And Then Life Happened

Life Lately

It’s been a really long time since I posted! I’m happy to report that while this quarter sucked, I survived it. Here are some of the things I was up to when the state of the world didn’t leave me paralyzed by anxiety and/or depression:

Women’s March

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The sun came out for the Women’s March and the Women’s March alone.

I went to our Women’s March with the boy and his toddlords, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen so many people in one place in Bellingham. The energy was really positive and I’m glad I slacked off on homework for the day to go.

Western Washington University Children’s Literature Conference

I took advantage of having weekends off (and the student discount) to go to the annual Children’s Literature Conference at my alma mater and I’m so glad I was finally able to make it! The speakers were all incredible, although Laurie Halse Anderson (!!!) almost made me cry. Christian Robinson’s talk made me laugh so hard I almost cried. I’ll definitely be going to the conference again next year.

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Q & A panel with Rita Williams-Garcia, Laurie Halse Anderson, Christian Robinson, and Matt Phelan.

I loved all of the discussions of each author/illustrator’s process. My favorite advice was from Laurie, who said that she always tells people to write fifteen minutes a day, on anything, just to stay in the practice of writing. It made me feel better that, while I’ve been writing, I haven’t necessarily been writing on my WIPs.

Doug Ericksen Town Hall

In the interest of being more involved in local politics, the boy and I took a nice, romantic drive out to the County to go to our state senator’s town hall a couple weeks ago to politely inform him we disapprove of the job he’s doing. It was a very tense atmosphere, as many of the people who attended were people who drove up from Bellingham who were also displeased with him, and that irritated many of the people from the rest of the county who keep reelecting him. Senator Ericksen was very articulate and, for people unfamiliar with his Facebook posts, sounded very reasonable. He kept his cool even as people heckled and booed him (although not like the clips going around the internet from Mitch McConnell and Jason Chaffetz’s town halls). He gave very scripted-sounding answers to questions about well rights, climate change (which he believes is up for debate), his double duty (continuing to serve as our state senator while working for the EPA transition – which is what many people are angry about up here), and education funding, among other things. The only point at which I became well and truly angry was when he discussed how unfair it is to experts that if they want to teach in a public school in our state, they’re required to get a teaching certificate just like everyone else. His tone as he explained his position to my NBCT colleague felt dismissive, not to mention his response betrayed a profound lack of knowledge about the fact that teachers are experts in so much more than content. (I spent a good two hours later that afternoon crafting a letter in response to that position that was simultaneously polite and shade-filled. As expected, my wayward senator has not responded [another thing people in Bellingham are angry about].)

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A friendly reminder.

If you are in the United States and are able to vote, you really, really, absolutely should. Even if you don’t like either of the presidential candidates, there are a bajillion other races that will also have an impact on you – local, state, congressional, assorted ballot measures. (And if you really, really don’t want to vote for president, I know that in Washington, at least, you don’t have to vote the entire ballot. I’m sure we’re not alone in this.)

If you think not voting is “cool” or “ironic”, I’m here to tell you you’re an idiot. There are too many people like my dad, my uncles, my grandpa, and family friends we made in the nomadic journeys of my childhood who sacrificed – and continue to sacrifice – a lot so that we can have the freedom to decide who gets to lead our country. If you happen to not be white, there were many states in which you couldn’t vote as recently as the 1960s, and if you’re a woman, you’ve had the right to vote (nationally, at least) for less than 100 years.

You might not think the things you have to decide on won’t impact you. They will. Things like education, healthcare, reproductive rights – all of these things and more will be impacted by who you vote for, and these are all things that impact you, however indirectly. No longer in school or have kids who are in school right now? Education should still concern you, because the students in our schools now will probably be the people you’re voting for in the future. Don’t have lady parts? You should still pay attention, because the decisions your lady is allowed to make about her lady parts will ultimately impact you. Don’t need to worry about health insurance? You should, because your employees can’t come to work if they can’t afford to take care of themselves.

Maybe you don’t live in a swing state. My sister texted me just yesterday that voting for a Republican for president in Washington State is pretty much a lost cause. But that shouldn’t stop you. In Washington, we might not know who our next governor is for at least a week. We might be legalizing same sex marriage, charter schools, and marijuana today. In my parents’ district, they have a candidate running who used the phrase “that rape thing” in an interview, and he has a pretty good chance of winning because of redistricting. So, regardless of where your state falls on the electoral college spectrum, your vote still matters. There are too many other races that could be decided by a handful of votes that are too important for you to be an idiot and not vote. (Just for the record: “rape thing” guy almost won my district two years ago. He was edged out by a margin of literally hundreds of votes. And if you still think your vote doesn’t matter, Google the 2004 and 2008 Washington gubernatorial elections and the 2010 Senate race. YOUR VOTE MATTERS.)

