Welsh dreams…

Paul is watching “Penny Dreadful.” Timothy Dalton is in the series and I melt every damned time I see him in anything, pretty much. *sigh* Plus, he’s Welsh.

In the copy of the genealogical papers I have from the family historian on my birth mother’s side, my 9th generation ancestors, William Hughes and (Mary) Molly Daten, married in Surrey, England. Molly Daten was born in Wales and lived to be 87. They had six children: Mary Hughes (1748-1810), Susannah Hughes (1767-1834), Rebecca Hughes (1769-Unknown), Elizabeth Hughes (1774-1870), Moses Hughes (1774-1841), and Milburn Hughes (1776-1867).

I have Scottish ancestors as well (Clan Fergusson and Clan MacNeil of Barra), but I haven’t spent as much time investigating my Welsh, Irish, and Northern European ancestry.

After having my DNA test done, there are so many parts that make up the whole. I love this stuff!

Perhaps when I go back to the UK, I can visit Wales and see my friends Gareth Tamplin and Robin James Ganderton.

Celebrating eight wonderful years!

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Eight years ago Paul T. Sninchak and I met in person, at Pikes Perk on Tejon, for the first time. We had coffee, talked, he kissed my hand, and we walked down Tejon, where we shared our first kiss (he asked my permission first, which greatly impressed me). My life changed in so many ways — it was a blessing! In September, not long before we met, I wrote a letter to myself, outlining the type of man I wished I could find…and in November 2005, I found him. Every single characteristic/personality trait I wrote down he has — every single one! He is my husband, best friend, lover, stepfather to my children, creative manager, confidante, and anything else you can think of. Happy original anniversary, my love! They don’t make ’em like you anymore…and I’m so BLESSED and THANKFUL we are on this life journey together. The universe couldn’t have brought me a more fitting or loving partner. ♥♥♥

What is a “real man”? For me, the definition is different.

It occurred to me there’s a reason why I find my husband so irresistible…and it is the same reason why I find many Asian (especially Japanese) men attractive.

My husband is confident in his masculinity without having to buy into all the tropes of what our Western culture often tells us a “real man” is or what one should look like. Often that cultural definition means he has a macho bent, is rugged looking (the typical Marlboro man vibe), drinks beer or whiskey, watches sports all the time, etc. You get the old stereotype I mean, right?

My husband does not fit any of those things, and I can assure you he is a “real man.” He’s straight edge, hates watching sports, and doesn’t adhere to macho behavior. Oh, and he’s not afraid to be romantic, either in public or private.

As for Asian men, they can dress up in androgynous clothes and perform in visual kei (ヴィジュアル系) bands looking very feminine in their makeup and wigs…but that doesn’t mean they’re not “real” men, nor does it mean they’re gay (a common snarky comment from guys who, apparently, are uncomfortable or somehow threatened by pretty men who challenge ideas of what “a real man” should look like.)

It means such male Asian performers are confident enough in their sexuality to express themselves and perform as they wish, all the while knowing who they are without feeling the need to prove that they’re “man enough” to anyone.

I, for one, am not turned off by the aesthetic of pretty men, regardless of culture. The subtle sexuality that’s hinted at beneath it all is what I look for. Creativity, an artistic bent, a love of books, a more understated energy that belies a hotter intensity at the core is what does it for me. Oh, and intelligence is essential as well.

So, the next time one of you men wants to say a guy doesn’t look or act manly enough, you better check yourself. That guy who doesn’t like football and prefers to read poetry instead might charm your woman into the bedroom and seduce her ten times to Sunday while you’re busy dissing him with your buddies.

Men come in many packages and don’t fit into tidy stereotypes—just like women. What is a “real man”? However he defines himself…not how you choose to define him.

Get off my porch!

The Witch Is In

WARNING — THIS IS LONG: You see this sign? We have this sign hanging on our front door. Not just during Halloween, but all year long. And, should you not have figured it out yet, I am a witch. A real one…the kind that marks the turning of The Wheel of the year and who casts spells. Mind you, I’m NOT Wiccan. I’m an eclectic witch who practices what I call Quantum Witchcraft. Now, having said that, let me share a story from earlier today.

