Thursday, Like A Monday

It’s Thursday, but it feels like a Monday. In a good way, mind you. Because all the damn ice has melted off or washed away, which means I get to go running. Not only that, but Miss B gets to come with me, which means we’ll both work off a mountain of fidgets and irritability.

All I have to do is wait for my breakfast to settle. Then it’ll be time to tie my shoes and get the fuck outta the house. The big thing will be reminding myself to be careful and take it easy, since there may be some slippery patches–the mud is going to be incredible, if I have to veer off pavement. Sticking to a dry-ish route is going to take some ingenuity.

I couldn’t be happier. I am twitching while I type, all but desperate to get out the door and work off these nerves. It was so bad yesterday I had to consciously remind myself not to snap at anyone or anything interrupting my train of thought. Working when one is snappish can be good–the irritation can push you to better characterization and to fiercer work, not to mention attention to small details. Most of the time, though, it’s a handicap because EVERYTHING MAKES ONE WANT TO KILL. “Perpetually murderous” might be a good story, but it’s an inefficient method of goal achievement. It creates bodies and paperwork, both things that take up a great deal of working time.

I jest, but only halfway.

So, today I run all my fidgets out, and Miss B’s, too. Then it’s Afterwar, and some more Roadtrip Z, and maybe a bit on a super-sekrit project. And yes, today is the day another chapter of Roadtrip Z goes live! I am tremendously excited.

Now that my breakfast has settled a bit, it’s time to brush my teeth and tie the aforementioned shoes.

Over and out.

Cabin Fever

We’re still snowed in, so telling the story of Who Shot At Willard and the Consequences Thereof has hit an unexpected snag. Everyone is inside, safe and relatively warm. They’re saying “ice storm”, though, and those are two words I never wanted to hear again. The dogs are both snarky and twitchy because it’s been too slick to take them out, and Miss B in particular needs a job or two before she goes mad from boredom. I need to get out and run, too, before I explode with frustration. The treadmill only goes so far.

Case in point: it’s taken me about twenty minutes to write the above, between dogs demanding attention, kids wanting to talk, shivering, refilling my coffee cup, and various moments of irritation so intense I have to shut my eyes and take at least five deep breaths to stave off screaming.

We’re supposed to warm up after the ice storm, which will mean rain and flooding. At this point, I’m counting it a small price to pay for just getting back to normal.If I was a little younger I’d probably go running, even on solid ice, and count a cracked bone as just the cost of getting some of the damn prickling under my skin worked off.

So I’m going to channel some of that aggression and irritation into Afterwar, do some office cleaning, and play some Prince to encourage dancing around. One kind of effort is much the same as another, and if I keep moving, I won’t think about how furious I am at being trammeled. Solitude is as necessary as food or air, and the older I get, the more so it becomes.

Over and out.

Frat Squirl Beauregard

green cage I’m approaching burnout quickly. Going straight from Harmony into Afterwar was perhaps not my best choice, but I don’t want to slow down, either. Part of me thinks that if I just work hard enough, I can stave off disaster of any stripe. Also, if I’m writing instead of filing stuff or cleaning my office, I can eventually be barricaded behind piles of papers and books, and end up mummified.

I’m not saying it’s rational, I’m just saying it’s a coping mechanism, and not a very good one at that. Certainly it vexes Odd Trundles, whose turning radius is such that he can’t schnorgle my feet without knocking something over. He is, I have to admit, the only reason my office gets cleaned at all.

The espresso machine is making funny groaning noises, but on the bright side, the Princess brought home some Pop Tarts. As far as I am concerned, there is only one kind of Pop Tart that counts, and that’s the brown sugar cinnamon kind. She’s partial to the frosted fudge, which sends me into paroxysms of ugh, to which she gleefully remarks that it means they are hers, all hers. The Little Prince is neutral on the subject of Pop Tarts, but he is gaga for shrimp chips, which neither the Princess or I would touch if you paid us.

This convinces me the secret to domestic harmony is different tastes in junk food. That, and uniting against a common enemy. Like, say, squirrels.

