Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

This week marks me getting back on the horse of working out, which is bringing up all kinds of awkward and icky feelings with regard to my body that I thought I should just go ahead and tackle out loud rather than internalizing.

I’ve always been bigger. I was smaller for a little while, when I did martial arts back before high school. I remember distinctly and adult telling me that I would “balloon” if I quit fighting. I laughed it off at the time. I was 13.

By the time I was 14 I was bigger than a lot of the other girls I knew. And I was super self-conscious about it. I ate too much and didn’t really move around a lot and I hated my body with all the vehemence of a teenager hating a thing. So that wasn’t super healthy.

Over the years I have gone through health binges in fits and starts. Nothing really worked too well for me. My biggest success was with Weight Watchers. I started doing that when I crested over the 200 pound mark. I dropped down to 168, which is the lowest I have been in my adult life. But I didn’t feel good. I was hungry all the time. And I didn’t get into the habit of adding workouts to my routine so I could eat more.

Eventually, I quit. And my body put all the weight back on in record time, with an extra ten pounds for good measure. Because insult and injury are good friends.

When Frankie and I got together, our first date was actually her helping me work out. We did all kinds of fun workouts in the park and I sweated and ached and it felt really good. As our relationship developed, I started eating healthier and craving healthier meals that she would make. I would work out in fits and starts, but I felt like I was making progress, albeit slowly, on feeling healthier and stronger.

When we moved in together, I joined the PSC gym near our apartment and started going 4 times a week. I found that, if I was going to a class, I could make myself go. Working out alone was a misery. But the classes at the gym were good and scheduled at a convenient time so that I could get off work and hit the gym on my way home to avoid procrastinating. I felt good. I felt like I was getting stronger and healthier with every passing week.

Then one day I went into the gym and picked up the class schedule for the next month and felt my heart sink. All of the 5:30 classes had been moved to 6:30 or 7. The only classes left at 5:30 were yoga (which is great, but not the kind of cardio and weight training I was after) and a class with an insane guy that made me feel like I was going to throw up and die on his floor. I was crushed. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but I was not capable of the type of motivation it would take to get me to the gym on time and put in a workout that would actually challenge me at that point.

I tried to stick with it. I went to the gym alone and tried to work out. I never felt as good or successful (or sore!) as I did when I was in a class. I tried waiting for the classes that were later in the day, but I would inevitably fail to get out of the house again once I was home with the dogs and in my comfy clothes.

So I fell off the wagon. As so many of us do.

Then I joined Sweat. And their classes have been great. And well scheduled. And for a while I was going every day. I felt better. I slept better. My skin cleared up. I even felt like less of a grumpy bear in the mornings. I swear, working out is like magic.

Of course, I fell off the wagon again. And now I’m getting back on.

It’s hard to keep doing this stuff. Even when it makes me feel really good. And I’ve tried talking to groups of people doing the same things, but I always find myself getting super defensive and upset when people try to have any type of dialogue with me about my weight or my health.

So I’m going to maybe write about this once a week here. Chronicle the things. Talk about what happens when I stop working out for whatever reason. Talk about when I’m successful. And just kind of feed this whole process into the ether of the internet in the hopes that it helps me and maybe some of you in our respective health journeys.

Social Justice Recharge

I have to take a day or two. This week has been overwhelming. Yet another person revealed to be killed needlessly by police. Yet another woman dying in police custody. The names are getting so plentiful that I can’t even keep track of them anymore. And Instagram is just banning anything woman-positive, it seems like. I don’t even know what to do or say about that. They have a serious problem. Top it all off with racist assholes saying shit about how #AllLivesMatter and I just can’t. I cannot. Anymore. With this shit.

So. I’m taking a break. And part of me feels guilty about doing that. Even though I know that self care is important. I feel like I’m leaving the field of battle, or something. So I thought this would be a good time to talk about activist burnout and what you can do to try to keep from getting to the point where I am right now. Because, you know, you should do as I say and not as I do. Because my habits aren’t exactly perfect.

1. Sleep. Seriously. I don’t care how much sleep is normal for you or how you do it, but getting enough rest is really important. I tend to be a dumb ass and play Bloodborne or watch TV until midnight, because reasons. But I really shouldn’t. I’m a much better person when I get a solid 7 or more hours of sleep in.

