a garden in riotous bloom
Beautiful. Damn hard. Increasingly useful.
fresh cuttings 
22 June 2017 00:15 - "In over my head"
rosefox: Steven's three guardians all ruffle his hair together as he grins (parenting)
Dear fellow caregivers for toddlers: I would love advice on two distinct things.

1) What makes a good potty? The number of variations is overwhelming. We want something pretty simple, I think: looks like a toilet, no branded characters, doesn't play music, sits on the floor, is basically a bucket with a seat. In the more distant future we'll need one that folds up or goes over the toilet seat or something, for when we're on the road, but right now this is just for Kit to examine and contemplate and get used to the idea of.

2) Like most 18-month-olds, Kit is full of energy. Unlike most 18-month-olds, Kit can barely walk unassisted and can't run or jump. They've only just started climbing around on the most low-level playground equipment and are very uncertain; they can get up five steps to the top of the baby slide but haven't yet sorted out how to slide down it. When they can't burn off all that energy, they get very agitated and fussy. How do we help them get something like vigorous exercise on the weekends? So far my only idea is to take their walker wagon to the park so they can toddle along at a fairly fast clip for longer distances than our apartment allows—there's a good smoothly paved straightaway there—but that's a pain because the sidewalk between here and there is very uneven and narrow, so I'd have to figure out some way to carry the (heavy, bulky, non-folding) wagon while pushing Kit in the stroller, and that may surpass my own physical limitations. Maybe a lightweight folding medical-style walker? Is that a ridiculous expense for a kid who probably won't need it anymore by the end of the summer? And what do we do when it's not park weather? The nearest real play space for kids is the Brooklyn Children's Museum and it's kind of a haul from here—two buses, and you have to fold the stroller on the bus. They can only crawl around our apartment for so long.

EDIT: We did have a great dance party to the B-52s on Sunday—their pure sincerity is a perfect match for toddler sincerity, plus a good beat—so I should remember that's an option for indoor days. Friends on Twitter and elsewhere also suggested walking while holding Kit's hands/arms; playing follow-the-leader movement games ("Stretch WAAAAAY up high! Now bend WAAAAAY down low!") or doing movement to songs; setting up a tumbling mat and big foam blocks to climb on if we can get some that fit Kit's room (need to measure the open floor space); getting a cheap flimsy lightweight doll stroller to use as a walker in the park.

I'd really appreciate any suggestions on either or both fronts!
11 June 2017 22:26 - "They didn't stand a chance"
rosefox: A fox writing book reviews. (writing)
A Lesson in Logic (1102 words) by [archiveofourown.org profile] rosefox
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Original Work
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Original Characters
Additional Tags: Polyamory, Parenthood, Education
Summary:

Polyamorous parents have an unfair advantage at parent-teacher conferences.



I wrote this for All in the Family ([community profile] familyex), an exchange of family-themed stories; I didn't hear about it until it was too late to sign up, but saw a prompt about polyam parents and couldn't resist. It includes four Jewish parents (of varying backgrounds and degrees of belief, though I wasn't explicit about that), a Nigerian-American teacher, enby rep, wheelie rep, one very bad joke, and a little boy who likes sparkly erasers.

It's the first time in ages that I've written a fully original short story. I sort of snuck it past myself. :) It was lots of fun. I might try signing up for more exchanges that are open to original work and see what happens.
rosefox: A blue-eyed white toddler with slightly curly hair stares straight at the camera like "Yep, I'm awesome". (kit)
Well, Kit decided to grow up this week.

So much growing up )

I don't precisely feel superfluous as a parent, but I certainly need to let go of any idea that my job is to teach them how to grow up. They have a very good idea of how to grow up. My job is to get the hell out of their way.
8 June 2017 04:57 - "Goooood niiiiiight"
rosefox: A silver spoon labeled "my very last, very small spoon". (exhausted)
Finalvacationing to-do list/wishlist tally:

* Prepare BookCon handout by June 1
* Read ILL book due back June 1
* Return book by June 1
* See [twitter.com profile] grahamsleight before he leaves on June 1
* Do BookCon panel and booth duty on June 3 (went very well)
* Go to a toddler's birthday party on June 4
* Meet first work deadline by June 5 (wasn't done early, but got it done)
* Go to arm doctor June 6
* Meet second work deadline by June 7 (see above)
* Write guest blog post by June 7 next week
* Read ILL books due back June 8
* Return books by June 8

Things without deadlines (fun):

* Hang out with X, who also has this coming week off
* Watch the StevenBombs
* Watch Voltron: Legendary Defender
* Stroll in the Botanic Gardens on a day with nice weather
* Ditto Prospect Park
* Maybe steal the baby from daycare early one day and get extra baby time
* Read a book for fun? I hear people do this? ??? (tried but the book was boring. alas)
* Knit
* Sleeeeeeeep (actually managed this somewhat this week)
* Get a manicure

Things without deadlines (productive):

* Tidy room enough for vacuuming
* Vacuum (or ask J to if my arms are sad)
* Change sheets (or ask J to if my arms are sad)
* Move clothes from valet to closet
* Clear off standing desk (newly added to the list)
* Catch up on laundry
* Promote Story Hospital
* Clean out inbox (and kept it pretty tidy)
* Watch Baby Signing Time and practice signing on my own and with the family

This week has been less than relaxing: I've had that work deadline to meet, I got way overpeopled on the weekend, J's been very ill with a horrid non-strep throat infection, X did something awful to their sciatic nerve, the arm doctor visit took three goddamn hours and effectively ate my entire day yesterday, and today was a comedy of errors without the comedy (train delays, my nail polish is insufficiently sparkly, no food until 4 p.m., I got a call from the daycare because Kit faceplanted and bit their lip and bled everywhere, meds I was supposed to pick up weren't ready yet, probably other things I'm forgetting). I wish it had been more vacational. I also wish I'd done any of that room-tidying stuff.

But on the bright side, I didn't have to deal with non-project work on top of everything else! I suppose sometimes that's all one can ask from a vacation.
6 June 2017 05:13 - "You knock me out"
rosefox: Me snuggling a giant teddy bear, entirely contented. (sleeping)
A word we used a lot for Kit in the early days was amiable. And they still are, in many ways; they're particularly good at dealing with being redirected away from something they want. But in the last month or so they've started voicing some very strong opinions, one of which is wanting to do some things for themself. In particular, they will shun food that one of us tries to put in their mouth but then happily pick up/spoon up and eat that same food on their own. Eating is great. Being fed is apparently for little tiny babies and not for great big toddlers like Kit.

I was not expecting the next iteration of "I do it myself" to happen at bedtime. Until a couple of weeks ago, if I said "Are you ready to go into the crib?" they'd complain, and then I'd give them a few more minutes of cuddling before putting them down to fall asleep. This past week or two, they've been calm at the thought of going into the crib, so I'd put them down while they were more awake, and they would take a few minutes to wriggle around and then conk out. Tonight they were so tired they almost fell asleep while I was changing their diaper, but once we'd read two stories and turned out the light, they stretched and squirmed and wriggled in the way that usually means "put me down so I can crawl around and play". I said I wouldn't let them crawl around but I could put them in the crib to play with their bears until they fell asleep (which I expected would take a while, maybe as much as half an hour). I put them in sitting up... and they gently lay down and grabbed the bears in their usual sleep position. So I put the blanket over them, said goodnight, and left. There was not a single peep from their room and after five minutes I shrugged and started the sleep timer.

Frankly, I would have liked a few more minutes of cuddling! Greater independence has meant a decrease in enjoyable cuddle time (as opposed to soothing cuddles when Kit's angry or upset), and I miss it, though from what I can tell Kit is still on the huggy end of the typical toddler range. But I am mightily impressed by their earnest eagerness to go to bed on their own. We'll see whether it becomes a trend.
2 June 2017 03:52 - "Strong in a real way"
rosefox: A woman's muscular arm. (strong)
Me for 15 years of tendonitis: "I wish I could build arm muscle. It's the best way to support my tendons. But I can't figure out how to exercise without aggravating the injury."

Me after 1.5 years of hefting a 95th-percentile-weight baby: "Wow, I have biceps!"

Last year's round of OT really helped me heal to the point where I could work out, and this year I have my magical Mueller elbow braces, which have let me knit and do housework and type a lot and pick up the baby without being in pain. (I did have a bit of a problem where they were offloading onto my wrists, but my Handeze gloves took care of that.) But I don't think the braces are the only reason I've healed a lot faster from the latest flare-up than ever before. I think I've just plain got more muscle. The braces have a strap that goes around the bicep and another that goes around the meatiest part of the forearm, and I was a little startled the first time I put them on and realized that flexing my bicep made a real difference to the fit. Over the winter I fell out of the habit of doing daily exercises, so I probably haven't strengthened the parts of my arm that most need it, but picking up a wriggly 25-pound toddler every day has definitely done me some good. I don't look quite like the stock photo in my icon, but I look more like it than I used to. One of these days I could even replace that icon with a photo of my actual arm.

I'm still going to the arm doctor next week and asking for a prescription for another round of OT, because when I take off the braces and gloves, I hurt, and I would rather not need assistive devices to do everyday things. Also the wrist pain is a new thing and I definitely want to get that checked out and mitigated before it gets worse. But injury notwithstanding, I feel strong in ways that I haven't in nearly 20 years, and it's pretty great.
1 June 2017 03:34 - "Let's pretend"
rosefox: Me looking at Kit and both of us grinning. (baby-whee)
Previously on "Kit plays pretend", we have seen Kit pretend to do things that Kit does for real. They will eat air from an empty bowl, and wash their hands at a toy faucet. I've also seen them get sort of vaguely conversational with a bear, maybe? That's about it.

But TODAY. Today X and I took Kit to a toy store, and my mom gave them a doll and a toy bottle. And Kit FED THE DOLL. Repeatedly and at length. That is an entirely different sort of imaginative play and we were really floored to see them do it.

Cut for those who don't care for baby anecdotes )

What a great day.
31 May 2017 00:11 - "It's one of those lazy days"
rosefox: A tiny turtle and the caption "Tiny Turtle is Pleased". (pleased)
Updated vacationing to-do list/wishlist:

* Prepare BookCon handout by June 1
* Read ILL book due back June 1 (I decided not to bother reading any of my ILL books and just returned them all; between when I requested them and when I got them, I temporarily but completely lost interest in that project. I'll reorder them when the project front-burners itself again.)
* Return book by June 1
* See visiting friend before he leaves on June 2
* Do BookCon panel and booth duty on June 3 (if you'll be there, come say hi!)
* Meet first work deadline by June 5 (ideally much earlier)
* Go to arm doctor May 30 June 6
* Meet second work deadline by June 7 (see above)
* Write guest blog post by June 7
* Read ILL books due back June 8
* Return books by June 8

Things without deadlines (fun):

* Hang out with X, who also has this coming week off (planned for 5/31)
* Watch the StevenBombs (WHAAAAAAAAT and also I want Fluorite to be my gem grandma forever)
* Watch Voltron: Legendary Defender (omg Allura would you STOP HASSLING PIDGE whose gender is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS thank you)
* Stroll in the Botanic Gardens on a day with nice weather
* Ditto Prospect Park
* Maybe steal the baby from daycare early one day and get extra baby time (planned for 5/31)
* Read a book for fun? I hear people do this? ??? (still pretty sure this is a myth)
* Knit
* Sleeeeeeeep (ahahahaaaaaa I am so totally failing at this)

Things without deadlines (productive):

* Tidy room enough for vacuuming
* Vacuum (or ask J to if my arms are sad)
* Change sheets (or ask J to if my arms are sad)
* Move clothes from valet to closet
* Clear off standing desk (newly added to the list)
* Catch up on laundry (The hampers are almost empty! It's a Shavuot miracle!)
* Promote Story Hospital
* Clean out inbox but of course it's cluttered up again
* Watch Baby Signing Time and practice signing on my own and with the family

That's more than I thought I'd get done! I am pleased.
rosefox: Me looking at Kit and both of us grinning. (baby-whee)
I took Kit to

A BOOKSTORE

today!

