Opals and Leather

(Re-blog from Women and Words)

Since childhood—and I’m talking under five—I’ve wanted exactly two family heirlooms. No one else wanted them so I’m not sure we can even call them that. The first was my maternal grandmother’s opal ring. She promised it to me from birth because I was the only granddaughter and it was my birthstone. The boys (who, again, were not remotely interested) didn’t stand a chance.

The second item was my father’s tool belt. When I was a kid, Pete could build anything, fix anything. He built tables and repaired drywall and drew beautiful plans on scraps of envelopes. I don’t remember a single finished project. I don’t know if that’s because of the impermanence of memory caused by my ADHD or because he didn’t finish shit because of his ADHD. It doesn’t matter though. My dad will always exist in my memory with perfect clarity. He’s so tall and always shirtless. His graying chest hair has a little paint in it. The same paint creasing his knuckles. There’s a worn pencil and a highlighter and three more pencils scattered across his workspace that he uses to draw. He’s skinny like me, but I can see the muscle in his arms, which is confusing because his brothers call him Musc for lack thereof. But that’s probably why I never liked my uncles. I wonder if I’ll get tan like that when I’m older, but I know somehow that I won’t. He’s wearing old khaki shorts and white sweat socks and sneakers. And the tool belt. Always the tool belt.

It’s not uncommon for our base understanding of masculinity to come from our fathers. There are plenty of exceptions to that rule, but as a broad statement, it stands.

Pete cries more than I do. It’s something I need to work on. I don’t cry when I’m sad or happy. Just angry. But my old man cries when he’s overwhelmed. When he spends more than five minutes with my wife, he cries because he’s so happy we found each other. When he met my students, he would cry at how neat they all were. When someone tells him a truth he needs to hear, he cries at the honesty and trust. It’s probably his butchest trait. The man is so comfortable in his skin, in his masculinity, in his fatherhood, in his sexuality, his knowledge and his shortcomings, that he cries whenever he damn well feels like it. What must that freedom feel like?

I knew as a kid I was different, but I didn’t know why. I knew I wanted to be like my dad. He was so effortless and he did cool stuff like chop wood. After the divorce, he let me chop wood too. Don’t worry. I was seven or eight, but he told me a lot of terrifying stories about people losing fingers before giving me the axe. I knew he was handsome because he was my dad, but also because I saw how women responded to him. I knew he was charming for the same reasons. I could see my mom was smart and pretty and powerful, but I saw the work that went into it. Feeding that kind of power is exhausting. My step-mom is the same. Respected, good-looking, overly educated, and always working. Never stopping. But not Pete. Pete has time.

He taught me all the lessons parents are supposed to teach their kids. “It’s a nice day, go outside.” And “never turn your back on the ocean.” But also, “there’s nothing worse than being a bully.” He revels in natural beauty. He’s never lost even when he has no damn clue where he is. He’s curious. He’s irresponsible and impulsive in the most wonderful ways.

And this is why I’m a misandrist. This is my bar for all masculine people. Powerful, confident, soft, silly, genuine. No wonder I surround myself with queer people. Cis straight dudes just disappoint me.

Pete gave me the tool belt a few months back (and was entirely surprised I wanted it). Turns out, it’s not a magical tool belt that imbues me with his power when I wear it. Which is a bummer because the man is a good carpenter. But I think the magic might be in the person I’ve become. I’m masc in the way he showed me—with a vein of kindness and humility and an absolute refusal to accept fuckery. Plus, I’ve always got time.

Meditation on a Year of Shelter

(Re-blog from Women and Words)

I do not like people. I don’t generally like people in my space. I’m not a hugger. I’m exhausted by all interactions. All of them. Even the ones with people I love. My wife is the only exception. So this past year hasn’t sucked for me, personally. It was difficult to watch the world, the country fall apart in very predictable ways. It was exhausting to watch authority crush vulnerable people and not be able to do much of anything. But waking up in the morning when I wanted to and drinking a leisurely pot or two of coffee with my wife and discussing if maybe we should frame that stack of art and maybe hang it on the wall, yeah that part didn’t suck. The days where we could say we wanted pjs and Buffy all day or beer and darts in the sunshine. The days where we could do chores all day and not feel like we wasted valuable time. The days where we could read an article in the morning about the film we watched the night before and just discuss it all day. It was a year of weekends. I could edit and write when I wanted to. It felt like breathing for the first time. Adulthood shouldn’t make you feel like Giles Corey.

