Gnomes and Experiments

“Now you’ve done it.” Tomas’s voice shrieks through my eardrums like a fire-blade. The worry-widge Human is right, though. I have, indeed, done it. Professor Kalmar will likely suspend us both pending a behavioral review.

“Never mind that. It worked!” Victory sends me bouncing around the rim of this massive bowl filled with white fire. Even on my highest jump, I barely reach Tomas’s chest. He drops a heavy hand onto my head to stop my glory dance.

“Next time, I’ll listen when Gear tells me not to partner with a Gnome for an Experimental trimester. I’m calling the Outrunners.”

“Aww, you’re no fun, Tomtom.” I shove his hand away. “We made Aether Fire, and that doesn’t excite you at all?”

“Not when it comes with the idea of lock-up time or suspension.” I try to grab the phone, but his arms are just too long. He makes the call, and now we wait for the authorities.

Coming Out To My Past Self: A Letter To Me

Dear past self:

We need to chat. I’m re-reading Out of the Closet and Into the Meme War, and I just have one question. What were you thinking?

Okay, let’s back up and handle this point by point, like adults. First, a fact is a piece of information presented as having objective reality. Yes, that’s the fifth definition. Still, every definition involves the idea of objective existence. That means separate from perception.

So no, R. T., it’s not a fact that you’re a transman. It’s a fact that you’re female. Self-identity is almost entirely subjective.

Even as I type, I can feel you reacting somewhere in the depths of my subconscious. How can I say such things about my own self? Am I a masochist?

Maybe. Or maybe I’ve learned a thing or two in this last year. The first is you were right on some points. First, yes, women are quite attractive. Men? Eh. Except Jacob. 🙂 Second, Yes, we did marry him, and we’re quite happy we did. But women are still sexy.

In fact, most of what you wrote is pretty accurate. Life before the wedding was straight up madness.

Really, I just wanted to chat about two points you didn’t really understand.

  1. We got sick during massage school. It wasn’t “just stress”. Something broke, and I still don’t know what, but I’m working on it, for both our sakes.
  2. You have no idea what it means to be a Daughter of God. Truth be told, I don’t either, but I finally started learning.

The mystery illness that walloped you upside the brain and ground any plans to a halt? Lab work is happening, and I’ve got the process as under control as it’s possible to have such trouble.

The Daughter of God thing? Well, that’s bigger. See, when you wrote your post, you wanted so badly to be visible. You wanted people to see and understand all the parts and pieces of you. Even followed it up with Realizing I’m Not Invisible a few months later.

Yesterday, I learned that no matter how badly you or I want it, parts of us will always be invisible in some situations. You can’t fight a crusade against the world. And the world will make its assumptions. I know, it can be frustrating.

Just remember, those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.

Really, though, the reason I say you didn’t understand then what it means to be a Daughter of God is this. You still clung to your identity as a transman. You clung to your identity as ONLY Raidon T. Phoenix. You tried to forget Tanith Rose.

When I moved to California, I still carried your idea of identity. Except that idea hurt. Every day, it hurt. So I gave it up.

In fact, I gave up the idea of identity entirely. And in doing so, I found the freedom to be ME. Not you. Not Tanith.

I found the freedom to be Raidon Tanith Rose Phoenix Taylor.

I still use masculine pronouns on social media. I strongly dislike the inundation with ads directed at women. I live in California and see enough bikinis to last a lifetime in the summer.

Not to mention the makeup ads are way too trippy.

I’m still getting our name legally changed. After all, we chose it together, and it’s part of us now.

Thanks for everything you taught me, R. T.




Why I No Longer Say “My Truth”

The truth shall set you free.

People use the phrase conversely, both to scold and to praise. What if we shift the words a bit?

My truth will set me free.

I confess, just typing that set my insides twisting into knots. Heck, typing this post sets my teeth a bit on edge. I’m afraid of the potential backlash. But I’m writing anyway.

The second group of words grates for me, because no one can own the truth. Not you, the one reading this on a shining screen, and not me. Google my truth or what started the phrase my truth before you go further. The search results baffle.

