AJAX BELL

Author of the Queen City Boys books


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Resources for Just like Honey

In the author’s note of Just Like Honey I say that writing outside my own experience puts the burden on me to be mindful and respectful of the real life experiences of who I choose to write about. This is an incomplete list of research materials I read trying to understand enough of the Japanese-American experience to be able to believably write a 30-something, queer, yonsei man in the 1990s. I’ve included links where possible, mostly Amazon links, but I encourage you to make use of your libraries too.  (Library Extension is a great Chrome add-on to find books in your library.) I’ve listed these by type and then alphabetically.  Not ideal, but it’s a lot of info and sometimes the basic ways are best.

I also mention in my author’s note a group curated list, for self-teaching Asian American studies. Here is that link again. It was an excellent jumping off point for me, and includes other mediums (like film) that I don’t include here (though I did watch many of those movies as ‘research’).

Websites, Blogs, and Articles:

100 Must-Read Books by Asian Authors

27 Asian Leading Men Who Deserve More Airtime

A Chronicle of Lesbian and Gay Magazines A Timeline: 1897 – 2008

A Clockwork Trauma

After Internment Japanese American’s Right to Return

America’s Concentration Camps Resources

Ansel Adams’ internment camp photos

Art – Words To Use

Art History Resources: Japanese Art

Asian American Voices in Poetry

Asian in America with Jon Tsuei

Asian-American Men Are Sexy in Magic Mike Parody

Asian-Americans Respond

“Asian men in media are so desexualized”: Rising star Jake Choi fights the Hollywood odds against Asian American actors

At Home with Themselves: Sage Sohier’s Moving Portraits of Same-Sex Couples in the 1980s

BuzzFeed’s Eugene Lee Yang On Authenticity and Embracing Your Asian-ness

Children of the 90s: Fashion Fads

CHS Re:Take | The 10 on Pine and other forgotten buses of Capitol Hill

Claiming Space, Seattle’s Lesbian & Gay Historical Geography, 2004 :: Seattle Maps and Atlases

Densho Encyclopedia

Documentaries about Japanese American Incarceration you can Watch Online for Free Right Now

Hidden gay photo archive surfaces in new exhibit

Hiroshi Nagai Paintings

History of Japanese Americans – Wikipedia

History of the Japanese in Seattle – Wikipedia

HistoryLink.org- the Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History

How Asian-Americans Became Democrats

How Diversity Shapes Multiracial Experiences

How the Model Minority Myth Hurts Asian-American Elders

I always find the topic of Asian American culture fascinating when speaking to other AsAms.

I Used to Reject My Chinese Heritage, What Do I Do Now?

Immigration Act of 1924

Isn’t it time we thought beyond monogamy as the ideal, and normalised open relationships?

Larry Matsuda

LGBTQ Seattle Activism Project

NJAHS – National Japanese American Historical Society

November 24, 1985: The Colman School Occupation

Oregon Nikkei Endowment

QZAP – Queer Zine Archive

Roger Shimomura

Should I Open Up My Relationship?

The Best of Liquid Television Part 1

The Challenges and Joys of a Three-Way Relationship

The Gay Rights Movement and the City of Seattle during the 1970s

The Girls’ Bathroom in Honor of Codie Leone and the Art School Girls of Doom

The Immigrant’s Fate Is Everyone’s

The Lost Generation: From ‘The Joy Luck Club’ To ‘Crazy Rich Asians’

The Not-Quite-American Feeling of Being a 1.5 Generation Immigrant

The Visibility Project – A national portrait and oral story collection of Queer Asian American & Pacific Islander Women and Trans* community.

Top Ten Asian Pacific American Comics Characters

Vloggers Discuss What It’s Like To Be An Asian Man On Grindr

What’s Going On In There?

When Asian America was a Movement

Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience

Books and Journals:

A History of Japanese Art: From Prehistory to the Taisho Period, Tsuda, Noritake; Ph.D, Patricia Graham, North Clarendon, VT, Tuttle Publishing, 2009.

A view from the bottom: Asian American masculinity and sexual representation, Nguyen, Tan Hoang, Durham, Duke University Press, 2014.

American Born Chinese, Yang, Gene Luen, New York, Square Fish, 2008.

Asian American Artists in the Northwest, International Examiner, No. 18 (Sept 17, 1997).

Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People, Zia, Helen, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001.

Beacon Hill Boys, Mochizuki, Ken, New York, Scholastic Paperbacks, 2004.

Being Japanese American: A JA Sourcebook for Nikkei, Hapa & Their Friends, Asakawa, Gil, New York, United States, Stone Bridge Press, 2015.

But I Don’t See You as Asian: Curating Conversations about Race, Reyes-Chow, Bruce; Kemp-Pappan, Ryan , BRC Publications, 2013.

Charlie Chan Is Dead 2: at Home in the World, Kim, Elaine, New York, Penguin Books, 2004.

Claiming the Oriental Gateway: Prewar Seattle and Japanese America, Lee, Shelley Sang-Hee, Philadelphia, Temple University Press, 2012.

Creators on Creating: Awakening and Cultivating the Imaginative Mind, Barron, Frank; Montuori, Alfonso; Barron, Anthea, New York, TarcherPerigee, 1997.

Cruising the Movies: A Sexual Guide to Oldies on TV, McDonald, Boyd; Jones, William E., South Pasadena, CA, Semiotext, 2015.

Culture Clash: The Making of Gay Sensibility, Bronski, Michael, Boston, MA, South End Press, 1999.

Divided Destiny: A History of Japanese Americans in Seattle, Takami, David A., Seattle, Univ of Washington Pr, 1999.

Fearless Creating: A Step-by-Step Guide To Starting and Completing Your Work of Art, Maisel, Eric, New York, TarcherPerigee, 1995.

From Our Side of the Fence: Growing Up in America’s Concentration Camps, California, Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Northern, San Francisco, CA, Kearney St Workshop Pr, 2001.

Gay Seattle, Atkins, Gary, Seattle, University of Washington Press, 2003.

Geisha of a Different Kind: Race and Sexuality In Gaysian America, Han, C. Winter, New York, New York University Press, 2015.

Hal Fischer: Gay Semiotics: A Photographic Study of Visual Coding Among Homosexual Men, Fischer, Hal, Los Angeles, Cherry and Martin, 2015.

How to Look At Japanese Art, Addiss, Stephen, New York, Harry N. Abrams, 1996.

‘I’m American, not Japanese!’: the struggle for racial citizenship among later-generation Japanese Americans, Tsuda, Takeyuki , Ethnic and Racial Studies, February 2014, Vol.37(3), pp.405-424 .

Invisible Asian Americans: the intersection of sexuality, race, and education among gay Asian Americans, Ocampo, Anthony C.; Soodjinda, Daniel , Race Ethnicity and Education Volume 19, 2016 – Issue 3, 2016.