The forty hour work week is capitalist bullshit. Tying health insurance to income is capitalist bullshit. Health insurance as a concept is capitalist bullshit. People are not workers. Societies thrive on leisure, not labor. When we have time to think, we innovate. Some innovations are around labor. Some are around art. Some are around mRNA, which is still a concept I don’t understand and I don’t need to because I’m not a scientist. Not everyone needs to understand everything and everyone as long as we can trust those who are supposed to know.

Two weeks ago, I got my first vaccine shot.

We planned to wait until after the 15th when all Californian adults are eligible, but, as I dozed off around one in the morning a few weeks back, my wife announced, “I can get us vaccine appointments tomorrow. Davis is opening them for everyone,” which woke me right up. The next morning, as we ran inventory before leaving (masks, water, insurance card, pre-check in), she realized that “tomorrow” when it’s one in the morning is actually the next day. It was a thing.

The pre-check in was pretty fucking cool. It asked gender and sexuality and pronouns (and offered about ten options plus a write in). At the vax site, we did our check in together. The person registering us in noticed our last name is the same and also that we look super gay and said “married, I assume” instead of the grocery store “all together?” when we obviously put all four items on the belt together, Janice. The last name thing is honestly super convenient (that particular piece of capitalist, patriarchal bullshit works in our favor), but also we were both born in the mid-eighties so of course my wife’s middle name is my first name. And yes I almost got her shot instead of mine, which probably wouldn’t be good? I don’t know. I failed high school biology. Twice.

I was devastated to find out my wife got a UC Davis Med Center branded Band-Aid and I got a “flesh” color one (those always mock me. I am not that tan). The moment we got home, she grabbed a handful of Sharpies and wouldn’t let me look until my Band-Aid was properly jazzed up. You know, for the photo shoot.

The nice thing about marrying a photographer is that she takes you just seriously enough when you say you want to do a post-vax photo shoot for socials (and to send your mommy). The problem with marrying a photographer is that she sometimes has to workshop themes before you can commence with said photo shoot.

For the last year, I’ve been waiting for this moment. Now, it’s here too fast. I don’t want to go back to the status quo. I don’t want to work a job where my positive impact is shielding abused queer kids from homophobic adults who are supposed to protect them. It’s amazing to help so many kids but, shockingly, it’s actually terrible for my mental health? I don’t want to do emotional labor unless I A) signed up to do explicitly that and B) am getting paid for that labor. Honestly, I don’t want to work any job that isn’t staffed by at least fifty percent queer people and at least fifty percent people of color. I don’t want to work with “liberal” white people who come to my office to ask if they did a racism, but also could I explain it to them in a way that doesn’t make them feel bad about themselves?

Society is toxic. I’d rather not re-enter toxicity. If re-entering society means diving back into the racist, heterosexist, transphobic, sexist sludge I’ve been swimming in for over thirty years, then it’s gonna be a hard no for me, dawg.

The problem, of course, is that society isn’t optional. Being a hermit isn’t actually a viable option (the wi-fi in the woods sucks). And if I want to do things like go to the occasional gay bar with my gay buddies or continue paying for my Netflix subscription, I’m going to have to work. My only real hope is that we are headed for a reckoning. Then again, Rome took centuries to fall.

Still the end of the world, bro

(Re-blog from Women and Words)

The inauguration happened. Everyone is getting carpet bombed by vaccines (except me because I’m in the last possible group. Damn my youth and health). We have a whole bunch of women and people of color and a gay dude in the cabinet.

And a record number of states have introduced bills targeting trans children. Not just trans people. Children. These motherfuckers were like hey, we can kill trans adults all willy-nilly and claim trans panic or whatever, but what if we could kill them when they’re young? Sixteen states have introduced bills criminalizing medical care of trans children. Twenty-four states have introduced bills targeting trans girls in sports.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Jackson, Mississippi hasn’t had clean water in almost a month. Arkansas outlawed abortion. Florida’s governor is basically selling vaccines to the highest bidder and the governor of Texas decided the pandemic is over. This shit is bonkers.

