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A Word From Our Sponsor

 artwork by Skottie Young Real life makes for crazy times, I tell ya. I haven't been blogging much because I haven't had much to say. Okay, that's not entirely true. I've had plenty to say, but there are times when you just don't want to spew negativity, invite drama or spend every waking minute of your online life kvetching about one thing when your life is pretty awesome. 2013 started off by behaving like an unruly teenager. You see, we rent our house, my husband and I. And as of the end of this month, our lease is up. Well, we have to give notice of staying or leaving on New Year's Day, but that usually comes in the form of paperwork we fill out in December. New Year's Eve came along and we still hadn't received that paperwork. So, I got a little panicked that we would be scrambling to find a new place, pack, move and that made Jamie more than a little... um... crazy? Long story short (too late): We're all good. Staying where we are for another year. Woo.

There's also an issue with transportation. Oh, my car is fine. It's the other car. For the past 9 months or so we've been using my late sister-in-law's car. Well, last month, the registration expired. We found out that the car is still in her name and the DMV wants an asston of paperwork to get that fixed. Almost there! So the husband has taken my car to get to work (you know, since he has a real job and not one where he sits at a computer talking to imaginary people and the Internet all day), and that means the kiddo and I had to walk/take the city bus to get her to school.  I lasted all of a week. For one thing, the walk has been brutal on my back. I've been in more pain this past week than I've been in a very long time and I'd rather not put myself back into the hospital. Also? It's Phoenix, but our lows right now are in the 20s. That's the temperature we'd be walking in. I can suck it up and whine about it later, but that's not okay for my 7 year old, ya know? Not cool with that. We ran through many letters of the alphabet before finally concocting a plan that works for all involved and doesn't require her to be out in 20 degree temperatures for an hour to get to school. Yay!

There are good things going on, too. Don't let the above paragraphs fool you. My husband started a new job in December. It was up in the air for months as he waited for security clearances and background checks to go through, but just after Thanksgiving we got word that yes, he would be starting his new position. It's been a huge boost to his sanity and that makes for a happier family all together.

Friends are chasing dreams, finding fulfillment and welcoming their own joys. I've got a couple of irons on the fire that I can't really discuss at present. This year--dubbed by my friend Brian as The Year of Giving it A Shot--seems to be off to a good start. Albeit frustrating at times.

So yeah. How the hell have you been?

Auld Lang Syne

Here it is, New Year's Eve. With just over 12 hours left, 2012 is trying to get me to hate it and shove it out the door. But I can't, really. So much happened this year......my cousin Rich and my Aunt Cathy (no relation to one another) passed away....I signed on with my stellar agent Jennie Goloboy. ...I made new friends and contacts within the industry. ...I wrote another book and several short pieces. ...I got my 7th tattoo. ...my husband changed jobs (twice). ...I turned 32. ...my daughter turned 7.

Friends had babies. Friends got divorced and married.  I read new books. I found new comedians and television shows to enjoy. I listened to new bands. Saw movies. Played games....and lots of other stuff, too. Most of it beneath the surface. Little changes that don't look like much from the outside.

And so 2012 -- the Year of Behaving Admirably -- draws to a close. It's been an odd duck, 2012. It started off with a bang of awesome. It saw some low points and changes. But all in all, I'd call 2012 a success. Thank you for being part of it. I hope you stick around for 2013, because we've got some awesome stories to make.

525,600 Minutes

2011 has only a few hours left to it. As is tradition, I'm going to a party tonight with my Ohana. This is the same party where Sean and I became "us". Seven years ago tonight we both took a chance on one another and here we are. Every year we go and kiss at midnight to honor our anniversary. Another tradition at this party is the Year In Review. We started this seven years ago, too. Every year we sit around the fire pits with our nearest and dearest, start with January and go around the circle. We recount the good that happened in the year month by month.This year is weird. Good things happened. Bad things happened. Life changed irrevocably. People got married. Babies were born and conceived after much heartache of trying. A woman left this earth. A family came together. I wrote a novella, several short stories and the first novel in a new series. I lost something I thought I wanted/needed only to find that the loss was the best thing that could've happened. I lost an uncle. I almost lost my grandmother but had the chance to see her...and she made it through. I lost my sister the day after we started to mend fences. A friend beat cancer for the second and third times in his life proving once again that we haven't found all of the horcruxes. Tribe Ohana grew and got its own website. The tooth fairy came to my house a few times. I've made new friends and reconnected with old ones. Weird, I tell ya.

