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the girl with violets in her lap [userpic]

(no subject)

May 19th, 2014 (07:57 pm)
Tags:

LJ Idol Week 9
Topic: "Keep Calm and End This Meme"
Trigger warnings: Some gore, reference to sexual violence
NOTE: I have taken some liberty with history here. As many of you will know, the sign KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON was originally designed for display around Britain during World War II, but was never actually posted before the war ended. In my story, the sign has been distributed and is posted during the war. My apologies to history buffs who may be bothered by the change.

Keep Calm and Carry OnCollapse )

the girl with violets in her lap [userpic]

(no subject)

May 9th, 2014 (11:58 am)
Tags:

The other day, I read Madeleine L’Engle’s Many Waters for the first time. I’d read the first three books in the Time Quintet, but when I was a kid I started Many Waters and was really bored almost immediately. Reading it as an adult, I wasn’t bored, but I was confused, because she decided to take on the topic of Noah and the flood and yet dodged all the challenging parts of the story. It’s not just that she doesn’t explore in any kind of depth the consequences or, really, any of the disturbing aspects of the idea of God wiping out the entire world. The characters who are fated to drown are drawn as not very nice people, but they’re not drawn so harshly as to make it seem okay that they’re all getting axed by God. But she basically passes that over without making the reader feel like the flood is anything particularly cruel. spoiler cut for those who haven't read it (apparently I do spoiler-cuts for 30-year-old books nowCollapse )

I know that a core aspect of L’Engle’s faith is that God is kind and merciful. Which is a vision of God I’ve always liked, but it’s also a vision that involves tossing out most of the Old Testament. And that’s fine by me, because I’m not someone who thinks the Bible is some sort of incontrovertible history/biography of God. My understanding of God casts a wider net, draws from different traditions. But if that’s not how L’Engle’s faith works, fine, cool. What I don’t get is her taking on one of the cruelest stories in the Bible and then refusing to address its cruelty. Why would you choose to write about the flood if you’re not going to engage with the emotional and moral implications of the story?

I saw the movie Noah in the theater and was actually kind of impressed by it, though Lord knows it wasn’t perfect (rock monsters, srsly?). But it didn’t pull its punches too much in confronting the horror of God’s killing everybody on the planet except for half a dozen people, and Noah’s single-mindedness in refusing to question the morality of every dictate he (thinks) he’s hearing from God is an interesting and, I think, illuminating take on the story. It wasn’t a movie that I was super-impressed by in the theater, but I find myself still thinking about it months after I saw it, so I guess it was doing something right. And I think the something was its willingness to face all the aspects of the story of the flood, including the troubling ones, honestly and thoughtfully.

I’m curious as to whether anybody reading this has read Many Waters and what their (your) thoughts are on it. I thought it was surprisingly facile for a Madeleine L’Engle novel, which was disappointing. But maybe I’m missing something.

the girl with violets in her lap [userpic]

LJ Idol Week 8: "Yes, and"

May 8th, 2014 (07:51 pm)

LJ Idol Week 8
Topic: "Yes, and"
Keywords: dialogue, marital disharmony, hole-digging, fiction
Rating: R-rated for sexual references and a few incidences of Very Bad Language

Yes, andCollapse )

the girl with violets in her lap [userpic]

(no subject)

May 7th, 2014 (01:01 pm)
Tags:

Man, I am getting annoyed at Switched at Birth. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, it’s an ABC Family show about, yes, two teenage girls who were switched at birth, and most people look at the title and network and assume it’s awful. I don’t blame them, either. But for its first few seasons it was the best take on disability issues that I’ve ever seen on television. One of the girls became Deaf when she was a toddler, and most of the show circles around that: the general difficulties of living in the world as a Deaf person and the reaction of her (privileged, ignorant) birth family to her Deafness, yes, but also explorations of Deaf pride/culture -- why some Deaf people choose not to have cochlear implants to become hearing, why some Deaf people are proud and happy to be Deaf, why some Deaf people would rather just live in a community of other Deaf people, why some Deaf people would not want to see hearing students being integrated into a Deaf school. Stuff like that. And the characters were well-drawn and the writing was sharp and smart and thoughtful, and all characters with disabilities are played by really great actors who also have those disabilities (MARLEE MATLIN, 4 REALZ), which, sadly, is pretty close to being a first on television*. (Think about Glee. I mean.) Whoever writes the show was clearly part of or at least very familiar with the Deaf community and very committed to presenting it accurately and intelligently. I was nuts about this show, and kept trying to talk it up every chance I got. I don’t think anyone I ever talked it up to actually started watching it, but I was trying!

Unfortunately, it seems like it’s a rare television show that can sustain high quality for long. (Ask me my thoughts on the last two seasons of Modern Family.) I mean, it hasn’t gotten *bad*, exactly. There’s still a lot that’s worth watching. But it’s drifting, and I’m sad. spoilersCollapse ) I don’t know. It’s still worth watching, I guess, but compared to the fantastic all-sign-language episode last season where spoilerCollapse ), it’s failing.

This entry presented to you by “I’m Bored at Work, Let Me Rant About Television” and the letter K.

