My first name is Erika. Not Erica. Not Ericka. My last name is Hammerschmidt, which has thirteen letters, including five consonants in a row. People still find it easier to spell than my first name.

My email is humanalien at gmail dot com. (That’s “Human Alien,” not “Humana Lien” or “Hum Anal Ien.”)

In college I majored in German and Spanish. I also accidentally minored in art, just by taking so many art classes for the fun of it. I grow my own vegetables. I cut my own hair, but even when a professional barber cuts it, it still sticks out on one side and in on the other. I’m an author, artist and speaker living in Minnesota. I work in a pharmacy as well as giving speeches on autism and writing books. I am married to a space alien named John Ricker, who, like me, is on the autism spectrum.

Below you will find my latest news. Add me to your bookmarks! I’m always up to something.

Also, check our calendar for upcoming events!

Depressing updates

I want to explain why I have not been very active online lately; why I have stopped posting my comic “Abby and Norma” and gone down to posting almost nothing on Tumblr and Twitter and Facebook.

I am trying to put into words the complexity of my life right now. It’s hard because my brain feels constantly fuzzy, and almost anything can distract me. I’ve tried dozens of times to get online and post something like this, only to end up wasting time scrolling through social media full of news that depresses me and arguments that lower my faith in humanity.

First, our bird died. That was in March of this year. It’s hard to describe how much that hurt. When we took the empty cage out of the car, we collapsed crying against the trunk, like John was crying so helplessly that he couldn’t do anything about his nose running and his mouth drooling all over the trunk of the car, and I was almost as bad. We had a heartbreaking amount of love for that bird. The pain of that has dulled by now, but it feels like it was the beginning of a very bad time.

John and I are at a strange point in our marriage. (And this is not part of the bad times, this is, overall, a good thing, but it has made us face obstacles that have added to the stress and discomfort of life lately.)

We have been living in a polyamorous relationship since 2012, and his boyfriend Sibre has just become officially his husband. They had to make their marriage official and dissolve mine, because Sibre is the one who has decent insurance. John is trying to live as a self-employed author and editor, so he has to be claimed as a dependent, and claiming him on my useless insurance is a waste of money, and he can’t be claimed on Sibre’s if he’s still legally married to me.

I feel strangely unruffled by the idea of the divorce itself, for the same reasons that I felt fairly little about the wedding itself. John and I felt married before we legally were, and we will continue to feel married after we legally aren’t. The paperwork means little to me, emotionally.

But I felt constant, exhausting discomfort with all the steps of going through the divorce. Every person involved in it seemed to be examining and evaluating our personal life, and even if they acted mostly polite and helpful, I still felt like strangers were metaphorically poking through our belongings and asking why we have each thing we have.

I still have my job at the pharmacy, but it takes so much energy and I always feel I have so little time for anything else.

We are getting more and more behind on the condo payments, because we’re on just my income, and that’s getting eaten up by insurance premiums and bills for doctor visits that the insurance never covers.

We’re not in any actual trouble from that, because of our arrangement with Mom and Dad (they bought the condo and we have a contract for deed with them, and they’re forgiving about missed payments). We’re still privileged and way better off than most people in this country. But it still feels awful to be relying on my parents not to lose our home. We will get some of the money if we sell the condo soon, which we’re planning to. But we’re not even close to having it clean enough to show to potential buyers. It’s a filthy mess full of stuff we have to go through and get rid of, and I don’t know when or how we will find the time to do that.

I wonder if something is happening to my memory and attention span. I have a near-constant feeling that there are a bunch of important things I have to get done and I can’t remember any of them. I mean, there ARE a lot of important things to do, but whenever I sit down to do them, or even write a list of them, I can’t remember more than one or two.

And I feel discouraged about my ability to succeed at anything creative. When I got into the Renaissance Fair this past summer, I was so excited. But it turns out the Ren Fair is only lucrative for the people who have a booth all season. What I had was a pop-up tent for two weekends, and the area where people set those up is apparently not an area that gets any traffic. It was a waste of time and money, when I had been hoping it would bring in enough money to help us get ahead a bit. And it crushed my belief in myself.

Things have looked up a little bit since then. I have sold a few items that I had on consignment in a local craft shop. I have gotten a deal with another local craft shop to teach wire-wrapping classes. And it looks as if I will be in the 13 Gears Steampunk Event in February.

But it’s so little, and so uncertain, and I still keep wondering if my jewelry-making business will ever be worth what I put into it. We are putting things up on Etsy, but it may be a long time before that ever pays off.

And my first professionally published book, “Born on the Wrong Planet,” is going out of print, and it’s been forever since John and I have been invited to give a speech, and sales for our sci-fi novel “Kea’s Flight” are down to less than one a month, so it feels like I’m a has-been as an author too. I’m almost ready to publish the sequel to Kea’s Flight, which I am very happy with, but I’m wondering how I’ll find time to promote it properly.

