Green's Hill-Amy Lane's Home - News

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Random, Weird, and oh-so-me!

Today, we're going to focus on general weirdness.   Because I got nothin' plot wise about my life to tell you.

*  Oh yeah-- Do-Over IS OUT FRIDAY! I almost forgot about this one, because its sort of a sweet little confection of a short story-- but it's FUNNY and it's CUTE, and it's Code Cotton Candy Pink,  and it made people laugh when a lot of people were REALLY STRESSED, so for that alone, I'm going to be proud of it.  Anyway-- Dreamspinner's Daily Dose is still for sale as a whole--but the stories are going to be available individually on Friday.  *dances*  EEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!  Seriously-- it's very short, but hopefully it will pack a lot of value, happiness wise.  I know writing it made ME happy, so hopefully that will spread.  Wait-- here's the blurb:

Engall is supposed to hit a party and hook up with his longtime crush, Chandler—at least that’s what Engall’s unlikely guardian angel keeps telling him. But the more Dagiel tries to fix the situation, the weirder it gets. How many do-overs will it take to make Engall’s life right?

Seriously-- very fun, right?

*  The cover for Sidecar is here and it is very much complete.  And you're going to be seeing a lot of it because I adore it.  In fact, it was so beautiful, I asked the artist NOT to cover it in.  Sidecar starts out in the present day and then flashes twenty-five years to the past and works its way up.  Some people hate that form of story telling-- it drove them bugnuts in Chase in Shadow, but then, Chase was a gnat's gnostril from being a full blown mental case, so the narrative couldn't be straight forward.  (Someone once called my narrative "uncomfortably close--almost intrusively close first person. I took that as a compliment, really, cause I admired Crime & Punishment very much.) Sidecar, however, stays firmly rooted in the past, and you see how our couple, Joe and Casey, came to be.  So I like the cover.  It's nostalgic--but not overly sentimental.  And it's beautiful.  And this book... God, I hope people love this book like I did.  Per usual, I just tractored over some time-honored m/m tropes, but I think covering a relationship that spans the beginning of AIDS, the consequences of the drug wars, drug-addicted-children, and the digital revolution is going to break new ground--because that time period was just different, and we thought differently, and we behaved differently.  And I think some of that is important.  Anyway-- I love this book very much a lot.  I love Joe and Casey, and I love what they did with their lives:-)

*  I was at the vet's the other day when I saw a black and white kitty just like Steve.  She was getting shaved all over because she was too lazy to groom herself.  I was torn between laughter and fear:  naked kitties are always good for a laugh, but Steve would kill me in my sleep and then nap on my corpse and wonder why I wasn't waking up to give her pets.

*  Mate went a little nuts and cleaned the living room.  I don't know why he did that, but I am enjoying the space very much.  Soon, though, I will be driven by the need to surround myself with yarn boxes and sort through it, rolling my eyes back in luxury as I wonder why I'm not knitting more.

* I got two contracts-- One for Dex in Blue in October, and one for How to Raise an Honest Rabbit, also in October.  Mary-- because she loves me and LOVED this story with all of her formidable strong heart--did a mock-up of a book cover.  We can't actually USE this book cover, because although the model is the guy who inspired Dex, well, we don't have any legal photos for him.  But the mock-up is just gorgeous and I thought I'd share.

* And I'm going to present to you a couple of short conversations that have made my life hilarious:

This one is between Mary and I on text, as I was doing research for, uhm, never mind:

Me: Technical question: how do you clean a flesh-light?
Mary:  Get a new one.  Geez-- go to Home Depot, it's not rocket science!
Me:  It's a SEX-TOY Mary Sue!
Mary:  Mary Sue?  You WITCH!  Wait... a sex toy?  I thought that was a TYPO!

And this one?  This happened when I brought home groceries:

Big T:  I didn't know we had white chocolate strawberries, mom!
Me:  You're very funny-- throw them away... NOW!

And this one?  Squish has been crying over NOTHING lately-- and we've been... well, coping with sarcasm.

Squish:  Mommmmm!  Wah whine blubber picture whimper crushed whine because cry I left it sniffle on the floor, waaaauuugghhhhh!!!!

Me:  Sob and the sky is blue whine and the sun is up whimper and there's birds out there wahhhh and the grass is green sniffle AND THERE'S BUGGGGGGSSSS!!!

Squish:  heh heh heh...

Yup-- that one's gonna learn if it kills us!

And that's all folks!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

*yawn* Break time!

Okay-- the Lane family is definitely enjoying their weekend.  Not in style, mind you-- just enjoying. So far we've seen Battleship (it IS everything you expect it to be-- buy popcorn and savor the moment when Alskaar puts his arm around Taylor Kitsch's shoulder and kisses the top of his head.  I've never seen anything so slashy in my life-- and the fact that they're supposed to be brothers is completely superseded by the fact that in order for a mother to produce both those children, she would have had to be surfing the gene pool in a HARD way!)  and MIB.  (LOVED Men in Black III btw.  Was really awesome.  Better than the second, and Josh Brolin was amazing.)