This is not to say we do not have different perceptions of reality. Take a look at the image above, though. In fact, a fellow blogger said it best. “Reality is an aspect of perception. It is distinguished from the truth.”
I’d take it one step further. Reality and truth intertwine, weaving in and out of each other like flowering vines on a trellis. Reality is the vine, shiftin g, changing with the winds, sprouting new tendrils with every new interpretation. Truth is the trellis. It stands, holding shape, regardless of our perceptions of reality. We certainly own our perceptions.

We do not own truth. We can’t.

Perhaps, though, this is a natural out-growth of how we speak. We use the terms subjective truth and objective truth to attempt to separate anecdote and experience from scientific methods and consensus. Is such a separation truly possible, though? And when did society find the need to exchange the words experience and fact for the euphemisms of subjective truth and objective truth?

Yes, these phrases are euphemisms. The rational, secular culture in which we live wields logic as a weapon, shaming those who see the possibility of a single, universal truth, applicable to everyone. Such a concept, the logic says, cannot exist when human experiences remain as diverse and infinite as they have through out history. So what’s left but to shame those who believe such an irrational concept?

Remember, if you’ve seen Now You See Me, these opening lines. “Come in close. Now closer. For the closer you think you are, the less you’ll actually see.” For those who haven’t seen the movie, first go see it. Second, the movie follows a FBI agent and an Interpol detective in their attempts to take four stage magicians to justice for robbing banks during their shows and giving the proceeds to the audience. I won’t spoil the movie. Suffice it to say, the law agents never looked far enough away to catch the tricks.

I see similar patterns in our rational, scientific culture. Many claim that by scrutinizing all things as closely as possible, we may in time divine the over-arching, universal truth. If, says this culture, such a thing truly exists.

Yet science looks too closely. They find pieces of this truth, and hold it up as the truth. The soft sciences do this quite a bit. Find a thing. Draw conclusions based on perceptions of that thing. Claim this perception as truth.

‘shakes head’

Universal truth cannot be dissected like a frog on an eighth grader’s science lab table. That dissection shows us the pieces that exist inside the frog. In the end, we learn nothing about the habitat of that specific frog, or how its species lives, functions, and moves in the environment. We pour salt on the muscles and see them twitch. Hardly the same as chasing down frogs by the side of the lake and experiencing for yourself just how fast the little blighters can be.

You have your experience of reality. I have mine. Neither of these is the truth. Both of them contain pieces of the truth. In the coming days and weeks, I intend to discuss what bits of truth I’ve come to understand through my lived experience.

In the end, only by coming together to discuss, openly, respectfully, with frank precision can we come closer to understanding the universal truth surrounding us all.

Aeon Timeline 2 Introduction

I’m fascinated by how much there is to learn about using computer programs. To that end, I’ve made it my side quest to show the wonders of a few programs and techniques I use to keep track of all the random stuff necessary to actually craft a world.

Among them is Aeon Timeline, an amazing software only 13 months old in its current incarnation. Which means no one has reached expert user level yet. After all, you need 10K hours of practice, and 10K hours have not yet passed since this software came to market.

Thus, I’m still learning, and I want to share as I go, because once you’ve got the hang of this tool, it may replace losing post-it notes for some of you. And so I present to you Aeon Timeline 2: Introduction or Everything You Want To Know BEFORE Getting Started.

Perfect? Not A Chance

Perfect. You’ve heard the word, probably even applied it to your own life. The perfect house, the perfect car, the perfect spouse. But what does PERFECT really mean?

I have no answer.

Sure, I could hunt down a dictionary and type that in as the answer. Yet what’s the point of that? Perfect remains a concept.

An idea.


So if we can’t have the ideal, why bother trying at all? Because we can learn to thrive in the imperfect. It’s not easy in a world so caught up in Perfect, but it can happen. We can make it happen. Take this YouTube video I just made.

I have a decent-ish webcam, and software that cuts out most white noise when I use the right microphone. Except I’m pretty sure I used the wrong mic.

If I’m honest, I could point to a million different things “wrong with” this video. But what’s the point of that? It’s published for all of you to critique and criticize if you like. The fact is, I did one thing very, very right.

I hit Publish anyway.

