What Country, Friends, Is This?

When is a comfortable space with like-minded people suddenly considered a useless “echo chamber”? I’m beginning to think, when you’re Black, it’s wherever you have the audacity to find a moment of peace.


This stage of pandemic illness appears to be grief. My first stage was pandemic distraction: a noticeable but not debilitating interruption to my mental process, or ability to stay focused. It was understandable that I wasn’t more impacted at first. Very little of my day-to-day changed. I work from home, and because nothing about my work or finances is traditional, even if I didn’t know what was coming, I had no reason to worry for the foreseeable future. It was still strange, of course, but so strange that it wasn’t possible to really process the extent right away. After all, I’ve been an expat for years, and even in crossing the border back to the US, I’m on the opposite side of the continent to my extended family. I had no expectation of seeing family, aside from my son and his father, and we were all going to be sheltering together. Something was different, but it was calmly so.

Pandemic fatigue, my second stage, changed my daily life. Immediately upon waking up, I started to feel tired. After a short while, I began describing my brain like a computer, as there was now a background program constantly running whose entire purpose was to remind me of the new reality we’re all living. It had to make sure I didn’t forget, because inside my home was very different to what I was seeing on my timeline (Twitter being the starting point of all my news intake), and instead of one, big jarring re-realization every day, it apparently was better to just have a constant state of dysphoria. Just a quiet, creeping remembering. An always unfinished reconciliation between how I thought I was doing and how the world was clearly doing, and then a sharp disconnect followed by a million subsequent attempts to reconnect, with varying success. Attempts to keep them separate were unsuccessful, and attempts to blend them were worse, and just resulted in exhaustion.

I was actually okay, but the world was not okay, so I was not okay. 

This stage lasted from roughly April through August. If you’re wondering: yes. I did debut my YA novel in that time. Yes, I did roughly a thousand events and interviews and podcasts and lives and meetings. Yep. Did I enjoy it? Yes! Did I hate it? Yes. Can those two things be simultaneously true? Apparently! Life is not a pie, with feelings and the like taking up a certain percentage to make up a whole. It’s an overhead projector on which many transparencies can be stacked, all contributing to a whole. I’m not unhappy just because I’m sad, if you follow. 

Which brings us to pandemic grief. It isn’t the beginning of grieving. This summer was a marathon of that, as even a pandemic was not enough to stop the ongoing campaign of violent anti-Blackness. It’s just that now my daily life and state of being are characterized by it, by grieving. 

I don’t know when I will feel at home in my native country again, if ever.

I don’t know if I will ever feel physically comfortable among white strangers again. 

I don’t know how to explain why it’s not okay to face anger for feeling the way it is most logical for a Black American to feel, in light of: the public executions; the public defense of systemic abuse and tyranny; the immediacy of criticism leveled at our resistance to terrorization, even from people supposedly sensitive to our oppression. 

I don’t know how to make you care that white supremacy is abiblical. That I shouldn’t have to hear my oppressors defended in my place of worship. That a defense of Rome is not an apolitical stance. I don’t know how to tell Bible-believing Christians that they shouldn’t be comfortable with my execution. That their desire for quiet comforts has more to do with white privilege and exactly the ways the western church has adopted a separate and contradictory doctrine than it has to do with them wanting to fulfill 1 Timothy 2:2. 

I don’t know how to get through to someone who despises the 1619 Project not because it’s ahistorical, but because curating the national memory and imagination is more important than telling the truth–regardless whose terrorization must be erased and ignored. 

I don’t know how to explain why I shouldn’t have to worry about getting through to that person in the first place. Why I should be safe regardless who disagrees with me. 