Specifically to the splendid shiny new Books Are Magic, which has an amazing children's section complete with big bean bags and a squishy couch to sit on. I recommend it highly.

Kit was very serious and focused on the subway, the way they are in new situations. [twitter.com profile] grahamsleight was with us and kept trying to get their attention, but they were too focused on absorbing all information from the surroundings. But when they saw the books, they lit up with delight. They've been to libraries, and of course at home they're surrounded by bookshelves. They understand bookshelves.

They zoomed over to the shelf of board books and picked out some familiar ones before looking at the rest. After a little while of watching them pick books up and drop them and bang them on other books, Graham said "Kit, look!" and rotated the revolving rack of Little Golden Books.

Kit: 😮

So then they pulled down some books and rotated the rack and that was fun. They were very puzzled by the Little Golden Books being so thin and would grab several at a time, thinking they were one book.

Eventually they went back to the board books. They liked grabbing multiple copies of a single title and waving them all around. They turned pages in a book they'd never seen before, got to a (fairly crude) drawing of a kid in a bath, and signed "bath". I nearly fainted. The other day I saw them turn to a book page that shows people dancing and start doing their adorable chair-boogie dance, but it was a familiar book. This was completely new. MY BABY UNDERSTANDS SEMIOTICS. WHAT.

(I later had some deeper thoughts about how if Kit can look at a picture that looks nothing like bathtime at our house and still understand it as "bath", that makes it all the more imperative to show them books about kids and families of all kinds so that they internalize broad concepts of "happy kid" and "family", and that ended with me buying two board books about kids with same-sex parents and emailing Rebecca Sugar via Cartoon Network Books to ask whether she could make a Steven Universe board book that shows Steven and his amazing loving cobbled-together family.)

[twitter.com profile] kissane and [twitter.com profile] dailyjuna joined us, and Graham read books to the kids (who were impossibly good together) while Erin and I kvelled. Kit spotted a little chair and pushed it all over the place. They repeatedly tried to go behind the counter. (I told them "You don't work here yet.") We eventually decamped to 61 Local, where Kit tried to drink some of my orange juice and had a remarkably contained meltdown when the noise got to be too much. Juna was tremendously sweet with them and I really hope they get to have another playdate in a quieter place. As soon as I took them outside they calmed down, and they stayed very chill on the bus and home. What a good Brooklyn baby.

Every time I wear them in the front carrier, people express amazement, because they are enormous and I am small. But it was so nice to be able to just go up and down stairs instead of wrestling with the stroller and have them "on my lap" when I sat down instead of needing to take the backpack on and off (which is really tricky in transit), and my arms are very grateful to my hips and knees for taking the load. As soon as they can walk up and down stairs with help, the subway will be much more manageable with the stroller: it folds up small and slings over my shoulder, and that frees me to hold their hand on the steps. But carrying both stroller and baby is just impossible for me, I don't want to rely on strangers to not drop my baby down a flight of stairs, and most stations don't have elevators. So in the meantime, I'm building up leg and core strength. Maybe I should start working out again.
29 May 2017 05:36 - "Living in a bubble"
rosefox: Me looking out a window, pensive. (thoughtful)
[personal profile] siderea linked to this post:

I know you want to, and you are constantly being told that you must, excel at and be committed to, for example:

1. earning a living wage
2. healing from and/or dealing with injury, illness, emotional trauma, disability
3. basic self-care and adulting (laundry, financial management, etc.)
4. family relationships (finding/maintaining romance, caring for kids and/or elders, dealing with family drama)
5. a social life beyond that
6. a fulfilling and fulfilled creative life
7. service to the community
8. social and political activism
9. self-improvement and continuing education
10. physical fitness (maintaining and building)
11. fun hobbies
12. spiritual growth

...plus enough downtime to keep you functional.

But excelling at each of those is equivalent to a full-time job and you cannot physically do them all. In fact, our society considers basic competence at
two of them to be a passing grade. ONLY TWO.

The idea is that you're supposed to look at this list and agree that it's impossible to do it all and then feel relief from the pressure. But I'm really pleased to realize that I'm doing very well in almost all of those categories. My social life isn't as busy as it used to be, but that's fine, it'll come back as Kit gets older. Creativity and hobbies are one category for me and I've always got something going; since I'm doing historical research for Valour Advances right now, that brings in continuing education as well. If I expand #12 as "spiritual and psychological growth" I've got that covered. Tomorrow I'm going to get a new prescription for occupational therapy and add physical fitness back onto the list in a formal way, but I've informally been doing fairly well at it (picking up a 25-pound toddler is great for building upper body strength). About all I'm missing is activism as distinct from service to the community; my Twitter and DW PSAs, and my Story Hospital posts, fall into the latter category rather than the former. I do wish I could do more direct political activism but I'm coming to accept that I can't right now, not with everything else I have on my plate.

[personal profile] siderea proposed a 13th category of "recovering from catastrophe". I'd add a 14th of "coping with oppression, marginalization, danger, and/or abuse". I feel like the secret to doing everything I do is that I don't have to manage assholes in pretty much any part of my life. My spouses are great, my friends are great, my family drama is minimal, my boss and colleagues are great, I'm not being targeted by trolls, etc. I'm a queer trans polyamorous weirdo, but I'm in a place where it's pretty safe to be that way. I don't have to worry about my home being unsafe for me, or about being kicked out of it. I have health insurance and a savings account. Safety is what lets me get a ton of shit done. I'm not having to manage my safety. If I were—I know from experience—it would be the other 13 categories' worth of work all in one.

So I suppose this list represents my political philosophy too: the job of society is to take on category 14 for everyone. Reduce oppression, marginalization, danger, and abuse in order to enable people to lead fulfilling and satisfying lives in every possible dimension. I live in a tiny magical bubble where I've made that possible for myself and my family, and it's great. I want it for everyone.
27 May 2017 02:59 - "I'm going to Disneyworld!"
rosefox: A heart-shaped Roomba. (housework)
I'm on vacation! That means I get to do things I don't get to do when I'm working! Like... really clean my room. Which doesn't sound very vacational, but I will feel much better after I do it.

What I wanted was to take a week off. What I'm getting instead are two half-weeks off, Mon-Wed of this coming week and of the following week. BookExpo and BookCon are intervening, as is a big work project with deadlines that can't be moved. Such is life. It's still a vacation.

Things on my to-do list/wishlist with deadlines:

* Go to arm doctor May 30
* Prepare BookCon handout by June 1
* Read ILL book due back June 1
* Return book by June 1
* See visiting friend before he leaves on June 2
* Do BookCon panel and booth duty on June 3 (if you'll be there, come say hi!)
* Meet first work deadline by June 5 (ideally much earlier)
* Meet second work deadline by June 7 (see above)
* Write guest blog post by June 7
* Read ILL books due back June 8
* Return books by June 8

Things without deadlines (fun):

* Hang out with X, who also has this coming week off
* Watch the StevenBombs
* Watch Voltron: Legendary Defender (I'm five episodes in; it makes great knitting TV)
* Stroll in the Botanic Gardens on a day with nice weather
* Ditto Prospect Park
* Maybe steal the baby from daycare early one day and get extra baby time
* Read a book for fun? I hear people do this? ???
* Knit
* Sleeeeeeeep

Things without deadlines (productive):

* Tidy room enough for vacuuming
* Vacuum (or ask J to if my arms are sad)
* Change sheets (or ask J to if my arms are sad)
* Move clothes from valet to closet
* Catch up on laundry
* Promote Story Hospital
* Clean out inbox
* Watch Baby Signing Time and practice signing on my own and with the family
rosefox: An old woman knitting. (knitting)
I have entirely fallen off of doing 30 in 30, which is a bummer, but "I can write a sentence a day" is not the same as "I can write a one-sentence story a day" and honestly I haven't been even wanting to write a sentence a day. I got new arm braces that let me knit without damaging my arms, and apparently knitting and writing take up the same space in my head, because since then I have had no interest in writing at all. The sweater's coming along great, though. I realized that I wasn't going to have enough yarn, and that entire brand has been discontinued, but some Ravelry stash-sleuthing turned up someone who had two skeins of it (after several responses of "Huh, I thought I had that but I can't find it now"), so I should be able to finish the sweater at least as a vest, and might even have enough for sleeves.

A friend came over for dinner tonight, so I tidied the living room and dining room before she got here, and did the dishes after. Now everyone's asleep and the house is tidy and the dryer is humming and it's so peaceful. We had really good conversation, full of belly laughs and deep feelings, and the late-night calm is the perfect counterpart to an exuberant evening.

Everyone's mostly asleep, anyway. Kit's working up to unassisted walking, and that tends to come with sleep disruption. They've been whimpering in their sleep a lot, and sometimes fully waking up. They don't generally need anyone to come in—they're a pro at self-soothing to sleep, and very good about doing it on their own if they can—but it's clearly not super restful sleep, and they've been pretty tired during the day.

All the adults in the house have also been sleeping badly. This morning I went to bed at 5, woke up at 8, and then went back to sleep and had a really horrifying nightmare about the end of the world. TW for solar apocalypse ) And then I woke up going ????????. Eventually I went back to sleep and had another dream about going around the city with some friends I hadn't seen in a while, and that dream also tried to turn into a nightmare (about it being our last hurrah before I died of heart disease that I'd allowed to go untreated) and I refused to let it. I don't often have conscious control of my dreams but for that one I explicitly would not let the scarybad storyline happen. So that wasn't terrible, at least, but it was not what one would call a restful night.

And J's had awful insomnia, and Kit's whimpering sets off the monitor and wakes X up. J and I have suggested giving up the monitor altogether, because if Kit actually yelled X would hear it through their bedrooms' shared wall, but X doesn't think it's time for that yet, so I think we're going back to me turning their monitor on when I go to bed, rather than them having it on all night. Anything that helps any of us sleep is a good thing.

I'm going to do the last of my chores and get to bed; I have Kit-time tomorrow afternoon while X and J have a date, and it'd be nice to get up early enough for some family time before that starts. Maybe if I go to bed a little earlier, I'll sleep better. Stranger things have happened.
rosefox: Origami boxes. (helpful)
[personal profile] solarbird has put together a mobile solution for Dreamwidth that's now in beta. Go try it out!
rosefox: A cartoon figure slipping toward a gaping hole in the paper. (slipping)
Long Hidden's last day in print is TODAY. *sob* If you want to make my final royalty check a nice big one and benefit We Need Diverse Books while you're at it, buy your copy now. (The bundle with Hidden Youth is an especially sweet deal!)

A couple of months ago, I joined the [community profile] space_swap fic exchange and wrote a 7500-word story about Steven Universe and the Gems going to the Empire City Polyamorous Families Conference, because once I got bitten by the idea it would not leave me alone. The story is about figuring out how to be happy even when you feel weird and different and alone. It's also a wry love letter to all the polyamorous folks and communities I've known, with their joys and flaws, and has a blink-and-you'll-miss-it alt.poly shout-out. The tags include "fusions use they/them pronouns" and "I didn't mean to write an entire episode". (In fact, I was actively trying not to write an entire episode. But I couldn't really do the idea justice in a shorter space.) It's the first work where I've ever gotten past writer's block by outlining and I am extremely proud of how well I outlined it and stuck to my outline and pulled it together.

