Articles for the Month of June 2015

Just Say Marriage

Hearts

 

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal.

Some of you reading this might live in countries where that was already the case. Two men could marry each other, or two women could, and it was considered a legal union. I’m fortunate to have spent the last six years living in a state in the U.S. where that was the case, but in many other U.S. states, only heterosexual couples could make their marriages legal.

No longer. The highest court in our nation has said that states don’t get to tell couples they can’t get married because they’re not straight. The highest court in our country has declared marriage a RIGHT for all couples, regardless of gender. And the President of our country is fully in favor of it. (I saw some of his tweets. Epic.)

Just in the past few years, there have been publicized cases where same-sex couples were denied the right to marry. Where someone was denied the right to say goodbye to their dying partner because “you aren’t immediate family.” Where businesses refused to provide wedding services (cakes, etc.) for same-sex couples.

The new law might not change the behavior of those business owners, but it will change a lot of other things. Couples will now have RIGHTS in each other’s lives. Shared parental rights over children of the marriage. Shared property rights. Things heterosexual couples have taken for granted for decades, because it’s all part of the legal marriage thing. Things same-sex couples had to spend thousands in legal fees to have spelled out in documents because they were denied being able to legally marry.

When I heard the decision Friday morning, I burst into tears. Not because I’m directly affected by it; I’m not. Nor are the same-sex couples I know here in Massachusetts, where they already had the right to legally marry. But because this is something I didn’t believe would happen in my lifetime. So much hatred, prejudice, and ignorance exists in our country that I didn’t believe same-sex couples would ever be able to legally marry anywhere in the United States, whether their state of residence likes it or not.

I burst into tears because this means my 20-year-old and 17-year-old have grown up in a world of far more tolerance than the one in which I grew up, and this is further proof of how far we’ve come. It gives me hope that my grandchildren, if I have any, will come into a world where hatred and prejudice are the rare exception rather than the all-too-common rule.

I burst into tears because despite the *world* in which I grew up, my home was a place where I learned that it doesn’t matter what biological sex or gender you are, love is love, and love is an amazing thing. My home was a place where my three “uncles” were not only tolerated but whole-heartedly embraced as a loving triad… back in the 1970s-1980s, when most people in our city would have been horrified at the thought of *two* men in a committed relationship, let alone three.

I grew up not understanding why people hated. Why they cared who their neighbor shared a bed with. Why it was any of their business what anyone else did in their bedrooms–or who anyone else loved, as long as it was consenting adults.

And now at least a few small steps have been made that mean I’m living in a world where other people agree that it’s none of their business and that love is love.

It isn’t “traditional marriage” and “same-sex marriage” anymore. Let’s just call it marriage. And let’s just call it love.

Teaser Thursday- Stepping Stone Not Doormat

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Chastity’s face went white, and she shook her head.

Oh, shit. Solara braced herself. Robin had caught Chastity stealing. That much was obvious from the way Robin had acted, and judging from Chastity’s pale expression and wide eyes, she was guilty as hell. The last thing they needed was another fuckup in the group. Over the past year, Solara and Mitch had become the only queens who stuck around. The rest of the lineup kept changing because of conflicts or personal life issues. Or most recently, because the previous new queen, Rainbow, had almost caused Mitch to break his ankle during a performance.

If Chastity really had stolen from Robin, there wasn’t any chance they could keep her on. The queens had to act as a team to keep the performances on track and the audience coming back, and if they couldn’t trust someone, she wouldn’t be welcome to stay.

Even though this would be one hell of a problem to sort out, Solara was almost relieved. Having to repair the fracture among the queens and probably reblock the group numbers to cover for Chastity’s absence would keep her mind occupied.

“Shit’s been going missing for a couple weeks now,” Robin said. “And now I know where it’s gone.”

Solara let go of her. “Speak. Use your words, sweetheart, because if you try using your fists again, I’m sending you home before Rocco has a chance to fire you.”

Robin stepped backward to stand beside Solara. “I’m missing makeup. Shoes. And now that scarf.” She pointed at Chastity. “It’s the first time I’ve seen that fucking bitch with any of it, but if she’s got the scarf, she probably has the rest.”

“We don’t tolerate stealing.” Solara held out her hand, and Mitch gave her the scarf. “Chastity?”

“I’m sorry.” Chastity folded her arms. To her credit, she looked Solara in the eye. “It’s cute. I wanted to borrow it.”

