As I lay awake in the earliest moments of the morning I thought how believable everything actually was.
Today is trash day, so the first thing I did when I could see well enough in the dawn light was to clean the cat litter. We went through the motions, gathering bathroom trash cans, dumping it all into the bag that goes out to the curb, and recycling, too. Silent, listening only to the coffee maker and the cat complaining. I know, cat, me too.
We’d already decided to throw out the last of our wedding flowers today. They’re old, dried out, and the bases starting to rot. I picked up the glass vases and carried them to the garbage, thinking it was a bad moment to throw away my wedding flowers. I paused, defiant, thinking I should keep the rotting, ruined flowers just because.
I threw them away.
As I lay awake in the middle of the night I thought about how in the morning I’d see my mostly white neighbors and know plenty of them voted against my life and safety, and the lives and safety of my friends and millions of strangers. Then I thought about how many of my neighbors, especially the Black ones and Hispanic ones and Muslim ones will look at me thinking, she did that. And rightly so.
Because even though I didn’t do it with my actions, even though I fight and talk against bigotry every damn day, I still benefit from the system that made this happen.
As I lay awake in the middle of the night, I saw texts come in from terrified friends, horrified family, and those who just had to reach out with nothing but a desperate word or hand.
I looked at the internet around 2am, and I saw several people tweeting about how now we know America is more sexist than it is racist. NO. That isn’t how what happened happened, or how power and privilege work. It’s a false dichotomy. This election was not defined by men or women, it was defined by white men and especially, it seems, white women. America did not vote against a woman, they voted for a violent, abusive, racist, xenophobic narrative.
You know what the name of that narrative is? Whiteness. White Supremacy. White Imperialism.
I lay awake and thought about the time I couldn’t sleep all night in 2008 because I’d just caucused for Barack Obama, he was going to be the nominee for president, and I was terrified somebody was going to kill him. That night I gave myself a mantra of hope. That we were better than what I feared we were, that the world was moving forward, and everything would be ok.
Last night I tried to sing a song to myself over and over again in order to fall asleep. The chorus is Let your heart be bright, and it’s a pretty, mushy, kind of empowering song I found when I needed to get into my current main character’s heart.
It did not work for me last night.
I wondered if maybe I won’t see a woman POTUS in my lifetime after all.
The worst moment of my sleepless night was that moment I thought about a building in Topeka where my name is written down next to my wife’s, officially certifying that we are not the kind of people They want.
I lay awake thinking about passing behavior, and how in the last couple of years mine has relaxed even in the middle of Kansas. I was getting used to holding my partner’s hand when I felt like it, and to being obvious when a server asks us if we want one check or two. I wondered how unsafe I’d made myself and especially her by behaving openly like a queer.
I thought about holding her hand when we descended in the elevator last year into the basement of city hall to apply for our marriage license and how we didn’t know what we’d face when we walked up to the counter. We were lucky: we got a smile followed by the benign neglect common to local bureaucracy.
I lay awake thinking about my friends who are not protected by whiteness. Knowing how many of them, of you, were not sleeping either. Were crying, afraid, furious, resigned, bitter, but all of us sleepless. A community of sudden insomniacs, and I wondered what we could possibly do.
I lay awake and thought: maybe it won’t be so bad. We know he’s a liar.
I thought about how much time I spend talking about dismantling the structural white privilege in publishing, in writing, how much time I think about decolonizing my own imagination and trying to find ways to help others learn to do the same. Unpacking and dismantling the supremacy that has tainted every aspect of our culture and minds and hearts.
I thought about how much worse it’s going to get, but how much harder I’m willing to fight and how much better equipped I am now than I was. I had despaired that there is nothing we can possibly do, but then I decided to marvel at everything we will get done next.
I thought about the day after the 2004 presidential election. For months I’ve been telling a joke at my author events about how I know it’s hard to imagine, but 2004 was the worst election cycle I lived through. I was furious, living on scraps of paychecks, my dad was at war and nobody else seemed to care how many people were dying in Iraq. My graduate program and I didn’t get along, I was spiraling with anxiety that I couldn’t help people, couldn’t make a difference, that America was too divided, too ruined to ever be better. The morning after the election, I felt betrayed, I felt devastated, I felt like all my choices had been pointless.
