When I was young and naive I half-heartedly campaigned for Ralph Nader. It was the year 2000 and I wasn’t quite old enough to vote but I had a green party pin on the lapel of my corduroy blazer. I’m as embarrassed of my teenage fashion choices as I am of having ever supported third party politics, if I’m being honest.
I had my excuses and talking points all lined up. Not about the corduroy, there’s no excusing corduroy. About the pin. About Ralph Nader.
“He’s unelectable,” someone might say.
“That’s only because we assume it to be true,” I said. “The only reason we’re locked into a two-party system is because people say we are.”
I think I got that line from my friend, the Nader campaign coordinator on campus. Thanks to the Nader campaign, he and I both got to feel like we were part of something important.
Nader lost, and a year later I realized that the only reason we’re trapped in capitalism and statist politics is because people assume we are. People assume revolution is off the table. People assume that taking autonomy for ourselves and defending it is off the table. We, as people, can reconstruct society to be anything we want it to be, and I’d been wasting my time imagining spending that potential on some vaguely-better version of the status quo.
Continue reading Gandalf Isn’t Running For President
2015 has been good to me, as a writer and a person. This year:
- I made my first five professional short fiction sales. Three of these are published:
- I went to Clarion West. These six weeks did as much to improve my fiction as six years of writing.
- I made a five-figure income for the first time in my life, through freelancing.
- I ghostwrote a romance novel.
- I got over my phobia of flying.
- I went to England for the first time.
- I started seeing someone amazing.
Next year, I’ll hit fifteen years of veganism and five years with my wonderful van. I’ll leave my early thirties, and hopefully I’ll finish another novel of my own.
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?
Continue reading The Fires Out West
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.
Continue reading September 15, 2008
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Continue reading Book Design Template for InDesign
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:
Continue reading Wearing Chainmail
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.”
Continue reading Coming Out as Genderqueer
“Explain this thing to me,” my friends would say to me, while I was reorganizing my life around getting myself out to Seattle for Clarion West.
“I’m moving into an empty sorority house for six weeks with 17 strangers. And it’s not a reality show. It’s a writing workshop.”
Continue reading Clarion West
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.
Continue reading Sister Dominic
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.
Continue reading Wardens