Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I Believe in Magic

And I intend to have a very Merry Christmas, thank you, despite my credit card balance.

heh heh

Someday I'll figure that shit out.

One More Reason to Make a Living Writing

So I can stay out late on a Wednesday night and see a political play about Indira Ghandi and eat Thai food with local writers.

You know, I wouldn't have to get up at 5:30 the next morning.

Bah. This fucking job.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Food for Thought

I've been having a lot of dreams about food. I don't feel like I'm depriving myself of anything. I think it's my body's craving for more protein. It's the morning weight routine that does it.

Having a tough time getting back to the gym after the Thanksgiving break. Isn't that always the way?

Sat down and consumed some beef on the way home and thought about how hard I work, every day, every damn meal, to not revert to bad habits. I can say, "This is fine, today. Tomorrow, it's not." And you've gotta be on yourself every day about it, because otherwise you'll revert back to type, default.

Sometimes I'm sad that my default isn't the best one for me.

What an easy life I'd lead!

How boring that would be.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Note To Self

Though eating that processed cheese may be good, it doesn't leave you with much energy. I want to nap now.

Yes, I'm Busy

Work is busy, book is busy, plane flights are busy, shopping for holiday gifts is busy.

Eating far too much processed cheese, too.

It's good.

I'll be back later. I'm just massively swamped.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Dayton

So, Dayton.

Yea.

Managed to get both my friends sick and nearly poisoned Ian, who has allergic reactions to stuff like perfume and body spray.

Oops.

Ian did cook me three pies, though, which I thought was quite good of him, considering.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I'm Certain There Was Something To Say

Yea, I have a number of things to blog about, but I have a bit of a cold, tons of writing to do, and some great time off I need to enjoy.

See you all on the other side of the holiday.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Off to Dayton On Wednesday

I do get around.

Once More Around the Mulberry Bush

The HR Manger stopped me in the hall this morning and asked, how I'd "gotten so skinny."

Now, anybody who's met me or seen me at a Con can tell you I'm not exactly a skinny person. Never have been. I'm a size 16, moving back into a 14, and this is the weight I've been at most of my life. Two years ago, though, I was coming out of grad school binge eating and binge drinking and over-stressing, and was 20 lbs heavier when I started this job. So, I guess that in comparison, I'm "skinny"(er), anyway.

It's odd that I get annoyed when people make any sort of reference to my weight, now. I don't mind the gee, you seem a lot stronger comments, but the "gee, how did you get so skinny?" comments grate on me. Mainly because 1) I'm not skinny 2) I've been losing and gaining the same 40 or 50 lbs my whole life. I know how transitory this is. 3) I know there's no secret.

Basically, I told her I'd stopping trying to starve myself and started working out more. 20 minutes of free weights 5 mornings a week, two days a week at the gym, two 15 minute walks a day while at work; I take the stairs everywhere. I still drink calorie-laden drinks at Starbucks. I just get the small size. Instead of denying myself everything, I let myself have stuff, which means no binging later.

And I'm still not a small person. That's certainly not my goal. Being "average" and "proportionate" feels very good to me, and that's where I feel I'm at. Right now I'm working toward being stronger. That's the biggest thing for me. As far as weight goes, I'm quite comfortable at this weight. I've been here most of my life. Dropping to a 12/14 would be the furthest I'd ever take it. I physically can't get below a size 10 even if I ever wanted that - my hips, the actual bones, are too big for that. My lowest size barring concentration-camp chic is a 12, and that's going to take more years of training to hit, if I hit it again (likely, I will, if I can take boxing more seriously and get back into it).

I was watching "Supersize Me" this weekend. It's a very slickly made documentary, and it's also one of the biggest modern propoganda peices I've seen in recent years. The fat=unhealthy equation was used throughout, though none of the (mostly women) overweight people he talked to went through the same blood tests he did, so though we could see they were above average as far as pounds go, they could have been healthy as horses. I was a little startled that the graphic and stats he used to illustrate how fat America was was the image of a teenage girl, the average of which is now taller and fatter, of course, than the average woman 50 years ago, who also wore a girdle and didn't participate in any sports.