Yeah, it’s terrifying. Yeah, my video isn’t perfect. It is, however, proof. Proof that I accomplished something. Proof that I completed a goal, albeit a frightening one. Proof that no matter how scared of imperfection I am and have been, I can still finish a thing.

That’s right. I can finish a thing. Now, it’s time to finish more things. Also, we’ll be cutting back to 3 days a week so I can stop having a panic attack at the idea of five posts. Now go out there, and claim your place in our beautiful, imperfect world.

Accomplishment & Success: Can’t Have One Without The Other

Success. Accomplishment. Most of us crave them in some form. My question is…Do we recognize them when we achieve them?

Often, no. Without knowing what you’re looking for, you’ll never know if you’ve found it.

Story time:

Seven or eight years ago now, I had a conversation with my mother which involved both of us describing our ideals of “success”.

I don’t remember what hers were. I remember enough about mine to laugh at the naivete. Among my thoughts—

  • I’ve published at least one New York Times best seller.
  • I have enough money to show up to my high school reunion on a custom Harley and wearing leathers studded with semi-precious stones. (Yes, you may point and laugh all you wish.)
  • I never worry about money, even if I spend several thousand dollars a month on stuff that doesn’t matter.

I’m disappointed, younger self.

See, while these are obvious signs of accomplishment to the people who don’t matter in my daily life, they don’t truly mean much. The reasons why?

  • The New York Times best seller list is a money game between the big NY publishing houses.
  • I care about very few people from my graduating class enough to concern myself with impressing them.
  • Yes, money helps, but what would I SPEND several thousand dollars a month in random cash on?

So what ARE we looking for?

The Twins: Success & Accomplishment

Ever owned a house plant? So far, I’ve owned two in my life. One was a bamboo. The poor dear likely ended up in a dumpster when we rushed our last move.

Now, I’ve got a parade rose on my desk. The orange beauties need daily light watering. Just an ice cube or two. Success in caring for a house plant is easy to see.

My roses get wilted, I’m not getting them enough water or sun.

My roses stand tall and proud? I’m succeeding in my job as caretaker.

Seeking success is a matter not of “getting there” but of small, genuine accomplishments daily, weekly, monthly. It’s the invisible twin that holds no recognition until many accomplishments have built up over time.

Accomplishment is the obvious twin. This twin can be found in the daily details of everything from running a household to running a corporation. Getting up in the morning. Keeping the files organized. Washing the dishes.

Seek genuine accomplishment and success will likely follow.

Genuine Accomplishment a.k.a. DO THE THING!

We all have that ONE project. It’s sat in the back of your head for six months, six years, or six decades. I don’t care how long. The vintage airplane to restore. The book not yet written. The painting not yet painted. The language not yet learned.

You want to do it, but you don’t do it. You hesitate.


Among the winners: No time. No money. Could be “more productive”.

Now, if your project is restoring a vintage airplane to operating capacity, yeah, okay. The money part has some validity. You need parts and stuff. Although it may just be a matter of changing your budget somehow.

Nearly every no time excuse is exactly that. An excuse. I didn’t have the capacity to see or count all the minutes I wasted on stuff like Netflix and Surf when I could’ve been writing. I just know I did it.

As for needing time to decompress, etc, yes, day jobs can suck out your soul, if you let them. Don’t let them. After all, it’s your soul, your passion, your determination and drive. Not someone else’s.

As for decompressing, if The Project happens to be a passion, doing it won’t be a chore. It CAN be your decompression.

Now why bother overcoming whatever mental and physical hurdles we have to do the thing?
To accomplish something. It’s worth the pain.

Now I ask you, what’s your ONE PROJECT? What do you really want to do? Share with me in the comments, and let’s have a conversation!

How Do You Know? Ancient Man and the Trash Pile

Today’s stream of consciousness: what can we learn about someone by digging through their midden pit—a.k.a trash pile? I’d guess less than half the story. Spoke this morning to someone at my usual café, and the topic of ancient peoples came up.

He mentioned the difference between us today—Modern Man—and our predecessors. You know, before things like art and abstract thought, right? And I got to thinking…

Do we really know as much as we think we do about our predecessors? How many papers and articles have you read that imply in polite, flowery terms that Ancient Man was kind of a moron?

