You Thought You Were Done With Pride Month, Didn’t You?

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing? Can you believe it’s already July? I hope everyone survived the fireworks and what have you with their sanities, pets, and houses intact. Three days to celebrate the 4th. Why did it take three days? Anyway, I don’t really have anything to ramble about, so I thought I would take the chance to remind people that the LGBT+’s Pride month might be over, but July happens to be Disability Pride Month! Most people still don’t even know it exists. I didn’t know until last year. Apparently some cities even have parades and crap for it. Not mine, but Chicago has been doing one for like 18 years. I believe NYC and LA usually do something too. There’s even a flag.

It’s not my favorite flag in the world, but it’s something.

So, why do we need a Disability Pride month? A few reasons, really. One, to help normalize disabilities and fight against the ableism that runs rampant in the world. I’ve always rambled on this blog about the various ways people treat me just because I’m cripple, especially when I get ignored at restaurants. I brush it off as people being idiots, but it’s blatant ableism. And it’s the tip of the iceberg. There are so many different forms of ableism that it’s hard to keep track. Aside from the way people treat the disabled community, there’s also lack of physical access because for some reason the government here in the U.S. thinks old architecture is more important than making it accessible. So, they grandfather buildings to make it so they don’t have to be ADA compliant. And these are just examples of things I have to deal with. There are many other disabilities, all of which have their own issues to face. Ableism is so ingrained in our society that even I’m guilty of it. I’m trying to be better, but it’s hard. Helping people to understand disability and to recognize that it’s a normal part of life is the only way to move forward towards a more inclusive future.

Two, to help fight for equal rights. In the U.S., people with disabilities are discriminated against all the time. Most of that stems from ableism, but we also have to contend with idiotic laws. We’re forced to choose between our benefits and things like jobs or marriage. And most of us can’t live without those benefits. I can’t live without Medicaid because it funds the program that pays for someone to take care of me. If I lose Medicaid, I lose that. But because the only way I could get Medicaid was by getting on SSI, a program designed for the indigent, I’ll get kicked off if I make too much money. So, I can’t get a job unless it’s a ridiculously good one (for someone with no real experience and zero references, hahaha) and I can’t get married (they would start counting my spouse’s income against my benefits). It’s basically forced poverty and it’s ridiculous. Disabled people deserve to be able to contribute to society or get married without risking our benefits. Sure, if I get rich and no longer need the benefits, kick me off, but I can’t get to that point without working.

Me after dealing with the government.

Three, to help disabled people remember that they are indeed people and that they aren’t alone. This might seem like an obvious thing, but it’s not. Disabled people internalize ableism as well. It’s hard not to feel like a burden, especially when you have to ask for help or accommodations or whatever. Throughout my teens and early twenties, I was constantly reminded of everything my mother sacrificed for me (she was a toxic narcissist, but she’s dead now, so yeah). I still have a hard time even asking for stuff I need (like having my nose wiped or needing pillows moved at night or whatever) when I know it will inconvenience someone (usually Dad). Part of that struggle is just left over from my mother, but part of it is the whole cripple burden thing. Seeing that I’m not alone, that other disabled people exist and live happy lives, helps a lot. So, yeah. Disability Pride Month is good for educating others, but it’s also good for people who live with disabilities every day.

I chose a creepy picture because that’s who I am, but it’s good to see I’m not alone in my struggles.

Like I said, the examples in this post are my own. Other disabilities have other issues, but there’s always going to be some overlap. Anyway, happy Disability Pride Month! As always, feel free to leave your comments, questions and thoughts here or on my social media pages!

Thoughts on WALKING THROUGH NEEDLES

Howdy, howdy! How is everyone doing? It’s the last Wednesday of June. Can you believe it? I have no idea where time is going. But that means it’s time for another book review! I wanted something a little more intense this month, so I decided to request a thriller mystery instead of a cozy. Walking Through Needles by Heather Levy sounded like just the ticket. It was released from Polis Books on the 29th. As usual, I must thank them and NetGalley for access to an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. So, let’s get to it!

Not a bad cover, but I don’t really understand why the lightning is there.

