Natalia Rivera Hands Over Eyes

Rest in Peace, DAx (Patricia L. Givens)

Patricia L. Givens, aka DAx, was the author of the very first piece of fanfiction I ever read on the Internet.

It was 1995 and I was attempting to write a spec script for Star Trek: DS9 in my spare time—just to see if script writing was something I wanted to do. The Internet was new to my household that year and I had just moved in with my first girlfriend. Our laughable “second bedroom” (note: it was a closet with a window and was painted Institutional Puke Green) became our office and contained my Gateway computer.

I entered search words into the Yahoo search engine (this was pre-Google), looking for examples of DS9 scripts. Instead, up popped a story called “Choices” by Patricia L. Givens. Within seconds of reading the disclaimer, I was hooked.

In the interest of full disclosure, I never really shipped Kira/Dax. I read this story by Patricia, wrote a ridiculous and unpublished one of my own, but my heart wasn’t in that pairing. I wasn’t a huge DS9 fan and—while Kira was my favorite character—I didn’t see her with Dax. My preferred pairing for Kira was Deanna Troi. (I wrote one of those, too—also unpublished. It was very, very dark. So was I, at the time.)

I printed “Choices” by Patricia, stapled it neatly, and put it in my filing cabinet. The story made it through several moves intact before finally being lost somewhere along the way. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to open one of a dozen random boxes still stored at my parents’ house and find it now.

What I didn’t realize at the time, but found out this past Sunday, was that “Choices” was Patricia’s first piece of published fanfiction. I would never have known that from the instant hook, the terrific pacing, the deft blend of humor and angst, and the absolute plausibility of the plot line. It was and is a good story.

Later in 1995, I was to discover the stories of Missy Good, the television show they were based on (Xena: Warrior Princess), and a new Star Trek franchise (Star Trek: Voyager began that year). By 1998, I was single again, living alone in Charlotte, NC, and spending nearly all my spare time writing Voyager fanfiction. Patricia was part of that movement, too, penning many, many J/7 stories. Her ability to write so many stories so quickly and cleanly is something I still admire. My wife, the amazing Lisa Countryman, also shares that ability. I, painfully, do not.

Eventually, I parted ways with the J/7 Voyager community to begin VJB and the B/7 community. Lisa Countryman came along with me; Patricia stayed with HerCaptain and the J/7 group. Life intervened and I lost touch with both Patricia and Lisa. VJB stayed alive due to the heroic efforts of Rachel of “Passion & Perfection” fame and was still a vibrant community when I returned to lead it again a few years later.

Lisa had moved on, too, and we--all three--penned stories in other fandoms, cognizant of each other only through what we were writing.

I should have known the wildfire of Otalia that swept through the lesbian fanfiction community a few years ago would bring me back into contact with DAx.

She became one of the most revered and prolific of all Otalia writers and I was lucky enough to be considered an elder along with her and Fewthistle, so much so that we three recorded a podcast with Allaine about writing and fanfiction and Otalia. It was an honor to be counted among such stars of our community.

“The Courtship of Emma’s Mother” shortly became the only Otalia unfinished epic that I followed until the time that Lisa Countryman re-entered my life and Otalia slowly faded away.

I think that’s why I’ve been having such a difficult time with the news that DAx is gone. Though we never met, her writing, her presence, has been a part of my life in one way or another for over 15 years now. She literally introduced me to the concept of Internet-published fanfiction and inspired me to publish my own. She was a part of several of the largest fanfiction communities at the same time I was. She was one of the writers that I admired and wanted to emulate.

Even our personal stories paralleled strangely with cross-country moves, professions in health care, and marriages all playing part at nearly the same time. I moved from North Carolina to California in 2011 to be with Lisa Countryman. Patricia’s wife had moved from her hometown on the East Coast a year before. Lisa became a nurse; Patricia’s career in health care was well known amongst those of us that followed her on Twitter. Patricia and her wife married late in 2012; Lisa and I married in July of 2013.

And now Patricia—DAx—is gone.

