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Erica showing off their new haircut. They have blond short hair, silver eyeglasses, and are wearing a blue sweatshirt
My new haircut selfie was better than my ballot box drop-off one.

The WA Voting Guide Is Back!

If you haven’t voted, or gotten prepared, now’s the time!

The general election is Tuesday, November 8, 2022, for the US Midterms. There are a lot of important races that will determine national, state, county, and local governments and the directions of systems with real material impacts for all of us.

It’s trite to say, “this election is the most important one,” because the truth is that, especially on a local level, elections have consequences. Or, as Gen Z says, fuck around and find out. Or you can do research, vote, and get involved locally.

Please stop treating politics like your favorite sports team and making politicians celebrities. You will not see me acting like a cheerleader or excusing their shitty behaviors or policies. I’m on no one’s team. They work for me, not the other way around.

Let’s talk about the WA State Ballot (or what was on mine).

WA State Advisory Votes: Maintain

King County Amendment #1: Even Year Elections: Approve

This will get more people to vote. People tend to come out with national elections over local ones, and this will ensure the most people voting possible.

King County Proposition #1: Conservation Future’s Levy: Yes

Of course, I’m going to tell you to vote for greenways and greenspaces to improve our communities.

📽️ I discuss these further on TikTok.

US Senator: Patty Murray (D)✅ vs Tiffany Smiley (R)

Smiley is anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ+, and full MAGA instead of possessing a personality. Murray is boring and needs to be replaced, just not by Smiley.

US Rep for District 9: Adam Smith (D)✅ vs Doug Basler (R)

🤮 I cannot believe I once again have to vote for Smith. He loves putting more money into the military budget and pretending he cares about noise and pollution from Sea-Tac.

WA Secretary of State: Steve Hobbs (D)✅ vs Julie Anderson (I)

Either candidate is probably acceptable. Hobbs got my vote because his concerns about election security match mine more than Anderson’s.

📽️ I discuss these further on TikTok.

Washington State Senate District 37: Rebecca Saldaña (D)✅

Saldaña is unopposed, but she’s worth your continuing approval vote.

Washington State House of Representatives District 37 Position 1: Sharon Tomiko Santos (D)✅ and John Dickinson (R)

Vote Santos. She’s done great things for our schools and is tackling the teacher shortage.

Washington State House of Representatives District 37 Position 2: Emijah Smith (D)✅ and Chipalo Street (D)

This is a race where I went back and forth a lot. I listened to multiple debates and interviews with both candidates, and I’d say that my list of pros and cons for each was pretty even. Ultimately, King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay’s endorsement of Smith pushed my vote for her.

King County Prosecuting Attorney: Jim Ferrell and Leesa Manion✅

This is a nonpartisan race, though both candidates here are Democrats. However, please vote for Manion. Ferrell is pushing extra punitive measures over community justice solutions, especially criminalizing juvenile offenders. Manion is better focused on equity and our county’s future.

📽️ I discuss these further on TikTok.

Seattle Municipal Courts Judge: Aaron Eisenberg vs Pooja Vaddadi✅

Eisenberg is continually rated as one of the worst judges in the Seattle Municipal Courts. He’s considered overly punative in his decisions.

Seattle Municipal Courts Judge: Damon Shadid✅ vs Nyjat Rose-Akins.

Shadid has built community courts, and Rose-Akins works for Ann Davison (Seattle’s Trumplican City Attorney).

📽️ I discuss these further on TikTok.

Should we change Seattle elections and City of Seattle Propositions 1A and 1B? This is a lot of information. Whether or not you believe we should change the elections, please select 1B or rank choice voting, not approval voting.

📽️ I discuss this further on TikTok, including explaining what these are.

Bonus: AZ Governor Race!

Why do I pay attention to Arizona politics? My parents, my grandma, and more relatives have relocated there. The policies being put out by current politicians and hopeful candidates make it dangerous for people in Arizona and people traveling there.

The current anti-LGBTQ+ policies being proposed and passed by the GOP party state-wide make it unsafe for me. The Federal Congressional Rep for their city literally put forth a bill to erase LGBTQ+ people from public life nationwide.

