Finding Validation in Fictional Characters

Editor’s Note: This entry was started in June 2017.

Picture this:

I am eight years old. I really, really want a Batgirl action figure because the new Batman movie has just come out and I like her better than Robin or Batman (funnily enough as an adult I have never been able to make it through the movie without laughing). I beg my mom for months that I want a Batgirl Action figure, with her red mesh outfit, blonde hair and sleek leather mask over her face (also I probably had a thing for Alicia Silverstone but I digress).

Imagine my disappointment as I unwrap a Batman action figure instead. Not that Batman is bad! Not at all. I love Batman (still do). I look over at my mom, and she tells me she looked everywhere (this was before Amazon, of course) but she couldn’t find any Batgirl toys.

Years later, I discovered it was because no one (ie boys) wanted Batgirl action figures. And the one barbie-esque doll my mom found was not an action figure, which was what I wanted.

Then, at 13,  I rediscover my love of X-Men. I scour the internet for photos of Jubilee, my favorite character, and all I find are sexual pictures that caused some intense confusion (but that’s another story).

Fast forward to 10-ish years later, and I awake to the news that the new Doctor is going to be a woman. And of course, there’s the usual backlash from the cis-gender white heterosexual fan base, but I digress.

I may not be the eight year old girl that wanted a Batgirl action figure, or the one who was in love with Jubilee at 13, but there, in the darkest part of my soul, I have a little hope. I can show my child the new doctor, and they may not have to struggle like I did to find characters to find validation with.

I hope so.

…She  coulda been ginger, at least.

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I wrote a poem that made me cry.

Here it is.

Yellowstone

To most people its just a destination

something to mark off of their bucket list or sight seeing itinerary.

To me and that select group

it’s a second home.

There are nights where I wish I could walk out the door

and be surrounded by trees

Hear the quiet rumble of the grand loop as I walk down the maintenance road

and then follow the trail to the employee fire ring.

I used to lay on my back on the smokers table

and watch the night sky float by me.

I spent two summers there

but the first will always stick with me the longest.

That second one has some parts of my past I am still coming to terms with.

Have you ever stood not 10 feet away from a bison?

Or smelled the sulfur in the air on the road to Lake?

Have you hiked into the back country

and found a quiet lake to sit beside and read?

There is something in the air there

that’s magical and pure

and real.

I long for that simple life

and feel the call of it in my bones.

Someday I’ll be back.

Someday I will show my child the trails I walked

the sights I saw

that waterfall tumbling down the rocks in its gray-blue-green glory.

I only hope that in their own way

they understand the quiet way I gaze across the canyon

remembering that summer so, so long ago

when Zac, Moe, Trace, Brett and I

stood on the overlook

and couldn’t speak.

Not Too Bad Around Here

Here I am, sitting here at the computer listening to a podcast while drinking my now cold coffee and wondering what the hell I have done to end up in a place like this.

To be fair, I am pretty content.

I am excited about running my own business, even if I am just getting started and can’t afford to own my domain just yet so I can post stuff to sell (working on it – slowly).

Beth has a job working for a friend’s massage business, and that’s helping keep our heads above the water. This also means we can afford things like toilet paper, and underwear and gas.

After a long and intense situation with Income Support, we have our food stamps and insurance, which means we can eat, and we can afford medication (at least for now until Cheeto Head possibly screws it all up).

My sister came to visit two weeks ago and we had a grand old time – we even filmed some YouTube videos for her channel and mine, which I am in the process of working on.

I decided to be a masochist, and on top of blogging and YouTube decided to try my hand at podcasts, which I have loving dubbed “The Bitter English Major”. It’s going to be about books and writing and everything that goes with it. I need to invest in a nicer microphone, but that should be up and running soon. Once I try not to explode.

And I have a new book in the works. A themed poetry collection. I hope people like it.

On the other hand, I have been really struggling with depression, anxiety and dysphoria recently. Beth and I have had a few rough patches, though its nothing we haven’t been able to work through.