Walking Through Needles follows Sam as she struggles to deal with the repercussions of the abuse she suffered as a teenager. When she discovers her abuser has been murdered, it forces her to relive that time and the confusion and inner turmoil that went with it. But she needs to focus on the here and now in order to keep an innocent man from being charged with the crime, as well as keeping herself out of the spotlight. But who actually killed him? Sam isn’t sure she really wants to know.

I have to be honest. This book feels more like an excuse to write softcore stepsibling porn that dabbles in kink than an actual thriller. I mean, the very first scene is Sam masturbating while choking herself. That’s an awkward start to a book when you’re not prepared for it. However, the whole porn vibe isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Porn is fine. It can even be great. This porn is not. It’s rape-y and underage (she’s 16-17 during the rape parts). And the murder plot feels like an afterthought. Something thrown in to make the actual story more palatable to a wider audience. It was super easy to figure out who killed the dude. So easy that the red herrings (those side plots meant to throw you off the scent) came across as ridiculous. Aside from the lack of actual mystery, it was a story (neither good nor horrible) if you’re into dark stuff. It at least tries to handle the complexities of rape, especially when it comes to a grown ass man taking advantage of a teenager’s willingness when she really has no clue what she’s getting into. It just doesn’t do it well. There’s this whole “I was asking for it” mentality when Sam’s younger and it never really addresses when she finally stops blaming herself. Everything is skimmed over. Anyway, it just wasn’t what I was expecting or hoping for, so I wasn’t ready for it.

My face after reading that opening scene.

The characters are all a little on the flat side. Sam’s a budding masochist who matures into the role as an adult, but she never really becomes an actual person for me. She’s pretty stereotypical. Isaac has the potential to be an interesting character, but we never get a glimpse into his motivations/why he’s the way he is, so he ends up being a typical asshat. Arrow is the most interesting character because he actually demonstrates a willingness to change and adapt, but even he doesn’t get his due. Mom and Grandma are caricatures. Everyone else is just meh. They all have some kind of potential, but sadly fall flat.

Me to every single character.

As far as the writing goes, it was fine. There was nothing captivating about it, but nothing to complain about either. It was just words on the page. That’s about it. But I should probably stop thinking about this book because the more I do, the more I dislike it.

Ultimately, Walking Through Needles was not my cup of tea. I have no desire to pick up another book by Heather Levy just because of this one. It might be because I wasn’t in the mind space for something like this. It’s not like I haven’t read and enjoyed things even darker than this. But this one didn’t do anything for me.

starstarstar outlinestar outlinestar outline

Overall, I gave it 2 out of 5 stars. Closer to 1.5 stars. Mostly because there are people who apparently enjoyed it, even if I’m not one of them. If you’re into softcore porn with a super dark storyline, you might enjoy this. If you’re looking for a thriller, this is not the story you want.

No Big Surprise

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing this bright and beautiful June day? I’m still being a bad little writer and have nothing new to share. It’s getting really hard to find things to ramble about on here, so if you have questions or suggestions, they’d be welcome. I would say that I could just switch to book reviews all the time, but I can’t read that fast. Two-ish books a month is the best I can do. Oh well. I guess I’ll just keep coming up with stuff at the last minute. Anyway, since it’s still June, I guess I can do a Pride post. Or whatever. Just a post full of pretty colors, really.

I’ve never once felt the need or desire to come out. However, I’ve also never felt the need to hide my preferences. I’m lucky that way. People either think I’m joking when I make comments about being attracted to people or they just don’t care. And I don’t correct them if it’s the former. Most of the people I care about are in the latter category. They don’t care who I ogle. It’s no ones business but mine. Even the people I’m attracted to don’t get to know because I’m socially awkward and just keep my feelings to myself. As nature intended.

But yeah. I’m pansexual. Big surprise, right? Basically, I get the hots for people regardless of gender (the social construct) or sex (biology). If I find someone attractive, then I find them attractive. That’s all. They don’t need to have specific equipment or present a certain way. I also acknowledge that gender is not a binary, so bisexual never really felt like the right label. Technically, sex isn’t a binary either, but I don’t feel like arguing science with people, so I’m just focusing on gender. If you can’t wrap your head around gender being a spectrum, just make believe I’m bi. I don’t actually mind either way.