2. Eat well. Whatever that means for you. Fuel your body with the things you know it needs to make you feel good and energetic. For me, that’s a lot of veggies and making sure I eat breakfast (Which I still haven’t done, as I’m writing this. See? Terrible habits.). Remember that fueling your body also fuels your brain. And the happier your brain is, the more easily you can formulate arguments against people rampant ignorance regarding social justice issues.

3. Take time for yourself. Knit. Or crochet. Whatever. Watch TV. Do whatever it does that lets you settle your mind and get a sense of peace. Do this every day, if you can. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Maybe even try just meditating in silence, if that works for you. Centering yourself before you go into battle is important.

4. Move around a little. I don’t care if it’s just taking a walk around the block or doing a little dance at your computer. Move your body. Get your juices flowing. Turn on some music and dance a silly dance while you clean your house. Sitting hunched over your computer or holding yourself tense in hard conversations both lock you down in ways that you won’t even realize until after you move yourself around and shake yourself loose again.

5. Connect with other activists. I cannot stress this one enough. Having someone to bounce your ideas and thoughts and frustrations off of is really important. Having a safe space to ask questions and get feedback from people with a like mind and social stance to yours will invigorate and validate you.

6. Recognize when it is time to take a break. As much as I feel like a warrior abandoning her fellows on the field of battle today, I also acknowledge that I’m no help to anyone in my current state. I’m too reactionary. Too touchy. I won’t do any good as long as I’m like this. And the sooner that I pull away, the sooner I can recover and get back to it.

7. I also recommend, if you have any excess energy or time, funneling some of your energy into projects that feel entirely positive to you. I cross stitch and write pet poetry, for example. Both of these things are somewhat separate from the social justice sphere (Although my favorite cross stitching piece so far is one that says “Girls just wanna have fundamental human rights.”). Doing those things relaxes me and gives me something entirely positive to focus on and that has been really helpful for me.

I have to keep reminding myself as I focus on my own needs of Audre Lorde’s very wise words: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” So care for yourselves, my lovelies. Because you are needed in the fight. And you are no good to yourself or those around you if you are not fit for battle.

Rocket Cat Cafe’s Nudity Nonchalance

On Friday a friend of mine was at the Rocket Cat Cafe down in Northern Liberties in Philadelphia. While she was there, she was accosted by local nudist Tom Dimitriou, also known as Tommy D Naked Man. Needless to say she was shocked by the appearance of a man’s naked genitals next to her face while he offered her a flier for the Philly Naked Bike Ride. She got up and gave the guy an earful. You can read her account of what happened in an article she wrote for The Frisky, but she also commented on Rocket Cat’s Yelp page about it.

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The response of Rocket Cat owner Karen Breeze was to post this nonpology to their Facebook page.

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The fact that Breeze tried to turn their “apology” into a message promoting the event that they think somehow excuses this behavior is the first really big problem with this message. The second problem is that the owner tries to make it sound as though PNBR’s body positivity movement is in any way helped by jumping people in their regular day with a naked person. Weird thing about people, they don’t like having unsolicited dick waved in their face when they are having coffee. It’s a consent thing.

Of course, eventually the Breeze reached out to the Philly Naked Bike Ride and asked them for their support. They sent the following:

11800481_10152871575931150_5446400251872957627_nI hate to tell Breeze this, but PNBR’s response does not really help her out at all. All it does is show that PNBR was not aware of the type of promotion that Tommy D was doing and that they would never have allowed that type of promotion to go on, had they known about it.

That doesn’t mean that Breeze is somehow off the hook. Or that she has the support of PNBR in any way. PNBR has flat out asked that Tommy D not be involved with any of their promotional affairs in future. That is likely because they recognize that Tommy D is not a good representative if you are trying to get people to like or feel comfortable around you as an organization.

It also doesn’t help the case of Breeze or Rocket Cat that she has gone through her pages and deleted all the negative comments associated with this incident. Or that she has blocked supporters of Sarah (such as yours truly) from commenting.

I have to say, Breeze made made a lot of mistakes in this whole debacle. Nonetheleast of which was the use of Tommy D as an advocate of body positivity.