Sure, they knew enough to hunt. They knew what would poison them and what wouldn’t. But ART? Nah, they didn’t make ART. They didn’t understand the value of abstraction, because they couldn’t.

Perhaps they did understand abstract thought, and simply had no time to indulge. Hunting and gathering and ensuring survival for the clan or tribe likely took precedence over creating a Sistine Chapel.


I know, I know. I’m not a scientist, I’m a writer. I build worlds on the basics of what I know. I create societies and cultures and insulting gestures and characters. I don’t dig through 15,000 year old trash piles and try to piece together the inner minds and workings of entire societies from that.

The process of creating a world got me wondering why we do. Science has wonderful applications, don’t get me wrong. Modern sanitation, indoor plumbing, vaccines, and all manner of marvelous creations have come to us because of science.

We also got the ALIENS meme guy…

Yes, more…astute?…scientists reject his conclusions out of hand. After all, building the pyramids was the feat of slave labor and pharaohs, right? Or was it the feat of humans who desired to build something incredible and found a way to do it.

Again, how do we KNOW?

Partial Conclusions

From the Pharaohs we have the hieroglyphs and the Rosetta Stone. From Greece we have the plays that survived the ages. From our truly ancient ancestors, we have building foundations and crumbled pottery, if that.

Even the leaps of modern science are, in many ways, partial conclusions. We can observe a lot more than we used to. Electron microscopes and the Hubble telescope. Space probes. What do they teach us? 90% of the lesson is that we don’t know everything. Not even close. In a century or two, we will be subject to the same scorn we give pre-Civil War physicians for not cleaning their instruments between surgeries and Regency mothers for believing that lancing their teething baby’s gums was a good idea.

Even the hard sciences are an ever evolving set of partial conclusions based on exceedingly narrow questions. So how can we believe we truly know as much as we think we know about ancient peoples?

What if the people of the Stone Age actually had metal, but it was so rare and precious that they turned it into exceedingly high quality tools. And when one of them owned a tool like that, they kept careful care of it. They used it for its intended purpose, and ensured that when it finally wore out, they’d have gotten an entire lifetime of use out of it.

I doubt a tool like that would be left in a refuse pile. The most we would find would be fragments of the broken wooden handle.

What do you think? Were ancient peoples truly so much less intelligent than we are? Or did they apply their intelligence differently? Drop your thoughts in the comment section below, or shoot me a comment on Facebook!

Dueling Mannequins

You know that scene where Cass nearly got shanked? Well, thank Max and Miri, the two delightful mannequins pictured above. These are basically Shay’s assistants, models, and all-around handy people.

I’m not quite sure where this post is going, so have another picture. I am getting my act together, I swear.

You ARE A Millennial, And Here’s Why

Are you a Millennial? I planned to start this by saying I survived Y2K, so I’m a Millennial, but let’s be real.
If you’re reading this, you’re a Millennial.

Please don’t click the corner X just yet. You and I live and breath after the year 2000. I don’t care what year you were born. That makes you a Millennial.

Just think about it a second.

We’re all walking around, living our lives, struggling from day to day, hoping to some how, some way, some day create something better than we had before, right? Whether you were born in 1918 or 1980, most people I’ve met want better tomorrow than yesterday handed to them. Especially if yesterday was stinkin’ miserable. And we’re doing it in years labeled 20**. 🙂

So, despite unnumbered rants to the contrary, I say we’re all Millennials.

Also if you were born in 1918 or anywhere around WWI or WWII or the Civil Rights Movement and are reading this, drop me a shout out in the comments. You’re way more experienced than I am, and I’d love to hear your stories.

Where was I? Oh yes. Millennial. That word. We throw it around like we throw around Baby Boomer or Generation X or the Greatest Generation. Can I…trust you with a secret?

Okay, here goes.

Government forms need handy separation markers, and people aren’t conveniently boxed.

‘holds up hands in surrender’ I know, I know! It’s weird. I mean, of course we can define other people! It’s so easy to define ourselves after all. At least, that’s what the U.S. Census Bureau would like to think. And the-nope. Stopping that train before it derails over a cliff. 😛

So what IS a Millennial? If you trust my 6 am brain, a Millennial is someone living during this new Millennium.

