Quora Crossposts: A Question for Me

I’ve stopped writing here so frequently partially because I’ve been writing a lot more on Quora (question & answer website) and on my own fiction. The answer to this is clearly to share my more entertaining and/or interesting (imho) answers from Quora. Part X.

How did Sarah Herbert manage to escape from her family’s way of life?

A question with my name in the title! I feel like a minor internet celebrity now.

OK, this has a short answer and a far more complete long answer. I’m going with long because it’s very difficult to grasp the extent to which childhood indoctrination grips one unless there’s some background.

If my father had lived, it’s entirely likely that I never would have left the culture in which I was raised. While my father was alive, our family and theological beliefs were very stable. My parents very rarely disagreed in front of us, and their occasional, vicious fights always took place behind closed doors and after we six kids were mostly asleep.

I was vaguely aware they disagreed on some things – pants on women, for instance – but they presented a united front. When there was dissention, we were raised with the more conservative viewpoint.

My father died when my siblings and I ranged from age 18 to 7. I was 12. The breaks in the facade started immediately. Without my father as a buffer, my older sister and mom got into screaming fights until my sister got tired of hiding black eyes with illicitly-purchased makeup and moved out at age 17.

My relationship with my mother, always tense, deteriorated also. The emotional abuse escalated as I continued to develop and hit puberty, and the physical abuse got more brutal and frequent.

My younger siblings and I alternately supported each other and threw each other under the bus to save ourselves from the verbal and physical violence. My youngest brother, always mom’s darling, was so creative and constant in his attempts to get us in trouble that we referred to him bitterly as “Mom’s Little Gestapo.”

Simultaneously, the theological constancy in our lives was shattering. My mom took up with a lapsed Seventh Day Adventist man about three weeks after my dad’s funeral. We started attending church with him on Saturday every few weeks in addition to our normal Sunday attendance at our protestant, non-denominational church.

We had previously denounced Seventh Day Adventism as “if not a cult, then nearly as bad as one.” my entire life, and suddenly my mother was espousing beliefs in the Sabbath and drifting towards more vegetarian cooking.

About a month or six weeks after my dad died, mom moved the SDA man in and claimed they’d gotten married “as the Israelites did,” aka, they boned and that made them married “in God’s sight.” This was another shake in the firm foundation built in my childhood.

Soon, we were going to the SDA church and our non-denominational church full-time. Two sets of Sunday/Sabbath school, two sets of services, two sets of prayer meeting. We kids mentally revolted – piety was one thing, but double church was quite another!

Two of my younger siblings were enrolled in the Adventist version of co-ed Boy Scouts, and suddenly, for the first time in our lives, we were friends with children our own age and in frequent contact with adults whose job it was to look after our welfare.

Having been homeschooled and attended a tiny church or homechurching our whole lives, we’d never had such freedom and social interaction before, and we quickly became aware that compared to the (extremely sheltered) Adventist kids, we were socially backward and embarassingly sheltered.

We took advantage of mom’s preoccupation with her new “husband” to spend increasing amounts of time with the Adventist kids and those of their parents who semi-adopted us.

At the same time, I was increasingly obsessed with reading and literature – especially science fiction and fantasy. This was one of those things which mom and dad disagreed about. Mom believed all fiction (except some historical fiction and most christian fiction) was literally demonic. She thought that by simply reading fiction/sci-fi/fantasy, one opened a metaphysical door which let demons into an otherwise angel-protected home.

Dad, on the other hand, gave me C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series and watched Star Trek with me when mom was out of town. Since I’d always respected and quite frankly loved my dad more than my mom, I felt this gave me the moral high-ground.

It became a cold war between mom, me, and literature. I would go to the library, get approved and unapproved books, and attempt to smuggle the “demonic” ones home. If mom caught me, I would be beaten, screamed at for literally hours, and the books burnt in the burning barrel.

When she didn’t catch me – and I got away with it more often than not – I was exposed to radical ideas and thoughts.

