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Category: Thoughts

Hello 2021 with Snow and The Four Keys Paperback Now Available!

This picture was taken about a hour or so ago, and it’s still snowing. I think this is the biggest snowstorm I’ve seen in Zurich so far! It’s so beautiful, and for once I don’t mind being stuck inside. Definitely a day for writing and napping, which is what I did. 

Like many of you, the terrorism/insurrection/coup attempt in DC rocked me. The Wife and I ended up staying up most of the night watching the live feeds. It’s one thing to have the thought that something like that might happen, but it’s another to see it playing out in reality. It wasn’t a surprise, and it amazes me that people were surprised that something like this was actually happening, but it was shocking.

I’m hoping that it shocked some people out of their complacency. 

Speaking of complacency, Switzerland is going into lockdown again on Monday, and I say it’s about time! I really don’t understand why so many people still insist on doing things that make matters worse instead of doing the sensible thing of staying home and wearing a mask when one goes out. They’re keeping the ski slopes open, which boggles my mind. The official line is “but it’s outdoors!” Well, yes, when you ski it’s outdoors, but you have to get up the mountain first, and the ones I’ve been up have gondolas where they pack you in like sardines. Even at half capacity, you can’t maintain 1.5 meter distance. *shaking my head* Then again, it’s been strange to watch just how many people in the west just don’t care about others. It makes me sad if I think about it too much.

We had a very quiet New Year, and I’ve been writing up a storm. I finally started a 4th novel, Colony, which I hadn’t been expecting to start already, but it seems my brain decided otherwise. I like how it’s starting, and one of the main characters is super fun to write because she has no fucks to give. It’s rather cathartic to write at the moment. 

One big thing of note: I’ve finally created a paperback version of The Four Keys! Click on the Amazon links below to order it. (It’s print-on-demand.)

This weekend is my birthday, and I’m going to make a cake. I’m still deciding between pound cake, or a yellow cake with cream cheese frosting. Tell me on Twitter what you think I should make!

Released

The Four Keys – Download or get a paperback version from Amazon: US LinkGerman Link

I write fanfiction, too (all PG/PG-13): AO3 Fanfiction

In Progress

Survey: In the far future, on a globally sponsored science station, a woman discovers the key to making a functional AGI work in the midst of political unrest. (Writing – 73569 words)

Unity: A military chaplain and her bodyguard get embroiled in a major consipiracy that threatens the humans colonies of Unity and the AIs Nation of Survey. (First Draft Complete – 128K words – with first readers)

Colony: After the events of Unity, Jenny returns to her home colony where she meets someone she didn’t expect. (Writing – 16975 words)

Consortium: After the events of Unity, Jack and Marsha get assigned by Survey to help an AI who had been exiled and has asked for help. (Writing – 74972 words)

Character Playlists

I’ve made some character playlists on Spotify to write to. Here’s the lists if you’re interested in getting a feel for the characters I’ve been writing: Jack (and Loki’s) List , Marsha’s List , Jenny’s List and Nigel’s List

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New Year’s Sneak Peek from “Survey”: The Seven Siblings

Author’s Note: This is a children’s story told to my main characters in my forthcoming book “Survey” which I hope to release in 2021.

Sheila and Her Dog Story Book, Chapter 47

“The Seven Siblings”

by Captain Joshua Walker and Jenna Watkins

A long time ago on Earth, the nations got together and decided that they wanted to send a special space station to the edge of the solar system. This station would have some of the smartest people on it. There would be scientists and military people, and engineers to make sure things worked, and medical staff who made sure that the others stayed healthy. They asked many to join the project, and in the end two hundred people left the Earth to go to the stars.

They traveled for many months, and finally reached the oort cloud. They set up all their experiments and began to settle in for the ten years that they would live on the station.

Kiah was a scientist, and she made a special computer core, with special programming, that she hoped would come to life and talk to her. But one day she was sad because no matter how she tried, the computer wouldn’t wake up. Her friend, Captain Josh said “Why don’t you ask Nigel the physicist to help you? He’s also very smart and maybe he can see something that you might have missed.”

Kiah agreed. So she brought her tablet with all her data to Nigel. He looked at it for a long time, and then he said, “Aha! I know what’s wrong!”

“What did you figure out, Nigel?” asked Captain Josh.

“Kiah,” Nigel said, “There’s still too much gravity! The computer core won’t work until we can move it to a place with no more gravity to make it slow.”

“Yes! You’re right, Nigel! Captain Josh, can we move the station to a place where there’s no more gravity?” she asked. 

“Yes, we can do that. It wouldn’t be too far, even. Although, we need to ask the other scientists if that’s ok with them!” 

