Thursday, June 30, 2005

I Am Fantasizing About A Beach House

It's one of those days where I want to fast-forward things a bit and get to that beach house of mine filled with books, already.

Patience, patience.

I'm Going to Get Some Work Done Now

Really.

Damn, why do I feel so tired?

Go Check Out Alaska Before It Melts

Alaska is changing by the hour. From the far north, where higher seas are swamping native villages, to the tundra around Fairbanks, where melting permafrost is forcing some roads and structures to buckle in what looks like a cartoon version of a hangover, to the rivers of ice receding from inlets, warmer temperatures are remaking the Last Frontier State.

And yea, I lived there for two years, and yea, Fairbanks needs a major overhaul. Cabins built on tundra that never froze are now looking like shipwrecks crushed by melting ice-as-earth.

Not quite apocalyptic yet, but hey, catch it while it's still cold.

If nothing else, it'll be a great place to retire when the Midwest turns into a desert.

Wooot!

Secular Summer Camp

Who'da thought?

Neat.

The Trouble With Masculinity

Thoughts?

Good Morning, Chiklits

Ooogg, what a morning. Feeling groggy and sleep-deprived. Also, need cofffeeeee and some water.

Came home and cleaned the house for the apartment showing we had and the bunches that are today and spent the rest of the nigh hashing out some stuff with Jenn.

B's flying in tomorrow, so I figure I'll wash the bedsheets tonight (I know how nice it is to have clean bedsheets when I arrive at a place that's not mine), and we've got a bunch of weekend shinanigans planned. It'll be good to see him. We're somehow managing to see each other twice a month now - I fly to NY to see him, then two weeks later, he flys to Chicago to see me.

We're insane, I know.

On the upside, Eli sent me a cool box of goodies, including a new CD that I'm listening to again this morning Trocadero's Roses are Red, Violets are Blue (fans of Red vs. Blue will recognize the music!). Good stuff, good stuff. It also occurred to me that I should probably begin cultivating an interest in comic books. They do some cool shit with those.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Anathema's Back From Thailand

Everywhere you go, you can buy skin whitening cream. I had one women come up to me and compliment me on my skin tone: "So beautiful, so white." I shudder mightily.

Writing Novels in Tehran

Over the past decade, Iran's best-selling fiction lists have become dominated by women, an unprecedented development abetted by recent upheavals in Iranian society.

The number of women who have published novels has reached 370, said Hassan Mirabedini, a scholar of Iranian literature, whose findings recently appeared in the magazine Zanan (Women). That is 13 times as many as a decade ago, the research showed, and is about equal to the number for men today.


Yes, you read that right, 370.

370 women have published novels in Iran.

This is considered huge.

Bizarre how something that seems so small is perceived as being so huge. It doesn't take a lot of people to make everybody else uncomfortable.

Censors at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, which must approve every book before it can be published, ban any explicit mention of sex. They ask for the removal of words like "nudity" and "bosom," even if these appear in metaphors and do not refer to the human body.

Because if God wanted us to walk around naked, we would have been born that way.

Interesting little article. I find it fascinating that so many husbands have trouble with their wives making money this way. Women holding jobs and earning their own income is totally OK as per the Quran.

Oh, I'm sorry, you're not ruling your fundamentalist Islamic country based on the Quran? Dare I say you're skewing it for your own ends?

Blasphemy.

Feed Fish! Fight Aliens!

Why do I love this mindless game?

Bah. I'm behind on the writing... must... do... something... useful.

Happy Blogging B-Day To Me

OK, so, I'm a day late, but hey, happy belated b-day.

Blogging is weird.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Half of Me Came Straight Out of Prison, Baby


Your Slanguage Profile

Prison Slang: 50%
Southern Slang: 25%
Aussie Slang: 0%
British Slang: 0%
Canadian Slang: 0%
New England Slang: 0%
Victorian Slang: 0%



Though, you know, looking at all these numbers, I wonder where the other 25% went?

Bad quiz.

I'm Doing Science

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

Political Refugees, Head-Tossing Young Maidens, and Other Madness

Tim Pratt, via Steph Burgis, asks writers to post the pet subject they enjoy putting into their work, and list what they'd never want to write about.

Here's some overarching themes and subjects in my fiction:

1. Civil war as subplot

2. Blood. Lots of it. And screams. Loud ones. Nearby.

3. Big, strong women who wield big weapons and have intimacy issues

4. Beautiful male dancers who are uninterested in said heroine. My most popular side-kick template.

5. Queer and bisexual characters, particularly women within matriarchal set-ups, as well as sexless neuter characters, sex-changing characters, and androgynies.

6. War, baby. All-out, bloodthirsty, pistol-wielding, sword swinging, blood curdling WAR. Including genocide as primary plotline, often within a desert setting. Oh yea.

7. Multi-colored and cultured societies. See aforementioned interest in war.

8. Bugs. Lots and lots of bugs.

Here's some things you probably won't see in my fiction:

1. Matriachal societies who end wars by putting together a big book that Explains Very Politely to the Evil People that Peace is Really Better, and Save the Day through their "natural" nurturing and soft-spokenness, proving that if you let yourself be a doormat long enough, eventually someone will become enlightened and listen to you.

2. Hard SF that's primarily about Big Machines that Go Real Fast

3. Anything where the social structure is exactly like it is in America in 2005, or 1985, for that matter.

4. You're not likely to see anything without bugs in it for some time. South Africa has scarred me for life.

5. Psychic cats

6. A women soldier who goes out onto the battlefield, pulls off her helm, and "tosses her long auburn locks." I'm not particularly sure what she's doing with long, unbound hair in the first place (particularly clean unbound hair that will bounce like it does in a Pantene commercial after being bundled up into a helmet and left unwashed for three months), let alone why the fuck she's stopping her horse in the middle of a bunch of dead bodies on the field to toss her head like Jessica Alba (Gardens of the Moon). Which would be why I wouldn't write it.

"Only My New Powers Can Save You, Padme"

Tom Cruise goes all Palpatine on Oprah.

I love geeks.

Gateways to My Blog

Well, it's about that time again, as google searches acting as gateways to my blog have increased a bunch in the last few months, and I'm always fascinated to see how random people get here.

Here are the keywords used by unsuspecting search-engine users who find my blog:

brutal women (the most popular)
brutal (oddly, the second most popular, which sort of pleases me, that people looking for totally different sorts of brutality end up... here)

brutal dildos
fucking fuckers


my uterus
under her heel
blogs women nj


shinanigans

women of deadwood
women boxing snap shots

percentage of women who regret having children

women + boss + fantasy


celibate female pictures (no doubt seeking to answer the all-important question "what does a celibate woman look like?")

hot women boxing free sample movies
brutal women fights


"my abortion" site: blogspot.com
buzzed women
africa women quotes
hollywood thin women
female cops


nick larbalestier (?)
Rita Hurley MA

pregnant jedi (by far my FAVORITE!!!!!!!!!!)

Getting Back Into It, cont.

Been working on figuring out an exercise schedule that doesn't involve me paying out the ass every month. I turned my daily lunchtime powerwalk into a walk/jog yesterday, and that worked well. The route's 40 minutes at my current pace (as I get faster, I can extend it), so if I bring a towel to work to wipe myself down and just go for it, I can get in my daily jog at work every day and not worry about, "But I'm home now," workout laziness.

Add my weight routine (15-20 min) in the morning, and I'm pushing over an hour of exercise a day. The goal is to add in 20 min of pilates when I get home at night (I have two 20 min workouts that I can alternate), and I can push that to an hour and a half of exercise 5 days a week.

Not too shabby.

Still miss hitting stuff, and I'm looking for a cheap punching bag that I can use to work off stress and keep up my punching practice while I try to save up the money I've been spending on the gym.

When the money situation eases off, I can go back to formal training. Until then, I gotta make do.

Kelly Link is My Secret Girlfriend

"I'd really love to read slush for Analog."

Buy her latest short story collection. She rocks the house.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Workaday, Workadoo



I've started getting myself familiar with some very basic Arabic.

It's a fun little exercise. Arabic is a neat language to write. The biggest gripe I've got so far is the right-to-left reading and writing bit.

It's a bitch.

But very pretty.

Just a Little Off

Went to post another excerpt of God's War, and realized something in this section is really off. Raine needs to be scarier, the escape needs to be tougher, and the dialogue's really... off.

Need to re-tool.

So it goes.

Another Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood

And, it keeps going... (good for Chris for getting back on topic).

Here's an interesting study via BFB about dieting and dying younger.

And my question is, why was the firearm unused? These were obviously not native Alaskans. Bears will kill you. In Alaska, there are bears. They are big. They will eat you. I promise.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Editor's Note

I prefer House of Flying Daggers to Hero.

Of course, knowing my subject interest, this isn't really surprising...

Fucktards

Just... fucktards.

I'm baffled that the way I speak and write freaks out so many people.

This is me. This is what I have. Why is it that men get more wiggle room to be assholes than women do?

Men make careers out of being assholes.

I can't even use the word "fuck" in polite conversation without being lambasted (by men and women) for being "angry" and "white."

WTF?

Saturday, June 25, 2005

My Horoscope, According to The Onion

LeGuin (Jan. 3—Mar. 14)Your attempt to build a peaceful, agrarian matriarchy in the former northern-Californian archipelago fails miserably when the thousands of cat-fights breaking out amongst the basket-weaving lodgers are traced back to overexposure to winsome folk music.

This is Getting Old!

Showed the apartment again today.

It's a really fucking great apartment. Rent the damn thing already, OK?

2 bedrooms, hardwood floors, great neighborhood, huge kitchen, 1K a month, coin laundry in the basement, brownstone walkup.

C'mon already, OK?

Friday, June 24, 2005

Virtual Kung-Fu

Oh, Sweet. Sign me up:

Kickass Kung Fu: Like Dance Dance Revolution for martial artists

Kickass Kung Fu is a video-game in which you use real martial-arts moves to control an on-screen kung-fu fighter in order to best both human and AI opponents.

Whooot! Blogger's Got a New Way to Upload Pics



Firefly is going to Kick Ass. Zoe is fucking awesome.

Just wanted to say that.

