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Trauma in modern American media is a tricky thing. On one hand, the backstories of nearly everyone, heroes and villains alike are full of it. On the other, trauma is heavily shamed, and leaves characters open to accusations of weakness, or of being whiny. This means that while we want characters who go through traumatic experiences, we are extremely uncomfortable with expressions of trauma. Also, we are much more comfortable with some expressions of trauma than with others. Only certain kinds of traumatic expression are allowed, and like so much about culture, who and what a character is determines what kind of traumatic expression we as a society will allow them to have. Straight white men are given the most freedom to be traumatized, and stereotypically masculine trauma is the most widely viewed as legitimate within fandom in my experience. A character who was in battle and suffers symptoms of PTSD for example is much less likely to be called weak than a character recovering from an abusive relationship who has the same symptoms. A character who lashes out is much less likely to be considered weak than one who breaks down crying. A character who reacts with anger is seen as stronger than one who reacts with fear. There are very few roles for the traumatized woman or girl in American media. Traumatized women can be broken damsels in need of rescuing, but then once the danger is past, the damsel either recovers quickly, or disappears. They can be villains, who use their trauma as an excuse to hurt others, or they can... well. This isn't to say that portrayals of men coping with trauma are all that great either. For all there are so many more of them, they are usually not especially nuanced, though of course some are.

This is why I was so amazed and grateful when I saw Avatar: the Last Airbender for the first time, and why Frozen struck such a chord with me as a woman dealing with childhood trauma. Now, in Book Four of Legend of Korra, the narrative is once again giving a female character, this time its heroine, Korra, the space and the right to be traumatized.Collapse )

To my Jewish Followers

I am not fasting for Yom Kippur due to my chronic illness (funny story, I mentioned the possibility of Yom Kippur fasting once to my doctor, and she started muttering about obviously suicidal patients), and this year, Mom’s joining me in not-fasting for the first time due to recuperating from the lung disease, and I would love it if anyone has any thoughts as to other ways the two of us can observe Yom Kippur without fasting, aside from the contemplation and seeking to right wrongs, and donating to the food bank, especially since Mom is still too ill to attend the longer service.

Also, I hope all of you who are fasting have a quick and easy fast.


Temple Threat Update

For anyone concerned after I mentioned the threat against my synagogue, the FBI figured  out who made  it, and it turns out it wasn't a threat.  The person who made it has a mental illness that features hallucinations, and they had a vision of the temple being attacked, and called to warn us.  Since this person is well meaning, and severely mentally ill, no charges are being filed, and hopefully, the person involved will be able to get the treatment they need.  Anyway, this means I will be going to Erev Yom Kippur services this year, though the full Yom Kippur service is still too much for Mom's health. She's  doing very well, by the way, and recovering from the lung disease with very little scarring, but she still thought it  best we pick the shorter service.


L'Shana Tova

I know I should have made a Rosh Hashana post earlier, but first services were canceled Wednesday because an  anonymous someone made threats against the temple, and the FBI had to be called, so I went to class instead,which was canceled because my teacher's husband was in the hospital, and the school email was down, so I didn't find out until I showed up.   Then I got home and sprained my ankle taking the dogs out.  At that point, I was kind of feeling like "And happy blankity blank new year to you too, universe!"  Thursday, I had a  bunch of appointments and a sick dog, and Friday I had a seizure, which I spent  yesterday recovering from.

But anyway, L'Shana Tova, everyone, may the new year be sweet, and to those of you who aren't Jewish, Nyah nyah, no new year for you.


Trick or Treat Exchange 2014 Letter

Dear Trick or Treat Writer,


I love politics.  I am one class away from a bachelors in Political Science, and I am a political junky.  I love fics that explore the politics and political wranglings of their settings, and all three of the fandoms I requested have lots and lots of room for thatkind of storytelling.  If this interests you, please feel free to write a political procedural.   You will not turn me off.

However, this doesn't mean that politics is  essential for my enjoyment, and I understand that a lot of writers don't go for it.  Other things I really enjoy are Alternate Timeline fics/Canon Divergence AUs, gen darkfic, gen more generally,  pushing characters past the point of desperation, fics where my favorite characters are held prisoner, disabled characters both in stories  discussing their disabilities, and in stories that don't, characters who belong to a gender/sexual minority, family strife, and families of choice. Also angst. I  eat angst up with a spoon.