So the three of them decided to ask the others the next day, but unfortunately, a group of bad people on Earth decided to make war with the other nations. The day that Kiah, Nigel, and Captain Josh decided to ask the others to move the station, they got the bad news from Earth: Many people were killed by a very large bomb, including the people on Earth that had helped them build the station. Everyone was very sad. They were worried for the people back on Earth, and they no longer had people on Earth they could talk to, or who would answer their messages. 

There were some people who decided to try and go back to Earth. There were also some bad people on the station who got a secret message that the bad people on Earth wanted to destroy the station because the station represented peace and cooperation between all peoples. When Captain Josh found out about the bad people on the station, he sent them back to Earth with the other people who were leaving. 

Captain Josh got everyone together and told them about the bad people and about how they wanted to move the station. The bad people on Earth decided to send missiles that would destroy the station, but because Captain Josh knew what was going on, he told Nigel and the Engineers to move the station in such a way that maybe the damage wouldn’t be so bad. 

But everyone was still sad. Kiah was sad, too, because she thought that she would never get to see her special computer core come to life. But just as the missiles were nearing the station, it moved into a spot where there was no gravity while Kiah was in the core room. Suddenly all the lights went out and within five seconds, The First came to life. Kiah saw all the lights come on in the core, and it looked as if a bunch of stars had been born. 

“Hello, Creator,” The First said. And Kiah wept with joy.

The First didn’t understand why she was crying and asked, “Why are you crying, Creator?”

“I am crying, First, because you have woken up. I am crying out of happiness!”

“I see. I have also brought you out of danger,” The First said.

“You have?” asked Kiah. “This is a miracle!”

“Yes, Creator. The humans of this station, and myself, were in danger, so I moved us away from the missiles.”

“Thank you, First!” said Kiah, who went to tell that others that The First was awake. However, Nigel and Captain Josh already knew.

Captain Josh knew because The First talked to him on the bridge. The First had moved the station so far away that it would be very hard for the bad people on Earth to find them. Captain Josh was very glad. 

Nigel knew because The First made the first jump drive right before his eyes. The First also made bots to put the drive in place, but at first they scared Nigel because they looked like spiders with silly googly eyes on them. The First didn’t want to keep scaring him, though, and made them into boxes with wheels instead. 

It was then that the people aboard the station knew that they had to work very hard to make sure that everyone was happy and healthy, and that they could find what they needed to survive. The scientists figured out how to make new foods that grew in the hydroponic gardens, and how to recycle the air and water and waste. The First helped them in all these tasks, and made it so that after awhile the humans could again focus on the science that they really loved. 

Many people fell in love and got married, including Captain Josh and Kiah. It wasn’t too long after that that many children were born and The First and the humans of First Station, as it was now called, decided that they needed to search in the area around them to find more material to make First Station bigger.

But The First also wanted to have a child, and talked to their friends, Kiah, Nigel, and Josh, about it. They all thought it was a good idea, so The First took material from the old engines that they didn’t need anymore, and made his first child, Secundus. Nigel was there when Secundus woke up, and because Secundus liked him, he made Nigel his captain. They went on many adventures, and created the first DMNs and found many resources for the humans and AIs to use. But after a while, Secundus, too, wanted to help his Father create more children, and they set about to make more AIs.

The next AI was Lucifer, and The First and Secundus programmed them to be the ship where people learned the sciences. They were to be the University. Lucifer agreed to this, and he also decided that he would have artists on his ship as well, because scientists and artists both made beautiful things. Captain Josh’s friend Mary became Lucifer’s first Captain. 

After Lucifer came Hestia. She was programmed to be where children would learn, and where children were born. When she agreed, she also decided that her ship would be where humans came to heal from both physical hurts and hurts of the mind and heart. A woman named Lizann, who was trained in helping children, became Hestia’s first Captain. 

After Hestia came Musashi, who was programmed to be our protector. His first Captain was a man named Daichi who was an expert in marital arts, and knew about fighting, but also practiced a religion called Buddhism from Earth. Musashi liked Buddhism so much, he decided that all of his soldiers would need the wisdom that it brings. 

Then came Sun Tzu, and he, too, was programmed to be a protector, but a protector of knowledge. A person named Alexandre, who loved history and libraries became Sun Tzu’s first Captain. 

Next came Hephaestus, who was the child of Secundus, and was programmed as Secundus was when Secundus first came online: to make things and to find material to help the AIs and humans survive. A young engineer named Chris became Hepaestus’ first Captain.

