Uncategorized

The View From Over Here

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So… around about 1991, I was a professionally miserable student in high school, suffering avidly and expertly through the idiotic rigamarole of the usual vicissitudes of High School Life. I listened to The Smiths, The Cure, Ministry, Social Distortion… and Johnny Cash. I drew pictures. I painted, I wrote terrible long winded stories in fantasy or sci fi. I played role playing games. I lived in my basement. I read books. Basically your usual High School Existence(tm).

And I took an art class.

I was considered ‘talented’ in Art. I could draw pretty well, but it may also have had some effect that i had an ‘artistic temperament’ which meant that, throughout this art class I was mostly unsupervised. This meant that art class was sort of a haven for me. I spent my time making canvases i’d probably never use, pushing ink and paint around on things, and working on the borders for an illuminated page i’d begun working on.

Somewhere within my time in this art class i meant a friend. The first openly gay person I had ever met. Oh sure, there were rumors about this or that person. Rumors that eventually turned out to be true. Such rumors were always ALWAYS delivered with a sort of vicious derision that only High School students and certain political candidates can muster. Some of those folks about whom those rumors floated were accepted amongst tightly knit cliques who accepted them for who they were, but outside those groups there was a free for all. It was the wild west.

Anyway. I’m laboring the point. The fact is that my friend brought a LOT of life into my world. We’d sit around art class with giant books of Monet or Van Gogh, flipping pages and just ogling the pages. She had this gorgeous style. I can’t even describe it. But I seriously wish I had some of her paintings now. They were awesome. Full of color and light, with these intricate designs that i was envious of and am still inspired by to this day. You have no idea how much I STILL want some of that art.

I should say, we weren’t close friends. She was a year ahead of me in school, and aside from that one class, we didn’t hang out much outside of it. I was, and still am, a nerd and a seriously introverted one at that. And she was a bit more social. But I can say that she opened my eyes and i absolutely adored her. And do still, to this day.

Fact is, life was not terribly easy for her. She got a lot of hate. As in notes stuffed into her locker threatening her life. Over the course of the year I could see it weighing on her and on more than one occasion I had to threaten serious bodily harm to those who were tormenting her (when I found out who they were). Unfortunately, there were too many and she ended up leaving school. I can’t imagine, now, just what sort of crap she was enduring that I never saw. But the fact was that it pissed me off to no end. I’m not the fighting sort – as you might have noticed from the opening paragraph – but I would have gleefully battled the entire school, including every football player, wrestler, etc.) for the chance to give her the space to make her absolutely precious (to me) art.

So that’s where it started.

Two years later or so and i’m hanging out during a break in my acting class in college and another friend asks me casually what I’m doing this weekend. She was a bit of a firebrand – a ruthless feminist with molten lava for blood. Intense and awesome. Again, we weren’t great friends. Smoke buddies basically. We didn’t hang out, we didn’t see each other at parties (as I would have had to actually be invited and the idea of a college party at the time was kind of EEEEEK). Anyway. I had no plans that weekend. I figured I’d be doing what I usually did – studying, trying not to be annoyed by the hoedown in the hallway of my dorm, evading the pools of vomit that suddenly appeared in the hallways over the weekend. And I said as much. No plans.

She said she and a few other people were heading to DC for the gay rights march. Of course, I had no intention of going. I mean… drive from Stevens Point, Wisconsin to Washington DC for a weekend? That’s crazyness. And I was anything but crazy. Cautious would be more apt a term. And I persisted in this until thursday night, about 20 minutes before the caravan was to leave when I suddenly found myself standing in the parking lot and much to my surprise, loading myself into a car packed to the gills with people.

That march was… well… life changing. From the moment we got there, and the hostile reaction we received from the Dorm where we were being put up in a study lounge, to the march itself, it was an assault on everything I knew and thought about the world. From hanging out in Dupont Circle and first hearing the term ‘asexual’ – which, i thought at the time, was a sort of a joke. There was a spirit of community. There was this intense vibrancy of life. There were the speeches and I remember there was a sense of hope. Bill Clinton had just been elected president and folks had a feeling, I guess, that it would be different this time. That it would be better.

And it was. A little. But the thing is, a little better – at that time – was a lot. It was a celebration. The AIDS epidemic that had run rampant over the community seemed to be winding down. People had heard of cocktails of drugs that didn’t cure it, but gave you a chance to live longer. You could see… well… joy. And hope. And it reminded me of that gift my friend in art class had given me. There was color everywhere. And there was remembrance. And it was absolutely beautiful. I think, for the first time, I experienced the world I wanted to live in.

I don’t know. Maybe it was all an illusion. Maybe it was situational. I think about it now, all of those people living their utmost in those short days and then putting it away and going to jobs that didn’t accept them, or back to families who hated them. But that’s kind of what those moments are for, isn’t it? To show you the world as you want it to be. And, my God, did I want to be a part of that world.

I got a little closer to the folks on that trip after that. Trevor with his brilliant flamboyance. Mike ‘the gay dad’. I was still very much an introvert, but it somehow opened a little crack in the walls that I’d built. And I let a little more light inside after that. I auditioned for, and got, a part in a play. I smoked a little weed. I went to a few parties and as quiet and closed off as i was, I considered them friends. I allowed myself to experience things: openly, clearly, with more curiosity than judgement.

Anyway… this blog is about my experiences in Norway. So here I am at Pride in Oslo. And let me tell you something. If you haven’t been to Pride in Oslo you need to go. It’s the second largest official parade in the city just behind their national day, Syttende Mai. And it’s a beautiful celebration of color and beauty and being and I absolutely love it. There is still, sort of, that feeling of ‘not quite there yet’ but there is also a feeling of beaming… well… pride. There is a feeling of accomplishment. That, somehow – at least here – LGBTQ have created something special – a space where they can actually be themselves freely and openly.

And it’s not simply for a weekend or a day. It’s 365 days a year. At least here in the city. I have it on reliable authority that the same does not apply further out in the country and that many of the small towns have about as enlightened a view of gay rights as my own small town did back in 1991. But this is Oslo. And it’s here. You see as many people lining the streets cheering the parade as are those who are actually in it. Here you see the chief of police – a lesbian – marching in the parade alongside those that the police actually DO protect. You see trade unions, firemen, the army, the navy, the entire government represented proudly alongside their LGBTQ countrymen. There is this feeling of solidarity that is breathtaking and wonderful.

Let’s put it this way, they rename a park near the palace Pride Park during the festival. In it you can find all the major political organizations represented. Including Norway’s FRP – who are hardly recognized as friends of Gay Rights. We walked through the park, bought a baked potato (it may sound weird. It sounded weird to me, but it was freaking amazing – a baked potato slathered with corn, thousand island dressing, bacon and cheese. I’d never had a baked potato so amazing in my life). We bought a few other little things – an Ace flag, the usual rainbow stuff, etc. And as i turn to get to the exit so we can watch the march my wife says ‘Oh look. There’s the Prime Minister.’

