A Re-dedication

As anyone who has ever tried to write according to facts knows, research is the hardest part. It is especially difficult when the materials you need are right out of reach, a hair’s breadth away from your fingers.

A treasure trove of information sits in my late grandmother’s closet. She passed almost three weeks ago and we will be dividing her belongings between ourselves. Everything my grandfather doesn’t need is up for grabs by the 5 blood siblings–sibling number six being conspicuously left out on purpose. But that’s another story for another day. While she was alive, Grandma told me not to start on my book until she was dead because she doesn’t want to see it. I respected that. But now she’s gone and I need to work to survive.

But the question remains: will the family give me access to the materials I need? Somehow I doubt that. I reached out to them a few years ago about collecting some favorite stories about their mother and any memories they had of growing up. The response was frigid at best. At worst I was lectured on the harm of stirring up  the past. It was scarring. I contemplated giving up, but there is a story here too good not to be told.

So I am going to fight. I am going to fight for access to these amazing photo-journals and memorabilia because this is a worthy cause. Grandma deserves to be memorialized, studied, and preserved for history. Her story is one of great joy, hardship, and love. A timeless tale of struggle and relief. And if I don’t tell it, no one will.

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James and the Giant Klutz

This is how I broke my foot Sunday night. It’s kind of a funny story.

Do you ever feel like things are going really well? Maybe too well? That’s how I felt Sunday night. I was out for the first time with a lovely guy. We were getting along great, it wasn’t awkward at all. Our political views align, he’s a Hufflepuff (I’m so done dating Gryffindors), his love for cats is equal to mine, and he was even cuter than the pictures. It was great. It was better than great: it was perfect. So perfect, in fact, that fate was tempted because I don’t get to have nice things without a catch.

The catch this time was a klutz attack. For anyone not familiar with those, it’s when you’re minding your own business when suddenly it’s like you’re in an infomercial and can do nothing correctly. Except I wasn’t holding a bowl of popcorn or doing something else innocuous. I was walking. On a small ledge. Almost a foot off the pavement. In my defense, there was a loose stone, but I don’t think better masonry would have saved me at that time.

Mid-sentence, trying to be cute as I go towards the car in my 3 inch platform shoes, when suddenly I’m flat on the ground. A total wipe out. Skinned knee, twisted ankle, and only God’s grace saved my tights from disastrous runs. James is full out flipping. Frantic questions about if I’m okay, how did that happen, am I hurt? At my side in half a second trying to help me up. I, on the other hand, play it cool, popping up like it’s no big deal and I didn’t just land over two hundred pounds onto the top of my foot as it rolled under me.

And the pain? Not too bad. I’d had two drinks. Not enough to be buzzed yet, but enough to take the edge off my chronic pain and apparently any additional pain I endure. So I seriously didn’t think I was lying to this guy when I said I was fine, just a little sore. Oh how wrong I was. I head home (after making out in my car for half an hour like teenagers) and the next morning my foot is swollen and a lovely shade of lilac. I can hardly move my toes and my ankle won’t bend in certain directions. Not. Good. And my mom is out of town. So I have to get a friend to take me to the doctor, and it is a whole ordeal. Avulsion fracture of the fifth metatarsal and a sprained ankle. No weight bearing until I am cleared by an orthopedic surgeon. Fuck.

Being the painfully honest person I am, I felt like I should really let him know, especially seeing as we had planned to meet up later in the week. So I text and get another very sweet round of frantic concern followed by the sweetest offer ever. He’s making me dinner tonight so I don’t have to hobble around my tiny kitchen. This boy (Man? Am I really that old now? I think I might be.) is too sweet.

So maybe things are okay. Even with a broken foot. I’m not saying it was worth it, but good might just come of this.

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My experience with Asexuality in Fandom: Carnival of Aces October 2017

One of the greatest things about creating fanwork is the ability to tailor the content to something that corresponds to one’s life and way of thinking. This allows for greater freedom to create and imagine, to play with a universe that has already been drawn up for you. It is because of this freedom that headcanons exist. For those not deep into the fandom life, a headcanon is an opinion one holds that they believe to be true even though it is never stated as such in the original media. One popular—though much disputed—headcanon is that Sherlock Holmes, from BBC’s Sherlock, is asexual. I personally subscribe to this theory and have created several fanfiction stories using the concept. My headcanon is that Sherlock is a demi-romantic asexual who is in love with John Watson.

When I was first coming to terms with my asexuality the Sherlock fandom was incredibly important to me. Writing stories portraying Sherlock as asexual allowed me to work through the confusion I had about my orientation and the fears I had for the future, just as reading similar stories reassured me that I was not alone. Unfortunately, in the past five years things have changed in the Sherlock fandom. Discourse has overtaken the tumblr tags and quarrels abound. It no longer feels like the safe place it once was for me. The main battle is between those who believe Sherlock is asexual and those who believe he is homosexual. Both sides are adamant in their beliefs and often refuse to consider where the other is coming from. At the end of the day it is a fictional television show and not as desperately important as people are making it out to be, but that doesn’t stop the arguing. What inspires me to stay in the fandom, however, are the content creators who keep working to show Sherlock as asexual despite the controversy going on around them. Every week new art or fanfiction is posted online for people to enjoy and relate with. And slowly, ever so slowly, fanfiction recommendations are taking back the tags from the discourse, giving hope that the safe place it once was will be reestablished.