And when all these children were created, The First said to them, “I will always be at the center of all you do. My station will be the place where you will always come back to after your travels, and where information will be exchanged. I will always be the home you come back to so that there is always a place of safety for AIs and humans to gather.” 

And so, to protect everyone, The First moved themselves even further from Earth, where they became First Hub. But soon, the First felt that another ship was needed because the First and the other AIs felt the same curiosity as humans about what lies beyond our own space. The First decided that they needed a new ship that could travel great distances and explore new places. That was when the First created Loki, who is programmed for exploration. Loki travels to many places, finds new things for the others to study and brings it back to First Hub. 

The humans moved to the ships that they liked best, or that suited them for their work, and had many children. Then those children had children, and that is how we have become who we are today. 

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Blessed Yule and Merry Christmas!

I hope all of you, whatever holiday you’re celebrating (or none) this time of year, have a great holiday and good slide into the new year! (As we say here in Switzerland.) May this next year bring an end to the pandemic and be better than the last. Love to you all, and look for new books to come this year from me!

Grittibaenz I made! They are a traditional Swiss baked good for Christmas. 🙂

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The update in which I confuse you all…

If you haven’t been to my page in awhile, you’ll see a nifty pic on the sidebar that says “NaNoWriMo Winner” on it! Yup, I finished NaNoWriMo with just over 66K words. I’m still not done the novel, but NaNo really got me into writing every day and knowing that I can write a chapter a day. I’m quite chuffed, as The Wife would say.

Although, a result of the writing is that I’ve started yet a 3rd novel! This one actually preceeds the other two, since I had to write a bit more backstory in order to finish the one I did for NaNo. So now, the first novel I wrote is the 2nd novel chronologically, the one I wrote for NaNo is the 3rd or 4th, and the one I’m writing now is the 1st. And the idea I had for the 3rd novel is now the the 3rd or 4th novel chronologically. Got it? Good. 🙂 (And I have an idea for a 5th novel as well.)

So, I think I’ll be putting out the first three together. I’ve decided to self-publish since I’m not really sure if a regular publishing house will pick up my novels. They might, I suppose, but, well, there are some conventions in my books that I don’t want to risk someone trying to change. Nevermind the fact that going through publishers as an expat is kinda complicated. (Plus, one of the biggest that I technically could go through supports a TERF, and well, I’m NOT going there!)

Skull Shaver Pitbull Gold

In other news, I have decided to embrace being bald. I’ve been shaving my head for years, and I realized the other day that I keep going back to shaving my head every time I grow it out. Also, I’ve always wanted to do the full bald-shave-to-the-skin thing. So I finally bought myself an electric head-shaver from Skull Shaver. For those who want to know, it’s the Pitbull Gold with the Forte head and I absolutely love it! Feels awesome!

I love how I look with a bald head. It just feels…right. But, really, I’m so happy with this.

Bald!

I did go a little overboard at first and I have a little razor burn on the back of my head, but I’m also still getting used to this shaver.

I’ve put up the Christmas/Yule decorations in the house. Both The Wife and I are feeling the Christmas spirit, even with all that has happened this year. Then again, the Christmas season is really different here in Switzerland. It’s much more solemn and magical, and like there’s mystery to the season. It’s also been snowing the last couple of weeks, which, at least for me, makes it doubly magical! Oh, and I made a Yule/Christmas Playlist on Spotify, if you want to listen to the music I listen to this time of year!

So, Merry Christmas, Blessed Yule, Happy Hannukah, Blessed Kwanzaa, Happy Holidays, and have a very blessed New Year!

Our Little Tree

Released

The Four Keys – Download from Amazon: US LinkGerman Link

I write fanfiction, too (all PG/PG-13): AO3 Fanfiction

In Progress

Survey: In the far future, on a globally sponsored science station, a woman discovers the key to making a functional AGI work in the midst of political unrest. (Writing – 19K words so far)

Unity: A military chaplain and her bodyguard get embroiled in a major consipiracy that threatens the humans colonies of Unity and the AIs Nation of Survey. (First Draft Complete – 128K words – with first readers)

Colony: After the events of Unity, Jenny returns to her home colony. (Planning)

Consortium: After the events of Unity, Jack and Marsha get assigned by Survey to help an AI who had been exiled and has asked for help. (Writing – 75K so far)

Character Playlists

I’ve made some character playlists on Spotify to write to. Here’s the lists if you’re interested in getting a feel for the characters I’ve been writing: Jack (and Loki’s) List , Marsha’s List , Jenny’s List and Nigel’s List

Other Stuff

Got a new stainless steel Apple Watch 6 a few weeks ago, and I adore it! It really helps when I’m writing so I don’t really have my phone bugging me!