Paul has Tuesdays off, so we usually sleep in, lounge around and treat it like a weekend day. We’re in bed, snoozing away (I’ve got my earbuds in and sleeping to the sounds of rain and thunder). Paul asks, “Was that the doorbell?” I mumble that I don’t know, but shuffle to the front door to check. A short, somewhat stocky older lady wearing an Arcade Amusements baseball cap with a fanny pack and a clipboard is on the doorstep.

“May I help you?” I ask her.

She says she’s here to ask if I’ll sign a petition to protect our gun rights and to “get that liar and cheat out of office.”

I’m not sure WHICH liar or cheat, but I shake my head, point past her toward the sidewalk and say, “No, you’re at the wrong place. Please leave.”

She stays on the porch because she’s spotted my sign on the door. “Is your name Samantha?” she asks. (I don’t get the “Bewitched” reference at first).

I reply, “Nope.” She begins to read the sign, which is hanging behind a wooden “Haunted House” sign.

She reads: “The witch is in and she’s…what does the rest say?” she asks me.

“It doesn’t matter. Can you please get off my porch?” I say this as calmly and as politely as I can (surprisingly).

“Oh, you don’t want to tell me?” she counters.

“It doesn’t matter; now can you please leave?” She gives me a crusty look and says, “Okay, well GOD BLESS YOU!” making sure to emphasize the last several words.

She turns and walks down the sidewalk and I VERY nearly opened the storm door and quipped, “Which god — Zeus?” but I didn’t. She ambles out the front gate and I stand at the door, making sure she closes the gate. She stands there for a minute outside our gate…and I watch her.

I don’t trust this woman.

She walks over to the end of our driveway and stands there for a minute. I keep standing at the door, watching her. She glances back and sees me still at the door, though I turn my gaze to the right and pretend to look at the traffic going down the main street. She acts like she’s walking to the neighbor’s house, then decides to cross the street and heads to the house directly across from us.

At this point, I decide I’m up for the day. I’m a bit rattled…and annoyed. I go back into the bedroom and tell Paul what happened.

He’s surprised I kept my cool. He says, “This home is our sanctuary and I’m tired of people invading it with their nonsense. It’s contaminating our space.”

So, our house is probably on a hit list for proselytizers and we’ll find religious tracts on our fence and stuck in our storm door.

Again, I’m annoyed by this. You’re on MY PORCH. I politely asked you to leave. Don’t stand there and fish with me, looking for information about my sign because it says “witch.” I am pagan and my husband is atheist. We have a right to our beliefs and we have a right to live in peace. You’re not being clever with your Samantha comment (although she was one of my idols when I was a young girl growing up).

You ask me why I get upset over religion being thrust down people’s throats? It’s this shit…this type of stuff RIGHT here. I guarantee you that NOBODY I know in the pagan community will EVER show up on your porch, preaching to you about any deity (and there are many, so pick one) or passively-aggressively judging you on your own porch when THEY weren’t even invited. They will also not stand on street corners, shouting the wonders of Odin. In fact, while Christians could do these things without fear of reprisal, I’m betting if a pagan did the same thing, he or she would have the police called on them and their asses would be charged with some type of misdemeanor.

You want to talk to me about persecution and prejudice? Try NOT being a Christian sometime. Even when you’re just trying to live your life, people decide to fuck with you because you are not the mainstream.

I got news for ALL of you folks: this is STILL America and we still have something called freedom of religion. If you don’t like it, too bad.

And a word of warning — stay OFF our porch and leave when you’re politely asked to do so…or next time I might have Paul stumble to the door with a fake goat’s head in his hands and a butcher knife in the other, looking like you’ve interrupted a sacrifice (which is stupid, since neither one of us has ever or would ever do that in the first place. It’s not what we believe; we love animals. Just another falsehood spread by those who don’t understand paganism AT ALL!)

Finally, if this post offends you, too bad. Don’t let the virtual door hit you in the ass on the way out.

I’m offended by what took place earlier this afternoon and am now concerned that we will be targeted for visits by overzealous religious right-wingers. This is OUR home and we should never feel uncomfortable in our OWN home.

I’m thankful that our friends who are Christians (the RIGHT type of Christians) accept us and feel no need to harass us over our personal belief systems — or lack thereof. THANK YOU for being a better example of what Jesus taught, as opposed to many other followers who are not.