I’m not here to be partisan and tell you who to vote for. Because that’s what my Twitter account is for. All I care about is that you vote. If you don’t vote, I’d better not hear you complaining tomorrow.

P.S.: If you’re registered in Washington State and haven’t turned in your ballot yet, you still have time! Your ballot only needs to be postmarked by today, so as long as you drop it in the mail and the post office picks it up today, your vote will still be counted even if they get your ballot a week from now. Go turn that thing in.

Friday Five

Friday Five #27

Currently Listening To: Duffy – “Mercy”
Currently Reading: A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

1. This post may or may not be littered with typos, since I just got back from getting coffee with a friend who’s about to move to Ireland for grad school (hi, Katelynne!), and I may have overdone it on the caffeine. (No such thing.)

2. I just realized it’s a long weekend, which I sort of forgot about because, obviously, I’m not running on any sort of schedule that is affected by this. Although it does mean fall is just around the corner, which means two of my favorite things are making a comeback: pumpkin spice lattes and football. I’m not working weekends this year, which means that I’ll be able to actually watch all the Seahawks games, which means I’ll probably be tweeting about them. A lot. Sorry I’m not sorry.

Also, can we just mention they won every single one of their preseason games? Granted, I was unenthused by the number of field goals they had to settle for, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they won’t make me want to curl up in a fetal position, seeing as how I’ll actually have to watch this year if that happens.

3. You might have to live under a rock not to realize it’s an election year. I’m fully committed to keeping this blog politics free as of item #4 on this list, but I can’t say the same for my Twitter account. I have lots of opinions about things, and I like to express them. So this is your warning. Feel free to scroll past the political tweets to find the football ones.

And before I reach the end of my self-imposed political space on this blog, I’d like to urge everyone to vote. I’m going to vote for who I’m going to vote for, and you’re going to vote for who you’re going to vote for, but whoever is elected will impact you in some way, so you might as well have your say. Otherwise, you’ve revoked your right to complain.

Okay. Moving on.

4. I’m moving back in with my parents at some point before the end of September to try my luck at subbing down there. A lot of thinking and napping and feels went into this decision, but the short version is that as much as I wanted to stay in Bellingham, it just wasn’t in the cards.

At this point, I’m mostly just frustrated that my parents brought all my books up here literally a month and a half ago, and you don’t want to know how long it took me to alphabetize them all. At least this time they’ll be packed alphabetically…

5. In writing-related news, I’ve been within mere days of finishing up my SHARDS rewrite for the past week or so, but I just…haven’t. I think part of it is that I didn’t know what to work on next when I finish it, because I’ve been working on this thing for the past five years. Part of it is that I’m dreading the revisions I still have to do on it in order to get it ready to query, and revisions are definitely not my favorite part of the process. Part of it was stress from my real life. But the stress is gone since I made my decision to move, and I think I’ve figured out what to work on next (more on that in a future blog post), so now I just need to stay off Tumblr long enough to finish this book.

Stay off Tumblr. Ha.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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On Piracy & Censorship

So, yesterday, large portions of the internet blacked out in protest of two bills before Congress, SOPA and PIPA. (If you want to learn more, you can go here and here.) This included websites such as Wikipedia (related: the number of people who rely on Wikipedia as their sole source of scholarly information makes me sad), Reddit, Craigslist, Google…not dinky little websites people never look at.

I joined in, blacking out both this blog and my Tumblr. (I tried to do the Twitter blackout. I think I made it 21 or 22 hours. I couldn’t help myself.) Obviously, neither of these patches of internet will ever be anywhere near equaling the scale that Wikipedia and Google reach, but still, I had to show my solidarity somehow.

While I agree that piracy is bad and things should be done about it, punishing everyone because a small group of people are jerks isn’t the way to do it. I mean, yeah, I sternly lecture my friends every time they mention illegally downloading music or movies or whatever from the internet, because even if you think the big wigs are the ones making all the money off of it and don’t they have enough? – well, someone still took the time and energy to create that (yes, even this person), and as someone who spends large amounts of time and energy creating things, I find it very, very uncool to steal things.

But going to the point where you’d potentially be forcing big websites like Google or Tumblr to take responsibility and potentially shut down because some kid who doesn’t know anything about copyright law reblogged a picture they found online? I mean, maybe the ultimate goal isn’t censorship. But, that’s basically what would happen, because everything in these pieces of legislation is so broadly defined, it could leave it open to abuse, and then what? How are we supposed to be able to express ourselves freely if we’re always looking around, worrying about getting in trouble? And if these laws were to pass, couldn’t that just be the first step to even worse things?

Guys, piracy is lame. But censorship is even more lame.