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PERHAPS WE LEARNED SOMETHING.....
…Perhaps we were only mildly entertained. Regardless, please enjoy these Reviews, Responses, Works of Fiction, and Retellings brought to you by one who hopes to someday join the ranks of those who have written something worth reading.
(Kaylia Metcalfe)


Also, don't forget to visit Kaylia's Official Website where you can get information about Kaylia's upcoming events, and learn more about her free lance writing and other publications.

The Memory Keeper's Daughter

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards



This novel surprised me.

I'm a bit fan of being manipulated by good writing to feel something  anger, sadness, regret, etc. But the key is that the second I notice I am being manipulated, I become resentful and no longer really enjoy the book...

Edwards manages to manipulate you into feeling a wealth of emotions, but her writing is so good that you don't see the strings being pulled and that makes the novel's emotional wallop an even bigger gut punch.

I'm not ashamed to say I cried when I read this... or that I immediately  looked Kim Edwards up on Amazon to see what else I could read by her.

The story, of twins separated at birth by a father hoping to spare his wife the trauma of raising a special needs child, is a powerful tale of love and family.  Working with themes of regret, hard choices, and shocking family secrets, Edwards is a master of making each and every character not only believable but sympathetic.

In the end the story, in the hands of a lesser writer, could very easily have been trite and overly melodramatic... the sort of thing that you see on Lifetime at 3 am.  However, Edwards manages to compel you to care and to keep reading even when it is almost painful to do so.  The Memory Keeper's Daughter is a raw and powerful story... but not for the faint of heart.

***



Apparently there was a TV movie made in 2008... but as it isn't streaming on Netflix and costs 4 bucks on Amazon, I probably won't get around to watching / reviewing it.

Look Me In The Eye

Look Me In The Eye by John Elder Robison



First off let me just say that I have a hard time reading memoirs because unless you are a mighty special person or something mighty special happened to you or you did something mighty special or whatnot... I don't really want to read your memoir.

Getting divorced does not count as mighty special.

Finding a husband, raising a kid, starting a home business.... these don't count. (To me).

So... does having Asperger's Syndrome count? I was on the fence because I happen to know several people with the syndrome and most of them have had to overcome obstacles, have had to figure out the world around them differently than you or I, have gone through drama and trauma and have, somehow, survived to tell about it.

So, I was a cautious reader of this book to be honest.

... and I was right to be cautious.

The book itself is well written. It is a retelling of one man's life and his personal struggle with Asperger's. If you recognize his name it is because he is the brother of Augusten Burroughs the author of Running With Scissors.... so yeah John Elder Robison came from that same, now famously dysfunctional, family.

That right there was the crux of my problem... for while this book doesn't implicitly say "all Aspi kids are like this" it strongly implies that "all Aspi kids are like this" when the truth is that not all Aspi kids are like anything; the variety of ways that Asperger's manifests is one of the reasons it can be so hard to diagnose.

If you take the Asperger's part out of it, you have the life story of a man who lived an interesting life... but by no means an incredibly mighty specail life... and if you add in the Asperger's stuff you have what ammounts to one man's life with a disease that is vastly differnt depending on who has it, how early it was caught, the support system in place, and countless other factors.

Honestly, I don't know what sort of rubric to judge this book against.

It was a quick read. The flow worked for the most part. The anecdotes were clearly written and entertaining.

But.

But I had a hard time connecting to John. I had a hard time caring about John. I actually had a hard time finishing because while his personal story was interesting, it seemed like the sort of thing that would have been more interesting if I had actually known him... giving up part of my life to read about his just felt awkward and ultimately unsatisfying.

Writing this review a few weeks after I finished the book I suddenly started to wonder if I had actually finished it... I went back and checked. Yes. Yes, I had finished it... the ending, like the rest of it, just hadn't left that big of an impression on me.

I didn't learn anything, I didn't really feel anything except occasionally pity, ocassionaly confusion, and yes at one point a touch of disgust.

I sort of wish I hadn't bothered.

And to be fair .. again... I am one person who a)hates memoirs to begin with and b)already knows a fair bit about the thing that should draw the reader in and keep them interested. So, perhaps I should have known better than to have read / reviewed this book.

However, if you like memoirs, don't know much about Asperger's or want to know about this particular man's reality... then by all means, read it! I hope you enjoy it more than I did.



A Mom Morning


Being a mom.
Is a lot of work.

But worth it.

I had one of those mornings, it was a mix… some really good and some frustrating…. Which, it seems, is par for the course.

