Reading

I’ve been reading lately (yes of course that’s what a writer should do). I finished House of Chains, the fourth installment in the Malazan Book of the Fallen. It was fine. The ending was a tragic thing, and there were a lot of good character moments, but it didn’t really cohere into something bigger–certainly not like the thrilling and devastating second half of Memories of Ice.

I have read a ton of comics lately. Scott Snyder’s Swamp Thing and Batman are exactly the kind of large scale storytelling that superheroes really excel at, and Snyder is a wonderful writer, if a bit wordy in places. He really likes big bits of text sometimes. Jeff Lemire is imaginative, a great horror writer, and extremely good at capturing heartbreaking emotion. Both Animal Man and Swamp Thing together offer up a wonderful epic of body horror and the grotesque in the mode of superhero adventure stories.

I also read Kissinger’s Shadow by Greg Grandin. I’ve long heard the things said about Henry Kissinger, but I’d never actually taken the time to actually look into an accounting of his actions and influence. This short book offers a concise overview of those things, creating a portrait of a man who committed monstrous acts against the world. I will definitely be looking into the man more, because I feel the need to be informed, and as research for future fiction projects.

So that’s that. I’ll maybe have more tomorrow?

Five Things, April 2018

Hey everybody! I’m back. Hopefully I’ll be back to a regular schedule now.

  • Batman, by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo: I decided to read comics again. It was a good decision. Snyder writes a hell of an action/adventure story, showcasing a Batman who is by turns determined, hopeful, sad, and most of all, dedicated to his mission. Greg Capullo also shows off strong storytelling, a mixture of dynamism and moodiness (bolstered by inker Danny Miki) that makes action scenes leap off the page. And they worked on the book together for nearly the entire run, aside from a few fill in artists. That kind of creative consistency is what pushed this book from good to great.
  • The Death of Stalin, dir. Armando Ianucci: If you’ve ever liked Veep or In The Loop, just see it. It is top to bottom amazing.
  • Swordspoint, by Ellen Kushner: Why yes, I did need a novel about a bisexual swordsman and his self-destructive male lover.
  • Legion Season 2: I hold fast to my assertion that Legion is more a triumph of presentation than content, but my goodness is it a wonderful show. It’s just the kind of weird sci-fi storytelling perfectly suited to Marvel’s mutants.
  • God of War (2018): Been playing for about eight hours now. I have been a Kratos fan since the first GOW game, and while he did get worse as a character as the series progressed, the fundamental sadness and anger that defined his character was pretty compelling. Foregrounding that, giving him a source of tension in his son, Atreus, shifting the gameplay from its Japanese-style action roots to a more open and rhythmic third-person action game, and simply making the tone one of quiet mourning adds up to an incredible experience so far.

A little housekeeping

Another bullet point day:

  • Still taking questions.
  • Started a fiction project. Will see where it goes. Takes place in the COTG/Terminaburg universe.
  • Been experimenting with makeup a lot lately. Y’all saw the pictures.
  • Reading more Erikson. He’s got a surprisingly good grasp on humor.
  • Lots of comic books. DC Comics: Good? Initial impressions say yes.
  • Wild Wild World is really wild. Just a trip from top to bottom.

What a Relief

Sketched out a couple of characters this morning. Haven’t done something like that in a minute, and it felt really good—honestly, I wasn’t expecting it to happen.

Writing fiction has been really tough for the last few months. There was my burnout in October, which led to me taking an unintentional break from writing (that didn’t last for very long, even though I really tried to make this one actually stick).

November was quiet. Didn’t do much actual writing, but I did a lot of journaling and tried to sort out my thoughts on a lot of things.

December was mostly the same as every other December—in a state of reflection over the past year, thinking about what happened, how I processed it, how I’m going to move forward, and what I can do to make that happen. I suffered a lot of stress, anxiety, and depression in 2017, and it only felt more intense and close as the calendar rolled over into 2018. Doki Doki Literature Club didn’t help either, but it’s actually helped more than hurt overall—but that’s for another day.

Things got really heavy in January and February. I was struggling to write, struggling to function in a way that wasn’t just surviving, and struggling to stay positive in a world that didn’t feel like it was going to get better.

I started therapy to help me work through my addictions and compulsive behavior, and unintentionally began a process that would lead me to where I’m at right now.

Which, obviously, I’ll talk about more another day. Maybe not tomorrow, but sometime.

I feel good when I get it out.

