Being subversive: writing different types of “literature”

This morning on Tell Me More, Michelle Martin spoke of an author who died yesterday, E. Lynn Harris, probably best known for his novel, Basketball Jones. He was openly gay and wrote frequently of African American men who, while having heterosexual marriages and children, also harbored homosexual relationships on the downlow. I found it quite interesting as you don’t often hear of this.

Later in the day, while I perused some images on Deviant Art, I kept thinking about Harris’s subject matter as it relates to “literature”. He was quoted in an older interview saying something to the effect of “not everyone will write ‘literary’ things and that’s ok because if everyone had to write that, then it would stifle the other kinds of writing and their creative outlets.” And he has a point. I admit to being against romance novels – those Harlequin ones with a beefy Fabio type on the cover, blond hair blowing in the breeze while some dainty damsel caresses the billowing sheet wrapped delicately around his well-formed hips – but I have to at least give those authors credit: they’re writing something. And by god, they’re getting paid to do it.

I have been writing for a long time. Most of it has been garbage and some of it has turned out ok. And I was thinking the other night about a fiction technique class I took as an undergrad. My first story was about a boy whose friend had been avoiding him. It was plaintive yet banal; the boy was all emotional about his friend, blah blah blah, and it all resolved in the end when said boy’s friend ended up being all secretive because he was gay and didn’t want to tell anyone. This was my official first slash fic. Though I don’t think I knew it was actually a defined thing then.

From Wikipedia (::shudder::) – Slash fiction is a genre of fan fiction that focuses on the depiction of romantic or sexual relationships between characters of the same sex. While the term was originally restricted to stories in which one or more male media characters were involved in an explicit adult relationship as a primary plot element, it is now more generally used to refer to any fan story containing a pairing between same-sex characters

I feel that slash can be applied to any type of literature that explores this element of humanity, not just fanfiction. However, that’s where I am going with this. Referencing my title, I think by writing this kind of fiction – wherein the author is pairing people together that are not “the norm” – they are subverting the world of Literature as it stands. And to me, this is a good thing.

I found this article by Googling, “Why I write slash.” I knew there were A LOT of women out there writing this type of literature – for there is proof on numerous sites! – but it was really intriguing to see this writer put into words why women (usually exclusively) tend to explore these relationships over heterosexual ones, especially when the majority of these women are hetero themselves. If I look back at all the fiction I have written – fan and otherwise – I have managed to somehow infuse M/M couples into a lot of it. I never questioned why this recurring theme popped up time and again; I think I just sort of accepted it as inspiration hit. It sounds like a cop-out but I baffled even myself with this interest.

I agree with this author that it’s not just about having double the penises (though I am sure that’s a factor) but it’s more about breaking down the stereotypes of the men that we have so long looked up to, revered, and feared. We do want to see the big strong guy break down and for his softer side to peek through. Maye this is a way for women to gain control, some equal ground. We are able to take matters into our own hands; it fulfills some hidden desires. In romance novels – at least, as far as I know – the woman is already submissive to the burly man’s desires, and he’s going to have his way no matter what. In an M/M relationship, though there may be a top/bottom, uke/seme, etc…I believe the characters are on an equal playing field for the same reason this author posits: the men have had a chance to be friends first, to know each other in a way that a pursued female as potential lover has not had with her suitor. And this makes the relationship all the more powerful and compelling. Almost… safe.

In this article, the author explains how fandoms begin and how they translate into writing fanfic and then the sudden realization that you now want to write your favorite same sex characters in, well, compromising positions. It goes on to explain that by writing these characters out of canon we are breaking societal barriers. And I guess that’s part of the intrigue. For me, at least, it’s a bit of a thrill to find a pairing that you would never suspect.

I have read my fair share of fanfiction. Probably first was Star Wars Episode 1 stuff: Darth Maul/Obi-Wan pairings, as odd as that may sound. There was a fair share of hurt/comfort involving Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan as well, which I totally fell for. Next was probably Lord of the Rings (Come on, you know Aragorn and Legolas were totally hot for each other; did you see the way they looked into each others’ eyes??) But nothing will beat the underlying slashiness of Batman and Robin.

