Autobiologic


New Year, New Pajamas


Happy New Year! I have new pajamas. One should always start the new year with new pajamas.

2019’s pajamas are purple, with little hedgehogs on them. The hedgehogs’ bodies are made up of flowers, implying either a conjoining of animal and vegetable that no god ever intended, or simply a group of critters unusually taken with self-decoration. Either way, I approve. There’s a story in both.

Forgive me, reader, it has been months since my last newsletter. There is, obviously, a lot to unpack that happened between now and the end of August. A non-exhaustive list: I made Halloween costumes for my family,  I met with the people who will eventually be publishing STARDUST (remember, not its actual title), things got bad for trans people, my mother passed away, I had my computer break–the repair of which was so costly, there was a moment right before Christmas where were seriously wondering if we could afford food. Oh, and I’ve been testing out a new name.

Hello, I’m Jadzia. We’ve met.

Honestly, I don’t want to talk about it (in the case of STARDUST, I can’t talk about it). Let’s leave the past in the past. It’s a new year, with new pajamas. Let’s move on.

But, I will say this: I don’t think I was recognized at my mother’s memorial.

As a trans person, this is, of course, the dream. One wants to go through life unencumbered by the baggage of a gender presentation that never quite fit. We had very nice family portraits made years ago when my father was still alive, and I said it was okay to put one of them up in the memorial. There is a odd measure of comfort that folks did not connect me the slump-postured bearded boy with a smiling mouth but painfully hurt eyes, even if that was no doubt the expression I was making for most of the evening. I wore red and black, like I did in the portrait, a bit of children’s TV-show costuming continuity. Connection through broad shapes and colors.

One person asked my relationship to the deceased. When I told them I was her daughter, they said “Oh! You must be Kate!”

Must I? Is too much to ask that my sister not be my mother’s only daughter? She held that title for almost 40 years. Surely she care share it. Surely.

If there ever was a time to for people to look at the woman I’ve become and see the boy I was, it was then, at that memorial. But that may have indeed been too much.

While my brother and sister, recognizable despite years of fluctuating weights and various hair experiments, were who everyone flocked to and offered condolences, I was left aimless. I floated around the room like a ghost hostess, thanking extended family members for coming. Why was I the butler at my mother’s memorial? Something to do, I suppose. A middle child to the end, I held my grieving in, and made sure everyone else was comfortable.

But even this has it’s limits. We had put a display of the quilts Mama had made in a corner, and I was sitting there as everyone was starting to pack up. When it came time to fold up the quilts, I dutifully handed the one next to me over. And then, holding this quilt that she meticulously sewed with her own two hands, I lost it. I started crying and couldn’t stop. Mama would never make another quilt. This was the last of them, the last of her. I could feel her echo when held that quilt, the remains of her touch.  I was not holding her, only the part of the world that wouldn’t exist without her. And now there would be no more of those.

My mother’s friend June, who once put up my drawings on her refrigerator, sat there with me, letting me pour it all out. How fitting that I get my cathartic memorial moment after everyone is gone. The chairs are being put away, the tablecloths are being folded, and I finally have no other responsibility but to weep into a crumpled quilt.

We didn’t hold this memorial at our home, as we did when my father died. Cancer ate him alive in tiny bites, like a swarm of ants, giving us plenty of time to plan. Mama mailed my daughter an envelope of stickers one morning and was gone that afternoon. Thanks to theater-friends in the area, I found a place that would let us hold the memorial for free. I found a caterer. I wrote her obituary. I did all of this. It may be crass to bring this up, but I’m doing it anyway. I bring this up because I want credit. Because I want acknowledgement. Because I want to be recognized as my mother’s daughter, mourning for her loss.

I signed enough documents identifying me as her son in the days before to have this distinction. I think I earned it.

My New Year Resolutions are nothing special, this year. I want to meet all my deadlines. I want to take all my medications when I’m supposed to. I want to get out of bed when the alarm goes off. I want to be the person I plan myself to be, the woman with hedgehogs on her pajamas who answers to Jadzia.

Let’s see if I can make it.


Brother To A Dragon

This summer, right? This summer.

(My desk is right next to the AC unit, so sometimes I get to put on my flannel and pretend that its fall)

Wednesday is walking and moving from two naps to one, which means that I am exhausted and have even less time. And yet, I am taking on two more projects. Because that is what I do.

