Self-Publishing Tips by Aithal + My Abortion Story Podcast

Blog post title and covers of some of the novels by Aithal.
Some of the novels by Aithal.

My Abortion Story by da-AL Happiness Between Tails

#ReproductiveFreedom #Abortion #HumanRights #Women #ProChoice How much control over your body do you want to give to lawmakers? Roe v Wade is the 1973 landmark United States Supreme Court decision that ensures all women have the right to obtain legal and safe abortions. Tragically, it’s on the verge of becoming history. Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions by recording them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction Intro to today’s topic 1:05 My Abortion by da-AL My question for you HBT outro Links used for the HBT blog post of this episode: Original blog post for this episode at Happiness Between Tails. About my own novels in progress. Wiki page on Roe v Wade Margaret Atwood, author and her iconic novel and TV series, “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Guest blogger Infidel753 Wiki page on feminist Gloria Steinem About the infamous 40-year Tuskegee Study Planned Parenthood site Wiki page on Planned Parenthood & Nixon Wiki page on abortion in Poland — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

Click H-E-R-E for my podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s show is the audio version of My Abortion Story.

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. Check out the full list of 50+ places.

The right to safe legal abortions and to wield guns — given how the first is crumbling and the second is more out of control than ever — a fellow Meetup writer mused, “Guns will be used freely to hunt down anyone remotely associated with abortion. Just like in The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel and TV series).”

My heart is heavy with all that’s happening. Today’s post is brief, though it took a long time to write. Meantime, I’ve been researching whether it’s a good idea to add a podcast version of my novel, Flamenco & the Sitting Cat, to PRX’s roster (they act as intermediaries for producers and public radio stations). This week’s podcast is My Abortion Story, which you can also read as a blog post.

Tangled Locks Journal (thanks, blogger par excellence KE Garland, for the heads up) seeks personal abortion stories. The literary site featured mine. Their latest post offers an up-to-date overview.

Keep current on how to obtain safe abortions and avoid legal repercussions at Infidel753’s site. Readers of Happiness Between Tails know him from when he wrote about helping women at Planned Parenthood and being vegan. Among the many links on his Sunday round ups, he includes safety nets for abortion.

This week’s guest, Aithal, was born and raised in Mumbai, India. He immigrated to New York in 1989 and now lives with his wife and two kids in Orange County, California. He’s self-published a shelf-worth of far-ranging novels, his stories often interleaved with analogies to these increasingly frightening times.

In his own words, he explains, “I’ve written six books so far. The first book is on India. It’s called India Was One and the next four are part of a science fiction series, called The Galaxy Series. They are: Beyond The Milky Way (#1), Return To Earth (#2), Divided States of America (#3) and 2120 (#4). My last book (released very recently) is called The Man From Afghanistan. I dub it as an international adventure as the story starts at Newport Beach in Orange County and ends in Rajasthan, India. All my books are available on Amazon in Kindle as well as paperback format.”

They feature gorgeous artwork by Darshini. Check out her website and her Instagram page.

To compliment them, Aithal produced a video for the artwork of India Was One. His Beyond the Milky Way illustrations move one way to music, and then another way. He’s also been interviewed by David Pakman.

Here are his self-publishing insights…

DIY Publishing by Aithal

Being an indie can be hard. Very hard. Take it from me; I’m one. Here are some of my experiences that I want to share:

Back when I wrote my first book, I was new to the game. Now that I have put a few years doing this, I can say that I know a bit more. In no way do I consider myself an authority, but I’m sure lots of you have experienced something similar, if not the same. I’m merely sharing this so that the newbies don’t have to go through my horrible experiences.

As all indies know, there is a very limited budget to spend. So, the best, and the most economical, way to do things are free. Fortunately, almost all the tools available are free (or inexpensive). If you are serious about getting your work seen by many, and by many I mean many strangers and not friends and family members, here are a few “musts.”

  1. Website: You have to have a website showcasing your work. There are many free website builders available in the market. They will help you get started for free.
  2. Facebook: Creating a Facebook Page for your book is an excellent way to spread the word, and it’s very easy to setup one. After setting up the page, you can invite your friends to like the page (and hope & pray that they invite their friends and so on)
  3. Twitter: Create a Twitter account to tell the world about your work and then use free services like Hootsuite to automate your tweets.

These three are the minimum “musts.” And the good news is that they all are free. You don’t have to spend a dime on creating these. There are other few you should think of having. However, they can be secondary, depending on the type of book you are writing. All of them are free.

  • YouTube: There are excellent resources to produce a book trailer. Search “free book trailer,” and you’ll find many free to use. 
  • Pinterest: Even if your book doesn’t have any artwork, you should create an account here and upload your work.

Apart from these free resources, there are many free resources available that you could (and should) take advantage of.

Have you considered writing a book?

My novel is done! + Pod38: Royal Beauty + Birgit’s True Elfins

This post's title over artist Ann Newmarch's poster of a woman carrying a man. Under it is written, "Women hold up half the sky."
I can’t believe I never saw this image before, though Australians have known it for decades. It’s by artist artist Ann Newmarch.

Royal Beauty + Birgit’s True Elfins Happiness Between Tails

#Beauty #Elves #Flamenco #StoryTelling #Aging #Body How do you define beauty? Birgit, who is from Germany and blogs from Denmark shows us how ugly-cute trolls are! Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions by recording them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction Royal beauty and about today’s guest 1:05 Birgit’s True Elfins My question for you HBT outro Spanish iconic painter, Goya Links used for the HBT blog post of this episode: Birgit’s Stella, oh, Stella site Original blog post for this episode at Happiness Between Tails. About my novels-in-progress. About María del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart y Silva, 18th Duchess of Alba About Spanish iconic painter, Francisco de Goya. Photos available at the HBT post for this show: Birgit in one of her gardens. The surprise she found in her garden. María del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart y Silva, the 18th Duchess of Alba. Later in life. Earlier in life. Francisco de Goya’s “Black Duchess.” An incredible loaf of bead I baked in under two hours, with a link to where I got the recipe. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

Click H-E-R-E for my podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s show is the audio version of “Royal Beauty + Birgit’s True Elfins.”

