Category Archives: General Updates

#ThirtyThings

If you’ve been following me on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve been privy to my #ThirtyThings throughout the month of September. For those who haven’t, here are 30 facts you may or may not know about me:

1. I used this photo of my myself to create the very first cover mock-up for the 1st edition of Queer Greer.

2. I have been a Hanson addict since Middle of Nowhere came out in the late 90s. Meeting them with my cousin after one of their NYC concerts about 5 years ago was a highlight of my life!

3. This is the very first book I ever wrote as a fourth grader! Jordie and the Manatees – illustrations by yours truly as well!

4. I have two cats, Prince Oberyn Martell the Red Viper of Dorne and Puck, both literarily named!

5. Ever since I was a child I’ve loved Full House! It’s my goal in life to see all the cast in person. Thus far I’ve seen John Stamos play drums with the Beach Boys; Dave Coulier perform standup twice; Bob Saget perform standup once; Jodie Sweetin at UCB in LA; and Lori Loughlin multiple times at a favorite eatery in Beverly Hills. Now where are those Olsen twins?

6. This is my one tattoo thus far, located on the inside of my left wrist. For me it stands for peace within and is symbolic of the trials I’ve endured, both self-inflicted and not, throughout the years.

7. Meeting author Ian McEwan as an undergrad was an experience I’ll never forget. He had on these laced up brown leather boots with so much personality, I told him there had to be a story in them. He replied, “And you’re just the person to write it.” One of these days…

8. I was a United Nations correspondent for a year, reporting on stories out of the least developed countries. I saw some incredible world leaders speak while I was there, including the Clintons and Gore, and President Obama.

9. That time I went to a college dance in drag. I’m in the hat.

10. I’m officially official as an agented author — my headshot and bio went up on the Inklings Literary Agency site this week!

11. This was my senior thesis in college. The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall is considered one of the first lesbian texts, but I sought to prove its really a trans* text and Orlando by Virginia Woolf (published the same year) is really a lesbian text instead of trans*.

12. That time I met one of my writing role models, Jodi Picoult! This woman is incredible — I’ve emailed her several times with writing questions and she usually responds within an hour!

13. I’m training to tone up because my wedding is in less than two months! I’ve also discovered that exercise is the best anti-anxiety medication there is.

14. I helped spear-head the Fight to Give Life campaign with my college GSA; we mobilized students across the country to protest the antiquated FDA ban on blood donation from men who have sex with men (and women who have sex with men who have sex with men) by taking petitions to their local blood banks on 04/05/06. We got enough attention that members of the FDA invited us along with blood bank reps to a meeting to discuss the policy a month later.

15. I’m back on the East Coast right now where I was born and raised. I’m a New Englander at heart and I really miss the seasons!

16. I played ice hockey as a kid! I played defense and became one of the team captains for my high school varsity team my senior year.

17. Did you know I have a collection of poetry and short stories up on @Goodreads right now?

18. I’ve been to several protests in my life in NY and DC, all against war. Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing.

19. My senior year of college I participated in the Birthright program, going to Israel for 10 days. The experience was incredible and I hope to make it back again some day.

20. As a middle schooler, I became obsessed with The X-Files. I was a total shipper, wanting Mulder and Scully to end up together. Love this show!

21. I’ve donated my hair to Locks of Love three times. I hope to do it again some day soon.

22. In July of 2011, I went to a maximum security prison in Texas to visit a woman I’ve been writing to since 2009. Her case is currently being investigated by The Innocence Project of Texas and I’ve written a book based on her life.

23. A year ago today I was at the first bisexual roundtable at the White House — the best Celebrate Bisexuality Day ever!

24. That time Dan Savage quoted me in his book! All publicity is good publicity, right?

25. Just one week after graduating from college I was headed to Malawi with the U.S. Peace Corps. My experience was mixed, as many who’ve read my book Vuto know.

26. Potentially polarizing, but I have been a Yankees fan my whole life, no matter where I’ve lived at any given time. I grew up with Derek Jeter and I can’t believe I won’t ever see him play again!