I turned. And sure enough… the Prime Minister of Norway is walking through Pride Park with a small entourage.

LGBTQ rights are enshrined here. You see representation on the posters on city buses and trams. The pride flag waves during the pride festival from every tram you ride on. It’s flying from flags on many of the major streets. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is literally against the law. And though Pride might be a little ‘extra’, you get the feeling that the people you see marching are not so different from the people who work their 9-5. When they go home after the celebration, there might not be so much of a disconnect, that their lives can be as full and open and as beautiful as they want to be. And that’s a great thing. I find myself wishing i could drag all of my LGBTQ friends here to see it. Hell… all of my friends – just to see what kind of world this world CAN be.

After we managed to penguin walk our way through the crowds by the march, we stopped by our favorite bar, Politikern and had a few outside in the sun. Because, of course we did. This is Norway. It is summer. And outside drinking is a national past time. In the square in front of us was the national headquarters of Arbeiderpartiet – the workers party as well as an LGBTQ art gallery. I should have gone in to see if my friends artwork was there. It should have been. But I didn’t. We were both tired. Exhausted actually. But as we left several different groups of people asked us what our flag was for and I remembered how many questions I asked of people in DC. We carried the Ace flag. Apparently it’s not quite as well known. But in answering the question we continued in the process. And that’s such a beautiful thing. Broadening understanding. Answering a simple question. Sharing.

This is the world I want to live in.

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What to do, what to do?

IMG_0927This article is about panic. So if you aren’t panicking yet, why not? You should be. Or maybe that’s just me.

So, as regular readers of this blog may have gathered from my most recent posts, i once again find myself in Oslo. I’m not sure how much detail i’ve left in the other posts but let’s just say, for the moment, that i am in limbo. In fact, i’ve been in limbo for a long freaking time and it’s been getting on my blasted nerves. So what do you do when you can’t do anything? Why, panic of course!

A little back story: Almost exactly a year ago, i left my job on the hope that i would be residing in Oslo. I got a ticket, came to Norway, stayed with my wifey and hoped against all hope that we would figure out a way to let me stay as at that point we’d already been married for about six months and, as you might imagine, kind of liked the idea of actually being together. To make a long story short, it didn’t quite work out. Not that we’re not still together. That hasn’t changed. She’s wonderful and delightful and the best wifey you could ever want in spite of the fact that she reads books at about twice the rate i do and i’m no slouch in the reading department. Rather, i had to leave Norway 90 days after arriving because that’s as long as you can stay on a visitors visa.

Which sucked.

After that it was back to the states which were in no better condition than when i’d left them. Only now i was jobless. So i did what i usually do in those situations – i hit the temp services. It made sense considering i was already planning to return to Norway for christmas. (By the way, if you haven’t been to Oslo at Christmas you are missing out. Book your tickets now. Norway IS Christmas. You legitimately expect Santa to be standing around the park sipping an epleglogg.) In the intervening months from august to december i worked. No big. It was the usual thing – typing stuff into a computer system i barely understood, trying to hold the line between order and chaos until the person whose job i borrowed could return from maternity leave.

Christmas comes… (Seriously… come to Norway for christmas. Go to the julefest by the palace along Karl Johan’s Gate. Get an epleglogg. You will not regret it. It’s the best thing ever. Hint: do NOT speak to native norwegians about the proper julebrus. They all have their opinions and you are likely to be wrong 50% of the time) And i had a wonderful time. You may not be aware but Christmas in Norway means you open presents on Christmas Eve. And Christmas is about four days long. All of them glorious. I will have to write a post about it at another time because i’m totally getting lost.

Around the middle of January, i am forced – once again – to leave the wife and head back home. It sucks but we were prepared. Ish. America hasn’t changed for the better yet again. I am depressed. And i do the usual thing – hit the temp services for a job.

This time it doesn’t work out so well. I get one contract that lasts a few weeks – long enough to get the ticket back to Norway that i’d been aiming at, but not long enough to earn up the requisite cash for a good long stay as we are now aware that we CAN – in fact – apply for my permanent visa.

Here’s the thing about the application process that i might have mentioned. Stop me if you’ve heard this before: it takes a while. It was necessary to file the visa paperwork FROM Norway though because, from everyone i’ve spoken with, filing it anywhere else means it takes even longer. As in eight months longer. Which would have put me somewhere in winter – again – before i could return. During the time that your paperwork is in process you can’t come back to Norway. If you’re IN Norway, however, you can’t leave it. And WHILE your paperwork is in process, you can’t work.

Hence the panic.

So now i am in the unenviable position (though it’s okay if you do decide to envy me because i am at least in Norway and that’s much much better) of being here without a job. So what does one do when you’re in a foreign country and can’t apply for work there? Yup. You guessed it. A variation on the temp thing – freelance work.

So now i am actively seeking freelance work. Something i can do while sitting on the couch. And hey, i’m a writer and a pretty good one, i think. But have you SEEN the offerings out there for freelance work? I mean… holy crap. What do these people think we eat? Air? In the last 3 hours i’ve seen more job postings offering $2/per hour than i’d ever care to think about. That isn’t a typo. TWO dollars an hour. I saw one that offered 1 cent per word.

So… what to do, what to do?

Well… i’m so glad you asked. The answer is – you write a blog post about it. Oh, and you go for a lot of walks. And you lose weight because you’re now eating air. I aim to learn how to cook (always a good idea in Norway because they don’t do an awful lot of processed food here and what they do do in that regard doesn’t last long because they haven’t nearly the number of preservatives we do in America.) Also… cooking is far far far cheaper than hitting a restaurant.

Luckily for me, Norway is a great place to walk in. There are parks everywhere. Literally everywhere. I mean, half the country is basically a park. Not that i can get there because, no money. But anything in Oslo is fair game and seeing as Oslo is 80% forest, it leaves for plenty of excellent options. It also happens that taking a nice stroll someplace beautiful is a VERY norwegian thing to do and has the added benefit of heading off the employment/dwindling bank account panic i am currently experiencing.

So you MIGHT see me post a few things in the future about the joys and horrors of attempting to freelance while overseas. And by horrors i mean the pay scale (looking at you bulgarian job poster offering 4 dollars an hour or the ‘I want a travel writer in the US to write about travelling… but only if you live in the US’)

On the other hand… Come to Norway for Christmas. It literally is the best. Stay for New Years because you haven’t seen anything quite as spectacular as the city of Oslo basically exploding on New Years Eve. I will be existing on those memories for a while because they’re slightly more filling than air.

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New Country, Who Dis?

