Random Sadness

Source: Kathryn on Flickr.

Source: Kathryn on Flickr.

Today would’ve been my dad’s 80th birthday if he were still alive.

My Google calendar app is set to remind me half an hour before my appointments/important dates. So, my notification went off at 11:30PM last night saying “Dad’s Bday.” :( It might have passed me by were it not for that reminder, and I don’t know what made me more sad, the fact that this is the second of his birthdays that he’s not around to see, or that I would’ve forgotten were it not for my stupid Google reminder.

However, that doesn’t really explain what happened today. I worked a couple of hours this morning at TMS, but as today is a holiday, we just set up a couple of posts for the day, then had most of the day off. Great, right? I was looking forward to having the day to devote to other writing projects. Then, sometime around noon or 1PM I got inexplicably sad. I started crying for no reason, which prompted me to think of Every Sad Thing, which prompted more crying. Now, I’ve totally experienced PMS-related sadness, but this was different. I lay down, and then couldn’t get back out of bed for a couple of hours. I felt heavy, as if the whole world had landed on my forehead.

A couple of hours later, I forced myself up, and here I am. At my laptop. Yet I still feel “off” and emotionally drained and I don’t know why. I’d say it’s just my dad’s birthday, except that to be honest, I’ve been feeling like things have been a bit off-kilter for a while now. And I didn’t feel this way on my dad’s birthday last year, and that was the first one after he died. Feeling like this is very disconcerting for me, particularly because it’s no one thing. It’s everything. And nothing at all. For very legitimate reasons and for no reason at all.

I’ve just been chatting with a friend online and talking to The GF, and I’m starting to realize that this is something that has affected me for longer than I probably want to admit. After all, that seems to be the big pattern in my life: there’s always been this part of me where things will be going really well, and then I’ll just stop. That just when things get really good, either something will happen to knock me off course and I don’t have it in me to course-correct, or I’ll sabotage my own progress. And then I’ll get sad about my lack of progress. And then I’ll pull myself out of it and make strides, just to have the same thing happen all over again. I see it in my issues with food, with my finances, with my general career trajectory, with my love life. Something’s always been off and eating away at me, and I may have been ignoring it all this time in the name of “being positive” about things.

Because I’m Terry. I’m the cheerful one. That’s what I do. I’m the cheerleader who encourages and inspires other people, but can’t always inspire/encourage herself. I make jokes. I set people at ease.

And right now, my life is better than it’s ever been. I have a long-term partner that I love who loves me, I have great family and friends, I have a full-time writing job with benefits, I’ve been making contacts in the television industry and commissioned to do writing work. I “shouldn’t” feel so consistently “off” or sad or fearful. But I do, and I have.

I don’t know if this is depression of some kind, or if there’s some emotional thing I’ve never really dealt with as self-aware as I might be…I just don’t know. But I’m going to do something about it. I’m making an appointment with a therapist/psychiatrist ASAP. Might as well make use of that fancy health insurance. :)

(This post is supported by Patreon)

L.Aversary 4: And the Award for Most Change In a Single Year Goes To…

This was written in the book when I went to karaoke last year to celebrate my 3rd L.Aversary. Someone really likes Amy Grant.

This was written in the book when I went to karaoke last year to celebrate my 3rd L.Aversary. Someone really likes Amy Grant.

It seems like only yesterday that I boarded a plane at LaGuardia Airport in NYC holding a stack of letters written to me by some of my best friends, having had my three best friends drive me to the airport and watch me as I made my way through the security line. But it was FOUR years ago. That’s a high school or undergraduate college career. If my time in Los Angeles were a child, it’d be slightly older than a toddler.

And much like senior year, or the point when you figure out how to walk, it seems like a bunch of change has been crammed into the past year.

    • I joined a writing group with my writing partner and we wrote three solid scripts together
    • I went from being a solo writer, to half of a writing team, to a solo writer again. Still in the writing group.
    • I informed my family and friends that I’m in a same-sex relationship with a trans woman. Confirmed that my family and friends are super-cool.
    • I’ve made more use of L.A’s vast networking opportunities, and have met more people with whom I can collaborate and/or I can receive mentorship
    • The Incredible Girl ride is still going, but has gone through many changes
    • I’ve been given the opportunity to write my first TV movie
    • I’m currently employed in my first full-time staff writer position
    • Dat Chevy commercial, though
    • Because of the above two things, for the first time, I’m not drowning financially
    • Because of the above thing, I was able to go home to visit this summer under my own steam and being able to afford my own place to stay without needing to crash on a million couches

It’s been an amazing year – one during which I’ve continually moved forward with minimal setbacks. And while I haven’t yet completed my Top 50 Things to Do in L.A. list (I’ve done 7, 8, 48, tried to do 13 but it was closed down, and I’ll be doing 50 this weekend), I know that I’m invested in this city enough now that I’ll have plenty of time to do the rest in the year(s) to come.

Thanks for being a crazy enough city for me to live in L.A. :) Never change.