27. I love to travel! I want to see as much of the world as possible in my lifetime. Places I’ve been thus far include Amsterdam, Aruba, Austria, Bahamas, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Liechtenstein, Malawi, Mexico, Poland, Switzerland, and Turks and Caicos.

28. I love to get crafty! One craft I’ve been doing for nearly 15 years is making collages on poster board, as well as collages on small wooden boxes with decoupage. I often have themes, especially when I make the boxes as gifts for friends, picking up on their personality and hobbies.

29. That time I got to interview both Zac and Taylor Hanson for a United Nations piece on their charity work in Africa — and it was on the Hanson website!

30. My very first book signing and talk was for my book, Choice, at the Trumbull Public Library in Connecticut. Around the same time I saw my book sold in Barnes & Noble — I was starting to feel like I could really do this; I could be a professional author. Now, I’m really on my way.

Thanks for sticking around to learn #ThirtyThings about me this month!

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Welcome to my new blog!

Hi everyone and welcome to my new blog. I’m excited to keep everyone updated on what I’m up to as an author and LGBT+ activist moving forward.

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This Saturday I’m happy to report that I will be at the Tucson Festival of Books in Arizona with fellow authors from my publishing company, Rocket Science Productions. I will be at a table selling and signing copies of my book, Queer Greer, for all who are interested from 9:30 am – 5:00 pm on Saturday, March 9th.

As I get ready to celebrate my 28th birthday next Wednesday, March 13th, I am so thrilled for the festivities to begin early. This Sunday, my favorite modern author, Jodi Picoult, is coming to town for a book reading and signing of her new title, The Storyteller. The timing could not have been more perfect! Here’s to hoping I can snap a photo with her!

Last week I had two blog posts go up on The Huffington Post – the first around the topic of LGBT+ inclusivity in surveys and questionnaires; the second, a part of my Bi the Bi series on why a bisexual individual would want to identify by the term “bisexual”.

There is much more to come! Come back for weekly updates and be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and The Huffington Post.

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Finding My Place

If I am being completely honest with myself, the last time I felt completely, 100% ME was in college when I was a leader in Dickinson College’s Gay-Straight Alliance, Spectrum; heavily involved in social justice; speaking out for myself and those in the sexual minority. I haven’t felt truly fulfilled since then, except in my writing, especially when I was writing and editing Queer Greer; or speaking about Queer Greer at last year’s True Colors Conference at UCONN.

I now feel like I’m coming to a point in my life, professionally, where I have to decide how I can find that fulfillment again to be completely happy – or at least as happy as I was those several years ago in Spectrum.

I only recently started a new job in Arizona where I do feel like helping others is the end result of my role. I’m now in the skincare industry – a place I never would have thought I would be. I am passionate about helping people, but I’m now questioning whether this is the right field for me. I keep going back to social justice. I think that is where my skills and passion will matter most and be best utilized.

Most of you know that I have been attempting to fulfill my belief in justice through my correspondence with an inmate in Texas; a woman by the name of Elizabeth Burke whom I believe to be innocent through three years of letter writing and personal research. I haven’t been able to dedicate the time needed to help her get a retrial in a while, which weighs on me. It’s unlikely I will ever be able to fully focus on her and her innocence with the financial needs of today – working full-time – along with my other writing projects. However, knowing how much this pet project means to me makes me feel like searching for a job more related to justice should be my next pursuit.

Anyway, those are my thoughts today! I needed to share! 🙂

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Filed under Elizabeth Burke, General Updates, LGBT, Social Justice

Writing the New Year

As most writers I know, I would like to write more in 2012. That is my overarching resolution for this new year!

Of course, the beginning of the year for me is already a hectic one as I prepare to move from California to Arizona and start a new chapter in my life. I have yet to write a single word for myself in 2012, which is enough to make me feel like somewhat of a failure just five days in! I’m going to cut myself some slack, however, as I predict that all of these changes taking place will garner in a new schedule and routine that should make it easier for me to fit my writing into my life.

What I will accomplish this year:

  • Putting out a Second Edition of Queer Greer
  • Writing the 2nd and 3rd drafts of Vuto
  • Querying agents/publishing companies for Vuto

I aim to dedicate at least five hours a week to my writing/editing projects on top of my day job. We shall see what happens as soon as I get settled into my new state!