___________________________________


*It isn’t just Deaf characters. They’ve got a kid in a wheelchair this season and they found a good actor for the role and are doing a nice job with that plotline.
**OK, not the stupidest thing ever. Grey’s Anatomy, frex, has done much, much stupider things. But it was bad.

the girl with violets in her lap [userpic]

LJ Idol Week 7: "No True Scotsman"

April 28th, 2014 (07:37 pm)

LJ Idol Week 7
Topic: "No True Scotsman"
Keywords: Asperger Syndrome, autism, short story, teen

Hypothesis Contrary to FactCollapse )

the girl with violets in her lap [userpic]

(no subject)

April 23rd, 2014 (01:01 pm)

A guy just came into Burger King when I was eating there and asked people at each table if they had money for him to buy a hamburger. Everyone turned him down, naturally. Everyone always does. I had no cash smaller than a $5 so I told him no as well, adding for some bizarre reason that I only had a debit card -- I guess so he wouldn’t think I was lying about having no money when I had clearly bought a meal with some. He asked me if I’d buy him a hamburger with my card. Piqued, I immediately said no, I wasn’t going to go through the line again. Belatedly, I glanced over and saw there was no line whatsoever. He looked at me for a second, sighed, and then went on to the next person. Shortly afterwards, the manager kicked him out, saying that there was a soup kitchen on so-and-so street where he could get three meals a day.

I know everyone assumes all street people are drug addicts whom you should never ever give money to because they will spend it on booze or heroin or whatever. This guy just wanted a hamburger, though -- he wasn’t asking for the money for it, he was asking me to buy him an actual hamburger. I mean I suppose he could sell the hamburger to someone on the street and use the money for drugs but somehow that doesn’t seem particularly likely to me. He just wanted me to buy him a hamburger that would probably have cost 89 cents or something, but I didn’t want to get up and get him the burger. I would have had to leave my package of half-eaten apple slices and my two remaining chicken nuggets on the table! Someone might have stolen them in the two minutes it would have taken me to buy the guy a burger!

I hate, hate, hate the way I feel about this. I get so very tired of people pompously telling me the best thing you can do for homeless people is to look through them like they don’t exist. I am always telling those people that if I give a homeless person some spare change my point isn’t “I trust that you will use this to buy food instead of something self-destructive -- look at my naivete!” My point is “Hey, I see you, you are a person, sorry you’re getting such a shit deal in life.” The fact that I’m bipolar certainly influences that -- I know that nothing but a lot of luck has kept me from winding up in the same place they are in -- but I’d like to think it goes deeper than that. I’d like to be nice to homeless people because they are people too.

And then one of them asks me for a burger and I refuse him because it would be mildly inconvenient for me to get him one, and because on a certain level I’m annoyed at him for asking me in the first place. I WAS AT A GOOD PLACE IN MY BOOK. HOW DARE YOU INTERRUPT ME JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE HUNGRY.

I started this post with the thought that I would ask you, my readers, how awful I am for having done that, but of course I know that a bunch of you would tell me I’m not awful because there’s a soup kitchen which is there specifically to cater to his needs and, I don’t know, people sitting in Burger King aren’t responsible for homeless people. And if you don’t think that you’d just stay quiet because telling me I’m a bad person is not a nice thing to do. So I don’t actually need to ask the question; I know what the answers (and non-answers) would be.

I just feel like shit about it. Maybe I’ll remember that next time something like that happens, I don’t know.

Damn it.

the girl with violets in her lap [userpic]

LJ Idol Week 6: Step on a Crack

April 21st, 2014 (06:01 pm)
Tags:

LJ Idol Week 6 Entry
Topic: Step on a crack
Trigger warning: Discussion of major violence

ImetteCollapse )

the girl with violets in her lap [userpic]

LJ Idol, Week Five: Build a Better Mousetrap

April 14th, 2014 (07:47 pm)

Short story for LJ Idol this week. I don't even know when I last wrote original fiction. Jumping back in with both feet, because there's no other way to do it, I guess.

Topic: "Build a Better Mousetrap"
Trigger warning: [select black bar to view] mental illness (bipolar disorder)

_______________________


See, the trick is psychology.Collapse )

the girl with violets in her lap [userpic]

(no subject)

April 1st, 2014 (01:33 pm)
Tags: ,

It's the first day of National Poetry Month and I'm frustrated with the Internet/the world, so have an excerpt from Octavia Butler's Parable of the Talents:

All too often,
We say
What we hear others say.
We think
What we’re told that we think.
We see
What we’re permitted to see.
Worse!
We see what we’re told that we see.
Repetition and pride are the keys to this.
To hear and to see
Even an obvious lie
Again
And again and again
May be to say it,
Almost by reflex
Then to defend it
Because we’ve said it
And at last to embrace it
Because we’ve defended it
And because we cannot admit
That we’ve embraced and defended
An obvious lie.
Thus, without thought,
Without intent,
We make
Mere echoes
Of ourselves—
And we say
What we hear others say.


