Thoughts from a tree

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Story Published – Like Riding a Bike

I had a story recently published in this anthology: Uncanny Valley: A Science Fiction Anthology : A Collection of Short Stories on Humanity and the Future. It’s not expensive (in fact, right now it’s free), so if that sounds at all interesting to you, I encourage you to buy it.

My story is called “Like Riding a Bike,” and an Amazon review has this to say about it “If I had to choose a favorite, it would be the story of a human attempting to remember how to drive a real car,” which is flattering 🙂

This story is much more autobiographical than most. At the time that I wrote it, I had a front door and barn door that opened with a keypad, and a car that both unlocked and started based on the vicinity of a key fob. One day, I went to my parents’ house for some reason when they weren’t there, and their door was locked. I had a key, but it was like I’d forgotten what keys were or how to use them. So I started with the idea of wanting to write about forgetting how to use keys and that expanded to someone who, in a world of self-driving conveyances, had also forgotten how to drive.

The main character has a medical problem that caused her to voluntarily stop driving even earlier than most of her peers. This is a problem I have, though I never had an accident as a result of it, and only stopped driving briefly when I was worried that I would. Ironically, I had, up until two months ago, mostly stopped driving, as a result of an entirely different medical problem, and have very recently had the experience of needing to remember how to drive again. Perhaps I could write that aspect better now, but I think it’s close enough.

Spoilers below. Stop and go read my story first (it’s not long) if you don’t want to be spoiled.

The car I used in the story was also recently totaled (someone else made a very reckless decision that resulted in the crash). That wreck is the picture here, though you can imagine it being the wreck at the end of the story, if you want 😉

The way she wrecks at the end is also based somewhat on a real event. I grew up in Florida, moved to Virginia, and got a job that was at the end of a long mountain road. Shortly after, there was a blizzard. I did not know how to drive on snow, or how to handle my car losing control like that. My car was not wrecked, however, and I continued driving to work afterwards (the job involved taking care of horses, so I didn’t feel like I could not show up).

The bit about bikes is also based on real life. I did not learn how to ride a bike until I was much older than usual, and have had several bad experiences involving them. I would much rather ride a horse than use a bike or a car!

The Olive Branch

For those who want to insist that they truly don’t support what Trump represents, despite voting for him, actions speak louder than words. This is how you can prove to us that you mean it.

  1. Shut up. Don’t try to defend Trump. Don’t try to defend your vote. Don’t tell us we should just get over it, let it go, or “come together”. Don’t harp on about the riots (not sure what you thought would happen in a nation already racially charged by police brutality), or refer to the peaceful protests as riots. Don’t tell us we’re over-reacting. I’ve unfollowed a lot of people, but I’ve only unfriended the ones who tried to defend their vote to me. Give us our time to grieve without your obnoxious noise.
  2. Listen. Go read all the reports of people being attacked, of children going after children, of people afraid to let their children leave the house, of women having headgear ripped off, of women being sexually assaulted, or “Donald Trumped”, as one attacker referred to it. Go read about how happy the KKK is, and about all the people having race-based obscenities thrown at them.  Go read about all the people that are being told they should leave, or die, or hang themselves. Go read about all the people contemplating suicide.
  3. Imagine that you are one of these victims. That you have been told that your rights don’t matter. That you don’t belong here. That you don’t count as a person. That your religion or your love isn’t valid. That your gender, or your race, or your orientation, or your disability, or your neurological difference isn’t wanted here. That your life is worth nothing. That your feelings, your pain, your despair, doesn’t matter.
  4. Admit that you were wrong. Admit that you were hoodwinked, fooled, deluded, I don’t care how you put it, but that you didn’t realize what you were doing. You didn’t realize the repercussions. You didn’t mean for anyone to get hurt, for anyone to feel less. Admit that you should not have supported a man whose entire platform was based on hatred.
  5. Repent. Apologize to all the victims of your mistake. Publicly, and loudly. Mean it, from the heart.
  6. Denounce all the acts of hatred that your vote showed approval for. Anytime you see someone harassing someone, step in. Every time you hear a comment that is racist, sexist, anti-muslim, anti-lgbt, making fun of disabilities, or mental illness, or any other form of bigotry, make it clear that you don’t approve. Whether it’s a joke online, in the office, or at home. Berate anyone who treats women as sex objects. Raise your children (if you have any) to treat all people with respect and dignity. Join peaceful protests for things like Black Lives Matter, or march in Pride parades. Treat women as equals in all things. Believe that all people are created equal, and act accordingly.
  7. Demand that your politicians also denounce these atrocities. Inform them that you do not support any legislation that restricts human rights. That you do not want a wall built, or immigrants kicked out. That you do not want to take away vital healthcare for the many people that depend on it. That you do not want to prevent women from having access to affordable birth control, and the many other necessary health services that organizations like Planned Parenthood provide. That your concern for human life doesn’t end at birth.