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It’s been over a week. I have been busy. Well… to be a little more honest, i have been VERY busy with being absolutely not busy at all. The wifey and i have made a bit of a pact that we shall be deliberately doing as little as possible for the first week here. Mainly so we can shuck off the jet lag.

Which isn’t working by the way. So let’s just start there shall we?

You get on the plane at 7PM in Chicago. Which, by the way, is a fricking zoo. It’s an apocalyptic zoo. Sort of like walking into a music festival where you hate all the musicians playing…. and everyone is a vampire in a bad mood. Or a Werewolf with mange. In our case, we sort of bustled to the nearest bar, had a seat and had a few. This is part of my flying routine. Generally, i am so absolutely stressed by travel (and particularly leaving the comfort of my home Butt Groove) that pounding back two (no more than two) vodka cranberries before a flight helps to steady the nerves. Why no more than two? Because you might get a wee bit tipsy and you don’t want to give them any excuse not to let you on the plane.

I was excited by the prospect of an open lane in my seats on the plane. It has happened on this trip before – particularly if your seat is towards the back of the plane. I ALWAYS take the back of the plane. It might be a bit smellier, the seats are tiny, BUT the further back you are, the closer you are to the bathroom and the less fear you have of getting locked into your seat when the service carts start moving. AND the more likely it will be that there may be open, unclaimed seats. I have personally witnessed one intrepid traveller on a larger flight sprawl out in the center aisle seats. I have also had a row to myself once. If you haven’t travelled much, know this – that having a row to yourself is absolute bliss.

Unlike this flight.

Remember the mangy werewolves i mentioned? Well… one ended up sitting right next to me. Here i thought i hit the jackpot and had the row to myself again but at the last minute it filled up – one incel writer type in a tweed jacket that he did not take off despite the canned and sweltering air and another… well… mangy werewolf is the best description. There was just something… off… about that guy: shaved head, sketchy darting eyes, blotchy. He was the fellow right next to me. He climbed into his seat which is basically the reverse of being born, sat down and sacked out before the plane even left the earth and stayed that way until it touched down.

Now you might say ‘oh gee, you lucked out’. Which is not the case. Because, as it happens, folks who sack out that hard and that consistently on an international flight are aberrations from the depths of hell. And they tend to flop. And flail. And the fellow did both. Often. Right on top of me. I’m in coach, of course, so there is precious little space to begin with but having a 250 lb man snooze closer and closer eats up what little space you have rather quickly and i couldn’t exactly create more without actually opening the window.

Anyway… Back to the jet lag.

The thing of it is, you’re not just flying east by seven hours. You’re also flying north. This makes a huge difference. While Oslo is not the land of the midnight sun, it’s close enough that you can smell it. So not only is your body off by seven hours when you land, but you’ve also just experienced the shortest night ever AND the light, when you land, is all sorts of wrong. We landed in Reykjavik at 7 am. It felt like 3 PM. And that displacement would only get more pronounced the further west we travelled.

Unlike, Chicago O’Hare, Gardermoen Airport in Oslo is a paragon of grace and beauty. They have an actual Munch painting right there in the long, wide, parquetted concourse. The space inside the terminal is nothing short of glorious. Angelic. I swear, if it weren’t for the general subdued noise echoing off of natural wood interiors, you might hear a choir of angels sing or Handels Messiah playing as you make your way to arrivals. It’s literally the prettiest airport i have ever seen in my life, a fact made all the more precious by the fact that it is well run, well organized, and actually makes some sort of rational sense.

Norway is part of the Schengen area – a set of european countries that have abolished the need for passports at entry. This means that once you pass through customs at Keflavik in Iceland, you are done with the customs process. And passing through customs at Iceland is USUALLY a licketty split process. This was the first and only time there was a bit of a wait. It might have had something to do with travelling on a saturday. But either way, there is nothing much to do at Gardermoen except take your leisurely time getting through the gloriousness of the airport -maybe enjoy the view of the distant mountains outside the concourse windows. Then you collect your bags. There is no glowering TSA agent waiting for you to hand in your little slip of paper or check your Fast Pass. There is a door that says ‘nothing to declare’ and that’s it. Go through that door and you’re out. (Unless, of course, you have something to declare.)

By now it is 11 AM. And i am temporally displaced in the extreme. Because the arrivals area of Gardermoen is so well ordered it actually FEELS like a nice quiet sunday morning. I grabbed my bags and headed out to the pick up area which, again, is busier than i have ever seen it. Which is to say it’s 300 times LESS busy than O’Hare on an off day. It’s quiet. Peaceful. Beautiful. Not much to do but take in clean air and watch pigeons and magpies battle each other for scraps of fresh baked bread from the various kiosks in the arrivals area. And smoke. I’m a vaper. So i vape. Ten hours of flying has turned me into a chimney.

Ordinarily, at Gardermoen, you’d simply hang a right through the ‘nothing to declare’ door, head to the Flytoget (Plane Train) kiosk and get a ticket into Oslo. That’s what i did every other time i’ve been through and that’s why Gardermoen is like an airport for silent monks. There is no need for the hustle and bustle of absurdity that is the pick up for every other airport i’ve been to. You simply get your bags, get a ticket, get on the rather sumptuous plane train, and whisk your way quickly to Sentrum. This time, my wife’s parent’s picked us up.

So now i am here. Home. It took me about 48 hours to remember the homeyness of it. I still missed my butt groove. But one walk to the grocery store from our apartment and it was like putting on an old pair of jeans. Lilacs dripping down from fresh green lanes, people meandering along the roadways, the quiet peace of the neighborhood.

Oslo, or at least my current section of it, is what i would have imagined had i had the tools to imagine it. It’s what i would have built if i knew how to build it. It’s quiet, but there is some sort of odd reverence to it’s quietness that doesn’t feel enforced. It’s not… well… demanded… but respected in some way. As though there is an agreement among everyone that this is how it should be – the tiny little lanes, the footpaths that meander into woods, the way the rock of the fjord and mountains jutt through and are worked around. It’s as though elves live here or something – determined to preserve as much of the natural beauty of the place as they can while still building around it. I love the rock protruding from peoples lawns, the miniscule forested areas with their little paths. I love the outside seating areas around every bar or restaurant – the seats covered in sheeps wool, empty wine glasses still sitting on the table.

And despite the undeniable comfort of my relinquished American Butt Groove, there is nothing so wonderful as this place and my home. Even as i write this, my tiny but unbelievably fierce part Norwegian Forest Cat, Spoon is staring at me. It’s cool. It rained this morning. And it’s quiet. I may still have absolutely no idea what time it is, but in this moment i don’t care. It’s enough to be here. To be building a new butt groove. To be home.