The only snag is that my gift recipient, for whatever private reason, declined the gift. I've been really sad all week that no one was enjoying the story and I couldn't promote it because author names hadn't been revealed yet. My only goal with fanfic is to make people happy and it stung to have that rejected. So now that the anonymity period is over, I would really appreciate any of you Steven Universe fans taking a little time to read the story, leave kudos or a comment if you're moved to do so, and share the link with anyone who might like it.

I grew a plant from a seed. It is a tiny adorable little plantling, visibly larger every day. It will, in theory, grow up to be a great big nasturtium bush. I'm just astonished that a little dry seed can turn into a little plant that can turn into a big plant. It's the same astonishment I feel when I watch my child practice standing up and remember that they used to be a little white dot on an ultrasound. Like... how?! But that is how life works, somehow, some amazing way.

Our repotted basil is also growing so well that I may need to set up some sort of trellis for it. I used to feel too protective of it to actually eat any of it, and now I'm eagerly pulling off the big leaves so that the smaller ones have more room to grow.

It has been a rough few weeks of mostly bad sleep and occasional panic attacks and arm pain and not going outside enough—not just because of the unseasonably cold wet weather, though chilly rain does not encourage me to take walks—but there are many good things. I just want fewer unpleasant things, is all.

EDIT: Apparently my gift recipient has sent some people over here (or they came over just because they felt like it) to explain how and why my gift was not the correct gift, and some of them have left useful comments and some have not. I appreciate the useful ones and am now disabling comments on this entry.
8 May 2017 04:55 - "Hello, CD listeners"
rosefox: A mouse in a doorman's uniform holding a door open for another mouse. (welcome)
I'm cleaning out my email inbox and a bunch of it is subscription and access notifications from people I don't know. Hello, people I don't know! Please say hi and introduce yourselves.

Also, if you were able to see filtered posts on LJ and can't see them here, let me know.
6 May 2017 02:32 - "Those were the days"
rosefox: A woodblock print of a woman surrounded by roses. (nostalgia)
It's rainy and cold. Perfect fireplace weather.

I spent a lot of time in upstate New York when I was growing up, and our house had a fireplace. In the evenings I would sit in front of the fire and cross-stitch and drink hot chocolate and listen to my mother's records. And then I would go down to my room and dial in to AOL so I could telnet to my BBS and get on IRC. (Calling the BBS directly would have been an expensive long-distance call. Remember those days?)

Right now I have a fireplace video going, and I'm playing one of the albums my mother used to listen to a lot (Keith Jarrett's Köln concert), and I'm on IRC, and I'm drinking hot chocolate. And I'm knitting (or would be if I weren't typing), which is not cross-stitch but scratches the same itch. It is basically 1997 over here right now.

My brother's birthday dinner was tonight, just him and me and our mother and her gentleman. I misread the reservation email and got there half an hour early, so I found a quiet place to sit and knit. I'd had a really stressful day of feeling extremely anxious for no reason whatsoever, and that half hour of knitting was about the best thing I could have done for myself. Dinner was delicious, and we managed to have good conversation despite the noisy restaurant; we teased one another about old jokes and talked about politics that we could all agree on. When I pinged the household Slack to say I was on my way home, I found a message from X saying "we did all your chores, hope you had a good time". And it's Friday so I have no work deadlines. So I'm full of happy warm family feelings and relaxation, and have walloped myself with massive nostalgia on top of it. What a lovely way to end the day.
rosefox: In 1813, a lending library clerk discusses books with a customer. (valour advances)
overwhelmed anticipation exhaustion humiliation optimistic surprised
confused sympathy anger sad energetic hyper
pleased thankful mischievous bliss tired broken
calm lonely defeated cold love hope
shock relief tears laughter thrilled remorse


4: Anticipation.

Nathaniel's heart pounded as he found a place on the benches that passed for pews in the shabby room that passed for a church, and he scarcely heard a syllable of the homily, where ordinarily he would have been riveted; perhaps it was sinful to neglect the word of God and bend all his thoughts toward the moment an hour hence when he would dare to accompany Sir Henry upon his afternoon walk, but men were dead in sin by nature, and in this he was very much a man.

5: Calm.

Many young women of the noble classes began their days before a looking-glass, managing their posture and expressions as maids managed their hair and dress, but Sìnàkide was likely the only one who practiced an air of distant, untouchable serenity rather than a winsome smile; her ambition was not to win a man's heart or awaken a woman's jealousy but to escape their attentions altogether, as though she herself were the looking-glass from which all other gazes were reflected away.
4 May 2017 01:16 - 30 in 30, day 3: tired
rosefox: A zombie from a Nintendo game. (tired)
overwhelmed anticipation exhaustion humiliation optimistic surprised
confused sympathy anger sad energetic hyper
pleased thankful mischievous bliss tired broken
calm lonely defeated cold love hope
shock relief tears laughter thrilled remorse


3. Tired.

Henry's daily walks exhausted and pained him, but nothing could be more wearying than a rainy day spent immobile on the detestable lumpy sofa, his propped-up leg hidden beneath the card table as Miss Silverthorne bested him in yet another interminable game of draughts or chess; and no night was less restful than a night that followed such a day, as though his body were attempting to balance his inaction by contorting and shifting endlessly upon the mattress until the light of dawn brought him a few hours of incongruous slumber.
rosefox: Fiona from <I>Shrek" with mouth wide open, singing. (singing)
I think I forgot to mention that I recorded a story for Glittership! It's Rose Lemberg's "How to Remember to Forget to Remember the Old War" and it was super fun to read. I really appreciate that Glittership wanted a nonbinary reader for a story with a nonbinary protagonist. It's about 23 minutes long; take a listen when you have some time.
3 May 2017 00:41 - 30 in 30, day 2: shock
rosefox: In 1813, a lending library clerk discusses books with a customer. (valour advances)
These one-sentence stories are almost impossible to do with dialogue, which makes me realize how dialogue-focused my stories are! Fortunately the nature of Regency English allows me to abuse sentence-lengthening punctuation with impunity.

overwhelmed anticipation exhaustion humiliation optimistic surprised
confused sympathy anger sad energetic hyper
pleased thankful mischievous bliss tired broken
calm lonely defeated cold love hope
shock relief tears laughter thrilled remorse


2: Shock.

TW: minor injury and blood )
rosefox: An irritated Vulcan slaps a thick-headed D&D-style elf. (dopeslap)
Sunday: I SLEPT. It was glorious. I spent time with X and Kit while J was gaming, and Pablo came over and we all hung out for a while, and then J and I put Kit in the stroller and walked Pablo home (it's so cool that we can do that). We kind of wanted to cook, but the good market had closed by the time I got there—I wish they didn't close so early on Sundays—so we ended up ordering in Chinese food. Kit had a nightmare or something and woke up crying at 1 a.m. but X got them back to sleep quickly enough. I got totally caught up in researching interactions between Europeans and First Nations in early-19th-century Canada but eventually made myself buckle down and get work done. These 10 a.m. Monday deadlines that my new boss is so keen on are hard to get used to. But I got to bed before 6, so that's something.

Monday: I SLEPT AGAIN. Two days in a row of good sleep meant I woke up super perky. I was awake at 1:30, up by 2, and showered and dressed and fed by 2:45. I did some work and made some calls and was generally useful. Kit went right down for their post-daycare nap with minimal fuss, and I Skyped with Miriam for a bit, with the baby joining us after they woke up. They were teething hard, so I had to cut the call short and go ply them with books and Tylenol and milk and food and cuddles and crayons. Poor thing. We ordered in again because Mondays are no-cooking days. J took out the trash and recycling because my arms were pre-ouched and I didn't want to push them into being fully ouched, and then X and J went to bed and I found myself with no obligations other than needing to do some laundry, which mostly does itself. So I put my arm braces on and sat down with my protagonist journey outlines for Valour Advances and reconciled them and made a timeline... and realized I forgot to put the romance in my romance novel. *sob*

Writing blather )

And now the second load of laundry is done and I get to go to bed at only 3:30 a.m.! So early! Maybe I'll sleep well for the third night in a row! I sure hope so, because tomorrow's workload is looking pretty intense and it'd be nice to have both time and brains for it.
1 May 2017 23:39 - 30 in 30, day 1: hope
rosefox: In 1813, a lending library clerk discusses books with a customer. (valour advances)
I decided to do this May writing challenge from [community profile] fffc (found via [personal profile] miss_s_b) because surely I can manage a sentence a day. Of course, they're supposed to be "one-sentence stories", which is harder than just a sentence! And I'm doing it for Valour Advances the Man, so no one but me will have much context for it. But let's give it a go anyway, because I really have to get back to writing after bogging myself down in research (though the research is fascinating). I'll bold the prompts as I do them, to keep track.

overwhelmed anticipation exhaustion humiliation optimistic surprised
confused sympathy anger sad energetic hyper
pleased thankful mischievous bliss tired broken
calm lonely defeated cold love hope
shock relief tears laughter thrilled remorse


1: Hope.

In the quiet hours between when Miss Waters went to bed and Mrs. Waters returned from the tavern, when the only sound in the house was the occasional creak of old timbers settling, Nathaniel sat in his chilly little attic room, by his cloudy little window, staring out at London's fog-haloed street lamps; and he allowed himself to picture a much finer house in which, perhaps, another man sat by a much larger and clearer window, staring out over another London street and thinking of him.
rosefox: Lots of hearts with lines connecting them and the caption "Love begets love". (love (expanded))
[personal profile] jasra posted this copy-and-paste support meme:

My door is always open. The house is usually half clean. Coffee/Tea could be on in minutes, and the chairs are a comfy place of peace and non-judgment. Anyone who needs to chat is welcome anytime. It's no good suffering in silence. There is always food in the fridge, coffee/tea in the cupboard, and a listening ear or shoulder to cry on. I will always be here & you are always welcome!!

If you want to, could at least one friend please copy and re-post (not share)? I'm trying to demonstrate that someone is always listening! We need more love 💛


My version:

If we are friends, my home is always open to you for a hug, a chat, a cat to pet, a cuppa, a meal, or a couch to crash on for a night or two. Stairs and cats and baby mean my space won't be accessible to everyone, but we will all do our very best to be welcoming and supportive in every other way.

If you have been harmed or kicked out of your home and need a safe place to go, I will gladly provide that safe place or help you find another one.

I'm always up late. (Always.) If you need someone to talk to late at night, call or text or DM/PM me.

My spoons and time can be pretty limited. But I care a lot about helping other people, and will always do as much as I can. And you can count on me to be clear and compassionate when setting boundaries, so you never have to worry whether you're being a bother or intruding or taking resources I don't have to spare.

Feel free to post and share your own version if you're able to help others who are in need. 💚
rosefox: A mouse in a doorman's uniform holding a door open for another mouse. (welcome)
I have disabled crossposting to LiveJournal and am in the process of making all my posts there private. (That doesn't work on custom filters, but if you delete a filter, it effectively makes filtered posts private. If you do want to delete all your entries, here's a Selenium script that runs in Firefox, courtesy of [personal profile] xtina.) For the moment I'm not deleting my account, but I will no longer post or comment there. I agreed to the TOS only so that I could retrieve my content. I will not make more content for them to run ads against or judge by horrible anti-queer laws. If they delete it, then they delete it.

Welcome, new folks! If you're just moving here from LJ, some tips:

1) Claim your LJ handle so that comments that you made on LJ are attributed to your DW when they're imported. Your OpenID URL is the URL of your old journal, username.livejournal.com. I believe you'll need to be able to log into LJ to do this, so if you've deleted your account, you'll need to temporarily undelete it, and it might not work if you haven't agreed to the LJ TOS (*spit*).

2) Look for your old LJ friends in this post on [community profile] 2017revival and the comments. You can also post a personal ad to [community profile] 2017revival or read the ones posted there if you want to make new friends.

