I Have a Voice and I’m With Her: A Biography.

I am me.

I am a woman with control of my own body and the life I lead.

I am a queer cis-female married to a straight cis-male but I love all people and have always been mostly bi/pan/lesbian on any given day. I believe everyone should have the right to marry the person they love.

I am pro-choice and believe that every woman should have the option of whether they want kids or not.

I am a feminist and believe in equality for all people no matter the color of their skin, the genitals in their pants, or the gender (or no gender) that they identify as. I believe everyone should be treated with fairness and respect.

I am Pagan and believe in all faiths and send prayers to my own personal Goddess and Universe. I believe all faiths and religions and beliefs should be respected.

I am chronically ill and suffer from fibromyalgia, arthritis, and seizures as well as depression and anxiety. I believe healthcare should be accessible for all. I believe health insurance companies need to be held accountable for all the awful things they hold against victims and patients who have no advocates for themselves.

I believe in a progressive education that either teaches all religions equally or teaches no religion at all. I believe education should include the outdoors, the truth about climate change and global warming, and should embrace the idea that all cultures are important and define who we are as human beings. I believe in protecting our Earth for our children and giving them the education and tools so they may do so for their own futures.

I believe in the separation of Church and State and that the Unites States of America should NOT be defined as a Christian government and that “Under God” should not be in our Pledge of Allegiance. I may believe in your chosen God but I do not pledge my allegiance to Him.

I believe that everyone should have the right to own a gun and I believe we need more gun control and tighter restrictions that people must meet in order to buy said gun.

I believe that land should belong to people and not corporations. That protecting people should always come before protecting a company. I believe that corporations and governments need more restrictions on what they can and can’t do to the land and water we depend on.

I believe in democracy and I believe our political system is corrupt.

I believe we would all do better as a species if we all spent a few weeks or months out of the year living off the grid and reconnecting with the Earth. Studying her and loving her and rediscovering all that she has given us. Not tied to wires and phones and satellites.

I believe we should give more money to NASA because we cannot be the only ones in this great big Universe and maybe those others can help teach us to be better at living our lives and seeing meaning in the little things.

I believe everyone should adopt an animal or buy a plant and learn responsibility for another living being.

I believe in trust, faith, and pixie dust. I believe in things we can’t see. I believe in Karma and in reincarnation and I’m not entirely sure but I think this may be the first time I’ve been human because I still get very confused over daily human life.

I am afraid for the future of our world. I am afraid for our children’s children. I am afraid for the Earth and all the damage that is being done for her. I am afraid not enough is being done to save the Great Barrier Reef or the Arctic ice at the North Pole or Antarctica in the south. I am afraid I am only one person and that I am not enough to make a difference in what’s important.

I am afraid I won’t leave a legacy behind and I am most afraid that my name will not be remembered after I’m gone. My name is Nicole Joanna Audrey Jeske and I don’t want to be forgotten.

Husband and I voting.

I write this because I want you to know who I am. I want you to understand what I am fighting for and why today’s election is so important to me. Politics are personal, no matter what anyone tells you. People vote with their beliefs, with their heart.

I am a white, queer Pagan woman married to an outspoken liberal atheist man. I have a Jewish non-binary trans best friend and a beautiful nose-pierced baking pseudo-wife who are my heart and soul. I am made of the Love that surrounds me, it makes my heart continue to beat every day. I fight for these people, for my friends, for my family, for my community.

This election year has been one filled with much hate and contention. I have unfriended and even blocked several people this year on social media. Not for who they are voting for – but because of things they have said or done or posted in the name of politics. Because I cannot abide by hate. I cannot stand by and watch an old friend post a video of lighting a Pride flag on fire and stating they wished they could do this to “the abomination of gays.” I will not remain in ties to someone who posts that trans people should have their genitals mutilated to “show them who’s boss.” I will not continue to be “Facebook friends” with someone who shares anti-Muslim, anti-trans people, anti-gay, anti-POC, anti-equality anything. I cannot be friends with anyone so hateful and hurtful who would actively go out of their way to do others harm simply because they are different.

Inauguration 2009

On the National Mall for the Inauguration of Barack Obama, January 2009.

So I want to you to know who I am. And if you don’t like who I am, and you oppose the things that make me who I am, you are free to distance yourself from me. Chances are, we aren’t that great of friends anyway. I won’t hate you for who you vote for, but if you’re voting for someone because you actively and vocally spew hatred for another group of people you share this Earth with, I will not stand with you.

Today is going to be a very long and stressful day. I’ll be sending out as much Love into the Universe as I can.
Please join me.

n7day

Today is N7 Day and if you know me or have stuck around this blog in the couple of years, you’ll know this is something of a personal holiday for me (and many others I’m sure). I’ve written about N7 Day before, how I was led to Mass Effect and what the game and Commander Shepard mean to me. This year, Mass Effect made a pretty important impact on my life in a very big way.