The tree rats have grown exceeding fat during this warm autumn and uncharacteristically mild November. As in, so rotund I’ve seen a few dragging their bellies as they hop across the road. Beauregard has returned, but he seems to have forgotten his chivalry in favor of reeling from one nut cache to the next. He’s become that most hideous of beings, an arboreal frat boy.

…I should explain, right?

So the Princess and I were at the table, sharing a lunch before she had to leave for work. (The Prince was at school, begrudgingly–his fondest wish now is to graduate and get a job like his sister, who can BUY HER OWN POKEMON GAMES.) As is the habit with lunches, we each had something to occupy us while eating, enjoying the time together in silence. I think I had a book on Reconstruction, and she had a walkthrough of a particular dungeon playing softly on her phone. I caught a flicker of motion in my peripheral vision just before the Princess glanced up and said, in the mildest of tones, “Squirrel.”

My head snapped to the side, my heart giving a terrified leap rivaled only by the time I almost got hit with a pool cue during a barfight (but that’s, say it with me, another blog post) and I saw Beauregard, almost as round as Napoleon!Squirl but considerably taller, hopping around on the table. “Jesus Christ don’t do that!” I snapped, shoving my chair back while the Princess laughed.

She has no mercy, this daughter of mine. If I hadn’t been conscious when she was born, I STILL wouldn’t doubt she is completely, genetically, absolutely the product of my womb.

“I’m wearing shoes,” she informed me, as I peered under the table to verify we were both shod. Now, there was a closed patio door between us and the erstwhile Knight of the Nut Table, but it pays to be certain.

Go ahead, laugh. You’ll sing a different tune if the filthy little nut-munchers ever take a liking to your yard, I’ll tell you that.

Anyway. Beauregard did a complete circuit of the table, which rocked under his squirrely weight. The two flowerpots I haven’t cleaned out yet stand sentinel there too, and he stood on tiptoe to look in the smaller one. I know someone–I suspect Josephine!Squirl–buried an unshelled peanut there. That may or may not be why I haven’t moved it yet.

Look, I’ve got a kind heart, okay? Well, mostly.

Anyway, Beauregard circled the much larger flowerpot. It’s a sizable one, and I haven’t emptied it because it’s heavy ceramic and I thought well, there might be a cache in there too, how would I feel if someone moved my to-be-read pile? Although that’s not really a fair comparison, it’s the closest I could get, not being in the habit of burying comestibles in my backyard, even in the rose garden. (There’s no room between the roadkill corpses among the roses, anyway.)

“Mom…” The Princess looked puzzled. “Is that normal?”

“It’s a squirrel. Nothing about it is normal.” But I knew what she meant. Beauregard was…well, kind of dancing. You know, like when you’re are the airport and your bladder is full but there’s a line in the loo and you’re going to miss your flight but you don’t care because when Mother Nature calls, you can’t put that bitch on hold for too long?

Yeah. Like that.

So Beauregard, who once was a lithe and doughty knight, hefted himself up onto the rim of the flowerpot. He hopped down into the pot itself, and…

“OH HELL NO,” I yelled, startling Miss B, who was under the table hoping to catch a bit of dropped human lunch. “OH, HELL NOOOOOOO.”

“Mom…” The Princess stared. “Did he…just…”

“DID HE JUST PISS IN MY FLOWERPOT?” I rocketed to my feet, hitting my hip on the table and almost spilling my coffee and her orange juice. “OH HELL NO HE DID!”

Beauregard, so fat he can barely climb a tree, defecated in my flowerpot.

The Princess began to laugh, helplessly, and I almost ran into the patio door before realizing discretion was probably the better part of valor and opening said door was, as Vizzini might have said, a Classic Blunder. It took a good five minutes of cursing before I recollected myself, during which Miss B began dancing on the rug before the door, hoping that this meant a ramble outside. (I believe the term “nutsucking son of a flying donkey” may have had a starring role.) The Princess was damn near purple with merriment, and Sir Frat Boy Beauregard twitched his tail, wallowed over the edge of the flowerpot, and minced off up the fir right next to the deck.

