West Coast Wildfires

I just want to let everyone know that I’m ok. I’m surrounded by fires, but there is little chance of those fires actually reaching Salem. Monday night, we had a strong wind system come in from the east while we’re under dry conditions. It exacerbated existing wildfires in the Cascades and started new ones by knocking down power lines in both the east and west ranges. Tuesday morning, I woke up two hours after sunrise in pre-dawn darkness, the whole world cast in an apocalyptic red glow. The day remained dark and eerily red, and it darkened to dusk two hours before dusk as well.

Conditions are improving gradually, the skies have faded from orange to yellow to gray. The ashfall is less today. We now have cooler, moister air coming in from the ocean and hopefully a little rain early next week. However, these fires have been catastrophic for my region. Places I know and love have been razed. Lives and homes have been lost. The worst part is knowing that this likely isn’t a freak occurrence. We are suffering the consequences of greed, selfishness, and a blatant disregard for not only the delicate balance of our ecosystems, but for our own future. I have to hope we can turn it around and learn from our mistakes.

Hiatus

I’m still really struggling with the transition off my medication. I need a break from expectations. How I feel every day is unpredictable, so the work I can do is limited my rare “good” days. I hope I find stability sooner rather than later, but everything is up in the air.

Friday Update #11

I’m emerging from the absolute hell of serotonin withdrawals. Physical symptoms are abating but now to see if my brain can balance out production to a survivable degree on it’s own because right now, I’m really struggling.

Garden Update

Everything is going well. I’ve been planning some new projects in the front yard for when I have the energy to work on them.

Dollmaster & Vagabonds

Everything has been on hold while I acclimate, which is endlessly frustrating because I was doing SO. GOOD. with the pomodoro technique, and now I’ve got to start over with conditioning myself after my downtime.

Worldbuilding

I may not be working on my main projects, but my hyper fixation on the Forsaken Land has been haunting me. When I’ve been able to, I’ve done some work on the wiki, written down some ideas, ironed out character timelines, considered some story arcs. I also worked on a new map! I blew up and printed the section of Meg’s map, traced it, and have been reworking my original concepts into the new map. Here’s the almost-finished product (still need to identify a few new features). I finally justified my purchase of a set of colored mechanical pencils.

Friday Update #10

I should just accept it. Biweekly. But if I do that, will I then slip to monthly? Because realizing I forgot after the fact makes me more motivated to do it the next week!

Garden Update

I did manage to do some garden work in the evenings off and on. I cleaned up my tomato planters–trimmed off lower leaves and thinned them out, cleaned up the companion plants, and gave them a new layer of topsoil and fertilizer. I’ve been able to harvest leaves off the kale and chard multiple times. I also had my first zucchini, lots of sugar snap peas, and herbs! The vining plants (morning glory, moonflower, and spanish flag) that I planted at the bottom of the racks are climbing the racks just as I wanted, but no flowers yet. In the flower bed, the spanish flag and a couple sweetpeas that avoided being slugchow are growing and flowering! I think the soil here still needs more enrichment, but I’ll get there after a couple seasons of permaculture.

Inside, I’m expanding my plant collection too! I’ve got spider plants everywhere that I repotted a few months ago in coconut coir and have been watering with distilled water because they’re very sensitive to fluoride in tap water. I also must confess that I killed many succulents by caring for them much more than necessary. However, I’ve been doing my research! I also learned how easily you can propagate succulents, so I’m doing that too. This week I set out to try and find a venus flytrap, with little luck (but I’m picking one up today from a local gardener!). Instead, I came home with a new porthos (my mom accidentally killed my old one by leaving it outside overnight when we had a surprise snowstorm) and a zwartkop or black rose aeonium on clearance!

I started growing some more basil indoors to avoid aphids. I also cleaned up my little greenhouse–still need to get a new panel on top after Victor fell on it, but Ikea has been limiting services so I put it off. I have my avocados in there, brought in some of the thyme, started some more marjoram and catnip. The catnip hasn’t sprouted, so I think I’m going to toss that soil and plant some perilla instead.