1:37 am she wakes (she had been sleeping since 1030)
Marathon feeding / burping / cuddles
2:45, back to bed
5:15: she wakes
Marathon feeding/ burping / cuddles
6:30, back to sleep
8:10: she wakes
Daddy feeds her from a breast milk bottle
Burping / cuddles etc
In bassinet with mom at 8:30, very much awake.
9:00, bassinets are evil, she hates them, time for more food. ( I wonder how she can be hungry still)
Feeding / burping / cuddles
Lay baby down so mom can eat breakfast
Epic spit up all over everything (apparently she wasn't hungry) 
Change clothes / sponge bath / cuddles
10:00, get picked up for trip to Target… this involves Baby in seat, base for seat and diaper bag being carried out to parking lot and affixed. Thankfully Ashley knows how to install car seats as I am still a bit rusty. Also, Daddy usually carries the baby in seat and boy is Mommy out of shape.
It is also already hot.
Drive to Target, Baby is sleeping, hooray!
Target trip: Baby sleeps until in the check out line, then lots of crying.
Get groceries and seat back in car, give baby a bit of a break from the seat with a walk and a cuddle, back in the seat, Baby is pissed.
Cries all the way home
Home: Trying to get groceries, car seat, baby etc into the house.
Baby is fussy but ok, want to put closd stuff away… open fridge and huge thing of cold cereal topples down and now there are tons of Cheerios all over the kitchen floor.
Baby is newly angry and very loud.
Ok, baby is priority, frozen groceries and kitchen mess will have to wait… time to nurse.
Phone call while nursing, the car seat base is still outside.
Walk outside to get it carrying baby on the breast.
Back inside, finish nursing, baby is fussy and then WHAM a blow out diaper.
Clean up mess, burp baby, cuddles
Baby is content with pacifier, clean up Cheerios, put away groceries, grab some food and scarf it. 

It is just now noon.
She's fussy again.


Baby steps indeed… we are going to get there…

Hiatus News... We had a baby!

We had a baby!

A beautiful baby girl... Ella Marie Metcalfe-Armstrong!



I will probably be back up to writing reviews in a few months.

Thank you all for the well wishes.

If you want to see photos or read my birth story, click here.

My Daughter, Ella Marie Metcalfe-Armstrong

She has arrived! We are understandably tired, elated, stressed, and thunderstruck.




She weighed 9 pounds 3 oz at birth. she was 21.75 inches long.




And if you are so inclined, you can read about it here:






Car Seats and College Smarts



So.

I consider myself relatively intelligent  I’m not one of those super smart people, but when I apply myself, I can usually understand moderately complex ideas.

My Maifan-San, on the other hand, is all sorts of brainy bright. Between the two of us, I think we do rather well in the cognitive thinking parts of life. 

We both went to college, (he has a masters, I muddle along with my BA), we both value science and try to flex our critical thinking skills on a regular basis.  We read nonfiction for crying out loud… and we enjoy it.

Ok, stage is set.

I, as a representative for Gay Central Valley, was invited several months ago to be on the Fresno County Tobacco-Free Coalition. The goal of the coalition seems readily apparent, but what I found fascinating was the variety of organizations that were represented in the membership.

 Fresno Child Health Disability Prevention
Fresno Housing authority
Fresno HIV Prevention Program
Fresno Dept of Public Health
Performing Above The High
CA Health Collaborative Lock It Up Project
… and more than 5 tobacco / health related organizations as well.

The coalition does a lot of good work, but one thing stuck out in my mind.

At the end of the meeting, each representative is invited to share upcoming events that their organization is running or promoting. (So, for example, I always pitch the latest GCV events, etc).

At my first meeting, a man named Ahmad from the Fresno County Child Health Disability Prevention Program mentioned that a car seat inspection was coming up… a place and time where people could bring their cars and car seats in to get a free safety check.

Gentle readers, I must admit I inwardly scoffed at this idea.

Car seats: they come with instructions manuals. There are only so many belts and buckles back there. How hard can it be to get them in right?
 
So, I asked: “How many people do that wrong?”

Turns out, almost 90% of the people who bring their seats in, do it wrong.

This is a self selecting group of people who wondered if they did it right and then bothered to show up at an event to make sure.

90%.

(What about all the snotty people like myself who assume that a monkey could do it and never get it checked? What would our percentage be?)

Ok… so I started thinking, Why? Well, maybe you don’t speak the language of the instruction manual. Maybe your car sat is a hand me down and didn’t come with an instruction manual. Maybe you are one of the millions who doesn’t “get” written instructions anyways and has to ask the neighbor for help when it comes to putting together particle board bookshelves. Maybe there are other reasons too… how dare I judge?


A few months later, we got our own car seat for Baby Ella.

We installed it.  We were quite pleased with ourselves. 

But… we decided that it couldn’t hurt to have it double checked. I mean, it is our infant we are talking about. Well worth the time and hassle to double check, right? I was pretty confident we had done it right, but hey… I’m a responsible member of society, why not get it checked.



There weren't any events coming up that we could get to before she is scheduled to arrive… so we contacted the CHP (who also does the checks one day a week) and AAA, who –since we are members- does it any day and for free.

And… we had done it wrong.

Yep.

We are now part of the 90%.

Apparently, the instruction manuals can be misleading. Apparently we are not alone in making the mistake of using all the belts and buckles and hooks and what not. 

The AAA people were very nice about it, the whole process took less than 15 minutes, and they didn’t mock us. 