Butler doesn't write the most stunning verse in the world (and freely acknowledges it), but this bit is so on point.

the girl with violets in her lap [userpic]

LJ Idol Week Two: The Missing Stair

March 24th, 2014 (03:33 pm)
Tags:

"It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one... It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things."
-Lemony Snicket

***

I lost my grandmother at Christmas. Her passing was nearly as kind as anyone's can be. She had been battling lung cancer for years, but her quality of life had been reasonably good all along; we knew this was coming, so we all had time to say goodbye; she celebrated a happy Christmas with her whole family just before her death. The day after Christmas she collapsed from a clot in her lung. She was unconscious for a day, a day during which her family gathered around her, telling stories and singing her favorite songs. Her passing was gentle. And all of this has been a great comfort to me. Her cancer was progressing rapidly, her last-ditch chemotherapy regime had failed, and all she had to look forward to was more and more weakness, less and less ability to breathe, more and more pain. She was spared that, surrounded by the love of her whole family. I think of this and I'm overwhelmed with gratitude.

And yet. Her passing was as kind as any passing can be, but death is not kind. Death is a thief. Gram was stolen from us, as all are stolen from their beloved in the end. We can know it's coming, we can resign ourselves as much as possible, but in the end we are still left with a hole in the world where a loved one used to be.

It's true that I'm generally resigned to Gram's death. It doesn't carry the bitter sting that the untimely loss of a younger person does, or a sudden death that leaves no time for goodbyes. But I am still reminded frequently that she's no longer here. I was close to her, and it's still hard to remember that she's gone. I see a person who looks like her in the street and I nearly call out to her, expecting her to turn. And as soon as I remember, her name on my lips, there's that sickening moment of realization, the plunge in my stomach. Like the step that isn't there.

***

When I was four years old, my grandfather was doing renovations on the second story of his house. Finding a crack in the floor, I dropped all of my grandmother's marble chess men into a crack in the floor -- who knows why. I also dropped a toy snowman, a tiny little thing, two styrofoam balls held together by a red pipe cleaner around its neck. The chess men were rescued by my grandfather; the snowman was not. But ten years later my grandfather decided to renovate the first floor, and as he sledgehammered the kitchen ceiling, an ancient little styrofoam concoction fell down -- my snowman, covered in plaster dust and stained gray by the years, but still whole. This became one of my grandmother's favorite stories. She put the snowman in pride of place in a display cabinet, telling the story frequently to anyone who'd listen, and gave me little snowman-themed presents over the years: a candle holder decorated with snowmen, a shirt with a snowman embroidered on the front. The candle holder was lost in a move, but I've kept the snowman shirt. And after her funeral, I pulled it out of the closet and noticed for the first time that the embroidery thread is unraveling, that I may someday lose the snowman. And my foot drops through the step that isn't there, and I stumble.

***

My grandmother was an alcoholic in her youth, but when she was around thirty she got into AA in a big way. From then on she lived the principle of "one day at a time" more fully than anyone I've known, and I know a whole lot of people in AA. When she became ill with cancer, her quality of life was enhanced so much by her refusal ever to worry about tomorrow -- today was enough. Within a few years of her joining AA, she was sponsor to dozens of "pigeons," newcomers to the program. Soon after that she got involved in "Schizophrenics Anonymous," a dual-diagnosis organization aimed at alcoholic schizophrenics that I believe has disappeared since. She wasn't schizophrenic, but she saw the needs of the people in that program, struggling so hard to find principles and touchstones that would help them through the worst times of their illnesses. A good proportion of them were homeless, as one might expect from that population, and time after time she took them into her home. My grandfather didn't like the idea and forbade her to do it, so she would hide them in the basement, sneaking them food and comfort whenever she could. It was a remarkable thing for her to do. And in a bookstore I come across a book called Sane, by Marya Hornbacher -- a book about AA and the stability it can provide for those struggling with alcoholism and severe mental illness. And I think about the support Gram provided to uncounted numbers of such people over the years, helping them stay in the program, helping them cope -- 50 years into sobriety, she was still acting as sponsor to new members -- and my foot hits the air and my stomach lurches.

***

My grandmother was a huge fan of lobster, but frequently found the price prohibitive. One day she and my aunts and uncles went on a harbor cruise, and there was an all-you-can-eat buffet with really good lobster. She knew they wouldn't give her a doggie bag, so she emptied her purse, a new one, and made my aunts empty theirs too, and they all left with their purses stuffed with as much lobster as they could hold -- ruining them, of course, but who cared? It was a week's worth of lobster! As they were leaving my uncle pulled out a lobster claw and let it dangle out of her purse. She made it most of the way home without noticing. And there is a restaurant a few miles from my home that serves all-you-can-eat lobster on Tuesdays, and I see the sign out front and there is that feeling of falling, the shock of loss.

***

There are endless stories about my grandmother, and I've heard all the good ones endless times. She was a storyteller, and a good one; no matter how many times you'd heard a story, you found yourself breaking into laughter. I treasure the memory of that laughter now, but the memory is all I have now. The next generation in our family will hear her stories, but they won't hear them from her lips, and that's a tough loss. No one will ever make a lemon-cream tart with her inimitable twist again. Her beloved possessions have been split up among the family. Her house, the house in which her mother was born, that's been in the family for over a hundred years -- that's not "Gramma and Puppa's house" anymore. Every time I start to say that, every time I have to correct myself -- it's just Puppa's house now -- I wince.

