Happy New Year!

Road subject to flooding.
I couldn’t find a picture to encapsulate my year, so I just picked one at random. Though I guess “Road Subject to Flooding” does it pretty nicely.

I am writing this from the past, because I know myself well enough to know I would never be able to write this and post it on time for when I want to post it (11:59pm, December 31st 2014). That, or I’m trapped in the past and this is the only way I can communicate with you. Help! Rescue me! GET IN THE DELOREAN AND SAVE ME BEFORE I FADE AWAY

Anyway. My best wishes are going out to all of you for an awesome New Year’s, with partying that suits your personal levels of introversion/extroversion and midnight expressions of affection you are comfortable with. If 2014 was good, I hope 2015 is even better. If 2014 sucked donkey genitalia, then join me in wrestling 2015 to the ground and making it our minion.

2014 was a mixed bag for me. On the upside, I finally moved in with Mr. Katje, and he’s pretty great to live with. On the downside, I broke my femur, requiring long months of doing absolutely nothing followed by more months of not being fully recovered yet — see above note about donkey genitalia.

Hooray, just got a big shipment from Barefooot Books! Continually impressed with the quality of these books.
Some of the things I sell.

On the upside, I started a new business in selling Barefoot Books, which I’m enjoying and I am really excited about. (You can read about my exploits on my business blog.) On the downside, I’m fucking exhausted: starting a new business is a LOT of work and I have, yet again, overestimated my capabilities. (As downsides go, though, this one isn’t huge. I’m just whining.)

On the upside, I wrote almost 120,000 words this year. On the downsides, I didn’t make my goal of 150,000 and over half of what I did write was on blogging because I allowed myself to count blogging words for word count. That skewed my writing heavily in a way I did not like.

I also had a bit of a breakdown in November with regards to my writing. The stress of releasing The Jade Star of Athering was so great it broke something in me, and I was pretty close to calling it quits with this whole writing thing.

I’m glad I didn’t. I decided to take a step back, give myself a hiatus, and take it easy on myself. I’m feeling better now, and I hope that very soon I’ll be back in the saddle. However, what this means is that I won’t be releasing any books in 2015. If I try, I might have another stress-related breakdown and then all bets are off. I’m sorry, I know how much it sucks to wait a long time for the next book in a series. I really do. (10 years.)

On the bright side, it should only be about 13 months before my next release. I hope to get the next book in The Third Age out in February 2016. That’s assuming everything goes to plan, so cross your fingers!

Blog changes in 2015

You might have noticed the changes to this blog already. New theme, new name. Mind you, I came up with “Quillscratches” when I was loopy from lack of sleep so no telling how long it’ll stick around.

What is sticking is the change to what’s being posted here. I’m not going to quit posting about mental illness, smashing the kyriarchy, or the weird things that happen in my life — not completely. I’m just shifting focus.

Starting next week, on Wednesday, I will be posting bits of backstory, character profiles or interviews, and other bits and bobs from my writing that doesn’t make it into the final books. I’ll be posting every Wednesday, all year.

Other posts might come up outside of Wednesdays — maybe snippets of my personal life or those rants I love to get into — but they won’t be a focus, and will only show up as and when I’m inspired to write them…which is basically how my posts here have been done for a while, anyway. I want to change that.

(If, by the end of the year, I’ve kept to the once-a-week schedule, I may consider upping it to twice a week because I, too, like to live dangerously.)

And, despite the subtitle of this blog, these bits and bobs will not be solely Athering-related. Any world I write in is fair game.

If you have questions for me you’d like me to answer with one of my weekly blog posts, please send them to me at this email address: katjevanloon AT gmail DOT com. Put “Blog questions” or something similar in the subject line so I know what it’s about.

Fifty Shades of Drinking

This has been on hiatus for an unduly long time, and I am sorry. I was going to get back to it in October, but a bunch of events sort of took over my autumn and then I was planning on doing one as a surprise Christmas present to y’all but then I slept a lot and then Christmas was over and then I slept a lot again and now it’s basically the end of the year, so.

It is coming back. I’m not going to give an exact date, because I won’t keep to it, but expect a new episode in January. Hopefully before the last day of the month. Honestly, I plan on doing this vlog series for as long as I humanly can. The broken leg just threw a wrench into a LOT of things for me…including my leg, which was wrenched when I fell. A wrenched leg wrenches plans!

I’ll stop typing ‘wrench’ now.

Anyway, it IS coming back. Sometime in January you will again get to enjoy the slow destruction of my liver, punctuated with many vicious swear words and rants against misogyny.


 

Welp, that’s the news. I will see you all next week.

Sending wishes to banish the morning’s hangovers!

-Katje

ETA: Apparently I set this post to publish at 11:59 AM, not PM, so. Uh. Not the new year for me yet. But maybe for you! HAPPY NEW YEAR ANYWAAAAAAY

Merry Christmas!

