‘The Good King’ Makes a Good Fantasy

The idea is endemic to western civilization. From the Christ myth to King Arthur and King Richard, to Aragorn, Isildur’s Heir, it repeats. In our myths, our fiction, our movies. It’s the same story, though it takes two versions. In one version, the version that makes for the best stories, there is evil in the land. And there is, somewhere, a good king. The good king is lost, or imprisoned, or off on crusade. Evil sweeps over the land. Some fall into despair, others hold out hope for the Return of the King.

Often, the king does return. He smites the evildoers and raises up the loyal and the righteous and all the land lives in peace and happiness. He is /such/ a good king that he manages not only to train his heir to be a good ruler but also to prevent any succession disputes for at least three generations.

Truly, a good king.

The other version of a good king puts the king in the background. They don’t need to fight for the throne (not publicly, anyway). They simply are the king. Somehow, (magically) they manage to hold the throne, keep the feuding nobles happy, ensure the safety of the common people, and make everything so wonderful that unicorns farting rainbows practically dance down the street. They are rarely the center of the tales, but tales happen around them. Good Queen Bess, le bon roi Henri, Jonathon of Tortall, and others both real and fictional.

In both versions of this story, the ruler (it’s usually a king, but it could be a queen, a noble, a president, or prime minister) attains mythic proportions and the ability to fix everything, for everyone, simply from their own inherent goodness. Or something like that.

It’s a fun story, but it’s not real.

Bluntly, It’s Escapism

Kept to its proper place, within the pages of novels and frames of movies, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. A bit of escapism does us all good sometimes. But we need to remember that it is escapism.

We don’t. We bring it into our lives, our choices, our politics. To different people in the US, Bernie, Biden and Trump have all been ‘the good King’. Before Trump, it was Obama, hailed as the one who would bring change and fix everything. It’s the new principal hired to fix the failing school. The new boss or CEO. A ‘real world government’ to replace the UN or any number of other people or ideas that will magically ‘fix’ everything. Sometimes it’s us.

The Good King presents us with two options. Maybe three. We can cast ourselves as the good king, the savior who will fix everything — from our local theater group to our relationships to the entire damn world. Or we can cast ourselves as one of the grateful subjects content to play out our small adventure or romance or coming of age tale against a backdrop where we don’t need to worry about the big picture or the people around us because ‘the good king’ will take care of it. In some versions of the story, we can cast ourselves as the good king’s loyal companions, fighting at his side to win the ballot box, the funds for the renovation, etc etc.

No Matter What Role We Pick, It’s a Bad One

It’s a great story. A very seductive story. One where, no matter what role we play, we don’t need to take responsibility. If we are the good king, whatever we do is good by virtue of our being the good king, the one who will make everything right. The Good King doesn’t fail his subjects or screw over his contractors — or if he does, it’s ‘good business sense’ and therefore good. Or we let the king take care of it all, and not worry about it. Or we let the good king tell us what to do, and know that as long as we follow orders we are on the side of ‘right’ and it will end in ‘happily ever after.’

The Good King makes a good fantasy.

In real life, no one person will bring/maintain peace and prosperity and unicorns in the streets. In real life, we must all take responsibility for building and maintaining a society which is just, which is peaceful, which is free, which is accountable. And all the other things that a good society should offer (and doesn’t).

Check yourself. Especially in election years but also all the time. If you think you meet the Good King, send them off to weed the garden and back to work.

And maybe find some new fiction to read and myths to enjoy. Getting some variety in your mental diet can be a huge boon to your mental processes.

What Is Judaism? It Is a Tribe

I long ago lost track of how often this question comes up.

What is Judaism? People ask. Is it a religion? A culture? An ethnicity?

It is a question that only makes sense from outside of Jewry. From within Jewry, we don’t discuss ‘what is Judaism?’ We discuss ‘who is a Jew?’ We know what Judaism is. What we struggle with is how to explain it to everyone else.

Before I go any further, I want to give credit to Sam Morningstar, emsenn, and the book The Color of Jews, all of which have impacted my thinking in ways that shaped this blog post.