Looking Like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese American Internment Camps, Gruenewald, Mary Matsuda, Troutdale, Or, NewSage Press, 2005.

Midnight in Broad Daylight: A Japanese American Family Caught Between Two Worlds, Sakamoto, Pamela Rotner , Harper, 2016.

Mongrel: Essays, Diatribes, + Pranks, Chin, Justin , St. Martin’s Griffin, 2011.

Monstress Vol. 1, Liu, Marjorie; Takeda, Sana , Image, 2016.

Nikkei in the Pacific Northwest: Japanese Americans and Japanese Canadians in the Twentieth Century, Seattle, University of Washington Press, 2005.

Nisei Sansei, Takahashi, Jere , Temple University Press, 1998.

No-No Boy, Okada, John; Inada, Lawson Fusao; Ozeki, Ruth, Seattle, University of Washington Press, 2014.

Q & A: queer in Asian America, Eng , David L.; Hom, Alice Y., Philadelphia, Temple University Press, 1998.

Queering contemporary Asian American art, Kina, Laura; Bernabe, Jan Christian; Min, Susette; Lee, Kyoo, Seattle, University of Washington Press, 2017.

Same Difference, Kim, Derek Kirk, New York, First Second, 2011.

Serve the People: Making Asian America in the Long Sixties, Ishizuka, Karen; Chang, Jeff, London, Verso, 2016.

Shattered: The Asian American Comics Anthology, Yang, Jeff; Shen, Parry; Chow, Keith; Ma, Jerry, New York, The New Press, 2012.

Skim, Tamaki, Mariko; Tamaki, Jillian, Toronto ; Berkeley, Groundwood Books, 2010.

Social Solidarity Among the Japanese in Seattle, Miyamoto, Shotaro Frank, Seattle, Univ of Washington Pr, 1984.

Stubborn Twig: Three Generations in the Life of a Japanese American Family, Kessler, Lauren, Portland : Seattle, Oregon Historical Society Press, 2006.

Stuck Rubber Baby, Cruse, Howard, New York, DC Comics, 2000.

Take out: queer writing from Asian Pacific America, Bao, Quang, New York, NY, Asian American Writers’ Workshop : Distributed by Temple University Press, 2000.

The Accidental Asian: Notes of a Native Speaker, Liu, Eric, New York, Vintage, 1999.

The great unknown: Japanese American sketches, Robinson, Greg, Boulder, University Press of Colorado, 2016.

The Making of Asian America: A History, Lee, Erika, New York, Simon & Schuster, 2015.

The Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting: A Facsimile of the 1887-1888 Shanghai Edition, Hiscox, Michael J. , Princeton University Press, 2015.

The Right Side of History: 100 Years of LGBTQ Activism, Brooks, Adrian; Katz, Jonathan , Cleis Press, 2015.

The Rise and Fall of Gay Culture, Harris, Daniel, New York, Ballantine Books, 1999.

Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White, Wu, Frank, Princeton, N.J., Basic Books, 2003.


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What stories smell like

Scent memory is so much stronger for me than anything else and association is equally important. I have a few colognes I wear when writing certain characters. There are scents that can drive me completely away from a story or emotion. I’ve had a lot of life changes in recent years, personal growth left a new me who was never completely comfortable smelling like old me.

I spent a good nine months shopping for new cologne. Lots of samples, lots of fails. I’ve mostly resorted to CK One and CK Be because I enjoy smelling like 1996 and they are easy unisex scents.

But after so much trial and error I think I found two. Commodity’s ‘Book’ which looked interesting, obviously from the name, but also someone described it as smelling exactly like their grandparents’ house in the Pacific Northwest (shelves of books, evergreen forests, and a little marine air). And holy smoke does it ever. It smells like a hippie farm where I spent some of my childhood. Simultaneously greenly crisp and woodsy, and also like old books and worn wood (in a good way).

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The second one is TokyoMilk Curiositie No 68 ‘Tomorrow.’ Described as “marine salt and cypress” it smells exactly like a trip to the north Pacific coast: salt air, damp old trees, and sweet moss.

Now I smell both strange and delicious, genderless, and very much like home. These scents make me feel settled and comfortable, much more like myself than years of lavender and grapefruit (also good, but never quite perfect). I’ll keep the CKs for when I need to be less exotic, but what a delight it is to smell like a room full of old books in a Pacific coast rainforest.

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‘Book’ is a fantastic scent entrance into my next task of finishing the next Queen City Boys book, Bad Reputation. The main character, Shane, comes to Seattle from a small coastal town, more used to woods than concrete. To sit and write this story smelling of home, of coastal forests, and feeling a wistful sense of a missed home feels exactly perfect, the scent memory I needed to connect to my own words.


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It’s finally here!

My new novella, Star Quality is for sale on Amazon!  In September 2015 it’ll be available at all online retailers, but isn’t it great you can read it now? I mean, you know, if it’s your sort of thing.  It’s got a lot going for it though!  I mean who doesn’t want an m/m/m threesome, featuring an open marriage, a gfy/ofy character, and a brief bisexual interlude with a female character? Okay, definitely not for everyone, but at least two people like it so far:

“Boy oh boy you better be ready for some major hotness friends, because when these men come together, watch out!” -Bec, Bike Book Reviews

“A really enjoyable, sexy read and a very different follow-up to This Charming Man. Loved it!” -Leta Blake, author

And hey, it hasn’t even been out for 24 hours and already it’s #15 in bestsellers in its category! Wheee!

 

So I’m feeling pretty good!  Maybe you will too, if you go read it. And then you can come back and talk to me about it! Or not if you’re shy. That’s okay too.


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Fear the Kalends, let slide the Ides

The-Immortal-Ides-of-March-Denarius-Coin

“Ides” comes from the earliest Roman calendar, which is said to have been devised by Romulus, the mythical founder of Rome. Whether it was Romulus or not, the inventor of this calendar had a penchant for complexity. The Roman calendar organized its months around three days, each of which served as a reference point for counting the other days:

Kalends (1st day of the month)
Nones (the 7th day in March, May, July, and October; the 5th in the other months)
Ides (the 15th day in March, May, July, and October; the 13th in the other months)
The remaining, unnamed days of the month were identified by counting backwards from the Kalends, Nones, or the Ides. For example, March 3 would be Five Nones—5 days before the Nones (the Roman method of counting days was inclusive; in other words, the Nones would be counted as one of the 5 days).

Used in the first Roman calendar as well as in the Julian calendar (established by Julius Caesar in 45 B.C.E.) the confusing system of Kalends, Nones, and Ides continued to be used to varying degrees throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance.

So, the Ides of March is just one of a dozen Ides that occur every month of the year, it was only Shakespeare’s words that give it meaning, made it a threat. Kalends, the word from which calendar is derived, is more threatening to our current existence. Kalendrium means account book in Latin: Kalend, the first of the month, was in Roman times as it is now, the date on which bills are due.