DO NOT WANT - Rape, incest, character death, allegories to real world political situations, or "total AUs" like high school AUs or coffee shop AUs.  I am however A-okay with brutal psychological torture.

Avatar: the Last Airbender

It's not exactly secret that I enjoy torturing my favorite characters, especially Zuko, and making non-disabled characters disabled.  This is also my very favorite fandom for Alternate Timeline/Canon Divergence AUs.

Also, I'm kind of bummed by the fact that I found out about this too late to nominate characters, but Mai and Ty Lee are my babies and if you can find a way to include them, that would be amazing.

DO NOT WANT - Shipping Azula with anybody. She reminds too much of my first stalker, and it hits way too close to home.
Queen's Thief

Anything at all, but take special note about what I said about loving politics.
Old Kingdom Series

Anything, really, any wonderful thing you can come up with.

A Question about Fannish Terminology

[personal profile] sholio wrote an essay just recently about why Steve/Bucky AUs don't work for her (the AU part, not the Steve/Bucky part) and quite apart from the contents of the essay, it got me wondering about what we call AUs in fandom currently.  Back when I got started, *crotchety old fan voice* things like high school AUs and coffee shop AUs were called "ARs", or Alternate Reality fics whereas  "AU" referred more broadly to both ARs and also "what if" stories.  However, [personal profile] sholio only talked about AR-style AUs, and a number of her points don't really work for what if AUs.  A while back, I ran an Avatar: the Last Airbender AU meme, and after getting almost exclusively AR prompts (and most of those for fusions) I had to explain that what if prompts were definitely also accepted.  I periodically see meta about how the writer of said meta doesn't think AUs are enough like canon, then goes on to describe only AR-style AUs.

Did the meaning of AU narrow  and I didn't realize it? I would kind of like to know, most of what I write other than drabbles are what-ifs.  What if Lupin bit Snape when they were in school, what if Azula captured Zuko at the beginning of  "The Southern Raiders," what if Iroh died when he drank white jade tea. The story I'm working on right now is a what if: what if those Earth Kingdom soldiers in Book One had managed to capture Iroh and Zuko and take them to Ba Sing Se.  If these aren't AUs, I kind of would like to know what to call them.


The Highs to the Lows

Not only did I wake up this morning and it was hot again, but also my oxygen concentrator is on the fritz and I have to send it to a repair shop in Tennessee.  I know this of course because I needed it.  Fortunately, it concentrated oxygen just fine for me, but it has a problem detecting my breathing, and it beeped at me constantly, which was not conducive to sleeping or reading, or thinking about anything.  So I have to arrange temporary oxygen now, for while it's gone.


Ahhhhhhhh, Bliss.

It's gray, drizzling, and cool outside, and I just turned a bunch of chicken bones, a head of celery, two lemons, three cups of wild rice, a bunch of parsley, two onions, and five pounds of chicken into ten servings of fantastic soup. Fall is finally here, and it's not allowed to leave.


I almost didn’t pick this book up, in spite of it being written by Holly Black.  First of all, the cover really creeps me out (yes, I know it’s just a hand and a wrist with writing on it, but it does) and second, vampire novels have almost never done it for me.  But you know, still too lazy to go hunting another author to read when there’s this nice long book by an author I like just sitting there.

When she’s seventeen years old, Tana wakes up in a house full of corpses.  The only other survivor of the high school party turned bloodbath are her charming, irritating ex-boyfriend Aidan, who is already going cold, infected with the vampire disease.  Together with a vampire on the run from the ones who killed Tana’s friends, they have no choice but to head to Coldtown, the city of the undead, where no one who enters is ever allowed out again.

They looked absurdly gorgeous, glowing from the television like fallen angels. Even from the beginning, that was a problem. People liked pretty things. People even liked pretty things that wanted to kill and eat them.Collapse )

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
is definitely a standout vampire novel, and definitely worth the read, both for vampire fans, and people like me who are... not vampire fans.  If you don’t mind your vampires dead scary, this is the book for you.

Holly Black can be found online at her website, blackholly.com, or on livejournal, as blackholly .
Thank you for reminding me why I haven't tried to finish those two WIPs I have in the Harry Potter fandom.

At the risk of sounding too much like a Precious Princess, especially after I started Children of Mars, I attracted a lot of virulent partisans who slammed me every time I posted anything, because they didn't like the way I portrayed their special favorite baby.  One of the reasons I stopped writing Harry Potter fanfic was I was just tired of dealing with it.  I had to delete so many anonymous comments full of profanity and slurs that posting a new fic or a new chapter was something I dreaded instead of looked forward to.  Every so often, I get comments on my old Harry Potter fics, and most of  those comments are absolutely lovely and can brighten up my whole day, but sometimes they're that same old nastiness.

