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Put a Ring on It, Part 3: 10 Things I Love (About My Wife)

This is probably the most important post of this entire week.

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Isn’t she a dish?

Here are Ten Things I Love About My Wife, Dianne Sylvan.

1. She has the most adorable little hands and feet. Even though they’re small, and her fingers shake, she makes amazing stuff with them. I love when she paints her nails – either dark brooding Scorpio red or some crazy sparkly blue.

2. Obviously I think she’s a brilliant writer. I especially love how she can wring tears out of people; I’ve seen her make people cry by committing horrific (fictional, as far as I know) murder and by just telling a story about herself. I want her to have all the stories – all the ideas she could ever want, just so she can do the thing she loves most in the world and create characters that move people…or even change people. She gets messages sometimes that her stories have changed how people view love – I can’t think of a higher calling than that. Which of course leads me to:

3. I love that she doesn’t give up. Oh, she might say she does, but before you know it she’s back at it. If it’s something that matters to her, whether telling a story or going vegan, she keeps trying, and tries different approaches, different ideas. I think it’s a Scorpio thing (and also a writer thing), that drive to understand how people tick – including herself! – and change the story. Her tattoo says “we’re all stories in the end,” but it’s not so much about legacy as it is about reality; so much of who we are is just a story we tell ourselves and by extension the world. When she gets past that mountain of self-doubt she has the ability to change that story. I wish she understood how powerful that is…although if she ever does, look out world!

4. Seriously, have you seen her skin? I love how her tattoos show up so starkly – she can never decide if she wants to get full color or just stick with black line given how awesome it looks on her. She really wants another script tattoo on her right forearm to balance the left one – that might be next on the roster, money permitting.

5. I love that she doesn’t care how uncool her taste in music (and everything else) is. There are all these authors, especially in genre fiction, who seem determined to be weird. How many vampire writers are so into Taylor Swift? She says often that she doesn’t believe in “guilty pleasures” – if something gives her pleasure and doesn’t hurt anyone, she refuses to feel guilty about it. That means watching Disney movies over and over, bebopping in the car to “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” and being open about her distaste for classic literature (she says she has to read what white men think about women every damn day, why do it for fun?).

6. I love that she is brave.

7. You’ve probably noticed this already: She’s insanely funny. Get her past her social anxiety and she’ll have the whole party rolling on the floor inside five minutes.

8. She’s compassionate – sometimes weirdly. She cries when she kills a bug. She starts thinking about how that bug had one life just like she does, and its entire single life is over with because it annoyed her, and it breaks her heart. She says she’s not good at offering comfort to humans; she gets really self-conscious about what would be useful and what would just be frustrating, based on how she feels when people force her to talk about her feelings, so she ends up stepping back and offering money, rides, food, a calm front. She wants to be useful by doing things she’s good at, which is funny considering she’s good at everything she wants to be good at, but try telling her that. Stubborn she-goat. *laugh*

9. I love that she’s a stubborn she-goat.

10. I love her tiny tiny handwriting, her swirly vine doodles, and all the other silly things that come out of her pen to make things pretty. She’s such an odd combination of styles and moods – Kawaii Scorpio, I guess you could call it, like if you could pass light through blood and get a rainbow.

Okay, now it’s your turn. Go forth to your blog, your Tumblr, your Facebook, whatever, and write down ten things you love about your most important significant other…yourself. Physical, mental, whatever, just stop what you’re doing and make a list. Do it in third person if that makes you more comfortable – imagine you’re married to yourself and telling the world why you chose that wonderful creature in the mirror as your best beloved. Do it. I double-dog-dare you.


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Put a Ring on It, Part 2: Sylvan’s Ultimate Self-Love (Or Die Trying) Playlist

Pretty much what it says on the tin:  My great big long playlist of songs that make me feel powerful, beautiful, joyful in my skin, or just glad to be who I am, even if only for 3 1/2 minutes.

What songs make you feel amazing about yourself and your life?  Let me know in comments – I’m always looking for more.

POSSIBLE TRIGGER WARNING:  Video #15, P!nk’s “Fuckin’ Perfect,” includes images of self-harm.

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Put a Ring on It, Part 1: The Upshot

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Five years ago July 30, I married myself.

It was such a crazy, optimistic time in my life.  I was super excited about Shadowflame coming out; I’d just done my first (and to date only) con, Queen of Shadows was doing well, and all I could see in the future was possibility.  It seemed like the perfect time to step up and fully commit to myself – to declare once and for all that I was a sovereign state, that I didn’t need the world to affirm me because I had my own back.

Bless that child.