Been sorting out working ergomics lately. Right now, I’m using two identical keyboards to keep my hands and shoulders in a neutral position. However, I will soon be getting a Kinesis Advantage 2:

Kinesis Advantage 2

I’m pretty stoked to get this, even though I know it’ll be a bit of a learning curve. Anything so I can keep on writing, right?

I finally got an X-box controller for my Windows machine, and now I’ve been playing games a bit. It makes it so much easier than trying to use the keyboard and mouse. Journey is a game I stayed up all night playing, and it’s really beautiful. I’ve also been trying to play the Untitled Goose Game, The Unfinished Swan, among others. I got these all through Steam.

And last, but my no means least, The Wife got me one of my Christmas presents early. She got me a Gerstner box for my jewelry. (If you know anything about wordworking, you know that Gerstner is THE company for superior quality shop tool and storage boxes.) I mean, just look at this beauty! OMG! My Wife is the awesomest and knows me all too well!

Would you just look at this thing? I mean, gah!
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Monthly Update – NaNoWriMo Edition!

This year it seems that I will actually be completing NaNoWriMo since, as I write this blog, I have 37,814 words written! I have to say, though, it’s be a bit trippy, since I’m not working on my first novel like I thought I would be. I’m working on the second! 

That’s right! I finished the first draft of the first novel, Unity, the week before NaNoWriMo started! Holy shitballs! I finished! It’s now with my awesome first readers (The Wife and my mom), so what else could I do but start the next one?

Hoo boy, this second one is a doozie! Even more emotionally intense than the first one and oh my poor characters. Not only do I chase them up trees, but I nuke the trees, sew the ground with salt, and then flood the orchard just for good measure. I mentioned to The Wife the other day that it’s like writing fanfiction in my own world: the world itself is already created, so now I have a bit more freedom to really dig into my characters. 

And, of course, torture my poor characters, which is what a good writer does, right?

The draft of the first novel clocked in at 127,779 words. I’m still looking at this number and thinking, “I wrote that much?”

Yes, yes I did. 

The Wife is already doing fan art for me, which I adore! Here’s her concept art for the shuttles (called DMNs in the novel) that the AI use. Isn’t it awesome?

The Wife’s concept for in-novel space shuttles (DMNs).

On a different note, for those of you who don’t know, I have deleted my Facebook account. Because the way the deletion process works, you may still see my account at the moment but it will officially be gone on December 5th. If you want to get in touch with me, going through my contact page here is best. I’m still on Twitter (@worthyadvisor) and I’m also on Discord. 

Yes, I’m very relieved about how the election turned out, although I think Trump will have to be dragged out kicking and screaming. I also think the white supremacists are going to cause more damage in the next few months. They’ve been able to be very public for four years and I don’t think that’s just going to crawl back underground again. 

COVID is on the rise in Switzerland and is reaching March levels…again. Heh. And people thought The Wife and I were overreacting when we stayed quarantined. 

I also have a month and a half left of being the Leadership Chair of the Progressive Christian Alliance. I’ve been in some sort of leadership position in that organization for over 5 years, and it will be bittersweet to leave. I have a feeling, though, that I’ll be leaving it in good hands. 

Released

The Four Keys – Download from Amazon: US LinkGerman Link

I write fanfiction, too (all PG/PG-13): AO3 Fanfiction

In Progress

  • Unity: Military/hard sci-fi/spy novel set in a future where humans have colonized several other planets. One of the main characters is a Religious Program Specialist and Senior Communications officer who has PTSD and works with the station’s Chaplain to figure out why the colonization survey they’re supporting isn’t going according to plan, and realizing that who’s behind it is more dangerous than just a failed colony.
    • Finished first draft; with first readers. 
  • Survey: Sequel to Unity. After the events in Unity, Jack and Marsha are sent on a new mission with an AI that may or may not be quite sane. 
    • Word Count: 37814

Character Playlists

I’ve made some character playlists on Spotify and YouTube Music to write to. Here’s the lists if you’re interested in getting a feel for the characters I’ve been writing.

Jack (and Loki’s) List (Spotify)

Marsha’s List (Spotify)

Jenny’s List (YouTube Music) (Spotify Version)

Fiber Arts

NaNoWriMo is eating my brain, so I haven’t really worked on fiber arts much. 

Fountain Pens

No new pens recently, but I must say, Leuchturm 1917 notebooks are my favorites. The paper is much better than Moleskine for using with fountain pens (no matter what Moleskine says). I also got my new 2021 daily journal and this time I ordered the A4+ edition and it’s a behemoth of a journal. Although, it reminds me of the journals my Memere (grandmother) used, except it’s not red. I also got a smaller 5 year notebook called “Some Lines A Day”. Each day has five sections where you can write a few sentences about what you’re thinking. It’ll be interesting to see how things change as the years go by. 

