Hello 2015.

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Last selfie of 2014

Last selfie of 2014

2014 by all accounts was a pretty uneven year. The great things were awesome, the terrible parts were really bad… and there weren’t many things that actually fell in between.

There were a lot of great moments- TheBoy and I went to four different conventions and had a great time at all of them (two were fan conventions for TV shows, and two were comic cons- and I cosplayed at all of them). We went to Vegas and ate extremely well. I met an online friend in person- and we discovered that we really were that much in sync, that it wasn’t just an online thing. We had a great summer, and spent a healthy portion of it at Venice Beach. We did a trip to San Francisco that was a lot of fun! Getting a great job and working with a fantastic group of women.

And then there were the not so great moments. Finding out a friend had stolen a tape and someone linked to them was holding it over our heads for unknown reasons. Being hospitalized at the beginning of the year. A plethora of freakouts linked to social anxiety.

But it was a wonderful year because of the people I’ve come to lean on. I learned that I have a lot more friends than I ever thought, and that they weren’t just “friends” – but the sort of people who track you down when you disappear from the internet, or if you post something odd. And it really does mean so very much.

Now, to the thing you guys are probably curious about. My goals for 2015. Here they are, as I wrote them on the road home last Sunday.

hello-2015

It’s a weird list of things, I know. I want to make my physical health more of a priority, I’ve learned it’s important for maintaining my Crohns- but I can’t just throw myself into training suddenly (that will only aggravate it).

I got a storage unit when my parents moved to Florida, but it was boxes of things that weren’t organized- just thrown together from when my parents were packing. So I really need to go through it, get rid of the stuff I don’t want and make sure the rest is labeled and makes sense. And the house, well, we accumulate a lot of stuff. I want to make sure we’re saving the right stuff.

The passport is something I’ve wanted- I enter contests for trips around the world. It’d be nice if I didn’t have to rush to get a passport so that I could do that. (Plus, I need one to visit my Seester)

I’ve wanted to be the sort of artist who went to art museums to draw and learn, so I want to get back into that. And the uke…. well, I’ve been wanting to sing more. And it’s hard to sing if you have no accompaniment.

What are you wanting to accomplish in 2015?

(The card I wrote my list on is one of 8 cards from Just Jenn Designs’ “curse-ive flat cards”)

Supporting the trans community- we need to do more.

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My heart hurts because of the death of Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teenager who told her parents than she was a really a girl, not the boy she had tried to be for her entire life. And was told that God didn’t make mistakes and that she was wrong. The Alcorns continued to refer to her as their son. They took her to therapists who fit their point of view, who didn’t help Leelah’s depression- but judged her and continued to tell her that she was wrong. And then her parents proceeded to isolate her from her friends- pulling her out of school and cutting her off from the internet.

So Leelah gave up. She wrote a suicide note and put it in her Tumblr queue- set to post in the event she wasn’t there to stop it from going up. And she apparently walked onto a highway where she was struck by a semi and died.

Her mother posted to social media, mourning the loss of her son. And the tragic accident that took his life. That’s right. She didn’t even acknowledge what happened, and rewrote it to keep up appearances.

The line from Leelah’s suicide note that gutted me was this:

My death needs to mean something.

If you are a transgender individual who needs to talk to someone who understands you can call Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860 (http://www.translifeline.org/). It’s staffed by transgender individuals, and is supported by the community.

If you are someone who wishes to better understand how to support someone who has come out to you as transgender, ask them what pronouns they prefer, or if there’s another name they want you to use. But most importantly, let them know that you still love and care about them.

Because no matter what name or identity someone has- that’s all that’s changed. Their personality, their interests, those haven’t. And in the end, they’ll be so much happier when they’re being honest about themselves- and isn’t that what you want?

If you have a loved one who abuses you like Leelah’s parents did (and yes, misgendering and trying to “correct” someone’s gender is abuse)- please know that there are people out there who will listen and help you through this. As Supernatural put it- blood don’t mean family.

We need to do more. There are so many misconceptions about transgender people. There is so much hatred and violence – so little support for the trans community even in the LGBT community.

We need to stop telling kids that it gets better, in some nebulous future that they can look forward to. We need to start telling them that it gets better NOW, because we’re there for them- and we need to make good on that.

On the Road.

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on-the-road-blogThis holiday, we found ourselves on the road – doing the every other year Christmas drive out to my family. You see, shortly after TheBoy and I were engaged, we arranged with our families to switch holidays with them. One year we’ll spend Thanksgiving with his parents and Christmas with mine, then the next year it’s Thanksgiving with my parents.