But nice white ladies and centrists are so focused on having an adult in the White House and the inspiringly diverse cabinet that they aren’t really paying attention to the fact that Republicans are trying to kill children. And poor people. And people of color. And disabled people. This isn’t new, really. Republicans are always trying to kill vulnerable people. The last four years were bad, but at least most people acknowledged they were bad. In the space of a breath we went from “the sky is falling!” to funny Bernie memes. And listen, I loved the Bernie memes, but they didn’t prevent me from thinking about the kyriarchical madness that threatens my life and the lives of people I love and also the lives of people I don’t know or love who still deserve to not die at the hands of a corrupt government.

What I’m realizing (what I’ve known all along and am finally admitting) is that most of the people who were horrified by Trump weren’t actually all that worked up about his racism and sexism. They weren’t concerned about him being a rapist. They didn’t mind his hypocrisy. They didn’t even care that he pissed all over American democracy. They cared that he was uncouth. He had the audacity to say the racist things without the dog whistles (but he brought the dog whistles too). He talked about assaulting women and fucking his daughter. He owned his lies. And he did it all with bad grammar. If he had just done his genocide all polite the way Reagan did, it would have been fine. If he had Woodrow Wilson’s finesse with racism, it would have been grand. If he’d been handsome like JFK or bold like LBJ or civil like George HW, they would have overlooked it all.

So, yeah, I’m glad Deb Haaland is Secretary of the Interior, but maybe we could also focus on making sure people aren’t victimized and tortured and abused? Just an idea.

The Sharp Lines of Morality

(Re-blog from Women and Words)

Welp. My book came out. This is the culmination of four years, four books, but it also feels like the culmination of the last administration, the last year. America has seemingly hit its half-life. Every year, every month, every week is a vitriolic cry from a dying beast.

Tomorrow Joe Biden will be sworn in. He was my third to last choice (above that homophobic chick and the sentient bag of mystic crystals and below literally everyone else). I am so goddamn relieved. Cash was my best coping mechanism and the worst lie I told myself. The Cash books were righteous and dark and bad and good, but the hardest hurts could be healed with a quip and the most lethal blows were subtle and kind. Nothing cuts like a well-told truth.

In Cash’s world, honesty is worth more than justice. In ours, honesty and justice were thrown out before we began. Our forefathers clung to those concepts so hard because they knew deep down that we could never posses them. America was founded on dishonesty and dishonor. We stole our land. We stole our labor. We stole the very ideals on which we were founded. And then we killed anyone who pointed it out. Is anyone really surprised that our emperor isn’t wearing any clothes?

A strange thing happens when you choose a drug dealer as a protagonist: you get to rewrite the rules. If Cash is a good person and Cash does bad things, then maybe doing bad things doesn’t make you a bad person. Or maybe good people are flawed. Or maybe we have to quantify things that cannot be quantified. Ultimately, we must decide what is good and what is bad without all the extraneous details like laws and genders and familial constructs and social expectations.

Queers do this every day. We learn from childhood that boys wearing makeup is bad. And girls being violent is bad. And boys being violent is good. And girls wearing makeup is good. And not one of those things is true. Makeup is bad when it is used to subjugate marginalized people. Makeup is good when it is used to empower. Violence is bad when it is used indiscriminately. Violence is good when it is used to fight those who would subjugate. I know. You were with me until I said violence could be good, weren’t you? We must interrogate all the structures that tell us what to think or feel or judge. We must interrogate the people who benefit from those structures.

Joe Biden is going to be a decent president. He’s an old white guy, which is the exact opposite of what I want in a leader. He’s a little rapey. He has done things that are racist and sexist and heterosexist. But he has a moral center. It’s based off of religion and the rule of law so I’m not wild about it. Then again, the bar is real low so I’ll take it.

I’m going to give you a homework assignment (and, yes, buying the teacher’s book will get you brownie points, but that’s not where I’m going). I want you to think about your most deeply held belief, whatever truth is immutable for you. I want you to unpack that truth. I want you to examine all of the facts or feelings that build it. I don’t want you to break it or damage it. I just want you to look and ask yourself if you made it or if someone made it for you.

Assassins and Schoolteachers

(Re-blog from Women and Words)

I think we can stop with the discourse now. It is widely accepted (by the internet, which never lies) that any movie that takes place during the holidays is, in fact, a holiday movie. There are many holiday specific genres of course: romance (Die Hard), action (Die Hard), grumpy depressed boy (Die Hard), capitalism bad (Die Hard), copaganda (Die Hard), and Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands). I love them all. I really do. But I take serious issue with this whole “I’m a man action movie grrr sexism made it so I can’t enjoy holiday movies” business that has turned Die Hard into the ultimate Man Christmas Movie. First of all, there are plenty of perfectly acceptable non-traditional Christmas Man Movies: Batman ReturnsGremlinsLethal Weapon. You just have to get past some casual sexism, racism, and homophobia (which, okay is a big ask). More importantly, the ultimate absolute bestest holiday action movie is obviously The Long Kiss Goodnight. Since cis dudes are afraid of women (and they should be), I’m going to go ahead and claim The Long Kiss Goodnight for the feminists and the queers. Heteronormative men can have their bigoted action flicks.

