2016 Scares the Shit Out of Me




It’s only the 2nd day of the year, nice easy Saturday night full of peppermint candy, Lana Del Rey and sleeping dogs.

Last night was Sherlock’s ‘The Abominable Bride’ (which was better than all of S3 put together, and I loved S3), and this afternoon was ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ with my almost-8-yr-old son in his Darth Vader sweatshirt and my cool-as-hell hubby (and it was GREAT! I was afraid to hope, after the prequels). So. I’m high on Moriarty and Chewbacca.

The year ahead lies sprawled in an almost impossible glowing light. These Lite Brite blips of things to come, and they seem too good to be true:

  • the first edition of Menacing Hedge I’ve worked on as full-fledged co-fiction editor with my incestuous sibling Craig Wallwork, out pretty much anytime – and conspiring with the beautiful crew there
  • more and more unbelievable announcements about the Gutted:Beautiful Horror anthology – just a lil ole book coming out this year with me in it….AND Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Paul Tremblay, Damien Angelica Walters, Richard Thomas…that’s not even all!! It’s just too hard to type out all the names, and they’re not even DONE with the ToC!
  • AWP LA, which I guess is some sort of “conference” or something, but whatever – I’ll be spending April Fool’s Day in California with the crew that welcomed me into the bosom of ‘Warmed and Bound’ nearly five years ago, only that crew times ten…ocean and bowling and books with some of the best people I’ve ever met or am about to
  • Tentative plans for a vast and ambitious family vacation that, worst case scenario, would take place next summer instead of this one
  • Tentative plans to finish a semi-vast and very-ambitious linked short story collection surrounding the concept of Frankenstein’s Monster and the freedom from the burden of chronological memory…that, worst case scenario, will be completed next summer instead of this one (it would take some massive laziness to drag out an entire extra year)
  • Jewelry – Jewelry!! Work!! They call it work, I call it a kitchen and laboratory full of adoptive family, gems, and magic lasers and elf-sized tools. They let me hang out there, and talk about movies and gold and life, and pay me for it…
  • my son and I have started the Harry Potter series, a mere two hours ago, and he’s into it
  • Richard Thomas has extracted a promise for a story from me for Gamut, which seems like something I should have to fight to get into
  • Craig Clevenger wants to podcast with me for a couple guest episodes of Booked.
  • My sister is going to give me another niece or nephew – another minion for my son!

Can I just stop there, and take a breath?

My fear is justified, yes?

Because this is my life, and I want to deserve it. I want to deserve the people and the love and the pictures in my brain and the roof over my head and the happiness,

and I don’t want to take a breath, or cough, for fear I’ll wake….

So, before I do, in this world now I want to say: I love you all. I appreciate you all. You’re heavy and light and wispy and warm in your love and support and confidence and laughter and conspiratorial smiles. My family, my friends, my work family, my writing , my reading compadres, my Sherlock-fiends, my fellow mothers of beautiful strong babes, my ladies in the shadows that whisper to me that I’m good enough.

Thank you. By the Stars and the Moonlight and the magic of breathing, I wish you all as beautiful a 2016 as you’ve made possible for me, just by being a part of my life.




(Magical Shiny Shoes to dance through the year)

International Women’s Day 2015: Holly Madison


And good day to you, too!

I haven’t really been rolling with these posts in the New Year, but the sun is bright and the snow is melting and I REALLY wanted to do a post on International Women’s Day – and I thought, post ABOUT someone. Someone important, someone who changed things, someone representative of progress.

Holly Madison was literally the first person to pop into my head. Yes, Holly Madison, ex-girlfriend of Hugh Hefner (while he had many other girlfriends), former resident of the Playboy Mansion and star of the “reality” series The Girls Next Door. She currently resides in Las Vegas, married and with a little girl named Rainbow (named after a little girl who was her neighbor when she was a child in Alaska, and Holly thought it was the coolest name ever), more and more behind the scenes in burlesque as she seems to be embracing her 30s and motherhood and I hear, writing a book. Yes, I know all these things because I care about Holly Madison, and I keep up with what’s going on in her life. She’s one of maybe three celebrities whose lives I actually follow, and whose happiness is something I think about.