Also, if you were mad enough to delete or mothball your LJ account over anti-queer provisions, please take a moment to support Russian LGBT Network, which does very valuable work. Right now they're running an emergency hotline for people endangered by the anti-gay purges happening in Chechnya. If you can donate, please do (perhaps the amount you would have put toward your next LJ paid account renewal). If you can't, please signal-boost.
6 April 2017 02:58 - "It'll never be over, will it"
rosefox: A fox writing book reviews. (writing)
Arms: *hurt*

Two novels: *are barely started*

Brain: Hey, it would be cool to write a contemporary romance that inverts the childhood sweethearts trope by making them childhood buddies in an urban neighborhood, one of whom comes back to the 'hood after failing at farming.

Me: What. No. No no no. I am not starting a new project. No.

Brain: You know how there are a million books about men who return to small towns after failing to make it in the big city, and the women who've always loved them save them from their dangerous unmasculine ambitions—

Me: YES AND I HATE THEM

Brain: Okay, so, these two girls grow up next door to each other, one boy's Jamaican immigrant parents run a grocery store and the other boy's Chinese immigrant parents run a Chinese takeout place, and the Jamaican kid tries to become a farmer and totally fumbles it and comes back to the 'hood, which is gentrifying, and they both try to keep their family businesses afloat while falling in love.

Me: Another M/M romance, though? Why do I keep thinking those up?

Brain: Make one of them trans, problem solved. Or both, both would be fine.

Me: ...

Brain: I think the Chinese kid's "aunt" is actually her dad's girlfriend.

Three novels: *are barely started*
rosefox: A blue-eyed white toddler with slightly curly hair stares straight at the camera like "Yep, I'm awesome". (kit)
Kit is visibly taller today than they were yesterday. It's been a while since that happened. No wonder they've been so cranky and tired for the past week or so.

Baby anecdotes )
4 April 2017 17:01 - "No and also fuck you"
rosefox: A Victorian woman glares and says "Fuck's sake, what a cock"; someone out of the frame says "mm". (angry)
Hi there,

I have a permanent account, which I paid for. The new terms of service say "Paid Services are not subject of this Agreement." So why do I need to agree to the new TOS in order to access my account?

Please disable the requirement to agree to the new TOS for paid users of the service, including those of us with permanent accounts.

Thank you,
Rose Fox

_____


Thank you for inquiry.

According to User Agreement, user unconditionally accepts the Agreement in its entirety just by using LiveJournal, regardless of any packages bought for account. As using LiveJournal requires to accept the Agreement, it is not possible to disable it for any users. I apologize for the inconvenience this may cause.

Please let us know if we can help you with anything else.

Regards,
LiveJournal Community Care


So much for that.
rosefox: Me hugging a giant teddy bear, very sad. (sad)
Well, 16 years almost to the day since I started my LJ, I'm shuttering it. As a queer person who posts about being queer, I can't agree to the new LJ TOS.

We've had a good run.

EDIT: I have found a way to post comments without agreeing to the TOS—use uBlock Origin to block the element that makes the screen look grey—but it won't let me post or edit any of my entries. So I'm leaving comments for people who don't use DW, and presumably the rest of you will see this. Here's how to do that, once you've installed the uBlock Origin browser plug-in:

cut for images )

This also works for editing tags on a post, so I've screened all the comments on my top post, left a comment with my DW handle, and added tags that say "see comment for directions to dreamwidth, this livejournal is out of service". Best I can do for now.

I've also sent Support a message asking why people with paid and permanent accounts have to agree to the TOS if it doesn't apply to paid services. We'll see what happens with that. Either way I'll back up and delete everything other than a signpost, because the service is clearly dead, but I'd rather not have to click "agree" to do that.

Sixteen years is a long time.

:(
rosefox: Batman feeds a baby while saying "We'll both be just fine" (baby-yay)
A thing I just wrote elsenet in response to someone who's ambivalent about parenthood and wanted to know how other people went from "no kids" to "yes kids":

I have a kid and I still don't know whether I would have, abstractly, in the absence of all other input, wanted kids. But no one lives abstractly, in the absence of all other input.

In my case, my partner X (who didn't live with me and J at the time) was very firm about having a kid and the only question for me and J was how involved to get. I felt very awkward around babies and was uncomfortable around kids in the abstract, though, like you, I had started to realize how much I enjoyed the company of my friends' and relatives' individual kids and was sort of rethinking that whole "not fond of kids" idea. I had absolute body horror around the idea of being pregnant, so I was never going to produce a child of my own. J and I certainly liked being double-income-no-kids and traveling internationally and doing a lot of evening and weekend social events, and we could have decided we liked it so much that we wanted to keep doing it while X single-parented. But when X crashed on our couch for a couple of months, we all liked living together and being a family so much that we decided to keep doing it, baby and all.

And now the three of us are all parents to an amazing 15-month-old and just yesterday a friend said that in every photo of me cuddling the baby, I have a huge smile that says "I GET TO CUDDLE A BABY". I could not have predicted this in one million billion years. I thought I was going to be uncomfortable and distant around the baby until they were able to speak coherent English. But nope, turns out that I am totally besotted by this baby. When they're sad and they crawl into my lap and bury their face in my shoulder and cry and fall asleep, that communicates love in ways that don't need words, and I'm genuinely honored to be so trusted by someone so small and vulnerable. There's something absolutely pure about our relationship right now, because they're too young to have emotional baggage. They just drench us in love (and drool). And I really get babies now, in a way that I didn't at all before, and am much more comfortable around other people's kids, though I'm still not going to leap to volunteer to babysit a baby. (Teenagers are different. Teenagers are amazing. Send all your teenagers to meeeeee.)

So if you're concerned that being ambivalent about parenthood means you will be ambivalent about your particular kid if you choose to have one, I am living proof that you can be uncertain right up to the moment of birth and even after—I spent most of Kit's first two weeks frantic because I hadn't bonded with the baby yet—and then fall madly in love and be ready to fight anyone who tries to get between you and your child.

I'm eager to get back to international travel and am entirely capable of discussing things that aren't bottles and diapers. I remember very clearly what it's like to not be a kid person, and I never inflict baby photos or anecdotes on people who'd really rather talk about anything else. But I'm 110% a my kid person, in ways that absolutely astonish me.

Parenthood should, in an ideal world, be a deliberate decision, but it's okay if you make that decision without feeling super-eagerly committed to it. You can say "Okay, I think having kids will be better than not having kids, probably, so let's do it and hope for the best" and that's a deliberate decision. A lot of people make the decision that way. There's nothing wrong with you for feeling like that about it.

I do workshops for struggling writers, and at the last one, someone asked, "How do I know whether to commit to being a writer?" I said that the question is not "Do I become a writer?" but "How am I a writer?". So perhaps a good question for you is, how would you be a parent? How would parenthood fit into your life, what would it mean to you, what would it give you and demand from you? What you imagine as you try to envision your possible parenthood life will help you see how it might work out for you, or not. When we were talking about having a child, I kept thinking of one-on-one bonding time with a small kid—making cookies, walking in the park and pointing out cool leaves and birds, explaining how plumbing works—and those visions filled me with joy. That hoped-for connection was my compass and was at the heart of why I said yes to being a parent. And I was right; bonding with my child, one on one, is the best part of parenthood for me. You know yourself and what you want from relationships—and parenthood is absolutely a relationship, first and foremost—so harness that knowledge to your imagination and see where it goes.
rosefox: A person in a gas mask. (illness)
That cold virus has gone through our house like wildfire. Kit was slightly warm for a day and then fine, but it knocked the rest of us out for a week or two each. Apparently this is just going to be our new normal, according to other parents of daycare-age kids. It hit me first and hardest; I managed to keep my bout of it from turning into a sinus infection, but only barely, and my voice was impressively low for a while. J got over it fairly quickly, and X is mostly past the worst but still pretty soggy.

The February-like weather has helped nothing. We've had to keep the heat on pretty high, and that dries the air out, and that plus mouth-breathing because of stuffy noses has been just dreadful. We're cranking all our humidifiers and drinking gallons of water. I even got a bout of February-like depression, which totally missed me (and I did not miss) in actual February. But this weekend looks to be the start of a warmer, wetter stretch, so hopefully that will make everything better. I am putting considerable effort into planning a Brooklyn Botanic Gardens trip in mid-April with [twitter.com profile] saraeileen and maybe [livejournal.com profile] vschanoes and their babies, because all I want right now is to be sprawled on the grass under the cherry trees and if I can't have it right at this moment then I will make very sure I get it as soon as possible. Spriiiiiiing, I neeeeeeed it.

I went up to Hunter today to do live-action Story Hospital with a group of teens I hadn't met before. It was amazing and great and emotionally exhausting. I came home so wiped out that after dinner I took a 90-minute nap on the couch—from 10:30 to midnight, not exactly prime napping time—because I was genuinely too tired to get up and go to bed. That is absurd. Of course then the nap wired me up, so I took the trash out and started laundry and did the dishes and took a shower and now it's 4 a.m. and I ought to go to bed for real. I hope writing this entry will help wind me down.

My day job workload is going to be decreasing after next week (YAY), and I plan to put all those hours toward sleep. That will help.

Kit's body continues to think it's older than it is. In addition to being the height and weight of a two-year-old, they've got the teeth of a two-year-old. All eight incisors and three of the four first molars are in, and their lower canines just cut through, which apparently hurts a whole lot. Poor sad bean. :( But ideally this accelerated teething schedule will mean they get all their teeth in quickly and then they can just enjoy having them.

I got new glasses and they keep feeling like they don't sit on my face quite right, even though I've had them adjusted several times at different shops. Maybe I just need to get used to them. They've got plastic frames and I think the last time I wore glasses with plastic frames was close to 20 years ago. I do really like the way they look. The neighborhood eyeglass shop where I got them completely messed up my beloved prescription sunglasses, so sometime this weekend or next week I need to go shake them down for not only a refund of the lenses (which make my eyes physically hurt, and made me dizzy when I switched back to my regular glasses) but the cost of replacing the frames, which they managed to warp while trying to fit the lenses in. So much for patronizing my little local business.

When I was sick I missed my regular manicure appointment and went a full 2.5 weeks without a manicure, but I didn't bite or break my nails; I was very proud. This week I had them done up in H&M's Wildwood polish, which is my perfect green, and have been wearing green clothes that match them exactly and feeling excessively stylish. Alas, the polish has already been discontinued, so I will cherish this bottle of it and try to find the right balance between not using it all up right away and not letting it sit so long that it becomes unusable.

I think I have wound down, finally. Time to refill the humidifier and get a great deal of sleep.
rosefox: Me laughing joyfully. (joyous)
Five things make a post.

1) First, the ending. Long Hidden goes out of print on May 9th. *sob* The last copies are being sold at a steep discount, with proceeds partially benefiting We Need Diverse Books. You can get discounted copies of Hidden Youth while you're there. Go help Bart and Kay clean out their warehouse while they're still allowed to sell the books! All details at that link.

2) Now, the beginnings. J has a new job! He got laid off at the end of last year and the last few months have been challenging. We are all very super excited that his nonstop hustle has landed him an excellent gig doing work he enjoys at a company he likes for good money.

3) X got a bonus and a raise! They inch ever closer to being paid what they deserve.

4) I joined a Slack for queer writers (if you want to join, let me know! All I need is your email address and i can add you) and it's been amaaaaazing for my productivity. People do 20-minute productivity sprints and then share snippets of their work and praise/critique one another in very supportive ways. Sometimes I use the sprints for day job work and sometimes for writing. I've outlined both my novels and passed the 10k mark on Valour Advances the Man (though a good chunk of that is in scenes that probably won't make it into the book but shhhhh), which is my current focus project. I haven't forgotten the Persuasion retelling but it's on the back burner right now. They'll inevitably swap at some point. I'm just so pleased to be writing! And it feels so good!

