Category: Rambling

Zen and the Art of Hand Sewing

Jul 25, 2011 by

I have in my hot little hands the contract for Bitterwood, from Amber Quill Press. It will be published under their LGBT impress, Amber Allure. I am FedExing the signed version back today. With luck, and speedy editing, it will be released in ebook format in September, and in paperback in October—hopefully before GayRomLit in New Orleans. I would love to show up there with three books under my belt. We’ll see.

In the meantime, Pennsic looms, and I am sewing. This happens every year before Pennsic, when I drag out my garb and say “OMG—I need new clothes!!!” Pennsic garb has very specific parameters. It has to be cool, because temperatures shoot into the 90’s, sometimes. It has to be layerable, because they also drop into the 50’s sometimes. And it has to be washable, because above all, Pennsic is dirty. It’s in the foothills of the Alleghenies, and the area is rich in a peculiar red clay which, when it turns to mud (as it frequently does at Pennsic), gets into your clothes and dyes them funky colors.

Fortunately, the two Irish style dresses (lace up the front, sleeveless) still fit, as do the linen shirts I bought last year to wear under them (because I SO do not go sleeveless). But two linen shirts will not do for ten days worth of sweltering heat. And I am very much afraid that it will be sweltering. 

So this past weekend, I used one of the old shirts to design a pattern for a simple shirt, and cut out enough white linen for two more shirts (one handkerchief weight, which is very light and sheer, and one of light weight, which is not so sheer. I made bloomers out of it for last Pennsic). Today on the train I started sewing. 

I love hand sewing. I love embroidery, cross-stitch, needlepoint—practically anything done with thread or yarn and a needle. While I like crochet and do that very well, I suck at knitting, am ambivalent about spinning, and have never learned weaving, so those things aren’t very zen for me. But hand sewing… for me, that’s zen.

The funny thing is that people tend to HATE hand sewing. Even if they embroider or do other needle arts, they resist hand sewing, complaining that’s slow, difficult, aggravating and frustrating. Me, I hate to use a sewing machine. They’re noisy, you’re stuck in one spot, you have to pay attention to it, a machine is involved so of course things are going to go wrong—and when you screw up and sew the wrong sides together or something, you have to pull out acres of stitching and the stitches are teensy-tiny. Hand sewing is portable, you can pause and look at something or carry on a conversation, it’s slow and it’s in your hands, so if you’re doing something wrong, you catch on a lot faster. 

The thing is that you have to understand what you’re doing when you hand sew. You have to become one with the fabric, one with the thread. (Okay, that’s me being silly, but in a sense it’s true. If you understand your materials, you’re halfway there. And that goes for a lot more than sewing, but that’s a post for another time.) 

Hand sewing and machine sewing, for one thing, are nothing alike, except for the fact that you are attaching one layer to another. The same thing might be said about hand sewing and stapling (which I’ve also used in garment construction. Works great instead of basting for matching plaids). For one thing, machine sewing isn’t really sewing. It’s something called “couching,” which is when you lay a thread down and hook another thread over it to hold it down. That’s the purpose of the bobbin thread: to hold down the top thread. The thread only goes through the fabric once, and therefore doesn’t build up any friction. 

In hand sewing the thread goes through the fabric over and over again. This creates friction. If you have a thread that’s rough, or multiple fibers, the wear will roughen it even more. This is when you get knots. So for hand sewing, I either use a good silk thread, or a waxed linen or cotton thread (waxing it with beeswax, or, my favorite, a thread conditioner called Thread Heaven). Waxing the thread keeps the fibers from unraveling and reduces the friction. This helps if you use polyester thread, too. 

Friction causes the problems. But then again–doesn’t friction ALWAYS cause the problems?  No, not really–consider sex. But in sewing, it definitely does.