Friday Beer Blogging: It Ain't No Negra Modelo

Was hankering for a beer last night, but stopping at the local liquor joint, I found that they didn't have any of my Negra Modelo. I never nearly didn't bother getting anything at all, but a buddy of mine has a husband who's a beer snob, and he'd recommended a couple other beers. I snagged a six pack of one that looked like something from his list, and bought.

Yuck.

It ain't no Negra Modelo.

What a Sorry State of Affairs

According to my paystub, my "base rate" is $3265.83 per month. I never actually *make* this much money, of course, cause I usually don't bother coming in 40 hours a week, and taxes are harsh (hey, I'm used to taxes in Fairbanks, Alaska - i.e. the government pays *you*), and they automatically take out 3% and put it into my 401(K) plan.

Where, exactly, does all this money go?

Truly one of the great questions of the universe.

Sweeeeeeet

I have finally squared the bills with my roommate. I only owe her $38 now, which'll get paid off with the rest of the bills next month (the total at one point was $1338.19 or something like that).

Whew. It was getting wacky there for awhile.

When you have too much fun, the bills start piling up....

Thursday, June 23, 2005

They Fight Crime!!

It just seems like the right time to link to this again... I'm hip-deep in writing a bounty hunter novel, afterall.

They Fight Crime!

Walnuts.

I don't like walnuts.

Worst Books Ever

John Rickards submits his candidate.

My submission?

Why, my favorite Clarion-buddies Read Aloud, of course!

In the Shadow of Omen by Steven Burgauer

Oh yea, baby.

Here's the digs:

A first-rate adventure set in a time when Mars is caught in the throes of early colonization. A feisty young woman must battle not only the untamed Martian wilderness, but a powerful corporation as well. To prove herself she must scale the tallest mountain in the solar system, Olympus Mons. O.Mons to some, Omen to others, it becomes a symbol for all the mountains mankind must yet climb to conquer space!

The Year 2433: For ten thousand years every gulag had been the same. The same drawn faces. The same haunting vacant stares. The same cold-blooded, unfeeling guards. The same tools for inflicting pain. It was in this godless place called a gulag that the line between humanity and inhumanity blurred, that the basest of animal instincts revealed themselves, that people learned how much agony they could endure before they folded.

Now comes Carina Matthews. Rebellious. Feisty. Intelligent. And her crime? Upsetting the status quo. Oh, the arrogance of it all!


Oh, the arrogance of it all! To publish your own SHITTY FUCKING NOVEL!!!

I don't have a copy here with me, but let's just say that the particularly fun passages to read aloud are the info dumps about agriculture on Mars, the female protagonist's "sharp breasts poking" into a guy's back, and the oh-so-marvelous Padme-like birthing scene. The sex scenes are a riot. It feels like a book written by a guy who's never had decent sex in his life.

Highly entertaining for those drunken Con readings.

Here are some great Amazon reviews:

If I could have given a zero-star review for this book, I would have. This is dreck on the level of Newt Gingrich's "1945". Mr. Burgauer should hire a good copy editor, at the very least. At the most, he should stick to his business books. - reader

Congratulations Mr. Burgauer, you just got the first one star review I've ever given! Thank you for the excellent recipe for llama sausage given in such exhausting detail mid-book! Thank you for revealing, showing, and writing down the contents of your thesaures at every chance, opportunity, or possibility! Thank you for so clearly illustrating the endless literary uses of the generally underused exclamation point! Thank you for the multitude of sex scenes in which portions of the female anatomy are proved to not only have independant motion, but apparently minds of their own! Think of the endless fun I've been missing by not knowing such little tidbits about my own anatomy! - kangarex

Talley-ho!!

Your Books Don't Make Sense To Me So We Don't Need Them

Dumb questions like this always fuck me off:

Do we need gender exploration books any more? Do they have anything left to say to us?

Oh, sweet fucking fuck.

My response:
---------------------------------

Is this a rhetorical question?

I assume the primary writer being evoked with the statement "how rotten the world is because it has men in it," likely refers to Joanna Russ (of course, there's the famous Tiptree line from The Women Men Don't See "Women have no rights, Don, except what men allow us. Men are more aggressive and powerful, and they run the world. When the next real crisis upsets them, our so-called rights will vanish like—like that smoke. We'll be back where we always were: property. And whatever has gone wrong will be blamed on our freedom, like the fall of Rome was. You'll see.", so I suppose Tiptree must have been one of those man-haters, too, right? Or maybe she just foresaw a neoconservative American future. Not too far off the mark, some might one day say), in which case, I don't know that a fair reading of Russ has been had, but one interpreted by a biased (likely male - oh yea, I'm making assumptions) reader who was so offended about all of the complaints women had about how they were treated (by men and other women) that he got offended and threw the book across the room.

And I'd argue that "gender exploration" was "new" in the 70s, not the 80s. "The Left Hand of Darkness" came out in 1969/1970. The 80s was the era of Heinlein, in which women were great fuckbuddies ideal for covorting with men in multiple parings, but cardboard in the actual character as living-breathing-human sense.

Safe light, I absolutely agree that it'd be cool to see more people (men & women) exploring issues relating to masculinity as well - "gender" is *not* the synonym for "women" that so many people appear to think it is. When we talk about "exploring gender" and "gender cliches" it shouldn't be confined to "cliches about women."

There are a shitload of cliches and social mores ascribed to men as well, and I've met a shitload of men who find those roles incredibly stifling and don't believe that they fit into them at all.

Widmanstatten - I don't think that in the realm of SF, the nature vs. nurture debate we're always in the process of screaming about has much relevance. What I want to read are those writers who are able to push past current debate and go, "Well, fuck it. What if things were really different?"

What bone-headed Summers has to same about my ability to put 2 & 2 together because I have a uterus would be incredibly dull to put into a current SF story.

Why?

Cause that's right now. Cause that's the world I already live in. I already live in a place where fucktards make assumptions about who I am and what I can do based on the fact that I bleed once a month.

I've already seen these ideas about what the sex of a person means in regards to their social role in this society. I fucking live it every day. I've been told my womb makes me stupid a hundred thousand times from a hundred thousand different blowhards.

And it bores me.

I want somebody to think outside the box (and, as David pointed out, there are indeed writers who do this, and there's a great starting list there); I don't want to hear the same boring arguments about how men are "naturally" rapists and killers and women are "naturally" passive nurturers.

SF/F drew me because when I was younger I realized it was the best place to really explore how things could be different, the place where you could say, "Sure, things are this way now, but what would have to change/be conceptualized differently for things to *not* be this way?"

*That's* the challenge, that's the allure of the genre for me, taking me somewhere new where people can express themselves in alternate ways, where society can be shaped differently, where biology does *not* equal destiny... and never did.

That's why I love this genre, and that's why there will *always* be a place in SF for questioning what makes us human, and how our bodies and societies can transcend these rigidly defined categories: women and men, that aren't rigid at all in actual practice.

If you're not finding anything that challenges that, you've either not looked over the Tiptree selections, or there are not enough people writing it who are being published mainstream. In which case, there's either a dearth of writers thinking outside the box (a bit doubtful) or editors who aren't seeing something that speaks to them (true, though if you're looking for a place for your gender-bending, we've got Strange Horizons for that, in which case you can't blame your subject matter for rejections, only the quality of your story :) ).

Yea, we need more genderbending fiction, but it also may need a better marketing strategy -

Stories that fly too far outside the box often freak publishers out, because there's a deep fear that there's no market for it.

My suggestion?

Market it to women. Try tearing off the 14-year-old white male audience template and pushing the idea that SF/F is where you're gonna get to live outside the world of Larry Summers and the "girls are physically and mentally weak" world and enter, say, Buffyland.

Wow. That just might work (ha ha).

You may even interest a shitload of aforementioned guys who live outside the boxes, too.

But for better or worse, there's a reason that much of SF/F (some of the bestselling stuff) is considered a comfort food. It's conservative. It's token. It's Heinlein giving us polyamory but populating his work with female stick figures.

It reassures old ideals about what everybody's place is, and how the world works.

It's a dangerous place for a gosh-wow genre to be.

So, fuck it, what do gender-bending books and stories of the non-comfort kind have to say to us?

The same thing they said to Joanna Russ, the reason she started writing it:

"Things can be really different."

Yes, I'm Overprotective

Had a dream last night where Jenn's SO was being held at knifepoint. Jenn (all 5'2 120 lbs of her) was trying to talk the guy down.

I ran up, distracted him, and Jenn threw a front-leg roundhouse to the guy's knees and felled him, her SO got out of the way, and I tackled the guy from behind and twisted his arms behind his back until the police came.

At some point, I got my wallet stolen somehow, but it was OK because I only had $9 in my bank account, no credit card, and I don't carry cash, so we were the winners all around....

Fat-Friendly Events

BFB is having a bowling event here in Chicago on Saturday, and other fat-friendly events are going on all over...

It is just one of many social and athletic get-togethers that Ms. Bellemore's network and other groups like it organize around the country to allow the very overweight to mingle in a climate of tolerance. The events are meant to encourage people to get out and meet one another, to transform their shame into confidence and to accept themselves as they are, not as others would have them be.

As Sandy Schaffer, the director of the New York chapter of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, put it, "Why allow somebody to say, 'You can't do this until you lose weight'?"


Some people have found it interesting that I identify so heavily with the whole "fat acceptance" gig.

I've had a friend or two say, "But Kameron, you're not obese."

Surprise:

I'm 5'9, 210 lbs or so, and a big, substantial woman in the big, substantial woman sense: my shoulders are as wide as my hips. My lowest weight post-puberty was 175/180 lbs, when I was working out six days a week, sometimes twice a day, and living mainly on brown rice and eggs. My sister told me I was looking "really skinny." (?) What these whole "5'2 200 lbs" descriptions never seem to take into account is how well that person holds themselves at that weight, what their workout and eating schedule is like, and how they maintain their time.

And guess what? According to the ridiculous BMI we're using, I'm obese.

Just like Brad Pitt.

Lucky me!

And I can jog three miles and until a few months ago was engaged in regular boxing classes.

And guess what's even more:

At my "lowest weight" of 175?

Still overweight by BMI standards!