I learned that gay people existed thanks to Mercedes Lackey. I read about sex and the deification of Paul Muad’Dieb and Leo II in Dune. Tolkien introduced me to pantheons of deities, and absent gods and present demons. In the works of Robert Jordan I read about polyamory, pre-marital sex, gay relationships presented as socially unremarkable, and eastern philosophy.

Then I discovered the romance novels section and gained a ridiculously wide-reaching and anatomically incorrect knowledge of sex.

The cracks were spreading, but I still held bone-deep belief in the conservative mindset in which I was raised. However, some things changed. I fought with mom for months until she let me graduate highschool (GED). I fought her again for months until I got a driver’s license. And again until I got a job that wasn’t working for my fake step-dad.

The crawl spaces of the house, the rafters of the barn and shop, the tree-house, and random buckets in the garage held collections of books, “whoreish” clothing, make-up, and jewelry. I smuggled myself off the property late at night and early in the morning and walked downtown in jeans and tanktops and poorly applied makeup and shook with fear and excitement and my arms twitched to cover my comparative nudity with every glance from a stranger.

Mom was losing the war, and I wasn’t yet aware that I was fighting one.

The final nail in her coffin was when she decided her SDA fake-husband was too sinful. She kicked him out and moved in another man in the same two-day span, and all her flimsy justifications just didn’t hold up to the extremely thorough theological education she and dad had given us.

At that point I was either almost sixteen or just past it, and I started saving up from my part-time fast food job to get an apartment. Well – I tried. It was nearly impossible to save because mom wouldn’t let me get a bank account and frequently “confiscated” my money to punish me, and she inevitably decided that she would keep my paychecks as punishment for my rebellion.

The fall that I was sixteen I got a little complacent. I lingered a little too long watching forbidden TV, hid my “demonic” books a little too sloppily, and mom’s fury boiled over. One evening she caught me watching TV and absolutely went ballistic. She dragged me down two flights of stairs by my waist-length hair, and when I tried to stand up, she’d shove me down with a hand to my throat.

Down the stairs, through the house, and into my bedroom by my hair, and then she screamed at the top of her lungs for two hours. It was the usual litany (whore, bitch, witch, demon, lesbian, Jezebel, I should kill you, etc), and everything in my room that she could lift got thrown at, near, or into me.

By the end of it I was bruised from head to toe, crumpled, and sobbing.

Later that night while I cried myself to sleep, mom slipped into bed with me, petted my hair gently, and said “I’m sorry you were so bad that I had to do that.” and my skin crawled.

The next day I called a friend I’d met via an international fan club for the Wheel of Time series and cried on the phone for forty-five minutes. She convinced me to run away from home. She coached me to call my older sister and set up an escape plan, so I did.

That’s where everything went to shit.

My older sister called our cousin so our cousin – who was local, whereas my sister was 3 hrs away – could keep an eye out for my safety for the next few days. My cousin told her dad. My uncle, unwisely, called a pastor friend of the family. That pastor-friend, absolutely STUPIDLY called my mom and said “So I heard you cold-cocked Sarah.”

Mom flipped. She, the manipulator supreme, spent hours alternately screaming at me and reasoning with me until she actually convinced me that I was mis-remembering/basically made up the entire previous night’s events.

Then she forced me and my younger sister to go out to my uncle’s and convince him that the grapevine had exaggerated everything, and that we kids were fine.

I did what she told me. I was so confused, and it broke my will. At that point, I actually believed mom’s horrible words she’d been telling me my whole life. No one but Mom understands. No one but mom would take care of me. I couldn’t survive on my own. The world will eat you up and spit you out. You’ll be persecuted for your religion and dragged down into perdition.

The next six months are such a haze of misery, failed suicide attempts that no one ever noticed, and drudgery that I barely remember them. In the middle of that I got a bit of backbone back and started dating an Adventist boy and only somewhat successfully hid it from mom.

She was mostly jealous and angry that I got on with his mother so well and clearly preferred to be around Estée to my own parent.

In February when I was 17, I got the flu. Everyone at my workplace had the flu. For two weeks I would be called into work three or four hours early to cover someone else’s shift, then work through mine as well, stagger home and collapse.

