Archive for September, 2014

First, I’d like to offer my heartfelt gratitude to those individuals who’ve liked, commented on, or followed this blog. You guys rock!


In other news, it’s somehow Sunday evening again, meaning that the entire weekend has vanished into a sad little puff of smoke and Monday morning looms all too near.


Where did the time go? What happened to the weekend? Why won’t Monday just take the hint and go away? *woe woe woe*

Anyway, aside from trekking out to the pet store and buying a mighty tower of cat food for Benny, I also used today to get some writing done. I’m taking a little break from the editing of Chosen so I can come back to it with fresh eyes, so today, I did some work on Queer Investigations, also known as The Story Where Lesbians in Chicago Solve Paranormal Mysteries and Thus the “Queer” In the Title Has Two Meanings If You See What I Did There (working title).

It’s a fun little story, and I managed to get quite a bit of new stuff written today, though I find myself getting impatient re: finishing the bloody thing and getting it out into the world where people can read it. The problem is that I’ve set up a fairly complicated plot in the opening chapters, because I apparently hate myself and want my brain to shrivel up and die.


But I’ll keep pushing on through, trusting (as I always do) that Future Me will figure out how to tie up all the loose ends and make this the best paranormal lesbians story ever…!


(Not counting Madame Vastra and Jenny, of course, hallowed be their names.)

In other-other news, today continues my brave attempt at eating more healthily, though I’ve found that after consuming a massive salad of lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, cucumbers, black beans, bits of feta cheese, and toasted pieces of pita bread, I’m full for about an hour and a half – and then it’s as if my stomach has never before known the sweet embrace of food. An empty maw spreads through my gut, and I MUST HAVE FOOD FRIES OR POPCORN OR A HAMBURGER OR OH MAN SOME CHOCOLATE WOULD BE AWESOME


But instead of succumbing to temptation, sweet reader, I made a reasonably healthy dinner and quelled my desserty cravings with a protein shake and a bowl of grapes. HOW TOUGH AM I?


Damn straight.

I shall celebrate this victory of the human spirit with a pizza topped with chocolate and french fries and donuts and ice cream and steak, because dammit, I earned it.


Until next time~~~~

/pointless update

HELLO, INTERNET. I have returned.

(I’m looking a bit like Lucille Ball these days.)

I haven’t been on the computer much over the last week or so, which is both (a) a very, very good (albeit surprising) thing, and (b) the reason behind my tragic lack of updates as of late.

But TJ! you say, because you often make exclamatory remarks to your computer screen. Is it even humanly possible for a person to be away from the computer for that long? Wouldn’t your head explode and your heart shrivel up and die in your chest?

Perfectly valid questions, dear internet person, which I shall answer thusly:

First, as it turns out, it’s possible to be away from the computer for a surprisingly lengthy period of time without any horrifying side effects (aside from a general free-and-easy feeling which I’m sure is most unnatural).

Second, there are actually a number of things to do in the outside world, despite my previous assumption that this could not possibly be the case.

So, rather than spending my time this past week scrolling endlessly through Facebook and searching Tumblr for new gifs, I’ve been out in the world, doing stuff.


First, my dear mother came for a four-day visit, during which time we walked, ate, walked, did touristy things, walked, ate, and walked and ate some more. And then, just prior to her leaving, she took me to Target and bought me stuff, because mothers are pretty freaking awesome sometimes. Also, I’m poor, and thus don’t generally worry about things like having enough dishes or a nice little kitchen rug or…you know, paper towels and fancy stuff like that.


Since then, I’ve been using my newfound love of the real world to take long walks around the city, visit the library, pop into some newly discovered book stores, and acquire a towering stack of books to read. (Because I may be turning over a new leaf, but it’s still a tremendously nerdy leaf.)

Of course, there’s also a less-wondrous side to my recent ramblings, mainly that today I have shin splints and a backache and had to do the Sophia Petrillo shuffle all the way to the grocery store and back. Turns out that there is such a thing as overdoing this whole walking around in the outside world thing; I just have to endeavor to find a balance between glued-to-my-computer-chair and Forrest-Gump-traversing-America.

In other news, as long as I’m on the road to self-improvement via the reduction of my internet time, I’ve decided to tackle some other things – mainly my diet, which has veered into less than healthy waters as of late.


(It’s a Lucy sort of day.)

Thus, today I limped on down to the supermarket and picked up some Healthy Food Items, after which I constructed a Healthy Lunch and Healthy Dinner, and even a Healthy Snack. Wow!

Currently taking bets on how long this new healthy regime will last:

1. Not long
2. Less than not long
3. I’m stuffing my face as we speak


Place your bets now!

