Category Archives: Writing


This is the 300th post of STK! Woohoo!!! In celebration, I have created a short photo essay to take you the behind-the-scenes at Star Ten Thousand Studios, AKA Myriad’s Bed. I hope you enjoy this sneak peak at all the hard work that goes in to the making of a blog!

A Day in the Life of a Blogger

All right, time to write a post! Let’s fire up that internet, load the WP editor, and…

There's a cat in the way.

…there’s a cat in the way. Rosie, could you just – no? – are you sure? – all right, just let me wiggle my hand under here – there we go.

*type type type type type*

Sharing secrets

Hey, are you going to yell at old white dudes in this one?

Of course I am.

I loves mah baby

Oh man, can you believe what they made Sting wear in Dune?

I loves her so...

Are you sure I should recommend this yarn? The colors are amazing but the pooling is just awful.

It tasted fine to me. But I like the slippery stuff better; it doesn’t stick to my claws.

...except when she sticks her butt in my face.

I swear to Bast, if you rewrite that paragraph one more time, I am sticking my butt in your face and leaving. All this indecision is getting in the way of human-kitty nap time.


Oh good, the dudebros have found us. #JudgingYou

Your intrepid blogging team

Oh gods another entry posted what if the internet hates it and comes to kill me in my sleep?

Shut up and pretend like you enjoy this. Nobody reads it, anyway.

As you can see, we are a well-oiled machine of impressive efficiency. And cat hair. Lots and lots of cat hair.

Here’s to the next 300 posts!

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Posted by on 20.4.2014 in Cats, Writing


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I need to finish Ye Damne Novel.

I don’t wanna finish Ye Damne Novel.

Lacking in inspiration for…well, for much of anything, these days, I decided the smartest thing for me to do this year would be to use NaNoWriMo to try to finish up Earth Girl in Exile, the book I started writing last November.

The thing is, over the summer I re-wrote (perhaps more accurately, wrote) the first part of the book (Cat’s exile and transit out of the Solar System), and most of what I wrote last November (her actual life in exile) is in need of some serious rework, which a) is terrifying, considering the amount of rearranging and chopping and cutting and pasting necessary, b) not nearly as exciting as starting a whole new story, and c) really not suited to NaNo.

I have a serious case of general blargh, too, inspired by lack of sunlight and illness and pre-election stress and a whole host of other things, which isn’t helping. I’m not even really inspired to knit or crochet or anything, but I want to be creative. Creative feels good. It’s just that creative is so far from where my brain is right now that it’s really hard.

I also never really had a good, solid plot to begin with for EGE. So I could totally scrap what I’ve got (the exile part, that is) and just start over, except…I have no idea for a better plot.

Godsdamnit all, I used to be creative. I used to have ideas exploding out of my brain and my fingertips. I used to be able to sink into writing and just let the world overtake me. And I love Cat. She is an awesome person in an unusual situation. I just have no idea what to do with her.

Sigh. I need help. Like, majorly, HALP. Or I won’t even make 5k this month, let alone 50k.

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Posted by on 4.11.2012 in Writing


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Can’t Win for Losing

Somehow, it seems, every creative outlet in my life is determined to thwart me.

The collected banes of my existence.

The book I’m reading just Does. Not. Hold. My. Interest. I had high hopes for it – Vikings and Welshmen? Referencing both the Eddas and the Mabinogion? And by a renowned fantasy author? Sure to be a hit. Admittedly I’m only so-so on the Norse, but I adore Wales/Cymru/the Mabinogion/Things Welsh. And yet. And yet. I’m bored. Pryderi help me, I’m so bored. I’m halfway through and I’m not really sure what the plot is, other than various countries have been at war in the past, and maybe some of them are headed towards it again? Also some frankly disturbing depictions of sex, none of it strictly consensual…well, what’s-his-face did just make out with the faerie chick, does that count? Still, if a book has failed to impress me in the first 240 pages, I think I am justified in setting it aside. Even though it frankly hurts me physically to leave a book unfinished…I’m getting irrational desires to destroy this one. Violently.