One of those nights I got back just as mom was heading to the store. She told me to shower and watch my siblings and we’d have (mandatory) family devotions when she got back, and then I could go to bed.

When she did get back she was very irritable and immediately got angry that I was only just getting out of the shower. She accused me of a whole host of ludicrous misdeeds and was irrationally enraged that I was still drying off and getting dressed when she returned.

We segued into family devotions and I fell asleep while she was reading the bible. I was really drifting in and out of sleep rather helplessly and feverishly. I remember her huge, angry brown eyes being fixed on me every time I woke up a little as she read the chapter with a dangerous, angry tone.

She finished devotions and woke me up and we immediately had a screaming fight. She was accusing me of liking Estée more than her, of being a whore with my boyfriend, of being a witch and a lesbian, of being such a horrible daughter that no one but her would ever put up with me.

“No one else would take care of you! If you went to Estée and Rick they’d throw you back out!” she screamed, and I snapped.

“They wouldn’t!” I argued, and she basically responded with “Well you can prove it: get out of the house.”

I fled, packed all my “whoreish” clothes, the few skirts and blouses I liked, and all the money I’d hidden all over my room. Everything I wanted to take with me and considered essential fit into one small duffel. My little sister snuck out of bed to tell me I could take her bicycle, and helped me up the stairs.

That night at one am, so sick I was dizzy and the world blurred before my eyes, I pedaled away from my childhood home, sobbing with relief and joy.

I didn’t go to my boyfriend’s parents, but the dad of my only friend my age. He took me in without any questions, and tried to help in his clumsy, well-meaning way. I’m afraid I hurt his feelings when I laughed hysterically in his face when he offered the next day to “facilitate a reconciliation with your mother.”

I am twenty-two years old and I haven’t slept under the same roof as my mother since February 24th, 2011.

My younger three siblings are all independent, safe, and happy as well.

How I escaped from that religious side of that fundamentalist way of life is the exact same story. What mom shunned, I studied. What mom claimed was truth, I obsessively scrutinized. I’ve written about that aspect of this journey on Quora before – links below.

Sarah Herbert’s answer to My child is an atheist. How did this happen when I raised her as a Christian?

Sarah Herbert’s answer to I was a Christian, believing and practicing, but I became an agnostic. Does anyone else have a similar experience?

Sarah Herbert’s answer to Atheists, how do you feel about theists telling you that you misunderstand the Bible? How do you respond to such accusations?

The body knows

Every summer is difficult for me. May is fine, June is ok, July isn’t tons of fun, August is a terror, and the last two weeks of August could blow up and I would prefer it

Once it starts getting hot, my brain goes onto an automatic timer counting down to the anniversary of my dad’s death on the 24th of August, 2006.

This year, I had managed to stay busy enough that the 24th caught me almost by surprise. I was working a lot, attempting to fight off lethargy, and I felt like I was coming down with the flu. From the 16th on, every day I woke up feeling worse. My alarm would go off, and I’d slap it silent and almost cry because I had to get up. My head would be pounding, I’d feel dehydrated no matter how much water I’d guzzled the night before, and my throat felt increasingly raw.

Being the stubborn and irascible person I was, I attempted to ignore all the symptoms and continued to work, lay bleakly on the couch trying to convince myself to shower off the farm detritus, stare at the fridge as though it could make me food autonomously, and drag myself to bed and my unfulfilling rest.

The vague, almost-sickness never resolved into a full-blown case of anything, and the desire to cry myself back to sleep every time the alarm went off didn’t go away either.

Until after the 24th. I didn’t do much on the 10th anniversary. Worked, of course, and texted with my siblings a bit about the date. I read my siblings posts on the subject and felt no urge to share with the world my sorrow and bitterness at having a dad-shaped hole where most people my age have the actual person around.

Blank. That’s a good word for my feelings on the 24th this year. Last year I was unable to booze the day away, no matter how much I wanted to, and this year I couldn’t bring myself to go fetch any booze with which to drown my lethargy.

On the 25th, though, I woke up and felt fine. Better than fine. I slept well, had no headache, my throat wasn’t raw, and I didn’t have the urge to fling myself into a black hole when my alarm went off. In fact, I woke up before my alarm.

