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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)

Smurfs and Celebration Cake

Hello world.

First off, I might be half smurf.

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See, my hand keeps turning blue. It is not always blue... and it doesn't hurt or tingle or feel cold when it is blue. But, yeah. It gets all blue and weird looing.

While they figure out if I have Raynaud's Syndrome or thoracic outlet syndrome (by way of taking more and more and MORE of my blood), I am keeping busy designing a new website for Gay Central Valley and working on all the other projects I have going on.





In light of preparing to be a bit more professional and all, I merged my multiple blogs into the one. Yay! Apparently someone else owns the rights to kayliametcalfe.com and even kayliametcalfewriter.com So.... while I figure out what I should name my new snazzy website I will celebrate this little factoid:


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This is my 1112th blog post!


Mmmm celebration cake...







And... yeah...this post is a little short and nononsequential but I really wanted to use that cake photo that has been in my gallery for eons.

Mmmm cake.

You know, I might be a little woozy from all the stupid blood tests. Maybe I should go eat some cake.

Yes.

Yes, I should.

Update

In my non-professional world of writing, I have done a few things recently.

First off, I wrote (another) poem about current events... or rather the past events that mirror the current ones.

Also, a vent about the school system where my spawn goes: Racist or Clueless?

And lastly, but of more interet to many, I have been working on getting "Maddie and the Too Many Mommies" ready for release on Kindle through Amazon.

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Oh, and my glacoma infused eye will need surgery but we are gong to put that off for as long as possible.

When it happens, naybe I will finally get around to attemtping to use that "voice to text" software I bought years ago... /shudder/



If it's today.

I want to take a moment and remember
The other "first days"
and "day ones"

I don't think we often know exactly.
It's more of a dawning
a creeping in of news stories
background noise that swells until it drowns us

out

but really, despite the fact that there have been several
dozens?
in my life, there are only a handful of realizations
that
this
is
happening.

No formal declarations in my lifetime
That isn't how it's done anymore
Just trending topics
Hashtags and photos that need content notes
and bipartisan bickering
blaming
and of course empty promises and threats

and fear

He called me from sleep, told me to get my glasses, a tower had fallen
I didn't understand but I never got dressed that day
I sat by a rotating fan and watched TV, watched the replay for weeks
Occasionally rousing myself to finish planning the move to the new city, the new chapter of my life
It seemed wrong and yet important that we keep the plans we made
Country music swelled with hate but I prefered the "where were you when the world stopped turning" song
and sang it
without words, letting the melody carry as I packed and mourned and waited for what would happen next

The first gulf war was heralded on TV with breathless pomp
It broke into Wheel of Fortune
and we ran in, meatloaf left on plates in the dinning room
I was in 5th grade
they taught us to sing "To Everything, There is a Season" and I worried about my uncles in uniform
My cousins and I recorded a radio show on cassette tapes, where we parroted our parents
Mixed platitudes with sound bites from KGO's radio voices
And wondered why it even mattered

I was in college when the second PG war became real
I had gone to the marches,
Held the candles
Shaken my head and muttered and argued on message boards (no such thing as Facebook)
But then one day a friend called
his voice a stone on the phone
Adam was dead. Killed in uniform
Fighting
Protecting
Serving
And my bitching about homework and lack of diet coke at the campus deli was
gone
wisps of smoke
I sat on my bed and sang "dust in the wind" until I couldn’t cry anymore.

Today my daughter is sick.
Today I wrote about systemic racism. I listened to podcasts. I weeded and in my zealousness I pulled out gentle dainty lily plants
Today I read about Syria

It's the begining, they say.

But we all know better.


Syria war: US launches missile strikes following chemical 'attack'

Racist or Clueless: You Be The Judge

Our daughter attends a neighborhood school. While the school is not the best (highest ranked school) it is also not the worst school in our area. As a public school it has its benefits and its drawbacks.

One of the drawbacks, at least in my opinion is the amount / level of parent notification. I feel like it borders on systemic racism, but that could be my liberal guilt talking.

Let’s play a game of “You tell me if this sounds messed up!”



Before the school year began we were invited to visit the classroom and have our child meet the teacher. This was to help the transition, to let the kid feel comfy at the new environment, etc. The appointment was set by the school and we were informed of our appointment by the school. They called us at 430 on a Friday afternoon to inform us that our appointment was 8:30 Monday morning.

As a work from home parent, that was fine. I was not only available to answer the phone but to attend the classroom visit. Had I a more “regular” job, my ability to do both things would have been reliant on the friendliness of my boss. How many people can just come in late on Monday with no consequences? Not a lot of notice here.



