strong coffee preferred…

I am probably going to ramble today just because I wanted to touch base and see how everyone was. What I probably am going to do is share links and other things that I find interesting because I keep meaning to do that and I forget.

Monday is coming quickly and I will be showing up for the hospital in the cold dark morning so hopefully they can fix everything that is broken. Okay to be fair just the internal organs situation. Everything else that’s broken is not their fault.

I think the thing that I missed the most actually is driving because I do enjoy it. When I am finally free of this relentless medical crap I fully intend to go on a road trip.

and you know what I really need is a good grilled cheese sandwich. Now mind you I like my grilled cheese sandwiches like I do my macaroni and cheese. Mac & cheese comes from a blue box and grilled cheese sandwiches are white bread with American cheese, preferably on the edges and too hot to eat but you bite into it anyway and burn your tongue.

I actually have to get more American cheese because we’ve been using it to pill the Potato who had a very nasty bout of infections but it is clearing up rapidly. He is definitely slowing down and his seasonal allergies that also give him the skin infection really hit him hard this year. Still, he is comfortable and happy so that is all I can ask of the universe.

I also really miss being able to cook because standing for long periods of time is problematic. I did however sharpen my knives because that’s a good meditative thing to do and I have a few older knives that I really don’t use anymore but I should sharpen them as well.

It is been very cold and I keep the living room — well the whole house — at about 69° to 70°. This is kind of necessary because both Badger and Gus have joint issues that get worse if it’s too cold, just like me. Goji and Harley pretty much sleep on the couch on opposite ends but Badger usually can be found on the corner of my bed where the heating vent hits. We have a forced air heater so we can at least maintain a good temperature in the house.

That is pretty much everything for this morning. I do need more coffee and I also know that these kind of read like an email but hey, I should be better at communicating. I realized that what I’m working on needs to start a different place but I also have to figure out exactly what angle that would be so wish me luck.

Queer.

I identify as queer.

For some people it’s a problematic word. For a lot of us who are older, it was a word we took on as our own. An act of defiance. While rainbow flag came into being in the late 70s, it wasn’t widely adopted until later. or at least anywhere I was because things like that spread slowly. At the time the one symbol that we did have — a symbol with its ties to the generation about the boomers — still a bit of a fuck you to everyone who push us down and that was the pink triangle.

It was something I could have as a patch on my jean jacket and other people got it tattooed to their skin, usually hidden under clothes because you couldn’t show a hint of being out if you weren’t living certain communities. And those communities were few and far between.

Being anything but heterosexual was dangerous, often deadly. And when I entered high school, the AIDS epidemic hit. I think it’s funny they call it an epidemic because it really wasn’t anything short of a horror show. The beginnings of open non-hetero exploration and outwardly celebrating the queerness connecting us was shattered. Countless men were given a death sentence by hateful people who justified the mounting fatalities as what “they deserved” for being gay. We heard a lot of “God hates fags” and “this is the gays’ plague”.

There were small pockets of community where we could gather and kind of party to forget what was outside of those walls. We all had our havens. Even in Hawai’i. Back then Hula’s was a makeshift bar/dance club next to Hamburger Mary’s. It really didn’t have walls but mostly was a chain-link fence with bamboo panels to keep out prying eyes and a canopy of trees strung with fairy lights. I remember going there periodically with a bunch of my underaged friends (well, so was I) because drinking age was 18 back then and let’s face it, nobody was checking IDs. It was where we could go and laugh and be open for a little while. But some of the faces grew gaunt and disappeared. I think in a lot of ways it was our Holocaust. Probably not too appropriate that word but I don’t know another phrase I could use. It was like losing people to a game of Russian roulette. I suppose actually maybe a better phrasing would be our Squid Game? I don’t know.

What I do know is the disease was weaponized in so many ways and an already disenfranchised, estranged part of society was now left condemned further and being torn apart from within. We were abandoned by the government — the president at that time was Reagan — and Christian facism was the mainstream ideology.

We had no rights. Longtime partners were denied their place next to their dying loved ones and many of the dead were stripped of their personality and souls to be buried by the people who hated them the most — their families.

Many of us were bound together by the trauma of being cast out by people who were supposed to protect us. So many of us were children. And so many of us died. The late boomers and Gen Xers lost so many of our most fiercest and brightest souls.