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. Check out the full list of 50+ places.

Yay! It’s done! I finally finished (I know, I know it took foooor-ever!) writing my book #1 (Flamenco & the Sitting Cat) of the two novels (#2 is Tango & the Sitting Cat) that are linked, but that can each stand alone.

Ulp! Now what?!

First up is to record the beginning section of it. The book a series of letters (a.k.a. epistolary) grouped in 12 parts (a nod to the 12/12 rhythm of flamenco). There’s producing a teaser, an intro, an outro, and the first set of letters. When it’s publicly aired, there will be a press release to write.

For now, the audio sample will only be to give agents a preliminary listen, in the hopes that the audio sample will create extra sparkle. Acting experience of a prior life demonstrated that there’s a lot more to agents than merely attracting one.

The real ginormous trick is to find a phenomenal one; someone who is fair and communicates well. Most of all, someone with great connections and who’s belief in the potential success of our collaboration can motivate them to work hard. That means I need to cull a list of appropriate agents and write an enticing pitch.

My inclination is to continue listing stuff to do because I’m so excited, but I’d just be repeating the same whirling thoughts over and over. So, moving along…

But wait, I also need artwork that looks equally good as a book cover and a smartphone thumbnail. One that can apply to the podcast too, and be easily customized for each new show segment.

Thanks much, blog friends who pointed out a while ago that my old cover resembled something for kids or teens.

Moving along once more in what’s turning out as hodgepodge as my brain at the moment…

For anyone out there doing the WordPress-blog-to-Anchor-podcast two-step — is it just me or do you also have to wait an entire 8 hours for your newest show episodes to appear on WordPress’ podcast editing block’s drop-down menu? After a chat and emails with WordPress, they said they would look into it, but you know how that’ll probably go.

More on podcasting: editing podcast shows on iMovie is easier than learning GarageBand. Nervous that my shows may technically suffering in ways I can’t hear, I scrounged for official comparisons. Seems iMovie is just as good, given that I’m using only voice, occasional sound FX and music, not mastering elaborate music compositions.

Again on podcasting: in the same way that blog posts can look different, for better or worse, depending on the device, so can audio shows. I asked Anchor if there’s a way to ensure that sound levels don’t vary. Basically they answered “no,” but that they would put it on their list.

More on Anchor: grousing, but also bringing up these complaints so you won’t think it’s just you doing something wrong — why is it too much trouble for Anchor to add page numbers for one’s editing list of show episodes?

More Swiss cheese thoughts…

A couple of days ago, I finished listening to humorist/autobiographer/essayist David Sedaris’ latest book, Happy-Go-Lucky.

Cover of "Happy-Go-Lucky" by David Sedaris.

He admits his dark humor isn’t for everyone. With each book, I’m smitten with how searingly self-searching he is and doesn’t settle for “all-good/all-bad” depictions and outcomes tied with neat bows.

This time he totally blew my mind with his honesty about his dad. Like me, he had one monster of a father who in old age showed flashes of something akin to softness and a smidge of regret. But so, as the “fruit” of such a person, what does one do with that?! Like when my father got nicer yet was still creepy and came onto me a couple of years before he died? In many ways, it was easier when he was just blatantly horrible…

My review of it for Amazon and Goodreads:

One of his best. Happy-Go-Lucky hits the nail on the head when it comes to showing how things aren’t always black or white — that they can lie within the confusing rainbow in between.

Each of his books, all his thoughtful self-disclosure, brings to mind the 1970s Women’s Lib phrase, “The personal is political.” Upon googling it, turns out some criticized it for really referencing white woman privilege. I’d like to reclaim it to define how, when we get really day-to-day honest and authentic enough to strive for better, it helps everyone.

Like how blogging makes the world smaller and small voices bigger.

Included in Wiki’s information on the slogan was a reference to bullseye-scoring Ann Newmarch’s artwork at the top of this post.

Here I flit to a happy thing, a quotation I just found that dovetails with a major theme within my novel…

Director Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up): I used to think, “Oh, these are coming-of-age movies.” But I think people are still coming of age at 80 and 90.

And now I’ll trip to some thank you’s to Infidel753, who’s guested at Happiness Between Tails here and here. He’s got quite a following and each time he’s kindly featured me among his Sunday round up posts, lots of new people check out my site. His round-ups are a rollercoaster of links: from political horror to outright silliness, and glorious to nails-on-chalkboard ugly. And he keeps visitors updated on safe abortion information to use in these barbaric times. 

Thanks too, Fair and Unbalanced (in addition to blogging, he podcasts), for mentioning me in your thought-provoking roundups.

Before I wear you out with all this jumping around inside my head, here’s my Amazon and Goodreads review of, Born Hungry: Julia Child Becomes “the French Chef,” authored by Alex Prud’homme and illustrated bySarah Green.

Captivating for any age! Beautiful artwork and lovely writing. A real delight!

Cover of Born Hungry: Julia Child Becomes "the French Chef,” authored by Alex Prud’homme and illustrated bySarah Green.

Now to end with a sweet pro-old-lady clip from Disney’s Moana…

Have you scored any victories this week?

Lust! + Pod37: More Eats from Less by Angela Bell

Today's title and cover of nove, "Vladimir," by Julia May Jonas.

More Eats from Less by Angela Bell Happiness Between Tails

#Cooking #Food #Conservation #Health What are your tips for getting more out of less? Blogger Angela Bell's offers us some great ones! Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions by recording them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction Intro to today’s topic and guest 1:05 More Eats from Less by Angela Bell My question for you HBT outro Links used for the HBT blog post of this episode: Original blog post for this episode at Happiness Between Tails. Angela Bell’s blog. Photos available at the HBT post for this show: Angela and some pictures of how she conserves food. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

Click H-E-R-E for my podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s show is the audio version of “More Eats from Less by Angela Bell.”

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. Check out the full list of 50+ places.

Sensuality! Passion! Fun! As writers (here’s about the novel I’m writing) and readers, only good can come of finding what sets us afire. Figuring out how to unlock the shackles of cultural conditioning can be tricky, though. Learning about groundbreaking artists and their work can helps.