Times Past

When I was younger, I pretended to be a girl sometimes. I would play, have those kinds of imaginary adventures that children who love fantasy and sci-fi have. Giant robots, lightsabers, magical girls, big castles full of pining princesses praying for their prince to rescue them—depending on the day, I could be either one. I could be a robot that wasn’t a boy or a girl, and really took advantage of that design quirk. Clothing could range from big suits of powered armor to an incredibly revealing schoolgirl outfit—not in reality, of course. I could at least get away with playing if people were watching, but clothes? Nope.
And I’d never play in the company of others who I thought would judge me—which, in the mid to late 90’s, meant everyone, even my closest friends and trusted loved ones—this would be a completely solo venture. But in that world, that tiny world that existed in my own head, I could literally be anything, and I never really had a preference beyond overpowered and the center of attention in that particular, fan-fiction-y kind of way.
I was a new Sailor Scout—Saturn! (This was way before I knew there were more, cut me some slack—but looking back, “apocalyptically powerful, emotionally distant, and the wielder of a cool spear” was, um, actually a pretty good guess!)
Or maybe I was a super spy, comfortable in either a tux or a slinky black dress, able to use my wiles on anyone, as good with seduction as I was with a gun or any one of the dozens of gadgets I had on my person. I could move easily between one or the other—whatever was needed to get the job done.
How about an android, without any actual outward gender characteristics? Just a cool robot doing cool robot things.
I could be the pilot of a mech suit or some other powerful transforming machine, hidden in my cockpit, unseen and silent.
A prince or a princess, wishing to be saved or doing the saving.
A powerful wizard; a monster; an ancient heroine; a dimension-hopping, gender-flipping agent sent on a special mission through the multiverse. There was only me, and I could be anyone I desired in this little corner of my imagination.
There wasn’t boy or girl here. There was only Jeff, and Jeff could be whatever he, she, or they wanted. Why did I have to choose anyways?
But all of that had to end sometime.
Puberty set in, and the restrictions of masculinity began to assert themselves, reconstructing my body in a way that removed that ambiguity of childhood. Now I was seen as a boy, with everything that entailed. There was no way I could convince anyone—even myself, by that point—that I was anything but Boy.
So that part of my imagination was closed off, boarded up, cemented shut, and concrete poured over it to build out new parts of identity. Those parts of me were so hidden, it sometimes felt like they never existed in the first place, and I just forgot about it.
Except for those time when I’d see someone, almost always a woman. For a split second, I’d feel a deep, painful, longing. A desire that went beyond being with, a desire to occupy that space in a way that wasn’t lust. A yearning, a wish to exist as feminine.
I’d push it down and go on pretending.

CITY LOOKING FOR ANSWERS AFTER UNUSUAL ASTRAL EVENT

APRIL 2, 2022
BY ANALIA RAINES

The entire city of Terminaburg witnessed visions yesterday afternoon during the appearance of what is being called an extradimensional anomaly.
A “hole in the sky” appeared over the Tondo Tower at approximately 2:15pm. It was suspended in the air, and did not look as if it was part of the sky or cloud cover around Heart. According to reports, the interior of the hole was black, dotted with white—witnesses on the scene remarked that it “looked like space”.
Jane Singal, an executive at Neely, Neely, and Davis, a public relations firm on the upper floors of the tower, remarked, “It was there. I could see right into it. How could I not? It was right outside my office window!”
Sandy Kanden, an astronomer from Terminaburg University, wasn’t as quick to agree with that assessment. “I was there,” she said, “and there’s no way those stars could have been there. I’ve never seen anything like that at this time of year, no matter the time of day.”
If the hole itself is the subject of speculation and discussion, its effect on citizens while it happened and after it occurred is not. At least 100 people reported fainting and blacking out, and others reported a voice speaking loudly in their own heads, enough to cause severe headaches. Others weren’t so lucky, suffering strokes, heart attacks, and aneurysms in the wake of this event.
A Department of Defense spokesperson issued a statement, saying, “We are allotting our full resources to this incident. Rest assured that we will find out how this happened, and we will do our best to ensure that this does not happen again.”
“They’re lying. We’re going to be working on this case, and we’re going to crack it,” Captain Nicodemus Cashew, a detective with the TPD Special Investigations Unit, said in a phone call after the statement. “Some crazy stuff happened, and they’re not going to touch it once they figure out that it wasn’t from Earth.” When asked if he knew any additional details about the case, he said, “Yeah.”
At press time, no new details have been uncovered or shared.

Then and Now

Yesterday, Facebook (blech) did what it does and showed me *memories*. <boratvoice> My wife </boratvoice> and I had been tagged in over one hundred photos together. It gave me a convenient excuse to go through my old pictures and see how I’ve changed in the intervening years, especially after the massive upending of identity I’ve just experienced.

Here’s a photo from 2011:

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Very Boy. Nice boy haircut, stubble, no makeup, nothing fancy. Not outwardly a mess, but probably working through a lot of stuff inside, unable to articulate it yet.

And here’s me two nights ago:

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Absolute mess. Genderless and loving it. Freshly dyed hair. Full face of Urban Decay products. Forced to take a selfie in the bathroom because that’s where the light was best. Ecstatic to live fully in my own truth for the first time in my life.

It took a long time to get here, but damn it feels good.

Well maybe…

I’ve been wondering for a bit about what might be missing from my creative life. Fiction is getting written, but certainly not enough for how much effort I’ve put into it. I’m still fascinated by all of my stories, and I dearly want to expand on them in the hopes of truly sharing them with the world.
But lately, especially after dealing with all of this emotional and gender stuff in March, I have the distinct worry that something might be missing from my life. A creative outlet that really allows me to engage honestly with myself and my emotions.
Maybe it’s time I picked the music thing back up. I’m not totally sure, but maybe switching it up will be good for me in the long run.