5) I reworked my Story Hospital Patreon tiers and got more people into Story Hospital Slack, hooray! Now to figure out how to keep conversations going in there. For some reason they just don't catch fire. I will probably be better at that once I'm over this rotten stinking head cold.

6) Bonus sixth thing: the DST changeover happened and I didn't hate it nearly as much as I usually do, probably because I slept 11 hours that night to try to shake the cold. (Didn't work, alas.) Kit's body clock is on the same schedule, of course, so now they're going to sleep at 9 and waking up at 7 and it's WONDERFUL. They have dinner with us! J gets to sleep in instead of waking up at 5! Not sure what we'll do in the fall when the clocks go back but for now we're just enjoying this.
rosefox: A Victorian woman glares and says "Fuck's sake, what a cock"; someone out of the frame says "mm". (angry)
Disney is making a live-action version of Beauty and the Beast. The director, Bill Condon, did interviews with Attitude where he said two things that have been making waves:

1) LeFou, a comic relief character whose name means "the fool" or "crazy", will be openly gay... more or less. He's described as "confused" and someone "who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston". Of course you will recall that Gaston is a) the villain and b) obsessed with expressing his own heteronormative cisnormative masculinity by hunting animals, beating men up, aggressively pursuing a woman who doesn't want him, and flaunting his body hair.

2) The depiction of the Beast's curse is a metaphor for AIDS, thanks mainly to the work of lyricist and executive producer Howard Ashman, who died of AIDS a few days after the film's first screening.

Item one is appalling on its face. This is not anything resembling useful or appropriate gay representation. The "wants to be/wants to kiss" thing is pure pseudo-Freudian anti-gay bullshit; the gay narcissist is one of the most pernicious and persistent gay stereotypes. With one voice fandom cried "WHAT ABOUT COGSWORTH AND LUMIÈRE" but no, instead of a happy gay couple we get a bumbling buffoon whose lust object despises him (and, if the live-action film is true to the animated one, repeatedly assaults him in public for the amusement of others or just for fun). In addition, the live-action portrayal is downright swishy. Blech. If it turns out that Gaston is closeted and just stalking Belle as a cover, I may punch a wall.

Item two looks more sweet and heartwarming, a tribute to a gay man's last great work. But while I was searching for the original Attitude interview (because a screencap of the headline was going around with no additional link attached), I found Dan Rather's 1992 review of the animated film, in which he observed what appeared to be a metaphor for AIDS and asked Disney about it.
The folks at Disney tell me that Beauty and the Beast was well under way before lyricist and executive producer Howard Ashman tested HIV positive, and long before Ashman died of AIDS. They say this isn't autobiographical.
In other words, Disney was scared of getting gay cooties all over a children's film, so they erased Ashman's efforts to tell his story, all while his body was still warm.

If you have a box of tissues handy, watch Ashman's partner, Bill Lauch, accept Ashman's posthumous Oscar for "Beauty and the Beast". (h/t to [twitter.com profile] suzisteffen for mentioning it.) Lauch humbly thanks the people at Disney for the support they gave Ashman behind the scenes. But Disney still wouldn't admit in public that the story of the Beast was Ashman's own story of being cursed and running out of time to love and be loved.

Now it's 25 years later and societal attitudes have changed. Here's how Condon describes it in the Attitude interview:
"Disney had been developing Beauty and the Beast for decades," Condon explains. "But there was a specific version they were working on developing in the Eighties."

"On the heels of The Little Mermaid they showed it to [composer] Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. Ashman had just found out he had AIDS, and it was his idea, not only to make it into a musical but also to make Beast one of the two central characters; until then it had mostly been Belle's story that they had been telling."
To be absolutely clear, Ashman's contributions and motivations are only being discussed by Disney reps because it won't harm the new film's chances of success. This is pure cynicism on Disney's part. Rather's review, which is quite wonderful, notes that the sympathetic portrayal of the Beast could really help to change the way people with HIV and AIDS were seen and treated by the rest of society. And those changes did come, arguably encouraged by Ashman's work on the film. But instead of sincerely honoring Ashman, Disney is coolly taking advantage of his legacy—and his death—after a quarter-century of just as coolly obscuring it, all for their own profit.

Unless they release a statement apologizing for their earlier denials, I see no reason to believe that this is anything other than a marketing ploy. And until they announce that a percentage of the new film's proceeds are going to an HIV/AIDS charity, they're not getting another dime from me.

If you were thinking of seeing Beauty and the Beast in the theater, please consider donating the ticket cost to God's Love We Deliver, the Names Project, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, or another HIV/AIDS-related charity, in memory of Howard Ashman.
1 March 2017 01:41 - "Obvious in retrospect"
rosefox: A blue-eyed white toddler with slightly curly hair stares straight at the camera like "Yep, I'm awesome". (kit)
Porting two baby-related threads over from Twitter.

Kid things I had no idea about, but that totally make sense now: a short list.

1) When you teach a toddler some sign language, they will babble with their hands. Eye contact, big hopeful smile, incomprehensible hand motion. "Does this gesture mean anything? What about this?"

2) They will also come up with their own meanings for signs. We're pretty sure Kit signs "milk" to mean "I want".

3) Kids wrestling with object permanence and separation anxiety will apply it to EVERYTHING, like the end of a story. When we close a book, Kit looks worried until we show them that the story is still there when we open it up again.

4) The eye-contact look that will soon be "I'm doing a naughty thing" starts out as "I'm doing a thing that makes me happy"—maybe more specifically as "Will you come be happy with me as I do this thing that makes me happy?". It's so hopeful. And I can clearly see the seeds of "You AREN'T going to be happy that I'm doing this thing that makes me happy" in it.

5) So many things we think of as obvious delimiters are invisible to children. Social, not physical. Like "draw on paper, not table". To a kid with a marker, every surface is a surface that can have marker on it. I was in awe the other day watching Kit very carefully draw a line across the paper, over the clipboard, and onto the table. One line, no hesitation. It wasn't a transgressive thing. It was just where they were making their art. No differentiation between media whatsoever.

They also don't readily perceive verbal delimiters. Sound, word, and phrase are all one concept to them. When J says "turn the page" or I say "clap your hands" Kit understands those as whole concepts, like spoken pictograms. If I said "clap your feet" they'd be puzzled because "clap" as a verb doesn't exist for them yet.

I remember [twitter.com profile] oaknfell saying that teaching a kid to read is one long process of apologizing for the English language. Pretty sure teaching Kit to talk is going to involve a round of that too.

I get the phonics thing now—the struggle to explain to children that "clap your hands" has spaces in it, that "clap" itself is "c l a p". If you only hear language, those divisions are in no way intuitive.

An appallingly adorable baby anecdote

We have a blanket that has a hood. The hood has ears and a little bear face. It is very cute. Today X and I were curious about Kit's object permanence and had that blanket over them in the stroller, so we hid one of their hands in the hood.

"Kit, where's your hand? Where's your hand?" They didn't care. Too many other things to look at out in the world. So I tapped their right hand, which was on top of the blanket. "There's your right hand. Where's your other hand?"

They looked at the hood over their hand and immediately decided it was a NEW BEAR FRIEND.

They reached out with their right forefinger and booped its nose—I am not making this up, this really happened—and then they brought it to their face and face-hugged it. They were so happy. "The bear ate my hand and now I have a BEAR FRIEND HAND and everything is GREAT."

They did not appear concerned about their missing hand at all. Who cares when there is a fuzzy bear face to press your face against?

X and I could hardly walk for laughing. Kit happily hugged the bear friend all the way home.

I must get this child some hand puppets. It will be epic.
23 February 2017 01:17 - "It's so hard to say goodbye"
rosefox: A blue-eyed white toddler with slightly curly hair stares straight at the camera like "Yep, I'm awesome". (kit)
Kit's developing some separation anxiety (yes, only now, at nearly 14 months!) and started crying tonight when we began the bedtime routine because bedtime means saying goodnight and everyone going away. We still did what we always do: big family hug, two parents say night-night and leave, and the third reads stories and provides cuddles and puts the baby in the crib. They clung to all of us during goodnight hugs, glumly (and sleepily) submitted to storytime, and finally fell asleep after only a little more fussing. Then we all sat around feeling heartbroken because it is so hard to see the baby so sad.

Tonight's bedtime story was No Matter What, by sheer coincidence; I spotted it while Kit was demolishing their bookshelf (a favorite activity) and realized we hadn't read it in ages. I'm never sure how much Kit understands of the actual words we say, but I think the meaning was clear, especially with the way I kept kissing and hugging them as I read. And I think it helped.

They've started getting upset when books end, too. We always have to open the book again to reassure them that the story is still there and they can reread it whenever they want. Sometimes they flip through it to find a favorite page before reluctantly accepting that the book is done. When we let them turn pages, they turn them really fast, without waiting for us to finish reading any text; one long look at the images on the page and then it's on to the next. It's so very like the way I blaze through books and then feel disappointed when they're done that it makes me laugh every time.

Kit endured their first ear infection this week, poor thing, and has been taking amoxicillin for it. As soon as they started on the antibiotics, their fever went away entirely and their vigor and appetite returned. (Their first full day of betterness ended with them not being able to fall asleep until 11 p.m. because all the energy they'd lacked while ill came roaring back with a vengeance. Fortunately that was a one-time thing and they're back on their usual sleep schedule.) I'm so glad for our access to good medical care, and also extremely glad to have a baby who sucks obediently on medication syringes, even when they hate the taste of the medicine, and doesn't appear to have allergies to anything. We were all very relieved that they went back to daycare today, because five days in a row of sick (and then recovering) baby at home was very challenging for all of us, especially as we were dealing with another family crisis at the same time. As always, I have no idea how single and stay-at-home parents do it. No idea whatsoever.

We're all quite convinced that Kit has psychic powers that only activate when they're asleep. Whenever X goes to bed—which doesn't happen at the same time every night—Kit sleep-fusses just enough to set off the monitor. Just now I returned to writing this entry after a while of doing other things, and Kit promptly made a few tiny noises. So I'm thinking at them as hard as I can: See, silly baby, I told you that we think of you even when you're not right in front of us. Rest now. No one is too far away, and we'll always be there when you need us.
20 February 2017 00:47 - "IT ME"
rosefox: "You mean the girls were topless the whole time and I never noticed?" (oblivious)
Thanks to a link from [twitter.com profile] tgstonebutch, today I learned about queerplatonic relationships (a term coined in 2010 by [personal profile] kaz and [personal profile] meloukhia) and spent several hours going "WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME THERE'S A NAME FOR WHAT I DO". A good primer is here and a post on QP not being "romance-lite" is here. I want to quote both of them at length. I want to hug them. This is amazing.

I'm not aro or ace. But there is absolutely a third category of relationship in my life, in addition to partnership and friendship. I've been calling it "partner-level friends" or "my [name]" because I didn't have a word for it. And now I do. Wow. I haven't felt this seen since I read the relationship anarchy manifesto. (Which is very relevant.)

While discussing this with a friend, he asked how "romantic" was being defined, since both "aromantic" and "platonic" were being defined in opposition to it, and I realized I didn't have a good answer. (Merriam-Webster doesn't either. Their definition of "romantic" points to "romance", which points to "love affair", which points back to "romantic".) After some discussion on Twitter, [twitter.com profile] numbathyal pointed me to this piece by a possible aromantic who asked a romantic to define romance. The definition that came out of their conversation was: "Romance is a natural high that occurs in the presence of certain people, without obvious connection to sexuality, 'good company', or emotional intimacy." That jibes pretty well with my experience, which I described as follows:
When I look at people I'm in love with, my body responds. My heart swells—that's literally a feeling I get in my chest, not a metaphor. My heart rate goes up and I feel a little breathless. My pupils probably dilate. I want to be physically touching the person in some way. I'm SUPER touchy-feely with X and J. Constant small touches as I walk past them. Always sitting as near as I can get.