Right now, it's work to come up with good things for the year in review because everything is clouded with the fact that Nicki isn't here to add her voice. I'm tired. Even though it's only a Saturday turning into a Sunday, there's something about changing the calendar that refreshes me. On one side of midnight is an old skin I'm more than ready to slough off and leave behind. On the other is the promise of something new, undiscovered and full of possibility. I'm ready for 2011 to be over and done. I'm ready for what the future brings. I'm ready to hit the reset button.

In 2012 I will reconnect with myself. I won't let the love from October/November dissipate into apathy like it once did. I will get a new tattoo. I will write more stories. I'm going to keep querying on Etudes in C#, write more books of that series. I will write more short stories and send them to lit mags for publication. I will spin poi. Maybe I'll even spin fire again. I don't know when, though. I'm not ready to do that without Nicki yet. I'm going to vote. I'm going to read books, see movies and live music and sit around a fire drumming until my hands go numb. I'm going to laugh and cry. I'm going to play games and go to at least one Comic Con. I'm going to hold newborns and then gratefully pass them back to their parents. I'm going to read with my daughter and cuddle her and watch her grow. I'm going to snuggle the hell out of my husband. I'm going to live, love and laugh.

These aren't resolutions. They aren't plans. They're life. It happens.

2011, it's time to part ways. 2012...let's rock.

Have a safe and happy new year everyone.

Nerdmaste.

Freedom Fries

So back in the 90s there was this television show called Bablyon 5. Over the 5 year story arc the Earth Alliance goes from your standard Sci-Fi-Peaceful-Explorer to a fascist police state. And quickly. First, the president is assassinated and the murder is pinned on aliens. The new president, along with friends in powerful places, begins the propaganda machine through ISN (CNN essentially). President Clark also creates the Ministry of Peace--an organization to monitor and protect the citizens of Earth Alliances from domestic threats. A sub-group called Nightwatch puts citizens on guard against one another. "If you see something, tell someone" is the rule of it. Anything that speaks out against the President or his decisions is seen as treason. Dissidents are arrested and punished. Media blackout occurs. ISN can only report what is screened by the President's colleagues. When members of Earth Alliance break away to stand up against Clark, EA forces are sent in. War breaks out as citizens protest for their freedoms until finally Clark calls martial law.

Watching that plot unfold is pretty scary. To see a government quickly turn on its people for power under the guise that it's "in their best interests"? It's enough to make you glad we don't live in that sci-fi world. But if you look around at 2011 Earth...do you see it? It's not science fiction anymore.

let's talk.... Right now in America things are getting...dicey? Weird? Scary? Our economy is bad and we all know it. The media spew out figures and opinions and doctored "facts" to perpetuate fear. Everything from job security to tainted meat to terrorist threats: it's all fear-mongering. Fear keeps you in your chair. Pass the popcorn.

Things are bad.

Various groups are trying to do something about it. The Occupy movement is one such group. They see what's wrong and regardless of your personal opinion they are doing what they think is best for people as a whole. They want the bought Congress gone. They want to steer us away from the oncoming cataclysm. They are people trying to staunch the flow of our country bleeding out.

The wounds aren't wars--although they are symptoms. The wounds are with words and ideas.

There are two bills up for passage right now that directly effect every American (foreign and domestic). The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) essentially trashes the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution that grants US citizens the right to due process. Your Miranda rights? That whole "innocent until proven guilty by a jury of your peers" thing? That's what the Sixth Amendment ensures for every American citizen. The police and government cannot detain indefinitely for no reason and suspicion isn't a reason. You must be charged to be held. The NDAA says that *anyone* including US citizens can be held in military custody indefinitely without charge or trial if they are suspected of terrorism. The Act also states that this will continue until the threat of terrorism is gone.

President Obama has said he would veto this bill if it came to his desk. Well, as of last night, he's changed his mind. The House passed the bill by a staggering margin and the Senate will vote later this week. It could be signed into law as soon as Wednesday.