I've taken some pictures of fingerless gloves because I finished the sequel to The Winter Courtship of Fur-Bearing Critters, titled How to Raise an Honest Rabbit.  It's Jeremy and Aiden's story and while Jeremy's backstory lends itself to a little bit of sadness, I think we gave our rather sweet tragic rabbit a very cute--and slightly depth-filled storyline.  I know that we see a different side of Aiden in this one-- Craw thinks of him as a golden boy, and he is--but he's also a man with a hidden dominant streak, and exactly what Jeremy needs.  Anyway, my time honored fingerless mitt pattern is included with the story, in three sizes and three yarn weights-- and these are my samples.  The dark green/brown/blue ones that Chicken is wearing is the pair I wrote about in the story-- and it's also a gift for my friend, Andrew Grey.  He sprained his ankle yesterday, and I got to send him a picture of the mitts, since I can't mail them until later:-)

Anyway-- we watched movies last night, and Chicken has spent the weekend putting together her English final-- a scrap book for her high school years.  She's an unsentimental creature.  I wrote her a letter for it-- per her request--but she refuses to read it.  I think I may threaten to publish it if she doesn't.  Hey!  It's not THAT gooey!  Swear!  For that reason, I was forced to take a picture of the cat's ass.  No, I don't know why, but Chicken's picture was horrible.  Mine is better--and considering it sucks, THAT'S saying something.  But seriously-- how great is a picture of a cat's ass gonna be?

And this picture of Squish and Steve?  I posted it on Twitter with the caption:

Squish:  But mom, I love Steve!

Steve:  Fuck My Life, Fuck My Life, Fuck My Life!

And I picked Zoomboy up from school and had the following conversation in a five minute time span:  Mom, do you know rattlesnakes come out because of the heat?  Everyone is going to get bitten by a real rattlesnake.  Stop grooming my hair, or are you eating my lice like a baboon?  We had ice cream today, it got all mixed together and looked like puke.  Can you imagine mom?  Puke! 

Zoomboy, could you do mom a favor?  If I turn on some Loreena McKennet, could you, perhaps, for five minutes pretend you're not a boy?  Thankyouverymuchbuhbuy!

And after all that, we can see why he'd be asleep on Mate, can't we?

I hope you're all having a very nice weekend-- I know mine is going to be spent peacefully!  Ciaou!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Trip to the Grocery Store, Dichotomies, and Bad Reviews

Okay, first of all-- Mary G if you're out there?  DON'T forget to e-mail me so I can get you your free e-book.  If I don't hear from you by Sunday, I'll have to award that to someone else, and I'd hate to do that, darlin'!

Second of all, I'm sorry to announce that a former fan has initiated divorce proceedings from my books.  Apparently, I'm too angsty for him.  Well, that makes me sad, right?  But facts are, I gotta be true to myself--isn't that where all divorces start?  How couples grow apart?  They both have different needs and the relationship isn't meeting them?  Well, sweetheart-- I wish you luck.  I'm sure you shall find the author of your dreams out there--many new and promising authors are published every day, and they all deserve a chance:-)

Okay, okay--I know that sounded flip, but I do take things like that seriously.  When someone complains about angst in a work, I do look at what I'm doing and ask myself why am I doing it.  Did Deacon get sick in Living Promises because I was using a shovel for the angst when I should have been using a trowel?  Or did he get sick during Living Promises because I was trying to make a point that in the end, Deacon, Jeff, and Colin were ALL living with a life threatening condition that didn't have to take over their lives, as long as it was maintained and cared for?  Or did he get sick because I'd been dropping hints for two books that his heart condition was something to worry about--you can't LIVE life as worried as Deacon was, with the family health history that he had and the history of alcohol abuse and NOT expect repercussions.  I would have been remiss and blithe to say, "Oh, but no-- HE wouldn't have suffered from THAT!"

What about Xander and Chris?  Did I start out writing a book with the intention of capitalizing on the kleenex industry?  Or did I look at a pretty picture, see a moment of joy and a moment of yearning and an impossible, painful situation?

What about Chase?  Seriously-- what about him?  Some people say that he was too full of self-loathing to go into porn.  The self-loathing didn't really START until he went into porn, because that's when he was lying.  What he was full of in the beginning?  Was a simple desire to be free.  (Which was almost his downfall in the end, by the way.)

I think the problem isn't that I'm trying to kill us all with angst-- and check out my list of stories, I've got PLENTY of Code Blue stories that are quirky and strange and adorable and sexy that DON'T have tragedies or tears so I'm obviously not-- I think the problem is that (and this is gonna shock you all, I know) I tend to look at the world in layers.  There's the quirky and funny and the bad and tragic, and they're all layered on top of each other.  I will start a conversation with someone on a joke, and eventually hear the tragedies and pain that have flavored their lives.  I spend my life as the wedding guest in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner-- I can be going along, having a wonderful time, and suddenly I am cornered by the wild-eyed and wounded, and my world goes dark.

I like it that way.

You want an example from real life?  Let's look at yesterday, where all weirdness happens.  At the grocery store.

It started out simply enough.  I was at the grocery store.  Buy milk, turn around, go home, right?

Except I was BORED at the grocery story, and when I am bored, I do what all smart Amys do, and text my Mary, who soon alleviates the boredom.  I do, of course, add pictures.  And captions.  Because, well, what else ya gonna do at the grocery store, right?  (Do NOT say shop for food.  If I was any
good at that, we'd have more money and smaller waistlines.  Just sayin'.)

And I come across this:  Omigod would you LOOK at this?  Yeah, sure, it says "Granola Thins"  but you know what it really is?  It's LEMBAS bread-- you remember, that ridiculously good for you stuff that the elves wrapped in leaves for the Hobbits in Fellowship of the Ring?  Remember?  Smeogal couldn't eat it, cause it was elvish?  Anyway, look-- Nature Valley is selling it, and it's CHOCOLATE COVERED.  Awesome.  I'm thrilled.  Lembas bread, for the taking!  And now you know.