There is too much observably true for me to have to give a history lesson that would be ignored anyway because it’s not the history we’ve decided to keep. If you already know about COINTELPRO, and it’s readily researchable, why would I have to remind you that the idea of my liberation has been directly correlated with anarchy, violence, and the fall of the nation? Why would I have to stop you spouting obvious lies or passive skepticism about Black Lives Matter when you already know you’ve been intentionally socialized to assume any group trying to reverse Black dehumanization–literally calling for an end to murder and inequality–is the enemy? Why wouldn’t you do the follow up work of deprogramming yourself? And if you haven’t, why would I think you ever will?

So grief. Because the intentional evil done by my government can be revealed and it changes nothing. The impact remains. COINTELPRO still bears fruit; we are discredited in the American imagination as soon as we are Black and demand to be free. All of which matters because the result is death. Slowly, through “preexisting conditions”, which is a funny way of saying, the long-term, epigenetic effects of prolonged and persistent oppression and terrorization. It’s visible in the human body; racism kills. Quickly, through state violence and “vigilante” heathenry. But is it genuine vigilantism when you’re all but deputized? When your violence is incited and invited? Grief, too, because my country slanders me to the rest of the world, so that even leaving again doesn’t promise relief. 

Grief, because it’s all related. The white-washing of history that leaves white people delusionally certain that this country is in fact theirs, that their entitlement to it is logical. The electoral college, a gift to slave holders to ensure they always had an advantage, regardless how outnumbered. The rotten core of every system, and the way it impacts Black Americans, who are now dying, incarcerated, homeless, so many things, and disproportionate to their national percentage. And grief because anyone could overlook it all. The international hatred for a small diaspora who refuses to give up their birthrite, who refuses to stop demanding their due. 

Grief, because I am acknowledging that communities I’ve been part of for ten years are toxic to me now, after all the work, and love, and dedication. It’s like another divorce. A host of beauty and blessing inextricable from an ugliness that cannot be overlooked. Grief, too, because I wonder how in the world I could replace these loves in the world as it stands? Where would I find them now, and how many traumas would I have to stomach in searching?

I think I’ve exhausted this vein, and I’m happy to end it here, however incomplete.

Someone will ask why I didn’t pitch this somewhere else to be published, to be compensated for the emotional labor of writing it all down, but something stage two taught me: there are certain things I cannot submit for editorial notes and suggestions, that I cannot make into an assignment or I’ll never get it out. If you’ve read this, received anything of use to you, and feel so inclined, you can always tip me here, or by clicking the green “Buy Me A Coffee” button, but be warned…I don’t actually drink coffee.

Speed-Dating With Bethany

As an aside, I considered reusing the blog title “Rando Calrissian” because I just really feel like it didn’t get enough affection and is one of the most underrated of my clever blog titles. Shoulda timed it to coincide with episode VII. The following are equally random tidbits*, in an attempt to reconnect with you, dear reader. The things I do for England.

(1) Yesterday, during our Montreal Sunday Funday – which is what I call our weekly return to the city for church and fellowship…because I’m not great with titles *all the time* – I took a bite of chicken salad and immediately had a full sensory memory of the last time I’d eaten chicken salad. Which was like twenty years ago. I am 33 and feel it is far too early for this sort of phenomenon.

(2) Relatedly, I awoke with the theme to L.A. Law in my head.

So. That’s…


(3) REDACTED IN 2019 but I left this gif because I love it:

(4) This season’s marathon of the original Planet of the Apes franchise has left me with three truths thus far – because full disclosure, Ezra and I haven’t watched #5 yet, but will today! I do not apologize for how much space will now be devoted to talking PotA.

I will never apologize.

(4.1) The 2nd movie – Beneath the Planet of the Apes, the one in which a strange subterranean enclave of telekinetic radioactive humans worships a bomb and which includes an unnecessarily long “church” scene complete with organ and hymnal – which I would have *EASILY* said was my lowest ranking in previous seasons, actually went up in rating, if not ranking. I AM AS SHOCKED AS YOU ARE.