Later we were informed of a parent teacher conference appointment. Meeting times were posted outside the classroom and were  again, right in the middle of the day; 1030 am. This time we were given slightly more notice but we are still talking less than a week, a mere matter of days.

I am going to say that it is a fair assumption that there was a lot of scrambling on the parts of the parents to be able to make these appointments… and that those who didn’t have the luxury of being able to take time off of work might be missing out on getting important feedback on how their child is doing in school. Not going to say that those kids might be more in need of said conferences, but I will say that IF a kid is struggling for ANY reason, making it SUPER hard for the parent to find out about that or get feedback is certainly not going to help anyone.

Today we had another encounter with the school that left me scratching my head.

The kids had their spring pictures taken a few weeks back. Today they were sent home with a packet of prints and an order sheet.



To clarify: We have been given the pictures and an envelope telling us to attach payment for the ones we want to keep and to return the rest within a week from the date of receiving.

My issues:

First off this is a terrible / brilliant business model. Do you have any idea how much crap ends up in the backpack? Do you know how often things gets overlooked? We are going to be billed for something we didn’t ask for, that may or may not actually make it home? We will revisit this in a sec.

The instructions are only in English. This is of note since EVERY SONGLE OTHER FLIER or paperwork of ANY format from the school has been printed in both English and Spanish.  But sure, way to not easily communicate with a bunch of the population.  Way to set us up for success!

Lastly: they are asking us to return the payments within a week. Tomorrow is the last day before the kids have more than a week off for spring break. Like, for reals. Tomorrow is school. Then all of the next week and the following Monday they are off. Meaning you have to decide how much you are going to spend TONIGHT.  This makes point 1 and 2 even worse. It’s like they are setting the kids up to fail.



I called the school.

First I clarified the schedule. (Maybe I jumped the gun, maybe they are aware of the ridiculousness of the time constraint and will offer more time).  Is it true that the packets / payments are due within a week? Yes. Even though next week is spring break? Yes. So… does that mean that we pretty much only have tonight? Yes.

All righty then.

Then I asked if the instructions only came in English. (Maybe I jumped the gun, maybe they just profiled my kid as an English speaker). Yes. Apparently the photo company only provides English instruction. Do you include instructions written in Spanish? No. Why not? Well, the parents know the English. Then why has every other piece of paper come in both?

She asked my name.

My turn to say no.

How about this question: is there any negative repercussion if I keep the photos and don’t pay?

She seemed confused. You can just put the money in the envelope.

Yeah, I get that… but what if I don’t. What if I don’t do it in the time limit or do it at all. What if I don’t read English and I don’t know I am supposed to do anything? I mean, paid for pictures earlier in the year, they sent home a proof (one lone photo with a watermark) and then asked me order. This time around you just handed me ALL the photos. So, what if I don’t pay or give them back?

We are counting on the parents to be honest.

Right, ok… but will anything bad happen to my kid if I don’t?

She said they have a list.

I made a noise that was both unflattering and hard to type.

Again she asked me who I was.

Again I declined to answer.

Then she started talking to someone else in the room about a printer. The conversation was pretty much over.

Am I alone in that this all seems pretty crappy?


Ella’s photos, btw, are SUPER cute.


Thanks Dude

Recently I wrote a blog post about two things: the "wear red for women" day of action and the scary news that there is something worrisome going on with my optic nerve.

The first subject was given less than 75 words in which I said I was taking part but wasn't sure the action was going to be all that impactful.

The second topic was given more than twice the number of words and featured some of these !!!! to illustrate my worries.

And guess what!

A stranger wrote in! How nice!

"So, tell me, what does your SUPPORT really look like? What are you supporting and WHAT ARE YOU DOING PERSONALLY?"

Holy crap.

Thanks dude.

Thanks for missing the point of my post. Thank you for ignoring posts like this one where I talk about what I do. Thanks for yelling at me. Thanks for making me feel defensive, like maybe I am not doing enough in your eyes.

No really, actually thank you.

Thank you for reminding me why women don't speak up. Thank you for proving that people don't read past the teaser blurb. Thanks for reminding me that I am still linked into google plus for some reason. Thank you for reinforcing my choice of audience. Thank you for making me angry... I am strong when angry.

I don't know what I could do to prove to you that I am a legitimate activist. 

And you know what? I'm ok with that.

Trigger Warnings Wouldn't Have Helped

Ten and a half years ago I was attacked in my home.

Because of this, I am very twitchy about answering my door. But on the whole, I feel I have recovered as well as can be expected and I don't live my life in abject fear.