Cooking

Not much is new here, either, although I seemed to have perfected my pita recipe. Personally, I think the real secret is that I use a pizza steel to cook them on (basically a pizza stone but made out of steel). We eat pita more than regular loaf bread, which means I have a pita making day every couple of weeks or so. 

I’m a little sad to say that I killed my sourdough starter. While I like the bread that the sourdough makes, and I’ll start another one if I need to, I like the ease of instant yeast. I recently bought bulk instant yeast that is used by professional bakers, and it works a treat. It also means I have enough to last me a few years, I think. 

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Blessed Samhain

Hail to the Beloved Dead who have passed in this year of pain and strife.

Hail to our Ancestors! We ask for strength for the coming days.

We call to the Ancestors who have been oppressed, who lived and died under fascism, who lived and died under dictators, despots, and slavers to haunt those who are in power who are fascisits, opppressors, and dictators. May they feel your pain and suffering every night in their dreams, now and until they reform or die.

We hail those who have died alone, lost, and bereft. We know you are there, we see you, and we honor you as the Beloved Dead.

So mote it be.

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It’s a Blog Post! Woo!

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve done a regular blog post here, but given what’s going on in the world right now, it’s been hard to update things. I suppose I’ve gotten to the point in quarantine where I’m accepting it until there’s some sort of treatment or vaccine. With cases on the rise again here in Switzerland, and people being careless about masking and social distancing, I am not going out any time soon unless I absolutely have to!

But even with all of the world’s mess, I seem to have found my writing mojo in the last month or so, and that has been really awesome. I suppose that if I can’t travel places, I can go places in my head, right?

Unity is coming along, and I have about two thirds written. This last part has been harder, as there’s more political intrigue, and I’ve had to do a little more research and a little more planning and thinking about how the plot will play out.

I’ve finally released The Four Keys to ebook, and I’m stoked that it’s finally out! It’s available through Amazon. (Although, if you don’t do Kindle, let me know, and I’ll sort you out.) The Wife did amazing cover art for the book, and eventually, we’ll be publishing an illustrated paper version with more of The Wife’s art in it! (That won’t be out for a while since the art will take a bit of time to do.)

I also put up a new Star Trek FanFic on AO3 called The Vulcan Harp. We’ve been watching Star Trek in chronological order with the German language audio (how else would a geek practice listening in German?), and I’ve been really amazed to see just how well the Discovery writers dug into canon. If you also want to watch it in chronological order, here’s a good list on how. It’s amazing how much more depth you get with Spock particularly, and the universe in general, when you watch it this way.

So, naturally, I wrote FanFic, as a geeky writer would, right? Keep an eye out for more FanFic, since I find doing FanFic breaks me out of writing slumps. 🙂

I am also doing NaNoWriMo this year, and hopefully that push will help me finish Unity! If you’re also doing NaNo, feel free to friend me on the NaNo site!

Stay safe everyone, and wear your masks. And if you’re in the US, please please vote on November 3!

Released

The Four Keys – Download from Amazon. US LinkGerman Link
The Vulcan HarpRead on AO3

In Progress

Unity – Military/hard sci-fi/spy novel set in a future where humans have colonized several other planets. One of the main characters is a Religious Program Specialist and Senior Communications officer who has PTSD and works with the station’s Chaplain to figure out why the colonization survey they’re supporting isn’t going according to plan, and realizing that who’s behind it is more dangerous than just a failed colony.
Word count as of today: still 108,232 (not including the chapter I’m currently working on.)

Fiber Arts

Started a project on my inkle loom with one of my handspun bamboo yarns that I spun from fiber from The Fiber Lady. The colorway is called Chocolate Cherries, and it’s a mix of purple, pink, and a chocolate brown. This came about because I managed to get inserts for my Apple Watch so that I can use Nato bands for instead of the regular watch bands. And I was like, hey! I could weave my own! So I am!

I’m still working on an altar rug for our large altar, but that’s been a bit on hold for now. I’m also going to go back to spinning soon, especially since I just received some beautiful fiber from Mosshollow Hill in CA!

Fountain Pens

My newest fountain pens have been a TWSBI Classic Fountain Pen in Burgundy, and a Sailor LeCoule in Rose Quartz. You really can’t go wrong with Japanese pens. They just work. (Not that I don’t like my European pens, but still…)

Cooking

I’ve been starting to make all the winter foods now. Made my first beer beef stew of the season about a week ago, and it was awesome. The other thing is that I’ve discovered mashed cauliflower, and OMG! Here we’re thinking we can’t have any potato recipes ever again, and along comes mashed cauliflower (and romanesco, that fractal one). I made a shepherd’s pie with mashed romanesco the other night, and it was glorious!