(4.2) The 3rd movie – Escape from the Planet of the Apes, in which Zira and Cornelius come from the future to 1971 and are first the toast of the town and then, well, not – remains the absolute highlight of the franchise. Period. I realize this doesn’t sound like new news, but it was confirmed. Favorite.

(4.3) The 4th movie – Conquest for the Planet of the Apes, in which Caesar begins the revolution in 1991 – tanked in my rating. Just tanked. I think due to the overall comparative strength of the story, I’d given them too great a pass on the complete and utter lunacy. No more.

But, you, beloved…

Yes, you, MacDonald. You were just grand.

(5) They opened a huge Dollarama on Queen Mary as soon as I left Montreal. Thanks a bunch, friends.

(6) There is no Popeye’s in Northcountry New York. The implications of which worked me into a nearly destructive lather at one a.m. Still adjusting to being back in the States, but nowhere near to what I’m accustomed. We’ll get through this together.

*If perchance you followed the link to Rando… you would know that my Planet of the Apes ….fixation, shall we say, is inescapable.

Look Alive! Have A Lively Look About You!


What is life, guise. What is it.

What’s this life for.

It’s like…. life.

It’s bigger.

It’s bigger than you, and you are not me.

I’m….sorry, those are various song lyrics and assorted foolishments. I can’t rightly remember how to do this, but I feel like I’m nailing it.

So anyway, I am no longer an expatriate, for one thing, as my family has moved five minutes inside the US border. There’s that. So many changes, all at once, this summer was a whirlwind. And now it’s quiet. Like, country quiet. Like, city folk sitting in corners holding lanterns and holy water quiet. Which brings me to we got a new dog! (Read: a bigger, younger, much more vocal dog.)


Meet Walker. He is convinced he’s a cat, a human child, and whatever fights apple trees. I will love him more when he’s not teething anymore. (Spoiler: that bed – that bed that geriatric Phineas loved? – is no more.)

Other news: I am a Goodreads author with a book page for Avrilis and that just hasn’t lost its luster yet! LLoA is in copy edits, I’m anxiously and excitedly waiting to see what her cover will look like (insert SPDJFPOSKAGPKSDFG or some reasonable facsimile), and I’m writing the second book (more on that later)!

I’ve made friends with the local library (well, one town over), mostly because they are housed in this ridiculously awesome brick colonial and YAS. Oh and they gave me books so… I mean, friends for life.

So yes, we love the house, Ezzie loves his new school (1st time in an American school, he feels like he’s arrived!), we’re happily still in our church family, and life is moving right along!

Hopefully I’ll have more news to share soon! 😉





To go.


By which of course, I mean my birthday – and all the Morrowpalooza bdays (Me, hubby, son) – are this coming week!

We had family in town to start off July and took a little trip to the Quebec City area, which was delightful! ::throws some pics atcha::

And in completely unrelated news: (a) new book!! and (b) APES.

Dawn. of the et cetera. SO. INTENSE.

Going again.

That is all.

An Emblem of the Land I Love

Friends! (Romans, Countrymen!) I have arrived back in Montreal, huZAH! Whew. Girlfriend. I can’t even. And during that three week tornado (I’m not sure that imagery works either but this is what we’ve got right now), someone actually had the audacity to draw attention to this blog! SMH. Guess I’d better justify your love, Tatiana!

What better way to discuss expatriation than spending my first American Independence Day in the United States since 2009!


It. Was. Wonderful. July 4th on Zuma Beach in Malibu with my son, my nephew-son, my sis and mumzy. Feeding lifeguards some of our hoagy, watermelon salad and pasta.

Listening to my favorite patriotic performances – Marvin Gaye’s National Anthem, Whitney Houston’s, and Beyonce singing America, the Beautiful at the 2008 Inaugural Concert – and having my son FINALLY learn the words!! He is American!!! ❤

The entire vacation was a marathon reminder of customer service and general niceness from strangers. (Oh, I can’t pretend not to miss that, California.) And eating. Oh, MEXICAN FOOD. Save yourself for me! No matter wheeeere you go…I will find you!