And we like the drive. Granted, it’s a drive I’ve been making since I was little. I have fond memories of leaving in the middle of the night to drive out to Arizona, sleeping in the car and waking up in Indio to have breakfast. I can tell you which rest stops between Los Angeles and Arizona are worth stopping at. (There’s one along the I-10 that warns you not to pick up hitchhikers because it’s right next to a State Prison. Not kidding)

It’s a drive the Kidlets are learning to love. Though let me tell you, making that drive with a baby isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. One trip back, the Oldest Kidlet made us stop about every 45 minutes to nurse (including at the scary rest stop mentioned above). Little Kidlet made us stop about 45 minutes away, so we had to pull into the only thing with some privacy- a school parking lot. We sat in the back while the Oldest Kidlet and TheBoy walked around.

Flying is hard to do at the holidays. So many things to take the kidlets anywhere for more than a couple days, and Christmas presents on top of that.

And while, admittedly, you do have kids whining about how long the drive is. How far away my grandmother’s house is. But there’s just a lot of time, to listen to music and to talk.

What are my top 5 things to have to stay sane in the car? (Note: I was not compensated by any of these companies. I just like making these lists)

1. AAA card. I’m not kidding. Two years ago, on our way TO Arizona, we got a flat off the I-10 in the middle of nowhere. The AAA guy put on our spare tire, and we made it into Blythe where it was already dark. My dad booked us a room, and we started calling tire shops. Only to find that nobody in town had the size my van needed.

In the end, my dad realized we could go with a slightly different size and it’d be enough to get to Arizona- where we wound up finding a tire that was the right size and went from there.

2. Satellite radio. Gone are the days where you leave town and radio stations drop off one by one until you’re left with country radio and then the Spanish language stations. Until there’s nothing but static.

We spent this entire trip listening to Sirius’s Holly station, turning it down for conversations and turning it up when the Kidlets spotted song titles they recognized. (Satellite radio – excellent for practice reading)

3. So many chargers. Not just car chargers for your phone either, I have a power inverter for my car- in short, an adapter so that I can plug in cord that would normally go into a wall. It comes in handy for charging gadgets that I might not have car adapter for (or that doesn’t end in a USB).

4. Lots of snacks. You’ll get hungry, and you’re going to make a lot of bad decisions in a minimart if you’re starving. So I buy my snacks beforehand.

5. Comfortable pants. If you’re going to be taking a car ride that’s longer than 6 hours – wearing something like yoga pants or pajama pants are a must. Jeans are not comfortable, no matter how stretchy they are. Trust me.

So what are your favorite road trip tips? And am I crazy for preferring to drive than fly? Tell me, I want to know!

Image: Mine

Happy Holidays!

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I mentioned in an earlier post that my microSD card bit it before I could get photos from our vacation off it.

Which is a shame. We came home with a picture of the four of us- which as any parent will tell you is rare. Any family photo is usually missing the person who took it.

So here, I offer this. Our LEGO Family picture.

2014 minifig holiday card2

Yes, I am totally making the joke you think I am.

Happy Holidays!

Listen.

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141209-listenMy last blog post… I’m not happy with it. It was a reaction, and I was upset. I don’t normally blog about things when I’m that upset. I’d love to delete it, but pretending I didn’t write it isn’t fair.

I’m writing a follow-up instead, one that won’t make me feel like I’m overstepping boundaries.

For those not in the black community, listen. If you don’t believe that things are this difficult, listen. You can’t comment until you understand how it really is. Hell, I’m hispanic and know that racism exists in this world… and I can acknowledge that what they deal with as a community is not my own life experience. So listen to someone who is going through this, instead of making assumptions. (Over on Twitter #AliveWhileBlack is a hashtag well worth browsing)

Over on Tumblr, I reblog a lot of stuff about Ferguson, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice- as well as media coverage about those events. People sharing their opinions. Striking images. And tips for white people who want to join in the protests.

Most of the posts geared towards outsiders include this suggestion- listen. If you don’t believe that this is the world we’ve always lived in, listen to those who assure you that this really is the way the world is. If you want to help and go protest? Listen to the black protestors, because this is their cause, not yours. Let them lead. You’re there to support.

And if you are or if your loved ones are in law enforcement, don’t reply with “NOT ALL POLICE OFFICERS.” We know that not all police officers are racist. Just like when feminists say that men need to do something, they aren’t referring to all men, but problematic men. But if you’re busy defending you or your family members who aren’t part of the problem, you’re ignoring that someone is telling you that there is a problem out there- and it’s a problem that law enforcement needs to tackle head on. Because it isn’t something the public will let them cover up or hide. (Also, if someone is criticizing white people and you’re offended and want to defend white people as a whole… just stop yourself.)