And then there's this-- do you see this?  Snuggle Exhilarations.  Yes, it smells yummily of lavender, which is my achilles fragrance, right there, but more important than the lavender and the shiny box is the two dollar price difference between that shiny smirking bear and Bounce, my usual fabric softener.  For two dollars, that bear needs to either make me dream I'm bungee jumping or give Mate and I the ability to wake from a dead coma of sleep when the whole house is FINALLY quiet and to engage in marital relations without getting interrupted, cause I'm telling you, THAT would be exhilarating right now!  I mean otherwise, how do they justify the extra two dollars a box?

And now we come to the Amy's Shame portion of grocery shopping-- let's start with gender politics, shall we? Uhm-hm-- you see what I'm saying here.  We can't even kiss their boo boos without a boys bandaid or a girls bandaid.  I mean, I COULD get the brightly colored, gender neutral ones, but they cost more, and considering my kids use these as stickers when I'm not looking?  Mickey Mouse and Tinkerbelle it is.

And this-- yeah, you may think it's simply portable lunch snacks, designed to put an end to all of those half eaten sandwiches and orange slices left to die, as well as the mandatory visit to fast food to comfort the swooning children because they didn't eat their carefully prepared, nutritionally balanced lunch.  Sure.  See it that way.  Me?  I see it as my failure as both a mother and an environmentalist.  Yeah, don't comfort me.  I'm unclean.

And dudes... there is CORN
SYRUP in this salami.  I don't care if it's aliens or leviathans, SOMEBODY is fattening us up!

And let us not forget the alcohol.  No, I didn't buy any-- if I was cool enough to be an alcoholic, I wouldn't be uncool enough to be a romance writer!  Sayin'. As Mary said, she doesn't know how Hemingway does it, and obviously, I'm not Hemingway.

And here we are, at the checkout stand, with lots and lots of graphic representations of prettier people with blacker souls.  I still feel pretty substandard-- I mean, you've SEEN what's in my grocery cart, right?  Yeah.  I'll bet Kate and Kim and Khloe don't have salami turducken in their grocery carts.  Of course, they don't actually shop, so maybe that's moot.

Oh, and look-- do you see him?  Isn't he just adorable?  Yeah, I don't care if he's straight-- helLO plot bunny!  God, seriously.  I just wanted to pinch his little cheeks.  And he laughed at my jokes, too-- he's SO gonna be in a book, even if he's just flirt-fodder.  Dude.

And I take that last picture, and I'm done, right?  I send it to Mary as I'm wandering outside, and I'm pretty happy with myself.  I've already got the captions written--I sent the captions with Mary as I was trying to crack her up, and she was like, "Dude!  You've GOT to make this a blogpost!" and I was like, "Dude!  That's awesome!  I don't even have to think about it-- excellent!"

And that's when I got outside to load up my car, as giddy as the wedding guest, laughing with his friends.

And that's when the gaunt black woman--clean, in fraying clothes, with well cared for teeth and good skin-- came up to me.

Oh no.  Oh no.  Panhandling.  Well, shit.  I just bought the turducken and the environmentally unsound and expensive lunch shit.  I'd better be able to give this woman who is down on her luck something out of my pocket, right?  I can afford to do this.  Okay.  Plan.  I've got some bills, that's no problem.  But she doesn't just take my politely offered money.

No.  I am the wedding guest, and she is the ancient mariner, and that is one archetype that I have never been able to leave behind.

And her daughter is in the hospital and she is caring for her grandchildren and they have no place to stay. Two of the grand children are in wheelchairs and they need adult diapers and social services is out of vouchers and oh, God, she just needs a place to stay, and please, can someone help her buy Depends, and oh, God, oh God, can someone just listen to her, and not blow her off, because her heart is breaking and she's at the end of her rope, and she's just trying to take care of her family.

So I listen.  She tells me.  She shows me pictures.  She cries.  And when I give her the help she came to ask for, she breaks down and sobs in my arms.  She's destroyed.  Everyone is too busy and too angry to hear the story, and the story is what's keeping her on her feet.  She needs to tell the story, because it helps ease the shame of asking complete strangers to help her live her life.  And thank you, thank you, for listening.  Not the money, mind you, just the listening.  Thank you for the help, for the looking her in the eyes and for believing her even if you think it makes you a sucker.  Thank you for dignity and good wishes and sincerity and for holding a helpless stranger in the middle of the parking lot at Safeway.

She pulls herself together and takes a few steps, and then her phone rings and she looks at me with joy.  It's the pastor of the church she went to for help, and she has a hotel voucher waiting for her, and she and her grandchildren have put off homelessness for a little while more.  She's radiant as she goes into the grocery store with the money I gave her to buy depends, and I am bemused as I get into the car.

See-- I know that sounds extraordinary, but not to me.  I don't know where this awareness came from--my childhood was not ideal, but I always had food (not necessarily tasty food, but food) and I always had a place to sleep.  Somehow, even that small amount of doubt in my life set me up for the big reveal: that while you're goofing around with your friend on your smart phone, someone else is at the end of her rope.  That while the hero is off saving the world, the side character is dying in the hope that the hero can make it.  That while Jeff and Colin can celebrate the ways they've found to live, someone they care for very much may be on the brink of death.  That when Tommy and Chase are on the verge of having everything good come to pass, Dex and Kane are on the precipice of break up.  That when Craw says Aiden is the summer sky, Jeremy says he's the sky just after dawn, with some lingering darkness with the dazzling gold, and that dichotomy reveals the truth.