But I’m still embarrassed… Embarrassed that I judged so harshly, that I assumed that book smarts and a college education allowed me to have practical world knowledge that I lacked, embarrassed that even having been told “lots of people do it wrong” we did it wrong.

Embarrassed, but thankful.

Thankful that we were able to get it checked, thankful that we were able to fix it. Thankful that now we know we have made her car seat as safe as possible.

Hey... I might not be as smart as I thought I was... but I do tend to learn from my mistakes and missteps... and that should count for something, right?

Information about where you can get your car seat checked (and I highly recommend it), can be found here.

Interview by Edwina Crouch-Pears

I was recently interviewed for a new youtube series called "You're Doing what?"

Apparently being slightly unconventional has its perks!


Pregnancy joys.



Prepping for date night: Nice dress: Checkc. Nice undies: Check. Hair all nice (even with a sparkly head band thing): Check. Lipstick: Check. Perfume: Check. Fancy purse: Check. Sexy shoes: No... Cute shoes? No. Comfy shoes? Well, sort of... Flip flops it is. Oh well.

There are a lot of things they don't tell you about being pregnant.


Color of Preference


Have you ever suddenly realized that the way you saw yourself, the way you explained yourself and your actions to yourself… isn’t accurate anymore.

I don’t mean you look in the mirror and think “Wow, when did I get so old?” or eat cabbage for the first time since you were force fed it as a child and realize that you actually don’t mind it.

I mean you justify an action based on a personality trait only to have someone point out that you lack that particular personality trait.

Yeah, that.

I was looking at purses the other day with a friend and she pointed out a slightly colorful purse / backpack…. While I had migrated over to the plain brown purse / backpack.  “Nah,” I explained, “I always like my purse or whatever to be as unnoticeable as possible.”

“Why?” she asked.

“Well,” and before thinking I launched into an explanation that was so ingrained it took no thought, “Riding the bus, being out in public, I am just more comfortable with not being flashy, with trying to just coast a bit under the radar.”

This is true. When I pick out my clothes, when I pick out my accessories, I do tend to go for the simple tones, the not too noticeable colors, the solids, the muted or at the very least the unimaginative.  Unless, of course I want to be noticed… buying a dress to raise eyebrows is one thing, but most of my clothes, shoes, bags, etc fall more into the “nothing special to see here, move along, look at someone else” category. 

And it has been that way for as long as I can remember.

Partly because I know that people tend to remember me, especially once I open my mouth, no matter what I am wearing. 

... or I get on the microphone...

Partly because I did used to ride the bus, take the train, walk alone in neighborhoods not known for their safety… and blending into the background is an important skill. I have been mugged, several times, and I have been hassled, hit on, bothered, followed, and yes, even stalked. And yes, I have written controversial essays, letters, articles, etc. I have protested and been on the news and on the radio, and on the microphone in front of cameras being loud, being proud, being counter-culture. Yes, the ability to climb down from the stage, pull on a hoodie and simple fade into the masses and not get recognized as the girl who was throwing paint or outrunning the cops is a useful skill.

So, my desire to blend into the background unless I chose to open my big mouth and get noticed is partly a survival technique and partly a way to deal with being shy.

Because, yes, I am, I can be, very shy. I get very nervous in some social situations.. not all, but if there are new people, or even people I don’t know well, or even the chance for people I don’t know to be anywhere nearby, I wrestle with anxiety. 

And part of how I deal with this sometimes crippling, fear is by controlling my outfit… controlling the persona I will be presenting. I strive to find an outfit that won’t really be noticed (it can’t be mocked if it isn’t noticed), that won’t draw attention.

My Maifan-San can tell how nervous I am before a social event based on how many times I change my clothes, trying to find that perfect outfit that says “I’m a nice person, but ignore me until I talk to you.”

(Of course, to be fair, like a lot of other shy people, I often overcompensate for my shyness by being overly talkative and loud…. Alcohol helps, but that is a whole other blog post.)

Anyway. So yes, I prefer to blend in, to not catch anyone’s eye and I figured the conversation in the purse department was over.

But.

But my dear friend is a skeptic (that’s actually how we met, at a Skeptics Brunch) and she pushed me: “How much blending in do you do with that rainbow bracelet on your wrist?”

Oh.

“I…. uhh…”

Because she’s right. I proudly wear my rainbow bracelet (from the Rainbow Delegation) to show my support for the LGBT+ community. I get asked about it a lot and I have no qualms explaining to people, even crazy scary bigoted people, what it means and why I wear it.

It is a bit of a rainbow target on my arm, it has gotten me yelled at, drenched in water, glared at, and lectured to. But I insist on wearing it…. Because it is important for me to face that anxiety and deal with it.

Because my liberal guilt doesn’t let me pass as “normal” or “straight” or “uninvolved” if I can help it.

And, let’s be honest… I hardly ride the bus anymore, I am not out in public alone all that often, and I don’t walk in dangerous neighborhoods. My lifestyle has changed… and with it a few of my fashion and accessory choices as well.  

