Asides

The One That Ran Away

Sam and I at a Renaissance Festival, Sterling, New York, summer of 1982

The One That Ran Away

Some people have “the one that got away” packed into their emotional baggage. I have “the one that ran away.”

I met him in community college in the fall of 1981 after I got kicked out of Bible College. His name was Sam. He had blue eyes and dark hair; he was brilliant, charismatic, and witty. He was the president of the Christian association on campus and every girl I knew wanted to get his attention. I never thought I had a chance with him, but I liked him so much that I didn’t want to give up without trying.

I thought long and hard about how to stand out among the competition. Finally, I sat down at my typewriter and crafted an “Application to Be Your Girlfriend.” I switched to handwriting and filled it out. I left it in his campus mailbox.

Days later he called and asked me out. In many ways we were perfectly suited for each other. Three months into our relationship he sat me down and told me about the one way we were not compatible. 

He said he was gay. He told me he hadn’t expected to feel the way he did about me. He asked what I wanted to do about his revelation and our dating.

Quite frankly, Sam was an awesome relationship for me. I preferred not to have a sexual relationship at that time. And the pros of dating Sam outweighed the absence of a physical relationship. His adventurous streak made every day exciting. His insights helped me grow. His companionship was beyond satisfying. Him being gay, while a shock, was not something I had a problem with.  

We dated for a few years before the end came. He was open and honest with me about what it was like to be gay in a culture that would not accept him for it. I accepted that he expressed his sexuality without me, and while, because we were close, he shared somewhat, he was very discrete.  We even talked openly about men he (and I) were at attracted to. But Sam had intensity that, when it was focused on me, made me feel like I was number one with him. Ours was one of the best relationships of my life. Why he ran away was horrible and heartbreaking. It happened with rare fights between us, a series of conversations that always went something like this:

Sam: “Julie, I want to be able to take our relationship further and to be able to offer you a family some day. I found a program that will turn gay men straight.”

Me: “Sam, you’re gay and that’s okay with me. If you want to have a family we will figure it out when the time is right. We could adopt. Please, don’t leave me! You’ll never come back!”

Sam: “I will come back! I’m doing this for you!”

Me: “You are not doing this for me, because I don’t want you to change! I love you the way you are! And if you go, you will never come back! I know it! Please, don’t go!”

I lost that fight, and just as I had known I would, I lost Sam forever. What happened at the place he went, the quest he undertook, would have been his story to tell. 

Our relationship, thankfully, wasn’t exactly over. I lost my Sam, but I gained Guy. During his experiences at the program he went to, he embraced his sexual identity, came out, and from then on preferred to be called by his middle name. We kept in touch on an off through the years, though our lives were very different; while I was putting diapers on my babies, he was wrapping naked men up in saran wrap at parties.

Over the last decade we had become close again. We would get together about once a year, and we would chat by phone in between visits. Last year he told me he still had the application to be his girlfriend. He asked me, more than once, to move to Georgia to live with him. He let me know that the relationship we had had been as significant to him as it was to me.

This year I had planned to go see him in Atlanta over Labor Day weekend to attend Dragon Con together. He was so excited he sent me last year’s program and would call to talk frequently about my trip. Neither of had any inkling he’d be going on a much different journey.

Guy was hospitalized June 1, 2018. The reports of his progress varied a great deal, some days he improved, some days he had set backs. But the set backs increased and on June 27th I received the call that he had, once again, left me.

I grieved hard for weeks. Then one day I realized it’s not myself I should feel sorry for. Sam/Guy had left me before, and I had learned how to get by without him. Now my heart grieves for those who loved him who have never lost him before. His close friends, his neighbors, his family. It is a big adjustment to live without the benefit of his wit, his intense passion for social justice, and his magnetic charisma. 

Just like before, Sam/Guy has travelled on without me. I am wiser now. I have hope that one day we will be  together again.

He impacted my life, and he impacted the world my books take place in. Here are three ways that early and awesome relationship influenced the world where women rule.

