On Being Good, Being Kind

Current State My husband and I watched Kubo and the Two Strings last night and it was breathtakingly lovely. Near the end, for no specific reason that I can point to, I began to think about dying. Not the abstract certainty that yes, I'll die some day because we all do, or the deep mourning I have felt when someone close to me or to my family has died, or the fear that comes on me when my children are too quiet or absent too long or running high fevers in the middle of the night. Deeper, darker, realer than that. Being dead.

Going to sleep and never waking again dead.

Getting in my car and crashing into someone or something, feeling it roll over and over and over me dead.

Just, ceasing to be.

I had my head on my husband's chest, felt his shifting muscles, his beating heart, my own seize up and tighten, tighter, as I imagined not being. Even now I can't even capture the terror that gripped me. That I am, now, that I live and breathe and dream, now, and someday I won't anything. One day I'll be gone, and I might not even know that I'm gone because I'll just. Be. Gone.

I don't prescribe to any particular faith. I never have, and perhaps I never will. A very good friend of mine recently told me of how she prays during times of uncertainty and trouble, how she's learned to recognize the answers to her prayers in herself, in others, in the world. It sounded to me like a pleasant dream I'm not sharing, a guidance I sorely lack but don't even know how to begin to crave. I have always been firmly agnostic, though I feel it's one of those things that lacks firmness. I'm not sure what's out there, what's after, what came before, but I'm not ready to say there's nothing.

Neither am I ready to say there's something.

The movie ended and I sat up and when he started to talk to me about how he felt about it, I started to talk, too, and my mouth just hung open. I started to cry. Harder. And then I couldn't breathe, and my heart felt slow and fast at the same time.

"I'm scared," I told him. "It's scary."

I've not had a panic attack of this magnitude since college, and I've never contended with my own mortality in so visceral a way. But I'll tell you what's the same between this response and the crippling anxiety I experienced as an undergraduate: stress and lack of control. At 23, I was so overwhelmed by my course load, my job, my family, and my aspirations that I quit two of those things and sought counseling. Eleven years later, I have the presence of mind to know that this is just a moment in time, and eventually I'll feel better. Unfortunately, my scope of worry is now so much bigger.

I feel maddeningly powerless about a number of things right now, but I'm painfully Type A, guilt-ridden, and suffer an unreasonable sense of duty that urges me to continue to try anyway. To throw myself against the wall until it breaks or I do. I look at what's in my life and tell myself I can't quit anything, but that's not really true. I can and I must, because it's pretty clear to me I can't keep on like I have been. I don't have any more to give to stress and fear and uncertainty and speculation. I need to focus on what I can do: raise strong girls. Elevate the stories, amplify the voices, and share the incredible transformations in schools and communities through my work. Love my husband and my friends. Tell my own stories, not to escape the world I am living in, but to put magic into it.  I can't be sorry but I already am.

I need to believe that this is enough.

This is plenty.

This is good.


34 in 34

I just celebrated a birthday, and I decided that in my 34th year, if only makes sense to combine my love of lists with my love of ambition. In no particular order, here are 34 things I hope to do while I'm 34. I might need your help.

I will not be making one of these lists when I turn 111, but I dig this mural from breath-art on DeviantArt all the same.

  1. Finish writing another book.
  2. Continue to work out at least three times a week.
  3. Read 34 books.
  4. Watch Star Wars: A New Hope with my oldest daughter. It's not that I think four is necessarily old enough, it's that I just can't wait any longer.
  5. Attend Books by the Banks as a guest. With my second book slated for publication in May, I am cautiously optimistic.
  6. Finish one new costume for Dragon*Con. Of course I have more than one planned, but I'm being realistic about my sewing follow through.
  7. Run a successful writer’s retreat. After the holidays I plan to hit the ground hard plotting for a writer's retreat in April at a castle. If that sounds like something you'd be into, you know how to reach me.
  8. Go swimming.
  9. See a play.
  10. See Bethany and Stephen get married!
  11. And my girls are going to be flower girls, so, weep profusely.
  12. See Alex and Christopher get married!
  13. Go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Dreaming big, friends.
  14. Grow vegetables.
  15. And then eat them.
  16. Blog twice a month.
  17. Sew something for each of my girls. I've actually already managed this, but I'm not letting myself completely off the hook.
  18. Write real letters. Volunteers? I have a lot of stickers to compliment my poor handwriting.
  19. See live music.
  20. More candid photographs of my girls with my actual camera.
  21. LARP more. After years of playing I took a break when my littles were very little, but I found time again last autumn and I want to keep it going.
  22. Send Miss E to kindergarten in style with a Schultüte.
  23. Grow my hair out.
  24. Or cut it off if I'm really feeling it.
  25. Watch Gilmore Girls in its entirety. I love it now but never watched it while it was on the air, so I am woefully behind.
  26. Knit. I may as well if I am going to be watching television; these hands are so rarely idle.
  27. Finish the quilt that's languished half-assembled since before I was married.
  28. Discover some new music. Any recommendations?
  29. Visit my dad at least once a month.
  30. Endeavor not to fight with him.
  31. Acquire a Stratton compact. While Peggy Carter turned me on to these vintage beauties, I'm not attached to hers unless I get lucky.
  32. Read, paint, dance, and dream more with my girls.
  33. Appreciate my husband in word and deed.
  34. Elect a female president. #sorrynotsorry