Then there’s the socks. And the other ones. The brown ones have been hanging around for nearly a year. I finally managed to get some momentum going on them again…only to realize I’d mistakenly knit about 70 rounds with the wrong sized needles. A-frogging I went, but I’m too grumpy to work on them right now. This is supposed to be my first design, but I hate it so much at this point I’m seriously tempted to scrub it. Except I have to finish this pair because I’ve knit 70% of a sock and I’m not losing that much work, godsdamnit!

The blue ones are…an experiment, one which in theory causes less of a headache than the aforementioned design. Except I’m having issues with the heel shaping…issues which are exacerbated by my extremely weird foot shape. So I seem to be producing something that will fit neither my feet nor any normal feet. And all of the frogging and re-knitting has made a) me exceptionally cranky and b) the yarn crunchy and in dire need of some rehab.

Then there’s the Starghan. It had been progressing merrily, but as the circumference increased, it became harder and harder to ignore the fact that I was knitting, not a flat disk, but a hyperplane. Apparently increasing 10 st every other round is too much. It was turning ruffly. So, despite the fact that I’d already knit a good 300 yards or so…I ripped it all out. ALL OF IT. The yarn is currently drying from a bout of rehab, and I’ve cast on again with the yarn I hadn’t yet included (to be fair, this is a blanket, so I was only about 5% done with it. Still, 5% of a blanket is a lot of work.)

And then there’s the novel. Oh, the novel. I’ve been going back and adding scenes and reworking scens and strengthening the plot, etc. Only now that we’ve gotten to the actual exile bit (i.e. the last 80% of the book) it feels childish and doesn’t fit with the new-and-improved beginning and I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO. (Mitu, expect a call tomorrow evening. I tried bouncing ideas off of M. but she was on painkillers and doesn’t know the story well enough.)

AND THEN I HAD TO BATTLE MY CAT AND REASSERT MY DOMINANCE. I swear to every god ever invented, and probably a few that haven’t been yet, THE WORLD IS OUT TO GET ME.

On that note, I’m going to rustle up some chocolate and resume work on my (now pitifully small) Starghan.

I offer this post in tribute to the Gods of Frogging. I hope my many frustrations make a pleasing offering, and that They will reserve their attentions from me for a long while to come.

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Posted by on 13.8.2012 in Books, Knitting, Life, Writing


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And who, you may ask, is Seymour? This is Seymour:

Click for image source and more adorable images!

Actually, this is a picture I found while looking for a picture of an adorable young steampunk boy. His name is not actually Seymour. But I needed an adorable young steampunk boy to make Mitu feel guilty, so for today we’re going to call him Seymour Pigeon.

Yes, Seymour Pigeon. Seymour Pigeon is a character in Mitu‘s novel. I had a hand in his creation, although to be perfectly honest I can’t remember exactly how Seymour Pigeon came to be* a stowaway on the airship upon which Mitu’s protagonists were traveling.

Anyway, Mitu is not a fan of Seymour. I made her put him into the story, but she wants to write him out. Only now she’s discovered that will be difficult since Seymour does actually serve a purpose in one scene.

Now, I can sympathize. Mitu is dealing with the common problem of OH MY WALLABIES THE RANDOM CHARACTERS THEY JUST KEEP SHOWING UP. I’m dealing with this problem, too, though in my case I’m writing a series so maybe these characters will end up being important down the road. But Mitu’s appears to be a one-off, and she’s a bit frustrated with THE RANDOM CHARACTERS THEY JUST KEEP SHOWING UP.

I keep telling her, well, if you’ve got these random characters, use them. Need a random extra body in the next scene? Use Seymour! Need an excuse for character A to stay behind when the rest of the group goes off? Oh noes, Seymour is sick! Need a plot twist to transport them to another continent? Fortunately, Seymour is a magic-user, and since we’ve established he has whooping cough**, he can cough and lose control of his abilities and hey-presto-POOF they’ve traveled to the other continent!