"Sousse mosaic calendar March" by Ad Meskens - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons


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Can you tell what it is just by looking?

The defining factor of so many books is Genre. It’s an excellent way to find the stories you want to read, to find community who shares your literary wishes. You know how it is, you’re talking to a co-worker and discover you both love reading. Giddy with the connection you ask what they are reading, and then it’s crashing disappointment when you discover their deep love is True Crime and you’re all about hard Sci-fi. Sure your Aunt May reads constantly, but it’s all Mysteries and you’re not interested in those so much, even if you’ve read a few you like.

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Genre matters, even when we read in multiples genres it still defines the kind of stories you’re getting, what you expect from the book. There’s a framework to every genre, a structure, bones it’s built upon. Plenty of authors play with these rules, bend them, flex them, but books are generally all categorized, so at the end of the day, even the bendiest of books have the bones of their genre underneath.

But not always, some books fall between the cracks. I’ve written a book that lives between those cracks (heh, I said it was in the crack). M/M Romance is a very specific but tricky to define genre. It is built on the bones of Romance and at its core it is about two people meeting and finding love together, and the trials they go through to win/earn that love, to end with a romantic happily ever after. There’s bleed over with Gay Lit. M/M Romance is, after all, love stories about two men so the gay is built right in. But Gay Lit is its own genre. Sure love stories can appear, but it spans more than relationships. It is nebulous, and I’m not sure I can define it exactly. A literary umbrella that includes centuries of stories, classics and pulp fiction alike. Coming-of-age stories, coming out stories, thrillers, and literary fiction. Someone who loves M/M Romance may well love Gay Lit too, but someone looking for M/M Romance (the Romance part anyway) may find themselves disappointed in much of Gay Lit. Marshall Thornton, Jeff Erno, and many others have written about this distinction with more clarity than I’m giving here.

My book, This Charming Man, straddles the line. It contains a love story, but it is not a Romance. It has a coming-of-age story, but it is perhaps too close to erotica in it’s explicitness to be considered literary by any stretch. A no man’s land of marketing for this book. Sold as M/M Romance it’ll surely disappoint some readers looking to focus on that connection between characters. But is it too sexy, too explicit to be “Lit”? Does the love story element in it mean readers avoiding Romance will dismiss it, not realizing it might have what they are looking for? It is, I suppose, a bisexual book, claimed and disdained by both sides. I wonder though, if there’s any clearer way to tell readers what they are in for when they open it?

TCM-inner


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Last time I saw you we had just split in two

Hedwig01

John Cameron Mitchell is returning to the stage as Hedwig. I’d heard rumors but nearly peed my pants when I saw the announcement yesterday. Yes, I already spent this year’s discretionary income to go to NYC and see Neil Patrick Harris as Hedwig, but I’ve bought tickets to go again February 2015. I can’t miss this. And I can’t explain it easily, but seeing JCM in the role, live, finally, feels incredibly important to me.

In 2001 when the movie came out I was aware of the theatrical production, but not really aware of JCM yet, as I lived on the other side of the country and just the idea of going to NYC was barely realized. I was 28, already married to a man, divorced from him, and dating women. Through high school I had mostly dated men, not entirely, but close, I didn’t really come out until I was getting divorced. But Hedwig and the Angry Inch was something different for me, it was literally the first time I can remember sexualizing male bodies. Having sex with men is one thing (expected of you if you’re born female and presumed straight, really), sexualizing men is entirely different. Ironic, really, that it was John Cameron Mitchell as Hedwig that really turned my eye to men. Hedwig is important to me for a lot of reason, as it is, I’m certain, to hundreds of thousands of people the world over, but more than just the show, the take away from it, what it represents, is this feeling of recognizing something in myself, about myself. This weird part of my brain always whispers that my sexuality is John Cameron Mitchell. Not gay, or bi, or queer (how I usually identify) but just JCM. I know, it sounds crazy, but back to New York I go, regardless of expense, of whatever I have to sacrifice to get there.

Hedwig02

I was entirely emotionally overwhelmed watching Neil Patrick Harris perform as Hedwig last summer. If my companion, Punny, had tried to speak to me during the show I probably would have burst into tears. I had so many emotions simmering so close to the surface. For days afterwards I felt like my heart was swollen with joy, like falling in love. I don’t know what to expect from JCM. I do know I have to be there. Friends are flying to NYC from all over the country to see it with me that day, because Hedwig is as important to them as it is to me. Hedwig has changed my life twice already. Hopefully the third time is even more charmed.

Hedwig3


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Vale, Leslie Feinberg

(An open letter to Leslie Feinberg on the occasion of hir death.)

lesliefeinbergprotestThank you for teaching us to live by our convictions and be who we are. Thank you for being a true revolutionary. Thank you for being. Thank you for loving. Thank you for sharing.

With all my gratitude and love I will pay this kindness you’ve given the world back in turn, by being better, by doing better, by living by my convictions and trying to change the world.

 

(I was going to add a book link to Stone Butch Blues, where my journey with Leslie started and discovered this fucking bullshit, so instead visit hir site. I get that the book is out of print and in demand, but what the ever-loving fuck.)


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A face with a name

Years ago, when I started writing in earnest, it was mostly fanfiction. A valid artistic expression and an excellent writing exercise because it focuses on story and making the story work. Setting, character and all already exist in a given canon for fanfic. Character description is often limited to facial expressions and a passing mention of hair color. No need for more because everyone in your fandom knows what your characters look like.

When I set out to write original fiction I spent a lot of time casting my Queen City Boys after I had my plots in order. Maybe as some leftover from writing fic I needed that visual, I needed to see faces, really know my characters. It was definitely useful, in any given scene, to look at the picture pinned above my desk and do description from that. And it was, honestly, an amusing procrastination tool. If I wasn’t writing I could claim to still be working: hey, I’m casting! Which involves scrolling through endless pictures of good looking people, win-win!

Eventually I cast even side characters when I was procrastinating. Still some choices were never quite right, but others were perfect. Steven Frazier from This Charming Man was easy. Here he is:

StevenFrazier1

This picture captures him perfectly for me. His attitude, his beauty. It is is exactly as he looked in my head, as he came to me. Still the model in this picture, Dieter Truppel, really only looks sort of like my imagination of Steven. Half his pictures don’t suit at all, but enough. And really I only need on picture to cast from anyway (though finding more is joy, more pretty and more procrastination).

My editor, Annie, read a draft of the book, long before I shared any of my own casting. Much of the story actually takes place in her neighborhood and she keeps insisting that she sees Steven on the street. I love the idea that he’s out there now, living in other people’s heads and appearing as if I called him into being.