So when I write the quirky and I write the tragic, I'm not "pouring on the angst" or "indulging my funny bone"--I'm just telling the story.  The story is the thing.  The story keeps us on our feet, the story makes us think, the story makes us question, the story is the carefully sorted puzzle of how we live our lives.  Very often, the story is so painful the words don't do it justice.  Just as often, it's hilarious, and we're laughing until we can't breathe.

So I am sorry if the angst is too much.  I am.  I know it hurts.  I know it's uncomfortable.  I know it's awful to think about-- and I would stop thinking about it if I could.  But I can't.  It's how I'm built.  It's how I write.  The world is a continuously happy and sad place, and I am endlessly fascinated by the two extremes.  Until I'm not, I'm afraid that's what I will write about, and I will be continuously grateful for the people who continue to read.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

And the winners are...

First of all--please make sure you read the space alien thing below, because it was funny, that's why!

Second of all-- congratulations to Chris S., who won the signed copy of Gambling Men: The Novel, and Mary G. who won anything from my list of DSP titles that she chooses!  Both of you, please contact me offline so I can get you your goodies!  WOOT!  Congratulations--and thank you all very much for helping to make this big Hop Against Homophobia Blog Hop a success!

Space Aliens Are Attacking!

Okay, not really, but it makes a catchy title?

Anyway--the Hop Against Homophobia is still going on today, and by all means ping back.  I swear, I shall use the randomizer to pick two winners later on tonight and I'll announce the winners in my next post.  But, in the meantime, I had this bizarre little story I'm driven to share:

This happened Thursday night.  I was up late, writing and posting for the Hop Against Homophobia and finding cute pictures that I couldn't make fit which was why I shrunk them all, and by the time I got to bed, I was grumpy.  Things got worse.

I got to bed around one, and, as I had promised, with plans to grope him on my mind.  (Mate groping makes a marriage work.  It's truth.)   Anyway, in mid grope, Squish comes to bed.  She comes to bed like a hyperactive beagle.  Gets up, turns around three times, grunts, does the fainting starfish, whimpers, says, "hug me" then spreads out between the two of us.  So there I was, thinking, "I wanted to continue to grope Mate!" when there was a noise.

It was an odd noise, out of place, sort of metallic.  I look up at the foot of the bed, and there is an odd shape, glowing green from the DVR, but the light is refracting off it... it is making these odd, metallic noises.  

"Mate!  Mate!  What is that?"  I tug on his sleeve over Squish's sleeping body.

"What's what?"

"I think it's the cat," says Squish, completely overlooking that it was FLOATING IN MID AIR!  (Besides--why is she even IN our room?)

"What is it?" I ask, seriously panicking. 

"I don't know..."  Suddenly he sits up in bed.  "WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?"

"I'M SAYIN'!"  

"OH!"  He lays back down.  "It's your mylar balloon from mother's day."  

I think, "Oh thank God!" and lay back down, and just at that moment remember that I promised Chicken I'd do laundry.   Yes.  Laundry.  At gawdawful in the frickin' morning, I'm doing laundry.  By the time I get back to bed next to Squish who is now asleep, it is now 1:30.

The cat wanted booty call at 3:30.  (What?  Doesn't YOUR cat do booty call?  My cat does booty call.  She gets all sexy up against me like I'm a piece of sleeping meat.  Slut.  The worst part is when she bites my nose so that I HAVE to be awake while she's using me.  Fucking cat.)

Booty call ended, and Zoomboy came to bed at 5 and whimpered for hugs and then thrashed around until I yelled at him, and made him cry and go snuggle with dad.  

6:30.  Time to wake up.  

Finally, this morning as everyone was leaving, Mate patted me on the shoulder and said, "You had a rough night!"

I said, "Stupid balloon."

He said, "I know.  I thought it was a bird or something."

I glared at him.  "Bird?  I thought it was a SPACE ALIEN!"  

He laughed his way out the door.  Seriously.  A bird?  If it had been a bird, I wouldn't have been awake enough to do laundry!

And just as a side note?  As I was looking up adorable space alien pictures for this very short post?  I was looking for sort of sexy ones--you know, so we could see them kissing?  Cause I thought it would be cute, right?  So I typed in Space Alien Sexy into my image search engine. 


There are some things you just can't unsee.  *shudder*  God.  Does anyone have any legitimate porn?  Yarn porn?  Sock porn?  I need to scrub my brain!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hop Against Homophobia: Why I'm Liberal

Over the next four days I will be part of the Hop Against Homophobia.  If you follow that link, you will get to a page that links to other authors who are also participating.  The participants are offering prizes, including me, and if you're up for bouncing around and doing some reading on this subject, you very much should.  So really quick, before the post starts, let's talk about the giveaway.

The giveaway extends from Thursday, May 17th, to Sunday, May 20th.
* I'm giving two prizes: a  Signed Paperback Copy of Gambling Men and one copy of any Dreamspinner Press e-book from my backlist of the winner's choice.
*Anyone who comments on THIS POST of my blog is eligible to win.
* Winner will be chosen by the randomizer at nine o'clock, PST, Sunday the 20th.
* I'll announce the winner in a separate post.
*  Even though I will post again OVER this post, only people who comment on THIS post will be counted.  (I'll remind you of that later, too:-)

Now, all that being said, let's get on to my boring story! (And before the boring story commences, I need to thank Mary Calmes, because before you--in her words--"gut yourself like a frog in biology 101" you need someone who will read your frog guts and tell you if they're too gross.  Thank you, my darling-- I couldn't have written this without you.)

