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My Life As A Female Online

Inspired by John Oliver's recent episode of Last Week Tonight devoted to online harassment and revenge porn, I wrote a piece for the Huffington Post describing some of my own experiences, and how I dealt with them. I was lucky, in many cases, to have enough information about my harassers to be able to report them or take other actions that ended the behavior. Most women who experience this aren't so lucky. 

I also recently shared a piece on Medium musing about the offerings at the average press conference -- and why there's almost nothing I can eat. 


Meta-Pao, Apocalyptica and Metalfest

Sorry it's been quiet around here! I've had a couple of pieces published recently that I want to share with you, including a look at the impressive number of women journalists who covered Ellen Pao's sex-discrimination trial against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. I also reviewed Apocalyptica's new album, "Shadowmaker," which I thought was a real disappointment. 

This October, I will be appearing at the Legion of Steel Metalfest & Conference in Berkeley, California. To find out more about the festival and the other bands and authors scheduled to appear, visit the website


Happy 2015! And some news

I wanted to update with one recent article as well as a couple of quick announcements. First, I published a piece in the San Francisco Chronicle last month looking at UCSF's ongoing research into kids and adults with sensory processing disorder. It was once thought to be part of autism, but is now being recognized as a separate neurological condition. 

I also recently posted over at my blog, Backward Messages, about why I'm not planning any updates there, at least for a while. 

This fall, I'm planning to appear as a vendor at the first annual Legion of Steel Metalfest & Conference in Berkeley, California. Keep an eye on the conference's Facebook page for more details. 


Court fees, house concerts, HIV and more

I've had a few new articles published over the past handful of months that I'd love to tell you about, starting with this one -- my first for the East Bay Express -- about new court document access fees that could pose constitutional problems, particularly for indigent litigants. I also wrote something I've been wanting to work on for a long time, a feature on San Francisco homeowner Mike Finn, who has turned his gorgeous Hayes Valley mansion into a music and theater venue. 

This piece, on new options for serodiscordant couples (one has HIV, one doesn't) who want to have children, was also great to put together. And a couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to rant back at restaurant folks who are frustrated by people asking for gluten-free food. Enjoy!


New articles & Many Rivers audio

For those of you who missed my reading in June at Many Rivers in Sebastopol, California, you can now listen to the audio file from the event. I read from my chapter on paganism, to fit the bookstore's theme, and we also had a good discussion afterward. Check it out here

This week, I published a piece in the East Bay Express about Alameda Superior Court's new online document access fees, and the constitutional concerns they're raising for attorneys who represent indigent clients, as well as for journalists. That's online here

I've also recently written a couple new things for Invisible Oranges, including a review of the new Eluveitie album, Origins, which came out earlier this month, and an interview with Solstafir's Aðalbjörn Tryggvason about their new album, Ótta, which comes out Sept. 2. 


The Curse of Perfect Spelling

When I was in grade school, I once won my schoolwide spelling bee. It was awful (and required me to compete at an even higher level!). Given that the national spelling bee finals are tonight, I wrote a piece about my experience, which was published by the Huffington Post. You can read the whole thing here.


Talking Teens & Faith at The Wild Hunt

My friend and fellow author, Kelley Harrell, is publishing her newest book, Teen Spirit Guide to Modern Shamanism, on May 30. We had a conversation recently about teens, alternative faiths, and misperceptions of both, over on the Wild Hunt blog. Please click over to check it out. Here's a snippet: 

In the beginning of the book, you say that we often don’t think of children as wise. Where do you think that idea comes from, and why is it wrong?

Kelley: I think it comes from old virtues around control and a general need to see children as creatures to be shaped, rather than allowed to unfold. That ideology hasn’t worked for myself or anyone I’ve worked with. I find so many wounds around suppressing the wisdom of childhood. What’s wrong about that is obviously that it denies the intrinsic value of the child, though it also creates a rut in which adults become stuck and don’t grow. The education system in the US is a great example of that. Instead of realizing that forcing all kids down the same curriculum the same way doesn’t work, we keep finding ways to narrow the system. It’s a pattern of, “This is how we’ve always done it, ” rather than allowing individuality and creating ways to meet needs more openly.


'With a Perspective, I'm ...'

This week, I shared a story from my teenage years -- how I discovered heavy metal, and why it mattered and still does matter so much to me -- for KQED's "Perspectives" series. You can read the text and listen to my story here


Beth Reads From 'Columbine'

A couple of weeks ago, I hosted a book launch and reading for "The Columbine Effect" in San Francisco. If you missed the event, here's the video:


'The Columbine Effect' Out Now!

"The Columbine Effect: How five teen pastimes got caught in the crossfire and why teens are taking them back," is out now. You can buy it at many online bookstores, and order it from just about any brick-and-mortar bookshop. The Kindle version is available exclusively on Amazon. 

To celebrate the book's release, I did an interview with Laura Barcella, one of the editors at xoJane. Here's an excerpt:

What were your own teen years like? Do you have any personal history or affinity for the 5 teen pastimes referenced in your book's title?

I fell in love with heavy metal when I was about 16. And I was struck, for example, by how a fast thrash song like Metallica’s “Damage, Inc.” would make me feel giddy and bouncy, instead of surly and angry -- as metal’s critics suggested it would. I’ve listened to metal consistently since I was a teenager and it almost never fails to make me feel good, but until I read academic research on the genre, particularly Jeffrey Jensen Arnett’s “Metalheads,” I figured I was an outlier. It turns out that most fans of metal say that it calms them down, picks them up, and makes them feel better. That discovery was one of many that sparked my interest in writing this book. I wanted to show that the reality of these pastimes is vastly different from what we hear about in the news.

Read the whole Q&A here