So, when I was in college, I wanted desperately to be a man. I cut my hair short, wore traditionally “masculine” clothes, and spoke and moved and behaved like a typical twenty-something guy. I even created a male persona on OpenDiary (an ancient diary site now probably covered in cobwebs and dinosaur bones) and used it to finally experience what life would’ve been like if I’d been born male.

Answer: Pretty great, as it turns out.

So, am I transgender? No. This wasn’t a case of me feeling like a man trapped in a woman’s body – this was a case of me wanting to feel strong. When I wore make-up and had long hair and wore feminine clothes, the men around campus treated me like something lesser, an object of conquest rather than a human being of equal standing and importance. I was hit on, harassed, touched, spoken down to, etc. (This was in the early 2000s and not the 1800s, in case anyone was wondering.)


Pictured above: Me in college.

I didn’t want to be weak, and I sure as hell didn’t want random guys shouting things at me or hitting on me at every available opportunity, so I started dressing and acting like a guy and it all stopped. (And then I saw Boys Don’t Cry and it scared the ever-living crap out of me, but that’s another story for another time.)

Anyway, here’s the thing: Why did I have to do that? Why did I have to emulate the men around me before I could feel strong? Why couldn’t I wear whatever I wanted, act however I wanted – whether it be stereotypically feminine, masculine, or somewhere in between – and still feel like a strong, capable, worthwhile human being?

I’m sure my male classmates never thought they were doing anything wrong, and would’ve been shocked to learn that they’d made me feel belittled and insignificant with their comments and behavior.

(Who could’ve known that calling someone a sexy-sweet-tush-mama might be in the least bit degrading?)

And I hear that again and again from guys, even now. When they see a woman walking down the street and shout something at her, they seem shocked and puzzled – even hurt – when she doesn’t appreciate it, or when anyone dares to suggest that making comments about a perfect stranger’s physical attributes (or your desire to molest her) might not be the best way to get on her good side.

“But I was complimenting her! Why wouldn’t she be happy to be complimented?”


Well, imaginary puzzled man, this is why. When I’m walking down the street and some random guy says, “Hey, sexy,” or “Hey, baby,” or, “How about a smile, beautiful?” it doesn’t make me feel complimented or appreciated or beautiful. It makes me feel small. (And pissed off, but that’s another topic altogether.)

Being catcalled is like being lessened, being turned into something less than human. You’re an object, a conquest, a prize, something a man wins if he’s worthy enough, someone who only exists to be dominated. And that shit don’t feel good, yo.

These days, I tend to wear whatever I feel like wearing, regardless of where it falls on the stereotypical “men’s clothes” / “women’s clothes” spectrum. But every day – every single day – I will generally get at least one comment or leer or catcall from some random guy passing by me on the streets of Chicago. Now. In 2014. And that’s pretty freaking depressing.

Is it because I’m just so damned sexy? Must be.

But yes, any men who are reading this, I beg you. Stop catcalling women. Just stop it. It’s not charming, it’s not cute, and it’s not something the vast majority of women want to be subjected to. If you’re interested in a woman, talk to her like a human being or even, God forbid, like an equal. Because that’s what she is, and if you don’t think that’s true, then you don’t deserve to have her in your life.

*mic drop*





Good morning, friends. I have only a limited time between finishing breakfast and needing to be on my way out the door, so naturally I’ve chosen to use this time to write a blog entry. Is this a good idea?


Yeah, probably not. Let’s do it anyway.

So, as it happens, I don’t actually have much to say, which I admit may make writing a post somewhat challenging. I’ve never let that stop me before, however, and today shall be no different…!

So. Yeah. Stuff.

1. Still working on the editing and rereading of Chosen. It’s going well, though I do find myself devising a Chosen Drinking Game as I go through it. For example, if Kaine frowns or scowls, take a drink. If Mr. Defrin puts his hand reassuringly on someone’s shoulder, take a drink. If Silas is a little shit, take a drink. Etc. Helps pass the time (and increases bathroom breaks by approximately 500 percent).

2. The weather in Chicago has finally decided to cooperate and have a go at not being awful and depressing, which I’m enjoying.

3. Preparations for my mother’s visit have come to a bit of a standstill, and predictably, I’m leaving most of what needs to be done until the morning before I pick her up at the airport (i.e., tomorrow). Why deal with cleaning and tidying and prepping when Future Me can take care of that in a stress-filled tornado in the wee hours of morning?


And, on that note, I’d better be off. Time to get ready for another day of teaching folks to speak Amurican. ‘Til next time, y’all.


Good news, fungus fans! After a lengthy wait of approximately five thousand years, the print version of Talking About Fungus – now with a spiffy new cover that actually relates to the book – is now available!



It’s currently available on Amazon’s “Createspace” site, and will be up on the Amazon main page within, if the legends be true, 3-5 business days.