My character John Pieters appears across the Queen City Boys books. This series, as it unfolds spans four decades so that added a hitch to casting. I need John at 20, at 45, at 60. This limits casting if I want a picture at each age. I did finally cast John, though it isn’t perfect. I have such a clear picture of him in my head, at every age, of exactly who he is and I’ve never found a picture that was close. For John I cast like I would for a movie: good enough. But it doesn’t match my vision and indeed probably won’t match reader’s vision of him. I tried to write him so the reader could make their own John and decide whether he looks like Paul Newman, Daniel Craig, Alexander Skarsgård, Campbell Scott, Anderson Cooper, or Jorge Gelati. (Of all these perhaps that specific picture of Jorge Gelati is closest to what is in my head, but no, still not quite perfect.)

The amount of time I spent on casting (*ahem* procrastination) eventually bled over into casting places as well. It’s all compiled, however inadequate, on Pinterest now. It was a great for me to visit while writing, to think about places (many of which don’t exist anymore since I’m writing about Seattle twenty years ago), and to see my characters all together. It made it much easier to spend even more time day dreaming about them. I’m working on the other books in the series, pinboards already filled with casting of upcoming stories, vast new spaces for me to procrastinate in.

And of course, because I am me, I am utterly ridiculous, and I find even more ways to procrastinate and play with my characters when I should be doing other things:

TCMchibi

 

Because who doesn’t love anime? Or because I love anime anyway. In fact my love of anime is what started this whole universe in my head, but that’s a story for another rainy afternoon.


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The End of Writing (before I start again)

I wrote a book and I like it. It’s a book I want to read. Which I guess is why I wrote it? And yet here, on the cusp of publishing, I’m paralyzed with insecurity. I guess the old chestnut is true, being an artist is the intersection of flagrant, narcissistic ego and devastating, debilitating insecurity. The closer my writing comes to the reality of being an actual book, the more I’m waffling between the two. Some days I’m unabashedly proud of what I’ve accomplished and of my simple, sweet little story. Other days I’m certain I’m setting myself up for humiliation and my beta readers just won’t tell me how stinky my book really is.

How it feel sint he middle of writing. You've taken a vow and you might never get laid again.

How it feels in the middle of writing: you’ve taken a vow and you might never get laid again.

Writing a book was equally exhilirating and exhausting. I’m dragging my feet right now on committing to really starting the next one (plenty of research to distract me until I have no excuses left to keep me from writing) because this time I know what I’m in for and it’s harder to jump right in. And yet there has been so much I didn’t anticipate. Like all the waiting. So much waiting before publishing. I’m waiting on some translation, on cover design, on beta readers and editors. And even when that’s all through, I think I’ll still be waiting on myself to know it’s really ready to go. Leta tells me you’re never really done with a book: there’s publishing, there’s promo, there’s always something left to do. But really I think there’s levels of done. I’m looking forward to the “this is packaged and ready to distribute” level of doneness with this book, so I can stop fretting over the details of creation and start worrying about if other people will like it or not.

One day I'll hold one of these of my very own

One day I’ll hold one of these of my very own


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On Pen Names and Secret Identities

Why a pen name? The obvious answer is that if you’re writing romance or erotica, it’s separating your writing from your day job.  But even if I didn’t have a day job I’d still use a pen name.  There’s lots of good reasons like branding, and if you write in two very distinct genres you want to keep them separate (essentially brand them with the name you write each with, so I guess that’s still branding).

takano04For me it’s also because I just like names. I grew up in an age of the internet when we were all anonymous, there was no Facebook, we didn’t put our real names on anything. I’ve never been good at coming up with clever internet handles, but I love when other people do. I love the expressiveness of choosing your own name. And the ability to change it like an outfit. As evidenced by the many I’ve had in the last ~20 years: jax, pinklady, starcat, stoneprincess, jayjay, evereadysmile and now flickerjax (and several variations on my real name).

A pen name is a little different. It’s lasting, forever tied to whatever work you created it for. It can’t be changed like a url or a handle. I went through a dozen choices of what to use for the works I’m currently writing and finally settled on one that I think fits the ‘brand’ of the stories and fits me.  I chose a traditionally masculine name (about 9/12 of my list of choices were masculine) not because I’m hiding behind it while writing m/m romance (a quick perusal of this blog or my FB will reveal almost immediately that I’m not a guy). I picked it because I love the name and it reflects me in a way I like. And perhaps because in real life my first name is “masculine” this feels more comfortable. Most traditionally feminine names felt more fake to me than my final choice: Ajax Owen Bell.

My imaginary son is in the ether somewhere thankful he was never born to me because this probably would have been his first and middle names. Actually that was the only thing that made me hesitate about it, but I have no reason to save the name for a child, so I took it for myself. It feels comfortably like my name, correct in a way other choices I weighed never did. They all felt false and thin, but this is solid for me, like this is a name that I already somehow own.

If you’re looking for Ajax Bell, you can find me other places online (psst, over in the sidebar).  Facebook, necessarily separated from my “real life” account, mostly to protect my grandmother from anything more offensive than what I already post, and because my day job coworkers probably aren’t interested in gay romance writing. And of course I’m on the endless rabbit hole of time wasting that is Tumblr. Follow if you like, but fair warning, it’s mostly gay porn, mermaids, and Tokio Hotel in my feed and it gets graphic at times (I do tag because without Tumblr Savior all civility is lost to the world) and my tags probably expose a level of insanity I should be ashamed of (but I’m not, bring on the gay porn German pop star mermen and my ramblings about them, yeah).

Anonymity on the internet is clearly a relic of the past, gone but still mourned. Identity is something else entirely. I think it’s fair to say the person I am when I wake up early and go slog at my office all day is different from the fangirl gleefully watching endless eps of Looking and Orphan Black while reblogging Bob’s Burgers gifs. I have no problem at all with the idea that I need different spaces, different names and (ugh) different brands for those identities.  So here I am, yes it’s me. Still me, no matter what you call me, but if we’re friends (and we are, aren’t we?) feel free to call me JJ no matter what space we’re in.

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I been missing you, hope you’re missing me

Wow, so yeah I haven’t really been blogging at all recently, huh? Maybe it’s time to start again.

I’ve been complaining lately to friends about how much I miss LiveJournal. The heyday of it anyway, since it still exists. Recently I’ve watched a lot of movies and TV that I want to squee with someone about.  I miss my old LJ community, a group wide, deep, and diverse enough that at least surely a couple people would be interested in talking to me about which Korean dramas I’m watching, about German pop-glamrock bands, about anime, and about why I might be the only person left who still enjoys Supernatural (do I enjoy it because I watch it in a void without fandom’s influence? I may never know).  But now I feel like I’m just shouting into the void or pestering my friends with things they don’t care about but indulge my babbling out of love (which is actually kind of awesome in it’s own way).