But 4th of July. That just felt wonderful. I love living away and I love coming back. I love standing in a crowd of people at Disneyland (on July 5th but shuddup) and singing along during the extravagant fireworks show, hearing people cheer and gasp and happily celebrate my native country. ::sighs and flower petals::

I love following my wanderlust and knowing, you can always come home. ❤

Frinterview! feat. Stephanie Sauvinet (Pt 1)

So I have this friend and she’s awesome and I’ve mentioned her on several occasions before. We met on the QT forums (where friendships have been known to bloom) and started swapping work. From the outside, we looked pretty different. She, a hardcore sci-fi writer specializing in cyber and biopunk. Me, a speculative literary writer who went through a good ten years of reading literary fiction exclusively. But, no. Kismet. We found we’re both expats (she’s from France, living it up in Louisiana; I’m from the US, basking in the awesome that is Montreal); we both love music and could not write without it – in fact, I’m gonna splice in some of her favorite songs of the moment; we both love literature (of course!); and, yes, we both love sci-fi.

So, I decided it’s time you know her, too! And Frinterviews are born! So much more fun than a cold interview, everything I already know about Steph made it really easy to think of questions I really wanted her to answer. And go!


Stephanie still remembers the face of her middle school librarian when she returned Dune after reading it in one day. She wanted to be an archeologist for a long time just so she could find the Stargate but settled for being an adult/YA science-fiction writer instead. If only she could click her heels three times and materialize in a cyberpunk world, she would live there forever. (From her Pen Punks bio)

Thanks for letting me grill you, Stephanie-Dahling. I’ve had the pleasure of reading your amazing cyperpunk/biopunk – and you opened my eyes to the fact that I have always been drawn to punk fiction/film; what made you want to start the Pen Punks? And can you tell us a bit about what it is?


The Pen Punks is a group blog focused on everything relating to Punk fiction, and a little more. I wanted to start the Pen Punks because of my love for the punk genres and my wish to spread that passion to others. Steampunk has been mainstream for a while now but most of the other punk genres (such as cyberpunk, biopunk…) have been niches, often completely unknown to the general public. Most people have had a glimpse of those genres (who hasn’t seen The Matrix or Tron?) while still having no idea that they actually follow specific science-fiction subgenres. I wanted to give readers the opportunity to discover those genres, learn about them and who knows, maybe even become as passionate as I am.

And it’s not just an awesome place to read about the varying genres or find out about forthcoming or classic punk novels, it even boasts a database of agents and publishers interested in the genre. Because Stephanie is lookin’ out, y’all. Click here to check it out!

In your other life, you’re a nurse – how intimately do these passions intertwine, if at all?

As different as both passions are, they seem to be bound to affect each other. Being a nurse has helped me tremendously in my writing as I have seen quite a lot of personalities and reactions from patients and families. Add to that the fact that I am an oncology nurse and the notion of grief and death are definitely put in perspective. All experiences have been a gold mine in terms of emotions in my writing.

My passion for writing and reading have helped me reach patients in a way (at least I would like to think so). 99% of the time patients in the hospital hear about their diagnosis, treatment plan, symptoms…etc. Noticing a book on a patient’s bedside table and asking about it can break the bubble of sickness and make them think about something else for a moment.

I love this answer for so many reasons, particularly transferring the emotional resonance from your unique work life to your characters, even though the situations may be as different as night and day. YES.

As a writer whose native language is something other than English (but who writes in English), how has the process of CPing helped strengthen your own work?

Where should I start? As an ESL writer, I should probably say that everything in the CPing process has helped me. Having lived in the US for almost 10 years now, I’ve been facing the fact that I’ve adopted some bad habits and crutches within the English language, most invisible to me unless they are pointed out. I’ve also had the pleasure to CP literary pieces and that has probably helped me the most because it showed me just how refined prose can be. Something that I had experienced in French literature but never in English. It has encouraged me to learn to love line edits.

