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When I find the living a bore, there's a place I go...

lyrics by Voltaire (Graveyard Picnic)

I'll try to keep this coherent, for those of you that might care to read it.  But this is mostly journaling as therapy, so I make no real promises.

I was at ComedySportz World Championships in Indianapolis last week.  It's this warm bubble love and laughs.  We're an international group of improvisors who believe firmly that having someone's back extends well beyond the playing field.  Our anthem begins, "CSz, CSz, we are family," and ends "We will sacrifice, 'cause at ComedySportz, we're nice."  Those are the people I spent the last week improvising and partying with.

On Wednesday night the annual LGBTQ+ Match was played.  It's always been closed to the public, because the jokes tend to focus heavily on sex/sexuality, and that's not on-brand ("ComedySportz is for everyone."  Including children and prudes).  But it's become a much beloved Championship tradition.  One of the hosts made a point of talking about why it's important to remember that even if we can't make those kinds of explicit jokes in a public match, that it's important to the queer folks in CSz to know that CSz is a safe space.  He also stressed that there are other kinds of diversity in our family, and that he'd love to see other minorities have their own shows at future championships.  How important that visibility is.  Within 48 hours the inaugaral Disabilities Match was put together and played.

I didn't play in the LGBTQ+ Match.  It didn't seem that important.

Saturday was Indy's Pride Parade, and many of our queer players, and allies marched together as ComedySportz.  I wore my one-and-only rainbow (a bracelet empheliath and Mike bought me, with colorful skull shaped beads), and painted my lips like the bi pride flag. It was beautiful and wonderful, and affirming.

That night the final matches were played, and afterward all 270ish of us went back to the hotel and took over their bar and lobby.  I knew we had to drive home the next morning, so eventually I started saying my good byes.  When I was saying good bye to another bi player he asked why I hadn't played in the LGBT+ Match.  I answered honestly, that it seemed more important to other people than it felt to me, and I didn't want to crowd the stage, and take playing time away from people to whom it mattered more.  He encouraged me to play next year, stressing how little B had been in the LGBT match.

I didn't look at the clock at that moment, but based on when I got back to my room, it's likely that conversation happened around 2am Sunday morning.

Around 10:30am I got up, packed up the last of my things, and drove back to Richmond with my husband and another RVA Player we'd carpooled with.  I found out about Orlando maybe an hour into a 10ish hour road trip with two hetcis men (wonderful, caring hetcis men, but hetcis men).  I didn't read any articles, and every time I started to cry I forced it all down.  I didn't want to be the hysterical crying woman who made an uncomfortably long car trip even more unbearable.  Eventually I channeled everything I was feeling into a Facebook fight with a guy who insisted he was an amazing ally, even when he had members of the community going, "In general, maybe.  But right now you're being a dick, and please shut up."

I didn't cry until Moday morning when I allowed myself to start reading articles, learning names, etc.

Some time that evening my husband asked why I was so personally effected by this.  I tried to explain.

When I was a teenager, being bi was a huge part of my identity.  The first REAL crush I can remember having was on a college woman who thought I was much older than I was (nothing inappropriate happened, much to my disappointment).  I came out to my friends, which felt huge at the time, even though half of them had already come out to me as gay or bi.  We participated in AIDS research fund raising together, and were collectively obsessed with RENT.

I came out to my mom.  I didn't want the first time she found out to be when I brought home my first girlfriend.  As it happens, the timing was never right with either of the women I might have seriously dated in college, and I met my husband almost immediately after breaking up with my last college boyfriend.  We haven't particularly talked about it since, and for all I know she thinks it was some sort of phase I went through.  But it was important to me to tell her.

My husband and I have been together for almost ten years.  I have incredible passing privilege.  Because that's what happens to cis bisexual women who marry cis straight men (or vice versa).  When people assumed I was straight I mostly didn't bother to correct them.

It didn't seem that important.

We were winning.  We'd achieved marriage equality, and there were still discriminatory laws on the books, but people had stopped using "gay" as an insult, and public opinion, on the whole, was headed in the right direction.  There were still fights to fight, but the biggest of them seemed to be focused on the trans community--an area where I consider myself an ally, but where my sexuality doesn't really factor in.  (For all that the T in LGBT stands for "Trans" sexuality and gender aren't the same thing).