In 1945, Fredric Wertham wrote a book titled, Seduction of the Innocent in which he claimed that comics were destroying our youth with their sex, violence, and homosexual undertones, as was apparent in the relationship between Batman and Robin. As a cultural icon, this duo was and is more well-known than any other Superhero team in, well, the history of comics. And I don’t think that’s just my opinion. For Wertham to posit that they were closet lovers, well, I can’t deny that the undertones are there. Admittedly, within the world of slash fic, there are characters getting it on that have no business being with each other. However, I believe that the minority of Batman comic reader and fanfiction writers will tell you that they aren’t working with nothing; it’s there and it’s pretty obvious if you know where to look. There are people who will rail against this until they’re blue in the face but that’s what creative license is all about.

Now, where was I going with this? Oh yes, why do people write slash, is it “literature”, and ultimately why am I wasting my time writing it as well?

Fantasy: it’s why we go to the movies, read any kind of book or listen to music. It’s an escape. For some, reading slashy fanfics is our escape from the trials of our daily lives. Is it fair to say that by writing these little snippets of fantasy, I am engaging in something… more lighthearted – easier – than say, actual fiction for the purpose of novelization and publication? Maybe. For someone who has a degree in writing, I feel like at least I AM writing and the pressure to be a published author doesn’t weigh upon me as I type the words.  Simply put: it’s fun.

Is it literature? I don’t see why not. All writing is a valid form of expression (though, only if it’s spelled correctly; I won’t read something where the author constantly makes the mistake of to/too/two and there/they’re/their. Heh heh, OK, of course I will, but I’ll hate it. :) ) I think it’s great that NPR did a short piece on Harris, celebrating the boundaries he broke, the strides he took in uncovering a seldom spoken of aspect of America, of black culture. The females on the fanfiction sites who pair Bruce Wayne with Tim Drake or Clark Kent, Hal Jordan with Ollie Queen, or Dick Grayson with Roy Harper are just reworking that which already exists, or what we wish we could see play out, knowing that a submissive Timmy would never show up on the pages of Detective… ever. And at least they’re writing….shaking things up…

It’s a community where we share our common interests, if nothing else. And I’m glad to be a part of it. For a long time, I ignored that part of myself, that writing I was doing. And it’s unhealthy.

So now I feel better.

The most random Monday morning post

And it’ s just for you! Yes, I am all over the place this morning so you get to experience this with me. Aren’t you excited? Hell, I can feel your excitement from here.

***************

When I went to pick up some uber-greasy Hungry Howie’s pizza on Saturday, I got to see a guy get arrested. As I pulled into the lot, which also houses a Best Buy, I saw a caravan of BB employees walking across the parking lot. One of the men was not dressed in BB garb but I had no idea what the deal was. Until I parked. That’s when I heard the sirens and as the two police cruisers pulled into the median of Appalachee Parkway, the guy bolted, only to be waylaid by said police and beat into submission. Thanks to the commentary from some guys at the T-Mobile store, “That guy done stole somethin’!”

***************

Some of the funnier Texts From Last Night I read today:

(352): I give out O-faces like they’re Halloween candy

(801): all he gave me for my birthday was sperm
(254): at least its a homemade gift

(972): And that’s when I found out that Patrick wasn’t in fact down with O.P.P.

(520): The world would be so much better with thought bubbles.

(440): oh vodka. i could write you a sonnet.

Sometimes I totally laugh out loud to that site. Other times, I just feel sad for people and their sordid exploits from the weekend. I mean, how often CAN people get drunk and go home with random people? Apparently, A LOT.

***************

I was pretty disappointed in the end of VH1’S Daisy of Love. I mean, to be honest, I hate her with a fiery passion because she’s so stupid and everything that is wrong with women these days. BUT, I was on-board for the entire season because I had to know. And that’s the downfall of reality TV, kids. Take heed. But, come on, London?? For realz? He’s so scummy and he’ll break your heart more than once. She should have picked Flex. Like she said, he was what she needed but what she wanted was London. Her choice personified how women always do that shit: go on feeling alone and don’t realize the hot mess they’re getting themselves into. When London went on that show, he was homeless. He was a starving musician, couch surfing. I don’t care how much she liked his looks, that should be a red flag. BUT, in her defense, it seemed like she actually had some kind of deeper connection to him. And I suppose there’s no denying your heart. My favorite part of the show was Riki Rachtman. I remember him from my youthful days of watching Headbanger’s Ball late into the night. He was her voice of reason and Daisy didn’t listen to a damn thing he said; heh, heh. Sigh.

