So, your writer friend named a character after you.

When I name a character after a friend, I do so, by and large, because I needed a name and said friend’s name worked in my world.

They may have told you this, thinking it would make you happy to hear it (and perhaps it did). Or you may have picked up their book after publication and noticed a character with your name, known that they wrote this book after meeting you, and thought to yourself, “Surely, that’s not a coincidence.”

But then you notice that the character with your name is…well. Not your best side. Perhaps a little like you, but surely you do not have that many flaws? Such weird peccadillos? Or such grievous sins — surely your friend does not see you that way!

Do they see you that way? Are they not-so-subtly trying to tell you, Hey, this is what I think of you?

No. They’re not.

(Or maybe they are. I’m not trying to speak for all writers here — I’m just sharing my perspective. There may be writers out there who are just that passive-aggressive.)

When I name a character after a friend, I do so, by and large, because I needed a name and said friend’s name worked in my world. I will usually intend that character to be a protagonist. Often, that character has quirks and peccadillos and weird flaws and big sins that come out in the writing that I never would associate with my friend — and by that point, the character is their own person who happens to have been named after my friend, and perhaps they share some superficial similarities but that’s really it.

It’s so obvious to me, the writer, that this character and this friend have nothing to do with each other except a name that I forget it may not be obvious to said friend when they read the story. They may read it and wonder if that’s what I really think of them, and gods, I must not be much a friend at all if that’s how I feel!

Friends, let me assure you: your names appear in my books because they were handy names, and perhaps I felt I wanted to include you somehow. The characters your names are bestowed upon are not you.

I’m just not that passive-aggressive.

Now, there may come a time when you do appear as a character in my book — but often under a different name. You may see some of yourself in other characters, and that’s likely because you’ve been such a huge influence in my life that I can’t help but to write you in some way. Or, you helped me out on one of my campaigns and got a perk where you get to be a character — that’s also a possibility, and one in which I would work with you in character creation.

But if you see your name in my story, don’t tear yourself up wondering if I was subtly trying to tell you something. I wasn’t. The characters have minds of their own, just like we do. I can only poke at them and hope they’ll go the direction I want them to go.

It’s like herding cats.

Sliced Bread

To me, the internet is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Most of us have heard the saying, “That’s the best thing since sliced bread!” What do you think is actually the best thing since sliced bread?

365 Writing Prompts

The internet.

With the internet I can make friends all over the world. I can talk to people I don’t know, I can find like minds who live miles away. I often feel utterly alone in my local, meatspace communities. I suffer from social anxiety. I find it hard to leave the house quite often. Sometimes I just can’t stand the people I meet in real life.  Often I must make nice even though I dislike someone’s behaviour, or I’m “That bitch who makes waves”.

But on the internet?

I can block assholes from seeing me on Facebook or Google+ or Twitter. I can ban jerks from commenting on my blog. I don’t have to be nice for the sake of keeping up social pretences. Yes, there’s an increase in bullying and harassment because anonymity makes people brave, but there are also tools that make it a bit easier on me to deal with them — I hate confrontation in meatspace and walking away isn’t always an option. On the Internet, walking away is an option.

The internet is where I come together with people who have similar ideas as I do and we collaborate on how to make the world a better place. The internet is where I talk about things that are important to me, where I do consciousness-raising. The internet is where I work towards dismantling the oppressive kyriarchy in which we live.

Because of the internet, free apps are available to people, and I’m able to use programs like Evernote — something that literally has saved my butt as a writer. I don’t know how I got along before discovering Evernote.

(Evernote has a premium version, which I’m planning on buying when I have the money. But the internet allows me to try apps and software before paying for them as well as cutting down on packaging.)

On the internet, I have my own home — this blog. My website. These are my spaces. My online homes, as it were. I have a history of lacking a sense of home no matter where I live in meatspace, so having a sense of a place to call home online is important to me.

The internet also allows me to keep in easy contact with my meatspace friends in other parts of the world. I lived in Hawaii for 10 years, and I’ve travelled to many different countries, where I made friends from all over the world. Thanks to the internet, I can still keep in touch without racking up thousands of dollars in long-distance phone bills.