Make the world a better, safer place, for ALL people. Try to repair the damage you have wrought. Then we can talk.

Why I’m done with them

My husband strongly disagrees with the idea that I should sever relationships with Trump supporters (which, sadly, include most of his family), so this is my attempt to explain why I feel that I have to take so extreme a measure.

I’ve been mostly off of Facebook for months because it was too depressing (literally). Too many stories about horrible things happening to women, to minorities, to the LGBT. Can’t read the comments section of any article, about anything, without seeing tons of venomous comments about women, or Muslims, or whatever the hate of the week is. I got tired of it all, so I shut it off. I also have already removed one toxic family member and one toxic in-law from my life, for reasons unrelated and prior to the election, and it’s been a great relief.

However, going backwards in time, on March 12th, 2015, Terry Pratchett died. This wasn’t why I sank into a deep depression, but it was the last straw on a mountain of straws, and even as I was tumbling ever downwards, I was cognizant of this fact.

I’ve been depressed before. During elementary school I seriously considered killing myself, but I didn’t, largely because of my cat, who wouldn’t eat any time I was away from home. Later I realized that suicide is a selfish choice, and I stopped considering it, but often, I would *wish*, fervently, to die, or wish that the pain I was in meant that I was dying, at last.

I’m telling you this, so when I explain that last year I was in one of the worst depressions I can remember, you have some context. There’s a very long story about how I got out of that depression, and I’ll tell you that later, but a couple months ago, I finally started feeling better and have been working on trying to put my life back together.

And then one my horses died, for reasons that are still unclear, despite a necropsy. And then our roof started leaking, and no one wants to fix it. And then the hurricane hit, and my other horse got sick, and still isn’t totally better, and I still don’t know if she might end up dying from what killed the other one. She’s a lot younger, and, frankly, a much nicer horse. The kind that loves people and anyone can ride. I’ve spent five times what I paid for her (he was free) on vets and I’m worried about how I’m going to pay the credit card bills. And a bunch of other things have been going wrong. I broke my computer. Twice. I broke my phone. Twice. And the screen is currently unreadable, covered in weird purple splotches (started when voting ended – coincidence?).

I tell you all of that to give you the context that I have been on the razor’s edge of falling back into that dark, deep hole of depression. I recently described myself to my husband as feeling like I was about to disintegrate and just shatter into a million pieces.

(And I know that other people have things a lot worse, but that isn’t relevant to this story)

One of the things I learned when I was recovering, is that I have a limited number of spoons. I have fewer than most other people, so I have to be careful how I spend them. Someone with more spoons than me can try to reason with those who can’t be reasoned with. Someone with more spoons than me can try to understand them, or whatever. But my spoons are precious, and I’d rather spend them on people who deserve it. I just don’t have the spoons to deal with bad people. I don’t have enough energy to endure them. I don’t have enough joy to overcome their toxicity. I don’t want to go back to that dark hole, though it may happen anyways. And so I’m done with them.

