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Character Notes for "Where You Begin to Learn New Things" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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ysabetwordsmith
Character Notes for "Where You Begin to Learn New Things"
These are the character notes for "Where You Begin to Learn New Things."


Torin Roche -- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and wavy brown hair. In this picture, he is the young man on the far left holding a boy on his back. He serves as a housefather in the St. Elmo Sankofa Home in California. Tall and energetic, Torin loves sports and helps the children get enough exercise. However, he's not good at reading or complicated academic tasks.
Qualities: Good (+2) Energetic, Good (+2) Housefather, Good (+2) Sports, Good (+2) Tall, Good (+2) Visual-Spatial Intelligence
Poor (-2) Reading

Ellen Capercaille -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and chestnut hair with just a little wave that falls past her shoulders. She wears glasses. She grew up in Winlock House and is a house sister of Elisabeth Finn. Her heritage includes British, French, and German. Ellen speaks Awaswas Ohlone, English, Esperanto, Chinese, Chuk'chansi Yokut, Farsi (Persian), German, Japanese, and Spanish. In college, Ellen studied child development, special education, and trauma-informed care. She earned an Associate of the Arts degree in Child Development with a Certificate of Achievement in Early Childhood Mental Health and a Certificate of Achievement-Advanced in Early Intervention/Special Education Assistant from De Anza College in Cupertino, California (near Santa Cruz). She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Community Studies with a Special Education minor from the University of California in Santa Cruz. She also took a summer intensive program for a Certificate in Advanced Trauma-Informed Care from the California Center of Excellence for Trauma-Informed Care in Santa Cruz.
Currently, Ellen serves as a house mother in the St. Elmo Sankofa Home in Santa Cruz, California. She and her coparents take care of children with special needs. This is one of the few group homes open to superkids, so they have a lot. As a hobby, Ellen makes artificial bird nest sculptures ranging from tiny desktop ones to giant ones that can be used as a couch. When one of her house children moves out, she gives them a nest of whatever size and style they prefer. She leaves some kind of personal trace on pretty much everyone she meets, and for that matter, is easily tracked through an environment.
Qualities: Master (+6) Housemother, Master (+6) Emotional Intelligence, Expert (+4) Lovingkindness, Expert (+4) Patience, Expert (+4) Constitution, Good (+2) Handywoman, Good (+2) Languages, Good (+2) Weaving Bird Nests
Poor (-2) Leaves a Trace

Khalida Haq -- She has tinted skin, brown eyes, and long straight black hair. She is married with two children, a daughter and a son. They recently moved to America along with Khalida's parents and younger siblings. They are Muhajir, and their ancestores moved from Bombay to Karachi in the Sindh province of Pakistan. Due to social unrest, they have moved around every decade or so since, most recently to America. Currently Khalida lives in Santa Cruz, California where she works at the Triquetra Trauma Center for Dr. Aafia Nath, who also speaks Urdu. She worked as a nurse in Pakistan, and is now doing basic work at the hospital while retraining for an American license. They are struggling to support an extended family on not enough incomes, but they stick together.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Refugee, Good (+2) Big Dedicated Family, Good (+2) Muslim, Good (+2) Nurse
Poor (-2) Impoverished

The Muhajir are people who migrated after the independence of Pakistan and formed an ethnic group of their own.

Refugees in local-America face many barriers including culture, language, childraising, unemployment, housing, transportation, health care, and other services. Very little help is available, it's patchy, and the atmosphere is often hostile. Conversely Terramagne-America actively reaches out to refugees and helps them mesh with their new culture. English speakers are encouraged to help others who can't. Those who don't know English are connected with translators and encouraged to take lessons. Refugees get assistance in finding a home, health care, transportation, and other basic needs. Instead of being widely scattered, they are often placed in clusters from similar backgrounds to minimize cultural bereavement. (This works better in some towns than in others.) Great effort goes into identifying their previous career(s) and helping them retrain if necessary to establish American credentials, but most professions have provisions for letting people work at a basic level while doing so, much as regular students often do. They're called "retrainees" to show they know the field already and just need to learn the American details. Those who did not work previously but want to can choose from free training in shorthanded fields such as health care, computing, transportation, construction, community aid, and skilled trades like plumbing. Those unable to work get referred to social services instead. Refugees are encouraged to help each other as well as connecting with a host family who teaches them about American life. It's a lot more effective than dumping people with no resources.


Dr. Aafia Nath -- She has tinted skin, brown eyes, and long wavy brown hair. She is intersex, XX originally with partially masculinized genitalia. This was corrected badly at birth and in early childhood, much better in adulthood. Aafia is now happy with her genitals, but her experiences inspired her to become a doctor serving other intersex people. Her heritage is Pakistani and she moved to America as a tween. Her father's family is Hindu and her mother's family is Muslim, but Aafia has only a casual affinity for the religions herself. She speaks English, Greek, Kashmiri, Láadan, Latin, Punjabi, Spanish, and Urdu. She grew up with Kashmiri, Punjabi, and Urdu; learned English in junior high; took Láadan in college as part of Women's Studies, picked up Greek and Latin in medical school; and finally added Spanish and Chinese as the most common foreign languages in California. Aafia is married with a young son and a daughter. They live in a neighborhood lovingly called "Pocketstan."
Aafia studied undergraduate medicine with a minor in gender studies, then graduate medicine with a specialty in tiresiology, at the University of California School of Medicine in San Francisco. She now practices in Santa Cruz, California.
Qualities: Master (+6) Compassion, Expert (+4) Dexterity, Expert (+4) Tiresiology, Good (+2) Gender Studies, Good (+2) Languages
Poor (-2) Light Sleeper

Intersex conditions are more common than most people realize, due to concealment and stigma. Progestin Induced Virilization comes from prenatal exposure to substances like progestin, which metabolizes to an androgen. This condition is slightly more common in Terramagne-America because ordinary hormones can be used to treat some problems caused by supervillains using Pheromone Powers, or similar issues following from zetetic exposure. The exposures themselves can also cause disorders of sexual development.

