My book Layers of Light is not only about human trafficking and female heroes, it is a book about the obstacles faced by women everywhere. It was written before the Me Too movement, and before we had a major candidate for president who was a woman. It was written before “grab ’em by the pussy” and Stormy Daniels. In some ways, it feels to me as if it comes out of a more naive time. How much of the world of 2019 should go into a rewrite?
Read more at How much changes in six years?
We spend a satisfying few hours ranting about the sad state of affairs in the world (that is what news junkies most love doing) and sharing our predictions for how our current mess is going to end (that is the other thing news junkies love to do.)
Leaving our place to get food, my friend backs up on the long driveway, misjudges and hits a tree. “Just broke one of my rules,” he says. “Never back up more than you have to.”
It’s a such wise insight that I immediately adopt it as my personal rule #25.
Read more at Day 25. Backing Up.
I’ve spent several days at Burning Man, which I think we can all agree is a world unto itself. Now that I’m back in what burners call the default world, I seem to be hyper aware of the fact that none of us live in quite the same reality as each other.
The point is really brought home today when I go visit my husband’s brother and his wife at their ranch. I admire these two a great deal. Years ago they made a choice to live off of the grid, growing or raising most of their own food, hauling in their own water, generating their own solar power. Their food is pure, their bodies work hard.
The vision has morphed somewhat, allowing more modernization and convenience, but they still live a harsh and solitary life in a stunning location. Today’s big news is that they have found a way to have hot running water. They’ve both just taken their first shower at home at the turn of a knob since they began this life about a decade ago. They are quite pleased.
For all that I find their place beautiful, and their choices admirable, I realize that I’m glad I don’t live their life. I enjoy hot showers and baths, among many other creature comforts.
Read more and enjoy the song of the day at Day 23. What’s Your Reality?
Big numbers kind of all sound the same to us. If you tell me something is 100 million miles away, or 100 trillion miles away, it gets the same reaction. Far. Damn far. Never mind that one is a million times more far than the other…
What do you say we get rid of these big numbers?
We run our government, and the good, bad and ugly parts our country, with 1/6 of what we take in. Incredible isn’t it? You’d think if we could do that, we could have avoided getting into this mess in the first place.
Read the complete post at How Much for a Wall?
“What do you hope your daughter studies?” I asked.
The question seemed to make him sad.
The U.S. presence in Kenya
“She won’t have so many options to choose from,” he told me. He’d been careful to keep most of his opinions to himself as we traveled, and this is probably a wise thing for any travel guide, anywhere, to do. But for just a moment he spoke from his heart.
“It doesn’t bother me that you don’t appreciate all the opportunities that you have in your country. What bothers me is that you don’t even recognize that you have them.”
Read more at Still a Sunrise?
(Read more about my trip to Kenya at Like Eating Crab, Smiling my way across Kenya, Replace me with … and Happy Peace Day, Chinese Person in Tent Number 59)
I’ve just returned from one of my furthest journeys ever, a trip to Kenya which got me thinking. What do people do here in the US when you smile at them?
1. They smile back
2. They say hi and maybe try to talk to you.
3. They try to sell you some thing or some idea. Depending on circumstances, that might include the idea of hooking up with them.
4. They take it as an invitation to do harm, attempting to scam or rob you.
Politically, it is my observation that the GOP tends more towards short term thinking, and the current administration takes this even further. Jobs today. Money today. Battles won today. And these are not bad things.
I, and those with whom I share my politics, tend to look more towards tomorrow. Funding quality education for all yields a happy and capable workforce. Universal health care yields a healthier one. Peace negotiations and developing understanding yield a region that stays at peace, ideally at least. I’m more willing to sacrifice now for a better tomorrow, in my own life and in the choices I would make for society. It is one of my core values.
We need both sorts of thinking to survive and thrive.
Read more at Believe in Tomorrow.
(For more Wonder Woman inspired thoughts, see Top Requirement for a Superhero, Believe, It’s About What You Believe, and I believe in appreciating those who protect us. All of them.)
I spent the summer of 1972 checking groceries, making out with my high school boyfriend, and trying my first marijuana. At the time, I needed both the money and the worldly experience because come September, I was off to study journalism in the big city of Chicago.
Even though I was going to be too young to vote, I also spent that summer following politics. I’d met Nixon the previous year and felt a visceral dislike for him. I’d become increasingly opposed to the Vietnam war. I was a geeky high school debater with a lot of opinions, and less of them favored the GOP each day. Oh, and I loved spy novels.
So on June 18, when I heard about a break-in at the Democratic National Headquarters, of course I was intrigued. Over the next two years I would become enthralled by the enfolding story.
Read more at And that’s the way it was, June 18, 1972.
(For more segments about June days from long ago, see That’s the Way It Was June 10, 1947, June 15, 1984, June 28, 1888, and June 30, 1940.)
I suspect that you and I have have lived through times that changed the world in large ways, but it takes years to see the effects, especially in an age with cable news shouting about the significance of everything every minute of every day. But someone like my character Ariel would know right away, finding herself overcome with dizziness as the probabilities shifted heavily one way or another.
Read the entire post at Did we just witness the dawn of America’s four party system?
