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.

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 #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.

And I oop…

I accidentally went on a tangent this morning, starting with a thought about sex to past trauma and the toxicity of narcissists. So here, my thoughts.


I was feeling warm and fuzzy feelings this morning after being intimate with my partner last night, and I thought, “Wow, it’s great that I feel so good every time we have sex.” Then I realized that’s what it SHOULD be like.

It was an obligation, a chore, a necessity for peace regardless of what I wanted with my ex. And then there were the psychological gymnastics I had to perform to keep him happy. Even if I wanted sex, even if I physically got pleasure from it, there was this rift between us–he didn’t really care if I enjoyed it, he enjoyed the power he had over my body, the way it felt for him. That was all that mattered to him. I’m still haunted by the way he looked at me when he feigned affection while performing foreplay or anything that would bring only me pleasure. It hid the absolute boredom he was feeling.

The toxicity of narcissists leaves deep wounds. They’re black holes that will suck you in and twist you into service to their egos before you even knew what happened. All they need is a foot in the door–playing the part of what you want, saying the things you want to hear. Sometimes they’re indistinguishable to the untrained eye, and they rarely seek out victims with an intention of malignancy. They’re looking for you to validate the person they want to be because they are terrified of the person they might actually be.

The hallmark of a narcissist is the unwillingness to be introspective. They build a wall of projections against the subconscious knowledge of who they are, they exist in an internal reality of cognitive dissonance. They don’t begin as monsters though. Underneath that facade is someone broken or damaged, but instead of addressing that injury, they cover it up. Some convert that damage to a victim complex, luring in caring individuals to pity them and try to fix them. Others hide it behind vibrant plumage of wealth or beauty or perceived intellect, weaseling their way to positions of influence to lure in others with the promise of being just as rich or smart or beautiful as them (but you’ll never reach their splendor, they must remain on top).

Which brings me to what’s most surreal about narcissists. Their reactions to those who break their spell or reject their power. If you see through their facade, you can clearly see how broken they are underneath. This is how you know that on some level, they are self aware. When you reject them, they will project all the things they refuse to consciously acknowledge about themselves onto you. Because deep down, they know what they hate about themselves, but they can’t admit it. Instead, they hurl all those things at you, as though they are exorcising their own self-loathing, and for a time, they’ll feel vindicated because the problem was you, not them. They get to deny their damage for a little while longer, safe in knowing that it’s yours now. But it will always come back because it never left. It was only ever their own.

Friday Update #4

I’m starting to get myself back together and finding new methods to cope with my restlessness. I hope everyone else is doing well and staying healthy!

I’ve made progress on my gardening and I think I have everything planted that I want to grow. I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to handle squashes, but I do have some sprouting and it’ll be good to have fresh zucchini on hand again.

My set-up (mostly) finished this week. Lots of companion planting!

Vagabonds

I didn’t finish Camp NaNoWriMo satisfactorily, as expected, but I have made a little more progress on the story since. I haven’t switched back over to working on Dollmaster. I’d like to wrap up a scene or two first. I’ve had some real moments of good flow writing fresh material from Zharis’s and Lianora’s perspectives. I am having trouble reworking the original role-play, but after that, I’ll be less constrained.

Other Writing

Yesterday I started work on a personal essay on emotional regulation and ADHD. For the last week or so, I was mulling over my understanding of the topic as it pertains to my experience, and as things really started to crystallize, I figured that I should just get it all out and share my experience with the emotional disregulation piece of ADHD.

EKD Archive

There were some issues with the EKD forum that had to be addressed. Firstly, Dreamhost upgraded all sites to a new version of PHP, but the old forum had been manually set to an older version when I transferred because of some issues setting it up. Secondly, when the old domain expired, I realized I had never fixed the MySQL hostname. With the PHP issue, I decided to just go ahead and update the forum to the latest 3.2 phpBB version, as I had with the Aserra forum. Had to manually fix the hostname in the config file, but everything is up to date. The old style is gone, but oh well. What matters is that the archive is still there.

RIP Popcorn

Photo of Popcorn
Popcorn James Jr., August 2nd, 2012-April 14th, 2020.

Today, I had to put one of my rabbits down. When I moved, I left the warren together with my mom as they had all finally bonded. Popcorn and Blaze were my boys that I had always wanted to take with me when I moved, but that never happened. I can’t focus on anything else today, so I just want to pay tribute to him and revisit my old memories.

Popcorn James Jr. passed at seven years of age today. After we took him to the vet for what we thought was an injured leg, we learned that his problem was neurological, likely caused by a flare of EC. Though given a treatment of Panacur and pain killers, his condition quickly worsened from a limp and poor balance to a complete loss motor control and seizures. There was no more we could do for him, and we made the heartbreaking choice to have him put to rest.

