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Vote, Donate, Volunteer

I had the honor of speaking at a fundraiser for the 16th ...

Getting Past the Noise and on to the Resistance

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This was originally posted to my Facebook page. To resist, ...

One Little Week in Issues

We began this week with the now-usual, unhelpful conversation about whether Donald ...

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Tap tap, is this thing on?

Well, the last four years have been an adventure, I suppose. I ran for office in 2018 for the state house in my legislative district, and came in a distant second, but the experience itself was life-affirming. My kids got older and I no longer have any diaper duty. Susanne went through the tenure process and has settled in as an Associate Professor, and is working on her next book.

My book projects, on the other hand, are a bit . . . quiet. I have a full draft of the Unintentional sequel, but I have a POV issue to resolve, and an improved ending to write. I stopped trying to sell short stories when work got busy.

My work, well, that has grown, which makes sense, as it has been my focus these last four years. It’s no longer a sleepy little nonprofit with a tiny caseload. When I walked in the door in July 2010, I literally wiped up the dusty keyboard to a then 11-year-old iMac. Its memory was half-filled with photos and music files of Yanni, for no discernible reason. I mean, I guess some people really like Greek air flute music, or whatever. There were four employees, two of whom were extremely part-time, I was slotted for 20 hours a week, and one full-time case manager. We ran the whole deal on $180,000 a year.

These days the agency has an annual budget of $3.4M, 27 employees, 3 of whom are part-time advisory board members, 3 staff who are part-time, and the rest of whom are full-time. We’ve got somewhere on the order of 200 clients across half a dozen programs, and a vehicle fleet, which still blows my mind. Nobody’s computer is older than 3 years. But along with this growth has been a shift in the time I have to dedicate to writing, and that is a cost I am willing to bear a while longer. At some point though, I want to get back to it.

In the interim of 2018 and now my mother passed away, from appendix cancer that spread to her lungs. I spent roughly two-and-a-half months with her in that last year of her life. It was time well spent, but saying goodbye to her was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, by far. Double mastectomy and sex changes, and catching Lucas at his birth, and hearing that my Dad had died after the fact, saying goodbye was excruciating. And then she didn’t die, and I got to see her again! But when I left in early January 2019 (as opposed to leaving shortly before Christmas 2018), was the last time. Saying goodbye again was also painful, although somehow, slightly less so. I’m grateful she is no longer in pain.

The pandemic could be a great reason I stopped blogging, but of course that wouldn’t explain the first two years of my absence. I just ran out of time in the day as work became more involved. Years ago I jokingly said that my goal was to make the agency too complicated for me to run it anymore. Now I realize what a stupid thing that is to say. It’s definitely more complicated, and I’ve driven away at least one bookkeeper in the process, but I am still hard at the work, as is the staff.

But to be clear, the pandemic has been a trying time, as I know it has been for nearly everyone. I like many others try to mediate my risk on a daily basis, but I’m not wearing my mask as vigilantly as I once was. I do watch the transmission rates, for what that’s worth (I’m sure we are missing a lot of data and that the accuracy of the published transmission rates are no longer great). I get my boosters and last week the boys got their boosters. I still don’t get on a plane or run through the grocery store open-faced (like a sandwich). But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t fatigued by it.

Once upon a time this blog was to communicate with my social fabric of friends as Susanne and I made our way across the continent from DC to Walla Walla. It became my lifeline to sanity as I faced two years of unemployment because nobody in Walla Walla would hire me (or Portland, or Seattle, for that matter) in the wake of the 2008 Great Recession. Now I am the job creator, a fine twist of fate. When I was writing, jobless, and looking to get noticed as an author this blog was a requirement oft-referred to by agents, none of whom contracted with me. Somehow I published two books anyway, and army-crawled my way through the publishing industry. Then this blog was part of my writerly persona.

Now? What now? I think time will tell. Speaking of time, I don’t have a lot of it, between work, a master’s program in public health, two tweens, and a beautiful spouse, but I will commit to at least one post a week, and see how it goes. I’ll have some unpublished stories on here, thoughts about the work I do, reflections on speculative fiction, and possibly some political posts, but honestly I’d like to focus on other topics for a while.

I hope you are well, and if you made it this far, welcome back.

