The Last in Line

The biggest fuck you I can think of is for us to survive, create, and thrive—despite and in spite.

Ever since I was a small girl, I most loved stories that were epic battles of good versus evil. I think that’s why I fell so hard for Dio and his music; every single song of his is about an epic battle between good and evil. Tonight, “The Last in Line” is so very hauntingly fitting.

Right now it looks as if we in the U.S.—and even abroad—are heading into some very hard times. If you have a pulse and have at all been paying attention, you already know what I’m talking about. If you’re living in some kind of denial, well, I feel sorry for you. The past two months have felt like the calm before the storm—if you can call any of this calm.

At the very least, I’ll be losing my healthcare. Myself and my loved ones with chronic illnesses—including cancer—who rely on the Affordable Care Act are soon to be left hanging off a cliff. Millions of Americans depend on the ACA, yet Trump, his cabinet, and the GOP have been hard at work dismantling it. There’s no backup plan proposal, and even Congress re-allocated the portion of the budget that previously covered the ACA for miscellaneous expenses.

This is only the start.

Whenever I start to feel afraid, though, I dry my tears and turn that fear into anger. Anger is what’s going to get me through these next four years, because if I’ve learned nothing else in the past 28 years, it’s that I’m a survivor.

Throughout the past two months, I’ve been doing a lot of digging. I’ve always been very self-aware, but now more than ever it’s become extremely important for me to know who I am. I need to remember, because if things get very hard and very dark, that fire is what will carry me through.

Tonight I feel like I’m at a wake. Never in my nearly three centuries of life have I ever been afraid of a U.S. president. I may have disagreed with some of their policies, but I’ve never questioned whether they would do their job and serve the people of their country. We’ve had some tough times in my country, but we’ve continued making progress.

During these last eight or weeks, I’ve examined my values and morals hard. I’ve made note of things I would never do, should the shit really hit the fan. I’ve tried to prepare myself as much as possible by focusing on the things that I can control.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about how I can make a difference—just little me, a queer disabled woman who recently got her voice back. I’ve been thinking about my writing, how I can make a difference with my stories. How I can change the world.

Not with some grand undertaking, but by telling stories that normalize the things that are important to me.

While they’re normalizing hate—racism, sexism, ableism, rape, homophobia, transphobia, bigotry, anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim, xenophobia, the list goes on for way too long (my, how much they hate!)—I’ll be normalizing a world where differences are celebrated. Where those of us who don’t fit the cis-het-white-ablebodied-male mold don’t have to be afraid.

Because it’s normal for us to exist.

The biggest fuck you I can think of is for us to survive, create, and thrive—despite and in spite.

And maybe that’s idealistic and naive of me. Trust me, I don’t think my words are the deus ex machina that is going to allow me to keep receiving healthcare and allow my dear gay friend to walk the streets of America without harassment.

But words are and have always been my only weapon.

First, words were the cloak with which I shielded myself from school bullies and evil men. My stories gave me something to believe in when I couldn’t believe in the world around me.

I don’t know what’s going to happen after tomorrow. I do know, though, the things I’ll never do.

I’ll never hurt an innocent person.

I’ll never remain silent when I see something wrong.

And I’ll never stop writing.

Halfway through writing this post, while I was washing dishes, I turned on the latest episode of the Self-Publishing Podcast. It just so happened that the topic of that episode is one that’s been heavy on my mind: changing the world with your stories.

Artists have always helped shape the world, whether through loud protest or more subtle nudging. I firmly believe that just existing is resisting, and continuing to create in the face of such oppression is our birthright as artists.

Those of us wielding pens and paintbrushes are some of history’s most prominent rebels.

Turns out that the guys of SPP and Laura have put together a FREE masterclass, Storytelling for Social Profit—meaning, how to infuse your stories with current social issues in order to create change. I just signed up, because if nothing else, I now know it’s not just me who’s been thinking about this. If you’re interested, sign up here, but make sure you do it now because apparently the materials are only going to be available for a limited time.

We’ll know for the first time
If we’re evil or divine
We’re the last in line

These words keep echoing in my head. In this past year, it’s become more and more clear which people are good, and which are complete garbage fires. I think, in these coming months, we’re going to find ourselves tested even further.

I’m going to continue to do what I’ve been doing for the past five years: writing stories that feature strong women who took a different path. Stories focusing on social issues. Stories normalizing those of us who are labeled as “other” and therefore “wrong.”

My words are my weapon, and I’m going to war.

Why I Don’t Love Halestorm

via Unsplash
via Unsplash

Major Halestorm fans are getting ready to rip me a new one. But hang on—I didn’t say I hate them or that they suck. I said I don’t love them. And I’ve finally figured out why.

I’ve seen them play. Lzzy Hale has an arena-worthy voice. The rest of the band knows their way around their respective instruments. But on album, all of their songs are way overproduced. It’s as if someone is afraid that the raw power of Lzzy’s voice will scatter the general public like mice and get them banned from radio air waves. And that’s what I hate about the damn mainstream music industry.

I want an entire album where the band ties up their producer and mixer in a closet, and Lzzy just lets loose. Let those growls, runs and riffs, and crazy high notes out of the cage and rampage the zoo. I get shivers down my spine just imagining it. She has a metal-worthy voice. But it’ll never happen.

Their label is too comfy and I’m sure the band enjoys their mass-audience sales, too. So I’ll remain frustrated by this potential. If anyone can recommend a female vocalist backed by a thrash-y band that meets this apparently lofty plateau, please let me know.

Somewhere, Lzzy is reading this and laughing, because she’s well aware of the power she has. And maybe that’s part of their formula: let just enough of it out to draw in the aficionados, hook the masses with those catchy lyrics, and tamp it down on the board to catch the people who think Benatar, Jett, Dio, and Osbourne are the devil incarnated. Maybe they are.

Maybe they were just devilish enough to not give a fuck.

This week I’m hooked on everything Machine Head (which I’d previously dismissed and am now regretting), and basically overdosing the new Lacuna Coil album (I love Ferro’s growls interwoven with Scabbia’s contralto, and I’m really loving Folden on drums).

My “am writing” music for Just One More Minute right now consists of SZA, LIGHTS, and the Follow Your Bliss station on Spotify; it helps me get into the mood of the novel.

I listen to basically everything except country, though I’m scared getting older will suck me into the pit of the latter. Please shoot me if it does. I’ll give you the gun.

Tell me what you’re listening to in the comments!