I know I should be grateful for the ease of her passing. I am grateful. I'm very grateful. But I cannot be grateful for her death. I know there are people out there who are glad to die, but she wasn't one of them. If she'd lived a hundred more years her stories would never lose their savor. Perhaps there are people who regard death in old age as a friend, but I don't think I ever will. Certainly not in regard to Gram.

There will probably come a time when I'll see snowmen, lobsters, books about AA and will smile instead of feeling my stomach drop. I know that's what she would prefer. I'll probably get there. Sooner or later, it will be okay.

I hope and trust she'll rest in peace. But I haven't found my peace yet.

the girl with violets in her lap [userpic]

(no subject)

March 18th, 2014 (12:24 pm)

Hey hey! So it's LJ Idol time, which, as noted before, is the reason I came back to LJ. Problem with that is as it's my main impetus for coming back, I may find myself slipping away again once I'm eliminated (I was finding it hard to keep up here before)... and thus far I am doing really really badly in this week's poll.*

Anyway, if you vote for me all that is less likely to happen! You shouldn't vote for me if you didn't like my post about bad jokes, but if you did, the poll where you can vote for me is here.** And the polls for the rest of the competitors are here , if you want some good stuff to read (and vote on). Anyone can vote, so if you've a mind to, vote on!

___________________________


*We'll leave aside how freaking humiliated I would be if I got eliminated in the first week.
**My phone is fucking shit up right now, so if those links mysteriously disappear, go to the "therealljidol" community and scroll down to the poll post. The polls themselves are under an LJ cut but the entry has a yellow background for easy identification.

the girl with violets in her lap [userpic]

(no subject)

March 17th, 2014 (03:04 pm)

Fred Phelps, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, is dying. Please please please don't picket his funeral.

Let's remember why all the funeral pickets were awful: because they made the funerals hell for those who were grieving. Picketing a funeral does nothing to the dead. But the people who grieve for Phelps are not all terrible. Many of his children have left the church,* but that doesn't mean that in some complicated way they may not still love their father, and whether they do or not, they deserve closure. A funeral can provide that. But not if it takes place with hatred being shouted in the background.

And above all: Phelps's protests were based in hate. LGBTQ activism is based in love, not hate.

Please don't picket Phelps's funeral.

_______________________


*Incidentally, VERY weird detail in that article: Phelps himself was excommunicated from the church in the middle of last year. No one outside the WBC knows the reason. Some are theorizing he had a change of heart, but that seems improbable to me, after a lifetime of fiercely determined hatred. Very interesting though.

the girl with violets in her lap [userpic]

LJ Idol Entry, Week One: "Jayus"

March 17th, 2014 (11:22 am)
Tags:

Jayus: “From Indonesian, meaning a joke so poorly told and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh.”

__________________________________


Hey, look, a commercial on TV for something called Requip. That must mean to quip again.
I think it's actually for restless legs or something.
No, did you hear me? It means to quip again.


My dad makes the worst jokes.

Though he's been making them all my life, I can't remember most of the actual jokes; they're not only terrible, they're transient. A word or two come up in conversation, and he twists them around, manages to make some sad corkscrew of a pun out of them, and then ignores us as we roll our eyes. And as we try to suppress our giggles. The so-bad-it's-good model of humor has been a constant current through all of my remembered years.

(The truth is, we don't even know how many bad jokes he's spared us over the years. Occasionally you'll see him laugh to himself, apparently over nothing. "What is it?", you'll inquire, and he'll reply, "Just told myself a joke." "Well, what was it?" "It wouldn't be funny outside my head.")

And unfortunately for my wife, these are things I've picked up. I too make terrible horrible no-good very bad puns. "So what?" she might inquire of me, and I'll respond, "Sew buttons." By now it's not really even a joke anymore; it's a mantra. A tradition.

It's a comforting thing, somehow, this passage of bad-jokery from one generation to the next. ("Did you get your hair cut?" someone might ask him. "I got all of them cut," he'll reply.) We might groan, we might pretend the next bad joke will cause us to snap, but inside we're laughing, because it's who Dad is -- the easygoing guy who brings the puns to the table when he's happy. And he's happy most of the time. And that has made our lives happier. The bad jokes are part of what family means to me. And I have willingly carried them over into my life and my home.

My wife λ and I are planning on having a child soon. It's an incredibly scary idea. I'm terrified that I might not be able to handle it, that I'll break down, that I'm too high-maintenance and too prone to mood swings to handle caring for a little person who will depend on myself and my wife for everything, from wiping their butt to gaining a safe, joyful attitude as they move into the world. But then one day I might say to λ, out of the blue --

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Knock.
Knock who?
Knock knock.
Who's there?
Knock.
Knock who?
Knock knock...


-- and λ will giggle and groan at the same time. And then she'll tell me, "Our kid will love that one."

And it calms me down, thinking of how my parents managed to raise us, thinking about what a good job they did, how safe and loved they made me feel and how important that was as I grew up and began to live independently. And those bad jokes were a part of all of that process. It was part of our family, a familiar ritual that drew us closer together, just by virtue of who Dad was and who we were when we were together. And it's a million little things just like that that helped to create our warm, happy home. I think I've learned some of those things and can pass them down now. I hope I have.