There are homes we are born to, and no matter how hard we try we will never fully escape them. That’s what America was built on: memories of homes we left – ethnic festivals, cuisine from the home country. It’s why lutefisk is served in Minnesota. It’s why we have a Polish fest in Milwaukee (and Irish Fest, and Italian Fest). These places are always a part of you and will be forever. Even longer, in fact, than you are part of them yourself. They live on in families, in traditions, in stories and you pass them on generationally. But there are also the homes you build, the ones you find, the ones who creep up on you unexpectedly and maul you with their promise of peace and light and life. Sometimes, you’re lucky enough that you have both and they’re the same place. But sometimes it’s all you can do to drag yourself from one to the other, reluctantly, painfully, inexorably. It’s hard pulling yourself from one to the other – particularly when they’re so far apart – but it’s worth it if you let it. If you learn to leave off the resistance and just love the space you find yourself in.

Home is where you make it. I choose to make it here.

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This Tired, Poor, Huddled Mass is Yeeting…

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Hold on to your hats because this is a big one. I have no idea how to actually tackle a topic as vast as this except to leap straight into it. It will likely be a series. Or something. Cuz there’s a lot to say.

Starting with the basics – A couple of years ago – 2016 to be precise – i met a fine lass online in a group i was adminning. It was a writers group. For writers. And we met and hit it off. That gal lived in Norway. Oslo, specifically, a country and a city that i hadn’t ever really intended to visit. It seemed nice in pictures and stuff but i am a homebody. One of those folks who dreamt listlessly of travel, but subsided within a life that really should NOT have been comfortable, but was. It’s weird how that works. You get used to things not being ideal and the non-ideal becomes the comfortable and then, by some sort of crappy metamorphosis, the ideal.

Well, it took a little pushing, a little prodding, and a little nudging as well as a bank account that was finally amenable and… to make a long story short, i went out to visit this gal in May of 2017 – for my birthday.

The visit was a little more than a week long. I didn’t want to overstay my welcome and i figured that was a good amount of time to see how we clicked without either of us getting too much in each other’s face or anything. We clicked pretty well.

It turns out, really well. On the second to last day before i was supposed to head home to America, she proposed. Yep. SHE did. We both laugh about it now because we’d both tried to mentally prepare ourselves to head off just that sort of silliness. I mean… we might be fiction writers, but that’s one of those things you hear about in romance novels. I think that moment caught us both by surprise. In fact, i know it did. She said it and i accepted it. Just like that. In spite of both of our respective brains stating uncategorically that such a thing could not, should not happen. That it was basically bonkers.

But then again, we’re a little accustomed to bonkers.

The question of WHERE we would then settle was… well… settled almost instantly. Due to medical complications, there was no way i would permit my betrothed to reside in the medical hellscape that is the United States. Even with a decent job and health care, it would be a recipe for bankruptcy. Her care and medication would have us being permanent residents of the poor house unless – by some miracle – we won the lottery or i suddenly became an amazing best selling author (a feat which could only be accomplished by me actually completing any number of the 3 dozen open projects i had working at the time)

This brings us to the REAL point of this blog…

I’m immigrating.

To freaking NORWAY.

Now, i’m sure i will likely use these pages to blather on relentlessly about the wonders of Norway and Oslo specifically. I’ve been there a bunch of times now and i absolutely love it. But there’s more. There is the unusually frought – emotionally – concept of BEING AN IMMIGRANT which provides a unique perspective on that experience that i never thought i would actually have.

See… we’ve now ACTUALLY BEEN MARRIED for a year and a half. We were married in December of 2017. And since that time we’ve managed to be together for a few months here and a month there. Intermittent and sporadic moments of togetherness that are great for the first week or so, but then take on more and more notes of omen as the time grows increasingly short. It’s a crappy way to live – always bordering on the one foot reluctantly out the door, trying to cram as much living into the time we have together and otherwise relying on the capriciousness of an unstable internet service for things like Skype and watching shows together on Rabbit. There’s a seven hour time difference, so one or the other of us is constantly existing on fumes of energy. But we’ve been making it work. Ish. Uncomfortably and with difficulty, but it’s been working.

So i will be filing my paperwork to get a permanent residence visa in a week or two. I will be there, with her, in a few days and right now she’s here in Wisconsin. So that’s good.

But i would be lying if i said it’s all rosy and wonderful. And i know i bounced around this issue a lot over the preceding paragraphs but…

NOTHING ABOUT THIS IS EASY.

Honestly, the easiest shit to deal with is the technical stuff – the Visa and all that. That’s a matter of filling out forms, doing stuff. There’s a list. You check it off. You do your best and get it done like it’s a job. It’s the other stuff. The mental stuff. The ‘HOLY SHIT THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING’ stuff. The uncomfortable recognition that you are leaving the only home you’ve ever known. That you will be thousands of miles from everyone you know. That you are leaving a lifetime of stuff behind. That you – at 45 years old – are leaving a lifetime behind and starting with a very terrifying slate so clean you could mistake it for a plate and eat off of it.

It is fucking terrifying.

So… here, in all its yawning Cthulhu-esque glory, is a categorical list of the utter and complete brain freak out that is currently occuring behind my calm veneer:

  • Jesus Shit Holy Fuck I’m TOTALLY ass broke and can’t afford to do this.
  • I need one pair of jeans and a pair of hiking pants
  • how am i going to get all this shit into my luggage
  • how am i going to afford the metro pass
  • how am i going to find a job
  • where am i going to find a job
  • job
  • job
  • job
  • crap can’t even work for months while my visa is processing
  • job
  • money
  • job
  • money
  • what if they don’t let me in
  • what if they think we’re lying for me to immigrate and don’t believe we’re married
  • How the hell did people do this when the trip took five months by boat
  • How did people do this with only pen and paper as communication tools
  • What’s going to happen to my friends without me
  • What’s going to happen to my family without me
  • Is everyone going to be okay without me
  • Is my leaving the dumbest thing i’ve ever done in my life?
  • Is my leaving the smartest thing i’ve ever done in my life?
  • It feels like the smartest thing.
  • But what about my poor cat? When will i be able to bring her over?
  • Why is my country so stupid as to force people out rather than figure out how to help them live?
  • Why is my country so stupid?
  • Oh crap. Norway. That’s right next to Russia. What if they invade?
  • Why is it so damned hard to learn the language?
  • Will i fit in okay?
  • What if i don’t fit in okay?
  • What if i can’t find friends?
  • Where will i find friends?
  • How do i find friends when i haven’t been very good at it before?
  • You’re 45. People don’t start over at 45. They start planning their own funerals. They slog the rest of their way through a dreary life and then die grateful that it’s over.
  • Is my anxiety going to settle down when you get there?
  • Is my anxiety ever going to settle down?
  • OMG this is so wonderful and i can’t believe i’m starting over at 45!
  • She’s the wonderfullest ever and this is all totally worth it.

