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Review: Bear, Otter, and the Kid

Bear, Otter, and the Kid, eBook   by TJ Klune
Dreamspinner Press    Release Date: August 12, 2011

I have to admit that I’m torn about this book. I did something with it that I normally don’t ever do. Usually, as soon as a derogatory term against the disabled community appears in a book I stop reading it, mark where I am, what the term was, and write up a quick note on Goodreads, Amazon, and my blog about it. The worse offenders are YA novels, which is really disturbing. The term in this case was “retarded,” one that seems to be on the upswing these days, sadly, as it had been slowing down for a while. The fact that it’s appearing in so many YA novels is really disturbing, I think, because it’s showing a whole new generation it’s ok to say those things. It’s being incorporated into their culture.

It’s something I think editors need to be aware of, possibly more important than a misplaced comma or a maligned semicolon.

It shocked me to see it in a m/m romance book, though. I hadn’t seen anything of that nature, that I remember, out of everything I’ve read so far. I contacted Mr. Klune, but haven’t heard back from him. What I think is truly ironic, however, it that it’s someone from one marginalized group demeaning another group that’s marginalized.

Just to take a quick side-step here, and forgive me, because my memory’s not always that great and it’s been awhile since I’ve taken these classes. Brown vs Board of Education was a groundbreaking case for more than just, at least in the eyes of the law, the judgment that separate educational facilities were NOT equal, starting the beginning of desegregation. This is important because it had a ripple effect, it was the beginning of civil rights movements for many groups, including gay rights and rights for people with disabilities, among many others. Both groups had to fight, and both groups still face countless challenges. Politicians and religious groups turn sexual orientation into something they have no business in, people with autism are refused heart transplants because the doctors don’t know how they will react in a hospital. Illegal restraints are used on children with disabilities who are nonverbal, and they can’t tell anyone because they don’t have a communication system and people who know are either too afraid to speak up or punished if they do. Gay men are attacked simply because they’re gay. WTF? I meant to keep this more positive, but I feel this deeply, because I’ve advocated for people with disabilities who can’t speak, who people don’t listen to if they can speak, and who people treat as “retarded” just because they’re nonverbal. Just because they’re nonverbal doesn’t mean they don’t understand exactly what you’re saying. Just because a man is gay doesn’t mean he can’t love just as deeply or truly as any other human being. Feel passion any less.

So what do I do? I finished the book–I liked it, other than the fact that “retarded” was used three more times. So now I feel conflicted and upset, the more I think about it.

I advocate for the right to love and marry whoever you want to, to have or adopt children if you want to, and I advocate for people with disabilities to have their rights respected. What do you do when two things you feel so passionately about conflict?

To everyone else this may seem like no big deal. It’s just a word. There are no such things as “just words.” Words influence, they hurt, and they bully, because there are people behind those words who are capable of inflicting pain, whether it’s physical, or mental or both.

This isn’t intended as an attack on Mr. Klune, and I’m sorry if it’s taken or seen that way. It’s more built up frustration. For anyone who writes and uses terms that are derogatory. The fact that I feel like people snicker at me–“oh, it’s that crazy lady who gets all worked up about people with disabilities.” I have a lot of reasons to get worked up, I won’t go into them here.

I just wish I could have read the book and enjoyed it without knowing those words were there, because they really ticked me off. And I really would have liked it so much more if they hadn’t been.

Optimized-homophobia_only_oneattitudeslittle girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Playing Nicely

This started with a conversation with my youngest sister, who is on the internet more than I am these days and involved in more things like Tumblr and such. She started to talk about sockpuppets, which cracked me up, because I thought it had something to do with one of the conventions she’s always talking about where she does cosplay, and for some reason reminded me of the episode of Red Dwarf where Rimmer had space fever or something and dressed up in the little red gingham number and had a handpuppet who was in charge because he was delirious.

I’m not exactly ancient, but I remember when AOL was a brand new company and all you had was dial-up, and watching it connect on my old black and white Mac Classic screen and getting incredibly excited. Does anyone remember when the internet looked like lists of subjects? No cool pictures all over the place, when Mosaic was a browser? I spent hours online looking up ways to hone my Magic decks. I didn’t have a lot of versatility: either white and blue or white and green. It has changed so much. No support for Macs for Internet Explorer anymore, no more updated Netscape, no more updated Eudora.

