matociquala: (me and a troll)

The following is an open letter to my friends and colleagues who are established members of the science fiction and fantasy community.

It's easy to lose control of a narrative. It's a little bit harder but not all that difficult, if you have the skills for it, to seize control. To construct a convincing narrative--whether that narrative happens to be true or not--and manipulate your audience into investing in it--into believing it--whether that narrative happens to be true or not.

It's not even that much harder to create so much social pressure, to engage in so much goal-post shifting, that the very target of your narrative begins to believe it herself. This is one of the ways in which sick systems work: we impose a narrative on someone else, and then force them to conform to it.

When one individual does this to another, we call it emotional abuse.

#

Isn't it curious how often someone who is attacked by the wielder of an abusive narrative is held accountable for everything they may have ever done or said--whether in anger, or in their cups, or just in a moment of carelessness? Editing blog posts, taking down twitter feeds or websites, scrubbing the past, apologizing--all of these are cause for redoubled vituperation. Anything the victim says can be spun, questioned, deconstructed using opaque logic to create any sort of hammer the abuser wishes to swing.

And yet, there are abusers who consider their own right to edit to the narrative sacrosanct. What is past is past; what is true today is only true so long as it facilitates the abuser's narrative. The goalpost shifts and the gaslight flickers.

On the internet, we call those people trolls, but--colorful as it is--the word is a euphemism. What we are really talking about here is predators. Abusers.

Whether they're in it "for the lulz" or for the social capital, they're there to exert power and cruelty over people. They're there to justify their own existence by making others pay for theirs.

To an abuser, motive--which normal people who are not writers call, "What I actually meant, not what you are twisting my words to mean."--does not matter. All that matters is that the abuser finds a way to control the narrative, to control and hurt the victim, and to "win" the engagement. Winning, in this case, means the other guy experiences pain. And then gives up, gives in, lets the abuser have their own way.

It saddens me deeply that some people within communities I consider essential to the health of my industry and my social group (they're largely the same thing, that being how both publishing and the internet work) use those communities as camouflage to hide abuse, as springboards to facilitate it, and as cheering sections, god help us all, to reward them for their most violent behaviors.

You can often spot them because, instead of going after people with a great deal of social capital and perceived strength, they go after those who are marginalized, young, at the cusp of their professional careers, or struggling with a setback. They go after people who would seem natural allies, who would trust them, who would take their violence much more personally than somebody who actually despises them or to whom their opinion means nothing.

These predators gaslight; they reversion the truth; they have an explanation for everything. And all of it piles up to make you feel as if you've lost your grip on reality. As if nothing you perceived was the truth. You think their narrative doesn't make sense, but other people buy it, and because memory is fallible, you start to buy it too.

They're not there to teach, to elevate, to change the system. On some level, they don't want the system changed--because if it were, where would they go to get their kicks?

You can see 'em leading the pitchfork-wielding mobs in Gamergate. And right now, you can see 'em attacking a group of predominately new, predominately less-established, predominately female, predominately brown members of the science fiction and fantasy community.

#

I am not saying that internet social justice work is inherently abusive. I've engaged in a certain amount of internet social justice work myself. I'm not saying that it's wrong to confront people, or to be angry about injustice.

I'm pretty angry about a repeated pattern of injustices myself right now. And I'm sad. And I want the abuses to stop. I've been holding my peace to allow the victims to come forward and make their own statements, because I believe it is my place to speak out in support of them, not to influence what they might say.

That has begun to happen.

That is why I am going to directly address the actions of three colleagues who, to my knowledge and from firsthand accounts, have been colluding to behave in an abusive, unprofessional, gaslighting fashion against vulnerable people.

I have considered Alex Dally MacFarlane a friendly acquaintance and a respected colleague, and I am most upset to learn of her part in bullying Rochita Loenen-Ruiz and others. (Among other things, she's released private emails between Tricia Sullivan and RH/Bee without Tricia's permission.) I'm saddened, and I'm tempted to defend her; we've been internet acquaintances for years. And yet, I must choose to believe the victims.

Tori Truslow I met for the first time this summer in London and exchanged a few words in passing. Benjanun Sriduangkaew (Bee) I have never met, but I knew of her as a friend of a friend and somebody whose work I'd encountered and thought well-written but as yet unformed. We participated in an online round-table on food and SF together.

Requires Hate never got a lot of consideration from me. I don't think she ever came after me personally, and while I knew she was awful to a number of friends, well, sometimes people are awful to writers. I will totally cop to having made fun of her as a sad little troll on more than one occasion, but my general attitude was "haters gonna hate."

I knew she was an abusive person. I didn't know how abusive, or how long it had gone on, or in how many forums. I didn't know how many people she made complicit in her abuse, or tried to. I didn't know about the chilling effect her abuse has had on the art and discourse of women and people of color, of whole communities. And I certainly didn't know about her association with Alex and Tori, and this summer when the rumors started flying about Bee I was one of the people who defended her, because the evidence presented at that time basically amounted to, "They're both Thai and both activists."

I thought it was racist and ridiculous.

I was wrong.

I also happened to speak with several friends, about half of them women of color, at Loncon and 9 Worlds who each independently told me that they had had a miserable summer. None of them mentioned why. I had been traveling and largely off the internets since May, and I did not make the connection that they had been having the same miserable summer for the same reasons.

I was wrong about that, too.

#

I am not an expert on the subject but I certainly believe, from reading Bee/Rh's work and from talking with people who are experts on the subject, that she has an intimate knowledge of Asian cultures and certainly lives or has lived in Hong Kong and Thailand--or has access to people who have.

I am, however, an expert on the subject of abusive relationships, of abusers, and of drawing boundary lines around them. I know that Benjanun Sriduangkaew is a pseudonym. Why should we believe that the Bee persona is any more authentic than the Winterfox one?