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Back in 2007: Hats Off to New Jersey!

I’m a little late with this post, but it was an important one so what the hey! On December 17, 2007, New Jersey repealed their death penalty. Here’s my blog entry from that day:

I couldn’t have been more excited than I was this afternoon to learn that at least one of the 50 states has its head on straight, or so to speak. New Jersey has officially repealed the death penalty, outlawing any form of capital punishment within the state. My hope now is that all states will follow.This is historic news and happy news at that for those of us against the death penalty, preferring what NJ is now doing with the prisoners on death row: life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Governor Jon Corzine signed the repeal, with similar sentiments to my own, declaring an end to “state-endorsed killing,” and identifying New Jersey as a model for other states.

Death-penalty-general

Because I could not have put it in better words myself, I will requote Corzine as quoted in The New York Times: “Today New Jersey is truly evolving,” he said. “I believe society first must determine if its endorsement of violence begets violence, and if violence undermines our commitment to the sanctity of life. To these questions, I answer yes.”

New York is a state that has essentially ruled out the death penalty, if not by passing a law, by letting a decision stand without updating a past law. The State Supreme Court found flaws in the state’s death penalty law in 2004, and legislators let the decision stand.

To continue with the third state making up the Tri-State Area, Connecticut has been debating the abolishment of its own capital punishment law for years now. Death penalty opponents have been optimistic about the outlawing of it being close, until this past summer when two inmates out on appeal committed a grisly crime in Cheshire, raping, killing and burning a mother and her two daughters. It is now, once again, a topic of heated debate.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating for murderers and rapists. I despise these monsters as much as the next person. But I maintain my view that putting them to death is #1. Unethical #2. Lowering ourselves to their level and #3. NOT A PUNISHMENT. Being put out of your misery is the easy way out, not a means to prove to the killer that what he/she did was wrong. Put them in prison for life without parole where they were waste away in a cell for the rest of their lives. That sounds a hell of a lot worse than being put to sleep by a lethal injection – which, by the way, does not always work anyway. Can we say, ‘Cruel and Unusual’?

The death penalty and murders are a topic of debate not just for lawyers and the government, but for the mainstream citizen as well. There have always been cop shows depicting the scum of the earth being brought to justice. But as of last year a new hero emerged on the screen and, guess what? He’s a killer. Dexter is a show based on a book by Jeff Lindsay about a serial killer who kills serial killers. 

Enticed? I definitely was. 

From the first episode of Season One, I was hooked. Primarily, I have always been intrigued by serial killers and what makes them tick. Dexter allows you to see the thought process of one of these people better than ever, the character played by the ever-talented Michael C. Hall. Having rapped on the finale of the second season just last night, Dexter has attracted millions of fans and will be coming back for a third go in 2008.

Even though many – most – murderers are unlike Dexter who lives by a code and only slices up bad people who would kill others if he didn’t, when you see into the lives of these people, you realize how inhumane all killing is. Killing is killing, death is death. The priest who rapes and murders little boys begs for his life when Dexter stands above him with the knife. The barman who was an accomplice in the chainsaw death of Dexter’s mother whimpers on the table before the serial killer puts an end to him. Staring death in the face, we are all the same.

When our states kill people, we are doing just what those people did. We are the killers, no different from the murderers we are doing away with. In a way, I suppose you could say the states are like Dexter. They play God as a means to assure that nobody else will be lost at the hands of these convicts. But, nobody will be hurt if these people are put behind bars forever either. And by doing that instead, we are not committing murder; we are not condoning or justifying killing as we do now.

This is something to think about as capital punishment comes up for discussion on the state-level now that New Jersey has set a precedent.

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This Day in 2007

From my first blog, Peaceful Ponderings, on October 25, 2007:

What has been your path in life? If you’re anything like me, you went to school, K-12, then spent four years in college and are now moving on into the working world. This is what we have been told is “life” by our elders and very few of us appear to question it or take a different route.

I feel like I am one of the few, except for my own hesitations to stick to the status quo. Believe me, I tried to go off on my own, all the way to Africa, in fact – only to learn that I had a limit in such remote circumstances. Fair. I have no regrets. Now back in the States, however, I’m feeling that itch again. I want to travel. I want more experiences than sitting behind a desk, staring at a screen for 7 or 8 hours a day.