The Long Kiss Goodnight has got all the best action elements: shootouts, explosions, Samuel L. Jackson, a dramatic makeup/hairstyle change montage, knife fights. It also has (and this is real important) Geena Davis talking about deflowering virgins. Plus, as a treat, a general skewering of American law enforcement systems. They knew in 1996 that law enforcement was filled with a bunch of self-aggrandizing, violent terrorists who were perfectly content to “blame it on the Muslims” to get funding. How is this film not widely regarded as the holiday classic it was meant to be?

I’m so tired of us claiming that severe violence, gore, and profanity aren’t wholesome. I’m so tired of us claiming that mothers/kindly second grade teachers can’t stab dudes in the eyeball or flash low rent detectives to distract them or curse like motherfucking sailors without being considered indecent. Some dudes just need to be stabbed in the eyeball. And having Geena Davis flash you would be an excellent distraction. Hell, I’m distracted right now just thinking about it.

Now I understand that Die Hard and Die Hard 2 contain some very important holiday action tropes. There’s the classic lengthy fight scenes in the snow while our hero is only wearing a tank top. Well, I see your sweaty muscley Bruce Willis in a tank top and raise you a sweaty muscley Geena Davis in a tank top. We also have the highly regarded using a strand of Christmas lights to fly into the air while firing a machine gun (very Christmasy). And, of course, ice skating with a rifle. Like you do.

What makes this film feminist and queer af though, has to be the decidedly non-romantic, deep respect Samuel L. Jackson’s Mitch has for Geena Davis’s Sam. When he’s being held at gunpoint and she’s about to be tortured to death his parting words are “I’ll be waiting for you to come and rescue me.” This dude doesn’t even try. He knows the only things he brings to the team are quips and Newports. She has quips, Newports, and is a badass motherfucker. So he waits.

This year has been a real kick in the box. Nothing is normal. So why should we watch mediocre men engage in problematic behaviors and poor parenting and gratuitous violence for the good of America and Christmas and kittens? Instead, I propose we watch Geena Davis engage in problematic behaviors and poor parenting and gratuitous violence for the good of America and Christmas and kittens.

The Privilege of Performativity

(Re-blog from Women and Words)

I love my community. Like hard. I love that I have friends I can text Need queers. When can you be here? And they will show up right away. I love that I can text Heading to the bar and the recipient will know which bar. I love that I have friends across the country and former students and colleagues for every song or article or movie I want to discuss. For every Kafka tweet, there is a queer.

I hate that I don’t want to talk to anyone else anymore.

Last election allowed me to strip out the remaining toxic humans in my orbit. Granted, there were only like two holdouts, but still. This election was more precarious. I have officially lost all patience for performative liberalism. Which, frankly, means no more heteronormative white women. (There weren’t any white men. There haven’t been for years.)

There are people I love who I cannot stand for longer than two minutes. They are all white, straight, middle class people who think four more years of the same would be unbearable. So tough. I mean, they have to pay attention to the news like all the time. Not to mention how often they have to see Black and brown people in the news and confront their own racism. And they all have informed me that I am not at risk. I am overreacting. My (white, boyishly handsome, fun) queerness is acceptable and completely without danger.

Trans people are my people. Gender non-conforming people are, well, me. My people are at risk walking down the street, going into a store, filing a form in a government office, staying indoors, going outdoors. Breathing. It’s all a fucking risk. Being queer in America is scary as fuck. Being visibly queer is even more scary. I can’t fathom being visibly queer and also Black or brown.

So I find it a little hard to swallow when privileged heteronormative white people start talking about needing a revolution. As if the last four years were a surprise or an aberration. They were not. They were a very obvious consequence of having a Black president. They were a very obvious result of every person who “just didn’t like Hillary” but not because of sexism (spoiler alert: it was sexism. Forty years of concentrated, pervasive sexism focused on Hillary, specifically). The last four years were a dumpster fire of an example of needing a revolution when marginalized people have been saying for centuries that it’s getting a little warm in here. Liberals are damn right we need a revolution, but marginalized folks have been fighting it all along. Cis white liberals can go fight that revolution now. We are tired. We are dead and dying. My existence is revolutionary and I don’t want to hear anyone tell me about how they just noticed it’s bad out there.