What incredible fucking useless fucking bullshit crap.

A lot of us have to monitor everything we eat just to stay at 200 lbs. Unless you want to get into starvation mode or major work-out mode (yea, I could do this in college. With 15 hours of commute time a week, it's not feasible at the moment), and starving, for me, means sleeping a lot. And you know what? Missing out on my life cause I'm sleeping all the time just ain't worth fitting into a size 10 (in fact, unless I start taking the boxing seriously and do about 3 hours of training a day, I don't think I'll ever be a size 10. I've never been a size 10. Post-puberty, my comfort level is a 12, and that's a tough size for me to stay at).

My journey the last two years has been one of getting my binge-eating under control, which I've very nearly successfully done. It was a crazy, fucked-up, freak-out sort of behavior that I engaged in when I was stressed out and pissed off because I wasn't fitting into the "right" size of clothes, because I viewed myself as too big and too unfeminine, and believed everyone thought I was a fat, ugly, useless slob.

Binge-eating is a great cyclical sort of problem...

So I have some experience in the realm of self-acceptance and learning to break the binge/diet cycle through the realization that being big and intimidating can be...

Really cool.

The trick, for me, is finding the power in my size, and working to build muscle mass, which I view as very useful weight.

I have up and down cycles: as mentioned, I've gone soft and doughy again, and I'm irritated about that, because exercise makes me feel a whole lot better in my skin. I make it a point not to eat shit food during the week, but if they've got bagels at work, I might have some. If we're celebrating and ordering Thai food, I'm totally in. When B's over, we have pancakes with enough lite syrup to drown a small navy.

Food's not the enemy, it's just that there are certain times for certain things, and hating myself by gorging is a terrible form of punishing my body because it's not "right" or "perfect." Like everything else in my life, it is what it is.

What I've realized is that my body goes through cycles, and it also has a pretty "high" set point and comfort zone, and I need to respect that, and respecting that also means respecting myself enough to give myself the right sort of fuel to get through the day, and through workouts.

I'm not here to get down to a place where I can fit into clothes from Abercrombie & Fitch, though that would be nice...

I'm just getting to the point where I realize it's not my body that's all wrong - it's Abercrombie & Fitch.

And if the A&F wearers are going to roll their eyes at me cause they're so hungry and I'm not, I'd far prefer to be in a crowd of equally non-hungry people who are out to have an actual good time instead of sitting around punishing themselves for not being a size 00.

I have more important things to do than play the who-can-eat-less-and-still-function-game.

It's cool to be around people who feel the same way.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

These Old Boy Writers Always Baffle Me

I mean, really.

Today's Research Topic: Hysterectomies

I love being a writer. You learn so many interesting things...

You Did *Not* Just Say That...

In response to Danica Patrick's strong finish at the Indy 500: "You know, I have this wonderful idea... women should be dressed in white, like all other domestic appliances."

What century am I living in?

(thanks, B)

The Onion: 2056

People are cool.

(thanks Jenn)

Bloody Wednesday

Ug. I need to take some iron...

Gosh, What a Great Out!

But on the basis of a new study, a team of political scientists is arguing that people's gut-level reaction to issues like the death penalty, taxes and abortion is strongly influenced by genetic inheritance. The new research builds on a series of studies that indicate that people's general approach to social issues - more conservative or more progressive - is influenced by genes.

It's not my fault that I don't obey laws and I think black people are evil and I rape women and don't believe in taxes, your Honor...

...it's all biology.

I find these sorts of studies really insulting. Like the kind telling me that because I'm a woman, I'm naturally inclined to build nests, burst into tears, and unable to learn how to defend myself.

"As long as there are entrenched social and political distinctions between sexes, races or classes, there will be forms of science whose main function is to rationalize and legitimize these distinctions."

- Elizabeth Fee

I Am Confused

Why are donut shops producing donuts that are twice the size of usual donuts?

To what purpose?

An extra 500 calories for those of us who are American desk jockeys?

Getting Back Into It

So, I've started to go soft and doughy, like cookies. Like cookie dough, which I've decided is a very Buffy-appropriate way to describe my state post-MA school.

My morning weight routine has been spotty, and what it really needs is a dynamic overhaul. Every six months or so, it's good to just change the whole thing out and do different exercises. Also, my pushups count is ridiculously low, and I need to get it back up to 50. Currently, I'm not even at a continuous 30. I'm at more like, uh... 20. On a good day.

I told you: it's sad.

There's also the big issue of figuring out a good gym for me. The MA school wiped me out, moneywise, and with things so tight, I need to find a place that offers some boxing or kickboxing classes, pilates, and access to regular cardio machines so I can get back to a regular workout schedule. I miss it, and not just for the not-being-soft-and-doughy part. The endorphin rush at the end of the day is always a pleasure.

And, to be honest, I just feel stonger and more confident when I've got some classes under my belt for the week.

And, to be honest...

I really miss beating the shit out of stuff.

The solution to that may be to get a punching bag and just keep it on our back porch and head out there whenever I'm pissed to burn off some energy. I've still got my handwraps, and I think it would really be good for me.

In the meantime, I'm getting back to my lunch hour power walking routine, which bit it here during those 90+ days we had. Walking outside was like moving into an oven, and I've been lax about it. Time to get back on the ball.

What is this "Relationship" Nonsense You Speak Of?

I realize I've been pretty quiet on the personal front lately. This mostly has to do with the fact that I've spent the last four months hashing out a relationship of the more-than-friendly kind after six years without.

It's weird. See, I'm not one of those people who has to be attached at the hip with somebody else all of the time. I was waiting around for something that felt right. When that failed, I figured I'd spend the summer going on casual dates and getting to know new people, because I realized it was a shame to waste a sex drive like mine.

Then I bumped into B, and things all sort of went upsidedown and backwards. I mean, here was this guy who's mom was the president of the local chapter of NOW for four years, who spoke in feminist language, who kept a sports blog, who followed boxing, who had the entire collection of Doctor Who tapes and DVDs, who was passionately involved in pursuing a career in Counseling Psychology, knew how to bang out a fucking fantastic furl of writing on a wide variety of topics, and loved people watching and history just as much as I did.

It was completely baffling.

The first night we spent in bed together, we spent most of our time just looking at each other.

It was like we were both going, "I can't believe you exist."

But that whole, "Ohhhhh he was so great!!!!" thing doesn't mean everything's been perfect and easy and a fucking cake walk.

No, no. We both bring our own stuff to the relationship, and it's become abundantly clear to me that my ideas about what constitutes a romantic relationship are pretty pessimistic and flawed. I've seen relationships as the enemy, the one thing that'll finally bring me down, halt my life, turn me backward into all the awful things I never want to be. My first time around was fine and normal so far as highschool relationships go at the start, and then it exploded into my worst nightmare at the end, so I didn't exactly have a great template. I've spent most of my life being told that boys were only out for sex, that they never really cared about you, that they were selfish and only wanted one thing and they would fuck you and dump you (and that was something, of course, that you really didn't want, you know, the casual fucking part ha aha ).

I solved that problem by having a lot of guy "friends" who I just didn't sleep with. I enjoyed thinking of my friends as people instead of the Evil Other, and being friends made that a shitload easier.

The more it becomes clear that my current relationship is a keeper, that I really adore this guy and really, truly, he adores me, the scary and wackier it's been for me, because I keep waiting for it to all go to shit, and I start picking it all apart and saying, "Aha! But it's *not perfect*!! That must mean it's doomed! I should end it now before it's too late and I gain 70lbs and have no money!"

Well, no, no relationship is perfect. Nothing is perfect. The question is do you trust and respect and adore each other?

Of course we do.

But you know what, that's damn scary.

That's damn scary because to some extent that's what I feel I've been running from in fear and yet desiring all along: I love having buddies, I enjoy having a great run of people, and having a true partner is the coolest thing ever. Negotiating that partnership is a shitload more work that I could ever imagine, but ultimately incredibly rewarding.

I don't know how long our run will be, but I have high hopes. We both adore each other, and we're stubborn talkers and both very big on compromise without self-sacrifice.

It's a tough road. I'm on it.

We'll see where it goes.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Choose Your Own Choose Your Own Adventure

Write your own Choose Your Own Adventure.

Don't like the options they give you? Write-in your own.

History of the Starbucks Logo

She was originally a bawdy two-tailed mermaid with accessible sexual goodies and a beer belly.



Who would have guessed?

I really must get to the original Starbucks next time I'm in Seattle.

(via boingboing)

Looks Like A Good One...



With its explicit descriptions of lovemaking, the book has been compared to Marguerite Duras's coming-of-age novel, "The Lover," and to Catherine Millet's more recent confessional essay, "The Sexual Life of Catherine M." Yet in this case the feisty 40-something North African author who goes by the name of Nedjma appears to have been motivated by more than a desire to titillate.

Rather, she explained in a recent conversation here to coincide with Grove Press's publication of the novel in the United States this month, by portraying a woman enjoying the pleasures of the flesh, she wanted both to celebrate the body as an expression of life and to strike a blow against the centuries-old repression of Muslim women.

Why Aren't you Wearing Your Pink Triangle So We Can Put You in the Gulag?

I, for one, enjoy the "confusion."

This is also probably the first article I've seen that uses the term "gay-vague." As in, "That's a gay-vague band." Too pretty to be straight, but not effeminate enough to be gay?

Wow, somebody's really caught up in stereotypes and assumptions.

This one's basically addressing the mythical "gaydar" bullshit that (mostly straight) people purport to have or not-have, and that because more and more "straight" men are cleaning up and looking good and using hair products that it's becoming tougher for people to "tell" whether they're gay or straight (ha. Like you really could before unless the person wanted you to).

OK, mostly it's about fashion and capitalism.

But it's another example of the fact that when you walk outside the stereotypes, people seem to get really, really nervous.

I enjoy keeping people nervous. Maybe they'll learn to make fewer broad assumptions based on outerwear.

You never know.

Writing Update

I'm supposed to be done with the first three chapters of God's War today.

I'm just about done with the first.

As usual, I'm behind.

Excerpts later.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Top 5 Worst Readings

VanderMeer shares his top ten worst author reading experiences.