For instance, take how Emma Thompson has done it again — she’s the English actress who forever reaches further and further. By this, I’m not merely referring to the storyline of “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande.” In it, a 50ish recently widowed woman decides that, once and for all, she’s going to have good sex. She hires a twenty-something male prostitute.

What’s beyond incredible is the fact that we’ve never before seen this story on-screen — and why not? Why are post-menopausal woman who desire sex seen as aberrant, laughable, and even despicable?

Check out the film’s equally ground-breaking humanizing of a male sex worker who, moreover, isn’t repulsed by older women.

“Vladimir,” by Julia May Jonas, (which I recently finished in audiobook format and to which Rebecca Lowman lent a superb narration) offers a reckoning of sexuality. That of everyone, including love and relationships, both public and private. Aren’t the title and cover great, especially as it’s a literary novel, not the saucy romance genre implied?

The protagonist is a college prof in her 50s who has an open marriage with her college prof husband. We enter the story when he’s accused of overstepping his authority because he used to have trysts with students. Even though the rendezvous were with consenting women in their twenties and older, and they occurred before the college had instituted regulations against it, he’s about to lose his job. So there’s that.

And then there’s how the wife is judged because she neither sides against him nor divorces him. Not that anyone knows it, she’s had extra-marital relationships with men of all ages. Then there’s how their adult lesbian daughter judges the parents. There are also the students, the faculty… And in walks beefy Vladimir, who throws the protag into lust overdrive.

My review for Amazon and Goodreads (by the way, do you use Goodreads or anything like it?):

Julia May Jonas takes risk after risk with this novel and beckons us to — ooh lala — dare I say it? — think!

What do you think about how older women are portrayed?

Poetry? + J.M. Wristen’s + Pod36: Audiobook How 2 by Chris Hall

Photo of Jose Mayo Wristen standing with a hat on and taking a selfie. Title of blog post is superimposed.
Even poets like Joseph May Wristen take selfies.

Dance Fun + How to Publish an Audiobook Novel by Chris Hall Happiness Between Tails

#Authors #Dance #Audiobooks #Writing #Writing #Books Do you listen to audiobooks? A past guest, author/blogger Chris is from England and now resides in South Africa. For this show, she describes what went into producing her new audiobook. Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions by recording them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction Intro to today’s topic and guest 1:05 How to Publish an Audiobook Novel by Chris Hall My question for you HBT outro Links used for the HBT blog post of this episode: Original blog post for this episode at Happiness Between Tails. Link to author Chris Hall. Links to this video and this one of my husband and me dancing. A sample of Hall's audiobook. When Chris was a past guest. Audioshelf, the South African company that published Chris’ audiobook. Authors Republic, that offers audiobook publishing and distribution worldwide. Chris’ book at Audible and Chirp and Amazon. Info about my novels-in-progress. Headliner, which I used to produce a full-length video version of a another show. Photos available at the HBT post for this show: Chris Hall and her audiobook. My husband and me dancing. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

Click H-E-R-E for my podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s show is the audio version of “Dance Fun + How to Publish an Audiobook Novel by Chris Hall.”

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. Check out the full list of 50+ places.

What’s poetry mean to you? You can find definitions, but to be honest, I’m the “I know it when I see it, and only then I think maybe I know it,” sort. Could that be part of why my novels are taking so long (tell me about it)?

For some, the poetry has to rhyme. Others want the words perform some sort of rhyming math, along the lines of 5-7-5 triplets that haikus do. There are plenty of poetry lovers who elect to break all the rules. It’s been said that one needs to know rules first, but lots of writers consider the learning part too much of a bother. If you want, here’s writer/scholar Brian Geiger’s advice on publishing poetry at WordPress, and author Josephine Corcoran’s on formatting it for WordPress.

Ahhh… to each their own…

In today’s case, the “own” belongs to Joseph Mayo Wristen. Born in Toppenish, Washington, he’s mostly lived in the U.S. North West. From ages 17 to 26, he traveled all over Europe and North America, working odd jobs and meeting interesting people. He’s attended college and film school, sold encyclopedias and children’s books, and currently works in the solar energy.

It took a while for him to share his poetry, but since his youngest daughter told him he should, he’s published a bunch!

His Facebook page includes videos of him reading aloud. Here’s one of his that Nopoet JaArtist uploaded to their Youtube site.

Remember, Emily Dickinson showed us, “’Hope’ is the thing with feathers”…

a bird’s song heard in a dream by joseph mayo wristen

12 crows sitting across the street

scattered wings of origin

perched from the tree tops

to the hanging branches below

someone is here visiting us

misunderstandings found in

history’s unknown truths

feelings that come over you when

you know you’re not alone

drop of rain touching trenched

soil secret in magic’s reconciliation

an eye summoning autumn’s flower

our souls last tear — love

calling out for collectivism

in this world of fame there are

many forces that stand against

man’s idol tides of destruction

voices heard in the silence of the

wind, modernization scattered

across time’s voided scheme

players in twilight’s hour

calling out to you, asking you

to take a moment to listen to

nature’s wish, rhythms found

in her breath violent yet caring

in a succession of union

lights appearing one at a time

here and there throughout

bear wolf earth’s seeded wilderness

all along the way life’s song

giving us a chance

for solitude in love’s redemption

there can be no blame in

our yesterday or in our search

for the way of tomorrow

here lies the

warble answer to

the diseased

rumors and innuendoes of our heritage

you know there is nothing to finding

peace if we will only allow ourselves to believe

in the vision found in god’s dream

a bird heard in the night

singing

to us his song of forgiveness

What does poetry mean to you?

Julia Child + Vote! + Pod35 Brown Rice Corn Seafood Island Recipe

Photo of young Julia Child with blog title superimposed.
Isn’t this pic of Julia as a teen the coolest?

Recipe: Brown Rice Corn Island with Seafood by Khashayar Parsi Happiness Between Tails

#Cooking #Eating #Food #Health #Recipe Looking for a tasty, easy, healthy recipe? This recipe by my husband, Khashayar Parsi, is exactly that Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions by recording them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction Intro to today’s recipe 1:05 Recipe: Brown Rice Corn Island with Seafood by Khashayar Parsi My question for you HBT outro Links used for the HBT blog post of this episode: Original blog post for this episode at Happiness Between Tails. About my own novels in progress. Photo available at the HBT post for this show of today’s dish. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

Click H-E-R-E for my podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s show is the audio version of Recipe: Brown Rice Corn Island with Seafood by Khashayar Parsi.