The Dollmaster & Vagabonds

I made some great progress, but this week I’ve been dealing with some health stuff, so I haven’t been feeling well and struggling to focus. I’m about half-way through the revision of the chapter 5 material, added some new content to that chapter.

As for Vagabonds, I was eager to get back to work on it… and then all my edits from when I came back to it hadn’t saved. Normally I have autosave turned on, but it had been disabled somehow, my computer auto-updated, closed my docs, and then reopened it without recovering the edits. Nothing kills motivation like losing work you felt good about.

World Building & Other Writing

So I had some ideas about Danaij floating around and I started revising the original article and putting it into the wiki. This also led to me thinking about the Forsaken Land storyline I have planned, and ended up writing 10 pages and over 6k words on an erotic backstory piece for my character Adriel. So, um. There’s that. Maybe that’ll get some attention on Wattpad if I put it there.

Friday Update #9

I’m still doing biweekly, dammit! I should have updated last week too, because I made progress! These last two weeks have been rather good for work. I finally decided to give the Pomodoro method a try with an app on my phone. I should have done this sooner.

Garden Update

The Dollmaster

I finally completed the revision of chapter 4 after struggling with it for months, thanks the Pomodoro app I tried. I sent out an invitation to my beta readers/RPers to read. I’ve started revising chapter 5 using the same method. Chapters 4 and 5 bring Talen’s perspective on the day before his wedding. In chapter 4, we’re introduced to his inner turmoil before his sister’s arrival. Chapter 5 brings Adra’s arrival to the estate. Chapter 6 will jump to the next day, primarily introducing Thalia and Pharen.

Vagabonds

With the success of FINALLY completing that Dollmaster chapter, I’ve decided to alternate working on TDM and Vagabonds throughout the week. After doing a deep-dive into Talen’s obsessive thoughts, I really needed to get myself out of his perspective for awhile, and since the next Dollmaster chapter continues his perspective, I have to break it up a bit. I revisited the Vagabonds manuscript for a re-read and some editing first (always good to doing some editing after an extended break).

Friday Update #8

Man, this seems to be turning into a biweekly thing. I will try to bring it back to weekly.

Garden Update

The Dollmaster

Still working on my revision, but I’m almost done with chapter 4. I did go back and edit the manuscript a bit. I want to lean into the more familiar terms like “elf” and such for readers’ sake. I might need to reevaluate my editing technique, but ugh, I don’t want to change it, just do it faster.


Happy Juneteenth! If you’re white, please find something meaningful to do to support your black neighbors. We are seeing a massive cultural shift toward justice, so if you’ve been protesting police brutality and systemic racism, don’t let up now. If you’ve been on the sidelines, step up and do something meaningful. Keep pushing, keep fighting for a better world. I have a hope that the society that will come out the other side of this period will be a better one for all of us.

Friday Update #7

I missed last week, but I’m back this week. And whew, what a week it has been in this world. I haven’t gotten much writing done, again. In part, it is the continuation of isolation. Both my focus and my partner’s focus on his work from home is wavering. The first month or so was great for a couple of introverts like us, but we’re feeling restless and need outside human contact. We’re brain-fogged, our minds are begging for a change of scenery and new stimuli. My son has also been trying a new medication and it has been severely impacting his mood while we determine an appropriate dosage. This is his last week of school and we’re trying to wrap up his coursework. Also, I’m getting really sick of sitting on the floor to work because Sung kicked me out of the office while he’s working from home (tbh, neither of us can focus on work while the other is in the room).

The other part of my lack of focus are world events, and American events. I have watched, horrified by the brutality being faced by protesters nationwide. Angered by agitators, often the police themselves, who are giving themselves excuses to escalate peaceful protests into riots. There have been protests against police brutality against black Americans for years. I was a child during the Rodney King riots, which happened a couple years after I left California. There have been protests and riots over extrajudicial executions and careless murders of black people over the last three decades. Some of these have led to small shifts in laws and regulations, but it hasn’t addressed the core of of the problem, which is cultural.