So I think the bad jokes are a pretty good thing. Obviously, there are a whole lot of things that are objectively scary about parenting, things I don't know how to do yet. But even if I am going to have to pick up 99% of it on the fly, there is this one thing I know I can handle: I can tell bad jokes.

It's a start.

the girl with violets in her lap [userpic]

(no subject)

March 7th, 2014 (04:09 pm)

Well, here is a thing I'll come back to LJ for, apparently -- this viral post about trigger warnings. It is entitled "Trigger Happy*: The 'trigger warning' has spread from blogs to college classrooms. Can it be stopped?" and it is based in blatant misunderstanding of what triggers are and why anyone should care about triggering others. This is an argument that has been rehashed many, many times, and it is *always* based in ignorance about PTSD; it is also generally associated with a self-centered belief that other people's triggers are not sufficient reason for a writer to undertake the arduous task of writing five to ten words warning about a post's contents.

So let's take a look.

Here is the big thing, the thing I really want people to know: the word "trigger" does not mean what most people think it does. A "trigger", for a person with PTSD, is not a matter of getting offended. It is not a matter of taking offense because taking offense is fun. It is not a matter of thinking that they have a right not to be "upset" by the world. It is a matter of getting "upset" in a sense, but the word "upset" here does not describe the same experience that non-PTSD-sufferers have when they are "upset". It isn't something that people without PTSD can understand without a lot of experience with/listening to people who do have PTSD.

I'm not going to ask people to imagine what it would be like to suffer a horrible trauma sufficient to cause PTSD, because if it hasn't happened to you, you can't understand. You might think you can. You might think you can extrapolate your own experience with bad, upsetting, or scarring events out to an understanding of what people with PTSD have suffered. But you can't. It's not the same category. I have often seen people say they were "traumatized" by a very upsetting movie or things like that. That sort of "trauma" is based in a generally understood definition that entails the experience of encountering something that upsets you greatly, something that you never forget and that shapes part of who you are in the future. And that kind of emotional trauma is real; I'm not saying it's not. But it's not the same thing as fighting in a war or living in a war zone or being raped or severely physically assaulted or other things that can cause PTSD. The sooner people without PTSD start understanding that their own experiences of "trauma" are simply not comparable to the experiences of people with PTSD, the better. This isn't a matter of different degrees of the same thing. They're different -- different in experience and very different in impact. So stop thinking you can get it because you can imagine your own traumatic experiences magnified. You can't.

With that said: what is a trigger? This is an incredibly misunderstood word. Even people who don't think that triggers are about being "upset" in a neurotypical sense tend to have an incomplete understanding of the definition of the word. People have a sense that it can mean something that causes a "flashback", but they see it in a limited way: someone sees something triggering, has a flashback, pulls him/herself out of it, and moves on. That's generally not the way it works. I said to one PTSD sufferer that a trigger doesn't mean ruining a half hour of your life, it means ruining the rest of the day, and she laughed kind of bitterly and said "That would be really lucky. It usually ruins a few days or maybe a week." I was going to try to explain it myself, but I don't have PTSD and I'd do an incomplete job. So here's what Toby M (@tylluan) on Twitter has to say:

"For me, triggers mean: can't breathe, can't speak, can't tolerate touch, sweating, crying, frozen, out-of-body consciousness experience. After effects linger for days - voice doesn't return, jump at shadows & sudden sights/sounds, can't sleep, nightmares."

So let's stack that up. That's what people with PTSD can experience when they are triggered. Some people have less severe reactions, some people have more severe reactions, but for all, it is an immersive experience that plunges them back into the worst thing they have ever experienced -- and remember that the worst thing they've ever experienced is unimaginable to the rest of us. When they're triggered, they're being raped again, they're in the middle of a war zone again, they're being brutally assaulted again, and so on. Not just remembering it: they are in that moment again.

In a hefty percentage of cases, all of that can be avoided if people want to give a shit about it. I have seen many, many people bitching about having to put trigger warnings on blog posts or fanfics, as if it is some incredibly difficult task that will somehow tax the writer. People generally get offended at the idea that someone else might get offended by something they've written. Apart from the irony here, that demonstrates willful ignorance: interpreting a PTSD sufferer's experience through one's own lens and then blatantly ignoring anyone who tries to explain. Because trigger-warning supporters do try to explain. A lot. Strong trigger-warning opponents don't give a shit. They would have to put something like "TW: rape" on THEIR story or THEIR blog post! But they are STANDING STRONG and NOT BOWING TO THE PC POLICE.

So they just go ahead and risk causing others to have that horrific experience Toby M describes, because what the hell, no one is going to tell THEM what to do.

Why would they not actively *want* to spare people that? Why would they not want to spend *two seconds* trying to help people not to be triggered? Because fuck those whiny hypersensitive people. That's why.

The discussion, of course, doesn't center around an issue as neat as that. People warn that trigger warnings are going to become endemic, that people will have to issue trigger warnings before everything they say or do lest people who don't *really* have PTSD, people who just like taking offense, yell at them. The linked article notes sardonically that people have requested trigger warnings for books and movies used in college classes,** for television shows, for... actually, those are the only real examples they've got, but they pad the article out considerably by imagining a whole bunch of other settings in which no one is using trigger warnings *yet* -- but they might have to in the future! Everyone knows that speculation is just as good as facts. Right?