The best part of this documentary, the one that I was glad got included, was the one about the school lunch programs. In the "real world" adults have lots of choices, and if they want to eat a half pound of fries, great. But school cafeterias get lots of perks from junk food companies, and let me tell you, if I was given the choice between cheetoes and soda and some of the shit that gets dolloped onto cafteria trays, I'd choose the cheetoes. The real kicker? Comparing that food to the organic, healthy choices given by another school that cost the same amount. If it's not a cost difference, what's the deal?

The deal is that big corporations want to get their products into schools. So we live on chips, sodas, and candy bars in school. I remember one of the great things about the cafeteria in college in Alaska was that we had a salad and sandwich bar in case the "hot food" option sucked that day. I lived on a lot of salads and sandwiches. And it was cool to have that choice available.

Watching our protagonist stuff himself silly on McDonald's food that his body obviously didn't want and not walking - in New York City, no less! - in order to achieve the results he was gunning for was a little over-the-top. There were some fantastic points made, but in the end, it was a propoganda peice whose ultimate goal seemed to be to get rid of McDonald's, which is silly. Eating a cheeseburger and small fry a couple times a month isn't going to kill you. An extra 20 lbs on your frame won't even kill you. Overeating nutritionally-devoid foods and lying around on the couch all day might. If nothing else, you'll suffer from malnutrition, which he was, and that's going to cause your body to go into binge mode, which it did.

Eat what your body craves, stop eating when you're full, and exercise. Walk, walk, walk, and you'll feel better. The surprise is you may not ever be thin while doing this. And you know what? That's OK.

But then, it's never really about health. That's not what we're gunning for, and that's what's getting us into trouble.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Off to the Big Apple

Well, I'm off to NY tonight for a nice, relaxing weekend. Spending my time until then going through about 200 pages of line edits and getting some more handwritten stuff transcribed.

Type-a type-a type-a type-a.

This is why there will never be a writing reality show.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Hollaback

Tell me what you hollered back. Don't take his picture.

Tell me what you said. Tell me you told him he was a "limp dick."

Tell me you got into a fight.

I Am a Little Drunk

Good times, good times.

At the Gym

So, I was at the gym tonight, and this huge guy, I mean, broad, not tall (not much taller than me, anyway), with that amazingly defined triangular shape, the huge shoulders, walked up the stairs ahead of me.

And I was transfixed.

Not in a "Wow! That's hot!" way (I tend not to like overly butched up guys) but in a "Wow! I want to be that buff!" way.

Funny.

In Which the Protagonist Drinks Whiskey & Is Happy to Be Alive

Beautiful night. Cold, but good. Just got back from the gym. Jazz playing. Roommates cooking dinner and chatting in the big kitchen. Drinking some whiskey, transcribing some writing work I did this afternoon. Getting ready for a great weekend in NY.

Doesn't get much better.

On Being Better

It's been some time since I talked about being better. I guess you could say I've been too busy working at it to reflect on it.

To be honest, I'm not really sure where I'm at with it. I'm writing like a maniac, at lunch, on the bus, on the train, at home. I'm switching out notebooks soon because this one's full. I have a marketable book that's halfway done. I'm about to drop another waist size as well (in a good way), and my biceps have gotten bigger and denser after many weeks of neglect. I'll be in NY this weekend, and Ohio next week to visit a very, very good friend of mine who I've know for more than a decade. I'm going home for Christmas, paying my own way totally this time. I'm moving to NY next year, and moving again a year after that.

My job pays me a living, I like the people I work with, and I have a bit of breathing time this week before I get dumped with another whirlwind of "real work" terror in December. That's pretty fair.

I'm working out regularly and getting work done. Though you may not think it's on the list, I'm also glad I've had some time for blogging.

There are still things I desperately want, but I'm at the point where I'm actively working toward all of my goals, so there isn't much to complain about except, "Gee, it takes a lot of time to be the person you want to be." And that's not much of a criticism at all.

I am still in constant wonder at the way things are turning out.

I think I'm getting far more than I hoped for.

