“Me, Jo! Me!”

I’ve been reading a lot about Wonder Woman lately, trying to avoid spoilers – I’m seeing it tomorrow friends, don’t worry. But I keep seeing this going around today, first as the tweet from Ava DuVernay and later from a bunch of other folk in different contexts and commentaries. It got me thinking about how I used to play as a kid in kinder-elementary, and some it it was pretty effed up (as it is) but in general fairly tame.

I specifically remembered two things that always made me uncomfortable but I didn’t feel comfortable commenting on or talking about. I didn’t know HOW to talk about it if I had felt comfortable. In 2nd-3rd grade, I used to play at recess with a best friend (in the heartbreaking way that you’re best friends with people and cry when you’re put in separate classes) who was a boy (I spoke to him via the fb this evening & he is now comfortable with me saying he is “gay af”).

One of our games was very fun – we were aliens who came to earth, we would draw maps of our two houses, sometimes our one house, designing our rooms and lives in the dirt and on paper, hiding from humans. We would similarly play TMNT this way, designing the sewer system, which was a dream. We would do ninja things and turtle things and generally make jokes. Being a turtle is fun. I also enjoyed when we would play pop star, and we would just sing songs together – usually by Selena Quintanilla Perez because yeah and Grease, which was one of his favorites.

But sometimes we would play other movies, based on our favorite scenes, and it always felt like they were divided by gender and the real plot of them was romance. We never played Titanic (THANK THE LORD) beyond “LET US GET OFF THIS SINKING SHIP IMMEDIATELY, FRIEND! CLIMB UP ON THESE MONKEY BARS!,” but the one we really played that bothered me was TWISTER. Y’all remember Twister? I freaking LOVE the movie Twister. It is perfect in every conceivable way, never disagree with me on this, I will pretend you never said that & go on with our relationship as if you didn’t.

But you know where this is going.

So we would play out these favorite scenes. The Shining drive-in theater falling apart, hiding in the garage, getting cut on the forehead. Finding Aunt Meg & figuring out how to make Dorothy fly. Nerds singing the Oklahoma soundtrack… but the scene that I dreaded was that scene wherein Jo wanted to run into the tornado, she HAD to do it, to get that data, to predict those tornadoes, to SAVE LIVES GALDARNIT. And I always played Jo (because “girl”) & he always played Bill (because “boy”). And it always got to that point wherein he said all the things I (JO!!!!!!!) had to live for & I (JO!!!!!!!) said, “Like what?” & he (BILL!!!!!!!!) said, “Me, Jo! Me!”

And really, I just identified with Jami Gertz….. trying to make it in the world, trying to do her career, trying to be a human, caring about people around her, open to new experiences, knowing what’s not in her wheelhouse, and being cool about people not wanting to be around her in the way that she wants, knowing that bodies and gender and humanity are not always aligned. #empath #hero #goodatlife #queerfriendly

And during all this I felt like, “Maybe he likes me. Maybe he is playing this because he likes me, and I am playing it because I’m supposed to want this, I like him best so eventually we will date. We’re literally 8.” & in the context of elementary school, a bunch of kids said he liked me and I liked him. And we didn’t. I can honestly say we didn’t. And also in the context of elementary school, a lot of people said he was effeminate and would “grow up to be gay.” This is a problematic statement, sexuality Can be fluid and kids can be queer, I was always queer! I moved away in 1998, people in my family said, “if you had stayed, you would have dated this boy. You would have grown up and dated because you liked each other as children.”

But I don’t think so. I really don’t think so. I don’t. That feels So Bad to me. Just like Being Jo felt bad to me. I think that all of this is wrong. I think that all of these things other children and my parents and everyone else put on me were bad. And I still love that human and think we would be friends if we hung out today, but we would have words and contexts for ourselves and support for that (both from each other and from other outlets, you have so much more Choice as you get older).

And anyway I love young girls playing Amazons on Themyscira valuing teamwork over protagonist status and also dudes. When you’re young you’re told roles are suitable for you, and maybe they’re not. That’s okay. Long live Dr. Melissa Reeves.