Okay, so one of the things that was happening with my blogging even before my brush with the law is that I learned how to keep some of my dumb-assed opinions to myself, because I never knew who was listening.  Venting was all very well and good, but I was frequently surprised (did I mention the dumbass?) that I hurt people's feelings.

Well, that's sort of how I became such a staunch advocate for gay rights.  Because I used to be just a big-eyed country girl with only ignorance in this matter, and when I think back to those days, I cringe.  How many people did I hurt with my ignorance?

So... my stand on homosexuality... shall we trace back?

I remember when a friend of a friend came out in high school.  My friend said to somebody nearby, "Yeah, I know he's gay. Why does that matter?"   It was the first time I actually knew there was a word for boys liking boys.

The field conductor of our band was filling out a dating questionnaire for a fundraiser.  He "accidentally" put "female" under his gender, and got a list of boys.  My parents asked me if it was a Freudian slip-- that time, I knew what they meant, and I said, "No!" because like most of the senior class, I had a major crush on him.  *sigh*  Why yes, he came out in college, why do you ask?  It was the first of many drama crushes I had.  My learning curve, it ain't ever steep.

In junior college, drama, many of my friends were gay--but they didn't talk frankly about it to me, because I was too "innocent".  Looking back now, I wish I'd been less "innocent" and more brave and willing to talk about it, because I still wasn't getting it--I wasn't getting what it really was, I wasn't getting why it mattered, all I got was what my gay and lesbian friends were willing to show me, and that was often the stuff that made me laugh.  I do have one very clear memory from this time, though (and it was over twenty years ago.)  One of the boys I'd had a crush on in high school had just come out--and he was one of those sharp dressing boys, who always smelled so good.  I wasn't in his inner circle, although I knew about the gay because my friend Sally had told me (and she was newly lesbian-- she knew these things) and I remembered being really disappointed.  He was really cute.  Anyway, we were both working tech on a show, and I was sick--103 temp sick, shivering in my own sweat as I worked the light board sick, and there we were in the tech booth when he took his brand new leather jacket off and put it around my shoulders.  It smelled so good--leather and man and Polo (*swoon*) and I remember having this thought: this guy was so out of my league anyway, and if he was this nice of a person as a whole, that maybe that whole whispered disapproval around the whole idea of "gay" was off base.  This guy saved my life (it felt like) and even at an "innocent" nineteen, I could figure out that just all around niceness like that couldn't come from a bad place at all.

After junior college there was San Francisco State and then Sac state.  I remember one of my bosses was flamboyantly gay enough to playfully ogle Mate's backside when he was working the line one night, after Mate and I started working in the same restaurant.  I remember another friend--this one read some of the first of my writing--who filled me in on the fact that his "roommate" was really his lover, and that's why he didn't move out when they beat the holy hell out of each other during one of their more physical fights.  (This idea blew me away.  "You didn't realize that's how gay men fight?"  "I didn't realize that's how anyone fights--are you sure this is a healthy relationship?"  "Well, we're still men!"  Yeah, yeah, feel free to discuss--but when Jeff and Collin beat the fuck out of each other in Living Promises, I was coming from that place right there.)

I remember another friend who was as out an proud a lesbian as I have ever met.  I was standing next to a male manager at the cashier's stand when the night's receipts printed out between his legs.  She reached in and grabbed it, and he said (playfully) "Sexual harassment!"  She winked at me, grabbed my knee, and said, "Nope-- that was sexual harassment!" I giggled all night.  She was the worst driver I'd ever had the misfortune of getting into a car with.  To this day, Mate agrees.

So, on the whole, I'd had enough interaction with the gay and lesbian community, you'd think I'd know better--you'd think I'd be hip and not stupid, but I wasn't.  When working at another restaurant, one apparently known for it's gay and lesbian clientele, I remember trying really hard not to be upset at the sight of two women necking.  I confided my discomfort to the cashier I was working with, and the female manager she standing next to.  I said that logically, I knew it was fine, but on an instinctive level, it was just something I wasn't used to seeing--none of the gay or lesbian couples I'd ever known had actually necked in front of me.  I guess until you see someone doing it, it's just a word, and you don't get that this world spins on a different gender axis, and for a moment, you're dizzy.  Nevertheless, I probably shouldn't have confided my ignorance to two women who were sleeping together.  No, I didn't know that at the time--but, well, that job didn't last long.  People were unexpectedly cold to me, why do you ask?

And putting my foot in it didn't end there.  Part of it was my own fault, and part of it was the world around me--it sure would have helped in the 90's and early '00's if there was a handkerchief code for "Gay friendly but still stupid."  Would you like examples?

*  I thought that line in Steel Magnolias about all gay men liking track lighting was hilarious.  Not because I think it's TRUE, but because it reveals the same innocent ignorance I myself was victim to--and it also revealed (given that it was from a grandmother who was talking openly to her gay grandson) a willingness to change and enlarge her world, and I'm all about that.  That being said, laughing about it in front of a recently out colleague was probably not the best thing for me to do.  I don't think he understood where I was coming from at all, and that was my fault.

*  I related the restaurant story to another colleague--who, unbeknownst to me, was gay. I was using it to explain that I was continuing to expand my perception of the world so I don't make those mistakes anymore, but I don't think she ever felt safe to confide in me after that, and I feel bad about that.

