A pressing item

The Ancient Egyptian Daybook has gone out for its test print, which means it’ll be available soon. Here’s what the cover looks like.

cover3ps

While I still have to print, ship to all the Kickstarter and website preorders, and then roll out the retail opening…the hardest part is done. I don’t think I’ve ever been this grateful to see the end of a book project, but then I’ve never invested this much of my life into a book, either. Here’s hoping it does well.

And on to the next project!

Posted in Ancient Egypt, Ancient Egyptian Daybook, Blog, Books and Reading, Egypt, Gratitude, Kickstarter, News, Writing | Leave a comment

(Still in) Book Jail

I’ve reached that part of my solitary writing confinement where I hate the book, I hate myself, and I hate everything about everything.
become-a-writer

The hate, however, is what fuels the desire to be done, to get the manuscript to the printer, and to let it go out into the world where it will be whatever it will be. I’ve never felt quite this way about a manuscript before, but I’ve also never worked on a project for this long (25 years or more in the research, at least five in planning, and the last four in writing and researching and rewriting alone).

This is the kind of book that makes you feel like finishing it might kill you, that it will take so much of you that there’ll be nothing left. All your writing takes something from you, in a way. But it also replenishes the well of imagination and hope and curiosity that will bubble forth with other projects further down. I already have more plans, not the least of which is finishing my dissertation (another major research monster like this book in some ways, probably not as obnoxious, now that I know how to handle such a monster better. It’s been good training, if nothing else). For now, though, I must finish battling the last bits of this work, so that the printers can do theirs.

If you’d like to know more about the legendary beast I’m speaking of, you can read about it at the Kickstarter page, or at its own website. And yes, preorders are still open at the latter site – but not for much longer. Once we go to print I will need to close those down so that I can concentrate on getting the preorders out before the end of the year. If you want in on this, make it soon.

Speaking of soon…I’ll talk more soon. For now, the jail door stays shut.

Posted in Ancient Egyptian Daybook, Blog, Books and Reading, Kickstarter, News, Website news, Writing | Leave a comment

Introducing The #MarriageMilitia Project

NOTE: the project listed here is now live and has its own website. Thank you!

My readers either went to bed last night or woke up to news about the transition of government in my country. We have a new president-elect and Congress that are all from the same party for the first time in decades. Some statements made during the campaign, the GOP’s formal platform, and media of all sorts over the last ugly year have resulted in anything from wild cheering to mass panic.

Last night, I ended up talking people out of nightmare scenarios. I had to convince children (!!) and grown adults, with all seriousness, that suicide is not the answer. I had to offer support to decent human beings now faced with a very real possibility for further discrimination, for legislative action that erodes or removes their existing rights, and even for actual violence against them and their families. They came from all walks of life and ethnicities and orientations. I talked to immigrants, black people, queers, women, you name it.

I never believed in my lifetime that I would witness an election where people would be so afraid of the results that they were contemplating their deaths. I’ve lived through huge transitions in U.S. government. This one stands as something all on its own. This one is also a question mark: while we can imagine all sorts of outcomes, we don’t really know what will happen. True to the president-elect’s last debate comments, he’ll “keep us in suspense.” In today’s world, that kind of uncertainty can be devastating.

So what can I do to help, being one person who isn’t rich or powerful or from the right side of the tracks on almost every indicator? Not doing anything is not an option. What I can do may be small, but it’s a reaction to a specific concern in the communities I interface with, and it’s a small way I can offer my help one person (or actually two people!) at a time.

A few months ago, I came out of the closet. I also said I was going to make up for lost time by offering help and advocacy for the LGBT+ community to the best of my ability. This is what I’m going to do:

If you are an LGBT+ couple in the United States and would like to be married, and you’re worried that you won’t be able to do so after the government transitions, I am willing to solemnize your marriage license, in my capacity as a legally ordained minister. If you want to be married religiously and don’t care about legal recognition, I will help you do that too.

And if I can’t do it myself (you’re too far away, you want a service in a religion I can’t help with, etc.) I pledge to connect you with someone who can.

To help with my pledge, this is where you come in!
I am canvassing for a Marriage Militia (#MarriageMilitia if it makes your social media hearts happy), of clergy from ALL religions, legally recognized in the United States, who are willing to join me in this effort. I will post a list of clergy who can be contacted – if you want to use a pseudonym or be anonymous except to the couples who contact you, that’s okay. If you’d like to join the Marriage Militia, check out the website that just went up here. I do not discriminate – I don’t care what your religion or politics are here, only that you want to join me in helping US citizens achieve legal marriage if that is their wish.

