Politics - Current Events

The Resistance of Hope

Today I’ve written down ten words. Five from how I felt living with President Obama, and five for how I’m feeling as DJT is inaugurated President.

I advise you to do the same. Refer to these words often. Print and hang them over your desk. Make them your phone lock screen. Write them on a bookmark. Keep them Sharpie’d in the palm of your hand.

Return to the positive words and how you felt writing them when you despair. Allow the negative words to drive you–not your action or energy–so you don’t give into stagnation. Remember the positive words aren’t ghosts; it happened and we made it such. Face the negative ones to help resist their coming changes as much as you can. Good luck out there, my friends. Stay strong, stay vigilant, stay vocal–and take care of yourself.

Of my ten words, there is only one commonality: HOPE. They are of differing ilk, to be sure, and reside in different places in my heart. But it’s still there, and I’m clinging to it.

Hope is a powerful weapon of resistance. Don’t surrender yours.

Link-Up

Link-Up

Using the below keywords for loose inspiration, I’m sharing a little bit of everything I’ve come across and liked, bookmarked, saved, or added to a wishlist. Hopefully it gives you something to like, link, read, make, or get for your own.


LOOK
Floats on Parade! First Rose Bowl game and parade, 1902. From Smithsonian American History Museum.

LISTEN
Keep America Moving Forward. President Obama’s weekly radio address from 12.31.16.

LAUGH
The 30 most important cats from 2016. From Buzzfeed.

CREATE
Change. Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda.

READ
Best of Science 2016. From Longreads.

RESTORE
5 Ideas for Making it an Unforgettable Year in National Parks.

CRAVE
The Simple Elephant – Best Agenda Day Planner, complete with encouragement, gratitude reminders, vision board buildability, and stickers.


Please feel free to comment with your own recs and/or if any links are broken.

Link-Up

Link-Up

Using the below keywords for loose inspiration, I’m sharing a little bit of everything I’ve come across and liked, bookmarked, saved, or added to a wishlist. Hopefully it gives you something to like, link, read, make, or get for your own.


LOOK
The Aurora Borealis over Gates of the Arctic National Park.

LISTEN
Josh Groban’s rendition of O Holy Night. One of my favorite versions of one of my favorite Christmas songs.

LAUGH
Boy writes to Lego after losing a piece. Lego sends an awesome response.

CREATE
The perfect holiday gift, a tasty treat, an old Southern standby: Spiced Tea Mix. During the holidays I make batches, put the tea mix in jars I’ve saved over the year, add ribbon and a pretty paper medallion on the lid with instructions, and pass them out like it’s my job!

READ
Local and global forces unite to save Madagascar’s Radiated Tortoise.

RESTORE
Birdfeeder cam videos. From the Sabal Palm Sanctuary.

CRAVE
Everything Peppermint Flavored in Trader Joe’s line of holiday treats. I go just a little bit OTT buying various peppermint treats every year–so tasty! so holiday! so yay! I could go on. *nomnom*


Please feel free to comment with your own recs and/or if any links are broken.

Link-Up

Link-Up

Using the below keywords for loose inspiration, I’m sharing a little bit of everything I’ve come across and liked, bookmarked, saved, or added to a wishlist. Hopefully it gives you something to like, link, read, make, or get for your own.


LOOK
Satellite image of the Lamplugh Glacier landslide — “about 10 km with a mass of around about 150 million tonnes.” From the Landslide Blog.

LISTEN
Oh Wonder: All We Do. I really like this song! Had it on repeat a lot lately.

LAUGH
Couple Encounters a Black Metal Band in Woods During Engagement Shoot. As fantastic as the headline sounds. \m/

CREATE
Change. You too can be this awesome guy, in your state, city, neighborhood. Stand up to hate, fear, oppression, in whatever way you can.

READ
Where Am I Now by Mara Wilson. Having just finished this book I definitely don’t mind getting on the bandwagon to recommend it. Wilson is witty, honest, insightful, and courageous–by turns and all at the same time. Take the book an essay at a time or read in one satisfying go.

