Long Time, No Post!

Time slips by so quickly; I didn’t realize that it had been 2 months since I last said anything on this blog. Yeesh!

Part of that is because, sadly, I haven’t been reading much. I have been reading some, but… not much. There are times where my health sadly doesn’t allow me the attention span to actually read for longer than 10 minutes without my eyes just sort of unfocusing. It’s brutal. It honestly hurts sometimes to see that within the space of 10 years, I’ve gone from reading 5-8 books a month to consider myself lucky if I finish a single book in the same span of time.

Never get a chronic illness, folks. Never. But if you absolutely have to, make sure it’s one that’s easily treatable and doesn’t interfere with doing the things that used to bring you such joy and comfort.

I have read a few things, though, and over the next little while I’ll try to get some reviews out. I don’t want this blog to be totally dead, even though I know it’s sorta on its last legs at this point anyway. The reviews might be shorter, might be less detailed than they used to be, but eh, very few people read my reviews anymore anyway, so I don’t think anyone will notice. :p

Not self-pitying. I’ve already accepted that the blogosphere has moved on from when I was in my bloggy prime. That’s fine. I don’t want to be a rising star or something. I just want to still be part of this. Even if I can’t handle a lot of it like I used to.

So, now you know I’m still alive, still reading, still having opinions on things.

Oh, also, I’m going to be moving again in a month or so, since my partner got offered a job teaching at another college! So we’ll be moving back to the city we used to live in soon. That’ll be exhausting, honestly, but I’m kind of looking forward to it, since we’re looking mostly into 2-bedroom apartments and so I can have my own bed again, and not have to sleep on the couch when I need to sleep at night! (My partner and I have vastly different sleeping needs, especially with my pain issues, so sharing a bed is really difficult, sadly.)

Anyway, that’s all for now. I’ll get to writing some of those reviews. Expect a new one next week!

State of the Ria

So I decide to phase out reviewing in order to focus on my own writing, and then, uh… don’t. I have written nothing. I haven’t had the brain-space for it.

I’ve made no secret of my ongoing health problems, but for those who don’t follow me on Twitter of Facebook and thus might not have heard my ranting and railing… In a nutshell, for a few years now, I’ve been dealing with worsening pain, which kind of came to a head last summer after a couple of nights of insomnia just sent me spiraling over the edge. Since then it’s been a non-stop rollercoaster of pain, of decreasing mobility, of continued insomnia broken up by periods of not being able to do anything but sleep, of fatigue that leaves me incapable of doing much beyond vacantly watching TV shows and YouTube videos that I’ve already watched a dozen times, because my brain has no space for anything new.

Which, sadly, includes writing. I’ve been plotting and planning a novella I want to write, to get me back into the swing of things before I tackle something longer and more complicated, but beyond taking notes, nothing’s been written. I sit down, I open a new document, and just… can’t focus.

Brain fog. Ain’t it grand?

Every day or night in which I don’t write something, I feel guilty. Right now, I’m not just a neutral presence in this household, but instead I’m one that takes but cannot really give back. I can’t work, I can’t earn money, and so we’re trying to get by on one income. One income which is keeping us afloat, because we know how to live frugally when we need to, but there are so many things that would improve our qualify of life and our health that we just can’t afford. And if I’m blunt, it’s mostly because of me.

Right now I live in that horrible limbo state of being too disabled to work but not so obvious disabled that I can get government assistance. The laws where I live are kind of bullshit in that regard: to qualify for government disability assistance (which would let me draw a monthly cheque of maybe $500-550, and that would help so damn much right now…), I’d need signed forms from a doctor stating my diagnosis and affirming that this diagnosis means I will never be able to work again, or else am going to die relatively soon. It seems that the government thinks that disability only ever comes from a sudden terrible accident, or is something that will kill you quickly. Nothing in between.

I do not yet have a diagnosis. I’m still waiting for 2 tests to be done: a muscle biopsy to see if I have something destroying my muscles (very unlikely, given other test results, but still possible) and an EMG to see if my peripheral nerves are dying. If either of those tests show anything, cool, I have a diagnosis. If not? …I dunno, fibromyalgia, I guess?

None of the likely diagnosis are curable things, either. Treatable sometimes, to a degree. Manageable, with lifestyle changes (such as ones I wish I could afford right now). But nothing I’d ever be able to face and say, “Ah yes, I know I’ll get my old life back at the end of this.”

And believe me, the stress of that hanging over me isn’t doing my attention span any favours, either.

I want to work. I want to earn money, to contribute to the household, to stop feeling like nothing but a burden.My partner’s pretty good about it, but I’m well aware of the reality of my situation. Unless I can do something at home, setting my own hours, then my options are practically non-existent.

Which bring me back to why I feel guilty for not writing. If I write, I might be able to sell. If I sell, I earn money. If I earn money, I feel like I’m worth something, because I can contribute and improve our lives. I might not be the best writer, and maybe I only have a snowball’s chance in hell at actually earning anything that way, but it’s something I can strive toward. I can try. Sometimes just trying makes me feel like I’m not entirely useless.

If only this damn brain fog would shift and let me actually do what I want to do!