Which means I could probably pull off carrying a multi colored purse or backpack. Or wearing flip flops with a  bit of sparkle to them. Or buying shirts that are slightly bright and not all mostly black or dark blue. Or wearing that hand me down maternity dress that has the bright floral print on it.

But … but… I don’t want to.
There's a little bit of color in there....

And if my reason for not wanting to wear bright colors and interesting clothes started from a place of safety and a desire to not be noticed, it has now become such a part of me that despite my safety not being as much of an issue, (I do still get hate mail) I still prefer boring muted colors and solids.

So, the personality trait might not be the same one I thought it was, but the results are.

Ultimately I had to shrug at my friend, raise my rainbow bracelet and admit that I just didn’t like the colorful bag as much as the plain brown one.

And you know what? I think that’s ok. I think it’s ok to prefer boring clothes and accessories. I don’t think I need to trot out the whole safety thing… I can just prefer black over bright and call it a day.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter why my wardrobe suffers from what my sister calls “a sever lack of color, style, or attitude” or what a college friend termed “the irony of an interesting person dressing in the most uninterestingly way possible.”

The why doesn’t matter, I don’t have to justify it. I can just acknowledge my preferences and enjoy my blandness.

Bland... but powerful!


Quick Note


It’s September

The to-do list is getting done, which is a bit of a relief, however there is just always more… sometimes I feel like one of those hamsters on those little wheels.

Anyway, the pregnancy is progressing nicely. I’m huge and I feel like I get bigger every day. My maternity clothes are starting to not fit, oh, who am I kidding. They stopped fitting last week. Huzzah for being frumpy at home alone!

I felt my first BH contraction the other night… it ws sort of a relief to have felt it since statiscally women can start to feel them as early as 34 weeks and here I am almost 38 with nothing. But then, during the Batman movie date, I felt a cramp that stayed, my tummy got hard as a rock, and I thought “Oh! Yay!”

That thought was followed almost immediately by “And now I have to go pee… again….”

Oh the delights of pregnancy!  Still though, I have a feeling I am going to miss it.

Zooey

Ok... this is cute.

Super cute.

And I have to share!


Confession

Bless me readers for I have been busy.
It has been two weeks since my last post.

In that time my to do list has shortened just to lengthen again and again and again.

My feet have swollen to an alarming size and then been sated and gone back to a more moderate level of "ick."

I have written articles, blog posts for another blog, How-To lists, Internship agreements, plans, press releases, and thank you cards.
I still have more of all the above to write.

I have gained weight and lost any guilt over gaining weight/

I have organized, bought shelving, organized again, gotten gifts, and organized again until I can't really remember where anything is, but I know it is exactly where it NEEDED to be... at least as of last week.

I have visited with family and friends, some of whom braved the scorched land of Fresno from their more comfy coastal abodes to bring me smiles and company.

I have watched too many episodes of Cheers. (don't judge me)

I am in the final stretch of frantic activity before things calm down and I start the not so frantic final preparations for the baby.

For the most part, I am calm and collected. 

Mostly.

Mostly... yes. But of course I have those moments of freaking out....

... when I remember that the baby is actually coming... soon!

... when I realize that in just over a month I will be feeding and clothing and changing and teaching this Whole Other Person.

... when the insurance bills come in the mail.

... when I can't eat my breakfast of cold cereal because all the bowls are dirty, so I decide to make a PBnJ and then realize that all the knives are dirty so I load the dishwasher and only then realize that we are out of dishwasher soap and by now it has been almost half an hour and I have lost the ability to think rationally and we don't even have any fruit so I'll just eat peanut butter out of the jar with a spoon and drink a few glasses of milk....

But, mostly I'm fine.

Just not blogging as much. 

Forgive me. Absolve me. Let me try to do better in the future.

Amen





Burn Baby Burn!

also posted on the GCV blog


Had to share...

We talked last week about corporations that are advocating for LGBT equality.. and mentioned General Mills.

You know, the company that makes Cheerios.

(yum)

Well... this man, apparently, decided to protest General Mills and their stance on equality... by burning a box of Cheerios.

Which, sure, is within his right to do... (although I am not sure about the legality of setting something on fire at a business), but anyway... he got more than he bragined for.

Watch it here.  (Embedding has been turned off) Not only is he ill equipped to deal with the fire (err, ramifications of his actions) but he appears to be fleeing the scene while his kids?, friends? audience? laughs and also flees.

Of course I know that not all Christians hate the LGBT community or are arsonists etc. Like all groups, there are fringe crazy people who tend to be a little louder than the sane majority. 

And for the most part we simply have to suffer those fringe crazy types... but in this case, I think it is ok to laugh at them. 

Adventures in Dining




I ate at In-N-Out Burger today for the first time. I won't be back.

It hasn’t really been for a political reason or a emotional reason that I have avoided In-N-Out in the past, it has had more to do with my reticence to give in to anything that gets THAT much hype… but also because when I do eat at fast food places, I tend to have a few that I like or that I at least know well enough to warrant going there.