My favorite time is when I’m sewing linen with silk thread. The peaceful little stitch: the little twist of the needle to straighten the thread, the smooth slide of the thread through the loose soft weave of the linen, the gentle tug to set the stitch—it’s very zen. Yes, you can carry on a conversation, yes, you can pause and look out the train window, yes, you can think about the scene that you should be writing this lunch hour instead of this blog post… but you don’t have to. You can just think about the sewing instead. Even if the thread does make a knot, it’s easy to fix, and if it’s on linen, you may not even need to, since the weave is so forgiving. And when you finish a seam or a hem or a whatever, you can look at the neat row of stitches and feel a sense of accomplishment. It’s restful. 

It requires patience. It requires serenity. It requires a willingness not to rush, not to hurry, not to get frantic meeting an arbitrary deadline. It requires good materials, or cheap materials properly prepared. It’s like the fabric version of cooking—sometimes the beauty is in the task and not in the results, whether it’s a cassoulet or a plain white shirt. The journey, not the destination.

I’m all over the place, talkin’ my fool head off.

May 24, 2011 by

Okay, the A&S Junkie podcast has been… um… podcasted?  Not quite sure what the verb form of podcast is.  To podcast?  Casting pods? (I have the image of someone blithely flinging milkweed seed pods hither and yon, willy-nilly.)  Unfortunately, I had to record it over the phone, with the result that it’s rather fuzzy. *sads* I’ll have to figure out a way of recording it directly and then sending Verena the MP3 file.  In my browsing today I see that you can record Skype calls, but I’m not sure how that would work. If anyone has any ideas what I can do, short of spending a hundred bucks on a half-way decent MP3 recorder, let me know. I’m spending all my disposable cash for the next few weeks (months…) on travel.

The guest blog post I wrote for Farida Mestek’s blog Regency Sketches is also up. There, at least, is clarity!!  It’s on doing historical research in the age of Google. The title is Historical Research in the Age of Google. (See, there are capitals. That makes it Official.) http://faridamestek.blogspot.com/2011/05/guest-blog-with-rowan-speedwell.html is the link.  (My blog link thingy is apparently broken.)  Many thanks to Farida for letting me pimp, I mean promote myself on her blog!! 

Kindred Hearts has been getting some pretty good reviews, or at least the only people who are posting them are the ones who like it.  I luv you all. Mwha!

Okay, this weekend it’s off to MediaWest, a large fandom convention in Lansing, Michigan.  I’ll be manning Dreamspinner’s booth along with Marguerite Labbe, Ashlyn Kane, Bethany Brown and Morgan James. If you’re there, stop by and say hi!!

Then in two weeks I’m off to Des Moines for their Pride Parade, again manning a booth, this time with Heidi Cullinan, Marie Sexton, M.L. Rhodes and Catherine Lundoff. This time the booth is sponsored by both Dreamspinner Press and Amber Allure (I think…?  Pretty sure, anyway).  It should be interesting, and if you’re in Des Moines that weekend, again stop by! 

I’m not doing a booth at the Chicago Gay Pride Festival, because it’s ENORMOUS, but a bunch of us from the Goodreads M/M Group will be hanging out watching the parade and stuff.  Then after that, it will be all SCA, all the time until October and GayRomLit in New Orleans.

And on a personal note, may I say hello and welcome to the world to my beautiful niece Grace?  Congrats, Matt & Amy!!

April is National Poetry Month

Apr 14, 2011 by

Write your best haiku!
April, with its showers sweet
is Poetry Month

People think that verse
is for the highfalutin’
not the average Joe

but the verse came first
Homer and his epic songs
and old Gilgamesh

were the Idols of
the proto-literate bunch
like TV stars now

long before novels
by Cervantes and Trollope
or King and Grisham

Try to remember
the last novel you read and
quote from memory

or quote from a show
without having to look up
the words on Google

you can’t. But I bet
you can remember a poem
you read as a child

maybe Mother Goose
or a limerick by Lear
you can quote by heart

because poetry
does not touch the human brain
it touches the heart

that is why when we
memorize, we will forget
but to learn by heart

means we will not lose
what we have learned, but always
keep it to savor

It quiets the soul
when the brain gets in the way
poetry is love

but if you want a
less pretentious offering
here’s one from high school:

Deep dish hot pizza
with glistening seas of cheese
and boats of sausage

Over Does It

Mar 21, 2011 by

http://www.queermagazineonline.com/author-interviews/author-interviews

J.P. Barnaby has posted an interview with yours truly on Queer Magazine Online. It’s… long. But she asked some really good questions, not the usual boilerplate stuff. So it was fun to do. And she was very flattering in her intro, and I’m grateful!