It dawned on me almost immediately with clarity and shock.

My body knew. I’ve had a decade-long pattern of sorrowing, not taking care of myself, and being depressed over the last few weeks of August, and my body remembers that. My mind was too tired and depressed to pay much attention to the dates, but my body kept track, and mourned accordingly.

Ten years. It’s almost too much time to believe. It doesn’t feel like it was ten years ago. This grieving process might never end, or might take another ten years to wind down into the quiet, melancholic remembrance that shades my entire life, but the last two weeks of August, I break down, just a little.


I move that we abolish the last half of August from the calendar. We could make it into a new month. The month of shittiness.


Quora Crossposts: Wisdom

I’ve stopped writing here so frequently partially because I’ve been writing a lot more on Quora (question & answer website) and on my own fiction. The answer to this is clearly to share my more entertaining and/or interesting (imho) answers from Quora. Part IX.

Why am I not as brave as I used to be back when I was a kid?

When I was little, adults gave me lots of useless advice, which I inevitably disregarded.

“Keep that ankle brace on till your sprain heals all the way.”
“Don’t jump off the roof; it’ll hurt your back.”
“You don’t have to do something just to prove you can.”
“Learn to turn and stop before you go down the more difficult ski runs.”

Pffft. Chibi-me thought all of this was ridiculous. My injuries healed fast, I was a quick learner, and I absolutely loved the feeling of wind rushing through my hair. Heck, I even jumped off a thirty foot structure just to feel what it was like to fall that far, and even though I broke my arm it stopped hurting in like an hour anyway.

Obviously, all those adults who advised caution were stupid.


Wrong. My four concussions wrecked my short term memory. I’m 22 years old and hobble in the early morning. My shoulders and upper back are messed up enough from extreme sports accidents that if I don’t get regular massages, my fingers go numb.

My joints pop. My vertebrae crack. My hips ache occasionally. They didn’t use to.

I’m much more cautious now. Now I know I can die. Now I recognize what I’m capable of doing, and what I’m not. Now I know that ropes break, knots fray, and unexpected trees jump in front of my skis.

Now, I wear helmets, because another concussion could kill me.

As a child, I couldn’t fathom death or the idea that no matter what happened, I wouldn’t be capable of walking away from an accident.

After all, I walked away from every fall off a horse. I stood up after I jumped off the roof. I survived every snowboarding and skiing accident I had.

But now I know I might not survive the next one.

Now I recognize my own mortality.

I like life. So now, I’m more careful.

Quora Crossposts: All The King’s Horses

I’ve stopped writing here so frequently partially because I’ve been writing a lot more on Quora (question & answer website) and on my own fiction. The answer to this is clearly to share my more entertaining and/or interesting (imho) answers from Quora. Part VIII.

You have a five hour head-start. Humans can use anything at their disposal like dogs, militaries, napalm, nukes. The World will work together: borders, racism, family ties won’t matter. They won’t care about national stuff, but will still have fear, caution etc. 

The most successful strategy I can think of is of misdirection.

Assumptions: In my five hour head start, no one is paying any especially attention to me.

The only forewarning I have is at the moment my 5 hour head start begins.

I only have my actual, real life resources.

“Everyone” is going to ask my relatives and friends for info on my probable movements.

Conclusion: Do the least expected things possible that still plays to my strengths. Let’s say the manhunt starts at 5pm. I find out at noon.


The first thing I would do is, while still at my house, is post on social media that I’m going to visit my sister (who lives 6.5 hours away). I have old pictures I haven’t posted of previous trips to see her, so I’d set them on delayed post so they’d upload at intervals.

I’d also buy a bus ticket to the other side of the country, and a plane ticket from the nearest Intl. airport on the next departing flight. I can’t afford to do this and pay rent next month, but hey, my life is on the line here.

I’d snag my boyfriend’s pistol, then get the hell out of dodge. All of this preparation and grabbing my outdoor gear should take roughly an hour.