I think it hurt so much because it felt like we were losing our family again. And no matter how hard we cried, how desperate we were for someone to help us, not only did no one care but they celebrated our deaths.

So we kept fighting — what else were we going to do? So things changed. Some quickly. Some not. Men and women who spoke up were beaten and oppressed and killed. And we were still learning our language.

queer.

An umbrella word that covered all of us — even those of us without another word to say but we knew we were not a mainstream sexuality. We didn’t have an identity but we knew we were queer. It’s not everyone’s word. Not now. We have so many now. But back then… it was all some of us had.

It was our word.

Here we are — again in the trenches — fighting off false Christians but with a lot more voices behind us. A lot more rights arming us. Quite a few of us still bear battle wounds and many of us still looks to a pink triangle as a symbol of who we are… Something that defined us when we had no words to do so… But the word queer fit. For me.

I think it’s a discussion that we all should have — what words we hang our souls on — and what they mean to us and why. I don’t begrudge anyone the words they found to use. Or the pronouns. I will use them to describe others. I probably use a few to describe myself.

I guess if I had to say I was one thing — it would be that I am a pink triangle queer. Because that was the first step of my journey and my first identity in this community. I do welcome the discussion of this and are probably revisited as I think more on how I feel about certain things.

But we can’t go back to the days where people tell us to hide who we are or to not use the words we say speak for us — speak about us — because I have already fought those battles and we’re back to fighting them again. But we will win this oppressive war. We are the only side with casualties. We are the only side that have been beaten to bruised and broken and death. And that will continue as long as assholes use us as the boogie man to fearmonger and control the small minded.

So no matter what symbol or word you use, use them. Fight with them. Use them for change. Use them for understanding. And remember we might all have different words we use for ourselves but we are all in this together.

California, Rain, and Shoyu Chicken

It’s been a long long week and oh, most of it has to deal with medical stuff but let’s not go there.

Instead, let’s talk about other stuff.

We’ve had a shit load of rain here lately and while I love it, up North has had some huge storms and it’s a bit dangerous out there for people. So if you’re up in the very flooded parts of California, please stay safe and dry. And think about those who are outside of shelter. If you’re able to donate towels, bedding and socks to your local shelters, they would appreciate it.

I made shoyu chicken tonight for dinner. In a bag in the oven. Now I do like doing bagged oven chicken but normally it’s more of a savory tomato base. Not too much sauce but enough to coat or a dry rub that mingles well with the chicken juices. There’s something about those natural gravies when they go on top of rice. Okay, to be fair, one of my favourite foods is rice and some kind of gravy or sauce. Hell, even rice and kimchi is a great lunch / dinner.

And oddly enough, if I’m not feeling well, rice and kimchi or hot sauce soothes my nerves and stomach. Probably can blame my mom for eating a lot of kimchi when she was pregnant with me. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

My fridge kimchi / kim chee recipe for a quick easy non-fermented kim chee. https://rhysford.com/2013/12/11/kimchee-recipe-for-mary-calmes/

Yes I know I flip the spelling. It’s been 50-50 with me since it’s been spelled in different ways during my life time. I’m not married to one or the other so, choose your own adventure there.

Not much else is going on. I have a piece I have to write for an anthology and the ideas are there so hopefully I can get words onto the page!

AND we’re in the Year of the Bunny so… WOOOOT!

 

Hocks and Greens Again…

I have O’Jenn Beshter visiting and she wanted hocks and greens so we’re having that for dinner. It’s simmering right now and honestly, it’s a good end of the year dinner.

There was high hopes for writing this weekend but visitors and cooking and well, talking. They just did the trolley tour of San Diego and saw the ice skaters and grabbed some boozy hot chocolate.

Nothing much else is going on. It’ll be interesting to deal with the New Year. I always watched the Rose Bowl Parade with my sister Jenn (the one who passed) so it’s kind of odd to see it and not hear her sniping about how the judges were wrong about voting one float as an award winner and not the other. Most of the time, I would agree. One of our faves was a dragon from… I thought it was a Thai company but I was wrong. But here is the dragon.

It’s always interesting to see art in unexpected mediums. I mean sure, those people are masters at it because they’ve been working with flowers for decades but still, just the manipulation of the medium is awesome.

Nothing much else is going on. Tomorrow is the end of the year and I am glad to see its butt over the horizon. Hope you all have a great New Year’s and that your coming months are fantastic.