***************

I fear the so-called Terrible Twos have come a bit early. I also hate using that phrase. I feel like it lumps me into the category of people who use all those dumb kid-related phrases. They’re the same people who ask how my son is and then tell you to wait ’til they’re teenagers hardee-har-har. Assholes, that’s what they are. ANYway, Elliot’s not SO bad but within the last couple weeks he has definitely entered a new stage. Used to be if he did something wrong or had something he shouldn’t and we redirected, he would be alright, move along. Now, if I take something from him, it is The End of The Known World and he launches into some – admittedly hilarious – tantrums.  I of course try to ignore these best I can, which seems to work to calm him. Also, taking him outside works, as it has since he was but a tiny helpless suctopus. I am slightly worried about handling all the new strange behavious – especially because we’re about to throw in potty training and big boy bed – but I think I can muddle through. Not like there’s a choice!

***************

Have you seen the trailer for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland? I am pretty sure I will see it. But, like everything else that I really like but has been “rebooted”, I am a little worried. For the most part, I think Tim Burton is extremely talented in scary creative. It pissed me off when I found out that when he made the Batman movie he had not once even cracked a Batman comic. But you saw it; you know. It was pretty damn good. I’ll put my faith in him on this one.

Well, that’s all for now. How are ya? And I mean it; what’s up?

New Good Things – 7/24 edition

Aww-right, I got something to say! Man, Def Leppard knows how to make an intro, huh? Anywho, it’s that time again for some reviews. I have recently had the opportunity to actually purchase some stuff lately and hence, a good product review post. Woot! Get this party started.

Wailua Wheat Ale – Kona Brewing Company – $1.99/bottle, Total Wine

I picked up this beer on a whim because Total Wine, in Palm Beach Gardens, has a vast selection of single bottles. I thought this beer looked very refreshing for a Summer drink due to its infusion of passion fruit. My mother made an “eww” face at that ingredient but to be honest, it made the beer very light but not too fruity. It went down easy and left a very peachy sort of aftertaste. I highly recommend this beer to, say, the casual beer drinker looking for something cool on a hot day.

4 out of 5.

Igloo Lunch Box – $10.99, Target

For a very long time, I had been using a small square softsided lunch bag from Burdines. yes, the Burdines that, as far as I can tell, is obsolete. This particular lunch bag has probably been in my family since at least 1990, if not before. So, apparently, it was time for a new lunch accoutrement. Behold:

igloo

They had fancier ones, ones with flowery designs with all kinds of cool colors but they weren’t shaped right. This one can expand slightly if my Tupperware is a bit bigger. Plus there’s room for more than one thing in there, which is an upgrade from my previous bag. The meshy sidecarriage for a water bottle is also sweet, though I admittedly use my Sigg bottle, which is way too big. So yes, this was a good purchase on my part; a good use of my money. 5 out of 5.

“Family” Charm Necklace – $14.99, Target

Oh Target, how do I love thee; let me count the ways.  I was in need of a new relatively cheap necklace for all these  shirts I seem to be getting that have a lower neckline. I’m not one to spend a lot of money on jewelery so this was the perfect thing. At first, I was drawn to it for the design, which reminded me of the Celtic tree which I have long desired in tattoo form on my body somewhere. But the whole family idea also drew me in, as cheesy as that may sound. However, it’s adorable and compliments my weddings rings well, since it’s the white “gold”. For cuteness, this necklace gets a 5 out of 5 from this non-accessorizing girl.