On my way out of town, I stop at the post office and overnight my phone, fully charged with GPS enabled, to Juno, Alaska. It’ll be on a plane, so hopefully people start there looking for me.

Every day on my way to work, I pass a parked car of the same make, model, year, and color of my car. It’s near the highway, so it won’t take much time to stop and swap license plates.


I live near national forest and wilderness area, so it might seem logical to head that way, but everyone I know is aware that I Iove the mountains and forest, so I’d go the other way. A similar distance away is the desert, and (again everyone knows this; I’m very vocal about it) I hate the desert, sagebrush, and heat, and sand, so it’s perfect.

Despite my previously mentioned hatred of heat, sand, and sagebrush, I have hiked in that area and have a decent idea of good places to go.

It’s about an hour away. Once near this place, I have two options: push my car into the river and bike into the desert (I have a great mountain bike.), or drive as far into the desert as possible, hide the car in a ditch, under sagebrush, and bike from there.


My car is stashed/in the river, I’m on my bike, and I have two hours to get farther into the desert and hide. On my bike I can probably get about 10 miles in two hours if I’m very, very lucky and fast. This area is rugged.

I’d get to the most inaccessible spot I possibly could, and find a ditch or ravine. There I would set up my tent and bury it in sagebrush and rye grass.

I’m allergic to both, but it’s good cover, and again, it’s common knowledge to my friends and relations that I avoid sagebrush and rye grass. The largest wood pieces and sagebrush chunks I will prop up to make a little alcove outside my tent where I can use my stove.


The manhunt begins. Hopefully the misdirection will stall the real hunt for me for at least 3–4 hours. I can’t imagine they’ll start scouring my geographical area when they have my phone registering me in Canadian airspace, a plane ticket saying I could be between PDX and London, social media putting me in Idaho, and a bus ticket claiming I’m halfway between Seattle and Florida. Once that grace period expires, I imagine the population of my county (45,000 people) will (on my siblings’ advice) start scouring the Umatilla Natl. Forest.

The nearest airport has 3 flights a day with 75 seats per flight. Within 24 hours driving distance there are 74 million people. All of them will be misdirected into looking along bus routes from Washington to Florida, all the highways from WA to Montana, and the airspace from Washington to Alaska. 74 million people will create tremendous gridlock on these highways. I don’t think more than 5–6 million will make it to Walla Walla, where they will bring traffic to a screeching halt in the area. Meanwhile, I’m three counties away.

If they can get mobilized, they’ll be interrupted by international law enforcement and terrorist groups who are better armed and probably very forceful about directing these people to search the town itself and the thousands of acres of Natl Forest and Wilderness Area. I don’t think even 10 million people could adequately cover the entire terrain. Heat-seeking aircraft will be picking up the hordes of angry people and the occasional hiker, and not me. If they nuke the area, thinking that 10 million people is a bargain in exchange for my life, I’m outside the fall-out zone, assuming they only drop one or two nukes.

Those 24 hours I’ll spend huddling, clutching that pistol and freaking out over every noise and shadow outside.

I really don’t think 24 hours is enough time to track down a completely off-grid person who had a head start, left a half a dozen false leads, and is in the middle of an inhospitable, craggy desert solely inhabited by coyotes and mountain goats.

I think I’ll survive.

I hope.

Quora Crossposts: Collected Shorts

I’ve stopped writing here so frequently partially because I’ve been writing a lot more on Quora (question & answer website) and on my own fiction. The answer to this is clearly to share my more entertaining and/or interesting (imho) answers from Quora. Part VII.

What would you do if suddenly you were the most popular person on Quora?

Firstly I’d be very confused. I’d go look at all my answers, and notice all the typos, all the logical inconsistencies and remain very confused.

I’d call my sister and tell her. She would say “Babe, you’re so smart and funny! of course you’re popular!”

I’d say “But THE most popular?!”

And she’d tell me “Stop over-analyzing the situation and enjoy it.”

I would promptly over-analyze, post one or two more answers, and then probably freak out and stop posting at all.