But today, I was with a group of people and not in charge of my own destiny…. So, when they said “We are going to In-N-Out” I was amenable to going.

It turned out that we were “THAT” family in the restaurant today.

First off, as we entered, I said, all nonchalant –like “So, I can get chicken nuggets, right?”

No.

No? No chicken nuggets? What sort of burger join is this? (Ok, so yeah, “burger joint” doesn’t automatically preclude chicken nuggets, but I was still surprised.)

No worries, I said, still all confident, I’ll just get a chicken sandwich or some sort.

Nope.

When they say burger, they mean beef. The end.

Oh…. Well… ummm… I can’t actually eat beef. It makes me sick.

 Yeah…

Have I mentioned that I was at this restaurant with my Aunt, my cousin/sister –Jennifer- and Jennifer’s two little girls, my “nieces” Olivia who is 6 and Bailee who is 3.

We had been at the mall for hours.

Hours.

We are all tired, some of us are cranky, many of us need to eat in the next few moments to avoid fainting or tears. (or both)

Also, the two little girls had been talking about going to In-N-Out all day… so far be it from me to cause a problem. I wait in line while the other two ladies entertain them and wait my turn. At the counter:

“Hi, I was wondering if there is anything you have that isn’t beef?”
“Oh sure, we have a veggie patty or a grilled cheese.”
“Great! I’ll take the veggie patty.”
“Ok, it comes with lettuce, sauce, tomato, and onions.”
“Oh, let’s leave off the tomato and the onions.”
“Ok, do you want cheese?”
“No thanks.”

I added fries and a drink and feeling a bit embarrassed for having this much trouble with my order I turned from the counter. And promptly dropped almost three dollars in change, mostly nickels and dimes, from the pocket of my purse.

All over the floor.

Ok. Let’s all take a deep breath and consider… I’m 8 months pregnant, I can’t bend, I am already pushing my high pulse rate at this point… and now everyone is staring.

I look across the restaurant at Jennifer and Auntie Ree who are chatting by the windows.

I wave my hands, I call out “Auntie Ree… Jennifer… JENNIFER!!!”

But their conversation is very engaging and they can’t hear me.

So I scamper over to them, continuing to wave and call out… … I have to get right up next to them before they notice me, “Please,” I say, but then words fail me, I can’t quickly enough explain what I need, “please come”

Jennifer follows me back and we find a kind fellow customer has already collected my change. I thank her profusely and just then my order comes up. Perfect timing.

Or so I thought.

I get my tray and head over to the table where I discover that my “burger” consists of two pieces of bread, some sort of sauce, lettuce… and… nothing. No patty.

My aunt returns to the counter with my tray and my receipt while I take my turn entertaining the very young and very hungry little girls.

She comes back with bad news: “They don’t have anything they can do, they don’t have veggie patties here. We can go somewhere else for you after the little girls eat.”

So… I get to make a meal out of slightly cold fries?

No.

I march back up to the counter.

“Hi, I say,  “I didn’t get a patty in my burger.”
“We don’t have patties.”
“But.. you told me you did when I asked what your vegetarian options were.”
“We can give you a grilled cheese.”
“Ok, fine, let’s trade this for a grilled cheese.”
“Ok,, hang on.” She turns to another worker, “What do I ring up?”
Another round of explanations.
“Oh, says helpful co-worker, “Just charge her for extra cheese.”
Me: “No. I’m sorry but no, you can’t charge me to do an exchange.”
“But you are returning a veggie patty.”
“No… I’m returning an empty burger.”
“But we don’t have patties.’
We go around again until I get to the end of my rope.

“Look,” My hands are flat on the counter, my voice has risen, “I asked for your vegetarian options. You said ‘veggie patty’. The word ‘patty’ constitutes a physical thing, a presence of an object that has been labeled as ‘patty’ , not the construct of empty space. If you do not sell any such physical objects, then you lied to me. At this point I need to eat. I can’t eat beef and the only other option is your grilled cheese. So, since you lied, you need to take back this empty space filled sandwich and provide me with a grilled cheese sandwich At No Extra Charge. Got it?”

They got it.

I even got new –hot- fries.

So, yeah… regardless of the politics of the Christian owners (only sign I saw of this was the “John 3:16” printed on the bottom of the drink cups) they don’t have food there that I enjoyed eating… so… yeah. Won’t be back.

Can someone please tell me what the hype is all about? I don’t get it.

The Sound.... of...

An alarm.

At the hospital.

(don't worry, it wasn't attached to me in any way)

It was, however, pretty annoying... but... There was a silver lining!





Also, I was in for a check up thing, no need to worry on that front either. Both Ella nd I are doing fine!

Resting, in that busy sort of way.

Resting is hard work. Well, the way I do it anyway.

It involves still being able to work on my laptop... answering emails, promoting my book etc and also building and promoting and managing the three new websites for Gay Central Valley.

The Gay Ventral Valley Main Site
The Fresno LGBT Community Center
The Rainbow Delegation

They aren't perfect, but they don't suck either, so I say bloody bravo for me! :)

Anyway, back to resting.