Infinite Crisis – Geoff Johns, etc – $14.99, Borders

Finally managed to trudge my way through this trade. I knew I wanted to read it because I think all good DC fans should read the “Crisis” trades: Identity, Final, …on Infinite Earths. I also knew it was going to be baffling because you see, there are multiple earths wherein the characters we know and love have all lived out a different reality/fate. Orchestrating all of this is the Luthor of Earth 3? Maybe it was 2. Either way, his goal is to mesh all the earths together until the perfect one has been created and they (alternate Kal-El, Lois, etc…) can live happily. Lots of HUGE things happen in this book and I found it to not only be confusing but also, fantastic and emotional. If you like comics and haven’t read this, get with it! 4.5 out of 5, for confusion only.

That’s all I’ve got for you this week, kiddies. I think everyone’s on vacation or given up on commenting but I do hope you all have a great weekend. I plan on cleaning and relaxing, alternately. Peace out, m8ys.

Not myself

Pretty much ever since last Wednesday, I have not felt… right. I have felt outside myself, looking in. That was when the cramps started, the bleeding. I carried on; drove, visited family, ate well, tanned. I got home without the Boy and missed him. There was an actual physical ache when I thought about Elliot and even though I knew he’d be back in a mere day, I was surprised that I had such a reaction. And as stated in a prior blog post, I was ill, so ill. My stomach rumbled and bubbled every time I ate. So I ate sparingly, only when I absolutely felt like I needed sustenance. And all of these things combined made for a very rough week.

But today, ahh, today I feel… renewed. I don’t know what changed; maybe the fact that I got to work out for an entire 30 minutes last night. Good hard working out that sweat any bad stuff right out of me. I may be now caught up on sleep and that too helps. Whatever the answer, it was right.

But Elliot, oh Elliot. Though he may be a month away from two, he is an entirely different kid these days and in his case, this is an amazingly good thing. There was a time, when he was small, when every single day I found something to be stunned by. He rolled over and my heart fluttered. There was a new spark of understanding in his eye and I felt closer to this little alien creature that had emerged from my very own body. But then, once we got the routine down, once he was steadily walking and being just a kid, I think I kind of lost that excitement. The newness of him had gone away and we were just living as a family, enjoying it all. But within the last couple weeks, I think that feeling has been renewed. He understands and knows so much now.

He listens and interacts and loves. That, to me, is the biggest and most wonderful breakthrough. The kid can understand love and gives it, freely. I feel like he connects with me on another level now. I was keeping a journal for a while, tracking his milestones and advances, but I lost track, got into other things. And now that we’re trying to have another baby, I sometimes feel guilty for not appreciating what I have. Of course I love him and know that Elliot is one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. But I’m still wanting. And feeling bad for it. Perhaps it is natural. Perhaps it is the most selfless act to create a sibling, for it is a gift for Elliot.

*SIGH*

After feeling all sick and angsty, I think I am finally back on track. I hope everyone else is doing alright. I’m under the impression it’s the summertime that makes me, and a lot of other people I know, feel so lackadaisical. And it hasn’t even been that hot. But summer has a way of oppressing us, even if we don’t realize it. So, like the cheesy cat on a tree poster from your high school guidance office: Hang in there!

Brief illness

A student of mine missed class on Thursday. He did, however, come to his conference yesterday and explained his weird symptoms last week: headache, then fever, and then he slept for about 12 hours, waking up feeling much better.

Yesterday, around noon or so, I began to feel kind of sick. By 4, I was having chills. By 8 pm, I had a fever and a headache. By 8:30, I was in bed and didn’t get up (except for 2 AM when I put the dogs in their crates; they take up a lot of space in the bed) until 7. And today? I feel at about 90%, hitting at about maybe 5 cylinders. Not bad, I say. But it was weird. There have been some confirmed cases of swine flu on campus so my first thought – of course – was to keep Elliot safe. Then I began to feel guilty if I had unknowingly taken it down to my poor grandparents. But since I am not, in fact, sick, I think we’re OK.

During my sleep, I had two strange dreams. In one, I was sweeping my kitchen floor, which I did not do in real life before falling into bed. So in the dream, the dirt was literally in piles. Two foot high piles. And they were all over my kitchen. My psyche apparently freaked out about not accomplishing this. The second dream was also weird: I had Elliot with me at work and we were talking to someone in the halls when class let out. Amidst all the students, I lost sight of him. For a good while, I ran around the second floor shouting his name. I finally had to call the FSU PD and they evacuated the building when I then found him sleeping on the floor in one of the classrooms. I swept him up in my arms and I distinctly remember thinking I’d never let him go again. It’s weird being away from him; I almost didn’t think I would miss him like I do.