Incoming Rant: Hawaiian Characters in Media

Incoming Rant: You’ve heard this before. I just need to rant for a moment after reading a “Hawaiian” character in a contemporary novel I picked up. (Book is by no one I know or the genres I write in). It’s not about the book, just in general 😀
I don’t think writing a person of a different culture is appropriation but do some research.
And understand that there are things probably shouldn’t written about because of a lack of intrinsic knowledge of those struggles. That’s just my opinion. I feel it’s exploitive.
Dressing up as or liking Moana isn’t appropriation. Shit, it’s not even representative of a single culture. If anything, we Polynesians should be pissed off because we were put in a blender and Disney made a movie out of it.
So, I’ll write you a note to give you permission if you like.
Selling “tattoo sleeves” with native tattoo markings printed on them IS appropriation. Don’t buy those. Don’t take lava rocks from Hawai’i. Those are Pele’s.
Understand that modern Hawai’i is still a stew of different cultures and we respect one another. Many of us are mutts of many cultures so we are all mixed, even if we’re not because we share a common environment. It’s why there’s spam musubi being sold at the 7-11s and you can buy saimin at McDonald’s.
Hawaiians don’t (shouldn’t) care if you surf or learn hula or paddle canoe. We DO care if someone says poi is icky or that we didn’t have a language before the white people came. Learn and respect our culture. Gatekeeping doesn’t help anyone understand and appreciate different cultures. It’s how we gain compassion.
Poke bowls, however, are more Japanese than Hawaiian. Real poke is very tasty and marinated in for a bit to round out the flavours. It does taste different than the fast food chirashi. The Portuguese in Hawai’i make pasteles which are based in the Puerto Rican culture. But then ukueles and the sweet bread everyone likes are actually Portuguese. Hawai’i has a sort of Let God Sort It Out thing going when mingling cultures.
Poi however is a VERY SACRED food for us. We don’t care if you don’t like it, but treat it with respect. Did I mention the word SACRED?
ESPECIALLY if you’re going to put a Hawaiian character in your book. For the love of God, don’t have them bad-mouth poi. Or Spam. That’s just putting a plain brown paper wrap around a character and calling them Polynesian. Trust me when I say poi is the least icky food my people eat. We haven’t even touched on ake or okolehao.

Rambling about Bits and Lack Thereof.

Perhaps Unpopular Opinion

I know a lot of women see their “power” in their vaginal region but I honestly am not that attached to it and haven’t given it this much thought. EVER.

Red Delicious Apple on White Background

In going through all of these surgeries and organ removals, it’s been interesting to see and hear how people assign a feminine aspect to body parts. For some it’s the vagina itself and others attach significance to the labia and other spots. Now this isn’t about female circumcision — which is a horrific and dehumanizing practice — but rather what DEFINES sexual identity and the power people give certain fleshy areas, including boobs. Continue reading “Rambling about Bits and Lack Thereof.”