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. Check out the full list of 50+ places.

Note: Today’s podcast episode above is for a recipe by my husband, Khashayar Parsi, who often sites Julia Child and Jacques Pepin as mentors. It was Julia who gave Jacques his television start. Type “recipe” into this site’s search bar for more recipes including this one for his Jacques-inspired double pop-over.

A man — the man behind the woman — oops — the saying is supposed to go, “Behind every great man is a woman”?! But we all need help. Certainly encouragement never hurts and I’m fortunate my husband has my back as I write my novels.

In Julia Child’s (she was t-h-e trailblazer and iconic TV cooking show host) case, her secret weapon was her husband, Paul Child. As her producer and #1 cheerleader, he made sure viewers like you and me could appreciate her unique personality as well as practically reach through our television screens to smell, taste, touch, and hear her gorgeous dishes… 

Speaking of weapons, let’s back up to her service with the OSS (Office of Special Services), during World War 2. During that time, she was a head typist, plus created her very first recipe; one to repel sharks from naval officers, which decades later was used to keep sharks off of downed space equipment.

Back to her show; she didn’t start cooking until later in life, and eventually began the TV show in her 50s! She’d recently published her famous “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” book that she’d co-wrote with a couple of friends, gave cooking classes as a result, and then was invited onto a very fuddy-duddy Chicago public TV show about books. During her interview, she gave an omelet-making demo that blew everyone’s minds to the extent that the station invited her to host her own show. The rest, as you probably know, is history…

Which is to say that success is ageless. Late-blooming and re-blooming are fave subjects of mine, as on this post and this one.

Julia produced cooking shows well into old age — which is to say that her commitment to service and staying actively involved ought to motivate us all to…

Vote!!!

Here in Los Angeles County, voting day is coming up on June 7, 2022. Yes, there are 30 offices to vote for, but that’s no excuse not to do our civic duty. This site about California issues offers great info.

If you live in the U.S., have you voted yet?

My Abortion Story also as Podcast 32

This post's title over photo of da-AL wearing hooded red cape in the style of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.
Handmaid’s Tale, anyone?…

My Abortion Story by da-AL Happiness Between Tails

#ReproductiveFreedom #Abortion #HumanRights #Women #ProChoice How much control over your body do you want to give to lawmakers? Roe v Wade is the 1973 landmark United States Supreme Court decision that ensures all women have the right to obtain legal and safe abortions. Tragically, it’s on the verge of becoming history. Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions by recording them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction Intro to today’s topic 1:05 My Abortion by da-AL My question for you HBT outro Links used for the HBT blog post of this episode: Original blog post for this episode at Happiness Between Tails. About my own novels in progress. Wiki page on Roe v Wade Margaret Atwood, author and her iconic novel and TV series, “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Guest blogger Infidel753 Wiki page on feminist Gloria Steinem About the infamous 40-year Tuskegee Study Planned Parenthood site Wiki page on Planned Parenthood & Nixon Wiki page on abortion in Poland — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

Click H-E-R-E for my podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s show is the audio version of the post below.

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. Check out the full list of 50+ places.

Roe v Wade is the 1973 landmark United States Supreme Court decision that ensures all women have the right to obtain legal and safe abortions. Tragically, it’s on the verge of becoming history.

When I first published “My Abortion Story,” Roe v Wade was already under siege. Mobilized right wing groups do whatever they can, sometimes violently, to make it hard for doctors to work and clinics to exist. They murder physicians, set up false clinics, heckle patients, and work to undo basic legal human rights.

Those same bible-thumpers protest governmental Covid-immunization efforts. If it were up to them, we’d be living Margaret Atwood’s iconic novel and TV series, “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Start saving up your wire hangers?

Planned Parenthood outlines the current horror this way…

“… a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion confirms our worst fears: that the Supreme Court is prepared to end the constitutional right to abortion by overturning Roe v. Wade. But as of today, abortion remains your constitutional right.”

In an earlier Happiness Between Tails post, “My Jury Duty Pt 1 + Infidel753 Works for Justice and Freedom to Choose,” guest blogger Infidel753 recounted his stint volunteering at an abortion clinic as a patient escort. Your comments to his story lent me the courage to tell mine.

So did reading KE Garland’s thoughts and experience on getting an abortion at her blog, which she allowed me to re-publish here.

Pioneering militant feminist Gloria Steinem, at 22 years old had an abortion in 1957, when it was illegal. Years later, she openly discussed it. She said…

”It [abortion] is supposed to make us a bad person. But I must say, I never felt that. I used to sit and try and figure out how old the child would be, trying to make myself feel guilty. But I never could! I think the person who said: ‘Honey, if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament’ was right. Speaking for myself, I knew it was the first time I had taken responsibility for my own life. I wasn’t going to let things happen to me. I was going to direct my life, and therefore it felt positive… In later years, if I’m remembered at all, it will be for inventing a phrase like ‘reproductive freedom’  … as a phrase it includes the freedom to have children or not to. So it makes it possible for us to make a coalition.”

By the way, when it comes to transgender rights, she and Mona Sinha co-wrote a letter to The New York Times in 2020. They decried then-President Trump’s elimination of civil rights protections for transgender healthcare and said…

“The health of any of us affects the health of all of us, and excluding trans people endangers us all.”

Abortion: My Story by da-AL

In my mid-20s, I terminated two pregnancies. That same year, I got pregnant twice, each time using different forms of birth control. At the time, I’d been living with a boyfriend since I was 18. He was a sweet, intelligent man who I loved dearly.

We were surviving on sporadic work, earning hardly above minimum wage. For that and many more reasons, I didn’t feel I could provide any child with a decent upbringing.

Abortions were expensive, and weren’t covered by my job’s health insurance. Each procedure was a physical ordeal of pain and then high fevers. I had to take days off from work, which I could ill afford.