*  I was discussing a far away branch of my family once, including, "Yeah, unfortunately the patronymic (Junior) is going to end with my cousin."
"Why is that?" asked a colleague.
  I shrugged. "Sadly enough, he's gay."
The colleague's eyes cut to another colleague, who was gay, like he was trying to tell me something I didn't know.  (By now, I knew.  Duh!)  "Why sadly?" he asked, his eyes still darting nervously, like he needed me to clear this up.
I rolled my eyes.  "Because nobody in the other family trusts us enough to just tell us he's gay.  It's all about guessing.  And it's not that we give a shit, it's just that it would be nice to know--that way, we don't have to ask if he's found a nice girl or not, right?"
I think both colleagues were surprised.  I think they were sure I was going to spout something about how awful the g word was--but that's the thing.  If I didn't have the handkerchief that said "gay friendly but stupid" how was he supposed to know?

* Like all of the good things about me, it was my students who brought out the best of me in this matter.  I remember the very defensive AP student who managed to alienate his entire class not because he was gay, but because he was SO defensive about being gay.  He was perhaps the first openly gay person who was willing to define himself in the face of the entire world that I had ever met.  I remember asking him if maybe he could give the class a chance (they were a sweet bunch and eventually he did have friends) and in turn, I was willing to expand my awareness to a non-heteronormative world.  (Yes, he used that term-- he liked to flaunt his intellect.  I think he was impressed that I wasn't stupid either.)  I think that kid did a whole lot for my understanding of why it would suck for the world to assume he was straight--because this kid?  There's not enough pray-the-gay-away in the world, and he was dead on.  The world needed to love him for who he was.  I think once he understood that I (and his classmates) could do that, he became a whole lot more lovable as a whole.

*  And finally, I remember the girl who had been my TA and who came back to visit.  I adored her, and I didn't adore her one teeny bit less when she said, (showing off her rainbow bracelet) "Guess what, Ms. Lane!  I went off to college and got all gay!"  I hugged her tighter.  "Good for you," I said, and by now, I knew what it was, and why it was a big deal

At the end, when I was taken out of my teaching job, it was because I assumed that the rest of the world was less ignorant than I was, and not more so.  I assumed that the books wherein I wrote about gay couples growing up and having a happy ending and an (eventually) happy life had always been acceptable, and it had only been my wide-eyed ignorance that hadn't seen that in the first place.  It's funny, that of all the blithe assumptions I've ever made in my life, that last one is something I'm almost proud of.

So when I think about it now, I think that besides myself for being a dumbass, the thing I am the most irritated with is the world, for encouraging me to be a dumbass.  I was too embarrassed to ask questions, and I kept making the same dumbassed mistakes.  And you know what? The world being what it was and still is, nobody called me on my dumbassery.  Many of the poor GLBT people exposed to my ignorance didn't feel confident enough to challenge me about my assumptions--when they would have been in the right.  The heterosexual people I knew were all about the "whisper it 'cause it's bad"--and they weren't helping me just step up and investigate the idea that we're all created equal--we're just not interested in the same plumbing!  I know that even as I progressed and wrote about this subject, it was still hard for me to recognize bullying--people who were gay-friendly didn't talk about being gay-friendly.  People who weren't gay-friendly were conducting a subtle and then not-so subtle campaign about how being gay was bad.  All of the sotto-voiced secrecy?  Wasn't helping.  When I confessed my discomfort at seeing the women making out, if someone had said, "I'm gay--do you realize how offensive that is?"  I would have gotten over my hangups a helluvalot sooner.  If my gay colleague had said, "Do you realize how offensive it is that you think that's funny?" I could have explained, "It's only funny to me because it makes ignorance look ignorant," and he might have felt more comfortable around me.  The thing is, in a way, our world has gotten to this terrible impasse of screaming bigotry and bullying because for twenty years, the homosexual community didn't feel free enough to simply stand up to big-eyed country girls and educate the holy fucking shit out of us, like we deserved.

And now, all of those people who've been secretly afraid of this community are thinking, "Well, nobody's said anything for years-- we all must be right."

Homophobia is in the small fears and the big ones.  I overcame mine by looking at human being after human being, and trying my hardest not to offend human beings for simply being who they are.  I am aware--painfully aware--that I hurt people during this process.  I am even more aware that not everybody has that sort of introspection.  If the people in my world had been comfortable enough to come out, speak freely, talk to me without fear of watching me turn into a screaming lunatic, then I would have been an educated, well rounded human being much sooner.  And, quite frankly, I don't trust the rest of the world to come to the same sorts of realizations on their own.

We need to educate our world that people are people.  It took me twenty years.  It could have all happened when I was sixteen, if the health teacher had said, "Not all people are heterosexual.  Some people enjoy same sex relationships, and those work differently."  Homophobia isn't just those wingnuts from WBC screaming stupid, scary, blasphemous things-- homophobia is being afraid to just ask questions, to confront a community that you know nothing about and admit it's important.  Homophobia would have been being unwilling to talk to a student about the one thing that's making his school life a sheer misery, or explain to him that it doesn't have to suck, and he can still be completely himself.

Homophobia is being unable to say, "Oh, are you/is he/is she/are they gay?" without a fear that you will somehow insult someone by simply asking what their life situation is.

 In order for homophobia to finally be abolished, we need to move to a world where people speak about human rights like they are a given, and it's the bigots who whisper among themselves, because they're the ones who are doing or saying something bad.  The sooner we do, the sooner we can get to a place where a big-eyed country girl can say, "Oh, you're gay?  Sucks for me!" and the conversation doesn't screech to a halt.  When this finally happens, with any luck, the screeching scary wingnuts won't feel comfortable trying to rip away other people's human rights, and every country in the world can jump on a government that would hang four men in public for doing private consensual thing with their bodies in the safety of their hearths.  The sooner we can speak up and expect that the world will accept gay rights as naturally as they accept blonde rights and brunette rights and short people rights and the rights of people who drive Volkswagens, the sooner nobody will feel comfortable giving voice to atrocities and saying it's "God's law."