Lacking that community I’ve been trying to seek out folks I lost in the diaspora years ago. Looking the Tumblrs and the Twitters, poking around sites I last saw faces I recognized, but everyone has moved on to unknown fandoms, has changed their names, or otherwise I’ve forgotten how to recognize them.  Which is kind of sad, but won’t stop me from continuing to shout into the void.

So I’ve been watching Ouran High School Host Club (OMG Hitachiin twins!) in fits and starts, mostly when I work out.  Which it’s totally not conducive to working out because I find I’ve often slowed or stopped and am staring at the TV, slack jawed.  I mean really it’s like an entire anime made up of nothing but fanservice.  And layers of meta so deep you need hip waders to get through it.  Somehow despite how obvious it’s pandering is, it’s still gripping and smart enough that I actually care about all the characters.

I found this amazing academic paper, which didn’t tell me much I didn’t know about OuranHSHC, but it did prove that I made major misstep in my life by not going into a field where I got paid to teach and write about things like anime and manga.

Man, this show is so weird.  It gets as much right as it does wrong and I’m not sure you’d really enjoy it if you weren’t already familiar with anime and boy’s love manga. Or maybe you’d love it and be super disappointed when everything else didn’t turn out to be like the crazed, ridiculousness this anime is.  It’s on Netflix, subbed or dubbed, and I think everyone should watch it and come contemplate Mori-san’s love for Honey-sempai with me. We can talk about how every episode is more batshit crazy than the last. It’s just nuts. Nuts only my fangirl homegirls would really understand. If only I could find them all again.

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There is so much more love in the world than you can conceive of

Let’s talk about Tom Daley coming out. For those of you who don’t know (I’m assuming a possibility that the media storm about it has only been in the kind of online circles I travel in) Tom Daley is an Olympic Diver from the UK who came out this week in a very sweet little video (link has a transcript if you don’t have patience for a video). I’m very proud of him for his brave act, but I’m more interested in the responses I’m seeing in the media and in comments I’m seeing on stories about this. Really I just want to address the common responses I’m seeing.

1) “It’s no one’s business who he loves.” While in an ideal world this is true. Tom says it himself in his video that in a perfect world he wouldn’t have to do this. I wish he didn’t. But he does because all over the world people are still persecuted, punished, stigmatized, shunned and even killed because of who they love. Coming out is the only way to combat that. When your family, friends, and public figures that you admire make public statements about who they love it makes the entire idea of queerness less threatening. It opens a conversation to help everyone understand that two women or two men getting married isn’t a threat to anyone’s way of life. Because, yes, who your partner is IS a private thing, but it can’t be a quiet thing until we’ve made society at large safe for every one in it. Visibility is key to safety and coming out is key to visibility. So, of course it’s no one’s business who Tom Daley spends time with but until he and everyone queer is 100% safe then public coming outs will stil matter, will still mean something. It’s fine if YOU don’t have a problem with it, but it is important to recognize that your support is much more meaningful than dismissing it as something that is “no one’s business.”

2. Tom Daley “still fancies girls.” This so important and so complicated. Headlines say, “Tom Daley comes out as gay!” People angrily respond that he obviously came out as bisexual since he made a point about liking girls. Headlines say, “Tom Daley comes out as bisexual!” People angrily respond that he did not label himself, so we should not label him, besides he’s young and this probably just his way of easing into gayness or not ostracizing part of his fanbase. This is such an important conversation and it’s important especially because it’s happening. Whether Tom is gay, bisexual or something else actually is no one’s business. He’s been clear that he is with a man, he is very happy and he feels safe and supported in the relationship. That’s all that matters. So why are we arguing about the label? Because bisexuality is a real thing and it is often ignored or erased. Erasure happens because if a person likes boys and girls they generally pair up with one or the other and immediately become identified as gay or straight. Bisexual men are frequently told that they are just not yet fully admitting that they are gay. Bisexual women are often told that they are attention seeking, confused, or just slutty. Homosexuals are as guilty of these responses as the straight majority is. So when Tom Daley says he fancies girls at a time when he does not need too (everyone is going to say he’s gay anyway, everyone knows he’s with a man, so why temper it with mentioning girls?) it matters because it opens to conversation about how sexuality isn’t binary. It isn’t just gay or straight. There’s a whole huge spectrum out there that goes beyond the Kinsey scale. What it boils down to is that it still shouldn’t matter who someone’s partner is, but it does matter that they feel supported in their lives. We’ve been making some strides with gay marriage. As a society we are becoming more comfortable with lesbians and gay men in public spaces. But the whole array of human sexuality, the bisexuals, transgendered, genderqueer, asexual and whole host of other possibilities are still invisible. So when Tom Daley says he’s fancies girls he’s allowing for public conversation, allowing for visibility for everyone who hasn’t yet been invited to the table of acceptance.  No, it doesn’t matter how we label him as an individual, it isn’t our business, but it is our business to pay attention and to listen to our friends and family so we can better understand how they identify and make them feel safe as well.

So congratulations, Tom Daley, on your new found happiness, and thank you for making important conversations possible.

On a more shallow note, holy smokes, Tom Daley is beautiful and his boyfriend is so handsome! And they seem so smart and thoughtful. There haven’t been many present day celebrity romances that have me me all fluttery, but this feels very old school romancey to me, very Bogart and Bacall. I’ll be over here sighing, with cartoon hearts in my eyes, every time I see a picture of them.


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40 years in a world which I cannot find a reflection of myself

In past years I have always done a 30 day birthday countdown, giving myself a birthday month essentially.  I didn’t do it this year, not by design, but because this year seems to have snuck up on me, like where did the last three months of my life go?  How is it April already?  How is it the end of April already? Ack ack ack!  Rewind, I’m not ready!

But ready or not, here it is, a mere 6 days away, the big 4-0.  I have no issues about turning 40.  Or rather the issues I have are not the expected ones.  Since I was 16 I’ve imagined 40 as being this magic barrier that I would cross and then suddenly be taken seriously as a woman.  Surely no one is surprised that that magic barrier is both moveable and non-existent.

I'm pretty sure that what I see in the mirror is the reverse of this.

I’m pretty sure that what I see in the mirror is the reverse of this.

For many years I’ve attributed the way I’m treated in the workplace (and sometimes the wider world) as a factor of my youth or my youthful appearance.  I have worked hard in sub-par professional jobs most of my adult life, been under employed continuously in relation to my intelligence, knowledge and skills.  This, I believe, is a factor not just of my lack of ambition but the economic lows which have plagued my generation. But the longer I work the more barriers I run into that make me wonder how much my gender has also kept me pushed down. I’ve never felt like any employer has given me a chance to show what I  can really do.  I’ve felt a vague sense of being patted on the head told that I’m cute for working so hard, that it’s resented when I try to wield what power I have, that I’m valued much more for appearance than for my work (or not as valued when my appearance doesn’t meet some standard I’ll never understand).  These are things that I’ve started to see as failings of my (mostly male) employers and of society as a whole, rather than my own shortcomings. I find myself in conflict with coworkers merely because I’ve politely asserted myself.  I long ago let go of the false persona that tries to please everyone (as women are raised to do) and instead focus on the task at hand and the best way to get it done.  I’m told that I’m too brusque and business-like, that I need to make myself sweeter and more likeable (ask my friends, I’m plenty sweet and likeable when it counts).  No man has ever been asked to bake for clients to appease them (um, unless baking is his job). On the eve of 40 I can definitively say that it’s simply because I’m a woman that I am told to  to be kinder, sweeter and less demanding of perfection at work.