Yes, friends and neighbors, he came down out of the treetops to shit in my flowerpot. Now I’m going to have to wear gloves and a hazmat mask to empty that fucker out.

It’s gonna be a long winter.

Inconvenience Bigotry

wonder-woman

So. The popular vote elected our first woman president, but the electoral college will hand it to a racist orange malignant narcissist and his super-evil twopence piece who will, God help us, probably be doing the actual governing. Hatred has reaped a rich harvest. I am hoping its sowing methods are not sustainable and the ground will be exhausted ere long. Optimistic, maybe, but I have to believe that or I’ll go even madder than I already am.

In light of this, I have two things to say. (I have more, but two will suffice today.) The first is simply this:

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Fred Rogers

I would add, when scary things are happening, be one of the helpers. If that means you practice self-care so you can be strong for others, great. If it means protesting, fine. If it means hugging everyone you love and committing afresh to daily kindness and decency, okay. You know best how to help in your own circumstances and life.

The second thing I have to say is for my fellow white people. Yes, I am talking to you. Sit up, pay attention. This is on us.

Do not be polite to bigotry anymore.

I’m hearing a lot of “come together” rhetoric right now. I’m hearing a lot of “part of my family is racist but I still have to see them at Thanksgiving.” Here’s the thing: you don’t have to lend yourself to hatred. You really don’t.

Racists often talk about how they’re “ostracized” for their “beliefs.” You know what? Good. Racism is ugly. Hatred is ugly, and it is not worth a whit of social acceptance.

When your elderly Fox-News-swallowing neighbor starts in with the coded dog whistles, walk away. When your family members make “Killary” jokes, make your disgust plain and walk away. When that guy on the bus is yelling at a PoC to “go back to where you came from” or “sit at the back of the bus”, say something. You don’t have to engage the asshole directly, but sitting next to the target of harassment and striking up a conversation about the weather, using your body language to shut the harasser out, can work wonders.[1] Let your face show how disgusted you are with that asshole. Make it clear their behaviour is absolutely repugnant.

One of my favourite things to say to assholes like that is simply, “Stop that. You know better.” Because they do.

Look, everyone is saying “the polling mechanisms are broken!” No, they’re not. What happened is simple: People know racism and hatred and Donald Trump are repugnant. They know. Having to say you support Trump while talking to a pollster is repellant. You could not believe yourself a good person and do that, and most people want to believe they’re good. (I could go on a rant about most people stopping at four on Kohlberg’s stages of moral development here, but I won’t.) In the voting booth, nobody is watching, and you can be as much of a shitheel bigot as you want to be.

Which is fine. I’m okay with the voting booth letting people show the aggregate ass-end of white supremacy. It’s not like anybody didn’t already know, and the right to vote cuts both ways. But out here in other spaces, we have the absolute right to be disgusted, and to show our disgust.

Let’s make racism so socially unacceptable that even their “polite” dogwhistles and little euphemisms are repellant. Let us make it clear how fucking loathsome bigotry and hatred are.

Now, I can hear some of the bigots whining already. That will make us a minority! You can’t pick on minorities! Nice strawman, try again. I am not advocating violence, simply clear disgust. I’m saying it needs to become the norm to treat bigotry, hatred, and harassment with the contempt it deserves in every social space. When it becomes an inconvenience and a moral and social cost to be a Turmpist “alt-right” asshole, less people will do it.

Why am I saying this directly to my fellow white people? Deploying our privilege to show everyone that this shit is not okay is on us. Getting up and pointedly leaving the room your racist Uncle Bill holds forth about building a wall and making Mexico pay for it is the least you can do for humanity. Using your privilege to shield the target of harassment on a bus or the street or in the workplace is a righteous act.

Maybe it’s just because I’m forty and I have little to no patience for bullshit. Maybe it’s because the field in which I grow my fucks is barren now, or maybe it’s because I have kids and I want the world I leave them to be a little better than I found it, or at least a little less hateful. Maybe it’s because I’m goddamn tired of people nodding and smiling and smoothing things over when some crepe-necked white man assaults everyone around who doesn’t look like him. Maybe it’s because I’m a fucking human being. I don’t care.