I have to rest with my feet elevated. As in, waist level or higher. (This will help with the swelling... when they tell you that as a pregnant lady your feet will swell, they weren't joking.)

Which means working at my desk is out. (apparently staying "off my feet" is not good enough... they must be listed up up and away!)

So I tried the bed... only to discover that due to the HUGE belly and the bad eyes, I could watch Netflix in bed, but couldn't really see to read or write.

So, thankfully the Maifan-San had an idea of using the (new) kitchen table withe my feet on a chair. Which works... but.. wow, I never realized how much you move while sitting. My legs sort of cramp in this position and my knees keep hitting the hard underside of the solid oak table.

But, rest, feet up, I shall!

It won't last forever... just another 5-8 weeks!


The "Lady" Survey



Sometimes I makeyoutube videso.

Not often... some might say "not often enough" other would probably say "way too often" but whatever.

Here is my latest:

-note, I didn't actually have a list of the questions, I had to jot them down while watching Unseldomdrastic's video response... but afterwards I got a list... so if my answers aren't right on topic, that's my fault entirely.


The Lady Survey:
1. Who are your favourite female YouTubers?
2. Who are your favourite female athletes?
3. What is your favourite book written by a female with a female protagonist?
4. What is your favourite film written by a female with a female protagonist?
5. Who is your favourite female fictional character?
6. What is the biggest problem facing female creators today (and any solutions)?
7. Do you think youtube and online video in general are better or worse suited than television for tackling the problems and prejudices women face in the workplace?
8. What do you pledge to do to make the internet a better environment for all creators?
9. Tell us a story/secret whatever featuring women!
Rachel's Bonus Question! What's a better name than the Lady Survey?
10. TAG PEOPLE!

I'm going to hell

Really.

And not because I am not a believer.

Not because I'm bi.

Not because I'm living in sin and having a baby out of wedlock.

No,

I'm going to hell because when I saw this:


I thought "How sad, someone is punishing that poor alien with leet speak and bad grammar!"

Really though? Isn't this the same lame-brain socially sympathy driven crazy that led people to think that changing their online avatar to a cartoon character would do anything, anything, about child abuse?

Really people?

I mean, I know that this country suffers from "the stupid" on a colossal scale.  But this stuff? This stuff just seems like a bad Poe version of itself.

Not to mention that it is borderline offensive to those who have suffered or died from cancer (or lost loved ones). "Gee, if only there had been this creepy ass meme around ten years ago and enough people had "liked" it, Uncle Peter might still be with us."

/grumble grumble

So, yeah.

I'm going to hell.

(But at least according to the internet, hell will be full of gay sex and BDSM novel writers while all those alien children will be in heaven, right?)





NOH8!!

Whew, now that the 500th post is behind me, I can get back to writing!

I want to tell you all about NOH8.



This photographic project started in late 2008 after Prop 8 passed (which as you probably know took away the right to marry from same-sex couples). First with friends, then with celebrities, and finally as an international movement, photographer Adam has taken thousands of photos of people with the trademark NOH8 tattoo and duct tape.

I love the idea of this silent protest. I love the idea of placing yourself into a position of oppression to draw attention to the fact that you are oppressed... and then the freedom to rip away the tape and shout to the world that you do have a voice, that your voice is mighty and that you matter.

I like the simplicity of the photos, pure, white, red, black, skin tones.... I like the simplicity of the idea and how complex the metaphor is.

Last week, Gay Central Valley helped bring the NOH8 campaign to Fresno!

This was the first time the campaign has been in the Central Valley and we had an awesome turnout! Around 500 photos were taken! Photos of LGBT-ers, photos of straight allies, photos of families, photos of friends.... photos of supporters!

I won't have my official one for about 8 weeks (I might have already given birth by then, gulp) and I will show it off here once it comes in. In the meantime, here is my NOH8 face via my phone:



I just want to say thank you to NOH8 and to all the great sponsors here in Fresno that helped make this happen! (Check out the full recap here).

Oh! And I got quoted in one of the news stories!

Huzzah!


Happy 500th Post!


I realized the other day that my next blog post would be number 500. (by other day, I mean the end of June)

This was exciting but suddenly I felt that I HAD to write something worth reading, something profound, something worthy of being my 500th post!

And so… I got nervous.

Nothing seemed right. Nothing seemed good enough.

I could write about the pregnancy, the baby, the family drama, the crazy other family drama, the political issues of right now, the funny sex story of last week, the yummy food I ate and the yummy food I didn’t….

But none of that seemed right or good enough for a 500th post.

So, I waited. Surly inspiration would strike.

I waited some more.

I thought about writing about my friends, old and new, I thought about writing about lists of things to do, places to visit, goals I have set and met since starting this blog, goals I am setting for myself now, funny moments on the bus, weird dreams, links to funny cat photos or other people’s blogs…. Still, nothing seemed right.

Weeks went by.

Now there was even more pressure! Having put it off this long, I had better come up with something AMAZING… or what was the point of waiting?

Still, I waited.