A pan flag with a cute little batty! By Evara Hargreaves.

“But you’re perpetually single! I know you like boys because you’re a girl, but how can you know you like girls and other people who aren’t boys?” Honestly? The same way a lot of people figure this crap out. I look at people and get those weird tingles thanks to hormones. How did you know you liked the opposite sex? Have you ever tried anything with someone of the same sex? No? Then how do you know you’re really straight? C’mon, people. You just figure these things out as you go. The first non-boy I had naughty thoughts about was Tia Carrera from her Relic Hunter days (1999-2002, so really the perfect time for me realize boys weren’t the only hot ones). Then, I eventually found boys in skirts and things just spiraled from there. So, gender and sex don’t matter to me. As long as I have eye candy, I’m happy. Personality is important too, but only if I’m actually looking to get to know someone. My social skills are not prepared for actually getting to know people, though. Ah well.

Kaya. They’re gorgeous. And one of my early-ish boy-in-a-skirt experiences.

There. If there were any doubts in your mind about my sexuality, now you know. If this is somehow surprising, you haven’t been paying attention. As always, feel free to leave your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages! I’ll be back next week with the regularly scheduled book review.

Peopling is Hard

Hello, hello! How’s everyone doing? I’m still stuck in a procrastination rut. I start projects, it goes well for a few days, then I just hit a wall. I try to work through it for a couple of days, but after staring at the same pages for a while, I get disgusted with it and take a few days off. It’s an endless cycle. I need to break it, but I can’t figure out how. So, I decided to try being social instead. Change up the routine. Maybe getting out of my comfort zone would help get the writing muscles going again. That was the hope, anyway. It’s not going too well.

It’s me!

I randomly joined some Facebook groups a week or so ago, mostly for pretty pictures of bats and cephalopods. Apparently, I also decided to join a couple of groups for people who are pansexual and their supporters (happy Pride!), which I never do because… well, people. One of the current fads in one of those groups are those stupid friendship application posts where newbies basically introduce themselves. I don’t do that stuff. I am horrible at peopling. Everyone knows this. I make no secret of it. But I did the thing despite my aversion to socializing.

All of the comments on the post were super sweet and accepting. Yes, I even included pictures. And, instead of being self-deprecating like I usually am, I tried very hard to just say thank you to the handful of folks who said I was pretty or whatever. It was weird. And I admit that I met a couple of people who are cool and I’ve enjoyed our conversations and will definitely keep talking to them. But I’ll be damned if I didn’t get like twenty DMs from douchenozzles (you know the ones, those who expect cyber sex or whatever it’s called nowadays without even attempting to hide it behind getting to know you) who ended up blocked. It totally reminded me of the Yahoo chat days, and not in the good way. Sifting through the asshats to find the interesting people is just not my thing anymore. I’m too lazy for all that. And way too comfortable with being alone (or talking to my current peoples) to make that effort.

Or I can be alone by myself. Either way works.

It doesn’t help that I have a lot of social anxiety. I can’t even make doctor appointments over the phone without freaking out unless I practice the conversation in my head fifty times. Goddess forbid they go off script. And even if it goes perfectly, I still feel like I screwed something up with the interaction. I’m not as bad with text based exchanges, because I can see and edit what I’m saying. Especially when it comes to professional correspondence. That, I have no problem with. As long as I can write it out, I’m okay. I really only have issues with socializing like a normal human being. I know people who I only knew by screen names for the first ten years of our friendship. That’s how horrible at peopling I am. I didn’t even think to ask for names until we’d run into each on Facebook or something. Peopling is hard.

Maybe.

But that’s enough about my lack of humaning skills. I probably should’ve thought of a better topic instead of rambling about nothing. But there you have it. As always, feel free to leave your comments or questions or whatever here or on my social media pages!

