Category Archives: Haphazard

Better, Less Offensive History

At present I am in a library, staring out a bank of windows at a grassy field. Huge pieces of public art are scattered across the space: a driftwood horse, a strange lemon-fish-bowl assembly, and others, all shaded by giant leafy trees. Yes, I am at a small private liberal arts college. It is my ten-year reunion weekend. And someone just rode by on a unicycle, because of course they did.

For the next three days, I will be meeting old friends, walking familiar and forgotten sidewalks, and staring my past self right in the face. It’s the emotional equivalent of crossing one’s eyes: uncomfortable, perspective-changing, and unsustainable for long periods. I don’t have many large regrets, but like anyone I have a collection of small mistakes accumulated over many years, often misunderstood at the time when I made them. Most of these can be boiled down to things like People can be terrible at fearlessly articulating what they need and Thoughtlessness can look exactly like malice sometimes. I liked who I was in college, and I like who I am now, but my current self is much wiser in many important ways. My past self is also much less afraid in other ways; I am trying to get some of that boldness back without ditching everything I’ve gained in the intervening years.

This college, where I spent four of the most vivid years of my life, also happens to be on/near the site of a famous missionary massacre during America’s western expansionist/genocidal phase. These rolling hills and river valleys were taken from various NDN peoples (Walla Walla, Cayuse, Nez Perce, Colville, and others) by stealth and slaughter. The college itself — increasingly rich and white — did and quite probably still does an imperfect job of confronting this history in the course of student life. During my years, I spent much more time reading Ovid and Euripides than reading about the mass death of the Cayuse children from smallpox. Like the college, I am responsible in some part for not adequately confronting the past.

Thoughtlessness can look exactly like malice sometimes.

When we arrived, my husband came back from a visit to the hotel’s business center and told me I must visit the second floor. I joined him and to my astonishment discovered a series of paintings depicting scenes from the life and death of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman. Most are blandly illustrative, but the others — well, others are rather more appalling in their choice of subject. Artist David Manuel’s website celebrates his tendency to value “historical accuracy over political correctness,” and even telling you that in advance cannot prepare you for the effect of seeing these paintings. Since they are slightly bloody and almost certainly triggering, I have put them below the jump.

Continue reading Better, Less Offensive History

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Countess Cover Reveal!

I have just received the cover for my next Ellora’s Cave release, available from the publisher’s website August 15 and other ebook retailers soon thereafter.

Cover image for At His Countess' Pleasure by Olivia Waite.

I’m quite happy with it! I am especially fond of that large swirly P in the word ‘pleasure,’ and the luscious red of her dress. I must also admit to being initially confused about the shoulder-boob — but shoulder-boob, you see, is totally the new sideboob. So hot right now.

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Visit Me at the RT Booklovers’ Convention in New Orleans!

Just a quick post to let everyone know I’ll be in New Orleans this week for the RT Booklovers Convention (anyone else a little itchy at the missing apostrophe there?). I have some editor/agent appointments, some planned meetings with friends, some workshops I’m anxious to attend — oh, and I’ll be at the Giant Book Fair on Saturday, way back in the W’s (it’s where all the cool kids sit, honest).

And I’ll have swag with me. Fancy, sparkly, swag hand-made by yours truly.

Photo of handmade swag for the Giant Book Fair: glittery beaded stars shine against a faux-fur background.

Supplies are limited, so first-come, first-serve! Hope to see you there!

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How Many Does It Take?

 

{Trigger warnings for discussions of sexual assault and consent issues, both of which are below the jump. Be aware that this story is also very long, though not very graphic.}

To tell this story properly, I’m going to have to tell it forwards and backwards at the same time. Because I lived it forwards, but only understand it in retrospect. Bear with me, please.

My shortest relationship lasted one month. It was with a guy I’d known for six years, shared dozens of mutual friends, had gone to college with, had been hanging out with pretty extensively for about a year before the relationship started. It was one of those long, slow builds of chemistry between friends that eventually blossoms into dating (my specialty). And it only lasted a month, despite all this, because toward the end of that month, every time he kissed me, I had to fight off the urge to punch him right in the face.

I never told him that — how could I? How do you explain to someone you care about that every time their lips touch yours, some part of your brain starts yelling HIT HIM, JUST HIT HIM, HIT HIM NOW, HIT HIM HARD. I thought I was going crazy. But it was pretty clear that this was not a sustainable feeling — I am human and one day my control was going to fray and I was going to do something terrible. So I broke up with him (“This just isn’t working for me anymore”) and we went back to being just friends. Then drifted apart, as the group dynamics dissolved and grad school took up all my time both waking and sleeping.

Fast forward a year and a half. I’m still in grad school, dating a gentleman I shall refer to as the Romanian, and I come down with a really vicious case of the flu. Backaches, fever, the whole bit. I called him to cancel the next night’s date and told him I’d probably be down for a week or so (as the clinic doc had explained it to me). “Look,” he said, “I really don’t want to come down with this, so if it’s okay with you I’ll just steer clear and you can call me when you’re feeling better.”

My reaction to this? Pure, overwhelming, unadulterated relief.

This was also puzzling. Isn’t a willingness to help a friend/lover when they’re sick one of the most abiding tests of character we have? But there I was, feverish and shaking, so relieved I was almost crying with it. No, not relieved — reprieved. It was a feeling of safety out of all proportion to the circumstances.

And then I remembered the last time I’d been this sick. Continue reading How Many Does It Take?

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