Hello dear readers! I am sending you lots of warmth and love over the holidays. I hope that whatever your celebrations may be, and whatever you end up doing, they bring you much happiness.

If the holidays are a stressful time for you, please know you have my complete understanding and sympathy. You have the strength to get through this and you are not alone. <3

Our Xmas tree. Nothing special but it warms up the room.

This time of year has not always been easy on me. It used to downright suck, honestly, and consequently I used to be a total Scrooge, without the excess piles of money or the scary ghosts. I’ve been very blessed that in the past few years it has gotten better, to the point where I actually get excited for Christmas again and look forward to the holiday, as well as my Longest Night Vigil (where I attempt to stay up from sunset to sunrise on Solstice). Also, I really enjoy wrapping presents, and I am insanely good at it.

I spent part of my Longest Night Vigil putting up our tree (check the video to see the twinkling lights!) and tonight Mr. Katje and I are having our own, private Christmas dinner. Tomorrow we go to his parents’ place to unwrap gifts and spend the night, and then on Boxing Day we’re having the big family dinner. Between now and this evening, however, I’m going to be watching Stargate SG-1 and trying to finish the stocking I’m knitting for our nibling. I will also be refraining from hitting “refresh” a million times on the USPS tracking page that tells me where my 2015 planner is (San Diego, since the 18th).

Happy Holidays! I’ll see you all in the new year. (Or possibly the evening before.)

-Katje

Thanksgiving

Ok, it was yesterday so my timing of this post is a little off. I have been seriously low on energy lately so writing posts has been difficult for me to do.

Anyway. A lot of people expect that I hate Thanksgiving, because I’m American Indian, have a degree in First Nations Studies, and am very vocal about how awful it is that the US has Columbus Day and we shouldn’t celebrate a dude who killed, enslaved, and raped a bunch of indigenous North Americans. I mean, you know, just saying.

While I loathe Columbus Day and think it should be renamed into Indigenous Peoples’ Day or Bartolom√© Day or something else, anything other than honoring the father of the transatlantic slave trade, I don’t actually hate Thanksgiving, for all the parallels drawn between the two.* That’s because my experience of it is pretty different from the way the Thanksgiving experience is portrayed in a lot of western media.

That school play thing where half the kids dress up as Pilgrims and the rest are Indians and there’s a giant turkey and it’s all very sappy and simple and glosses over the intricacies of the actual history, not to mention talking about “the Indians” as if we up and went away to the Undying Lands all Tolkein Elvish-style? Yeah, never had that. (The play specifically, I mean. I’ve experienced plenty of talk about Indians being “gone” or “lost to history” and will likely continue to experience that on a regular basis.)

The pat story about how the Pilgrims and the Indians survived the winter through the Power of Sharing? Was never really a Thing. I wasn’t even fully cognizant of that being part of the story until I was in my preteens. At which point, well, that seemed ridiculous.

Thanksgiving was always presented to me as more of a harvest celebration, where we’re grateful for the fact that we have food and shelter throughout the cold nights, and as a reminder that not everyone is as lucky. I don’t know if that’s just the way I was raised or if it’s more common in Canada to see Thanksgiving this way, but it’s how it was for me.

Also, once Mom and I moved to Hawai’i and began celebrating the US version of the holiday, it had the benefit of being a holiday that I was sure to have with her instead of on access with my father. (There was one Thanksgiving I spent with my father, when I got a week off school to come back to Canada in October, and brought my best friend. She’s forgiven me for that experience, thankfully.)

Finally, I fucking love turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie.

So while Thanksgiving might have dubious origins, and while it may contain enough threads of colonialism or just, well, being a family holiday to taint it for many people, for me it’s a celebration of thanks, harvest, togetherness, and PUMPKIN.

PUMPKIN SPICE FOR THE PUMPKIN GOD.

*cough* Right. Where was I?

Thanksgiving! Yes! So we spent Monday evening at Mr. Katje’s sister’s place. I made a pumpkin pie and it was a huge success. It was only my second pumpkin pie; the first one didn’t have enough pumpkin spice in it and the pumpkin god was displeased. Also it was bland. But I have pictures of the first one and not the second one, so here you go:

Making my first pumpkin pie!
MIXIN IN THE MIXER
Annd in the oven.
OVENIN’ IN THE OVEN
Smells delicious!
READY TO BE DEVOURED. PUMPKIN SPICE FOR THE PUMPKIN GOD.

Looks delicious, doesn’t it? Well, its brother was.

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you had a wonderful one, full of all your favourite holiday foods and people.