I mentioned it in passing, but I haven’t actually written about the fact that I got married early this year. My husband is an incredibly patient and geeky man who also loves Mass Effect and all things Bioware (he’s the one who got me back into playing SWTOR again). Because we are both huge nerds, we got married on May 4th (Star Wars Day!) and had a small but geeky wedding with friends. Our themes? His was Star Wars (he wore a Star Wars tie, had his lightsaber on hand, and his cake was a life-size BB-8 cake that had sounds and a working lighter – I’ll post his side of the wedding later). Mine, of course, was Mass Effect and it was all over the place. Here are some of my favorite highlights (photos courtesy of our AMAZING and TALENTED photographer Mary Lynn).

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Mass Effect helped turn my life around in a time when I wasn’t doing the best. I was struggling to find purpose. Jake and I bonded over our love for video games and he is one of those people who understands the importance and power that a good story can have in someone’s life. He’s a writer, he knows this. So he has never batted an eye over my passion and connection with Mass Effect. He encourages it. He wasn’t surprised at all when I told him my theme for our wedding would be Mass Effect (and I, in turn, knew that he was going to choose Star Wars before he even told me). We get it. I tell him all the time that he’s my Garrus. “There’s no Shepard without Vakarian” is a phrase commonly heard in our household.

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Of course we had Mass Effect cosplayers at our wedding!

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My Squad. <3

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Me and my bestie Lee who is mostly to blame for this whole Mass Effect obsession. We are trying for our badass Shep faces here. **Trying.

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Garrus & Shep.

I’m so incredibly lucky that Mass Effect has impacted me so much and, in some ways, brought me together with the man I married. (I doubt I ever could have married someone who didn’t like Mass Effect.) He’s always 100% paragon and I’m always 100% renegade so we balance each other well. I’m so thankful to him and the many friends I have made because of this game. I love the Mass Effect/Bioware community. Thank you for giving me Shepard and a ship to call home (whether it’s the SR-1 or SR-2). This game, and these people, mean the galaxy to me.

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Handfasting with our Xbox controllers.

Today, Bioware is releasing news about their upcoming Mass Effect Andromeda title that is coming out in early 2017. I have been beside myself with joy at the idea of going back into space and becoming a new N7 officer, with new friends, new enemies, and new places to explore. I am at a new place in my life, and I’m curious to see how this new game impacts the new journey I am on. I know it’s going to be a good one. Bioware has never let me down and I can’t wait to see what they have in store.

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Happy N7 Day everyone!

about-iwd

Happy International Women’s Day! I’m actually more fond of what they refer to it elsewhere: International Women’s Rights Day, but regardless of what it’s called, this is a wonderful day to celebrate the amazing women in our lives that have inspired and motivated us. I have a lot of personal female heroes. So many that it was really hard to narrow it down so I limited myself to women who are currently still on Earth making it a better place while they live and breathe.

Mae Jemison

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How could I not choose Mae Jemison? She (along with Sally Ride) has been such a guiding star in my love of and yearning for space travel. Mae Jemison was the first African American to ever travel to space PLUS she’s been on Star Trek so she has most definitely boldy gone where no man has gone before (it’s extra cool because she was first inspired to join NASA because of Nichelle Nichols’ character Uhura). Not only is she an intelligent scientists, she’s also a talented dancer, and has founded numerous companies and foundations to advance technology in every day human life. Learn more about Mae Jemison.

Michelle Obama

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As First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama has been pretty much everywhere in the past eight years. Her dedication to improving the health of our nation’s children and passion for community gardens have been inspirational. She is one of the few First Ladies to ever directly address the issue of childhood obesity and her “Let’s Move” movement has been a huge success in schools. The Obamas even built the first garden at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt AND had beehives installed on the South Lawn. Her motivation is astounding and I am constantly floored by all of the projects this woman has going. I am so sad that her time in the White House is coming to an end, but I know that no matter where she lives, she will continue her good work. Learn more about Michelle Obama.

Jane Goodall

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When I was in sixth grade, we had to do an oral book report. Most kids just stood up front and read from a piece of paper. But me? I was already a little ham (and a nerd) – I dressed up as Jane Goodall and did a report on Through A Window, complete with a stuffed Gorilla at my side and lots of crouched over antics impersonating Jane impersonating the gorillas. Jane Goodall isn’t just someone I admire now, she had a very large impact on me growing up. I even ended up going to college to become and outdoor educator like her. Jane Goodall’s books and teachings have opened our eyes to the animals around us and have been instrumental in how we perceive the natural world. Her work is deeply inspiring to me and her words continue to remind that there is still a sense of wonder to be found in our planet Earth. Learn more about Jane Goodall.