I was on the phone with my mother this weekend and gave her a quick rundown of my scheduled activities for the next couple of months (actually, through November…!). Her first question was “why the Des Moines Gay Pride Parade?” (That would be Capital City Pride, the weekend of June 10th through June 13th.) I wasn’t sure if she was asking “why Des Moines” or “why Gay Pride.” Fact is, I think my newfound activism has thrown her for a bit of a loop, particularly the subject, since I’ve never claimed to be anything but straight. She doesn’t quite get the interest I have in gay issues. I’ve never been politically active; I vote, but that’s about it. Despite her attempts in my youth to get me involved; she once asked me if I wouldn’t love to run for political office—and instead I ran screaming. Not a politician here, and I think it was disappointing for her, who grew up in an era when women didn’t run for office, that I wasn’t interested in taking advantage of the fact that I could. But given what I write, and what I’ve learned in the process, I feel that I need to give back to the community by supporting it however I can. As for why Des Moines—well, Heidi asked, and I answered. And it should be fun. I’ve never done anything like this before.

I’m doing MediaWest two weekends previous—Memorial Day Weekend, to be specific, when all my friends will be in Kentucky at Spring Crown Tournament. I’ve been to cons before, but I’ve never worked one. Again, hopefully will be fun.

Mom, of course, brought up the thing that is the gorilla in the corner:  “But love, you don’t do well with crowds.”  Oh, too true. And I think that that is going to be the tricky thing. I don’t do well with crowds. As in:  Panic Attacks?  I Haz Them. So I will need to get to Lansing Friday night and have a quiet evening in the hotel and then show up on Saturday after a pleasant restful breakfast ready to work. Yeah. Cuz that’s gonna work… 

I think I’m overbooked.

That’s not unusual. I tend to overdo in a lot of aspects of my life, which is kind of funny, because I’m a lazy good-for-nothing most of the time. But I overbuy (two of everything? Really?) and overbook, and overeat, and over everything. Which leaves me cluttered, busy, and fat. Yep. That’s me. But it’s the enthusiasm that does it. I get excited about things, and then jump in feet first, not really thinking about whether or not it’s good for me, or in my best interests. I’m a slave to my enthusiasms (“ooh, look! a new hobby! Let’s buy everything I could possibly need if I were going to go into this professionally!!”).  Overbooking is part of that. Because you see, not only am I booking book-related events, I’m also booking SCA related events, and family events, and personal events. And while the majority of them are fun and things I’m looking forward to, in the back of my head there’s this voice going “um… ‘scuse me? Time for me?” and reminding me that not enough rest means the fibromyalgia flares up, and too much socializing means the panic attacks flare up, and not enough downtime means the ulcer flares up. 

And then I mentally shoot the little voice in my head and say heartily “It’ll be FINE.” Which it will. Eventually.

Keeping me humble.

Feb 22, 2011 by

I’m usually pretty good at things I like to do.  I’m craftsy, sort of artistic, intelligent, blah, blah, blah.  So pretty much anything I set my mind to doing, I can do.  Particularly if it’s something I LIKE doing.

I like archery.  A lot.  I like the people I shoot with, I like the culture of archery, I like the moments when I do a perfect release and the arrow hits the target with a healthy thump.  I like my wooden longbow and my custom arrows (with green, purple and white feathers, which are my heraldic colors) and my awesome purple leather quiver with the hummingbirds tooled on it.  I love my cool little Robin Hood hat Verena made for our archery team.