Interestingly, what took me several years to understand my father, when we discussed it recently, saw as obvious. Part of that is probably that he’s spent a much longer time living Jewish-ness than I have, but also I think he has spent over a decade speaking mainly Hebrew.

See, the word ‘Judaism’ doesn’t really translate from or to Hebrew. If you look at the etymology of ‘Judaism’, it started as the Greek for ‘Jew’. Somewhere in its evolution, it went from being a word for a person’s identity to a word for a philosophy or belief system, which is what ‘-ism’ denotes in English.

Among non-Jews, ‘Judaism’ is usually understood as something like ‘the monotheistic religion of the Jews.’ (from google). However, when you look for how to translate Judaism into Hebrew, you get “יַהֲדוּת” which literally means ‘people of Judah’ and is (approximately) defined as ‘Jewry’ or ‘Jewishness’. 

To Abba, after years of speaking Hebrew and living Jewish-ly in a Jewish society, the answer to what is Judaism was obvious. Judaism is a tribe.


Now, there are problems with using the word ‘tribe.’

It isn’t a very clearly defined word and has often been applied to people whether they wanted it or not. But the immediate association for most English speakers will be something like ‘a group of people joined together by heredity, culture, and beliefs/traditions.’

Tribal identity is conferred, not chosen. Someone can be adopted into the tribe, but can’t decide to become a member themselves. Most tribes have their own faith/religion/traditions which social scientist-types call ‘ethnoreligions’ because ‘religion tied to an ethnicity’ is the best they can understand within their Christian-shaped world view.

“But Jess, Jews can convert to Christianity, and then they aren’t Jews anymore!”

Christianity is just about the only religion a Jewish person can convert to and not be considered Jewish anymore. Islam being the other. Why? Because they both require people to renounce Judaism — to renounce their membership in the tribe — to convert. But someone can be a Buddhist Jew or an atheist Jew or a UU Jew and still be part of the tribe. There’s this whole argument about whether you can be a practicing Buddhist AND an observant Jew. But you are still a Jew.

There’s a reason orthodox Jews use the term ‘off the derech’ (off the path). A Jew who goes off the derech is still a Jew, a member of the tribe. They’ve just gone off the right path. That’s a completely different thing from renouncing and abandoning Jewry.


It didn’t occur to me to use ‘tribe’ for Jewry under I started following Sam Morningstar on Quora and emsenn on Fediverse.

Several times with both of them I have had conversations along the lines of ‘oh, our people do this the same! Isn’t it annoying how Christians/European-Americans never get it?’ The more I learned from them, the more I struggled to find words in English that encompassed ‘יַהֲדוּת’… eventually the two came together and I realize, ‘Oh, yeah, the word I’ve been looking for is ‘tribe.’

It’s not perfect — translations never are. But it’s way better than anything else I’ve come up with for trying to explain to Christians and atheists raised in Christian hegemony that ‘Judaism’ isn’t religion OR ethnicity OR culture, but some larger thing that sort of but doesn’t include all three.


Now, most tribal peoples are also indigenous. I want to be clear that I’m not trying to claim indigenity. I think we could have a good conversation about what being indigenous is and how it can/cannot apply to peoples who have been forced into diaspora. But that’s a conversation for another time.

Jews are/were a tribal people in diaspora.

As we have/had been in diaspora, different groups of us have evolved in different directions, developing new customs, traditions, and even languages.

Several other tribal peoples have been forced to survive in diaspora or partly in diaspora and the struggle to retain a cohesive identity as a people is another thing I have heard from others that resonates with Jewish experience.

Of course, there is a major split in יַהֲדוּת now — many of us are no longer in diaspora. That’s causing a whole lot of fretting, discussion, arguing, and lots of other synonyms for ‘people trying to figure shit out and always agreeing’.


Anyway, yeah. That’s my final answer. What is Judaism?

“Judaism” is a tribe.

A tribe in/from diaspora.

Jews are people who belong to the tribe. No matter where in the diaspora they come from. No matter if they were born to the tribe or were adopted (‘converted’) as adults.

It is as simple, and as complicated, as that.


Thanks to emsenn also for doing a sensitivity read of this post.