Solara shook her head at Robin, warning the smaller queen to keep her mouth shut. “Borrowing means asking. You don’t take anything from another girl, not even a smidge of lipstick, without permission. Where’s the rest of Robin’s stuff?”

“Some here, some at my place,” Chastity mumbled.

“Give her what you have here, then get your ass home and bring back the rest.” Solara put her hands on her hips and narrowed her eyes. This dumbass young bitch was about to ruin their entire show. Solara was damned if she would let that happen. “You’re out. Don’t pass go; don’t collect a fucking thing. Just give Robin’s stuff back to her, and if you took anything from the rest of us, give that back too. And then pack your bags.”

Chastity opened and closed her mouth a few times, but not even a tiny sound came out. No surprise there. She was faced with five pissed-off queens, and she didn’t have a chance in hell of saying anything that would change her fate.

“Finish getting ready.” Solara turned her back on the former group member and clapped her hands. “We have one hour before showtime, and we have to redo the group numbers to accommodate five instead of six. Get moving.”

About My Cats

I had a hard time figuring out a topic for this week’s post, so I decided to talk about my cats.

I have three cats. Technically none of them are mine. Two belong to my 16-year-old and one to my 19-year-old. At least that’s the way we see it as humans.

Cats see it differently. The oldest cat agrees that she belongs to my 16-year-old. The middle cat, however, considers my husband to be her human, rather than the 19-year-old. And the youngest can’t make up her mind, though she tends to gravitate to me most of the time.

Right now I’m trying to figure out how to get the youngest cat into the carrier for a trip to the vet. This might not be as easy as it seems. She’s a small cat but she fights mightily, and she really doesn’t like the carrier… But she’s going to have to deal with it, because if we don’t get her spayed soon, she’s going to drive all of us bananas.

She won’t be as difficult as the other two, though, each of which has to go to the vet within the next few days. I might need to wear armor to load the middle cat into the carrier…

I’m glad to have the cats around, because since I work from home, there are hours on end where they’re the only living beings I have to interact with. And bonus points that they’re soft and fuzzy. (The pic below is the youngest cat in March 2014. Apparently I have no other cat pics…)MoonySm

Teaser Thursday- Christmas Consummation

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“You’re quiet,” Rance said. “Alanna? Are you okay?”

“Just wondering why I came back to this damn town.” She gave him a faint smile. “Sorry. I got sucked into mental bullshit for a minute there.”

“Have you seen your parents?” Rance asked.

During their friendship, Alanna had told him everything about her parents and her place in their lives. Of course he wouldn’t have forgotten. She wished he had though. The last thing she wanted right now was a sob-fest about her crappy family.

“I stopped by yesterday when I got to town,” she said. “My father isn’t doing so well and my mother wouldn’t let me into the house. They don’t know if it’s Alzheimer’s or senility. Dad won’t go to a doctor and Mom won’t let a doctor see him at home because it might upset him. I guess they have nurses but that’s all.”

Tears welled and she squeezed her eyes shut to keep herself from crying. Before either guy said anything, she spoke. “Tonight’s supposed to be about sex and fun, not depressing family shit. Can we please change the subject?”

“We’re your friends,” Ellery said. “We want to help you. There’s nothing wrong with needing to talk.”

“We’re here for you.” Rance snuggled against her on the opposite side from Ellery. “This is about bringing back our friendship. Not only the sex and the fun, though I won’t deny those are awesome. Tonight’s about us.”

The guys’ words touched Alanna’s heart. She gave up trying to keep herself together, but when she began to cry it was more from happiness than angst. Rance and Ellery were there for her. She couldn’t express how much that meant to her.

Tears ran down her cheeks and she sniffled. “Thank you. Both of you. I’m sorry. I’m wrecking this.”

Ellery brought his palm down lightly on her thigh. “Don’t apologize for something you aren’t doing. We’re good. We kind of plunged into this whole thing tonight and didn’t have time to talk about much. It’s okay if you need to vent.”

“Absolutely.” Rance gathered her into his arms and kissed her cheek. “That’s what friends are for. Even naked ones.”

Alanna couldn’t help laughing through her tears. “Yeah, naked friends are pretty awesome.”

Ellery brushed his fingers over her cheek. “Even when you’re sad, you’re beautiful. Do you know that?”

“Thanks.” She smiled at him. “I’d rather not be sad anymore. I can deal with parental drama tomorrow. Right now I’m here with two naked men and only one of them has come. I’m ready to continue if you are.”

