Smallish Bloggery, Day 16: 3 Celebrity Crushes

1. Lin-Manuel Miranda

What can I say (except you’re welcome)?  Aside from the fact that the man is a bona fide creative powerhouse and a genius – he’s already racked up Tonys, 3 Grammys, an Emmy, a freaking Pulitzer, a MacArthur Genius Award, an Oscar nomination for starters and he’s only 38 (seriously there’s an entire Wikipedia page just of his awards and nominations) – Lin-Manuel is one of the most relentlessly (but not obnoxiously) hopeful people on the internet, and his Twitter feed is one of the things that make Twitter worthwhile.  (I put him in the same “this is why the internet is not a lost cause” category as Thoughts of Dog.)  

He’s also inspired my activism in new directions since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, and now I’m paying attention to causes I never did before, specifically the immigrant crisis (and of course PR’s recovery after the disgusting and unforgivable inaction of the US government toward its own citizens).  He never comes off bitter *or* naively optimistic, just determined, smart, and with a true belief in the strength and goodness of people.  

He’s been responsible for two of my favorite musical things in the world, Moana and Hamilton, so just for that much I’d adore him forever.  But he also just seems like a good person, one trying his damnedest to make things better.  I’ve been saying for over a year that by the time all the shitty men are driven out of Hollywood it’ll be Lin-Manuel Miranda, Patrick Stewart, and Chris Evans left, and that will be just fine.

Of course, my crush on Mr. M is not the stuff of trembling lady gardens – it’s an emotional and creative one.  He’s got a mind I’d love to orbit around and bask in.  But when we’re talking theoretical sexytimes, well, I gotta go with

2 – Tom Hiddleston

*sigh*  

Oh, wait, I was writing.  Okay.

He’s currently sporting a bit more facial hair than I tend to like on guys, but I love this picture because it showcases one of my favorite Hiddlefeatures:  He has such extraordinarily kind eyes.  Lately to me they seem kind of sad in pictures; I suppose it could be because of the presumed end of his most popular role, or it could be because not too long ago he got Kleenexed by a particular female pop star not known for being particularly good to men.  I imagine the former is more relevant at the moment after all the recent Infinity War press and media hype, especially if it turns out this really was his last turn in the MCU.

I would personally be happy to offer whatever solace is required for any and all hurts, real or imagined, good sir.

But apart from the pretty, Tom is a gifted actor (he actually makes Coriolanus a sympathetic character and makes me root for Henry V even though the entire story of that play infuriates me) and, at least on the surface, a genuinely good guy.  Obviously you never know with celebrities; I’m sure 80% of what we see is a mask whether good or bad.  It’s all acting even if it’s not (honestly that applies to most people whether famous or not; how much do you really know about what’s going on beneath the surface with anyone?), but like Lin-Manuel, Tom gives off a very sweet vibe.  They both make me think of puppies in the most positive way you can imagine; it’s just that Tom makes me think of other stuff too.  Ahem.

3 – Danai Gurira

The women of Black Panther were the best thing about it, in my opinion, and considering I loved almost everything about it that’s high praise.  But Danai Gurira’s Okoye was just…magnificent.  And the woman herself, well, holy smokes.  She’s an award-winning playwright with a Master’s Degree, a Broadway actress, and started an organization to teach the arts in Zimbabwe (where her parents are from and where the family returned when Danai was five, though she herself was born here in the US in 1978).  She speaks four languages.  You can see the intelligence and wit in her smile if you’re not bowled over by its radiance.

Yeah, I’m being flowery, but Danai is one of those women who is so regal and gorgeous looking at her is like staring at some celestial phenomenon that will only happen once in your lifetime.  There’s actually a woman at my day job who reminds me very strongly of her, and I find her utterly mesmerizing; I feel like she should walk everywhere barefoot on a carpet of rose petals.  I can only imagine what a complete and utter doofus I would be if I actually ran into Danai somewhere and had to speak to her.  Based on my interactions with the aforementioned coworker, I would bring great shame upon the house of Sylvan.  

Incoherent drooling will do that.

 

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Smallish Bloggery, Day 15: An unsent letter

Allow me to be extra self-indulgent here.