On Sunday, there was an impromptu and very sweet gathering of the Otalians in an old chatroom we had populated back at the height of the fever after the news spread about DAx’s death. Two of my Otalian friends, both of whom I have had the pleasure of knowing personally and virtually, invited me to attend. I should have gone.

I didn’t. I couldn’t.

I couldn’t wrap my head around what had happened and what little we knew. I couldn’t understand how DAx could be gone, how a single Tweet could herald such a deep and unsettling loss. I still cannot fathom the agony now suffered by her wife and her family. The hard lump in my throat that accompanies me still wouldn’t let me grieve with the community to which we both belonged.

I can still feel the tears pressed against the backs of my eyes. Ready. Waiting. I know that grief is necessary and good, somehow healing in its passage.

But there is still a part of me that doesn’t want to feel that grief, a part of me that is so very unwilling to write these few, inadequate words in tribute to a woman who was such a strange, intangible, wonderful part of my life and the lives of so many of us.

It hurts to let her go. It feels too soon.

But I am thankful, grateful to still have her stories. To know that she will be known by them and for them. That they are now her presence in the world.

I send my deep and sincere condolences to her wife and family and to all of you, her friends and fans, at this time of loss.

And I hope that DAx has found what we all hope—that death is not just an ending, but is also a beginning.

The beginning of some new adventure.

The beginning of a new, exciting existence.

The beginning of a new story, with an instant hook, terrific pacing, a deft blend of humor and angst, and absolute plausibility of plot line.

Write on, dear DAx. Write on.
Honey from the Beecharmer

Chanukah Sameach! 2011

During this festival of lights, when we celebrate the victory of the few over the many, when we honor the miracle in the mundane, I want to share with you these hope I have for you during this upcoming year.  These hopes I have for you and for all are inspired by the lessons I have taken from the two women who gave me my Hebrew name: Yehudit Yocheved.

They are
  1. When you are faced with overwhelming odds and things are at their bleakest, I hope you will act anyway.  I hope you will do what is right, you will work for change, you will take bold chances and you will trust in your strength, the strength of your family and community, and the strength of your God or your spiritual path to help you see it through.

    Both Yehudit and Yocheved stepped forward in strength when faced with overwhelming opposition and both won the freedom of their entire people. 

  1. When you stand up in defense of what is most precious to you, whether that is your family, your faith, your people, or your freedom, I hope you will find the strength to fight whatever battle comes with all that you have: every skill, every talent, and every shred of opportunity, no matter how small.  I hope whatever the outcome, you will be secure in the knowledge that you did the best you could do.

    Both Yehudit and Yocheved stood in defiance of oppressors, one to protect her community and one to protect her son.  Both prevailed and are honored for their successes to this day.

  1. When faced with hard choices, may you find the strength to do what is right even when your knees tremble, even when the voice in your own head doubts.  May you find the opportunity to act from boldness.  May you find the sweet taste of honeyed courage instead of the bitter draught of fear.

    Both Yehudit and Yocheved faced heart-wrenching choices and somehow found the courage they needed, one to slay a fearsome leader with his own stinging blade and one to send her infant son into the mercurial arms of the River Nile.

  1. When you are alone in the moment, beyond all help and all hindrance, may you find that ultimate connection, that oneness with the wider Universe, that place of expansion into the spiritual consciousness of us all and may you honor it.  Honor it with words or tears or actions.  Honor it with time and devotion and intention.

    Both Yehudit and Yocheved stood poised, alone in the silence of a breath.  One held a sword raised above Holofernes’ slumbering head, one held her son out of the Nile’s unknowable currents.  Each gave that breath to God, with petition and praise, hope and humility, awareness and awe, and each alone knew what that breath gained them.

Happy Chanukah!  May this Festival of Light show you the light you are to others and may it reflect back to you, brighter than you imagined it could.

With love,

With Pie

Well, We're Still Here

In cases of Doomsday Predictions, I like to give each predicted date a +/- 7-day margin of error before “calling it,” as they say.

Okay, no, not really. In reality, as with most of the Human population, I regard such predictions as they should be regarded: as a misguided symptom of the fear that has infected our nation and others over these last years.