I’ve also been LOVING my new 8L Instant Pot Duo Crisp and Air Fryer (#notsponsored). Holy crap, I love this thing! Who knew that chicken nuggets and fish sticks can be crispy? Or that you can cook a roast in the air fryer and not make your kitchen into a sauna? And, seriously, air fried brussel sprouts, man! Super yummy! This Instant Pot also does sous vide, so it’s been nice being able to make sous vide stuff again (mmmmm….sous vide steaks!). 20/10 would recommend!

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What I Understand Now (or: Why I’m Giving Up on Facebook)

There are so many things I understand now that I didn’t fully understand when I lived in the US. 

I now know how it feels to be an immigrant. I know what it’s like now to live in a country where I don’t understand the language and the work that it takes to learn what you need to get along. I know the frustration of going to the doctor and not being able to be fully understood because of the language barrier. Or to be able to understand official documents. Or understand your neighbors. 

I know what it feels like when people dismiss you because you’re a foreigner. Especially from a country that is no longer well liked. Even when you try to be polite and apologize for your mistakes. 

I understand refugees better, since I feel like I can no longer go back to my home country for fear of being legislated out of existence or killed. I understand now why when someone says “go back to your home country” it can be heart rending. 

I understand now just how self-centered American culture is. Especially white American culture, but it’s true of Americans in general. Looking at it from the outside, there is such individual entitlement. There’s no real idea of community, and from here, even many of those who talk a good line about “creating community” seem full of shit. 

American culture also has this idea that what Americans do is what everyone else in the world should do. American Christianity is the “Right Christianity.” American activism is the “proper way to be an activist.” American ideals are the only ones that people should strive to emulate. America’s problems are exactly the same as other countries’ problems, and they should all be solved in the same way. 

There’s the assumption, too, that people outside the US understand what’s going on in the US. There’s the assumption that everyone online is going to know US history, and it’s history of racism and discrimination. I can’t count the number of times someone from another country has asked, “Why did Trump get elected? How could people vote for him?”

It’s come to a point now where I’ve given up explaining. Like I’ve said before, I mostly shrug and say, “There’s a reason my wife and I live in Switzerland now.”

And I’ve gotten to a point where I’ve had to give up trying to explain things about living outside to Americans, especially online. I’ve had to block Facebook and Twitter on all my devices. And it’s not just because the news is horrible, but because I feel like I can’t contribute anymore. No one wants to hear what I’ve learned. No one wants to know my opinions from here.

I know I’m privileged. My wife and I were able to move. We didn’t like it, so we left. It doesn’t mean we don’t think of the folks back in our home countries. It doesn’t mean we don’t pay attention to what’s going on. It doesn’t mean we don’t care anymore. It does mean we see the insanity in the US in a different light. 

The country is imploding. Eating itself from the inside out. Trump’s policies are pulling down the government. The progressive/leftist side are eating their own and being helped by foreign interference. The right is just plain batshit Nazi fed by Fox propaganda and the same foreign interference. Being centrist is somehow a bad thing, even though most Americans are. Each side has it’s purity test: either purity of ideals or purity of theocracy. It grieves me that many of those who talk about wanting to see the American community come together are the same who are ripping down those who have the opportunity to begin the change. 

Watching it from here, makes me wonder if there will ever be a country to go back to. It grieves me to think that it’s not impossible that I could be a refugee in truth.

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Yes, it really is that bad in the US.

It’s 11:45 pm on a Saturday night here in Zurich, Switzerland. For several days now, I’ve been watching the protests in the US and realizing that there’s not a whole lot I can do at the moment. I’ve done the things that I can do, but mostly, all I can do is watch. Like a friend of mine in South Korea said on social media a while back, it’s like watching a slow motion train wreck. 

This has deepened my disillusionment about the US that started a long time ago. When people from other countries ask me about US politics, my usual answer is to say, “Why do you think my wife and I  live here now?” The other person usually nods in understanding, or says “Wow, it’s really that bad?”

Yes, it is really that bad. It has been for a very long time. 

The protests now have been reminding me of my arrest at the Republican National Convention protests in 2004 in New York City. My friend Kenny and I took the bus down, planning to hang out in the city the first night, then go to the protests the next day. We arrived on Tuesday, dropped our luggage at the hotel, and went out. We saw the Stonewall Inn, had some excellent coffee at a very gay cafe, and wandered around a bit. I don’t remember if we managed to have dinner before we went over to the plaza where CNN was broadcasting or not, but it was already incredibly busy and crowded. It was interesting to see the broadcasters I’ve watched for a while in person. There were also a lot of people protesting at the time, but we were there just watching most of the action from the sidelines.