Can we believe any single thing Bee/RH tells us? Bee's claimed to be in her thirties; now she claims that her RH behavior was teenage malfeasance. She was talking about Tolkien on yuku.com in 2001 under her Winterfox identity, and yet she claimed as Bee that she hadn't read any fantasy before 2011. 

She's laid claim in various incarnations to a variety of backgrounds. She works pretty hard to erase her backtrail, but this is the internet and traces remain.

Small inconsistencies are human. Not knowing who the hell you are from day to day is a sign of a constructed persona.

I am curious: has anyone in the community ever met a person who identifies themselves as Winterfox/Requires Hate/Benjanun?

I know it's weird and rare, but this sort of thing does go on. Predators exist. Con artists exist. Abusers exist. People pretend to be other people. Sockpuppets proliferate. They fact that most of us wouldn't actually consider it--or wouldn't do it in a concerted manner with intent to harm--doesn't mean that it doesn't happen.

Bee/RH has moved from internet community to internet community for the past ten years or so, starting fights, preying on people, abusing and threatening and gaslighting people, getting people to confide in her and then using their private confessions of anger to control them. She claims to punch up; what she has really done is grind already marginalized writers and fans into the dirt so she can hop up on their heads and elevate herself a little.

At this point, I think it's an open question whether the individual known as Benjanun Sriduangkaew/Requires Hate/Lesifoere/Pyrofennec/ValseDeLaLune/Winterfox/Winterfennec/ACrackedMoon/how does one person even have time? actually even exists as an independent person, rather than as some sort of bizarre matrioshka doll made of socks.

I would not be surprised if "something terrible" happens to "Bee" soon, given the failure of the unconvincing victim narrative she's been attempting to build. Munchausen's By Internet ("pseudocide") is a frequent outcome in cases like this.

Whatever her background, the fact remains that this individual has had a major chilling effect on discussion and promotion of works presenting diversity in our genre.  

She's not the victim. She's an abuser.

#

I know Requires Hate has apologized. I know that the narrative she's spinning is that she was young, that she's changed, that she's seen the error of her ways.

I don't believe her.

Abusers apologize.

They blame others for their actions, too, or claim that they'll change. And that's why I don't believe in these sudden, convenient, alleged "impersonators" who perpetuated her worst abuses. I do believe that people with a pattern of multiple abuse in multiple venues gonna sock, and gonna troll.

I believe that she is a abuser, and a bully, and that she shifts the narrative to protect herself and continue her abuse. I have spoken with a number of people I trust, including women and people of color, and I know for a fact that her bullying and vituperation continued in back channels into the summer of 2014. I know that she has engaged in whispering campaigns including character assassination and false allegations, some of them provided to editors or convention organizers. I know this because Athena Andreadis told me, in specific, and Athena's story is supported by the pattern of events and by conversations I've had with people who were inside Bee's circle of influence.

I know (because the stories of Athena and Rochita and Tricia Sullivan and Rachel Brown and other women who have chosen to remain anonymous match up with evidence still available to anybody with Google and some patience), that definitely Alex and possibly Tori supported this, and that everyone involved did and said some really unprofessional things--to and about other women writers, and to women writers of color, in specific.

I know, because of the sheer number of people who have come forward with substantially similar stories, that the evidence supports the idea that RH/Bee has exhibited a pattern of abuse entirely above and beyond her vituperative reviews, a pattern that continued at least into the summer of 2014 and quite probably to the present day--long beyond when she claimed she had reformed in her apologies.

I can't say what her motive might be, but a couple of obvious options do present themselves. The writers that Requires Hate went after were predominately women, predominately early career or midlisters, predominately women of color. People she might perceive, frankly, as competition. Or as potential allies insufficiently toeing her party line.

She policed their behavior. She told them how to write, and what to think, and what to say about books in reviews. When they did not conform to her demands, she set out to make them miserable or damage their careers. She intimidated marginalized writers into silence--on topics they had every right to speak out about, topics relating to their own identities.

It is worth noting that one of her tactics is to (personally or through intermediaries) attack readers and reviewers to suppress conversation about books of which she does not approve--such as works by Cindy Pon and N.K.Jemisin. It is worth noting that these works are disproportionately by women, people of color, and other marginalized writers. And that these writers were disproportionately early-career or emerging.

Those readers and reviewers must be considered her victims as well. Many of them are likely to have been people of color, given the nature of the communities she damaged. It becomes painfully obvious that her goal was never to support a diversity of voices, but suppress and suborn it.

That speaks to me not of activism but of a desire to police and control through intimidation.

I believe she, Truslow, and MacFarlane are and have been working together as a sort of Mean Girl Posse to control and intimidate others, and that MacFarlane and Truslow are currently playing Bad Cop and letting... I don't even know what to call her... play Sadder But Wiser.

They've never come after me, to the best of my knowledge, so I feel comfortable standing up and saying all of this.

Of course they wouldn't come after me. I wasn't vulnerable to them.

#

Nick Mamatas (a true chaotic neutral, and one of the internet's great drama farmers) has been positioning his defense--if you can call it that--of RH/Bee as a defense against her inevitable blacklisting.

Let me make it plain: I'm pretty plugged in in this community. The only place I have heard of this alleged blacklist is as a talking point raised by RH/Bee, Nick, and RH/Bee's other defenders. I have certainly heard of one or two people saying, "She was awful to me or someone I care about and I won't work with her." I have even more frequently heard of people telling other people the truth--that Bee is RH and RH is Bee.

Telling the truth about somebody is not blacklist, libel, or slander. Deciding you won't work with somebody is not a blacklist. A blacklist is an organized effort, with threat of consequences, to keep somebody from ever working in this town again.