Do not give people a pass when they spout bigoted bullshit. Let them find out that hate is lonely and ugly. Let that truth inconvenience them. A very wise friend of mine is of the opinion that Americans don’t make a move until their convenience is threatened, and I think she’s right.

So let’s inconvenience the fuck out of bigotry, my friends. Because we know better.

[1] I can already hear a bunch of people saying, “But what if it’s unsafe?” Well, you’re the judge of that in the situation, fine. Do as your conscience and safety dictate.

Blue Checkmark Blues

Oh, Twitter. You’re so funny.

Remember the Twitter impersonator incident from 2014? Since then, every once in a while, I report harassment or impersonation of me on Twitter just to see what will happen. (Yes, there are impersonators. Which somewhat mystifies me, but at least one of them is a stalker, so…yeah. Anyway.) When I report harassment, exactly nothing beyond a form reply rejecting my complaint happens.

When reporting impersonation, however, the form letter comes with a demand for something very specific: a readable picture of my driver’s license or passport.

Twitter’s insistence on this particular piece of information–state-issued photo ID–is perplexing in more ways than one. Ever since 2014, they’ve been asking me for it. I write back explaining why I won’t be sending one, and giving links to my website, my official FB, my verified Amazon Author pages, my Goodreads page, all clearly sporting links to my Twitter account. Since I wouldn’t turn over a scan or fax of my sensitive personal information because their implied handling of such data in 2014 was questionable at best and they have not actively sought to regain my trust since, they issue a form rejection of my complaint, and when I respond to the form rejection with another explanation, I get back a form letter saying the support case is closed and further replies will be sent to to an unmonitored address.

Charming, isn’t it?

Now, when they opened up verification a little while ago, I figured I’d try it out, just to see if the horrendous parts of the process had been fixed. I figured I’d play at least part of the game, however, and sent in the links to my website, my Amazon Author pages, my Goodreads author page and Facebook fan page–you get the idea–all with clear links to my Twitter profile, and, bonus, a scan of my driver’s license with the number, my birthdate, and my address blacked out. I held out no great hope.

Well, on August 8th I received a form letter rejection, and when I wrote back asking how my profile/bio didn’t meet the requirements for verification, the email bounced. It wasn’t quite as classy as the unmonitored email address ploy, but perhaps they were losing patience with my gadfly self.

Imagine my surprise when, after a very clear rejection, this landed in my inbox earlier today:

FROM: Twitter Support
TO: contact@lilithsaintcrow.com
Case#*REDACTED* RE: Verification Request for @lilithsaintcrow

.
Hello,

We received your request to verify @lilithsaintcrow.

We need to confirm the identity of the account owner in order to further investigate this request. Please provide a copy of their valid photo ID (e.g. driver’s license or passport) within 48 hours of receiving this email.

If the legal name does not match the stage/artist name, please include a letter from the management company stating the following:

The legal name stated on the official identification provided is the authorized account holder of @lilithsaintcrow.
Please scan and upload the required documentation using the following link:
*LINK REDACTED*

We must be able to see the full name and photo, so please try to send a legible copy. This information will be kept confidential, and will be deleted once we have used it to confirm their identity.

Reply to this email to let us know once you’ve uploaded the documentation. We appreciate your patience and cooperation in this matter.

Thanks,

Twitter Support

Reference *REDACTED*
Help
Twitter, Inc. 1355 Market Street, Suite 900 San Francisco, CA 94103

I’ve redacted the link, case number, and reference number above for obvious reasons.

So, just to get this straight, they rejected my verification request outright, bounced my request for further explanation, and are STILL, after all this, determined to get their hands on my driver’s license. They do say the information will be kept confidential, yet how can I trust their policies won’t be changed in the future? “Will be deleted” once you’ve used it to confirm? Why not just spend the two seconds to google me or for God’s sake, READ THE REPLIES AND THE APPLICATION I SENT YOU? Wouldn’t that be easier than me sending personal, sensitive information to a company that exists to sell user’s eyeballs to the highest bidder?