It’s always weird to be sick for a short amount of time; nothing gets accomplished and I feel like a waste of space and yet, lack the motivation to do anything. It’s depressing and relaxing at the same time.

I have conferences today so maybe I shall post some other random stuff throughout the day.

There and back

Total miles logged: 911.7.
Different Florida interstates navigated: 7
Eggs eaten: More than usual
Hours slept: Less than usual
Strange beer find: Wailua wheat ale with passion fruit
Bad movie forced to sit through: Mamma Mia
Children who came back to Tallahassee with me: 0

Thursday evening began just fine, though I managed to forget a few important items and had to swing back by the house before getting to I-10. I was not my usual organized self when I began this trip due to well, ok, I guess I can tell you. I had been nine days late getting my period. I thought this was the one that would stick. And yet, I started bleeding on Wednesday night and didn’t stop until last night. Something tells me that I am not, actually, pregnant. So my brain was a little wonky as I set out to my parents’ house in Orlando.

That stretch of the trip was pleasant: Elliot slept fine and I listened to some new songs I put on the ipod (old stuff like Toto and Asia). When I finally made it, around 10:40 PM, I was exhausted and went to bed glad to be done with driving for the time. The following morning we all – my sister included – went for breakfast before my mother, Elliot and I would drive down to Palm Beach Gardens to see my grandparents. From there, a lot of things happened. Here are some of the goods:

My grandparents loving Elliot at this stage; homemade lasagna; early bedtime; sunsets on the canal; swimming; getting a tan; peach gelato and a trip to Lush; afternoon rain and watching it on the patio; walks at dusk to help settle dinner; early morning beach walking; breakfasts that consist of eggs and spinach (among other things); big lizards with curly tails; Elliot being a good travel buddy.

And here are some of the bad things about this trip, of which there seem to be more than normal. I have made these trips before…

Cutting the side of my foot on something at the beach and not realizing it until later; upset stomach to the nth degree; having to sit through Mamma Mia, the last 15 excruciating minutes especially; forgetting about 4 items and going to Target, only to realize in twenty minutes I forgot something else… and something else after that; very hard twin bed that killed my back; annoying dog-in-law; going to get gas on my way home to find the first station was out of regular; going to another station that had pre-pay only and bars on the windows; going to a third station where I got gas but it had no cut off valve and gas spilled all over my car and ankles; heavy rain during my entire drive home (‘least it washed off the gas!); upset stomach and three rest stop visits, one of which had no toilet paper.

I don’t want to undercut the weekend by simply saying it was “interesting” but that’s all I can seem to conjure up. It ran me ragged. But the kicker is that my mother had the grand plan to keep Elliot until Tuesday evening. They’re coming up here anyway to tend to more things with my grandfather’s house in Alabama. I was compeltely fine with this idea of course. He and I spoke on the phone this morning and he doesn’t seem to miss me one bit. But he will. I miss him but moreso than that, I feel out of place when I don’t need to get up as early and feed him, dress him, and take him to daycare. I got to work early and didn’t quite feel like myself. It’s strange. But I think Ash and I are going to dinner this evening to enjoy the restfulness of it and then renting a movie. It’ll be nice, though I know I will long for my boy soon enough.

My day ahead holds many things so it’s time to get started. I leave you with a few memories of my whirlwind trip of Florida.

beach

sunset
go!

peeker

Entire set can be found here

The Twilight Series review (bear with me)

If you are averse to people who “switched sides” or actually wanted to read this and have not, well then, get thyself elsewhere ASAP.

SO.  I never wanted to give into the travesty that is Twilight. I heard what it was about and firstly, I’m not that much into vampires. I read some Anne Rice and I definitely saw the Tom Cruise/Brad Pitt Interview with the Vampire.  But they’re not my thing. I don’t necessarily go for that whole fandom and/or find it intriguing or sexy, as some of my friends are wont to do. However, I finally gave in and read the first book of the series because a.) my friend at work was going to let me borrow it, b.) she talked me into it, and c.) I wanted to finally just get it over and done with. It’s like one of those things you hate but should do anyway, for posterity.