Thoughts On Meaningful Work

I went out ot lunch today at a local place that sits on the first floor of one of the buildings in our corporate complex. I haven't been here since I had the flu, because after eating their baked potato soup, I promptly went home and vomited.

I've been coming here for two years, and the turnover in the waitstaff is predictable. Most people try to stay out of food service if they can, or use it to pay bills to get through school or divorces. For some, a very few, like, say, my parents, it becomes a career. But not always because you want it to.

It's not usually you're first choice.

You don't sit around in fourth grade and say, "I want to be a waitress with I grow up." And if you do like the work, you're not supposed to.

I've always had a terror of these sorts of jobs, likely inspired by my parents, who dreamed of something like what I've now got: my ability to walk out of college and at the very least get myself a 401 (K) plan, health benefits, enough money to pay rent in a decent town, time to pursue other passions, holidays off, paid vacation.

They didn't want me to spend my relative youth the way they did, working 12-hour shifts, weekends, holidays, coming home smelling of burger grease and french fries.

The irony, of course, is that my parents did achieve that comfortable white collar life, the dog and the big house and the (mostly) college educated children, a little something for retirement.

And they did it flipping burgers. It got them where they wanted to be, just a little later in life than they probably wanted.

But when I'm here at lunch, watching a handful of the servers still working food service, paying bills, I wonder - do they have a plan? Do they want to run this place? Or is this enough? And are they OK with that? Am I? Because some people are OK with it.

I wasn't.

Certainly, there are things I like about all of the jobs I've had. I worked harder as a waitress and had less freedom than the job I have now, and I make twice as much money now, only the labor we exert in serving others is seen as a lesser labor than sitting on our asses typing out words and numbers and running paper reports about actual work done by others.

I take some comfort in the fact that the tower crews whose work I report on make more money than I do. You know how they get up those 200 ft cell phone towers?

They climb.

I think I have some guilt about how I work. I have some guilt about being on the other side of the table. I don't understand money. I don't understand the value of work. I look around at what everyone else makes for what they do, for how hard they work, and it boggles my mind at how undervalued the people who actually do things are. We pay managers six figures to run reports and bitch about how they don't know what's going on in the field. You want to know what's going on in the field? Put on a hard hat and get into the field. I spend all day reviewing tower audits, and I've never been to a cell site.

I remember, while working in the corporate office at the burger joint, when the VPs realized the company had grown so big that over half the office staff hadn't come up from behind the grill. They'd never seen a deep fryer up close. My mom helped spearhead a campaign to encourage office folks to get their food handlers' cards and go and help out in one of the burger joints for a day.

For paper pushes, it was an eye opener.

And, I think, for some, deeply satisfying.

We get so divorced from real, tangible work, hunched at our desks, making up reports, fielding information. But at day's end you have nothing to show for it but a paycheck.

For me, hey, that's really all I need.

But I must say, there are days when I'd like to learn how to climb a 200 ft tower and replace an antenna.

They'd pay me more, too.

I'm Going to Lunch

It occurs to me why, after a while, writers don't read reviews.

I'll take my trusted critiquers over random slapdash any day.

"When You Fall in Love With Something..."

Kariya, a former All-American in field hockey at the University of Maine, knew she was going to be a boxer from the first time she stepped through the ropes to spar. It was the typical trial by fire for a fighter at the KO Boxing Gym in Toronto, but with an added twist – since she was a female, she wasn’t particularly welcome in the club.

“They didn’t want me in the gym,” she remembered. “They wanted me to have a try at it and go. I got punched right in my face and I just wanted to get right back at him. Ever since then I knew that I loved it. I’ve always been intrigued by watching boxing and I’ve always been a boxing fan, so going in there, trying it, and understanding the discipline it takes and how difficult of a sport it really is, I wanted to really be the best at it.”


And yea, they've got a mention about her looks (sigh). But let's be happy it was a half-sentence throw-away line, and not the subject of the whole damn article.

Gamer Girl Action

Video games, by and large, assume that whether you’re playing a female character or not, you’re going to want to have sex with a female character, or at least be sexually attracted to a female character (or monster).