But I totally SUCK as an archer.  Seriously.  I have the world’s worst aim. 

I always was lousy at things that require gross motor activity.  The fine stuff, sure; if I had been inclined that way, I bet I coulda been a neurosurgeon.  I used to make calligraphed documents and petitpoint pillows for dollhouses.  I still do really detailed illuminated manuscripts.  Fine motor skillz, I haz them.

But gym class?  Night. Mare.  I have a brain, and I have a body, and never the twain shall meet.  Good thing my bones don’t break easily, cuz when you look up “klutz” in the dictionary, it has my picture.  Big feet, long bones, and eternal weight issues do not make for grace and poise.  Trying to coordinate all of them in any kind of sport is problematical.  The only things I was ever good at was swimming and horseback riding–two sports where something else was carrying the weight.  I didn’t keep them up, unfortunately.

And now I have been peer-pressured into standing once a week with a 6-foot longbow and hurling pointy sticks at a teeny round target a mile or more from where I’m standing.  Okay, the target is actually 40 centimeters across, and it’s more like 20 yards distant, but when you’re standing on the line and aiming at the thing, it looks like a pinprick.  My hands and arms are encased in leather because when that string twangs, it can hurt if it comes in contact with any part of you, and feathers can cut.  It’s unbelievable, but I have the scar to prove it.  My longbow is a dinky 28#, which has something to do with the amount of force that it provides when the string is drawn back and released.  One of the archers who is teaching me shoots a 110# longbow, which I can’t even budge the string on.

We all, whether we shoot a longbow, a recurve, or an Asian horse bow, look down on the weenies who shoot compound bows.  Sights?  We use our eyes, as God intended!  Triggers?  Nope.  Fingers, dude. Fingers. Okay, we do wear gloves, cuz we’re not stupid, but any weakling can get a lot of power out of a fiberglass bow with all kinds of pulleys and stuff.  I’d like to see one of them pick up Dougal’s 110# longbow and try and shoot it.

But my point – and I do have one – is that for the first time I’m attempting to achieve competency in a sport.  I’m tracking scores and monitoring progress and even competing in a small way.  I’m doing it because it’s fun, and it fits in with my Society for Creative Anachronism addiction, and because my friends all like it, and because I have wonderful people helping me learn what not to do.  But I’m doing it.  And I’m not good at it.

So maybe I should keep doing it.  Because I’m not good at it.  It’s too easy to only do things that one is good at, and that’s something I’ve done for a long time.  I like learning new things, but I always have this internal critic going “is this something you can do?” even before I try.  I don’t know if I’ll ever get to be good at archery.  I may never progress beyond my dinky little bow (which I won in a raffle and is awesome beyond belief) or get to be one of the ones picked first for a team.  I may never win a competition or save the Midrealm’s War Points at Pennsic.  But that’s okay.  I’m having fun.

Happy New Year . . . I guess . . .

Jan 4, 2011 by

Sorry about the lack of bloggage, but I have been sick since THANKSGIVING.  Gah.  Currently dealing with bronchitis.  Spent the last four days in bed.  I haven’t hardly even written nuthin’ in the last couple of weeks.

Promise you a new post soon…

In the meantime, Michele ‘n ‘Jeff reviews has Finding Zach as one of Michele’s best books of 2010.  What????  Srsly.  Blown. Away.

and one last bit, from JRR Tolkien:

Some who have read the book, or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible, and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works, or of the kinds of writing that they evidently prefer.

I believe that’s about Lord of the Rings.  Huh.