Yes. That’s it.

Which means YOU are a Millennial. You may be a Baby Boomer Millennial, or a Gen X Millennial, or a Gen Y Millennial (me), or a Millennial Millennial (my little sister). Whichever you are, you are a Millennial.

If, like I did, you’re now asking yourself about the generation gap and the differences in society and how everything is so different from what it was, my answer is…Yes and no.

Yes, people of different ages have differences. Differences in ideology, political thinking, political influence, specific ideas about such things as gender and race, differences in health…and a great deal many others.

But so do people of the SAME AGE. Just because a certain set of ideas is more common among a given age group doesn’t mean the generation gap exists. It could just as easily mean they grew up in similar environmental circumstances. It doesn’t mean that generation is better or worse, or even that they knew or know more or less than a previous or next generation.

All it means is we’re groups full of individual people.

Heck, if I used -ism and -ist terms, I’d be tempted to call this perpetuation of the generation gap concept ageism at its finest. Lumping massive groups of people of varying ability, economic, political, cultural, geographical, racial, national, experiential, gender, and sexual backgrounds together because of birth date, and then listing all the statistics about PIECES of those groups that make us have a reason to reject the whole?

Why don’t we stop looking at statistics for five minutes, and learn about the people right next to us? Sure, it’s a lot riskier, emotionally. It’s also a bigger reward when it turns out right.

See, I tend to agree with Core Elves. What matters most is that I respect you as an individual. Your character and what you, unique, wonderful person that you are, bring to the table. Statistics can’t tell me that.

So what will you do next time someone calls you a Millennial? A Baby Boomer? A Gen-Xer? When they dismiss your ideas because you’re from a different time and place? Will you rant and rage and troll their page? Or might this time be the one you take the approach of peace? Ask about their experiences? Learn where they come from? Find common ground and go from there?

Can Instinctive Norms Damage Our Physical Health?

We’ve been on the same topic all week, so why not? How do these mysterious Instinctive Norms fit into your physical health plan?

Same way they fit into mental health. And success. You become what you think about.

I’m talking about what you think about subconsciously. Again. See, we don’t look at the subconscious mind as a well-spring of health and fitness, or a purveyor of misery and despair.

It is though.

So what Instinctive Norms does the U. S. society I’ve been exposed to most of my life encourage?

Our Beliefs About Health

Because circumstance does not define me.

A while ago, I wrote about how health may not look like what we think it does. [link] Sometimes, it looks like getting out of bed and getting food. And then getting back in bed.

Yet with the constant bombardment of visual media, “health” means thin.

“Fit” means muscular and toned.

“Eating healthy” means grains are part of a balanced diet. Even if never eating them reduces my pain level and contributed to 30+ pounds of weight loss so far.

See, we internalize so many of these beliefs, and we don’t look at them. I had to find a medical history in my family that led to a correlation with problems digesting grain, that only THEN gave me the idea that, hey, maybe I’m actually mildly poisoning myself when I eat this stuff. Without that correlation, I don’t know that I would have noticed.

So yes, our beliefs absolutely effect our physical health.

Exercise & Food

What do you need for healthy bones? You probably said calcium.

What about healthy muscles? Did you say protein?

Energy? That’s easy! Carbohydrates, of course.

Technically this is all partly true. I say partly because all of these are half-formed concepts based in specific scientific studies whose results became socialized into little clichés about food and eating and health.

Know what you really need? Even I haven’t memorized the list. In fact, my father-in-law just helped me move my mother-in-law’s shelf full of medical references for herbs, vitamins, and other physical remedies to an accessible place downstairs. All manner of scientific information for herbal remedies and their studied effects on the body are held in one dark blue volume the size of a paving slab.

One of them is called the Vitamin Bible.

What about daily exercise? Well, everyone knows a gym membership and personal trainer are the way to go.

Or, you could start walking to work, if it’s within a mile or two of your house. Really. I’m not kidding. Can’t lift, bro? Start with some yoga and work up from there.

Get your heart pumping using your body’s natural actions and rhythm. It helps.

What kind of beliefs do you hold about physical health that are preventing you from reaching your goals? How do you intend to find the ones that are hiding from you? Let me know in the comments below!