This fear is not hard to see. I was driving to work in the pre-dawn hours the other morning and I spied a shiny new bumper sticker on a pick-up truck next to me. The bumper sticker said something to the effect of “Don’t Listen to the Liberal Media” and, as I do whenever faced with one, I sought the face of the person who would make such a simplistic pronouncement. The man driving that truck was approximately 65 – 70 years old, Caucasian, and balding. He had small, oval, wire-rimmed glasses that perched half-way up his rather bulbous nose. He hunched forward in the driver’s seat, his hands in the classic “10 and 2” position on his steering wheel. He wore red flannel, frowned slightly, and seemed to follow the speed limit exactly. Although I cannot confirm this for fact, I want to assume he was listening to Rush Limbaugh (or someone like him) on the radio.

It’s easy to stereotype this man as a right wing conservative pining for the “simpler, safer” era of the 1950s because that seems to be the driving goal of the most vocal members of the conservative movement these days. They characterize the 1950s as some sort of glorious utopia when, in fact, the 1950s were a complex and frightening time—for everyone who wasn’t an American Caucasian male. Even our current prime-time television hits and new movies seem to be reveling in our country’s homogenous past (see the popularity of shows like Mad Men, Pan Am, and The Playboy Club and movies like Captain America, X-Men: First Class, and J. Edgar).

The 1950s were anything but “simple” or “safe.” The decade bore the seeds of the Civil Rights movement, the Women’s Equality movement, the Gay Rights movement, and the decade simply known as The Sixties and ruthlessly attempted to extinguish all of them. McCarthyism, the Cold War, and fear ruled the land and the only reason anyone might now look back at the 1950s as a “simpler, safer” time is because the ruling class of society saw everything then—literally and figuratively—in black and white.

“Simple” and “safe” are concepts that have no bearing on society in any way, in any place, or at any time. Look no further than the oldest intact human remains ever found for the truth in that. Ötzi, the 5,000-year-old mummy of a Caucasian male in his 40s, found in the Alps along the border between Austria and Italy, was probably a hunter connected to a tribe that had begun both agricultural pursuits (he had recently eaten a meal containing einkorn, one of the first-ever cultivated crops) and metal-smelting pursuits (he carried a copper-headed ax that was likely made by an ancestor of his as it pre-dated his carbon-dated age).

He was also murdered.

Evidence shows that Ötzi was shot in the back with a single arrow which pierced a subclavial artery, causing him to bleed out rather quickly. Ötzi’s attacker shot him in the back high in the lonely Alps after the hunter had eaten a large meal. The attacker also took his arrow shaft and left the copper-headed ax, two items that might have identified him, giving credence to one theory that posits that Ötzi was murdered by someone known to him who did not want to suffer the consequences of the act.

How much simpler can life be than living for survival? Ötzi and his people had no money, no banks, no morning commutes, no vacation time, no PTA meetings, no paperwork, no Smartphones, no electoral college, no student loans, no blind dates, no Holiday meals at the in-laws’, no lunch meetings—in short, none of the modern-day societal trappings that make our lives so complex. And yet, Ötzi was murdered by someone known to him and for unknown reasons. The goal of this crime was likely not to acquire the ax, the single-most valuable item that Ötzi carried. It lay by his body, untouched.

Complex? Very. Unsafe? When is murder ever safe?

So it seems that we—the members of modern-day society—have two choices: perpetuate the lie that we can live in “simpler” or “safer” times if only we eliminate X or Y or Z or embrace the complexity of life.

I bring this up because, over the past week or so, the world has experienced some significant global weather events (earthquakes in Turkey and in the US, flooding in Texas and in Thailand, hurricanes in Mexico) and these always seem to generate a spate of claims by “the faithful” that these events herald God’s displeasure with this people or that political state or whatever or whoever best exemplifies that which “the faithful” loathe. This morning, I found myself wondering why we Humans use such natural phenomena to promote our belief that God hates what we hate. Why do we not see these events as a call to help and care for one another?

