Thursday, 25 February 2016

Stacked Odds

I just whipped up this piece after a difficult day.

Frustration crescendoes inside my head
Clenching my fists in anger and dread
Can't think, can't speak, can't find what I need
Too broken inside for joy to be freed

The others all crow with their hard-won success
While I scramble ineffectively in my distress
Can't rest, can't sleep, can't dream any more
Too many dark windows, too many closed doors

No one wants those who can't do what's best
Realizing I don't stand up to their test
Can't talk, can't scream, can't make myself heard
With only grief to inspire written word

Friday, 12 February 2016


Even though Valentines Day is coming up, I want to discuss the opposite of love and romance.

A friend recently cross-posted a blog entry about about nurturance:

A mutual male acquaintance responded by saying: "Repeat after me, there is no rape culture in the West."

I wanted to rant at him.  In the past, this man has posted articles and videos debunking the feminist movement.  My attempts to discuss the issue with him have not been met kindly.  While I understand that people are allowed to have their own opinions, I will not budge on this issue - particularly because I am a victim of sexual assault.

Take a look at today's news.  A former city mayor has been accused of sexually assaulting a minor and yet is entitled to severance pay.  A radio personality went to trial for sexual assault but his lawyers whacked and discredited the witnesses.  A priest raped a woman 30 years ago but wasn't charged until now because of the pervasive thinking that "priests aren't supposed to behave that way".  And don't get me started on that despicable Roosh V.

There is absolutely a culture of victim blaming and objectification of women's bodies that causes sexual activity between men and women to be treated differently in the media, law, and society.  Denial perpetuates this and stigmatizes victims.  Why do you think so many women don't bother reporting sexual assault?  Because few people will believe them.

Girls from age 12 or so are told the rules of surviving in public: Stay in groups, avoid ill lit areas, walk with keys between your fingers if you must walk alone or somewhere dark.  As they get older, the list grows: Accept the drink only directly from the barkeeper, never leave your drink alone, don't drink too much because people will not believe you if you were drunk, don't accept rides home from strangers or 'friends of friends', and don't let them in your house.  And if someone cops a feel on the dance floor, well, that's the price of admittance for being allowed to go out and have fun.

How about women who are carrying two grocery bags and cannot actively defend themselves because of a trend of teenage boys running up to them to squeeze their breasts and run away?  Or how about women who dare to create and/or play videogames (and be good at it) who are insulted, threatened, and doxxed?

Rape culture is alive and well in the West, thank you very much.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Character Conflicts

I have maintained a specific online identity for 20 years.  Almost all my online writing and social media profiles are under the name Sailorchronos, taken from the name of a character I created for a Sailor Moon story that I published in 1997.  At the time, there was no other character of that name despite the many fan-made Sailor Moon characters that existed then.

Recently I had thought to start redoing my main web site, and just on a whim began searches on the name to see what happened.  Most of the links that popped up were mine, but there were at least two sites that featured stories containing another character with that name.

One of them had a description that was nothing like mine so it was easy to tell it wasn't my creation.  But another was badly written with a vague description which I was concerned might give readers - hers as well as mine - the wrong impression.  The site gave no date for the story's publication so I assumed (erroneously it turned out) that the post was recent.  So I sent the author a polite email asking her to amend the description of the character in such a way so it wouldn't be confused with my own.

The response was swift and entirely negative.  "Did you pay to trademark your character?"  "I haven't posted in years, where did you even find that?"  "How dare you ask me to change it."  That sort of thing.

My first reaction was: Who does this self-righteous twit think she is?
My second reaction was: I've spent 20 years maintaining my online presence using images and personality traits based on that character.  I don't want to have potential readers or even employers seeing these other same-named characters, thinking they're mine and being turned off.
My third reaction was: Maybe she has a point.  It was like someone tracking down every instance of (insert character name here) and saying "I made this character first, so it's mine.  Buzz off."

I spent quite some time thinking about how to formulate a reply.  Then I realized that responding probably wouldn't be in my best interest.  It might only inflame her further, which wouldn't do my image much good.

Writers, how would you handle a similar situation?

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

House Warming

My father is a complicated man at times.  He owns a large house which is chock full of furniture and items that were primarily my late mother's, having been passed down through the family for several generations.  However recently he chose to pack up and live with his lady friend in her own house down the road.  He doesn't want to stay in the house any longer because it "haunts" him, but he doesn't want to sell the house either.

This has caused some consternation for me and my brother, and we're becoming resigned to the fact we eventually will have to take on the burden of emptying the house ourselves.

I follow a blog called "Things I Find in the Garbage" by a man who styles himself a "professional scavenger".  He makes a fairly good living by selling items that people are throwing away.  In a recent entry he asked why so many good people throw out nice things.  One comment on the blog answered:

"It occurred to me that perhaps, despite choosing to move, [grandmother] simply didn't want to dismantle what had been her home for the last 30 years, the home she had lived in with my grandfather and that she had carefully filled with art, memorabilia, and decor she loved.  That it may actually have seemed the better option to simply walk away from it intact, her memories of it unsullied by any mental images of its piecemeal destruction, strangers walking through and carelessly manhandling gifts from loved ones, having to deal with the guilt and sadness of getting rid of useful things, gifts, sentimental memorabilia, while not being able to ignore the fact that she's too aged to keep it, maintain it, and that most of the adventure of life that resulted in the gathering of the things is over and done."

I think that's what my father is going through right now.  He doesn't want to divest a lifetime's worth of connections to his beloved late wife even though he supposedly has moved on.  He even became quite upset when my brother and I came to begin cataloguing the furniture in the house.

So I think the best thing to do right now is for us to visit the house as often as possible to show that we do have a handle on the situation and that the precious family memorabilia is being taken care of.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Job Terminology

I've been looking for work since my child started school, and I have noticed a large shift in the way jobs are described.  So many times I've seen listings with names and terms (some that aren't even understandable by anyone other than a nerd) that describe relatively straightforward jobs that have have many extra duties added on.  It's not just political-correcting job functions - "sanitation engineer" instead of "garbage collector" for example - it's making things more convoluted for the average job seeker.

A "Business Analyst" is basically a salesperson who is also required to program software and gather information.  A "Documentation Manager" not only writes documents but leads a team in lockstep with customer service.  And so on.  Even my last full-time job as a "Technical Communicator" had me not only preparing documentation but also doing graphic design, managing office supplies, and other tasks way outside of my original job description.

No wonder so many people can't find a job they're qualified for.  The positions out there aren't just jobs, they're a smorgasbord of different (albeit related) tasks smushed together under one name to make it look important.  In my opinion that's just a company's way of saving money by hiring one person to do the work of three.

The first full-time job I had was a data-entry clerk.  I sat at a computer and entered data.  That's it, that's all.  Today a "Data Entry Clerk" doesn't just enter data but might prepare inventory, write up invoices, participate in meetings, and deal with customers.  The specs have changed.

Now, I'm a writer who understands a little bit about editing, copywriting, web design, and research.  But I'm not a Project Coordinator, Growth Hacker, Word Ambassador, or any other glorified term.  I can write, and I do it well.  Just don't ask me about all the other nonsense on the side like SEO or analytics.

Unfortunately for me that amounts to being a one-trick pony.  And nobody wants those.