But hey, maybe I’ll manage to pull myself out of these mental mists and put fingers to keyboard and in a few months, you’ll be critically eyeing my attempt at writing something with textiles and ghosts and sacrifices. Maybe it won’t even suck! Got to keep my fingers crossed, right?

A Change is Gonna Come

I mentioned this on Twitter recently, but I thought it bore mentioned here too: I’m going to be phasing out my reviewing.

I can see some eye-rolls already. Oh look, Ria’s stopping reviewing again, only everybody knows it won’t last for very long. Yeah yeah, I had this debate with myself already. :p

This time, though, I’m not so much stopping reviewing, so much as I’m scaling back on them in order to work on writing of my own.

I have learned a lot about writing from reviewing. A lot. People who have seen my before-reviewing writing and my after-reviewing writing have commented that the improvement is marked, and believe me, it wasn’t because I was writing my own original ideas all that time. But through critiquing the stories of others, I learned a lot about what works, what doesn’t, what pitfalls to watch for, what resonates with me, what I want to put my own spin on. I picked up a lot of lessons along the way.

And it’s time to put them to good use.

I have ideas in my head, and I want to get them out. There are some novels percolating in this noggin of mine, and I’ve gone over and over how I want to write them, and now I need to stop just talking about writing, just wishing I was writing, and actually get to the writing.

So. Fewer reviews. Probably a post here or there about what I’m writing. Maybe a snippet or two. Not sure yet what will become of this blog, whether it will stay mostly for reviews or whether I’ll use it to talk about my own work too. Probably the latter. I’ve made enough personal posts over the years, after all. It wouldn’t be entirely out of place.

So maybe in a year or two, you’ll be holding a new book in your hands and it’ll have my name on it. Fingers crossed!

Life is a Damn Mess

I’ve been largely absent from many of my usual haunts these past couple of weeks. Social media, blogging… I just haven’t been up for any of it. Life is… not the easiest at the moment.

First off, one of my nearly-18 year old cats has been on a bit of a decline, health-wise. He seems to have recovered a bit this past week, for which I’m thankful, but his appetite still isn’t what it used to be, and I worry about what that might mean. As I said, he’s nearly 18, he’s diabetic, he recently got diagnosed with a hyperactive thyroid and balancing his thyroid meds has been a challenge, and he also has joint and muscle degeneration in his hind legs, which means pain medication, which means his kidneys don’t always do so well either. So yeah, even if he’s doing better at the moment, I’m fairly certain this is just the beginning of the end, so to speak, and that is really weighing on me.

And if anyone follows me on Facebook, you might have been made aware of some recent family drama in my life. Long story short, my dad hadn’t spoken to me in months, after I asked him to stop harassing me about learning to drive (something he’s been insisting is “inevitable” since I was about 20, and something which I’ve insisted isn’t inevitable and I have no interest in doing anyway), and he attempted to turn that around with, “Why is it okay for you to call me a racist but not okay for me to say you might like driving?”

Which baffled the hell out of me, because I haven’t called him racist, and his response overlooks the many years I’ve been asking him to stop pressuring me…

Anyway, him ceasing to talk to me was shortly after that, with a message that basically said, “I’m still too angry to even meet up with you for 5 minutes like we’d arranged,” and then silence from then on. He didn’t like me talking about some of this stuff on Facebook, so he emailed me to call me cowardly, to tell me that my accusations of him being racist and homophobic have damaged his marriage, and to throw some inappropriate insults my way. He said he’s been keeping his distance from me to preserve his mental health and well-being. He still insists that I’ve been calling him racist and homophobic, but won’t explain when I did this or what I supposedly said it regarding, and apparently being called these things is worse than actually being them, I guess, and worse than saying or doing problematic things. Plus a general refusal to actually address my initial complaints about him harassing me. Some back-and-forth ensued, and in the end, I gave him an ultimatum. Either explain himself and actually commit to working at healing a lot of the broken aspects of our relationship, or if he really wants to keep his distance from me, then make it a clean break and cut me out entirely, because I have no time or energy to just wait on his convenience and continue to deal with accusations he won’t explain to me. I wanted him to actually choose.

He turned it around once again by saying, “If you really want a clean break, then I’ll give you that, if you need it.” He chose, but he phrased it in such a way that I’m sure he thinks he just did what I told him, not acknowledging that I have him 2 options.

But he chose. My dad has essentially disowned me over accusations I still don’t understand and may never understand.

So that all fucking happened.

Combine all of that with an ongoing pain flare that has me often wanting to just lie on the floor and sob until I pass out, because at least not being conscious means I’m not in pain for a little while… Yeah. It’s been a time. I have no idea when I’m going to get to see the neurologist I’ve been referred to for additional testing, but I can say with good certainty that I can expect this to be my life for the foreseeable future. Pain flares, and the hope of those pain flares ending and letting me go back to my regular low-level pain instead of higher-level pain.

Ain’t life fucking grand?

There has been some good stuff this month. I actually got paid editing work, which made me incredibly happy because I felt, for the first time in a very long time, like a person who wasn’t just a useless mooch and a drain on household finances. Plus I really enjoyed the process; that was a very nice bonus. And it’s been lovely to say to my partner, “Don’t worry about groceries this week; I’ve got the money for them.”