The first is, naturally, an overly elaborate Halloween costume. Yes, I’m starting in August. I meant to start in July. You don’t get awesome results by waiting until October 1, people. Next year, Wednesday is probably going to want to choose her own costume, so I intend on enjoying dressing her up according to my own design as much as possible. Having achieved Addams Family, this year we’re making Wednesday our own little Frankenstein’s Monster, with the two of us as mad scientists. That way, if next year she wants to be a strawberry or whatever (and let me tell you, I would make the best possible strawberry costume for my baby girl), JR and I will have gotten our Must-Do costumes out of our system.

She really enjoys playing with Batgirl, Harley and Poison Ivy dolls, so I’m crossing my fingers for Halloween 2019.

The second project…shall remain under wraps for now. There’s a lot of moving parts, and I have to rely on other people’s corporation for some of it. It’s rapidly coming together, though, with a speed that’s surprising even eternally impatient me. I’ve clearly found a hole that needed to be filled. Like the Halloween costumes, I’m pushing for an October release, but this also may be something that doesn’t see light until next year. More on that as it comes together.

The Voice of Free Planet X live show at Amalgam comics went off without a hitch. Give it a listen if, you haven’t already. The cast–Russell Collins, CJ Higgins of My Gay Agenda, Phil Thomas and Andy Hunter of West Phillians, Jennifer Rodgers, J.R. Blackwell–really gave their all. Especially Russell, who delivers just an utterly heartbreaking monologue about the nature of evil near the end.

II was a little worried about this episodes, because centering the whole show around Lucifer, Who Is The Morningstar means he can’t be the one who just steps in, says a few delightfully cryptic things, and then leaves when he likes. It works for this episode, though, because Lucifer isn’t too comfortable being an interview subject, either. And CJ’s chipper Agent Seven is there to remind us how much everything has changed now that the Deiator is in charge.

The first time the whole cast came together to rehearse was the morning of the show. We ran it through three times, I think? That was all the time we had, what with the demon makeup Sara Gates did, and all. Did I mention the demon makeup? There was demon makeup.

It was great show, folks. A really great show. Seriously, y’all should listen.


Speaking of podcasting, I had the honor of inducting Dr. Pamela Gay of the Astronomy Cast into the Podcast Hall of Fame. I gave a very good speech (I know this because several people came up to me afterwards and told me it was a very good speech, so, you know, they’re probably right). It was an absolutely wonderful experience. Seriously, if you’re ever asked to induct someone into a hall of fame, do it. Five stars, would induct again.
I wrote a piece for Quirk Books about Paddington Bear meeting Winnie the Pooh and having a very Paddington Bear and Winnie the Pooh sort of conversation. Waiting for Godot, if you will, but furry.

WINNIE THE POOH: I am certain, if I thought about it, I could figure out where are. Think. Think. Think.

PADDINGTON: Does tapping your head like that help?

WINNIE THE POOH: Not really. It is hard to think over the rumblings of my tummy.

PADDINGTON: Oh! I might be able to help, then. I have some marmalade.

WINNIE THE POOH: Is that like honey?

PADDINGTON: Yes. But also no.

WINNIE THE POOH: I see.

PADDINGTON: You do?

WINNIE THE POOH: No.

Also for Quirk, Sherlock Holmes and the Case of Too Many Adaptations, where Holmes and Watson imagine what future adaptations of their lives would be like.

WATSON: Well, I imagine that a motion picture version would not be out of the question, given sufficient advances in technology. Say, 100 years from now.

HOLMES: I dare say there will be much quicker advances in motion pictures far quicker than that. But as I do not have a case at the moment, I will indulge your intellectual exercise. I posit that in 50 years, there will be a series of motion pictures that will cement our identities in the public imagination. They will begin as historical pieces, but will eventually change to take place in the time they were photographed, with villains of the current era.

WATSON: Oh, I like that. Re-invention to keep the stories fresh.

HOLMES: You won’t like these, I’m afraid. You’ll be interpreted as a dunderhead.

Let’s see…classic children’s literature, classic mystery fiction…obviously, the only other places to go is ABBA-based musicals and zombie stories. So I did both at once.