What is so difficult about finding your own direction? For me, it’s not so much the expectations of my parents, my family (although those are there as well, trust me). It’s more that I don’t want to worry them by going off into the unknown, trying a variety of different lifestyles and cultures. When it comes down to it, the ambitions and wishes I have for my life would give my parents – or at least my mother – a heart attack before she’s due for one.

Still, I read about more and more young people like myself going off and going just what I want to do. We are traveling the globe more than ever, taking one, two, five years off between college and a 9-5 to see more, experience more and soul-search more than past generations.

In a global economy like our current one, it is much easier and accessible. The world is calling to be experienced. I want nothing more than to be able to buy a one-way ticket anywhere and make my way around the world, taking odd-jobs when I need to and writing about my adventures the entire way.

I have been doing a lot of research, looking for low-paying jobs, volunteer placements or internships that could act as my starting point. The problem is that the vast majority require some payment for placement, or travel, or something that prohibits a lot of open-minded, caring individuals from helping where they are needed most. Literally, I’ve been surfing the net for two months now in search of the perfect opportunity and through the hundreds of sites I’ve seen, not even ONE has free assignments overseas. Even those that will pay you for your teaching skills, for instance, require a down-payment and independent travel.

I guess I shouldn’t be expecting too much from these non-profits, as most of them are; but I figure that if I am willing to give my time and energy, along with sacrificing comfort in most scenarios, the least these organizations can do is cut down the expense.

Just type “gap year” into Google (or Blackle, the more energy-efficient version of the search engine) and you will get 25,800,000 results. Exxciting, until you peruse further. Take http://www.gapyear.com, for example. If you’re looking to volunteer at an orphanage in Asia, you better be willing to drop at least $1,000 – and that could just be for a week. Outrageous, no?
Luckily, just today I found a wonderful site: http://www.findagapjob.com. This site has a plethora of opportunities abroad that are mostly paid and only require you to pay for your flight – which, depending on your length of stay, should be reimbursed by the time you leave. It has an extensive list of jobs everywhere. Your only dilemma might be getting the appropriate visa and papers to allow you to work in a specific country.
Just be wary of the site you choose. I have found great deals and offers only to realize the site only accepts applications from UK residents, for instance.
Thus, the search continues to find the perfect, inexpensive prospect abroad, because – come on – at 22 I’m much too young to settle into the status quo!

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My First Blog

Within the first entry of my first blog, entitled Peaceful Ponderings back in October 2007, I explain who I am, my politics and my beliefs. It is quite interesting looking back on my words just four mere years ago and reflect upon the similarities and differences of today:

I am a Peacemonger, let’s get that out firsthand. I do not think war is ever the answer. I am an extreme leftist, as liberal as they come; in my politics, my education, my beliefs, my sexuality…virtually every facet of my life. I think the administration of this country has been going downhill for awhile now, and I am skeptical that the next will be much better. In the words of Mr. Constanza, “I have a lot of problems with you people!” I know I’m not alone.An Indian HijraAn Indian Hijra

I don’t want you to think this is just going to be another blog shouting a liberal diatribe criticizing my country, conservatives, fundamentalists, and all that shit. Who needs another one of those? There are many more interests to get all hyped up about.

For instance, I just recently rented a film called “Middle Sexes: Redefining He and She.” I found this documentary to be particularly informative because it really gets across the spectrum not only of sexuality, but of gender as well. In western society, especially America, most people are constricted by this man-made binary of man and woman, male and female, heterosexual and homosexual. What most people need to realize is that there are so many more variations. Just think about the people you know. Women and men perform – yes, perform – gender in a plethora of ways. I’d even venture to say that there are just as many gender types as there are people on earth. Women wear their hair long, short, buzzed; they dress in pants, skirts, shorts, dresses; they do or they don’t wear make-up and those who do wear varying degrees of it; there are women who love men, who love women, who love genderqueers, who love intersexed; women who ARE genderqueers and intersexed. The same holds true for men. I could go on, but I think you get the idea. 