Speaking of phones — I actually hate talking on the phone. I have phone anxiety. Part of this is because I can’t see the person speaking, so I have trouble understanding what they’re saying. What I don’t have is Skype anxiety. I can Skype call my friends and chat with them without having a nervous breakdown.

The internet saved my relationship. I’ve been in a long-distance relationship for almost 4 years. For the first 2 years, I was a 2 hour boat ride away and only saw Ogre once a month, if that. We Skyped and Facebooked constantly, and it kept our relationship going strong.

Now that I live a 40 minute drive away, we still Skype several times a week or send each other Facebook messages.

Without the internet, today wouldn’t be the one year anniversary of our getting engaged. Our relationship would have crumbled a while ago.

I owe so many good things in my life to the internet. And yes, I owe some bad things too, but the good things so outweigh the bad that I am being completely honest when I say:

To me, the internet is the greatest thing since sliced bread. And sliced bread is pretty awesome. I mean, I can’t be the only person who cuts zirself when trying to slice whole loaves, right?

A little foreknowledge can save you a lot of heartache…

I’d rather know as early as possible someone’s political or religious beliefs — because they could negatively affect my life.

This prompt comes from the ebook of 365 prompts put out by the Daily Post blog.

“It’s never a good idea to discuss religion or politics with people you don’t really know.” Agree or disagree?

Disagree, very much.

In my experience, it’s better to discuss religion or politics with people you don’t know very well. By the time you’re already friends with someone, if they’re a good friend (or if they’re family), if you have severe disagreements with them on the subjects of religion or politics what good comes from discussing them? Unless you really are the rare pair who can discuss it without wanting to murder each other.

Most of my politics are tied up in my life or death. That’s how it is when you’re a member of an oppressed class in an oppressive society. Abortion rights aren’t a quaint mental exercise for me; they’re a matter of whether I live or die. Fat acceptance isn’t me whining because I don’t want to lose weight; fatphobia has very real consequences for the health of fat people, and I deserve to be treated with respect no matter my size. Equal rights and protections for trans* folks aren’t just some abstract thing I can talk about with buddies over a beer; they affect my friends, they affect me — they affect our lives and safety. If I decide to present as male and I get into a situation where the cops need to see my ID, guess what? My life is at risk, because if they see “F” under sex and I don’t match what they expect in their brains, there is no telling what they’ll do.  If I go to a doctor who decides that all my problems are because I’m fat and they misdiagnose me, that could have real, life-or-death consequences for me — and I’m not even getting into the mental health issues that come from living in a society that’s geared towards hating fat people.

For these things that are life or death for me, there’s no room for disagreement. Because disagreeing that I deserve the right to terminate a pregnancy without legal interference is saying that I don’t deserve to have agency over my own body. Disagreeing that I have the right to present as male without fear is saying I’m not a person to you. Disagreeing that I have the right to respect no matter what my size because you’re “so concerned for my health” is saying that what really matters is not my health, but your comfort — because if you knew anything about my health, you wouldn’t say a damn thing about my needing to lose weight.

As for religion, it’s not a life or death situation for me, at least not here in Canada — but it does have a lot to do with my mental health, my happiness, my life going smoothly. If I’m making friends with someone, I’d rather know early on if they’re going to try to convert me to something else every chance they get, or if they’re going to call CPS to protect my (future) kids from my “devil worship”. That’s an actual worry for someone who IDs as a witch, by the way. Don’t kid yourself that it’s not.

I want to know if someone is the type of person who believes, truly believes, that they cannot be moral without religion to guide them. Because I don’t want to know those people. If religion is the only thing stopping them from hurting other people, then I don’t want to be around if they have a crisis of faith.

I’d rather discuss politics and religion early on in a relationship. That way, if they’re a transphobic misogynist who doesn’t really believe I’m a person with rights and freedoms, I know to not let them any further into my life. That way, if they’re not bigoted, but just very uneducated, I know exactly what I’m getting into and can decide if I want to spend the spoons on educating this person. That way, if they’re the proselytizing type, they know early on there’s no point to try with me — I’m not open to conversion tactics — I know early on that I may need to be prepared to kick them out of my life, if they don’t stop trying. That way, if they believe that religion is the only way to have a moral compass, I can say goodbye early on. I prefer my friends to be able to steer their ships with their own moral compass regardless whatever god or gods may be in their lives.