There are a lot of advantages with the way the internet is today. There are also some odd things it seems to make people think are OK to do. Take the abovementioned sockpuppets, defined by wikipedia as an online identity used for the purposes of deception. I’ve always used one account, which makes it pretty easy to track me down, and holds me accountable for my actions when I’m online. I have thought if I ever wrote in a genre where I’d want to keep my identities separate, I’d have a different account for each. Just to keep those identities separate. I went onto some author blogs today, because they seemed the most concerned with multiple accounts. One author said that unless for the reason I mentioned above, or to have an author account and a personal account, there was no need to have any more than that. I couldn’t find anything from the perspective of the readers, but from the authors’ viewpoints, one of the reasons they’ve noticed for readers having multiple accounts is to leave multiple reviews for friends’ books to bolster their ratings, or, conversely, write negative reviews for another authors’ books to bring down their ratings. The authors whose blogs I looked at were skeptical of reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads for this reason, especially people who had only written a few reviews, or gave lots of one star reviews with no reason why.

I’m a not very successful author (yet), and I can see where this would really be a problem. The ratings do influence people–I know I pay attention to them, but if something looks interesting enough to me, I’ll check it out anyway. The weird ones are the ones where there are a bunch of fives and a bunch of ones. A love it or hate it book. A reason that came up on one of the blogs and in the wikipedia article was that one of the reasons for having sockpuppets was so you could go to groups or discussion areas where you really shouldn’t be, pretending to be someone you weren’t, for whatever reason you wanted to go there for.

But one of the main reasons I’ve never had more accounts was that it just didn’t seem very ethical to me. I don’t know how Goodreads or Amazon would or could keep track of something like that. It’s easy to come up with another email address and sign up for a new account. I’d always held that belief and figured most people did the same until a recent experience taught me otherwise in one of the groups I’m in online. There was an activity that was a somewhat complicated thing involving several parts. Let’s just say it was divided into parts, and different people were supposed to be involved in each part. I discovered that my “different” person had used two screen names other than the one I knew to participate in the activity. The first one would have been alright, I suppose, if the second part hadn’t involved something she shouldn’t have been involved in, but was under the other screen name. So three screen names. I could understand two, possibly, but adding a third to manipulate the situation, I think, was unethical. I was upset about it, but the answer was, why shouldn’t she have three? The woman I asked had about ten. Ten. Who needs that many? Ten??? (I rarely use multiple punctuation).

This is a group I was starting to become more comfortable in, I was actually posting instead of lurking. But now I’m going to try to keep my mouth shut and go back to lurking. It’s a little like Big Brother. You never know who is really there and who isn’t. Shouldn’t we know who we’re really talking to? Sure, there are people “in the know” who know all of the identities, but then that starts to get clique-y, and I hate stuff like that. Sort of an elitist air among the people running the group. Yes, there needs to be control of the group, but there also needs to be control of how many identities a person can have. I wouldn’t talk to someone in real life, start becoming good friends with them, and then one day someone else shows up and says, “Oh, hi, I’m Monique today,” and then you’re never sure which Monique is coming over.

That may seem melodramatic and maybe even a little childish, but it’s easy for people to hide behind their computers. That’s already a degree of trust that you’ve given up just in that–you’ve ceded that you don’t know what the other person doesn’t look like, sound like, and that you can’t read their non-verbal language (from last post). You’ve given all that up and all you can trust are the words they put on the screen. That requires a great deal of trust. Which, amazingly, we do. We want to find other people like us, who want to talk about the things we like, so we’re willing to take that risk just so we can talk to strangers because we have something in common that we like. Which is often how people really do meet. We trust them (I trust people more quickly than I should) and hope things work out to be friends. How do any of you know that I’m really who I say I am?

The sad thing is that people seemed surprised I questioned how many screen identities you could have, as if it had never occurred to them that there might be something wrong with it, that some people might think it was a little…sneaky. A little underhanded. That it made the person that I had thought they were more untrustworthy, and it made me wonder why they had never thought it might be thought of as strange, not in a good way. Now I am not entirely sure what to do, leave because I don’t feel comfortable there anymore or stay because the discussions are interesting and just keep quiet?