So yeah, all of that combined meant that I barely had enough spare energy to get out of bed some days, let alone try to turn my mind to organizing my thoughts into a coherent book review. Or to interact with people very much. It’s been a month of pain, work, distress, numbness, fear, and there’s been some hopeful stuff in there, not going to lie, but it’s just all been so very much, and I couldn’t keep everything on my plate.

Hopefully things will start to improve a little. Hell, if this pain flare would just end, that would make a lot of things easier to deal with. Chronic illness never plays nice, though, so I’m not going to hold my breath. Just got to hang on until the ride is over, and hope I come out the other side relatively unscathed.

So that’s why I’ve been mostly absent. I appreciate your patience with the periods of radio silence and the lack of content. Hopefully I can get some stuff going again soon. I really do miss talking about good books.

Reading and Blogging Goals for 2021

Given my wonky health of late, I wasn’t sure whether to do anything goal-related at all this year. I mean, we’re already nearly 2 weeks into 2021 and I haven’t written a single review yet, nor have I finished read a single book. It seemed like a bit of a fool’s errand to commit myself to doing a certain amount of things or doing things on a regular and scheduled basis. The future might bring me scads of editing work that distract me from reading (haha, not bloody likely!), or it might bring me a month where I’m barely able to get out of bed and all I can manage is reading (thankfully, also not bloody likely, but still more likely than the other option). Who even knows anymore?

But still, I do have certain things I want to accomplish this year, so let’s get down to brass tacks and take a look at the idealistic side of my mind that won’t quit no matter how much it probably ought to sometimes.

  1. Read 52 books.

My definition of a book has changed a lot over the years. I used to not count manga and graphic novels, or some books geared towards certain age ranges, or sometimes I wouldn’t even count novellas. Now, I do. They tell a story or stories, they count as a book. End of.

2. Take February as Manga Month again.

Last year, I did Manga Month twice. This year, I think I’ll only do it the once. I have plenty of manga to catch up on, and giving myself an excuse to just read and review manga for an entire month is a great way to do just that. Those reviews might not be the most popular, but this blog ceased being popular long ago, so at this point, it doesn’t really matter. I want to read and review some manga titles, so I’ll do just that.

3. At least 50% of my reviews will be from review copies.

I have a lot of review copies, gathered over my… holy crap, I’ve been reviewing books on and off for over a decade now! Yeah, that’s a long time, and many of those years saw me lucky enough to get review copies from authors and publishers. I have plenty of books I’ve purchased for myself, or books I’ve borrowed from the library, but I want to make a bigger dent in that review copy backlog.

4. Finish more series.

Browsing the list of books I’ve reviewed, there are a lot of, “book 1 of a trilogy” entries on there, and then I never went any further. Sometimes it was because I couldn’t get any of the other books in the series. Sometimes I had no interest in reading further. Sometimes I had the books and wanted to read them but made the executive decision to focus on other upcoming titles instead, to keep riding the hype train.

But as I said, this blog is no longer even remotely an influence in the bookish world, so I feel a little more free to take the focus on upcoming books and look back a little bit, to finish things I started and to cross a few older titles off the list. I’m not going to pin down an exact number of series I want to finish up this year, but I do plan to make an effort in that direction.

And… that’s it, really. As I said, given my unpredictable health, I don’t want to make any more commitments than that, because doing so just seems like a surefire way to be disappointed in myself when life gets in the way and I can’t meet my own expectations.

Fellow bloggers, what are your goals for the year, if you have any? Are they many or few, big or small? Let me know in the comments, link to any posts you made about what you want to accomplish this year, and we can spread a little goal-related love around.

In the meantime, happy reading!

Why Seanan McGuire’s “Wayward Children” Series Means So Much to Me

If you look at my reviews for the Wayward Children novella series, it’s pretty clear that I absolutely adore the stories, and have from the beginning. Reading Every Heart a Doorway changed me, and I’ve read every novella since then, and reread a few of them to boot. Even when they hurt my heart, I love them.

And it’s time to talk about why.

Come Tumbling DownI could say that it’s because there’s positive queer representation, and there is. I could say that McGuire just gets so many things, and has a brilliant way of writing those things, and she does. I could say it’s because the stories are so very creative, and that much is true.

But that’s not why the series resonated with me so intensely, right from the very first one.

That reason is far more personal, and will take a lot longer to explain.

You see, many years ago, I had a dream. In it, I had been taken outside of time. I didn’t fully understand the reason then, and I still don’t now, but somebody in charge of things had decided that I needed to stop existing, and took the steps to make that happen. Not death, nothing like that. More like I had never existed in the first place, my life reduced to nonexistence, everybody I knew losing all their knowledge and memory of me. And yet, I still existing. I had all those memories. I had to go somewhere.

And that somewhere was what I called The Silence.

I called it that because once I arrived at the place where I was going to exist from then on (a huge building, though I don’t remember seeing the outside of it; I remember long white hallways lined with doors, most of them the mini-apartment of somebody else who had never existed), I was handed a schedule, telling me when I could expect to get meals, when it was suggested I sleep, all of that. There was an hour a day when I could interact with others there in a communal space if I chose, but the rest of the time? It was all marked with “silence.”

Nonexistence was a quiet place.