  1. When he was Sam, he encouraged me to write. He read all my stories and even remembered them better than I do. Guy also encouraged me, and this year he gave me the constructive criticism I needed to fine tune a chapter in book three.
  2. The experience of watching Sam live a lie about who he was in a culture that would not accept him with open arms had a lasting impact on me. It is why, in the alternate earth where women rule, that love between women and men is forbidden. Women partner (and unpartner) with women romantically. Pregnancies are scheduled for population stability by the Quickening Committee. For fun, I thought heterosexuals should have to experience the world I had to watch Same live in.
  3. Sam/Guy was my inspiration for a character in books one and two. One of my favorite characters, Octovin, is brilliant, charismatic, opportunistic, and gay. And like Sam/Guy did, Octovin flirts with a lot of gray areas in the civilization he lives in. 

The Soldier Sector

Talia, a woman of great strength in our time and place, agreed to be the model Evlantian solider!
Talia, a woman of great strength in our time and place, agreed to be the model Evlantian solider!
Talia placed in a competition and graciously let me use this updated picture my blog!

In a city of blood feuds and cat fights, an army of strong, smart women is essential. The Soldier Sector attracts residents for whom physical fitness is a top priority. Being a soldier in a city of women also requires a great deal of intelligence and intuition; psychological tactics keep the women of the Queendom in line, while brawn keeps the male slaves subdued.

The Soldier Sector works hand-in-glove with the High Queen and the Government Sector. The troops are least likely to be seen on duty in the Religion Sector and are most often assigned to work in the Arts Sector where the greatest amount of mayhem occurs. The soldiers keep order and solve crimes. They guard prisoners and slaves, as well as patrol to keep the citizens in the great city. They drill and train to stay combat ready. There have been no wars fought in the recent herstory of Evlantis, but smart rulers know the importance of keeping a fighting force ready.

In addition to their physical strength and their tactical expertise, most soldiers’ strengths include: logic, a love or order, loyalty to their comrades in arms, and a highly competitive nature. It is the only Sector where there are tests to weed out applicants. It is one of two Sectors where the women take vows of chastity.IMG_3141

 

The Livestock Sector

The City of Evlantis is ruled by women, for women. The city is divided into six clique-like sectors.

My sister (dressed as a princess) riding her horse, Maarz (dressed as a dragon) at a horse show. When I asked her if I could use this picture she responded, “As long as Maarz gets credit!”

The women of the Livestock Sector have the “critter gene”! They love animals, and that love is returned in kind. These women are conscientious, responsible, and effective. They are the shepherdesses and keepers of the flocks. They breed animals to be pets for other sectors. In addition to tending animals, they specialize in fashions, having a monopoly on wool and furs. Their love for the animal queendom is often blamed for the high rate of convictions and deaths of those citizens who break the ban of love between women and men-slaves.

The Religion Sector

A friend wasn’t able to model for this blog…so I used pictures of my Grandma Polly. She was a missionary to Singapore in the 1950s. I had fun looking through all the photos.

The City of Evlantis is ruled by women, for women. The city is divided into six clique-like sectors.

The Religion Sector attracts women of great vision and intuition. They are in touch with their spiritual nature, aware that the world and everyone in it is connected by far more than our senses can take in. Part of what fulfills women in the Religion Sector is finding and fostering growth in others around them. In their religion, there is a goddess for every want or need known to women, and the priestesses guide the women of the other Sectors to properly supplicate to the goddesses to meet their needs. Another vital function the priestesses fill is to educate the children of Evlantis.

The Arts Sector

The Arts Sector houses the creative women of the city of Evlantis. Only women with extraordinary talent may apply for citizenship in this Sector: the painters, the writers, the musicians, the dancers, the actresses, and the sculptors. The other five Sectors provide services necessary for the survival the Queendom. The women of the Arts Sector must survive on their ingenuity for they provide works of aesthetic pleasure.

The women of the Arts Sector value emotional expression. They love to an extreme and hate to an extreme. It is the Sector where the laws are tested and most often broken. It is the Sector where the most murders are committed. There is a rivalry between the women of the Arts Sector and the women of the Soldier Sector because of their oppositional ideologies.

Sephora Gave Me Nightmares

CAM02346In the Queedom of Evlantis, where women are in charge and the men are in chains, most of the heroes are women.  The villain, Sephora, is also a woman.

I wanted to create a female villain so diabolical that readers would hate her. I didn’t want her to possess any redeeming qualities. From the feedback I’ve gotten so far, I succeeded. There was only one problem. She slipped out of my control for a while.