Life is too short short for me to waste it on those who won’t appreciate my effort.

Reasons given to vote Trump

This is the compilation of the reasons/excuses I’ve been given for why people would vote for Trump, and my response. Feel free to add additional ones in the comments, and I will address them.

  1. Mysoginists
  2. Racists
  3. Religious/anti-Muslim
  4. Economic Hardship
  5. Voted for party even though you recognize that Trump is horrible
  6. Believe Hillary is evil
  7. Trump isn’t really like that
  8. Voted for party because you had your head in the sand and didn’t really know anything about either candidate

1, 2, and 3 are simple to address – You’re horrible human beings and I will never ever want anything to do with you.

4 – First, you’re dumb, because there is no way that the man who doesn’t even pay his own employees is going to care about helping you get a job or better pay. Second, you decided that your own economic opportunity was more important than basic human decency. I feel sorry for you and I would support efforts to improve your situation, but I want nothing to do with you.

5 – You decided it was more important for your side to “win” than to do the right thing, and support basic human decency. I want nothing to do with you.

6 – You’re either gullible and insist on believing fake news sites, or you’re listening to your subconscious sexism. I feel sorry for you, but I have no patience for those who refuse to listen to facts and quote tabloids. Even if everything that was said about Hillary was true (and it’s not, she’s been more scrutinized than any other politician and repeatedly been cleared of all charges), it’s like a speck of dust compared to what Trump has done openly, on camera, and without regret. I want nothing to do with you.

7 – So you voted for a candidate whom you believe was flagrantly lying to you? That’s insanity. I want nothing to do with you.

I don’t hate any of you, but my time is too precious to waste, and too many people are already being hurt because of your selfishness.

Anyone who supports Trump is a toxin, and I’m removing toxins from my life. Thanks for showing your true colors to make it easier for me.

8 – Sorry, but you abused your voting privileges, and it may be four years or more before I’m going to want to talk to you, and only if you start researching your voting choices.

A very large chunk of Americans have endorsed bullying, sexism, racism, ableism, and a host of other depravities. A very large chunk of Americans have said that a person who can’t seem to open his mouth without insulting someone, deserves to have the highest seat of power in our country, and be representative of us. A very large chunk of Americans have decided a man born rich, but who can’t run a successful company even when evading taxes and not paying his workers, should be in charge of our economy. A very large chunk of Americans decided they’d rather vote for a selfish jerk than a woman who has spent her life trying to help others.

This is not just another lost election, this is a loss for humanity.

D & D – Eberron – Journal Entry 1

Written in Sylvan:

A gnome mage, a halfling rogue, a half-elf cleric, a golem, a shifter, and a slimy human bard – it sounds like the beginning of a joke, but it’s not funny; I’m stuck with these ‘people’ for the foreseeable future! It was that or stay in prison, and now I’m not sure I made the right choice. We’ve already been attacked twice, and our healer was knocked unconscious (I can see how effective *his* prayers are). They are all resting now; as soon as I’m done writing this, I will go and try to scout ahead. I’m not sure what good it will do though, the people we were following are on horseback (I suggested we should acquire horses in the beginninng, but no one listened to me), and we are much slower, even when we don’t have to waste time recovering.

The mage seems to be the most effective member of our group; he makes me wonder if I should try studying some magic of my own. I’ve heard that it is possible to imbue arrows with spells… the idea tantalizes me. The bard is the most annoying; no one is even sure if it is a man or a woman and s/he is always making inappropriate comments. Just the smell of a human so close is irritating, reminding me of the day I found mother’s body, desecrated even after she was dead. If I ever find the humans responsible, they will pay dearly.

The first group that attacked us seemed very odd. It was a drow mage (I haven’t seen a drow here in years) and he was pulling a cart full of kobolds, one of whom was already dead. We killed the drow and the kobolds, but I regret that a half-elf rogue managed to get away; the wind was blowing hard, making it difficult to shoot him as he ran and hid.