Women

In Liberia, when their sons were kidnapped and drugged to fight for rebel factions, and when their husbands came home from brothels and infected them with H.I.V., and when government soldiers invaded their houses and raped them in front of their teenage sons, these were the women who picked themselves up and kept going. They kept selling fish, cassava and kola nuts so they could feed their families. They gave birth to the children of their rapists in the forests and carried the children on their backs as they balanced jugs of water on their heads.

These are the women who went to the polls in Liberia last week. They ignored the threats of the young men who vowed more war if their chosen presidential candidate, a former soccer player named George Weah, didn't win. "No Weah, no peace," the boys yelled, chanting in the streets and around the polling stations.

The women in Liberia, by and large, ignored those boys and made Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who is 67, the first woman to be elected to lead an African country. I wasn't surprised that Mr. Weah immediately said the vote had been rigged, although international observers said it had not been. In the half-century since the Europeans left Africa, its men have proved remarkably adept at self-delusion.

Heidi Fleiss Intends to Open a Brothel For Female Clientele

Fleiss plans makeover for Nevada brothel

LAS VEGAS - Former "Hollywood Madam" Heidi Fleiss says she's bound for a brothel in the southern Nevada desert that she wants to help remake into a resort featuring male prostitutes serving female customers.

"I am moving to Crystal," Fleiss said Wednesday of a desert crossroads 20 miles north of Pahrump and about 80 miles outside Las Vegas. It features two bordellos and little else.

"I am opening up a stud farm," Fleiss declared from her Hollywood home overlooking the Sunset Strip. "I am going to have the sexiest men on earth. Women are going to love it."

Joe Richards, who owns the Cherry Patch Ranch and Mabel's Ranch in Crystal, said he sent a "courtesy" letter Tuesday to inform the Nye County Commission that Fleiss will work for him.

"She's going to be madam hostess of Cherry Patch Ranch," Richards told The Associated Press by telephone. He called her an employee rather than a partner.

There's one possible problem, though. County Sheriff Tony DeMeo said that because Fleiss is a convicted felon, she could be banned from the county's legal sex trade. DeMeo sits with the five county commissioners on a six-member brothel licensing board.

Fleiss, 39, was released from a California prison in 1999 after serving 21 months for money laundering, tax evasion and attempted pandering.

Fleiss was convicted in 1995 of running a prostitution ring in which models-turned-prostitutes were flown around the world to meet wealthy actors and clients who paid as much as $10,000 for a single meeting.

DeMeo said he'd heard several reports in his three years as sheriff about Fleiss' plans, including a failed proposal by an Australian firm that hired Fleiss in 2003 to promote a 50-room brothel-hotel.

"This is different," Fleiss insisted Wednesday, describing movers packing her belongings and her plan to arrive in Nevada later this week. "I'm moving."

Nye County is among 10 rural Nevada counties in which prostitution is legal under county and state oversight. Prostitution is illegal in Clark County surrounding Las Vegas, and Washoe County around Reno.


If she really wantes to make money, she'll have male and female prostitutes, and she'll stick to that "women clients only" rule with an iron resolve.

Sucks that she's working for a man, though. Which is why I think the whole thing will come to naught. She's just another Charlie's Angel.

What's So Bad About Being Called A Lesbian?

The girls' soccer team at Immaculate High School celebrated a goal that helped them win the championship game. A copy editor for the local newspaper placed a caption beneath a picture that stated they were actually celebrating one of their teammates coming out as a lesbian. The caption was considered offensive and unprofessional.

While the copyeditor was lying, and so violated journalistic principles, what he (?) was lying about shouldn't have been an issue. Yes, it's stereotyping female atheletes, but you know, some women athletes are lesbians. So are some fashion models. If "lesbian" wasn't a "bad word" would people have reacted so strongly?

The day when calling somebody a "lesbian" is considered a statement of fact and not an insult will be a good fucking day. Why's "lesbian" have to be a curse word?

I enjoy being mistaken for a lesbian. Doesn't bother me a bit. Why should it?

Only 37?

"Strong drink."