Fortunately…

I had a kind lover to help me through. Never have I regretted my decisions.

Later, in my 30s, I was sexually assaulted. Good luck, if the term can apply to anything about rape, is the only reason I didn’t get pregnant.

Regarding Choice…

When people seek control, they say others “need to be held accountable.”

Seeing the world as “them” versus “us” makes it easy to objectify one another. Not so long ago, United States medical officials conducted the infamous 40-year Tuskegee Study. They pretended to treat black people for syphilis when really they were studying the full progression of the disease. To their reasoning, white lives mattered and black lives didn’t. Sound familiar?

What if you’re very young and your family is the opposite of a Hallmark card? What if you’re not employed? Or your job doesn’t provide insurance and sick days? What if the rape was more than you could bear? And you don’t want the added burdens of facing the police, defending your reputation as well as your case, can’t afford a good lawyer, and don’t want to confront whoever assaulted you in court?

Or say you simply got pregnant at any age, and for whatever reason, just don’t want to go through a full pregnancy?

What if, what if, what if?…

It’s no one’s business why or how many times any woman has an abortion.

When statisticians tally how many people consider abortion acceptable, they sidestep the real issue. What matters is no government ought to be entitled to have say over women’s bodies.

No one should have a say over who is sterilized or who must bear children. End of story.

Is it still legal to get an abortion?

The answer in the United States is yes, due in good measure for Planned Parenthood’s work.

The organization offers a range of affordable health care to all genders, all ages, all over the world. Interestingly, in 1970, President Richard Nixon signed into law funding for family planning services, which included Planned Parenthood.

According to Wikipedia, Nixon decreed…

“No American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition.”

Remember, it’s not enough to win rights — we must continually work to keep them. We can’t rest on our laurels.

For example, according to Wikipedia

Poland is one of the few countries in the world to largely outlaw abortion after decades of permissive legislation during Polish People’s Republic. About 10-15% of Polish women seek abortion in neighboring countries due to the strict restraints in their own country. Poland’s abortion law is one of the most restrictive in Europe, along with a group of other traditionally Roman Catholic countries of the region.”

Daunting news, yes — which is why we absolutely mustn’t succumb to burnout. Now more than ever we must be active in whatever way we can, big or small. Please share this post and podcast to your social media, tell lawmakers and whoever you know where you stand. Contribute time and/or money to organizations such as Planned Parenthood. Contribute to justice winning.

Infidel753’s blog offers a growing wealth of information. A recent post included abortion resources, tips to avoid criminal charges for abortion pills, a link to Valerie Tarico’s post on fighting for abortion rights inspired by a discussion at Nan’s Notebook.

It’s your body — how much control do you want lawmakers to have over it?

8 Customer Service + Health Care Tips + Pod31: C. Levy’s Book Art

A happy elderly one-eyed black labrador dog at a lake by blakeverdoornphoto.com for unsplash.com

Book Art by Cecilia Levy Happiness Between Tails

#Books #FineArt #Recycling #Reading #Sculpture #Sweden What do books mean to you? For Swedish artist Cecilia Levy, the narrative of old unwanted books can be forms waiting to be discovered. Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions by recording them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction Intro to today’s topic and guest 1:05 Book Art by Cecilia Levy My question for you HBT outro Links used for the HBT blog post of this episode: Original blog post for this episode at Happiness Between Tails. Cecilia Levy's site Stockholm's New Karolinska University Hospital, NKS, where Cecilia’s public art commission, "In Fusion – Contemplation Pieces," was installed. Here's a video of Cecilia at work. Photos & a video available at the HBT post for this show: Video and a photo of Cecilia Levy, artist, working in her studio. “Companion,” teacup and strainer, 2018. “Longing," mocha set, 2020. “Chapter One,” thistle, 2015. “Hobo – Homeward Bound,” boots, 2012. “Coltsfoot and Artichoke,” medicinal plants for a public commission, 2017. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

Click H-E-R-E for my podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s show is the audio version of the HBT blog post, “Book Art by Cecilia Levy.”

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. Check out the full list of 50+ places.

Are you a creative novelist like me or work at anything else for which there’s never enough time? For too many people, precious moments are squandered ironing out business issues with health care agencies, stores, and all manner of institutions. The one silver lining is that any time a consumer fights for fairness, it helps everyone.

Here are some of the things that worked for me when health insurance woes added to the chaos of when I had cancer and when I injured my knee. If you’re covered through your employer, their personnel department is your mediator. The rest of us must slug it out on our own.

Before listing some of the tactics I’ve gathered that be used anywhere and with any type of business, I owe great thanks to Obamacare. Here in California it’s implemented as Covered California (Obamacare’s official name is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for short.) Thanks to ObamaCare, it is illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against gender and pre-existing conditions other than tobacco use. Best of all, it ensures everyone is covered.

Note to Californians: Most know Covered California subsidizes health insurance for individuals with low incomes. (Medi-Cal helps those with zero income.) Few are aware it can broker for anyone. They’re a formidable mediator with excellent customer service! Thanks to them, it was a heck of a lot easier to work out my insurance problems.

  1. Above all else, stay solution-oriented and tenacious.
  2. Be emphatic about what you need and why. Make sure they know how important this is to you. Don’t settle for their doing what’s easiest for themselves.
  3. Telephoning in addition to emailing can give more immediate and thorough results. Phone when they’re least busy: early on weekdays or after 7pm. Forget about weekends. Even if they’re open, they’re likely super busy and their decision-makers are off-duty.
  4. Don’t waste time. Again, telephoning and not leaving things to all simply to email is the most effective. When using the phone, the moment they start to give you the runaround, ask to speak to their supervisor. If they’re totally obtuse, hang up and redial so you might encounter someone better. Later, be sure to fill out an online grievance form.
  5. If a grievance is not rectified within 30 days, it’s easy to file a lawsuit with the state. To learn how to do this without having to pay a private lawyer, google “how to file a consumer lawsuit.” In the case of health insurance, your broker can advise you.
  6. Don’t take things personally. Stay focused. For everyone but you, it’s just business.
  7. Refuse “No.”
  8. Keep notes regarding: A) who you spoke with, B) number you dialed, date, and time of day, C) a transaction case ID number, ticket number, or whatever identifier they use for your interaction.