Going Down with the Ship

Would love to be able to caption this one, but couldn't find the original creator. My favorite of the too many I've collected. I have a shipping problem.

Probably you're enough like me that I don't need to clarify that I'm not talking about postage rates, but just in case.

I don't read romance novels, but some of my very favorite books and television shows include pretty spectacular romances. I crave adventure and love, which I feel is pretty fair. I need my OTP making out in space, or castles, or castles in space, perhaps prior to an epic throw down with an interstellar vessel stuffed with dungeon trolls.

I'm also a notorious canon shipper, and have very little patience for pairings that go against what an author has written - unless it's written very poorly, in which case I don't care enough to feel invested anyway. But, to each their own. One of the few exceptions is probably Captain Janeway/Chakotay, after she's been a determined and frosty badass and gotten them home safely from the Delta Quadrant, of course. And Trip/T'Pol. What is it with Star Trek effing with my heart?

But really, I'm just a Hermione/Ron, Katniss/Peeta, Lizzie/Darcy sort of gal. I trust the writers whose stories that I love and enjoy re-reading and re-watching, picking up the sly sweetness at the start of a relationship that I missed the first time around. If it's a good ship, it's good whether I see it coming or not. And the best ones, at least for me, are always intended.

Which is why I am feeling like a bit of a pariah after a recent re-watching of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Because if I was shaken by the chemistry between Rey and Kylo Ren during my first two viewings in the theaters, the privacy of my own home - and replaying their scenes - has me reeling.

Reylo is on my mind, you guys, in a big way. I'm a fan of the Rey is a Kenobi theory, and at the very least, feel it would be far too easy for her to be a Skywalker. It just seems to me like it would be an absolute waste to ignore what's going on between these two every time they're on screen together, to the degree that their scenes seem intentionally charged. That we see his face first when she does. That she overpowers him, and his first response isn't to try and break her.

And the bridal carry. Come on.

I also feel like Reylo gives me, at least, what I need out of the series. In KOTOR, there's an interesting precedent for those who have fallen to the dark side to return to the light, and I need to see a Skywalker truly redeemed - Ren's slavish devotion to his grandfather's work renders Vader's last scene with Luke pretty hollow. Can Vader really be saved if his progeny continue to wreak havoc on the galaxy? Where's the balance we were promised?

And then there's this, which is honestly such a lovely parallel I can't even deal.

Kylo Ren and Anakin


So I suppose I have my first trash ship. I am unlikely to let this go until 2017, at which point I hope I'm shouting, "Canon, bishes!"


Top 5 Television Crushes

If you've ever fallen for a fictional character, we should get a drink sometime and discuss our unreasonably broken hearts. Or at least obsessively YouTube clips of the following. Because really, it's my love of their stories that's really behind all of the blushing. Sure, they're hot stuff, but the way they move... through an expertly crafted narrative, that's the thing. Right.

John Crichton

John Crichton is the first and the finest of men I've fancied on the screen. My attachment is likely aided by a serious girl crush on Aeryn Sun. Who doesn't want to be Aeryn?! I actually didn't watch Farscape when it was on the air, but caught The Peacekeeper Wars when it aired for the first time when I was in college. I was hooked. Despite having seen the end of the story first, I found the series full of surprises. And delicious wardrobe changes for Commander Crichton.