An accomplished Bunburyist

Dec 17, 2010 by

Okay, those of you who, like me, absolutely love The Importance of Being Earnest and think it is THE BEST PLAY EVER WRITTEN (sorry, Henry V fans, and you know who you are), know what I’m referring to by “Bunbury.”  The rest of you will just have to go read THE BEST PLAY EVER WRITTEN and find out.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

While we’re waiting for them, I’m going to share something I found while I was researching the Derby (the English one, not the Kentucky one). Actually, I was researching Epsom Downs, which reminds me of the book Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, where the family’s house was called Upson Downs. But I digress. Come to think of it, digression is what I do best. I live my life tangentially. Is that the right spelling? Because I am quite a good speller, usually. I got awards for it in grammar school. If they had given awards for most times tardy, I would have won that one, too. But that wasn’t my fault.

Anyway, back to Epsom Downs and no I won’t go off on a tangent about Epsom Salts, though I’m dying to. Focus! The race we now know as the Derby (pronounced “Darby” in Britain) was one arranged by two people, the Earl of Derby and Sir Charles Bunbury, at an afterparty for the first running of The Oaks (another race run at Epsom Downs. It’s not just the Derby there). They decided the race should be named after one or another of them. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it:
According to legend the decision was made by the toss of a coin, but it is probable that Bunbury, the Steward of the Jockey Club, deferred to his host.

For which we are grateful. Otherwise we would be watching the umpteenth running of the Kentucky Bunbury. I wonder if London businessmen would be wearing Bunburies as they carry their bumbershoots. (hmm… I need to look up the etymology of that one, too…)

A Bunburyist, according to Oscar Wilde (he and I share a birthday) is someone who invents a sick relative or friend whom one needs to visit when one is faced with boring or unpleasant tasks. Unfortunately, it’s a dying art in this era when people don’t feel obliged to attend anything they don’t want to. Society isn’t as formal as it once was, although in my opinion that’s usually an improvement. But just like chivalry and courtesy, a certain degree of social responsibility (by social, I mean Society, not social responsibility in the sense of giving to charities or building house for Habitat for Humanity, although people should do that, too) is due for a renaissance. RSVP, people. RSVP.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah. Bunbury.

Algernon: best character ever. And a secret Bunburyist.

Change of subject. Blake Edwards has died. I’m very sorry about that, because I loved his movies, most of them, anyway, and I like his wife, Julie Andrews, because she is just the coolest dame every invented. I want to be like her when I grow up, except you know, without the singing and acting and stuff. Cuz I so can’t do that. But anyway, Mr. Edwards’s ouevre (spelling again?) includes both Breakfast at Tiffany’s AND Victor/Victoria, two of the greatest movies ever made, IMHO. So I’m sad to hear that he has gone, but glad he lived in the first place.

And last but not least on today’s hit parade: Snakes. And Knots. And Math.

Holding pattern…

Nov 20, 2010 by

Well, still waiting for feedback on Kindred Hearts, and my own heart is sinking rapidly.  Are the beta readers just not engaged enough to finished?  Does it suck so badly they’re afraid to tell me the bad news?  The longer this goes on the less confident in the story I am.  Lynda described it as “ambitious,” and I guess it is, far more so than “Zach.”  Which was, essentially, just a romance.   But then, Kindred Hearts is also just a romance–albeit one set in an historical period with characters like Lord Castlereagh and the Duke of Wellington.  I dunno.  I never thought “Zach” would receive the kind of reception it has–the original intent was just to see if I could A, finish a book and B, get it published.  The fact that it’s still getting good reviews after six months seems to me to indicate that it has legs, which is good.  God only knows what Kindred Hearts will have.  Hooves?  Tentacles?

I’m not sure where I’m going with Miles and Adam’s story–it started out as sort of an in-joke between me and my friends Adam and Philip.  Or David and Craig, if you’re speaking mundanely.  Adam is the SCA name of David, and Philip is the SCA name of Craig.  And David Philip Evans is in Finding Zach, so I had to write a story with Adam Craig, of course. The name sounds like a rock star, so he is.  And Miles Caldwell is a hermit calligrapher who lives by a lake and never goes anywhere and doesn’t have a clue who Adam is.  Which Adam kind of likes.  And he likes Miles, and vice versa, but what’s going to happen when Adam goes back to LA and takes up his life as a rock star again?  Miles has a very negative opinion of their future, but Adam is optimistic…