Orlando was a huge slap in my far too complacent face.

Today, after a shift at my new job, I came home and watched what I had left of Boy Meets World, season 1.  I needed something simple and heart warming.  I needed to not think about Orlando for a bit.

At 7:30 I put away the dvds and checked my Facebook notifications.  Lots of post-event chatter on the Championship group, and of course, lots about Orlando, and LGBTQ+ pride.  Then a couple of comments made me realize that there was something going on tonight, and a quick Google search confirmed that a vigil had started half an hour earlier.

So then I cried for about half an hour, angry and hurt that no one--not even all the people I knew crying out that we can't forget our bi friends during this tragedy, this is their community too, they're in pain too, etc--had reached out to me and let me know this was happening.  It wasn't anyone's fault.  The people most tied into that kind of information are deep in their own grief, and if they thought about me at all, probably assumed I'd already heard about it.

One person, someone I barely know, did include me on a Facebook event invitation.  And maybe every other queer friend I had thought of inviting me, and saw that I'd already been invited.  But I never got the event notification (thanks so much, Facebook), and emotionally speaking, the end result is the same as if no one had invited me.

And I know, Poor me.  My friends who are also deeply emotionally compromised right now, didn't reach out to me in multiple forums to make sure I knew about a vigil.  My life is so sad.  Me, me, me.

I feel like even writing this sounds super narcissitic and self-involved when there are very real victims in Orlando.  But like everyone else, everyone who felt the need for a vigil tonight, I'm reeling from this.  And tonight I felt really abandoned by my community.

I just want to go back to Championship, and march in more Pride parades, and play in the gods damned LGBTQ+ Match, go to All The Vigils, and tattoo pride flags across my forehead.

Out Past the Edge of What They Know

I can't wholly believe it's happened and there's no more planning or fretting, just memories. A good friend recommended that I write everything down before I forget it, and this is my attempt at that. I'm not sure how coherent it will be, but I'll do my best.

Breakfast/brunch at the Silver Diner with Micah, Amanda, and Gary. I had an omelet and home fries and a biscuit and briefly worried that I shouldn't be eating so much right before getting into my dress... and the remembered that the ceremony was seven plus hours away, and I probably wouldn't get a chance to eat again until sometime after 8. Our waitress (Tiffani, or some other strangely spelled version of Tiffany) couldn't have been more than 18, and was absolutely adorable. I can't remember what got said that made me tell her that Micah and I were getting married that night, but her voice hit an impressive pitch when she congratulated us--and then dropped quickly to a more normal range when she pointed out that it's bad luck for the bride and groom to see each other on the day of the wedding.

Back at the cottage (our rooms at the venue) I took two trips to move my dress, shoes, make-up, etc all over to the bride's room upstairs from the reception hall. My mom, sisters and I were supposed to meet Michele at noon to start our hair, but most of us were running a bit late. We finally started around quarter to 1, but things went quickly. And then I we got a bit cocky, because at 4:40, just 20 minutes before Don and Lindsay (our photographers) were due to arrive, I was just finishing up my hair, still in my robe, and without a speck of make up on my face.

I did my make-up as fast as I reasonably could (while Michele put rhinestone bobby-pin thingies in my otherwise-finished hair), and then got into the dress and shoes. And jewelry. Turns out it takes 3 bridesmaids to change my earrings. Shortly after that Lindsay led me out to the front lawn where a wooden dressing screen had been set up perpendicular to an easel holding our ketubah. Don was already snapping photos of Micah who was sitting on the far side of the screen waiting for me (I could see his shoes). I wish I'd felt less rushed in that moment. While our mothers were signing as our witnesses, I was frantically instructing Leah on a) where to find my chalice and athame b) the correct way in which to handle my chalice and athame, c) the amount of wine to put in the chalice and d) where the chalice and athame needed to be for the ceremony.