And I have to tell you, I read that one in two days and could. not. stop. I had to know. And this author has a writing style, at least in the first book, that I felt mirrored how I used to write. It’s a bit choppy and sometimes I don’t dig first person but there was something about the way Meyer (author) tells you *just* enough so that you need to know more. And you’re teased ever so much into needing to know more.

So I dove into New Moon, eager and wanting to know more, see more. I like the idea of Jacob and the wolves. I do NOT like the idea of Edward leaving Bella and the fact that she fills the hole (so to speak; this was, after all, written by a Mormon!)  with Jacob. I “get” it and I know it makes sense but I couldn’t get on board with that relationship. Luckily, it worked out beter in the end of that book.

Eclipse quickly became my favorite book because so many awesome things happened. But it was at that point when I kept thinking, turn her into a damn vampire already. That or have sex, one of the two. I was told that never happened. (I was wrong, by the way!) I think by the end of this book, I was sold on the entire idea. I was officially Team Edward and sadly entrenched in the fascination with Twilight.

Breaking Dawn answered so many questions that I had about vampire lore (within this author’s interpretation) and totally blew me away. Ok, so it’s not the BEST writing but the story keeps getting better and taking turns and, truth be told, once you’ve invested in characters that you like/dislike throughout three other books, you’re on board for just about everything the author can throw at you. And I rode it out, loving every blasted second of it. So, regardless of what some people think, this really was a pretty good read. A quick read but no less entertaining.

Admittedly, I STILL don’t get the deal with Robert Pattinson. I have decided that girls like him because they’re projecting Edward Cullen qualities onto him. I mean, have a look:

robert-pattinson-gq-

He cleans up well but in real life? He’s a trainwreck. And Greasy:

trainwreck

Judge for yourself. I prefer Emmett:

Kellan-Lutz

ANYway, I got sidetracked. The point is: the books aren’t bad. And they draw you in. In the first one, she’s the new girl in an entirely different city, trying to fit in and then she finds herself drawn to the most beautiful boy in school. How many people will identify with that? God, I know I was like that. And I was plain like Bella and nothing special to speak of. So for her to enter this secret, special world, it’s the perfect fantasy. I think now that most of the hype has died down, you can read them safely without much ridicule. It’s only when you start browsing Etsy for merchandise that you’re in trouble. And when you find a company that makes panties that say Cullen Baseball Team on them, well then, you know you’ve gone over to the dark side. :)

Open letter

Dear Steve at Super Lube,

To be fair, I actually *am* sorry that I caused you so much strife. For real. But come on, dude. I called you yesterday  – a week later – and only had to say, “I brought my car in last Sunday…” before you knew I was Mrs. Smith; the Mrs. Smith you overcharged for her oil change. This tells me you knew – you figured out that you effed up – but didn’t let me know. You were waiting to see if I would call you on it. Lo and behold, my bank account showed a 58 dollar charge for an 18 dollar part, meaning you didn’t use my free standard oil change sticker.

Look, Steve, I know I said it was OK to give me back the sticker and all but I needed the money. And I am sure, working in that industry, that you understand what it is to be tight on cash. This is a rough week for me because we got paid on the third and the seventeenth; all bills for the first AND fifteenth had to come out of one check. You feel me? So when I showed up at 5:30 and babbled my way through my weak “threat”, I didn’t mean to take it  out on you personally. But you DID screw up.

I was thankful when you dug into your OWN wallet and counted out thirty nine dollars and seventy six cents. You still missed a fiver but I let it slide, because I saw what you were doing. Yeah, it was good of you to help the customer but it was strictly a CYA measure, I’m sure. After my threat to file a claim through corporate and/or Bank of America, what other choice did you have? My heart raced as I walked back to my car, victorious yet, feeling defeated at the same time. I learned that if you want something and you’re right in that situation, someone’s gotta take the hit. This time it was you, my oil-stained friend. It’s tough for me to accept that I have to put someone down now and then but I came out of it with most of my money and I guess that’s what matters, in this case.

It’s not your fault, Steve. But thanks for stepping up and doing right.

Not much love,

Me