Sort of like the abusive treatment RH/Bee was leveling against reviewers who reviewed books of which she did not approve, or that she and Alex were bringing to bear against Athena Andreadis for the crime of telling RH/Bee that Athena thought her best course of action was honesty.

It's curious how, again and again, this person levels accusations against others for doing exactly what she herself has done.

Likewise, where's the proof of the alleged doxxing against RH/Bee? The only place I have heard of it is from her and her supporters. A cursory Googling suggests, in fact, that her real name is still not a matter of public record.

So it seems unlikely to me that anybody has released her address and other private information publicly, which is the definition of doxxing.

I am not willing to say she can't reform, but I think a continued long-term pattern of obvious change is necessary before I am willing to trust the apology of a person who has literally lied to everyone about everything for literally thirteen years. Especially as she has apologized before, as Winterfox and as Requires Hate, and it doesn't seem like those stuck.

So let me make it even more plain: I'm not calling for a blacklist of Benjanun Sriduangkaew. I'm not calling for a blacklist (like that would even work in SFF, where we have as a community inherited a kind of weird pride in stubborn idiosyncratic wrongheadedness we call "contrarianism" from our forebears) of Alex Dally MacFarlane, either, or of Tori Truslow.

I believe their work should be published as it merits, and as editors see fit to pay them for it. I believe that they should be eligible for award consideration as they deserve it in the eyes of those who select for awards.

And while I also believe that the community I belong to should know that the person publishing under the pseudonym Benjanun Sriduankaew has behaved in an abusive and predatory fashion, I have no interest in focusing on her--or in centralizing her redemption narrative.

What I would like is for our community to take this opportunity for positive action. I believe that the people Bee/RH has harmed should be given as much support and aid in healing as practicable. I believe that potential future victims should be warned. I believe those who may feel trapped by her should be protected. I believe those whom she has abused should be helped to connect with one another as they desire.

I believe their voices should be listened to, if and when they choose to come forward. I believe that the people who have been silenced by this campaign of bullying should be given as much space to speak as they would like.

I believe that, on an ongoing basis and pursuant to our dawning understanding as a community of the need for harassment policies and a pro-active stance against bullying, we--the established members of the science fiction and fantasy community--need to make safe spaces where people who have been bullied and harassed can come forward and find strength and solace, as well as safety.

I believe we need to respond to this series of events in our community by making more space for marginalized voices, and promoting young writers, women writers, and writers of color.

My concern lies in protecting the vulnerable. We, the established members of the science fiction and fantasy community, owe a debt of care to emerging writers and marginalized voices, and those are the people who have specifically been targeted by this predator. We owe them shelter and consideration. Frankly, we need them more than they need us, because they represent our future as a genre and as a community.

Moreover, we owe it to our emergent writers to create a space where bullies cannot silence them, police their writing and their identity, and make them feel unsafe. I'm not just talking about the RH/Bees of the world here, but the Jim Frenkels as well. We need to let our emergent writers know that the Benjanun Sriduangkaews and Alex MacFarlanes of the industry have no power over their careers--really, functionally, literally no power.

To do this, we need to be willing to shine some light in dark corners and to slap some bright paint around the predators and missing stairs. We need to make space for the voices of those writers and the readers who wish to engage with their work.

To those emergent writers: If you are bullied, harassed, abused, or threatened, there are people in the community who will believe you, and who will stand up for you.

Basically, I believe Requires Hate should be treated the same way we as a community treat Theodore Beale/Vox Day: as a dangerous missing stair whose abuses and bullying should be taken seriously, and not justified by the fact that either or both of them may be covering their pathological behaviors under a veil of ideology.

But I also believe that we can use this opportunity to uplift the marginalized and the victimized, and that is where our future as a community shines.

#

*Blog comments will be closed. I will not respond to messages regarding Winterwhatever, because she's her own problem now. I don't want to talk to her or about her.

All of my available energy for this subject from this point forward is going to signal boost writers, editors, and readers of diverse backgrounds and diverse books.

A safe, moderated space open to the victims of bullying has been provided at Laura Mixon-Gould’s blog.


matociquala: (phil ochs troubador)
Abi Sutherland sent me a kintsugi kit from the Netherlands, and I have just spent a very happy hour using it to fix a pottery vase my dad gave me years ago, which was damaged in a move, and to give prosthetic ears to two pottery bears. I think it would be pretty easy to assemble such a kit from modeling epoxy, resin epoxy, and gold dust, and it turns out the repair process is ridiculously easy and quick.



Kintsugi is one of my favorite metaphors for surviving trauma--it's true, after all: you'll never be the same again. As Tom Waits sang,

you can never go back
and the answer is no
and wishing for it only makes it bleed.

But here's a repair process that proves that even things once broken can be made beautiful and useful again. And the character can be part of the charm.

But the best part is...

Working with the powdered gold means that the entire room fills up with tiny beautiful magical pixie-dust sparkles that glitter and flash.



I'm totally putting that in a book.

Now I Just have to decide which bear will be known forevermore as Tycho Bearhe.

matociquala: (criminal minds pentiss and reid back)
So let's talk about Charles Ramsey and Amanda Berry (and Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight).

Let's talk about the fact that Amanda Berry is a hero, and that she rescued herself, her daughter, and two other women from a horrible situation.

Let the record show that she did what she had to do, and if she hadn't, those four women would still be in that house.

Because the media seem to want to cast her and the other women only as victims, and that narrative is a lie.

Let's talk about the fact that Charles Ramsey is a hero, too. Because he saw a person obviously in distress, and he acted. And the fact that that person was white and female, and that he was black and male, living on a job as a dishwasher, and that his police record would be brought up afterward, definitely entered his consciousness; and he did it anyway. Because he saw a person who needed help.

That does not decrease his heroism. It increases it.

Let the record show that he did what he had to do, and if he hadn't, those four women would still be in that house.