Poor COVID-19 policies put my family members at risk.

I recently discovered that unfiltered tap water in the suburb my parents, grandma, great-uncle, and great-aunt live in may be dangerous to drink, reflecting poor infrastructure and environmental policies.

Arizona Governor: Katie Hobbs (D)✅ vs Kari Lake (R)

Lake is a white supremacist, endorsed by Trump, who believes in the Stop the Steal lie. She likely will contest any election results where she is not the winner. Lake believes the BTQ+ part of the LGBTQ+ grouping is “dangerous” and “groomers” and that there’s something wrong with us. Her associates have floated “camps” as a solution here.

Lake has a high likelihood of winning because she has name recognition and slick girlboss PR training due to being a local state news anchor for many years. Hobbs’ campaign is weaker, and she doesn’t bring the flashy personality or name recognition.

📽️ I discuss this further on TikTok.

Bookworm corner 📚

All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson  ⭐ 2/5 stars
Genre: YA memoir

Being neither young nor Black, I'm not the target demographic for this. George and I have some overlap in queer identity, but from different starting points on the rainbow.

I hate to give poor reviews to books banned by conservative grifters trying to erase marginalized people from the planet. There's no reason this book should be banned. Read this book if you'd like to.

Also, I want to acknowledge that George wrote about their life, and this is not a measurement of that life. I certainly felt compassion for George throughout this book. I'm two years older than them, so I remember how queerness was treated then intimately.

The writing was not there for me. For a YA-level memoir, this both needed to explain more details at moments and overly simplified messages down to something that you might find in a platitude. The Greek pledge chapter was the worst offender of both, trying to explain why they pledged, the closeness to fellow pledges, and keeping the "secrets" of the rampant hazing abuse in Greek systems (many of which are highly homo-social in nature).

Points of George's story directly conflict with history or other things previously stated, not in a humans are messy way, but an editor should've pointed out way. Other reviewers have pointed out "honeychild" as slang and the claim that George started their junior year in high school on 9/11. Many of these things were to add drama to George's retelling.

The part that made me put down the book and walk away was the gynophobia in George's virginity losing in college chapter. "I had never seen a vagina other than movies, and had no desire to." First, several chapters earlier, a teenage George is helping their Nanny get dressed, and she's completely naked. So they've seen one outside of film. Second, George is now out as non-binary, and they should be incredibly familiar with your genitals, not equating to your gender. Third, hahaha gay men don't like vaginas hasn't been funny for 20 years.

As I mentioned, I did have compassion and empathy for George at the end of the day. It was lovely to read about their loving family, who were very aware of George's queerness. Especially given the messages about homophobia in Black communities that often get a focus. Instead, George's family brought love. I just wanted more depth and interrogation from a memoir.

Bolero by Wyatt Kennedy and Luana Vecchio ⭐ 4/5 stars
Genre: fantasy comic book

The art is stunning. The plot is incredibly ambitious for 5 issues, but it also heads to a place where many of us don't want to look inside ourselves. I do adore some messy queers.

Can't Escape Love (Reluctant Royals #2.6) by Alyssa Cole ⭐ 3/5 stars
Genre: m/f romance

This was sweet, with great representation. The balance of special interests was unbalanced in the characters' povs. Gus loses his stakes once Reggie gets him into the anime. This connection and their full story suffered from the shortness of the novella.

The Farthest Shore (Earthsea Cycle #3) by Ursula K. Le Guin ⭐ 5/5 stars
Genre: YA fantasy

I continue to love and adore Le Guin's Earthsea books. Le Guin holds back zero punches. She also originates so many of the fantasy tropes now in every book, and this is a classic older mentor wizard and teenage prince mentorship and coming-of-age tale. This is also a lovely meditation on getting older and accepting all the cycles of life, including death.

There's also a hard-hitting critique of capitalistic desire and death drive. There's a speech Sparrowhawk gives while absolutely tearing down the villain that every billionaire needs to hear as we strip them of the money, assets, and resources they've stolen from us.