For My Little Sis

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing this beautiful June day? It’s actually kind of overcast as I’m writing this, but whatever. I’m sure that’s beautiful to someone. I have zero writing or publishing news. I’m a big slacker, I know. So, I wasn’t sure what I was going to blog about until I remembered what today (June 8th, because that’s when I’m writing this) is: Jen’s birthday! I know I’ve talked about her a little bit on here since she’s the one always drawing pictures for me to use as avatars, but I don’t think I’ve ever fully explained who she is to me. Today, I will properly introduce you.

I remembered yesterday too, but still.

I met Jen when we were 18 or 19 in a Yahoo chatroom. Oh goddesses. Was it really that long ago? Have we really known each other over 15 years? We’re getting old. But I digress. Honestly, I don’t even remember which one of us initiated contact or why, but that one random moment led to years of fun and friendship and sisterhood. We spent long nights (into early mornings) talking and RPing and complaining about the douchenozzles who kept telling us we weren’t doing it right if we didn’t adhere to their arbitrary and ridiculously detailed rules of that particular RP. She knows the main dude I’m talking about. It got to the point where we’d deliberately break his rules just to see how long it would take him to rage quit and sign off. Those were some good times.

The Yahoo chat years were great and sometimes weird and even downright sucky occasionally, but so much came after. She went to art school and got married and had kids. She’s constantly done artistic things over the years, like stained glass or making dolls or drawing. I’m always so proud of Jen. And, of course, there were not so good times. Stress, people disappearing without a word (because that’s a hazard of having Internet friends who live in different states or countries), family deaths. All the crappy stuff life throws at you. But we’ve made it through it all so far.

A picture she drew of us.

Jen is my little sis. She may not be blood and we haven’t gotten a chance to meet in person yet, but she’s part of my chosen family. I probably shouldn’t make assumptions, but I think I’m part of hers, too. (I better be!) We talk about anything and everything even though we constantly apologize for TMI. But it’s not really TMI because I’ve never really felt like anything was off limits. And I hope she feels the same. So, I’m going to say something I don’t say enough to anyone. I appreciate you, sis. And I love you. And now I’m going to stop because this is beginning to feel sappy. I’m not good at that.

Isn’t that just a glomp?

So, say hi and happy belated birthday to Jen! As always, feel free to leave your comments here or on my social media pages! Or you can go to her artist Instagram page! Later days.

More Shameless Self-Promotion

Hello, hello! I know I already shared this news on my social media pages, but I do have some people who seem to only follow my blog, so I decided to put it here too. On May 28th, my flash fiction piece “Integrate” was released in a story swap between The Centropic Oracle (the lovely people who purchased and narrated the story) and the YouTube channel Let’s Read! You can listen to it here! You can also check out Published Work on my website to find anything you might’ve missed. I’ll be back next week with a proper post.

Thoughts on DEATH IN BLOOM

Howdy, howdy! It’s already the last Wednesday in May. Can you believe it? I have no idea where the time went, but I know that it’s time for another book review! This month, I just chose another cozy mystery. I wanted something that was likely to be fluffy and have a happy ending. Cozies are usually good for that. Death in Bloom is the first in the new Flower House mystery series by Jess Dylan. It was released yesterday (May 25th) from St. Martin’s Press. As usual, I must thank them and NetGalley for giving me access to an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Let’s get to it.

Cute cover.

Death in Bloom follows Sierra Ravenswood as she tries to settle into small town life after her dreams of being a singer in Nashville fall through. She returns to her hometown of Aerieville determined to build a better life for herself with the help of positive vibes and good thoughts. Unfortunately for her, her flaky boss skips town on some adventure and leaves her to run the flower shop on her own. Her first evening by herself is filled with a flower arranging class that she isn’t prepared to lead. Throw in a suspicious death during the class and things can’t get any worse, right? Wrong. Can Sierra solve a murder, find the person who keeps breaking into the Flower House, and take care of a new pup all at once? With the help of new friends and positive energy, anything is possible. She hopes.

The plot is pretty standard. Except the bestie is a rekindling of an old acquaintanceship from high school (they weren’t close back then, but why not now?) and the potential love interest is some sketchy dude who randomly shows up and asks way too many questions about the absent boss. Otherwise, there are plenty of obvious clues to lead you in the wrong direction all the way through. I admit that I doubted my murderer guess a couple of times, but stuck with it and was right in the end. It was twisty and turny enough to be a fun ride.

