Stuff worth reading

“On how to live life ‘on fire with the same force that made the stars'” by my friend Rose

Every day I recalibrate and try to do better at living with bravery and pushing what I thought were my limits, but I also remember to be kind to myself.

We limit ourselves all the time. We create boxes, we set boundaries, and write ourselves into corners because we are terrified that if we approach something greater, that we will fail. What if, instead, we imagined immensities?

From a Facebook post by David Gerrold, a writer for Star Trek: The Original Series:

Star Trek was about social justice from day one — the stories were about the human pursuit for a better world, a better way of being, the next step up the ladder of sentience.

“Write, Erase, Do It Over: On Failure, Risk and Writing Outside Yourself,” an interview with Toni Morrison

I may be wrong about this, but it seems as though so much fiction, particularly that by younger people, is very much about themselves. Love and death and stuff, but my love, my death, my this, my that. Everybody else is a light character in that play.

When I taught creative writing at Princeton, [my students] had been told all of their lives to write what they knew. I always began the course by saying, “Don’t pay any attention to that.” First, because you don’t know anything and second, because I don’t want to hear about your true love and your mama and your papa and your friends. Think of somebody you don’t know. What about a Mexican waitress in the Rio Grande who can barely speak English? Or what about a Grande Madame in Paris? Things way outside their camp. Imagine it, create it. Don’t record and editorialize on some event that you’ve already lived through. I was always amazed at how effective that was. They were always out of the box when they were given license to imagine something wholly outside their existence. I thought it was a good training for them. Even if they ended up just writing an autobiography, at least they could relate to themselves as strangers.

“You don’t have a black role. You have an equal role.”

An amazing anecdote from Nichelle Nichols, who played Lt. Uhura in Star Trek: The Original Series:

#WeNeedDiverseBooks (and diverse everything else too)

In case you missed it, the YA community is spearheading a charge for increased diversity in contemporary literature. The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign is amazing, and you can find out how to participate here.

For my part, I’m tweeting and re-tweeting, and I’m writing diverse stories, and I’m now (as ever) sharing my own personal thoughts and experiences.

Last night, I caught a rerun of the 60s television show Bewitched, which I used to love as a kid. The hijinks of a witch and her ad exec husband — what’s not to like? Best of all, they had a kid. A HALFIE kid. Like me. And even though little Tabitha didn’t do a whole lot in the story, I adored her. She was one of the few “biracial” characters I knew growing up.

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Other favorites included Evie, the half-alien star of Out of This World, and Deanna Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation, who was half-Betazed. Noticing a pattern, anyone?

There’s more. My favorite Disney princess was Belle, a brown-haired, brown-eyed book lover, and my favorite anime character was Sailor Jupiter, a brown-haired, brown-eyed tomboy. No matter that they were French or Japanese, respectively. I was looking for myself in stories, and these were the closest resemblances that I could find. Not precisely right, but better than nothing.

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Now imagine a kid who can’t see herself anywhere. Not even in these pale approximations. The idea of that honestly makes me cry.

We need diverse books — and movies, and music, and teachers, and business leaders, and politicians, and everything else. We need them, and we shouldn’t have to justify why. The reasons are pretty evident.

These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise

A few nights ago, I went to see Star Trek Into Darkness. As I tweeted the other night:

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My thoughts can be further articulated by this well-written, thoughtful review at Wired. (Warning: There are MAJOR SPOILERS for both new and old Trek films!) While I agree with almost everything in that review, good and bad, I want to be clear: Overall I really enjoyed the movie, despite its imperfections.

Also, in talking with Andy about it on the drive home, I found myself remembering the many ways in which Star Trek touched my childhood.

  • My “sister” Alex started everything by introducing me to Star Trek: The Next Generation. I used to squirm with excitement each week as 7 PM approached on the day of a new episode. I sat on the edge of the coffee table because it put me closest to the TV, closest to the action. I hummed along with the opening credits.
  • My affection quickly spilled over the allotted time slot and into my daily play. I turned cardboard boxes into navigation consoles, tire pressure gauges into hyposprays, and the fireplace into a warp core. I pretended to explore new planets, stun hostile aliens with my phaser, and of course go on dates with certain charming crew members.
  • My first “serious” stories were fanfiction for The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager. (With occasional JAG crossovers, hehe.) I created original characters and sent them on missions with the beloved regulars — learning about pacing and conflict through trial and error, as well as practicing grammar and flow.
  • On a subconscious level, I think Star Trek also taught me to value science, teamwork, peace, and integrity. When I realized “Trekkie” was basically synonymous with “nerd,” I learned to wear that label with pride. And honestly, when I think about an ideal future for our world, a lot of it is based on Gene Roddenberry’s visions and predictions.

It’s amazing to me how one man’s stories grew into such a vast empire, and how those stories have impacted so many lives and minds, including mine. Amazing, humbling, and inspiring. This is what good writing can do.

Foto Friday: A nerd in all her glory

Yesterday was a sad day for nerds everywhere: Majel Roddenberry, widow of the creator of Star Trek, passed away from leukemia. She played the quirky, sex-crazed mother of ship’s counselor Deanna Troi (a fellow halfie and my favorite TNG character). Now that I think about it, my first understanding of the word “awkward” comes from Lwaxana Troi’s scenes with Captain Picard… In particular, one episode titled “Ménage a Troi.” o_O

In seriousness, Majel Roddenberry did a wonderful job working with her husband Gene to promote the various Star Trek enterprises (pun intended, haha) and the various social and political messages they carried. And after his death, she admirably continued his legacy, even reprising her role as the computer’s voice in the forthcoming Star Trek “relaunch” movie.

In her honor, here’s my best picture of me as a nerd, at least that was readily available:


Check out the big round glasses, Star Trek 30th anniversary hat, Starfleet Academy XL t-shirt, and big baggy jeans. All topped off by a backpack purse!

Yeeeeah, I was rockin’ back in middle school. I mean seriously, can you believe I didn’t get my first boyfriend until I was a senior in high school? What’s wrong with men these days?

It’s okay. Thanks to the Roddenberrys, I have hope for the males of the future. ;)