#5 – World Horror Convention II, 1993

My reading at the second World Horror Convention, in Nashville, Tennessee, was probably the lowest point for me of any reading. No one was there except my wife, Ann. I was going to just leave, but Ann insisted I read anyway. So I launched into “The Bone-Carver’s Tale.” About fifteen minutes into the reading, two people showed up. It was still the loneliest reading I’ve ever endured and I came out of it convinced that I was never going to amount to a hill of beans.

Younger Women Take the Hits

Half of this I've already heard before (yawn), and certainly felt I'd experienced:

An increase in a woman's body mass results in a decrease in her family income and a decline in her occupational prestige

Well, sure.

But not only that. Under 30? You're doubly screwed:

In addition, the researchers found that the association between body mass and occupational outcomes was more pronounced among younger women, suggesting that it is body mass that affects occupational prestige rather than the reverse.


Think you're not getting a promotion cause you don't starve yourself?

You're probably right.

And, my favorite part:

There were no such associations found for the men in the sample.

Of course not.

Don't feel like starving yourself and being a weak fruitcake, or don't have a super metabolism?

Don't despair:

We just have to work harder than everyone else.

Clarionites With Pages

A couple of my Clarion buddies have got some (newish) blogs up:

Left of the Mississippi (Inez)

Alec Austin

The Brutal Woman Store

So, I really wanted a T-shirt that said "Fucktards" on it.

And I got a little carried away... come join the fun.









Any requests?

Quote of the Day

"I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it without knowing what's going to happen next."

- Gilda Radner

Home Again, Home Again

Back in Chicago after visiting B in NY for the weekend... we hashed out a lot of personal stuff and watched some great movies and ate good food.

A lot of life-stress about what I'll be doing next year also came up, and I'm a lot more stressed about it than I'd like to be, but I'm working through it. Really focused on getting this book done by the end of the year, too, and add that to work stress (gotta get a new job) and money stress (don't have any), and moving stress and... yea. I'm working through it. Just needed to owe up to it, I think, and take a deep breath.

All said, it's awhile away. In the meantime, I have a book to finish, moving to start in a few weeks (only up two floors, but a bitch nonetheless), and looking forward to a great 4th weekend with B.

"I Had An Abortion"

Ginmar's got a thread up where women are talking about their experiences with abortion.... answerings the question: if half the women in the country have had an abortion, where are they?

Here are some.

I wish there were safe forums where women wouldn't feel they had to talk anonymously about it. But here's a start.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

What I'm Working On:

God's War, Part One

God's War, Part Two:
________________________________________________________

2.

They passed the big water purifying plant just outside the refugee camps. Nasheen didn’t leave out much open water anymore. Chenjan operatives were notorious for poisoning wells.

Faleen was a port city, not the kind by the sea but the kind that took in the ragged handfuls of off-world ships that sputtered into its ancient docking ports every year looking for repairs and supplies and usually, directions. Faleen wasn’t the sort of place anybody off-world was looking for on purpose. Neither was any other place in Nasheen for that matter, or any other place on the planet.

Faleen was where you ended up when you were out of options.

They drove for an hour more before the big ship from New Canaan came into view, rearing above Faleen like some obscene, winged minaret.

They drove past women and girls walking along the highway carrying baskets on their heads and big nets looped over their shoulders. Bugs were big trade to the magicians in Faleen, and everybody was always looking for locusts.

Kine pulled up outside the towering main gate of the dusty city, scattering young girls, sand, and chickens from her path with a blast of her horn. Another cloud of beetles escaped from the leak in the back. Nyx batted them away as she jumped out of the bakkie.

“You watch yourself,” Kine yelled at her.

Nyx raised a hand, and Kine shifted gears and turned back off onto the highway, heading for the coast, and home. Nyx hadn't been to the ocean in an age.

She turned toward the two big slabs of metal that were the main gate into Faleen. They had seen better days as compression doors on an old star carrier.

Nyx pulled up the hood of her burnoose and bled into the traffic heading in through the gate. She found a boy crouching outside a mihrab near the broken tower of a minaret. She tugged at his ear.

He took her to a gangly girl selling a couple other girls in a back alley who demanded a steep fee for showing tourists around Faleen.

Nyx reminded her she was a bēl damê on a blood debt, and the girl worked for the magicians. Barring that, she could always threaten violence, but her stomach hurt and she was really fucking thirsty.

The girl turned gray and acquiesced.

They moved through narrow corridors and skirted around the edges of mud-brick buildings whose precipitous lean threatened a swift death by asphyxiation. At the edge of the wooden gates into the Chenjan quarter, the girl pointed her to a cantina with a bright red awning. On the other side of the cantina was the magician’s traveling boxing gym: never in the same place for two consecutive fights.

Two big women stopped Nyx at the battered blue door of the cantina.

“You have an appointment?”

“Do I look like I have an appointment?”

“Who the fuck are you?”

“Tell her I’m the bēl damê.”

The women shifted on their feet. “I’ll get her,” the biggest one said.

Nyx pushed at her sore belly and rocked back on her heels. She wondered if they sold morphine before noon. She wondered if any of this was going to work. She had some doubts. Doubt wasn’t good. She knew better.

The woman arrived back at the door and bid her enter. “She’ll see you,” she said.

Nyx ducked after the bouncer and into the dark, smoky interior of the cantina. Dust clotted the thick air, and sand covered most of the floor. It was good for soaking up blood and piss. Boxing fans weren’t the best behaved, and they liked to pack Bashir’s cantina before and after a fight.

Bashir sat at a corner table smoking sweet opium. Nyx could taste it in the air. The woman had a couple bottles of sand-colored whiskey at the table, and someone had left behind a still smoking cigar that smelled a lot like a B-40. Bashir had two teenage boys beside her, both just shy of draft age, maybe sixteen. They were sallow and soft-looking and kept their hair long, braided, and belled. Somebody had kept them out of training - letting adolescent boys go that soft was illegal in most districts, even if they were prostitutes. When they were called up, they wouldn’t last a day at the front - the Chenjans would mash through them like overripe squash.

“Nyxnissa,” Bashir said. She exhaled a plume of rich smoke. Her eyes were big and dark. “Thought I’d seen the last of you.”

“Most people think that,” Nyx said, sliding next to one of the boys. He flinched. “Until I show up again.”

“How was your trip?” Bashir asked. She wore red trousers and stained short coat, but kept her head uncovered. Her skin was a shade paler than those who worked in the desert, but the tough, leathery look of her face said her wealth was recently acquired. Like her boys, she was getting fat and soft at the edges, but unlike the boys she’d fought it out on the sand with the best of them in her youth. There was muscle under the wealth.

“Not as smooth as I hoped,” Nyx said. She pulled off her hood and shrugged out of her burnoose so her shoulders were bare.

Bashir looked her over with a lazy sort of interest. “A bird told me you don’t have what we bargained for.”

“I need a drink,” Nyx said. She hailed the woman at the bar, but Bashir waved her back.

“The bird says you dropped the purse at the butcher’s.”

“I did,” Nyx said. Bashir wasn’t a stupid woman. Being evasive would just get Nyx chopped into more pieces.

“That was a big purse,” Bashir said.

Nyx leaned back against the seat. The boy next to her had a hold of his glass, but wasn’t drinking.

“Where’d you pick these two up?” Nyx asked.

“Aren’t they lovely?” Bashir said. Her dark eyes glinted in the low light. The place was too cheap for bulbs. They were still using worms in glass. “They were a gift.”

Nyx felt suddenly uncomfortable. She cut a look at the door. The place was mostly empty. The woman at the bar was still wiping the same length of counter she’d been mopping up when Nyx dropped in.

Nyx knew the answer, but asked anyway.

“Who gave them to you?”

Bashir showed her teeth.

“You’ll get shit from the magicians for crossing a bēl damê,” Nyx said.

“Will I?” Bashir said. “Even a bēl damê who sells her womb out for black money?”

“I do a little side work.”

“What would your sisters say?

“Leave the family out of it.”

Bashir clucked her tongue. She prodded at one of the boys with her opium pipe. “Pretty aren’t they? So much better than the ones that come back old and scarred from the front.”

“I’ve seen better,” Nyx said. And she’d certainly fucked better.

“Raine can be very generous,” Bashir said, fixing her gaze back on Nyx, “when I have something he wants.”

“How much am I going for?” Nyx said. Her hands itched for a blade that she no longer owned.

“More than the purse you were carrying,” Bashir said.

Well, that was something.

The boy beside Nyx took his hand away from his drink.
The woman behind the bar moved toward the kitchen.

Well.

Nyx kicked up onto the tabletop before the boy could steady the pistol in his other hand. The gun went off with a burst of yellow smoke.

She threw a low roundhouse kick to the other boy’s face and leapt off the table before Bashir got her scattergun free.

Reflex sent her running for the back door, spewing sand behind her. Too late, she remembered who taught her the back-door default retreat. She would have had better luck with the bouncers at the front.

Nyx shouldered into the kitchen, knocked past a startled blind cook, and ran headlong out the open back alley.

A strong arm shot out and slammed into her throat. Nyx was going so fast it took her off her feet.

She hit the sand and rolled.

Still choking, she tried to get to her feet, but a big man already had hold of one of her arms.

He twisted it behind her and forced her face back into the sand. She turned her head at the last minute, so only her cheek thrust against the burning ground. She saw three pairs of dirty feet in front of her, two in sandals, one bare. She strained her eyes up to catch their faces.

Little, ropy-muscled Anneke hadn’t broken a sweat. She stood chewing a wad of sen, one arm supporting the weight of the rifle she kept lodged just under her shoulder. The other feet belonged to skinny half-breed Taite and big, broad-shouldered Dakar, whose face was so pale he couldn’t go outside unless it was covered.

“You must be desperate,” Nyx said, spitting sand, sucking in air through her bruised throat, “To take on Taite and Anneke as your muscle.”

“That’s all the greeting I get?” Raine asked. He pulled her up, kept a grip on her arm, and tugged off her burnoose.

“Where you lose your gear, girl? I taught you better.” He shook the burnoose off on the ground, thinking she’d hidden something in it.

She made a grunting laugh. He didn’t know how hard-up she was.