Question, totally off-topic:  What do you do when someone asks your opinion of their own book, and you think it sucks?  I mean–really, really bad.  Flat writing, bad characters, uninteresting story…  The problem is that the person is someone you either work with or have to meet regularly in a social situation or is another author with your publisher, and they’ve published before and you couldn’t read their other books either?  So far I’ve been able to avoid the subject when we’ve met, but I’m scared to death that I’ll be asked for input–and I just can’t give it.  Because it’s really that bad.  And I don’t want them mad at me or insulted, because they are a nice person.

I’ve read bad books before and it amazes the hell out of me that they got published.  I do galley proofreading for my own publisher, and one of the books I had to proof was absolutely terrible.  I was so relieved when I was done!  And then a few weeks later, the editor asked me to proof the sequel.  Fortunately I was absolutely slammed with other work and couldn’t do it anyway, so that saved me coming up with an excuse not to read it.  I’m not being picky or snobby–it was just that bad.  I’m curious to hear what the reviewers have to say about it.

My ambition is to have Sarah Frantz from Dear Author review Kindred Hearts and give it a good review.  She’s tough, but I respect her opinion.  Her reviews were in the back of my mind the whole time I was writing KH, and I kept editing it by her voice in my head.  But first I have to get feedback from my betas…

of pink and Princesses

Oct 26, 2010 by

One of the articles I came across this morning in my daily vetting of the newspapers was one that made me stop and read (although it was not one of the topics I vet the papers for).  It was written by a woman who struck me as reasonably intelligent and reasonably sensible, and it talked about her concern about her 3-year-old son wanting to be a princess for Halloween.  She was concerned, not because she cared that her son loved princesses and the color pink as much as he loved his trucks and machinery, but because she was worried about the potential for what she called “public humiliation.”  She is the breadwinner in the family, her husband the stay-at-home dad, so she has no problems with role-reversals, and in fact, seemed quite comfortable with her son’s choices. 

But it’s not so simple:

… among the strongest gender enforcers around, it turns out, are other children.

Three-year-olds are “still blessedly nonjudgmental,” neuroscientist Lise Eliot wrote in her thought-provoking book “Pink Brain, Blue Brain,” which argues that parents, teachers, peers and cultural factors unwittingly work to reinforce gender stereotypes.

“By four, however, many children enter an inflexible stage in which they start viewing gender choices as a matter of right or wrong, a phase that peaks around first grade,” Eliot wrote. “The remarkable thing is that young children are so much more vigilant about enforcing gender norms — what to wear, what to play, who to play with — than any adult.”

Okay.  But what REALLY bummed me out were the comments.  Even when they were supportive of the parents’ choice to permit their kid to wear what he wanted for Halloween, and even when they assured the parents that this did NOT mean their kid was “doomed” to be gay, the general consensus was that little boys having any feminine characteristics was either bad, unAmerican, or something to be reassured about.  On the other hand, if the situation was reversed, and it was a little girl wanting to be something masculine…  well, there wouldn’t have BEEN an article.  Because it’s OKAY for girls to emulate males.  It’s NOT okay for boys to emulate females.

 I always knew I was smarter than most of the boys I knew; I had five brothers and my parents never made me feel I was any less that any of them.  Even though I was growing up at the beginnings of the feminist revolution I never identified myself as a feminist.  I think it was because I was pretty much wrapped up in myself and never wanted anything that would have been kept from me because of my gender.  I liked the work I did and was proud of the fact that a man couldn’t do it any better—although I tended towards female-centered professions like customer service and administration, where one didn’t generally find males. 

