I had the most fantastic view of the valley this morning. How do I even begin to describe it?

Well, the first thing you need to know that the city sits surrounded almost entirely by mountains or, at least, foothills. There is no endless horizon and looking up at the great bowl of the mountains at it you feel cradled by the earth. Safe. Sheltered.

This city itself isn’t much to look at, at any time of day, looking rather like a pond of brackish water from above. The foothills make a shore of themselves, though, for this bizarre grey pool to lap at. They’re blooming right now, transformed from vast tracts of hard dirt to soft blankets of greening sage.

The foothills cut off abruptly into the western mountains which are, presently, a deep blue-green, the pine forests nearly black like ocean water, capped of course with the brightest white. The snow glows against the storm clouds roiling just beyond them, pressing forward like so many faces and palms against a pane of glass, held back by the reality of the rain shadow.

With the sunrise half started there’s a clear gradient overlay of gold that sweeps left to right across the valley and all the colors surrounding the city are twice as vivid. You could sink your teeth into them, press your hands deep under them and pull out fistfuls of hue that drain back into the world like grains of sand.

That still doesn’t quite capture it.

But I really do love it here more than anywhere else in the world and I’m determined to appreciate every last bit of this region before we finally kill it off with the rest of the planet.

r.l.b. 3/21/19


Dr. James Barry and the specter of trans and queer history.

This Journey Without A Map

James_Barry_(surgeon)05 (1)
Dr. James Barry, circa 1813 by an unknown artist. Probably painted sometime before he left for India.

Barry was probably born 1789-ish, to either Mary-Ann Bulkley or her sister Margaret. Both were sisters of the successful Irish painter James Barry. The Bulkley part of the family struggled for money so there is some suggestion that James Barry (the painter) took some members of that family into his household in London for a least a short period of time. Some people have also suggested that David Erskine, the 11th Earl of Buchan or General Francisco Miranda provided for the family after Barry’s death, there is some evidence of this but it is scanty at best.

The first substantive evidence of any kind of James is two letters he writes himself. Both of the letters he wrote to his family’s solicitor in 1809. One announces that he was sailing to Edinburgh with…

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writing is hard

This isn’t going to be petty except for every way that it’s going to be petty. It’s not going to be selfish except in for every way that it’s going to be selfish. Because you keep doing and saying– or not doing and not saying– things that feel like an ending, a breakup, a quiet demolition or an implosion and I feel worse and worse for every second I don’t say something.

Continue reading “writing is hard”

this again?

My mother’s husband’s brother dies and the news comes late at night. The brother he hated, if we’re being honest, they were never close.

But it doesn’t matter because the result is the same, because it could be anything– a scratched bumper, a crooked picture, a contrary opinion, an eye roll, a burnt meal– that sets him screaming and destructive, punching walls and breaking crockery and throwing himself downstairs and into plate glass, threatening lives and violence like breathing.

Part of me hopes that this will be what kills him.

Part of me knows better.

The part of me that remembers eighteen and shaking holding a door shut with my spine while he slammed his weight into it again and again and again until the shitty particle board groaned and cracked and he murmured to me through it like a seduction that he could get into my bedroom if he really wanted, that, of course, he had only ever given me what I had asked for, that I couldn’t keep him out forever with my bruised knuckles and aching back braced and burning against that broken door–

That part of me feels sick because it knows. Because he and I are monstrously alike. Nothing anyone or anything has done to him has killed him yet and I know in my bones that neither will this. He’ll survive and so will I and, eventually, the door will break.

To the Victor, the Spoils

Or: Rae reviews romance with lots of boils

Last night I read Laura Thalassa’s Pestilence. I went into this without reading anything about the book other than the fact that it was about someone who falls in love with one of the Four Horsemen of the Christian apocalypse. I thought to myself, This is a book about a preternaturally powerful embodiment of disease laying waste to the Earth and striving to end all life as we know it. If that’s not powerful eldritch monsterfucker fuel, I don’t know what is.

I was disappointed. Deeply disappointed.

The spoiler-free review amounts to this: 3/5 stars. If you would like a tropey romance novel that’s a little bit more action-packed than standard while still playing it “safe” narratively, then go forth into the wilds of this book and enjoy. It requires the standard amount of suspension of disbelief. The highlights for me were: clever name puns, the fact that Thalassa doesn’t shrink from writing gore, and Trixie Skillz the horse. This is definitely not going to be for people who are… hardcore in their Christian leanings. This is not a book I would recommend to people traumatized by gun violence or intimate partner violence.

And now I get to stop caring about spoilers.

Continue reading “To the Victor, the Spoils”

get skinny or die trying

mmmmno.jpegCapitalism has found out about body positivity– I’m sure y’all’ve noticed:


A body for everybody.

Choose beautiful.

#Lose hate not weight.

It’s everywhere. Self-love and a healthy relationship with food are only one purchase away!

You think these things sound familiar. You think it might be nice to fall for it. You think these people are goddamn fools if they think I’m going to even consider loving a thing that has been trying to kill me since the day I was born.

You think of your mother. You think of her taste in men.

You look at your body again and you think maybe I can be tricked into loving you after all.

This kind of abuse runs in families anyway.

rlb 9.21.18

what’s eating me

You asked me to stop talking to you about writing.

I wonder if you remember that our entire friendship is predicated upon writing.

I expected it, though.

I’ve been trying to get that mistletoe-need pruned back into something that didn’t touch every aspect of everything I did, said, wanted because it has always been too much information, too overwhelming to process, too complex to follow. No one wants to hear it. But I didn’t try hard enough. This year, though, I managed it. Thanks to you.

You asked me to stop talking to you about writing and I finally uprooted the goddamn thing and threw it into the street where it wouldn’t take root in hot asphalt.

I have stopped talking to you about writing.

Now, every week or so you’ll text me about some new disaster at work or home. Once in a while, I’ll send you a meme. Once a month you might send me poetry, looking for critique. You are miserable at work and at home. You don’t respond to the memes for days at a time. I can’t bring myself to give you critique on something I’ve forgotten how to talk about. You asked me how my life was going and all I could tell you is, “Nothing’s really changed,” because it hasn’t. Do you understand? The only points of interest that exist in my life are all from writing: the things that inspire me, the people I write with and for, the constant research into obscure fields, the endless collection of pinterest boards and commonplace books. I have never been very good at writing but it’s the only thing I have ever wanted to live for. Without it, I have nothing to talk about.

You asked me to stop talking to you about writing. So I did.