Is It Time to Stop Self Reflecting?

For the past two years or so, this blog has been an exercise in self reflection. But I think it may be time to move on. I’m not looking inward any longer. I’m looking outward.

That’s a large part of the reason posts have slowed down. I realized almost all my posts were about my books because I just didn’t have anything else to say.

When I rebooted my website and blog, I was largely lost. I’d lost track of who I was and what I was doing with my life the summer before and was only just starting to regain my footing. I’d lost some communities I valued and … well … I needed time to focus on me.

We all need time to self reflect. But the things we learn and the ways we grow from self reflection don’t mean anything if we can’t take them out into the world.

It’s time for me to stop self reflecting. I took the time I needed. I healed. I grew. Now it’s time to look outward again.


That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop self reflecting entirely. One of the problems that led to my needing a year and a half or so to really get my feet back under me was that I spent years so focused on survival I never had a chance to stop and focus on me. That wasn’t healthy.

Necessary, but not healthy.

What I’m hoping to do is find a balance, where most of the time I am looking outwards, but once a month or so I take some time to sit down and write a blog post about where I’m at and where I’m trying to get to and my progress on my goals and stuff.

But most of the time I’m going to be writing more the kind of thing that I had on the Polyamory on Purpose website. Just… not just polyamory. And not just focused on polyam folks.


Someone told me recently I should write a book about Judaism and misconceptions about Judaism. I demurred because I’m still learning and there is so much I still don’t know. Then the person who suggested it reminded me that no one knows everything and they thought I knew enough.

I’ve had similar suggests about autism. And of course I’ve been writing about polyamory for a long time.

I’m going to run with that. I’m going to start writing about these topics that folks have asked me for. But I’m going to write for a general audience. For instance, I won’t be writing about autism for other autistic folks (there are several people don’t a great job of that already). Instead I’ll be writing ‘stuff about autism everyone should know.’

And I think I’ll be hitting pretty hard on common misconceptions —  what many folks think they know but they actually don’t.

Anyway, I think that’s the plan going forward. See what happens, right?

Cha-Cha-Cha-Changing

I’d like to say Michon and Dilip Numeor Amelia Chetana Wallar and Kid 2 and Kidlet are settled in now, we’ve found a nice rhythm that works for everyone and it’s all good.

But I try not to lie.

It’s been… god, it’s been.

Don’t get me wrong — having them here has been wonderful and I’m sure we will settle into that rhythm… eventually.

But first we’ve got to get through all the hell that comes from moveing across state lines when A) you are a disabled person and B) you have kids.

For instance, Michon ran out of a critical medication, ze doesn’t have health coverage set up in PA, no PA pharmacy will accept hir Massachusetts’ health coverage, and ze has been pushing hirself to make at least a half dozen phone calls this week to try to get the medication through local support services while waiting for local health coverage to kick in.

And being on the phone is painful for hir at the best of times, which these most definitely aren’t.

But we haven’t yet set up the paperwork to let me or Dilip Numetor Amelia Chetana Waller handle these calls for hir. So it’s the catch 22 of, the longer ze goes without medication, the harder these phone calls are, but the phone calls knock hir down so hard that hir flare ups get even worse and ze needs the medication even more critically and… it’s a massive downward spiral.

So Michael is staying with hir this week to take care of kid 2 and kidlet while Dilip Numetor Amalia Chetana Waller is a work, leaving me alone with kid 1 and kidling (which, isolation fucks with me.  Literally nothing fucks with me more than being isolated and alone. [there’s a reason I’m all gungho about group homes, ya know?] ) And the rhythm we HAD started for kid 1 and kid 2 to have summer lessons and keep them in the habit of doing school each day has been completely destroyed and….

Oy, it’s been a thing.


At the same time, between the four of us, we ARE managing. Some how. Like… any one of the dozen+ things that went wrong t his past month should have put me in shut down and possibly burnout. Instead, I’m… well, I’m not good. I’m exhausted and my function is really bad. But I’m not in constant sensory overload. And even I’m in low function I still have function. And what I’m hearing is we are all kind of in a similar place.