Local America offers very little education in the medical care of QUILTBAG clients, with predictably dreadful results. This population is routinely treated with such malpractice that many of them simply quit seeking help at all because they would rather go without health care than get abused. The University of Louisville School of Medicine is adding a new program to train future doctors on the unique health care concerns of people who are transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual, gender non-conforming, or born with differences of sex development.

T-America has a specialty, tiresiology, for sex/gender health care. It exists both in physical and mental health care with cross-training so that each can support the other, since these patients often need to coordinate services such as counseling, hormone replacement, and surgery. Mental issues of particular concern in this population include addictive behavior, anxiety, bullying, depression, dysfunctional family dynamics, eating disorders, gender dysphoria, school problems, sexual orientation confusion and/or discomfort, suicidal ideation, and unhealthy relationships. Physical concerns include abnormalities of puberty, battery, disorders of sexual development, fertility issues, gender dysphoria requiring hormone therapy and/or sexual realignment surgery, male pregnancy, sexual assault (including corrective or punitive rape), sexually transmitted diseases, substance abuse, and general sexual health needs.


Conari (Derya Rappaport) -- She has tinted skin, black eyes, and chin-length black hair that curls outward at the tips. She is short and curvy. Her heritage includes Turkish, French, and Hispanic. Her reaction speed is below average, so Derya uses public transportation instead of driving herself. She beachcombs for supplies to make crafts for sale, from shell or beach glass jewelry to driftwood sculptures. She also works part-time for various nature organizations over the seasons, such as protecting sea turtle nests or rescuing stranded sea lions.
Conari's Mollusk Powers include super-armor, teeth that can chew through any material, venom capable of paralyzing a person for several hours, and an unbreakable grip. Sometimes SPOON hires her for special missions, although she needs a supporting team in combat due to her slow movement.
Origin: While exploring some tidepools, she was stung by a cone snail and nearly died. After she recovered, her superpowers began to develop.
Uniform: Street clothes.
Qualities: Good (+2) Crafter, Good (+2) First Responder, Good (+2) Friendly, Good (+2) Karate, Good (+2) Naturalist
Poor (-2) Slow-Moving
Powers: Expert (+4) Mollusk Powers
Motivation: To hold fast against life's storms.

Saltation (Digo Ingram) -- He has ruddy skin, brown eyes, and short curly brown hair. He wears a short beard that goes from ear to ear, wrapping under his jaw. He has some pretty radical scars from a beach accident, but the big ones are hidden under knee-length shorts and a t-shirt. Digo enjoys beachcombing, and often picks up litter as he goes. He also makes and plays percussion instruments from junk. Often he incorporates large pieces of beach garbage, such as hubcaps or PVC pipe; the chemical changes caused by water can create fascinating influences on the musical notes produced.
Digo took a double major at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, studying both the biology and geology of coastal environments with an eye toward environmental preservation. Currently he works for the California Coastal Sediment Management Workgroup, primarily replenishing beaches by moving sand from undesirable locations (such as harbors) to desirable locations (such as shrinking beaches). Sometimes he also helps with marine search-and-rescue; in the picture, he's holding a mask after recovering the body of a supervillain who drowned when he dove into the ocean to escape arrest. Christopher also does presentations on environmental awareness and the creative application of superpowers in professional work.
Origin: During a college field trip, he was swept away by a rogue wave and battered against the rocks. While submerged, he struggled to regain control of himself and move purposefully through the water -- and his superpowers manifested. He spurted up onto a large outcropping of rock, where the Coast Guard managed to rescue him.
Qualities: Master (+6) Naturalistic Intelligence, Expert (+4) Citizenship, Expert (+4) Water Sports, Good (+2) Junk Percussionist, Good (+2) Marine Biologist, Good (+2) Marine Geologist
Poor (-2) Fear of Fire
Powers: Expert (+4) Beach Powers
His superpowers primarily influence Earth and Water, allowing him to influence local ocean currents and control the movement of sand. He can manipulate Air also, but only at Good (+2) level.
Vulnerability: He takes double damage from fire. This has left him with a strong fear of it, not phobia level (since it is a reasonable fear) but enough to be bothersome at times.
Motivation: To protect the beaches of California.

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Comments
cat_sanctuary From: cat_sanctuary Date: June 22nd, 2018 02:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Junk Percussionist? LAadan?! I like these characters! (I'm taking a break between two funded novels whose characters are total stereotypes; even their names have to be generic, from historically representative lists.)

I also like "tiresiology."
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 23rd, 2018 05:57 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>> Junk Percussionist? LAadan?! I like these characters! <<

Yay!

>> (I'm taking a break between two funded novels whose characters are total stereotypes; even their names have to be generic, from historically representative lists.) <<

I look up details related to a particular time and place so they'll match, but I try to minimize duplication.

Two things to keep in mind:

1) The smaller the pool of official names, the more people use nicknames to avoid confusion.

2) Anything that can be documented in the right period counts. Cemetery lists, genealogy records, church records, nobility studbooks, etc. are all useful.

>> I also like "tiresiology." <<

:D I'm glad. Here we have people who specialize in certain areas, but there isn't really a collective field of sex/gender study -- and we NEED that. So I described it.
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