Which brings me to my next point. I have met Tommy D before. At an event called the Erotic Literary Salon here in Philadelphia. Of course, when you have a sex positive event, you get all kinds coming out for it. And Tommy D was one of the people who came out that gave me the willies. He was too touchy. Too leery. And he talked constantly about what a thrill it was to be seen naked by people on the street. The whole thing made me really uncomfortable, so I avoided him. He really seemed to be communicating all the time that his true thrill in being seen naked was that other people would see it, whether or not they consented to seeing him naked was never discussed. Tommy D’s view on consent is pretty amazing, honestly. He said in an article in Philadelphia Magazine on Monday that:

“I had permission from the owner. I figured that’s good enough. This thing about consent is an affront to our civil liberties. If someone gives you permission to be naked at their venue, and you don’t like it, then leave.” Likewise, he brushed off concerns that children at the café saw him naked. “That business about nudity hurting children is a lot of baloney,” he said.

Now, I’ve been to clothing optional places before. They are usually very well sign posted as such to the people patronizing them. You don’t just walk into a place and get surprised by how naked everyone is. Sometimes you even have to sign a waiver. Like it or not, public nudity is illegal in most places. And just because a person who owns a venue tells you that you can be naked, that doesn’t mean that they have the legal right to.

After I read that, I sent the article to the Salon organizer with a note saying that she might be interested in Tommy D’s views of consent. Her response was to tell me that the story was a “slippery slope” because he “had consent” from Breeze to be there.

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Except the owner of an establishment cannot consent on behalf of her patrons. If she had put up signage, I would agree that she had the right to shuck off responsibility for people being upset. But she did not.

Her next point was that “people freak out when it comes to nudity” and that, if they don’t like it, they can remove themselves.

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But that isn’t really relevant here. Again, a store owner cannot consent on behalf of the people in her store to a thing. And taking responsibility for what you want to be exposed to is all well and good when you can predict what you are going to be exposed to. But spotting naked scrotum isn’t something you really expect at a coffee shop that isn’t located on a nudist resort.

And honestly, if this were any other type of behavior, I doubt that people would find it defensible. If Tommy D had entered the store and just wantonly started punching people, for example, no one would tell the patrons to “take responsibility for what they are exposed to” and “just leave.” So many of the people responding to this story are seeing what he did as some kind of act of sexual freedom and body positivity. But it’s not. As Sarah Gray said in her Frisky article:

An act isn’t “body positive” or “sex positive” just because you say so. In a country where a sexual assault happens every 107 seconds and 98% of rapists are never jailed, you don’t get to complain when women respond with alarm to a sudden scrotum in the face.

As if all of his behavior wasn’t gross enough, Tommy D also upped the ante yesterday. He found Sarah’s phone number, called her up, said “This is Tommy. Freedom will win.” and then hung up the phone. So, you know, add stalking and harassment to his list of attributes right after thinking that consent is just a thing that fucks with his ability to do whatever he wants. He totally deserves the defense of all of these people all over Rocket Cat’s page. Except not.

#FreeTheNipple and Instagram’s Woman Problem

When you search #FreeTheNipple on Instagram, the results range from people actively protesting the ban on nipples by Instagram to requests for women to DM Instagram users to request photos of their dicks in return. But the most common images and videos attached to the hashtag are hardcore pornography.

To that I have this to say: What the fuck, Instagram?

If you want your platform to be some paragon of clothed virtue, but you let porn propagate on your site without stopping it, what I’m seeing is that you really only have a problem with women’s bodies when they are put on display in certain ways. Chiefly, when they are put on display by women in a context that does not involve someone else overtly deriving sexual pleasure from viewing the image.

Let me tell you a little story.

I grew up a girl. Not a particularly sexy or beautiful girl. But a girl. I didn’t bloom early or anything. I actually bloomed late.

That said, I got harassed on the street fairly often as a young adult. And I noticed something important. When I traveled by myself or with other young and femme-presenting people, I received a lot of harassment and unwanted attention from the men around me. When I traveled with masculine-presenting people, the harassment all but vanished.

That’s how I learned that I was safer when men perceived me as being controlled by another man.

When I would date, the men who I would date never wanted to hear about my relationships with other men. They were very keen to learn what my relationships with women were like. For them, my sex with other men was not entertaining. But my interactions with women were. I always refused to tell them anything. But they were very interested in taking control of my past sexual interactions with women.

That’s how I learned that my sex was something that the men I dated would always want to claim and control.

When I was an adult, the men I knew would go to strip clubs sometimes. I would listen to the way that they talked about strippers, how they would slag them off as diseased or slutty. It was as if, because these women were not willing to or interested in fucking them, the men watching them had to take them down a peg.

That is how I learned that the bodies of women put on display by women are bodies covered in shame by society as a means of disempowering them.