And if that’s still not enough fungus for you, the T.J. Baer Shop (est. Yesterday, 2014) now carries a Talking About Fungus T-shirt! WOW! What an unexpected merchandise tie-in! And how convenient for those ardent fans whose deepest desire is to have my poorly drawn doodles on their chests for all the world to see!


Get all your TAF stuff now while supplies last! (Which will probably be quite a long time, actually, so it might be all right to finish what you’re doing before buying your book(s) and/or T-shirt(s). But I wouldn’t wait much longer than that, just to be on the safest of safe sides.)


In other news, my Chosen beta-readers (a very official word meaning “friends who have been pressured into reading my lengthy LGBT fantasy epic and giving me some feedback on it”) are beta-reading, and I’m doing a great deal of editing and reading and reading and editing.

And, contrary to every natural impulse in my body, cleaning.


Why, you may ask, would anyone with a comfortable chair and internet access subject themselves to something as miserable as cleaning? Well, my mother is coming for a visit this week, and that means that I have to extricate myself from my usual life of squalor and offer the illusion that I live in an apartment that occasionally gets cleaned.

This evening’s To Do List will involve a great deal of dusting, sweeping, and scrubbing of gunk out of horrifying places, but hopefully by the end of it, I’ll have created an environment that I won’t be ashamed to let my mother set foot in.

And, of course, as soon as she leaves, I’ll likely lapse back into my usual disgraceful and dusty existence, but for a few golden, glorious days, I shall live in a world of CLEAN.


And now, I shall go back to asking that age-old question, “What is this stuff in the bottom of the sink, and can I destroy it before it destroys me with its probably-highly-toxic stench?”


I’m off to find out. Boo-yah.

It’s well past my usual old lady bedtime, but I’m having trouble finding the willpower to remove myself from my computer chair. Which is unfortunate, because on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of tiredness, I’m somewhere in the vicinity of 75,322.


I didn’t actually manage to leave my apartment today, though I was at least able to (a) finally get my online store set up, (b) write a semi-coherent blog entry, (c) sweep the floor, (d) take out the trash, (e) pay some bills like a Responsible Adult, and (f) exercise a bit via awkward-spazzy-dancing in my living room:


Except for the shirtlessness, this is a pretty accurate representation.

Tomorrow, sadly, I have a great heaping pile of stuff to do, which may possibly be why I’m putting off going to bed now. The sooner I crawl into bed, the sooner I’ll wake up and have to clean, do laundry, wash dishes, run errands, etc.

Agh. I really need to go to bed. It’s a distance of about seven or eight feet from computer to mattress, but I can’t…quite…seem…to…


I’m never getting out of this chair, am I?

You know what’s absolutely necessary?



And you know who needs to know that?



“But T.J.,” you may say. “I am but one person. How can I possibly spread the holy word of tea unto the ignorant masses all by myself?”

Well, random internet person, I am here today to answer just that question.


Visitors with Sherlock-levels of observation may have noticed that there’s a new tab at the top of the site now, with the mysterious moniker of “Store.” Whatever could that mean?

Allow me to enlighten you. Today, I’m pleased to announce the official opening of the T.J. Baer Shop over on CafePress, for all your merchandise-related-to-my-books needs!


What’s available at present is a line of T-shirts featuring a quote from Mr. Defrin in Chosen, regarding the vital importance of tea in all human endeavors. A tea-tee, if you will. (Or even if you won’t.)

The front:



The back:



Show your support for tea, me, and Chosen (as well as the wise and wonderful Mr. Defrin) with your very own “Tea is always necessary” T-shirt. Because if we don’t tell the world of the true and mighty awesomeness of tea, how are they ever to know? (Also, if you don’t walk around with the URL to my blog on the back of your shirt, they may never find their way here to this mad little block of gif-filled cyberspace, and that would be a tragedy indeed.)

So, yes. In conclusion: Buy my shirts. And my books. Or just send me a wad of cash in the mail; whatever would be most convenient.


In other news:

The weather in Chicago has taken a turn for the dismal as of late, going quite suddenly from sunny, eighty degree days to gray, cold, depressing weather that makes me wonder if there even is such a thing as the sun. I’m bearing it as best I can, though the fact that two days of gray weather has put me into such a major funk is probably not a good sign for the winter to come.



/autumn angst

On the plus side, my apartment is warm and has a cat in it, as well as an impressive supply of tea. And tea, as I don’t believe I’ve ever mentioned before, is pretty great.

If only there were some sort of T-shirt available to express to the world my true feelings about tea, while at the same time shamelessly pimping my upcoming novel and this site…



As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been working on the writing of Chosen for approximately all of recorded time – or, more accurately, fifteen or sixteen years, since I was a Dragonlance-obsessed teenager longing desperately to write my own fantasy opus. The story has gone through dozens of different incarnations, though always with Nicholas and Kaine (and their relationship, be it BFF or something more) at the heart of it.