Now, since I helped bring Seymour into being, obviously I’m a little biased. But I still believe Seymour Pigeon deserves to live! So I am calling on you, dear readers (hi FBI!), to help me! SAVE SEYMOUR PIGEON!!!! SAVE SEYMOUR PIGEON!!!!! Leave a comment or spam Mitu or do something similarly silly and help me SAVE SEYMOUR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Meanwhile, I’m in the midst of my own minor character crisis. As in, they were eating lunch and Cat’s abuela was speaking in Spanish to irritate Cat’s mother and suddenly Cat’s mother is saying it’s rude to speak Spanish in front of those who don’t speak it and suddenly they’re eating lunch with a hippie and his three children from the Eastern part of Canada and they have names like Sun-through-Clouds and Sage and Snow Hare except the dad’s name is Kevin and his first wife died and Snow Hare is his child by his second marriage and she’s half African oh and she’s deaf because of course she is and WHERE DID YOU PEOPLE COME FROM AND WHY DO I KNOW ALL OF THIS ABOUT YOU???

So, Mitu, I really do feel your pain. Sweet Mother of the Eternal Flaming Hedgehog, do I feel your pain. I am never going to finish this damn thing. I WILL FINISH THIS DAMN THING IF IT KILLS ME. At least Sage has some minor plot significance…and maybe Cat will actually make it back to Earth a few books down the line and I can use the characters again.

*Writers, let this be a lesson: when brainstorming, always use a condom. Otherwise you may end up with a little bundle of novelling joy. 

**We haven’t.


Posted by on 25.6.2012 in Writing


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Camp NaNo11: Agua Intro

Wrote a new intro as part of my ‘finish up the Monkey Draft’ effort this month. Thought I’d share and see what y’all think. If you picked up a book and this was the first page, would you want to keep reading?


The thing I always miss about Earth is the water.

That’s usually the first thing anybody asks when they find out I’m a Lithie, so I thought I’d just get that out of the way to start with. Cat Tecuatl, Earthling Extraordinaire, misses water.

There’s water on space stations, of course, confined to the plumbing. Other planets have lakes and rivers and vast stretches of ocean teaming with creatures, great and small. But somehow it isn’t the same; even Isala, with oceans over ninety-six percent of its surface area, can’t compare to the Mar de Cortés.

I suppose there’s an added bit of irony there. I grew up in Uto-Azteca, an arid province in the south-center-west of North America. We lived in Albequerque, which is 600 kilometers from the Sea of Cortés and 900 kilometers from the Gulf of Mexico. Starting when I was eleven, I lived at a school in Chihuahua which was a little closer- maybe 400 and 700 kilometers, respectively- but it’s not like I was living on a Pacific island or something.

I’m a desert girl at heart, or at least as much as heart as anyone can be these days when everybody lives in environments which are at least semi-artificial. I don’t get claustrophobic living in a tin can space station, though I do sometimes miss the endless stretches of red rock, golden sand, and turquoise sky.

Maybe it was living in the desert that made me love the water so much; nothing more valuable than the one thing you can’t have, right? Even with all the advanced irrigation and water reclamation technologies, I grew up with water rations only slightly more generous than the ones I’ve encountered living on space stations. Thank you, ancestors, for corrupting so much of Earth’s drinkable water supply. Your many-times-great-grandchildren are having a lot of fun with the effects of that particular bit of stupidity.

I was on the swim team at school; we did have swimming pools, although I’m pretty sure the “water” was more Cl2 than H2O; we all had to wear breathing filters in the pool room and scrub vigorously after practice. It wasn’t a terribly pleasant experience, but it was a close as I could get, most of the time, to floating in the open ocean.

But nothing, nothing compares to swimming in the ocean. For me, this usually meant el Mar de Cortés– the Sea of Cortez, in between the Baja peninsula and the North American mainland. It was only a two-hour rail trip from my school in Chihuahua to el Mar, as we called it, and I went out there at least every other weekend- more if I could swing it.

Some of my friends are hardcore Spacemonkeys and they talk about spacewalks like they’re a religious experience. “Floating in the Great Sea of the Universe,” they call it. I never needed the Universe; just give me the Big Blue Seas of our Pale Blue Dot. Just a few thousand tons of water on one little planet– is that so much for a girl to ask?

The answer, if you’re wondering, is yes – and no. I didn’t get to keep my lazy Sundays floating in the Pacific. They took my planet away from me, sent me out into the Galaxy and told me never to look back. Sounds like a pretty good trade, right? One lousy planet for the whole Universe.

But I never wanted the Universe. All I wanted was el Mar.

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Posted by on 18.6.2012 in Writing


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Impractical Innovations: The Feline Swift

Warning: Many, many photos to follow, most of them silly and taken in very poor lighting.