Tori waited with me further back than the rest of the processional until it was time for her to head down the aisle. I don't remember what we talked about, just a sort of giddiness. Colleen (the wedding coordinator, without whom I would have lost my mind) pulled Tori up, and then it was my turn. I couldn't hear the music well--I'm not sure if it was because I was so focused on other things, or if it just didn't travel well to where I was.

I remember rounding the corner and stepping through the "door" in the mill's ancient walls, and looking straight at Micah. I knew where he'd be from the rehearsal, and I remember distinctly the grin that spread across his face when our eyes met. And I remember there being a big burr caught between the layers of my train while Tori tried to straighten it out. Also my veil not being cooperative when Micah tried to put it back, off my face. I remember trying really hard not to cry so that I could get my vows out. And glancing out into the crowd where my mother was just streaming tears. I remember Pad and Maggie's ring blessing, and the "ooh" of the crowd when he let the two rings come together on the blue-and-white cord. I remember Terry announcing us for the very first time and just being so happy I thought would burst, standing there hand in hand with my husband, looking out at a crowd of our friends and family.

Posed photos out on the lawn with our families and wedding party, then a few more playful ones with just Micah and I out near the creek. Announced to a great Doctor Who medley, and dancing our first dance to JoCo's I'm Your Moon. After the first minute or so PJ, our DJ, invited other couples out onto the floor, and just as they started to join us Micah gave me a great twirl in my Cinderella dress.

After that, the evening is a bit of a blur: hugging James and Lisa, and lots of other people I haven't seen in nearly long enough. Nearly being dropped during the Hora (no really--I know everyone worries they're going to be dropped. If I hadn't had a death grip on the arms there was a good 30 second period there where I really would have tumbled out of the chair), and being saved by Dave who was holding up more than his fair share of both chairs at that point. A million people checking in to see if Micah and I had eaten, and later a million people urging me to drink some water.

The toasts. Ohmygods, the toasts! Travis's Nicholas Sparks toast, Pad's totally innocent yet somehow inappropriate reminiscences ("It was totally platonic--there were like four of us"), Rachel's heartfelt declaration of sisterhood, Christine, Rachel, Brandon, and Emily's Ballad, and of course Dimitri's totally reasonable plea to quit toasting us.

I'll edit and update this post as things come to me, but there was just so much wonderful stuff happening that night. Plus, you know, I married my favorite person in the whole world, so that's pretty awesome.

[6:26 eta:]

Turning around at the end of I'm your Moon to find my divorced parents dancing, and getting along better than I could have hoped.


So... I don't actually care if anyone signs this petition. Fox News is, no matter what they claim, extremely conservatively biased and frequently share total fiction as if it were fact.

What I do care about are lies and misinformation being spread about my religion. While I can't bring myself to rage at Fox News over this, I also can't let it pass without comment or correction.

Below is a point-by-point refutation of the "facts" they share about Wicca. If any of this is news to you, or you think it may be news to someone you know, I implore you to share this. You can think I'm a damned sinner all you want, if that's what you're inclined to do. All I ask is that you think that for reasons based in reality.

1) "There are more Zoroastrians here than there are Wiccans." The Census Bureau is legally restricted from asking mandatory questions about religious affiliation, so this one is hard to prove or disprove. On the other hand, how many Zoroastrians do you know? How many Wiccans? Based on anecdotal evidence, at least, I think we can all agree this one is untrue.

2) "they have a ton of holidays." Eight. We have eight holidays. Care to compare that to, I dunno, let's say the Catholic calender?

3) "...Wiccanism..." No. This isn't a word.

4) "You get 20 holidays now if you're a Wiccan." Again, 8. We have eight holidays, roughly two per season, four of which will most likely fall during periods when most students are already out of class (for those of you skipping the video this whole piece was inspired by the University of Missouri's policy of religious tolerance regarding time off for pagan holidays).

5) "Any religion whose most sacred day is Halloween... I just can't take seriously." Halloween is NOT one of our eight holidays. It happens to share a calender date with Samhain (which is no more or less sacred than any of our other seven sabbats), but that's neither here nor there.

6) "Call me a bigot." Actually, I've got nothing to refute here; this guy's a bigot.