See, this is why we’re meant for each other, children.

You have to pick a planet other than Earth to spend the rest of your life: which do you choose?

Dune. There was no guess there. The ecosystem and the hardiness of its native people makes it a fascinating planet. The fact that it looks like a giant desert at first glance but reveals to be so much more is all the more part of its attraction.

Please, believe. I *did* know your answer to this. ::Scout’s honor::


Srsly. Her love of Dune is arguably one of the first things you find out about Steph! And there’s plenty more to find out when we finish our Frinterview tomorrie! ::glitter cannon:: For now, I leave you with the only thing almost as awesome as her biopunk work-in-progress, Nirvana – the jamazing mock cover. To find out how it came about and who is the talented artist behind its conception, click the image! (As if you could resist it.)

That Is WELL Shameful!

What. The title has nothing to do with the blog post. The blog post hasn’t even been written yet, but I’m sure it doesn’t. Otherwise I’d know what I was gonna blog about. ::GASP:: Maybe the title *does* have to do with the post – in that it’s shameful I’ve no idea what to write. Mystery solved, g’night, folks!

I’m going to tell you guys an alarming truth. ::deep breath:: I…don’t tell you guys everything. I sometimes wish I did or could – especially about what I write or what I’m doing on the business end of it, but alas. It’s like we have this huge public community for the purpose of the industry community but then because of that purpose, we can’t be too public. If you follow. And believe me, there’s loads I’d be talking about – mostly things I’ve witnessed or researched. O_O This is too cryptic to be interesting, isn’t it.

One of the silliest things Brits say is “leg it” as opposed to “run”. Now, I mean silly in the most affectionate way, but honestly can we think about this? (And before you get all offended, yes, people in other countries do make note of what my countrymen say that differs from their own lingo. It’s the way of the world and we like it.) Is running the only thing one does with one’s legs? Because otherwise, it really makes no sense. That’d be like saying “lip it” for talking, as though one doesn’t use one’s mouth to breathe or kiss or eat… I guess it’s not as bad as calling dish detergent “washing up liquid” but. It’s close.

There, that was something, right? How’m I doin’ on time? Wrap it up? Keep talking?

And no, I’m not back in the UK. Still here in Montreal. Still love it. Haven’t gone out much in the last week, to be fair, but I’m relatively sure I still love it. Though I’d love to travel somewhere off the continent. Like soon. Soon, soon. Le sigh.

That thought I had before I had kids – you know, the one where I was pretty sure I’d think even my own flesh and blood gnarly if he got all snagglepussed and lost his teeth…like normally happens? Yeah, turns out I was wrong about that one, too. (Like I was wrong about kids not being any fun once they hit six years old.) He is, legitimately, a backwater baby now. One front tooth gone, the other doing its best to turn sideways while it dangles and refuses to just eject gracefully. Bottom teeth coming in sideways to shove the others out… that’ll correct itself maybe, yeah? I’m sure braces are fun. My sisters made it look … interesting. Bah. I’m sure he’ll be fine.

::spit bubbles::

Some ‘tard left a briefcase at the office of a literary agent in Los Angeles, in which he’d apparently left an unsolicited manuscript. Naturally, the bomb squad blew it up. Because – and I say this as a native Californian – …what did you expect. Drama. I’m gonna be honest: I’m actually pretty proud of my home for being dedicated to staying Hollywood. Even when we’re just keeping someone from realizing his dream of joining Hollywood. We keeps it epic, y’all. Ish is hilarious. So, in summary: don’t be a newb and send unsolicited material, let alone leave it unattended in a harmless briefcase.

Ramble ramble ramble. Oh wait, the sun’s coming up.