Michon expected to be completely nonfunctional by Wednesday. Instead, ze was able to watch kid 2 and kidlet yesterday so Michael to could stay with me for a day bc of how bad the isolation was hitting me. And everyone has clean clothes. and the dishes are clean because Dilip Numetor Amelia Chetana Waller seems to take a sink full of dishes as a personal challenge. (He actually pouted the other night when he got he and the dishes were all clean. And…

It’s been exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. Like riding a surfboard and knowing at any moment you can crack up but always managing to keep that edge of balance that makes the magic happen.

But I am SO fucking exhausted…


Tonight (I’m writing this Friday), we’ll all be staying at Michon’s new place. That’s the one part of our hoped-for ‘normal’ routine we’ve managed to nail down. Every weekend we spend together. Friday evening is erev Shabbat and we light the candles and Kid 1 and I sing the prayers (and others if they want to join in) and we have story time and shabbat treats together.

In the morning, Dilip Numetor Amelia Chetana Waller and I get some time out in the woods. Ideally we want to be hiking more weeks, but if I’m not feeling up to it we take a walking path. Saturday afternoon is for grown up gaming. We’ve got Werewolf and BESM games going depending how who from the extended fam is present any given week. While we play, the kids all get kicked outside to run around and play and get some exercise. In theory Saturday night is quiet. A restful time to hang out together and relax. With four kids, the emphasis there is ‘in theory.’

Midday Sunday is the chance for the older kids to have some guaranteed adult time. They usually ask to play Magic, sometimes Carcassonne or other game. Sunday evening is food shopping for the week. Which ever two of us adults are feeling up to it hits the grocery stores and stocks up on everything we expect to need.


It isn’t perfect. For instance, we discovered this past weekend that one Michon’s perferred self care things is actively painful to me and I can’t be in the room while ze is doing it. And I swear if it would do any good we’d stage an intervention on Dilip Numetop Amalia Chetana Waller’s ass. He keeps insiting that he doesn’t need anything, he’s good, no he doesn’t need a break, it’s okay if he works himself into exhaution, he’s the healthy one among us so he has to….  “D.,” I want to say, “You won’t STAY the healthy one if you don’t take care of yourself!”

Unfortunately, we’ve all tried it and while he gives lip service to the idea, he had a great deal of trouble putting it into practice.


But, in spite of the exhaution and the many many many problems and the need to (somehow) get Dilip Numetor Amalia Chetana Waller to see sense… It’s working.

It’s working well enough that I decided to take a risk on adding someone new to my plate. For over 5 years my focus has been on having LESS to do. The idea of adding anything new to my to-do list was enough to bring on panic attacks.

But for nearly 10 years, I’ve toyed with the idea of doing a webcomic. I’d get hit with an idea for one, want to do it so bad, accept that I had neither the skills nor the time to learn the skills, and give it up. Only to be ambushed by another idea a few years later.

I’m going to schedule in a couple hours art practice a week.  With how well we’ve all held up the past month, I think that will be doable. In six months I’ll take a look at my progress and see where I’m at.


I actually saved the strips from my first attempt at a webcomic.

I Should Be Promoting my Book, but…

You may have noticed I haven’t been around much this month — either here, on Patreon, or on social media.

That’s because the most amazing awful thing happened and I am still reveling in it.

Amazing awful?

Yup. See, it’s kinda awful for someone when they are supposed to move into a new apartment and learn at the last minute that the electric can’t be turned on. The landlord didn’t arrange an inspection before you signed the lease. (Being fair, he had it inspected before he put it up for rental, just it sat too long with the electric off and needed to be reinspected.)

But when the result of this bit of awful is that your formerly LDR partners who you haven’t seen in nearly 2 years get to stay with you for over a week while everything gets sorted out… that’s pretty amazing.

It hasn’t been easy — nothing that involves multiple autistic people and unexpected change is ever easy. And it really messed up A’s visit with Michael two weekends ago. (Two weekends! We thought they’d be here 2 days, maybe a bit longer. AHHHH!!!!)