7) "I'm not offering a [garbled] against Wiccanism." It would be hard to offer anything for or against Wiccanism. Equally it would be difficult to offer anything for or against Christianism, Jewishism, or Buddhistism.

8) "How many Wiccans can name all Wiccan holidays--or even 50% of Wiccan holidays?" The implication here is clearly that none of us can. (Which, if they expect any of us to name 20 holidays would be true, since there are only 8--which is less than 50% of 20.) On the one hand, this isn't exactly an easy one to answer with any empirical data. On the other hand, as a religion that's still in its infancy most of our membership consists of converts. And my personal experience is that converts tend to know the details of their religion (whatever it may be) pretty damned well. I won't bother here on the internet, but next time you see me in person--when I can't possibly cheat and look things ups on the internet without you knowing--ask me to name all 8. Just for funsies.


There're are plenty of other reprehensible things stated in this video, but they, at least, are all given as opinion or first-hand experience, and I will deny no one their right to hold an opinion (no matter how offensive I may personally find it) or refute anyone's first hand account of events at which I was not present.


Goth, Poser, Other

A friend just posted this South Park quote on their Facebook wall: "Let us be abuntantly clear: If you hate life, truly hate the sun and NEED to smoke and drink coffee, you are Goth. If, however, you like dressing in black cuz it's fun, enjoying putting sparkles on your cheeks and following the occult while avoiding things that are bad for your health, then you are most likely a douchebag wannabe vampire boner. Because anybody who thinks they are actually a vampire is freaking retarded. Fuck all of you."

And I get the humor in that definition of "goth." I do. But it neatly wraps up about 90% of the social anxiety I experienced as a teen and early twenty-something.

I do not now, nor have I ever hated life. Anyone who genuinely hates being alive is deeply depressed and should seek counseling. I avoid the sun when remotely reasonable; I have extremely fair skin and I'm not a big fan of skin cancer, so I keep out of the sun when I can and wear copious amounts of sunscreen when I can't. But I don't hate the sun anymore than I hate the moon. What an absurd thing to say. And I've never been a smoker or a coffee drinker. Give me clean air and a cup of tea any day (or night).

I do like wearing black. It's flattering, and more importantly it's an aesthetic that genuinely appeals to me. I only glitter when I do burlesque (and not always then). As for the occult... well, I've been a professed pagan since about age 11. And I do avoid many things that are bad for my health--see above re: not hating life. Though I've never pretended to be, nor have I ever believed myself to be a vampire.

In my younger years this was, as mentioned, a pretty significant source of social anxiety for me. At that age I was only just starting to indulge my darker tastes, and every day I didn't get dressed in something from Hot Topic made me feel like a poser every day that I did. When I went to Rocky Horror that weekend, would all the pretty, goth-y people somehow know that yesterday I wore color? In retrospect it's all very silly, but at the time it felt very real.

These days, at age thirty, I look at this South Park definition of goth, roll my eyes, and wonder WWtAFD?* Ignore the nay-sayers and go on being their genuine selves without a care as to what labels other people do and do not apply to them--that is what The Addams Family would do. And as an adult, that's more or less how I deal with the whole "goth" question. I acknowledge that that's how many other people see me, but also realize that anyone who feels I can be defined by a single word probably doesn't know me very well. And in the meantime I'll go on wearing jeans and (color!) t-shirts most days, and still feel extra pretty when I put on my gothiest outfits. I'll keep watching pink comedies alongside black ones, and laughing just as hard at both. I don't compromise who I am when it comes to my sexuality, my religion, or my profession--why should I be ashamed of either my lighter or my darker halves?

*What Would the Addams Family Do? By the Sout Park definition not a single member of that clan would be truly goth. In their own, abnormal way the Addamses are some of the happiest, most well-adjusted people portrayed in pop-culture. They love each other and always do right by one another (with, of course, some entertaining mishaps along the way). Morticia doesn't wear black because it makes her goth. The very notion! She wears it because it's such a lovely, cheerful color. The family doesn't play "Wake the Dead" because it's "so, like, dark." They play it because it's fun.