Although she said it casually, she wrestled with herself inside. Regardless of how hard she tried, she couldn’t simply switch off the pain talking about her parents always brought. She had to shove it back down into the depths of her mind and let Rance and Ellery help her think of happier things for a while.

For tonight she would focus on them. In everything they’d done so far, their affection had been obvious. She wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else tonight. She took both men’s hands. “I’m glad you’re here.”

Music-y Stuff

Since I haven’t been working a lot on writing (because the ideas just aren’t flowing well), I’ve been working more on music. I’ve posted on here a few times about my musician friend and the songs we’re writing together, and I’ve posted a trailer or two that he and I did the music in.

We’re working now on a few cover songs, and more originals. It’s fun, and it’s relaxing. Writing used to be that for me, but once I started getting published, writing became more pressure. Now music has taken up the “something relaxing” role in my life, and I’m trying hard to keep it that way. I don’t need to have my songs widely available, or to perform in front of thousands or even hundreds. I do want to perform in front of an audience, and that’s another thing my friend and I are working toward, since he has a lot of experience performing live.

Our original songs run the gamut from one about a drug addict begging a vampire to turn her and then committing suicide when he walks away, to one from the point of view of someone leaving a controlling/abusive partner. We’ve done tentative recordings of a couple of them, and hopefully soon we’ll have the recordings finalized.

Meanwhile, it’s just fun. And it gives us something to do to spend time together, which is never a bad thing.

Teaser Thursday- Knot Intended

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When Nolie pulled into their driveway, Joseph’s truck was nowhere in sight. Of course. He was working late again, even though it was the weekend. She admired him for earning overtime pay and helping to ensure they had a nice house and everything they needed, but time with him would have meant more than any money he could bring in.

Disappointed, she went into the house, kicked off her shoes, and sat at her computer in the living room to check her personal e-mail.

At the back of the house, something crashed, followed by the tinkle of broken glass hitting the tile floor in the kitchen.

Nolie jumped, adrenaline surging through her, and her heart pounded. A flash of lightning brilliantly lit the room for a moment, followed almost immediately by a boom of thunder. Wind howled through the bushes and wires outside the house.

The storm. Of course. The wind had probably thrown a branch through one of the kitchen windows or the sliding glass door that led to their deck. Although it seemed unlikely, the possibility reassured Nolie.

Through the pulse beating loudly in her ears, she strained to hear any sound that might indicate an intruder. Her breathing was shallow, but she couldn’t draw a deeper breath with the constriction in her chest.

She should have just called the police. If she went to check on the source of the noise, it might be the stupidest thing she’d ever done. All the books she’d read where the heroine wandered off to check on suspicious things had annoyed the hell out of her, and she didn’t want to be one of those stupid women.

But instead of picking up her cell phone from the desk beside her, she slowly rose from her chair.

Glass crunched in the kitchen. Someone was there. Maybe Joseph had finally decided to go through with the role-play!

But Nolie couldn’t completely believe the intruder was her husband. He was supposed to be at work. And he’d promised not to do anything without her agreement. She hadn’t agreed to him breaking into the house.

She hoped to hell it was Joseph, but the possibility that it wasn’t scared the hell out of her.

Trembling, she crept toward the kitchen and peered around the doorway.

A man wearing a ski mask and mirrored sunglasses stood beside a scattering of broken glass. The sliding door was wide open.

Nolie clapped her hand over her mouth, stifling a scream. Her legs shook so badly she couldn’t turn away to run.

Even if they had cooperated, she was frozen.

Someone was in her house, and she was alone with him.

As she stood there, unable to move and with thoughts whirling through her head, the intruder lunged across the room and grabbed her. “You’re coming with me, bitch.”

His voice was little more than a low growl in her ear, but she recognized it. She had heard it every day for years.

Joseph.

Teaser Thursday- Last Chance Tattoo

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Thursday, as soon as Rad was out of work, he headed around the corner. He hadn’t told anyone else he planned to get a tattoo, and his stomach fluttered as he walked. Getting the tat probably wouldn’t hurt. Dorsey was good at what he did, or at least Rad guessed he was. But having his skin marked was something new and different, and Rad wouldn’t be able to just get rid of the tattoo if he didn’t like it.

But that wasn’t the only thing on his mind. The day before when he and Dorsey kissed, he’d felt something far deeper—and more worrisome—than friendship. And then Dorsey had pretty much kicked him out. The excuse about having to open the shop again hadn’t rung true to Rad. Nor had it made sense that he couldn’t remain in an open shop.