Finally, at dinner the other night, I confessed my blockage. “I just, I want it to be something worth note since it is the 500th post.” I told a group of friends.

They were sympathetic but adamant: “Just write it already, don’t get distracted by the post number.”

So, finally, I decided I would.
I could.

I will!

Her I go! To break the silence of th blog and write the 500th post!

Dear Blog Readers, for my 500th post I decided to write about my inability to get over myself and my crazy expectations and my neurosis in writing this, my 500th post. Thank you all for sticking with me for the past few years. I have loved writing this blog and I hope to keep doing it for another 500 posts.

How very meta.

And yet, how very fitting… as any of you who have read even half of the past500 posts will have realized.

Whew!

Glad that’s over!

Now I can write about all that other stuff!

Right?

Write!

Trauma



Five years ago I was attacked in my apartment.

I won’t go into the details, but suffice it to say, I was a victim.

I spent the night in the hospital, I spent the next several months living in fear. I spent time at free clinics, at therapy sessions, and at the bottom of various bottles.

I was angry, I was scared.

But I survived. I managed to climb up and out. I found a way to not live in fear, to be open, and to not blame others (or myself).

Five years later, I am happy. I am settled. I am engaged to a wonderful man, I am pregnant with our child.

I have a life that bears no resemblance to that of the girl I was back then.

I have distanced myself from her, that girl who opened the door on that fateful afternoon.

I have distanced myself from her trusting invite of the “maintenance man,”

I have distanced myself from her moment of shock and paralysis that made her feeble attempts to fight almost laughable.

In fact, he did laugh.

I have distanced myself from the girl who sobbed, face down on the bathroom floor, who gave up because it hurt too much to fight.

But her shadow is never far, sometimes I see her in the mirror, her eyes wide, her skin bruised.

But there is a part of her, or myself, that I cling to, that was –somehow- there.

The part that sat up, who pulled herself up against the wall, who thought about letting herself go hysterical, of screaming until there was no more sounds in the world.

But decided not to.

That woman who got up, on shaky legs… it took four tries… and washed her face.

The woman who cleaned herself, who called for help, who sat in a hospital waiting room for hours and who maintained her dignity throughout photos, exams, and embarrassing condescending questions.

That woman who moved, who changed her life, who took self defense classes, again and again.

She isn’t perfect, that woman I became, she struggled. She gave into misery and made bad choices regarding her diet, her sex life, her behavior.

But she grew, and she continues to grow…. And the woman I am today, the mother I am becoming, well, she couldn’t have done it without that bit of inner strength that was found five years ago.

Trauma.

It changes us. It never really leaves us.

No matter the distance.

Resting... and the internet's cutest duck.

So....

My heart thing is under control as long as I rest.

Major rezt, but thankfully not bed rest




In other better news, this little duck is adorable!!!



Happy Summer Solstice!

Father's Day



This is for the Maifan-San who is a father today even though little Ella is still pretty tiny... and tucked away inside my middle :)

I'm so very lucky to have a man as wonderful as him be the father of my child!

Quick Peeks!

A few quick peeks at the continueing project of the nursery.





JC Penny's and the Gay Dad Ad



The copy reads: "What makes Dad so cool? He's the swim coach, tent maker, best friend, bike fixer and hug giver — all rolled into one. Or two. Real-life dads, Todd Koch and Cooper Smith with their children Claire and Mason." 

You can almost hear the sound of one million bigoted moms cringing in unison. 


I love JC Penny's.

RIP Ray Bradbury


I haven’t listened to country music in a while… but today I got a hankering while I was cleaning.

Country music has changed.

Or maybe, just maybe, I have.

Lyrics like “I wanna check you for ticks” (as part of the chorus) do little to inspire me. Or entertain me.

Yeah… I guess I have grown up a bit.

In other news, Ray Bradbury died today.  Author of “The Martian Chronicles,” “Fairenhight 451,” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” he was one of the most influencial sci fi writers of the past century.

He also wrote a few Alfred Hitchcock pieces…. See below.



A salute to one of my favorite authors. (note: NSFW)

Alone! (well, sort of)


We are now alone.

Well, sort of. There are four of us. One who fights epic battles with flies and takes up very little space....
Olive: Protector of the house!


One who is tiny and makes her presence known mostly through kicks and by jumping on my bladder. 

Matt, Me, and Fishy makes three!


But still. We are more alone than we have been for a while…..

See, back in April a couple that we are friends with split… and one half of that couple ended up staying with us. This was actually a pretty sweet deal for all concerned. We got some extra money, he got a place to live in Fresno. All was well.

But.

But I’m pregnant and not terribly wild about sharing all the day in day out stuff with anyone not my Maifan-San.

But we are preparing ourselves and our home for little Ella-Fish… which means collecting hand-me-downs…. Which have been slowly taking over the living room….

Forget about getting a book or a movie....


But proximity doesn’t always breed comfort. Sometimes it breeds “Gee, I need my own space….”