DONNA: (sings to the tune of “Mamma Mia”)
I’ve been dead for while, since I don’t know when
So I thought we were through, but death is not the end
Look at me now, a walking corpse.
I don’t know how, but I since I crawled
From that hole
I’m a body without a soul…

I’m undead, just some shambling remains
I’m undead and I’m craving your brains, woah-oh oh-oh

Mamma mia, here I live again
My my, how can you resist me?
Mamma mia, the dead walk again
My my, your bullets all have missed me
Mamma mia, now I really know
My my, I will never let you go

 


On the slightly more serious front, I recently wrote for Bustle about how great Amy Poehler’s Making It is.

While judges Dayna Isom Johnson and Simon Doonan greet the denim-aproned contestants like alien ambassadors from a delightfully glam planet, they are crafters in their own right. They understand the difference between unpolished and purposeful. The crafters are rewarded not for being perfect, but for expressing who they are. One contestant is routinely criticized for making things that are “too chic” without any personality. Another’s cartoony aesthetic is only given poor marks when his pieces don’t come together to support a larger vision.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that I still have a Patreon and that backers get all sorts of fun stuff. For example, just yesterday, I posted a video of my Importance of Queer Characters In Comics presentation at Balticon 52. So, if you are interested in that, think about becoming a backer.

Summer’s heat still surrounds us, but I can see the glint of Autumn just around the corner. We’ll make it there yet.

Good luck with the dragon.


Queer In Every Sense


So there’s this thing. Let’s call it STARDUST (not its real title).STARDUST is a project I’ve been working on, of and on, since November. It’s queer in every sense of the word, and I love it very much. It is also that YA story I was referring to not so long ago. And it’s looking like something that Is Going To Happen. As in, it is shaping up to be something that in the not too distant future you will be able to hold in your hot little hands and enjoy and tell your friends that that Axelrod chick who’s newsletter you follow can really put one word after another, can’t she?

It is, on the whole, a really good thing. It’s a really good thing for me creatively, a really good thing for me professionally and a really good thing for me financially. It’s not going Change Everything, or nothing. But its really good. Its a really good opportunity, and I’m glad that everyone involved was in the right place at the right time for me to take advantage of it.

It also not quite official yet, which is why I’m calling it STARDUST and why I have to catch myself because these kind of things fall apart all the time.

But.

One thing I can share about this experience in a remarkably vague way is that I did not hold back at any moment, and that didn’t matter. I mean it when I say this pitch was queer in every sense of that word and the editor involved did not bat an eye. There’s a sarcastic robotic dog and genuine emotions about being trans and neither one was thought to be too out there or inappropriate.

Which might mean that my weirdness is not as weird as I think, and that may be true. But the flip side of that means that YOUR weirdness is not as weird as you think, either. I hear so many people say “They’d never let me do this,” and beyond the fact that we live in a world where publishing is no longer a profession but a button and gatekeepers are dying breed, the projects that need the stumbling goliaths that are media companies still might be accepted and supported. I certainly was not expecting my queer in every sense of the word ideas to get a pass from a major publishing company, much less to told it was one of the best pitches the editor had every seen since she started at said major publishing company.

‘Course, part of that is that I know how to craft a goddamn yarn, and I can follow directions, so when I was told “we are looking for a story like this,” you best believe that’s what I gave them.

Just, you know, queer. In every sense of that word.


Because of What You Are

The prettiest star.

I’m working on a YA book right now, and YA books carry with them YA baggage. Writing a project about teenagers means that I am, in no small part, writing about myself as a teenager. It is…not easy. To write this story, I have to forgive my teenage self for everything they did and did not do. Which I was not expecting.

I didn’t realize how much of a grudge I held against my younger self for not having the courage at 16 I accumulated at 36. I know the battle that was before me every single day, and every single day I backed down from it. But I was a good kid. I was a good kid who wanted so much to be liked for who I was, because I didn’t like who I was. I wish I was braver, but who doesn’t, when looking back? Especially at our teen years.

All of this resentment is funny, because, all things considered, I was pretty brave. I went to pride marches and queer film festivals. I came out to a small select group of friends. And this was in ‘90s, which felt incredibly progressive at the time, but was also a period when FRIENDS, the most popular show on television, well, you can watch.