Part of my growing politicization is that I have decided that I do not have to apologize for thinking the following:
1. Education is a wonderful thing. However you make your living, knowledge makes you a better person.
2. Open mindedness is a wonderful thing. What ever your religious beliefs, being hateful to any group does not please anyone’s God. I think every holy book on the planet is pretty clear about this.
This does not make me an elitist or a snowflake. Education makes us smarter. Open-mindedness makes us kinder.
Read the entire post at Smarter, kinder and living in 2017.
This post originally appeared on my blog “Fire Dancing for Fun and Profit,” and it inspired an op-ed piece I wrote for the Black Mountain News which appeared on March 23, 2017. Since I wrote this, the NC legislature has replaced this law with a less onerous version. Many of us in NC still hope for a total repeal.
Surely you have heard of this law. It was passed about a year ago, and it requires all humans in NC to use the public restroom designated for the gender of their birth. The claim, which few people really believed, was that HB2 was an attempt to protect women from assault. Now, assaulting women in public bathrooms has always been both wrong and illegal, in North Carolina and everywhere else.
Read the entire post at Potty Room Politics.
Queue the response: that can’t be right. So I have to ask. Did you think that the president could launch a nuclear weapon for any reason right now? With no declaration of war? All by himself? Well, it turns out that he or she can.
Read the entire post at No one person should have first strike capability.
Never ran a stop sign? Crossed the street on a red light? Exaggerated the value of your clothing donations on your income return? Never double parked or jaywalked or even drove a single mile over the speed limit? Ever?
She had their attention then, and we generally went on to have a pretty lively discussion about what it means to be a law-abiding citizen. I liked to talk about Jack Sparrow’s famous quote that his pirate code was really more of a “guideline.” The fact is, we all consider some laws to be guidelines, particularly when we believe that consequences of our breaking them will not hurt anyone. The perception of which laws this applies to changes over time.
Read the entire post at Have you ever broken a law?
You don’t have to spend much time walking around the parks and government buildings of any city to notice that monuments are erected to warriors. Battles are commemorated. If there is a memorial anywhere to a thousand days of uninterrupted peace, I’ve never heard of it.
You don’t have to write novels like I do to grasp that humans enjoy hearing about conflict. It is exciting to watch emotions flare and buildings explode. There is a reason that “Fate of the Furious” (eighth in the Fast and Furious franchise) is coming to a theater near you and a movie about a quiet afternoon nap in a sun-dappled park is not.
Read the entire post at Peace is Boring.
I wrote a book about prescience, the ability to see into the future and understand the true likelihood that an event will or won’t occur. Constructing the plot of d4 forced me to spend quite a bit of time considering how such an ability could work. What’s more, several of my characters were attempting to use their prescient skills to make money in the stock market, so I ended up learning quite a bit more about Mr. Dow Jones and all his friends, too.
Read more at Should I hope for calm or cheer on the storm?
In fact, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” is a song about hope … It basically says I’ll be there to help you , because no force is big enough to stop me. It’s the last part of the that message that gets my attention; the idea that nothing can be so big and so bad that it can’t be overcome by someone who wants to make things better.
Read more at Does Marvin Gaye know what’s going on?
I conducted psyche experiments on myself when I was a child. You can’t blame me. There were things I needed to know, and I was my only cooperative subject. For instance, were all my preferences acquired tastes? This was important. If they were, then maybe I would eventually like beer, which was good because this appeared to be a necessary component to getting along as a teenager. On the other hand, it meant I might eventually wear pink polyester stretch pants like my mother, which was a horrifying concept. Either way, I had to know.
Read the entire post on my y1 blog at Am I capable of learning to like anything?
The Dixie Chicks sweep the 2007 Grammy Awards with their album “Not Ready to Make Nice”
Accept and move on. That doesn’t mean backing down on my principles. It does not mean making nice with the people who put us into this mess. In fact, hanging on to what I believe and refusing to look the other way regarding hateful behavior is going to help me get out of this funk. I’m determined to find a way to say goodbye to a world that is not going to be, and then to work my hardest to see that four years from now I’m singing a very different kind of song.
Read my entire post about defiant music and my post election struggles on my c3 blog at Backing Down, Making Nice, and Saying Goodbye
So I get to write a book about human trafficking but you don’t? Who decides when enough about a subject is enough, or whether the handling of a difficult topic is sensitive or exploitative?
I can’t answer that question. I do know that I never want to see ugly topics like disease and assault (and poverty, racism, domestic violence, homophobia, child neglect, human trafficking, war, and gun violence) swept under a giant collective carpet. Awareness can lead to solutions. But I also think it is fair to consider how toxic the atmosphere can become once we are fixated on a difficult subject, especially for those struggling to recover from emotional wounds that get strained a little every time the subject arises.
Please read the entire post on my c3 blog at We need to talk about this, just maybe not so much.
Like almost everything you can imagine, and a whole lot of things you can’t, it exists on the internet. The same wonderful, amazing tool that fuels my stories by letting me see locations I’ll never visit and open doors into the minds of others I will never meet, also allows me to find voices that repulse and frighten me. In fact, it allows me to find them easily.
Read the entire post on my c3 blog at One Great Idea From the Misogynist Wing of the Alt Right