And all this is happening at a time when I feel as if the whole country and maybe the world is falling apart, and whenever I think about doing anything, I wonder if it’s even worth it if society is just going to collapse in the next year.

All my survival instincts are telling me to move to the middle of nowhere, get an ultra-durable bunker-like house and go off the grid with wind turbines powering lamps to grow my own food indoors, because for all I know there could be a nuclear winter tomorrow. But I can’t afford any of that, and so it feels like my mind is having to close off all my emotions and become okay with the idea of being dead, because that’s the only way to keep functioning from day to day.

Ugh. I’m trying to stay positive, and things are getting slightly better in our life, but it’s a struggle to look on the bright side when the world is so messed up.

Wire Wrapping Class, Sunday Nov 26

I am teaching a wire-wrapping class at the Goddess of Glass this coming Sunday!

I’m so excited– it’s my first class– but sadly there are only 2 people signed up for it so far. There’s room for 15!

You can sign up at the link:


Price is $39, but I think it doesn’t have to be paid when registering, just in person at the time of the class.

And I can get you a deal if you’d like to contact me. The Goddess of Glass has encouraged me to invite friends to fill the class.

Renaissance Festival: stop by on August 26 and 27!

One thing that people have always asked, when they see my jewelry at craft fairs and conventions, is “Do you have a booth at the Renaissance Festival”?

I understand. My stuff looks like something you’d see at a Ren Fest. It would fit in beautifully.

But, until now, I had always considered it out of my reach. The Ren Fest is hard to get into, I always heard.

But, thanks to a serendipitous Ren Fest vendor, this wonderful person who stopped by my CONvergence table… I have found out about theme weekends.

The Minnesota Renaissance Festival has several weekend events where vendors can be there for just one Saturday and one Sunday. It costs less than a permanent booth, and I was able to get into the Once Upon a Time weekend!


I will be selling my sparkly stuff
at the Renaissance Festival,
from 8 am to 7 pm,
Saturday August 26th
and Sunday, August 27th.

Located here:

MN Renaissance Festival Site
12364 Chestnut Blvd.
Shakopee, MN 55379-8944

Please stop by!


The con starts tomorrow!


It goes from 10 am to 6 pm Saturday, and 10 am to 5 pm Sunday.

Admission is $14 (that covers the whole day for both days).

$1 off with a canned food donation. Kids under 9 free.

Again, here is where I’ll be:

The con will take place on the MN State Fairgrounds.

1265 Snelling Ave North, St Paul, MN 55108

It will be in the Grandstand:


My table is B2E, right across from the Free Game Demos.

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So that’s where I’ll be! Hope to see some of you there!

MSP Comicon

I’ve just found out the location of my table at MSP Comicon– the comic convention on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds on May 20th and 21st!

The con will take place in the Grandstand.


My table is B2E, right across from the Free Game Demos.

Screen Shot 2017-05-13 at 8.53.50 PM

So that’s where I’ll be, unless there are any last-minute changes!

Hope to see some of you there!

Thoughts on beauty

The more I think about the sentence “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” the weirder it seems when people make posts to assure each other that “everyone is beautiful.”
Because that sentence, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”… it’s talking about where beauty is.
And where it isn’t. It’s not anywhere on the person or thing that is beautiful.
“Beautiful,” that’s a misnomer. The beautiful thing isn’t actually full of beauty. The beauty is somewhere else entirely.
It’s a reaction that someone has to that person or thing. It is in the eye (or more accurately, the mind) of the beholder, the one who’s looking.
All the features of my face are on my face, yes… but the idea of whether or not those features are beautiful is not on my face at all. It’s in the brain of everyone who looks at them, and it’s different in each one of those brains.
So when you say “Everyone is beautiful,” what you’re explicitly saying is that everyone has somebody who finds them beautiful.
And I guess you have to think carefully about why you’re saying that.
Are you saying it because there are such a wide variety of people in the world, and therefore such a wide variety of preferences regarding appearance, so you can be fairly confident that no matter what somebody looks like, there is probably someone else out there who finds that appearance pleasing?
Are you saying it because you, personally, find everyone beautiful regardless of appearance?
Are you saying it because people can find themselves beautiful, even if no one else does?
Are you saying it because people can have inner beauty even if no one finds their exterior beautiful?
Personally, if I were someone who did not consider myself beautiful, I wouldn’t be comforted by any of those.
The first two try to comfort me by suggesting that someone who’s a total stranger to me, whose opinion I don’t really care about, who either has weird tastes in appearance or doesn’t care about appearance at all, would call me beautiful.
The third implies that I am beautiful in the eyes of myself, which I am not able to believe if I don’t actually find myself beautiful and don’t know how to change that perception of myself.
The fourth says I am beautiful by conflating beauty with other traits, like kindness and wisdom, calling them “beauty” because comparing them to an aesthetically pleasing appearance makes them sound better (which can only make me conclude that appearance must really be the most important thing).
I mean, at times when I found myself unattractive, there were things that did make me feel better. Seeing a person who looked similar to me being widely regarded as beautiful, that helped. Having a romantic partner whom I loved and who loved me, who clearly found me beautiful, that helped. Those things actually made me feel beautiful.
But if you’re not in a position to provide either of those things, maybe you’d do better to try and focus more on spreading the idea that beauty isn’t the most important thing, instead of trying to assure everyone that they’re beautiful?
I dunno. Just my mind trying to work some things out.