I managed to contain her activities to my agenda in book one.  In book two, however, Sephora ran away with the plot for a while. I stopped writing. I found myself weeping, especially over the damage she did to Hannah, one of my favorite characters. I even had trouble sleeping as Sephora began to give me nightmares.

Then, one day, I figured it out. I am the woman in charge of this world! I headed to my computer and deleted the worst of the worst of her actions, including what she did to Hannah. From that point on Sephora never gave me another nightmare!

Child Rearing Wisdom from Evlantis

Karen, my friend, looking radiant at her baby shower, 03-08-2015
Karen, my friend, looking radiant at her baby shower, 03-08-2015

Child Rearing Wisdom from Evlantis 

There’s a fine short story behind this list of Evlantian Wisdom. A friend of mine, Karen, told me she was pregnant and then found out she was having a daughter. One thought led to another and soon I had a list of Evlantian lore-popular during the rule of High Queen Rachel-to share with my friend. Then I realized the list would make a fine blog. I asked Karen to be my model, and she agreed.  Thank you, Karen and daughter!

 

Child Rearing Wisdom, Evlantis Style

There is no higher purpose, no higher calling in life than to be chosen by Ephrea, the Lifegiver, to bear and raise a daughter. This calling is a mighty and holy purpose and the goddess would not have chosen you if you were not worthy. Hold your head high, holy mother, and know that when you need the strength and wisdom of the goddesses when walking the path of motherhood that if you cry out to Ephrea she will then dispense a goddess to answer you. (Attributed to Allurnius, First High Priestess/Low Queen of the Religion Sector of Evlantis)

Friends and Lovers come and go, a Daughter is forever. (Unknown)

Each day with a daughter hold infinite blessings. Find each one and celebrate it well, for as the daughter goes, so goes the future of Evlantis. Blessings bring more blessings, while curses increase curses. (Attributed to High Queen Cleopas the Wise)

Look Well, Ponder Well 

Look well in the mirror and see the face of your GrandMother. Ponder the wisdom you gained from her and pass it on to your daughter.

Look well in the mirror and see the face of your Mother. Ponder the wisdom you gained from her and pass it on to your Daughter. Ponder the follies that made her huwoman and resolve to pass new strengths and not her old ones, on to the next generation of womankind in your care.

Look well in the mirror and see your own face. Ponder well your strengths, your wisdom, your learning and pass what is good down to your daughter. Ponder well your weaknesses, your shortcomings and your ignorance and strive to be a better woman so that your daughter may learn to handle her own huwomanity and shortcomings with grace and dignity by watching you deal with your own.

Look well, Ponder well, and when you are overwhelmed, remember, no woman, save Mother Eve, was the ideal woman.

(by the Poetess Gralalia. In High Queen Rachel’s day, school children had to memorize this in their third year of school and later, recite it by heart to a priestess as part of the pre-quickening rituals. Young women were also expected, at that time, to name seven of their strengths and three of their weaknesses, and to explain who their strengths and weaknesses were inherited from, to show that they had taken to poem to heart.)

Keep in mind that the Daughter that vexes you may someday be your Queen. (Sapheera of the Arts)

Every day in Evlantis is Daughter’s Day. (High Queen Rachel, the year her womb-born daughter Rebekkah survived the plague)

It is never too early to celebrate Mother’s Day. (Low Queen Sephora of the Arts Sector)

Blessed be the woman who bears and raises a daughter who bears and raises a daughter! Her name shall be entered into the Evlantian Book of Life. Cursed and shamed is the woman who bears three sons, her name will be shunned from the Herstorical Record and she shall live as a ghost among the living, fruitful women. Better for her to have gone unborn than to have quickened inferior beings and no daughters. (Ancient saying attributed to Morvutti, the first known midwife.)

In thee household let thy daughter be a Princess, but never forget! Thou art the Queen. (Ancient saying attributed to Mother Eve)

Character List: The Queendom of Evlantis

We toyed with the idea of a crown for Queen Rachel on the cover of The Queendom of Evlantis. The talented artist: Jessica McRory www.jessmcrory.com
We toyed with the idea of a crown for Queen Rachel on the cover of The Queendom of Evlantis. The talented artist: Jessica McRory www.jessmcrory.com

From the Queendom of Evlantis:(characters of more importance in boldface type)

The Queens:

Rachel-(pictured here) High Queen, mother of Low Queen Rebekkah (womb-born child) and Arrival (adopted).