Again, fear. Encampments of fear. How else would you explain the increase in discussions about the viability of segregation here in this country? How else would you explain the vitriolic rejection of science by our leaders? How else can we possibly justify our country’s treatment of both citizens and immigrants alike who do not fit into very narrow classifications of what is deemed “okay”?

The truth of the matter is this: we can send aid to the people of Turkey and of Texas without supporting their politics or their priorities. We can work together without agreeing 100% on every topic. We can sit next to one another and share a meal without compromising our principles and our truth.

Easy to do? Hardly. But it can be done. For me, the thought of sitting down to a meal with someone like, say, Victoria Jackson, who is such a vocal homophobe, makes me cringe with dread. And yet, there is something in me that says to refuse to sit down to a meal with her would be wrong. It would be unjust. It would be an opportunity lost. For how can she see me as a fellow Human being, with rights and value and integrity, if I stay in my encampment and she stays in hers?

She and I are different and yet we are the same. We have different values, different goals for our lives, different beliefs…but we are also both women, both citizens of this country, both complex beings with lives and loves and ideals that we treasure. Her beliefs do not outweigh mine, nor mine hers. We can hold to both and still work together for the good of all.

It’s not a simple undertaking. No one, anywhere, is truly safe.

Instead of complaining, we should just get to work. There’s plenty of that to do.

Start by dismantling your encampments of fear.

Erin M. Hoagland
October 27, 2011
Donna Ood

I Think I Just Leveled Up in World of Real Life

I am an ex-WoW player. For those of you who are still uninitiated or culturally unaware, WoW stands for "World of Warcraft", an MMPORPG of massive proportions that has both been praised and villified for its longevity and domination of its genre.

For those of you who do know about WoW, you know how truly rarely someone can claim the description of "ex-WoW player." It's been almost two years since I stopped playing and when I played, I played only once a week, for approximately 4 - 7 hours. I was not, even at the height of my involvement with WoW, what you would call a "typical" player.

You know what? It turns out it doesn't matter how much or how little I played WoW; I still wake up some nights in the middle of the night thinking "I need to go fishing at Menethil Harbor" or "Maybe I could just hang out in Westfall for a little while and mine..." It is, I imagine, similar to what any ex-addict might experience in the middle of his or her night, too. And yes, since quitting, I have read the articles about the theory of gaming addiction and how the game coders specifically design their games to promote a multilevel addiction experience--whether that be adrenaline or Pavlovian click/reward or achievement or fame or all of that and more.

But I think the authors of those articles failed to mention why all of that works, even on people like me: the extremely atypical WoW player.

We're all very disgruntled. That rather goes without saying and, really, applies to every single human being. Who amongst us feels completely in control and powerful about every aspect of his or her life? No one, that's who. If you can find one human being anywhere on this planet who feels right in his/her skin 100% of the time, don't--under any circumstances--tell anyone. That poor person would be hunted down and eradicated before you could whimper "What have I done?" and then where would we all be?

Regarding WoW, though, it caters to several specific types of disgruntled persons.

First are the people whose lives lack structure, clarity, and predictable punishment and reward in proportions that would be a comfort. Basically, me, though the structure, clarity and measurements of punishment and reward in my personal life have stabilized wonderfully comparative to when I first started playing WoW. Unfortunately, I also happen to be very sensitive to the structure, clarity, and measurements of punishment/reward in my wider communities, specifically the national and world political environment, and it is that dysfunctional mess that I believe has me waking up in the middle of the night, pining for Stormwind City and Ironforge.

There's no mystery here. WoW (the non-PvP, non-Guild, casual player option) offers standard factions, clearly demarcated, coupled with mathematically-inspired quests where action X always results in consequence Y. I often adventured solo or worked with very small groups of fellow players who shared a (short-term) goal or who were my friends in real life. Though the actual play (how many shots will it take to kill that stupid Kobold miner this time?) varied, the quests did not. Kill this many X and receive Y. Collect X [insert item here] and give them to NPC Y and move on to the next quest after collecting your just reward. In between quests, use that hard-won gold you've earned to shop for prettier or more useful A, B, C, or D. Or, if you'd rather, learn a skill. Put it to use and earn more gold. Spend that gold on even prettier or even more useful A, B, C, or D.