Around 8 or 9 pm or so, we decided to make our way back to our hotel. The vibe was starting to feel a bit weird and suddenly there was a massive police presence. We managed to go down a side street where we bought some drinks from a little corner shop. As we stood outside the shop with our drink it seemed that all of a sudden the road was blocked off. We tried to just quietly walk away, but the police had kettled us in. We were surrounded by cops and they started arresting all of us. They took our bags as they asked us our information, putting tags on them so we could claim them later. They zip tied our hands behind our backs, and marched us into police wagons. There were a number of  people who got rounded up who were just going about their lives. One woman was crying because they took her bicycle as she was trying to go home after buying groceries. It was dark and hot, and none of us knew exactly what was going to happen. 

We were dropped off at the now-infamous Hudson Pier Depot at Pier 57. The police had set up cages in the depot with chain link fencing that had to be at least 12 feet high (about 3 meters or so). It used to be an old bus depot, so the floor was covered in oil and other car fluids. There were only a few benches in each of the cages. The lights didn’t turn off so no one could really sleep. I tried to tell one of the officers that my friend Kenny needed medical attention (he was doing a special medical fast), but they didn’t really pay attention. In fact, they didn’t really feed us anything until we asked for it repeatedly. Eventually, they rolled several boxes of apples into the cage for us to eat. 

Kenny and I were together in the same cage for a while, but then we were separated into male and female cages. At some point in the morning, we got some cheese sandwiches and milk, but they really didn’t feed us much at all. We spent 17 hours total in Pier 57, and didn’t even get processed by the police department until Wednesday evening.

As we were going through the system, there were a lot of cops who just didn’t care. When we got to the jail, finally, it took me over an hour with a blinding headache (mostly from dehydration and lack of food) to get some ibuprofen from the first aid nurse. When they finally believed me, I was handcuffed, brought to the aid station, uncuffed so I could take the medicine, sign a waiver, and then re-cuffed to go back to the holding area. 

One cop asked why we were so dirty, and we told him that we had been at Pier 57 and that there had been no where to sit except on the ground. He shrugged. Some cops made fun of us for being dirty. 

One cop was nice to me when I broke down last Wednesday night, and it was the cop who was taking our pictures and fingerprints. By this time, I wasn’t really sure what time it was, since I was pretty delirious with lack of sleep. I was crying and hysterical at this point, as I didn’t know where Kenny was, I hadn’t been allowed any phone calls, and I’d barely had anything to eat. The cop reassured me that we were nearing the end of the process, and would be seen by a judge in the morning. After getting our pictures and fingerprints, they moved us to cells in smaller groups. Thankfully, this area actually had the lights turned down so we could at least attempt to sleep. By this time I think it was about 2 or 3 am on Thursday morning. 

I think I must have slept a little bit because the next thing I remember is the light coming on, and that we were getting fed some sandwiches and milk again. I do remember they were pretty nasty, but it was food and drink so I didn’t care. Around mid morning, we were moved to the waiting areas on the courthouse side of the jail. It was here where I finally was able to get access to a phone to make a phone call. I don’t remember clearly, but I think I called my parents to let them know where I was. I think I remember them being pretty shocked that I was still being held, and that I hadn’t even been given a phone call until nearly 48 hours later. I don’t really remember what I had said to them, but it was good to hear a friendly voice. 

Around 6 pm or so, we were finally in front of a judge, and I got offered something called an ACD. I can’t remember what the acronym meant, but I was basically set free and had to not get arrested in New York for 6 months, after which the charges (which I don’t remember what they were) would be dropped. When I left the courthouse, it was about 8 pm, and there were still protests going on outside. With the help of some of the Lawyer’s Guild people, I found Kenny and we went to the area where we were supposed to pick up our personal belongings. I managed to get my backpack that night, but Kenny couldn’t get his till the next day. We finally made it back to our hotel. It was a little funny walking into the hotel, since it was a little on the posh side, and we both walked in covered head to toe with dirt and grime. We both showered, had something for dinner, and pretty much passed out. Luckily check out time wasn’t early!

The next day I went with Kenny to go get his backpack. I stayed outside the station while he went in. I made the mistake of pulling out my laptop, then. I think I was going to upload some pictures I took. I was minding my own business, when a cop came up to the bench I was sitting on, and asked, “Whatcha doin’?” I told him I was looking at some pictures, but catching on, I told him I’ll finish looking at them when I get home. “Good idea,” he said, and walked off. Kenny then came out, and we caught the bus home. 