This is not a complete list, mind you. At any given moment there are 81 flavors of panic going through my brain and i don’t have to even get on a leaking, sinking life raft and cross an ocean to do it. All i have to do is get on a plane and FOR A CHANGE i will actually be getting on a plane WITH MY WIFE. No more leaving her at the airport – i hope. But that doesn’t mean i’m not in perpetual panic mode.

Immigrating IS NOT FUCKING EASY. And i’m doing it the easiest way possible. And we’re doing it the legal – totally above board – way. But don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. This is not a decision anyone takes lightly. I would like to stay. I would like to stick around my friends, my family, have the life that i thought i would. I would like to build our lives here, together, with my people and everything i’ve always known. And in the days leading up to the grand adventure i find myself staring constantly at the familiar things knowing that it may be a while before i see them again.

No one does this lightly. People don’t leave their home because they are happy. They leave because they must. Because they believe there is something better and they can see glimpses of being happier. And because, regardless of HOW FUCKING HARD IT IS – WHATEVER comes is better than what is.

I’m not crossing a border or an ocean. I’m getting on a plane with the papers necessary to hopefully get me a permanent residence visa. In a few years time, i hope to apply for citizenship. But even so, with all of that, with doing it the ‘right way’ i still know a little – maybe just a tiny little – bit of what those people are going through. I’ve seen it in my own heart and my own head. It’s absolutely terrifying, but somehow the terror of risking is better than the terror of not risking.

And she’s totally worth it.

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Is This Thing On?

Wow. It’s been a minute hasn’t it? Huh… This is a bit like coming back to a home you had to leave quickly. One that has been attacked by ninjas or something. Or like that scene in Godzilla where Ford and his dad come back to the house they evacuated years before. Everything is covered with moss and dust. There’s a tree growing out of my Blog now.

I think i might just leave it there. It adds to the ambience.

So. What’s new folks? Anybody out there?

Right. Just me. Talking primarily to myself as usual.

So. I got married. That’s new since the last time. She’s wonderful and I love her dearly. And pretty soon here I will be moving to be with her. And it’s KINDA a big move. I don’t want to say too much right now because it will require a lot of paperwork and many other things including a huge psychological upheaval. But i’m excited. Really excited.

Ummm… I’m still working on pumping out more fiction. So there’s that. But it’s been slow going. I’ve gone back to the basics. I don’t know if i mentioned it here or not, but when i wrote the first four Meg Brown stories, they were all jotted down in a little moleskine notebook by hand, in pen. Seeing as i have been having a lot of trouble getting things moving with the writing in a more traditional sense, i have decided to go back to writing things in pen. Somewhere in the archives you may see a visual representation of exactly what i mean. Maybe i will post another pic of what it currently means.

For any of you who are interested (all… umm… one of you anyway) i am using a nice midnight blue Leuchiturm 1917 dotted journal and a Pilot Metropolitan Fine tip Fountain pen. It really seems to do the work, though keeping my handwriting legible is a bit of a struggle so i have adopted the additional technique of using dip pen Calligraphy as a meditative aid before setting into writing.

I know. I’m a total nerd. But i’m quite okay with that.

In any case, i found a podcast with Neil Gaiman who mentioned writing longhand and i remembered that connection between yourself, the silence, the pen, the paper. And off to the races i went.

You can find a link to the podcast in question here: https://tim.blog/2019/03/28/neil-gaiman/ I hope it works.

And i am learning Norwegian. I love the language. It’s like what would happen if German and Hobbit had a linguistic baby. It bubbles. If you haven’t heard a native Norwegian speak, get yourself on a plane and go immediately to Oslo.

Oh yeah… and then there is the Bullet Journal. My wifey – who i think i mentioned is the awesomest – got me into Bullet Journalling and I absolutely love it. It is, again, that connection between the pen and the paper, organizing your thoughts like you’re carefully cooking a meal. And working… well… slow. When you’re typing stuff you can throw in everything but the kitchen sink toting elephant and half the time you aren’t even aware. Hand cramping and watching letters form on a page makes you think slower, more deliberately and it’s fantastic though i often admit to horrible episodes of rambling and repetition which annoys me to know end when i finally discover it ages later.

What does this all mean? Well… quite simply that i will have a LOT more things to talk about in the future. I hope. Provided i actually keep up with it this time. But don’t hold your breath on that score. I kind of like disappearing for a while to come back and find out what’s changed in the meantime. Usually the thing that’s changed the most is me. And that’s pretty nice to find out too.

Well, that’s all for now. Hope you like it and can stay tuned. There may be more to come.

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A Man Mansplains Mansplaining to Mansplainers

Gather round children. Come on. Come in close. Listen well. You there… get your finger out of your nose. You.. the one in the green… stop punching your neighbor in the arm. Just stop it. Settle down now. Shhhhhh…..

Alright. Everyone? Are you all settled in? No. Put away that bucknife. You can whittle that stick on recess. On second thought. Gimme that.

Okay. Here’s the thing. You know how you read an article on the internet and then you read the comments and they are all unironically demonstrating the content of the article? That just happened. I mean. It JUST happened. To me. And i figured i had to say something because it’s sort of staggering how some folks aren’t getting this. And i figured, y’know… the best way to get some folks to actually HEAR it is if it comes from a guy. Cuz frankly, and lets be honest here, you seem to have a shut off valve somewhere in your head when a woman says… well… anything.

So… What IS mansplaining? Well… It is a verb. ‘To Mansplain’. One has ‘mansplained’. It is, as you might have guessed, pretty deliberately gendered. You might have noticed. It is also a constructed word. These things are all true. And as such these seem to be the crux of any argument.

I do not know, nor do i particularly give a rats ass, about the particular etymology of the word. I only care that it’s construction delineates a certain long standing practice amongst a section of the gender (yeah… that’s you gents) who have historically been quite pleased with interjecting their thoughts and opinions in opposition to, and quite often in complete ignorance of, the opinions and thoughts of the ‘opposite’ gender. It is, pretty bluntly, a discursive artefact of male privilege.

No really. It is. That’s pretty much it.

Now, folks might object… (yeah… that’s likely you too Gents) that ‘hey! It’s divisive! Not all guys do that! I don’t do that. That’s not fair!

Well… you know the old adage about love and war. Well… this would be the war portion. and quite frankly, you’re losing. I know. It’s horrifying isn’t it? To be sitting on top of the world, grinning down upon all you survey with the insouciant surety that you are master’s of your domain and suddenly the whole world shifts and everything is looking like a terrible threat because people accuse you of mansplaining. It’s a threat to your… ahem… masculinity. It’s dangerous. It subverts the rightful order of things. (That order being that men’s words and opinions carry more weight and import than… well… anyone else’s.)

It’s a fucking word. I mean seriously.