And Ariel Castro might be getting away with it for another fifteen years.

And now I'm speaking here as an abuse survivor.

That Mr. Ramsey allegedly has a record for domestic violence is not beside the point; it is the point. It's people who abuse other people, and it's people who help other people. And people can learn better, or make a mistake one time and do something to repair it another.

Ramsey doesn't have to be perfect to be a hero. Berry didn't have to be perfect to be a hero. Michelle Knight was a hero when she delivered Ms. Berry's baby daughter, with no experience and no support, and she doesn't have to be perfect for that to stand, either. Gina DeJesus has no doubt done some pretty heroic stuff in the last ten years or so as well.

Our absolutist cultural narratives do nobody a service. People do not have to be perfect and blameless to be worthy of respect and admiration; they only have to be trying.

And one of the effects of that absolutism is to tell survivors who are not perfect and blameless (and who is, and who who has been abused can see themselves as perfect?) then they are somehow villains too, or responsible, or that they bear guilt for what they've suffered.

Another effect is that people who are capable of making a change may not, because they are scared of how they will be perceived if they aren't perfect.

***

(As for Mr. Ramsey's drug charges: if you don't understand the interplay of race, class, and drug-law harassment, I suggest you do some reading, and understand that middle class suburban white people can get away with a lot more than some black guy from Cleveland.)
matociquala: (criminal minds prentiss facepalm)
And while we're on the subject of sexual violence, in re: Rape Culture. I explain--

...no, take too long. I sum up.

Look, if you're one of the people saying, "What a pity these boys were convicted of rape, because they had their whole lives ahead of them," you are part of the problem.

You may think what you're saying is "What a pity these boys committed rape, because they destroyed their own futures." But those are not the words coming out of your mouth.

Stop. Look. Listen. Look left, then right, then left again. Then think about what you are about to say or type.

But if you are one of the people saying, "Well, the victim had her whole life ahead of her too," you're also not saying what you think you're saying, and you're contributing to the problem and expressing an internalization of rape culture as well.

The victim--shall we call her a survivor, now?--still does have her whole life ahead of her.

Surviving sexual assault is not the end of a life. Rape culture includes this pervasive idea that the person who is raped is ruined forever, that "she'll never be the same," that she's soiled and broken.

Guess what? Hundreds and hundreds of rape survivors go on to lead productive, fulfilling lives! Yes, it's an act of violence. Yes, it's a trauma, and it should never happen to anyone, and surviving violence--sexual or otherwise--is not easy or clean.

But we need to get this fucking idea of a "fate worse than death" out of the language and the culture pronto, because it compounds the fucking damage when you tell somebody she's automatically damaged for life.

Comments screened, because I don't even.


*not the actual lyric. But close enough for my purposes today.
matociquala: (criminal minds prentiss try me)
Some further thoughts on Readercon, and its signal failure to deal responsibly and within the boundaries of its own guidelines with the case of Genevieve Valentine's harassment.
  • A lot of folks--some of whom I know and respect, a few I consider good friends, and many of whom who have never been to a Readercon--are swearing never to attend, denouncing the convention broadly, or calling it an awful con. While I would never encourage anyone to attend a convention at which they felt unsafe, those last two arguments are, I think, a misreprentation of the facts and unfair to the Readercon community. Whereas the fact of the matter is that this is an unhappy turn of events in part because Readercon has dealt with similar cases much better in the past. Because Readercon is in general a progressive convention, with a focus on exploring the boundaries of the genre... because Readercon has promoted awareness of science fiction's diversity and literary merit by honoring guests such as Caitlin R. Kiernan, Nalo Hopkinson, Geoff Ryman, Octavia Butler, Elizabeth Hand, and Greer Gilman... that is why this is a terrible disappointment.
  • I believe that the Readercon Board has made a serious mistake in their handling of Valentine's harassment claim. It seems--and my information has all come secondhand!--that the Board may have honestly believed that the perpetrator, René Walling, was contrite and horrified by his own behavior, and so they felt it was appropriate to make an exception. Of course I was not in the room or privy to any of these discussions, but I do not believe that this was an appropriate choice. People who push other people's physical and sexual boundaries in that manner--he put his hands on her uninvited, and ignored repeated requests to back off!--may not believe they mean anything by it, and when it's called to their attention they may be tremendously contrite--but it's my experience both as a former domestic violence counselor and as a survivor of abuse that contrite or not, such people are recidivists, that the behavior will reoccur, and that in many cases it will escalate. People who abusively violate other people's boundaries in this fashion are never safe to be around.
  • It is my understanding that the re-writing of Readercon's harassment policy was in part driven by the urging of Rose Fox, a member of the concom who was opposed to the board's decision to be lenient. If my understanding is correct, it was her position that if they weren't going to apply the zero-tolerance policy, they needed to revise it. (ETA: Rose explains in detail in comments.)
  • I think normally it would have been inappropriate for Readercon's Board to change their decision at this point (but in this case there is a detail that makes me feel differently--see below). That does not mean there is no ameliorative action that can be taken. For example, Readercon could issue a public apology to Valentine. They could also take the opportunity to create a holistic and sensible harassment policy that they are willing to commit to adhering to. I also think it would not be inappropriate, in the light of this failure, for further such decisions of the board to be made in a manner more transparent to the Readercon community.
  • However, there is another pending harassment claim against Walling, filed by Kate Kligman, which the Board, to my knowledge, has not yet responded to. This claim does not involve Readercon, per se, but it is evidence of the pattern of Walling's behavior. If this claim is supported (as, I admit, I expect it will be), I believe that the Board must, in order to regain any credibility, consider it as additional evidence, reopen proceedings, and extend the ban on Walling to a lifetime suspension of his membership. This is a serial pattern of behavior, and my experience and training tell me that it is very unlikely to cease.
  • If Walling wishes to truly demonstrate contrition and make some amends for his action, some of the steps he could take might include issuing a public apology to Valentine and to the Readercon community. He could likewise voluntarily choose to ban himself from Readercon for life. He should understand that Valentine has no responsibility to accept or even listen to his apology, or to interact with him further in any way, shape, or form. The only possible amends he can make at this point is to leave her strictly alone from this point forward. Respecting those boundaries would be the beginnings of corrective action.