One of the reasons I left Wow was because I eventually realized there were only so many ways a casual, non-PvP player could experience these equations in the game. When I finally analyzed my expenditure of time and effort versus the perceived (game-based) and actual (real life) reward, the game came up WOEFULLY short.

I sat in a chair, alone, in my apartment, for 4 - 7 hours every weekend, clicking a mouse button. The game-based reward was negligible; 4 - 7 hours of game play a week barely registers as a blip in the MMORPG world. I could neither amass enough gold or the number of levels required to lull me into a sense of achievement. The real life reward was flat nil. In fact, it was negative. I was not physically active, not engaging in social bonding, nor improving my knowledge or my skill-base. I was barely engaging in critical thinking. And yet, it is exactly that lovely, boring, thoughtless predictability that I still sometimes crave, if only to remind me that--somewhere, no matter how fantastical--X + Y will always equal Z.

I wish the real world worked that way, too. I want to go to work, do dishes, fold laundry, make dinner, love my girlfriend and our kitties, sleep 6-ish hours a night every night of the week and have those accomplishments always equal X "gold" and result in nothing unexpected. But real life gives us chaos and the unknown and the unforeseeable in varying measure so that you can do all of those real life "quest tasks" and still end up with a blown carburetor or H1N1 or a parking ticket or--on the other hand--an unexpected refund check or a visit from a long-lost friend or flowers for no reason. Life, by definition, is unpredictable. Which makes predictable scenarios very seductive to those of us who suffer a certain amount of existential discomfort with the unpredictability of life, no matter how well we seem to dispense with it every day.

The second disgruntled type catered to by WoW is the person who feels powerless in one or more areas of his/her real life. For example, someone who feels oppressed or inadequate or "less than" on a daily basis, either in physical prowess, physical attractiveness, intelligence, leadership capabilities, etc. These disgruntled types care less about the predictability of the questing and gravitate more toward PvP battling or the Guild-membership model of WoW. These are the people who either crave the chaotic anarchy of leveling up as a PvP character just so he or she can mindlessly kill other PvP characters more quickly or they are the people who crave building the most powerful team of characters so that they can "win" the game (assuming that raiding the final boss--whoever that is this month--is considered the "win scenario.")

These are the grinders, who play incessantly to level their characters up to the highest achievable level (again--whatever level that happens to be this month), who farm gold in order to buy the best armor and weapons, who basically do everything in their power to create the most perfect being in the game so he or she can either destroy other "perfect" characters or join with them to "win" the game. Their perceived (game-based) and actual (real life) reward are nearly one in the same because so much of their real life is taken up by game play as to be almost indistinguishable from it. These are the people who continue to voice-chat with their guilds in their off-WoW chat clients while they wait out Blizzard's regularly-scheduled maintenance downtime. These are the people who sometimes die from dehydration or other game-induced injuries--or so the media would have us believe. These are the "true believers."

And I get it. I do. I really do.

When I first started this post, I knew where I wanted to go with it. I wanted to level an indictment against a world that would a) make us all feel so powerless and then b) give us a way to waste what precious time we have clicking a mouse button in search of redemption. I even waxed a little ridiculous, thinking how great it would be if there was a game that logged your real life achievements and gave you validation for those. Like a game of the Sims, but not. You'd get points and validation for finding a job for yourself instead of a little animated character. The computer would tell you what a good job you were doing.

But, if you're like me, you don't lack in validation. You get it with some regularity from your parents, your partners, your children, your friends, your co-workers, your teachers, your pets, etc., etc. If you're really lucky, you get a little from yourself, too. The problem is, we're taught not to believe it. We're taught to dismiss it, to ignore it, to be suspicious of it. We're taught to invalidate whatever validation we get. Which then makes us feel powerless or less than or unregarded. Which then makes us disgruntled. Which then sends us to anonymous fantasy worlds in which we hope to recoup our losses.