It was my first real attempt at looking at life positively – I’ve been a dark little depressive my whole life, but just that once I decided, actively, to try a new way of walking in the world…not just as a potentially happy person, but as my own beloved.

It’s the kind of thing that usually gives birth to watercolor downloadable self-help books full of words like “juicy” and “gorgeous.”

You’ve probably noted the lack of watercolors around here.

It started shortly after the wedding: hate mail, first from a few disgruntled and disappointed readers who for some reason thought married characters can never hurt each other, and then from raging homophobes.  I walked around feeling bewildered and betrayed by my own audience for quite a while…now, I’m more inclined to NEVER WRITE ANOTHER HETEROSEXUAL RELATIONSHIP AGAIN because BY GOD I DO NOT HAVE TO AND YOU CAN’T MAKE ME.  Not the most mature of responses, perhaps, but it’s better than the five years of crippling depression I’ve just had.  Maybe spite isn’t healthy but it’s way more fun than contemplating suicide.

This wasn’t long after I’d written 10 Rules for Fat Girls, so once the haters got through telling me I’d “emasculated” David Solomon (good thing he’s secure in his masculinity – apparently some real people aren’t with their own), they realized I’m fat and had at me over that.  I was told I should have killed myself a long time ago, and told I should go ahead and do it now; and those were the nice ones.  There were dozens of them, and while none were the genuinely frightening threats a lot of people get online these days, they were pretty horrifying.  It really put being called Shamu in junior high into perspective.

Everyone online who dares to write something real is going to get hate mail.  In theory I understood that.  It was the timing that was a problem; I was so ready to step out into the world with my happy face and new wedding ring on and got gut-punched before I had time to actually acquire the skills a person needs to exist on the internet without breaking.  I’d mostly only ever written to a smaller, Pagan or body-positive audience, but here I was exposed to the mainstream and all the delightful assholes it has to offer.  I was ill-equipped.

Since then nothing has been the same.  It was one thing after another, as if the universe had been waiting, drumming its fingers together Mr. Burns-style, for me to get into a good place before setting the weasels on me.  I plunged into an endless round of bipolar cycling and medication-roulette.  Mental health-wise I don’t feel like I’ve made any progress at all – here I am five years later back on a single antidepressant, just like I was before.  Hundreds of dollars and dozens of drugs and dosages and nothing has changed except I forced myself off of Ambien once I realized I was using it to stay asleep as much as possible.

In the last five years everything that was important to me that summer has kind of faded away.  I’ve attempted repeatedly to get back to my wedding vows and try to honor them – truthfully reading them now they sound adorably naive.  Even my post on the subject on my third anniversary brings tears to my eyes, because after that brave statement about making the pain count…two more years went by, and…nothing.  I’m on the verge of turning 40 and I don’t feel any better off than I did at 30.

Now, I know this is all a big downer, and not what you were hoping for in a post about something as joyful as a wedding.  But I’m not about to start lying after all the shit I’ve gotten for authenticity.

I mentioned in my 3rd anniversary post that I’d lost my wedding ring; well, I finally replaced it, though the closest I could get was the same design (which took months to find) in a larger size, so now instead of occupying the traditional left ring finger it’s on my left middle finger.  Really, I think that’s fitting, not just because of my urge to give the world my middle finger in general:  It turns out that committing to myself looks nothing like I thought it would, feels nothing like I thought it should.  It was never going to be a traditional “marriage” anyway, so jettisoning the “proper” way to wear a ring is appropriate.

After all this, it remains up to me to define what this ring means.  I’ve had five years to figure out what it doesn’t mean.  Five years have stripped away most of what I thought I was, and left very little of that 2010 Sylvan that’s recognizable.  She’s still fat, still funny, still a damn good writer; she’s still snarky, still makes a fine-ass vegan cupcake.  She tries to be generous and tries to be compassionate.  She tries.

And she’s not done trying.

I’ll be posting more about the anniversary all week, so, stick around.  It won’t all be depressing, honest!  There will be music at least.


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Planner Friday: Playing Favorites

This month I’ve been doing weekly themes based around a few of my favorite things.  Next week will be a little different, so I figured I’d show you July now as its own post.

First we have a week of random things I just love:

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From the left:  Violinists (also hand porn and Sherlock); Moscow Mules; arm warmers; Lilo & Stitch; moss-covered statues (also wee Buddhas); iced coffees; the Aurora Borealis; Gorjuss Girls (especially “Lost for Words”); lotus flowers; vegan cupcakes.