At this point, I am not making any sweeping claims about my own future participation in Readercon. I am not about to toss my hair and stalk off in a huff; Readercon has always been a good con for me, and I am committed to the New England fandom community it (along with Boskone and Arisia and the smaller local cons) represents. 

My feelings on the subject of Readercon may change depending on the Board's actions over the next few weeks, however.

matociquala: (bad girls marlene make my day)
Michele Fogal interviews me, mostly on gender roles.

Fran Wilde interviews me, mostly on food.

Tor is giving away its spring fantasy collection, including Range of Ghosts.



I feel like I need to say something more about the first link, which is this:

I've had my sexuality mocked, miscategorized, and dismissed--sometimes by people I had previously trusted very deeply--for my entire adult life. I've been not straight enough/not gay enough/too dyky/not dyky enough/too monogamous/not monogamous for somebody else's standards all my life. 

You know what? Nobody else's opinion fucking matters in the slightest. Right now, I happen to be in a monogamous relationship with a heterosexual male, and I have every intention of maintaining that relationship as long as it's possible to keep it going as a net positive in both our lives. He's an astounding and challenging and rewarding human being, and I think I'm lucky as hell that some unexpected interpersonal alchemy took us where it did.

But this relationship does not retroactively abrogate all of my other relationships.

I don't actually like defining or labeling myself, because all of the labels feel awfully simplistic and binary and false to me. I certainly don't fit society's established roles for women--but I consider that society's definitional problem, not mine. I consider my gender and sex and sexuality to be pretty much fucking irrelevant to who I am and who I love and how I interact with the world at large. The former two are biological issues, with no more bearing on who I am than the color of my hair.

The latter has a hell of a lot to do with who I am--probably the only thing more central to my identity than who I care for is my art--but it's always been a matter of for whom I care, and genitalia has very little to do with it.

So the reason I identify as queer--and, when I can force myself to feel like I'm not appropriating somebody else's identity, as genderqueer*--is not because I feel a personal need to claim it as an identity (I don't actually consider either thing important to my identity in the least), but because I consider it important politically to be out. Because I'm here, and I do not fit into society's boxes, and maybe it's comforting for somebody else occasionally that I exist.

It's an activist choice, in other words. As for what other people think of me? I don't actually care, unless I have an intimate relationship with them.

And I support anybody's right to self-determination when it comes to their own identity, their own body, and the people they love, partner with, and have wild one-night stands with.



*I've gone through this as an abuse survivor too: how can I claim it when other people had it so much worse than I did? But dammit, it's important to be visible.
matociquala: (rengeek skinhead fortinbras)
Over at Making Light, Abi Sutherland is hosting the annual Dysfunctional Families Day conversation.

Worth a read, possibly, though probably triggery as all hell.

You're not an awful freak. You're a person some bad things happened to, and they weren't your fault, and you don't need to be forgiven for things you didn't do and had no control over.
matociquala: (david bowie black tie - sosostris2012)



For a while, I have been of the opinion that this is the official theme song for thems as is Right On The Internet.

Today, it also occurs to me that it's the official theme song for all that shit the bad brain chemicals want to tell you.

Sing it, sister.
matociquala: (david bowie black tie - sosostris2012)



For a while, I have been of the opinion that this is the official theme song for thems as is Right On The Internet.

Today, it also occurs to me that it's the official theme song for all that shit the bad brain chemicals want to tell you.

Sing it, sister.
matociquala: (bad girls firefighters)


So I'm trying to figure out this important scene in "The Leavings of the Wolf," and I know what it does but I'm not quite sure what happens in it, if you know what I mean. So while I'm thinking about that, and getting ready to climb--Hark! A blog!

***

Interesting how the world keeps challenging you.

Here I am, and I had gotten my head around to a place in my recovery (I'm a child abuse survivor, and I'm out about it, because somebody needs to be--check the tag for details if you want 'em) where I was pretty fucking comfortable, actually, and stable and secure and knew what the hell I was doing with myself.

I had my issues sorted, and the boxes of baggage neatly labeled and shelved, and I knew how to navigate through the boundaries of my damage without causing myself too much inconvenience or distress.

I had it licked.

A lot of the legacy of abuse stuff I have revolves around the conviction that I am unlovable and awful and nobody should or would or could ever care about me, and more, that I don't deserve for people to care about me. And it's very hard--very, very hard--for me to internalize that people actually do care about me, that what I do matters or has any effect on other people. I can understand it on an intellectual level, sort of, in an abstract kind of way. But actually feeling it? Having it be reflexive as opposed to something I always have to have a status light running to remind me of?

Believing it?

Not only is it hard, it feels wicked. Selfish. Like, who am I to think I matter? Who am I to feel like I have the right to put any obligations on anybody? Even when people freely offer.

It's just one of the many charming ways PTSD isolates.

So, yeah. Toxic for me and anybody who cares about me, much?

I can usually find ways to navigate that okay, you know. Often I do it through service; service--"Give something away every day"--makes me feel a little less awfully guilty for existing. The trick is keeping that from going all martyry and toxic in a whole *different* way.

But then lately there's this new thing in my life I've been alluding to, a relationship that's become really shockingly important to me in a surprisingly brief time--and here I am suddenly hard up against that, and trying to navigate what this root-installed defense mechanism of mine tells me (nothing can be trusted, nobody wants you, you are going to die alone and be eaten by your cats and you should just accept that and be content because at least you aren't hurting anybody) when confronted with some pretty incontrovertible proof that somebody actually cares about me rather a lot, and doesn't think I'm worthless, and isn't fucking willing to let me forget it.