Therapeutic Memory Reversal

Author’s Note: I’m doing my own mini-McSweeny’s, running pieces of fiction that received multiple rejections from semi-pro or professional paying markets. This story has come close to acceptance half a dozen times but I need to move on to other ideas. I hope you enjoy it for what it is.

A 300-year-old supernova remnant created by the explosion of a massive star.Ze lifts the small crystal cover with one finger and pushes the red knob underneath it. With zir other hand ze holds down a metal knob and turns the instrument clockwise one, two tight clicks, waiting for the trickle of memories to start flowing through zir headpiece. Ze braces zir arms on the counter, the room lights kept low because receiving memories is still painful, even if they get easier to acquire over time.

The sessions with Dad went too far. Well. Really ze doesn’t know what went wrong. Ze only sometimes recalls expressions on people’s faces from before the time on ship. So ze—I—sneak back here and try unlocking another piece. When the other me isn’t busy living a hellishly boring existence.

Ze—I, I, I—I will merge us.


After the scandal and the election some people said it’s the memories that are gone, cauterized by the pulse of this evil, wild device. But ze wonders if maybe just the pathways are gone, and it can rebuild them, like a new bridge, or a portal. I have to try.

He only thinks he is happy.

Zir finger hovers over a green button. Sweat has lined up across my forehead and the back of my neck. I feel a Pavlovian lump in my throat. Before ze can change its mind, I turn the knob two more clicks. This is going to hurt. Read More…

From My Hard Drive

Author’s Note: This is a reprint of a short story than originally ran in SPLIT Quarterly.


He weaves the thick strips of brown leather together slowly, seemingly fascinated that they have a smooth and a rough side. On the suede he traces his index finger slowly, almost lovingly, pushing against the grain, and then smoothing it down with the grooves of his fingerprints.

She looks him over, wanting to make eye contact and knowing he’s not about to grant that small favor to her.

“Hi, honey,” she says, in as much sing-song as she can muster.

He goes about looping another strip of belt material into the snake he already created. She sees that he is making a neat pattern of light and chocolate brown leather. A bit of sweetness in this bland, quiet universe of his. His hair is tousled, even matted in a few places, and he smells a little of urine. Smelling that upsets her. She needs to speak to the staff about that.

She flinches as a man, across the floor from her, squeals at a piece of Formica that is escaping the countertop one increment at a time, near the arts and crafts station. He is suddenly obsessed, slipping his fingers under it and listening to the flap as it slaps back down where it was still glued in place. Flap, flap, flap, flap.

“What are you making there,” she asks the beltmaker.

He continues the pattern. “Water,” he whispers. Read More…

Vote, Donate, Volunteer

I had the honor of speaking at a fundraiser for the 16th Legislative District in Washington State (I’m one of their two state committee members), along with another local activist, Jessica Monterey, and former Governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley. Here is the text of my speech:

Hello, everyone, and thank you for coming. One year and two days ago I stood behind the podium in the Press Secretary’s briefing room pretending to take a question from Gwen Ifill, enthusiastic about the possibilities for 2017. It was an exciting time.

Everett being fake photobombed by Martin O'Malley
We are now four days away from the next election, which may seem like it pales in comparison to last year’s contest for the White House. But despite our bitter disappointment from last November, on Tuesday we have new opportunities to reset our collective political future. We will launch the political careers of three progressive people in Walla Walla to city council, or we will fail to do so. We will elect Manka Dhingra to our state legislature in the 45th LD and either shift the balance of the Senate chamber to the Democrats, or see more conflict and posturing from the GOP and another eventual budget fight. In Richland, we will either elect an incumbent woman of color or a man who has openly called for a replay of Kristallnacht, and who has a fraud conviction on his record. Countless school board seats, contests for port commissioners, city councils, and many other local government posts are the entry point for the next generation of Democrats. I know it can feel like an afterthought or a letdown, or small potatoes compared to the travesties we read about every day from so many news outlets. Read More…

Jenna’s Rainstorm

I listened without amusement to the therapist’s clock. It was supposed to resemble an antique mantle clock, but the mahogany was a cheap veneer and the clock face was cardboard painted to look like mother of pearl, which of course, looked nothing the fuck like mother of pearl. His crappy clock sat on an actual white mantle, which was not a good match for the dark clock, come to think of it, and all of this was over an electronic fireplace with little orange pieces of fabric that “flickered” in the least convincing flamey way possible. Oh, but I was supposed to be totally authentic with him.