“You’re clean,” he said, half a question.

He was half right. She had one more thing to sell and one more thing to do, but if she was lucky, only the magicians knew that.

Raine cuffed her hands with sticky bands and turned her around to face him. He draped her burnoose back over her.

“You know how much you’re going for?” he asked.

“Over fifty,” Nyx said.

Raine was a big man, a head taller than Nyx, just as dark and twice as massive. His face was broad and flat and stamped in two black, fathomless, expressionless eyes, like deep water from a tribal well. The hilt of a good blade cut through a slit in his brown burnoose. He was pushing Bashir’s age: men didn’t come back from the front until after they were forty or dead. Mostly, they came back dead.

Raine was an exception.

It made him dangerous.

Another Reason to Love What I Do

I'm sitting here at work researching opium (the smell of it, particularly) and collecting slang terms for marijuana.

No, I've never done illegal drugs in my life.

But I write about a lot of people who do them.

Fun, fun, fun.

More Places to Exercise Capitalism

Hey, J.Jill now has a 14W-28W women's clothing line.

Sweet.

Of course, I doubt you can get those sizes in the store, cause then both big and small women would be able to... shop together! Unlike at places like, say, Ann Taylor, and let's not even talk about Abercrombie and it's size "00" fetish.

The Book Census!

My wacky roommate has performed the bi-annual book census of our apartment:

January 2005

Apt Total: 1541

Kameron: 486
Jenn: 1055

Kameron's%: 31.5%
Jenn's %: 68.5

June 2005

Apt Total: 1606

Kameron: 524
Jenn: 1082

Kameron's%: 32.6%
Jenn's %: 67.8

As you can see from these fine numbers, the percentage of books that are mine in the house has gone up by 1.1 percentage points.

This is most excellent.

I must continue to excel at my book-buying skills while my roommate continues to buy less, unawares of my Supah Ninjah skills.

Something Troubling in the Dark

There's been something bugging me about this Dark Cabal site that I mentioned a couple days ago. Reading Nick's take got me to thinking.

Now that I've had time to read over some more entries I'm thinking:

You've gone to all this trouble to be anonymous and super-secret about your identities... so why aren't you taking advantage of that and really critiquing the field, you know, real balls-to-the-wall taking to task of issues that deeply bother you, in a sweet brutal style?

Instead, there's very much just a sense of "I like this story, read it. Only vote for good stories. I don't like these new kewl stories."

The end.

I'm not sure why you'd go to all of this trouble unless you had something really witty and dynamic to say, something you thought would get you so ostracized by the writers and editors of SF/F that you had to hide behind a screen name.

Anything less is just silly. Why not owe up to it?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Night Thoughts

Packing for NY, getting ready to show the apartment again, writing up a proper description of a city that doesn't exist. Drinking wine like water, as it's the only other beverage besides water that we have in the house... I'm behind on my e-mail, so apologies to those I haven't gotten back to. Going to try and catch up tomorrow before my night-flight.

Got some good books. Off into the blue again tomorrow.

What's `at, Huh?

Yea, I'm awake.

I think.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

"The Bounty's on Me."

Faleen is not a border city.

I love what I do.

You are the Revisionist Feminist

You scored 66% Gender-Abolitionist, 80% Sexually Liberal, and 80 % Socialist

You are the Revisionist Feminist! You are, by far, the most philosophical, the most sexually-liberated, and the most politically extreme variety of feminist. You are very, very freedom-oriented. You abhor oppression in all forms. For instance, your views on sexual liberation and reproductive control adequately reflect your devotion to personal freedom. Not only that, but you also feel gender needs to be destroyed to maximize equality and freedom, because accepting socially-constructed gender roles binds women into false categories and places upon them an unneeded identity. Gender should not be a part of one's identity, but rather an irrelevant aspect of their physical bodies, such as their hair length or nose shape. Not only that, but Revisionist Feminists are political extremists and feel very strongly that the oppression of class society is a big part of the cause of women's oppression. Basically, a Revisionist feels that cultural ideas of gender, political class, and repressive sexual morality all work together to oppress women, and the only way to truly escape this oppression is to challenge all of these problems directly and extremely. You are a Marxist, a Gender Abolitionist, and a Liberal Feminist all rolled into one.

The other feminist types:

The Housewife

The Marxist

The Liberal

The Liberal Extremist

The Gender Abolitionist

The Radical

The Gender-Liberal

The Revisionist

Second Quote of the Day:

"When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid."

- Audre Lorde

(via Kaete)

I'm Always Worried When Something Experienced By More Than Half the Population is Categorized as an "Illness"

Just like medicalizing the female body (sure, women are over half the population, but their bodies are "weird" and "other". Huh?)...

In a report released last week, researchers estimated that more than half of Americans would develop mental disorders in their lives, raising questions about where mental health ends and illness begins.

In fact, psychiatrists have no good answer, and the boundary between mental illness and normal mental struggle has become a battle line dividing the profession into two viscerally opposed camps.


Or maybe our society's so fucked up that we're *causing* mental disorders?

Oh, sorry, that's not gonna fly... everybody has to be HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY to get up and work a shitty job they hate all day so they can eat crap food and then get pissed on by friends and media for being fat and ugly and unacceptable and then they can't buy the right clothes, they're not married yet, OH dear GOD, I FORGOT TO HAVE CHILDREN, there's no money in a 401(K), everyone tells them they're behind, behind, behind in the rat race, WHY DON'T YOU LIKE LIVING IN CITIES??, crime is UP, their vision sucks, they're UGLY dorks, and should DIE DIE DIE... And they WILL because every day on tv you read all about the HORRIBLE things that happen to pretty, affluent young white girls EVERY DAY. And if it could happen to THEM it could happen to YOU.

Um. Yea.

Where's the wiggle room for "normal human variation"? The more we move toward a society that's supposed to think, act, look, and experience everything in exactly the same way, the more worried I get.

Maybe it's not the people who are fucked up. In fact, maybe what everybody's exhibiting are normal reactions to excessive stress.

Song for the Day, Stuck on Repeat

Mr Brightside by the Killers

Today's Advice:

Be a Pirate today, The Law is coming Tomorrow!

(via Lysha)

Basho (Two Haiku)

has B.o.

Swamp mist, eyes water -
Why is that monk still wearing
Winter robes in June?



ah, soB

A yellow snake eats
The robin's lone precious egg -
You motherfucker



- by Francis Heaney

(via Jenn)

Bitching About SF: Now, With an Out!

There's a site that's been set up by some writers in the SF/F field called "Dark Cabal." (their tagline? "Vote for Stories. Not for Friends.) Over there, they have the ability to bitch about the state of SF/F, awards, and the shortcomings of certain books, a bit like I do here.

The difference is, they do it anonymously.

SF/F is a pretty tight-knit crowd. Everybody knows everybody. If I bitch about a book here, there's a high liklihood of me bumping into the writer one day, or relying on a book blurb from said writer if I ever get something out there.

It's a great place to bitch about people like gabe, Trent, Dave, Card, Brin, and Goodkind.

But then, I can do that here, so what's the point?

Well, I'm not famous.

There's a lot of freedom in that.

Brutal Women: There's More Than One Way to Fight Back

Last fall I wrote about Mukhtaran Bibi, a woman who was sentenced by a tribal council in Pakistan to be gang-raped because of an infraction supposedly committed by her brother. Four men raped Ms. Mukhtaran, then village leaders forced her to walk home nearly naked in front of a jeering crowd of 300.

Ms. Mukhtaran was supposed to have committed suicide. Instead, with the backing of a local Islamic leader, she fought back and testified against her persecutors. Six were convicted.

Then Ms. Mukhtaran, who believed that the best way to overcome such abuses was through better education, used her compensation money to start two schools in her village, one for boys and the other for girls. She went out of her way to enroll the children of her attackers in the schools, showing that she bore no grudges.

Stolen Exchange

Yea, I'd read the Card article on fat earlier, and I couldn't figure out what was bothering me so much about it, because, of course, I mostly agreed (bah!).

But luckily, Alas caught Card's bizarre lack of self-reflection:

You think fat people don’t know how they’re despised? You think they don’t want to be different?

Gosh, Orson, like all those Mormon fags you condemn to hell with righteous indignation because you just can't understand why they can't "control" themselves?

But of course, some people don't mind being fat [or otherwise "other"], or may, in fact [horror!] enjoy it: I do have a deep fear of being small and weak and enjoy being big and strong, but, ahem, I digress.

Funny that he writes that sentence without any self-reflection at all.

See, being biased against people "who just are that way" is always oh so much less moral when the "group" in question is one you're a part of...

Card is a fucktard. The sooner everybody realizes they're in the same goddamn boat, the better.

We'll be able to get more shit done.

Movin' On Up

Had a couple of guys come by to view our apartment yesterday. As I showed one of them the living room I said, "If you've got fewer books that we do, there's actually a lot more room in here."

He laughed and said, "Oh, I've got more books than you do."

Then he walked into the dining room and its Wall-O-Books.

"OK," he said, "Maybe not."

And he hadn't even seen mine or Jenn's room yet...

Me, Jenn, and Jenn's SO are gonna be moving up to the third floor where we'll have three bedrooms and a neat 3-way split for rent and possibly utilities. We'll also be at the top of the brownstone building, meaning our back porch will no longer be a thoroughfare (I have secret hopes that I can get a punching bag and put it out there), no pounding from upstairs neighbors, and we can leave the windows open as much as we want.... ahhhhh. As somebody who lives to have the windows open, that's a major plus.

The downside?

We're not sure how we're going to fit all three people's books up there...

Overall, it'll be a fun move. We're relinquishing our place August 1st, likely moving upstairs a little before that, as soon as our upstairs people vacate (she's going to law school in Milwaukee). If anybody's interested in a 2 bedroom in Uptown for 1K a month, have I got a deal for you...

In other news, things are pretty good on this front. I'm heading to New York Thursday night to hang out with B for the weekend, which should be nice and relaxing. He intends to bust out a bottle of champagne, we'll likely see Batman Begins, and then watch some pro boxing on Saturday (at some point I'm actually going to be able to follow the who's who of pro boxing). Should be a good time.