The second attack was just a group of goblin bandits, but they appeared better equipped than would normally be expected. I’m not sure how they managed to surprise us so easily and I wonder if it was luck or cunning that led them to attack the healer first…

Tabletop Day Recap

Last week I went to my local store, Coliseum of Comics, for tabletop day. They had the official extra goodies and I picked up the munchkin bookmark, castle panic card, gloom cards, dixit card, dominion card (though i’m not sure how to use it, since it’s only one card), and a demo of a game called ‘Spot It’.

Spot It was actually pretty fun, although gary did not care for the fast pace; it’s basically a matching game and whoever matches the fastest wins.

The other games we played were as follows:

Zombie Dice

Monty Python Fluxx (first time we played any fluxx game)

Munchkin (unfortunately, before we got the bookmark)

Smash Up! (which did not, in our opinion, deliver on the ‘smash’ part of its name) – this was a demo that was shown fairly aggressively. Basically each player has two types of critters and is trying to fill ‘bases’ with their critters in order to get points. The game did not seem very well balanced, but it might have just been a problem with us, we only played it once.

Dixit – this game intrigues me but it was pretty hard to play it well; i think it would have helped if we had had more people/people who knew each other well.

Werewolf – first time we had heard of this. It is a large group game that is sort of like the playground game ‘sharks & minnows’ except it involves cards, and is more complicated (and more fun). I would be happy to play this again but I’m not sure how often I would have enough people to pull it off.

Abandon Ship – first time I heard of it. You are trying to get rats to flee a sinking ship. All our rats died, which wasn’t very fun 😦

Scotland Yard – I had not played this game since I was a kid, but it was fun

Lords of Waterdeep – a resource game; I knew as soon as they opened it up and started explaining the rules that I would like it, so we actually went and bought it before we were done playing (the shop part of the store was closing – we also bought pandemic and dixit).

There was also a game called ‘No Thanks’ that is apparently a favorite of the crowd that usually plays board games there. They had a (free) tournament for it. It’s basically a bidding type game, where you are trying to get the least number of points. This is normally not my type of game at all, however, I got *really* lucky and ended up winning the tournament. I won a game called Giants which I had not heard of and have not had a chance to play yet, but looks interesting.

All in all, it was a really fun day, far better even than what I had expected. We made several new friends, although the ones we spent the most time with live in Tampa (2+ hours away). I also met another Disney cast member, so that was cool.

Today we are going back to Coliseum of Comics to play more board games with a group of Disney employees (none of whom were there last week, but who we had played with on a previous occasion). Hopefully it will be just as much fun 🙂

Table Top Day Is Tomorrow!

Table top day is tomorrow! If you haven’t already, you can find a place to play games at.

This is the brainchild of Felicia Day (my hero) and Wil Wheaton and is meant to be a day to celebrate and play all kinds of board games. Locations with a star should have extra goodies available, documented here.

I’ve always loved board games, particularly the more interesting European games, but Wil Wheaton’s show has introduced me to a lot of ones I would not have otherwise tried (and consequently flattened my wallet).

The place we will be going to is a store we have bought games at before, but never been able to participate in their board game events, due to timing. Hopefully it will be lots of fun and maybe we will even make some new friends who don’t live horribly far away 😉


I support the idea of New Year’s Resolutions, but since we were starting our anniversary vacation on January 1st, I did not want to start any self-improvement goals until later. I decided that I would do my resolutions starting February 1st instead. Then, in an odd sort of fate, I ended up starting a new job on that very day, which accomplishes at least one goal (earn more $). It’s a 3-month contract for Disney, although I’m hoping the contract will get extended and/or evolve into a full-time position. I have *always* wanted to work for Disney, so I am pretty excited about it, even if it is a longer commute (~45 minutes) than I’d like.