Plus, there are dragons, and Arren and Sparrowhawk get to ride on one! Automatically an extra star from me.

Lazarus: Risen #7 by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark ⭐ 5/5 stars
Genre: sci-fi comic book

This series continues to knock it out of the park, and Lazarus has ruined a lot of other dystopian fiction for me. It's incredibly well written and drawn, has great layered characters, the world-building blows me away, and the plot is so good.

We finally find Malcolm Carlyle's skeleton in his closet, which makes both his wife and Jakob Hock despise him. It's too perfect. Especially as Malcolm casts himself as the hero of the world. His speech was so relatable about the times we're living in until Rucka pulls the knife of Malcolm's main character energy and ego.

Lark's Forever in the scene with the helicopter was perfect. She reminded me of Hamilton's Sarah Conner in T2. Kudos.

I'm sad this story ends with the next arc, but I'm glad I've stuck with it since the beginning and gotten friends to read it.

Marvel's Voices: Pride (2022) #1 by various creators ⭐ 3/5 stars
Genre: superhero comic book

Still weaker than the DC one, but an overall improvement from 2021’s edition.

Alex Phillips' introduction prose needed to explicitly call out the attacks on trans right, not just include that the "don't say gay bill" is also "don't say trans."

Making D-Man a trans man and having him lead a trans teen support group was excellent.

Both Loki stories were cute. I'm not surprised I could hear Hemsworth saying the lines Ira Madison III wrote for Thor.

"Permanent Sleepover" made me cry. I want 10,000 more stories with Shela and Morgan. (My childhood BFF was also trans and on the other side of the rainbow from me as these two are compared to each other. We didn't have the language younger gens do or any adult support, but the Peanuts-style flashbacks gave me all the memories.)

The rest were a little meh. I wanted to like "Perfectly Scene," but there was too much exposition for the reader to understand their backstory. This caused them to not feel like an established married couple.

The handbook entries shouldn't have been included to jack up the price and end the entire thing on a fart.

No Rest for the Wicked (Immortals After Dark #2) by Kresley Cole ⭐ 3/5 stars
Genre: paranormal m/f romance

The tone in this is drastically different from A Hunger Like No Other, which surprised me. Through this change, Cole opens up possibilities for this universe, the types of stories she can tell, and the variety of characters in them.

Unfortunately, I didn't fall for either or both of our MCs. They left me cold.

While a more fun book, this serves more to the world-building than the characters. This will undoubtedly pay off later in the series, but it sacrificed No Rest For the Wicked for me.

Negative points for the racist stereotype of making the Colombian half-demon a drug lord.

Rockstar and Softboy by Sina Grace ⭐ 3/5 stars
Genre: fantasy comic book

A sweet story about two gay BFFs and how they're stronger together.

Saga, Volume 10 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples ⭐ 3/5 stars
Genre: sci-fi comic book

My sea legs weren't entirely in tune with this newest volume. It's not a good sign that the lengthy hiatus meant I forgot critical things. (Even though I wrote extensive reviews for the first 9 volumes.)

Many of my favorite characters are out of the story, either dead or regulated to the sidelines. Bombazine's leaving would've been more impactful if we could've had him for another arc.

Alana is the hardest mom out there.

Hazel and Squire as kids were interesting. We kind of know Hazel's personality from her narration, but there are things she leaves out. The music part was so adolescence; it didn't need the over-narration.

Staples' art remains top-notch. Even makes things like the too-on-the-nose pirate ship look incredible.

The Town of Babylon by Alejandro Varela ⭐ 5/5 stars
Genre: LGBTQ+ fiction

I adored this book. As a queer person around the same age as the protagonist Andrés, I found the revisiting of his hometown incredibly relatable. The story of Andrés and Jeremy, his hs boyfriend, reminded me so much of my first gay relationship in high school and also the first time I fell in love. Henry's choice for Andrés is the one I made for myself to crushing heartbreak. I was sad for years.