Man. Just when you think you have the "navigate personal relationships in a cunning approximation of a real functional human being" thing licked, the Tetris shapes start dropping faster. And they add some new ones.

And here I am sorting through these fucking cardboard boxes of ancient horrors once again.

Work, work, it's always work.

But at least a cute boy likes me.

***

Anyway. Just putting that out there, in case it helps somebody.

So I guess this is what I'm giving away today.

matociquala: (lion in winter broken because you're bri)
Amazing girl. Just watch it.

matociquala: (lion in winter broken because you're bri)
Amazing girl. Just watch it.

matociquala: (comics invisibles king mob)
I need to learn to fall better. My butt is sore from jukido last night, from landing on it. I was trying very hard not to tense up when I was thrown, but it's not always easy to let yourself fall when you're actually really getting thrown at speed. Still, I guess I have to learn sometime. And that's what the mats are for.

The reason I'm blogging it is because I had a very weird conversation with the blackbelt I was working with (who is about half my size and half my age, and totally made of awesome--great teacher, and very considerate--but she also pushes me to do it right). But anyway, we were practicing a technique that involved a face strike (in slow motion) and the first time she demonstrated, I shied away.

She stopped right there and said something to the effect of, "Do you have a history of abuse?"

Man, PTSD is transparent, when you know what you're looking for. I said "Yeah," and she kind of nerved herself and awkwardly asked, "Right now?"

And I said, "No, when I was a kid," and "It was a long time ago." I could kind of see her talking herself down from the intervention. So we had a little awkward conversation where she was trying to be supportive and neither one of us really knew what to say, and I kind of felt bad, because she was really hesitant about using any pain for the rest of the night. And I had a hell of a time relaxing so the falls didn't hurt. But we worked it out.

What I have learned (okay, I knew this already) is that my balance is kind of iffy at the best. Sigh.

I barely know her, but she's one of the good ones, I think. And man, it's weird having these conversations with people where they realize you're a statistic.

Anyway. If you're out there, and I'm pretty sure you are, you're not alone and it does eventually scab over. I'm not really sure what else to say. I'm still way nervous talking about this stuff, you know?
matociquala: (criminal minds reid yes i'm a genius)
I spend enough time complaining about stuff Numb3rs does wrong, so I have to give it a thing it just did right. I'm still in season 2, obviously, but I just hit the episode where Charlie is having the angst about not being a child prodigy anymore, but just a very smart adult.

Also, mathemeticians turning 30 the same way fashion models do.

Yeah, they knocked that one out of the park.
matociquala: (muppetology floyd pepper groovy)
One has the most curious insights while plugging away at short stories. Like, I just realized when House lost me as a viewer, after putting up with all the lawsuit-worthy medical antics of the worst! care team! evar! It was the episode two seasons ago where House gets off Vicodin and onto methadone, which works great for his pain and turns him into a tolerable human being. And the episode ends with him going off the methadone because he feels like being a sympathetic person is making him a lousy doctor.

Man, I tell you. As somebody with my share of post-traumatic and biochemical issues, I find this whole insanity/divaness/being a horrible person = genius trope so bloody offensive, it's not even funny. My crazy makes it harder to create, not possible. And yeah, there are times when I can use that crazy to provide an insight into the crazy of the zeitgeist, but is it what makes me an artist?

Fuck, no.

I'm an artist in spite of it.

Bite me, Hugh Laurie. (Yes, I know you're just an actor, and the sentiment should be "Bite me, romantic Hollywood bullshit fallacies." But I'm blaming the messenger.)

(This rant brought to you by methadone research, post traumatic stress disorder, and the fact that the Scrivener beta keeps killing my formatting, and just ate 500 words of my fucking story. That was kind of a relief, actually, because for several minutes I thought it was closer to 2000 words, and I have now rewritten the lost bit. And made another backup, yeah. Also, this has reached the Zeno's Story stage, and every time I write a scene I find I still have four scenes to write.)
matociquala: (writing sf starwars wookiee stet)
I bring you so many good things today (and one sad one)! As if the universe is joining me in celebrating sending back the last few corrections on Grail (found an embarrassing continuity error at the last minute; hope I didn't break anything else fixing it, since I broke the continuity fixing something else) I have cover art for two other books in my hand

Oh, and of course, I've started to think of all the cool things I should have found a way to get into Range of Ghosts. Well, it's got at least one full revision coming--

First off, cover art for The Sea Thy Mistress--in my hot little hands.



Okay, Cahey's hair looks a little funny, and I'm not sure where the cloak comes from, but that's probably a universal signature of This Is Fantasy. I'm dead pleased that he's on the cover, though, and that he's sufficiently brown. No idea where the Celtic spirals are coming from, but hey, Norse, Celtic, it's all the same, and it looks pretty... *g*

February 11th is our chance to prove that fantasy novels with brown people on them sell just fine, right? (This was a very hard book for me to write, for personal reasons, and I'm very neurotic about people reading it. But it's not written until its read, as they say. And it's full of things I felt like I needed to say, and possibly work through for myself. Hopefully it will help others who have been through similar adventures in their lives.)

Anyway, it's an eye-catcher, and I'm very happy.

Additionally, we have cover art for METAtropolis II: Electric Boogaloo Cascadia, which is pretty nice, if I do say so myself.



That one drops Nov 16th. Available in audio format only for now, from Audible and other sources. (Like iTunes, I think).

Now for the not-so-great news. Realms of Fantasy is shutting down its presses. I will continue reviewing books at Tor.com and Ideomancer, which does absolutely nothing to lessen my sorrow at seeing another bastion of the genre fail.
matociquala: (david bowie realism _ truepenny)
I need [livejournal.com profile] cmpriest's Time Warp icon for this.