For interacting with a doctor, Kaiser Permanente offers great advice. In short, start by researching for like-minded physicians, then communicate assertively with notes and questions. Bringing a family member or patient advocate can help.

Doctors strive to be reassuring, but if they don’t seem concerned enough, use “CUS” by stating:

  • C: I’m Concerned.
  • U: I’m Uncomfortable with your diagnosis.
  • S: My top priority is my Safety.

Also, it never hurts to get a second opinion.

Good luck! I’m rooting for you — it’ll help all of us.

Sun rays through forest trees by unsplash.com blakeverdoorn.com
Sun rays through forest trees by unsplash.com blakeverdoorn.com

How do you get better service?

Celebrate You + Welcome H + Pod 30: Fiona’s 20 Podcast Promo Tips

 

20 Podcast Promotion Tips by Fiona Livingston Happiness Between Tails

20 Podcast Promotion Tips by Fiona Livingston #Podcasting #Publishing #SocialMedia #SelfPromotion Got a podcast or want to start one that you want people to know about? Podcaster/blogger Fiona Livingston, a content and digital marketing specialist, has 20 ideas to promote yours. Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions by recording them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction Today’s topic and about today’s guest 1:05 20 Podcast Promotion Tips by Fiona Livingston 3:10 My question for you 9:15 HBT outro Links used for the HBT blog post of this episode: Original blog post for this episode at Happiness Between Tails. There you'll find all the full list of links Fiona discusses.. London-based Fiona Livingstonblogs about marketing and podcasting on Medium, and produces The Culture Bar, an arts and culture-related podcast. A little about my novel-in-progress, “Flamenco & the Sitting Cat”. Photos available at the HBT post for this show: Photo of Fiona Livingston Her clever illustration of "eau de marketing.” Artwork for Fiona’s arts and culture podcast, “The Culture Bar.” — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

Click H-E-R-E for my podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s show is the audio version of the post below this blog post of “20 Podcast Promotion Tips by Fiona Livingston.”

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. Check out the full list of 50+ places.

Photo of da-AL with K-D-doggie.

Photo: K-D-doggie and me celebrating our cerulean SoCal  skies…

Awful news and day-to-day striving are all I think about — why do I non-stop focus on those rather than celebrate any of the good stuff? Are you the same way? If you’re like that too, allow me to start us off, reboot ourselves as it were…

Hurrah! Today marks the airing of my 30th podcast show since experimenting with the WordPress-to-AnchorFM setup for when I publish “Flamenco & the Sitting Cat.” Jamie Foxx, in his book, “Act Like You Got Some Sense: And Other Things My Daughters Taught Me,” (here’s my review of it) mentions a TV show needs 100 episodes to be syndicated. If thats applies at all to podcasts, I’m almost a third of the way through!

Hurrah! Hurrah! Better yet, my brother-in-law, Hakhamanesh, is here! Khashayar and I spent months and months readying our home to get things just right for his move from Iran, and turns out things are working out even better than we anticipated. After decades of filing papers, he’s finally here! To celebrate, we took a nice walk to an outdoor café…

Photo of da-AL, Khashayar, and Hakhamanesh, with coffees at an outdoor cafe.
Welcome Hakhamanesh! (He’s on the far right.)

On that light-hearted note, this one of Infidel753’s blog posts still makes me smile upon re-reading it. Check it out for a different way to consider romance writers, and a new viewpoint for how to wash your cat. You might remember Infidel753 from his guest blog posts here on being vegan and on volunteering to help women needing abortions to cross picket lines.

For anyone who doubts their celebration-worthiness — I’ve been the grateful recipient of many kindnesses from people I know, as well as many I encountered only briefly, virtually or otherwise. As bloggers, podcasters, and readers included, we’ll never fathom all the ways we impact each other, how our gentle deeds ripple into the world.

And another thought on things to celebrate — how many bullets have we dodged that we’ll never know about? Some time ago, while driving home, I stopped at a nearby red light and saw a mega-creepy driver leering at me. Once the light turned green, he followed me for several turns. Just when I was almost home and thinking I should head for a police station, I heard a loud crash behind me. He’d been smashed into while he was turning a corner. It calls to mind all the near misses, the bad things we avoid without knowing.

What can you celebrate personally, big or small?

What day is it? + Timo’s Poem + Pod29: Fondant Peonies by R. Cheadle

Photo of Khashayar and da-AL with their Persian New Year decorations.

What day is it? Those sprouts among the Persian New Year decorations got left (as is traditional) at the park to regenerate in their own way, but first K-D-doggie had a fun time tossing them about, a fun substitute for the squirrels and rabbits she was forbidden to chase.

Do It Yourself Fondant Peonies by Robbie Cheadle Happiness Between Tails

#Dessert #Authors # Food # Books #Birthdays When her family needs to stay home more than usual, Robbie Cheadle, a South African author of a huge range of books and videos, takes care to keep things cheerful. That includes whipping up special desserts, like these fondant peonies. How does your eating change when you need to stay home more? Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions by recording them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction Today’s topic and about today’s guest 1:00 Robbie Cheadle teaches us how to make fondant peonies 2:00 My question for you 6:00 HBT outro Links for this episode: Author Robbie Cheadle's homepage Original blog post for this episode at Happiness Between Tails. Photos available at the HBT post for this show: Robbie Cheadle Pictures for each step to constructing these lovely edible blossoms. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

Click H-E-R-E for my podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s show is the audio version of the post below this blog post of “DIY Fondant Peonies by Robbie Cheadle.”

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. Check out the full list of 50+ places.

Persian New Year, always on the first day of Spring, is celebrated in Iran and many other countries. For some it’s secular, for others it isn’t, but for anyone who does, it’s a major holiday. The same goes for Sizdeh Bedar, also known as Nature day, which thirteen days later marks the end of the celebration.

People wish my husband and me all kinds of things around now. It would have been easy to laugh this year when we were wished a happy Purim and a happy Ramadan. However, it’s sweet that anyone wishes us goodwill and that they know something non-United-States-originated is happening about now.