When I look at people I'm in QP relationships with, I have a different set of reactions. Hardly any physical reaction at all. I do like hugging them, but I don't feel the same urge to be in contact. I get much more of a squee reaction. My brain lights up. It's still something I would call chemistry, but a different kind of chemical reaction.

Things romantic and QP relationships have in common for me: I feel a profound sense of safety. I can relax around the person. I say "I love you" and it's never by rote. I want regular communication of some sort. I feel more myself in the person's company.

All of this is shaped by my tendency toward feeling very definitely like I "click" with certain people. Often upon meeting them. A little alert box pops up that says "You and this person could have something amazing together! Pursue it!". I can tell you the exact moment that happened with both X and J, and with all four of my QP people. So I don't know what "romantic" looks like for people who don't have that zing or sniff test or instalove or whatever you want to call it. I spent literal months knowing I was going to fall in love with J and waiting for it to happen. Had to WD40 the "in love" switch. But it finally flipped hard and has never flipped back. <3

This is also not what my romantic relationships looked like when I was in my teens or 20s. Much healthier now. :) Twenty years ago, desperate longing to be loved and valued was part and parcel of romance for me. Now I love myself.
Some of the useful links that came up in conversation (h/t [twitter.com profile] tgstonebutch and [twitter.com profile] numbathyal):

Sexuality and romance as pet elephants that are invisible to ace and aro people
Limerence and "platonic attraction"
How to write about queerplatonic relationships in fiction (lots and lots of useful links there)
Various concepts of greyromanticism

I was amused to choose "oblivious" as the userpic keyword and have this userpic come up, because at first it seemed totally inappropriate for a post discussing nonsexual relationships. In its original context (Sluggy Freelance, if anyone remembers it), it's being said by a guy who is very into topless women and sad that he missed a chance to ogle some. But I've always used it because I am genuinely the sort of person to not really notice that an attractive woman is topless, because we're too busy talking about other things and connecting on other levels. So maybe it's appropriate after all.
13 February 2017 01:46 - "A toast!"
rosefox: A bearded man in a yarmulke shouting L'CHAIM! (Judaism)
Today was my mother's 75th birthday party. Instead of making a traditional toast, I wrote her a poem.

~~~~~

A warm baguette with fresh unsalted butter
Good whiskey served in glasses meant for wine
Fine art and jazz and clothes with flowing lines
I learned appreciation from my mother

Speak from the heart; don't ever silence others
Defend our rights and fight to right what's wrong
Wave signs, wear buttons, sing those protest songs
I learned my activism from my mother

Write eagerly, then edit out the clutter
Read lit and genre, dictionaries, poems
A wall of books will make a house a home
I learned the joys of language from my mother

Immense affection for my younger brother
No matter how we'd argue, snark, and fight
"You'll sort it out," Mom said, and she was right
I learned both love and patience from my mother

Abundant hugs and kisses, but don't smother
Praise every scribble as a work of art
Be honest and respectful from the start
I learned to be a parent from my mother

Find endless ways to cherish one another
Build families from friends through joy and trust
Each day, she teaches that to all of us
Please join me now to toast my splendid mother

~~~~~~

Happy birthday, Mom. :)
31 January 2017 04:02 - "Every little bit helps"
rosefox: This has been a consciousness-raising message from THE SISTERHOOD. Power to the oppressed. Stay strong, sister. (activism)
I made supportive postcards to mail to my local mosques today. And then I made more to send to mosques that have been attacked. And I designed more postcard fronts with awesome public-domain clip-art images. And I bought a roll of 100 postcard stamps because it turns out this is a thing I can do easily that is at least a little bit effective and feels really good.

If you know people looking for ways to speak up that don't involve phone calls or marches, and if those people have printers and funds for printable postcards and stamps, point them to http://tinyurl.com/angrypostcards for customizable templates with useful addresses already filled in.

I also finally got a PO box, so when we apply for/renew our passports tomorrow, we'll have somewhere safe to send them. Packages get stolen from our front steps a lot, and having Kickstarter rewards and online purchases sent to the office is always a bit awkward, so it'll be good for that too. But mostly I care about the passports. Just in case.

And I supported this fundraiser for a Bed-Stuy knitting shop that's in danger of closing, because direct giving matters as much as giving to organizations and sometimes goes even further. That store has been a haven for black women who need a place dedicated to peace, creation, and community. I want to help it stay alive. Please help if you can.
rosefox: A sci-fi landscape and the words "DISSENT IS PATRIOTIC". (patriotism-dissent)
I did not go to JFK tonight, because that seemed like a recipe for being arrested, and I don't participate in actions where arrests are likely due to that whole parent of a baby thing. But I really really wished I could.

Instead, I shared a bunch of action ideas on Twitter, and now I share them here.

Here's a list of basic action steps from [twitter.com profile] HIASrefugees, a Jewish pro-refugee organization.

Some things you can do if you have a printer, or have access to one:

Download this "Everyone Is Welcome Here" poster from Dropbox, print it up, and post it in your school, library, store window, etc. Print up extra copies and hand them out to your neighborhood shop owners to post in their stores. (The original poster is from here, via [twitter.com profile] FwdTogether, but that site requires you to put in a credit card even if you're just getting the free download, so I recommend using the Dropbox link instead.)

Invest in a pack of printable postcards and use them to write to your reps, mayor, governor, etc. This Word doc has the "Everyone Is Welcome Here" image formatted to be the postcard front. This doc has addresses filled in for Trump, Ryan, and the State Department; change the addresses depending on who you you feel like writing to. Write your message, print, sign, stamp, mail.

The Women's March folks also created these all-purpose cards for expressing your political views. Print on one side of the postcard sheet, flip/rotate it appropriately, print on the other side.

Feel free to share those links around.

UPDATE: All the postcard files are collected in this Dropbox folder. Bookmark and visit often, because I'll keep adding more. The latest: supportive notes to mosques.
24 January 2017 20:28 - "Don't panic"
rosefox: A woman with words running through her head nonstop. (noisy brain)
This is a compilation of things I tweeted today about not poisoning the social media well with anxiety and panic. It's primarily aimed at Twitter users, but I expect it's probably useful for Facebook too.

As a person with an anxiety disorder, I really understand the urge to conflate being ANXIOUS with being MOTIVATED. The reason I understand that so much is that it is a lie anxiety whispers—or sometimes yells—in my ear every day. "You need me!" anxiety says. "Without me you wouldn't notice or accomplish the important things! Without me you'd be a useless lump!"

This is a LIE. L I E pants-on-fire lie.

For one thing, anxiety often paralyzes. For another, it occludes judgment. "Fight, fly, or freeze" is the choice anxiety presents to you. These are immediate, adrenaline-powered responses to immediate threats. They are USELESS in the long term. Their only purpose is to keep you alive long enough to HAVE a long term. Panic consumes all your energy in a single explosive burst and leaves you exhausted. It is very bad for your brain and your body.

Right now, what we are facing is a very large, multifaceted set of threats, short-term and long-term but not immediate. Panic will actively impede our ability to respond to those threats. It will not motivate us. It will only harm us.

If you have been feeling anxious or panicky about the news, please take a moment to make a PLAN for how to prevent and treat your anxiety. "I will go on social media and say I'm scared and everyone will reassure me/be scared with me!" is not a plan.

Read [twitter.com profile] TGStoneButch's #DailyCoping threads (that's a roundup link on a blog for those who don't read Twitter) for some really good specific pointers on dealing with different kinds of stress responses.

Right now, my primary anxiety prevention strategy is CLOSE THE TAB. Anything that makes me panic is harmful and I will move away from it. This doesn't mean cutting myself off from all sources of information—only panic-inducing ones. I get a lot of political emails. If they fearmonger, I unsub. I keep the ones that are about concrete action, like http://tinyletter.com/resist and http://tinyletter.com/re-act.

I unfollow even dear friends who only post about being angry and frightened. I love them, but I need to protect myself. And I reach out to them by email and IM instead so that we can connect in other ways.

If I am feeling anxious, I take anxiolytics. I make myself do this even when the anxiety is screaming that I need it to survive. It is very hard to treat anxiety. Sometimes I envision it as a living entity that wants to survive at any cost. I even feel bad for it. But I need my brain more than my brain parasite does. So I take my anxiolytics, and breathe and meditate, and do other #DailyCoping things.

For longer-term treatment of anxiety, I work with my therapist and my family on various strategies. In the past I've taken SSRIs.

So that's my plan. I really strongly encourage all of you to make one too. Especially if you haven't been anxiety-prone before now.

I spent yesterday in crisis mode. I spent today having the belated panic reaction that would have kept me from functioning yesterday. So I am SUPER AWARE right now of the difference between panic and responding appropriately to a crisis. We are in a crisis. We can't let our totally understandable anxiety about that prevent us from taking appropriate action.

And please, if you feel anxious or panicky, DO reach out for help. But DON'T just broadcast your panic; it's infectious. Call a friend or a hotline or your therapist. Email or IM or DM someone. Enact your plan.

Twitter has been our collective id for nearly a decade. It's very vulnerable right now. Please take care of it.

BTW, I'm really pleased to see a lot of people returning to LiveJournal/Dreamwidth. That's a great place to write about big feelings! You can filter them, and cut-tag them, and let people opt in to them, all while expressing yourself at length. Dreamwidth accounts are free and it's a wholly user-supported company with great community aspects. I recommend it highly.

Comments are off to discourage trolls. Please feel free to share this link around.
20 January 2017 21:27 - "We'll try to stay serene and calm"
rosefox: Me pulling hair away from my face, trying to see. (confused)
Today I joined the general strike. Instead of working, I wrote a post on how to make art in scary and difficult times, and then I met with the teens I mentor and talked about writing and reading and why we read SF/F and how to overcome writer's block and stop procrastinating. It was exactly the way I wanted to spend the day. I boycotted the inauguration so hard that I mostly managed not to even think about it.

When I was getting dressed I wore all black, which I basically never do. I hadn't planned to, but I opened my dresser drawer and went "Oh, yes, I think the black turtleneck is what I want to wear today, and the black trousers too". I dithered over jewelry and ended up with my origami peace dove necklace. I came out of my room to greet [twitter.com profile] peripateticmeg, who was here to babysit Kit (they've had a nasty head cold since Tuesday, poor thing), and she was also wearing all black. X said several people at their office were too.