I felt that way last night, too, as I lay awake.
I thought about Syria for a really long time.
I wondered, around 3am, why I am able to see my whiteness, unlike so many. Why do I choose every day to fight back against the knots of privilege, to try and pull apart the layers of history and terrorism that made White America what it is today? I wonder this a lot, so I have answers, as best one can: My upbringing, my contrariness, my books. I was raised to use my mind and I was raised to care for other people, whether I know them or not. Especially if I do not. I lived in Japan for three years while my frontal lobe was still developing. And if you tell me I am something, every atom of my soul cries out that I am not, regardless of truth or reality.
This is how the world works, Gratton.
Fuck no it doesn’t have to be.
In 2004, I made a new choice. I chose to write, because more than any single thing, it was books that made me understand that the tiny world I see, the little perspective I have, is skewed, and is only that: mine. Books helped me understand people, see people, know people, and they gave me a longing to be the person who stands up. To be part of a quest to save the world. To fall in love. To make lifelong comrades. I chose to write stories about my world, about bravery and love and sacrifice and everything hard and everything good. I chose to write hard books that ask questions and don’t shy away from the answers.
I honestly don’t know who I would be today if it wasn’t for that devastated desperation I felt the morning after George W. Bush was re-elected, knowing only some of us would survive.
In the darkest parts of the morning, I lay there thinking there’s no point to any of this. To trying so hard, to writing books that nobody reads, to arguing and embracing and listening and fighting. But there is a point: human beings. I don’t have children of my own, but I will fight to the death for yours.
Today will define who we become tomorrow. More than most days. I’m not saying be glad. I’m not saying nothing bad will happen. I’m not saying don’t be afraid or angry. I’m saying: it happened. I’m saying: we choose who we are today.
I’m saying: I don’t feel safe but inasmuch as I am safer than you, you can always run to me. I will not put down my weapons.
Listen: We know. We know what the sickness is, the structural disease is that poisoned the bones of our country. We aren’t guessing, we aren’t just pointing fingers. We know. It is whiteness. It is this is owed to me, I was born deserving this, I am better, my needs matter more, my personhood is inherently more important than theirs.
If you don’t see it, I ask that you use your mind and try to care about strangers. If you don’t see how this is what whiteness is, what it has wrought, try again. Don’t stop trying if you want this to get better.
White Americans, we must stop saying I can’t help breathing the air. This air is killing us. It’s killing everyone.
Take care of yourselves. Do what you need to do in order to stay safe. Ask me for help if I can help you. Mourn, rage, hide.
Then get ready.
After I took out the trash, after I walked my dog, staring at every neighbor I passed with suspicion and hurt, wondering which thought the same of me, I came home, poured coffee, put on my Hamilton shirt and my wedding ring, and got to work.
- Dated: probably 3rd quarter of 16th century
- Maker: Ulrich Diefstetter (active between 1555 – 1589)
- Geography: Munich, Germany
- Medium: iron or steel, wood and fish-skin, blackened
- Measurements: overall length 107 cm; width 3.3 cm; weight 1.59 kg
- Inscriptions: the maker’s mark, including the crossed flails of Diefstetter and the shield of Bavaria
The sword has a blackened hilt made up of a cone-shaped pommel of octagonal section. The shouldered grip is made of wood and bound with fish-skin. The long straight, spatulated guard is engraved with feathering at the ends on the left side, while the knuckle-guard, side-ring, pas d’âne, and counter-guards are all riband-like and of triangular section. The single-edge blade (except towards the point) is doubly grooved and stamped with the maker’s work.
