Email Panic

This morning, I blasted through about 700 emails and I’m now taking a break for lunch. If you love me, dear god, don’t email me. I get so much email. Just looking at my email elicits the rumblings of a fight or flight response.

But no email frustrates me like Democratic Party Fundraising email. It turns a normal amount of crushing work into total disgust. I archive them or delete them instantly, whichever button my hand is hovering over, just so I don’t have to see them.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m a staunch Democrat and a donor. I cast my first vote for President Barack Obama the first time around. My mother was with me and, though I wasn’t out of the closet yet, it was made perfectly clear to me that her children could be anything that they were or wanted, as long as she had raised good Democrats she was happy. I have no issue with getting emails from the Democratic party. I have no issue with grassroots political fundraising, either. Heck, I think Kirsten Gillibrand’s fundraiser emails are great, donated to her this morning (though I wish she had more balanced survey questions, it smacks of Trumpian tone, which bothers me). But every time I see the DCCC emails, I expect a hybrid of doom-screaming and begging the likes of which are matched only by the Republican party, and the similarity makes me ill. When someone focuses on what they’re acually doing about the ills of the world, I’m so much more likely to fork over cash. I don’t need to be convinced that shit is awful rn. I don’t need the finger pointing—I know exactly whose fault it is. I need to be told what, exactly, you are doing about it. And if the answer is, well, three members of our party aren’t blocking the Gorsuch nomination with us, then step it up and earn that donation. Don’t plead with me for $11 three times daily and contribute to the inbox overload.

I sometimes wonder if it’s a generational thing? If other millenials see through this bullshit and hate it? But when I get a chance to actually hang out with my friends or actually go on a date with my wife, I don’t generally rush to discuss the Democratic party’s dire email copy. So I have no idea. It may very well be just me. But seriously, who writes this shit? And who responds positively to it?

*sigh* Lunch is over. Back to the remainder of my email.

The Compelling Fantasy That Is Stardew Valley

So while I was at PAX, my friend Taylor let me know that Stardew Valley is available for Mac. Perhaps it’s a holdover from my childhood, but I usually just assume that all the best games are PC only, even though that’s proven to be untrue in my adult life (Gone Home, anyone?). I purchased it almost immediately upon my return and have been playing it in the evenings and during the days I give myself off my near-constant stream of work. It’s been so addictive in a way that playing video games usually isn’t for me. Which of course has lead me to try to figure out why.

A lot of it is what Heather wrote, but with a few twists. The ability not to just destroy a corporation, but to completely ignore it. That’s a compelling fantasy for me. To be nearly untouched by Joja Soda has been lovely. I forgot they had a location in Pelican Town until I caught the sign out of the corner of my eye while fishing, tbh. The complete lack of engagement is exactly what I want.

I also kind of want an escape from the city right now? Everything is overwhelming and fast and there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, and I can’t say no to work because living in the city is expensive. So I can feel my hair turning grey strand by strand, like blades of grass popping up after a rainstorm except way less peaceful. The fantasy of fake country life is really compelling right now—where all I need to do to earn my living is catch enough fish and water enough plants, all while sitting down and listening to soothing music.

The magic aspect helps too. There are witches who fly on broom sticks and fairies and Void chickens and monsters and the idea that the mundane and the fantastic are intertwined. Yeah, that’s exactly what I want. Just a touch of elastic reality. Ugh. Wouldn’t it be nice if a fairy would drop by and do some of my work for me? I wouldn’t mind having a backyard with a Void chicken in it either, that’d be a conversation starter.

And make no mistake about it, the ease is definitely a fantasy. Farming is incredibly difficult. Even having a garden is too hard for me. So yeah, I’m super obsessed with this game. It’s going a long way toward de-stressing me.

Why I’m So Pumped About Editing Fictional Comics

So one of the gazillion things I do with my life is edit the cartoons that appear on Autostraddle. I have a really light touch on them; I’m really all about letting artists drive and I just try to steer them around potholes when necessary. So truly, madly, deeply, I cannot take credit for the two new things happening with Autostraddle’s art that organically popped up last two months. But I’m really psyched about it and so here we are. This isn’t Autostraddle talking. This is just me personally being excited, my opinions are my own.