I had my own little room, the place I’d be living from then on. It didn’t have much. A bed. A desk. That was it. But here’s the thing: since The Silence existed outside of time, I could request anything I wanted, from any time, to keep myself quietly occupied during the rest of… my life? Eternity? I wasn’t sure if one died when one had never existed in the first place. If I wanted to read books, from any time past or future, I could request them and read them until my heart’s content. If I wanted to play video games, I could do the same thing. Everything was mine for the asking, so long as I did those things quietly, and by myself. I remember being happy that I could start playing the next Final Fantasy game, without having to wait, because existing outside of time meant that the game already existed somewhere, somewhen, and it was mine for the asking.

And all of this, this silent solitude, felt so comfortable to me that despite a lingering sadness at no longer being able to see friends or family again (and technically speaking, none of them were or had ever been my friends or family anyway, now that I had reached that state of nonexistence), I knew I could be content there for however long I lasted. That while I might sometimes get lonely, I could still see people for short periods if I wanted, or avoid them if I wanted, and I wouldn’t be bothered again by anything except that which I wanted to deal with.

Waking up felt sad and weird, like I had left something of myself behind in The Silence. Being there felt right in ways I have never really been able to express. I tried to tell my friends, but they were mostly concerned over the fact that I seemed remarkably comfortable and happy with the idea of not existing. I could explain to them that this dream wasn’t some manifestation of depression, or suicidal ideation, or anything like that. But far more than this world, this life, I felt like I belonged there, could be myself and do the things I wanted and be comfortable in ways that I have never really experienced.

Seeing this concern of theirs and being unable to convince them that I wasn’t about to go and off myself, I stopped talking about it. I carried the memory and the feeling of the dream for years, a secret inside myself that I figured nobody would ever really be able to understand, because it wasn’t theirs to experience, wasn’t a world or plane or existence that suited them even a fraction as well as it suited me.

Every Heart a DoorwayAnd then I read Every Heart a Doorway. And in it, I read about characters who had taken trips to impossible worlds, worlds that had room for them and fit them and gave them what they craved, even when those worlds were no shiny happy positive-all-the-time things. Those worlds were theirs, the way The Silence was mine, and nobody really understood what it was like to have that unless they, too, had gone elsewhere, wandered through a door that shouldn’t exist and found something on the other side that impacted them so profoundly. People who came back never really fit in here, in this world, any more, having been changed by being given that taste of something that fit their nature and personality far more than what this world can provide. I thought, while reading it, that if I could jump into the pages and tell any one of them about that dream, about The Silence, they would understand.

Do I think I actually slipped through the gap between realities and dreamed my way into another world? No, not really. There’s part of me that would love to be adamantly convinced that it all really happened, because imagine the implications of that! But that’s not really the point. The point is that my connection to that dream is what gave me multiple mind-blow moments while reading Every Heart a Doorway, because never before had I seen something like that in print. Stories about people ending up in other worlds, sure, those are everywhere, but that same sentiment? That feeling of rightness even when nobody else understands, even when everybody else says that’s a cause for worry and alarm, that particular expression? I hadn’t seen that before.

The first book resonated with me so hard because of that one dream I had nearly 2 decades ago.

I’ve wanted to get this off my chest for a long time. Many’s the time I’ve been tempted to try and write about my experience with The Silence, to turn it into a short story or a novella, but there have always been too many unanswered questions. Why did I need to stop existing? Who makes those decisions? What even is the point of such a story? And now that the Wayward Children series exists, I don’t think there’s a way I could turn it into a piece of fiction without thinking I was just being derivative, and a poor imitation at that. I’ve debated talking about it like this more than once, and decided against it because I worried that either people just wouldn’t give a damn, or that they’d start to worry about my mental health again after seeing how much that whole idea appealed to me, still appeals to me.

But here I am, and here we are, and the words have finally been written.

This series will always have deep meaning to me. For me, they go beyond the stories of adventure and loss, of need and use and misunderstandings. Even though that mind-blow moment of, “Holy shit, I get this!” has passed, I’ll always have a personal connection to the stories, and one that I certainly didn’t expect when I sat down to start reading them for the first time. McGuire certainly didn’t intend to write a series that would smack me so hard between the eyes, or give me something that I could connect with in such a deeply personal way, but that was the end result, and for that I will always be grateful for the fact that these books exist at all.

A Break From Reality. And Sanity. And Humanity.

I don’t normally do this, this isn’t the typical content you’ll find on my blog, but today I came across this Time article from 2015.

This 66-Year-Old Woman Is Suing All Gay People—Yes, All of Them

And the article links to a pdf of her petition, which is handwritten in cursive, and friends, it is a riot to read, because from where I’m standing, it reveals so many truths about the lengths to which people will go with a combination of religious dogma and poor logic at the wheel.

And because I found I had so much to say about what this woman said, I felt like giving over a little bit of blog space to sharing my comments on this… hilarious piece of something that I’m fairly certain the woman in question might prefer to forget.

01

Starting off strong. The whole petition is written by Sylvia Ann Driskell, Ambassador “God, and His, Son, Jesus Christ.” Commas and all. So, 4 people? Got it. Is everyone’s surname Christ? God Christ, His Christ, Son Christ, and Jesus Christ? Because that’s how this all reads.