Really.

So today I took the kiddo to school and then went grocery shopping. (Wild life, I tell you). At the store the solar panel company called to let me know that a city inspector needed to come by for a final inspection. Sure, I said, I will be home after 12.

Oh, well see he wants to come by between 10 and 11.

Yeah, but I have to leave at 1030 to go get the kid from school, so...

Ok, we will tell him to come this afternoon.

Awesome.

Groceries in hand, I go home where I strip down and prepare for a much needed shower. Just as I am getting in, I hear what might be the door. Well, it is 9 am, so way too early for the inspector, but typical mail man time and I know he will just leave my package on the porch. Plus, I hate answering the door and, again, I am totally naked and might not have actually heard the door anyway.

So I take my shower.

Less than ten minutes later (CA is in a drought you know) I emerge from my bathroom wrapped in a towel and walk through my bedroom.... only to realize that there is a shadow and footsteps visible through the back window.

There is a man in my backyard.

My body starts to shake. and I can feel all my muscles clenching.

Calm down, I tell myself. It is probably the inspector.

But...

The gate is locked. Don't they need permission to enter your backyard?

It's the middle of the day, middle of the morning... surely this isn't anything nefarious.

But.

Let's take a moment to reread the beginning statement of this little essay. That day I opened the door around 4pm on a Monday afternoon, my hair dripping from the shower, wearing the nearest sundress I could find to throw on my still sudsy body when that unexpected knock had come at my door.

But it's almost ten years later. I live a much safer life now. I live in suburbia for goodness sake. And there is a very real reason for an inspector to be here.

Pushing aside thoughts of him jumping the fence, I throw on a tee shirt and jeans and muster up the courage to open the back sliding door.

Hello, I say, in a voice I hope is haughty and stern

Hi, the man on the step ladder fiddling with the area next to the electrical box says, I'm patching this hole.

Gentle reader, you might wonder, as I did, what the blazes he was talking about.

Well, see last week an electric company had come out to instal a new electrical box on our back wall to pave the way for the solar panels. The team had arrived almost two hours later than they said they would, had stayed late, and someone on that team had peed on the sidewalk near our side gate.

Yes, the sidewalk. Not the grass, or the dirt, or the trees or behind the other side of the house... but the sidewalk between the side gate and the backyard... you know, the place where people walk. Matt almost caught the guy doing that and we had already called and complained. Not wild about any pee in the backyard but VERY displeased about the choice of location.

Realization dawned on me. The man who had clearly jumped my fence and was patching a hole in the wall, was part of the Pee Team from last week.

And he didn't seem all that worried about my frosty glare.

Over the next hour or so I swung back and forth between rage and terror. I called the solar company who called the electrician company. The electric company said they would call him and have him wait in the front yard for further instruction. I found the safest room in my house to barricade myself into although I knew intellectually that there was no need. I had no idea if Fence Hopper Man  was still back there or not. I

The inspector, btw, showed up at 945. He assured me that there was no one in the backyard, but the electrician truck was still parked on the street. Matt got home and made his own round of angry phone calls.

When questioned by my pretty upset and imposing husband, the guy denied jumping the fence but offered no other way he had gotten into the back yard.

The hole is patched, the inspection has happened. All's well that ends well.

But I am still twitchy.

I know I am bringing my baggage to this. I wish I could just shrug it off. I wish I didn't feel the need to have a few cathartic sob fests today. I wish my hands would stop shaking. I wish my mind wasn't plunged into memories and that this was a funny story

But it's not.

We are always one bad moment away from reliving our past trauma.
And one good moment away from hope.

Here is my good moment for today. 

Art on Display at Gillis Branch Library

Some of my artwork is currently on display over at the Gillis Branch Library.

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I'm very pleased.

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I did find it funny that they hung a few pieces "upside down" but I actually think it might say something about both me as an artist and them as the audience... so I only fixed one.

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Anyway, hope you local people can swing by and enjoy the show while it is up.

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Sunshine Energy!

We got ourselves some fancy solar panels!

Woot!

I'm so darn exited to see the savings.... in 15 years or so when we pay them off.

Ahem

Actually it is nice to know that we are helping the earth in a tangible way and that our carbon footprint is less.

Also, they look hella cool.


FogCon

I am missing FogCon again this year... but my desire to be there next year complete with things I am proud of and projects I have been working on has been renewed.

So...

/cracks knuckles/

Better get back to work!

The Color Purple



The Color Purple by Alice Walker

There is a reason this book is a classic.