This morning, friends, I came across a version of Chosen that I would very much like to share, as it has given me great amusement on this otherwise irritating morning.

I call it: Kaine Searches For Peanut Butter


Okay, not really. But that’s the general gist of this two-page start to a story that never got off the ground. Rather than setting the story in an alternate fantasy world, Past Me decided to play around with the idea of Nicholas and Kaine living in the modern world. More specifically, in Chicago.

Here is the result:


First, some news: I’ve officially finished the second draft of Chosen!


The Scene That Wouldn’t End finally gave in and ended today, and after that, it was a simple matter of making a few changes to the last chapter and then BAM, I had myself a finished draft. Only took fifteen years, to-ho-ho.

Now, of course, we enter into the editing phase, wherein I read through the book eight or nine thousand times making little edits (and sometimes big, annoying edits) in an attempt to make it Not Awful.


Which should be fun.

Actual, totally real photograph of the vicious bee-monster that attacked me on Labor Day.

In non-writing-related news, you’ll be relieved to know that I have not yet perished from my bee-related wound, and in fact said wound is healing nicely (though still itches like the itchiest of itchy things).

The bee sting, unfortunately, was only the beginning of what I’ve been calling The Curse of September, as something terrible has befallen me every single day of September thus far.

Today, September 6th, has been suspiciously free of misfortune and/or bee attacks, making me wonder if (a) the curse has finally lifted, (b) the curse will strike when I least expect it, possibly at 11:59 PM, or (c) the curse has decided to take the weekends off so as not to get overworked.

More information on this as it becomes available.

As I head off to bed with hopes that no jet engines crash, Donnie Darko style, into my bedroom, I leave you with this gif of The Almost Hug from Merlin, because it never ceases to entertain me. And in my delicate, post-bee-trauma state, I need desperately to be entertained.


/still blaming it on the bee venom

Shortly after my previous entry, the weather cleared up as if by magic – due largely, I’m sure, to my proclamation that it was going to rain all day. So, after spending only half the day writing (rather than all day, as per my original rainy day plan), I ventured out into the world to run some errands like a responsible adult.

And a bee stung me.


A few important facts:

1. The last time I got stung by a bee, I was 2 years old, and thus don’t retain much memory of it aside from the fact that walking through a field of flowers barefoot was apparently a bad idea.

2. I did nothing to provoke the bee’s vicious Labor Day assault except dare to walk past it while carrying a bag of frozen blueberries.

3. The day prior to The Stinging (as it shall henceforth be known), I was musing on how rare it is that bees attack humans for no apparent reason whatsoever, and how I thus have no reason to be afraid of them when they happen to fly by.


Yeah. I really should know by now that the universe loves some good old-fashioned ironic foreshadowing.

Regarding the details of the incident:

The bee cleverly centered its attack on my foot, sensing with its keen bee instincts that I was still six blocks from home and would thus be unable to reach safety when my foot was throbbing like, to use the most accurate and technical of medical language, a motherfucker.

Nevertheless, I swatted away my bee assailant and hobbled towards home as quickly as I could, thoughts of potential bee sting allergies and swelling airways dancing cheerily through my head. I decided to swing by the Walgreens pharmacy to ask what they recommended for bee stings (and/or imminent death by airway swelling), but arrived just five minutes after they closed up for the evening, because of course I did.


I had some vague memory of my grandmother putting baking soda on a bee sting once, so I grabbed some from the baking goods aisle and made my limping, swearing-under-my-breath way up to the cash register, where the cashier gave me a bright smile and asked how I was doing.

I was sweaty and in pain, my blueberries were thawing, my airways may or may not have been about to swell shut, and my foot looked like the Eye of Sauron. I replied in the only way I could: “Fine.”

Finally, I was able to take my baking soda and head back to my apartment, where I spent the rest of the evening trying a variety of home remedy treatments and, in an attempt to take my mind off the inevitable death by bee sting allergy that was sure to occur, watching Spongebob episodes on YouTube.


We all cope in our own ways.

I must’ve done something right with my multitude of remedies, in any case, because when I woke up this morning, the swelling and redness had mostly disappeared, leaving behind nothing but a dull pain and continuous, maddening itch.

So, in conclusion:

I curse that bee. I curse his bee mother, his bee father, and his little bee sister who’s still in bee diapers. I curse his bee ancestors and his bee friends and his bee geometry teacher, but most of all, I curse the fact that I left my house at all yesterday. That’s the true moral of the story, I feel.

STAY AT HOME. There are bees out there.


/still delirious from bee venom