It’s been way way way too much, and absolutely amazing. Also, renewed confirmation of our belief that our living together will work really well when we can afford/find the right place. Even with fighting with utilities, multiple car breakdowns, some family news breaking Michael for a few days, and… Oh, so much more craziness that normally would send me and Michael or Michon or Dilip Numitor Amalia Chetana Waller spiraling down into complete nonfunctional mess. But we are all doing better than we would without all that horrible shit.

Group living isn’t for everyone, but somehow, for us four autistic introverts, nothing is better.


I haven’t written anything about my Generational Household goal in a while. Not since last February when we THOUGHT we had a farm. That fell through — the farmhouse needed too much work and wouldn’t be in move-in condition before we’d need to move given lease end dates and all. So we had to say no. And I’ve kinda been avoiding the whole topic because losing that chance hurt. It was a beautiful place and the landlords/sellers were people I thought we could work with.

But I’ve long collected sayings and quotes about resilience:

Fall down seven times, get up eight / …fall seven times and rise again

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again

If you fail the first time then you’ll just have to try harder the second time.

You may tread me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

You get the idea. (And if you don’t know where these come from, give a google and see what you find!)

We are now living within 15 minutes of each other (instead of hours!). Or, well, we will be once they get moved in. Right now, we are living on top of each other. (Electric finally got turned on Friday. Once the car is fixed (again…) Dilip Numetor Chetana Waller will get finished moving everything in. They’ll probably be settled by the end of the week.)

He thinks he’ll be able to save enough from his new job here for us to start looking for a place we can all live together by this time next year. I think he’s being optimistic, but I can easily see it within two years.

In the meantime, we’ll be spending every weekend together and seeing each other most weekdays. (The older kids will be in cyber school together and will be doing their school work together.)


(My blogging platform is yelling at me about this not being ‘readable’ because I haven’t used headings. I’m finding I like these breaks a lot better.)


Next week, I might delve a bit into how-to-polyamory territory, discussing how we are making this work, ways we have failed at making this work, and what other folks can learn from our experience. Because it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. But it’s still been awesome.

Obligatory new book plug:

Polyamory and Kink is coming out on Friday. Pre-order now with your preferred online retailer.

Taking Questions about Polyamory and Kink

As you may have heard, my next book Polyamory and Kink will  be out July 31st. (Or there-about for the paperback, because Amazon is annoying like that.) Anyway, for the first time in a long while, I’ve managed to actually do some marketing  for a book.

(Hey, look at that! Practically a real author, nu?)

Trying to keep going with a good thing — I’m going to do a bit of Q&A.

First, I’m inviting questions about the book on Twitter and Fedi from when this post goes like until 7pm ET.

Second, I’m inviting questions on polyamory and kink generally on Quora. I’ll have my A2As open for polyamory and kink until tomorrow morning.

(It may take me some time to reply to folks —  spooniess+kids+family shit going down [in a good way]. But I’ll get to everyone as quick as I can!)

 

Polyamory and Kink LAM Interview

The next Polyamory on Purpose guide, Polyamory and Kink will be out July 31st. A couple weeks ago I had a chance to sit down and chat with Daniel Cardoso about the book, my writing process, and a bit more. The London Alternative Market was good enough to feature that discussion in the June LAM Live. LAM is a market for kink vendors with some educations events attached, and they stream their monthly events. Or at least they do since COVID — not entirely clear on that.

Unfortunately, a ball got dropped somewhere and I didn’t get the link for the livestream. However, Daniel was able to share with me the youtube video LAM made of the June livestream.

Available for pre-order on Amazon and other etailers. Publication scheduled for July 31, 2020.

If I have the spoons (unlikely at the moment) I’ll sit down at some point and transcribe the interview. In the mean time, you can listen to it here.

LAM had some other interesting discussions going, so if you have time, check them out as well!

Like it says on the front, this is a book about polyamory and kink. More specifically, this is a book about adding kink to your polyamorous relationships.

Whether you are curious about kink yourself or have a partner who is entering a kink relationship and you want to know what to expect, this book will cover the bases. Including

 — what is kink

 — healthy vs unhealthy kink

 — how kink will impact other relationships in the polycule

 — how to find and connect with kinksters

 — polyam and kink culture clash (and how to avoid it)

I Am a Verb

I’ve had several variations on the same conversation over the past few years.