You know what’s funny about getting stung by a word? You know what’s just a huge fricking belly laughing riot about all of the controversy and the sad puppies howling along with their own perception of their balls being snipped off? It’s that this word, in being dismissive of the eons old tradition of mansplaining, is actually giving men the taste of being dismissed. Hmm… it’s almost like that was on purpose. Gee.

That’s what i mean by you’re losing. If you miss that point… that it was actually DELIBERATE IRONY… you are woefully obtuse and so concerned about the state of your dangly bits that you don’t even notice that the world is wandering away without you.

And you should lose. Really. I mean fuck it. You’ve been propping up an idiotic tradition of masculinity for.. oh god… FOR FUCKING EVER. Don’t you think it’s just a wee bit (ahem… pardon the pun) confining? I mean, really. You LIKE being proscribed by your buddies who don’t understand your closet love for horses? You actually LIKE being called a ‘pussy’ for trading in a minivan, kids and a family for friday night black outs and donkey porn? You LIKE the fact that someone dropped you in a uniform when you were seven or eight years old and you’ve adopted it like you’re a proud member of the universal brotherhood of the mighty dick? Yeah… Cuz that’s what men do. They let everyone tell them what to be, how to think, what to like, who to like, what cars they can drive and still be a man.

Fuck that. Lose.

Or to put it in terms a little more like what you’re probably used to: Man up.

Mansplaining is a threat. It’s supposed to be. It’s a very effective one. It calls on you… YES YOU… to question just how much damned ego you need. If you find yourself defending it and feeling like ‘oh dear! someone just said i was mansplaining and i feel… i feel… like i’m not being respected.’ You know what? IT’S ALL TRUE. Now what? How much do you NEED to be respected. Just how important is your ego? How important is your opinion? Do you think you can find a way to actually discuss your opinion… ahem… you know… without… umm… maybe making it sound like yours is the only opinion that matters? Do you think you could actually find room in your ego to LISTEN?

Gents… seriously… Listening is the key to any communication. ANY. I wish i could say that in about a hundred different languages. ANY communication. If someone actually feels that you are listening THEN you are having a conversation. If they don’t. You aren’t. Pretty much that simple.

I’m a writer. Words are my business. They have power. But the cool thing about them is they have the power we give them. Inside all this discussion on ‘mansplaining’ is someone actually trying to explain something to you and… well… so far i see an awful lot of not listening.

But that’s the thing about having power isn’t it? It’s really hard to get past the feeling that you are always losing it. (hint… you always are, and it’s not worth having anyway. Makes you paranoid and not a very good person.)

Anyway. Just thought this might be helpful.

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Harriet Tubman and Prince or Why Power is a Lie

Prince

I was a pretty lucky kid. I don’t know what grace moved me. Looking back, it seems i certainly had some because – though primarily on my own much of the time – i somehow managed to stumble into awesome. Whether it was on a walk in the woods, lost by myself, or sitting in my room with a small stack of books, action figures, a terrible little radio that played only AM stations… I was pretty lucky.

Somehow – that Grace again – i stumbled into Prince. I couldn’t say what magnetized me so much. I was a kid. I didn’t think about it. But that’s how kids are aren’t they? They live in electromagnetic fields that no one can see – not even them – but somehow when the right magic comes by you become galvanized. The experiences that will make you stick to you. You are formed by these fields. Electromagnetic invisible love. And that’s about the coolest thing there is or can be. One of those things was Prince. Bam. Just like that.

Prince was cool in ways i could only dream about. He could sing. He could move. He could play guitar. Hell… when you’re eight or ten or whatever you are pretty sure he could do whatever the hell he wanted to. If ever there was a guy who could walk out of an explosion like they do in the movies Prince would be that guy. And he wouldn’t just walk out. He would strut out – pristine and in purple with that smile on his face.

Prince was power. He was art. You listened to his music. You sang along as loud as your eight to ten year old heart could handle. You tried the moves. You had no idea if you looked like a complete idiot. You didn’t care who was looking. Because in singing along, you tapped into that power. You became Prince. And somewhere, somehow, i realized in those moments of absolute transport that this was true power. This was triumph. This was unfuckwithability. It was a superpower. You felt fire in your fingertips. It was magic.

Prince the man died today. Where does that power go? Does it snuff out? Not hardly. Not even close. That’s the thing with real power. REAL SUPERPOWER. Not the stuff of TV or politicians speeches, or guys in suits with graying hair and checkbooks. It doesn’t go out. It doesn’t even change form. It just skips along on the rest of us like lightning bolts, arcing from one to another. We might have lost the man. And that’s sad. Because there was more we could have, should have had. But the power is always in our fingertips.

I guess that’s what i’ve been thinking about today. You watch the people on TV behind their desks or podiums. You watch the speeches and the spectacle. And all of a sudden you realize that The Power that Prince gives freely is the same stuff that they grasp at, the same thing they want to embody and hold on to. They want to have the power of a song and stammer at the injustice of not having it. The stuff the courses through that shitty AM station radio is bigger, badder, and infinitely stronger than what most people think of when they think of power.

Harriet Tubman is supplanting a president of the United States on a legal tender. That’s power. That’s real. That shows us that the thing that comes to us from guys like Prince and people like Tubman is real. It may take a while. A long while. But it doesn’t go out. People can make speeches and get elected and shit and that’s fine. They can make idiotic laws about where this and that person is allowed to pee, or drink, or live, or be treated. They can live in that world but the rest of us… well… it’s not our world. Our world is dinner tables, radios, tv sets, pencils on paper, watercolors, a space just small enough to dance or sing in. Sometimes it’s all we’ve got and i’ve come to believe it’s just big enough to punch the powerful in the mouth. They want that space. They’ve always wanted it. But no one is giving it up. It’s ours. You might get our vote….

But you’ll never be Prince

Or Harriet Tubman or a Louis Armstrong solo or a Turner Painting or a Guernica or John the Revelator or Jimi Hendrix or Public Enemy. You’ll never be as strong as the pop and crackle of an old Beach Boys album on the record player. You’ll never be the wide eyed stare of a ten year old kid watching Purple Rain for the first time.

And that, my friends, is a real superpower. It gives hope. It gives life. It gives light when all other lights go out.

People are going to bitch and not get it. Personally, i think at some level everybody gets it but i’m a closet optimist. But i’ve already heard the plaintive wails of some folks who insist that the real power IS the stuff of fake princes: guys in suits with something to sell who can never afford what is actually free. They’ve invested in that version of supremacy. It’s sad. No Beatles song can cure them. They’ll stare at Guernica for hours and never see anything more than a strange horse. They’ll insist that the great deeds of great men are the stuff of real life. But they aren’t. Not really. They’re the stuff of moments trapped in the resin of history.

Don’t worry about those folks. They’ll sink below the waves of history crashing over them eventually, wailing how this shouldn’t be. But we’ll be here with Prince and the others: Lemmy, Bowie, Rickman, Harriet Tubman, Armstrong and the ones still to come.