A friend of mine said something that made me think. She said, “white folks: don’t divorce yourself from whiteness because you’re not like other white folks.” It’s not uncommon to hear white liberals/progressives who are anti-racist say things like, “I hate sharing a race with other white people,” or “On behalf of white people, I’m sorry,” and other similar statements. You’re not a monster for feeling this way, but you also aren’t helping BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) or yourself. I have felt this way in the past too, and I understand that people who say these things are trying to show their care. However, trying to excise yourself from your whiteness helps no one and by believing yourself removed from it, you are turning a blind eye to the lingering effects of white supremacy that influence your life.

I am white and I am infuriated by the actions and beliefs of those who share my heritage and complexion. But I can’t just deny my whiteness because it has shaped my life, though it was something I was never aware of until I educated myself.

My immediate family was very progressive and anti-racist. My grandparents have often spoken up against racism (and homophobia). My mother carried on this mindset into my upbringing. My father wasn’t much of an impact on my life, though my mother told me that his family was ashamed of their mixed heritage (my great-grandmother was supposedly half-black and half-Seminole, though my DNA test only showed a trace of African ancestry). My stepdad came from a racist upbringing–he told me several times how his parents told him not to touch black people because their color might “rub off on them”–but he rejected their ideas and believed in being anti-racist.

The fact that my immediate family was empathetic and anti-racist was not enough. The moment I stepped outside that bubble, whether it was school, extended family, TV, or just being in public, I was influenced by white supremacy. I still passively absorbed racism from my environment and my lack of awareness. I have committed acts of microaggressions and simply been ignorant because I was isolated in a primarily white society. It’s taken years to unlearn those things and there might yet be more things for me to unpack.

For approximately 15 years, I was in a relationship with a bi-racial man–half-black, half-white. We had a son together. While he is a person who caused me a lot of trauma and that I have many personal issues with, none of that is relevant for this topic. Through him, I observed a great deal of what it was like to be black in America. He told me how he was curb-stomped by skinheads when he was just 12 years old, walking through his neighborhood. How his white friend was pulled over while he was a passenger, the cop coming to the passenger side, looking directly at him and asking him for his ID. A number of other incidents where he was harshly reminded of his “othering” in society simply for his complexion. It left him with traumatic scars. He grew up with a white mother, a white step-father, and a biracial brother, surrounded by predominantly white friends. Racism influenced his entire life.

You hear white people frequently say, “I’m not racist, I have black friends/a black partner/a mixed child.” I had probably said this, or at least thought that my relationship with my ex meant that I was excused from racism. Looking back, after years of self-work, I see how that statement is absolutely false. I still was tainted by white supremacy. I didn’t fully grasp his experience as a black man in America until after we had separated and I engaged in that self-work.

My mother confessed that she had been reluctant to accept my ex at first because he was black, though she was disappointed in her knee-jerk response and took it as a learning opportunity to better herself. My stepdad would make racist jokes in a flippant manner and my ex would just laugh along. I saw a lot of that with him. Microaggressions were shrugged off. He’d laugh off racist jokes. He made himself palatable to white people because he just did not have the energy to fight back for every little slight leveled at him. I didn’t even see this until later. Having a black boyfriend/husband did not excuse me from racism, nor does his relationship to any other white person in his life excuse any of their racism.

White people, no matter how progressive we think we might be, have a responsibility to constantly evaluate our thoughts and behavior when it comes to race. White supremacy is insidious and toxic and deeply ingrained in our society. It lives in the roots and grows outwards. To deny the influence it has on one’s self, as a white person, is to ignore the sickness. To treat it, you must confront it, uproot it, and cut it out. We all have this sickness in us and we can’t ignore it. And this is not just for each individual, because the sickness won’t be cured until we destroy the source.

I see our society on the brink of an enormous shift. I am both terrified and hopeful. Terrified for the violence, suffering, and pain that comes with change. Hopeful because at the other end of this, I can see the potential for a better world. Hold fast, stay strong, and keep fighting the good fight.