Jenn's SO is in London, so I get to be her date tonight, and we're going to see if we can catch Howl's Moving Castle. I have no idea what this movie's about, but I keep seeing the name everywhere...

The writing is... writing, research is being done, and I'm feeling good about it.

It's looking to be a fantastic week.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Foiled Again

The last two workdays I've gone to go out on my daily powerwalk, the heavens have opened up and dump rained - *after* I've already gotten into my walking clothes.

Damn weather.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

It's All Relative

The thermostat here in the house says 80 degrees. That's with the aid of a box air conditioner and a room fan.

Yet when I walked in from outside, it felt like a 69 degree oasis.

Afterall, it's closer to 98 degrees outside...

I've never been good with hot weather. Fuck knows how I survived Durban.

I also committed the mortal sin of watering my plants every other day instead of every day... and my cilantro has paid a bitter price.

Sad.

OK, back to work. I'm working. Really.

Friday, June 10, 2005

In Which the Protagonist Drinks Cheap Whiskey and Pretends to Fly

Ahhhh

Whiskey and Writing night. Welcome to Friday.

Got a bunch of deadlines to hit tonight, some Bad Guy character sketches to do. Finally figured out what exactly it is Nyx was hiding in that womb. Now we've got an assignation, betrayal, firefight, and Queen Nasyaan.

I love what I do.

Friday Beer Blogging

Oh yea.

Sadly, I'm Back Here

Crappily, I also discovered that I didn't have the PTO hours in my bank that I thought I did (paycheck went through today, at which point PTO hours were subtracted that I forgot about). Well, shit, that was silly of me.

Oh well, more fried rice for me come next paycheck time!

June's gonna be a motherfucking shitter moneywise. Gotta pay for all that fun I had in May... This also makes next Friday's PTO suck.

Long live the Corporate Card.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

I Blew Off Work

And I used to be such a nice girl...

Anyway, called in and took some PTO (Paid Time Off) time.

Here's my to-do list:

Vacuum the rugs - done
Clean the bathroom - done
Sweep and and spot-checked the kitchen floor - done
Call back new recruiter - done
Try to schedule routine follow-up PP appointment - done (full today)
Water plants and pinch off basil - done

Do the dishes
Make the bed
Finish putting final chip coating on the sink
Eat pancakes for breakfast
Print out latest version of Book One
Finish first "real" chapter of God's War (including prologue)
Continue research with latest books from library
Go on long bikeride along the lakefront and get a great tan

Sounds like a productive day....

Enjoy yourselves, my chiklits!!

Good Morning, Chiklits

It's still hot outside.

I think I might blow off work.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

It's Hot

Oh my oh my.

Time to break out the cold beer.

It Confuses Me That I Have A Job

I'm not sure what I do here.

Ug. Too Many Bread Products

Corporate life is unhealthy.

Ug.

SF Fans: Putting Women Back Into Science Fiction

Revelations.

Dueling female Jedi. Three female main characters.

Not one of them with a Holy Womb of Antioch.

Yes, the script was written by two women.

I have hope for the future.

Stock Up on Your Sudafed

Soon, it won't be legal to trust in anything but God to cure all of your cold symptoms, allergy problems, and contraception needs.

Won't that be a great day?

Cough, Cough. Oh dear.

Like heart disease, anxiety and depression, scientists discovered in a study of 1,397 pairs of female twins that there is a genetic basis to female orgasm.

Why is it that this study worries me? Because nobody's doing a male equivalent?

Probably, it's this sentence:

But Spector said orgasm is a very complex process which is poorly understood. Little research has been done because it is still a taboo subject.

Yea.

I'm Boring Today

Well, it was bound to happen.

For your amusement:
____________________________________________

Morning Absolution

They were still three bounties short of rent when Nyx found the headless body in the trunk.

“You should have put some towels down,” Rhys said.

There had been dog carcasses in the alley that morning, tire treads on burst stomachs, fat rats squealing over tidbits, old women netting rats for stews. The accumulated filth of rotting tissue, blood, sand and the stench of human excrement had sent Rhys out onto the veldt for dawn prayer, and Nyx had grudgingly agreed to take the bakkie out and pick him up. She had made sure to arrive well after the end of prayer, because catching Rhys praying was about as uncomfortable as catching him masturbating. He was a Chenjan conservative, one of the old breed who still bothered adhering to sexual and religious "purity."

In any case, she hadn’t thought to check the trunk.

“Whose is this?” Nyx asked. She was due to pick up a bounty in a quarter of an hour.

She needed the trunk space.

The body was draped in the white burnous of a cleric, gold tassels and all. The feet were bare. Though he had no head, a red newsboy cap was cradled under the left arm.

Nice touch, that.

“Khos’s,” Rhys said.

She should have recognized his work.

Nyx glanced over at Rhys, tried to read him. His dark face was pinched and drawn. He was a skinny man, too slender in the hips and shoulders - he’d been a dancer back in Chenja. He looked seventeen, pushing thirty.

She watched him gather his gear. “I’ll put this in the cab. I forgot about the body,” he said.

“Khos won’t get anything without the head.”

“He’s got a birthmark, Khos says.”

“Khos is an idiot.”

Rhys pinched his mouth. Nyx waited for a word of affirmation, but he only said, “Khos said he was one of the men on the boards. He had me open a file.”

Nyx guessed the body was Chenjan, judging from the color. Black, like Rhys. Chenjans had trouble mixing with the tawny brown of Nasheen. Rhys knew that as well as anyone.

She shut the trunk.

“The boards?” Nyx spat. “Looks like somebody’s going to revoke my license cause Khos can’t keep his bodies buried.”

They were late. Nyx moved around to the cab of the little bakkie, kicked the latch loose and propped open the door. She took the driver’s seat, pumped the ignition pedal. A growl came from under the hood.

“Hit the grill,” Nyx said.

Rhys banged the flat of his hand on the grill. Not much weight behind it. For a man as focused as Rhys, he didn’t have much energy to expend when the situation called for it.

The last time she was in front of a civil rights court, they’d taken away her bounty license for a year. Anneke had gone back to working for Raine, Kos had hit the bottle and the Wall, and Rhys had taken up painting.

Painting.

“Would you put some shit behind it?” Nyx yelled. “You want to go back to whoring-out portraits? Shevaa din!”

Hurry up. Her favorite words in Chenjan. Right after muja-ah shevaa din.
Hurry the fuck up.

Rhys kicked the grill. Better.

The bugs hissed, the engine rumbled.

“In, in, let’s go!” Nyx called.

Rhys gave the bakkie a push and leapt forward as it began rolling down the dusty hill toward the city.

There was a hot desert wind blowing in from the western waste, pushing out the city’s black shroud of smog and settling a misty cloud of red sand - fine as silt - over the cityscape. Dawn had risen, and the new sun - filtered through the silt - caught the world on fire.

It looked like the city was burning.

“Not the best portent,” Rhys said as he buckled on his dueling pistols and shrugged into his black coat. He kept his dark hair cropped, a Chenjan affectation Nyx had always found repulsive. Only slaves wore short hair. She’d told him that once, and he’d said he didn’t do anything for her pleasure. Some days, talking to Rhys was like trying to argue with an antique harem girl.

Nyx shifted gears as the road straightened out. They hit gravel, and a couple of fire beetle nymphs wiggled free from a leak in a hose by her feet and flitted out through the open windows. She batted at them, switched pedals.

Punjai was one of the shittier city jewels on the Nasheen crown. It was a border city, meaning Chenja and the Wall were less than a day’s walk across the veldt. It was also a popular way-station for Chenjan terrorists coming into Nasheen and political criminals trying to get out. Most of the city’s wealth came in via trade on the red and black markets: the red being in blood and bounties; the black in sorcery and embargoed Chenjan goods.

The city was a jagged wound, a seething black groove torn out of the red wash of the veldt. At the edges of the city, the desert stirred, set free by decades of overgrazing and centuries of heavy warfare that had seared the veldt and carved deep pockets into mud-brick ruins and heaps of rock the color of old blood. At the center of the city rose the old onion-shaped spirals of the minarets, long since converted to more effective watchtowers equipped with long-range bursts and scatterguns. The only minaret that still called the faithful to prayer was a crumbling black spiral in the Chenjan quarter.

“Taite briefed you on the file?” Rhys asked. He had never trusted her reading ability. Dancers like Rhys got big educations in Chenja - he didn’t put much stock in non-readers. The state schools called her dead dumb. She got her letters backwards.

Nyx watched him fiddle with the frogged tie at his collar. The day was fixing to be scorching, but his public modesty superseded comfort. Chenjan men were like that, always covering up. Such a shame.

“You know,” Nyx said, “if God wanted you naked, you’d have been born that way.”

He stopped his fiddling.

Conservatives.

Under her burnous, Nyx wore little more than a dhoti, breast binding, and her baldric and harness. The hilt of her short sword jutted up from a slit in the burnous.

“Yea," she said, "I looked over the file. Some Chenjan terrorists on the edge of the Chenjan district. Expected to be armed. Good boxers, I heard. They’ve been competing for cash. I sparred with one of them at Faleen.”

“I should have expected they’d be friends of yours,” Rhys said.

“I run with a lot of questionable characters," Nyx said. She wanted to pinch his dark skin, for emphasis. "We’re stopping at the hub. I need to offload your body.”

“I just do Khos's paperwork. Is Anneke in?”

“She’s already posted. Less picky about where she spends morning prayer.”

“I hate this city.”

Nyx nodded at the radio tube jutting out from the dash. “Find something useful on. You have a cigarette?”

He obediently switched on the tube. It vomited a misty blue-green wash. A cacophony of low voices muttered at him. Local politics.

“I don’t smoke,” Rhys said.

Nyx grinned and waited for him to start in about bodily impurities. She could use the diversion.

The hunched black smudge of the city grew closer. Umber-clad women moved along the side of the road, balancing baskets on their heads. Girls herded spindly gaggles of geese and a couple of pigs along the drainage ditches flanking the road. A couple of sorceresses in blue and gold carried baskets of beetle creepers and grasshoppers in tiny wooden cages. Big dropping nets hung over their lean shoulders.