Well, my Leda isn’t going to be done in time for Grandma’s surgery (never mind that it’ll take a few days to mail to PA anyway), but I am chugging along, and having far too much fun doing so. The pattern is still a tad boring, but it makes good TV knitting. Or, today, sitting-around-at-work-since-none-of-my-students-seem-to-want-my-help-so-I’m-chatting-with-my-supervisor knitting.

Anyway. Leda is knit from the middle, so I’d divided my yarn into two roughly-equal balls and was using the smaller one for the first half. As I got near the end, I knew I needed to reserve 25 yds for the end ‘feathers.’ So I wrapped the end around the nearest ruler and made myself an adorable little mini-skein.

When I got down to where I had just the skein left, I was faced with a bit of a conundrum – how was I going to knit from the skein without it getting all tangled? I suppose I could have re-wound it into a ball, but that seemed needlessly tedious. What I needed, I thought, was a small swift so I could drape the skein around it and merrily knit away without worrying about snarls.

Of course, seeing as I don’t own a swift, this presented a bit of a problem. Not to mention that I was currently serving as throne to my feline overlord, which prevented my getting up and finding an appropriately-sized substitute.

So I did what any sensible knitter would do, and put the cat to good use.

And thus, the Feline Swift (TM) was born. Little did you know, when you brought that little beastling into your home, that, in addition to its talents for coating your home with fur and producing loud mewling noises at unfortunate hours of the night, it would serve as a vital part of your fibercrafting tool kit!

The following is an Owner’s Manual for the Feline Swift (TM), in case any of you should decide to take your Swift off the shelf (and how did it get up there, anyway?) and put it to use.

If you have several Swifts to choose from, we recommend selecting the most sedentary, as this will ensure that your yarn stays in one place for as long as possible. Of course, depending on the Swift’s preferred resting place, this may also ensure that you stay in one place for as long as possible.

A good Swift is self-cleaning, and the self-cleaning cycle may be initiated while the Swift is still in use. (Note: the manufacturers of Feline Swift (TM) are not responsible for any slobbery yarn resulting from the use of this feature.)

On occasion, the Swift may resort to more vigorous cleaning procedures. Do not be alarmed if the Swift appears to vibrate; this is a natural part of the cleaning process, akin to the alarming whirring sounds made by most dishwashers and CD-ROM drives.

Throughout the course of the cleaning cycle, you may notice that your yarn has shifted on the Swift. This generally presents no significant impediment to the use of the Swift, and may be ignored.

It is, however, important to remember that Swifts are migratory creatures.

In some cases, the Swift may migrate right out of your skein.

Should this happen, do not be alarmed. Simply replace the skein around the front end of the Swift and continue knitting.

Many Swifts will remain calmly in one place for hours, allowing you plenty of time to finish your crafting endeavors.

At other times, the Swift may find it necessary to depart without warning.

However, once the Swift has attended to Nature’s call, it will soon return, and you may resume crafting.

Many Swifts are very affectionate, and may choose to use you as a pillow as their labors begin to tire them out. For this reason, you may wish to wear clothes that you don’t mind coating in Swift hair while crafting.

Swifts tire easily, and when it comes time to pause for the night, it may take a little effort to remove your skein from around the sleeping Swift.

After a mere 16 hours of sleep, the Swift will be ready to resume working the following day.

To keep itself entertained, the Swift may choose to demonstrate its superior skills as a contortionist…

…or play a game of hula-hoop…

…or resort to the favorite pastime of all Swifts, and stare intently into space (or possibly the episode of TNG playing on your laptop).

In general, the Swift is quite unperturbed by its work, and may even honor you with a performance of Swift Opera (known to the uninitiated as snoring).

It behooves the educated user, however, to keep one eye on the Swift at all times, as it may choose to flee to the other side of the room for no discernible reason, and if the user isn’t fast enough (she’s trying to finish her row and keep the cat on the bed and reach for her camera all at once), the Swift may carry the skein off with it.

If you are fortunate, the Swift will not choose to make its abrupt departure until you are nearly at the end of the skein.

Finally, be kind to your Swift. Their jobs are difficult, and the kind user will permit the Swift several days of uninterrupted sleep between projects. If you take good care of your Swift, your Swift will take good care of you – and there may even be more Swift Opera in your future!