So, give Teen Jared so slack, Adult Jared. He’d be really proud of the woman you are now, the least you can do is not look down the boy you were then.

…trans nomenclature is so weird.


New project means new playlist. I’ve been surprised how many “performance” artists I’ve unconsciously selected: David Bowie, tUnE-yArDs, Kembra Pfahler’s indelible The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black (I should add some  FKA Twigs to the mix). Something about the intensity of music that is not just meant to be played but performed fits with over-active teenage emotions. Where the practiced artifice is a catalyst, not a barrier, to what’s being expressed. The makeup artfully smudged and costumes purposefully torn. Performance as means to authenticity. What could be more teenagery?

‘Course, I was an art-kid–voted “most artistic” even, out-arting the rest of my senior class–so I would think that. Fortunately, I’m writing about arty kids, so while my experience may not be universal, it will be relevant. Plus, one of them is trans. They’re a little braver then I was. But they have much poorer impulse control, which is where all the fun in writing them is.


Baby, We’ll Be Fine

All we gotta do is be brave, and be kind.
The original idea for this particular posting was going to be some housecleaning, as we sweep the old year into the trashcan and lay out nice clean sheets for the new one (speaking of, have you seen this comic by Kanesha Bryant? Devastating and hopeful, in equal measure). And I’m still going to do that–spoilers!–further on down, but I was Googling my own name just to check if I made anything this year that I forgot about, and I came across this:

Parallel Lives podcast reviews A Great Machine

A Great Machine is a weird little thing I created for the LARP competition Golden Cobra. There had been a hoodoo in the American Freeform LARP community some months before about zero-player games, what that would look like, or if that would even be a game at all. I wanted to explore that space, so I came up with A Great Machine, which you don’t so much play as be a part of. Play is defined by having a say in the outcome. If that’s removed, if you are merely part of a process, you are, by definition not playing. A game with no players. I’d describe it here, but Wednesday Sophia does such an elegant job with the review, I’m just going to recommend you listen to her.

I throw a lot of things out into the wilds of the internet, and while I fancy that all of it will find an audience eventually, I did not actually expect that this game that literally no people could play would ever find anyone who would understand what I was doing. That Wednesday Sophia not only found it but enjoyed it, well, that’s as good an omen for the coming year as I can hope for

Right. So. An accounting of the year that was. Obviously, this collaboration with J.R. Blackwell was the most momentous of the year:
…but I did some other things, too.

This year has been light for me as far as podcast production, with just the live episode of VFPX, Episode 26 – Bringing The Universe To You, which was part of the Philadelphia Podcast Festival. But, if you’re just going to have one, you could do a lot worse. I got some really cool press from being a part of the PhillyPodFest, being one of these Five Philly-Based Podcasts You Should Check Out. I’ll take “Assessment: Awesome” any day of the week.

I also did a great interview on Chris Lester’s The Raven & the Writing Desk, which is a must-listen for anyone who enjoys VFPX. And I did a guest-spot on Jeff Stormer’s Party of One’s 100th episode, which is a must-listen for anyone who enjoys Superman. Both are fun for entirely disparate reasons.

2017 saw me writing quite a bit of things for Quirk Books. What things, you ask? These things:

25 More Laws of Robotics
The Hobbit Inspired by Cormac McCarthy
Frankenstein’s Support Group For Misunderstood Monsters, Friday the 13th Edition
Quoth The Tweety Bird
Presenting “Mirrer,” The Wonderland Dating App
The Latest Headlines From OzFeed
“2 Great 2 Expectations” and Other Charles Dickens Sequels That Never Were
Time Machines, Ranked By Accuracy
Forgotten Fairy Tales
Ode to a Venusian Flurn
What If Les Miserables Was A DnD Game?
The Future of Celebrity Gossip
Dr. Seuss-Inspired Books About Modern Technology
St. Patrick Contemplates Driving Out The Snakes
Noteworthy Women In Sci-Fi History
What If Robert Frost Wrote About Food?