Few books have the power to change the way you view the world. This book does that. It takes you on a journey to a time and place that might seem foreign but is, once you pause a moment to consider, all too familiar. From the racism and sexism to the bonds of women and the struggles of victims overcoming, this book weaves a spell that leaves you aching for more.

A true "Southern" novel by its poetic nature and setting, Purple is a masterpiece of emotional battles won and lost through the passage of time for our complex narrator. There is no sugar coating the brutality and no whitewashing the horrors... but there is also no shrinking away from the universal truths found in these pages. At once beautifully tragic and stunningly empowering, this books will stay with you and beg to be reread for years to come.

I cannot recommend it highly enough






Why I March

I was always an activist. I questioned. I pushed boundaries. I protested naps and bedtimes and the percentage of green stuff on my plate. I started clubs to fight injustice and at age 7 led a revolt of angry Brownies who felt it wasn’t right that we didn’t get at least one box of cookies for free. We also wanted to go camping instead of learning cross stitch. (I wasn’t in Brownies for long). Sometimes I was victorious like when my high school acquiesced and allowed the formation of a QSA (Queer Straight Alliance). Other times I was less successful like my failed attempt to petition for a more relaxed dress code at the label company I worked for one summer. (If you have ever tried to file heavy folders in floor drawers while bring forced to wear nylons and a skirt, you will feel my pain.)

My activism turned political in 2003 and has never looked back. I have written letters and held signs. I have signed things and begged for signatures. I have worked phone banks and phoned representatives until their admins knew me by voice. I have donated time, money, energy… And I have marched. In rallies, in peaceful gatherings, in nearly silent moments filled with flickering candle light… and in angry loud protests where the thud of our feet on the pavement felt like it would split the earth.

In the last few weeks I have been privileged to march in Fresno multiple times; at the Women’s March the day after DJT ascended to the presidency, at the coordinated events protesting the Muslin Ban, and at the Support Planned Parenthood march last week. In all cases I had people ask me what I felt the point was, why I was bothering.





I march because I want to use all my tools to fight injustice and I have a loud voice and healthy feet.

I march because my job is not reliant on a boss’s political whims and I will not lose my job or my home due to my gender, my orientation, or my politics. 

I march because I can and many cannot. 

I march because my privilege demands to be used for good and not just to make my own life easier. 

I march because gathering in groups of like-minded people is cathartic and inspiring. 

I march because it motivates me and it motivates others. 

I march because sometimes sheer volume makes a huge difference. 

I march so that I can point to my blisters and sore throat and photos of funny or thought provoking signs and say “look, I was there, I was a part of that”. 

I march because our current President is temper tantrum throwing toddler who can’t watch SNL without losing his mind and I know our marches are having an effect on him. 

I march because I want my daughter to understand that changing the world is possible but to make it happen we have to show up.




At the rallies I saw people who were old hands at marching with their comfy shoes and their dog eared signs; people whose faces I recognized from countless other marches in the past.

And I saw new people, hesitant people. People who held no sign but held space with their very bodies; people who chanted softly and avoided eye contact but smiled to themselves as they headed toward their cars afterwards.

I saw children and people stooped with age. I saw healthy people and those too sick to stand or walk or breathe without assistance. I saw families and people walking alone, flitting from one clump to another. I saw all the colors of the racial rainbow and all the letters under the rainbow flag. I heard multiple languages. I saw community leaders and held hands with strangers.

That is why I march. Because no matter all the stuff we don’t agree on or have in common… when we march we have decided to be in one place with one message and with one voice we chant into the sky. The sounds we make, the vibrations of our feet, and the siren song of the megaphones fill the air and echo in our hearts long after we have gone home. We are connected and we are community if only for a moment. We can make change for we are mighty and we cannot be ignored.

I march because it matters



And I will not stop.

Trigger Warning

The following is a review for the short story collection Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman



Have you read Neil Gaiman? If so and you enjoyed him... then by all means pick up this book and relish it. If you are not a fan of his longer works like American Gods, then leave this on the shelf.

And if you are one of the few out there who has never read Neil Gaiman, may I say that you should prepare yourself to be highly entertained.

Don't let the tittle fool you. Yes, there are dark things (secrets, monsters, shadows) lurking in the pages of this book... but they are more interesting than scandalous, more intriguing than horrible, and more enjoyable than you might otherwise think.

And a few of them are poems.

Like many short story collections, the theme here is rather loose. I would challenge you to ignore the story by story explanation of how and why each entry was created until after you had read them and restrain yourself from playing the game of "where is the dark thing?" while reading each piece. Your enjoyment will go much further if you simply relax and enjoy the ride through poetry, fantasy, horror, and genre stories that all beautifully well crafted.