Questar-Low Queen of the Government Sector

Dawna-Low Queen of the Agriculture Sector

Caliphus-High Priestess/Low Queen of the Religion Sector

Sephora-Low Queen of the Arts Sector

Ariana-Low Queen of the Livestock Sector

Rebekkah-Low Queen & Commander of the Soldier Sector

The Slaves:

Servus-self-appointed king of slaves

Kiertus-young, handsome, popular city delivery slave

Justus-older slave, skilled in carpentry, advisor to Servus

Tiburnus-slave devoted to Sephora

Baraus-slave devoted to Sephora

Octovin-slave and confidant of Sephora, lives and serves in Arts Sector Theater

Yarr-slave willing to risk everything to be with the woman he loves

Titus-slave willing to risk everything to be with the woman he loves

Satrun-prisoner/slave, sentenced for displeasing First Sephora

Leged-prisoner/slave, sentenced for spending time with his son

Caaros-prisoner/slave, sentenced for a crime of disobedience

Lyal-slave, son of Leged

Jed-slave, serves as Low Queen Rebekkah’s horse boy

 

Other Citizens of Evlantis:

Arrival-a leader of the Soldier Sector, High Queen Rachel’s adopted daughter

Diana-a leader of the Soldier Sector

Hannah-a royal (but barren) citizen of the Arts Sector

Nebo-Hannah’s mother

Tilda-Hannah’s sister

Calena-citizen of the Livestock Sector, cross trained as a scout.

Raysa-low caste citizen, People’s Palace dungeon attendant

Certa-low caste citizen, People’s Palace dungeon attendant

First Sephora-Sephora’s first daughter

Second Sephora-Sephora’s second daughter

Third Sephora-Sephora’s third daughter

Pirna-Sephora’s poison mistress

Partouche-member of Sephora’s Secret Police

Meerta-member of Sephora’s Secret Police

Salla-member of Sephora’s Secret Police

Tyvaal-member of Sehora’s Secret Police

Belaina-member of Sephora’s Secret Police

Grebella-member of Sephora’s Secret Police

Ahmilia-midwife/doctor, friend of High Queen Rachel

Rachella-outgoing, courageous girl of the city

Violet-Rachella’s mother

Quertha-Rachella’s aunt

Liava-citizen of the Government Sector, serves as proctor at Palace Hall Session

 

Urthmata: a woman who is blackmailing Low Queen Rebekkah.

 

From Paradisia:

Ava-youngest daughter of the Immortal, unfallen Adam and his second wife, Aurora

Michael-Archangel

Sethone of Ava’s brothers in Paradisia, sometimes mentioned by Ava

My Kitchen

My kitchen is a place where strange and wonderful things happen. Examples of the strange (they’ve only happened once): tuna manicotti, pumpkin soup. A sample of the wonderful: broccoli quiche, stuffed peppers. But I’m not just referring to recipes. My kitchen is a twilight zone of odd occurrences. Don’t take my word for it, judge for yourself!

A lonely little lemon in an onion wrap.
A lonely little lemon in an onion wrap.

 

I will admit to being somewhat skeptical, but I may have gotten a truthful explanation for this one.  Someone claims this lemon rolled off a counter and when it was set it back upon the shelf the lemon rolled right into an errant onion peel!

 

M&M droppings in the butter.
M&M droppings in the butter.

The jury is still out on this one, but I’m thinking tiny elves were running around on my counter tops in the middle of the night with their arms full of M&Ms.  One of them must have slipped in the butter, which surely alerted the dogs to their presence. The elves must have been forced to flee without collecting all of their candy. Note to self: train the dogs to be kind to visiting elves.

Cheese puff taco.
Cheese puff taco.

This one had some help from me. I walked by a counter and spotted one lone cheese puff sitting in a taco shell. I presumed a hasty snacker had accidentally dropped it there. I sacrificed a small bag of puffy cheesy snacks to satisfy my sense of humor, snapped this picture, and left my creation on the counter. Hopefully the elves had as good a laugh over this as I did!

Then there’s salmonella stew…but I’ll save that picture and story for another post.