Now, of course, when Holly popped into my head I immediately tried to backpedal out of it. There are SO many other women I could post about, on today of all days:  teachers I’ve had, my mother and grandmothers, writers, activists, even actresses… But that would be disingenuous, wouldn’t it? To tailor my Women’s Day feelings to better fit with what I THINK I should feel?

Because Holly Madison is important TO ME. She represents a change in me, a very important shift in views towards my fellow women and my acceptance of other women for who they are and want to be, the shedding of disdain and feelings of aloofness or better-ness, judgmental ways I didnt realize I had until I began to shed them.

The Girls Next Door first aired in 2005, and I think it was probably intended to be Barbie TV, to pull more male viewers to the E! Network. Holly, Bridget, Kendra and sometimes Hef shuffling around in the background, pools full of playmates, lingerie parties, etc. It was eye candy, the Walking Dolls Show – and I’ll admit, that’s how I went into it, how I approached the viewing. Let’s make fun of the silicone girls. Watch the bimbos try to do stuff in pretty dresses. Playmates are going to cook and talk!

But surprise! For me, and everyone else. The viewership and fanbase was largely female, the show’s stars were compassionate, layered, lovable and flawed women. There was no conflict, no cattiness, no competition. They struggled, they failed, they tried again, they voiced their problems, supported each other. Holly in particular struck a chord with me. I worried for her as she turned thirty (just a few months after I did), I ached with her as she tried to be taken seriously and be heard and still be a blonde with implants in low cut dresses. She was smart and funny and moody and could never seem to work out exactly what she wanted, and I identified with her. She wanted acceptance and validation, but also to do her own thing and do things on her own and be taken seriously. Surprise, again: like most females, she wanted it all. To not have to choose to be beautiful OR capable.

Holly Madison humanized an entire population of women for me. The girls and women of the Playboy mansion, on the pages of magazines, the ‘sexy’ women who had plastic surgery and obsessed over their bodies became, for me, real women. I had derided and disrespected them for all the reasons one should never judge others: I didn’t understand them and they were nothing like me. But it didn’t and doesn’t make them less human or less worthy of common decency and respect. And Holly was my window into my own skewed view of women – and helped lead me out of it and to a more respectful, accepting place.

Happy International Women’s Day, Holly Madison.

And to all of you!

– Amanda

Video: Amanda Gowin at Sylvester Memorial Library

the video!!! took forever to get this mess uploaded. i realize it’s an hour long, but at least stick around long enough for the church fire anecdote… plus i read a story. mainly i ramble. but i think it turned out pretty well! 

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo VS. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

yes, yes, i realize everyone’s already done this, and most are more well-informed since i haven’t even read the book – but i don’t really want to talk about Rooney Mara’s ass or Daniel Craig’s inability to seem vulnerable when judging the American version against the Swedish version.

just want to talk about Lisbeths. just want to talk about Noomi Rapace vs. Rooney Mara. just want to talk about something very, very different in these two performances that i haven’t seen mentioned yet (and if it’s all over the place and i’m regurgitating, forgive me):

Noomi Rapace’s Lisbeth: sociopath

Rooney Mara’s Lisbeth: psychopath

both women play the role admirably, but the interpretations are sooo different. Rapace’s Lisbeth is a coiled snake – a tightly wound ball of rage and vulnerability and intelligence. NEVER does she seem to be anything other than in complete control and completely aware of what she’s doing, be it testing her attraction/feelings for her male companion or carving a bloody tattoo in a rapist’s chest. there’s never a snap or a click when you feel she’s floated away and given in to her rage and it is driving her.

The opposite is true of Rooney Mara – in the same scenes (mainly the violent ones, of course) Mara goes distinctly different behind the eyes and seems absolutely consumed. She’s a different Lisbeth when she commits these acts, she is Rage, she is Not There. you see the blink and suddenly smart and guarded Lisbeth has become the creature that carves names on people’s chests and asks permission to kill, because she’s incapable of making such a decison.

for this, i respect Rapace’s performance, as well as her Lisbeth, more than Mara’s. I don’t know if it’s an American preference – we want people (especially a female we want to like) to lose it before they do horrifying things so we don’t have to blame them? i don’t know.

it’s Lecter vs. Gumb for me – the Aware will always be more compelling.