I understand how commas crop up randomly when typing, but that many extra commas in handwriting is another thing entirely.

Also, the defendants are, “Homosexuals, Their Given Name Homosexuals, and Their Alis Gay.” I’m assuming she means alias, because I guess all gay people take on pseudonym when they come out. True story.

02

“[D]o set forth on this 30 days of 2015.” Uh, think you forgot to write in the month there, Sylvia. And you possibly moved to the great state of “Nebraka.”

And she does the comma thing as “and His” again! I guess at least this time, God is a “plintiff” instead of a plaintiff, though.

You’d think if you were going to make this your official document to kick off your lawsuit, you’d at least take the time to make sure said document was free of spelling errors…

03

After questions, you put a question mark. “Is Homosexuality a sin, or not a sin?”

And we’re still in Nebraka. I wonder if they have any good restaurants there.

04

I’m particularly impressed by the way she manages to spell “and” 2 different ways in the same sentence.

Also, I submit this document in the Supreme Court case of “they’re” v “their.”

Now, from here she goes on to use passages from the bible to address whether or not homosexuality is a sin, and frankly, that’s kind of the boring stuff so far as I’m concerned. At least here. Because yes, by the definition that dear Sylvia later gives (quoting from “Webster Dictionary”), it might be.

05

Sin is the willful breaking of religious or moral law. So if a religion says that being gay is a sin, then within that religion’s laws, being gay is a sin. If someone’s morals state that being gay is a sin, then yes, being gay is a sin.

But here’s the thing: no matter how much you might agree with a religion, no matter how much you might think it is the truth, no matter what your morals say is okay or not… None of these things are universal, or even global, absolutes.

We have this tendency to assume that our legal laws are, by definition, moral ones. Which isn’t remotely the case. It can’t be. Everyone’s morals are different. Something you’re fine with might be illegal. Something you think is wrong might be legal. And because we often get our morals from religion, we thus make the connection that our legal laws should be based on religious ones. And that also isn’t the case. Sylvia here is making that conflation, and attempting to argue that a moral and religious transgression ought to be treated identically to a legal one.

Heck, even looking at things purely through the lens of Christianity — which influenced much of Western culture’s, well, culture, and also its laws — this doesn’t hold true. “Thou shalt not kill,” is a pretty strong religious command in Christianity, as in many other religions the world over. But by US law, the definition of murder specifically defines it as an “unlawful premeditated killing,” which implies that there are lawful ways to kill a person. Such as the death penalty. Which definitely involves planning the death beforehand. Loopholes like that are how the US can literally get away with murder, only not really, because legally that’s not actually murder.

But it’s a good example of moral, religious, and legal laws not quite meshing. We accept this in our daily lives in many ways. We accept that legality isn’t always going to match with what we believe to be right and good in our hearts, according to our lived experiences. And when we feel passionately about something, we may try to make our legal laws adjust to our moral ones.

But typically, in a situation of reflection and understanding, we don’t assume that religion = morality = legality.

Anyway, back to Sylvia’s stunning lack of logic and preparation.

06

This was the point where I started to wonder if Sylvia thought that the closet was, well, a literal closet. As though gay teens discovered themselves and then hid, bat-like, in their bedroom closets, refusing to see sunlight again until their demands were met.

Also… Gee, I dunno, Sylvia. Could it be that society was so very good at treating gay people like crap for centuries, both from a legal perspective and the perspective of everyday living, that they felt the need to hide their identities to avoid being punished, imprisoned, even killed, for the crime of merely existing?

This is another thing that I hear get talked about a lot, and it usually comes from a place of impressive ignorance. People like Sylvia see gay people being allowed to get married, raise kids, get all the same rights as straight people, and think, “My goodness, but being gay is bad! Bad people shouldn’t have these rights!” without stopping to think that it’s not just a matter of being able to marry or not, being able to adopt kids or not. For a long period of history in this society and the ones that strongly influenced it, being gay was something that could be punished by death. And while that hasn’t been a thing for a good long while here (thankfully), it’s not like that sort of thing doesn’t cross the minds of gay people at some point. There are moments where pretty much every queer person will just stop and think, “Fucking hell, there was a time, and there are still places, where I could be killed just for being myself.”

Even in lesser ways, we’re not so far out from other “being myself” punishments. Not so long ago, a gay person couldn’t visit their significant other in hospital, because they weren’t family. Allowing marriage equality meant that loved ones could properly say goodbye in a terrible time, or simply just check in on their partner after medical procedures. Legalized marriage meant that if a gay person died, their partner of 30 years might have more say in the funeral arrangements than the gay person’s parents, who might not have spoken to their kid in all that time. This is the reality that so many gay people have lived within memory, and frankly, I think that level of grief trumps your “but gay people are icky” argument.

That’s my moral belief, Sylvia. If your morals say otherwise, I advise you to reflect on what kind of person would actively wish that on others.

Also, you forgot that question mark again.

07

So, here begins a huge section of the petition where Sylvia just kinds of states things and assumes that everyone will arrive at the same conclusion she did. She states a thing gay people say they have rights to, defines that according to the dictionary, quotes a part of the bible that suggests gay people shouldn’t have that right… and then doesn’t actually tie it all together. Not even so much as a, “So as you can see, the bible clearly states that this should not happen.” It’s like she thinks that merely quoting her religious book will make people go, “Sweet fancy fuckery, you’re right! How could I have missed that?!”