I don’t know why little things like this bother me so much. I think it’s because I worry if people stop questioning the morality of small questionable actions, the size of the questionable actions they don’t question will increase by tiny increments until it’s large, important issues that effect truly important things.

Carlb-sockpuppet-02a                      So, let’s say no to sockpuppets, and yes to playing together nicely. children playing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Online Communities

I may have mentioned that since I’ve quit my job I’m going to Vocational Rehabilitation, and I’m going to these classes that help them determine how serious I am about this whole rehabilitation process. A lot of what we’ve gone over so far is stuff that I’ve done in other workshops. In one handout, though, there were some statistics on communication.

This is what it says, verbatim: “One-on-one communication is 7% words, 38% tone of voice, and 55% body language.” So, when we write to each other, unless we know each other well and can imagine reactions to things, we’re only getting about 7% of what is being said, because all we get is the words. That leaves a huge area for misunderstanding, miscommunication, misjudging, judging, condemning–the list goes on and on.

Now, granted, this is concerning personal communication face-to-face, but it made me wonder how it could be applied to the internet and how we communicate there. I’ve seen a lot of miscommunication take place, get explained, get cleared up. I’ve been in the middle of some of it. It’s a very uncomfortable place to be, because you have absolutely no idea where you stand. If it’s something that isn’t such a big deal to the other people involved, or there are other things that need to be taken care of first and the situation isn’t the highest priority, I wait for an email with this anxious feeling of dread. The feeling like I’m the newest, I’m the one that doesn’t belong. Territory has already been staked out, I’ve infringed. People don’t know who I am, what I’m like, whether or not I have ulterior motives. It’s as if no one believes someone can actually be nice just to be nice anymore, they have to have a reason. Well, I’ll say it, and I don’t mean to sound like I’m putting myself on a pedestal, but I’m nice just to be nice. I help people because I want to. I like to help when I can. Sometimes I don’t always get it right, but my intentions are good.

But, the problem is that even saying that, it’s just words. No one on the internet who doesn’t know me in person knows whether that’s the truth or not. They don’t hear the tone in my voice. They don’t know how upset I get when I feel like I’m suspected of wanting something in return. Is that the kind of world we live in? That being genuinely nice causes you to be regarded with suspicion?

I don’t have any deep dark secrets. I don’t like being bulldozed by people and feeling powerless, although there’s the argument that the only one who can make me feel powerless is myself. Sometimes that really isn’t the way it works. I don’t like it when I feel like I’m not being listened to, or when what I’m saying is misinterpreted (again, there’s the 7% of what we get over the internet–just words).

People who know me in person would say that I’m a nice, kind, funny, caring person. I would say that I trust people too easily, and am too gullible, because I have the sort of autistic (I’m not, I just scored high on the tests) “Theory of Mind” where I believe other people are the same way, they think the same way I do and perceive things the same way I do. So I don’t learn and I do the same thing over and over and over again, expecting things to turn out differently. Do you know what that is? One of the definitions of insanity. One of the men in my class said he was an “optimistic pessimist.” I asked if that meant he was pretty sure things were going to go badly.” If I were a cartoon character, I’d be Charlie Brown, always believing that one of these times, Lucy will leave the ball there.

Because I want to believe the best of people, even though there is constant proof in the world around me that people are not capable of living together, much less communicating.

People seem to have become fairly skilled at navigating online communities. I’m not sure I’m one of them. I finally forced myself out from being a lurker, to be more of an active participant, yet, now everything, at least for me, is stressful. It’s not for the other people involved. They’re intrenched, they’re the ones running the show. It’s their playground, their rules. It makes me sad. I haven’t decided what to do yet completely. I’m still waiting for the person I didn’t want to bother because she’s so horrifically busy putting a complicated project together to write me back–I didn’t want to bug her in the first place, but that’s what I was told to do. I don’t blame her for not getting back to me right away, there are other things that are genuinely more important right now. But because my 7% of words have upset the wrong people, I think I will end up leaving the group simply because it will be too uncomfortable. It’s not my sandbox to play in.  It does feel a little bit like kids on the playground. There are some wonderful, fantastic people in the group. Lurking is still under consideration. Then no % of me is out there to be judged.