I love the solidarity, really, I do. But in my earliest memories I knew I wanted things I wasn’t allowed to want. I knew to be quiet about my desires. I knew that I didn’t belong. So forgive me. I’ve known for thirty years that shit was bad. Someone who figured it out in the last four doesn’t have the weight that I have carried. If they want to take some of the burden, great. But I refuse to help carry someone else’s load just because I have weightlifting experience.

So maybe my circle is smaller now. Maybe my interactions with outsiders require a lot less time and a lot more booze. I’m a little sad, I guess. I’m a lot tired. But mostly I’m proud of myself.

A Time Capsule

(Re-blog from Women and Words)

It was my birthday last week. I’m 34 now. I know this because in the month leading to my birthday, I asked my wife five times how old I was turning.

My life isn’t what I conceived of when I was a kid. Or maybe it is. I never really gave the future much thought. It’s difficult to imagine a world where you’re an adult when there are no adults who look like you. And I say this as someone who had a lesbian school teacher for three years in elementary school. Which, yes, was as great as you imagine. She was close friends with my mom so whenever school shut down for a blackout or a snow day, my brother and I went home with her because my mom had a big important job or something. We would play in the snow and watch movies and, most importantly, I got to sew. All day. All day sewing. She had so many patches. And a surprising number were rainbows? Weird.

Still, as a gender non-conforming kid (who was labeled a tomboy when I was, frankly, just queer) it was impossible to see myself in the world. Even my teacher wasn’t visibly queer. Lesbians existed. Gay men existed. A surprising number of my mother’s friends were gay. But they were all gender conforming, closeted, hidden. We knew what they were, but it was impolite to talk about (or maybe my mother just assumed we were smarter and more aware than we were?). I simply knew people like me didn’t exist. I was unconcerned by this fact. Probably because I was well aware that I was odd and had to make my own rules. I guess I expected I would find out what my adulthood looked like when I got there.

I knew I was going to be a lawyer. And then maybe president or a Supreme Court justice. I knew this because I was a precocious kid who liked to talk back and insisted on framing everything as an argument. As such, every adult I met said things like, “someone is going to be a lawyer when they grow up.” As if little girls can’t just have big vocabularies and a penchant for being assholes. So joke is on them I guess. Because I just grew up to be an angry lesbian.

If ten-year-old me could see me now, I think she would honestly be impressed. My hair game is on point. I’ve got a wife who is much cooler than me (and most humans). I’ve got a cute kitten. I dress like a grandpa/skater boy. I do very chill things like wear Ray-Bans and scowl. I can recite poetry. And not just fluffy sweet poetry. The good shit. Audre Lorde and Langston Hughes. Ten-year-old Ashley would find that impressive as hell.

So, friends, a question. What quality (as ethereal or tangible as you like) would ten-year-old you find dope as shit?

Some perspective. You’re welcome.

(Re-blog from Women and Words)

This will probably shock you so buckle down. The world is on fire. And also there’s a pandemic. And a despotic fuckwit is leading the country. I failed high school Econ, but I’m pretty sure we’re in a recession. Also (and really, this is going to blow your mind) racism still exists? Like in a big way. It’s bonkers, I know. According to my public school education, MLK single-handedly ended racism so this was pretty upsetting news to me, specifically. My dudes, the world is not good right now. I’m even going to say things are bad.

The thing is, none of this is actually surprising. We were all Cassandra. We just chose not to believe our own prophesies. We’re dumb. Like, as a species. That’s my grand takeaway here. On the whole, we are amazingly stupid which is why I have decided not to look at the bigger picture. It’s right there for me all the time. The sky is gray and orange and it looks like fall, but when you go outside the air is hot and heavy. Not humid, but weighty. When I leave the house, I match my face mask to my outfit. It’s helpful for both the pandemic and the smoke. That’s what we call a twofer, friends. When I go on Twitter, I instinctively share hot takes about racism and climate change and the patriarchy. But if I’m being real honest, I gotta tell you I spend a lot of time watching videos of pandas or looking at pictures of kittens or reading stories about Dolly Parton. Sometimes I wish I could be one of those people who “doesn’t pay attention to politics” or watches sports for the ball throwing (is that what they do in the sports?), but I am not one of those people. I can, however, cling to the bright spots. Those heteronormative motherfuckers are still going to have violent, bizarre, destructive gender reveals, but I can experience a fleeting moment of joy in watching that dude hit himself in the junk with an explosive blue canister.