First, Pam Buchanam pitched us a new fictional comic series a couple months back—it’s called 3 A.M., and it’s about a very strange job at a very strange drug store. I won’t say more than that. I don’t want to give away any spoilers. Pam knocked it out of the park with her first installment, and her second installment kept the mystery going. Commenters said they were hooked.

Then Megan Praz, one of the Saturday Morning Cartoonists, came back swinging after re-evaluating what it means to make art under a Trump regime. And she came back with fiction. Her new series is called The Force Non Blondes, and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. But it’s gonna be a delightful, spacey world with (if you’ve a keen eye) some familiar references to nerd culture touchstones.

Before this, every comic on Autostraddle except for Anna Archie Bongiovanni’s Grease Bats was a nonfiction memoir or journal comic. Sometimes stylized, sure, and made fantastical. But they were still mostly memoir in some respect. Now I love a good journal comic. I love the journal comics I edit (Yao, Cameron, Dickens and Alyssa are all GENIUSES). But my degree is in fiction. And in this case, in this community and this time, I feel like so much can be accomplished in fiction that would be difficult to do in nonfiction.

Characters in fiction, because they’re made up, are allowed to be wrong and messy. They’re allowed to do fucked up things sometimes and learn lessons from them or not. And they get away with that because they’re members of the imaginary world. When they act upon the other (fictional) people in their universe, the consequences are just as imaginary. Now I’m not saying fiction completely absolves the author or artist of the responsibility of being a good person and citizen, no. But we can examine warts without crucifying someone for revealing their deepest darkest mistakes in a journal comic. Because we are human people. And we make them. Maybe the artists I work with don’t, though, they’re pretty magic. Anyhow. Fiction gives some breathing room between the author and audience that might not otherwise exist in memoir. Plus fiction pushes back against the notion that, as queer creators, we must offer up our most marginalized experiences for consumption all the time. We can offer truth without offering tiny pieces of our own soul. And make no mistake, sometimes I write a personal essay, but often it’s about a sandwich that made my top three sandwiches list or about falling down while skiing. Though I live quite publicly, what I choose to make known is incredibly curated. I protect myself with fiction. I love fiction for that. And during this really horrid time in American politics? Where I smell burnout everywhere? Heck yeah, fiction. Bring on the fiction.

That’s all. Nothing grand or sweeping. I’m just happy to see fictional cartoons on Autostraddle (and, before that, in my inbox). I’m happy to see, firsthand, queer artists taking advantage of the advantages of the genre. It’s exciting, and it’s good to have things that are exciting in these dark times.

 

The Realest Lifestyle Blog: Lazy Summer Edition

Ah, if I were a lifestyle blog
The internet would be a more realistic place
Here are my picks right now
End of poem

Writing Letters to Counteract The Global Trashfire That Is 2016

A lot of my friends got letters from me in the past two weeks because 2016 is a flaming pile of poop in a bag left for us outside our front door to step on as part of some cruel prank. Mail makes everything just a little bit better. If I know you in real life and you did not get a letter and you would like one, poke me and make sure I haven’t lost your address because I’m a hot mess right now. Seriously, I checked my text messages and my Twitter DMs for Cecelia’s address and then finally Snapchatted her about it only to have her tell me it was lurking in my Facebook messages. Which begs the question: Is that on me or is there too much technology for messaging? Fuck messaging, write letters!

This Cross Fountain Pen That I Impulse Bought Because Retail Therapy

taken with my phone because who has time for anything else
taken with my phone because who has time for anything else

I’m struggling a little bit after graduate school—I do so many different projects and I’m having a little trouble making ends meet. So instead of being responsible, I purchased a fountain pen to make myself feel better. It’s black and white and it was only $20 so I suppose it’s not the worst thing I could’ve done. Then I got home and realized how much of my desk accoutrement are black and white, so at least I have a type.