I don't need a computer to tell me that I'm doing a good job or that I've achieved something wonderful. I need to tell myself that--and I need to believe it.

No, the world is not perfect. I'm 60 pounds overweight, I often feel unattractive, I don't have a colon anymore, and food and I have a very love-hate relationship (I love it and it hates me). There's never enough time or money or motivation to get everything that needs to be done, done. I'm not considered equal under the law in my own country and the world seems to be imploding on every level it possibly can.

But I'm in love with a beautiful woman who loves me back, fiercely, and we have a home and a family and all the necessities. I was able to walk 1.5 miles today at lunch under a cloudless, Northern California sky, accompanied by butterflies and bluebirds, and at the end was a bag of tiny, cow-shaped chocolate cookies that were only 100 calories. I have parents and siblings and nieces and nephews and aunts and uncles and cousins who love me and friends all over the world. I do good work for a wonderful University and I love doing it. My co-workers are generous, happy, decent people and they believe in teamwork and validation. Yesterday, my management team gave me yellow roses for working the weekend. I have a brain and a heart and relationship with God that is mine alone and not something that I would ever hold over someone else. I smile and do so often.

So the next time I have the urge to visit Stormwind City or Ironforge, I think I'll kiss my girlfriend or organize the kitchen or pet the cats instead. And I'll tell myself that's okay.

Because it really is.

Erin Hoagland
::wondering if MMRLRPG has already been taken::
Activist Alarm

What Happened to Us?

And by us, I mean the US in general and all of us specifically.

Did the Me Decade 80s narcissism issue the entire United States a death blow we didn't feel and failed to treat?

I've been listening to the news on the radio to and from work these past few days and each day I feel more and more disheartened. The two most uplifting stories I've heard in the past week were one on the changing face of Egyptian popular music since the change in their regime and the one about the bipartisan Everyman grassroots movement called Occupy Wallstreet growing larger.

That's it.

The rest of the news has been about how group X wants door number 1 and group Y wants door number 2 and no one's going anywhere while they sit and argue about it. Compromise? Teamwork? The Greater Good? Unheard of. Not discussed. Not even considered.

NPR did a retrospective yesterday because it happened to be the 64th anniversary of the first televised Presidential address to our country. The president at the time was Harry Truman. And do you know what the topic of that momentous address was? It was food.

Or rather, it was a plea from the President of the United States for all Americans to exert self-control and eat less during the week so that we, a nation blessed with abundance, could help Western Europe survive the winter and spring of that year. Western Europe, you see, had nothing to sustain them for the fallow seasons because they'd been occupied by war and weren't concerned with harvests and canning and preserving.

President Harry Truman said it was our duty as Americans to do what we could do to help Western Europe and he outlined what would now be considered simplistic measures to cut down on our weekly comestibles consumption. Not eating meat one day a week. Not eating poultry and eggs another. Having one less piece of bread with every dinner. Having restaurants only serve bread and butter upon request.

I expect that these days, most people would say "Let 'em starve!" and worse, considering what I've seen in the comments below some of the most benign and/or heart-wrenching stories on the Internet.

We have some of the most talented, most able, most creative, most driven people in the world here in the United States, capable of solving so many of the world's ills, capable of elevating us all to such great heights.... What do we do instead? We draw lines in the sand and argue about ridiculous things. We watch "reality" television, not caring that it represents no one's reality. We denigrate one another, both anonymously and publicly, expending more time humiliating and besting one another than working together.

This country is fractured. Broken. Almost shattered.

The politicians are so out of touch with their own constituency that there are actually people out there who are fighting for the right to steal from their own citizenry. The government is so out of touch with reality that they've declared corporations to be equal to individuals, selling our country to the highest bidder. The holders of the most capital are so out of touch with reality that they pay their CEOs and CFOs huge bonuses in the times of bailouts and economic collapse and unemployment so massive as to be practically outside our historical frame of reference.