I mean, yes, Twitter is convenient as all get-out and it’s really great for interacting with fans, and it’s ubiquitous right now, but let’s not think this service is offered out of the goodness of any Silicon Valley bro’s heart, okay?

However, being just enough of a contrarian, and being just irritated enough, to try again for the purposes of blogging about the whole damn thing, I sent a reply. Here it is:

Dear Sir/Madam,

As I have told Twitter multiple times, this is unnecessary and somewhat insulting, especially after I was impersonated on Twitter in back in 2014. (I wrote about it here: Then, I was told that harassers and impersonators could gain access to whatever information I gave Twitter. Your assurance that the data will be deleted is not sufficient for me to risk my safety or the safety of my family.

I am a New York Times Bestselling author. Here are (a few of the many) places where my official Twitter account is referenced and linked to:

My website: http://www.lilithsaintcrow.com

My Facebook and Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/lilithsaintcrow https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lilith-Saintcrow/172118402032

My Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/131208.Lilith_Saintcrow

My Amazon Author Pages: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002BLOSOU http://www.amazon.com/Lili-St.-Crow/e/B002TN3418/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

However, I am fully expecting to receive another form letter rejecting me for verification, like the one I received a few weeks ago (on August 8, to be precise) when I initially requested verification. I have no idea why you are asking for sensitive personal information again after initially rejecting me and ignoring my request for further information about said rejection.

Best,

Lilith Saintcrow

I added the NYT Bestselling thing because my agent tells me it shows I’m Serious.

Now, why am I bothering, especially since I might not even take verification when offered? Because this has irritated the bejesus out of me. Twitter is a complete and utter mess when it comes to dealing with harassment, despite Randi Lee Harper’s clear, cheap, and effective fixes, which she’s offered for free. Also, their insistence on getting hold of critical personal information about me is thought-provoking, to say the least. Why are they so set on gaining this information? What happens to it when their policies change?

Someone remarked to me that the company Just Doesn’t Get It, “it” being harassment. I don’t think that’s strictly true. I think they get it, but it’s not profitable to care. So, Twitter doesn’t.

*gets out the popcorn* I’ll probably get another form letter in response.

I can hardly wait.

ETA: Well, I didn’t have to wait long. Another form email, exactly the same as the one above, landed in my inbox at 5:23pm. *gets more popcorn*

ETA 8/25/16: I just received this email back from Twitter Support.

FROM: Twitter Support
TO: contact@lilithsaintcrow.com
Case#*REDACTED* RE: Verification Request for @lilithsaintcrow

Hi,

Thanks for the followup email. Unfortunately, we are unable to verify you if you are unable to provide the required documentation. Thank you for understanding.

Thanks,

Twitter Support

http://support.twitter.com
@Support

Reference *REDACTED*

WELL. THERE IT IS THEN. *melts more butter* *screeches with laughter* I wrote back. Of course I did.

Dear Sir/Madam,

So, you mean to say that despite my concerns about stalking, harassment, and impersonation, and despite the fact that you can verify that @lilithsaintcrow is my official Twitter account by a few moments spent on my website, my verified Amazon Author page, and my official Facebook, despite the fact that this email address is clearly my official one, you cannot “verify” me unless I hand over sensitive personal data I cannot trust you to guard responsibly due to your track record? This is what you’re saying. If there’s another explanation, please, enlighten me.

Best,

Lilith Saintcrow

I see two options here. Either Twitter wants my driver’s license information because they plan to monetize it in some fashion later down the line, OR they don’t have the staff to run verification properly, which means they don’t have enough staff to handle the data properly. What happens when they’re hacked? They say they delete the information just after they use it, but really? Once it’s on their servers, I’m just supposed to trust them? Especially when they were very clear back in 2014 that they reserved the right to share a scan of my driver’s license with someone I had reason to believe was a stalker who had already threatened me? Neither of these options induce me to a great deal of confidence.