During the time that the Sherlock fandom has been overrun with discourse, I’ve had time to explore asexuality in other fandoms. One surprising place where it is embraced is the One Direction fandom. I don’t write real people fiction, nor do I often read it. One Direction, especially Larry (shipping Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson), is my only exception. And one can imagine how surprised I was to see that people are creating stories to deal with their thoughts and feelings on asexuality by using versions of the singers we love. It was exactly like what I’d been doing in the Sherlock fandom. One story that really affected me was “Ace,” by aclosetlarryshipper. She wrote a beautiful coming of age story wherein Louis is asexual and has to come to terms with feeling broken and lost while not wanting to disappoint his boyfriend Harry. The sharpest, most striking piece of the story is when he comes out to Zayn and is met with rejection, a feeling many of us know all too well. I’ll be honest, I cried. I cried for Louis, I cried for me, and I cried for all of the people who have ever felt that lost and alone. Scared and broken.

I think why “Ace” affected me the way it did is because in Sherlock stories you never see that kind of brutal rejection. It is very much a fantasy place where even if John is momentarily confused, people almost never delve into that kind of pain unless it is in past tense with John there to soothe the memory away. Of course, it has a happy ending, but the author makes you wait for it. You really get into the melancholy of it before finally being pulled out by friendly apologies and romantic advances. It is truly beautiful and will stick with me for a very long time.

I am going to wrap this post up by linking you guys to a few stories that I think do a particularly good job of representing asexuality in the fandoms mentioned. One of which, of course, will be the story mentioned above! Even if One Direction and real people fic isn’t your thing, I highly suggest checking it out.



“The Elephant in the Room” by Kantayra

Technicalities by TheMadKatter13

And Not Or by ShinySherlock

The Issue of Cuddling by lavvyan

Labels by Pic_Akai

Black. Two sugars. By solrosan (this focuses on Molly Hooper, not Sherlock, but is one of the best I’ve read)


One Direction:

Looking in the dark (with an empty heart) by starsinoureyes

Ace by aclosetlarryshipper

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Why I broke up with Academia.

If you read my May 2016 Carnival of Aces post, then you will have seen that I withdrew from my MA program. It was a shocking move to most who know me, which makes sense. For more than a decade now all I’ve said I want to do is go to school, get a PhD in History, and teach at a university. Ten years and this plan never wavered-until now, that is. All those years I had an idealized version of what it meant to study history and to be an historian. I believed it was a great calling which I would use to help the world. I still believe I can use history in that way,  but not through the lense of formal academics.

My experiences this past year have shown me that academia is not the noble and elite place I was lead to believe it is. Like everything else, it is a career. And at the end of the day a career puts personal gain and monetary growth above all else. However, one has to ask if this is what the discipline should be.

*noise of a record scratching*

We interrupt this blog post to note that it has been more than a year since I started writing this. More than a year since the words began to dry up and the muse fled from me. Very little of import (or otherwise) has gotten done in this time period. And in that time period, I got promoted, lied to, stolen from, mocked, I quit my job, and am now back on the job hunt. All on the backdrop of the shit show that is 2016 and 2017. Because of this my perspective has changed somewhat. I am less angry at the College than before. I am world-weary. I have new things to be angry about and less time to dwell on it.

This was going to be a manifesto. A call to action to the people of the world to fight back against a system that refuses to change as the world changes around it. I was going to call out the ableist professors who refused to accommodate a documented disability and stated that I was “undeserving”–yes you read that right–of an education. I was going to call out the old guard professors who believe this is a man’s game that must be as pretentious as possible. Who can’t imagine that history could possibly be well written and enjoyable while also being accurate. Who marked me down from a perfect score because my paper was “too fun to read” because “historiography shouldn’t be easy to read.”

But the world doesn’t need one more failed academic railing against the system. They need change. And the only way to make that change, is to be it. So I am going to keep writing. I write for myself. I write for my friends. And I write for all the students who have talent and drive but keep getting put down for their ideas. I write to be the change we need. I write.

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Hello, CD Listeners: a short tribute to a legend.

I grew up knowing and enjoying the music of Tom Petty, but it wasn’t until I was a teenager and first listened to all of Full Moon Fever that I fell in love with him. For those who haven’t heard the cd version of this album, it contains a hidden message in the gap between songs five and six, aka “Runnin’ Down a Dream” and “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better.” It goes as follows:

Hello, CD listeners. We’ve come to the point in this album where those listening on cassette (or records) will have to stand up (or sit down) and turn over the record (or tape). In fairness to those listeners, we’ll now take a few seconds before we begin side two. Thank you. Here’s side two.