Dear Sylvan circa 2010:

You’re in the middle of writing Shadowflame, right?  Well, you know that thing that’s going to happen in the story that you’ve been planning since book 1, or before that actually, and you’re hoping you can capture all the heartbreak and confusion and betrayal so that the reader will feel it?

You’re gonna do a great job.  In fact you’re going to do it so convincingly you’ll be screamed at a lot on the internet.  People will tell you to kill yourself over it.  They’ll tell you that you’ve committed unforgivable sins against monogamy and moreover heterosexual monogamy.  Dear God the homophobes are going to lose their fucking MINDS.  People who didn’t bat an eye at the ultra-tropey rape in Book 1 are going to FLIP OUT over Big Gay Adultery.

Like seriously, they’re going to threaten and bully you.  You’re going to lose a shit ton of readers and a lot of sales and in all likelihood your series will never go any farther than the shelves because of it.  The queries you got for your sub rights for Queen of Shadows will vanish like a fart in the wind.  People on the internet are shitty little cowards and they are mean just because they can be.

I’m not telling you to shake it off, because I know you, and I especially know what you’re like at this age.  You’re still on shaky ground, creatively, after That Nasty Old Harridan made you give up writing for years and only fan fiction brought you back.  You made yourself incredibly vulnerable even trying to write QoS, and you should be way prouder than you are!  But on this side of it, looking back at what you’re going to go through, if I had to do it all again, here’s what I would do:

MAKE EVERYBODY GAY.  MAKE THE WHOLE STORY SO FUCKING GAY.  EVERY CHARACTER, EVERY PLOTLINE, GAY IT UP TO ELEVEN.  BISEXUALS AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE.  MIRANDA TRANSITIONS TO AN ASEXUAL MAN AND SHE AND DAVID HAVE AN OPEN MARRIAGE FROM DAY ONE WHERE HE WEARS CORSETS AND GIVES HEAD AT COUNCIL MEETINGS.  GRAB THE MOST HYPERMASCULINE PRIME YOU CAN, ROLL HIM IN GLITTER, AND PUT FOUR DILDOS IN EACH ORIFICE.  VIOLATE EVERY STUPID GENDER NORM YOU CAN THINK OF.  GET FAITH A GIRLFRIEND WHO LOOKS LIKE JOHN GOODMAN AND TURN THE NEXT ELITE TOURNAMENT INTO A GIANT ORGY.  BUT NOT UNTIL HALFWAY THROUGH THE BOOK, JUST TO MAKE IT A SURPRISE. 

FUCK THE HATERS, FUCK THE HOMOPHOBES, LET THEM KEEP THEIR MONEY.  IT’S NOT WORTH IT.  UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES ARE YOU EVER TO FEEL BAD FOR TELLING THE STORY ESPECIALLY IF IT’S MORE INCLUSIVE.  YOU ARE LOSING NOTHING BY ALIENATING GARBAGE HUMANS.  YOU’LL PROBABLY HAVE A DAY JOB FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE BUT YOU KNOW WHAT?  YOU’LL ALSO HEAR FROM PEOPLE WHOSE WORLDS OPENED UP A LITTLE BECAUSE OF YOUR CHARACTERS.  AND THE PEOPLE WHO LOVE YOUR WORK WILL LOVE IT EVEN MORE BECAUSE IT’S REAL.  MISOGYNISTIC MANBABY TRASH DOESN’T DESERVE THE WORK OF YOUR COLON, LET ALONE THE WORK OF YOUR HEART.  THEY CAN DIE MAD ABOUT IT.

YOU’VE GOT WORK TO DO.

Love, 

You, nearly 10 years in the future.

 

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Smallish Bloggery, Day 14 – A weird thing I do when I’m alone…

I have a lot of oddball solo behaviors, some of which I would never ever divulge in mixed company (or any company), but the one that I think is probably the most entertaining is my habit of narrating.