And again, I say to you: who cares?

Why do you care about taking five seconds to put out a trigger warning? Even as a just-in-case? Maybe some people who appreciate their use don't technically have PTSD. Maybe they just want to avoid reading about things they don't like. Why do you care? So you take a chance that someone with PTSD will see the trigger warning, and instead no one with PTSD happens to see it. This is really your big argument, that that's somehow too much for you to do?

People are saying trigger warnings can't possibly encompass everything that could be triggering. No, they can't. Now explain to me why that means you shouldn't use trigger warnings for common triggers.

Is it possible for demands for trigger warnings to get out of control? Of course. Just look at all the speculative stuff in that article! It's possible for anything to get out of control. But I haven't seen trigger warnings get out of control. I've seen people asking for trigger warnings for a wide variety of common triggers, it's true. I've seen people asking for trigger warnings for things that seem trivial to people who don't have PTSD.*** But most of what I have seen is people balking at the idea of trigger warnings themselves, thinking they're enacting that most horrible of modern bugaboos, political correctness. Think-pieces in the New Republic might focus on the fringes of the trigger-warning movement, talk about them as if they are the mainstream, and then speculate about where they might take us next. But that is not what is happening in the mainstream. The mainstream is having a debate about whether trigger warnings should exist at all. Instead of taking a compassionate view, a "hey, I don't want to send people into a horrible experience" view, it's all "I don't want to do this but they're making me!"

To those people: stop it. Think about someone other than yourself for once. Stop making dire predictions about the future and look at the now. Right now there are people whom you could be plunging unknowingly into horror. Think about them, and write the goddamn trigger warning. I guarantee you you will not be harmed by doing so. You'll be fine. Really. I promise. So do it.

Thanks.


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*OH MY GOD SERIOUSLY.
**I am so not tracking why they're upset about the college materials thing in particular. Many college materials deal with stuff that can absolutely be triggering -- it's part of the deal; college is meant to be intellectually challenging. They talk about a woman who got triggered by a graphic rape scene in a movie but didn't leave the room because she didn't want to stand out or betray her history/level of upset. The general tone of the sentence implies that she could have just left and there wouldn't have been a problem. The issue with that is that a triggered mindset is not a rational one. It also very often makes it difficult to make decisions like a decision to walk out. People feel frozen and cornered and sometimes physically can't remove themselves from the situation.
***Apparently the people writing that article don't know this, but in my corner of the Internet there's a thing called "content warning". A trigger warning warns of common triggers. A content warning warns about things that might be overly upsetting to people who don't have triggers and about passing, non-graphic references to things that can be triggering. I still don't get why it's a big deal to do this. I'm not saying people should *have* to do it (nor am I saying that about TWs, by the way); I just think it's a nice thing to do. People could stand to be nice more often.

the girl with violets in her lap [userpic]

LJ Idol Signup

March 6th, 2014 (11:10 am)

I've been off LJ for a really long time and I miss it. So in order to jump-start my posting here again, I'm participating in therealljidol this year. That means there'll be at least a post a week until I get eliminated, so those of you who like to see me post should hope I don't get eliminated too soon. ;) I hope I'll be around more even after I get eliminated though.

But, yes. Once more in a separate paragraph to make it easier for Gary to see: I'm doing LJ Idol this year. :)

the girl with violets in her lap [userpic]

here we go!

December 17th, 2013 (12:33 pm)
accomplished

current mood: accomplished

Hey, EllJays! Hey!

4 to 16 Characters is out in the world now and doing well. It’s gotten a good reception from critics and readers alike; it got picked for Kirkus Reviews’ Best of Indie Books 2013 (the top one of five in the Teen and Children’s Books category!) and it’s been doing well both with teens and with fandom. (This fangirl’s super-enthusiastic review on Tumblr, with 476 notes and climbing, is my favorite, but the Amazon reviews are averaging a 4.2 out of 5 and I’m getting lots of random good reviews from all over the Internet.*) So I shall make an obvious point: Christmas is coming, and I think most of us probably are trying to find just the right gift for the Internet-addicted teenager(s) in our lives. So go with my book! They will like it! So will I! ^.^

(A random note: for some reason, Amazon says that the paperback version will take 2 to 4 weeks to ship. Everything I was told by the company that prints and ships the books to Amazon says that that’s a lie and that it should take no longer than 4 days, but I need to call the printer and make sure there isn’t some snafu. In the meantime, if you want to order the book like right now omg, barnesandnoble.com says it ships within 24 hours. You can also order it at your local bookstore and ask them how long it will take to arrive. Boston-local people, the Harvard Coop has paper copies of it, or they did last I checked.)