This was all bullshit.

Nobody even owned ticking clocks anymore. I’m sure when he checked the time it was using his FitBit. He must have read somewhere before he lost his hair and began his attempts to deceive his clients with clocks and combovers that crazy people need noise, all the time, or they’ll go even more insane. I’d rather have just sat in the quiet. I’d gone whole 50-minute sessions without speaking but then the good doctor just upped my dosage of whichever drug of the month was supposed to make me a more tolerant-of-bullshit person.

He tried to stifle a yawn, but I knew he was as bored as me. I’d burned twelve minutes ignoring him and his clock. I’d throw it in the fireplace but wasn’t a real fucking fireplace.

I sighed, shifting in my seat. At least the furniture in this room was comfortable, unlike the pissed-on, puke-stinking chairs in the patients’ lounge.

Finally he spoke. He couldn’t take it anymore. He probably loathed the mantle clock as much as I did.

“What is on your mind today?”

He was careful not to say my name because I might go off on him again. Read More…

Trans & Gender Nonconforming Reading: Moderator Notes on Trans Literature

16700461_10154658224819843_1610112469219421694_oNOTE: These remarks were delivered at AWP17 on February 11, 2017 in Washington, DC.

People ask, “What is trans literature? Is it literature about trans people or by trans people? Is it emerging? Is it literary or folk? Is it in vogue or invisible? Is it limited to a form or a genre or is it a post-modern queering of narrative?”

These questions miss the point. Further, this questioning enforces an authenticity of the poetic and the literary not demanded of cis writers or cis-centered literature. As many writers on the margins have pointed out, as Dr. Nafisi said to us Thursday night in her stunning rebuke of tyrannical, Western cultural norms that seek to delegitimize Iranian cultural production and cultural identity, the mainstream ideology never seeks its own authenticity, it can only, in a kind of Freudian compulsive repetition, work to pull down the provenance of marginalized literatures. Mainstream literary ideals continually misunderstand the value, the meaning, the quality, and the scope of trans literature.

Just last week the White House and its team of dementors and destructors floated language for a new executive order that would erase the legal foundation for trans civil rights in America. This horrendous mashup of reactionary illegal-ese written in the dungeons of the Family Research Council and the Heritage Foundation, if signed by President Hairdemort, would define for the first time, by any government in the world, that “sex is an immutable characteristic from birth.” At the exact moment that the United States is pondering the erasure of trans and gender nonconforming people from the legal landscape, we are facing an ongoing question in the literary world: “What is trans literature?” Read More…

Getting Past the Noise and on to the Resistance

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This was originally posted to my Facebook page.

To resist, we have to get over a few narratives that American neoliberalism and reactionaries have handed to us. Namely:

An illustration of a tree, maybe a maple, with different colored hands for leaves, in a metaphor for diversity and community1. The idea of scarcity—that there is only so much energy to use in resistance, or that there are only so many opportunities for resistance, so we need to all agree on how to approach an action or campaign. This just isn’t true. AIDS activists didn’t move the NIH, FDA, White House, and general public on their cause by all working in lockstep to do the same thing, and they didn’t have only 1986 to do it. The ceaseless march of protests, the myriad of forms of resistance that included direct action, lobbying, negotiation, public relations campaigns, research, and so on, and that extended for more than a decade brought about change. In just three days of his presidency, Trump has seen leakers, philosophical arguments waged online, editorials from the press, rogue federal employees, and the largest global demonstration in history. There is enough room for all of us. Read More…

One Little Week in Issues


Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, from Wikimedia under a reuse license.

We began this week with the now-usual, unhelpful conversation about whether Donald Trump is a jerk for going on about a former Miss Universe and her weight and ethnicity. Lost in the noise around Alicia Machado’s value as a human being (Mary Matalin called her a “tart”), was the leering, grotesque womanizing personality of Trump, which Hillary Clinton framed for 100 million Americans in the first debate when she said:

And one of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest. He loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them. And he called they woman “Ms. Piggy.” Then he called her “Ms. Housekeeping,” because she was Latina. Donald, she has a name.