This part is about marriage. God stated that a man will leave his family when he gets married, and implies that he shouldn’t cheat on her and that they should probably have sex at some point. Then she defines marriage according to the dictionary, which… actually contains information that destroys her own argument.

“2. to take as husband or wife.”

So, by the dictionary definition, if a woman takes a wife, then that’s marriage. If a man takes a husband, then that’s also marriage. One aspect of the definition is “to join as husband and wife,” yes, but since words can have multiple applications and uses, the second definition doesn’t say anything about how the one taking a wife has to be a man, nor the one taking a husband has to be a woman.

So, according to what words mean, marriage equality isn’t problematic, now that legally, same-gender marriage is a thing.

Quoting a passage from the bible that disagrees with you doesn’t make for a sound argument. All you’re telling me is that your holy book doesn’t agree with what’s happening. You’re not telling me why that should supersede legal definitions. You’re not telling me why your holy book has more authority than the legal system. You’re telling me that you think it does. You might even be telling be that your holy book says it does. But that’s not telling me why. You’re not providing any sort of compelling argument for why I should give more of a damn about your morals than I should about my own.

Which is another place I see people fall down in this debate. Now granted, Sylvia didn’t do this, but I see a lot of people trot out the “religious freedom” argument and say that because they’re legally allowed to worship as they see fit, that means everyone else should do what they say because their religion says they should be allowed that privilege. And quite frankly, even though that’s a bad piece of logic, had Sylvia even said that one during her little petition, it would have made for a more compelling argument than what she provides here. She’s just assuming that everyone takes for granted that the bible is the ultimate moral authority, because she thinks that it is. Because it says it is.

I can say I’m the ultimate moral authority too. That doesn’t make me so. And people can easily argue my claim. Nobody in their right minds would take me seriously if I tried to claim that.

But we grant religions a measure of authority that we don’t grant to people… unless they’re speaking on behalf of a religion. We just kind of assume that something is right if there’s a religion attached to it, that religious morals mean more than personal morals, even if those morals turn out to be the exact same. I’m not areligious, but I can’t deny that really frustrates me. What makes my claim any different than a religion’s claim? Not a damn thing. But people will put more stock in a religion by default.

Anyway, got a little off topic, there.

08

Gay people think they have the right to be parents. The dictionary defines parents as… something that doesn’t dispute that statement.

Sylvia goes on to talk about how everyone knows that the ability to create a child isn’t what makes a good parent, which is both true, and also not related to her two previous statements. Gay people aren’t all claiming they have the right to create children (most do, just not always with their partners), and the dictionary didn’t define a parent as anything to do with directly creating said offspring by sperm-meets-egg stuff. So the whole, “it’s got to do with more than just creating life,” thing came entirely out of left field, and wasn’t what was being debated to begin with.

09

This woman makes a whole lot of leaps and expects people to follow along with her, and I mean, have you ever seen legal arguments? Those things can sometimes take entire pages to specifically define the meaning of a word within a particular context, and Sylvia’s over here going, “A parent is a mother or a father. GAY PEOPLE CAN’T BE PARENTS BECAUSE THEIR CHILDREN WILL GROW UP TO BE LIARS!”

Now that I’ve recovered from the mental whiplash that gave me, I want to take a moment to point out that Sylvia is making some bold and insulting claims here. In her mind, I’m sure she honestly believes that gay people, because they’re gay in direct defiance to what they know to be right and good, are thus bad people who do bad things. And kids who grow up around people who do bad things will learn to do those bad things themselves, will learn that doing so is acceptable. Thus a child with gay parents will probably grow up to be a thief or a swindler or Donald Trump or something.

Sylvia goes on to talk about how gay people insist that God loves them despite their homosexuality, and concedes that they’re right… but that being right still makes them wrong because God gave Jesus to die for everyone’s sins and so when people sin, it’s and affront to that sacrifice, and again, that’s the stuff that’s more boring to me because I can’t really comment on it. I mean sure, the bible does say that stuff, but I’ve already stated that legal laws aren’t the same as religious or moral laws, and you can’t always apply one to the other. Sylvia’s basically summing up her argument with, “In conclusion, I think I’m right and my god agrees with me probably, so everyone should do what I say.” And that’s not a sound legal argument.

Her spelling mistakes sure do make me chuckle, though.

I wrote this piece because frankly, sometimes I have to. When I find people making weird-ass claims like this, I have many thoughts, and I need to get them down somewhere. Usually I end up going through them piece by piece and tearing them down because half the time, doing so methodically is the easiest way to stand up against them. It’s a thing I do. I did it when Elizabeth Moon went on her Islamophobic BS rant almost a decade ago, and I’ll probably keep doing it in the future.

But this, friends, is something that can give you a good idea of who I am. If you didn’t know before, if you’re new to anything I do, whatever, this whole rant is a good place to start in the “getting to know me” section. This is the sort of person I am. I am against people who use religion to bully. I am for gender equality, I am for marriage equality, I am for queer equality and disabled equality and general fucking equality, and I will happily tear apart your arguments as to why these things are Bad and Wrong, and if that’s something that you disagree with, then you’re probably not going to like me very much.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, this queer trans/non-binary person is going to have a cuddle with their queer trans partner.