RESTORE
Time-Lapse: A Hypnotic Look at Voyageurs National Park. From MoreThanJustParks.com.

CRAVE
Brandy Alexander Pie. My family has a tradition of toasting the New Year with Brandy Alexanders. Maybe we should add pie to that.


Please feel free to comment with your own recs and/or if any links are broken.

Link-Up

Link-Up

linkbanner2

Using the below keywords for loose inspiration, I’m sharing a little bit of everything I’ve come across and liked, bookmarked, saved, or added to a wishlist. Hopefully it gives you something to like, link, read, make, or get for your own.


LOOK
Le Fantôme: a Jake Scott film starring Mads Mikkelsen and the new Ford Edge.

LISTEN
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings by The Barenaked Ladies with Sarah McLachlan.

LAUGH
Koala Shows Up With A Surprise For The People Who Saved Her Life Years Ago. From The Dodo.

CREATE
88 Outstanding Craft Projects Using Glass Jars from Felt Magnet. Tis the season to craft holiday gifts!

READ
The Daily Beast ongoing Lost Masterpieces feature. Neato & fascinating ‘masterpieces’ are discussed and examined. Includes ‘The Mystery of FDR’s Final Portrait,’ ‘North Korea’s Best Building Is Empty,’ and ‘Where Is Lincoln’s Lost Slavery Speech?’

RESTORE
Plant some trees (The National Forest Foundation will do the hard part). The NFF will plant a tree for every $1 you give to our tree-planting programs, helping restore National Forests damaged by wildfire, insects, disease and other impacts. Wonderful to do anytime, but this is also a lovely, lasting & unique gift for anyone with blanks on their holiday list.

CRAVE
Keebler Limited Batch Peppermint Fudge Stripes Cookies. I bought a pack on a whim and discovered they were delicious. I’m almost angry I like them so much. (Keebler.com doesn’t have a direct link for them–hope you find some at your local grocer!)


Please feel free to comment with your own recs and/or if any links are broken.

Link-Up

Link-Up

linkbanner2

Using the below keywords for loose inspiration, I’m sharing a little bit of everything I’ve come across and liked, bookmarked, saved, or added to a wishlist. Hopefully it gives you something to like, link, read, make, or get for your own.


LOOK
Find Momo. Momo is a border collie. He’s hiding in all of these photos.

LISTEN
The Revolutionary Life of Emma Goldman. Part of the #OrdinaryWomen series.

LAUGH
Photographer captures what kittens look like mid-pounce.

CREATE
Create change. Speak Up: Responding to everyday bigotry. From the SPLCenter.

READ
Boundaries of Taste: Perfection, performance, and the allure of the kids’ menu. Helen Rosner for Guernica.

RESTORE
Be surrounded by elephants in 360.

CRAVE
Luster loft fleece blankets & throws. So soft so cozy.


Please feel free to comment with your own recs and/or if any links are broken.

Personal Stuff

Business But Not Business As Usual

I don’t know where to begin, but I’m starting here.

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I’m currently on the road and visiting family. This past Sunday, my uncle arrived for dinner and with flourish presented my grandmother and I with the gift of vibrating toothbrushes. He saw a multipack at the wholesale store of his choice, was intrigued, and on a whim got them for us. It was silly and a bit ridiculous, but we were excited about them — why not be? — and agreed the next time he came for dinner we would compare notes about if we liked them and how they worked.

The next time he came to dinner was Wednesday, and DJT was our President Elect.

We didn’t talk about the toothbrushes that night.

Like most of us, I’ve been trying to grapple with this new reality, and mostly with limited success. I’ve read a lot, and written very little, and poured my anxieties out doing the small things I can do right now. It’s the best I have, at the moment. I’m also working to keep it together–to keep my honest terror at the possible future we’re facing internalized–because I’m visiting family and you know how that goes.

So then last night. I’m standing in the bathroom brushing my teeth with the ridiculous new toothbrush and idle thoughts came to me. Hunh this does work better. Who knew. It’s nice. I think I like it.