IRL I have ‘passing privilege’. I ‘pass’ as straight. I ‘pass’ as cis. I ‘pass’ as monogamous’.  Sometimes I even ‘pass’ as neurotypical. Except that for me, it doesn’t feel like a privilege, it feels like another version of being closeted. And this closet, I couldn’t get out of.

I’m not going to get into details. This is background stuff for what I want to talk about today. Suffice to say, that for a long time I couldn’t think of anything I could do that folks around me wouldn’t read as ‘normative, straight, cis, etc’ except, like, getting Pride pins and bumper stickers and such.

And the thing I said so many times over the last year “That’s not me.”

I’ve never liked pins and patches and such. Bumper stickers, I hate how they look. I mean, I’ve seen some good ones. I enjoy reading them driving down the highway. But not on my car please.

Jewelry? Well… no.

Flashback: Exploring Kabbalah

Nearly 20 years ago now, when I was getting comfortable claiming the identity of “Jew”, I dipped my toe into Kabbalah. One of the first books on kabbalah I read was God Is a Verb by David A Cooper. Highly recommend it just for the way it fucks with the Christian-hegemonic view of God so many folks grew up with.

God, Cooper says, is a verb. God is not a thing, not static, God is rightly God-ing. And when we explore spiritual things and try to follow the Tree of Life and just try to be good people in our day to day lives, we are practicing God-ing. God is an action, a process, a never-beginning-and-never-ending-always-doing.

In English, we are good at verbing our nouns. That’s why we can say we ‘googled’ something. And there are some nouns that can completely change our understanding why we verb them.

God is a verb.

Love is a verb.

Consent (as I said in Safer Sex for the Non-Monogamous) is a verb.

I Am a Verb

When I said, ‘that’s not me,’ I was treating myself, my identity as a static thing. Unchanging. Out of my control.

It’s true that there are somethings about me that are out of my control. I can’t decide not to be autistic, or white, or to not have bipolar. I can never learn how to not be an abuse survivor.

The past, and the experiences and actions it leaves us with, are unchanging.

But I am not. I am a verb. I am I-ing, Jess-ing. Me-ing, if you prefer. I don’t like it tying it to closely to my name, because names are only identifiers, not identities. And it is possible my name will change. And there may be people reading this who desperately want to change their names.

But whatever you want to call it, I am doing it, living it, being it.

I am a verb.

Out of the Box

I remember thinking, ‘maybe I can get a Pride pin to put on my teek. Stretch my comfort zone a bit, right?

Almost before I finished the thought, I was mentally face-palming.

I was already planning on getting a kippah, because I wanted at least one headcovering that would be ‘read’ as religious (unlike my more usual baseball-style caps or my ‘dressing up’ snood). I had just finished making myself a cowl. I was planning to make myself a shawl.

Why was I fretting over not having normative ways of signalling my anormativetly? Why was a thinking about maybe looking for a Pride pin — when I can wrap myself up in my hand-made Pride flag! (aka shawl)

And if I’m looking to get a kippah, surely there will be one somewhere with an infinity heart on it. Or someone on Etsy I can pay to make one with a rainbow infinity.

Oh, hey! Seek and ye shall find:

Rainbow kippah with “BLM” and black power first cross-stitched into the center.

I already spent my birthday money for the month, so I can’t snatch this one up. But definitely going to be watching that seller in the future.

Or find a crochet pattern for a kippah. Something like that.

By believing that I am static and closing my mind to the possibility of doing something new, be-ing something new, I also closed my mind to all the possibilities of change and growth within the things I am already doing and being.

I don’t plan on forgetting that lesson anytime soon!

What About You? Are You You-ing?

 

Donation Pledge: Supporting The Okra Project

The world is pretty fucked up. Some of us are just realizing how fucked up it is, but some have been trying to survive the fuck up for a long time now. Black trans folks are among those hit hardest by the FUBAR that is our world.

For that reason, for the next 3 months I will be donating 10% of my book profits & Patreon pledges to The Okra Project.