I’m looking forward to November. I mean, yes, because I’d really like to know if I’m going to continue living in the US or if I’m going to flee. But if I think about that, well, it’s a real bummer. So I’m not focusing on it.

I’m thinking about Thanksgiving food. My father-in-law makes the best goddamn Thanksgiving meal and I’m going to sit at an outdoor table when it’s fifty-seven degrees (fuck the pandemic) and I’m going to eat lovingly roasted turkey and mashed potatoes and stuffing all smothered in gravy.

I’m thinking about the new Taylor Swift album (which, yes, has already been released) (and, yes, this is two blogs in a row where I talk about folklore and you can’t stop me). The vinyl will ship in November. I’m going to listen to folklore on vinyl and feel feelings that are not my feelings. Because I’m kind of dead inside so I really enjoy soaking in Taylor Swift’s feelings, which are much safer than my own.

I’m going to watch the entire Resident Evil series on 4K. 4-fucking-K. It’s going to be epic. Think of the gore. Think of the zombies. Think of the sky alight with flaming crows that I don’t have to worry about because it is fictional fire instead of a literal firenado. I love fictional fire and fictional pandemics and fictional apocalypses.

The world is maybe ending. Which is a real drag. Without electricity and society there will be a lot less Cheetos and Netflix and I happen to really like Cheetos and Netflix. The good news is the earth will continue to spin even after humans kill any remaining life. So the real takeaway here is that humanity probably can’t destroy the earth because the carbon will endure forever. See? I can be positive.

Farewell to Cash

(Re-blog from Women and Words)

It is done.

I’m satisfied and all that, but I’m mostly tired. The book was due, well, originally in 2019? I don’t know. Time is a construct. Editing schedules are not a construct. I know. You’d think it was the other way around, but no.

My editor knows how my brain works. Or she doesn’t give a fuck how my brain works, but she’s real good at communicating how her brain works. And her brain works on a series of deadlines. For example, “this is when your book is due.” But also, “just tell me your timeline” (I’m real bad at estimating timelines. I perpetually announce dinner will be in an hour and serve dinner three hours later). Finally, she tells me “I need it by this date if you want to keep your publication date.” Her real kindness is honestly not caring when I finish as long as I communicate with her. And learning to text so I can communicate with her (thanks Cindy love you xxoo).

Anyway, I did the math a couple weeks ago and figured out how many words per day would get the book done in time. (Yes, yes, I should have “done the math” and “finished the book” before a couple weeks ago). I did okay with it. Largely because my wife is a kindly soul who provides things like nachos and coffee and beer and quiet time (But if I’m being honest, the kitten was not helpful. I mean, she tried, but her typing skills are frankly subpar). Also, my wife is my only beta reader. I used to have more beta readers, but they weren’t as brutally honest as my wife? And, you know, my wife will read my entire novel in a day if I ask her. And if I edit it and ask her to read it again the next day, she will.

Did I mention Sacramento is having a heat wave? It’s been 107 since this weekend. I like heat. I do not like changing my entire outfit because I went outside for twenty minutes and sweated through my underwear, shorts, and tank top. I don’t like air-conditioning, which is a bummer when it’s 107 and the low (the low!) is 82. Also, my best writing is done on the porch. It was rough, pals.

And, yes, I did do all the laundry, make multiple unnecessarily complicated meals, and take apart the ice machine to clean it with a toothbrush in the last week. No, I did not regularly shower or eat meals (six per day or nothing is my motto. For both).

On Friday, I stayed up until almost four? On Saturday, I pulled an all-nighter. I. Am. Too. Old. For. All. Nighters. I turned in the book at 5:56 a.m. We’d finally opened the windows at three. It was already over 90 at six when we crawled into bed. Yes, we. My darling, wonderful wife stayed up editing, reading, pep talking me all night (do you need to sit in a different chair?Coffee? Jolly Ranchers? Your glasses cleaned? A popsicle?). She gets me. I mean, who else is going to suggest I take a shower at one in the morning because I need to emotionally reset and that’s the fastest method? Who else won’t flinch when I play folklore by Taylor Swift for the seventh time in nine hours? Who else will tell me I’m being a dick going through her edits and I can’t rush her explanations just because I’m tired? More importantly, who will ignore their cabin fever after the all-nighter and the novel-writing binge because they know I need to de-stress by watching Teenage Bounty Hunters and eating pizza for twenty hours straight? I married up, folks.

