The Fires Out West

I left Seattle on an Amtrak. Heading north, I saw the Olympic peninsula burning. I was watching a rainforest on fire. Rainforests aren’t supposed to be on fire.

I felt almost nothing.

I’ve heard it called “disaster fatigue.” No one on the train reacted while the announcer told us what we were watching. I’d been a committed environmentalist anarchist for more than a decade, and I was numb.

* * *

People maybe rearranged deck chairs on the Titanic while it sank. So what. What do you want them to have done? Run around screaming?
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September 15, 2008

Content Warning: misogynist violence

It might be that the anarchist traveler scene died when Sali died, on September 15, 2008, as summer gave way to autumn. It was two weeks before her twenty-first birthday.

It might be that the man who killed her marked the end of a way of life.

There were probably hundreds of us in the early-to-mid aughts, us crusty anarchist travelers. We hopped freight trains and we fought the state. We ate out of trash cans, we shoplifted and scammed corporations. We stole photocopies from Kinkos to disseminate our zines, we broke into empty buildings to sleep and throw parties and convergences, because fuck capitalism and fuck asking permission from the system we detest. We worked hard, fought the State tooth and nail, and interwove play into everything we did. An endless summer.

There was no future in it, of course.
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Book Design Template for InDesign

Well, I’ve been meaning to for years now, but I finally went ahead and made myself a cleaner template for designing the interior of books. So I figure I might as well put it online. I want self-publishers to have better books, after all.

indt file | idml file

Use the indt file if you’re using InDesign CS6 or later. It’s a template file, which means every time you open it, it will open as an “untitled” project that needs to be saved. Use the idml file if you’re using InDesign CS4-5.5.

Designing a book is hella complicated. This template can help. Or you can hire someone (like me) to design your book for you. I offer discounts to self-publishers, collectively-run publishers, and to not-for-profit ventures that I believe in. My email address is
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Wearing Chainmail

Chainmail is kind of magical. It conforms to your body, fixes your posture, sheds heat, feels great, is self-cleaning, and turns most blades. On the other hand, it’s also heavy as hell, might bruise you, makes you and/or your clothes filthy, and can hurt your back if you’re as dumb as me and wear it every day before you’ve worked up to it.

After I made my chainmail shirt, I wore it every day for months. Because, uh, science. Here’s what I learned:
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Coming Out as Genderqueer

Hi. I’m coming out as genderqueer.

For people who know me, and people who know what genderqueer means, this probably isn’t some big surprise. I told a couple of my friends that I was going to come out — like this, in writing — and they just assumed I was already out.

According to the New Oxford American Dictionary (yes, that one that comes with Mac), genderqueer as an adjective is: “denoting or relating to a person who does not subscribe to conventional gender distinctions but identifies with neither, both, or a combination of male and female genders.”

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Sister Dominic

My great aunt, Sister Dominic, sat in her chair in her room in the hospice ward of the convent. She was watching Mass on TV. It hadn’t even occurred to me that someone would televise Mass. But there she was, arguably too infirm to attend in person, so she watched Mass from her chair while I waited awkwardly, patiently, to talk to her.

It’s hard to believe it’s been more than a year now since she passed away.
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This story originally appeared in the Earth First! Journal in 2014.

When the wind runs through the elders, it casts their branches out every which way and I love it. I love when autumn storms come through and take leaves with them and the leaves take off into the skies like flocks and tidings of birds.

I walk through the eldergrove unafraid, and for me that is something. I remember, when I was so young that my mother still wove leaves into my braids—I remember playing in the eldergrove and I skinned my knee and the blood came out, thick as sap, and I wasn’t afraid. I wasn’t afraid because I’d tripped over my grandfather’s roots and I knew his blood was the same as mine.
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2014 in review

Here’s my year in review. I suppose most people just do these sorts of things on facebook or something now, but I’ve been doing it on this site for quite some time: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2009, and 2008.

In 2014, my accomplishments were, by-and-large, more personal and less of the “look at what I made” variety.

  • I released my first novel, A Country of Ghosts.
  • I toured with said novel across the country.
  • My short story “Wardens” appeared in the Earth First! Journal.
  • I dealt with the worst of my mental health issues and came out the other side.
  • I completely rebuilt the interior of my van.
  • I actually moved somewhere, taking a temporary break from itinerant life.
  • I started studying martial arts again.
  • I wrote a lot, though I haven’t finished anything but short fiction and articles.
  • I saw buffalo, a grizzly bear, and geysers for the first time. (Animals in animal-jail don’t count.)

Van Life: Green Remodeling: Demolition and Underlayment

In this series I’m documenting the remodeling of my 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 Conversion Van from a family travel model to an RV. Work was done in the spring of 2014 and written about 6 months later, so my memory is fuzzy.


Starting from right behind the driver’s compartment, I ripped out almost everything from my van, down to the bare steel floors and walls. The exceptions were the foam on the floor, the rear air-conditioning, and two of the rear speakers.
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