Listen. Learn. Ask yourself some tough questions- and then react.

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How do we move forward?

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Note: After I wrote this post, I thought long and hard about it and wrote this follow up – Listen. I wanted to delete this post, because it was a reaction, and not the way I usually write posts about current events or issues. If you were disappointed by this post, I get it.

A week and a half ago, I was just outside of San Francisco in my hotel’s fitness room- waiting for the prosecutor to come out and read the results of the Ferguson Grand Jury about Darren Wilson, the cop who shot and killed Michael Brown.

The kids were in the pool, I could see them through the glass. The TV’s in the hotel lobby were tuned to Monday Night Football. It was already late in Ferguson, and getting later and later. As I listened to Bob McCulloch drone on and on, congratulating himself, vilifying social media… it was clear that this was a three ring circus. Not justice. They gave people time to show up to protest. Made them wait, become frustrated. They were basically setting up the stage for there to be riots, because they knew the nation was watching.

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Goodbye Eleri. Hello Natasha.

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The last two weeks have been surreal, to say the least.

Zorro killed my laptop. He crippled Eleri, to be precise. Yes, that’s what my last laptop was named – every device I own has a name. Anyhow, he knocked a drink over the keyboard… and while I put it in rice, it fried the keyboard and the trackpad.

So I worked on the desktop PC that we own- which lately was our Minecraft machine. You can imagine how much fun that was, trying to convince my kids to wait to play Minecraft so that I could finish up my work for the day.

When we were on vacation, I hijacked TheBoy’s laptop and used that to work. And for everything else, I took advantage of my phone’s unlimited data. Consequently, I fell behind on what a lot of people were doing.

After our vacation, the microSD card on my phone died – and I’m currently trying to figure out if there’s any way of salvaging the data on that. Since it had vacation pictures I hadn’t shared with anyone else yet (that’s really what I’m upset about)

And I’ll be honest, not having the laptop was an annoyance more than anything. I could still read. I could keep up with the news, and wade into my social media streams. I could email and text. I could write offline, but I had a harder time finding time to write using the desktop computer. Why? Because it faces the corner and literally anyone could walk behind me and watch me blog or work on fiction… and my brain shuts down when faced with that.

But I now own a new laptop! Instead of me taking my laptop to the Genius Bar, TheBoy decided I should just get a new one, since it was about time to upgrade.

introducing-natashaLong story short, I now have Natasha, and will be able to blog regularly again. Isn’t she beautiful? She’s faster, lighter. I’m soooo excited!

(And this isn’t even addressing the emotional toll that Ferguson has taken, or how busy I was with Thanksgiving, a cold, and a kid that needed to go to Urgent Care)

Always Listen. The Allegations Against Bill Cosby

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I’ve been putting together my Avengers Half Marathon Weekend Recap, but my computer’s been acting up. Correction: Zorro knocked a drink across my laptop and borked the keyboard and trackpad. I can boot it and get information off… so after Thanksgiving, I’ll be taking that over to the genius bar so that they can try to salvage my baby.

When I told TheBoy about it, his first response was “And Zorro’s still alive?”

But I realized that before I share some pictures and talk about last weekend, I should address a much more serious issue. The rape allegations against Bill Cosby.

Just in case you’ve been frozen in a block of ice since the 80s, Bill Cosby was once sued by a group of mostly anonymous women because they alleged that he raped them. Bill Cosby settled. Then about a month or so ago, comedian Hannibal Buress brought up Cosby and the rape allegations in a set and the video went viral.

And for the first time since the social media age began, the internet became aware of the allegations. Then, for reasons unknown, Bill Cosby’s PR team asked people to meme him… and the majority of the meme posts referenced those rape allegations.

Women have started to come forward, and the similarity between all of their stories is that they were drugged, woke up in a state of undress, and weren’t believed by anyone they told. Or were told to keep quiet because of Cosby’s influence.

I’ve seen a lot of people doubting these accusations on the grounds that charges were never filed, that there are no rape kits, that some of the women admitted to additional encounters with him.

This is the same thing you hear with victims of abuse. Most of these women were young, early on in their careers and looking for some guidance. When faced with an older man with a pristine reputation in the public eye- there would always be an uphill battle. And much like victims of physical violence, there’s always the hope that they were wrong. That it wouldn’t happen again.

Today, it’s easy to judge and say that someone would be believed. But there was no social media. PR firms could do a much better job of controlling what people believe about celebrities.

Case in point, do you remember hearing about the time that Sean Penn almost killed Madonna? Did you hear about Charlie Sheen shooting Preston before that weird descent into madness a couple years ago? It’s because these things could be covered up, because the news hadn’t hit a 24/7 cycle with social media fueling it.