- Daniel Handler, author of the Limony Snicket books, when asked how he kept his confidence in his first book through 37 rejections

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

If Only I Could Type a Little Faster

A bit of a hunger night. Should have gone to the gym. Was bloody fucking cold, and I wasn't dressed for the walk home, dammit.

I'm going to seek out some yogurt and type a little faster.

I've got to finish this book.

This Just May Be The Weirdest Article I've Ever Read

Huh?

That is all.

But How Will I Type?

Fell on the stairs coming up from the train platform yesterday. I smashed the hell out of my right middle finger. I didn't think much of it at the time, but when I woke up this morning, it was pretty stiff and and sore. It's not puffy, though, and I can bend it easily.

But getting up last night, realizing it hurt, and not being able to see what was going on with it, I had this suddnen, terrible fear:

"But how will I type?"

The answer, of course, is two-fingered typing.

But it's funny how worried I was about that. My entire livlihood, from dayjob to writing work, hinges on my abillity to get words down on a keyborad quickly.

I have nightmares about people cutting off my fingers.

God's War: Excerpt

Chapter 14

“I always thought you’d be taller,” Nyx said.

Queen Nasyaan smiled and stood. Nyx had seen images of her before, of course, but most of those were doctored.

The Queen was a short, plump woman with a halo of graying hair. Her face was too young for the hair – she wasn’t even forty. The desert tended to suck the youth from everyone else. Nyx supposed the Queen was attractive in the way of an older sister or blood cousin; cute, and immediately likable, but not someone you’d first tag as a bed partner.

Nyx caught Rhys looking at her, and had the peculiar feeling he was reading her mind. One never knew, with magicians.

“Sit, please,” the Queen said, gesturing to the two seats on the other side of the polished white table.

Nyx watched the woman’s hands – soft hands, hands that hadn’t seen much of the desert. The filters kept out the worst of the sun. This was a queen who would never have to be scraped for cancers.

“I guess I should say I’m sorry about your mother,” Nyx said. “Her dying.”

When Queen Abyyad died, Nyx had gotten drunk and told Rhys to thank God for her dying. Rhys told her God didn’t work that way. It hadn’t put a damper on her spirits.

“I never liked the old bitch anyway,” the Queen said.

“Not many people did,” Nyx said.

“Nyx?” Rhys said quietly.

She waved him away.

“So it is Nyxnissa so Dasheem?” the Queen asked.

“Nyx, yea.”

“Nyx, a pleasure.”

“Thanks.”

“Thank you for answering my summons. I’m interested in expanding my pool of hunters. I heard you served time at the front.”

“A long time ago.” Nyx looked around for something to drink, found nothing. Did they have something against liquor in the palace?

“Volunteered?”

“Yea.”

“Two years of service, honorably discharged at nineteen, so I’ve read.”

Nyx stiffened. This wasn’t going to be cut and dry.

“You came back with burns over eighty percent of your body,” the Queen said. “Your military file says you were put into the care of the magicians for reconstitution.”
The Queen eyed her over, as if looking for evidence that Nyx had once been a charred, blackened husk of a woman. “Is that right?”

“Yea.”

The Queen didn’t look convinced.

“I got a good magician. The best in the business,” Nyx said. And then he fucked me over and sent me to prison, Nyx thought. But she didn't say that out loud.

“You’re a war hero, then. A true patriot. I went against the advice of my best counselors in asking you here.”

“I don’t get on well with most people. They don’t like me much,” Nyx said. “I’ve been a bounty hunter and a bēl damê a lot longer than I was at the front.”

“I read that you served some time in prison for black work.”

“I did.”

“You have some sympathy for breeders?”

“Not really. It paid well.”

“More than being a bēl damê? As I recall, collecting blood debt is quite rewarding, monetarily.”

“Only if you’re good at it,” Nyx said. “I wasn’t.”

“You brought in all of your notes. What was it? Twenty-eight for twenty-eight?”

“I did that in three years. Most bēl damês do two or three times that. They’re better at throwing away bad notes than I was.”

“You pursue your notes to the end.”

“I do,” Nyx said. “I’m stubborn. Maybe just stupid.”