______________________________________________


*Also a friend of mine in Marvel Comics fandom told me that she had two different people recommend it to her in a single MCU chat, which is amazing because I have done virtually no publicity myself as yet and have not gotten around to the reachout to fandom that I'm planning on doing. Yes, I’m behind. But I was shocked to find out multiple people in MCU fandom were even reading it yet, let alone recommending it!

the girl with violets in her lap [userpic]

kickstarter kickstarter I'm obsessed with kickstarter

July 19th, 2013 (10:24 am)

NOTE TO PEOPLE ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER: This is a Kickstarter update and you’ve already seen those, so feel free to skip. :) Also, if you’ve already donated, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! and you can also skip this post. :D

So there are three days (!) left on my Kickstarter, and I’m getting close to the $3000 I need ($2,250!) but I’m not there yet, and if things don’t pick up I’m probably not going to get there. :-S So I’ve put some new rewards up.

One that I think would be of particular interest to my friends here is that I’m offering to do editorial letter-critiques of writers’ novels. That means I read your full book and write a letter summarizing what I see as its strengths and weaknesses and pointing out what I think is the best way to go forward with it. For $100, I’ll do the editorial letter; for $200, I’ll do the letter plus a full line-by-line edit of the first 10,000 pages of your work; for $1,000, I’ll do the letter and a full line-by-line edit of the whole book. I’ve done all of these things professionally in the past and I’m good at them. And I know from personal experience that editorial letters are really, really helpful -- having a fresh eye and advice on a clear direction for moving forward can be invaluable. Neither the Jane book nor the Beth book would be in publishable shape if I hadn’t gotten good editorial advice in the form of a letter like this.

There’s also one more new reward up -- a $40 edit of a kid’s (or adult’s) college application essay. I’ve done a shit-ton of these and the kids tend to get into the colleges to which they send the essays.* ;) Of the current rewards, the most popular one is the $25 level, for which I’ll send you an advance copy of my book with a personalized autograph.

So that’s the deal at the moment. I’m so close, but just a bit too far right now. Here, I’ll put the link for the Kickstarter on its own line so it will stand out:

Kickstarter Kickstarter yaaaaaaaaaaaay Kickstarter! *\o/*

There it is, and there I am, and if you donate I will be the gratefulest ever in the world. Also, if you can’t afford to donate, it would be awesome if you’d share this with your social-media circle.

So, uh... there’s my update. Forgive its crudity; I’m simultaneously really excited and really stressed about this.

I LOVE ALL YOU GUYS WHETHER YOU DONATE OR NOT, YOU ARE MY LJ PEEPS AND YOU RULE

*Aargh, I feel so uncomfortable bragging about this stuff! I feel like a jerk. But I guess I’d rather feel like a jerk and stand the best chance of getting this project funded than I would feel like a nice person whose chances of getting it funded are diminished. C’est la vie.

the girl with violets in her lap [userpic]

(no subject)

July 10th, 2013 (02:11 pm)

HEY LIVEJOURNAL, HEY GUESS WHAT

I have a Kickstarter up for publishing the Jane book!

I would super super super love it if you could help, even just the littlest bit. Most of you know that for a long time the Jane book seemed to be on an endless meandering road to nowhere, and that was not a good thing. Having this Kickstarter, if it gets funded, gives me the means to take control and put the book out there. This is kind of huge.

Donations start at $1 and go up to whatever you want to give, and there are some rewards up that I think are pretty decent.* Probably the best of them: if you have a book that you want edited I am offering to edit an 80,000-word manuscript** for $1,000, which is literally one-quarter of what that would usually cost. I have professional experience in editing books and I am good at it. There are plenty of other rewards as well, all listed on the page. Autographed copies are popular at the moment.

So, yeah. If you can help it will make me squee. A lot. ^.^

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*My personal favorite ones are the ones where you can chat online with one of the characters in the book or where I write a bonus short story about the book for you, but thus far those are unpopular because nobody has read the book yet and therefore nobody has any interest in the characters yet. Things I should have predicted.
**Length may be negotiable if your book is longer.

the girl with violets in her lap [userpic]

Mental Illness Awareness Month

May 21st, 2013 (03:14 pm)

So here’s a post I’m feeling funny about posting to LiveJournal. It’s about my experiences with bipolar disorder; I wrote it for Mental Illness Awareness Month. It’s from Facebook, and it was kind of a big-ass deal to me to post it there, because many of the people that I know/have known in “real” life -- particularly the ones who are really only acquaintances -- have had no idea that I’m bipolar. I kind of just came out about it to, well, everyone. And it feels weird.

On LiveJournal, however, I’ve been posting about this shit for years, so that I almost wonder if I should bother reposting this here. Ultimately I decided to because I put a lot of effort into writing it and I miss LJ and why not.

So, uh, here. This is the most up-to-date piece about my experiences with bipolar. Thinking about it logically I know it really isn’t totally redundant with other things I’ve posted here, because my experiences have evolved. (Dude, I do not know WTF happened when I turned 30, but all of a sudden shit was going DOWN.) And... yeah. Here’s my thing. It took a lot of something or other to write it.