It's been a really spectacularly terrible week in a lot of ways. The baby being sick means all of us have had our sleep and work schedules disrupted, the power to our house went out for five hours on Tuesday (some sort of wiring issue, apparently), I had some shitty family stuff to deal with, a company made J a job offer but is now delaying on finalizing it, our bank messed up our rent payment (no doom, fortunately, as we have a great landlord and a spotless payment history), Alex-the-cat has been an aggressive asshat to the other cats, Sam and Sophie have been hairballing everywhere, friends are also dealing with unhappy and stressful things, and of course the inauguration. But we are holding on and even finding ways to feel good:

* We've had lots of good family dinners, even when we were all almost too tired to talk.
* J and I shared some good hugs today and went for a nice walk in the drizzle. We've both been so busy and tired that we barely see each other. It was wonderful to get a companionable hour together.
* X and I have been having lovely nightly half-hour hangouts on the couch before they go to bed. We talk about the day and make plans and send each other into bouts of exhausted hysterical laughter. I just remembered that we used to do this when they first moved to NYC; I guess we naturally gravitate toward that time of night as together-time.
* Kit is coughing less, and when their fever spikes occasionally it never gets higher than 102 (which is also much less worrying now that they're over a year old) and responds very well to Tylenol.
* [twitter.com profile] grammar_girl livetweeted an episode of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and it genuinely made me cry.
* I had a quick but delightful dinner with [livejournal.com profile] teaberryblue on Thursday.
* Long Hidden contributor [twitter.com profile] nbarischoff and her husband came to visit me at work and we had a good conversation about crowdfunding for anthologies. (Support her fundraiser for Problem Daughters, a marginalized feminist SF/F anthology!)
* I made plans to see my mother and brother on Sunday to celebrate my mother's birthday.
* Just now Kit woke up and seamlessly transitioned from lying down to sitting up while I was watching on the monitor. It's been clear for a while that they can do that, but I hadn't seen it. They're super perky right now because their fever is down. They're lying in the crib squeaking contentedly and playing with the teddy bear, who was recently named Face Hugs. (Kit believes teddy bears are for faceplanting onto.)
* I've been catching up on laundry. I always feel better when the hampers are empty.
* I've been really on top of my work schedule since coming back from vacation, even with everything else going on. Hanging out on #yuletide has been wonderful for my productivity because people do "word wars" or "productivity wars" that are basically Pomodoro timer installments except in 20 on/10 off instead of 25 on/5 off. I also reworked my Persuaded outline from scratch and even wrote a little bit of the opening. The character voices are much clearer this time around, though the story hasn't quite found its own voice yet. It'll get there.

And now the baby is finally asleep, so I'm going to do some knitting for the first time in ages. I still hold out hope for finishing this sweater before Kit outgrows it, though I think I'd better hurry. They keep getting taller!
17 January 2017 22:36 - "Never pay full price"
rosefox: A heart-shaped Roomba. (housework)
X and Kit are planning to swap rooms, which means X needs to downsize to a smaller bed. Their bed is only two years old and really nice. If you're in the NYC area and interested in buying a full/double pine captain's bed with an extremely plush mattress, here's the full listing.
4 January 2017 01:44 - "And wash your hands afterwards"
rosefox: A zombie from a Nintendo game. (zombie)
I've been hanging out in the #yuletide IRC channel even though Yuletide is over, because it's a nice community of writers and that encourages me to keep thinking about writing.

Tonight it encouraged me well enough that I signed up for the Chocolate Box fanfic exchange (I'm on the hook to write 300 entire words over the course of a month, which is something like 20 minutes of writing for me on a slow day, so I didn't feel I was overcommitting myself) and then did a few rounds of "word wars", 20 minutes of writing as many words as you can. So I have 1100 words of Persuaded that I didn't have before, and 350 of them are pretty good.

The others, though... talk about your shitty first drafts. Maybe 400 words are okay and then the last 350 are awful. I could hear the dialogue going clunk clunk clunk as I typed it, and dialogue is where I'm usually strongest. The characters have no characterization. It's very sad. I said on Twitter that I was going to try to consider the shitty first draft a canon that I then get to write much better fanfic of, but characters are what make a canon worth ficcing, and Austen's characters are why I want to write this book, and if I don't have the characters at least somewhat clear in my head then I need to fix that before I tackle this.

I think I need to go give Persuasion a good close reread (thanks to Project Gutenberg, I just downloaded it to my phone) and maybe rewatch the 1995 film for good measure, and then replace the clunky bit with something worth reading.

In my defense, I'm fighting off the sort of head cold that has few physical symptoms (I had a sore throat for less than 12 hours) but leaves one utterly exhausted and oatmeal-brained. So it's pretty impressive that I wrote 350 words I'm happy with, and that I wrote 1100 words at all.

I need a better writing userpic. (This is not my writing userpic. I'm just aware that I need a better one.)

Now I'm going to go sleep a whole lot. A whooooooole lot.
3 January 2017 03:22 - "You are your own muse"
rosefox: a stethoscope on a manuscript (story hospital)
I finally made a [twitter.com profile] StoryHospital Twitter account! It'll tweet links to posts that can actually be retweeted. I'm going to change my post publication time to 10 a.m. so tweets go out when people are reading. Feel free to follow, RT, ask quick writing questions, etc.

Some great questions have come in but I can always use more! Ask me your writing questions!
1 January 2017 23:40 - "Ask me anything"
rosefox: a stethoscope on a manuscript (story hospital)
The 24th Story Hospital post is going up on Tuesday. That's pretty amazing. Almost half a year!

I haven't been able to boost the site very much this month, and it shows: no new Patreon patrons joined in December, and the question queues are running dry. I have one question left and then I have to start making them up or pulling them off of Yahoo! Answers. I'd really rather not do that. I want to help real people with their real writing problems.

I know a lot of you have written things: stories, novels, plays, articles, poems, fanfic, essays, PhD theses, instruction manuals, TPS cover sheets. If you've run into any kind of writing problem lately—or ever—and you have a few minutes to spare, would you please write to the Story Nurse about it?

https://storyhospital.com/ask_the_story_nurse/

The Patreon patrons are nice and all, but the questions are even more essential to the site than the money. Without people asking for advice, I can't really be an advice columnist. So I would really, really appreciate you taking a moment to send me a question.

Thank you v. v. much.
rosefox: A fox writing book reviews. (writing)
Yuletide reveals are revealed! My stories this year were "Two for Tea", a Questionable Content fluff-fic about Faye and Bubbles opening a tea shop with Hannelore as their tea sommelier, and "The Odds", a mashup of both* Ghostbusters films and Daniel José Older's Bone Street Rumba books, in which Holtzmann and Reza make out on the firehouse roof and Patty and Winston join the battle against the corrupt Council of the Dead.

* 1984 and 2016. There are no others.

Both stories were pinch hits. I've been on the list for ten years but this is the first year I've actually done anything with it, which is ridiculous! "Two for Tea" was done within seven hours of picking up the pinch hit; I got the central idea right away, and the only question I had was whether to do it as a story or as a series of scripts for comics. Then I started writing it as scripts and it worked and I went with it. When it was done it was done, minimal tweaking, totally painless. I am desperate for some Questionable Content fan artist to illustrate it.

While I was in fanfic mode, I started thinking that it would be fun to do a Holtzmann/Reza crossover sometime. Then a Holtzmann prompt came across the pinch hit list and I leaped on it.

"The Odds" took me a week, including pretty extensive workshopping. It was a really good week. When I reached the 1500-word mark the first night and realized how much more story I had left, I was a little daunted, but I kept going and kept going. One night I hit the wall of tired that usually means I need to stop for the night, and I thought "I'm not actually that tired, I bet I can write more" and I wrote another thousand words. I want to bottle that feeling.

Every time I needed inspiration, I found it somewhere. Of course there were some factual things I had to research—Baptist funeral customs, double underarm holsters, what kind of nuclear physics people do at Berkeley and how many women are in their physics PhD program, what the roof of the Ghostbusters firehouse looks like—and I reread Midnight Taxi Tango and rewatched Ghostbusters 2016 to study character voices and make sure I had my references right. But to my eyes the story is one long litany of other nods: to the original film and the awesome backstory for Winston that was cut from it, to Daniel's phenomenal word-portraits of Brooklyn and of black women building amazing lives for themselves (it's not coincidence that Patty has to leave the Ghostbusters world for the Bone Street Rumba world to find fulfillment), to a friend's experiences as a female physicist and other friends' experiences of being neuroatypical and hard of hearing, to someone I knew once who is way too much like Kevin, to my own queer New York life before and after my years in California, to the early days of my relationship with X, to my collections of books on urban history and astrological phenomena, to what it feels like to be building a happy life on the brink of a troubled era, and to my beloved city. I personally recommend every one of the Chinatown restaurants named in the story, by the way, and Ginger's is a pretty good place to shoot pool and chat up queer ladies. And if you're in Lower Manhattan in the summer, you'd better hope a thunderstorm comes through and makes it smell nice for a bit.

Being on vacation was essential. If I'd had work on the brain I don't think I could have sat down every evening and written a couple thousand words. Of course, if I hadn't been on vacation I wouldn't have been picking up pinch hits.

I was really nervous about the amount of AAVE in the dialogue and ended up haunting #yuletide and emailing people on the beta list and even spamming friends of mine in search of a native speaker who had the time to read a 6500-word story right before Christmas. (I did eventually find one.) I'm also not the biggest GB2016 fan and know nothing about how Holtzmann fanfic is typically written, so I found more betas who could cover that. Then one of the betas pointed out that a black woman having nothing to do except set up her white friend with a love interest was a racist cliché, and she was totally right, so I wrote the Patty and Winston scene and that made it 8000 words. I did a lot of nitpicky revision, pass after pass after pass, and made my last update about two minutes before the archive opened. And then I spent something like 24 hours feeling high as a kite on accomplishment. IT FELT SO GOOD. The writing, the critting, the revising, all of it just felt amazing.

After the bulk of "The Odds" was done, I beta-read a bunch of stories for other people, which was fun and a good use of all my post-writing energy. A long time ago I gave up on the idea of writing groups, but I had such a great experience both beta-reading and being beta'd that I started thinking maybe I should reconsider that stance.

When I came down off the high I started poking at my original fiction projects and immediately froze up. I don't know what it is about prompted, tight-deadline fanfic that frees me to write so fluidly. I hope I can figure out how to write other stories that way, because it felt so good and I want to feel that again. I'm not one of those people who feels coerced by the muse; if I don't enjoy writing, I don't write. But I enjoyed writing these stories tremendously and want to enjoy writing Valour and Persuaded that much too. There must be a way to do that, right? Even after work picks up again? I really hope so.
30 December 2016 23:51 - "Five things make a post"
rosefox: A fox writing book reviews. (writing)
Poor Kit had night terrors last night, or something like it—sudden screaming, out of nowhere, red-faced, inconsolable. X and I were quite shaken by it. Eventually Kit came out of it and then played with their hairbrush for a bit and went back to sleep. Babies. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

For the last few weeks they've been coughing in their sleep sometimes. It's not a productive cough, they haven't had a fever at any point, and it only happens at night, so we figure it's from accidentally inhaling their copious teething-drool (that molar is taking its sweet time coming in). The first couple of nights they'd wake up but now they sleep right through it, which is a little disconcerting. How quickly children adapt. It seems like a strength at first but I see it as a vulnerability too; they can adapt to things that aren't okay and shouldn't be normal, and adaptation can take a toll. Nothing I can do about the coughing, but it's a reminder to be mindful about the other ways I shape Kit's experiences and teach them what "normal" is.

=====

I'm going to try to post more slice-of-life things here that aren't baby anecdotes. X and I sat down together tonight and wrote things by hand! The timing didn't work out for us to do it by candlelight, as the Hanukkah candles had already burned down, but I still felt very old-fashioned using my lovely antique lap desk. The angled surface made writing much easier on my arm, even using a skinny pen. I wrote the last of my notes and cards for [livejournal.com profile] holiday_wishes, and X wrote thank-you notes to people who'd given Kit birthday presents.

One of the people on holiday_wishes wanted cross-stitch supplies for teaching Ukrainian embroidery. I have a TON of evenweave fabric, some of which I've had 20 years or more. I also have a lot of unfinished and unstarted cross-stitch kits, and if my arms ever heal and strengthen to the point where I can do embroidery again—which I'm kind of skeptical about, though it's a good goal to have—I'd start with the kits rather than designing my own. And I'm pretty sure I'll never have the arms for doing knotwork with silk floss again; that was hard even before I developed the tendinitis. So I took all the silk I bought back when I thought I could make money making jewelry (what was I thinking) (well, okay, my head wasn't very clear at the time), and all the fabric, and put it in a box that I will ship off this week. An immigrant will get to preserve her culture and heritage, and there's more room in my crafting dresser for new yarn all the yarn I keep buying and not knitting with. Everyone wins!

=====

I just left this comment for a friend who made her first LJ post in a year and a half, about needing a refuge from Twitter:

It's good to see you here again.