I frequently walk around speaking aloud to myself, but not necessarily to myself.  If you catch me wandering round the house muttering, I might be:

1 – Narrating what I’m doing as if I am hosting a TV show; this is usually done while cooking or making something, and often involves funny accents.  I’m not sure why the accents other than it’s way more fun to describe what you’re cooking in a terrible English or outrageously exaggerated Southern accent.  When I’m cooking alone I turn into a Food Network host – or, at times, I become Ted Allen on Chopped as well as a contestant.  

2 – Acting out a bit of dialogue that I can’t get right in a book.  Yes, I playpretend as my own characters, and yes, I do voices.  I tell myself it’s part of my writing process, and it is, but let’s be real here, it’s also fun.

3 – Giving myself a pep talk.  You can spot this one pretty easily by the nicknames I give myself; when I’m trying to encourage myself I use terms of endearment like “love,” “babygirl,” and “sugarbeet.”  

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Smallish Bloggery, Day 13: Something I’ve always wanted to be good at

As I intimated in my last post when talking about eating out for every meal, I am absolute bullshit at feeding myself.

You’d think at 40 years old I’d have figured it out, but given nobody else in America seems to have it together in that department either, I guess I’m not that special.  Everyone is constantly worrying about what to eat, how much of it to eat, how often – and if you care about the state of the planet, human rights, or animal rights, there’s a whole ‘nother level where you’re screwed.  There are entire industries that exploit our dysfunctional relationship with nourishment – don’t get me started on those!  

I’ve always wanted to be good at meal planning, though – I see all the nifty meal planning bullet journal spreads or printables and I just long to fill them out.  I also love all those “meal prepping” videos where someone buys a gigantic cartful of produce and then spends an entire (I would assume miserable) afternoon chopping, cooking, stirring, and portioning an entire week’s worth of lunches or what-have-you.  The elegance of it, the certainty of knowing what you’re going to eat and knowing it’s healthy and homemade, enchants me.

I have yet to find a way to apply any of those things to my life that lasts longer than one or two weeks or, at worst, one or two meals.

I am a grown-ass lady.  I’ve written what, thirteen books now?  Seven of them were traditionally published which meant deadlines under contract.  I’ve managed to stay alive through literal decades of depression.  And I can’t figure out what to eat!

If you had any idea how much money I’ve wasted on junk food and fast food (french fries = hella vegan) you’d think I was insane.  You’d be right, really.  If I could get back half of what I’ve spent on nutritionally bankrupt frankenfood just because it was tasty, cheap, and required no work on my part other than shouting into a clown’s mouth, I might even be able to pay my student loans.

(pause for my own uproarious laughter)

I think a large part of the reason people flock to diets, “lifestyle changes,” “plans” and whatever the latest “fitspo” speak is for diet, is that we desperately want someone to take charge of our relationship with food.  We don’t trust ourselves – if we just ate what we wan’t we’d all eat nothing but cake and be SO FAT, right? – or our own knowledge even though we’re constantly bombarded with information about “good” foods and “bad” foods – and the relative simplicity of surrendering our autonomy to Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers or Keto Jesus (or whoever’s in charge of that craziness) is such a relief.  Thank God, someone will tell me what to eat!  I already have so much stress, thank you, Keto Jesus, for giving me a list of what’s good and bad, virtuous and shameful, so I know what is right and wrong for me!

The only problem is eventually we chafe under that yoke.  We want our power back. We’re scared to really take it, scared of living without rules and restrictions, so instead of just making our own choices full stop, we rebel against The Plan.  Cheat Day here, Cheat Day there.  I’ll be “good” tomorrow.

Lucky for us, once we’ve crashed and gone on a spree, then realized we’re no good on our own and need restriction and possibly punishment, there’s always a new Plan or list of “naughty” foods or $40/month solution to our horrendous lack of willpower. There’s always tomorrow with dieting!  Right?  It never worked before, but clearly I was the problem.  It’s not him, it’s me.  I set him off, I was bad, I ate the bag of cookies, I know I shouldn’t complain when he works so hard all day, and on and on.

Yeah, I said it.  We’re in an abusive relationship with dieting.  The really shitty part is that society wants us to stay in that relationship forever and never question who’s really losing and gaining what.

Wow, that went off on a bit of a tangent.  I suppose it’s not surprising given my history.  