Continue reading

Quora Crossposts: Psychology Vs Movies

I’ve stopped writing here so frequently partially because I’ve been writing a lot more on Quora (question & answer website) and on my own fiction. The answer to this is clearly to share my more entertaining and/or interesting (imho) answers from Quora. Part VI.

More specifically: is it even possible to escape in a situation like that? You’d only have a few brief moments.

Most Plausible Scenario

There’s nothing I could do in a moment or two which would help me. You say “years.” I’m going to say it’s five years.

I had a neopets account as a pre-teen and five years after I stopped playing, I didn’t remember my password, email I used, or username.

If I was kidnapped today, five years in the future I doubt very much I would remember any of my passwords. Maybe not even my email addresses.

Not to mention, after five years of being held captive, it’s unlikely I would have the courage to try to get online, or to do anything my captor disapproved of.

OK, so let’s assume that I do have the chops to potentially anger my kidnapper, and I do remember my facebook password. I have less than one minute to do something. Is the computer even on? It would take more than a minute to boot up. Useless.

OK, so the computer is on. Is it logged on? I don’t know the password. Useless.

So the computer is on and logged in. Is it possible to open a browser, get to FB, log in, post “HELP I”M KIDNAPPED TRACE THIS IP ADDRESS PLEASE”, log out, and get across the room to my exact posture as before before the kidnapper returns?

Likely not.

And thus, I languish, afraid to try to save myself, and afraid to get myself killed.

One minute is not nearly enough. MAYBE. MAYBE it is. Maybe I post it and get caught and my kidnapper beats the shit out of me till someone notices and the cops show up and MAYBE I survive this.

But probably not. Probably, I just end up dead.

The Scenario That Would Only Work In A Movie

The camera pans from the empty door to our heroine, crouched huddling in a corner. She is covered in filth with long, matted hair, and implausibly perky and clean breasts. Her tanktop is similarly implausibly torn right down her cleavage. You feel slightly guilty finding her super hot in such a state.

The heroine looks furtively from the door to the computer. She bits her lip and you see her teeth are implausibly perfectly white and straight.

She makes a decision. She crawls across the floor and opens the first browser. It’s Internet Explorer. You cringe. These producers know nothing, Jon Snow.

Frantically, she types. For some reason, she knows the web address for the CIA, FBI, the local police force, and the Secret Service by heart.

A noise comes from outside the room. She looks up, wasting precious seconds and stares out the open door.


She relaxes and turns back to the computer. Her perfectly manicured nails type frantically. She somehow knows her IP address and physical address by heart. The emails she types are eloquent and lengthy. Her finger hovers over the mouse, and the cursor hovers over “send.”

Her finger descends.

Her kidnapper’s hand falls on her head and grips her hair. She begins screaming. She is wrenched away from the desk. His hands are around her throat. She’s thrashing. He’s doing a very poor job of subduing her. She manages to get her hand back to the mouse. He yanks her away. She gets to it again. He yanks her away. You’re weirdly turned on and also ashamed of being turned on.

She gets to the mouse and final time and clicks send.

He beats her to the floor, swearing. From nowhere, he pulls a gun and trains it on her. She’s sobbing. Maybe she’s cursing. Maybe she’s defiant. Probably she’s apologizing.

The gun remains trained on her for an absurdly lengthy period of time.

His finger twitches on the trigger. Her eyes close hopelessly: she has embraced death.

A commotion sounds and she finds herself yanked to her feet, gun pressed to her temple.

In the open door are a dozen members of the FBI, CIA, Secret Service, and Local Police Force. In the front is her childhood sweetheart whose manly jaw tightens when he sees his lost beloved.

“Put her down and surrender.” he orders.

The villain of this episode gives a Villain Speech™. The Loyal Boyfriend shoots the villain in the head, managing to not hit his beloved.

They fall into one another’s arms, sobbing.

fade to black

music begins to play

[insert wedding scene here]

Quora Crossovers: I love Janeway

I’ve stopped writing here so frequently partially because I’ve been writing a lot more on Quora (question & answer website) and on my own fiction. The answer to this is clearly to share my more entertaining and/or interesting (imho) answers from Quora. Part V.