For my remaining resolutions, I think they boil down to this:

1) eat less (particularly sugar)
2) move more
3) write more (blog more?)
4) do more with tie-dye
5) get the house-fixing completed

I debated on whether to make the goals more concrete (such as x calories per day or n words per week), but I think I will leave them vague for now. It seems too easy to fail at very specific goals, which leads to guilt and giving up, but on the other hand I feel less *push* to improve at the moment. Which method(s) do you prefer?

The job search process was created by/for extroverts

Wow, I didn’t realize it had been so long since I last posted. I’ve been pretty occupied with the holidays, household stuff, and the job search process. I also did get a bunch of tie-dye done: AOL shirts and other stuff. Gary and I visited Virginia for our anniversary (8th) and while we were there we met with some good friends (who I miss!) and I gave a bunch of the tie-dyed AOL shirts away. Gary took pictures for me but I haven’t gotten around to processing them yet.

Contacts regarding jobs have continued to be frequent; I had to juggle phone interviews while we were on vacation in Virginia and I did not stay at my parents’ house as long as I otherwise would have after Christmas because I did not want to be without cell phone reception (in case job people called, which they did). I had an in-person interview in Gainesville (fl) yesterday, which makes both my third in-person interview and my third contact about a job in Gainesville (a weird trend, maybe its because the companies in Orlando tend to be bigger/more professional so they rely more on phone interviews?) I loath/dread interviews. I suck at them, not because I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, or don’t know what I’m talking about; I took business classes in high school and college; I even did FBLA. I’m just shy. Introverted and non-social (INTJ to be more specific), being put on the spot to answer questions and “sell” myself in front of a bunch of people I don’t know (whether in-person or over the phone) is extremely nerve-wracking. I can barely manage to talk; complex thought is out of the question; remembering trivial computer terms? – forget it!** And really, is this necessary? Are the majority of the really good technical people those who excel at dressing well, giving handshakes, and making conversation? I don’t think so – computer geeks are much more commonly known for lack of lighting and anti-social behavior. So why are people still trying to use techniques which strongly favor extroverts for introverted career types? Maybe because managers are themselves usually extroverted and they feel more comfortable with it? Not that everyone does, of course, and I applaud those companies that utilize alternative hiring methods. In fact, I think the main reason why recruiters have become so prevalent in the tech industry is to try and bridge that gap – bring in an extrovert to find and “sell” the introverts because otherwise the companies are likely to end up with mostly incompetent extroverts. But even using recruiters has limitations, and still usually ends up using some form of interview for the final decision. Far better are those that use tests or ask their interview questions over email. Tests that test problem-solving and critical thinking are better than ones that rely on specific knowledge by the way, but I’d rather take *any* test than do an interview. My first *real* job in fact I acquired solely on the basis of a test – it was for using Excel (I aced it easily) for a data entry position. The interview for AOL (both for the NOC and the later SA position) were not as difficult as normal because I already knew the people, at least a little bit, who were interviewing me. Tomorrow I’m supposed to find out if I’m hired for a job submitted by a recruiter – based almost 100% on a technical test I did; not only will there not be an interview, but I won’t even meet anyone from the company until (if hired) I report for my first day in. It feels a little weird, to not meet the people at all, but its probably the perfect hiring process for me.

** By the way, for anyone who disbelieves me based on AOL all-hands events: 1) I was at AOL for years before I started doing that 2) I felt like I was in a group of people that I knew/was part of and 3) I was physically shaking every single time the microphone was in my hand. – I also usually end up shaking when I do karaoke in public places…which doesn’t stop me from doing either – I’m the kind of person who likes to face my fears and try to overcome them (I just don’t like it when whether or not I get hired is heavily influenced by that weakness, despite the fact that my job performance will not be affected by it).