(Actually, there are some changes I’d love to recommend if you’ve got a sec.)

Be a Better Reader: Reading Beyond the Headline (Or, Driving Safely on the Internet)


A 5-part series. Sure, there are a number of ways in which any writer you enjoy on the Internet can do their work better. However, there are also ways in which readers can improve how they interact with the content they consume, and in doing so, improve their own experience and the experience of fellow readers. (Obviously, my opinions are my own – this is my blog, after all – and are not endorsed in any way by any outlet past or present for whom I write or have written.)

I was speaking with a writer friend recently, and we were both commenting on how amazing it is that, for all that the Internet has allowed people to have access to more information, reading comprehension skills seem to be sorely lacking. What’s more, for all that people love to “surf” the Internet, they often don’t spend the time actually reading anything. We’ve all become skimmers – which isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. Use the Internet however you want and more power to you!

The problems arise when people who haven’t actually read anything feel the need to comment on the things they haven’t read. Rather than contributing to a healthy dialogue, they derail the conversations of people who have read the piece, and start “debates” that have nothing to do with it. Nowhere is this more evident than on Facebook, where posting a comment on an item for which they’ve only seen the preview seems to be a lot of people’s favorite pastime.

It’s become such an epidemic that NPR posted this article about it in April of last year. You’ll be amazed at how many people “commented” on the “story” despite NPR’s obvious fishing.

However, even if people engage with a piece past the headline, many seem to not be engaging too well with the text. A good reader, when they reach a point that’s unclear will ask for clarification before trying to make a point. The outlets for which I’ve written in my career generally have very thoughtful, intelligent readers, and if I haven’t communicated well enough as a writer, they’ll point it out, responding gently to the point I seem to be making while acknowledging that this may not have been what I meant based on the rest of my piece. Then, I clarify accordingly and we have an actual discussion about it. This is great, and I love this kind of engagement!

Then there are other types of readers, who will skim something then make comments like “Why didn’t you address X point?” or point out a fallacy in my argument based on lazy reading. I often find myself defending myself with my own text – No, here it is. I said that right here, or alternately, That isn’t actually what I wrote – here’s this bit again….

I take my job as a writer very seriously, and I’m looking to improve every day. I hate it when I’m not clear, and I actually enjoy getting notes on my work, because I know that my work will end up stronger because of it. However, I do think that readers have a huge responsibility. Communication is a two-way street (or a multi-lane highway), and it’s your responsibility to take other drivers into account, not simply focus on your own driving.

Just because you’re reading a professional website doesn’t mean you’re absolved of your duty to think critically or, you know, actually read the words that are in front of you before you say something about them.

What you can do: If you come across something in a piece of writing that you want to comment on, STOP. Take a breath. Read it again. See if you can repeat the writer’s point in your own words to yourself. If you can, comment. If you can’t, ask for clarification. There’s no need to rush to comment. The Internet will still be there for you when you get back.

Also, before you engage with fellow readers in the comments section. Read the comments, too. Comments sections are for (or should be for) conversation, and you don’t want to butt in on a conversation of which you don’t know the context.  If you were at a party, and you passed by a group of people chatting and just blurted out an opinion based on a stray word you heard, that would kinda be frowned upon. (I know – I’ve been that awkward person who thinks they know what they’re contributing to when they don’t. Trust me.) Likewise, comment sections.

I write, you read. I make a point, you make a point about the point I made. We discuss. We move forward. But we have to be doing that together.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of Be a Better Reader! If you missed Part 1, check it out here!

(This post is supported by Patreon)

Join Me at ONA 2015!


Thanks to a recommendation from the lovely Sophia Flores-Cruz from Sci-Fi Latino (thanks, @latinageek!), I’ve been invited to participate on a panel at the Online News Association’s 2015 Conference this year!

It’s a panel called Whose Idea of the Future is This? Here’s the official description:

Rapid advances in tech and shifting population dynamics in the United States ensure we are destined for a future beyond current white-male-dominated media thinking. We’ve assembled a group of experts on futurism to look at predictions and possibilities for how our society is changing, and help rethink our approach to media, technology and our communities.

Basically, we’ll be talking about diversity in sci-fi/dystopia and how it relates to media. :)

I was so honored to be asked, and to be sharing a stage with the digital editor at The Atlantic, a futurism scholar, and a talented author/filmmaker who’s an expert in Afro-Futurism. It should be an interesting discussion!

Despite what the website currently says about it, my panel has actually been changed to Friday, September 25th from 3:30-4:30PM. So, if any of you out there are digital journalists, journalism students, or simply so interested in digital journalism and media that you want to hang out with online journalists all day and listen to me and others talk about visions of the future, join me at ONA15!

Trans Love is Love! (or, Thanks, Buzzfeed!)

So, check this out! The GF and I were featured in a Buzzfeed video! :)

OK, I gotta say, since this is my blog and blogs are historically where people go to complain and express their insecurities (thanks, LiveJournal), I wish I would’ve thrown on some makeup. Damn. :) But The GF looks gorgeous, so feel free to just stare at her side of the screen the whole time. And I’ve always been low-maintenance – I shouldn’t start apologizing for it now.