The week after that, I decided to do (some of) my favorite books:

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From the left:
Watership Down by Richard Adams
Chocolat by Joanne Harris
Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver
Are You My Guru? by Wendy Shanker
Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls by Jes Baker
An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor
Strands of Starlight by Gael Baudino
Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh
Devotion by Dani Shapiro
The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye (favorite childhood book – if you want to read it try to find a hardcover copy with Kaye’s original illustrations – they’re gorgeous)
Steering by Starlight by Martha Beck
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

(Disclosure: The links above are Amazon affiliate links; if you purchase something through one, I get a wee kickback.)

The book washi came from Etsy, though I don’t remember the exact shop – all you have to do is search for “book washi” and you’ll get a couple of nice variations.)

And this week, we have some of my favorite films:

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From the left: Jurassic Park, Pride & Prejudice, Big Hero 6, Tangled, Ghostbusters, The Martian, Bridget Jones’s Diary (only the first one, good God), Marvel’s Avengers, Frozen, Zootopia.

I made the movie ticket “washi” strip out of this digital image pack from OriginsDigitalCurio.)

(And yes, I love the original Ghostbusters and fully intend to see and enjoy the new one – I would feel obligated, even if I didn’t think it would be awesome, just to spite the sad pissbabies who lost their goddamn minds over all that vagina in one movie DESTROYING THEIR CHILDHOODS OMG NOOOOOOOO.)


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Sylvan Points at Stuff: Meditation Tools for the Addled and Dorky

Oddly enough, lately I’ve been doing a lot of meditating.  For most of my life I’ve tried to do it almost out of a sense of duty – as a “spiritual” person I was obligated, right?  Well, as you can guess, that went over like a turd soufflé with my psyche, who is essentially a cosmic six-year-old:  if you tell her she has to do something, she’ll stomp her foot and give you the finger.

Still, the more the world seems to be skipping merrily to hell, the more necessary I find it to seek some sort of inner equanimity or peace, so I keep trying.

Then about a month ago I found this book:

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Meditation for the Love of It by Sally Kempton.  This book offers a different way of looking at meditation:  rather than spiritual drudgery, it’s an exciting and fun way to delve into both your own awareness and through that into the Universe itself.  A quote:

In the end it is the direct, naked encounter with our own awareness that shifts our understanding of who we are, and gives us the power to stand firmly in the center of our being. No one else can do this for us. Only meditation unlocks those doors.

Kempton writes from a Tantric tradition (though her ideas and exercises are useful for most any tradition), meaning there’s no “eliminating” thoughts or trying to transcend reality, at least not with the goal of eradicating the Self – she wants to befriend and enjoy the Self, while understanding its limits, and treats thoughts as mere energy that can be transformed or used instead of pushed away. Her tone is knowledgable but enthusiastic – and it’s contagious.  I found myself wanting to put the book down and try out her exercises, and amazingly, every one I tried yielded results at one level or another.  It’s a long book, but worth every minute.

Meanwhile…

I rediscovered a fantastic tool I had forgotten about:  MyNoise.net.  MyNoise is a sound generating website, but it’s so much more than just rain and random flutes.  It offers nature sounds, meditation sounds, voices, industrial background noise, you name it – including the usual white noise generators.  You can customize nearly every sound by moving sliders, so if you’re listening to a forest generator and want more birds, you can hear more birds.

You can also calibrate the site to your own hearing range, which according to users is amazing for tinnitus and other hearing issues, and there are brainwave-type sounds like isochronic tones that are apparently good for migraines and other issues.

You can animate the sounds so that they constantly shift, making them more realistic and immersive.  And you can stack generators on top of each other, so if you want the sound of chanting monks along with the sound of an airplane cabin and a cat purring, bam! you’ve got it.  There are even RPG sound generators you can play in the background of your games.

I seriously love this site.  The “Healing Water” soundscape has helped me sleep better, and the “Sleeping Dragon” is fantastic for meditation.  The site owner tells stories of when and where the sounds were recorded, how they were created, and what they can be used for, and each one has several precalibrated variations to play with.  I’ve never seen a sound-generating site with so many options.  You can create a meditative garden with birds and wind chimes and a pond full of frogs – or you can create the Starship Enterprise and practice Kolinahr, whatever gets you there.

And it’s free!  If you donate a few dollars you unlock the really complicated generators, but 90% of the site is totally free.  I kicked in a bit just as a thank-you for all the work that went into the site.

My favorite generators include:

Healing Water
Sleeping Dragon
Rain on a Tent
Tibetan Spirit
ASMR Whisper
Fish Tank
African Trance (basically build your own drum circle)
Fairy Pond (so many frogs!)

Even if all you need is some background noise to help you concentrate, do yourself a favor and check out MyNoise.net.  It also has a free iOS app.

(I was not paid to say any of this, I just love it that much.)

 


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