“Neither of us have gotten where we are by being stupid,” the Queen said.

“Oh, I’ve done some pretty stupid things,” Nyx said.

“How long would you pursue a note for me?”

Nyx shrugged. “It’s all the same. I’d go until I got it, or until someone else did. Rumor has it you’ve called in a lot of hunters.”

“A handful. All but half a dozen of the bēl damês have already given up the hunt. I need someone –“

“Desperate?” Nyx suggested.

“I suppose you’d like to know about the money, then.”

“I want to know what I’m hunting first.”

“You’ve shown an incredible dedication to your country.”

“Uh-huh,” Nyx said. Government types had sweet-talked her with words like honor, dedication, service, obligation. She had burned for it, and much more.

“Tell me, why did you volunteer for the front?”

“My older brothers died at the front. My little brother got called up. I joined so I could watch his back.”

“That’s –“

“He died of dysentery during basic training,” Nyx said.

“Sacrificing for the cause is truly –“

“Let’s go ahead talk money,” Nyx said. The last thing she wanted was to listen to the Queen of Nasheen tell her she was some kind of living saint for burning at the front. Nyx knew better.

“Money isn’t an issue,” the Queen said. “Bring me the woman alive and I’ll give you however much you want. I’ll set you up in an estate by the sea with a hundred servants if you wish it. Women, of course.” She flicked a look at Rhys. “Unless you’d prefer half-breeds. We have no end of male half-breeds.”

“Until we start sending half-breeds to the front.”

“Bring me this woman, and we never will.”

“What do you mean?”

“Let’s say this woman has the power to end the war. The war that took your brothers, your life. I offer you a way to end the war, and get paid well besides.”


Nyx eased back into her seat. “Now I know why you called me up.”

“Your file makes for interesting reading.”

“No doubt.”

“So.” The Queen, too, leaned back in her chair. “What do you think of my offer?”

“I have a good team,” Nyx said. “We could put something off. When did you last see this woman?”

“She’s a foreigner, an off-worlder called Nikodem Jordan.” The Queen pulled a slate off the table and called up a photo. She handed the slate to Nyx. “This gives her likeness and her vitals. You’ll need to change the password. I require the utmost discretion.”

Nyx took the slate and looked at a display of photos. They had date and time stamps. Some were dated eight years before. She’d figured that. Nikodem was a small woman, Chenjan in coloring, with a broad nose and wide cheekbones, gray eyes. It was an arresting face, not so much alien as exotic in the way she’d heard off-worlders were. She was too little for real beauty, but the face, ah, the face! Nyx saw strength in it, and some cunning. It was a face that kept others out, kept secrets.

“You will bring her back to me?” the Queen asked.

“I’ll need to know everything about her,” Nyx said. She looked up from the slate, reluctantly. “How long has she been gone? Does she have friends, other travelers? Who did she meet with while she was here?” She paused, wondered if she should show her card. “This wasn’t her first visit. Who did she meet with the last time she was here?”

The Queen answered a few of the questions, talked a little about the off-worlders. Nikodem had been missing for a month. The Queen said that when the off-worlders had come into Faleen fore the first time sixteen years before, they came in speaking Arabic. That’s how out of touch off-worlders were with what was going on in Nasheen. It took some time to explain to them that Arabic had been dead in Nasheen for two thousand years.

“What did they come here looking for?” Nyx asked.

“Some of that is confidential,” the Queen said. “What I can say is that they were very interested in finding other followers of the Book. They found our particular brand of Islam rather contemptible.” She glanced over at Rhys. “And they didn’t think Chenja’s was much better, but they have an offer for us, and we’ve been in negotiations these last eight years. That’s the transit time from our world to theirs.”

“New Canaan?” Nyx asked.

“Yes. You know it?”

“I didn’t take geography or astronomy much past the ones, but I listen to a lot of stories. I hear they’re pretty conservative, and mostly looking to some dead white guy,” Nyx said. She thought of Kine, who hadn’t had sex or alcohol in nearly fifteen years. That couldn’t be good for anyone.