My shame in my previous ignorance is profound.  I cringe when I think of the shame the entire human race is going to have to face when they come to their own realization.  The sooner we can educate the world, the sooner we can look humanity in the mirror and say, "Yes.  We have done right by you."

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Archetypes (Yes, AGAIN, why?)

So, saw The Avengers- only twice though so I'm sure I've missed something.  Yes-- amazeballs, awesomecrazysauce, fantabulous--you bastardize a superlative, I'll commandeer it as my own and use it to paint Joss Whedon with lavish praise, right?  Also saw Cabin in the Woods... and, again, DUDE!

Joss Whedon.  That man knows a frickin' archetype.

Okay-- it's funny.  I recently saw someone praise a work as having "no archetypes and no stereotypes" and even though the work was mine and the compliment was sincere, I wanted to throw a big ugly teacher's tantrum because didn't anybody teach this person that, without archetypes there is no literature?   I've said it before (oh can we count the ways?  Let's not.  Unless someone can give me a big long list of links to my own blog, in which case, that might come in handy and I'm too lazy to do it myself) but archetypes are the skeletons.  Characterization, dialog, setting, description, (or cinematography, wardrobe, stagecraft) --these things are the flesh, the hair and eye color, the expression, the pleasing (or not so) way the features are assembled to a complete personality.  Whether you're talking character, setting, plot trope, theme or symbol, ALL STORIES HAVE ARCHETYPES.

The brilliant thing about Joss Whedon and The Avengers (and Cabin in the Woods)?  Is how he utilizes these things to say a lot in a a very short amount of time.

Now, one of the most difficult things about pieces like these (and we'll stick with the Avengers because my time is limited and so is yours!) is that there are so many personalities to deal with.  The really brilliant thing that Whedon did, was to show each Avenger interacting--and usually conflicting-- with his opposite in archetype.  What this allowed us to do was see the basic drives and motivations of each Avenger--and hence, who these people are.  Were their personalities archetypal?  You betcha!  Did that make them any less original, fresh, or interesting?  Hell to the noes.  Wanna see?

Black Widow vs. The Hulk=
the spy vs. the muscle
the extreme feminine vs. the extreme masculine
the subtle vs. the big green rage monster
intelligence primary to power vs. power primary to intelligence
the ant vs. the boot
the vixen vs. tragic hero
hidden power vs. hidden power

Two scenes-- that's all they had together, were two scenes, and yet because they were such a thorough perfect blend of archetype and character, we got to see the flex and ripple of each personality off the other like the play of light on water.

Wanna see some more?

Thor vs. Loki

the epic hero vs. the gothic hero
confidence vs. arrogance
Abel vs. Cain
bright vs. dark
sincerity vs. cynicism
long view vs. long view

Thor vs. Captain America

epic hero vs. epic hero (i.e., neither one of them has flaws, so they're both really fucking irritating to each other, plus they're both used to giving orders and being in charge!)
nobility vs. peasantry
entitlement vs. hard work & sacrifice
long view of the war (like, from Asgaard!) vs. short view of the battlefield
universal decisions vs. short range decisions
offense (hammer!) vs. defense (shield)
Alpha vs. Alpha

Thor vs. Tony Stark

epic hero vs. American Romantic hero (yeah, yeah... I've got a hard on for this one, did we not know?)
universal code of honor vs. personal code of honor
moral perfection vs. moral imperfection (smirk)
sincerity vs. cynicism
entitlement vs. entitlement ("Don't touch me!"  "Well don't take my stuff!")
archaic vs. modern ("Doth thou mouther knowest you're wearing her drapes?")
Alpha vs. Omega

Tony Stark vs. Captain America

American Romantic hero vs. epic hero
personal code of honor vs. established code of honor
moral imperfection vs. moral perfection (Without the suit, what are you?  Millionaire, playboy, philanthropist.)
entitlement vs. hard work ("Put on the suit!")
modern vs. archaic
Omega vs. Alpha
self-sacrifice vs. self-sacrifice

Tony Stark vs. the Hulk

American Romantic hero vs. tragic hero
personal code of honor vs. personal code of honor
irreverence vs. anxiety
moral imperfection vs. moral imperfection
entitlement vs. hard work
science vs. science
modern vs. modern
Omega vs. Omega  (Notice how many of these they actually have in common?  It's why they were almost automatic friends.)

And I could go on.  The Black Widow vs. Loki, the Widow vs. Hawkeye, Stark vs. Fury, Thor vs. Fury, Captain vs. Fury, Captain vs. Widow-- lots and lots of potent combinations, and pretty much every one of them can be broken down into a series of dichotomies with one, maybe two, moments of connection.  The point is, that almost (and I'll get to the almost) every two characters on the screen had a variety of archetypal dichotomies that Whedon exploited with dialog to create instant, fully fleshed characters-- it was a genius move, and not only made the movie fucking awesome, it also illustrated that same tired point I've been making from way back.  Archetypes are everything.  You can't write a true, resonant story without them, especially one of importance.  (And, yes, although it was a popcorn movie, The Avengers is an important movie because it showcases the beauty of human flaw.  Jeez, don't get me started on the legitimacy of sci-fi and fantasy again... I'll just make you tired.)

Oh-- and now to the "almost".  There were some characters who were notable in their absence from the dichotomy list--characters who were never put together, and the fact that we don't see them together shows us almost as much about them as an interaction would.