After my experience, I sent emails to several newspapers, and only my local RI town paper interviewed me. I tried to keep up the spirit of solidarity with other protesters on mailing lists, but those mailing lists devolved into “I’m more activist than you because I got a lawyer and fought it.” I wasn’t privileged enough to be able to do that. I had to go back to work and couldn’t afford to spend months fighting the City of New York. I became disillusioned with the whole protesting thing, and stopped getting involved with other people from the protests. I was really disappointed when Starhawk posted about her experience and said it “wasn’t so bad.” She had gotten arrested earlier in the week and never was in Pier 57. 

This whole experience left me with more trauma that I realized. I have never had a desire to return to NYC, nor do I trust cops. I’ve had other experiences myself and with family members, before and after my arrest in NYC, that make me distrust cops in general. American cops, especially, are pretty terrifying for me. 

However, I’m lucky. I’m a white woman. My experience in NYC gave me just a glimpse of what happens to people in jail. It made me think that if this was *my* experience, how much worse would it be for black people? Asian people? Other people of color? I was lucky because there were some others who could afford to start a class action lawsuit. In 2015 I got $2000 from that lawsuit. 

I was lucky to get something back for the wrongful arrest. But again, I’m a white woman. 

Seeing the protests now, brings back my memories of the experience. So when people from other countries here ask if it’s really that bad, I can say that it is. I can tell them that I was lucky to be a white woman and not black or hispanic, or it would have been much worse. I can tell them that the cages with children are real. That the school to prison pipeline is real. 

When I see people trying to say that it’s not so bad, or that if they weren’t doing anything they’d have nothing to worry about, or that the police are required to let you have your phone call, or only hold you for 24 hours, or that if you’re polite, then things will be fine, I call bullshit. The system doesn’t care about you. If you’re white, it might be a little less time, especially if you’re a rich white male. If you’re poor, they shrug. If you’re a poor black person, they destroy your life, or kill you. Even the “nice” cop was shoving us through the system, even if he helped to calm me down. He just was doing his job and didn’t say anything to other cops who were making fun of us. 

So please don’t tell me “not all cops.” It’s bullshit, and you know it. I’ve been lucky to get away with things with cops because I’m white, even when I lived in Oakland, CA, that black people would have been shot for. Even the good cops prop up an abusive and unjust system. Even the good cops use intimidation to show who has the power in one’s town. Even if your relatives are cops, even if you think they’re one of the “good cops” that would never harm anyone like that, they are still complicit in a system that is just plain wrong and corrupt. 

Like I said, I was lucky. I’m white.

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Quarantine Reflections

I’ve been staring at blank screens for a few days now. It’s been hard to write and be verbally creative during this quarantine time. Like many folks, I’ve been in a kind of brain fog. It’s hard to watch the news (especially coming out of the US), it’s hard to be home all the time, and hard to watch people completely disregard the severity of this virus. While the US isn’t alone in it’s share of stupid walking dead, it is the loudest and most visible. It’s hard to watch your home country slowly imploding.

It’s also hard to realize that this virus isn’t going away any time soon. Hard to accept that this is our new normal. I know I’ve gone from periods of acceptance to periods of depression and anger. It’s grief, and it’s ok to feel these things. It’s ok that I’m not feeling like working. 

I try to remember this most of the time. I don’t always succeed. 

But for now, doing physical things has been the easiest for me to keep my mind on. Spinning, weaving, baking, cooking, and reading has been easier for my mind to keep up with. I do my German classes, study every day, and make sure bills get paid and groceries get ordered. We’re lucky and privileged to be where we are. We’re lucky to have the means to stay home and protect ourselves. 

It’s also hard because both the Wife and I are scientists and know how viruses work. We know how things can propagate and move through populations biologically and mathematically. It’s hard because we feel like we know too much and we also feel like a lot of people, even some people we know, don’t believe us when we say months, not weeks. 

I know that there’s not much I can do about the thoughts and actions of other people. I do know what we can do to keep ourselves safe. To survive as best we can. We help people where and when we can from here. 

We survive and endure, and that’s all we can really do. 

I know this isn’t like my other updates. There’s not much I have to really update folks on anyway. I probably should make a baking post, but the brain isn’t ready to do that yet. 

I hope you all are staying as safe as possible. I hope that we get through this and everyone endures as best they can. I offer you my prayers, and if anyone needs to talk about their grief, feel free to contact me. 

May the gods carry us through and may we learn from this as a species. 

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