But since I started writing m/m fiction, and began to get more involved in LGBT issues, I’ve started noticing that it’s not just about the sexuality, but about the gender as well.  And it may be simplistic to think this, but I believe that a lot of the anti-gay sentiment expressed by males is part and parcel of the general consensus that men are “superior” to women.  Even if they won’t admit they think that way.  Because in the straight male’s mind (I’m generalizing here, and apologize if this isn’t you, but if it is, think about it…) the only thing less manly than a woman is a man who (in their opinion) CHOOSES to act like one.  Even if they don’t—either choose or act like one.  Basically, it boils down to “Being a heterosexual man is the best thing you can be, and if you’re not it, you’re just not good enough.”  How many army movies have we seen where the gruff sergeant calls his troops “Ladies” to insult them?  How many times have we heard the phrase “man up” to express a demand for courage?  As if women can’t be courageous? 

Women are courageous.  Women work, women fight, women die for their country or their children or their city or their lovers.  Women are scientists, are soldiers, are policemen and firemen and lawyers and politicians and artists and doctors and CEOs.  Women do everything men do, only backward and in high heels.  WHY is to be a woman an insult?

Gay men are courageous.  Gay men work, gay men fight, gay men die for their country or their children or their city or their lovers.  Gay men are scientists, are soldiers, are policemen and firemen and lawyers and politicians and artists and doctors and CEOs.  Gay men do everything men do, on top of fighting societal pressure.  WHY is to be a gay man an insult?

For every whiny, cowardly woman, for every whiny, cowardly gay man, there are a dozen such heterosexual males.

I’d like to someday hear the phrase “gentlemen” used as an insult.  I’d like a tough guy to someday say to a whiny scaredy cat “Woman up!” 

It won’t happen.  Because in this culture, it’s inculcated in children that to dress as a girl when you aren’t one is WRONG.  If you’re a girl, it’s okay to emulate a boy, because everyone wants to be a boy.  Just don’t go too far.  (Someone did a study years ago to discover why girls aren’t as “good” as boys at math.  What they found out was that girls up to the age of eight or nine were every bit as good as boys at math and science, but that at around that age they figured out that boys don’t like smart girls—and they deliberately dumbed down.)  You can pretend to be a boy—as long as you always keep in mind that you can never BE one.

If you’re a boy, you can’t be anything but a boy.  You can’t be sensitive and artistic and emotional, because that gets you bullied for not being “manly.”  And as you grow up, you have to be more and more and more a boy, because to be anything else is to be “weak.”  This is how we end up with bullies and gay-bashers and date-rapists and wife-beaters.  Because to be anything else is “weak.”

I read a comment somewhere recently—I don’t remember where—where the asshat who wrote the comment said that it was okay for guys to enjoy watching lesbian porn “because it was more natural, and besides, most women enjoy watching lesbian sex, too…” or something like that (I’m paraphrasing because I can’t find the actual post anywhere.  If there is a God, I hope he caused a lightning storm to digitally erase such stupidity.  Not likely—he hasn’t done anything about Christine O’Donnell).  If I recall correctly, he said most women didn’t enjoy reading about gay sex.  Probably because most of the women he associates with are brain dead and/or terrified of what an alphole like him would do to them if they disagreed with whatever moronic pronouncements he makes.  I suppose he’s right—after all, women DON’T make up 80% of the people who read m/m romance, and they AREN’T 65% of m/m romance writers.  Oh, wait….

The fact is, women like stories about gay men, about as much as men like stories about gay women.  Possibly more.  But for different reasons—women who read m/m romance don’t read it to feel superior, or just to get turned on (though there’s that, too), they read it for the characters and the romance, not the porn.  Someone like that asshat wouldn’t understand that.

The difference between women and gay men (aside from the obvious, he-he), is that women don’t frighten men (usually.  Though Freud might disagree).  Gay men do frighten men (the important part of “homophobia” is the phobia).  Gay men are still men, and when men have been raised to think of themselves a certain way, those who do not think that way threaten them.  To the average heterosexual man, women don’t frighten them because they can never be a woman.  They’re a different species.  But gay men?  The IDEA of being gay frightens them—and the idea that someone just like them can be gay is terrifying.  Because to them, being gay is being lesser.  Being kicked out of the het male club.  Being Other.