“Stop and get yourself a drink, then,” Rhys said, “if you’re looking to pollute yourself.”

There it was.

“I only drink the blood of my enemies,” Nyx said, showing her teeth. She touched one of the dozen silver loops ringing her left ear. Raine’s loop. “And sometimes a whisky and water,” she said. “Partial to dark beer with a little lime.”

Rhys didn’t even look at her.

She considered selling him to a mardana. It was one of her more popular fantasies.

They passed under the burst-scarred main gate, and into Punjai.

They were late.

Edited New York Googlism (For New York Lovers)

new york


new york is book country
new york is nuked
new york is now

new york is having a ball without the snow
new york is a very old city
new york is starting to feel like brezhnev's Moscow

new york is the quick and easy way to sell your car
new york is not enough

new york is "invincible"
new york is committed to rescuing our democracy from the strangle
new york is dedicated to bringing some of the best of new york to the rest of the us

new york is learning
new york is enjoying a renaissance
new york is a densely packed mass of humanity

new york is now available
new york is still downtown

new york is an accredited branch of the ramakrishna order of india
new york is 330 miles long and 283 miles wide
new york is one of the approved charities

new york is 15
new york is een begin voor van der sterren
new york is now available online

new york is not affiliated with any other political party
new york is a catastrophe

new york is "a unique exhibition and sale" of 5287 photographs of the world trade center disaster
new york is here
new york is

new york is 91
new york is short for obvious reasons

new york is the "city that never sleeps"
new york is a new york city
new york is situated in manhattan on fifth avenue and 55th street

new york is still the city that never sleeps
new york is ‘highly concentrated’
new york is the black rat snake

new york is now ornette coleman
new york is "invincible"

new york is too great a city
new york is a city that people easily fall in love with

new york is a place where all the earth's ends meet

Googlism

Brings a whole new meaning to the term "googling yourself":

kameron is scheduled to start the ketogenic diet in may
kameron is wearing a
kameron is a purebred pembroke welsh corgi who just turned 5 years old this summer
kameron is the youngest driver on the roster
kameron is
kameron is 15
kameron is a member of the naacp
kameron is a member of sag/aftra and plans on continuing her career in the creative entertainment business
kameron is livid
kameron is awoken by a servant boy
kameron is an adorable caucasian boy
kameron is hardly a reincarnation of moses
kameron is two years old and not yet started
kameron is a more reluctant shopper
kameron is 8
kameron is the technowhiz of the school
kameron is going to tell you her story
kameron is already a car nut
kameron is diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
kameron is almost 10
kameron is the greatest boyfriend in the whole world
kameron is shy and extremely sensitive
kameron is 2 yrs old
kameron is fostered in el cajon
kameron is 7 months
kameron is 10
kameron is a young lawyer of russian
kameron is getting the itch to drive and his grand daughter is cheering them all on
kameron is droppin’ like it’s hot with his navy blue
kameron is droppin’ like it’s hot with his navy blue waves pants and his red and white and1 shoes
kameron is a mad scientist who decides to avenge the world by unleashing a
kameron is about 6'5 plus
kameron is sweet and she had
kameron is the current field commander
kameron is 2 and his vocabulary is growing in leaps and bounds
kameron is now on bass
kameron is an illustrator
kameron is working on a minor
kameron is also going to that show
kameron is holding to make pillows for children at the hospital
kameron is a year 6/7 primary teacher
kameron is 13 years old
kameron is five and ash
kameron is 24
kameron is the black/brown tabby
kameron is now walking and getting into everything
kameron is the son of long
kameron is one of the most popular producers in hollywood
kameron is 18 and girl
kameron is a hot latin mixture and is fun too
kameron is a young lawyer of russo
kameron is hot latin mixture and is fun too
kameron is a mad scientist who decides to avenge the world by unleashing a modern version of the biblical ten plagues against
kameron is 100% puerto rican from ontario california who loves to fuck
kameron is a gorgeous 18 yr

Rambling About Writing (novel procrastination)

I’m spending the morning getting some chapters into shape so I can meet my Friday deadline. I started thinking a lot about story, and how I do what I do. I realize I’m not a perfect writer or storyteller (obviously), but the more I read and write the more intuitive the actual process becomes. Sometimes you just “know” when the pacing is off. You know when the dialogue is stilted. You know when something you wrote early on belongs somewhere else.

You want to take people along on a grand adventure in a new place. You want them to identify with and care about the people you choose to take them through it. You want to live a life as interesting as your fiction...

Walking to the train today in shorts and tank top in the 84 degree heat and brilliant morning sun, I had a sudden urge to be in Seattle; to be wandering around the piers, heading out to Elliott Bay Books, buying caramel corn. I longed for that perfect, bookish, writing-intensive summer when I had a full bank account and not a care in the world.

It’s now been five years since I went to Clarion West in Seattle. I was there for six weeks, and yes, the experience changed my life, though not in the way most other Clarionites would think. I have fond memories of that summer, because I was also living on money I solicited from relatives to help me pay for the workshop, and I had enough that I didn’t have to be concerned about overspending myself on meals and books. I had complete and utter freedom. I lived and worked with sixteen other writers, most of whom were as passionate about writing as I was.

I was the fittest I’d been in my life, due mostly to subsisting on rice and eggs and bike riding everywhere in Alaska during the first part of the summer. I was probably still too invested in a friendship with a guy who probably wasn’t the greatest sort to associate with. I’d spent the last year dressing down and pretending to be stupider than I was. I had a lot of drunken Alaska stories. For the first time I was living a life of my own choosing. I may not have made the best choices, but they were different from anything I'd ever done before, and the life I made was mine.

Clarion was great for the writing, sure. As somebody who was so incredibly fucking sick of being the best writer/only writer who finished anything/had sold anything/submitted anything in college writing classes, Clarion was a new experience. I was toe-to-toe with some fantastic people.

But more than “learning” how to write, it was the people who changed my life. It’s the relationships I’ve maintained with a small core group of them that altered what had come before, that really challenged me to look behind the I’ll-go-hide-in-a-cabin-in-the-woods-and-write for 80 years life. I still think that’ll be a fun way to end my life, but now there’s a lot more I want to do in-between.

The writing bit – jolting my experience ahead 2 years in six weeks because of the intensity of the program – was great, but I can honestly say that I’d still have stayed on the writerly path and likely been just as successful, long-term (I ain’t dead yet) without going to Clarion.

What changed my life was that I gained a lot of close friends. Friends who were smart and strong and had mad, crazy lives. Ambitious, driven people who lived in diverse locations. Meaning: I got to go visit them. New Zealand, South Africa… and Jenn here in Chicago, who was quite cool about the idea of rooming up together. We’ve been roomies for two years now, and it’s been a fantastic experience.

And those experiences, those relationships, will change you as well. You’ll learn how to give a shit about people, how to trust them, how to love. You’ll know what it is to respect someone.

That, too, was something I learned at Clarion.

My writing, like my life, is done largely by feel. I couldn’t explain to you why I’m jetsetting to the next big city next year any more than I can tell you why I moved a paragraph of description out of a page of dialogue. Something felt out of place. Moving it to the end felt better, felt right .

To some extent, I’ve viewed my years in Chicago as a recovery from my time in South Africa: grad school, foreign country, living on my own, very little money, crap food, too many cigarettes, too much fear. Far, far too much fear. Before that, I’d lived back home for six months and saved up money while my parents graciously allowed me to stay at their place between academic programs. Unfortunately, being home meant I fell back into bad habits: binge eating, no exercise, the language of self-hate. Launching straight from there to SA wasn’t a great idea.

I’ve needed the recovery time. I have one more year in Chicago to get the last of my shit together, to find some more self confidence, get stronger, leaner, save up some money and find some financial security, and get myself a job that doesn’t make me miserable while still paying the bills.

I have a year to reclaim the summer sun, to find myself a pier, a good bookstore, some caramel corn.

Not neccesarily in that order.

You get the idea.

In Another Life...

.... in another life, I will have a super-metabolism of Doom, and I will be able to eat bagels all day long.

The end.

Hot Time on the Old Towne Tonight

Stepped out of the house today at 6:45am. Local bank clock read: 84 degrees, and climbing.

Real Feel for today is 98 degrees.

I have taken to imitating G, and dressed for my commute today in tank top and shorts. Switched to my corporate linen when I got in.

These hot summer days always put me in mind of Clarion, of traveling, of new cities.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Drunk on a Tuesday

Wow, it's that kind of "week."

Writing and whisky.

It's the best life.

What Plot?

Slow down, slow down!

(Thanks, Greg)

Doing it on Somebody Else's Terms

In truth, women shouldn't have to legitimize themselves as athletes by challenging the guys, but with America's short attention span, it's one of the few ways women find mainstream recognition.

These days, "A League of Their Own" sounds like a quaint notion because the WNBA is the only significant survivor of all the women's pro leagues started over the past eight years.

Why? As one reader pointed out in an e-mail message, the answer may be in the Associated Press report last week on a Pennsylvania State University poll of sports editors. Marie Hardin, one of the researchers, explained that the sports czars weren't giving adequate coverage to women's athletics because they believed the ladies were less interested in sports than men, despite increased participation.


Of course, I would argue that when it's "no big deal" to see men and women competeing against each other, in the same sports, with the same rules, things'll be a better, and we'll worry slightly less about coverage... though it'll be interesting to see who gets props by the media more often, and how much more talent will come into play, rather than "novelty." Of course, by definition, any woman who's "allowed" to "play" with the guys has gotta be twice as brilliant.

The Media Needs to Stop Killing Its Consumers...

Using actual body size based on teens' reports of their height and weight, the researchers found that overall, overweight or underweight teens were only slightly more likely than normal-weight teens to have suicidal tendencies.

But teens who perceived themselves at either weight extreme -- very fat or really skinny -- were more than twice as likely as normal-weight teens to attempt or think about suicide.

When Will it End?

When oh when?

I stopped reading 1/4 of the way through book 8, when I realized the plot had stopped completely and I was getting twenty-page descriptions of clothing and scenerey.

However, as with the Star Wars franchise, I'm invested, and someday, I'm told, the books will end. I should probably start catching up on the reading, as rumor has it there'll be "only" 13 books or so total.