The Proposal

[Largely lifted from an email to my father. This post will be locked to friends only in about a week]

Sunday was a busy day for us. Micah had improv practice at noon, so while he was at the theater I picked up some chips and beer and then we headed to a pool party around 2pm. We swam, snacked, and generally hung out. From there we went to another friend's house to participate in a murder mystery dinner party. I've done these sorts of parties before, but was really excited for this one since most of the participants were improvisers, and likely to play with a bit more finesse.

Anyway, the mystery is set in a 1920s speakeasy in Chicago. I was playing "Baroness Ravioli," the mother of mob boss Don "Big Jim" Ravioli. Micah was playing the Police Inspector, "Neville 'The Nose' Nutella." Our characters had been having an affair, which they were keeping secret due to who my son was. The scripted, happens-right-away murder of the evening was that of Don Ravioli, after which all the players got some new information and a new set of objectives.

Well, one of my new objectives was to go public with my relationship with the Inspector. But before I could just start flirting and snogging him in front of the whole world I was supposed to TELL him that the upside to my son's murder was that we could finally go public. So I sidle up to him all flirtatious and tell him just that. He turns to one of the other characters and says, "Vicky, I'm sorry, but my heart belongs to the Baroness."

And then he gets down on one knee, takes a ring box out of his suit jacket, and says, "Will you marry me.... Shannon?" I got tunnel vision and started crying. There was that weird, horrible moment where I was still in character and he hadn't said my REAL name yet and was he really proposing or was this the cruelest joke ever? I vaguely recall saying yes at some point, and certainly I've been wearing the ring and making announcements, so we must really be getting married... but oh my gods, it still feels like a dream.

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Monday night we invited over a few of our close friends who had not been at the murder mystery or at the Mars landing party we went to after that. Sadly only three of them could make it, but the five of us sat down to a home cooked meal and had a lovely meal together. After dinner Leslie tentatively asked, "So... was there a reason you wanted to see us so badly tonight?" I had taken off my ring before they arrived, and when she asked I told our guests that I'd be right back. I came back wearing the ring (on my left pinky as it still was not resized). I sat down across from Leslie and Tiffany, with Micah on my left and Nate on my right. As I did so, I felt badly that Nate wouldn't have a very good view of the ring and might be a beat or two behind the girls in realizing what our announcement was.

I rested my elbows on the table, steepled my fingers Mr. Burns style and said, "You're probably wondering why we've asked you all here." The girls exchange glances and reply along the lines of, "Well yes, we did just ask." Meanwhile, Nate--who you'll recall I thought wouldn't see the ring right away--is already out of his seat and hugging me. Anyway, after that there was lots more hugging and just a little bit of ice cream.

The Dark Knight Rises

I loved Batman Begins. When The Dark Knight was announced, I was nervous. Sequels are almost never the equal of the original after all. But then The Dark Knight was amazing too. So when Nolan announced The Dark Knight Rises, I was just plain excited. I wish I'd held onto my normal sequel reservations, because I think I wouldn't have been quite so disappointed if I had.

Act two dragged. And dragged. And dragged. I was actually rolling my eyes and sighing in frustration at points, just wishing they'd close the act and get back to the action. And the flashbacks to the first two movies? Gods, the film might have been 20 minutes shorter if they'd trimmed the flashbacks. And I don't necessarily mean cut them entirely. On the one hand, we've all seen the first two movies, and probably don't need the reminders. On the other there are times you want to illustrate that a character in the here and now is recalling something, so fine. But limit it to a few, telling frames. I don't need an entire shot.

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All that being said, it wasn't all bad. The performances were excellent, the plot twists adequate, and the denouement fulfilling. While I doubt anyone will ever unseat Michelle Pfeiffer as my favorite Catwoman*, Anne Hathaway turned in a stellar performance as pragmatic jewel thief and part-time vigilante, Selina Kyle. Cillian Murphy made a short but entertaining cameo as Jonathan Crane/The Scarecrow, and Burn Gorman (Torchwood's Owen Harper) even showed up in the role of a weaselly business man. The League of Shadows angle made an interesting bookend to the series and although I feel it's the weakest of the trilogy, by-and-large I enjoyed The Dark Knight Rises.