So. No blue ticky-check for me. I’m not even sure I’d take it, were they to suddenly pay attention and offer one. Marginalized folks, and people at risk of harassment, or people who are ALREADY being harassed, are not served well by this, and I would caution them to reconsider verification. Either it’s a data grab, or they don’t have the staff to keep that sensitive data safe. I don’t want to risk it, I won’t give out information that can possibly impact the safety of my family, and I really, really urge everyone considering verification to think about this.

‘Nuff said.

A Full Weekend

Markedcover2

I’ve added new perks to the Indiegogo campaign for The Marked. If you have an idea for a perk, do let me know.

This past weekend, the Princess graduated from high school. (Good Lord, I feel old.) Yes, I cried. That seems the only appropriate response when you’ve successfully managed to get a tiny dependent being through the eighteen years of childhood and early adolescence. The ceremony to mark such a thing, while boring, is still important because it’s a ritual, drawing a nice bright line between the phase of “public school” and the entry into young adulthood. I rarely have the patience for communal rituals, but I recognize their import.

My baby, growing up. *sniffles a bit*

She’s handling the transition better than I am. You get into the habit of feeding, caring, listening for their breathing, constantly blocking traffic for them, guiding, watching, loving them so hard your very bones ache when they’re in any kind of pain. It leaves an imprint. Learning to let go, bit by bit, as they grow, is hard. You wake up one day, and they’re doing things like BEING ALL GROWN-UP. And the feelings get so big they leak out of your nose and eyes and mouth.

The other thing I did this weekend was run a writing workshop for teens. It was interesting. I have often thought of running online writing workshops, and it was fun to do sort of a dry run and see what kinds of questions people ask, how a workshop is structured, and how to keep an audience interested. I think it went rather well.

Still, all the emotion, and the public speaking, left me drained down to a bare shadow of myself. I suspect I’ll need another day or so to recover, then it’s on to Cormorant Run revisions. I planned to start them at the beginning of the month, but the zombie apocalypse story grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. I think I was using the zombies to decompress, or just plain to escape.

…yeah, my wiring is weird. But then, if you’re reading this, you quite probably knew that already. I’m retreating, also, because the news is so terrible, and I am old enough to realize it’s very likely nothing will be done. People simply love their fear and their hatred too much to change; it terrifies me that my children will be going into such a world.

So I’m off to refill my creative well, and to go back into a world I built a while ago. If there’s hope, it lies in creating. Or at least, so I tell myself. It’s all I have to fight the fear.

Over and out.

Inefficiency Bothers Me

sixstringsamuraiicon You don’t change the location of a potluck two hours before the damn thing starts, especially on a work day. Apparently, though, one of the American teachers involved in the exchange program thought that was an appropriate thing to do. This is the same teacher that’s consistently twenty minutes late to every event, and whose indifferent organizing meant that at least three times several of the students were unable to contact their host parents when pickup times changed. *eyeroll* The inefficiency bothers me.

As I’m sure you can tell.

Most of all, though, I’m embarrassed by her. We’re supposed to be putting our best foot forward for the exchange program.

ANYWAY. All of this meant that instead of being able to attend two events for two different sets of kids, I could attend neither because I was busy driving everyone to where they needed to be. In any case, it’s over now, and I am hoping I don’t ever have to deal with this particular teacher ever again.

Revisions on She Wolf and Cub proceed apace. I’m doing a pass for formatting and basic things, since all my italics seem to have been stripped out. (You know how much I love my italics.) When that’s done, I’ll make another pass for details. The setting is so very clear in my head, but that needs to hit the page as well. If there ever was a book where I need to luxuriate in the background, it’s this one. The stacks of towering stone, the endlessness of the sand, the silver and indigo of the dunes at night, they all need to be brought forward.

So that’s my day. After, of course, I get out the door for my long run to sweat out the irritation from yesterday. I can even taste it, thin metal at the very back of my tongue. I never thought, when I started running, that it would be a mood regulator. Just one more benefit, I suppose, along with tiring out Miss B and working plot tangles loose.

Over and out.