This is my personal blog and does not necessarily reflect the collective views of Hard Limits Press

Monday, February 24, 2014

Robert Lashley wrote another great article you should totally read

Robert Lashley is an incredible poet, playwright, and essayist, and in his latest piece he talks about Inez Andrews and her contribution to gospel music. Don't miss out.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Excerpt from the ms inspired by Anita Blake

Here's an excerpt from what I did today. This is from the ms inspired by Anita Blake:

There were some advantages to not having a partner or kids. One of them was qualifying for S.W.A.T. as quickly as I had; without much of a social life I needed something to fill the time, and soaking up as much special training as possible worked out quite nicely. Today was going to be my first run with the team, and thanks to all that drilling I felt cautiously optimistic instead of paralyzed by nerves.

I checked my combat vest for lack of anything better to do while everyone milled around, waiting for the Captain to come in and brief us. The musty hunter green carpet made me feel like we were at afters at a Lutheran church, just waiting for a little old lady to bring out a tray of pastries and tiny paper cups full of orange juice. The only things that hinted at the room’s real purpose was a giant white board on a stand at the front of the room, and the assault rifle parts stacked on the particle board tables.

I might have been confident, but I still had a bad feeling that this one was going to relate back to the missing hookers somehow, or maybe the drugs, and I didn’t like it. PCP was bad enough. No one needed a drug laced with magic.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Facebook gets something right

Fuck yeah Facebook

I never thought I'd say this, but Facebook is awesome. Users can finally choose gender identity markers beyond Male and Female. The range of options is truly impressive. I think all trans people of all identities struggle with the lack of validation at some point in their lives and journeys. Cisgender (not trans) people get to see themselves everywhere and everything around them is made with them in mind.

Meanwhile trans people are trying to shove ourselves in to a bunch of boxes and labels that just don't fit. I even see this among ourselves, where we try to divide and exclude each other based on models of cisgender privilege as opposed to creating narratives for ourselves. Which is all a long winded way of saying that this ability to label ourselves for ourselves is a massive deal, whether the naysayers realize it or not. So thanks Facebook. I mean that.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Meet Akua

From the book inspired by Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter:

I knew Akua, of course. Or more properly, Akua Nyaméama Pereko Nsia. Since she was the major power in the vampire underworld of San Fransisco, I would have been seriously remiss if I’d underestimated her by not researching every damn thing I could about her. I knew what all her names meant, when she had died, when she had risen. Pereko meant fierce, that she wouldn’t back down. In all the years I had known her, she never had.

Luckily the elevator in her downtown high rise stood empty at this time of day. Everyone had already scurried off to their conference rooms and offices. In some cities vampires stuck to the fringe, running strip clubs and dive bars in places the law wouldn’t bother to look. Not Akua. Nothing would do but to run the biggest, most powerful company she could. She’d always been rich, thanks to the slave trade, and she intended to stay that way now that the world had moved on. Considering she had her fingers in dozens of very profitable pies, it certainly seemed like a more than attainable goal.

Men in cashmere suits strode past me as I headed for Akua’s office. Their stares reminded me that I hadn’t exactly dressed for the occasion, though I’d made an effort; I’d had to go out and buy the blue and purple silk skirt and top special. It made me feel like a flower bud wrapped tightly in its own petals. That’s not a good thing. I had to take tiny little steps, though considering I was wobbling on my high heel shoes that was probably a plus...

...The only thing more impressive than the office was Akua herself. She stood looking out over the city, hands clasped behind her back. Her flawless black skin caused many a mortal woman a sick amount of envy, and her impeccable oiled curls, treated with a light dusting of pure gold dust, did the same. She turned towards me, and her perfect face struck me dumb. I had some defenses against her glamours thanks to being a witch, but nothing could protect me from her sheer beauty, or the tightly controlled, simmering menace in every deliberate movement. That was all lust, not magic, and I was on my own.


I knew it was presumptuous of me to refer to her that way, but I wanted to remind her that I did represent the law around here. Even though the vampires enjoyed sovereign nation status, it didn’t mean they could do whatever they liked. Akua’s cupid’s bow mouth curved in to an amused smirk. As mercurial as any vampire, at least this time I’d managed to impress her in some small way. I’d hate to find out what would happen if I insulted her.

“Morgandy.” Her voice shivered along my arms and back, the same sensation as putting on a ruinously expensive fur coat and nothing else. I thought of those old time fashion photos of dolled up women in nothing but bolts of raw silk, reclining on velvet fainting couches, all of whom were just ugly ducklings next to Akua’s swan. Her ball gown rustled as she moved; she wore whatever conferred status, with no prejudice as to time and place. One day it might be her traditional Akan garb. The next, it might be a dress worthy of Marie Antoinette, with the feather festooned wig to match. Hell maybe it was Antoinette’s dress. I wouldn’t put it past Akua to have that kind of reach. “You dressed up for me. How sweet.”

“Don’t toy with me today, Akua.” I said, gruffer than I intended to be. She pouted, a wholly affected expression that didn’t fool me for a second. Akua could play at being a lamb all she wanted. I would never forget that she was really a leopard. “I’m here on business.” 