I officially decree myself silly-ed-out for the week. Not to mention I think Rosie has suffered rather enough the past few days. Though she seems to be too busy investigating the empty digestives wrapper to notice that I’m about to embarrass her on the interwebs.


Posted by on 24.1.2012 in Cats, Knitting, Writing


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“Give us noms! Give us noms!” the little cats say.
And what have you done to deserve noms today?
“We have pranced, and we’ve pounced, and with string we have played;
We defended the kitchen from a muridae raid!”
Such cats deserve plentiful noms, I would say.

“Give us noms! Give us noms!” the orange one pleads.
And what makes you think you will get noms from me?
“The father won’t do it, the brother’s lazy,
And the mother is gone, which leaves only thee!”
With that kind of logic, I’m forced to agree.

“Give us noms! Give us noms!” the gray boy-cat yowls.
I shan’t move any faster, despite all your howls.
“But I am so hungry, and there are no fowl;
I simply can’t help but to whine and to growl!”
I’m considering making a gray-cat fur towel.

“We have noms! We have noms!” my fur beastlings cry.
You sound as though you were both about to die.
“We are only felines; we cannot tell time.
Each moment we are denied food is a crime!”
You’ve been fed now, ungratefuls. Enough of this rhyme.

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Posted by on 22.1.2012 in Cats, Writing


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Bounce the Graviton Particle Beam…

As a physicist and a science fiction fan, I have an unusual relationship with technobabble.

On the one hand, I’m extremely sensitive to it, and sometimes spend more energy than I’d like looking for errors. Of course, sometimes it doesn’t take any effort at all – like when a movie claims that the Earth’s magnetic field is going to switch polarity in the course of 24 hours, causing a global temperature shift resulting in an arctic climate near the equator and a tropical climate near the poles.

If you can’t find a single error in that sentence, please do the human race a favor and never procreate. Seriously, don’t even look at a member of the opposite sex; we can’t take any chances with this level of stupid.

On the other hand, I understand the need for both artistic license and suspended disbelief. “Think, when we talk of horses, that you see them…” It’s okay to bend the rules of science a little in the interest of good storytelling. After all, we have no real evidence for things like hyperspace, subspace, wormholes… but without some means of circumventing the cosmic speed limit, 95% of interstellar sci fi wouldn’t work. On the other hand, we haven’t proven that there is no such thing as hyperspace. Also, I appear to have three hands.

Anyway, I understand taking liberties in the interest of good storytelling. Provided that it is, in fact, good storytelling. Which means, among other things, that it doesn’t stretch the truth so far as to prevent the suspension of disbelief becomes impossible. (I have a fantastic idea for the world’s geekiest cartoon to illustrate this, but it will have to wait until I get something better than MS Paint on my new machine).  Generally this can be avoided by maintaining some kind of internal logic – okay, the basic premise is a bit iffy, but let’s say we accept it (“I know men can’t fly.” “No, no, let’s assume that they can…”). So long as any further developments are consistent with this initial premise, the story retains a structure which is at least self-consistent enough to support the plot without drawing attention to the fact that it is, in fact, complete and utter crap.

If only, if only, if only television writers (I’m picking on them because they are generally, in my experience, the worst) would bother to do this. As I said, I can train myself to be immune to BS science – or at least to ignore it – but sometimes it gets so bad there really is no hope.

Most hardcore sci fi fans probably know where I’m going with this (no, not the Kessel Run). That’s right, folks, set your phasers to sudden interest in botany and practice your Jewish religious hand signs, because we’re going Trekking!

I’ve become fairly inured to Trek‘s complete and utter lack of anything remotely resembling a third-grade science education. However, I was watching the TNG episode “Parallels” this afternoon, and my bullshit meter exploded.

In the interest of sharing this ridiculousness and exploding all of your meters, sending bullshit flying everywhere, I present to you some of my favorite quotes from this episode:

“Geordi’s VISOR emits a subspace pulse…”

And why does it do this, exactly? This device is supposed to help Geordi interpret EM waves as visual images. Why would this have anything to do with subspace? No, ‘we need random tech in this scene to break people out of jail/cause hallucinations/explain our crap science’ is not a valid answer.