He suspected that whatever he’d detected in that kiss Dorsey had felt as well and hadn’t wanted to deal with it. Now Rad wasn’t sure how to deal with him.

Dorsey was standing at the counter, going through a small stack of receipts. No one else was in the shop. Rad was starting to wonder whether anyone else in Ludington actually got tattoos. He supposed they must, or the shop wouldn’t be in business, but it seemed strange that he had yet to actually see anyone there.

“Hey.” Dorsey looked up and smiled. “Decided to go through with it, huh?”

“Yeah.” Rad hesitated.

He had spent the night dozing and waking, more nervous about getting a tattoo than he should have been, though the nerves were as much to do with seeing Dorsey as actually getting the tat.

“Everything okay?” Dorsey put the receipts under the counter and took out the sketch he’d done the day before, along with a thin piece of paper with the same design. “I’m all set to get started when you are.”

“Cool.”

Again Rad paused. He needed to say something to Dorsey and had no words that wouldn’t make him sound either pushy or whiny.

“Listen, if you’re skittish about the tat, we can wait until another day.” Dorsey came out from behind the counter. “Is that it?”

“I feel weird,” Rad blurted before he could convince himself not to speak. “That kiss yesterday. I mean, it was good, but it was… I don’t even know.”

“Yeah, me either.” Dorsey put his hand on Rad’s shoulder. “How about we don’t try to label it, okay? It was a good kiss, and that’s all we need to say right now. We both know there’s stuff going on with us, but naming it might make it not so good.”

“Yeah.” Relieved, Rad took a breath. “Okay. I just didn’t want things to be weird.”

“Nah, we’re good.” Dorsey held up the nearly transparent paper. “I need to go set up. I use this to make sure we do the tat in the right spot. The needles we use are sterile in unopened packages. Everything’s inspected, and it’s all completely safe. You’ll bleed a little, but nothing too bad.”

Rad shuddered. He’d always hated the sight of blood. Especially his own. “Okay.”

Dorsey chuckled. “Don’t worry. It’s going to be fine. Wait out here while I set up, and I’ll let you know when I’m ready.”

“Okay,” Rad said again.

Dorsey went into the back room, and Rad walked over to the window. The weather had taken a warm turn, so people were actually outside today. No one seemed inclined to come into the tattoo shop, but a few slowed down to look at the artwork and warning sign in the windows.

All of them were people Rad didn’t know or didn’t remember. They were part of a community he would never be able to be part of because he wasn’t like them. Some of them would probably be completely accepting of his sexuality and maybe even of the fact that he’d done drag. But too many would insult him, at the very least.

Too many probably knew his family and would judge him because of that.

Hang In There

Life is stressful. No question about that.

I have depression and anxiety disorder, which I don’t make a secret about because I’m sick of the stigma surrounding mental illnesses. A stigma I’ve engaged in myself, mostly aimed at me. I can accept someone else having a mental illness, but when I get depressed or anxious, I start wondering why I can’t “just get over it.” And why I’m so weak, and whiny, and whatever.

Of course, those thoughts are a component of the illnesses. Vicious circle.

The problem is that when my life hits a stressful patch, whether it’s family-related, or financial, or whatever, those illnesses sometimes impact how I handle things. Mostly, I do handle them. My past has taught me that it doesn’t matter how I’m feeling, I have to put on the face and do what everyone else needs me to do, and screw whether I’m okay.

My past–or the people in it–also taught me that if there’s stress, it’s because I’ve done something wrong and deserve the bad stuff.

This is kind of a dark, sad post, and I’m not sorry about that. Because the thing is, this is how having a mental illness works sometimes. Sometimes you get stuck in the dark, sad mire of your illness, and the only way to claw yourself out of it is to let others know where you are. Even if they don’t care. Even if they insult you for it. Just bringing those thoughts, stresses, fears, etc. out of the darkness sometimes helps.

I know I’m far from the only person who deals with stress, or who has mental illness, or who gets stuck in the mire.

Just remember when you hit those times… you’ve been there before. And every single time, you’ve survived it, and things have improved.

You’ll survive this time too. And things will improve this time. Because even if you can’t tell the future, you can see the past, and the fact that every single time before has ended and things have gotten better means that odds are pretty damn good that will be the case this time as well.

So hang in there, and remember you aren’t alone. There’s a light. (“Over at the Frankenstein place”, maybe? Sorry, had to make a bad joke to lighten the mood.)