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William Bucket

There have been a lot of conversations this Pride month about sex in YA literature (and about other things, it’s Pride, extra-community, intra-community, we recycle all these conversations that get very upsetting but can sometimes, hopefully, be uplifting). It got me thinking about my experience as an aspec teen (asexual – recently perhaps demisexual though I don’t think so, aromantic spectrum) who had never heard those words that I just parenthetically used. I just had a delightful memory that was sort of upsetting at the time but now just makes me love myself.

When I was in fifth and sixth grade (read: age 12), I had a website I wasn’t allowed to have. My parents told me, “You can’t have a website, you are a literal child, and you will be predatored.” I’m paraphrasing. My website was private, exactly three people had access to it, and I fairly exclusively posted puns and wordplay. The Interwebs were “new” in 1999; forgive my parents their fear.

This brings us to aspec stuff! It seemed like people were starting to couple up in 5th and 6th grade, even if it was just for two weeks. People’s parents were driving them to the movie theaters to see G or PG13 films and picking them up two hours later! My friends were starting to talk about making out! Everyone I knew seemed to have some sort of crush! You know the conversation:

“So who do you like? I like [idk who’s a cute dude from TV back then?] and that guy who played Mr Coolson in Never Been Kissed and these two boys I actually know.”

“No one.”

“Nooooo, you like someone. Who do you like? Who do you liiiiiike?”

And if you’re a regular person and want to hide that you like your same gender friend or are aspec or are just embarrassed or Whatever, you say you like someone you don’t actually like (Yikes! This can bite you in the bum!), you blush and hide and say nothing, or you say, “You don’t know them, they go to another school” (also can bite you in the bum!). But if you’re me…

You say you have a boyfriend you met online; his name is William Bucket, he’s 13, and he’s British. You talk to him via your website so your parents don’t know. No, you can never meet him. Yeah, because he lives in Britain. He really likes video games, which I didn’t play because our family couldn’t afford a game system. I just played Snood, Tetris, a CD-ROM version of Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego, and the four games I’d had for my refurbished Gameboy since I got said Gameboy back in 1993. It was very important my imaginary boyfriend got to do all the things I wanted to do and couldn’t.

Mostly I picked this explanation for my lack of engagement because it made me laugh. Say William Bucket aloud in a fake British accent the way a 12 year old with an East Texas accent would (I have since shed this accent if I am not boozing; see About page!) It’s a bit like singing, “Jane. And Michael. Banks.” with a fake British accent and also an East Texas accent.

My friends knew, and for awhile they played along. But also, they were actually putting their faces on other people’s faces, and I don’t think they really had time for my nonsense at a certain point. Which was fine, like whatever. Only one person actually called me on it, and to be fair, I was being particularly obnoxious about it that day.

Luckily there was a natural ending to this story, which is that my parents found out that I had a website, and I was banned from using the Internet for several months. Reduced to Snood and Tetris unless I was researching for school. And so I officially “broke up” with William Bucket. And mercifully everyone I knew conveniently “forgot” about it; or else they actually forgot about it because my weird unknowing-queer-person-dating-compensations aren’t Actually on people’s radars.

Anyway, I just wanted to remind you all that 1) It is harmful to individuals when identities are invisible, we need to see ourselves and feel safe 2) I have always been hilarious and 3) friends are good.

New Page! Paid, Consistent writing Ops!

I have added a new page to my (personal/professional hybrid) website, as you may have noticed if you actually read this website that I don’t actually promote (jokes). It’s entirely devoted to PAID WRITING OPPORTUNITIES for short stories, poetry, etc. I just put up the two publications I have been reading the most lately, but I plan to add more. Please let me know if there’s a CONSISTENT and PAID writing opportunity you’d like me to highlight or post. For clarification…

CONSISTENT to me means ongoing – not a one time thing, not an anthology, not a one-off project. It is a magazine, publication, newspaper, etc with rolling or constant submissions opportunities that people can always look to, keep their eye on, and submit to for….

MONEY. It has to pay because creators deserve to be paid for their work. And not only does it have to pay, but it has to be industry standard, fair pay. Either for illustration work or for writing – fiction, essay, academic, or whatever. MONEY.