This sword probably comes from Schloss Ambras in Tyrol where a considerable number of comparable swords survive. Other examples bearing like marks are to be found in the Armeria Reale, Turin (G 16), at the Hermitage, St. Petersburg (B 402), and at Vienna (Boeheim, Album I, Taf. XI 2). In addition to this swords marked with the crossed flails of Diefstetter and the shield of Bavaria are a hand-and-a half sword in the Pauilhac Collection; one sold at Sotheby’s, 15 August, 1941, lot 19; and another in the Lockett Collection, sold Christie’s, 1942, lot 307.
- The swordsmith Melchior Diefstetter worked at Au near Munich.
- He was the son of Caspar I and is recorded as not being of full age in 1497.
- About 1523 he was recorded with two sons, Georg and Ulrich. He died in or before 1556 and was survived by a widow, Barbara, and eight children still minors.
- One of his other sons, Caspar II, was a swordsmith in Munich by 1537 and died in 1552. His son Ulrich was Bavarian court swordsmith “in der Au”, and is recorded by frequent payments in the Ducal accounts between 1555 and 1589.
- A sword blade inscribed ARIAS PANTMER IN VRI / VLRICH DIEFSTETER IN MANAGI, with the arms of Bavaria and the monk’s head of Munich stamped on it, is in the Schweizerisches Landesmuseum, Zurich (Inv. No. LM27328; Schneider, 1980, No. 183).
- A fourth generation of the family is represented by Arsatius Diefstetter, active 1588-1616, and a fifth by his sons Hans, who died in 1613, and Albrecht, active 1616 to 1630, latterly in Passau. (H. Stocklein, Z.H. W.K., VIII, 1918-20, pp. 371 and 375-82).
- If the blades of this group of swords are contemporary with the hilts, they are probably by Ulrich Diefstetter rather than by Melchior, to whom they are usually attributed as Ulrich Diefstetter also used the mark of crossed flails, often in conjunction with the head of a bull transfixed with an arrow.
Owl & Jack-O-Lantern
so what you’re saying is, Halloween used to be a lot scarier
“A young African negro has been in this city for the last few days who claims to be a Hebrew. He is deaf and dumb and as black as the ace of spades. He carries a pad of paper with him and answers all questions by writing them in Hebrew and Loschen Khodish. What excites the most wonder is that he writes Loschen Khodish very rapidly. It is the language of the books of Moses, and is made a special study of, spoken and written with ease only by the rabbis and highly educated Hebrews.
“The negro was sent to one of the rabbis of Hartford, who is perfectly satisfied that he is a Hebrew. He says that he came from a large town in Africa, where there is a tribe of about 20,000 black Hebrews who speak Loschen Khodish and are quite prosperous. He also says that his father is a rabbi in that town, and that is why his father took the trouble to teach him to write these languages, which needed an extra amount of labor on account of his being deaf and dumb.
“He says his people not only write Loschen Khodish, but it is their speaking language as well. He left home a few years ago and has seen a good deal of the world. In each town he hunts up the Jewish section, and there they give him clothes, food and money.
"What surprises him, he writes, is that no Hebrew knows of his countrymen in Africa.”
The Houston Daily Post, September 20, 1897
I’d love to read a book about his experiences traveling the world. Would be nice if they at least mentioned his name and where in Africa he hails from.
I had reason recently to reference this post again, and I’ll reiterate that it’s definitely in my top five all time favorites (that I didn’t even post myself :P).
Also, when is this book/movie going to be made?
I would love this as a book/movie!!!
Our 1st place contest winner requested a Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep comic as their prize.
I took a class about Ancient Egypt last semester and we had a whole lecture dedicated to talking about how gay Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep were.
Their tomb walls were decorated with scenes of them ignoring their wives in favor of embracing each other. In one scene, the couple is seated at a banquet table that is usually reserved for a husband and wife. There’s an entire motif of Khnumhotep holding lotus flowers which in ancient Egyptian tradition symbolizes femininity. Khnumhotep offers the lotus flower to Niankhkhnum, something that only wives were ever depicted as doing for their husbands. In fact, Khnumhotep is repeatedly depicted as uniquely feminine, being shown smaller and shorter than his partner Niankhkhnum and being placed in the role of a woman. Size is a big deal in Egyptian art, husbands are almost always shown as being larger and taller than their wives. So for two men of equal status to be shown in once again, a marital fashion, is pretty telling. Not to mention they were literally buried together which is the strongest bond two people could share in ancient Egypt, as it would mean sharing the journey to the afterlife together.