Sirius memories

Sirius was an awesome bird.

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Here is the tag for all the posts on this site that featured him. Just in case you’re like me and want to take the occasional trip down memory lane.


We still miss him so much.

Health care rant

I am sick and tired of people saying “nobody dies from lack of health insurance.” I have been hearing this for years from all sorts of people who should know better.

“but even if you have no insurance and no money, doctors HAVE to treat you.”

No they don’t. Some hospitals have that policy and some don’t.

Even emergency rooms will only treat things that are about to kill you right now. They will not treat long-term conditions that are killing you slowly. By the time those conditions are far enough along to be an immediate emergency, it will be too late for the emergency room to do anything about them anyway.

“but… the Hippocratic Oath!”

Doctors are not actually required to take the Hippocratic Oath. The original Hippocratic Oath actually contains a lot of stuff that makes no sense in the present day… like promising never to do surgery, not even for a gallstone… and like having to swear by a bunch of ancient Greek gods, which would violate the religious freedom of, like, any doctor who doesn’t worship ancient Greek gods…

Many med schools do have their students swear an oath when they graduate, which may be an altered version of the Hippocratic Oath, but it’s mostly ceremonial and it’s not like anything can happen to you for breaking it, per se.

I mean, yeah, the oath does include promising to do some stuff that is also required by law, and yes you can be punished for breaking the law, but not because it’s in the oath.

And also, even the Hippocratic Oath doesn’t say “first do no harm, and also do not allow harm through inaction.” I think you’re mixing up the first line of the Hippocratic Oath with the first law of Asimovean robotics.

And guess what. Even when a doctor does treat you– they usually do it by prescribing medicine.

And you get the medicine by going to a pharmacy.

And the pharmacy will not give you the medicine without payment– not even if you have a prescription that says you’ll die without it.

I know. I work in a freaking pharmacy. And so does at least one of the people I have heard spouting that “people never die from lack of insurance” bullcrap.

Like I said– people who should know better. This is inexcusable.

Yay in a Box: Apartments for Aliens



Just finished setting up the web page for our new alien-apartment gallery concept!


Yay in a Box used to be John’s site, but he’s gravitated toward other branding and I realized the name was perfect for the page I wanted to make.

It includes pictures of the rough-draft demo dioramas I’ve made, to give you an idea what the finished gallery might look like!

Excerpts from the “About the Aliens” page:

Kit and Sessaris are humanoids from the planet Becca. No one knows why their home world has so much variation in the number of limbs people are born with, but their society excels at accommodating all sorts of body configurations.
Sessaris has only one arm and one leg, and Kit has only arms. Both of them use an assortment of prosthetic limbs, which can be switched out as needed. Kit is a painter, and Sessaris is skilled with the prosthetic violin.
Their shared home consists of two cubes: a dry upstairs and an aquatic downstairs for swimming with fin prostheses.

Tree Mother’s real name can’t be pronounced, because she doesn’t communicate through sound. Her language is based on movements of the feather-like flaps on her chest. When introducing herself, she has her name translated into words of the same meaning in the other language.
Her translator and life companion is a Dian Cliff-bird named Singer, who knows her language and over seventy sound-based ones— thanks to a brilliant linguistic mind, individually controllable feathers, and a vocal tract that can mimic nearly any sound.
On Tree Mother’s world, people choose their own names, and hers reflects her passion for gardening. On her potted plants she grows fruit that she sells to chefs like those in the nearby Baking Cooperative.
She feels more need for privacy than most other beings in this sector, so her bed and bath are behind a door. She even has curtains, but she usually keeps them open for the plants.

These aliens are just an example. There’s no limit to what kinds of creatures the gallery might someday include! And if it does ever happen, we want all sorts of artists and writers to be part of it.

So please, go check it out!










Shiny things

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John and I did originally have wedding rings, but I’m the only one who regularly wore one– I enjoy wearing rings, and John’s skin gets irritated by them.

Anyway, since the original ring I received in our wedding ceremony somehow got lost years ago, I have cycled through wearing a variety of different rings to signify my married status. And wow, I wish my next set could be these ones. Gorgeous.

(Also perfect for a lesbian couple, I suppose! LGBT rainbow, plus sapphire=sapphic.)



…Yes, the picture is from my Amazon wish list, which has a lot of things on it that I’d love to have! My birthday is June 1st!