“They call themselves the Mujahadin. The Quran is their primary book, yes, but they’ve incorporated both the teachings of the prophet Jesus and the old testament of the Judeans. They believe that because they have a faith composed of this trinity, they are the only true believers of the one God, the only people who know and understand Him.”

“God is unknowable,” Rhys said. “That is his nature. For them to claim to know God is arrogance at best.”

“It’s true that only the Chenjans have a call to prayer anymore, and some of Mohammed’s proscriptions I find terribly contradictory and backward within our current society, but it is no business of mine to tell my women how to worship. There are God’s laws and women’s laws. Whenever possible, they intersect. When they do not, I tend to ere on the side of individual freedom.”

Nyx coughed. Individual freedom, sure. She remembered her brothers. Remembered how honor-bound she’d been to “volunteer.”

“It would be a fantastic opportunity to spread that sort of freedom to other worlds,” the Queen said.

Rhys said, “But wouldn’t that be Nasheen imposing on others the sort of trinity the Canaanites are coming here to spread among the Nasheenians?”

Nyx sucked her teeth and glared at him. The Queen laughed.

“We have different views of God, you and I,” the Queen said.

“So when can I see these Canaanites?” Nyx asked. The less Rhys talked about God to the Queen of Nasheen, the better.

“Come, I will take you to them,” the Queen said, and rose.

Carnivale of the Feminists is Up

Good stuff.

Our New Contractor

We have a new person, let's call her Alana, working site ac. for us. She requested our team contact info, and here's what Yellow sent to her (names and numbers have been altered, of course):

Dee W. - Office - 773-XXX-XXXX - that's all you'll need for he's afraid of site walks and never leaves the office. In case he does leave his mobile is 773-XXX-XXXX.

Sarah H. - Mobile - 773-XXX-XXXX - that's all you'll need for she's afraid of the office and never comes in from the field.

Kameron Hurley - Office - 773-XXX-XXXX - Careful what you say to Kameron. If she thinks you're strange you'll end up as a character in her next book. I've been trying to get in for 2 years now - I'm either too strange or grotesquely normal.

I love Yellow.

Snow! It's Going to Snow Today!

Snow!

Glamour

Now young women tend to label the topless photos "empowering" and "liberating". A recent survey of 2,000 15-19-year-old girls found that 67% considered "glamour model" their ideal profession. Faced daily with the evidence that women have to be sexually attractive to be considered successful why wouldn't young women choose to make a profession of it?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

"If You Don't Stay Awake, People Tend to Take Away Your Rights."

Simon Owens has a shortish interview with me up at Bloggasm.

Telling Stories

In honor of SciFiction's curtain call, David Schwartz has asked writers to pen appreciations for all 320 of the stories that have been posted during SciFiction's run.

So go check out the list of stories. If you don't see one you know, read and browse for something you like. Dibs seem to be going pretty quick, so jump over there and pick something up.

I got dibs on Russ. heh

What, you're surprised?

When In Doubt....

...add a car chase scene and the death of a love one.

Ah yes, getting back into my stride.

I would also like to praise Trader Joe's for the potency and reasonable pricing of their acidophilus. It is the IUD-carrying woman's best friend.

Today's song stuck on repeat: Antigone Rising, "Waiting, Watching, Wishing." Fucking fantastic.

Here we go again looking for a ride
got a smile to hide all the rain in my eyes
Got a bag stuffed filled with love and goodbyes.
I don't care if I never grow up
don't want to shrink in a suit, don't want to live
just to suck someone bone-dry
I'd rather die

Each time I think back to my hometown
my sad skinny self standin' around
waiting, watching, wishing, for something to happen
I used to dream about a boy like you
with your hair dyed black
and your eyes jet blue
hoping, searching, and praying for something fantastic

Chorus:
We've been here before
Stood up at the door
Holding secrets we'd never say
Hey don't hang your head
Feel the breeze instead
Fear no shadow don't feel no shame
Hey hey hey...

All that it took was one punch in the face
to make me wanna steal that guy's car in the first place.
Grass on suburban lawns never looked so black.
Slip through the window, step through the door
hand me your hairpin your knees to the floor
Head to the highway, we're never turnin' back
never turnin' back, never turnin' back...