This doesn't empower me because I'm neither maiden, mother nor hag and we revere none of these in our society.

This doesn’t empower me because I’m neither maiden, mother, nor hag and we revere none of these in our society.

At 16 I had imagined 40 as some marker where I’d be strong, capable and wise, and no longer recognized as a sexual object and therefore able to speak powerfully and be taken seriously.  And there is a little truth to this.  Very, very slowly it’s becoming more true (thank you, Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren and strong outspoken women everywhere) but it certainly isn’t cultural norm yet (why are we discussing these women’s hairstyle in the news and not their jobs and qualifications?).  Women are still infantilized, particularly in my specific location (in the American South, working in construction, still a predominantly male industry).  As a society we have not made the strides toward equality and justice that I expected to see in my lifetime.  Growing up in the 70s we were all fed the “truths” that the world would keep changing at an expeditious rate and we could grow up to anything.  Which I guess is almost true, assuming you have the right stack of privilege, luck and opportunity behind you.   Yes, it’s been great to be alive to see all sexual orientations start to get their due, but what about the rest of us, the people of color, women, all the other marginalized groups?  How long will we be stuck in some moderately polished up versions of the historical roles society forces on us?

I thought we were charging forward to change but we lost our way sometime around 1984.

I thought we were charging forward to change but we lost our way sometime around 1984.

I meant this to be personal not political, (but the personal is, oh you know…) but I can’t avoid it because at nearly 40 I know much more of the world than I did at 16 and now I can see that the problem isn’t small with only me as its isolated victim.  It’s vast and keeping us all down and it’s shaped me over the years to dream of something better for anyone.  Where once I wanted to be taken seriously as person, now I wish to be taken seriously as a gender.  I want to live to see my sisters equally represented in positions of power.  I want our governing bodies, the world over, to truly represent our whole society.  Give me 51 female senators and 218 female representatives in my own country’s federal government.  Give all my sisters equal pay and equal opportunities or rise to commercial positions of power.  Bring us all up and punish those who strive to keep us down through sexual and physical violence, through words and actions, so that we may have justice with equality.  For my next 40 years that is my fondest wish, to live to see a world in which women can see a reflection of their true selves.

More easily attainable is my fondest wish for the immediate future: time off to hang out with my friends and family, cute outfits to wear and feel confident in, trashy TV to watch, and maybe a little celebration. I will work on my ability to find ways to always fit those things into my life, because even as half of me always seems to be raging at the system, at the news, at the pit of ignorance our society has fallen into, I am still human and it is the small things that bring me joy.  And isn’t joy (not love or money or happiness) what makes life worth living and gives us all the strength to keep fighting for a world where peace is easier to find for everyone?  For my part I will continue to redefine beauty and style to be personal and not a mask of society’s creation. I will challenge everyone I meet to judge me for who I am and what I can do and not on my appearance.  I will call out those who keep us down in speech and actions.  I will volunteer where I am needed, help those who cannot help themselves and try as hard as I can to model the behavior I hope to see from everyone.  I will relax sometimes, and enjoy the good still in the  world.  After all, I’m 40 now, it’s party time on the other side of that magic barrier.

I'd like to live a life of no regrets, but I don't even know this guy and I regret that he got this tattoo.

I’d like to live a life of no regrets, but I don’t even know this guy and I regret that he got this tattoo.


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Summer Begins

Scrolling back through entries here I see I’ve often posted at length on the Winter Solstice, but not for the Summer.

Summer begins at 6:09pm.  In Middle Tennessee, the sun today rose at 5:30am, then sets at 8:07pm, giving us 14.6 hours of sunlight.  The longest day of the year.

I’ve always had a complicated relationship with the Summer Solstice.  Here in Tennessee I feel a little cheated, perhaps because of our latitude.  If I was in Seattle today I’d have a full 16 hours of daylight, being so much further north.  It is one of the glorious delights of the North, the drastic changes in the amount of light make you value the seasons.  It somehow gives you more visible seasonal drama beyond mere temperature changes and plants returning to life.  And yet, even in the Great North I always felt the Summer Solstice to be somewhat bittersweet.

The light diminishes after flaring it’s brightest on this day.  In Tennessee it means less in than it does in the North, as it will never get as dark in winter, so there is less burden to bear on that end.  Indeed, the longest days of summer are still ahead of us, if we are measuring by heat, laziness and availability of good food cooked outside on a grill.  But the light passing has always felt like loss to me.  A downward journey that eventually ends in the darkness of winter.  The beauty of autumn is joy to behold.  As is the desolation of winter in it’s own way.  Still today feel like an ending, a turn we took, walking away from spring. Fortunately spring will return next year, no matter what we do, and on the Winter Solstice we can look longingly at the slow the return of the light,  knowing that spring must come on the heels of the sun’s return.

I don’t know the origins of my dark view of midsummer.  Perhaps growing up so far north, where the loss of the sun means so much darkness.  Perhaps it’s burned in genetic memory from my Scandinavian and Scottish ancestors.  It’s no mystery that the Scandinavian cultures, and for northern European ones, celebrate Midsummer as a massive festival.  Because indeed today feels massive, like the most there is, the best you can have, ALL the sunlight.  And yet it is only today, quickly fleeting, like everything in life.


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An open letter to Sherman Alexie

Just read a line in a Sherman Alexie story about standing in line at Bartell’s and suddenly I’m so homesick I’m not sure I can live through the heartbreak of it. In my head I ask Sherman Alexie if he imagines how many of his throw away lines profoundly affect people?  I think of every word I’ve put out there, every bit of fiction I’ve written, and no one has ever come back to me with the important words, with the phrases that I labored over, they only come to tell me about the how they were moved by my fast lines, the ones that drop out, that I don’t consider at all before I put them to paper.

Perhaps the lines I don’t labor over mean the most, come more truly from me?  Perhaps there is no meaning in any of it and will just keeping spilling out words, looking for the turn of phrase that will free my soul and find it someday.  Perhaps Sherman Alexie labored over that line and still will never know will never know how his two sentences made me break my own heart.  I could write him a letter and tell him, but I would labor too hard over the words, I would lose the importance of sharing what he gave me.  I have always been writing this letter to him in my head, through out the years, every time I read his stories and poems.  A letter that never makes it to paper, to computer screen, never achieves more than some small form of therapy for me.