There’s work I should be doing. I was just thinking about those statistics and how things can get messed up so quickly online.

Thoughts on the ending of The Clockwork Princess (spoilers)

I’ve browsed around a little at some of the reviews of the end of  The Clockwork Princess and there seems to be a debate about whether Tessa is just wishy-washy and can’t decide between Will and Jem, that you can’t love two people at the same time, and that the ending is contrived (and maybe, in a post I didn’t read, ruined the whole series). Normally I might not write anything, but The Infernal Devices is my favorite of the series for a couple of reasons (well, more than a couple). It’s set in the Victorian period, and I like historical settings, it was interesting to see the Shadowhunters in an earlier setting, and there were automatons. But, enough of that.

Tessa is confused in The Clockwork Angel, for more than one reason. She has been overly trusting, seemingly her whole life, always looking for the good in people, but recognizing the bad. Will presents himself as an arrogant, uncaring jerk (insert preferred word). The institute is overwhelming, with its own internal struggles and battles and interesting characters. Jem is the one who makes her feel welcome, his music is what draws her to him, and eventually, the language in which they can communicate without words. He knows he’s dying and he’s an addict, not a very good prospect. Tessa is his out of reach ideal.

Tessa, of course, falls for Will first, who treats her horrifically. You can’t help who you fall in love with, but you can help how much you’ll put up with from them. Even though it’s his attempts to drive her away from him, the things he says to her are more than unkind, they are really unforgivable. Working out an “arrangement” when it’s decided she’ll stay at the institute? She doesn’t know he isn’t the bad boy he pretends to be, she seeds glimpses of it. She doesn’t know he’s afraid she’ll die if he loves her. Instead, what he does is continually hurt her with little stings and barbs throughout the books.

Tessa and Jem fall in love because they become friends first, then fall in love. People can say it’s a cliche, but it’s actually somewhat archetypical to have a woman fall in love with two men, or a woman in a situation where two men are involved. Arthur/Guinevere/Lancelot, and Tristan/Iseulte(Isolde)/Mark–although Mark sort of got left out of the deal on that one. Guinevere loved Lancelot and Arthur both, and she didn’t want to hurt either of them, yet she loved them at the same time. I’m sure there are more than that I could think of if it wasn’t 6:40 in the morning.

Tessa, however, and wisely, I think, chooses Jem over Will. Jem has been the one who is there for her in the aftermath of whatever situation Will has caused. By the time Will realizes there is no curse, it’s too late for a relationship between him and Tessa, although he presumptuously assumes otherwise. Tessa understands that for whatever time Jem has left, they are happy together, and sometimes that is the greatest thing you can do for someone–she isn’t doing it out of pity, she does it because she loves him. Yes, she still loves Will, but she loves Jem as well, and she isn’t going to renege on a promise she made him. She’s not wishy-washy, she’s true to her word, which is honorable. She doesn’t let Will push her around.

Neither Will nor Tessa knew Jem was going to become a Silent Brother, which leaves Tessa in an odd position, but Jem says Silent Brothers can’t marry, effectively telling her she can marry Will. So she does and they live a life together, but every year at the same place she meets Jem and they talk–she still loves Jem–after all, they do this for 173 years or so, long after Will has died and her children have died.

I think it’s appropriate they end up together in the end, because they were meant to be together in the beginning. He was always the one who treated her the best, the one who didn’t think she would love him because he was an addict, who thought a girl like her would never look at him when put side-by-side next to Will, because it’s always the guys like Will who get the girl.

She loved Will, there’s no question of that, but she loved Jem, albeit in a different way, a quieter, sweeter way. Jem wanted them to marry–he knew they’d both be suffering and they were the only two who could truly help each other, Will over the loss of his Parabatai and Tessa over the loss of her husband and love.