And yet 90% of the academic text about these two talks about these clues in vague terms and analyze the great “brotherhood” they shared, and the enigma of Khnumhotep being depicted as feminine. Apparently it’s too hard for archaeologists to accept homosexuality in the ancient world, as well as the possibility of trans individuals.
On the last note, I was walking around the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and there is a mummy on exhibit. It caught my attention because the panel that was describing it was talking about how it was a woman’s body in a male coffin and wow, the Egyptian working that day really screwed that up. My summary, not actual words, sorry I can’t remember verbatim but it basically said that someone screwed up.
They claimed that the Egyptians screwed up a burial.
The Egyptians. Screwed up. A burial.
Now I’m not an expert in Ancient Egypt but from what I know, and what the exhibit was telling me, burials and the afterlife and all that jazz DEFINED the Egyptian religion and culture. They don’t just ‘screw up’. So instead of thinking outside the box for two seconds and wonder why else a genetically female body was in a male coffin, the ‘researchers’ blatantly disregard the rest of their research and decided to call it a screw up. Instead of, you know, admitting that maybe this mummy presented as male during his life and was therefore honorably buried as he was identified. But it would be too much of a stretch to admit that a transgender person could have existed back then.
(Sorry I can’t find any sources online and it’s been like 2 years but it stuck in my mind)
There’s a lot of bigoted historian dragging on my dash these days and it makes me happy.
Once again, more proof that we queers have ALWAYS been here, and it’s a CHOSEN narrative to erase them.
I am reblogging this for the lols as well as a very accessible and engaging reminder that every historical narrative is created by human beings interpreting existing evidence and will necessarily reflect their biases, experiences, cultural norms and taboos.
Human objectivity is a myth, and until we have diversity present and speaking out in and across all disciplines, the truth will remain obscured.
So my financial situation has just moved from “awkward laughing into the abyss” to “the abyss laughs back.” In short, I am:
The long and short of it is that we moved cross-country so my wife
could work at a job that would catapult us out of poverty–only to find
out that when they SAID “You’ll start work in September,” they MEANT “Or
June the year after, probably. We don’t know anymore.”
things are…. not good. We are of course both looking for new jobs
here, but in the meantime, there’s that whole -gestures vaguely- food
thing, and -gestures vaguely-er- rent thing, and -gestures at sick cat,
who is sneezing adorably- vet bills thing.
I’m not expecting
commissions to cover all that–even just a few bucks for groceries would
be enough to get the financial abyss to stop cackling with glee. But
here’s the run-down of emergency commission prices!
$10 – a bust, in color!
Ain’t that a deal? Yeah. I mean. I’m sure it is. Or, there’s:
$20 – Full body, full color picture. Look at that!
$25 – A 7in. by 6in. comic! Like this, but
Ain’t that fancy? You bet it is.
you are interested in a commission, send me an email at
firstname.lastname@example.org. I humbly ask that commissions stay PG-13 or lower,
Reblog for the weekend crowd!
Do you love the awesome comics done for our episodes? Now, you can commission your very own! We highly vouch for the quality and fun of working with @oh-fee-oh-my
She just did one about Richard & Alec at the theater in Swordspoint for someone on commission!
Reblog this 10 times and I will post it for you.
Food rent and vet bills! Important stuff!
So as sometimes happens when something negative goes viral, bookish Twitter took action on Monday and responded to an anti-diversity rant that had gone up the night before with a powerful message—that we as a community support diverse narratives.