You would be a character within the show.  Yourself in whatever way would fit into the show’s structure. You would adhere to whatever time period, whatever world, and whatever situation of the show and its characters.

Fictional shows only.  Shows BASED on real events are fine as well, as long as they aren’t mere reality shows or docs.

And tell us WHY you would choose such a show.  Point being is to share what elements of the show you love and interest you, why you’d want to live there for a month, and what you would do.


Don’t get me wrong; I love TNG. I love TOS. I love Enterprise. I do hate DS9 with all the loathing in my blackened little soul. I’ve seen every episode – most multiple times – of every single Star Trek show EVER. Except DS9. Only made it through two seasons. I know SO MANY Star Trek facts already. I love Kirk. I love Picard. I love Archer. I even like Sisko. I would die of happiness if I could hang out with T’Pol, Spock, Picard, or Hoshi Sato for even ten minutes, but OH MY GOD I ADORE JANEWAY.

Look at this woman:

She passes the Bechdel test (usually). She has a female Chief Engineer. She has Kes – that adorable person of adorableness and smarts. She has a cool ship. She has the Doctor. She’s got that cool. She’s got that walk. She’s got that talk.

I get shivers down my spine when she gets that look on her face and snaps out “Battle stations.” crisp and cool as a cucumber.

I absolutely adore this character. I would have so much fun, bumming around Voyager as an Ensign or maybe just a Crewman First Class. I’d try to get assigned to Engineering – hang out with B’Elanna! Maybe I could be Capt. Janeway’s yeoman – she doesn’t have one in the show, after all.

I bet I could convince Tuvok to give me lessons in Vulcan. He could teach me to meditate. I really want to learn to play Kal-toh.

Plus: holodecks. Two of them. Heck, I’d probably lock myself in one for a few days (let’s be real: weeks.) and go to town playing every possible character of every single classic book I love.

A whole month, huh? That gives me 31 days to plan the perfect murder to get rid of Neelix! They’ll thank me later. I’m a way better cook than him, anyhow. Maybe that could be my job. The cooking, not the murdering.

Come to think of it, I’d be a way better Moral Officer than him, too! And I wouldn’t be a jealous ass about Kes having male friendships.

Hey, can I just take Neelix’s spot on Voyager, complete with cute, Ocampan girlfriend? I don’t even object to being Talaxian.

Only a month? You’ll have to pry me off that ship with a crowbar. I’ll be holding onto the bulkheads and kicking and screaming. If I set foot on Voyager (or Enterprise. Any of the three.), you’re never getting me off it.

Unless we’re going to Risa. I’d definitely take anyone up on an offer to visit Risa.

Runner-up Show(s)

If none of the Star Treks were available, you could also convince me to spend a month hanging out with Rick Castle, Doctor Horrible, Captain Malcom Reynolds, Jessica Jones (post-Kilgrave, please!), or anything where I’d have a shot at seducing Morena Baccarin.

Quora Crossposts: Save Hypatia

I’ve stopped writing here so frequently partially because I’ve been writing a lot more on Quora (question & answer website) and on my own fiction. The answer to this is clearly to share my more entertaining and/or interesting (imho) answers from Quora. Part IV.

I would like to meet Hypatia. She was an unmarried mathematical genius who lived and worked in Alexandria in the 5th century. None of her work survives to the present day, but we believe, based on what her contemporaries wrote about her work, that she was developing what we would recognize now as calculus.

Newton didn’t develop calculus until the SEVENTEENTH century. Imagine how much further along we could have been by now if Hypatia had been left to continue her work.

Instead, a Christian mob who thought that mathematics – and especially women doing maths – was paganism, killed her and destroyed her work.

It was after Hypatia was killed that Alexandria’s culture as a center for scientific learning began to decline.

I would visit Hypatia and warn her to hide from the mob. Hopefully I’d come back to the future and discover that we now have a radically different present day. More Star Trek-esque and not a dystopia, hopefully!

I’d bring back copies of all her work, written by her on 5th century materials. Those would be worth a future, I assume.

Saved a brilliant mathematician and turned myself into a millionaire all at once. Pretty sweet day’s work, I think.