Widows and widowers remarry. Some people marry their high school sweetheart and live happily ever after. Most people fumble along thinking they are fated to meet their “One True Love.” Well, at 44 years old and after about five long term relationships, I don’t think there is “One True Love.” That’s why we read fantasy and books like these, so we can vicariously experience what something we want to feel is like. Start asking people around you, “Have you met your true love?” and see what people say. I can’t say if people are fated. They control the choices they make, and yes, they do fall in love with more than one person at a time. Relationships and love are messy, painful, confusing things, accompanied by wishy-washiness, tears, ice cream and chocolate (and whatever the male equivilant is, if it’s different. If so, you’re missing out on the ice cream and chocolate. Or fries, it tends to swing toward the sweet end or the salty end).

I hope I’ve made sort of a coherent point. I’m not saying anyone is wrong in their opinion, just offering mine, for whatever it’s worth. I should add that this goes for all relationships, m/f, m/m, f/f. Love bounces people around like silly putty on the comics page (did anyone ever do that? Press silly putty onto the comics and then be endlessly amused that it copied it? Ok. Nevermind). It’s a primal emotion. The only thing holding it back is propriety and manners. Otherwise, you’re crossing into criminal, mug shot territory and that is not a place to go. Love is all about respect. Listening. Really listening.

Like Jem does to Tessa. He respects her. She is his treasure, his dream come true. Will is like the Tasmanian Devil. Dressed nicely and not smelly, and pretty to look at. But he still leaves chaos in his wake.

I will say she and Will blew it in the cave, however. How convenient, invisible walls. Hm. I’ll have to remember that one. “Sorry, I couldn’t make it to work, all of a sudden my car couldn’t move and I just happened to have my Kindle and all the notes for the book and story I’m working on with me. Isn’t that funny?”

I hope there aren’t any egregious errors. I’m posting this before work. th

See, I even found a cute Tasmanian Devil. 🙂

Keeping the Flame Alive

Helpful hint of what not to do:

After kissing your lover’s head affectionately, comment, “When were you going to dye your roots again?”

No further comment. LOL

Keeping the Castle (Review)

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Keeping the Castle
by
Patrice Kindl
Hardcover, 261 pages
Published June 14th 2012 by Viking Childrens Books
ISBN
0670014389 (ISBN13: 9780670014385)

My Goodreads review:

I have to admit that I am not entirely sure if this book deserves four stars or five. Maybe it is just four. But I have been having a couple of those days where my mood is just all over the map, and I simply feel worn out, and now I do actually feel better after finishing this.  This little book (and it is little, and it looks pretty) is funny, very much like Jane Austen, and while it does have it’s tense, wondering what’s going to happen moments, it has a certain degree of freedom in its reality–e.g. a certain character having a child from an unapproved marriage (by her parents), and presents the idea of not marrying and being able to do what one truly wants to–such as following artistic endeavors.

*****Some spoilers*****
There are a lot of Austen-like references–Pride and Prejudice and Emma are the two that pop to mind first. I liked Mr. Fredericks from the start simply because he seemed to be the only one that was looking at the world who wasn’t wearing rose-tinted glasses and saw things for what they were, and also because he was kind to Alexander. So did Althea, but she was still caught up in the necessity for marriage, trying to arrange things she thought would help but didn’t, and in some cases making things worse–things started to get a little out of control. Much like the castle, with all of its jutting turrets and odd angles, Althea is trying to fit into a world she doesn’t quite understand–all the knows is that she needs to marry for money to keep Crooked Castle. But what, really, is the point of keeping such a monstrosity, as eccentric and endearing as it may be? All she and her mother have been doing, their whole lives, it to pour money into this decrepit thing, which, as Mr. Fredericks pointed out, doesn’t have a strong enough foundation to even stand on.

Getting into my symbolism mode here, I think Crooked Castle could be used as a metaphor for marriages where the two people don’t have much in common. They try to make it work, and it gets edges and goes off in all directions. If they can keep the big storms at bay, maybe the foundation with survive. Maybe the Baron (Boring lol) and Charity will be able to succeed in their marriage as neither of them are particularly deep thinkers. Miss Vincy will work things out. Althea and her Mother will both be happy. I loved the fact that Mr. Fredericks proposes to Althea as Crooked Castle is continuing to crash over the cliff a little bit at a time–a few chairs, other bits of things. As the impossible thing Althea was trying to save is destroyed, a whole new life opens up for her, one far more pleasant than living in a leaky, damp, drafty, cold castle.

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