But being on doctor’s orders to not exert in any way physically (includes no sex) makes me grumpy… especially when others just down the hall have no such limitations and can celebrate coitus.

But not being able to sleep in my undies, leave the bedroom door open at night for the cat, and have access to my office… these things wear on one after a while.

So, while I was happy to be able to help a friend and to get some extra cash… I was pretty happy when he told us he had found a new apartment and would be moving.

Which he did.

Yesterday.

Last night I flounced around in lingerie. I sat in an unladylike manner…. And I moved all that baby stuff into the baby room and started the nesting that I have wanted to do for months now!

Because I could! 

Work in progress: Nursery part one.

Work in progress, Nursery part two

My living room.... has returned!


Yay!


What I Have Learned


So, I tried to do a web video blog thing… a vlog if you will, today but since I don’t have my computer (it is being fixed by Geek Squad, I hope) and Matthew’s computer lacks a working webcam, I had to to it with my camera and a tripod.

Which meant I have a 5 minute little vlog thing that mainly features my chin.

My chin, by the way, is not my favorite featue of myself.
So…..  here is roughly what I said in the vlog.

Things I have learned, about myself and the world, while being pregnant.

Matthew is a rock star in terms of helping me deal with stress, make me laugh, reminding me to breathe when I get upset, and generally being a great ally

Being afraid for the baby is way different than being afraid for myself. I knew this would be the case on an intellectual level, but the practicality of it was surprising. I feel really protective and this translates into my actions and my diet.

Yes, I am suffering through oatmeal and bananas for the sake of this little one. Who better be grateful….

You want what you can’t have. Sushi, lunch meat, brie, copious amounts of coffee and white wine…. I didn’t even really have them a lot ahead of time, but now that I have made the choice to not have them, I find I miss them terribly. And yes, I know, it is a choice. But it is a choice, and a sacrifice I am more than willing to make.

I have had way more chicken nuggets than I probably should. I will work on that.

Yes, I am a bit of a hypocrite. “None of that for me, I’m being healthy for my baby….. hey, let’s stop at McD’s and get some deep fried pink slime! YUM!”

My desire to be seen as big, pregnant, etc changes with the blink of an eye, First I flaunt the tummy. Then I get resentful when people say things like “you’re huge!” and try to tell me we are having twins or that our due date is way off. I just want to say: “Shut up! We have had 5 ultrasounds! My medical team isn’t comprised of idiots! And yes, I know the due date is an approximation, but your insistence that I am three months further along than I am is tiresome and annoying!’ For those of you who want to say nice things, you never know if I am in a flaunting mood or a snarky growly mood. Best bet: “You look great!” It works for everything.

I miss my mom, a lot. We aren’t estranged or anything, but we aren’t as close as I wish we were, physically or emotionally. I miss her. Communication goes two ways, I need to pick up my end a bit. Something to work on.

My best friends talk to me about the baby and also about other stuff! I love talking about the baby. But I NEED to talk about other stuff and to get passionate about other topics as well. My best friends understand this.

I want to nest. At least I sometimes I want to nest. A lot of the time I want to watch mindless TV because I know this is my last chance for a while.So really, i want to want to nest more than I actually do. I'm sure that will come in time.

So there you go. 

Also, apparently Matthew's computer will let me pull photos off my camera, but not videos. so, i guess it was okay that the video didn't work out. So, I guess i have also learned that I NEED my own computer back!!!!!!!

But here's a shot of me trying ....






Happy Day!

You're a hard habit to break.... or pick up.


I’m rather sore today. It started yesterday but has gotten worse over the past 24 hours… this ache in my right side that feels like a really badly pulled muscle. It hurts to breathe deeply, to move, to stand or sit or even lie down.Not sure if it is because i stretched too much or not enough. My working out habit hasn't been what it was a few weeks ago, what with the travel, the sleepiness, and oh yes, the trip to the ER.
          
 Anyway, this soreness or whatever, it varies between discomfort and pain… and I wonder if this is nature’s way, my body’s way, of telling me that I’m a wimp and that I should be even more afraid of the impending labor than I already am.
          
 In other news, my laptop which had developed a nasty habit of overheating after only being on for 20 minutes (serious over heating btw, ice packs were involved) has been fixed and is even now winging its way back to Best Buy. I have no idea how long the shipping will take, but I am glad to read that I might have it back within a few days.
           
My Maifan-San was sweet enough to let me use his computer, let me set up a profile etc, but it isn’t the same…. Oy, we are such creatures of habit aren’t we?
          
 Habits: good at times, bad at others. It has been a week and a half since I list bit my fingernails (speaking of habits that are bad and deserve to be broken). And it has been two days in a row in which I have blogged (speaking of habits I am trying to get back into).
         
  But the habit I most want to get back into, the habit that shouldn’t care about sore baby making muscles and shouldn’t be determined by which computer I have access to…..
         
  The novel.
            
Yes, still a work in progress.
          
  A little bit each day…. That should do the trick…. Right? Right?


And one last thing about habits... in case my title didn't make any sense.... (Yes, I'm a music nerd, accept it).