing photo shoots, and horror films being shown. I'm sure there was more going on, but it seemed like too much for me to take in, plus there were what I thought of as the "loud" and "quiet" rooms and I sort of gravitated towards the quiet one. Yeah, you see how exciting I am at parties.

I want to mention that due to movies being shown, I got to watch parts of the silent film Phantom of the Opera. Maybe I should actually get hold of it sometime to watch the whole thing, it seemed neat.

The (fairly empty at this point) dance floor

I went with Murray, he was a crazed writer and I was his Muse. He seemed quite pleased with himself at finding the opportunity to exclaim "The Muse is upon me!" as I draped myself halfway over his lap. Hey, we'd found a really comfortable couch, and what am I supposed to do when I find myself in a really comfy couch with him?

Confession time: I wanted to kidnap that couch. I had no idea that a couch that amazing could exist.

I wore pearls that Murray and I found in a craft store and which he decided to get for me. Yep, he didn't buy me jewelry for the ball, he bought me the pearl beads to make my jewelry with. Maybe not conventional, but then again I like making jewelry and needed reminding of that. With just two strings of pearls I was able to make myself a bracelet, earrings, and necklace, and they complimented my slinky black Muse dress quite nicely.

Pearls

The ball was wonderful, and it was fantastic to get to celebrate Halloween madness in June.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Pride Parade and Protesting

Flags in rainbow colors
I went to the Pride parade over the weekend with Amber. It was my second time going, and her first.

We arrived a little after the parade had started, and I'm going to blame that on the parking situation. Parking is difficult to find at the best of times in downtown Portland, but when lots of people turn out for something like Pride...good luck. You'll need it.

There were lots of rainbows and smiles and awesomeness, and everyone was getting into the mood in their own way. Most of us by being happy to be there, but that wasn't the case with everyone.

It was just our luck that Amber and I chose a place to stand less than a block away from a few protesters, who had brought signs and and a loud voice.

Rainbows and protest signs

There were had a couple different signs, one proclaiming YOU STILL NEED JESUS, and the other listed various sins on one side while explaining that the blood of Jesus will wash away our sins on the other. And after listening to a protester's voice for a while (I mostly had a hard time making out words, not that I was trying) I couldn't help but think that his voice was going to give out before the end of the parade.

Oddly enough though, the presence of protesters didn't seem to dim the gay mood. I don't know about the people closer to them, but those around me were so happy to be there that no one seemed to care about our uninvited guests. We mostly ignored them, in fact. It felt to me like yeah, they're here, and they hate us, but there are so many of us that it doesn't matter what they thinks. I still wish they hadn't been there, and even that there were no reason for Pride marches (someday...), but it was so good to realize that their presence didn't seem to matter.

Perhaps best of all was when a semi drove past him as part of the parade. Turns out it's difficult to be heard over a truck horn.

Protester vs. Semi -- Protestor: 0 Semi: 1

Eventually I noticed that the protesters had left when I wasn't paying attention. It was surprising to realize that I had eventually paid so little attention to them that I failed to notice their absence initially.

For me at least, it didn't seem like the presence of protesters dimmed the mood. I hope that most everyone else there had the same feelings I did, that their protest in our midst didn't really matter to what were had come together for. And I couldn't blame Amber for her initial response to them, stunned disbelief that they'd show up to tell us we're going to hell. I wasn't as shocked as she was, but I was also surprised.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Fan Mail to QC

I e-mailed the creator of my favorite online comic, Questionable Content, and thought it might be worth sharing what I wrote to him here.

It may be fair to say that I'm a tad bit obsessed with this comic. I have three of the books, signed. I have a Winslow plushie, and I want Pintsize and Yelling Bird plushies as well. Because, well...I'm obsessed. Also, I can't have Winslow without also having Pintsize. The universe isn't supposed to work like that.

.... ... ...

Jeph,

For years I have dealt with an anxiety disorder and depression, and last summer the anxiety in particular came down hard on me. For the first time in my life I had panic attacks, though I don't remember many specifics of what it was like. I can say that it was the most difficult time of my life as I was waiting for a new medication to kick in which I hoped would help (fortunately it did).

There were a few things that gave me something to hang on to while I was waiting to get better, and QC was one of them. It didn't only give me something else to focus on, I actually realized I could relate to Hanners in some unexpected ways that were comforting. In particular, I was able to laugh at myself when I caught myself worrying about not worrying one night, since I could remember Hanners doing that. (It was in Number 801: Like A Fainting Goat.) Remembering that actually helped me calm down.

Even before QC helped me through anxiety, I was very delighted to have found an online comic that's so queer friendly. Being bisexual, it always makes me happy to find stories I love with characters who happen to be queer.

I just wanted to let you know how QC has helped me, and to thank you for making it.