I am talking to Sherman in my head (can I call you, Sherman, I feel we are close enough now) about my homesickness, about how I cannot ever really understand where he is from and he cannot understand how I am from where he is now.  I tell him it is a continuum that no one but me can see, a story that can’t quite be told, but is important all the same.  And the The Butchies pop up on shuffle on the old mp3 player and I start to cry because this is more homesickness than a soul can bear.  But this makes me get up and start to cook dinner: fettuccine alfredo with smoked salmon (real, PNW smoked salmon), peas and caramelized onions.  Because I am homesick and if I lived close enough that I could call my mom and ask if I could come over she would walk to me to a restaurant near her house (one Sherman Alexie has surely been too) and I would order some variation of this dish because you don’t really find it anywhere else in the world, not the way we make it in Seattle.

And while I am chopping onions the mp3 player turns again and gives me Kevin Gordon singing Watching the Sun Go Down, and I remember how I stopped at 6:42 am, on my way to work, to photograph the sunrise over an electrical power station, and got distracted by some horses too.  I think of how the redbuds are surely more beautiful this year than they have ever been before, blooming riotously, everywhere, making the edges of every roadway glow purple.  I think of how  the heat in Tennessee makes me feel warm all the way through to my bones, like I’ve never been warm before.

So I tell Sherman that he is lucky indeed, to be able wait in line at Bartell’s, but he has to go through cold rain to get there and I am saved by the sun  and the green in spring and the sounds, all the sounds, here in the dirty South.  Perhaps I am homesick for a place that no longer exists.  A place I visited, moved through in childhood, that is just a fairytale now, I can not go back.  My adult self does not have the magic to cross back over the boundaries of the places I’ve been before, I can only go to new places or create them myself. And I’m still crying when I sit down to eat my dinner, but not because I miss anything.  I am so lucky to have been so many places, both real and imagined. Lucky to be me and to be still so full of emotions good and bad (love) about all of those places I have been and the people in them.  Even the rude lady in the Bartell’s line that you have to tell to fuck all the way off.  So thanks, Sherman, for reminding of my home, the past one, the new one, the one that is always me and goes everywhere inside my heart.  I’m certain that you never knew that namedropping Bartell’s in a story would make some girl in Tennessee break out the fancy smoked salmon from way back home and cook herself a good dinner on a night when she would otherwise have been too tired, too worn down by work, to do more than make a quesadilla.  Thanks for dinner, Sherman, I really feel like we are close now.

 

(Pictures taken early this morning in Tennessee, when I stopped, before I even had coffee, to remember that there is beauty in the world.  Even when you feel like you break to pieces because of the stress that swirls around you and puts the anxiety inside you, there is still the color purple and leaves that were not that green yesterday and sunrises.  The redbuds really are spectacular this year.)


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In which I tell you that Kalends are surely more dangerous than Ides

The Ides of March

The term Ides comes from the earliest Roman calendar, which is said to have been devised by Romulus, the mythical founder of Rome. Whether it was Romulus or not, the inventor of this calendar had a penchant for complexity. The Roman calendar organized its months around three days, each of which served as a reference point for counting the other days:

Kalends (1st day of the month)
Nones (the 7th day in March, May, July, and October; the 5th in the other months)
Ides (the 15th day in March, May, July, and October; the 13th in the other months)
The remaining, unnamed days of the month were identified by counting backwards from the Kalends, Nones, or the Ides. For example, March 3 would be Five Nones—5 days before the Nones (the Roman method of counting days was inclusive; in other words, the Nones would be counted as one of the 5 days).

Used in the first Roman calendar as well as in the Julian calendar (established by Julius Caesar in 45 B.C.E.) the confusing system of Kalends, Nones, and Ides continued to be used to varying degrees throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance.

So, the Ides of March is just one of a dozen Ides that occur every month of the year. Kalends, the word from which calendar is derived, is another exotic-sounding term with a mundane meaning. Kalendrium means account book in Latin: Kalend, the first of the month, was in Roman times as it is now, the date on which bills are due.


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Filler

I wouldn’t say I’ve been too busy to blog, but you know, just too lazy.  And I have so many things to share.  Alas I won’t be sharing most of them here, because I still need to take or edit pictures and think about what to say and blah blah blah blah.

In the meantime, I’ve got a million tabs open with other things I’m thinking about, so it’s best I think to share some of them here so I can clear my head of them.

1.  I can’t stop coming back to this picture.  Firstly, Clint Eastwood is sexy.  Period. At any age. But, um, WOW, this is above and beyond.  Secondly, this picture so harkens to a long gone by era that it makes me incredibly wistful for time when I wasn’t even alive.  Fortunately I figured out how to hack my Kindle, so I can make this one of the screensavers.  It’s the little things in life, people.

2. Go listen to this Kevin Gordon song.  I’ve seen him play it live at least half a dozen times and every time the room goes quiet like people realize that something is happening, like really happening.  It’s a moving song that also touches on time gone by, and puts you right back into it, even if you didn’t live it the first time.  Take some time to listen, this isn’t a background song, this is a slow build up, get involved in listening song.

3.  The UN says women’s right to make choices about their own bodies is a basic human right.  On the one hand I’m pleased with this though I doubt it will make any immediate impact in any women’s lives.  On the other hand I’m appalled that we still live in a world where this is even in question at all.  And not just in poor, “backwards” nations or countries under religious rule, but in our own land of the free.  It is my basic human right to make choices about my body, how are we still having this discussion.

4.  Coffee duck from The Oatmeal:

5. It’s my dearest, oldest, closest friend’s birthday today.  Even if you don’t know her, imagine the sister that made me who I am today and do something nice for someone you love in honor of friendships that cross the years and the miles.  I love you, Boots!


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Book, book, book, movie!

I have been fortunate enough to have time to read actual books lately.  Granted this has interfered with time I might have to sew or socialize, but I think it’s definitely been time well spent.  In the last, oh, month or so I’ve read all of the Southern Vampire Mysteries.  I won’t review them for you, as I assume you’ll either read them or you won’t (or you already have) and you’ll judge me or you won’t for having very much enjoyed them.  It’s possible that having Alexander Skarsgård in my head as Eric Northman went a long way towards my enjoyment of them, but perhaps not.  Perhaps they are just good, light summer reading.  Now that I’ve finished them, I might go back and read Book 4 again.  Or maybe I’ll start watching True Blood season 4 (don’t spoil me I haven’t seen any yet) and then read Book 4 again.  Book 4 is my favorite.

gratuitous ASkars. I can't help myself.