Of Characters and Things: Kai Gracen

Of Characters and Things: Kai Gracen
I actually began writing Kai’s story more than ten years ago. It might have been fifteen. I’m not even sure where the concept came from but it pretty much followed most of my random thoughts, probably when I was either in the bathroom or drinking coffee because that just seems to be where ideas occur to most authors. It’s kind of like a piece of yarn caught in the bramble and it leads you to a secret place you’ve never been but seems so very familiar.
The idea the elfin Courts as they exist in Irish mythology became a base for what was going to happen in the world. I knew I wanted to write the story after the Courts and the humans battled it out because the terror of war and the scramble wasn’t the space I wanted to weave around, since so much of my interests centre around the study of cultures and how people react / interact when suddenly introduced or confronted by a sudden strangeness in their comfortable world.
Kai’s back story actually evolved from a lot of discussion around the dysmorphia and otherness adopted people feel when they are taken in by families with a different cultural background than their own ethnicity and culture. There are also points to be made about being a biracial child and not quite fitting into their families’ cultures for one reason or another. I am multiracial but I had a different cultural influence on my childhood than my sisters did, primarily because I had elders who were AAPI and raised me but had already passed when my sisters came along. This led them to have a more Portuguese-centric cultural influence and that’s how they identify.
For simplification purposes.
So that’s the basis of Kai. He was taken in by a human and raised in a society that bore great animosity to his race. It led to a complicated life but considering he was raised as a Stalker, their nomadic existence made it much easier for him to survive and also thrive as an individual. It gave him purpose and it’s something that Kai is very good at. Sometimes too good.
Dempsey (just as an aside)
I’m not going to give any spoilers about Dempsey in case people in the group haven’t read the books yet. Dempsey was a very simple character to write on the surface but there were a lot of hidden motivations where he’s concerned and he is as an unreliable narrator is Kai is. Dempsey has a lot of secrets; some are his own and some belong to others around him. At first glance, he’s an asshole. But he’s also an asshole at the second, third, and tenth glance. That never goes away. When all is said and done, he is a mercenary who for some stupid reason took in an enemy of his people to raise.
Dempsey never sugarcoated the shit he knew Kai was going to face from other people. There were going to be people who would fetishize Kai and people who would want him dead just because of how he looked. That’s just how the world was and he was going to make sure Kai knew that.
Stalker Dempsey went into raising Kai with his eyes wide open and while he wasn’t ever going to win any Father of the Year awards, he knew in order for Kai to survive, he was going to have to learn there was no such thing as a free lunch. Everything costs, including friendship. And never to truly trust anyone until they saved your neck for no reason.
Their lives were brutal and blood-filled but also of laughter and situations that made for great storytelling. Kai knew — deep down in his soul — that Dempsey had his back. So when Dempsey had to retire, there was no question that it was time for Kai to carry the load. And that’s really where I wanted to start the story. At a point where Kai was independent but still made sure that the man he thought of as his father was going to be okay.
And San Diego seemed like a great place to put them.
Kai Gracen
For all intents and purposes, the Stalker community really harkens back to a time of trading and trapping, with a serious dose of bootlegging and living on the edge of danger. Kai really thrives in that world. He loves the hunting (probably something he gets from his elfin father) and the adrenaline rush he gets bringing down something that maybe is a little bit too dangerous for him to tackle. Stalking is a challenge and if there is one thing Kai lives for it’s a good challenge. And sometimes those challenges come back to bite him in the ass.
Does he hate not being human? Yes. Because in his mind, he looks more like Dempsey than the depictions of the Courts’ people. Does he run into prejudice? Yeah he does. And it always surprises him because he doesn’t think of himself as anything but human. It’s a lesson he keeps learning time and time again but pushes aside. Because he wants to belong and under it all, he wants to be a part of the world around him, not just someone who lives on its edges in the shadows.
Kai has a moral code he follows and it’s pretty clear-cut. I would say that Dempsey was a bit more shady and sometimes cut corners, not something Kai agrees with. Kai has a strong work ethic and he won’t take on a project or contract he doesn’t think he can fulfill. He is independent and stubborn which is why it pissed him off so much when the Post handed him over to Ryder. He remembers where he came from and there is no way in hell that he is willing to go back to being somebody’s property. Even someone who he wants to grab, push up against a brick wall, and kiss senseless. Kai is very good at denying himself because there were a lot of times when he and Dempsey had to scrape to pull together everything from food to fuel. He knows how to make sacrifices and won’t over extend himself.
Especially emotionally.
At the beginning of the series we have actually joined Kai at a point in his life where things are beginning to change. He has an attraction to his human neighbor which he can’t act on because he knows that he will outlive her but there’s also a slow realization that the people he calls family — his very human family — are also getting older.
And he is not.
It’s not to say that he hasn’t thought about it — the deaths of people he loves — because he is a Stalker and their life expectancy usually isn’t very long to begin with. But it’s one thing to die because your head is bitten off by a dragon, and it’s quite another thing to slowly slip away from illness or old age. Death is so much of the part of Kai’s life, he’s braced himself to encounter it every day just not so close to him.
But the books aren’t just about the realization that death will come to those he loves. It’s also about Kai learning how to open himself up and living. He’s lived a guarded existence. He knows who his father is and he also knows that one day the Wild Hunt will come for him.
That’s something he and Dempsey probably spoke about over numerous campfires and lukewarm beer in shitty bars. Dempsey also knew his adopted son was going to have to integrate himself at some point into the Courts. That might not have been something they talked about or perhaps they did. That could be something to explore in the future books.
I love writing Kai because he’s straight to the point, honest to the point of bluntness, and will go down fighting for someone he loves. And he has many people he’s quite fond of. Including Ryder.
Ryder was a complication Kai didn’t want and thought he didn’t need but the truth is, Ryder does bring a level of civilization to Kai’s world. It’s not that Kai doesn’t know what to do in a civilized society. He just doesn’t care that much about what clothes need to be worn in what situation or what fork to use. He’s usually focused on what he needs to get done and isn’t the most diplomatic of people. I would go so far as to say he’s probably not the most charming but perhaps engaging and charismatic. He does care about people, maybe sometimes too much, but he does see the big picture and knows that anything he does will ripple out and affect others. And maybe that’s something Ryder needs to learn from him.
I’m really looking forward to book 5 because I know where to go with this and I know what happened with the Court. By the elfin standards, Ryder and Kai are moving rather quickly and it’s odd that Kai is usually the one to tap on the brakes. But that’s just how he is. I have a lot of things I have planned and I’m really looking forward to exploring those. We’ll see a lot more of Cari and we should probably check in on the twins because they are after all Kai’s nieces. And you know he’s already bought them knives. I don’t think the court really understands how he intends to influence them but he has a responsibility — a deep felt obligation — to make sure they turn out as kick ass and as capable as possible.
Because like how Dempsey raised him, he needs to make sure that the next generation can hold their own. And that they always know he’ll have their backs.