It began with an author asking people to raise their voices and support diversity and the marginalized in the process. The author later asked to become anonymous and people not connect them to the hashtag anymore, because the backlash against the positive hashtag that came out of it unfortunately brought loads of racists and hateful people into their mentions—another problem all on its own. The hashtag began as #IStandForDiversity, but later transitioned to #ISupportDiversity because the first hashtag was unintentional ableist, but important tweets were shared at both, so I’m going to share some here.
As Paul and Heidi said, one of the best ways to really support diverse books and marginalized authors is to buy books and request them at the library. So, of course, here are a couple book recommendation threads.
- Michael Waters on diverse YA releasing soon.
- Sam Taylor’s diverse book rec thread.
- Sam’s second diverse book rec thread.
- Julie C. Dao’s list of POC kidlit authors debuting in 2017.
- My #ownvoices book rec thread from August 30th.
- Marieke Nijkamp’s thread full of diverse books giveaways ending on 9/9!
- Ashley Herring Blake’s #ownvoices books giveaway ending on 9/13!
And, in conclusion:
So there you have it. Support with your voices, and more importantly with your bought and requested books. Because representation is so, so important and we’re just getting started.
How the movie Arrival made the linguist’s office
For the film, the linguistic consultants included Jessica Coon, Lisa deMena Travis, and Morgan Sonderegger, all from McGill. The set designers spent time with Travis and Coon in their offices and ended up borrowing many of their books, as well as reproducing other items from their offices, in order to create the office set.
Via e-mail, Coon writes:
The set crew came to my office first and took a lot of pictures (they liked my tea kettle and plants, and they wanted to know what kind of bag I carry). They needed to rent a certain number of feet of books, but I didn’t have enough, so we went up to Lisa’s office. I keep a fairly tidy office… they liked Lisa’s much better. […]
But Travis told me that the set designers were less interested in titles than colors: they were particularly interested in borrowing blue and beige books. Fortunately, she had plenty of both. Many of the blue ones are in the Linguistik Aktuell series from John Benjamins (Travis serves on the advisory editorial board). And she had lots of beige-colored journals (e.g., Language, Natural Language and Linguistic Theory,Linguistic Inquiry, Oceanic Linguistics) and conference proceedings (e.g., NELS, short for the North East Linguistic Society).
An article for McGill News interviews Jessica Coon about what she wrote on the whiteboard:
Sequences that take place in the code-breaking tent where military cryptographers struggle to crack the aliens’ language, feature words that Coon wrote on whiteboards to lend that process a more authentic air. Words like “articulators.”
The articulators that humans use to form speech include our tongue, teeth and lips. “[The aliens] don’t look human at all, their vocal tracts and their mouths or whatever they’re using to make language is nothing like ours,” says Coon. In a situation like that, the military experts would probably be thinking a lot about articulators.
Agnolo Bronzino, Portrait Of Lucrezia De’ Medici.
Diversity is not enough.
We’re right to push for diversity, we have to, but it is only step one of a long journey. Lack of racial diversity is a symptom. The underlying illness is institutional racism. It walks hand in hand with sexism, cissexism, homophobia, and classism. To go beyond this same conversation we keep having, again and again, beyond tokens and quick fixes, requires us to look the illness in the face and destroy it. This is work for white people and people of color to do, sometimes together, sometimes apart. It’s work for writers, agents, editors, artists, fans, executives, interns, directors, and publicists. It’s work for reviewers, educators, administrators. It means taking courageous, real-world steps, not just changing mission statements or submissions guidelines.
Maybe the word hasn’t been invented yet – that thing beyond diversity. We often define movements by what they’re against, but the final goal is greater than the powers it dismantles, deeper than any statistic. It’s something like equity – a commitment to harvesting a narrative language so broad it has no face, no name.
We can love a thing and still critique it. In fact, that’s the only way to really love a thing. Let’s be critical lovers and loving critics and open ourselves to the truth about where we are and where we’ve been. Instead of holding tight to the same old, failed patriarchies, let’s walk a new road, speak new languages. Today, let’s imagine a literature, a literary world, that carries this struggle for equity in its very essence, so that tomorrow it can cease to be necessary, and disappear.