Sarita

Friday, June 12, 2015

A Legend

It seems like I had something in mind to write about the death of Sir Christopher Lee, but I've forgotten what it was.

I'd already had plans to see Murray today. Together we watched a couple of the movies in which Lee played Dracula. And may I say, he was a wonderful Dracula.

Perhaps the strangest thing for me is that I'd somehow thought he would live forever. After all, isn't that what legends are supposed to do? I forgot that, even though he was around black when movies were in black and white, and was going strong still so recently, even he ages.

I'm not sure if I'm more celebrating what he did, or feeling sad that he's gone, today.

...I wrote the above yesterday, then walked away from it a bit intending to find something more to say. But for some reason, I don't seem to know what to say when someone dies.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Agoraphobia

You might think that, given my weekend adventures to Astoria for the Goonies festival, I'm perfectly comfortable getting out and about. And if I'm with a friend, I pretty much am, even if I find myself anxious about it ahead of time. Sure, I may also have moments of "Hey, I'm so far away from home. Um..." But I just remind myself of who I'm with, and it passes.

Getting out and about by myself, though, is a different story.

I normally keep it to myself, because that's just how I am mostly. But I guess I need to talk about it more, particularly to Murray. We joke that he's a bad influence because of things like him exposing me to beer, but he's also a good influence in many ways. He's particularly good to have around when I need to talk about my anxieties.

Last evening I told him that I didn't want to go to a song circle I'd been looking forward to, and that I wasn't sure if I simply wasn't in the mood or if it was agoraphobia. If the first, staying home was fine. If the latter, I needed to go. He told me to go, and I decided to listen to him. I'm glad I did, because once I got there I enjoyed myself. And, I need music, it's something that's been missing in my life far too long. (If musical teenage me could see me now she'd be shocked into silence.)

Guitar

Then today, I told Murray that I was too nervous about walking to a salon place just blocks away to get my eyebrows waxed. Yes, my anxieties prevent me from walking just a few blocks from where I live. (Don't ask how I'll manage getting myself to school this summer term, I don't know.) But again, with his encouragement, I walked to the salon.

I guess I just need him, or someone else, to tell me to go do something to get past the agoraphobia. It still isn't easy, and can leave me feeling shaky, but I can do it. Or at least, I could in these two cases.

As to what I'm afraid of that makes it difficult for me to go out alone...that's difficult to explain, especially when I try to deny it even to myself. I may be able to write about at another time, but not today.

Whatever it is that I'm afraid of, I'm glad that I finally know that something (or rather, someone) can help me face it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Timeout for Mr. Lizard

This is one of those random details from life that I normally wouldn't write about, but Amber thinks this will come back to bite her later. And if it does, she wants to be able to look back at where it started. So, here it goes.

After spending a lot of time in the sun without sunscreen I was very sunburned, particularly my shoulders and upper arms. My skin was bright red (it still is) and it hurt (still does, though it's improving). So although I'd been quite fine with little Piper's toy lizard crawling on my legs, I had to object when Mr. Lizard started crawling on my shoulders. I didn't yell, or get angry, I just said something little like "Ouch, please don't, that hurts."

Piper though...I really don't know what exactly went through her head. I think even her mom is still trying to figure that out, and this isn't the first time she's seen this happen. It seems that Piper was angry at Mr. Lizard for doing something wrong, or else felt like she'd done something wrong herself, and decided to punish him for it.

I wasn't sure how to respond to this, and even Amber is trying to figure out how to handle it when this sort of thing happens. We tried explaining to Pip that we weren't angry and that Mr. Lizard could play on my legs, but that didn't help. It didn't even help when I put Mr. Lizard on my head, Piper just retrieved him and went on as before. Eventually Amber suggested that Piper could put Mr. Lizard in timeout.

The timeout idea is something that Amber hadn't thought of before, and it seemed to help. But it's also what she suspects will come back to bite her later, and Amber is already imagining that an eight year old Piper will try to put a boy in timeout. I find myself laughing at the thought, and hoping that it's at least for a good reason.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Beach and Hotel Adventures

I was eaten alive by a balloon turtle, yet lived to tell the tale. I found out that the Goonies is a movie about pirates, and that it was filmed in Astoria Oregon. I let my hair fly free as I enjoyed a break from walking on a swing set at a children's playground. I got into a food fight with a four year old in a nice restaurant. I walked through grassy dunes to get to a beach. I got really sunburned. I made a sand castle on the beach. And I had a fun weekend that was full of surprises with a friend and her daughter. Ultimately, we wound up staying in a hotel not far from where I live.

It started when Amber asked me to go to the Goondocks festival thingy with her in Astoria. I've never seen the movie, but that didn't stop me from saying yes. Amber, by the way, is the friend I mentioned in this post but who I hadn't talked to about introducing her on my blog. When I asked about coming up with a name for her she said I can just use her actual name, along with her daughter's which is Piper or Pip.