Shelley once said “The poet is the unacknowledged legislator of the world.” So too is the musician, the painter, the author, the poet, the sculptor and the little kid sitting on the floor with his action figures listening to the sounds of glory bleating out of his AM radio. We create the heaven of possibility. In this there is all the power in the world. Enough to shake the foundations and cast down the princes.

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Dear Writers…

CastleandBeckett

CASTLE – ABC’s “Castle” stars Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle and Stana Katic as NYPD Detective Kate Beckett. (ABC/Bob D’Amico)

So, by now anyone who cares has heard the news that Stana Katic is leaving the show at the end of the season – allegedly for ‘budgetary reasons’ blah blah blah. Maybe you don’t care. Maybe, like me, you’ve already preemptively stopped watching. But this isn’t about that. Not really anyway. This is about the writers and ‘showrunners’ and such. Who are, sadly, idiots.

The news of Katic’s departure came to me from a former cop. Over at The Graveyard Shift they do this wonderful little bit of analysis of each episode of Castle from a cops perspective. As a procedural writer myself, this sort of analysis is invaluable and kind of wonderful. But they broke the news. I’m not going to lie: it was a little earthshattering.

The nice thing about Castle as opposed to regular or more serious ‘cop shows’ is that it recognizes that it is not a clinic in procedural writing. It has, in the past, embraced it’s goofiness. If there is one thing that people gravitate to Castle for it’s that, at it’s best, it’s a fan paradise with Richard Castle himself as the ultimate fanboy. See…. writers get this. Or at least most writers do. Writers – at their best – are fans. They can be fans of crime procedure, investigation technique, interrogation. They can be nerds soaking in sci fi and fantasy. They can be unabashed enthusiasts of damned near anything and everything. That’s kind of what gets us into this business to begin with.

And that’s what i want to get at here.

See… lately there seems to be these murky writing denizens creeping out from the disgusting ooze that appears to be damned near everywhere these days. It’s like some sort of tomb has been opened and the dragging shambling corpses of former writers have been pouring out to blight us all with… well… what’s the best way to put it? ‘not fun-edness’ or to put it differently, their own bilious and fairly toxic spewings of literary criticism in some noxious cloud of post freudian analysis.

Lit crit is great. Until it isn’t. And there appear to be A LOT of writers who have somehow exchanged it for actually enjoying what they’re doing.

Castle is only the most recent example. My own read on the shake up is that the new showrunners suck. That’s about it. Ever since taking over the job, all they’ve wanted to do is change the show to what they think it SHOULD be. This is the same fault the morons at DC fell into when they decided that Zack Snyder is the go to guy to helm their film future. It’s my opinion that these writers are writing for a paycheck. They don’t know nor do they particularly care about the property they’re entrusted with. In fact, they seem like bitter little shits who are all like ‘well you wouldn’t read my one brilliant book about the deviousness of sock knitters at the grand national sock knitting convention which borrows brilliantly from Neruda with flavors of Foucault and Derrida… so i’m going to ruin the things you love. And i’m going to get paid doing it. Nyah. Nyah. Nyah.’

We all know… though we hate to admit it… that hollywood is CRAMMED with these writers. They wrote a single thing, somehow got into a writing room, it sucked the life out of them and blighted their existence and they really would rather be doing just about anything else other than writing. They’ve lost the sense of ‘fun’ they had in it and they can’t WAIT to get out of there to have a mai tai on the beach with someone. (and really… who can blame them for wanting a mai tai on the beach)

I’m not saying all hollywood writers are the same. I’ve been there and i’ve met quite a few folks who are working their asses off to bust in and they LOVE writing. It just seems that some of the ones now in charge are NOT them. They’ve lost their spark. They need a good long vacation to some place… any place… that preferably doesn’t have internet and where they might be eaten by cannibals.

But the problem is that there is literally THOUSANDS of writers who absolutely love writing. They LOVE fangirling (or boying) out over things. They squee over this or that plot turn. They ship and ship HARD. And each one of them is grinding away in their own fandoms. (Also… if you think fanfic is not worthy of your review or beneath your astute consideration, you can just jump this particular ship right now. This blog is not for you) Any one of these writers would leap with both hands out over a cliff to snatch at the chance to write the next Batman movie, or work on the writing staff for Castle. We know what it is to have fun. Because it is fun.

Writing should be fun. Even when (especially when) you are actually using it for some criticism. Every time i hit the page i try and have fun. If i’m not having fun, i don’t do it. And believe me, i jam as much social criticism into the fun as i think i can get away with. Because that’s PART of the fun and it’s what makes writing important and actually… dare i say it… GOOD.

But right now we seem to have showrunners and writers who are drawing a paycheck. They’re writing to a committee of twits in a board room somewhere who don’t know and don’t care much beyond what the ad revenue is going to bring in. They’re looking for the ‘sure thing’ – like Batman vs. Superman. They need the brand to sell commercial slots. And quite honestly, i’m beginning to think these board room script supervisors have their television sets locked in a freezer somewhere and the last movie they saw had a young Bruce Willis in it.

Nerds rule. That’s the takeaway from all of this. The sooner producers, showrunners, and the sunlight-deprived writing rooms of Hollywood understand this, the more likely they are to actually make money. And i’m not talking about the tidy pile of ill gotten gains they get on opening weekend (looking at you BvS) I’m talking about all of it. Merch. A steady pool of willing writers to blow you away with their interpretations of this and that. Repeat customers.

Let’s put it this way: I saw Avengers twice in the theatre. I saw Force Awakens Twice in the theatre. I bought it immediately BEFORE it was available on DVD. We are the Ents. (also if you don’t get this reference, this blog is not for you) we have awoken and found ourselves powerful. And we’ve discovered (through the internet) that there are more of us than anyone ever thought existed anymore. We’ve drawn others in. We are growing. If you think your post structural analysis of Superman and your Postfreudian interpretation of Batman impresses us – you are dead wrong. If you think you can ‘change the dynamic’ of a show because YOU think you know better than us what the show should be, you’ll see our power in the deafening silence you receive.

We are the fans. We’re your blasted base. That’s the beauty of it. You think it’s shareholders. Well… those shareholders are likely to be mighty disappointed when you disappoint us.

So get with the program, please. Start listening. Or we’ll do what we’ve been doing which is walking away and creating our own stuff. It’s what we do. Because it’s FUN and we love it. And maybe that’s what you don’t get. Nerds LOVE things. You callously rely on that love to make a quick buck and we’re getting mighty sick of it. And it makes us want to punch you in the junk.

If you would like a few examples of what i’m talking about because you don’t know… Check out Firefly posts on facebook. Check out the new success of the fourth season of Longmire. Check out the resurrection of Star Wars. Check out just about any Marvel movie that gets released. I mean… they made a movie about a tree and a talking raccoon! AND IT MADE AN ABSOLUTE SHITLOAD OF MONEY.