Also I have been having trouble with joint pain. Yesterday it was so bad I spent most of the day on the couch, unable to do much but watch TV and sleep. I am going to be contacting my new doctor this week to see if I can get in for a follow-up and maybe find out what’s wrong with me. At the moment the Ibuprofen is wearing off and I feel kinda awful.

But I’m still trucking along. As my buddy Cameron says, “If I’m bitchin’ I’m breathing.”

Thanks for reading today y’all. I appreciate it. If you like what you see, drop a comment, and if you’re so inclined, drop me a donation. You’ll notice I got a new button, and it’s awesome.

The Commercialization of Pride, and How to Combat It

This month is LGBTQIA+ Pride Month, inspired by the Stonewall Riots on June 29th that started the fight for queer civil rights.

In Albuquerque, there is a lot of stuff to do in these first few weeks – however, the major Pride Fest/Parade is a commercialized mess sponsored by T Mobile and the like. I’m not knocking it for the performing aspect – I have several friends who are performing and I am super proud of them.

But it makes me feel awkward that pride, which started as drag queens and trans women of color throwing rocks at cops, has become so… monetized?

It’s something I’ve struggled with for most of my adult queer life. On the one hand, I love Pride. Never have I felt more normal and accepted among a group of oftentimes strangers who are united by one thing: we’re all different.

On the other, I get annoyed when in order to ‘celebrate’ I have to pay $50+ to go to a parade or even a performance of a favorite queen. All these rainbow this and rainbow that, and there’s a part of me that gets so angry by the use of the struggle of queer people for profit.

However, I figured out a way to reconcile this.

I am a performer at a local bar that has been, simply put, a home away from home since January. As such, the bar has a bunch of events connected to Pride that I have been attending and encouraging people to attend, because of one specific thing: they are a local establishment.

The money raised from the few events that they charge for goes back to the community, or to the bar for improvements to make it a better place for the Albuquerque LGBTQIA+ community. The performers are more often than not allowed to keep their tips, or put them toward whatever cause they like/need to.

My point of this whole post that if you, like me, are uncomfortable with the idea of commercializing pride, but still want to celebrate, go local. Hit up your local gay bars, community centers, etc, and see what the locals have going on. Spend your money, if you’re going to, on local events that give back or support the local community. Support your local events that are free, because sometimes it costs for events to be free.

And most of all, remember those who came before us, who fought for our rights to be able to celebrate and continue the fight (because it ain’t over yet).

Happy Pride everyone.

I Like To Research, ok?

If you decide to ever look at my search history at any given point in time, you might see a various range of topics.

For example, right now I have Pinterest open to research Roman garb (for more info on that adventure check out my SCA blog), I am watching nail art videos, and there’s a few research books open for various ideas.

When I used to imagine myself as a grown up, I would see myself in a dusty library, surrounded by books and scrolls as I patiently copied down… something, in my notes.

Imagine my glee when Gandalf did exactly that in the first LOTR movie.

gandalf_minastirith_study

All the knowledge!!!! *drools*

But I digress.

I research everything that I can, whether it’s related to the SCA, or perhaps something that might become useful in a story, or even another context. I can’t think of how many times I’ve used some bit of seemingly useless information to get myself out of a jam.

So whether I’m writing a story, in the middle of the road in Wyoming (that’s a story for another time) or just killing time between projects, just call me the research man.

Ghostly Encounter: La Llorona

Hi guys. This is the introduction to a series I’m hoping to continue called “Ghostly Encounter”. Whether you believe or not, I hope you find this series enjoyable.

Growing up where I have, you can’t help but run into the paranormal or supernatural. My childhood was littered with ghost stories, light and dark energy, and warnings from my neighbors and friends that El Cucui or La Llorona would get me if I didn’t behave.

The first story I am sharing is that of La Llorona, the weeping woman.