Because I do love a man in a space-faring uniform, Commander Charles "Trip" Tucker III from Star Trek: Enterprise is a forever favorite. Enterprise is the most underrated Star Trek series, and not just because this Chief Engineer is worthy of more than four seasons and a better end - don't even talk to me about the series finale, because I've never watched it, and I never will.


They say that you always love your first Doctor, and while Christopher Eccleston as Nine surely occupies an eccentric corner of my heart, Ten will always be the TImelord I'll pine for. His suits. HIs swagger. His silliness. Though I grew to appreciate Eleven in time, I'm not sure I'll ever weather the oncoming storm.


Why wear my heart on my sleeve when I can wear a brown coat? Malcolm Reynolds, of all the fellas to admire on Firefly, is just my type: a guarded asshole who nevertheless FEELS ALL THE FEELINGS.

Logan Echolls 2

Which maybe explains why I love Logan Echolls so much, the man who occupies the one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-others place on this list. Veronica Mars may not be set in space, but it's clever girl noir and exceedingly worthy of all your love and attention. Logan is a surprisingly dynamic and genuine character, and hot enough that you're willing to ignore the puka shell necklace.

ETA: And an honorable mention to Jamie Fraser of Outlander, because, obviously. Perhaps I initially failed to include him because he really would've taken up two spots: one for himself, and one for his amazing shoulders.

Jamie Fraser


So I'm thinking if this writing thing doesn't work out I could try professional mourning. I'm becoming quite skillful at misery on demand, or at the very least, in an instant. I know I'm not supposed to feel sorry for myself, am meant to keep my chin up and my aim high, but this bow is getting awfully heavy and I'm riddled with holes. The lengths I've gone to to keep my manuscript from such a plot-fuck do not seem to matter. What I want isn't wanted, and when I think, not yet, I feel like I'm only delaying the inevitable.

Which is to say, a black fringed head scarf.

There are crazier things I could do, and won't. You know the sorts of things, the human-stupid things we have the power to do but have learned better: driving on the wrong side of the road, willfully, madly, touching hot iron or tasting boiling water, cheating on our husbands. Thinking of these things reminds me, at least, of what my hands and heart can do and never will, and keeps me from numbering seemingly impossible dreams among them.

Hipsters Shouldn't Be Allowed to Go to the Movies

I'm guilty of loads of things, and one of the many of which I am acutely aware is thinking about myself in terms of the things that I am attracted to.  There's no shame in finding friends or lovers who listen to the same bands as you do, or read the same books, or prefer their coffee made in a press versus the greasy sludge pumped from the Bunn commercial coffee maker at the corner Speedway, but there is something of the regrettable hipster in giving oneself gold stars over your vinyl collection. Not that hipsters give themselves - or each other, for that matter - gold stars. But if they did. My point is illustrated thusly: M and I, after much deliberation, saw a midnight showing of Tron last week, and while I'm far from regretting the opportunity to ogle Sam Flynn and covet a light cycle of my very own, we rarely leave such gatherings of geeks unscathed. This time, as I'm waiting for the show to start and checking Facebook on my snail of an Android, a young man leans over his date in the seat next to the empty one I've saved for M and asks, "Do you have Google on your phone?" I replied that yes, I did, but it was extremely slow.  If there was something he wanted me to look up before the film started, he should've asked an hour ago.

But as it turns out, it wasn't about actually needing the information. It was about making sure that I knew and everyone within hearing radius knew something truly special about him.

"I just want to show her," he gestures to the pitiable female in the seat beside him, "a picture of Daft Punk. I could care less about Tron, really. I'm here because of Daft Punk."

What I wanted to say was something along the lines of Like-I-Give-A-Fuck, but I was spared by a fella sitting in front of me who had an iPhone 4 and thus, a real connection to the World Wide Web.

He didn't stop there, of course, and when M settled down we both had a nice laugh about him when he went on to assume loudly to his girlfriend - for her sake, I hope not - that he didn't think anyone else in the theatre even knew who Daft Punk were. I kept waiting for him to use the word "plebians," but was sadly let down. The things is, we were both biting our tongues because we did and do like Daft Punk, but to say as much would be to align ourselves with this silly prick. To not say anything was, conversely, to let him number us among the drooling masses. Who isn't, though, for a kid like that? And why did I care?

It's one thing to pat yourself on the back, I guess. It's another to verbally grope yourself in public.