Continue reading “Of Characters and Things: Kai Gracen”

More surgery! Ahead anyway…

So in the ongoing surgical news… in about a month and a half, they’ll be opening me up again and poking into my bladder to repair the sieve from that end. Until then, it’s stay the course, try to be healed more, don’t break anything, don’t catch anything, and most of all, don’t go stir crazy.

AND they dropped the new Indiana Jones trailer which… ah, Harrison Ford is a old school hard yes for me. Always has been. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfVYgWYaHmE

I’m going to be making curry stew tomorrow. I’ll try to remember to post pictures. Cooking is hard because well, unbalanced still and I’m working off a new round of surgical gas which makes me even more scattered than normal. I’m like a drunk hummingbird.

Ah, once more into the… surgery ward?

So again in the long line of stuff happening, next week will be another round of let’s see where Rhys is broken and fix it. Maybe. If we can find it.

I can tell you I’m looking forward to actually sleeping a full night but let’s not get too crazy.

The weather’s been odd. Cold at night then amping up to a nice balmy mid 70s in the day. Which is great but oh man, I miss rain and fog. That’s why I do love going up to San Francisco because it’s my favourite kind of weather but dear lord, too expensive to live there. Tamm’s always trying to get me to move to Donegal but as lovely as that place is, it’s a bit too small for me. Also, I like having hot and cold running wifi. 😀

On the writing front, I am healing my brain a bit and plotting. And day dreaming a lot which is actually a good sign because disconnecting is the space I write in. There is this… layer? I don’t have a good word for it but it’s the mindspace where my imagination exists or rather the oddness of words and what I see. That seems to be opening up a bit more.

Mind you, I’ve also been having to share the couch with Badger who is of the opinion that if I bring something to cover my knees with, it is now his and he rakes it into a pile to sleep on. So far, I have lost one blanket and one sheet. I’d lost an additional sheet but I reclaimed that this afternoon.

Harley has spent her evenings hunting the tiny possum we have living on the hill. Actually what she’s doing is death-staring out of the sliding glass door as the wee possum trundles by. None of our cats go outside. Well Badger gets taken to his catio but we don’t let them roam free. I think Harley is just incensed that there is something outside and it either has to obey the house rules and come in or feck off.

Gojira the baby is now larger than both of the others combined. I swear to God she is. She’s a chonker and well, still in the chaos goblin mode of a teenaged cat.

My COVID is long gone and I have some residual coughing from the cold thing I had along with COVID. Of course, I have to take a different COVID test so I can go into surgery but I also have to do bodily fluids tests as well so going to knock that off tomorrow morning. Which means someone going to be sticking a bunch of needles in me and there’s this one guy who is always angry and salty at the lab. I’ve decided if I get assigned to him, I’m going to ask for a re-do.

And now Badger’s pissy because the dog went outside and he didn’t. Because he wants to go to his catio. Oh, and possibly even more salty because all the cats got some flea meds. It’s warm during the day so there’s been some insect activity. Like a plague! Waiting for the frogs.

If you’re in the US and celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you have a great time sharing a meal with friends and family. If you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, I still hope you have a good meal with people you love or even share a can of sardines with your cat.

Much love to all of you and I’ll keep you up to date on the body shenanigans once I learn more. 😀