In many ways, the way Andrés sees the world and interacts with people reminded me a lot of myself. The good and bad parts, as I am also a smug asshole who knows too much, and in some ways, I am also the one who got out.

Of course, a considerable part of The Town of Babylon is Andrés' reflections about race, racism, and immigration. The treatment he gets as a Latino and the son of immigrants plays a central part in the drama between him and the other characters. And he might be self-righteous, but he's not always correct.

At first, the third-person chapters to set a larger and more pulled-back worldview threw me off. But by the second or third one, I appreciated the insights into the stories of the other characters, especially things Andrés would have no way of knowing.

I found it interesting that, compared to other characters, Andrés has no major trauma incident outside of the trauma of living with racism and homophobia. Simone is schizophrenic, and her dad died of the same disease when she was a teen. Jeremy was molested by a cousin. Paul was abused by his father. Henry clearly had mental health issues too, and I raised my eyebrows at his relationship with the neighbor Patty. I can't help but wonder if this is why Andrés was able to get out when the rest of them couldn't. Not only that, but Andrés thrives and can continue living, even if his life isn't perfect. What does that say about the rest of us?

I wish there'd been a little time showing the healing of Andrés and Marcos and Marcos on-page in the present time.

During the lovely section on Andrés' reflections on community upon meeting Marco's large and warm family for the first time, I wondered about Andrés in queer community. He ponders how being in a culture with people of the same background lowers stress and other bad public health outcomes, but most queer people are born into cis-straight families.

Andrés hints at the life between college and Marcos but never about building that community. There was a ton in this book, and I don't think Varela could've added another theme, but I'd love to read his take on building community.

Every character felt incredibly real and specific, and I loved the writing. Can't wait to read more books by Varela.

Fresh book reviews on my TikTok:

Fantasy & Sci-Fi:

Memoirs:

Nonfiction:

Romance:

Book discussions on my TikTok:

Book silliness on my TikTok:

Happy Bisexual Visibility Week 💗💜💙

Erica in their Happy Bi Visibility Video on TikTok, they're wearing a blue sweatshirt and comic books on a bookcase with plants are behind them
Shout-out to all my fellow bisexuals. The one week a year where we can be perceived, Bisexual Visibility Week, was in September, and I wanted to remind you all that you’re pretty awesome and loved.
Yes, you can apparently see me for more than just a week.

Green thumb update

Since I've updated this newsletter, an entire growing season has come and passed. The most significant update to my garden for 2022 was automatic irrigation in my beds, which I could control through my phone. We spent two weeks away from our home for various weddings in July, which was invaluable.

  • I grew cucamelons for the first time. They’re cute and tasty!
  • Whitefly killed my kale badly as sugar ants began farming them, and slugs took advantage of weak plants to convert stems into slug motels. 🤮
  • I rescued a lavender plant from the side of the road, and it’s thriving.
  • The zucchinis went wild. They were too small to harvest or, when I looked again, the size of my forearm.
  • Climate change was a terrible villain this year and made growing plants like tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, squashes, and cucumbers harder than ever.

Gardening videos:

Erica in a blue beanie and black jacket holds a giant sunflower head that half the seeds have fallen out of. It's the size of their entire upper torso.
A purple bowl filled with red tomatoes and a couple of green beans
Left: Erica in the garden with a sunflower head the size of their torso.
Right: A bowl of tomatoes with a couple of green beans.

With my houseplants, I sold plants at the Odd Plant Sale as part of the Cascade Cactus and Succulent Society in September, and I was on the planning committee for the event as well. By my count, I sold 106 plants.

It was an enjoyable but long two days, especially since Seattle hit the 90s on the first day. (I’m so sweaty in the photos!) I met many people, and I talked about plants and plant care. My best friend Julia helped me out, and spending that time with her was extra special. My friends Alex, Jen, and Keith all stopped to say hello.

Odd Plant Sale videos:

Erica standing in front of their table with their succulents. Erica's wearing a mask, flannel shirt, and a hat
Erica in front fo the CCSS banner with cactus on it, they're in a cactus shirt and holding a succulent plant
Left: Me in front of my table at the show.
Right: Me in front of the CCSS banner and holding my mangave plant.