Sorry, I didn’t snap any pictures of us, my husband and extended family, celebrating Sizdeh Bedar last weekend. We were all too shivery. Under chilly (at least for us thin-skinned Angelinos) gray skies, we had fun despite our shoulders hunched to our ears and our hands buried deep into our pockets. We ate quickly before picnic foods cooled from tepid to cold, like the fresh bread I baked that morning, and Khashayar’s thick noodle stew with beans (better known as Aash Reshteh) that he’d wrapped to keep warm like a baby.

K-D-doggie was desperate to check out the many squirrels and bunnies at the park where we gathered. Nonetheless, she was a very very good doggie because so long as she got some affection, she didn’t bark, run, or whine.

If a thirteen day can potentially ward off evil spirits, then it’s okay that it was a grim one. Several days later, we’ve got a heatwave, up from the 60s to the 90s. Rain or shine, one can’t predict what’ll happen in April, the month of my birthday, of April Fools, of tax returns needing to be submitted —and we’ve got my brother-in-law coming. No one knows how it’ll wind up for him, how challenging it might be for him to acclimate, yet we hope for the best and are excited to see him.

I wish the planet well, that our leaders will commit to more than grandstanding and worse. Leaders who don’t mind the oblivion that can result from working for peace. Harmony provides far less spectacular headlines than warring and experimenting with iffy new currencies.

Today’s guest, Timo Schmitz, blogs from Germany. He describes himself as a language fanatic, philosopher, journalist, poet, and book author. Visit his site for more about him and more of his thoughtful poems like this one…

Photo of Timo Schmitz.

Dark Ink by Timo Schmitz

Dark ink, dark as the coming night,

Flows down this piece, with no delight,

Scratches the paper and forming a river,

While my emotions start to shiver.

 

So many mem’ries I wanted to put inside,

How much I fought for us, how you left me aside,

That I can’t forget you, even after time has passed,

And that your shade on my heart still lasts.

 

When the summer sun on the photo vanishes,

And the first snow of the winter comes,

Knowing your life goes on, as if you never knew me,

While without you, I don’t really feel free.

 

My breath, my deep breath,

When my heart felt like it stopped,

When I saw in deep in your eyes,

Eating up this black death.

 

I give you my kingdom in dreams,

Yet dreams they must stay,

Not to worry, not to hurry,

Because now you are far away.

 

Black ink dries up, becoming one with the paper,

We are separated both, now and maybe later,

Won’t drown in your seductive ocean’s wave,

Not melting down a grove, each one staying in one’s cave.

 

Can’t we free ourselves?

You know I adore you,

I am not me anymore!!!

But again, I want to be myself.

 

How is your year faring?

Pronouns by Suzanne Craig-Whytock + Pod 22: Henna Artist’s Alka Joshi 

Photo of author/blogger Suzanne Craig-Whytock.
Photo of author/blogger Suzanne Craig-Whytock.

My Wedding Henna + The Henna Artist's Bighearted Alka Joshi on Saris Happiness Between Tails

#Authors #Writing #India #Pro-Choice #WomensRights #DressCodes “The Henna Artist,” by Alka Joshi is as big-hearted as the novelist! Here Alka discusses how today’s professional women of India handle dress codes. Are dress codes unbiased where you work? Got questions, thoughts, and/or experiences to share about writing and publishing? Record them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction Today’s topic and about today’s guest 1:05 Alka Joshi discusses the wearing of saris in India My question for you and episode outro HBT outro Links used for the HBT blog post of this episode: Original blog post for this episode. Alka Joshi's website and Youtube channel. About the books I'm writing. Chris Miller, the super-talented photographer and her Instagram. Photos available at the HBT post for this show: Book cover of “The Henna Artist,” by Alka Joshi. Screenshot of Alka lauding “Big Magic,” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Photos of me, da-AL, with henna tattoos for my wedding. Screenshot of Alka from her youtube channel. Alka’s photos from Ansal University, just outside of New Delhi: Gurgaon's news bulletin board, students, architecture staff. Alka’s photo of an architect wearing a sari. — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

Click H-E-R-E for my podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s episode is the audio version of this blog post of “My Wedding Henna + The Henna Artist’s Bighearted Alka Joshi on Saris.”

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. The full list of 50+ places is H-E-R-E.

Note: Once you finish reading and listening here, be sure to check out Suzanne’s site for her fun post about this post.

Language… and labeling… and gender… and pronouns… Authors can be extra picky about language, as I am with the novels I’m working on.

Any serious writer knows there’s more to communication than vocabulary and grammar. Language is about how people think.

Civil rights movements in the United States really took flight in the 60s and 70s — and labels played a major role in creating positive change. When Gloria Steinem named her feminist magazine “Ms.,” many family dinners became hot debates over whether women should use Ms. instead of Miss and Mrs.

Then came arguments over switching “mailman” to “postal carrier,” and “stewardess” to “flight attendant.” The next slog was weeding out racial slurs. To this day, there are people who enunciate the phrase “political correctness“ as if they’re cussing.

For most good ideas, the masses regard those first to propose them as nuts and worse. Eventually, a grudging acceptance sets in. Finally, it’s like the entire world acquires amnesia, and believes they were born thinking that way.

Make no mistake, I am no angel. In my case, I have to slap my forehead at how difficult (long ago, for whatever it’s worth) it was for me to transition from something as basic as calling a friend Jim instead of Jimmy when he turned eighteen!

People spend entire careers studying the way people from all parts of the world communicate. Some countries designate genders to everything from rocks to the sky.

When my husband speaks English, he occasionally confuses genders because in Iran, where he was born, Farsi doesn’t employ words for it. Which gets me meandering into recommending Rick Steves’ book, “Travel as a Political Act,” where he explains how we all need to travel more so we can get our ostrich heads out of the sand. Part of why it can be harder to learn a language when we’re older is if we insist that there is only one “best” way for things like language to operate.

From as far back as when I was a kid, I questioned not pronouns, but gender roles. Back then, people sought to inspire me with their ideas about how wonderful it was that only women could bear children and be truly nurturing, but not anything else. From what “little me” saw and heard, “womanhood” amounted to life as a vessel and a slave. No, thank you.