At any rate, the point here was that after four decades in a world full of that kind of bullshit, even with all I’ve done to try and repair my relationship to food and my body, I’m still neck deep in it because there is literally no escape.  Not in America anyway.  If you decide to stand on your own and remove yourself from the diet industry, just like from the animal products industries, you have to fight with your culture the rest of your life.  You have to create your own safe spaces because the world is not safe for you. 

The world wants you to stay dysfunctional, to go on making those meal plans and then saying “fuck it, I’mma have curly fries again” and then feeling bad about yourself, eating ice cream, going on a Plan the next day, screwing it up a week later…

But aside from that, the truth is, I’m also lazy AF.  Okay, maybe “lazy” is a harsh word – I’m tired AF. I have zero energy most of the time, and what I do have I devote to the acquisition of a paycheck so I can afford to have zero energy inside a house instead of in a cardboard box on the street.  Even something as relatively low-stress as making a sandwich is beyond me most days.  Thank God all I have to do for the cats is dump kibble in a bowl – imagine if I had kids, they’d eat nothing but Cheerios. 

Actually the all-cereal Plan does sound pretty good.

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Smallish Bloggery, Day 12: Describe a great day (real or imagined)

I can imagine a lot of great days I haven’t actually experienced, most of which are pretty farfetched, but if I think about just an ordinary sort of day that leaves me feeling “ahhhhh,” I can come up with something I can say I’ve lived (at least in pieces).

On a great day I’d wake up probably around 9-10am after a good 8 hours of unbroken sleep (yeah okay we’re already in fantasy territory, but just go with it).  Not super early, but not so late that I’ve blown most of the day before I’m even dressed.

I’d start the day with a yoga practice and some meditation.  In this version of reality I’d be energetic and feel well in my body, so moving around wouldn’t be painful or exhausting.

I’d have a brunch date. Someplace like Bouldin Creek Cafe, which has awesome vegan brunch options, or maybe someplace I haven’t been like The Beer Plant (which has weekend brunch that looks utterly divine). I can see myself meeting my Darling Laurie for that.  

This day happens in Autumn or Spring, so outdoors would actually be tolerable for me.  After brunch I’d go someplace natural and beautiful for a little while; since a large part of today would be dedicated to writing, I might go to a coffee place with a nice outdoor area.  If I wasn’t feeling particularly outdoorsy I could go to the huge-ass Central location of the Austin Public Library for an hour or two.  (It was rebuilt and reopened last year and is by all accounts magnificent but I still haven’t been there.)

Later in the day I’d meet one or more fellow creatives for coffee, and we’d have a writerdate; I get to do that once a week with my dear friend Nan already, but I’ve also gotten to have group dates like it, and that would be fun to do sometimes as well.  I’m not looking for critiques or “writer’s groups” that pass their work around and dissect it; I just want to hang out with other creative people who are all doing their thing, sometimes talking about it, sometimes just chatting.  

Afterward I’d head for dinner, probably with friends again, at the very least to meet up with my roomie; depending on how late it was we might go to a movie at Alamo Drafthouse, one of my favorite BFFdates.  

Eventually I’d end up home, where I’d take my time winding down with a good book and a tasty beverage, then go to bed and have another night of restorative sleep.

This was an interesting prompt, actually. My “great” day involves a lot more social interaction than I would have expected – let’s not forget this is one type of “great” day, and most likely after one this busy I’d need one full of alone time and naps.  I also notice a distinct lack of cooking for myself, which isn’t entirely surprising.  The best day is one where I don’t have to fret over feeding myself.  

Beyond the actual activities involved, there’s the feeling underneath it – one of freedom, being able to work in the environments I prefer and with the people whose company feels supportive but not invasive. A feeling of rightness, of being with the right people in the right places and doing the right thing (writing, although my imagination doesn’t specify what exactly I’m writing).  Interestingly there’s no sense of where I’m at, career wise; I could come up with all sorts of “In my great day I’m a mad-famous bestselling author” scenarios, but this particular one is focused on the day to day of living it rather than that faraway idea of success that has made the last few years kind of insufferable on the career front.

Hmm.  I think there’s more to unpack here.  

 

 

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