Speaking In Terms At Frankenstein’s Support Group For Misunderstood Monsters
Apes of Wrath
The Cosplay Habits of Fictional Characters
Other Gallifreyans
The Most Regrettable Mythological Figures
Gothic Tales of the Returns Desk
Letters of Condolences from the Empire’s HR Desk
Classic Literature As Limericks

Aliens Left Out of Guardians of the Galaxy
What Literary Video Game Should You Play?
Comics Edgar Wright Should Adapt
Literary Family Feud

Interview with an Asteroid
The Princess Bride: The 5 Other Kisses
Fear and Loathing on My Lunch Break

More Hemingway-esque Six-Word Stories
What if JAWS was a Rom-Com?
Close Encounters of Multiple Kinds

Books That Shouldn’t Be Video Games
So, You’re Inhuman Now

How to Modify Your Bike to Accommodate an Alien
What If Your Favorite Movie Characters Crossed Paths?
Something Wicked, Something Holy: Halloween Deities
Understanding Misunderstood Monsters

How To Survive NaNoWriMo
Murder in the ’67 Hatchback and Other Poriot Knock-Offs
S.H.I.E.L.D., S.W.O.R.D. and H.A.T.E.: Marvel’s Acronymistic Organizations

“Because I could not stop to shop” and other Christmas shopping poems
Hot Chocolate Recipes Based on Fictional Characters
What If Hannibal Lecter Judged A Baking Show?
What If Other Authors Had Written A Christmas Carol?
Pop Culture Based Conversation Starters For The Holidays

And that’s not even counting the Frankenstein’s Support Group For Misunderstood Monsters comics, all of which I am very proud of:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4

Chapter 5
Chapter 6

Chapter 7


…And that should tie up the old year. I’ve got plans for the new one. Big plans. Part of those plans is using the ol’ website more, so I spruced it up a bit. New coat of paint, added some sconces, finally fixed that dangling “Puppet” section. 2018 is going to be the year of more substantial projects for me, and I’m gonna need a sturdy support for more than a few of them. Social media can barely hold a damn thing.

The year is wide open in front of us. Baby, we’ll be fine.


A Little Rough

2017, am I right? Been a little rough, hasn’t it?

I’m trying to be less precious with things. Trying to push ideas out, baby bird-style, not because I hope they might fly but because I don’t know if they will. These may not be the best words in the best order but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth reading and that, my friends and enemies, is an idea I can get behind.

I’ve recently discovered the YouTube series Movies With Mikey, which is delightful and challenging and insightful—watch The Batman Question, it’s important—and one of the things that keeps you watching is Mikey Neumann’s voice, by which I mean his writing, by which I mean a slow torrent of verbiage that feels like a joke-filled rambling stream-of-consciousness narrative but is actually meticulously constructed essay that will probably get you all misty-eyed by the end if you’re not careful.

Seriously. I was not expecting all the feels at the end of the LOGAN episode.

But–and here’s why I’m bringing up this particular YouTube show at this particular time–MWM is imperfect. Sometimes he forgets to include important parts of his arguments, sometimes he misspells title cards, and while some of that plays into his scratched-film, out of focus aesthetic, some of it may also be that he is a human being, much like the rest of us, and not everything one does is going to be perfect and polished. Some things will be, the things we put the time and effort and have the help of others to create, but some things just…won’t. Even if we put the time and effort and have the help of others. As distracting as it is that he used the wrong “shown” in his GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL video it doesn’t detract from how good that video is. Which is a lesson we could all learn from.

(If it was indeed the wrong “shown.” We have to assume Artist’s Intent, after all. Maybe he put a “shone” in there for a reason. You be the judge, the author is dead, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera)

I think there’s a worry, especially in the current climate of the internet that we’re going to be called out for something we did wrong. This is not an imagined fear. As I write this, I am doing JUST THAT to someone who has the INDECENCY to have DEMONSTRABLY WRONG opinion on Twitter OF ALL PLACES.

I am part of the problem. I realize that.

But I’m trying to be better, and also I’m trying to not worry about something I say being attacked by someone like me, that is to say, someone smart enough to know when someone is wrong but not smart enough not to care. Which is definitely easier said than done.

To steer things back to MWM for a moment, MWM makes me think about voice, and how I’ve lost the voice I’ve been comfortable with in the past year. I used to write this newsletter–and anything else that required the affect of coming from “me”–in this sort of friendly know-it-all tone, which I see now was a sort of armor (the know-it-all part; the friendliness was genuine), designed to to keep folks at a distance. It was intrinsically tied to the armor I presented to the world in my everyday life, because I was deathly afraid someone might get too close and see I was, in fact, trans.