If you want to get into a discussion with me about religion today, just…don’t.

What’s in a name? For authors, a lot!

What’s in a name? If you’re an author, a whole lot! I found this out when I got married in August 2008 and my former name, Bev Walton-Porter, became Bev Sninchak. Since I’ve taken on a new married name, I’ve spent endless hours and countless words trying to school people on how to say the name and spell it. Once they’ve mastered one or both, they still have a hard time remembering my new last name. That can be detrimental—and even fatal—to an author’s sales and career.

Why?

It can only be a particular type of hell for a writer to end up with a last name that’s confusing to so many people. I totally get that. I get that my married last name, Sninchak, is confusing and trips people up. However, I’m constantly amused—and annoyed—at how many people don’t even TRY to pronounce it the right way. It’s understandable that they stumble over it, but do they also have to add additional letters that don’t even appear in the name, such as “z,” “h” or “m” as well?

Here are the butchered versions I’ve heard thus far:

–Shimanik (what? There’s an “h” and an “m” I was unaware of? Meanwhile, let’s just completely erase the “ch” altogether!)

–Sinchak (okay, that’s close, so I’ll relent)

–S-nine-in-chak (methinks you’re adding in too many syllables)

and, the winner from today:

–Shizak (WTF? How in the HELL do you come up with THAT?! You lost BOTH “n” letters, added an “h” and then a “z” as well?!)

My husband, Paul, laughs and says he’s all too familiar with it and he’s been putting up with it his whole life. So yeah, this is new to me, but I’m pretty sure if you took the time to sound it out, you could get CLOSE to the pronunciation. I knew his sister in school, and I was able to figure out how to pronounce Sninchak correctly by seeing it in print (school newspaper) without ever having heard it before.

The easiest way is to ask if people can say “sneeze.” You know, the “sn” sound. Okay then. That would be “Snin” and then “chak.” If you take it slow and really READ the word, then pronounce it, you’ll probably get it right or come very close.

So why am I bringing all of this up? Because when I first got married, I considered moving all my writing over to my married name. That hasn’t worked well. People can’t remember the name, much less spell it. That’s death to a writer/author’s sales if someone can’t remember the name or how to spell it.

Given this situation, I’m going to continue to write under the name Bev Walton-Porter. It’s familiar, it’s been around for decades and people know how to spell/pronounce it.

Perhaps the upside—if there is one—is that I’ll maintain some anonymity in my personal life since I only use my married name in the day-to-day realm. I suppose there’s that. Yes, quite. Quite indeed.

Strange and creepy nighttime episode!

Shared this with a friend in a comment and decided to post it here as well. Do you like creepy stories? Well, here’s one from my own life! The only thing is…I don’t remember ANY of it. I asked Paul to tell me what happened again because I feel I need to post it here before I forget. Here’s what he said went down (again, I do NOT remember any of this):

The strange event happened about three years ago, according to his estimation. Paul says he woke up and I was making low, guttural noises. He asked if I was okay. I replied, “Uhhhh-huuuhhhh” in a sing-song voice. He told me he loved me. I rolled over, began tickling him while cackling, then responded, “We love you, too!” Then he says I stopped, rolled over and went back to sleep. Paul laid there and jokingly thought, “Great! Now I have to tell the kids their mother is possessed!” He figured it was a weird sleep episode and dismissed it.

>>>>END of story<<<<

Now, tell me that isn’t creepy! He thought I’d been awake and joking with him, but I hadn’t.

Shortly thereafter, we were in the car riding down the road and he told me this story. I replied, “Paul, you’re creeping me out. Stop it. Quit effing with me!” He said he wasn’t joking and I told him I didn’t remember ANYTHING like that AT ALL. I had chills down my arms.

Ever since, I’ve been bothered by what he told me. At first I thought he was pulling my leg, but he was dead serious. He will recount the same story to anyone who asks. He’s not kidding. It did happen, and I have NO idea what to make of it. I don’t remember anything about that episode.

The “We love you, too!” part creeps me out. I mean, “we”? I’m just ME, not “we”! I joke about it to other people we’ve told the story to, but deep down it still makes me shudder. It was probably a weird sleep episode, but it’s still strange/weird!