Me, at the end.

As far as the characters go, I liked them well enough. Sierra was a little wishy-washy when it came to the Flower House even though her choice was obvious. That was annoying. But her general personality and her familial interactions were all great. Deena is a little on the flat side, but there’s potential for some good development with her in later books. Calvin is super suspicious and with everything going on, I found it really hard to believe that Sierra just took the dude at his word. At least do some research on him. A quick google of the faculty website at the school he supposedly teaches at. Anything. But, no. It takes her more than half the book to realize he’s sketchy. It’s improbable. At least Gus is cute. He’s the corgi puppy she adopts when it becomes apparent her boss isn’t coming back for him.

Look at that face!

The writing is nice. Everything flows pretty smoothly and keeps the story hopping along at a quick pace. There were some sections that felt redundant as they rehashed the case, but that happens in all cozies I’ve found.

Ultimately, Death in Bloom was enjoyable and pretty fluffy. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for future books in this series. I might even check out the other series that Jess Dylan wrote using the name Jennifer David Hesse.

starstarstarstarstar outline

Overall, I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. If you like cozy mysteries with a weirdly positive lead woman and cute puppers, it’s certainly worth a look.

A Look Inside Sunday Morning Catfish and More

Hello, hello! How is everyone doing today? I actually left the house earlier this week to run errands with Dad. Granted, I stayed in the van the whole time, but at least I saw the world still existed. Kind of. And I was glad to see some people still wearing masks. I’m still not going to brave interacting with people (mostly because I like the excuse to ignore the world), but it’s nice to see they still exist. Anyway, yesterday Dad ran some errands while I stayed home. He grabbed some catfish for lunch/dinner and I realized I never wrote about this place, so here’s an impromptu food review. The place is called Sunday Morning Catfish and More (or just Sunday Morning Catering). It’s on Pioneer, in front of Planet Fitness. I linked to their Facebook page so you can find the address and hours and stuff.

First, a reminder of my rating system:

MMMMM = Everything is magnificent!
MMMM = Great, but something is off.
MMM = Pretty good, but a couple of things could be better.
MM = The bad’s starting to outweigh the good.
M = Definitely more cons than pros.
… = I couldn’t find anything nice to say.

Newest menu borrowed from their Facebook page.

Accessibility: I haven’t been able to go in a year and a half at least, but it used to be fine. As long as no one parks in front of the door, everything is even with the parking lot, so you don’t have to worry about a step or anything. Inside, there’s a little ramp that’s slightly on the steep side, but nothing unmanageable. Just be careful the first couple of times you use it. The tables were good and didn’t have any knee bangers or anything that got in the way of footrests. But things might have changed since then. It used to be easy enough to get around, though.

Service: I only went once after the restaurant changed hands (used to be Howard’s Catfish) and before the plague set in, but everyone was super nice and treated me like a person (bonus points!). The few times we’ve called in and Dad picked it up, he says they always ask how I am, which is nice. I look forward to going back in person one of these days.

Nuggets. Borrowed from their Facebook page because I never think of taking pictures.

Food: Delicious. It’s one of the few places where we order just about the same thing each time. We both get catfish nuggets and shrimp. I usually get fried pickles and Dad always has to get a fried porkchop. The porkchops are his absolute favorite. And we’ll sometimes get something extra to try. It’s all amazing. Unfortunately, it’s fried so we only go a couple of times a year. They do have Soul Food Sundays with different options, but we haven’t been able to try that.

Dessert: There’s usually a selection of cake slices. We’re usually full by the time we’re done, so we’ve only gotten cake twice. It was nice and moist both times. The pieces are big enough that I can save half for later unless Dad eats it. Yum.

Price: Not bad at all. We usually get two meals (sometimes three) out of our order, so it’s definitely worth the money portion-wise. And the food is always delicious, so quality-wise it’s worth it too.