I heard one very angry man say, very seriously, that it was not the responsibility of corporations to work for the good of the country. It was their responsibility to work for the good of their owners, their shareholders, their employees, and their customers! He was so indignant about it, taking offense that the interviewer would suggest that any corporation had any responsibility toward assisting in job creation. And yet, who are these owners, these shareholders, these employees, and these customers if they are not also citizens of this country?

I work in administration in a large University. For 23 years, I have worked in either customer service or administration and one thing is constantly repeated to those of us in these positions: "Everyone is your customer!" Meaning, every single person that you work with should be treated the exact same way as you would treat a paying customer, whether that person sits in the cubicle next to you, answers your call in the department down the hall, or empties your trash can at the end of the day. You work for every single person you work with.

Why is it so hard for all of us to remember this? What are we really fighting about, anyway?

Nothing. What we're doing--collectively--is taking our own hard luck out on those people around us, aiming first for those who are the most different, the weakest, or the ones least likely to fight back. Basically, the entire United States has become infected by bullyism.

No wonder bullies are running rampant in our schools; they're running rampant in our culture!

I don't understand it, either. The same people who claim to be the most devout, the most honorable Christians cheer when the Governor of Texas states that he's proud of his record of presiding over the most state-sanctioned deaths via lethal injection. They jeer when an honorable soldier who has done nothing but fight for this country and represent it with honor and integrity comes out publicly as a gay man. These same people decry spending "their" money to assist those who are worse off in some way, saying, essentially, "I got mine, now you get yours!"

These are not Christian attitudes. According to the New Testament--so named because it was supposed to be the new theology--there are two rules: Love God and love one another as God has loved you. There are no exceptions to that "one another" part. It does not say "Love one another--except for the poorer ones, or the ones who are a different color, or the gay ones, or the fat ones, or the female ones, or the disabled ones, or the ones from a different political party, or the ones of a different ethnic or national background, or the ones that follow another religion--as I have loved you." It doesn't say that. Not in any translation, not by any stretch of anyone's imagination.

"Love one another as I have loved you." In essence, a repetition of something said elsewhere in the Bible: "You are your brother's keeper."

So what's wrong with us? How did we, as a nation, go from being that up and coming young kid with all the great ideas--the one voted most likely to do the most for the world--how did we go from that to being the village bully and the village idiot all rolled into one?

Right now, right this very second, we are SQUANDERING our history, our reputation, our potential and our future--all at the same time!

Why are we standing up for what we have or what we perceive we are or what we think is owed to us? Why AREN'T we standing up for one another?

We are still ONE nation no matter how much we fight about God, or liberty, or justice for all and what that means.

We'd better start acting like it, too, because if there is one thing that has played out over and over and over throughout history, it is the fall of nations divided internally.

Is that what we want?

That's not what I want.

I want to elevate others, I want to help people out when I can, and I want others to offer to help me when I need it. I want to be considered equally valuable under the law by my fellow citizens even though I may be different from them. I want us to work together to solve our problems so that we can work together to be the great nation we once were.

Because, let's face it, we're NOT great right now. We're not even close.

But we can be. We can be great again.

Every day is a new day for every single one of us to start over again.

Let's not wait until those days go away before we recognize our legacy.

We have a choice. We can play "Whoever has the most toys wins" or we can play "the three-legged race." Sure, the three-legged race is awkward, it's messy, it's difficult, but if it's done right, it's fun and funny and everyone gets over the finish line.

That's the United States I want; the one where everyone gets over the finish line.

Erin M. Hoagland
Part of the 99%
Gonzo Cool

And So it Begins....

It's official! I gave my notice today and am leaving for CA and the love of my life on Sunday, 8/14.

I can't wait! My past, present, and future are finally meshing well and I'm ready to start a new life.

Am I a little anxious? Yes. Am I waaaaaay excited? Hell, yes! Am I a little sad? Yes. Am I so very happy that I'll have family and friends on both coasts now? YES!

So, those of you wondering what the Hell is going on with me, here's your update:

I'm head over heels for a beautiful, amazing woman and we've decided that our little family doesn't need to be bi-coastal anymore.

I have procured a new career position at a wonderful academic institution and will start there at the end of the month.