After all the vampires I read Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things, only to discover, about 80 pages in, that I’d read it before.  SIGH. Yes, I don’t know if that’s commentary on where my head is right now, where it was when I first read this collection, or if says something about the quality of the stories.  The stories, I felt, were uneven, as is so often the case with short story collections.  Some were excellent, others I flipped through reading only every fourth word or so.  I’m never sure with Gaiman, he’s written some things I love and some I clearly forget.  He’s an author I try to not engage with, that is to say that my enjoyment of his writing is equal to how much I am able to entirely ignore him as a media figure or a person of any consequence.

I’ve spent the last 6-ish days pushing through Connie Willis’ Blackout/All Clear.

This is certainly one book split into two volumes and should be read as such.  This is in her Oxford Time-Travelling Historians universe, though reading the other books in that universe is not a prerequisite of reading this one.  Several reviews I read and a couple trusted reader friends suggested that B/AC would have benefited greatly by having an excellent editor and being a few hundred pages shorter.  Something I have said often about the last 3 Harry Potter books, about everything Diana Gabaldon has written since Outlander,  about Cronin’s hideous Passage, and many more.  And yes, I imagine that B/AC could have been more concise, more dense, more tightly crafted but for me Willis is one of the few authors I simply can’t get enough of.  Her worlds immerse me utterly, her language keeps me in instead of pushing me out of the story, letting me see only the story and not the writer and she clearly loves her characters so much that I can’t help but love them too.  I would gladly sit down right now with 1400 more pages of her characters.

I knew this would have a happy ending, I knew it would all work out, but it twists and turns enough that one can never guess quite how.  I found myself anxious to the point of wishing she would just get on with it already in a few scenes.  Mostly because some of the secondary characters were so beloved and seemed so likely to die that I just couldn’t stand it.

I know only the basic framework of history for WWII Britain. Still I have been to most all of the places in London that the action happens in, and I have been to museums and memorials all over Britain about the war and the Blitz specifically and I believe that engaged me all the more with this tale.  London is a character in the story being just as battered and ill-treated as her people were through out the war.  I felt many times like I was walking through the locations of the story and thought deeply about how it must have been to see the city both before and after the war.

Time travel is very tricky and I think Willis handles it well.  Generally making it simply a framework for an understandable historical bit of fiction.  This time though the time travelling paradox itself plays into the mystery of the plot to good effect.

I was feverish and sick and slept a lot this past weekend.  I dreamt long involved fever dreams of this book and the characters and myself in with them.  I have, in this way, completely internalized this story.  I feel exhausted and thoroughly satisfied having been through the ringer with this story.  It’s always hard to recommend things.  Do I want you to to read it because I liked it?  Yes.  Do I want you to read it because I think you’ll like it?  I don’t know.  If you liked her other books you’ll probably like this one, even if you think it is too long.  If you’re interested in WWII history from an every day standpoint of how citizens dealt with it, you’ll probably like it.  Amazon hopefully has enough of a preview up that you can decide if you want to read more or not.  If you decide not to read this you should read To Say Nothing of the Dog anyway.  Yes, you, all of you, everyone should read it.  Because I said so.

I also went and saw Captain America which I enjoyed very much.  It was a very, very different WWII than B/AC. I think they used a lot of the same location shots from Band of Brothers which really tickled me.  I’m totally digging the universe connections in the Marvel comic movies and all the cameos etc. It’s like each movie makes the previous ones even better. Thor and Iron Man are both somehow that much better for having seen Captain America.  I can’t wait for The Avengers!

(A note on formatting: I had been writing my posts so they were easily read when imported in to Facebook but the importing feature only works intermittently and really I’d prefer if you clicked out and read them here anyway, so I’m not formatting for FB anymore, if you don’t get pictures you’ll have to click out to the original post.  If FB can’t be bothered to make itself work right, I can’t be bothered to cater to it.)


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Movies, books and needle books

Was a slow, relaxing, mostly wasted weekend. Lots of reading, walking and a some chores, not much else.

I did go see Thor on Sunday with Talks to Owls.  I enjoyed it thoroughly.  My only complaints were that his transformation was a little abrupt and barely shown and I think Alexander Skarsgård should have played Loki to up the eye candy and keep me even more amused. The actor playing Loki was too whiny and not nearly mischievous enough.  I feel that Skarsgård could have done a much better job at being trickstery.  Overall worth the price of admission though.  I forget how much I like going to the movies.  I wish the good theater by my house would reopen.  Stupid flood damage keeping me from movies for more than a year.

Hi Alex! Glad to have a thin excuse to post a picture of you!

I also read  the Hunger Games trilogy.  A fast but riveting read.  Highly recommended. Like I can’t stop thinking about it and harassing my friends to read it so they will talk to me about it.

And I didn’t touch any of sewing projects I have around the house in various states of doneness, but I did make a little felt book for my embroidery needles out of some scrap denim and silk I had lying around.  I’m pretty pleased with it. And Talks to Owls just got me these owl scissors  so I’m be all ready to get embroidering!


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The usual round up of uselessness

There is a lot to say about politics right now and wars and the state of our country.  But I think I am going to stick to sewing a books for a while, with a little cooking and weather added in.  Since that’s mostly what I focus on anyway.

That said, I find this meme hilarious.  I don’t know if it’s the picture, or the sentiment of just how unimportant the “Birther” BS is, or what but I find hilarious every time I see it:

I’d also like to take a second to say GO NAVY, and thank everyone who has ever served for my country, most especially those related to me (only because their stories seem more immediate to me).

♦♦♦

I cut the fabric last night for toile for the dress I’m going to make with this fabric.  So I’ve barely started on the dress before the dress.  Still I’m excited.  Talks to Owls gave me the fabric for my birthday LAST year and I’ve been reluctant to cut it, but once I master the fitting on the toile, I think it’s finally time.

It’s also interesting looking back at those optional color palettes from 14 months ago, as those are essentially the colors I chose for my house fully a year later.  I’m consistent, apparently.

♦♦♦

I’m curious about this line from Levi’s.  I can’t find an offical site for it (“coming this summer”), but I will probably check it out.  I don’t commute by bike or anything.  I’m just very interested in clothing seemingly designed for function and durability.  One would think all clothing would be designed at least for durability.  And surely it once was but we’ve moved far, far away from that place.  One of the things about sewing for yourself is you can make something as lasting or as disposable as you choose (one would hope for lasting, not just from an environmental standpoint, but if you’re going to put a bunch of hours into something I would hope it would be useful for a long time).

I haven’t yet been brave enough to try and sew my own jeans yet, but I’m getting there.  And I’m definitely thinking about a fit and comfort, but also about functionality and durability.  And back to the new Levi’s line, also fabric that’s more resistant to dirt and water? Sounds great to me! Especially paired with a very classic, clean looking design.  I might have to get one of those jackets when they become available. Or at least get my hands on some of this line just to feel if it’s all hype and just more cheaply made stuff or if maybe we are making a cultural swing back towards useful, durable clothing.