Mid-Month Check-In

How’re y’all doin’, m’friends?

It’s mid-April already. Somehow March felt like it took an eternity, and April feels like it’s flying by. Time is a weird inconstant thing that I think just messes with my head more and more as I get older.

But seriously. How are you all doing? This has been a damn hard time, and I want to know how you’re holding up.

Me, I’m still a weird mix of stressed and “this is just normal.” I spend most of my days inside anyway. I’m unemployed and have few meatspace friends and life sans pandemic is often spent the same way it is now. I stay in, I do my stuff, I communicate with friends online, and just keep going as I often do.

Then I look at the news and see the numbers rising, and remember that oh yeah, right now I was supposed to be visiting family in the UK, being able to see my 85 year old grandmother for probably the last time because these trips are expensive and all, and I had to cancel that because, well, *gestures*. Sometimes the stress just builds up to the point where I have to cry and I think to myself, “I’m not even supposed to be here,” and it all feels like it’s spiraling out of control and life will never actually be normal again.

I’m in a very lucky place right now, and I know it. For my life to not change that much means I’m probably doing better than people who are used to being out of their homes the majority of the time. My partner is currently sitting on the couch and setting up things for the next class he has to teach this afternoon, and I think how lucky we both are that he can do this, because a year ago, he was working in a hospital lab, and being the overnight tech meant that he was the one who drew blood from patients. Were it not for a chance encounter one day, meeting someone who mentioned they were part of a college that was setting up a new med lab tech program and oh hey, you’re interested in teaching, well send us a resume then… Yeah, if not for that, then my partner would be on the front lines.

Now granted, that would be on Prince Edward Island, where they’ve had only slightly over 2 dozen cases and only yesterday declared a state of emergency. There are perverse upsides to a province having nearly half of its population live in rural areas. But still. Were it not for him getting the teaching job, he’d still be living in a friend’s spare bedroom, working overnights at a hospital and being in a risky field, I’d be living by myself in another city, and visiting would not be an option because all non-essential travel between provinces has been stopped.

Life would be very different. We are very fucking lucky. I can’t allow myself to forget that.

Not when people have gone weeks without seeing their significant others, or have lost family members. We’re all living in a very uncertain time, we don’t know how bad this will get or how long it will last or the things and people we’ll lose along the way.

It’s the uncertainty that wears on me the most, I think. My motivation has been utterly sapped. I’ve been trying to work on videos, but half the time I just can’t be bothered, and then I beat myself up because I should be doing something productive, not just… [insert whatever I’m not deeming as ‘productive’ here]. I try to read, and my attention wanders. I see people learning new skills and cooking really awesome foods and I’m like, “That’s cool; I just ordered McDonald’s for the third time in two weeks.”

I keep trying to tell myself that feeling this way is okay, because society is changing around me and uncertainty means that mentally and emotionally, we don’t know what to do because we don’t know what’s worth taking the time and energy on when things could change tomorrow.

I also keep telling myself that come on, it’s been weeks now, surely you must be used to it by now, not much has changed for you, just get back to work.

…I hate my brain sometimes.

I think it’s normal to feel both things, because normal… kind of isn’t, right now. Normal is in a state of flux, this in-between point of, “Is it going to be like this for long enough that I need to make long-term adjustments?” and “Give it a couple of weeks and it’ll all be over, so I just need to cope for a little while longer and then things will go back to the way they were.” And we don’t know where on that timeline we are. We don’t know what’s worth taking the time to change, and what’s worth hanging on to. So we just kind of… exist.

I think that’s where a lot of my motivational problems stem from. Like a micro version of a macro problem. Just because a lot of my life’s patterns have stayed the same doesn’t mean I don’t still feel adrift in many ways. I would do the same things before as after the pandemic, but in many ways, I don’t know where that work fits into a larger pattern, because the larger pattern has gotten all jumbled up and distorted. If I could just feel a little bit certain about what the next month, for instance, would be like, then I could probably feel more comfortable about chugging along and not feeling so much at loose ends.

I wonder if that’s part of what’s driving other people’s lack of motivation, too. The discomfort of not knowing. Actively not knowing. Sure, we couldn’t really say at any given moment that oh, tomorrow I definitely won’t die, or a week from now, I’ll definitely still have a job, because that stuff can change. But assuming it was warranted, at least most of the time. But then huge factors started to change and up-ended our ideas of what everyday life was supposed to involve, and little seeds of doubt were planted in our minds, whispering to us that maybe it’s not even worth the effort to do a thing when tomorrow everything could change again just as drastically. What’s even the point?

…Wow, this blog post ended up in a different place than where it started.

I’m going to leave it here. Hopefully my pseudo-philosophical ramblings at least, uh, entertained someone? Always got to hope that! But let me know in the comments how you’re doing, whether that’s good or bad. Feel free to have a little ramble there yourself, if you want; it can be remarkable helpful sometimes.

Take care, stay safe, and I love you all.