I personally found the retelling of a familiar fairy tale and the return to already known fandom universes to be the more enjoyable parts... but my favorite story is one of the longer ones that could have very easily been lengthened into a high fantasy story all its own but works so much better as a short sharp addition in this format.

Do not read these short stories looking for happy ever afters, profound epiphanies, or endings with bows. Read these for the adventure and the challenge. Read them for the mystery and the fun.

But please, read them.

I highly recommend this short story collection.

/tap tap

Testing 123........

Poems

I have written two poems in the last few weeks.

You can find them over here on my blog

My Uncle Phil Has Died -HERE- 

Must be February - HERE-

If I end up writing more I might make a designated page for them. For now, they are short, heart felt, and fresh.

Seeing Red.

I'm wearing red today to support the women's movement or the women's strike or... yeah.

I'm wearing red today in honor of all those women, like me, who can't really go on strike.



I don't think this particular protest was all that well thought out as I don't see the handful of people not working making enough of a global impact as, say, the march did last month.


But ok, fine. red.

In more personal news: there is something wrong with my optic nerve.

I have been told to not worry but that I need a ton of tests with special machines that need special technicians so... I get to wait a MONTH before the tests.

But not to worry.

Worry causes stress. Stress causes inflammation. Inflammation makes my vision go bye-bye.

So, Don't Worry.

It's two years ago this month that your retina detached. And they sent you to a specialist. And then you pretty much had emergency surgery. But. DON'T Worry! It's only been two and a half years. I mean, what are the chances that you could develop spontaneous glaucoma in your good eye and then have the retina detach in that eye and THEN have optic nerve issues in that same eye all within three years?

So DON'T WORRY!

(should I buy a lottery ticket?)

For reals, worrying can make things worse.

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Think I'll go eat my feelings.


Must be February

I feel a twitching in my finger tips
I read about Imbolc
I think about seeds buried deep
I sing a song about the coming spring to my daughter as we walk to school in the fog
I wonder if my blog still exists
I dust off my social media passwords, maybe live tweet something like the Super Bowl to remind myself that community can be fun
I read only "amature" authors, no professionals for a bit.
To remember that everyone started somewhere.
I think of FogCon and weekends hidden away in hotel rooms hunched over my keys.
I whisper intentions to the garden
and plant in perfect rows of specific hope

But this year... in 2017... when the unreal parts of the world are horrifyingly true
And a madman makes me wonder what the point of fiction even is
And the days are still long and the kids in crisis still show up at the Center door
And dystopia has arrived and my daughter is learning to read and wanting a promise that there are always happy endings
When I tell her that we are in the sad part of the movie before the hero arrives
When the Resist Hashtag is no longer hipster or ironic and has become instead
less scary than the Hashtag Accept

This year,

This year I am screaming my intention at the dirt and the sky
Hand flung seeds scattered to the wind
I am wild with purpose
and I watch as the force of my voice
pushes
pushes
and forces creation to bend to its will.


My Uncle Phil Has Died

My Uncle Phil has died.

He of the calloused hands
who always smelt briefly of woodsmoke
Who told the story of me always hiding away and reading books
with a smile and a sound in his voice I didn't recognize
Who made me promise to be great someday
And made the best muffins
My first role model that attacked the stereotype without even having to acknowledge it
A Navy man
And kind

I have a list of questions I never asked.
I want to know his story.
Beyond that of the sisters almost drowning him in a pig trough
or when he made ice water from melted ice

But the story that is behind that. The ones his godson knows
His real nieces

I am jealous of their connections and I grasp at the memories I have

The burn piles.
Getting carried.
The way he said my name, sort of rushed at the end.
Hearing him talk about music
But I can't remember what he said.

The sound of his laughter
finding its way up the stairs
down the hall
to where I sat surrounded by books desperate to escape into their worlds.

What a fool


Stutter... stop.... stutter... keep going

I haven't been writing fiction.

I haven't been writing.

There are reasons and they are decent mostly having to do with a very time consuming 4 year old and a very limiting window of time each day where the glaucoma meds aren't either making everything blurry or making me super nauseous.

But

I have been reading.

In short bursts, in little stolen moments.

 ... short stories every now and then.

And I realized that maybe I could write like that too... in tiny little drops of insights or fiction or, well something, so that any talent or skill that I might have once possessed doesn't atrophy and die.

Happy New Year!

Let's see what can happen!