No Snow Here! :)

It’s snowing in NOVA (northern virginia), where I used to live; I am very happy that I am not there. I am relishing the fact that I don’t have to deal with shoveling snow, scraping car windows, huge heating bills, frozen fingers, toes, and ears, panicked drivers, drivers who refuse to admit there *is* snow, no bread or milk in the grocery stores, trudging through the snow to feed animals, muddy boots, slipping on ice, or any of the other “joys” that snow brings. People like to think of snow in romantic terms, when they are looking at it through a window or on TV, but once you have to actually deal with it physically, it quickly loses its appeal. Granted that some of the problems I listed are specific to the NOVA region, or specific to living in the country; when I was in WV the snow was much less of a problem – the roads were always cleared and the entire equestrian facility was indoors, but NOVA is unique in the fact that it gets pretty much every type of weather, yet doesn’t know how to handle any of them. I don’t miss that one bit.

I feel like I’ve been slacking the last two weeks; it took me a while to recover from Nanowrimo and the holidays, with the holidays being the more stressful of the two. I’m not a very social person and being around a lot of people at one time is exhausting; its ok if we’re all focused on one thing, such as a game, or at a meeting, but when its just a social event, and there are a bunch of different conversations all going on at once, I find it very trying. And of course, when its family, you get the added perk of arguments and tempers flaring, plus these aren’t people you’ve exactly *chosen* to hang out with, so you might have little to nothing in common with them. I’m practically the opposite of most of Gary’s family (not republican, not christian, and not at all interested in having, seeing, or hearing about kids), so I’m usually at a complete loss of what to talk about around them. I’m a complete failure at “small talk” in general, which doesn’t help; the point is, spending the weekend socializing with family was to me akin to running a marathon, which doesn’t mean I’m against doing it (I would try to run marathons too, if my body was capable of it), just that I felt completely drained afterwords.

I’ve pretty much given up on trying to get a bunch of my tie-dye on the market for the christmas rush. Frankly, I think tie-dye is more of a spring and summer item anyways, no matter how cool-looking those hoodies and jackets I did are. It still would have been a good idea, but now I’m running out of time – orders would have to be in by friday I think to ensure they’d get there in time. I did post a few items and I did get one custom order, which means I finally got all of my supplies organized and usable for the first time since I packed them up in VA. I still need to make a bunch of tie-dye, for my own presents to give; planning to do it all next week. If I have time, I want to do the rest of the blank AOL shirts I have, so I can give them away to people when I go to VA in January.

One of the reasons I’ve done less for tie-dye and other things over the last two weeks is that I’ve actually been really busy in the job-hunting department. I’m not sure if its something about the end of the year, or if its just because I did a revamp of my resume, but I’ve been getting a *lot* of inquiries all of a sudden, as well as finding a lot more jobs to apply to. This has required filling out a bunch of extremely long forms, each of which seem to need a different special piece of information that I have to look up, plus lots of emails and calls from recruiters, and several phone interviews (at least *some* of which I think went well). Most of them have said that they probably won’t be making their decisions until January though, because of people being gone for the holidays; makes you wonder why they started the process at all instead of waiting.

I finally saw Inception; people have been telling me I need to see it ever since it was first released in theaters. I have a well-known obsession with dreams…which is why I was told to see it. I think it was a pretty good movie, but it wasn’t what I expected, so I ended up somewhat disappointed. There was an extra feature on the disc though that talked all about dreams, and that was interesting, particularly when it talked about gamers and lucid dreaming. I’m a lucid dreamer and a gamer and apparently the two often go hand in hand. I have a hate/love relationship with sleep – I hate the process of trying to get to sleep, which I find really difficult, but I *love* my dreams and never want to wake up, even from nightmares. The story I wrote for nanowrimo has a lot of stuff about dreams in it as well; I think I was hoping Inception would help give me some more ideas for it. The problem with the dreams in Inception though is that they are all technology-based and a lot of it didn’t really make sense (even to a dreamer). Oh well; I still enjoyed it. 🙂