I think it’s sad and hilarious that so many of these anti-gay, homophobic politicians and religious figures are getting outed.  Because that’s the biggest clue—they’re such cowards that they not only can’t accept the way they are, they need to HIDE.  And destroy the evidence.  Nowadays, if I hear someone ranting against gays, my first thought is “closeted.  Pathetic.”

The most frightening thing about them is that they are raising another generation of men who think that to be a man means hanging on to outmoded, meaningless stereotypes.  Men who are cowardly when they should be strong.  Men who are weak, who are stupid, who are caught up in the lies of other cowardly men.  Men who think being a man is just not being a girl, or gay.

Being a man is so much more than that.  It isn’t about what you’re not.  It’s about what you ARE.

A real man is sensitive.  A real man doesn’t think of himself as automatically superior by virtue of an accident of genetics.  A real man cares. 

A real man is gay or straight—it doesn’t effing matter.

A real man admires women.  And respects them.

Real men eat quiche.  And bake it, and do the dishes afterwards.  And put the kids to bed, and if one of them is a boy and wants to dress in pink, say “Go for it.”

Here’s how the article ended.  Made me want to cry.

But unlike three weeks ago, he now realizes that if he dresses like one, he risks being put down for what he likes. Before leaving for preschool one day last week, he pulled his tractor T-shirt over his new pink princess T-shirt, a gift from his best friend, a girl who just turned 4.

“If I wear the princess T-shirt, people will think I’m a girl,” he told my husband.

He seemed to have learned a life lesson. But in a way, my husband and I wished he didn’t have to.

 Me, too.

Free Bookmarks. And other trivialities.

Sep 17, 2010 by

Right now, I am:  a.) trying to finish editing a story with a deadline next week; b.) proofreading a galley copy of “Night and Day,” which will be included in Dreamspinner Press’s anthology Myths and Magic:  Legends of Love, to be released October 15th; c.) proofreading a galley for the same publisher for someone else’s story which I think might be in the same anthology; d.)working overtime;  e.) functioning on minimal sleep because lately all of the muscles in my body have decided to cramp simultaneously, just as I am dropping off at night; or f.) all of the above.  Answer:  f.

Something had to give.  It has been my social networking.  Also, my laundry, my pleasure reading, the movies from Netflix on my nightstand, my relationship with my family…  Anyway, this is a roundabout apology for not posting on this blog.  The blog gets very sad when it doesn’t get posted (something vaguely wrong with that concept).  So I’m throwing it a bone. 

I’m done with the short story, which is How Brian Finds Love (not the title; I haven’t come up with a title yet!!).  Brian has been niggling away at the back of my head ever since I finished Finding Zach, Brian being the marginally sleazy journalist who stalks and finally gets the story out of Our Boy.  He’s a side character in that, but rather pivotal as a catalyst, and a couple of people asked what happened to him afterwards.  This is it.  It also pulls in a very side character who we don’t even meet in Finding Zach, but who was important to at least one major character.  (To say more would Give It Away, and we don’t want to do that.) 

The trouble is, it’s a Christmas story, and I’m having the devil of a time figuring out a title for it.  I usually come up with a title about halfway through the story, but I wrote this one pretty quick, so it hasn’t had time to percolate.  And everything I come up with sounds trite, particularly when one factors in the Christmas element (would that be “hohohonium”?).  The thing is that it’s really not about Christmas; it’s just something that happens at Christmas, and Brian’s dislike of the holiday is part of what gets his new boyfriend interested in him.  And that dislike is sort of symptomatic with what’s wrong with Brian. 

The original deadline was this past Wednesday, the 15th (happy birthday, Chris) but our Blessed Editor, Lynn, kindly gave us an extension ‘til the 22nd.  So that gives me several more days to percolate.

On a more productive note, the bookmarks arrived and are beautiful.  Click on the picture to the right to get information on how to order a free one.  I have lots.  Did I mention they’re free?  I’ll even pay the postage.