Hawkeye vs. Thor
soldier  vs. leader
battle vs. war
follow orders vs. issue them
American Romantic vs. epic
understated vs. overt

 ...and these two men have nothing in common.  Nothing.  The conflicts illustrated between the other characters are exciting because those characters have at least one dichotomy in common.  When they have more than one, there is in instant connection, but when there is not even one?  Hawkeye and Thor would not encounter each other in their real lives.  These two types of people don't interact.  Perhaps, in a sequel, a common denominator might be found that would showcase both these personalities, but until then, any interaction between them would show very little more than we can see by just watching them in action.  It was probably why we didn't see them talk a lot.  I think Thor swept down and did some back to back fighting--and that was cool, because it was like he came down from heaven to help the foot soldiers in battle, but otherwise?

Yeah.  If those other guys didn't have some moments of mind-meeting, their chemistry would not have been nearly as interesting--or as important to watch.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Notes From The Front

So, Mother's Day.  Yeah.

For a while, this wasn't just any day.  This was MY day.  I was THE MAMA, and I was going to get to sit on my ass and eat bon bons if I damn well wanted to, and I was going to sleep in and choose the restaurant and...

And for some reason, this year, I was completely taken by surprise.  The little kids started whispering about what they'd made in school and I was puzzled to realize that they had made something for me.  Mate asked me what I wanted for Mother's Day, and I said, "I thought I was getting a tattoo."  He said, "I thought I was getting you a vacuum cleaner--but you can get the tattoo if you want."  

Chicken keeps threatening to make me a stuffed animal-- something I always treasure when she makes them, and I feel bad that they end up commandeered by the baby gods every time she makes them for me. And I'm suddenly realizing that yes-- all of this fuss is for me. 

And I'm also figuring out why it's so surprising this year.  

It's not that the job is effortless--I mean, most moms out there will tell you that it NEVER gets effortless-- and it's not like all that time I thought I'd have when I wrote for a living ever really materialized.  It's not like I'm always paying attention 100% of the time like I think I should be, and it's not like the house has gotten much cleaner.  I still don't have as much time to cuddle as I thought I would, and my knitting is STILL taking backseat to a kid (a much bigger kid!) on my lap.  

But still-- that mom thing has gotten a little easier.  

I make lunch, give them a breakfast option and at least know what's coming for dinner.  There is a song and a story EVERY night.  I know my children's teachers, I volunteer in their school, and I know who my daughter's crush is and what my older son is doing in college.  Many of the things I meant to do when I was both teaching and writing, I now actually do, and the times when stress flared my temper like a magnesium road alert are much fewer and farther between.  Whereas before, Mate was the one who got them out the door, now we work as a team, and although I'm busy in the afternoons when they're home, I'm still there.  

And when I realized how surprised I was that Mother's Day was actually still my day, it occurred to me that, just because being a good mom while maintaining a career I loved was now difficult instead of bloody fucking impossible, that didn't mean I still don't get a little bit of credit.  I was sitting in front of the television tonight with first one hefty grade schooler on my lap and then another, and I thought, "Oh... this is where some of my knitting time has gone."  I was sitting in front of my computer, trying to engage in a chat when Big T came to talk to me about his career options, again, and his personality type, again, and it hit me, "This is why working at the computer sometimes feels like a game of Stratego played in a mine field."  Big T left and Chicken started texting me with pictures of her shoes for her prom, and for a minute I was resentful, because hey, wasn't her father there? And then it hit me--

This is what the flowers are for, and the cards, and the gifts.  This is why the whispering and the secrets, and Mate's concern that the vacuum would be as good a gift as a tattoo.  

My life situation has improved a little--it has--and I'm grateful in so many ways.  But I'm still THE MAMA, and it may not be bloody fucking impossible but it's still hard, and I'm still proud that on occasion I get it right.  

Or, at least my kids get it right for me, and I think that counts.

So, small tidbits of motherhood this week that you might treasure with me:

Zoomboy--upon getting a bandaid for an ingrown fingernail that I'd just treated:  "Oh Geez, Mom!  Does it have to be Hello-Kitty?"

Squish;  "Well, you DID squeal like a girl!"

Chicken, proudly: "You are my sister!"


Mate--out of nowhere as I was writing and he was watching television:  "So.  Chicken.  Birth control."

Me: 0.o

Mate: "What?"

Me: "Goddess bless all progressive fathers, but, uhm, we've had that conversation already.  She's not ready."

Mate:  "But she'll need some before she goes away to college."

Me:  o.0

Mate:  "What?"

Me:  "Yeah, yeah, I've got it covered."

Mate:  "Okay.  Go back to work now."

Me:  >.<  "Sure.  I'll do that."


Chicken, after trying to talk to me when I've been engaged in a Facebook chat for the second hour of a three hour chat: "Okay, okay, I'll leave you alone, I can see you're busy."

Me: "Great.  Thanks.  Do that."

Big T:  "Facebook chat-- what is that?"

Chicken:  "She's talking to like a zillion people.  Look at her.  Her eyes are bugging out."

Big T:  "So, were you doing that when I was trying to talk to you an hour ago?"

Me:  "YES!!!"

Big T:  "I'm sorry!  I'm sorry!  Next time tell me!"

Me:  "Next time, take the words 'I'm on chat, let me work!' to actually mean something!"

Big T:  "Ooohhhh...."


So, Mother's Day.  Yeah.  It's never easy.  But I'll tell you what-- I'll take difficult over bloody fucking impossible any day.  I'll take my chocolates tomorrow, and my cards, and my lie-in, and I'll be proud and pleased.  I just might have earned it.