UPDATE: As of 12/15/11, the NDAA passed the Senate (86-13). The President is expected to sign it into law quickly. Ironically, the vote comes on the day that celebrates the Bill of Rights. Funny, no?

The other bill on the table is the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). This bill gives more control to the government, law enforcement and copyright holders to restrict the traffic of pirated property. On the surface, that's not a bad idea. Digging deeper into the bill, however, we find that it allows for some pretty serious things. First off, it can go against *any* website foreign or domestic. Secondly, if a website is served with a court order to pull content, the companies that do business with that site (eg. Google, PayPal, etc) will *also* be served with notice to suspend that business indefinitely. The domino effect this can and will cause is catastrophic to Internet freedom.

Both of these bills are Republican creations. Both of them tighten the hold the government has on its people. For a party that fights regulation and touts their stance as "anti-Big-Government" they certainly are building a reservoir of power.

Look, I know some of you might be thinking, "But Jamie,  you're not a terrorist or an internet pirate so you're safe."

It's true: I'm not a terrorist nor do I pirate copyrighted material. However, the crux of the matter is that these bills set a precedent that the government can define "terrorism" and "piracy" as they wish then turn those rules against its citizens.

Do you remember how this spring the people of Egypt and Tunisia rose up against their governments? Remember that a lot of their messages were on Twitter and other social media sites? The Arab Spring has flourished because of the Internet and countries like Yemen, Syria and Libya are rising up to take control back from dictatorial regimes. It's still going on. Countries are still erupting with protests against the seated governments because they don't work for their people. This is page one on most magazines and newspapers around the world, but here Time magazine leads with "How Anxiety is Good For You".

The US has a problem. It's people are discontent with the power structure. Eyes are opening that we have a bought Congress, that something is incredibly wrong and it's not people who are openly gay serving in the military. Our government is broken and corrupt. Our system is breaking down from the inside and some people--regardless of party affiliation--seem to be hellbent on speeding it along to cataclysm. It's like they want the "world to end" in 2012 just to be right.

Look at the revolutions of history, the ones going on right now in the Middle East, and the ones going on right here. The people in power are scared because they see possibility. They see that what happened in Egypt could happen here, too. So, let's invent an executive power to censor the Internet so the protesters can't communicate so widely. Let's redefine terrorism and use that on our own people who disagree with the status quo. Those people could be called terrorists and hauled off to prisons like Gitmo without charge or trial and kept there. For thinking differently.

It could happen and it's terrifying.

Terrifying. Terror.

If these bills pass, the American principles of freedom will have vanished to be replaced with fear and intolerance. All in the name of "national security". We must protect ourselves from terrorists, right? Such a blanket term. Your rights come second to fighting that threat. That's what our government is telling us. Fuck, look at the TSA. Your Fourth Amendment rights are already in question with the scanning machines there.

This is how a democracy crumbles. This is how fascism rises to power.

If these bills pass, it will be the culmination of Osama bin Laden's far-reaching goal to dismantle the American way of life. If we lose our freedoms to our own government, the terrorists have won.

Disconnect

I need to unplug. My eyes are darting around all the time for the next text or update...even when I'm not at the computer. My brain won't slow down but continues to whir along like a processor. I can't focus on any one thing for longer than a few minutes. I wake up with headaches that won't go away. Daily. I know part of this is due to an imbalance with some medications I'm on. Most of it, though, is that I've been tethered to this machine in various stages of writing, drafting and editing for months. I need to step back. I need to turn off the damn computer.

This comes at a decent time, too. My kiddo will be home for winter break starting next week....which means little writing will get done. Book 2 is still project numero uno...but right now, I need to tend to my brain.

I will be on social media sporadically, but I don't know about blogging right now. My mind flutters from topic to topic like a hummingbird in a garden. Politics, the way the NDAA bill reminds me of seasons 3 and 4 of Babylon 5, my book series, a desire for new body art, missing my sister...  I don't want to have my blog turn into a downer.

So it's best for us if we just make like Ross and Rachel and take a break.

Feel free to email or shoot me a Tweet.

Be excellent to each other.