Proper Lounge Wear

I didn’t realize that dedicated loungewear was missing from my life until my fiancée purchased these pants from Uniqlo and they were all I wanted. So when we got back from our holiday in Pennsylvania, I went and bought two pairs. They might be the first thing I’ve purchased from the women’s department in literal years.

Writing Three Separate Articles About Pokémon Go So I Can Play As Part of My Job

Self-explanatory. I wrote a review when it first came out, organized a queer pokégallery and one that hasn’t come out yet. So many people are complaining about poképosts and how we’re adults who should have better shit to do and blah blah blah I don’t care. The world is burning, let people have games.

DMing A Dungeons And Dragons Campaign For A Group Of People With MFAs in Creative Writing

Everyone is flawless. I’m writing a whole world for them and they’re lobbing that ball back with fantastic characters. I cannot WAIT to get them in a room for the first session. It’s coming. It’s so soon. I wrote this in the meantime.

The Realest Lifestyle Blog

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I were a lifestyle blogger. Then I remember that is a dum-dum-stupid idea, because I do not live with the amount of grace it takes to be a lifestyle blogger. I do not eat organic kale. My life isn’t an overexposed Instagram photo. I live, instead, with the grace of a hippopotamus eating a whole watermelon; the proverbial sweet guts are always spilling out from my toothy maw, all over my chin. I leave the seeds in my stomach to grow without care.

But if I had a lifestyle blog, it’d be the realest fucking lifestyle blog there is. Here are my lifestyle picks for the week/month, because let’s be real I’ve actually been meaning to do this post for a month and I’m such a hot mess that I couldn’t get it together until right the fuck now.

Fleeing Your Home Because You Do Not Have Time To Clean It

This has been happening for a month or so. I work from home, and I have the unfortunate and uncute personality quirk of needing to clean my entire apartment before I get any work done. My deadlines have been so hard and fast this month that, instead of doing that, I have left dirty dishes to rot in the sink and simply left. Thank fuck for libraries. I do not have to clean libraries.

Free Chapstick, Sunglasses

This has also been going on for the last month. I do not usually lose things, but this has been my month to lose things. It started at AWP, when I misplaced my chapstick. Luckily, I was presented with unflavored free VIDA chapstick and I continued to use it for days because I never changed my jeans and it was in the pocket. Fastbackward two weeks and I left my chapstick at home, but was at NY Tech Day and was once again presented with free chapstick, this time with .lgbt printed on it. I was all, MY PEOPLE, and I grabbed a green one. It tastes like green. I am still using it.

I also went to talk to the Via table at NY Tech Day both because I hate Uber and because they were giving away sunglasses, and wouldn’t you know it, I misplaced my nice fossil sunglasses? I wore them for the day, found my sunglasses, but have since misplaced my nice fossil sunglasses two more times and I still haven’t found them yet. I am now wearing free sunglass that say #ridewithvia on the side. But that’s fine. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before it scratches off, being that they are High Quality Sunglasses. The very fancy woodgrain is already starting to chip away at the bridge of my nose.

Spending Money You Barely Have Because It’s Independent Bookstore Day And Capitalism Has You By The Balls

Processed with VSCO with kk1 preset

 

Or because I love Book Culture so much. Plus I also lost my nice water bottle this month and had to replace it because I spend all my time fleeing my dirty apartment and I’m thirsty. Plus there was this great graphic novel called Baba Yaga’s Assistant, and I’m a sucker for all things Baba Yaga. Witches that eat children forever. I’ll just shift money over from my grocery budget. It’s fine.

Park Work; Animal Feces

 

Processed with VSCO with kk2 preset

Sometimes I work in the park. I’m working in the park right now. This month, I had a bunch of Amazon gift cards laying around, so I decided to upgrade my park game by purchasing a luxury picnic blanket by Freddie and Sebbie. And I love it. It’s marvelous. It’s so soft. It’s not tacky. It’s got a waterproof backing and comes with a nifty handle. So I went to work in Central Park with my new luxury picnic blanket. I invited a friend. She brought grapes and hummus and carrots and I worked on my novel for hours. For a hot minute there, I was living the life that one might hashtag “blessed.”