In the meantime, I have given notice at my current position, I have packed and sorted and downsized, and I am ready to hop in my car--with said girlfriend--and we'll be off for home on 8/14.

I'll try to update you a little more recently from now on, okay?


Donna Ood

Well, of course! I am a Chaos Manager, after all!

Donna Noble
Donna Noble
Take Which Doctor Who companion are you? (girls) today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.</p>
You're Donna Noble!

Oi! Wotch it, Martian boy! The Doctor thinks he can spout all kinds of ridiculous technobabble and 'Last Time Lord Angst' at you just because he's from outer space, huh? Well, you're not having any of it! You've got a heart of gold and a will of iron, and you're a rather boggling combination of a romantic idealist and a staunch realist. But you never let logical paradoxes get to you; you prefer to shoehorn the universe into a little box of your own perception. More often than not, it fits... probably because the universe is too intimidated to argue!

Hell yes!

Nobody better. Yay!

Honey from the Beecharmer

A Rare Meme, Day Eight

So, each day, you are supposed to answer one of these:

Day One: Ten things you want to say to ten different people right now.
Day Two: Nine things about yourself.
Day Three: Eight ways to win your heart.
Day Four: Seven things that cross your mind a lot.
Day Five: Six things you wish you’d never done.
Day Six: Five people who mean a lot (in no order whatsoever)
Day Seven: Four turn-offs.
Day Eight: Three turn-ons.
Day Nine: Two images that describe your life right now, and why.
Day Ten: One confession.

Feel free to do your own!


Day Eight:  Three turn-ons.

1.  Intelligence.  Smart is sexy.  Oh my G-d, do I love studying with my darling.  ;)

2.  Red lingerie.  I don't care if it is cliche.  I don't.

3.  Thunderstorms.  I haven't thought this one through mainly because I think analyzing it will take away its power.  Howling wind, rain whipped into a frenzy, a sky boiling with conflict, stifling humidity, thunder making even the earth shudder with its power, the flash and glitz of lightning capturing scenes like photographs, the scent of danger and ozone on the air.....  See?  No need to analyze it. 

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seven of nine

A Rare Meme, Day Seven

So, each day, you are supposed to answer one of these:

Day One: Ten things you want to say to ten different people right now.
Day Two: Nine things about yourself.
Day Three: Eight ways to win your heart.
Day Four: Seven things that cross your mind a lot.
Day Five: Six things you wish you’d never done.
Day Six: Five people who mean a lot (in no order whatsoever)
Day Seven: Four turn-offs.
Day Eight: Three turn-ons.
Day Nine: Two images that describe your life right now, and why.
Day Ten: One confession.

Feel free to do your own!


Day Seven:  Four turn-offs.

1. Narcissism.
2. Arrogance.
3. Condescension.
4. Immaturity.
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Jeri Chal

A Rare Meme, Day Six

So, each day, you are supposed to answer one of these:

Day One: Ten things you want to say to ten different people right now.
Day Two: Nine things about yourself.
Day Three: Eight ways to win your heart.
Day Four: Seven things that cross your mind a lot.
Day Five: Six things you wish you’d never done.
Day Six: Five people who mean a lot (in no order whatsoever)
Day Seven: Four turn-offs.
Day Eight: Three turn-ons.
Day Nine: Two images that describe your life right now, and why.
Day Ten: One confession.

Feel free to do your own!


Day Six: Five people who mean a lot (in no order whatsoever)

1.  My partner and love, Lisa.  I could write a thousand pages about how brilliant and beautiful and amazing she is and it would never come close to explaining how much she means to me, how much I adore her, or why. 

2.  My nieces and nephews.  They are the closest I'll ever get to having children of my own and I love them all fiercely.

3.  My parents.  Reconciling with them and getting to know them this last year has been a gift I never expected. 

4.  My best friend, Gina.  She taught me that being me was a fine thing to be and she listens to my neuroses and never passes judgment. 

5.  Susan, my "Jewish mother."  She took me under her wing and accepted me without question.  She's always there for me and she knows exactly what to say to ease my mind when I have a problem.
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