My rating:
MMMMM

Tricking Myself into Writing

Hello, hello! How is everyone doing today? It’s a gloomy Monday as I’m writing this and I don’t really feel like doing much of anything. So, I decided it’s as good a day as any to write my post for the week. The problem? I have nothing to ramble about. I should probably be working on an actual story or writing my May book review post or something, but I don’t want to. I can do that stuff tomorrow. But I am slowly starting to write again, thanks to the new computer. I guess I can ramble about that. It’s one of those weird cripple things, so be prepared to give me your best “huh?” look.

Yeah, that look.

When I first started using a laptop (actually, any computer), my typing options were to either figure out how to make the keyboard work for me or use Dragon Naturally Speaking (a dictation program). I tried the latter and it was horrible. No matter how much I trained it, at least every other word was wrong. It was more trouble editing stuff than it was worth. So, I decided to use a backscratcher in my right hand and my left index finger to make the hunt-and-peck method of typing work for me. And I was good at it too. Fast enough to keep up with multiple Yahoo chat conversations in a timely manner at least. And accurate enough that I rarely had to fix any typos. It was less hunting/pecking and more just my own form of two “finger” typing. But all good things must end.

After I went through a few different wheelchairs and just as many computers, I eventually reached a point where typing became more difficult than it was worth. Basically, each new chair changed the positions of my hands, the ease with which I could reposition my arms, etc. and each new computer positioned its keyboard and touchpad slightly differently until it all combined to screw with my typing (slowed it down and made the position I had to maintain uncomfortable) enough that I looked for alternatives. By that time, Microsoft had started getting into accessibility features and had added an on-screen keyboard. I’m certainly not as fast with it as I was at typing, but it works well enough. It got me through Stonecoast and has helped me write the majority of the stuff I’ve written since then, so I can’t complain.

Don’t feel bad. Losing stuff like the ability to type is a normal cripple thing.

When this computer arrived, I decided to try typing again. The keyboard is just too pretty not to touch. So, a couple of weeks ago, I started trying to type for 30 minutes at a time. The range of motion in my left arm is absolute shit, which is to be expected. I can’t even reach the E, R, and G keys enough to press them anymore. The number keys (I used to be able to press 1-4 with my left hand) are completely out of reach. And I have to nudge my hand with my backscratcher in order to reach the Q and W. But for some reason, I have a better reach with my backscratcher than I used to, so it compensates a bit for the lack of use in my left hand. Hopefully, with practice, I’ll at least get back enough range of motion for E, R, and G.

Don’t get too excited. I’ve only done this 5 times so far. It’s annoying getting my hands into position, but that should get easier over time. My muscles tire out well before the 30 minutes are up, but I push through and it’s already getting better. I started at 75 words in 30 minutes and have increased each time (reached 245 words when I did it today). I can do 350ish words in a half hour with the on-screen keyboard, so if I can break that, I’ll definitely keep it up. Hopefully, my arms and hands will keep cooperating with me. I don’t fully trust them yet.

Idle Hands. They have a mind of their own. Am I the only one who remembers this stupid movie?

Anyway, in order to practice typing, I needed something to write, so I started a short story. It’s already 1,500 words long because it starts out as typing practice, then I’m in a groove, so I write a little more with the on-screen keyboard. But yeah. All this post is meant to say is that I found a way to trick myself into writing even though I have no motivation. Wootwoot!

What about you? Do you have any weird ways you trick yourself into being productive? As always, feel free to share your thoughts and comments and questions here or on my social media pages!

Another Round of Shameless Self-Promotion

Hello, hello! Can you believe it’s already May? But the good thing about May is that my flash fiction piece “Poisoned Honey and Pickled Pigs’ Feet” was just released in volume 1, issue 8 of Love Letters to Poe! You can buy a copy here with my story and three other lovely pieces, or you can subscribe to the newsletter to get a free copy of the first issue as well as weekly installments with stories from that month’s release and author interviews (mine goes out on the 6th, so sign up today!). I’ll also share a link to my story/interview on my social media pages Thursday or Friday for anyone who doesn’t sign up in time. And if you miss that, after the 6th just search for Love Letters to Poe wherever you get your podcasts and you’ll be able to listen to me read the story. No matter how you access it, please feel free to leave a review or rating on the GoodReads page!

Sorry for the short post. I’ll be back to our regularly scheduled randomness next week!