So let me know! Eventually I would like to add an anthology page/kickstarter page for writing projects I think are worthwhile that are Not consistent paying opportunities but that are interesting things to support, but for now… consistent. For pay.

Love you bears. ❤

Doomy Doom Doomy Doomy Doom Doom Doom

I was going to write an epic piece about a man who upset me on multiple occasions, beginning my junior year of high school, but in a funny way that is ultimately why I have never read STEPPENWOLF by Herman Hesse in its entirety, but then realized that if I post this journal entry to fb and we have mutual friends, he might see it someday & that would be embarrassing to me and also I don’t want to hurt his feelings or make him feel defensive. I would rather quietly sink into the night with my resentment. But it made me reflect on my general fear of THE INTERNET, which sometimes affects me and sometimes does not.

Say, for instance, I have a literary book client person who tweets a thing – that is a hilarious thing –  but is about a bestselling author from her personal Twitter account with her actual name on it. So people can and will keep the receipts. & I am so proud of her because so brave, so brave. Also I am scared for her because she’s not published yet, and I just want to protect her, protect my writers. And my beautiful friend Alexandra (because it will be her in this entirely hypothetical scenario) tells me, “Uh, I think she’s okay, you’re momming a bit right now.” And she will not be wrong.
And also I will think, what if no one RTs this tweet, what if it goes unRTed, seemingly unnoticed, by everyone but me. Then what if she becomes a bestselling author one day, say, 10 years from now, and she meets this current bestselling author & is so excited to meet this person (who is a GREAT author but also a bit problematic and not great at taking criticism). And that person says, “I saw that tweet you tweeted 10 years ago that said I wasn’t cool.”
And then they have a fight. Probably at a publishing gala where awards are being presented, champagne is thrown. Literally everyone says something they regret. And twitter’s not around anymore (CROSS YOUR FINGERS), but some other social media is, probably through some evil Google Apple hybrid that’s about to trigger the apocalypse, the world currency is now bitcoins. WHAT WILL THEY SAY ABOUT THIS DRAMA?
Anyway, this is a fear of mine, but also a secret dream (minus the tech apocalypse).
Let it be.

Finally finished LITTLE & LION…

You know, I used to be the type of person that had an Excel doc where I kept track of every single book I owned, where I acquired it, and where it currently was geographically. I began this spreadsheet in 2009 before I moved to Boston from Texas because I wanted to remember what books were hidden somewhere in boxes at my parents’ house for when I needed them. I stopped doing this around 2013 for reasons (I moved 5 times that year, acquired an absurd amount of books, and in general am garbage). The spreadsheet is now lost in the Great Computer Crash of 2016 (RIP Best Friend). Even then I was a bad reader though. I am a bad reader. I’m just a horrible reader. I don’t finish things. When I’m not in the mood, I stop. Sometimes it takes me years to read one book. When I had my spreadsheet, I could see it. Date acquired: date finished. What an accountability partner. Now I don’t have that, but what I do have is stacks of books all over my apartment that mock me with their beautiful spines and many, many pages of words.

Do you know how many books I have begun this year that I have not finished? Or put down toward the end of 2016 and haven’t finished? I will list some of them for you:

THE ARGONAUTS by Maggie Nelson
HOMEGOING by Yaa Gyasi
FLEDGLING by Octavia Butler
THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas
THE LADIES OF GRACE ADIEU by Susannah Clarke
THE ROSE SOCIETY by Marie Lu
LIZARD RADIO by Pat Schmatz (there is literally one chapter left, I swear, I’m garbage)
I COULD LIST MORE, I COULD GO ON, BUT I WILL SPARE YOU.

Anyway, this is a celebration post, I finished LITTLE & LION by Brandy Colbert this morning. I have finished my first actual book (unpublished manuscripts don’t count) of 2017 (on friggin’ April 30th – FIVE MONTHS IN). It doesn’t come out until August, but quick, someone read it so we can talk about it.* Go, go, go!

*Told you I’m garbage.

2017 Emerging Poets Incubator info

I said I was going to boost things, and I think this is damn nifty. Emerging Poets is is put put on by Crescendo Literary & the Poetry Foundation.