*Despite having almost nothing to do with the comic book version of this character, her portrayal in Batman Returns is a big part of why I own so many Catwoman comics and collectibles today.
Do you know what I miss most about livejournal? The handful of you who never made the move to other forms of social media. I have no intention of ever deleting this account, and I often make big plans to come back and check it more often... but I rarely follow up on those for more than a day or two.

Also the icons. I know that's maybe a bit silly, but it's true. I liked having a jillion little 100x100 pixel images to choose from depending on the content and mood of my post. And the easy-to-customize appearance. Made me feel like it was really my own little corner of the web, you know?

In any case, I'm going to take another stab at making this a regular stop in my daily surfing... and to make that more feasible I just went through and cut my friends list by about a thousand people. Mostly this was to cut out groups and feeds I no longer cared about, but there were so many screen names, most of which I was only mostly sure I could relate to an actual real person. So I deleted those too.

To make a long story short, I'm making this public, and if you're reading it, let me know. I'll make sure you made the cut.

Not so mad about Mad Men

I've realized why I'm having difficulties with Mad Men.

I watch all my television on dvd or Netflix Streaming these days, and I'll often give a show three or four episodes to win me over before I decide whether or not to keep watching. When I started watching Bones, for instance, I wasn't immediately taken with it. However, a few episodes in and I was not only enjoying the mystery-of-the-week format, but also becoming invested in the characters. By the time my favorite character left the show a few seasons in, I was invested in all the characters, such that I missed Zach, but still wanted to know what happened next. I was rooting for these fictional people--to solve the case, to get the girl, whatever. I was on their side.

And now, after all the critical acclaim, I figured I'd check out Mad Men. It's gritty and beautifully produced, and half a season in I hate most of the characters. For a while I thought Peggy was pretty okay, if a bit of a wet rag... but as it turns out she's a pretty horrible person too. Harry's a pretty good guy, and when he gets drunk and sleeps with his secretary I found myself mentally chanting, "don't do it, you love your wife!" When he next appears, getting ready to go to sleep at the office, on the phone to his estranged wife... you know he fessed up because he felt so guilty. You know he's a decent guy who made a big mistake...

But the next time you see him things are repaired at home and his wife is expecting. Hooray! He's the one likable character on the show and we don't even get to see him play out this fairly major event in his life. Did they really make up? Did she discover that she was pregnant and--afraid of being a single mother in 1960--invite him home? Is he truly forgiven or are things still tense at home? I haven't a clue because they don't show any of that happen. Instead we watch Draper neglect his wife, sleep with his mistress, and blow off work for a liquid breakfast.

Plus every time any two characters get snuggley all I can think is, "Ugh, he must reek of cigarettes." There's usually a pause and then I realize, "Oh yeah, she probably reeks of cigarettes too. Gods the 60s were gross." The only time two characters got it on and I wasn't thinking that was when Harry slept with his secretary--I was too busy caring about the characters to consider their personal hygiene.

Long story short, despite the production values, beautiful costumes, quality acting, and Christina Hendricks, I think I'm giving the rest of the series a miss.

Tales Untold

My Kickstarter project (Tales Untold: A Collection of Alternative Fairy Tales) has just over a day to go! I've reached my goal of $400, but a little extra never hurts, and means that I'll be able to a) do a larger run and/or b) print higher quality books. If you can, additional pledges are much appreciated!

Pledge here!

I mean every word I ever say, EVER.

For those of you, like me, who won't be seeing the new Harry Potter movie on opening day...

First, MTV tries to get Danielle Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and Tom Felton to speak "American." Hilarious.

Three of favorite Potter Puppet Pals:

Mysterious Ticking Noise
Bothering Snape (I liked the part where he stops moving!)
Wizard Swears

Harry Potter in the Hood--I've linked this one before, and I don't care. I've watched it roughly a thousand times and it still makes me giggle.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. Normally I can't stand fanfic. This is not only tolerable, but out and out brilliant.

Take This Book In Your Hands

Like it or not, witches are drawn to the edge of things, where two states collide. They feel the pull of doors, circumferences, boundaries, gates, mirrors, masks. . .
. . .and stages

--Terry Pratchett, Maskerade

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