Incidentally, one kind of eyerolly point: I think almost every (longitudinal, not isolated) post I’ve made about bipolar has ended “but I’m better now yay!” And the problem is that very often I really have not been better. Oh, at the times that I’ve posted I’ve almost certainly been better than I was at other times. I wasn’t posting out of the depths of bad episodes or whatever. But I think my entries have tended to have a tone of “I have PUT PAID to this bipolar business by means of HARD WORK AND MEDICATION!” And I would do this without ever realizing how depression had invaded all the crawl spaces of my life, taking over everything, until I couldn’t really see it because it was everywhere, it was where I was living. So, yeah, this is another retrospective piece that’s like “I wasn’t okay all those times I said I was okay but now I am!!!” But the thing is... it’s true this time. Seriously. I finally got some decent treatment after years and years of my treatment being sub-par, and looking back over the bad years I can see what both I and my treatment team were doing wrong, so I can get that stuff fixed when it turns up. Which it mostly doesn’t lately, because seriously, I think my prescriber is kind of a wizard. But... yeah. Things really are better.

So here's the post.Collapse )

the girl with violets in her lap [userpic]

cross-post from Facebook

April 2nd, 2013 (06:30 pm)

It's Autism Awareness Day. Let's raise some awareness.

So for those of you who don't know, I am on the autistic spectrum. I have a disorder called Nonverbal Learning Disability (NLD), which is related to Asperger Syndrome and is considered by some doctors to be subsumed in that diagnosis. (Meaning some people would consider me to have Asperger.) As the name of the disorder suggests, my verbal abilities are not impaired, but I have significant difficulties in a number of areas -- apart from the obvious I-suck-at-math, I have more challenging deficits in executive functions, spatial relations, processing of sensory stimuli, physical coordination, social interactions, and the ability to see the big picture. What that boils down to is that I can't get organized to save my life, I need a GPS to navigate a straight line, I'm prone to bumping into things and falling over, I am completely lost and incredibly anxious in social situations, and I am the worst chess player you will ever meet, because I cannot see how one thing interacts with/causes other things. I didn't learn to tie my shoes until I was ten and couldn't learn to tell time on an analog clock until I was sixteen (you think I'm kidding. No.) I was told I was irremediably stupid, I was told I was super smart and super lazy, I was told I was of average intelligence and under intense parental pressure to obtain success wrt verbal skills. Mostly, unless there was a book in my hand, I just felt stupid. It's like there are blank places in my mind where all the spatial relations/social interactions/etc stuff is supposed to go, and I've had to learn workarounds.

And are you saying "Wow, I'd never have known!"? Some of you may not be. Some of you definitely are. Because I'm the smart one, right? The academic shining star, the Harvard graduate, the one who writes all the thoughtful well-reasoned stuff? Well, yeah, I have done all of that. And I also have an autistic-spectrum learning disability. I am a mostly-invisible autistic (or borderline autistic) person.

So: I am claiming visibility. I'm on the autistic spectrum. Now for the thing I've been perseverating about all day, the problems inherent in the search for a "cure" for autism.

Given what I was saying about blanks in my brain and all that, I don't doubt that it sounds like something for which a cure should be sought. And, yeah, not gonna lie, I hate the stupid blanks. I would love it if someone could wave a wand and make me suddenly understand how to get from point A to point B and not have anxiety attacks in social situations and not have near-meltdowns on bad days when all the noises in the world get loud and chaotic and smells are overwhelmingly disgusting and flip me out completely and make me want to hide in a padded box until it all goes away. I'm not going to pretend that there's not a lot of sucky stuff attendant on my personal disability.

But I do not -- really DO NOT -- like the idea of "seeking a cure". Because, you know, say instead of someone waving a wand now, someone had waved a wand at my birth and taken away the NLD. That doesn't just mean taking away the getting lost and the social anxiety. First of all, NLD is often correlated with impressive verbal skills, and I do not know who I would be without my verbal proficiency and I do not want to know because that's who I am. But, you know, in a wider sense, all of this is who I am. I am the person who learned mental workarounds for my basic mathematical deficiencies and got there in the end. I am the person who, unable to intuit the various implications of things that are unspoken and commonly understood, learned to reason them through. I've learned to cope. I think the learning was good for me.

But more than that, I just want to go back to the issue of how this is who I am. I build my life around my words. I think things through once, twice, three times and make the knowledge part of me. I program a GPS to navigate around the block and laugh at myself. I carry noise-canceling headphones and scented products that I like and can rub under my nose when the world gets bad, and it's OK. I think differently, but I don't think I think badly. I don't think I need to be cured. I don't WANT to be cured. And I don't even know what a cure would mean. How can you cure someone of who they are? How can you cure someone of themselves?

I would like to add, too, that people who are more severely autistic than me often want to change even less than I do. That thing I was saying about the blanks in my brain -- as I understand it, that is not the way most autistic people perceive themselves. They find it difficult to communicate with the world in conventional ways -- or the world finds it difficult to communicate with them -- but they don't necessarily want someone to jump in and tweak their brain functioning until they are neurotypical and able to communicate in the usual way. They value the way that they think, they value the way that they are, and they don't feel that they need to change themselves to be the way the world expects them to be. Many value the concept (as I do) of neurodiversity: we are different, we are diverse, and our diversity is of value. We have something new to contribute to the world. We are of worth.

So, yeah. I'd encourage everyone to think long and hard about the mentality of Autism Speaks and the more generalized, very common idea that we need to find a "cure" for autism. Don't ask us to become different people to suit the world and its narrow expectations. Ask the world to broaden its expectations. Ask the world to accept us. We deserve that. And the world deserves us.