Popcorn Jr. was born to Jackie, accidentally fathered by Popcorn Sr., son of Eva. His seven surviving litter mates found their forever homes thanks to Rabbit Advocates of Portland, OR. He was the bonded partner of Sweetsnuffle, the peacemaker between Sweetsnuffle and Frederika, and best friend/nephew to Blaze. He is survived by the last of his warren, Blaze and Frederika.

Popcorn was a beautiful rex with a brown and white coat. He was friendly, sweet, and sometimes a little dumb. A real himbo. He insisted on eating laurel leaves, even though they weren’t good for him. He didn’t have sense enough to come in out of the rain, even though he had a soft, thin rex coat. His full name became Popcorn James Jr. after he got into mischief that made me feel the need to give him a full name to yell at him when he caused trouble.

But he was also a social rabbit who bonded deeply to others. When we matched him with Sweetsnuffle, she finally found someone who could tolerate her moodiness. When Frederika joined the family, Popcorn was the olive branch that invited her in. I remember when Sweetsnuffle was beginning to become tolerant of her in the same room, but still not fully accepting of her, Frederika went to join her and Popcorn while they were resting. Sweetsnuffle rose to lunge at Freddy, but Popcorn got in between them and convinced them both to settle in together with a few gestures. After Sweetsnuffle passed, I finally managed to bond our entire warren: Popcorn, Blaze, Jet, Frederika, Banana, and Leilo.

Stressbonding in the tub (without Leilo). Banana at the left, Jet upper center, Blaze lower center, Popcorn, and Frederika on the right.

Popcorn became everyone’s friend after bonding, but none as closely as with Blaze. Though technically his uncle (as Blaze is the son of Eva, Popcorn’s grandmother, and half-brother to his father), I can confidently say these two were the bestest bros. They were practically inseparable.

Popcorn showing his bff some love.

Likely all of our rabbits carry Encephalitozoon cuniculi (usually shorted to E. cuniculi or EC) a protozoan parasite endemic to rabbits. This is a common infection, but most healthy rabbits’ immune system keeps this parasite in check. I think the original infection came from the rabbits that originated with our former neighbors’ rabbits, one of which being Popcorn’s mother Jackie. EC is transmitted through spores that pass through urine from an infected host. It can also be passed from the mother during pregnancy. Infected kits usually do not show symptoms as long as they’re receiving antibodies from their mother’s milk. Popcorn was nearly eight years old, and we do not know for sure what triggered his EC to flare up. It could have been a little stress, a minor injury we didn’t see, or it could have simply been the fact that he was getting older.

Popcorn was beautiful, soft, loving, and kind. He will be missed by human and rabbit alike.

Binky free, beautiful boy.

Phoenix

When I fell in love
I looked at your stars
The year 1982
9 Fire in Feng Shui
 
I realized that you are like fire
You came into my heart
A slow burn, an ember
And throughout the four chambers
You grew to an inferno
You burned away all traces of those who came before
Those who haunted those rooms
Like cobwebs that hung in the rafters
 
I was renewed
I was free
And in the ashes of former loves
Only you remained

This poem was written for my partner. It was an idea I had held onto for awhile. Before him, I was carrying torches for a number of people but when I fell in love with him, I felt such a warmth in my heart and it was like a purifying process. None of the others mattered anymore, I was free from all those old ties to start fresh.

Updates from Quarantine

Like many others, I’ve been shut away from the world (except for some supply runs) during the Covid-19 pandemic. School has been cancelled until the end of April (though I expect that to extend) so the kid is home. My partner is working from home, and my search for gainful employment post-graduation has been halted. In a way, it has taken a lot of weight off my shoulders, but added a burden in others. It was almost blissful at first, not having to stress over my son’s grades or putting myself out there. I got a lot done at home. I’ve started gardening more. I had only planned to plant a few things, like tomatoes and herbs to round out our collection, and some flowers, but with so much changing, almost overnight, it became apparent that it would be prudent to grow more of our own food. So, I’ve been starting more seeds for produce we can use. At least, what I know I can grow–there are a few things that require a little extra care in our climate and I don’t want to overwhelm myself.

Getting all that going has taken a lot of my time that I hoped to turn to writing, and the rest of the time, it’s the endless ADHD struggle of switching focus or feeling adrift in internal chaos. I probably need to reevaluate my daily schedule to return structure to my life with everyone stuck at home.

I did make some progress on my plans, however! In addition to working on The Dollmaster for publishing, I’ve also decided to turn some of our other stories into episodic adventure series on Wattpad. I’m starting with the “Voyage to Ertia” storyline and we’ll see where that goes. I made some solid planning last month, but it will take me building structure and discipline to see it through. As long as my partner is working from home, he’s laid claim to our office, so I’m working in the living room at the couch and coffee table, either sitting on the floor or curling up on the couch. May my back forgive me.

Last month (February, that is), I made progress building the wiki, planning out stories, and giving myself some direction with the wealth of characters and storylines I have at my hands. I intend to lay some of that out in another blog. I also want to post some of my other writings from school here. I have some short fiction and non-fiction and poems I can share to round out my “portfolio.” So, look out for those!