Don’t make us tear down your shitty little Isengard. We’ll do it. And we’ll have fun doing it. We’ll bring marshmallows and popcorn. And you’ll be sitting there all sad like ‘but… my tower. My army of hideous shambling minions… that just got eaten by a forest… i haz a sad.’ And we shall sit there and laugh and laugh and ship you with Cruella DeVille.

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Why Genre Writing Matters

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Yesterday i spent a long drive down to Burlington, Wisconsin to play a board game with some old friends. Now, by old, i mean we aren’t old. Older than we were, for sure. But time’s a funny thing. You don’t see it passing, it just does and one day you’re 40 and you haven’t seen those people you grew up with for 20 years or so, but even that time… weird though it is… evaporates as soon as you are in a basement with dice in your hand playing a board game. Just like you used to do.

But this isn’t really about that. Maybe i’ll hold that one off for later.

This is about the writer i heard on the news radio station i was listening to on the way down there. I don’t remember her name, but i can tell you she’s a shakespearean professor of english and she writes Romance. From the sound of things she makes a freaking KILLING at it too. Note – this is also not a promotional ad for all budding writers to run out and scribble some romance for the sake of riches.

Anyway, she chatted a little about the killing she was making at it and most importantly how those in her profession – her literary colleagues – were oblivious to it. They were completely unaware that her professor salary was dwarfed in the extreme by the small fortune she was raking in for writing pulpy bodice rippers. Well. Ain’t that just the shit?

I grew up with Genre writing. I didn’t know it at the time. I just thought Genre writing was called books. But i poured through The Hardy Boys and Encyclopedia Brown. I graduated, slowly, to horror through Stephen King and then to… ahhh… this is fun… The Dragonlance Chronicles by Weis and Hickman. I was so damned envious when one of my friends scored a signed copy of Dragons of… something. I read them all. Then i soaked in Sci Fi for a while – Heinlein, Card, and then…

Neuromancer. I’ll be honest. Neuromancer broke my brain. The prose. Hell, i didn’t even really know what prose was at the time but i knew this was something different. For a while, William Gibson became my god and everything became Cyberpunk. Everything. And it was a delight. The world was complicated. Fast. Beautiful like moonlight on a heap of discarded computer parts or neon glinting on gutter junk.

Somewhere along the way, though, i stopped.

But that’s not a tragedy. There is more to the world than Genre fiction. I don’t regret for a second falling in love with Steinbeck or Hemingway or Austen or Fitzgerald. I would be an utter idiot for not falling for it. It’s beautiful, amazing stuff and it’s expanded my brain further than i think Genre fiction would have been able to. Plus, and this is really it, i burned out on Genre. It became harder and harder to find GOOD books in fantasy or Sci Fi. So much of it just seemed the same. It wasn’t the sort of hell i ever expected but it did suck.

The point of all this autobiographical blah blah is that there is still something to Genre fiction. There’s a reason so many people still read and love it and frankly, i think i got it. I got the bug again. And here it is – here’s the big secret that i think is worth telling. Shhhh… don’t let too many people know.

Genre fiction brings you hope.

There. There it is. That’s the secret.

I was watching Tomorrowland with George Clooney or as my friend and i like to call him Eyorhay Kloonay. It’s not a bad little film. Flashy. Fun. But one part stuck with me. The main character is sitting in school through a series of montages of her classes as she’s being bombarded with the negative reality of the world she lives in – war, famine, global warming, starvation, etc. Her hand is perpetually up and perpetually ignored. Finally, at the end of the montage, the teacher allows her to ask her question. What is her question?

How do we fix it?

Okay. And that’s pretty genius. Cuz here we are and the world seems like it’s falling apart around our shoulders and everything sucks and people are getting stupider and blathering bullshit everywhere we look and it gets really depressing when you see glaciers calve off and ice shelfs fall into the sea and everyone is all like ‘lalalalalalaaaaa!!! Let’s fucking PARTAY!’

But Genre fiction… It asks the question. How are you going to fix it? It ennobles the idiotic savage. How many sci-fi stories have inspired new scientists? Neil Degrasse Tyson has indicated that it’s inspired him. How many fantasy stories have made activists of kids who have gotten inculcated into the concept of evil. They WANT to be heroes. Maybe it’s not the only thing, but start them young on something… and miracles are possible.

Hell start em old. Start them whenever. In Mysteries, terrible crimes get solved in a way they so rarely do when we see all the blood splashed all over the news. In fantasy, we fight evil and we win. In sci fi we explore and face our fears of the unknown. In romance we find love in spite of terrible obstacles.

We fucking need these things. Particularly now when the world DOES seem so horrible. We need to believe in doing the right thing, being brave, exploring. The challenges are HUGE and… well.. this is just my opinion but the only damned thing that is going to save our asses against the ever-yawning void of the banality of tragic indifference is an ascendancy of imagination.

Remember that part of Lord of the Rings when Gandalf is talking about the ephemeral nature of hope? Yeah. That. Right there. How many kids read that and said: Fuck yeah. That’s going to be me some day. I’m going to stand in front of the Witch King of Angmar and though he’s going to rend me to ribbons, it’s where i need to stand. How many looked into the stars and saw themselves in a spaceship scudding among them?

Genre fiction spits in the face of the impossible. It eats it for breakfast and poops out rainbows. And hell… we can’t go wrong when it teaches us that you can stand with a dwarf and an elf and battle a freaking dragon. A. FREAKING. DRAGON. It says: yeah… i know these people are weird, different, different races that i don’t really understand but right now, these are the crew that are going to battle THAT big fricking dragon so i don’t give one god damn that one’s short and the other has pointy ears.

So, yeah. We need it. And i’m happy to write it. I want to do it as well as i know how because i WANT some kid to read it and be like ‘hell yeah. This is what justice is all about. This is what friendship is all about. This is what i’m looking to create in MY life.’

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The Short Man by Joshua L Cejka

Hey!!! Someone wrote something nice about my stuff! YAY!

The Book Muse

The world of Detective Megan Brown of Minneapolis has become one that I love and look forward to reading more on with each passing book. Written by a good friend I met through an online writing group, Joshua L Cejka, the series begins with a short story entitled, The Short Man.

Synopsis: Someone is paying their parking tickets the wrong way – by offing the Parking Enforcement Officers around a small college. Minneapolis Homicide Detective Meg Brown needs to know who it is and fast – before he decides to do worse.

It’s a race against the class bell to find out who the assassin is and stop them in this short but action packed mystery/thriller, the first of the Meg Brown series of mystery shorts. If you like your mystery sleuths plucky, brainy, and witty you’ll enjoy Meg.

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From page one, I was hooked. It didn’t take me…

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