So a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (I think it was earlier this year on twitter, but you know the internet) I promised Wil Wheaton that I would write up my Rocky Horror Picture Show experiences, as he had done.

Well, it turns out yesterday was the film's 35th anniversary. And since I just finished a draft, and given (the great) Tim Curry's recent fairly outstanding turn as a villain on Criminal Minds (where Mr. Wheaton has also appeared as a baseball-bat wielding psychopath) and the forthcoming tribute episode of Glee (I have been resisting the siren call of Jane Lynch (see also, Criminal Minds (and in the nested brackets are starting to look like a "Connections" column)) but yes, I will watch the hell out of that episode) now seems like the most opportune of opportune times.

I lost my Rocky virginity in the summer of my 17th year, June 1989, between high school and college, when a couple of guys from my gaming group (one of whom I was, through a signal failure of judgment, desperately in love with) called me up and said, "You wanna go to a midnight movie?"

Reveling in my newly adult, curfew-less status, I said, "Sure."

They were kind enough not to out me as a virgin (I probably would have cried. Lingering "Farmer in the Dell" trauma. Don't ask.) and I, being a somewhat socially isolated teen, had no idea what I was getting into. I remember mostly a gorgeous redhead kitted out as Frankie, an amazing crew of SCAdians and weirdos and freaks wearing barely anything and carrying rolls of toilet paper.

And a lot of screaming and hysterical laughter. And sticky, sticky floors.

The genderfuck wasn't much of a revelation to me--I grew up in the radical separatist dyke culture of the 80's*, which was not anything like the academic lesbian culture I've encountered elsewhere. But what was a revelation was how much fun it was. And that there were guys doing it, too. I knew drag queens--but this was somehow different in its performativeness.**

In the midst of all that performance, for the first time in my life I kind of felt like I didn't have to perform. Like I could be my kind of badly socialized self and nobody would care.

It was really nice to fit in, for a change. And it was nice to be part of a gang of people shouting (very, very funny) (very, very filthy) catchphrases at a very silly movie, where (in the movie and the gang) nobody cared if you were gay or straight or undecided, male or female or straddling that imaginary line. It was pretty much my first experience in being part of an in-group****, even if I was the new kid, and I liked it.

I wound up repeating the experience probably the majority of weekends of my college career. I wasn't the most hardcore of Rocky sluts, but I did play every female role (except Frankie)--badly, I hasten to add. I am not an actor.

I still kind of miss it, since there's no local show anymore. I'd probably still be going, for the catharsis and the camaraderie and the chance to surround myself with people just as weird as I am.

Oh, and I kind of fell in love with Richard O'Brien. Because damn, that man has skills.

I always felt bad for Frankie. He just wanted to make something beautiful.*****

I don't know for sure that that movie saved my life. But on all the nights when I sat in the Vernon, Connecticut Denny's at 3 am with a bunch of other people hoarse from shouting, eating things that were only loosely derived from food, I think I was soaking in some kind of acceptance that got me through the rest of the week.



*this may have contributed to the social isolation. just a little. that, and being a horrible nerd and a complete active PTSD case. I mean, I was such a horrible maladapt that the other nerds and goths hated me, and the gamers only put up with me because I was a girl. By senior year, I was starting to figure out how to fake it well enough to fit in as the "weird one" in the theatre crowd and with some of the gothy gay boys. Though the term "Gothic" was still an adjective then, applied mostly to music, so we didn't really have a label for our black-turtleneck-wearing-selves. But we listened to a lot of Queensryche, and the Smiths.

**shortly thereafter I would discover early David Bowie******, and realize that gender is in fact mostly role-play***

***I realize that this is not true for everyone, but it is true for me. I'm speaking in specifics, not generalities, and I recognize that it might be different for others.

****There was the theatre crowd, where I liked an awful lot of people but always felt like I stood out; and the gamers, where I was a girl gamer (rare in those days); and the women's music festival crowd, where I loved a hell of a lot of people, but it was a grownup group and I was not a grownup)

*****And why doesn't the damned soundtrack have "Planet, Schmanet, Janet?" on it?

******It was the Eighties. Lots of people did regrettable things in the 80's. Like "China Girl."
matociquala: (criminal minds fate)

The best thing about Jukido is that as a white belt I am allowed--expected!--to be a complete INCOMPETENT. It is so relaxing to be allowed to suck. I am expected to know nothing, to do everything wrong, to fail constantly. When I actually get something right, and earn a crumb of praise, I feel like I've done something huge.

I imagine if I keep up at this, in a year, I will actually have a set of criteria and standards in place, and I will be beating myself up every time I don't get my feet at the right angle--but for now, I am content to suck.

It's so refreshing.

Guitar fills this niche for me, too. I am, let's be honest, one fucking incompetent guitarist. (I sing okay, if you can tolerate a dog-whistle soprano. Hey, it's not the voice I signed up for, but it's the one I got.)

But the thing--well, yanno. My day job. This writing gig. The thing about it is that no matter how hard you work, you can never do it well enough. Something is always flawed, not good enough for somebody. No matter how much effort and concentration and heart's-blood I pour into any story, there will always be readers for whom it does not work, or worse, is offensive.

I can't do anything about that.

And if you think that inadequacy doesn't register for every writer ever published... well, I'm pretty sure the ones who have never looked at the response to their work and thought, "Maybe I should just swallow a bullet?" are deep in denial.

I think it's like this for every creative artist. People invest so much of themselves in the art. I mean, my god. I could make a better living as a secretary. And yet here I am, trying to tell stories that reveal pretty much every terror and aspiration and torment I've ever experienced so some guy who spent two hours reading them can shred them on the internet because he's allergic to gay people, so somebody can bitch about how I'm smug, self-righteous, and intentionally obscure because I accidentally pushed her buttons and made her feel intelectually inferior when I was in all actuality working my ass off to be as transparent as I knew how--

Yeah. I'm a lousy writer.