It’s 3 days of workshops with 24 incubator fellows who engage with their communities in their art. It’s free to attend if you’re chosen, and although I think you’d have to pay to get to Chicago, there is the opportunity to stay in student housing for free. The info and links to the application are here at Crecendo’s website, and the More Info link takes you to the Poetry Foundation. The application is here via submittable.

Go forth! Write poetry! Engage! I love you!

Let’s Make Me More Sustainable, Shall we?

Y’all this is a long post, if you don’t want to read it, scroll to the end for TL/DR list of my Personal Rules & a cat picture!

I’ve been thinking about how I use my time lately, which I think is always a useful thing to interrogate. To give you an idea, I technically work three jobs:

FIRST: I assist Susanna Einstein (praise that lovely human!) at ELM – she’s my support, one of my mentors, and it’s my job to help her find clients, do admin, read slush (I’m caught up to mid-January & still have 700 emails in the inbox!), and help her with editorial for her clients. I have, since I started working for Susanna, felt like a useful human, and I have grown both professionally and personally.  Some of you know me and my trajectory, but I think everyone can appreciate the importance of feeling Useful, Appreciated, and Challenged at your job! I have that right now! What a TIME!

SECOND: I AM TAKING ON MY OWN CLIENTS! Yes! I have a tiny (but growing!) client list, and it’s got five whole people on it I’m so excited about! I’m currently on submission with my first book! I decided I wanted to be an agent way back in 2012 in an apprenticeship based field and a tough job market, and I HAVE MY OWN CLIENTS WHO ARE AMAZING! I think it’s important to acknowledge that in all of our choices about people we’re building a team (both professionally and personally!). And my TEAM IS GREAT!

THIRD: You gotta pay the bills, buddy. I do bookkeeping & some other work (not editorial) for a different literary agency two days a week (and increasingly other financial work for the accountant who employs me). I’m proud of this, too! I have a BA in English, a minor in French, an MA in English, an MA in Children’s Literature, and I’ve learned (and am learning constantly) about publishing as a Business. We can talk all day about writing and editorial, but publishing is a business. It’s helped me personally as well! I’m so much better at record keeping and budgeting. I have a lot of medical debt because my body hates me, and I’m actually on top of it because of the skills I’ve learned through finances in publishing.

I’m also getting to TEACH since I’m training most of their interns. When their interns have questions about contracts, foreign rights, tax forms in publishing, I get to give that education, which is wonderful because I get to teach people, which I actually love to do. So many wonderful people have inspired me and taught me, and now SOMETIMES I GET TO DO THAT FOR OTHER PEOPLE! I’m so lucky, and I enjoy helping my future colleagues feel like they have a good foundation so that wherever they go, whatever they learn from here, they’re confident!

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#frenemies #chickencat #thecrocodile – I need to vacuum that futon….. #cathair

I don’t say this to make myself sound like I have any more work in my life than anybody else (I don’t! We are all resilient and constantly moving! We are colossal and infinity and sleepy and Too Busy To Know Our Worth) or that I’m Totally Awesome (okay, but I am), but it’s helpful to me to see how much work I actually Get Done in a day, in a week, in a month. When I’m feeling overwhelmed with work and like I’m not clearing the bar, it helps to actually think about my 40 hour work week, and then the work that I put in outside of that (because how long does it take to read a book & how many pages/words/books do I read a week? THEN how long it takes to write actionable items for how to make it better in, essentially, the form of literary love letters).

But this post isn’t really about that, or at least I didn’t want it to be initially. I started this post wanting to 1) give voice to my constraints and 2) lay some groundwork for how to make my life more sustainable and 3) be able to look back on this post and Hold Myself Accountable!

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Books I have actually read, so you don’t think I’ve never read any books. Trust me, it’s coming up soon…. That unicorn was a gift from my pal Anna.

How do we make spaces for ourselves, and how do we prioritize various aspects of our lives? I’m coming to the point where several rules need to be in place for my life, and you (my friends, strangers on the internet, whoever) can double up on that accountability if you’re feeling up to the challenge. Here are some things I’m doing for myself or would like to do for myself. I’m writing them down, putting them out there in the world, articulating them, so that I can’t pretend these were always my goals.