I don't even know how to describe the Goondocks, so I'll leave that for another post. I do know how to tell about other parts of our adventure though.

Sunset

After leaving the beach as the sun was setting, Amber and I set out to find a cabin or hotel to stay in. I don't think I can explain that part of our adventure any better than when I exhaustedly posted photos of our hotel room on Facebook, so I'll just copy and paste from there.

We were at the Goonies, and decided to stay overnight. But Astoria was booked. Seaside was booked. Canon beach was booked. Then we almost ran out of gas because canon beach doesn't know that gas stations exist. We finally gave up and decided to come home. Then got tired and decided that Hillsboro was close enough to home...and wound up in this place, which we got at a discount because the nice lady at the front desk told us to book online. Except then I booked at the wrong location, which was only blocks away...but eventually wound up here, in time to hear the birds begin to greet the dawn.

I still can't believe how nice this place is. It seriously isn't as expensive as it looks.


The room had a huge bed, a nicer bathroom than I'm used to seeing in hotels, an amazing couch and reclining chair, a desk, a table for eating, full size refrigerator, kitchen area, and cabinets. All that when we had just needed a place to sleep because it wouldn't have been a great idea to have to drive any further. It was also an excellent place for playing hide and seek with a four year old, and to our amusement Amber found an empty bottle of vodka on top of the cabinets when she was hiding on the fridge. And yeah I'm going on about the hotel, but I'm still surprised at what we saw when we walked into our room.

It was an amazing weekend, and we're talking about doing this sort of thing pretty regularly now. It's too much fun not to.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

LGBT Books

Recently I signed up with BookBub, a website designed to let people know about great deals on eBooks. And during sign up, I requested to get notifications about different authors and genres. Tamora Pierce. Fantasy. Science Fiction. Jim Butcher. Bestsellers. Horror. Jane Austen. John Green. Robyn Ochs. LGBT. You know, a variety that somewhat reflects my broad (but still focused on scifi/fantasy) tastes.

I haven't read many fiction LGBT books. Or I guess I've read some with queer characters, like Albus Dumbledore, but they aren't discussed as LGBT books, so I hadn't given much thought to what will give a book the LGBT label. But after seeing the many LGBT books recommended to me by BookBub, I've come to the conclusion that it's a hot romance involving a same sex couple. Oh, and so far I haven't gotten notifications about books involving trans characters. Where the heck are those novels?

My observations got me thinking...why do we need to see a same sex relationship to get that someone's queer? (Actually, this could be part of why bisexuals get called gay or straight depending on who we're in a relationship with, but that's off topic for this post.) We catch on easily enough to the fact that someone's straight even when they're single. So why do we need to see someone kissing another person of the same gender to get that they're queer?

Maybe it's time for LGBT books to be written about queer characters who are single. We already have plenty of books about single straights, so why not?

What would these books look like? I don't know. Maybe they already exist and I'm just not seeing them. If you know of any, please tell me! I want to know. I admit that my knowledge is pretty much limited to the e-mails I've gotten from BookBub, and I'm just assuming that it's a fair representation of what's out there.

It's an idea that I wanted to throw out there. Having LGBT romances is awesome, and I'm certainly not going to complain about having them around. But we're so much more than who we fall in love with, and it would be great to see that fact explored in LGBT books.

Pile of books

Monday, June 1, 2015

Print and eBooks

People like to talk about which is better, a book whose pages you can flip or a library you can carry around on a little piece of cool technology. I know I've started to write about it in the past, I don't know why I deleted that post.

Which is better? I don't think one is really better than the other. Sure, I have a favorite, but I won't claim that it's better.

The nice thing about eBooks is that, as mentioned above, you can carry libraries around on a fancy little Kindle or Nook. Or in my case, on my iPhone. If I need to travel light, that's a good thing. Also, you can search for words or phrases, and I feel no guilt about making notes or highlighting in eBooks.

I find print books much nicer to hold, though. To feel them in my hands, turn the pages, smell them...yes, I smell books sometimes. Don't judge. It's easier to flip through them, jump from one place to another, and I don't have to recharge any batteries with them. There's also something very satisfying about seeing a bookcase full of books. Not to mention, how do you get your favorite author to sign your eBook?

I suppose the next question should be which is my favorite, or which I choose. Print books are my favorite, but I choose both. Why not? They both have their strengths, and as much as I'd love to have lots of shelves full of books I don't really have the space or money for that. Maybe someday I'll have a large room dedicated to books...this is one of my happy daydreams.

A photo from last year of my bookshelf

Which do you prefer? Do you have firm opinions about which is better? Do you have a preference? I'm curious. :)