For a little background, the story of that is a woman who murdered her children in a fit of jealous rage against her philandering husband. Realizing what she had done a moment too late, she ran up and down the riverbank trying to save them while they drowned, and died of a broken heart. She was not buried on hallowed ground, according to one version of the story. Her ghost haunts up and down the river bank. calling out, “Ayyyyy Mis Hijos? Donde esta Mis Hijos?” Abuelas and mothers alike tell their children to this day that if they don’t come inside before dark, La Llorona would mistake them for one of her dead children and take them with her forever.

I grew up in the southern part of New Mexico, in a city nestled right beside the banks of the Rio Grande. I grew up hearing stories about La Llorona both from my friends and those around the city.

One night in high school, we decided to drive out to the river where she was rumored to appear. Being young and bored after play rehearsal, this sounded like a fantastic (read: awful) idea.

My friend parked the car at the edge of the park along the riverbed. It was a cool night in March, so we kept the window’s only slightly cracked. Her parking lights gave us a vague beam of light that we scanned the edge of, hoping for a glance of something.

We sat in the car for about an hour, both of us quiet and tense. I kept thinking what I would do if I saw Her. Would I use my (very ancient now) cell phone to snap a low resolution picture? Would I freeze up?

…Would she mistake me for one of her children and drag me with her to Hell, or under the murky depths of the river (which to me, with a fear of drowning sounded like a worse fate than Hell)?

Finally my companion broke the silence. “Come on. Let’s go home – she’s not real.”

I sighed. “All right.”

Her hand moved for the ignition when suddenly, I spotted something walking down the river towards us. I grabbed her hand and pointed, hissing “look!” through gritted teeth.

We both watched, frozen in uncertainty as the figure made it’s way towards us. Maybe it was a homeless person, or a drifter. Those were a fairly common occurrence in that part of town.

The figure got closer, and closer, and I could make out that it was a woman, in a long, flowing dress that hung in tatters around her frame. My mouth went dry, and my friend squeezed my hand harder as we both stared in fascination and terror.

I saw the eyes next. Pale and cold, they looked beseechingly into my own as the figure raised it’s arms and opened it’s mouth to speak.

I screamed.

My friend yanked her hand away, turned the ignition and gave the wheel a hard jerk to the left, spraying dirt and gravel behind us and repeating curse words over and over as she sped up the hill onto the highway and hit the pavement of the road with a bounce.

I cowered in the front seat, covering my eyes and praying Hail Mary over and over, hoping to God and whatever was listening that She wasn’t following us somehow.

It was probably only 10 minutes, but it felt like forever when we finally pulled into a lit gas station parking lot. She turned off the gas and slumped back into her seat. “What was that?”

“I don’t know,” I manage, uncovering my eyes and taking a deep breath.

We stared ahead at the gray cement wall, attempting to recover. After another moment, she turned the car on, glanced over at me one more time, and then drove us home in total silence.

An Update, and the 24 Hour Short Story Contest.

Morning everyone!

I am still alive. Life kinda went kablooey, and in between all of that I got married (whoo!), attended my first two big SCA events (yay!), adopted a new dog (she’s so cute!), changed jobs (oy…), was the volunteer coordinator for a local fetish/kink conference (so much work but worth it!), started my drag career (whoo!) annnnd we’re moving to a new apartment (ugh but yay!).

This morning, I am writing because I discovered the 24 Hour Short Story Contest, which is put on by WritersWeekly.Com. http://24hourshortstorycontest.com/

The basic point of the contest is I have 24 hours to write a short story based on their guidelines. If I make it in to the top 3, I have a chance at a cash prize and the chance to be published in their weekly magazine with all right therein.

There’s only one problem: it costs money for me to enter, and everything that I have been making so far doing odd jobs while I look for a grown up job goes to our move.

SO!

I would love, love, love it if someone donated towards my entry into the contest. I have my Patreon, which you can find on my “Where to Find Me” page. I can also accept donations via my paypal, hardwinthebrave@gmail.com.

They’re only allowing 500 entrants, so I don’t have a ton of time. There will be other contests, of course, but this one sounds like a ton of fun.

Thanks everyone!