Commander Shepard

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Okay so she’s not a real person but I am not limiting this list to just reality. Commander Shepard means a lot to me. Her courage and her commitment to getting things done no matter how hard and long the battle is are an inspiration to me over and over again (no matter how many times I play these games). She’s a reminder to keep going when the going gets tough. She’s a leader and a friend and a hero to not just humanity – but to the whole galaxy. She is fearsome and snarky and always willing to get the job done. She’s there for her friends when they need her and she knows just what to say to piss the right people off. My Shepard might be just who I want her to be, but she’s who I want myself to be too and through her I can model my own action and remind myself of the path that I want to follow through life. She is a survivor and a reminder that I am too. Learn more about my love for Commander Shepard.

Nellie Jeninga

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Now this is a name that most people probably won’t know. Nellie Jeninga was born and raised in Heerlen, Holland in 1935. Growing up, she and her sister loved to perform and sing and eventually became quite good at it – they were even recorded and had a very promising future. But Nellie was headstrong and in love. In 1958, she threw away her fears and followed her heart to Toronto, Canada to be with the man she loved. She left behind her country, her home, her family and everything she knew for a new continent with people who didn’t speak her language. It wasn’t the last time her stubborn nature would lead her on adventure. In 1961, Nellie, her husband, and their two children moved to the United States, to Wisconsin, in the middle of a severe snowstorm. Settling down in Wisconsin didn’t stop her tenacious thirst for travel though and over the years, they would often pack up the kids and roadtrip around the country. She passed down that wanderlust and bravery to her oldest daughter (another of my personal heroines) who then passed it down to her daughter. Which would be me. Nellie Jeninga is my Oma and my favorite person in the world (that’s us in that picture). She has never let fear stop her from following her heart and she has been the steadfast rock in my life that I can always come home to. I am proud to say I have her bravery to travel and experience the unknown and I most definitely have her stubborness and headstrong nature. Because of this, I have to add her to my list of inspirational women because she has made my life better over and over again. I love her dearly.

Happy International Women’s Day!

These are only five of a very long list of women who are important to me. Others include Sally Ride, Madeleine L’Engle, Amelia Earhart, Annie Oakley, J.K. Rowling, Laverne Cox, Grace Murray Hopper, George Sand, Audrey Hepburn, Ada Lovelace, and so many many more. Thank you for paving the way and making it known that women can do anything they absolutely want! We are strong and empowered and we have a voice. You can find out more about Internation Women’s Day here.

Who are you celebrating today?

Rest In Peace Harper Lee

Harper Lee

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”

It is a very sad today. Harper Lee has passed away.

I, like many many people, cherished my first reading of To Kill A Mockingbird. It was a turning point in how I saw other people and empathized with them – you’re told these things as a kid but you can’t really know what it means until you experience it. This is a book that I’m happy to see on many required reading lists and it’s a book that I feel many people in seats of authority should read (and re-read). Despite being written in the 60s, this book resonates hard with today’s society. It is still (sadly) relevant with morals that are often forgotten now.

I am sad that Harper Lee has left this world, but she lived a full and good life surrounded by books and a powerful legacy that we should never let fade. In celebration of her life, read your kids her book. Teach them that kindness and fairness are important and that’s it the character of a man that is essential, not what he owns or how much money and status he has or what the color of his skin is. “I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.”

I truly hope you rest in peace, Harper Lee, knowing that your positive impact on the world will last for a very long time. Your name and your work will never be forgotten.

Best Present: Custom fem!Shepard Funko Pop!

So for the past few months, my fiance Jake and my sister Madi have been hinting that I would be getting the greatest Christmas present ever, but that it would just be late. I had absolutely no idea what it was. Well I finally got my present today and it was 100% worth the wait because it is the best present in the entire world. In the entire galaxy.

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I’ve always been very sad that there is no femShep funko so imagine my surprise when I opened my present and discovered MY VERY OWN CUSTOM COMMANDER SHEPARD FUNKO!! Isn’t she amazing? And they MADE her for me. They discovered that the head of the Rachel from Friends funko pop looked just like my Shepard so they took that head and put it on the maleShep’s funko body. And then painted on my renegade scars. She’s so perfect I could cry. I have such an amazing family.

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If you missed it, Commander Shepard is my personal hero so this is pretty much the best thing anyone could ever make me (the bar is now set really high). I still can’t get over how similar she looks to my personal Shepard. I don’t think they could have gotten her any better. My perfect Commander Audrey Shepard. ❤

My personal Shepard as drawn by the talented Cheyenne next to my in-game Shep.

My personal Shepard as drawn by the talented Cheyenne next to my in-game Shep.

I’m Commander Shepard and this is my favorite present on the Citadel. ❤