A lot of us are looking for the same thing, and looking for it here (or on Dreamwidth). Twitter seems to have hit a toxicity tipping point, and the recent political news has sharpened our ideas of where we put our effort. Even for those of us who still have the wherewithal to shrug off trolls, we've got more important things to do with our energy and attention than fritter it away on shrug after shrug after shrug.

I locked my Twitter account for unrelated reasons and I'm really glad I did. The one time I unlocked it recently, within 24 hours I needed to flee back to privacy.

Back in the day when LJ was booming, I would compulsively refresh and refresh and refresh until it was late at night and for a little while no one was posting and I could free myself from it and sleep. Before that I did the same with Usenet, and before that with IRC. Twitter doesn't feel very different to me, except that, like IRC, it refreshes itself. But I suspect my usage patterns are unusual and most people get more of a dopamine firehose from Twitter than they ever did from other sources. Having been drinking from dopamine firehoses for a long time, I can tell you with some authority that they are really, really bad for you. And Twitter is unique in what you so beautifully call its "kaleidoscope of contexts"—where one rapidly scrolling IRC channel still only contained maybe two or three conversations, Twitter has dozens all happening at once. It's utterly wretchedly exhausting.

I hope we see a return to longer-form thought, threaded conversations, more order, less chaos. LJ or DW or Wordpress or Medium, doesn't much matter to me, but something better than the noise machine.


There's been lots of talk about LJ's servers moving to Russia. I will continue crossposting from DW, as I have been. If I were still giving money to LJ I would stop, but I've had a permanent account since forever, so there's not much I can do there. I suppose I'm actually a net drain on their resources. I don't have the sense that they make money off my data. I don't think I'm putting myself in danger or making anyone else more vulnerable by continuing to use LJ. So I'll continue to use it for now, and see what happens. If you're aware of reasons I should discontinue crossposting or delete my data from LJ altogether, please do share.

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I was looking for a book tonight and realized a friend had borrowed it. So I checked my "borrowed books" list and ended up emailing a whole bunch of folks to say "You borrowed books from us ages ago, can we have them back?". Many of them have moved house and gone through other upheavals and I will be pleasantly surprised if they even still have the books or remembered that they got them from us, but it'd be nice if it happens.

I immediately got an email back from one person saying (very nicely) "Didn't I already give those back?" so apparently I have not been so diligent about updating that spreadsheet. I'm pretty sure most of the books I emailed about weren't stealth-returned, though. Pretty sure. Mostly sure. We'll see. At any rate, it's an excuse to get in touch with some folks I haven't been in touch with for a while, maybe make some lunch dates with the local ones, and that's no bad thing.

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Vosges finally started making a dark chocolate version of their bacon bar and tonight the stars were right for me to have a nibble half of it (oops). I'm impressed with the crunchiness of the bacon bits. The smoky flavor is very strong, which somehow I wasn't expecting; it's the first thing you smell when you open the package and the last note of the aftertaste. It's good.

Of course, having had that much chocolate, I now shouldn't have hot chocolate before bed. I'm tired enough that it probably wouldn't wind me up too far, but better not to take chances. It's so annoying to have to make these calculations. But it could have been one of those nights when I can't have any chocolate at all, so I will count blessings etc. and maybe make some mulled cider for a hot bedtime drink instead. Or ginger honey drink; my mother brought me ginger cookies from England and they are the sort of thick hard cookies that are intended to be dipped into tea or equivalent, and if I can't dip them into hot chocolate (which would be awesome) then ginger honey drink is the next best option.

Or I could just go to bed. But I want to write up Kit's 12-month post (!) (!!!) so I'll be up for a little while yet.
29 December 2016 02:51 - "Gimme paw!"
rosefox: A blue-eyed white toddler with slightly curly hair stares straight at the camera like "Yep, I'm awesome". (kit)
Hilarious 3 a.m. baby anecdote time!

Kit's been really into clapping their hands lately. When they're sad they clap to cheer themself up. It is amazing. They've learned that when they clap the adults all clap back, and they get DRUNK WITH POWER and lead call-and-response clapping for quite a long time. Sometimes if you say "clap" they clap but that's not consistent yet.

Tonight they woke up just as I was going to bed. X is back on overnight duty (which is why I can go to bed at 3, which feels like absolute luxury) and got up to cuddle the baby back to sleep. I finished my nighttime ablutions and went into Kit's room for a quick snuggle. I had been reading a parenting book that was interesting and useful but also contained anecdotes about kids younger than Kit who can do things Kit can't do yet, and some part of my brain always freaks out about those comparisons. The best cure is to spend time with the actual baby and marvel at what a wonderful tiny person they are. I had been hoping they would wake up precisely so I could do this, even just for a moment.

Kit was sleepy but happy, and indeed, seeing them was an instant balm on my poor anxious brain. I kissed their forehead, tucked the fuzzy go-to-sleep blanket around them, and told X that I had finished all my chores and was going to bed. X held up their hand and we high-fived.

Kit looked interested. "That's a high-five. It's like clapping but with someone else's hand," I said. They had their right hand out of the blanket, so I gently tapped my palm against theirs. "See? Like that. High-five."

X high-fived them, and I high-fived them, and then they pulled their left hand out of the blanket. I held my hand up near their left hand. "High-five?"

They tried and missed.

It was the tiniest, funniest little limp-wristed attempt at a high-five that I have ever seen. X and I laughed so hard we couldn't breathe. Kit laughed along with us because people who are laughing are also funny, at least if you're a baby.

When we all recovered, I gave Kit a few more gentle high-fives, and then we all clapped for a bit because it's fun. Then I said goodnights and left the world's best and most hilarious baby to fall back asleep on X's lap, puzzled but pleased. And now I can go to bed suffused with joy at my child's accomplishments and eagerness to learn new things... even if it takes a few tries.
28 December 2016 01:08 - "Onward and upward"
rosefox: A blue-eyed white toddler with slightly curly hair stares straight at the camera like "Yep, I'm awesome". (kit)
Dear Kit,

You are one year old today. It has been a very eventful year with lots of ups and downs for our family. Through it all, you have warmed my heart (and my lap) and made all the hard things feel bearable and all the good things feel even better. Your smile lights up my life. Your hard work and perseverance in the face of frustration inspire me. Your unstinting love and trust make me melt.

No offense to other kids, but every time I meet another child I think how lucky we are to have you. Of all possible children, I can't imagine one better suited to our family. You are goofy and ridiculous, opinionated when it matters, amiable when it doesn't, generous with demonstrations of affection, serious about self-improvement, vocal about your needs and easily satisfied, fascinated by the world. When people ask whether we're planning to have another child, we tell them honestly that it would be unfair to our second child to have to put up with having such a purely wonderful older sibling. Besides, we only ever wanted one baby. I'm so glad that baby turned out to be you, my best Kit. So glad.

I don't at all want you to feel pressure to live up to some ideal of perfection. You are perfect just as you are. You're perfect when you're clumsy and you're perfect when you're cranky and you're perfect when you lick the couch pillows with your mouth still half full of milk. (You will also be perfect when you're old enough to do your own laundry. The couch pillow covers are washed on cold and hung up to dry.) Don't ever think that I love or appreciate you "despite" some part of you. I love every single bit of you.

Sometimes I joke that you're my littlest roommate. Before you were born I occasionally worried that when you got older we'd have trouble living together; in the past it's sometimes been hard for me to share space with other people. But I love living with you, and I think we'll have a pretty easy time of it even when you're bigger and more actively making use of the house. You're already really good at showing us when you're hungry or tired or desperate to go outside, and I'm sure you'll only get better at understanding what you need and asking for it, whether that's time to yourself or quiet together time or shared activities. And an advantage of three parents is that there's almost certainly always going to be someone who wants to hang out with you if you're in a hanging-out mood.

I worry about you sometimes, but it's because I'm the worrying sort. By any objective measure you are a sturdy, healthy child. You rarely get sick and get over it quickly. When you fall down you complain for a bit (quite reasonably) and then get up again like nothing happened. You are so generous with your smiles that we never have to wonder whether you're happy. And you even snore just a little when you're asleep so I can hear it on the monitor and don't have to turn the camera on to make sure you're breathing. Every anxious parent should have such a reassuring baby.

The next year is going to bring us some exciting things. You'll learn more about moving your body the way you want to. You'll get better at crawling and then leave it behind in favor of walking. You'll learn to use some words and signs to communicate; I can't wait to hear you say our names. Maybe this will be the year you start to sometimes want one particular parent and not just whichever one is handy. The next time your birthday comes around, you'll probably want to eat the cake and not just stick your fingers in the frosting. And I bet you'll make friends with all the street cats in the neighborhood.

To quote a very kind and wonderful man, Mr. Fred Rogers, whose work I hope to introduce you to someday soon: "You are growing so well inside and out. I'm proud of how you are growing, and I hope you are too."

Endless love, my little bean. Thank you for being such excellent company for the past twelve months. I can't wait to see who you become this year, and beyond.

Your loving
Zo
rosefox: Chocolate ice cream covered in snowflakes, with snow in the background (winter)
It's Yuletide! Hooray! I actually picked up two pinch hits this year because I was on vacation and the prompts spoke to me and why not? And then they ended up being 10,000 words combined. Which I wrote in eight days. D: I don't even know how I did that but it felt GREAT.

While we wait for the reveal, some fics I've loved so far:

ZOMBIE CANNIBAL SHIA LABEOUF. This is exactly the sort of bonkers amazingness that Yuletide is for. http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/8975062

I asked for trans!Ozma on the pinch hit requests page and didn't get it (maybe next year), but that reminded me to look through this year's Oz fics. This just barely slashy Ozma/Polychrome ficlet is super cute: http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/9001966

Two queer suffragists show Dorothy around San Francisco and listen to her Oz stories. So sweet! And full of good SF history, too. http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/8886220

A wild Oz/Labyrinth/Princess Bride/Neverending Story/Narnia/Arthurian legend crossover. Wow. http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/8973598

For Fifth Season fans, pregnant Syenite and tender Innon and adorable poly negotiations: http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/8829922

And one of Alabaster learning about, uh, that spoilery silvery thing: http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/8873668

Someone wrote about Aral Vorkosigan asking Captain Awkward for advice because the world is beautiful: http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/8924812

This teeny little Craft Sequence fic is sly and subtle. http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/8876092

80s movies! You wanted sweet sassy sexy Ferris/Sloane/Cameron fic, right? Yes you did. http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/8879641

Lydia Deetz house-sits for the Addams Family: http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/8888698

And this 21st-century Heathers fic redeems Veronica in a rather lovely way. http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/8879437

I don't know The Handmaiden, but I beta'd this fic and it's gorgeous. Kinky queer girls finding happiness: http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/8974219

Hamilton and Ghostbusters crossover with Patty staring down Jefferson? Hell yes. Expect to see this one on a lot of rec lists. http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/8952964

Ghostbusters F/F/F/F is the definition of "I do not ship it" and I still thought this was super cute: http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/9005827

There are THREE fics that mix Good Omens with "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" and they're all pretty fun, though my favorite is (of course) the one with the footnotes, "Crowley and the Golden Fiddle": http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/tags/Good%20Omens%20-%20Neil%20Gaiman%20*a*%20Terry%20Pratchett/works

And there are two Hark! A Vagrant pirate/nemesis fics and both are ADORABLE. "Duel to be Kind" just slew me, if you'll pardon the expression: http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/tags/Hark!%20A%20Vagrant/works

This adorable sexy postscript to The Grand Sophy is pitch-perfect: http://archiveofourown.org/collections/yuletide2016/works/8880568

I've got lots more bookmarked for future reading. If you feel like wandering around, the list of included fandoms is a good place to start.
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