I Once Shared This Blog with Someone, Now I Don't

Cis-gendered male who is probably older than you are. I rarely understand what the heck you young folks are talking about. I used to comanage this blog with a friend who is a Cis-gendered female. It was funnier then. Probably more balanced. Alas, I am now the sole proprietor. Still blogging about racial justice, disability rights, gender, LGBTQI issues, humor, sci-fi, literature, and friendship.


look how pretty Iceland is, I want to cry


look how pretty Iceland is, I want to cry

(Source: adieuversailles, via meditativemumbles)

I could not have tried harder to be a good friend. Turns out that wasn’t enough. So X, whatever you’re searching for, I hope you find it. Maybe we will cross paths one day, maybe not, but I hope when you hear the echo of my voice, you hear it wish you the best. #clearlyivehadahardtimelettinggoofabestfriend #oldmanout

“How will you pun? You punish me? Crooked skirt swinging, whack by. Tell me I want to.”

—   James Joyce Ulysses

“…goes like clockwork. Confession. Everyone wants to. Then I will tell you all. Penance. Punish me, please.”

—   James Joyce Ulysses

“Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.”

—    J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)

Forgiveness and healing

You can forgive, and you should, but it doesn’t make the hurt go away. Deep wounds take time to heal…and leave big scars.

It is by forgiving that we are forgiven.

Dear White People: Could You Please Do Something About Your Scarier White People?

"Look, I don’t want people to be suspicious of white men, but the Huntington Beach riot underlines a stark truth about white culture. The fact is 84% of white murder victims are killed by other white people. We really do have to question whether white leadership… where they are on this issue."

I really do think these kind of inversions, comedic or not, make legible the blatant racism of our media. To make whiteness visible is to displace a white supremacist power structure because that power structure relies, at least in most contexts, on invisibility. Of course, I’m suspicious of MSNBC’s motives. They are certainly not a trusted news organization like The Daily Show or the Colbert Report, but I like the video nonetheless.

The Four Noble Truths; चत्वारि आर्यसत्यानि (catvāri āryasatyāni)

1. The truth of suffering (physical and mental illness; growing old; not being able to keep what you desire; not being able to avoid what you don’t desire)

2. The truth of the origin of suffering (confusion about the nature of reality; lack of understanding of impermanence of all things; attachment to things as if they are not impermanent; aversion of things as if they are not impermanent)

3. The truth of the cessation of suffering (cessation is possible through acceptance of impermanence and detachment from craving and from aversion)

4. The truth the path that leads the cessation of suffering (Eight interconnected factors that lead to acceptance of impermanence and detachment from craving and aversion–Right view; right intention; right speech; right action; right livelihood; right effort; right mindfulness; right concentration)

Looks like I’ve got a long way to go. The path may be long, but it is wide and well-worn.

Table of contents from the summer issue of the New York Review of Books, 2013. I’m not sure who originally posted this picture, but I found it floating around the web. As you can see, there is exactly one woman on the list. It’s a ridiculous underrepresentation. So many wonderful female writers are not getting a chance because of lists like these. We can do better and we can demand better.

The list: 100 Great Science Fiction Stories by Women

Read the comments where there are lots of other suggestions. There’s a picture floating around the web of the table of contents of the summer issue of the New York review of books. There is exactly one woman on it. It’s why lists like these are so necessary.

When the best you can do isn’t good enough.

I was thinking about something in my life that went horribly awry. For weeks I obsessed about all the things I could have done differently (I still obsess sometimes). But when I look at it now, I realize that I did the very best I could. 

Of course, there are things that I might have done differently, but I no longer think those things would have made any difference. There was a time that I would have blamed myself for not being good enough, for my very best not being able to overcome a bad situation, but that’s the ego talking.

The truth is, it’s not that my best wasn’t good enough, it’s that my best didn’t matter because the situation, like most situations, had very little to do with anything I could have done. I am not all-powerful. I cannot read other people’s minds and I definitely can’t control them. In every situation, there are billions of forces at play. You do the best you can, and sometimes it matters, and sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, you learn lessons, and the next time you do a little bit better. You don’t get more control, you don’t get more agency, but you do get better.



“Writing Advice: by Chuck Palahniuk

In six seconds, you’ll hate me.
But in six months, you’ll be a better writer.

From this point forward—at least for the next half year—you may not use “thought” verbs. These include: Thinks, Knows, Understands, Realizes, Believes, Wants, Remembers, Imagines, Desires, and a hundred others you love to use.

The list should also include: Loves and Hates.
And it should include: Is and Has, but we’ll get to those later.

Until some time around Christmas, you can’t write: Kenny wondered if Monica didn’t like him going out at night…”

Instead, you’ll have to Un-pack that to something like: “The
mornings after Kenny had stayed out, beyond the last bus, until he’d had to bum a ride or pay for a cab and got home to find Monica faking sleep, faking because she never slept that quiet, those mornings, she’d only put her own cup of coffee in the microwave. Never his.”

Instead of characters knowing anything, you must now present the details that allow the reader to know them. Instead of a character wanting something, you must now describe the thing so that the reader wants it.