“I am detecting a quantum flux in your cellular RNA…”

Okay. You can be in a state of flux, or you can measure flux–the amount of something (light, water, whatever) flowing through a given area in a given time. You can’t have a flux. Also, shouldn’t this ‘flux’ be in everything, not just Worf’s RNA? What in the name of wallabies would isolate this magical flux to RNA of all things?

“We could scan the quantum fissure using a subspace differential pulse…”

According to the interwebs, people do in fact use differential pulses to measure things, though what a subspace differential pulse is, or how it would interact with a quantum fissure (whatever the hell that is) in any kind of information-giving way.

“From what I understand, there’s a good chance that my Worf won’t return to me…”

Yes, Troi, let’s draw conclusions based on precisely, uh, nothing, and then get needlessly maudlin and sob into Worf’s Klingon-ly chest. Oh, and then five minutes later the episode will contradict the premise that objects/people (except ‘our’ Worf) won’t go back to their original universes when the quantum fissure is magically fixed. Twice.

“…an energy surge within the subspace pulse…”

So, wait, is this the subspace differential pulse you were using to scan the quantum fissure, or the subspace pulse emitted by Geordi’s VISOR? Or is there a third subspace pulse you just pulled out of your tails for this scene? And how is there a surge within the pulse?

“…and emits a broad-spectrum Warp field…”

Since when do fields have spectra? THIS MAKES NO SENSE.

“I have re-modulated the shuttle’s engines to emit an inverse Warp field.”

Wait, so now we’re inverting the Warp field instead of making a broad spectrum out of it? You can’t even stick to one BS solution to your BS problem for two minutes before inexplicable changing to a different BS solution which makes no more (or, admittedly, no less) sense than the first one? My BS meter just flew halfway across the galaxy to whack you upside your heads.

Oh, Trek. It’s a miracle you survived as long as you did. And by miracle, I mean Patrick Stewart and Whoopi Goldberg can save pretty much anything.

Three final general technobabble complaints from TNG in general:

Tetrions. Oh my wallabies, tetrions. WHAT THE FRELL IS A TETRION?

Why does everything always increase exponentially?

I hearby petition to remove the phrase “Modulated phase” from the Star Trek Writer’s Dictionary of BS Technobabble. In fact, anything related to modulations and/or phases should probably be deleted from the vocabulary of anybody with authorial leanings.

Finally, if you haven’t seen this yet, the musical summation of everything I’ve just said:

This video is brilliant. I claim no part in it except for sincere admiration.


Astute observers will notice that I’ve managed to reference Star Wars, The Big Bang Theory, Farscape, William Shakespeare, and Eddie Izzard in a post ostensibly devoted to Star Trek. And, because I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t include it, one of my favorite technobabble-ish quotes from my favorite technobabbler from my favorite TV show can be found here at about 2:10.

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Posted by on 17.1.2012 in Geekery, Writing


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The humans come to attention a full hour before your return. They can’t know why, but they sense your presence through the wood and stone of the fortress you have made your home in this mortal world. Their awareness grates, and your expression as you push open the door is one of carefully masked annoyance. A year ago the sentiment would have been discomfort and unease, the sheepishness of one who feels he doesn’t deserve the honors he receives. You have always been one of the more emotive of our kind. This last year confined to human form, to human thoughts, has wearied you, dulling your emotions and your ability to hide them.

Young though you are among our kind, you know well the role that you must play here. You smooth the irritation from your features and nod to the assortment of servants, serfs, and petty landowners strewn throughout the hall, taking advantage of the fire’s warmth as they perform the manual tasks necessary to their mortal lives. You have made a point of learning the words and tools associated with each of these tasks—for sewing, needle, thread and cloth; for carving, knife and wood; for fletching, feathers and glue to bind them to the arrow’s shaft.

You cross the length of the hall to the great hearth. The humans scatter slowly, shifting away to give you what privacy the large communal room may afford. As they move to the back of the hall, you stop one of the females with a quiet word.

“Diana,” you say. Many human lords have not taken such care, but you have learned the names of all within your household.

“Where is my lady?”

She has anticipated this question; your first words, whenever you return looking as weary as you now do, are always, “Where is my lady?” A useless question, among our kind, but you have been among the humans for too long.