-Katje, who is thankful for pumpkin

*Probably important to note here: I adored seeing 1492: Conquest of Paradise in theatres and I listen to the soundtrack to this day (in fact I’m listening to it now; it’s VANGELIS HE’S AMAZING). I visited Dominican Republic for the quincentennial celebration of the “discovery” by Columbus and there were huge parties. While now I acknowledge that Columbus was an ass and isn’t someone we should celebrate, that doesn’t change the fact that I didn’t know it then (I was 5 or 6 after all) and I still had an amazing time. And while I haven’t seen it in ages, I’m pretty sure I’d still enjoy the movie 1492: Conquest of Paradise even if Columbus is the protagonist. And I wouldn’t feel guilty, nor would I try to make anyone else feel guilty for enjoying that film or the music.

Just, you know, it’s possible to hold opposing thoughts in your brain at the same time without being devoured whole by them.

The Stroke of Midnight

At midnight, I was sitting on the couch upstairs, playing around on my computer. Mr. Katje’s folks were watching Downton Abbey, and Mr. Katje was pouring us glasses of Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider. We raised our glasses in a toast — “Happy new year! Fuck off, 2013!” — and drank. Then I got up and went over to the other couch to give Mr. Katje a very chaste midnight kiss — as he’d had some sugar-free Halls several hours before, and I did not want to risk any lingering aspartame passing to my mouth.

It was a relatively quiet night — no fireworks, just some neighbors banging pots and pans. The cats barely woke up to register the passing of midnight.

Now it’s 4 am. Mr. Katje and I have not yet gone to sleep — he is looking at his “Random Picks” list on Netflix and saying “I feel like I should be insulted” because it’s populated by Barney and more crap he’d never watch. It’s amusing, and I am sitting here laughing at him.

Am Down and Out with Cold from Hell. Please send assistance.

I am suffering from the worst cold I’ve had in years. I don’t know where I got it, but I know where it came from: straight from the very bowels of Hell.

So my posting schedule and quality may be a little sketchy right now. I am barely able to function at the moment. Just taking meds and sleeping and trying to make it through one day at a time. If you have a TARDIS or something please send a magical cure from the future.

Wherever you are and if you celebrate it, I hope you have a Merry Christmas. If you have to go to a crappy family situation for the holidays, remember their opinion or treatment of you does not invalidate your worth as a human being.

You’re still awesome. Keep on remembering that.

Christmas lights at last year's xmas party. Photo (c) Katje van Loon.
Christmas lights at last year’s xmas party. Photo (c) Katje van Loon.

The End of my Solstice Night

I did not post yesterday because I was caught up in solstice revels. However, I have not slept yet, so I am personally counting this post for Saturday the 21st.

This is the end to my solstice night: a cat sleeping on my feet.

My ex-cat cuddling me. #mixedsignals #merrysolstice

And now, I sleep — for I am too ill to complete the vigil for the sun’s return. I shall just have to trust that it will, in fact, come back.

Happy Summer Solstice!

Today is the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, though you wouldn’t know it to look outside my window. (Traditional Vancouver June: wet, cloudy, gray.)

For me, this day is not only the longest day and a day sacred to Manannan mac Lir (whose symbols include mist and rain, so I’m not really complaining about the weather). It is also a day that really signifies to me that school is over and done with.

At least, my first degree.

Yes, I’m done my first degree. My last class was on Monday and our grades should be in this weekend. Even though class was done on Monday, things didn’t really feel done until today. Today is the end of the semester. My very last semester at VIU.

This isn’t the end of my schooling overall, just the end of the first step. I’ve worked for 10 years to get my degree, and come January I’ll finally be able to walk the stage in my long black robes and receive it from some dude in a funny hat. Maybe someday I will get my own funny hat.

I was going to blog my journey through my last class at VIU. Being stuck with a ferry commute to school would give me plenty of opportunity to type up blog posts on my tablet and then upload them when I got home.

Unfortunately, this class involved working with kids in the local school system, which meant there were a lot of confidentiality issues of which I had to be mindful. I couldn’t just write anything in a blog post about class; I would have to be circumspect.

I was so exhausted after class I didn’t have the energy to even think about what I could or couldn’t say, so in the end I decided to say nothing at all. It was safest that way.

"I Make a Difference"
“I Make a Difference”

However, now that it’s over and I’ve had some sleep, I can tell you that the kids were awesome and teaching them about First Nations culture was pretty cool, even if I wasn’t so stoked about it to begin with. When it was over, the kids gave us bracelets (pictured above) that say “I MAKE A DIFFERENCE.” I wear it on my arm where I can read it easily.

Cue “D’aaaaawwwwww”.

Working with kids isn’t my first choice of profession, but this class taught me some things — about teaching and about myself. It’s also given me some ideas on how I can work towards doing more public speaking and more workshops in areas that matter to me. So all in all, I’m glad my last class was worth the time and effort it took me to ferry back and forth between Vancouver and Nanaimo for 7 weeks.

Not that I’d ever want to do that again.

I’m off for the weekend now. Have a great Summer Solstice (or Winter Solstice if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere), and I’ll see you next week.

-Kat