But seriously, I’m so glad that Buzzfeed made this video (BIG thanks to Hillary Lauren Levine!), and I’m honored to have been a part of it. It’s so cool to hear the stories of the other couples they interviewed and know that some of them have been together even longer than us, and it’s awesome and inspiring to know that they’ve made it work and are even longer-term than we are and still so happy!

Yay, love!

Be a Better Reader: Vote With Your Clicks


Photo from: Marketplacers.co.nz

Photo from: Marketplacers.co.nz

A 5-part series. Sure, there are a number of ways in which any writer you enjoy on the Internet can do their work better. However, there are also ways in which readers can improve how they interact with the content they consume, and in doing so, improve their own experience and the experience of fellow readers. (Obviously, my opinions are my own – this is my blog, after all – and are not endorsed in any way by any outlet past or present for whom I write or have written.)

As you’re probably aware, I’m an Assistant Editor over at The Mary Sue, where I have the pleasure of writing about all sorts of geeky and fun things through a feminist/social justice lens. 9 times out of 10, we write about things we love – new films/books/TV shows we’re excited about, inspiring women and girls doing cool things in all fields, cool new products we love, or discoveries in tech and science that we’re super-jazzed about. We really, really do.

But sometimes, we don’t. Sometimes, we hear about something in the news about which we want to use our platform to be a voice for change, equality, and a better world. And so, sometimes our writers will write pieces about films or TV shows, or even public figures and how they can do better in relation to things like sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, or issues of class. These are important concerns to us (and hopefully to all of you, too), and we believe it’s important to use these stories as stepping stones to start conversations .

That said, we’re well aware that, since there is so much wrong in the world, there’s always the danger of us dwelling on those things. It’s something we, as individual writers and as a site, fight against every day. We want to provide readers with a balance.

Determining that balance proves difficult, however, when what our readers respond to seems lopsided. We write so many stories about things we love, do interviews with amazing female creators doing awesome things, and tell the stories of awesome women and girls. Things that many of our readers say they want. And yet, those are the pieces that get the fewest “hits.” They’re often the pieces with the fewest comments, conversation, and interaction. They’re the pieces shared the least (unless they somehow involve a big-name celebrity like Chris Pratt).

Yet, whenever we post a social justice piece of any kind where one of our writers expresses a strong opinion about how someone or something could be or do better, we’re accused of writing “clickbait” (it’s amazing how often people mistake “an article they find interesting enough to click on” for “clickbait.” They’re two different things); accused of using important issues to “manufacture controversy” and get views for our site. Or, alternately, we’re accused of “always being negative;” harping on the wrong in the world without acknowledging how far women, LGBTQ+ folks, or ethnic minorities have come.

First of all, our intention with pieces like that is always to inform, educate, and start larger conversations in the hopes of making the world a little better than it was yesterday. Yes, of course we need to worry about things like our numbers – but that isn’t why we choose the things that ultimately end up on the site. We choose them, because they’re things we care about and they’re things we think are important – as evidenced by people having so much to say about them!

Secondly, we do write more celebratory things. If you look at our site, you’ll probably notice one or two “controversial” pieces every day while the rest is stuff we think is cool! And yet, the majority of posts get the least interaction, while the minority of the posts – these longer-form pieces featuring strong opinions about the world’s ills – get all the comments, shares, and interaction.

Many of those comments saying things like, “You’re always stooping to writing clickbait!” or “Why are you always complaining about stuff? I remember when you used to write celebratory things about things you like!”

We still do – often – you just don’t read those things.

What You Can Do: If you want to see a certain type of content more often, make sure you check it out when it’s offered, make positive comments, share it often, and engage people in discussion over it. If you only offer negative comments on things you don’t like, but don’t visit/comment on the things you do, you know what that means? It means that the thing you don’t like got a bunch of clicks, but that the thing you do like got shown no internet love. And so which of the two do you think we’re going to think our readers find more engaging?

When we look at our stats, we don’t see who came specifically to complain versus who came to love the piece. All we know is that people – for some reason – responded to this piece in a way they didn’t to others. As we’re trying to give our readers content they find engaging, we strive to replicate the kind of content our readers want to read. And while it’s great to receive feedback from individual readers about what they like and don’t like, the individual feedback is a small sampling of people who read our site. Stats (or “clicks”) are the easiest way for us to look at the entire picture.

Going to articles you hate to complain is less effective than visiting and interacting with the articles you do like.

This is not to say that you should never disagree with articles. By all means, disagree with the ideas in anything I write. But if you don’t like a type of post – rather than telling me you hate when I post stuff like that, support the stuff you like instead so I know you like it. Both you, and your fellow readers, will be better off for it. If you want to be a good reader and Internet Citizen, vote for things with your support rather than against them with your criticism.

Now, feel free to let me know if I missed something in the comments below! :)

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Be a Better Reader tomorrow!

(This post is supported by Patreon)