In the best houseplant news, my Hoya Australis bloomed! 💚 More beautiful flowers all the time from my Hoyas.

Houseplant videos:

White waxy looking flowers on the Hoya Australis
Ledebouria Socialis a bulb plant with long green spotted leaves in a cream pot
Left: The blooms on my Hoya Australis!
Right: Ledebouria Socialis after a month of growth and more water.

Other things

[CELEBRITIES] Nichelle Nichols Has Died. Progress Has Died With Her by Charles Mudede — RIP to an incredible person. 🖖 Nichols was much more than just an actor.

[FASHION] Rommy Hunt Revson, Creator of the Scrunchie, Dies at 78 by Richard Sandomir — RIP to a true queen of the 90s and my childhood.

[FOOD] Meet the TikToker Going Viral by Baking His Way Through Great Depression-Era Cookbooks by Ryan Broderick — B. Dylan Hollis’ videos are just a delight and sometimes a baking horror.

[LGBTQ+] Saying Goodbye to My Chest by Naomi Gordon-Loebl — On communicating and anticipating top surgery.

[LGBTQ+] Outside the Lie: On being queer, being odd, and (sigh) Bisexual Awareness Week by Jude Doyle — This is so relatable to my own experiences as a bisexual, trans person of a similar age as Doyle.

[LGBTQ+] Stop worrying about what happens if we let kids transition. Worry about what happens if we don’t. by Emily St. James — If you read one article about trans kids, read this one.

[LGBTQ+] As a gay kid, I felt the instinct to hide. I feel it again now. by John Paul Brammer — With hate crimes up 200% due to anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and policies, I feel this so much.

[MUSIC] TS Madison Talks Being Sampled On 'Renaissance:' 'You Never Know How Things Line Up' by Mikelle Street — This is incredible, and I’m so happy for TS Madison.

[PANDEMICS] We Can’t Fight Monkeypox “Ourselves” by Joe Osmundson — “Legacy media has reintroduced shame-based conversations from the AIDS era centering on behavioral change to contain an epidemic without mentioning vaccines. Have we learned nothing?”

[POLITICS] Haberman’s New Book Details Trump’s Transphobic and Anti-Gay Behavior by Zachary Petrizzo — New York Times Trump reporter Maggie Haberman deliberately lied in her columns and reporting about Trump’s anti-LGBTQ+ behavior and policies, so she could write this book. Her articles saying Trump liked LGBTQ+ people caused a massive fight after the 2016 election between my youngest brother and me. Haberman's a grifter on my Arya Stark list.

[POLITICS] Meet Amy Paris, the trans woman working quietly at the White House to better LGBTQ+ lives by Kate Sosin — The Biden Administration has quietly made some critical changes to social security registries and passports. It’s all thanks to Paris.

[REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS] Trans Men Need Abortion Care Too by Hallie Lieberman — Yep. It’s easy to switch to saying pregnant people or menstruating people, and it’s incredibly meaningful.

[SEX ED] The Differences Between Enthusiastic Consent and Opt-Out Consent—and the Issues With Both by Zachary Zane — If you’re wading into sex parties, swinger clubs, or other places, you need to understand this.

[SEX ED] Navigating Menstruation While Trans by Jey Pawlik — An informative comic about menstruation products and how extra frustrating they are for trans people.

[SEX ED] Even Before Birth Control, More Sex Does Not Equal More Pregnancies by Emily Nagoski — Nagoski breaks down the slut-shamming myths around birth control.

[TECH] Understanding "longtermism": Why this suddenly influential philosophy is so toxic by Émile P. Torres — You *must* read this to understand billionaires like Musk, Zuckerberg, Bezos, and Gates and those who follow them. They are destroying our planet for future people who they believe will live in computers. (I know this sounds like I’ve lost reality typing this.)

Make sure you vote on November 8, 2022!

🗳️🏳️‍⚧️💙✅

Erica McGillivray

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