Clearly, no need to worry about that now.

Which brings me, in a very roundabout way, to the point I wanted to make originally which is, I’ve been through a lot of changes this year. 2017 has been difficult for everyone in more ways than one, but for me at least, it  should be mentioned that in 2016 I was a childless dude who had a job and was known for wearing neckties and having a podcast and now I’m the stay-at-home mother of the most wonderful baby in the world who doesn’t really do any of those things any more. I mean, yes, I’ve done long periods of not-podcasting and unemployment before and there was time before I wore ties where I did not. But Things Have Changed. Things have been a little rough. As corny as its going to sound, 2017 has been a very transitional year, a necessary time of uncertainty as I move from one identity that had gotten too uncomfortable to wear into one that is not yet completed.

And in that way, it’s been a pretty good year.

Plus, this really awesome person came into my life right around the end of March, so…

All of this has, as one might expect, led me to contemplating the Three Kings.

The Three Kings, are present in every Nativity but occupy barely half a dozen sentences in the Bible. There’s something marvelous in their story, a trio of wealthy astronomers from somewhere east of Bethlehem, traveling for months–if not years–because the stars told them a religious leader was about to be born and they WERE NOT GOING TO MISS IT.

‪FOMO we can all relate to, I’m sure.

But that journey, a journey of an uncertain distance and an unclear timeline, with the goal of not gaining anything other than the opportunity to witness, that’s been speaking to me right now. To follow a star, a hope, a dream, because you could. Because you should.

The Three Kings are a metaphor for Parenting. They are a metaphor for Being Trans. They are a metaphor for Making A Living With Art. They are, appropriately, a trio of metaphors for the three journeys of my life right now.

I know not how long the journey will take, or what obstacles will be in my path. I only know the direction, lit by a Star of Wonder.

Things are going to be different in 2018. There’s no escaping that. Best we can do is shape the year the best we can. Even if ends up a little rough.


Up The Wolves

Hello! You look nice today. That makes two of us.

Eagle-eyed readers will note the lack of an Instagram filter in the above folder, and remember back when I sung the praises of blurring out the details so that one can better enjoy the whole. Not using filters is a Big Deal for me when it comes to my appearance. It shouldn’t be, but that’s Trans Life in the 21st century for you. So, what changed? Well, 3 months of hormones, mainly.

I’ve also gotten pretty good with eyeliner, but it’s mostly the hormones.

(This feels a bit weird to talk about, but if I was reading this blog, I would want me to talk about it. Plus, I already posted all of this on social media, so it’s not like this is secret info, or anything.)

Three months on hormones and the results have been absolutely magical. I’ve got noticeable breasts, heavier thighs, smoother skin and my body hair growth has slowed. There’s been some subtle changes to my face, where what few edges I had in my round face have been softened to match the rest of it. Also, my nose has shrunk.

All the cartilage in my body has shrunk. My feet are a size and half smaller than they used to be, and I’m an inch shorter.

Of all the changes, that’s thrown me for a loop the most–I’ve been 5’11” with giant feet since I was 13. And it’s not that one inch or a shoe size is really that big a change, just that it changed at all.

I don’t like to think of myself becoming an entirely new person–though I know a lot of trans folk do, and that distinction is something they need. I wanted to think of this as just another step in who I am, like when I started wearing ties all the time. But when there’s physical changes like this, it’s clear that there’s more going on. I look different than I did a year ago. Not a lot, but it’s there. And the changes are only going to get more pronounced.

This is wonderful and exciting and…scary. It feels like one of those fairy tales where you find out the cost of getting your heart’s desire. I’ll finally be the “me” I always wanted to be, but I’ll have to figure out who she is.

And I suppose that should have been obvious, but it only hit me when these clear physical changes started happening. Blame it on being a visual learner, I guess.

I should add, that this level of change so quickly is not an average experience. In fact, I was mentally prepared for things to take a lot longer. Every body reacts to HRT differently. My body is either very comfortable with change–I used to put on muscle very quickly, too–or this is something my body has been wanting for a long time.

Either way, I’m ecstatic that these changes are happening, and I am looking forward to see where they lead.