I try to keep the peace with people I still want to be friends with, even if they disagree with me on politics or religion. (There are not many people like this in my life, for the record, and those that are disagree with me on portions of politics that aren’t life or death for me.) Discussing these things only comes up if I think we might actually make progress, instead of talking past each other and getting angry.

And as for talking religion or politics with random people on the internet…. Well, what do you think my blogs are for?

How not to be a dick to your friend/loved one/relative with eating disorders

Content warning: disordered eating, fatphobia, misogynistic language, description of child abuse

Note: this is written based on my own personal experience with relatives, friends, loved ones, and my eating disorders. Other people may have different eating disorders and different experiences, and my post is in now way trying to speak for them. It’s just me venting about stuff that I go through every day.

My eating disorders are, for clarity, binge/emotional eating and anorexia. Eating is a complete MINEFIELD for me before we even factor in other people’s comments, reactions, etc, because I am constantly fighting a battle with myself about what food I “should” or “shouldn’t” eat. If I binge eat because I’m upset, I then spend several days starving myself because I’m full of self-loathing. But as I know stopping myself from eating is bad, I then force myself to eat, and feel horrible about it.

So here are the things that are said/done, quite often, either to or around me that DON’T HELP AT ALL.

Continue reading “How not to be a dick to your friend/loved one/relative with eating disorders”

The Joys of a Summer Birthday

When I turned 14, we tried to organize a party for me. My birthday is August 14th, and even though school started the last week of August in Hawaii, most people were still on vacation for my actual birthday.

Regardless, we kept trying, but every date fell apart. Every time mom put off the ordering of the cake, until finally in September, on the 25th, she came home with this gorgeous chocolate number with a marzipan lion on the top and said “Happy birthday.”

Best. dessert and breakfast. ever.

When I turned 15, my mom planned a surprise party for me.

I had no idea. She’d kept it a complete secret.

She’d invited my Aunty Marsha and my friend Noelle and, because she didn’t know people in the drama program at my high school very well, she’d asked a friend of mine there if he would invite the people there that he thought would want to come. She reserved a lunch-time table at Koho’s, which was the fancy restaurant for the middle class in Maui, and then kept completely silent until my birthday.

My birthday arrives, and after a really awesome wake-up that probably involved opening presents from her and having chocolate-chip pancakes I got dressed and we headed out to Koho’s.

We walked in to find a table with 16 empty spaces and Aunty Marsha and Noelle taking up the other two.

I was really surprised.

Apparently the above-unnamed friend in the drama program had totally bailed on inviting anyone to the party or even showing up himself, and hadn’t bothered to tell my mom. (That, or no one in the drama program wanted to come to my birthday — while either is likely, I’m betting on the first one. I did have some friends in high school.) Hence: a party with four people.

In the end it wasn’t bad. I honestly was just happy that two people had showed. We had a great lunch and afterwards Noelle and I got to be mall rats for a few hours — I bought the game Legend of Dragoon for the PlayStation One and maybe some other things, but Legend of Dragoon is what stands out in my memory. Then we decided to go to the top of Haleakala to watch the sunset. We got up there, saw the sunset, and then in the freezing cold that is 10,000 feet above sea level with the sun below the horizon, our car broke down.

We managed to catch a ride down the mountain with some nice dudes in a truck, and when we got back down we dropped Noelle off at her house, where her dog bit me.

At this point I had to start laughing, because the whole day had been such a comedy of errors.

When I turned 18 I had to work on my birthday. It was tech week for the show I was assistant-stage-managing, and we were doing a cue to cue and light refocusing.

I was determined to be optimistic about having to work on my birthday because I was turning 18 and could visit the porn shops and get a tattoo, both of which were really important things to me. I did actually end up getting that tattoo during my break — an Eye of Horus on my right inner wrist.

However, when I got back the director and the stage manager decided to have a screaming fight over half the theatre, the stage manager using the PA system (or “Voice of God”) to make his point. Shakily, upset by all the yelling, I went outside to stand with the actors having a smoke. Dale, that fabulous man, put his arm around me and said in his wonderfully scratchy voice, “Welcome to birthday hell, darlin.”

Continue reading “The Joys of a Summer Birthday”