  1. I used to have a rule that I only read for fun on the train. So you know, I spend most of my life reading words on screens – slush, manuscripts, editorial letters. There’s something about the physical book that feels like “reading for fun.” If I’m ever reading on a screen, I feel like I should just be working, and it’s SO EASY to read my iPad on the train or, as I’ve been doing almost daily lately, bringing up emails on my phone & going through slush. I have an HOUR commute in the morning to either of my offices, and I could EASILY get through 1 book a week if I were to read for that whole hour.I’ve been so focused on work that I started reading my arc of Brandy Colbert’s LITTLE & LION in February & am only about halfway through. I started reading Yaa Gyasi’s HOMEGOING in January, and I only made it through three chapters. I was trying to read it by a book club dead line (that I have never been to because I never finish the books) and DID NOT MAKE IT. I have carried LITTLE & LION in my bag since January; it is literally always with me!tumblr_my7b1z1zrm1skck8io1_500I have a problem with reading what I’m “in the mood for” instead of reading books to completion – I have an entire bookshelf dedicated to books I started & have not finished (because unfinished books are not allowed to TOUCH or BE NEAR books I have loved or hated or felt lukewarm about At All)….. #readershame. Both books are REALLY GOOD, and I Want to finish them, but I just keep doing work on the subway. But NO MORE!RULE 1: ONLY READ FOR FUN ON THE SUBWAY.
  2. I have been trying to implement this rule monetarily, and it doesn’t work. Say, only spend $40/month on booze or going out. That’s $10/week or $20 over two weeks. I make this rule conservatively,  knowing that I’ll spend more or less, relative to the events that week. The problem is actually that the Easy thing to do is say “Let’s meet for drinks.” SO MANY PUBLISHING EVENTS HAVE ALCOHOL. I’m not saying it’s a problem in the industry because I kind of like it – there’s a way that hierarchies get broken down when big time editors are drunk out of their minds and editorial assistants are scared of getting tipsy in front of their bosses. But the reality is that our bodies and our wallets are all different.I called my mom in January when I made my newest budget spreadsheet, and I told her a lot of my limitations that will help me pay my medical bills, pay what I owe to the IRS for my freelance work in 2015 (yeah, STILL paying that off, be Wary of 1099s, friend pies, & if an employer gives you an inaccurate W-2, don’t wait until it’s resolved to pay the government money, they hit you with FEES). My Moddy (bless her heart) said, “Okay, but don’t take it too hard when you don’t meet those goals.” This is weirdly the BEST ADVICE for people with debt I could give. Life happens! Social happens! You deserve some fun! If you can pay all your bills (a gift!) and have that $40 extra, it’s okay to spend a little of it on you!
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    Books I started & haven’t finished, The Shame!

    So instead of trying to put unrealistic limits on publishing, I’m going to look at what will be in my bank account at the end of the month post-bills, account for groceries & cats, and I’m not going to limit my bank account. I’m going to limit my TIME. What’s worth it and when is it worth it?

    RULE 2: ONLY GO OUT TWO NIGHTS A WEEK (maybe 3 if there’s a professional event – and any more than that, don’t consume at those events, save the money, plan ahead re: food, which you have to do anyway- rule coming soon).

  3. THIS is maybe the most important rule I’m instituting, except for my food rules, which are coming later. Make Time for Friends! I have some health problems (as referenced with the “medical bills”) & a lot of the time I Work Work Work and then only want to sleep. NO! My friends are beautiful humans, my family away from family, my family CHOSEN, and I want to see them!RULE 3: MAKE TIME FOR FRIENDS!