Instead of saying: “Adam knew Gwen liked him.” You’ll have to say: “Between classes, Gwen had always leaned on his locker when he’d go to open it. She’s roll her eyes and shove off with one foot, leaving a black-heel mark on the painted metal, but she also left the smell of her perfume. The combination lock would still be warm from her butt. And the next break, Gwen would be leaned there, again.”

In short, no more short-cuts. Only specific sensory detail: action, smell, taste, sound, and feeling.

Typically, writers use these “thought” verbs at the beginning of a paragraph (In this form, you can call them “Thesis Statements” and I’ll rail against those, later). In a way, they state the intention of the paragraph. And what follows, illustrates them.

For example:
“Brenda knew she’d never make the deadline. was backed up from the bridge, past the first eight or nine exits. Her cell phone battery was dead. At home, the dogs would need to go out, or there would be a mess to clean up. Plus, she’d promised to water the plants for her neighbor…”

Do you see how the opening “thesis statement” steals the thunder of what follows? Don’t do it.

If nothing else, cut the opening sentence and place it after all the others. Better yet, transplant it and change it to: Brenda would never make the deadline.

Thinking is abstract. Knowing and believing are intangible. Your story will always be stronger if you just show the physical actions and details of your characters and allow your reader to do the thinking and knowing. And loving and hating.

Don’t tell your reader: “Lisa hated Tom.”

Instead, make your case like a lawyer in court, detail by detail.

Present each piece of evidence. For example: “During roll call, in the breath after the teacher said Tom’s name, in that moment before he could answer, right then, Lisa would whisper-shout ‘Butt Wipe,’ just as Tom was saying, ‘Here’.”

One of the most-common mistakes that beginning writers make is leaving their characters alone. Writing, you may be alone. Reading, your audience may be alone. But your character should spend very, very little time alone. Because a solitary character starts thinking or worrying or wondering.

For example: Waiting for the bus, Mark started to worry about how long the trip would take…”

A better break-down might be: “The schedule said the bus would come by at noon, but Mark’s watch said it was already 11:57. You could see all the way down the road, as far as the Mall, and not see a bus. No doubt, the driver was parked at the turn-around, the far end of the line, taking a nap. The driver was kicked back, asleep, and Mark was going to be late. Or worse, the driver was drinking, and he’d pull up drunk and charge Mark seventy-five cents for death in a fiery traffic accident…”

A character alone must lapse into fantasy or memory, but even then you can’t use “thought” verbs or any of their abstract relatives.

Oh, and you can just forget about using the verbs forget and remember.

No more transitions such as: “Wanda remembered how Nelson used to brush her hair.”

Instead: “Back in their sophomore year, Nelson used to brush her hair with smooth, long strokes of his hand.”

Again, Un-pack. Don’t take short-cuts.

Better yet, get your character with another character, fast.
Get them together and get the action started. Let their actions and words show their thoughts. You—stay out of their heads.

And while you’re avoiding “thought” verbs, be very wary about using the bland verbs “is” and “have.”

For example:
“Ann’s eyes are blue.”

“Ann has blue eyes.”


“Ann coughed and waved one hand past her face, clearing the cigarette smoke from her eyes, blue eyes, before she smiled…”

Instead of bland “is” and “has” statements, try burying your details of what a character has or is, in actions or gestures. At its most basic, this is showing your story instead of telling it.

And forever after, once you’ve learned to Un-pack your characters, you’ll hate the lazy writer who settles for: “Jim sat beside the telephone, wondering why Amanda didn’t call.”

Please. For now, hate me all you want, but don’t use thought verbs. After Christmas, go crazy, but I’d bet money you won’t.


For this month’s homework, pick through your writing and circle every “thought” verb. Then, find some way to eliminate it. Kill it by Un-packing it.

Then, pick through some published fiction and do the same thing. Be ruthless.

“Marty imagined fish, jumping in the moonlight…”

“Nancy recalled the way the wine tasted…”

“Larry knew he was a dead man…”

Find them. After that, find a way to re-write them. Make them stronger.

—   (via 1000wordseveryday)

(Source: redactedbeastie, via 1000wordseveryday)




Yao Ming recently launched a public awareness campaign in china targeting the nation’s consumption of ivory and rhino horn, after having spent twelve days last august in kenya and south africa.

poaching kills more than 25,000 african elephants annually, while 668 rhinos were killed last year in south africa alone, meaning that if current trends are not abated, both species will be extinct within our lifetime.

according to shark fin traders and hong kong import statistics, yao’s previous campaign against the shark fin trade is credited with a 50-70% reduction in chinese consumption last year.

"no one who sees the results firsthand, as i did, would buy ivory or rhino horn," yao stated. “i believe when people in china know what’s happening they will do the right thing and say no to these products."

he continued, “we would be outraged if people were killing our pandas. we should be just as upset with what’s happening to rhinos and elephants in africa.”

photos (including a baby elephant orphaned by poachers) by kristian schmidt in kenya for WildAid. from yao ming’s blog.

#more elephant poaching photosets


Well done!

(via neil-gaiman)