When my active brain caught up with my passive musings, I broke down. The crying I’d held in so long started and boy did those floodgates open. No obvious reason for that being the spark, but something along the lines of: Here I was using this unnecessary improvement on an everyday item that’s still a luxury for so many, abstractly musing over it having more efficacy than my not-powered toothbrush. I felt so far away from everything, from all the struggles and fear and anger out there, from being able to do anything about it, from my own privilege to stand there with this dumb toothbrush having a moment of normalcy.

It’s quite the thing, standing over the bathroom sink ugly crying. Unstoppable gasping ugly crying, with toothpaste froth bubbling and going everywhere, the toothbrush still buzzing against my teeth and filling my cranium like the angry static I haven’t been without since the news broke, and in the background the TV volume set to 80-billion for my hard of hearing grandmother blaring a Christmas carol from the movie we were watching.

It took me a while to cry it all out. Then I had a quick shower, because toothpaste everywhere, and afterward I sat ignoring the movie thinking what can I do, what am I going to do? on a refrain.

I’m not sure. That’s the answer I arrived at–I’m just not sure.

But I do know that 1) I’m going to keep writing and being a writer and 2) I’m going to fight like Hell in the years to come. That leads me to the rest of what’s on my mind: how being a writer and fighting like Hell don’t always mesh (while conversely they can be so profoundly interdependent).

The thing is, I don’t begrudge people who had to go to the office today and write professional emails, take professional conference calls, and wade through normal life even though life has gone off its axis for so many. I don’t think it’s terrible a shop owner flipped her sign to OPEN and made sales in order to keep her business viable. I wouldn’t sneer at anyone who has to go out there and be ‘real people’ in the world despite the turmoil and uncertainty they face.

I need to do the same. And allow myself the same. Writing is a passion but it’s also my business. I gotta write more, and sell more, to keep writing more. It’s my job, same as that shopkeep or lawyer or cable technician. So I’m going to keep talking about writing, promoting my books, promoting others’ books, doing my fun weekly features, tweeting & retweeting, enjoying my author facebook group. Being a writer, if you will.

But with what has happened, and who & what all is now made so vulnerable by it, I cannot be only a writer. I cannot only post fun weekly features, plug my books, and sit on my hands hoping no one will notice I’m decidedly absent from important conversations because at the same time I’m trying not to alienate potential new readers.

Given the choice, the choice is obvious. I’ll take alienate potential new readers for 2000, Alex. I don’t know what the balance is, and I expect to be 80% Author, but who can say. Given the past week, I’ll wager no one.

I’m also never going to sneer at another author who is busy promoting their work. I’ll never say “Gosh, don’t you care about what’s happening? How can you just sit there blogging and retweeting!” Please don’t anyone else do this, either. It’s not fair, it’s such an undue burden, and remember–promoting, blogging, tweeting, writing–it’s their job.

I must write to tell good stories, necessary stories. I want to give happy endings to everyone out there thinking their chance at happy endings might be rapidly disappearing before their eyes. I want to be part of the energy of creative conversation that doesn’t let whoever is in charge get away with claiming no such things exist, no such things are decent or allowed, no such things can be dreamed of or wished for or achieved.

I am and will be an ally–but I am only an ally. I know this as well. Writing gay romance doesn’t magically put me on front lines of activism. But it does make me a part of the community, and one that I will protect. As I will protect other minority, disenfranchised, and at risk communities. So I’m going to listen, and learn, and get with my own people when they need talking to, instead of leaving it at the feet of those more vulnerable.

In the initial wake of the election news, my heartsick self didn’t know what to write anymore. If I could write anymore. What difference would it make? who cares? on and on. But in the eloquent, truthful words of my dear Damon Suede: Romance is the literature of hope.

So let’s get out there and kindle some. Let’s make stuff. Yell stuff. Share what we’ve made and share our voices. Reach out with both. Oppressors want silence. Those who Create–art, science, education, journalism, books, music, movies, guerilla graffiti–should get as loud as they possibly can. Big, small, whatever you can do, do it. We’re gonna need it.

No, a teaspoon can’t empty the ocean, but it does move water.