Most of these women didn’t come forward because they knew that nobody would believe them. It was their word against the man perceived as America’s TV Dad. So if you hear more victims pop up (and you will), understand that they’re doing so because people are finally listening. People are finally willing to believe that public image isn’t always what someone is like.

Not to mention that inconsistencies are common in stories from rape victims. Often, they’ll tell an account that minimizes what happened (to help themselves cope, or diminish the risk of being judged by others) and then later tell the full story. It’s hard to admit when you’re a victim when you aren’t sure how it’ll be received.. (It was hard for me to admit I was being stalked, or that I’d had a sex tape stolen, so I can’t imagine how hard it would be for someone who was assaulted)

So before you start judging, just remember that most of these occurred at a time when he had all the power, and they had no platform to speak. Now they do. So, listen. Don’t discount someone simply because their story makes you uncomfortable.

(And if you really want me to dig up statistics on false rape accusations, I will. It’s an insignificant amount compared to what goes unreported)

I’ve got IRON, how ’bout you?

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I have anemia. I’m still not sure if it’s because of the Crohn’s, or just exacerbated by it – but I have severe anemia. As in, when I went to the hospital (the trip that led to the Crohn’s diagnosis) my iron was so low that they had no idea how I was conscious.

That first trip I had an infusion of iron (and blood!) and started taking iron pills. Daily. Then, for a period of time I was taking liquid iron (which is disgusting and stained my teeth), but I’d finally made it back into a normal range.

Then I went to the hospital in January. And with that flare-up, I lost a lot of blood, and thus… a lot of iron. So I’ve been gradually building it back up.

I had a blood draw last week (it’s my 7th blood draw of the year, 12 if you include the hospital stay), and went to my doctor today – and voila! My hemoglobin level is .1 under normal range, but it was a vast improvement – and my iron levels are normal.

It’s huge, really. I think that a big part of it is that I’ve been so very careful about keeping my Crohns from flaring up – it means I absorb more nutrients and lose less blood. So diet and exercise really does work!

Though, as my fantastic boss put it… the downside is that I’m more vulnerable to Magneto now.

magneto too much iron in your blood

Comikaze 2014: Being Black Widow

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Whitney Drake as Black Widow

Me: Black Widow

This was our third year going to Comikaze Expo, and I have to say – it’s come a long way from the convention that made me want to weep because it took over an hour in the heat to get inside the convention center so I could wait in another line to get my badge.

If you live in the LA area, I actually recommend going to Comikaze. It’s affordable, there’s plenty of food at the Convention Center and around it (we went to a nearby parking lot where there were a bunch of great food trucks)- the floor is pretty well laid out with wide aisles so you don’t get a ton of bottlenecks, and there’s a nice variety out on the floor (despite “Comi” being in the title, it’s heavily a pop culture convention – a little bit for everyone, though Mile High Comics had a HUGE wall for their booth this year. It was pretty awesome). Their big panels are on the con floor, and it’s standing room only. Literally. You stand during the panels.

Also, they had HUGE Cosplay is not consent signs all around the floor and lobby. And they set up a ‘cospitality’ lounge for cosplayers to rest and touch up – I didn’t get to use it this year, but I saw a lot of people cycle through it.

I’ve gone in costume every year, in 2012 I went as Ramona from Scott Pilgrim. 2013, I went as Abaddon from Supernatural (it seemed fitting since the con shifted to Halloween weekend that year). This year, Black Widow.

It’s the most recognizable character I’ve ever cosplayed, and Natasha’s a character that’s near and dear to my heart. I’m not going to lie- when I posted about the sex tape here, I thought about her story arc in Winter Soldier. Knowing that everyone would know her secrets, but still blasting out all of SHIELD’s information because it was the only way to halt HYDRA. Even though it terrified her, she did it.

So we went, nice and early- and got a parking space under the Convention Center (that’s $20- the one in the adjacent lot is $15, I think). And it didn’t take very long before someone asked for my picture. TheBoy was surprised at how quickly I’d catch the people who wanted to stop me for photos- but it was pretty easy. I wasn’t listening for Whitney or Mom. I was listening for Black Widow or Natasha. And since I was people watching, all I had to do was notice if they were lifting their camera/phone in a ‘can I take your picture’ pose. (Plus, most people made a beeline for me if they wanted one. That was hard to miss)

And while I’d practiced a few poses at home before the con, some photographers were kind enough to give me some suggestions for the picture they wanted (I had a tendency to turn to the side, so you couldn’t see much of my costume- one guy pointed it out because he liked the details that I’d added). So that was pretty cool, and for me – cosplay’s a learning curve. Both in making the costumes and wearing them.

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