As an adult, I still get harassed. It still only seems to happen when I am alone or in the company of other femme-presenting women.

When I look at Instagram and see the way that they treat the bodies of women, I see every nasty and negative thing that I have ever learned about my body and my place in society reinforced. Instagram has a woman problem that I don’t really see changing anytime soon. And I’m not sure whether I will continue to keep up an account there. It’s something I have to think about. I feel like, with all of this, I should just leave that space completely. But I also feel like I should fight back somehow rather than just throwing in the towel. My personal account has not had any problems because I don’t post anything that would show my nipples. And my other account is pet poems, so I am really at a loss as to what I should do to help with this issue other than to send a message to Instagram, which I hope they will receive.

Instagram, you really need to get your shit together or you are going to see a mass exodus of users like me who are tired of watching women’s bodies be policed by you. This shit is not OK.

Enough is Enough: Terrorism in America

Last night my phone blew up just as I was going to sleep. There had been another mass shooting. This one in Lafayette, Louisiana.

After the previews, John Russel Houser stood up, turned to his fellow audience members, and opened fire. As of right now, reports are of two dead and eight wounded. Houser, of course, killed himself after perpetrating the act.

What happened last night in Louisiana was nothing less than an act of terror carried out against innocent people.

The question is, how long are we as a country going to let this shit go on?

So far this year, there have been 204 mass shootings in the United States. Mass Shooting Tracker (i.e., the most depressingly relevant web site ever to exist) defines a mass shooting as an incident “when four or more people are shot in an event, or related series of events, likely without a cooling off period.” These shootings, it should be noted, do not have to involve a death to be added to the list. That said, 204 is a completely unacceptable number.

204.

204 shootings.

This is unacceptable.

Houser last night stood up, calmly, in the middle of the theater, and simply unloaded his gun into the crowd in an act of blatant terrorism.

Ten dollars says that the gun he owned was purchased legally. They are already saying that he had a criminal record, but that it was quite old. So he may have been able to purchase the gun legally depending on the type of crimes he had previously committed.

It is worth noting at this point that he has not been characterized by the mainstream media as a “thug.” Nor even as a terrorist. They are calling him “shooter” and “gunman.” They are white washing his crime with words that are not meant to incense the public emotionally. They describe him so far as a man from Alabama who had “no known connection to Louisiana.” We haven’t seen his previous mug shots. They aren’t speculating on his possible mental health. Dealing with crimes committed by white people in this country is a surgical procedure. Everything is carefully named and processed and handle

As opposed to when a black person commits a crime in this country At which point the investigators and reporters play Jackson Pollock with the facts.

Governor Jindal of Louisiana said last night that what we can do is “pray” and “hug these families.” How about we do more than that? How about we work on reforming gun legislation in this country so that this shit never happens again? Because if you’re not doing that, your fucking hugs don’t mean jack shit.

Living with Dementia

Yesterday my mother and father went to my grandmother’s house to take her car away from her.

She already had her license suspended because of her dementia. But she refused to give up the car. Mostly because, although she promised she wouldn’t, she was still driving it.

On Tuesday my parents got a call from the Bensalem Police Department. Mommom had been parked outside of a barber shop. She said her car had broken down. She couldn’t remember where she was going. And she had to be pressed to give the police my mother’s number.

I suspect she was ashamed.

When they towed her car away, they found that there was nothing wrong with it, mechanically. I think she was just lost and scared. And she knew that, if they towed her car, they would take her home.

Dementia must be terrifying. And a lot of the things that go along with it – mood swings, irritability, argumentativeness – are symptoms of that terror.

Looking back on it, my grandmother has been showing signs of dementia for many years now. This diagnosis comes at a time when she has already been struggling with this for more than a decade.

When I was growing up I lived directly around the corner from my grandmother. She would walk around and watch us when my parents needed her to. She was always there. Always available.

She used to drive us places. On one memorable occasion, she drove away from her apartment with my brother and I in the car and made a left hand turn onto Levick street. The problem with that is that Levick is a one-way street and this put us in opposition to the flow of traffic. I shouted at her that she was going the wrong way and she turned into a driveway as the light turned green at the nearest intersection and cars started streaming at us.

She assured me that she was just doing that to get to the alleyway as a sort of short cut. But I think she genuinely forgot that the road was only one way, despite having lived there for 10 years at that point.