Content Me In My Discontent

(1) People like Pauline something-or-other write ridiculous things about Accountability, International Baccalaureate and drizzle Foucault verbage over it in a manner that suggests she’s made some rather specious inferences and now I feel the need to reread all of the literature from senior year of university. You know, to … write an article… on her wrongness? Yep. Thanks.

(2) Mmmm, Quebec. I know I’m just a silly, modest American – that…doesn’t even read correctly. Are we really seen as modest? I mean, I personally consider myself as such but… Apparently, it is said modesty and not common sense and indignation that made me wonder why OH WHY I was caught sitting between my six year old son and a strange man while sitting in the waiting room of a dentist’s office and OH YES witnessing frontal nudity in the movie being played.

For serious?! This isn’t completely unacceptable to anyone else? Apparently not, because no one even seemed uncomfortable! Meanwhile, I looked at my son who somehow wasn’t looking at the television (mercy of mercies) and then politely asked him to take the New Testament + Psalms out of my bag and get started on Psalm 119. Now’s as good a time as any to work on memorization. O_O And before you Americans ask why I didn’t say something, let me chortle to myself and point out: We’re not in Kansas anymore.

(3) This. This is all there was or ever shall be. (If you don’t watch this, don’t bother coming back.) (Just kidding.) (Not really.)



I wrote two blog posts en route back to Montreal…but they’re on a different laptop. So you can understand that it might take seven fourteen days before I can reasonably be expected to post them. And by that time, we’re entering birthday season and then anniversary land. So. How ’bout I just offer you the things that truly matter.

Target popcorn:

Panda Express:


Picture to come.

As Pop said, “If they don’t have it here [at the Mall of America], you don’t need it.” God Bless America.

(And full disclosure: I also had Taco Bell while we were in the States and it was just as I remembered. Not great.)

Et Bonne Annee, Grandmere!

So, it’s 2011 which is both ridiculous and entirely reasonable. O_O First of all, WordPress is super cute with their “year in blogging” summaries. I might post it at some point, though I doubt you’d like not only to read a blog but also then read about how much you read a blog.

Years ago, I talked about how I totally don’t get resolutions. Like the fact that changing one’s behavior is so important and intended that you wait for the first of a new year. Seems arbitrary and ill-fated. BUT there are some who should make resolutions and I’m kind enough to make suggestions.

Castle Project: Hi, super cool band I first heard on an episode of the super cool show, Shattered. (Which I REFUSE to talk about because I am still so sore and sour.) I’d link to your website, but it appears to be a black page with only the words, “it’s you i’ll leave behind”. O_O Erm. Mkay. I guess maybe making a band project as response to divorce should’ve been the first red flag. But you’re so good! ARGH! The resolution I bestow unto you: if you’re gonna have a haunting song on a TV show, perchance make that song available ANYWHERE for future listening or PURCHASE. I know, I know. You don’t care about money, right? But you clearly care about having an audience or you wouldn’t record and distribute so, um. Yeah. Help me love you.

Texas: I’m not picking on you; I’m sure I could easily find the numbers for how many other American states have done this in the last ten years, but your name just rolls off the tongue. Resolution: STOP FALSELY IMPRISONING BLACK MEN FOR THE BETTER PORTION OF THEIR NATURAL LIVES. ::ahem:: I’d just say MEN but who are we kidding.

Me: Wait, whuh?!?! Yeah, I know, I know. But seriously, something’s been bothering me and I can’t even phrase it properly. Resolution: Be steadfast in the truth. Talking about race is sometimes a losing battle. Not only because it demonstrates just how ingested bigotry and wrong-thinking is, but because it takes the focus away from reality: My identity is in Christ. Period. Yes, I live on Earth but I don’t have to be captive to it. This is gonna be a hard one, honestly. Did I mention my degree’s in Sociology? And that book I lovingly refer to as my white whale? And the fact that I’m raising a  son to understand what he is versus what people want to decide, think, decree – in America and whatever country in which we actually live. When really all he needs to know is that he’s a child of God. And wicked cool.