Ferguson Missouri

I am too sickened to say much about the pseudo-military police occupation in Ferguson Missouri, except that I would love to know who the police think they are serving and protecting with their tear gas, assault rifles, and armored vehicles.  The only thing I can see being protected is their own power, and their own supposed "right" to murder young black men by shooting them in the back.


This tree, everybody!

Look at it!

It's been two and a half weeks since the last picture.  This tree's just going wild.



I'm home now,and I've gotten to meet my nice, and hold my niece, and she is the cutest little nub in the history of little nubs, and if I'm not careful, this blog will become the "my niece is wonderful!!!!!" blog.  She woke up and blinked at me and snuffled at me, and when I rubbed her little arm, she sighed.



I have a niece!  She was born late in the evening two nights ago on the 6th of August, to my brother and his wife.  She topped out at eight whole pounds and nineteen inches long!  She made her poor mother endure almost twenty-four hours of labor, and when she came out, her face was all swollen.  Her huge cheeks made her look like a little bitty old lady queen Victoria.  The swelling is going down now, and we're finally getting to see what she looks like.

And of course, I'm stuck at my doctor's in California, so I don't get to meet her until Sunday. Until then, I am relying on the pictures my sister-in-law has been sending us.  My favorite one is of her mama holding her, and she's yawning.  I love her little yawn.

Anyway, if you can't tell, I'm smitten.


Back in New Mexico, my family used to rescue dogs.  We lived out in an area where people would go to dump their dogs, and we would find them, take them in, and find homes for them, or most of them anyway, since Amy and Solo ended up becoming ours.  It was all very informal.  This isn’t something we do anymore, since we’ve actually not run across any stray dogs that we haven’t been able to find their owners since we moved to Alabama, much to my father’s relief.

A couple of weeks ago, my grandmother was driving past a construction site when she spotted a beautiful little wild mimosa tree that was slated to be bulldozed.  She asked the foreman if she could dig it up and take it home, and he gave her the okay.  Our yard man agreed to pick it up for us, and the next day, he went out to get it.  Well, when he dug out around it, he discovered that its roots were wrapped around concrete, and he had to cut most of them of to pry it free.  There was only this little stub of root material, and he never would have done it if the tree weren’t going to die anyway.

So he brings it over to our house, and plants it, and immediately, all of the leaves on it shrivel up, die, and fall off.  The yard man says he gives it maybe a ten percent chance of surviving.  The outer branches started to go brown, and it looked like he was right, and there was no way that tree was going to survive.

Then last week, the buds started to appear.  And they grew, and grew, and grew, and now look at it:

This little sucker is actually going to make it.

Anyway, back when it was still this bare stick my grandmother had insisted on sticking in the ground, she told the whole story about seeing it and rescuing it from being bulldozed, the poor thing.  My dad took one look at it, sighed, and said, “And here we have the start of the North Alabama Tree Rescue...”


So in less than twenty four hours, new Legend of Korra episodes will be on the actual TV for what may be the last time in forever.  Unlike a fair bit of this fandom, I don't think even a massive raise in ratings for these last two episodes will change Nickelodeon's mind about moving to an all digital release.  I think that the Nick execs made up their mind that Korra couldn't succeed, and so provided it with none of the tools necessary to make it succeed, and I also think that at this point, they would be able to talk themselves out of recognizing even massive success.  So I am not going to plead with my followers to watch, but I for one would kind of like this franchise's TV run to end with a bang rather than a whimper.

Also, I'm jealous, because I'm stuck at home finishing up the summer semester, instead of at Comic Con with all the cool kids.
One of the things I loved best about Avatar: the Last Airbender is that it faced head on issues that few other shows, for adults or children, were willing to touch.  Stories are how we learn to shape our own views of the world, and Avatar: the last Airbender did this with such a frankness, emotional honesty, and critical imagination that I ate it up with a spoon as eagerly as any child in the intended audience.  This is why I was so disappointed with  the first two books of The Legend of Korra, and also why I am so hopeful after seeing the premier of Book Three: Change.

Cut for All The Spoilers, and I'm also starting to think I need a Jewish tagCollapse )



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Avatar: the Last Airbender


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