Now that it’s done, I guess I should tell you about it. This book is Journey to Cash. It’s the fourth and final Cash Braddock book. Here’s the blurb I wrote about a decade ago:

“Cash Braddock thought everything was great. Her drug business sold for a nice chunk. She’s opening an art gallery. And she’s finally free of the Sacramento Police Department.

But then the mother she hasn’t seen in twenty-three years knocks on her door. And Laurel Kallen, the ex-girlfriend who broke her heart, rolls into town. Oh, and Laurel has a message: Cash’s former business partner is back and wants to kill them both. Which is a real bummer.

Cash is no stranger to the consequences of her poor decisions, but this time everyone and everything she loves might pay the price.”

You can order it here. I’m going to go take a nap.

Geena Davis, Cate Blanchett, and Other Simple Pleasures in an Apocalypse

(Re-blog from Women and Words)

Back in April—do you remember April? It was so long ago. Well, back in April, I left school on a Friday and said to my students “make smart choices!” just like I said every Friday. But also, on a whim, I added “and if I don’t see you until fall, have a good summer.” And we laughed. Within a matter of days, it was abundantly clear that I wouldn’t be back on campus until August. So I asked the librarian if I could borrow a digital projector. And then, you know, they laid me off. Don’t worry, I’ll return the projector when school is back in session. So like August 2021?

We have since gotten our money’s worth out of the projector. We started with Thelma & Louise on the porch with the octogenarian. It was the same day the landscapers did a major tree pruning. Around the time Thelma was saying, “good morning, ladies and gentlemen. This is a robbery,” we heard a thump. We thought it was an orange falling in the gutter, but there aren’t any orange trees on that side of the porch. And then Henry ran by. Henry—Hank, if you’re close—is a delightful little rat who tried to jump from the recently pruned tree to the roof. He didn’t quite make it. Usain Bolt ain’t got nothing on an octogenarian who has just seen Hank run along the porch railing. Ultimately, Louise and Thelma escaped the patriarchy, the octogenarian built some muscle, and Hank managed to find his way off the porch.

Have I told you about my wife? She’s very serious. She doesn’t seem so serious, which is a problem when she’s being quite sincere. Like after a porch movie when she has a twelve-point survey (How was the volume? What about the sound quality? Was it rich enough or did you feel the car could have rumbled more? Was the movie properly framed for your taste?).

The octogenarian did not take her post Thelma & Louise survey seriously, which meant our pre A League of Their Own survey was much more intense. That one was for the octogenarian’s birthday. Who said you can’t have a birthday celebration in a pandemic? Rigging up the screen for the birthday bash involved climbing two trees. As a child the only outdoor activity I willingly participated in was tree climbing. Turns out it’s more difficult when you’re an adult. Also turns out that taking down the screen when it’s dark and you’ve been drinking is a bad idea? At least it is according to my wife (the serious surveys are accompanied by a lot of rules) (she read this blog and wants you, dear reader, to know they aren’t rules. They are suggestions based on logic).

We have since done The ‘Burbs with our neighbors (duh). Ironically, the neighbor from the next house over asked us to turn it down. At 9 p.m. On a Saturday. He clearly has bodies buried in the backyard if you know what I mean (I mean literal bodies). We also did a movie in our friend’s backyard for her kid’s fifteenth birthday. We set it up over the pool so he and his buddy could float and watch Guardians of the Superfriends or Whatever. It was fucking dope. We also did Ocean’s Eight in our backyard for science. Yeah, ten foot Cate Blanchett flirting with Sandra Bullock for science.

I’ll be honest, there’s no real point to this blog. We’re in a shitstorm of a pandemic approaching an economic depression with a fascist regime and also the globe is literally on fire and in the U.S. we don’t have any firefighters because our prison slave labor firefighters are all sick with said deadly virus. I’m taking joy from watching feel good movies on an outdoor screen. I hope you’re finding joy where you can. I also hope the sound quality is good. And if it’s not, call my wife and have her rig up a different sound system configuration for you.