Speaking of going through changes, there’s been two Frankenstein’s Support Group for Misunderstood Monsters since my last newsletter. Both of them focus on Ginger, a werewolf variation I’ve really been enjoying writing. Click on the tiles below for Chapter 2:



And Chapter 3:


And of course, there’s always Chapter 1, if you need a refresher.

I really love this comic, and if you love it to, spread the word! The more people see the comic, the longer Quirk will have me do it!


We took Wednesday to Target the other day, and came face-to-face with the merchandising juggernaut that is Star Wars paraphernalia. While fans of anything that has “Star” in the title, our house is mostly free of LucasFilm merch, beyond the odd t-shirt, art book and my hand-crafted lightsabers. All that changed when our darling daughter came face to fuzzy face with a porg. Porgs, for those who don’t know, are little aliens indigenous to the planet Luke Skywalker has been hiding out on, and they are industrial-strength cute. Our daughter could not resist. She grabbed a stuffed plush porg off the shelf and didn’t let go.

This is a pretty mean feat, as Wednesday has just learned how to control the “let go” function of her hands. The porg’s desirableness overwhelmed her love of grabbing things only to drop them. The fact that she held onto it for any length of time is a tribute to the designers.

It also does these little chirping sounds when you squeeze it that make her giggle. So of course, we had to get one.

We’re doomed, aren’t we?


The Angel Is In The Details


When I was 11, my parents took me to get my eyes checked. There was nothing noticeably wrong with my vision, but I was at the age my father needed glasses, my mother needed glasses, and my older sister needed glasses. Later, it would be the age my younger brother needed glasses. Biology does not always lead to destiny, but it never hurts to check.

I was shown the standard jumble of letters on the chart on the far wall, and I asked to read as much as I could. In an act that sums up who I am more than I’d like to admit, I read past the point where the eye doctor told me stop, and then apologized for not being able to read the last line.

The verdict was, rather than need glasses, I possessed “better than Perfect Vision,” which is a phrase I’ve always liked. Subsequent checks at the DMV have proven that my better than perfect vision is hanging in there, despite my predilection for reading in very low light, practiced over several decades.

All of this is to say, I often see things others don’t. The proverbial eye for detail.

I’ve been taking a lot of pictures recently. My daily “take a picture of my outfit” photo habit has increased to include multiple pictures of my darling daughter, and of my face. The documentation of Wednesday is obvious: she’s adorable, and has already changed considerably in her first two weeks of life. I’ve noticed. Better than perfect vision, remember. And she’s a better than perfect baby. The angel is in the details.

The need for pictures of my face, however, comes from an entirely different place. My better than perfect eyes see too much. See all the flaws that makeup cannot hide, the tells and giveaways. Despite my efforts to present myself as feminine, I can see the ways I’m falling short. I’ve been doing pretty well for not doing it for very long, but I can see the lengths I still have to go.

Still apologizing for not going far enough, as ever. You’d think I’ve grown out of it by now.

So I need the imperfect lens of the camera, the approximations and half-measures that make up photography. I need to have pictures of myself because I can see too much in the mirror. In the photos, gloriously blurry with digital imperfections, I can see me without worrying about details. It’s remarkably comforting.

It was not uncommon for me crop my face out of my “Today’s Style” photos. Now, I take proper selfies with the best of ’em.


The new Patreon went into full effect last Friday, with the first of the weekly rewards for $2, $5, and $10 backers. There’s a new flash piece, The Ballad of the Eyeball Kid, audio of me reading that flash piece, and the first chapter of my novel-in-progress, The Wish of All Things. If any of those things interest you, you may want to consider becoming a backer.

What’s in store this week? A rumination on supervilliany entitled Voice Victorious–which I am very much looking forward to reading aloud, let me tell you–and a sneak peak at a comic project I’ve been working on. The Patreon’s right here, iffin you want to see ’em.

Don’t wanna be left out, do you?


One more baby picture? How’s about when Wednesday finished her first bath?

Such an angel, am I right?

Good luck with the dragon.


Changing Everything, Because Everything Needs Changing

So. Things have changed.
The biggest change has been this little bundle of joy, my daughter Wednesday. She is, as near as I can tell, the best baby, full of joy and screams and little songs she sings to herself. Or, possibly, to us. Which is very sweet if true.