Read More…

Here There Be Puppets: My Experience as a Delegate to the 2016 Washington State Democratic Convention

I have voted in every election since I came of age in 1988, with one exception in 1989 because I didn’t file for my absentee ballot by the deadline and I couldn’t vote in New York State as a college student. I’d never really considered myself very into the Democratic Party per se, but I’ve voted for progressive and left-of-center candidates my whole adulthood. I can’t say I have a primary issue because in my mind they all vie for attention—reproductive rights are very important to me, but so is ending the death penalty (if I’m being honest I’m a prison abolitionist but there are no candidates calling for that), and so are trans civil and human rights, and then I’d really like to see a sea change on green energy investment. See what I did there? I hate the welfare reform passed in 1996, I hate the 1994 crime bill, and I think the Affordable Care Act fell far short of what we need for all humans in the United States to access the care we need, no matter our legal status or which identity categories apply to us. Friends have said I am “left of Chairman Mao,” and thus I recognize that I do not fully fit into any party’s platform.

13501624_1768465986772825_4679976232767497587_nThis year I decided to take the plunge and see what immersing myself into the Democratic Party would be like. I wasn’t excited because of the ruckus between the Clinton and Sanders camps, but I did support Hillary in 2008 and I did have to come around to Barack Obama, who has both delighted and significantly disappointed me (23,000 drone bombs just last year) since then. Still, I can remember needing to suck it up when Clinton conceded in 2008 and so I can sympathize with Sanders supporters now. It’s a difficult space in which to exist, especially after a primary as painful as this one has been. I’m ready to move on from the “Berners are all sexists” and the “Clinton supporters are not real progressives” reductivism of the past several months. Read More…

Orlando United Vigil in Walla Walla, June 15, 2016

This is the transcript of my piece said during the vigil.

IMG_1969I’m sorry. I’m sorry that 47 years since the Stonewall Inn riots, 43 years since being gay was no longer listed as a mental disorder, and 13 years since the Supreme Court decriminalized being gay, that this tragedy at The Pulse nightclub in Orlando has occurred. I’m sorry that in the many years since Brandon Teena’s murder and Matthew Shepard’s murder and since Tyra Hunter was refused life-saving medical care, we are here tonight, mourning the loss of so many good people. I’m sorry because I thought that after the AIDS crisis where tens of thousands of gay men passed away while our leaders made inappropriate jokes, that we were moving through the worst of this hatred for us. I thought that the quiet anti-discrimination legislation enacted by more than twenty states, and that seeing marriage equality become the law of the land meant we were entering an era of acceptance. I thought my generation would be the last to face disparate levels of depression, suicide, unemployment, and harassment.

I was wrong. I am sorry.

I stand here tonight shocked—again—at how easy it seems to take away dozens of lives in the manner of a few minutes to a few hours. I stand here, wondering which of the hateful things I’ve heard over the past two decades may have lead to this moment. Was it the refusal by extremists to sign marriage licenses for gay and lesbian couples? Was it the preacher who interprets scripture to mean that killing LGBT people is a holy mission? Was it the lawyer who argues that discriminating against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people is simply an act of religious freedom? Was it the national organization that insists transgender people in bathrooms are a danger to the public and to our children? Was it the candidate who called immigrants rapists and refugees a threat to national security?

I am angry and inconsolable that people who expected they could be themselves in the confine of a nightclub, traditionally a space where LGBT people could find temporary sanctuary, died there. And yet we see triumph even in that hell—the mother who, dancing with her gay son, saved his life with a final gift by blocking bullets with her body. The Indian American former marine who helped 70 people survive by breaking open an exit door. The young Latino man who used a bandana to staunch a neck wound of his friend. Stories will continue to emerge about our strength in the midst of tremendous pain, and this is how I understand our collective journey.

All of us are stronger than hate. All of us are more resilient than a lobbying organization. We reject the false narrative of abomination and perversion and we embrace our pride, our community, and our shared journey.

We are determined. We insist on ending garbage pronouncements about what LGBT lives mean for our society or our morality. We are determined to make this world better for our youth. To our youngest LGBT members: your elders and your allies sincerely care about you. We see you and we know there is a lot of chaos and pain that comes your way. We are here for you, just as we are here to honor the people we have lost. We will find our way together, in solidarity. Peace to you all.

Vote NO on Initiative 1515!