The Okra Project

The Okra Project is working to bring food — specifically “free, delicious, and nutritious meals” to black trans folks who are food insecure.

You can read the details on the website. They have several different initiatives going, and they are all pretty cool.

But why not donate to…?

There are literally hundreds of organizations I could donate to right now, all doing amazing and necessary work. I picked the Okra Project partly because they really are doing good work that should be supported. But partly in the spirit of tzedakah.

Tzedakah is a Jewish term that is usually translated as ‘charity’, but would be better translated as ‘responsibility’. We all have a responsibility to our communities. We need to give b ack to our communities. And the highest spirit of tzedakah is to give without knowing, without judging, give to the first person you see because you don’t know who needs most and it isn’t your place to judge.

My family tries to give tzedakah each month. We give to the first person who asks, whether it’s a go fund me drive or a personal plea or whatever.

I had to idea to do this pledge, but didn’t know who to give to. I was spinning myself into a meltdown trying to Google this, and remember that… when a call for donations to The Okra Project came across my feed.

So, tzedakah.

Going Forward

I’m not sure what I’ll do after 3 months. I’m leaning towards finding another org to donate to for the next 3 months. There are, as I said, so many orgs doing so much good work.

In the mean time, Polyamory and Kink is up for pre-order on Amazon and a couple other etailers. Now’s a good time to check it out.

Some Fun Short Reads

Last week was a really bad week for many folks, for many reasons. I want to give all of us a chance to relax a bit. So I’m diving into my mason jar file and sharing some fun and interesting shorts. I’m putting these 5 snippets into public domain, so if you are a creator, feel free to have fun with them.

These were all written as part of ‘writing sprints’ where we were given a word and 15 minutes to write.

I hope you enjoy.

Airship — steampunk
Expelled — original world fantasy
Perplexed — contemporary fiction
Space junk — space fantasy
Spark — urban fantasy

 

Airship

Captain Haru Nagatsumi stood in the bows of his airship and enjoyed the feel of the wind in his face for the first time in 10 years. He’d first gone to England with one their cultural exposés, then found himself falling into the employ of the Count of Ambrey. Then he fell into the Count’s bed. With the Countess’ full approval. The affair, if he could call it that, had lasted three years, and every day of those three years he’d known it would someday end. Until three weeks ago.

Three weeks ago, Cherville had actually put down the newspaper at breakfast and out of nowhere said, “Look, old chap, you have to know by now that if it weren’t for the damnable law, I’d ask you to marry me. Since I can’t, the least you can do is take me home to meet your parents.”

Emelie was coming in from the kitchen with a plate of scones. Putting one on his plate she added, “Take us home, you mean.”

“Of course, dear.”

Haru fell out of his chair.

Remembering the scene, he smiled and muttered under his breath, “Damn all Englishmen and their stiff upper lip!” It turned out that Cherville had already bought a large airship for the trip, which brought Hoku back to the present moment.

“Cap’n!” a call came from the crows nest, “Ship a-port!”

Expelled —  original world fantasy

“Out.” That was all they said, and suddenly Danne found himself ejected from the only home he had anymore. He had gone to the headmaster, hoping to plead for another chance. But the door refused to admit him.

He hadn’t meant to blow up the alchemy classroom. It just…happened. Just like he hadn’t meant to frighten all the pegasi when it was his turn to groom them. Or turn all the food rancid while helping make dinner. And he definitely hadn’t meant to put invisibility powder in the laundry instead of soap. Who leaves invisibility powder sitting around the academy laundry room anyway?

It didn’t make any difference. After three years and fives of mishaps, they were done with him.

With nothing else to do, Danne wandered down the dirt road that ran past the academy. Sooner or later he’d come to a town—though he seemed to remember it had been a long way from the last town to the academy when he came here. NMIMY– No Mages In My Yard—was te popular sentiment in Carolia. And given his own mishaps, Danne couldn’t exactly blame them. But he’d need somewhere to sleep for the night…

“Are you done wallowing yet?” A voice squeaked in his ear.

“I’m not wallowing!” The little fire demon had started following hi around his first week at the academy—and for some reason never left.

