Being given a name is so inconsiderate

I didn’t ask for life, nor this


One word

or two or three

How can you say it’s “me”

There will always be

a disconnect between “giver” and “receipt”

Parents, proud of their accomplishment

bestow gifts that might not fit

While “Jessica” means “to behold”

I’m not attached to it

“Elizabeth” claims royalty

“My god is abundance”, it cries

Regardless of where responsibility for my creation lies

I can’t continue bearing this inaccurate guise


All my years I’ve admired the beautiful snake

simple and perfect in design and in charm

Able to be cared for and adored

And able still to harm

I learned there were snake people

wise and beautiful and rare

Ruling ornate cities covered in jewels

with glittering crowns in their hair



this, I wanted to be

So tied by AFAB* lines, from their queens I chose the name Nagi


Years gone slowly by and I came to realize

that I wasn’t a woman at all

And I suddenly needed a new, better name

to help me get up and stand tall

Eager to please, I chose one with a “J”

to ease the transition for those around me

Always considering others,

before thinking of my own needs…

But “Jude” it was, still is and ’twill be

On account of its deep importance to me

The Beatles, a saint,



Inner security is my first order of business

The curated badges by which I’ll be known,

have carried me comfortably to this throne



my car smells like summer

manic excitement and bad habits

barefoot commune with slinky new-comers

shy lizards darting through the garden lattice


manic excitement and bad habits

Swisher smoke and exhausted slumber

shy lizards darting through the garden lattice

my car smells like summer


Swisher smoke and exhausted slumber

there’s a headache behind my eyes

my car smells like summer

and I’m happy to be alive


blue skies seen through glass

Swisher smoke and exhausted slumber

bare feet on sun-baked grass

my car smells like summer

life of the beast

The one thing I miss about GaiaOnline


There once was a site I was quite involved in, called GaiaOnline (originally called GoGaia). It was a forum-based role-play/dress-up site basically, with cute anime-styled avatars and, as the years went on, an absolutely OVERWHELMING selection of clothing items, skins, accessories, backgrounds, wigs, eyes, companions…SO many things you could slap on your avatar to customize it. There were discussions in the forums about every topic  imaginable, word games to play with other users, mini-games elsewhere on the site, shops for the aforementioned items, and as mentioned before, the role-playing.

I fell out of the active userbase around when I started reading the webcomic Homestuck (and boy, the degree to which Homestuck affected my life is a story for another time), but there is one particular forum thread I miss, and I think about it now and again with some real nostalgia: a little thread called simply, The Battledome.

The Battledome was a thread tucked away in the Chatterbox forum I believe. Chatterbox was reserved for simple word games and casual role-play, or for people to just heck around with forum formatting. I feel like back in those days, in Chatterbox, were my first experiences with what now gets called “shitposting” on tumblr. I digress…

In the Battledome thread, your avatar was your character. There was a dice-rolling widget, and you posted after someone else, rolled the dice, and the result guided you in writing a combat scenario between your character and the one above you. Although this was indeed more “casual” role-playing than other threads found elsewhere on the site, I had so much fun with this. It was nothing but creativity on the fly, and the fights ranged from funny, to brutal, to creepy or heart-wrenching. Most of the characters were pretty well-developed, too. Plus you could have fun changing your avatar around to come up with different characters and thus get to write different scenarios whenever you liked. In fact, the protagonist of my novel Gutter Wine, Vincio Scavola, was born in the Battledome, purely from the item shops on the site having these mafia hitman-esque items that struck my fancy.

I’ve always found ridiculous fight scenes to be a lot of fun, and I had such a good time on this thread, playing Vincio as well as the handful of other characters I came up with (a naga swordsman, a murderous animate marble statue, a character inspired by the Danger Days album named Johnny Killjoy, god the list goes on…). I would love having that experience again, but my life is too full of other things to allow for the kind of immersion I had in GaiaOnline. Plus, apparently inflation has been an ongoing issue with regards to the site’s in-world currency, so the effort to get my avatar all fixed up nice would be MASSIVE.

I spent actual, real-world money on some of my items, and as I no longer have access to the account, it’s just not worth as much to me. But I will be forever thankful to that little thread for providing me with so much inspiration, so much writing practice, and so much fun. But I hope that The Battledome is still a thing, and that maybe some of the characters Vincio got to know are still beating the shit out of each other in there.

life of the beast

The Artist’s Way – Week 1

I’m wrapping up week one of my Artist’s Way journey and I’m having a really rewarding time so far. Yes, it’s hard to get up and do these GOSH DANG “Morning Pages”, and I have fallen behind on them a few times, yes, but I remain undeterred. I’m committed to the course, to the curriculum, to the process, and I retain determination that I can see this through to the end.

I don’t think y’all know this (eh, my close friends might), but earlier this year I got out of a toxic relationship (that had turned scarily abusive), and I’ve been in the process of recovering from that. Some of what went with me on my way out of that awful situation was “There’s no point in pursuing what nourishes me creatively; I won’t be able to make a living with it so why bother? I’m just not going to make it etc. etc. so on and so forth”. Thankfully, upon my exit from that stage of my life, I was met with enough love and support that I was able to begin the long process of rebuilding myself. On an outing to the beautiful Phoenix and Dragon bookstore with my fiancee and one of our friends, I came across “The Artist’s Way”, a book I’d heard mentioned by one of the YouTubers I follow (I heard it on Game Grumps, to be specific), and I had made a mental note to check it out; now was the time. I briefly flipped through it in the shop and it left clutched securely in my claws. I know I can live a creatively fulfilled life, and I also know this book is going to help me get there.

As I said, I’m only here at the end of Week One, but this process has already began to work on me. I don’t know if I’ll be able to fully support myself by way of my creativity, but what I DO know is this: I am an artist, I am here to create, and that is what I am going to do.


Wise Council

I spent some time with my spiritual counselor today.

Spent time with him, and gave him lettuce and fresh water and the way he gives thanks for these is enough to make anyone calm down and smile.

When I come home

wanting nothing more than to gripe about petty irritations,

he won’t let me.

He talks over me, drowning out the sound of my grumbling with his small, soft, insistent voice,

and I listen despite my aggravation.

And I smile.

Guinea pigs have a lot to say.

My furry guru accomplishes more with his fresh bedding and hay than some other “masters” do with crystals and candles and chakra wheels. His world is mostly cage-confined, interrupted by cuddles and pellet-meals.

And he is wise.

Offering only unbiased love and untarnished affection from his somber little eyes.

My tiny, loaf-shaped teacher is enlightened and, through his tutelage, so am I.