Later, when I co-produced documentaries like this and this one, everyone assumed my male business partner was the boss. Except, that is, when we videotaped at a school for developmentally disabled adults. Wait, tell me again, who are we labeling “disabled”?

Thank you, everyone who works toward changing oppression. That includes anyone who wants to challenge how we think of pronouns. I wrote a bit about that H-E-R-E

Now Canadian author/blogger (mydangblog) Suzanne Craig-Whytock (she/her) is here to discuss pronouns from the standpoint of someone who is smart and funny, as well as who earned an Honours B.A. in English Language and Literature, and who worked as an English teacher for almost 25 years. See the books and stories she’s published.

She’s been a guest at Happiness Between Tails H-E-R-E too…

Photo of author/blogger Suzanne Craig-Whytock.
Photo of author/blogger Suzanne Craig-Whytock.

Let’s Talk About Pronouns by Suzanne Craig-Whytock

Words are letters strung together to make sounds and are used to identify something. Seems very straightforward, doesn’t it? Yet, it’s always astonishing to me how upset people get about certain words, especially the ones in the English language that are literally the shortest words we have. Yes, I’m talking about pronouns. So what exactly is a pronoun? Grammatically speaking, a pronoun is a word that replaces a noun—for example: I, he, she, we, they, and it. There are plenty of others depending on the case, like possessive pronouns such as mine, yours, his, hers, and theirs…you get the idea. But why all the consternation about pronouns? I mean, there are some people who get outraged if you tell them your pronouns, or lose their minds if a person chooses to go by “they” instead of the binary “he” or “she”. And if someone decides to change their pronouns, all hell might break loose. (Notice that I used the plural determiner “their” for the singular “someone” in the previous sentence and that’s just fine; in fact, the use of the singular “they” can be found in the English Language as early as the year 1375.)

But why do some folks get so up-in-arms about how other people choose their own pronouns? It’s personally baffling to me. I have a degree in English Language and Literature and I taught high school English for almost twenty-five years, but I never got my knickers in a knot about pronouns—if you tell me you’re “he”, that’s what I call you. If it’s “she”, fine by me. “They”? Absolutely not an issue. Unfortunately, not everyone is as accepting, and maybe that’s just borne out of a lack of understanding.  So as someone with a certain expertise in English grammar, I’m happy to answer your questions about pronouns.

1) “Why are pronouns so important to some people? I never even think about mine.”

Exactly. You don’t have to think about yours, because you’ve never questioned or struggled with your own identity. But other people’s lives aren’t as simple, and the pronouns they ultimately choose, whether it’s he, she, or they, help them validate themselves to the world. 

2) “But boys are he and girls are she, and that’s all there is to it. If a person doesn’t use “he” or “she”, how will we all know what sex the person is?” 

First, what difference does it make to you? Why are you so worried about other people’s genitals? Because that’s how sex is assigned at birth, by someone doing a visual check and making an announcement about it. Second, birth-assigned sex is not binary. Sure, there’s male and female, but there’s also intersex. And if you’re that fixated on knowing someone’s sexual identity based on binary pronouns, it’s a good job you don’t speak Finnish or Chinese, because neither of those languages (and quite a few others) have gendered pronouns. 

3) “But people shouldn’t be able to just change their pronouns, should they?”

Of course, they should. And if you’re having trouble with the concept, consider this example: You find a caterpillar in your backyard. “Hey, little caterpillar,” you say, and that’s what you call it all summer. But when the caterpillar emerges from its cocoon and it’s transformed into a butterfly, do you still call it a caterpillar? Of course not. It’s the same with people. If a person has made a transition from one gender to another, why wouldn’t they change their pronouns to match their new identity and why wouldn’t you respect that? And if they decide that they’re somewhere in between the two genders, they can use the non-binary “they”. It’s fine—even the Oxford English Dictionary says so. 

4) “Non-binary?! But there are only two genders and you can’t switch the one you were born with!”

Sorry, wrong. Gender is a very fluid spectrum and there are many places along it. Also, gender is a social construct. Most of our ideas about gender and gender expression are based on current social behaviours and attitudes, and those are also fluid. For example, in the 1700s, men wore wigs, ruffles, face powder, and high heels. It was considered appropriate for their gender. In the Victorian period, if a woman wore pants, it was scandalous, but I’m currently sitting here typing this while wearing jeans and no one even bats an eye. And the whole idea that only girls can wear pink? That’s an eccentric, late 20th century fad. Colours are part of another spectrum, one of light that our eyes perceive, and they have no gender; in fact, it was perfectly normal for men to wear pink right up until the 1940s. Everything changes over time, and the way we use language in terms of gender is no different.

5) “But language never changes! The English we speak now is the English people have always spoken, right?”

If you really believe that, then I have only one thing to say: 

Nū scylun hergan     hefaenrīcaes Uard,
metudæs maecti     end his mōdgidanc…

Oh, you don’t understand what I said? But it’s English—in fact, it’s from one of the earliest known English poems, called Caedmon’s Hymn. Wait, let me try again:

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote,
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote…

Still having trouble? But that’s from Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, written in the 14th century. In English. See, the English that you speak now has changed a lot. Did you also know that there used to be more than one word for “you”? If you were speaking to or about one person you knew quite well, you referred to them as “thou” or “thee” depending on the grammatical case. If you were speaking or referring to a group of people or someone you weren’t as familiar with, you used “you”. But around the end of the 1600s, using two different ways to refer to someone started to fall out of favour, and by the 1800s, no one used “thou”, “thee” and all its other derivatives anymore. And I’m sure there was a small faction of people back then who were just as incensed: “How will we ever be able to distinguish between a single person we know and a crowd of people we don’t?! It’s outrageous!” Well, we all got over it. And now there’s only one word for “you”, which simplifies things. 

And speaking of simple, here’s the simple truth. If you’re bothered by someone putting pronouns in their bio, or you refuse to accept it when someone you know has requested that you refer to them as “he” instead of “she”, or “they” instead of “he”, or you get irrationally upset that someone you don’t even know has transitioned from one gender to another, the problem is thou, not them.

What’s your pronoun?