I’ve already had a couple of clergy join me (Thank you!). Let’s marry as many people as we can! Love is love and if people want to get married, there shouldn’t be any reason why they can’t do that in a country that supposedly believes we’re all equal and free.

“But you’re being ridiculous,” you might be saying. “It’s just post-election hysteria. Nobody’s really going to take away anybody’s rights or invalidate legal marriages.” You know what? It doesn’t matter if it’s ridiculous or not. We don’t know what will happen, and offering to help those who believe that they need to do this now doesn’t hurt anybody at all. If what I’m pledging here bothers you, if you don’t support it – that’s fine. This pledge isn’t for you, then. It’s for those who need it, set here as my small attempt to reach out and reaffirm that I do continue to believe in freedom, and in helping others, and in affirming and celebrating love.

Posted in Blog, Ethics, Gratitude, LGBT+, News, Politics, Random Acts of Kindness, Website news | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Out

There have been some moves in my life since last I blogged. Some were expected, some were not, and at least one was long, long overdue.

I’m out of the Inland Empire. As I’d noted in June, I’m not built for triple-digit heat. Living closer to San Bernardino and the mountains than Malibu and the beach meant heat, dust, fire, and desert. These are beautiful things and I appreciate them. However, living amongst them was a health challenge, and the isolation from not having anyone to talk to within any reasonable distance was starting to get to me. When the introvert is lonely? You have a problem.

Once my coursework was completed, I was free to move, so long as I’m able to get back to the university to handle various things for the dissertation. In September, I started to review my options. Returning to Chicago was my first consideration. Unfortunately, having to be in LA on a reliable basis, and the LA-equivalent cost of living, made it not so attractive. Also, many of my Midwest friends have moved away, so I’d be just as isolated out there as I was in SoCal.

I considered moving back north to Silicon Valley. Part-time work is appealing, as it gives me money for groceries and rent, but I need to reserve enough time to finish the dissertation, too. Two phone calls and that idea fell through. My former landlord can now get more than twice what he was charging me…and I could barely afford that two years ago. Unless I wanted to live almost into Sacramento, or find a bunch of roommates, or I intended to give up on the dissertation and go back to tech full-time, NorCal was a big fat no. It’s a shame. I liked it there, and it’s sad to watch a good place price its own residents out.

Finally I sat with a map and reviewed cities: close enough to LA, far enough that I could afford to live there, close to friends and family and far from the desert. Nevada and Arizona went off the table immediately (no desert). Seattle was a contender with its Tamara-friendly weather, but it’s looking more and more like NorCal, with the spiraling cost of living. After several short trips and six weeks of house hunting, I decided on Portland, Oregon: a medium-sized city full of trees and actual weather, with a reasonable cost of living (at least for now), a good number of family and friends nearby, and easy and cheap flights to LA when I need them, as well as the ability to drive there in a reasonable amount of time if I must.

After final exams in December, I packed up my apartment with the help of two wonderful friends and a magical ABF “Upack” container, and then Zigzag and I made the long drive north one state and just a few miles short of a second, to our new home in PDX. It was two years to the day since we’d driven down from San Jose to Upland, along with Ru. This trip took longer. I had to stop overnight in Sacramento because I didn’t get out of Upland until late afternoon, and I almost got stuck on top of the Siskiyou Pass during a whiteout. The whole way, I kept thinking about our missing companion. I wish Ru would’ve been able to come with us to Portland. It’s beautiful and comfortable, and he would have loved the sunny windows and the wide stair. We miss him every day.

Zigzag in a Sacramento hotel room.

Zigzag in a Sacramento hotel room.

The other out is the one that was a long time coming. That one would be me, coming out of the closet.

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Posted in Ancient Egyptian Daybook, Blog, Ethics, LGBT+, News | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Ru (2001-2015)

Ru and AnubisThis afternoon, I picked up a tiny cedar box from Inland Valley Emergency Pet Clinic. On its lid is a simple brass plate inscribed “Ru.” Inside are a handful of rose petals, and a container with the ashes of my beautiful little boy, the elder of my two cats, who left this world on Monday. It was not an easy decision to make. I spoke to three members of IVEPC’s staff and the incredible staff of the Heavenly Pet Resort kennel in Upland, and concluded that it would be too cruel to ask Ru to wait for me to get a flight back to California to be there with him. The kennel’s owner went to be with him on my behalf. I am deeply grateful to her, to Ru’s “girlfriend” on the kennel staff (Sandy, who adored Ru and he adored her back), and to the IVEPC staff, who were very understanding over a series of distressing phonecalls and eased my own suffering considerably during the awful process.

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Posted in Blog, Gratitude, News, Ru | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments