Category Archives: personal

has to do with my life, family, and/or friends

Letter to my fifteen year old self

Dear you,

I’m you from the future. I’m more than twice your age, and there are some things I want to tell you about before you go off thinking you know what’s good for you.

You get in to Chamber Singers and it becomes one of the best yearlong experiences of your life. You get into college, too; the college you get into and attend is at the same time great and awful. It’s great because you’ll love and cherish your time there, and you’ll wish you won’t have to leave after four years. Yes, you do graduate; don’t worry. You could do better in your classes, but in the end, the things you remember won’t be the classes. It’s awful because you’ll mess up a lot and hurt yourself and be hurt by other people.

Floundering around after college isn’t a bad thing. You’ll have time to figure out your shit, and you will. Well, you’ll figure out some of it, anyway. There will be some stuff that you won’t be sure you’ll ever figure out, and that’s okay, too. You won’t make all the right decisions, or even most of the right decisions, but don’t worry too much about that either. Life has a way of surprising people who earnestly move forward into it, and that includes you.

Fear is not the enemy. You’ll think you’re faking it even fifteen years from now. But it’s not fear that you have to worry about, it’s inaction. Being paralyzed by fear is the enemy, not fear itself. When you overcome, you’ll be a better person.

Don’t spend so much money. Really, all that stuff you think you have to have… you don’t have to have. It’s really not that important. Know your financial limits and stay within them. I know you won’t take this advice, but I have to say it anyway, just in case.

Sunscreen is important, but it’s not so important that you have to wear it every day. You don’t go out in the sun that often, so it’s not that big of deal if you get burned a couple of times. I hope my 45- or 60-year-old self doesn’t regret saying that.

Eventually, you’ll get a graduate degree in writing and you’ll be able to earn a living writing and editing, even if it’s not the kind of writing you really want to do. You’ll give presentations at conferences about poetry, nonfiction, diversity in the writing and editing spheres, and more. Keep on that path. If you want it bad enough and work toward it well enough, you will see the fruit of your labors.

There may be nothing you can do to avoid being hurt by other people, but you can avoid hurting yourself. The struggle with depression and anxiety will be real. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, tell yourself, “I can always kill myself tomorrow.” That may sound pessimistic on a good day, but remember that you’ll only tell yourself this on bad days. On bad days, you’ll feel like you need the out that suicide brings, but it’ll be okay because you’ll put it off until tomorrow. Don’t worry about the future if you can’t handle it. Just worry about today. Get through today.

Live simply and love fully. Love yourself fully. It will be difficult and you won’t always succeed, but be kind to yourself. Respect yourself and your friends enough to ask for the things that you need. You may not always get those things, but it will do you good to ask.

Yours, me.

The New Deal

The New Deal

My website has been languishing in internet limbo for years now, and I recently decided I need to put an end to that. I have not stopped writing, as many of my friends will attest, but my willingness to have my writing made public waned to nearly nothing over the past couple of years. I just printed out a bunch (like, a thousand or so) writing prompts from various websites and will try to use some of them to get back into the swing of posting for readers rather than just writing whatever I want for myself.

I’m setting the bar relatively low; I’d like to post once per week, preferably on Tuesday. I’ll also write several posts ahead of time so I have a little buffer just in case real life happens, which it inevitably will. I will not be backdating any posts. That is to say, I won’t be trying to fill in the empty months and years that have passed by this site without so much as a “Hi, I’m still alive” update. I encourage you to respond to any post with your own thoughts, but I won’t be offended if no one ever does. Though I will try my best to be professional and not petty, this is still my space, and I still get to say what I want to say in the way I want to say it, and I reserve the right to block spammers and trolls from posting on any and all of my material.

I’ve been posting off and on since December 12, 2001, so if you’re an oldtimer, welcome back. If you’re new to my space, please let me introduce myself. I’ve gone by many names online, but most recently it’s just been Viannah, the name given to me by my parents at my birth. I publish under my full name, Viannah E. Duncan. I am still learning to integrate my online persona with real life, so please be patient with me and I’ll try not to make it too irritating. If you read through my older posts, you’ll notice that I’ve often tried to hide my real name because I was either underage, trying to protect my own privacy or that of my family and friends, or just plain thought it was cooler to have an alias of some kind. Seeing as I’m getting too old for that kind of thing, I’ll try going by my given name for a while and see how that goes.

I live in the Baltimore area with my cat, Cleopatra. I like writing and editing, which is a good thing because I do that professionally. Despite being an editor, I won’t be editing these posts for more than general grammar, spelling, and punctuation since they’re not meant to be professional copy the way some of my other work is. That being said, these posts are meant to showcase my writing ability and versatility, which is partially why I’ll be writing in so many different styles (essay, short fiction, poetry, etc.). I’m leaving all my previous work up as a testament to how far I’ve come in my personal and professional journey, but please note that I’m not the same person I was then. If you have any questions about who I am or what I believe, please ask; I may end up writing an entire entry about it!

Aside from what I’ve noted here, I am a daughter, sister, sister-in-law, and best friend to my family and close friends. I believe in the Oxford comma, though I will write without it professionally if that’s required of me. I’ll choose tea over coffee any day of the week; I like postal mail, public transportation, and cold weather. I am feminist, queer, and extremely politically liberal. However, I also respect those around me and refrain from arguing with anyone who’s obviously trying to incite anger or otherwise raise my hackles. I have nothing to prove to anyone except myself, and I intend to keep it that way.

Hiatus Ends!

You know it’s a great hiatus when life is so busy that you don’t have time to write anything on your site about your life, right? Right?

All right, I’ve got a lot to share, including the publication of three anthologies, my progress at work, and the upcoming YaoiCon (of which I am assistant director this year). I’m excited to let you know of my recent goings on and my future plans!

I will see you all again soon. ^_^

Happy 2015!

Happy New Year! It’s a new year again. It’s that time of the year that we arbitrarily turn our calendars back to zero and move forward in the cold as if all of last year is completely behind us. I suppose, literally, it is… but so is every day.

This is not one of those posts where I say that we should have the Christmas spirit all year round or something shitty like that. I’m just pointing out that the date we decide to end things and then, in turn, begin things is basically random and completely subjective.

Anyway, I’ve had a lot going on in my life recently, as you may have imagined by my lack of any updates whatsoever since last July. At this point, that’s almost six months. Maybe soon I’ll be able to get back to writing thoughts, reviews, or anything, and I have such a backlog of ideas that it’ll take a while for me to even get them all organized.

Even though it’s arbitrary, I hope your New Year is better than the last. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Open letter to the guys who crossed the street when you saw me

Dear guys who crossed the street when you saw me walking my two yippy dogs at 11 PM,

Thank you. No, honestly: thank you.

I don’t know why you decided to cross the empty street when you saw me standing there waiting for my two dogs to do their business. Maybe you didn’t want to deal with them. Maybe you decided there wasn’t enough space on the sidewalk for all three of us humans and two large-cat-sized dogs. You were towing a large bag on a bicycle, after all. Maybe you didn’t want to have to say hello or acknowledge me in any way.

I don’t know why you crossed the street, but thank you. It made me feel safer when you did.

You see, I have to be aware of every man who walks past me in public, especially at night, because unfortunately I cannot tell if you’re a good person just by looking at you. I have to be careful.

You both saw me almost a block away and decided—for whatever reason—to give me space. You nonchalantly crossed the street and continued on your way as if nothing had ever happened. As someone who has to worry about her interactions with men so that she doesn’t “give the wrong idea” or “send mixed signals” and as someone who often has to deal with and “accept” harassment based on my perceived gender, I appreciate men who go out of their way to make me feel safe, especially in public spaces.

You probably thought nothing of your actions. You never even got close enough to see me very well, though my shape and figure make it obvious to most people that I’m a woman, no matter what I’m wearing. Well, I want to let you know that it really meant something to me. It was a relief. It meant that I could breathe easier, even if it was for just a moment.

Thank you.