Monday, February 10, 2014

TW: weight loss

TW: for a LONG post about weight and weight loss I am an obese person. I don't want to be obese anymore. I think weight loss is one important aspect of health. Health is a complex thing (still kicking around an essay on this subject) and includes not only weight management (some people even need to GAIN weight) but flexibility, strength, endurance, energy, mental health, and ability to engage with an enjoy a variety of things. I intend to go after all of these health markers, but right now it's weight. I'm trying to get down to a healthier correlative weight first. Then switch back over to weight lifting and all the skills that builds. 

My point with this is that recently someone posted an article about the hidden difficulties in weight loss if you've been obese your whole life, like I have, or morbidly obese like so many are. This weight is the result of a lot of complexity. One thing people miss is that it's a chronic condition that, at least in my experience, requires constant management. It's not as simple as just stop eating all of those doughnuts. God, I wish it was that simple. Yes, figuring out ways to avoid consuming harmful foods is a needed part of personal responsibility, but almost no one is obese just because they love doughnuts that much. I love comfort. I love flavor and abundance. I love the security food brings, because it makes me feel less poor and out of control of my life situation. My medication means that even though I've been at this for a couple of months I only have a four pound loss to show for it. Mental illness destroys motivation and sometimes I'm going to reach for whatever will give me those sweet, sweet reward chemicals the fastest. There are a thousand other reasons. 

I'm sort of in the middle here, because I think any group defending extreme weight IN EITHER DIRECTION is problematic. Making an identity out of a condition is always a dicey thing, and the second it starts harming others I think it's wrong. BUT nor can I throw my chit in with those who want to reduce this down to a simple equation of less calories in, weight comes off. Yes, in the main this is true, and knowing these facts is a requirement for weight loss, just like calorie counting, knowing your BMR and TDEE and so on. But what you may not know if you've never fought this battle is that you will weigh everything you ever eat. You will calculate out each bite. You know not to ever, ever let yourself feel hungry because the second that happens all of your instincts against dying in the wilderness kick in and you will mow down your entire kitchen. You have to get up and move and exercise every single day. You're likely not a person who can skip, or your good habits go right out the window. Every time you go shopping for food you have to walk through a minefield of advertising and marketing specifically designed to keep you obese, to keep you consuming without thought over and over. And those bright packages are more than just fuel. They're comfort. They're a blanket for your inner child. Choosing against that (which you will do hundreds of times a day) is a serious struggle. I used to be a drunk and it's really even harder than quitting booze, because you don't NEED to drink to live. You do need to eat to live. You have to face that dragon every day. 

Do I think weight loss is worth it? Absolutely. And there IS an element of personal responsibility. You have to take back your power, like you have to do with so many things in life. Many of us are walking around in a haze of learned helplessness, carrying baggage because we don't even realize it's there, because we've normalized it in order to protect ourselves. That makes perfect sense. Of course we've done whatever is needed to keep ourselves together. Taking that apart hurts. Things will come up that you don't expect. Shame, anger, grief. Those need to be worked through too. 

It's never as simple as just stop eating doughnuts. But it does require you, as trite as it sounds, to realize your worth. It's not as simplistic as JUST LEARN TO LOVE YOURSELF/LOVE YOUR BODY because that's shallow and frankly doesn't work for a lot of people (especially trans people). It's not hug yourself real hard and all your problems will go away. It's divorcing weight from worth, divorcing weight from appearance, divorcing weight from toxic beauty standards and doing it for yourself and how you FEEL, realizing that you are worth the dedication and time it takes to manage this condition. The idea that you deserve it, that you are a separate person from your job, your kids, even your marriage, and that even though you give and give and give, if you're not giving to yourself then you're not living as full of a life as you could. Do it for the energy. Do it for the ability to breathe. Do it for pain free knees. Do it because it will let you get on that rollercoaster you've always wanted to ride. Just don't let anyone tell you it will be easy if you just do it, man, because it won't. It will be one of the hardest things you've ever done. But it's worth it. Even with all the frustrations I still think it's worth it. 

P.S. a lot of people who have an easier time at this will tell you that you must absolutely do only the exercises they do because it works for them. That's bullshit. The likelihood is you have a unique constellation of issues that prevent you from doing a particular exercise. For example, you may be too top heavy to ride a free bike. Your knees might be too painful for you to manage squats. That's just fine, no matter the judgement you may receive from people who don't have to struggle as much. There's always something you can do that will work for you. If your joints hurt, check out water aerobics, that sort of thing. 

Nor is this an ableist thing. If you are in a wheelchair, you're probably already aware that there are a number of physical therapy routines out there that will help you. I have some saved on youtube if you'd like the links. As a blind person let me suggest you run track or lift weights, both wonderful sports even for those who are totally blind. If you're trans and you have dysphoria issues, there's also plenty you can do, depending. If you're a person that binds, there are binding swimsuit tops out there. Check out Underworks. I DO NOT recommend doing other exercises while wearing a binder, though, since it can impede your breathing and hurt your ribs. HOWEVER, there are sports bras out there that will bind to a reasonable degree, and even some that don't look overly like a feminine piece of clothing. If you're a trans woman and you are presenting female, you might feel awkward about swimming. There are swimsuits that incorporate skirts. Look in to suits designed with modesty in mind. And of course regardless of whether one is cis or trans, things like the track and fitness classes of all types are generally open to you. 


Good luck to anyone else on this journey. It helps to talk about the frustrations and I hope some of what I wrote here will help others.