“Sure, sure. Cheer up. I didn’t think we’d make it out of there alive. It’s a good day.”

Danne flicked the creature off his shoulder. A moment later the scent of scorched hair told him it had reappeared on his head.

“Yup, clear sailing from here. Gotta say, I’m impressed you stuck it out that long. Most cadets don’t last six months after management decides to get rid of them.”

Perplexed — contemporary

Marie’s eyes narrowed as she saw Paul and a strange woman laughing and holding hands outside the movie theater. She stormed up to them and slapped him. Hard.

“What the hell!” Hand to his face, he growled at her, “Marie, what is your fucking problem.”

“Fuck you,” she said, “Fuck you and the horse you rode in on. My sister is marrying you next week and you have the fucking balls to be out at the movies making kissy noises with someone else?”

The woman beside him suddenly started laughing. After a moment, Paul joined her.

“What’s so funny,” Marie demanded.

“Ah…” Paul’s laughing trailed off, “You know, I was sure this was gonna bite me in the ass, but I’m not allowed to tell you.” He shrugged a bit uncomfortably, “Call your sister and she’ll explain.”

And they just started walking off. Marie stared after them in shock.

After a moment she pulled out her cellphone, speed dialed her sister, “Sis, I’m really, really sorry, but I gotta tell you. I think you need to call of the wedding. Paul is cheating on you… Yeah, yeah I’m sure. I saw him coming out of the movie theater making kissy face with some stranger… you mean you knew about her?… I… yeah, I guess we can talk later… I int erupted your DATE- but Paul was just… your boyfriend… BUT YOU’RE GETTING MARRIED!”

Space junk — space fantasy

The aging satellite had circled the small green and white planet for millennium. It observed the rise of a dominant species, evolving for primitives bands to stone cities. The domestication of animals, the beginning of organized war.

Its masters, presumably, received the reports it beamed back, but no response ever came. It circled on, becoming erratic and unreliable. Micro pitting damaged its processors, batteries ran down and, as the solar cells lost alignment did not recharge.

More years passed, the civilization below continued to evolve. Finally the satellite stopped working entirely. It floated in space, an unusable collection of circuits and metal. Without rockets to stabilize its flight, its orbit degraded—a long, slow fall to the planet below.

Berchad was plowing his field, getting ready to plant the mage-touched rhubarb seeds. He ignored the flash of fire high above. The High Mage and Regus-the-Bastard had been fighting for a week already. He figured they’d still be going at it come harvest time.

If he’d looked up, he might have had some warning of the pile of molten metal which was about to crash into his just-planted turnips.

Spark — urban fantasy

Sometimes the most important things are small. Like the spark that lights a wildfire, the world is rewritten by the smallest chance.

“John, come take a look at this,” Sarah called from across the room. I took off my VR headset and leaned over to see her workstation without standing up. Rows of blotches on a dark background covered the screen.

“DNA from some of the stiffs?” She was frowning at the image and jabbing at keys.

“Do you have to call them that?”

Honestly, I wasn’t paying much attention. She’d interrupted my game. “So what’s the big deal?”

“Get off your butt and see for yourself. And stop calling them stiffs.”

I sighed and humored her. “Why not, they ar– What they hell?”

If you don’t know DNA, you wouldn’t have seen anything. Just blobs like some freaky modern art piece. Unfortunately, I knew DNA. I ran my finger down the screen, mostly to give myself something to focus on. “No way. No way this comes from the stiffs.”

She hit me. “Its logged. The samples are good, no contamination, clear chain of custody. These are the DOAs brought in this morning.”

“Look, Sarah, we’re supposed to be looking for what killed them, make sure it isn’t a new ebola or what not, maybe a virus got mixed in?”

She shook her head, and tapped her nail on the damning stat from sample 6. “A virus with 10,000 base pairs more than human DNA? This isn’t contamination, John.”

I stared at her, she couldn’t be saying…. “It has to be contamination, otherwise this stiff–”

“Isn’t human.”

Ah fuck. I knew, right then, I was screwed. The WereKing was so going to blame me for this.