The Dollmaster

Working on Chapter 4 slowly but surely.

Vagabonds

I haven’t been working on this since I’m slogging through trying to focus on the other project, but Lianora has been on my mind a lot and I’m mulling over this interpretation of her character, as well as my earlier version of her.


Today is my birthday, but it also would have been Breonna Taylor’s 27th birthday. Breonna was murdered in her home by police who invaded her home on March 13th in Louisville KY. Without warning or announcement, police entered her home acting on a search warrant in the middle of the night. Believing that they were intruders, Breonna’s boyfriend shot in self-defense and defense of their property. The police opened fire inside the home and struck Breonna eight times. Instead of offering your well-wishes to me, I request that you do something for her family–either donating to her aunt’s fundraiser, joining a protest, or at the least, signing a petition to make certain that those responsible for her death are held to account.

A Pride Statement

The A in LGBTQAI+ does not stand for “ally” it stands for Asexuality. I am on the spectrum of asexuality as demisexual. This means that sexual desire for me comes from personal connection–it seems to be a complex mix of a complimentary personality, empathy, pheromones, and other factors. I joke about physically attractive people turning me on, but the truth is that I just appreciate their aesthetics or am reminded of the traits someone I already have an attraction to. Physical attraction for me is secondary to the connection I have with someone. I’ve been involved with people I didn’t find aesthetically attractive at first, but as I bonded with them, I came to appreciate those things I didn’t think I would like.

I was abused for years by someone with a high sex drive who made my life miserable when I denied him. I learned to lie there and take it to avoid his spite later. I would bite my tongue even though I wanted to scream, and just waited for him to finish. When that wasn’t enough, I put so much mental energy into forcing myself to match him just so I could avoid the emotional trauma of his mistreatment of me when he went unsatisfied. I thought it was just a compromise I had to make to keep him happy. It wasn’t until I left him that I realized just how horribly unhealthy it was.

But I’m ok now. I am safe and respected. I have someone who I feel safe to say no to, someone who always makes sure that I consent enthusiastically. Now that I understand how my sexuality functions, I don’t feel broken.Asexual people are frequently dismissed and suffer sexual assault in the way that I have, and even “corrective” rape. It is assumed that there is something psychology or physically wrong with them that needs to be fixed. But there is nothing wrong with you if you don’t feel sexual desire or only feel desire with the right person. You don’t need to be fixed, just be who you are.

Friday Update #6

My focus is gradually coming back. It’s a fickle beast, swayed not only my deficiency in certain neurotransmitters, but seemingly by the weather itself. Medications can only do so much, I suppose. No garden picture this week, but things are still gradually growing and we’ve had enough alternating sun and rain that everything is staying watered and getting good growing light.

The Dollmaster

I’m back to work on revising chapter 4! I made some good progress Monday. If only I could do that well EVERY day.

Worldbuilding

I’ve been stuck for awhile on figuring out how to do infoboxes in a wiki, but I’m starting to understand now. I wish I could outsource the work to someone else, but I’m afraid it’s only me. This week I’ve been doing some research and adding extensions for the wiki. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to use them and satisfy my organizational needs.

Friday Update #5

I got a little bit of work done, but my focus has been pretty bad this week. I didn’t sleep well last night and I’ve been stressed about my son as he becomes more and more teenager. Five more days until he’s officially a teen. We had a sunny weekend, followed by some good rain, so my plants are happy. So far I can really only harvest lettuce, but I can’t wait for tomatoes and strawberries and fresh herbs!

Vagabonds

I wrapped up a scene about Lianora. It’s been so long since I wrote about her that I’m discovering her all over again. She may be interesting–I can see readers disliking her at first glance from an outside perspective, but from her own perspective, she certainly shows a lot of complexity and room for growth. Her tense relationship with Thalia came up and may play a role in her development, even if Thalia is nowhere around.

The Dollmaster

I got back to work on revising chapter four, exploring Talen’s upbringing and setting his stage. I didn’t get as much done as I wanted. Focus has been such a rarity this week.