Things have gotten far worse since then. As I said, her license was suspended not that long ago. She has had minor accidents and forgotten about them. She has gotten lost for hours driving to places that are less than 5 minutes away. When you talk to her, she tries to follow the conversation but gets confused easily. She calls me by my aunt’s and mother’s names frequently.

Watching my grandmother go through this process and watching my mother attempt to ensure her continued safety and health has been really difficult in a lot of ways. First, it has been really hard to see my grandmother degenerate like this. Her pain, fear, and confusion are almost palpable when you are in the room with her. I try to keep all of our conversations light and make her laugh, but there is only so much you can do sometimes. There is also an element of fear in watching her illness progress. In wondering what that process will be like if I ever go through it. The idea gives me chills.

But the hardest part of all of this has been watching my mother struggle with the systems – or lack thereof – put in place to deal with an aging relative who has been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association has been helpful in understanding what my grandmother has been going through. But the actual process of dealing with this has been a nightmare. From getting her license revoked to finding housing and resources and working on guardianship status for my mom, it’s all been really hard. And the entire time we have all been worried that, while this is all going on, Mommom will hurt herself or someone else in the process and it will all be for naught.

With this latest bump, the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging has gotten involved, which is great. They have programs that will have someone come to the house and clean and cook for her or even run her to doctor’s appointments and such.

What really needs to happen is that she needs to go into a home. I know that she will be happier there. She spends so much time worrying about getting things accomplished in her little apartment. I know the anxiety gets to her.

When they went to take the car from her yesterday, my dad told her that they had to take it or the cops would impound it, which was a white lie in a lot of ways. But it worked. And afterward they installed her air conditioner and fixed her phone and her cable. She called mom later to thank her and mom said that she already sounds more relaxed, even relieved.

I genuinely believe that she could live a long and comfortable life in a home of some kind. If she keeps living on her own, she is going to worry herself into an early grave.

So cross your fingers for an opening in one of the homes where we have applications. I just want to see her happy and safe.

Black Lives Matter: Sandra Bland

It seems as if I wake up every day to the sound of another name. Like a gunshot. They ring out over social media.

This week it was Sandra Bland.

I didn’t know who she was last month. Last year. She wasn’t a friend. Wasn’t someone I knew. But I knew her story as soon as the hashtag popped up on Twitter.

#WhatHappenedToSandraBland.

I already knew what happened. A moment of digging into a link posted by a friend yielded the details.

She was 28 years old. Younger than me. But she was vocal like me. Specifically, she was vocal about police abuse. Like me.

The difference between the two of us was that Sandra was a black woman. And there are consequences for being a vocal black woman that there are not on the table for me as a vocal white woman.

They found Sandra dead in her cell in police custody on July 13th.

The initiated a federal investigation on the 16th. They thought she might have been murdered.

Then they released the dashcam footage yesterday. And it did not come anywhere close to exonerating the police. I will not share the video here. You can go and look for it. I watched it once and I will never watch it again.

A summary, though, for those of you who want to avoid watching it.

In the video, officer Brian Encinia pulls her over. After a brief exchange, he tells her to put out her cigarette. She refuses. He asks her to step out of the car. When she refuses, they argue for a minute until he tells her to get out of the car again and threatens to “light her up” with his taser. Then he moves to arrest her on the sidewalk, out of view of the dashcam. There is some kind of physical altercation on the sidewalk, out of view, and Sandra is arrested.

Far from exonerating the officers, this video was troubling to it’s very core. She was being pulled over for failing to signal a lane change. She is not required to put out her cigarette during a traffic stop. There was no reason for the officer to have her exit the vehicle. And the sound of the scuffle off where the cameras can’t see was disturbing in the extreme.

Today, the latest news is that the video appears to have been edited. Which just makes everything worse. It’s clear that the footage has been doctored within the week that has passed since Sandra’s death. In the video, the footage appears to have been looped and edited several times, with cars appearing and disappearing and people walking out of the frame multiple times.

I just… the thing that keeps getting to me about all of the deaths and abuse that we have been seeing is the brazen way that they are perpetrated.

It’s obvious that Sandra’s death was wrongful with even a cursory glance at the facts. It’s obvious that she did not need to be arrested. It’s obvious that the officer’s behavior was out of line. It’s obvious that the video was doctored.

And yet, as with all of these cases, I hold out no hope that Sandra’s killers will see justice done. At most, they will get fired or something. They won’t stand trial for her murder. They won’t suffer for the way that she suffered.