“She is resting, my lord,” Diana says. Like all the humans, she keeps her eyes to the rushes on the floor, but unlike the others, she lowers her eyes out of respect, not fear.

You exhale your disappointment. “I will not disturb her,” you say, sinking into the thronelike wooden chair that sits before the fire.

“My lord—” Diana begins.

You look up, meeting her gaze. She does not look away. “My lord, I will bring her to you,” she says with what might be a smile. There is a sense of indulgence in her offer, the mother granting a request the child is too proud to ask. You understand this well, and grant her a small, sheepish smile before she steps away to her lady’s chambers.

Free of Diana’s eyes, you allow yourself to relax fully, your exhaustion now apparent in your face. The form you chose for your engagement here was healthy, tall, broad-shouldered. So it remains, but time has threaded silver through your hair and etched lines around your eyes. You have allowed the injuries sustained in battle to scar, though you might easily have healed them. You might easily have kept the silver from your hair and the lines from your face as well, but you believe such outward signs will help your people to respect you as a man of experience and wisdom.

You have been staring into the fire, brooding, and you start as she appears beside you and runs her hand over your hair. She smiles and you return it, lacing your fingers with hers where they rest on your shoulder.

You have been human too long, to need these caresses. The others of our kind do not approve.

They saw the necessity of your forms when you chose them. The humans’ strange polarity of gender will not allow them to accept androgyny, nor could they comprehend a female leading their armies.

Her choice was just as necessary, though the others were uneasy. She has always been too fond of humans and their strange perceptions, fancying herself a woman before this assignment. Already she was she, where you were never he until you took your present form. They were reluctant to send her with you, but a lord in this feudal society must have a wife, and you must have a partner to facilitate the emotional unification of this land, as you and your armies ensure its physical and legal unification. So you came to this world, the warrior and the mother, the strongest embodiments of the dichotomy our kind rejected long ago.

Young though you both are, none foresaw how strongly your physical forms would affect you. You yourself were shocked the first time she laid her lips on yours. It was a simple gesture then, one of comfort, asexual, but your body reacted and it was not long before your spirit did as well. You had scant been in your human forms a few months before you bedded one another.

You were uneasy then, ashamed of your decent into the corporeal ways our kind has renounced. But that was many months ago, a long time in the brevity of a human life. You seek her comfort now as any man might seek it from his wife, resting your cheek against the swell of her belly as you twine your arm around her waist.

A moment later you start and look up at her. “He kicked me,” you say, not sure whether to be affronted or to laugh with wonder.

“He kicked me as well,” she says, smiling fondly at you. “He kicks me often.”

The child is the ultimate proof of your newfound humanity. It makes the others nervous, and there are those who wish to take the baby from her. The wiser among us understand the truth. You will never return to us, though you might easily shuck your mortal bodies when your task is done, passing rule of your new empire to a trusted mortal.

It would perhaps be better if you did; it is not for yourselves that you are bringing these peoples together, but for the humans themselves. Too long have they warred with one another in their petty tribes, forsaking the pursuit of knowledge as they scrabble for what food is gleaned from their planet by those who do not fight. Your empire will rectify this, or so our hope has been, and allow the humans to emerge from their Dark Ages. Our intention was to allow them to grow as a species once more, but perhaps your leadership for a few decades more than we had planned will serve them well.

So you will live out your mortal lives together, the lord turned emperor and his lady wife. Together you will rule with wisdom and compassion. She will bear children, sons and daughters to follow this first son, and the rule of your new empire will pass to them. They will be human—exceptional, yes, but no more than human. When your bodies fail, you will leave the mortal world and pass to the realms even the wisest among us cannot ken.

It is a melancholy thought, to think that you will leave us forever in but a few short years. We are fond of you. But as you take her hand and lead her to your chambers that you both might rest, we know that it can be no other way. You are human now, beyond our power to change. We wish you well in it.


Written about three years ago. Still not quite sure where it came from, but isn’t that always the way with your favorite creations? You would be proud you wrote it, except you look at it and know it must have come from somewhere else, through you. Too much Sheri S. Tepper has me thinking about sex and gender, so I thought I’d dig this out again. Feedback would be greatly appreciated!


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Sick and sore; can’t sleep
Beside me, cat is snoring
Ungrateful feline

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Posted by on 8.1.2012 in Cats, Writing


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