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    Half of this pile of books I haven’t even started! & in that Netflix envelope is Definitely a DVD from 2010 or 2011 (it’s Solarbabies…. )

  4. Re: FOOD, I am instituting a new thing (this weekend will be the 4th in a row) called Cooking Saturdays. As some of my friends may know, I have a lot of food allergies! And not a terribly large amount of money! And the same foods over and over again cooked in the exact same way get BORING. So on Thursday or Friday of every week, depending on schedule, I’m looking at what my restrictions are and trying to find a thing to experiment with over the weekend. Alternatively, I’m thinking about what STAPLES I use and making a lot so I can freeze things and be set for later on in the week. The goal is to not worry about food if i’m having a bad food day (If you can’t keep foods down, well you made bread Saturday that you can slowly eat a piece of, or you have frozen broth that you can drink like tea….).Friends, I literally made bread for the first time TWO WEEKS ago, and I learned how to grind/mix my own sausage the week before that. I make my broth from scratch because I’m allergic to all the store bought broth. The concept of taking an entire day wherein you don’t do any work that isn’t cleaning your space and preparing for the week in a sustainable way is LIFE CHANGING.20170401_174601.jpgRULE 4: SATURDAYS ARE COOKING SATURDAYS. EXPERIMENT WITH FOOD YOU KNOW (OR HIGHLY SUSPECT) WON’T MAKE YOU SICK, MAKE STAPLES FOR THE WEEK, PUT YOUR SPACE IN ORDER, AND DON’T TALK TO ANYONE WHO YOU DON’T WANT TO TALK TO.

So that’s it so far! I’m not saying the rules won’t INCREASE with time, and they’re certainly flexible as Life Happens, but I feel good about this space where I have made some actionable and achievable statements about how I want to be spending my time.

TLDR: I’m real busy & I made some rules about how I want to spend my time!
ONE: ONLY READ FOR FUN ON THE SUBWAY.
TWO: ONLY GO OUT TWO NIGHTS A WEEK.
THREE: MAKE TIME FOR FRIENDS!
FOUR: SATURDAYS ARE COOKING SATURDAYS. EXPERIMENT WITH FOOD YOU KNOW (OR HIGHLY SUSPECT) WON’T MAKE YOU SICK, MAKE STAPLES FOR THE WEEK, PUT YOUR SPACE IN ORDER, AND DON’T TALK TO ANYONE YOU DON’T WANT TO.
HERE IS A CAT!
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“Support a classroom. Build a future.” DonorsChoose.org

That’s straight from the website of DonorsChoose.org where you can donate money to individual classrooms. Teachers can register their projects, the amount of money they need, and donors can literally sift through all the projects and donate any amount to specific projects they want to fund.

You can search projects by Resource type (tech, books, supplies), or search for projects by teachers who have never been funded before or projects that have received no donations. You can also search by age group (prek-2, 3-5, etc) or subject (donate to STEM subjects? Books for classrooms?).

If you’re a teacher with a project that’s really worthwhile that you can’t get off the ground, Donors Choose may be a good resource, and if you’ve got some money budgeted for donations every month, here’s a good place to find teachers who need support! I’ve been seeing this org around on Twitter lately, what with defunding of the arts and conversations about girls in STEM, inequality in classrooms, and this is a good way to do something small and make immediate impacts in the classroom. So have at, friendos!

‘Crips in Space’ Submissions

Heyo friends!

The first post boosting submissions is here! Currently you can submit a work of prose, poetry, art, or essay to The Deaf Poets Society for their 4th issue. I learned about this project through Alice Wong on Twitter who is a co-founder of the DisVisibility Project. You can follow them on Twitter @DisVisibility. I learned who Alice Wong was during the Women’s March as she tweeted the hashtag #accessibleorganizingmeans. Now she’s tweeting largely via the hashtag #cripthevote.

This particular issue is called ‘Crips in Space,’ and they’re “looking for for D/deaf and disabled perspectives and re-imaginings of bodies, science, technology, bioethics, and the future ways of existing.” Click the link above to learn more; the deadline is April 4th for the forthcoming issues. Submission guidelines are here.

Hey Bears!

I’m makin’ a blog! Likely I’ll post personal things Very sporadically, perhaps book recs fewer & further between, & whenever I see a cool independent anthology, scholarship, or submissions opportunity, I’m gonna boost it. The theme here is Book Stuffs. It may also be Cat Stuffs. Example:
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I took this picture of The Crocodile this morning because she’s beautiful & suspicious, like any good crocodile should be. Love you, friendos. Susan, out!