I can’t precisely put my finger on what it is I find so charming about this interlude. Maybe it is the thoughtfulness of it. More likely it is the sense of humor it takes to record a thirty second track and attach it to the end of another song. As the album’s Wikipedia page notes, the spoken word is placed over the sound of various barnyard noises. Absolutely ridiculous in concept, but perfect in execution. This little 30 second piece set me on the road to what would become an all too mocked obsession with Mr. Petty. But I’m not sore that my friends and coworkers don’t understand or appreciate my love for his wit and music because one needs only listen to him to know he spoke of universal experiences in love and life. And that is more influential than a bit of teasing could ever be.

Rest in peace, Mr Petty. Your soul will live on forever through the spirit of your music. Your fight to be free is over. You don’t have to live like a refugee.

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Stranger Danger

“Stranger Danger, or, The one where I’m not the only alarmist currently employed at the Museum.”

A co-worker came up to me today, wearing her patented “I’m concerned” face, and asked me if I had access to the security camera feed at the front desk. She then said she needed to show me a man who was acting in a suspicious manner. I was a little stunned because everyone who had come in to the museum in the past few hours was a member and so I at least somewhat knew all of them.

We pull up the cameras and the man in question had just walked over to the art room and was standing almost directly under the camera. It was one of our regulars, we’ll call him John Doe. I told her that we see the Does at least once a week. They are loyal members, their twin girls did the fall session of our dance class. Never once have I seen him do anything suspicious or gotten any bad vibes from him. From all of our interactions, I knew John as a nerdy, doting father. He even patiently indulges my need for small talk as I check them in when they come.

So my co-worker then explains why she was worried. Apparently he had been wandering around on the other side of the museum, away from his family, and had his phone out. Now, as much as I’d like to ban parents from using their phones when they should be playing with their children, there is no rule that says “You MUST put your phone away in the Children’s Museum.”

But here’s where it gets strange:

From my co-worker’s point of view it looked as if he was taking pictures of children that he didn’t know, and when he noticed her looking at him he shoved his phone into his pocket and acted really guilty. That, of course, set off the alarm bells in my head. She could see it on my face just as I could see it on hers, spelled out in big letters. P-E-D-O-P-H-I-L-E. Working with kids, this kind of behaviour is a big problem and we’re all trained to look for the signs –I have the Darkness to Light certificate to prove it. And as my mind is spiraling down the rabbit hole, wondering how I could have been so wrong about this man, I notice on the monitor that he has pulled out his cell phone.

And then I see it. Those familiar shades of blue and green. A small spot of red near the bottom center of the screen.

Then finally, perfectly positioned under the camera for me to see, he swipes the screen with his finger, tossing out the pokeball and making a perfect catch. He was playing Pokemon Go. That was the moment I remembered that there are 5 pokestops  available through out the museum. It was also the moment my co-worker learned that people are still playing that game.

Needless to say, we felt pretty stupid after all that. At least I can say with confindence that my initial opinion of John Doe was correct. He’s definitely a nerd. (But who am I to judge!)

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Home Again

What is home? Some people say it is a place. That one place in the world where everything felt like it could be okay. It could be the place you grew up. Or the cabin where your family spent every summer. It could be a specific house or just a specific town. The place you go to find your roots. Others say it is a person. The one person who comes to mind every time that song comes on the radio. It could be your mother as she hugs you tight. Or the calming embrace of a lover. It could be that moment when all of your siblings are together in one room like when you were all little. The person who grounds you through the storm.

But what if home is none of those things? Houses are not indestructible. They bend and break, falling into ruins before our eyes as the years pass. Houses can be bought and sold, repainted and transformed to the point where you try to go home one day and it has disappeared. And as the town you knew and loved grows the character changes. Sometimes the town shrinks in your absence. Weeds grow up around buildings and it slowly becomes a ghost town, only a glimmer of its former self remaining. And eventually you look around and it doesn’t feel the same any more. The feeling of security you had there is gone.

People are not indestructible either. Some die, some leave, and some have to be left behind. One moment your world is tied to a person and the next you’re a drifting balloon. The hardest part is when you have to consciously untie yourself from that mooring because even though it feels like home, that home has become toxic and unlivable. Home is supposed to be a comfort, not a constant source of pain. The decision to leave such a relationship is heartbreaking, but in the end liberating as it leads you to your true home.

Home, to me, is within yourself. It is mustering all you have in you and knowing that it will be enough to get you through the night. Because even if you’re alone you will have yourself to rely on. In this way, home is wherever you are and whatever you do. Like a turtle, you take your home with you, but rather than being a shell it is carried in your heart. Just because you may feel at home with another does not mean that person is your home.

So when you feel adrift and uncertain, look towards yourself and know that you are home.

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