And then a bird pooped on me. I tried to live like an actual lifestyle blogger for one day and a bird pooped on me.

Dressing Like An Allie Brosh Cartoon

Ali-Allie

All photos taken with my iPhone because I don’t give a fuck.

What I’ve Been Up To Since Last August

Holy bananas, I haven’t posted since, what, August? Yup, August, when I announced I was a New School Teaching Fellow and would be teaching a class on how to exist on the internet for creative types of all stripes. Then the school year hit and I had time for literally nothing else, not even for updating my own blog—and I was teaching my undergraduates the importance of updating their own projects regularly! Mea culpa; life happened. Or really, school happened. Teaching was really difficult and rewarding! I did a lot of crying: after my first class ever, I stress ate a burrito and cried; once I cried on the floor of the writing office, sitting between two of my stunned classmates. That was Fall.

Spring, as in right now, is all about thesis. Our theses, as MFA candidates, are long fiction projects. My entire thesis group are working on novels, myself included. Well I’m just about done with my thesis—I just have to go over it for typos, print, bind it, have my advisor sign it once and for all and then BAM! I am done. So I’m working toward becoming a better, more stable human again. I used to be a stable human who got up early in the morning and actually answered emails. On Laneia’s recommendation, Abby and I both bought passion planners. I don’t know how I functioned without one. I’m making time for things outside of writing, which has greatly increased my sanity—I play boardgames and D&D weekly, and I’m practicing pie crust right now! But mostly, I want to make sure I keep y’all updated on the general goings on in my world: the pieces I’m proudest of, what I’m noodling around in my head, that kind of thing. I miss y’all. I miss putting a tiny piece of my brain out there without editing or larger points or things like that. So here I sit, in my local public library with my headphones in (for some reason, the whole world is here today and they’re all talking full volume WHY IS THIS HAPPENING) and I’m going to give you all a list of what I’ve been doing since August while trying not to eavesdrop on the people clearly having a FULL VOLUME meeting behind me.

quiet-this-is-a-library-o

  1. Most of my published writing lives on Autostraddle, but some things don’t! I was especially proud of The Pen Thing, an essay on my only truly obsessive compulsive behavior. It lives on Handwritten, a place in space for pen and paper. I love writing things out by hand—sometimes if I’m stuck on a post, I even write that out by hand—and if you love it too, you need to be reading Handwritten. And! They organized an event, so my essay was actually exhibited in an art gallery, which was a thing I never thought would happen. I was super pumped about it.
  2. I got interviewed over on My Remove Office about my work-from-home (or really, work-from-anywhere) setup. I didn’t realize I had a lot to share about working remotely, but it turns out, I do! Working remotely in a situation where I can set my own hours is legit the best thing for me, personally. I’m so glad there’s a growing culture of work-from-home-ers—so much so that there needs to be a website just for them.
  3. I interviewed Valeria Luiselli because her book, The Story of My Teeth, was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction. Because The New School hosts the awards, MFA candidates are offered the opportunity to interview nominees. This author is wonderful and her process for this book is so unique—please please please check her out.
  4. One of the things I’m proudest of that I’ve written on Autostraddle ever is this advice piece. I feel like I reached peak advice with it and worry that my advice-giving is all downhill from there.
  5. And lastly, I’ve been invited back next Fall to teach Personas: Cultivating a Creative Internet Presence again! I’m so thrilled—being a professor is a career goal of mine, and adjuncting is where that starts.

Just So You Know—

the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ buttons
at the cash register
at the Morton Williams on the corner
that check to make sure you’re sure
you’re sure
make me laugh.

 

The answer is
‘no, I have not had an aneurysm
since you told me how much
my milk, bread and tea cost.’