I mean, 8 more years, and it might be done. As he started in 1989, it'll be about time.

Dressing Down: Worklife

It's going to be 94 degrees today here in Chicago, and muggy. I wandered in from the train station to work (about a 12 minute walk) wearing a tank top with my linen pants, and some sensible hiking sandals. A guy on a bike, wearing shorts, tank top, and do-rag, whizzed by me. He hopped off his bike and went into the office ahead of me.

Once inside, I pulled on a "nice" black shirt over the tank top to give the illusion of some semblance of corporate attire. I bumped into G, one of the temps, wearing khaki pants and long-sleeved gray shirt, and realized he'd been the guy on the bike with the do-rag.

Oh, how we love dressing in drag for corporate America, when we'd rather be in shorts and/or sports bras.

I haven't had anything to do at work for at least a week. Blaine bumbled in this morning and asked me if I knew how to do a mail merge so I can work on his wedding invitations. For better or worse, I didn't know how to do a mail merge, and told him to ask Cyllia the secretary.

And so goes the only sort-of project I've been asked to do all week: my boss's wedding invitations.

Oh, what a life.

Sucks to Be a Woman

Woke up at 2:30am, pouring sweat, jerked out of a nightmare in which I'd dreamed that I'd yanked out my IUD, to the tune of much blood and pain.

Reassured myself that no, really, all was still in place. Took a couple of Motrin this morning.

Sucks to be a woman.

Bloody womb fiction, here I come.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Fannish Labors of Love

You'll appreciate this, Jenn.

And I thought my character database was nutty... But then, I'm the actual author.

Wow.

Fans are great.

Welcome to Summer

It's another beautiful day in Chicago-land, my chiklits.

Finished editing and fixing the headers for Book One. It was a bitch and a half: cut 30,604 words. I dreampt Saturday night that I was cutting more words, proving that I really can write in my sleep... Have now tentatively retitled Book One The Dragon's Wall

I can already hear the wails from prospective readers:

"But there aren't any dragons in this book!!"

Tough nookies.

Moving straight back into working on God's War, which has got a revised "first draft" schedule, since things have been so off the last six months:

Part one: July 20th

Part two: August 31st

Part three: October 1st

Revised draft: December 31st

Word Count goal: Nothing more that 100K, please sweet fuck. I'll save the egregious word counts for Book 2 of the fantasy saga, which has also got a revised schedule (I'm about 5 chapters in)

Schedule for Over Burning Cities (Book 2) :

(but there aren't any cities in this book! oh, sorry)

Chapters 1-10: October 15th

Chapters 11-20: January 15th

Chapters 21-30: March 31st

Chapters 30-39: May 1st

Chapters 40-45: June 15th

Revised Draft: September 1st, 2006

I enjoy keeping busy.

Books! Books! Books!

The Number of Books I Own:

Jenn has a detailed spreadsheet, but suffice to say that by last count, we had a combined total of about 1500. Though Jenn continually has books arriving via mail from half.com and I went to WisCon and spent too much money, so we're liking moving past that count real quick. If Jenn's SO moves in with us in August, we'll have over 2,000 books in the house.

That's so cool.

The Book I'm Currently Reading:

I'm reading a lot of books. The Labyrinth, Homicide in the Biblical World, The Hours (continually), Ahab's Wife, Collapse, The Koran, The Origin of Satan, Gloriana, Orlando, The Persian Boy, Shriek: An Afterword, The House of Blue Mangoes, Dreaming By the Book, Strike Sparks, etc. etc.

Someday, I might finish some of those. I better, because I keep opening up new ones.

Last Book I Bought:

I buy in batches. Neveryona, The Dialectic of Sex, Affinity, and The Labyrinth.

Last Book I Read:

Million Dollar Baby

Five Books That Have Meant a Lot to Me:

The Hours by Michael Cunngingham.

A nearly perfect book that seeks to understand the entirety of three lives by giving you one day in that person's life, and watching them touch each other. The final "connection" at the end was too much for me, but I've read the book at least a dozen times, and continually have it open. When I get to the end, I start over. I can recite some of it by heart.

What I enjoy(ed) about this book is that it feels so intimately true. He captures the experiences and thoughts of these women existing within the social confines of their particular eras, and their internal turmoils and everyday concerns and joys strike something within me every time. You feel like you're reading a book about your own life, about different versions of your life, a book that will get you through the hours and onto the next and the next.

The best sorts of books can tell you something about your life, the good and the bad, and this is one of those books.

Alanna: The First Adventure, by Tamora Pierce

I read this book when I was ten. I'd already been writing a number of short stories by that time, about runaways and mad scientists, and a couple about this scullery maid who was really a princess. True to tropes, she got saved a lot by the stable boy who was really a prince. They had adventures and everything, but she was small and frail and very fem and very pretty: just the sort of woman every dorky female writer would write about - you know, wish-fulfillment.

I hadn't yet struck upon the warrior-woman theme because it just didn't seem possible. After all, women were smaller and frailer than men, and the fact that I wasn't meant that I was just a freak, and should spend the rest of my life dieting to excess in order to be smaller and never quite standing up straight so I wouldn't seem so tall.

Then I read about this girl my own age who tricked her father and swapped places with her brother and went off cross-dressing and trained to be a knight. She was smaller than most of the boys, but she bested some of them at some things, and some of them bested her at other things: in other words, she was just another one of the gang, not overly great at everything, not overly bad at anything. She was training alongside them and holding her own.

As the series went on, she even got to have sex with multiple guys (though, alas, not all at once), though I wished more would have been said about contraception, as she never got pregnant. But hey, you can't be picky.

Looking back, this is the book that really got me thinking about how things could and were different than what I'd been socialized to believe about men's and women's places, and biology as destiny. In no small part, I think it probably helped me on some level to not be so self-conscious as I got taller and taller and continually outweighed most of the boys in my class right up until the 8th grade.

There are some books that can catch you early enough, and challenge you to change your view of everything. That was this book.

On Strike Against God by Joanna Russ

I had to pick a Joanna Russ book because she makes me weak at the knees. She's the best of the militant 70s feminist SF authors, and I own a great deal of what she's published, fiction and nonfiction. Everybody always makes a big deal about The Female Man, and yea, it's a good book, but I'd have to say the one that challenged me the most and got me to think about myself, about desire, was On Strike Against God. It's a semi-autobiographical books about Russ coming to grips with her sexuality through long therapy sessions with male therapists who told her she was frigid at best, unnatural at worst. It catalogues her long internal debate with herself about what her dreams about women "really" meant, how having crushes on women may really mean that yes, she was attracted to women, and goes through one awful hetero date after another without really finding any kind of fulfillment from it, and finally, at the ripe old age of nearly 40, she braces herself for a gay bar and ends up having an affair with a female friend during which the two of them declare that if god says what they're doing is wrong, well, fuck, they're "On Strike Against God," then.

This was the book that really made me come to grips with that whole, "You know, I think I'm sometimes attracted to women," thing. I was always very clear that I was attracted to men, so that wasn't an issue, but at sixteen and again at seventeen I had a couple of serious crushes on women that I spent the next seven or eight years trying to justify to myself as something other than actual sexual attraction. As I've gotten older, I've had a handful more crushes on women, and I'm old enough now to recognize them as just that. It's not that I want to be those women, or I'm jealous of them, or blah blah blah, no really, it's actual desire. And that's cool. That's part of me, and that's OK.

Reading about Russ trying to do the same sort of justification of her own desire, and reading about some of her earlier (though not her later experiences with men, as I've not had much trouble there) experiences with desire, I couldn't help but feel slapped in the face with things that were incredibly parallel to my own experiences. And when you're reading about something that's that close, there comes a point when you have to owe up to it.

Good stuff.

The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

My mom sent me this book while I was living in Durban, because it was on my amazon.com wishlist, and she happened to have a copy. I read it on the beach a couple of days after turning in my Master's thesis, the last days of a year and a half in a foreign country described by one friend as "The most dangerous place outside a war zone," where I'd spent most of my time living on peri-peri rice, cigarettes, red wine, and weekly binge sessions.

A third of those in the province were HIV/AIDS positive, the media was blaring about brutal violence, every gathering I went to, somebody knew somebody who'd been raped, stabbed, burglarized, carjacked or killed. I realize now that I was probably more hyper-paranoid than I should have been, but I was living on my own for the first time, going to grad school, living in a foreign country, and bat-shit crazy out of my mind. The thing with living alone with stories of all that death and violence around you, is that every day you're alive, you feel really lucky to be alive, and when you go out and get drunk, you get really, really drunk and you have a really good time because, hot damn! - you're alive.

And I sat on the beach in Durban, and I read this book, and I just started crying. It was the strangest thing. If I'd have read it two years before, I'd have shrugged and moved on, but instead, I drank and savored every word of it, and cried, because life was this beautiful, fragile thing, and it could all be over at any moment.

I go back to that book when I want to remember that, when I need to remember how lucky I am.

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Poor Emma. Raised on romance novels with particular ideas about the way that love and marriage and life would be, and ending up sorely disappointed.

As a child who'd grown up on books and Disney movies, I good really relate to Emma, particularly at the time I was assigned to read this book in junior college. I'd broken up, badly, with my highschool boyfriend, had to deal with some post-breakup stalking, and was recovering from being evicted from my first apartment because I couldn't pay the rent.

It wasn't exactly the way the script was supposed to go.

When I turned thirteen, I remember looking out the window of my parents' room and thinking, "OK, I'm a teenager. I'm ready for my life to start. I'm ready for somebody to come along like they do in the books and notice me and see all of my talent and potential and show me this big, great life."

What I learned in the real world was that if you try and live your life by somebody else's ideals, by the way you think it "should" be, you're going to have a really unfulfilling life and eat rat poison.

And rat poison just never appealed to me.

What I learned from Emma was that I needed to live my own life, set my own path, and not wait for someone else to "save" me from my life. I needed to figure out not what the books and stories and other people thought I should do with this great cool life, but what I wanted to do. And it's a life that hasn't been easy, hasn't been predictable, and so far, hasn't ended in me eating rat poison.

I figure I'm doing pretty good.