I will admit, I have become more jaded with the world-at-large since 2007. While I still consider myself a “peacemonger,” I have also spent time in the Peace Corps and worked as a correspondent at the United Nations; both experiences made me realize how little gets accomplished with “peace politics.” I still don’t consider war the answer in any conflict, however I realize peace is not always a solution. The Middle East for instance – I don’t see an end to the wars there as long as religion is still present and strong.

While I have been in a relationship with a man for a couple of years now, I am still an outspoken bisexual woman with qualms in terms of sex and gender education in the U.S. and worldwide.

Share your own changes over time in the comments section below!

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Filed under Gender, General Updates, LGBT, Politics

Back to the ’90s

Anyone who knows me at all knows how big of a Hanson fan I am. I mean, my bedroom in middle school was wallpapered with pages and posters ripped from Teen Beat magazine, all of Isaac, Taylor and Zac. My first concert ever? Hanson at Great Woods in Massachusetts, June 26, 1998. I’ve grown up with them and evolved with them. From this:

To this:

So, as you can probably understand, I went a little crazy when I stumbled upon their music video for their first single, the famous “MMMBop,” on YouTube the other night. It instantly transported me back to my teenage years. Perhaps it will do the same for you…

Thus far, I’ve seen Hanson in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and Los Angeles. It was in New York that I was able to meet them backstage!

Zac Hanson and me backstage in New York City, October 2009

It gets better than that. At the time, I was working for the United Nations. Hanson had been doing a lot of charity work in Africa. Since I was reporting for a news service at the UN that focused on the world’s least developed countries, I was able to contact their manager and conduct phone interviews with Zac and Taylor on two separate occasions!

And to top THAT off – my articles appeared on Hanson’s official website. It’s even archived on the site!

Can a lifelong fan ask for anything more?

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Congratulations 2011 Grads!

My baby brother, Ben Walkley, graduates tomorrow from Tufts University in Boston, MA. I came out from the west coast to surprise him and I couldn’t be happier that I did. With four years between us, it has been difficult to forge a close relationship with my brother. The last time we were in school together was elementary school. One thing we’ve shared over the years, however, has been sports – softball, lacrosse and ice hockey for me; baseball, lacrosse and football for Ben. In fact, Ben played college baseball all four years at Tufts and was a breath away from making it to the College World Series this year. To say I was proud of him would be an understatement.

To meet my brother and me, you’d almost be surprised we grew up in the same house. After I graduated from college, the only thing I wanted to do was go into the Peace Corps and help those less fortunate than myself. Ben? He wants to make millions. Not to say he’s a bad person, quite the contrary. Last I talked to him about it, yes he wants to make millions, but only so he can go back to school to become a math teacher and high school baseball coach thereafter.

Maybe we’re not as different as it might seem.

Ben’s graduation reminds me of my own four years ago, which is a frightening thought. How did we both grow up so quickly? As he celebrates these last couple of days of his childhood, essentially, I can’t help but wonder what the next four years will bring for him. Will he get a dream job, or settle for something less desirable like so many recent grads? Will he come out to California and start a life out there near me? Will our somewhat distant relationship become even more so, or will his adulthood bring us closer?

It’s funny that I’m thinking more about his longterm future than I had of my own when I was in his shoes. Maybe that’s what being an older sibling is all about, worrying about your little brother(s) or sister(s) for them.

I was concerned flying out here to surprise Ben that he wouldn’t be happy to see me, that he’d be apathetic about my presence. Fortunately, despite the stoic way he has about him, he seems pleased that I’m here in his own way. Maybe he’s even more touched than I know.

In honor of his graduation, I have to post this, one of my favorite commemoration songs of all time:

To my brother, I truly do hope you had “the time of your life” at Tufts. I hope you will look back at your time there as I do at my alma mater: with happiness, nostalgia and pride. I hope this is only one of many great milestones in your life that I will have the honor of attending. We may not say it often enough, but Ben, I love you so much. You have always been there for me in some shape or form, and I for you. I always will be, no matter how far apart we may be physically.

You have great things ahead of you, Ben. I can’t wait to see all the wonderful and amazing things you do.

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