Which makes me a parent, a mother, simply by virtue of her existing. A big change, 3 now, where there was once 2. But a welcome one.

I love her.



Continuing the theme of everything needing changing, I’ve been updating jaredaxelrod.com, putting in proper pronouns and a new photo. It’s weird thing to do, if I’m honest. It’s either a small thing that feels much more momentous or momentous thing that feels much more small. A change of a few letters. A new photo. Shouldn’t mean as much as it does, but it does.

As @endrift said on Twitter, “A (cis) friend once said “trans is contagious”. I thought about it and realized what’s contagious is the idea that it’s OK to be trans.”

So, here’s me saying it’s okay to be trans, in a conscious effort to live more truthfully. It would be easy to leave the old site up and just say “I’ll change it later,” never meaning to. But if the site is meant to show who I am, then it needed to change. My virtual self needed to keep in step with my meatspace one.

Also, can I just say? I look great in that photo.


Changes have happened over at the Patreon as well. I’ve moved the charges to monthly, rather than “per Voice of Free Planet X episode.” In an effort to give folks more stuff while the podcast is currently in production. There’s now weekly flash fiction, and audio versions of said flash, and selections from whatever I’m working on, depending on your reward level.

So, if you’re looking for fresh Axelrod fiction, that’s the place to find it.



Some new pieces up on Quirk Books. There’s Noteworthy Women In Sci-Fi History, and What If Robert Frost Wrote About Food? One is obviously more silly than the other, as it is about things that rhyme with “ice cream.” But, if you ever wanted to know about the origins of slash-fic, the less silly one may well be worth your time.

Also in the “silly” category: Apes of Wrath, a Steinbeckian take on Planet of the Apes, which I hope lives up the giggles created by the title.

And there’s a return to my favorite monsters with Speaking In Terms At Frankenstein’s Support Group For Misunderstood Monsters. This marks the first appearance of Myriad, the sentient swarm of locusts, Gelatinax, the blob, Lobstar, the unholy melding of lobster and man, and Lord Zynn, extra-dimensional warlord. Will these characters show up again? Who knows?


(Lobstar. Lobstar will show up again.)


A week or so ago was #PitMad, aka “Pitch Madness,” aka “cram a description of your novel into Twitter and see if anyone likes it.” I’ve been trying to find an agent for my novel The Wish Of All Things, so I gave it a shot. I was not prepared for the response:

(note that updated avatar; changing everything)

Needless to say, I was floored by this response. Not all of those likes and retweets were agents, but a hefty percentage were. And even so, to have such a marvelous outcry of support for a measly one-sentence pitch–I didn’t even talk about the dragon!–was wonderful. I’ve gotten some good critique on The Wish Of All Things recently, and with this latest revision its the best its ever been. It’s hard not to send this version out and think “Is this the year everything changes?”

‘Cause, y’know. Everything needs changing.

Good luck with the dragon.


Guidance

I was just informed that Jeff Jeske, my college advisor, passed away. Jeff provided perhaps the only type of guidance I would have accepted at that age: “If that’s what you really want to do, here’s how you go about it.”

I almost didn’t graduate. I had failed a business class senior year, so I was two credits short. Not even a full class. That semester, with the help of a extraordinarily talented group of friends, I had put on a full-length play that I wrote. I’d like to claim that the play was why I failed the business course, but the fact of the matter was that I just couldn’t get into the material. Unlike the play.

I went to Jeff with the news of not being able to graduate, and while we talked about the possibilities of summer classes and the like, I brought out a longshot. Could I have the play, done through a club, count as a 2-credit independent study.

Jeff, to his credit, did not throw the idea out of hand. Instead, he looked a me, shrugged and said, as he always did, “If that’s what you really want to do, here’s how you go about it.”

He told me which forms I needed, how to fill them out, what they should say and who should sign them. And when I saw the dean not two hours later, a fist-full of papers in my hand, there was nothing he could do but sign off on it. My paperwork was ironclad. I graduated.

I usually tell this story as triumph of early-twenties optimism and outside-the-box thinking, and it is. But it couldn’t have had the happy ending it did without Jeff, who took my oddball idea and calmly laid out the way for it work.

I don’t think I’ve ever thanked him properly for all the guidance he’s given me. I don’t think I ever could.