So is everybody else. Writing is too hard to do well.

And yet it is too important to do poorly. And people take it very personally when you don't do what they wanted, even when you are working your ass off to do what you hoped--

See, there's a thing. To write at all well, you have to be willing to show your throat. And if you're like me, and you have learned far too well that any vulnerability you show will be used against you, that vulnerability becomes a kind of horror show.

But that's art. Nothing you do will ever be good enough.

matociquala: (criminal minds diana reid crazy)
So as those of you who have been around a while are aware, I have some somewhat nonstandard brain wiring and chemistry going on. *****

I'm out about it, because I'm what passes for a public figure on a really bad news day, and who the hell knows--there's so much scare out there about bipolar that maybe it will help somebody to see somebody else with a fairly fucking acute case, who is nevertheless functional, creative, realistic, moderately successful, and not yet dead.****

Normally, I don't blog about it too much, because it's boring, but what's going on right now is actually interesting.

Short form: I'm bipolar I, ultra-rapid cycling**, and I have had that diagnosis since it was manic depression and the treatment was lithium until you killed yourself. (Things are better now.) I'm one of the lucky ones that can control it fairly well through diet, exercise, and supplements, and I got a buttload of cognitive therapy and coping mechanisms from about age 6, so I'm not medicated, and I'm also not prone to hallucinations, delusions, or *paranoia.

Well, anyway, as I write this, I have not slept in forty hours.

I'm not tired. I'm extremely productive. I am mellow and cheerful as a hippie stereotype, and every synapse in my brain is being bathed in massive quantities of sweet, sweet serotonin. Life is good, everything is awesome, I'm not tired, this is fun, and wouldn't you like to go for a walk?

It's basically like E, without the pacifiers.

Since Tuesday morning, I have run four miles, practiced yoga, had a fairly stiff rock-climbing session (which I only quit because my climbing partner had had enough), read a book for review, started another one, written over 8000 words (a personal best in wordcount), completed a novel revision, brushed the dog, driven up to my mom's place to split the farm share with her, gone through a massage therapy session (these hurt, and usually leave me pretty wasted afterwards), watched three episodes of Flashpoint (it r0xx0rs, rent it), played two hours of Bookworm, talked myself out of another run because I knew I was fucking tanked to the gills on Nature's uppers--

...I wish I could maintain this for the rest of my life. I could write three novels a year and have plenty of time for everything else I love doing. I would never get tired or bored or sad. I would be one of Nancy Kress's Sleepless, and I would fucking rule.

The problem, of course, is that life is not fiction.

I haven't slept for forty hours and I have no urge at all to sleep now. And even though I feel calm and alert (and with-it enough to remember that even though I feel great, my reflexes are probably not all that, and there are fatigue poisons coursing through my body even if I'm too stoned on happy chemicals to feel them) I know intellectually that there is a price to pay for this happy, happy serotonin bath.

There's a crash, you see. Or worse, there's a manic phase (which I have been trying to head off with lots of fish and running), and my manic phases are not a happy place.

So at this juncture, I will be applying beer and benedryl until I pass the fuck out. Because I can tell already, the alternative is another post like this at 10 pm tomorrow, and the Netflix queueueueueueue doesn't need reducing that much.

Self-medicating. It's okay, as long as you are nice and know better....



*mostly. I do get the occasional fugue state of everbody hates me and I'm a terrible person and I should fall under a truck, but mostly I can correct for those. Except the one that was apparently provoked by some unregulated herbal supplement in my multivitamins, Nov 2007-Apr 2008. That? Fucking sucked.

**I don't get the good mania. I get the fits-of-destructive-rage mania. You wouldn't like me when I'm manic. Fortunately, at this age, I have interrupts installed, mostly.

***Gram Rabbit always reminds me of how much I miss Life. That was some good TV.

****I said moderately.

*****So you've noticed that these end notes are out of order, have you? They are, however, in the order in which I wrote the post--and the end notes.
matociquala: (rengeek fucking silence)

Well, I got the Missing Scene for Ch. 7 of Grail written to the tune of 580 words. This was all harder than it had to be because of a massive attacks of bad brain chemicals*. Now I am consoling myself with milkfat (hot cocoa) and booze (schnapps). And there is delivery Indian on the way. Sadly, I suppose the funny man with the lovely phone voice is not on the menu....

...yeah, that would be the schnapps on an empty stomach talking.

This is a sad, sad excuse for a snowpocalypse so far.

Left on tonight's to-do list:

Eat my weight in curry and poori
Front page thingy for SU
Edit next chapter
Blog post for Charlie's Diary
Sign and package books and postcards to mail (this is so getting bumped to tomorrow)
Watch Criminal Minds and Leverage.



*I'm out about this, but I don't talk about it much because it's boring. I'm ultra-rapid-cycling (ultradian) bipolar I with comorbid post-traumatic stress. However, I have been this way for a long fucking time, and it's old now. But I guess as some sort of Minor Internet Celebrity (who does she think she is?) it's incumbent upon me to represent for the Bad Brain  Chemical crowd.

Normally, my bad brain chemicals are pretty amenable to exercise as a treatment option, but today all the running and yoga did were change me from irritated, anxious, self-hating, and sad to sad sad sad. Of course, I've had so much cognitive training and self-training at this point that I am more or less capable of looking at that and going "Gee, that's totally neurochemical!" and then tracking down the trigger and intellectualizing the hell out of it.

Which does not actually make me less sad or triggery or whatever. But it does keep me from acting on it.

Bipolar has such a high suicide rate because it's so much fucking work.

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