Small Steps

  • How should you react if you see racist/sexist abuse? Wear a safety pin, if that’s your thing (but be ready to do so much more). Use the privilege you have to protect those without the same privileges.
  • Donate to places & causes that need your help right now. Pick one or two causes important to you and focus on those. Don’t let all your effort and energy get lost in just trying to keep up.
  • Recycle, even if it’s inconvenient. Eat less meat. As you can, use less water, less electricity, less stuff.
  • Reach out to loved ones and tell them you care, you’re here, and support one another.
  • Stay informed–beyond of the cycle of the 24/7 entertanewsment channels.
  • Don’t read the comments.
  • Remember this anger and fear but don’t let it poison you–use them to drive forward & sustain your fight 4+ years.
  • Self care. Cliche? Maybe, but needful and important. If you’re not taking care you can’t take care of anyone else.
  • Boost minority/diverse voices. Support minority/diverse businesses & makers. Boycott harmful ones.
  • Be kind–to yourself & those needing kindness–but not to your or their expense.
Link-Up

Link-Up

linkbanner2

Using the below keywords for loose inspiration, I’m sharing a little bit of everything I’ve come across and liked, bookmarked, saved, or added to a wishlist. Hopefully it gives you something to like, link, read, make, or get for your own.


LOOK
The chai walas of India. A photostory with Al Jazeera’s Showkat Shafi.

LISTEN
Jupiter’s song in space.

LAUGH
Hippos eating watermelons–whole.

CREATE
Ina Garten’s Herb & Apple Bread Pudding. Hello.

READ
Stronger Together. A Harvard Crimson OpEd from members of the women’s soccer team in response to revelations of the sexist “scouting report” members of the 2012 men’s soccer team kept to rate incoming female soccer recruits.

RESTORE
Watch this little guy getting the best pets ever.

CRAVE
All of these awesome Yankee Candle holiday fragrances. I love me a Yankee Candle! Especially the fresh and citrus scents.


Please feel free to comment with your own recs and/or if any links are broken.

Link-Up

Link-Up

linkbanner2

Using the below keywords for loose inspiration, I’m sharing a little bit of everything I’ve come across and liked, bookmarked, saved, or added to a wishlist. Hopefully it gives you something to like, link, read, make, or get for your own.


LOOK
Arctic by Tim Kellner. Hypnotic, gorgeous, let it loop several times and take it in.

LISTEN
Movies With Mikey’s superb deconstruction of ‘John Wick,’ one of my fave action movies in recent years (& at all), that wonderfully captures the myriad reasons why. It’s going down for real.

LAUGH
Corgi Launch, Shiba Swim. RIP, Vine.

CREATE
Super easy–and cute and chic!–ghost decorations.

READ
The Battle For North Carolina: Political, social, and demographic forces in the battleground of North Carolina promise a reckoning with its Jim Crow past. By Vann R Newkirk II for the Atlantic. Especially important as we barrel toward the 2016 election.

RESTORE
Webcam of the Aurora Borealis. I mean, not guaranteed, but a lovely view regardless.

CRAVE
Travel to Carlsbad Caverns and witness the nightly bat swarm.


Please feel free to comment with your own recs and/or if any links are broken.

Link-Up

Link-Up

linkbanner2

Using the below keywords for loose inspiration, I’m sharing a little bit of everything I’ve come across and liked, bookmarked, saved, or added to a wishlist. Hopefully it gives you something to like, link, read, make, or get for your own.


LOOK
Historical pictures of famous landmarks.

LISTEN
A wonderful rendition of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, rarely produced full-length for television, performed by the Vienna Chamber Orchestra & the Westminster Symphonic Choir. From PBS.

LAUGH
A cool af squad of dawgs (please don’t pardon the awful pun).

CREATE
Awesome pumpkin luminaries.

READ
Life lessons from Dolly Parton.

RESTORE
Go to this address using your phone’s browser: paperplanes.world

CRAVE
Attending this event. Beyond the veil spooky Halloween fun.


Please feel free to comment with your own recs and/or if any links are broken.