Quora Crossposts: Of piercings and dreams

I’ve stopped writing here so frequently partially because I’ve been writing a lot more on Quora (question & answer website) and on my own fiction. The answer to this is clearly to share my more entertaining and/or interesting (imho) answers from Quora. Part III.

Do you have a good anecdote about having your nose, ears or tongue pierced?

This isn’t about nose/ears/tongue, but it’s entertaining so I shall regale you with my piercing story anyhow.

Right before I left to study abroad in France for a year, I broke up with my first and long time boyfriend. This necessitated drastic action, obviously, so I got my belly-button pierced.

Let me tell you, that hurt like none other.

Obviously it swelled up somewhat, which I expected, but what I didn’t expect was that while it was slightly swollen and healing I couldn’t sleep on my stomach or back because it pulled on the belly button ring.

I ended up sleeping curled on my side, wrapped around a pillow to cushion my stomach in case I did try to roll in my sleep.

Something about the combination of having just broken up, getting ready to leave for a foreign country, not having had my visa approved yet, and sleeping curled around a pillow gave me recurring, odd dreams.

Every night for a week I dreamed I was pregnant. It was awful – I didn’t (and still don’t) want kids, and am horrified by the notion of being pregnant.

Every night I had a variation of the same dream: I was either pregnant in France, or had a newborn. Everyone there thought it was adorable that I had this baby (or was pregnant) and was super excited about it for me. No one could understand my horror and unhappiness at being pregnant. In addition, my ex – who was also in France with me – was the father (irl, impossible. We never had sex.) and he begged me to pretend it wasn’t him so he wouldn’t disappoint his Adventist parents.

So: pregnant/has a baby, in a foreign country, living in dorms, pretending my ex – who’s also there – isn’t the father, while simultaneously, frantically trying to find some nice couple to adopt this baby that I really don’t want.

Every night. For a week.

I would wake up, clutching at the pillow, then throw it aside while still mostly asleep to clutch at my stomach and ascertain that it was still flat and baby-free.

That recurring dream was more stressful than anything else – the breakup, the visa, the trip….way more stressful than they were!

Quora Crossposts: Surprising Tendencies

I’ve stopped writing here so frequently partially because I’ve been writing a lot more on Quora (question & answer website) and on my own fiction. The answer to this is clearly to share my more entertaining and/or interesting (imho) answers from Quora. Part II.

What would your Quora followers be surprised to learn about you?

I’m actually quite shy. Oh, not always, but, yes: I’m very shy. Especially around people who I really want to like me. Meet a super cool, badass, trail-goddess? UGH I can barely speak. Please like me! I love hiking, too! I want to do amazing thu-hikes of epic trails!

Meet a super cool, confident queer person writing the most epic PhD thesis ever? My brain turns to mush and I never email them back out of self-consciousness. (This happened. Recently. And I met her again by chance and she asked for an email again and I’ve just been agonizing over it and how to not sound uncool when I -theoretically- respond.)

Shy. That’s me.

I think it’s partially because I was never socialized properly as a child (thanks insular homeschooling!!!!!) and partially because I definitely believe in the deepest crevice of my heart that I’m not inherently likeable.

This does manifest in other ways, as well.

For instance, I have been involved in theater since I was six, but am I comfortable on stage? Not at first, certainly. Every time I step onto a stage for the first time in a scene, I have almost overwhelming stage fright.

Same thing with speeches. I can deliver a good speech, but my hands will be shaking the whole time.

And on occasion when I’ve guest lectured in college classes – shaking hands and terrified, quivering brain the whole time.


Never Idly Dreaming

The blog of Emily Guyton-Lange


Reviews of Books I've Read

Annihilate The Patriarchy!

Taking on misogynist groups worldwide


A chronicle of fun and fear, or, daily life with my young trans daughter

Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism

Leaving Canaan

a spiritual journey


dispatches from the wild

The Span of My Hips

Body love, mental health, and critical theory

The Travels and Travails of an ex-Good Girl

My personal journey through the wilds of legalism into the haven of Grace