I Have to be Concerned about COVID-19

There’s no two ways about it. I have to be concerned about the novel coronavirus that’s causing problems damn near everywhere at this point. I’m trying to stay cautiously optimistic, but every day infection and death rates grow, I’ve seen the news stories that have come out of Italy, and yes, I am worried about my health in the midst of all of this.

I am not the most health individual. I’m far from the worst, I’ll grant you that, but my health can be annoyingly touchy at times. I have ongoing pain and fatigue issues that are currently undiagnosed, but don’t mistake “undiagnosed” for “isn’t really happening.”I’m asthmatic, though my asthma is under better control these days than it has been for pretty much the entire rest of my life. My lungs bear scars from multiple bouts of pneumonia when I was younger. This is just the life I live.

But that life, that health, means I fall into the “vulnerable population” category during this outbreak. One of the ones who has to be very damn vigilant about how they do things so as to minimize infection risk.

Which I have to admit would be a fuckton easier if my partner’s workplace would let him work from home!

My partner is a teacher at a local college, teaching medical laboratory science. For context, a medical lab technologist is the person who does the tests on all the blood samples, samples of other fluids, sometimes tissue samples. They’re the ones who, when you need a plus transfusion, will figure out the type of your blood and dispense the right kind so that you don’t get sick as doctor try to make you better (yes, getting the wrong blood type can lead to terrible consequences). Depending on the setup of the hospital, they might also be the ones who take your blood in the first place.

Despite what TV medical dramas would have you believe, it’s not doctors or nurses who do this stuff. Lab techs are the introverted basement-dwellers who make sure your test results are accurate and are received by your doctor in reasonable amount of time. Their work is extremely science-based, it’s of the few medical professions that’s both heavily scientific and has a female-majority workforce, and most people don’t even know they exist.

So, what my partner teaches is extremely important. He’s training up the next generation of lab techs, and Canada has a shortage of those, and they deal with infectious stuff all the damn time. I’m selfishly glad he’s not still working at the hospital…

But the students at the college get to stay home right now. Classes have been cancelled, in an effort to cut down on potential infections.

Teachers and staff, though? They still have to come in and work.

Because apparently teachers are immune to viruses or some shit, I don’t even know!

Teachers are expected to come in to the college and work on class stuff, preparation, all the stuff teachers have to do. They say they’ll attempt to spread the teachers out so there aren’t too many in one place. Okay. But. There are a limited number of rooms in that college with computers for staff to work at, and there are people coming in from satellite campuses to work on the main campus instead now, so ultimately what the college has done is provide a place where students can isolate themselves but teachers still have to put themselves in group situations where infection can spread.

And there is absolutely no reason why this prep work cannot be done from home. Absolutely none.

So thanks to my partner’s workplace apparently not understanding the severity of the situation, my partner is still at risk. I am still at risk. The staff there is at risk, at least moreso than they would be if they all worked from home.

We were all prepared. We have food, we have drinks, we have our regular stash of OTC medications, we have plenty of supplies, we when we heard classes were cancelled, we were all set for an announcement that my partner could work from home for a couple of weeks and we could do what we could to keep ourselves safe and to keep from infecting more people if either of us got sick.

I guess that’s not to be the case.

I’m angry about this. I hoped they’d see sense. I guess they still might, but sadly, I think it will take somebody close to one of the staff getting sick for administration to go, “Oh maybe we should let teachers stay home,” but at that point, it’ll likely be too late. I legitimately don’t think it has occurred to them that any of their staff might be or be close to someone who is particularly vulnerable during the outbreak.

I’m doing what I can to stay healthy. So is my partner. I don’t go out much these days anyway, due to health and money and the fact that trying to make a go of self-employment as a content creator (insert obligatory “subscribe to my YouTube channel” note :p), that takes up a lot of time. I work from home, essentially, even if I don’t make much money from it at present. I’m doing what I can to keep my risk low.

I just wish my partner’s job would let him do the same.

What’s the plural of “hiatus?”

Hey look, a post!

I know I’ve done the thing many times here, where I stop and start, stop and start. I have my reasons, every time, and I deliberate and hum and haw and can never quite decide if I should keep doing the thing or stop doing the thing…

I miss writing book reviews. I really do.

I tried to start fresh not too long ago, get a new blog under a new name, write some reviews and see how it all went. I never entirely stopped reviewing books, really. I just kind of scattered them across other blogs, didn’t make anything cohesive. But I did keep going. Just in places where I felt less pressure to make a specific kind of content. Then a new book review blog.

Then, you know what? Fuck it. I missed what I used to have here. I hated having to pretend I wasn’t me, that I didn’t know the people I was talking to, to pretend we were strangers.
I didn’t do that for too long before I decided yeah, I wasn’t comfortable with living behind that kind of anonymity. It did a disservice to the people I’ve come to know as legitimate friends over the years. I stopped that blog pretty quickly because I felt too guilty over it.

But I still miss book reviews.

So maybe, in 2020, it’s time to dust off Bibliotropic and write a few more.

Dunno how regular it’ll be, or how long this urge will last, because I do have other projects I’ve been working on that take up a decent amount of my time and energy. But it’s not like I’ve stopped reading (heck, like I said earlier, it’s not like I even stopped reviewing entirely), so sure, why not come back and share the book love?

Here’s to a more present 2020, I guess.