It’s horrible to feel the truth of that. The immunity that police enjoy in these cases. Because really, every time this happens, it erodes my faith in the justice system a little more. It takes away from the ability of people of color in this country to feel safe in their own neighborhoods. It erodes the ability of good cops to do their jobs safely.

The more this happens, the more we lose. I just wish someone in government would wake up and see that and do something.

Pet Poetry

I have been writing a lot of things that are not this thing lately. And I feel kind of guilty about that.

Mostly what I’ve been doing is working on a new project over on Instagram. It’s called Pet Poetry and I’m pretty excited about it. I had been writing pet poems to myself for a while, but now I’ve got people submitting photos of their pets for me to write about. It’s super fun!

Here’s the installment from this morning:

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The poem that accompanied it:

From time to time
the servants
bring me food.
They bedeck me in
flowers of unknown origin.
They bring me meat
hewn from the flesh of my enemies.

From time to time
I deign to let them
scratch me behind my
delicate ears.

It’s good to be the queen.

What’s crazy is that the photo from today was submitted by a person I don’t know at all. We weren’t connected on social media or through meatspace in any way before I created my new twitter account for this project. She found me through there, submitted a photo of her lovely Princess Yumi, and I wrote her a poem.

I feel like I might be on the cusp of something kind of big with this project. My friends are all raving about it. And I feel super good doing it, more importantly. I have 9 submissions in my que already, with 4 poems written for them.

I’m loving doing this. I hope it gets as big as people seem to think it will. I would love to make it into a book or something, when I have enough poems brought together.

Between the pet poetry thing and the gaming book I am working on, blogging has taken a back seat for the past week. Which I’m super bummed about. I have some drafts of blog entries and I promise to pump out more content this week, regardless of my poetry demands. I at least want to do a couple of things for Yeah, Write, which I have also been falling behind on.

Ah, the life of a budding writer. I feel like I’m too creative for my own good at this point. Like there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to get the writing done that I want to get done. Which is a weird thing to me. I’ve never been this productive before. Maybe I was just focusing my attention in the wrong directions, up until now.

So yea, this has been my most rambling blog entry ever? Sorry about that. I’ll get more on point soon. Promise.

Being a “Real” Anything

Today I had a mini-kerfluffle on the internet. The topic doesn’t matter, really. But in that kerfluffle I was accused of not being a “real” fan because I hadn’t watched all of a particular show. I found myself bristling at the accusation even as I acknowledged that the opinion of some person on the internet as to the realness of my appreciation for a certain thing was a non-issue.

The contrast between the feeling of having to defend one’s fandom and the knowledge that it shouldn’t matter is something that I see myself and other fans struggle with all the time. Recently I even had a friend tell me that she was nervous to start watching the Star Wars franchise movies for the first time because she worried that she “wouldn’t like them right.”

I was aghast.

What is the “right” way to like something?

Listen, I know that there are a lot of people who froth about this thing or that thing not being canon and not really wanting to deal with certain aspects of a fandom. I have been guilty of doing that. I hated the treatment of the second trilogy of Star Wars films, for example.

But even I acknowledge that things change. And that people who did not grow up with the Star Wars films of my childhood are not going to bond with them in the same way that I do. That’s just the nature of the beast. It’s the nature of time and childhood and loving things differently than other people do.

And here’s the thing that I have learned over the last couple of years: It’s really awesome when other people love things in a different way than you do. Because I would never think of publishing a cook book based on a fandom that I love. I would never think to make little plushies or dress in costume or do any of a number of other awesome things that other fans do. And the fact that they do those things makes me endlessly happy.

Even more than that, when I introduce someone to a new thing that I love, I’m guaranteed to find out something I never knew about the person I’m introducing. I’m also guaranteed to be introduced to a new way of looking at something that I love. And that’s a GOOD thing.

The pressure around being “real” extends beyond just fandoms and nerd culture and what have you. Take it from someone who took forever to figure out her sexuality. For a really long time, I wasn’t sure if I was a “real” queer person. Even now there’s a whole lot of baggage that I’m sorting out around being a “real” lesbian. It’s hard. And it only gets harder when other people call your identity into question.

So here’s what I’m going to say.

You’re real. You are whatever you feel like you are. And don’t let anyone tell you any different.


P.S. Being creative this week has been super hard. So thanks for reading. Struggling with the whole “real” writer thing over here. Sigh.