Car by car and line by line
someday you'll find your place and I'll find mine
In a new time and a brand new town...get up get up get up GET DOWN!

On and on and on we go
we've got no radio so we sing songs we know
for miles and miles of open road get up get up get up let's go!

(chorus)

Get up get up get up get down
(repeat 3x)


That is all.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Damn This Fucking Book

ARGAGRGGRGA ARGARGAGR ARGA RAGR ARGAR

That about sums up what I think of my current output.

Fandom & Male Privilege

From Cereta:

Media fandom as most of us know it is often largely a female space. By that I mean, many of the circles we run in are made up mostly of women. Women write stories for other women, make vids for other women, talk with other women, go to cons with other women, and while few of us actively want to exclude men, we're not really invested in drawing them in, either. Fandom is one of the few places where you'll actually hear, "Wait, so-and-so's a guy?" And you know, we're kind of used to that.

Except lately, these fairly small spaces have been expanding, and intersecting with spaces where there are more men. And often, everything is fine and dandy. It's just that sometimes, it's not.

Let's take this post for example. Allowing for the moment that the guy was being obnoxious as all shit in his phrasing, there was still a rather disturbing amount of agreement to what was, in essence, a classic example of male privilege.

It is not enough, you see, not to exclude men. We have to actively get them involved. I'm not sure what's more insidious, there: the notion that we must find it not only desirable that men get involved in fandom but also some kind of imperative, or the notion that it is our, women's, responsibility to get them involved in fandom. That we are the ones who must act, in other words. That even though we carved these spaces out for ourselves (didn't nobody create those lists and cons and archives and communities for us, darlin'), we must take the further step to get men involved in them. And if you are going to argue that these couple of guys are in no way representative of male privilege at work in fandom, you might want to talk to the vidders who've been told that vidding can't be an "art" because no men are involved. Instead, it can only be a "hobby."

And further, as implied in this response, we must do so by actively suppressing our own interests. It is not enough to make things more appealing to men; we must stop the things that appeal to us. And that, really, is where things can get ugly. Because men can stand longingly at the window waiting for us to coax them in all they want, and ultimately, it doesn't affect us. What does affect us is the attempt to reshape the spaces we have set up for ourselves to better reflect their interests.


Read the rest

Oh, My Word

If Microsoft Word autocorrects one more "shit" into "sit," or - far worse - one more "fuck," into "duck," I may need to imbibe a good deal more coffee.

Why would I need real words "autocorrected"?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Blah blah blah

Weekends should be 3 or 4 days long. I should be living in a Scandinavian country.

Free healthcare, too.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Oh, Shit

SciFiction folds

Dammit

What I'm Doing This Weekend

I need to write 40 pages this weekend, and need to spend this morning going back over my characters and making them more sympathetic. The problem with doing a brutal blood and sand novel is that you start to forget everybody's humanity.

That's a problem. It also makes the entire story more interesting when everybody's got their own shit going on. I need to deepen said shit.

Friday, November 11, 2005

She Looked So Much Like A Real Woman, She Traumatized Small Children

And Barbie isn't traumatizing?

heh heh

(thanks, B)

I Am Worried..

.. that I've just written 20 pages of crap.

le sigh

Gotta Love That Credit Card Bill

Whew boy, I sure do owe them a shitload. How do I overspend myself like this? I mean, yea, I'll square it at month's end, but sweet lord, all those plane tickets added up.

"Feminist Society Would Dissatisfy Many Women"

It's so sexy when a college boy tells me what I think. It gets me all hot and fired up.

I love all the research that went into this piece. I love all the women he talked to, the surveys he sent out, the data he collected, the... oh no? You mean he's just telling us what women want?

What a sweetheart!

Imagine if the world were a perfect place. Wouldn't it be great? If everyone learned to play fair and share everything, surely the lives of men and women alike would be better.

Imagine all the people, living for today. Imagine there's no countries, it isn't hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for, no relgion, too....

Oh, sorry, wrong rant.

Or would it? Can men and women truly do the same things?

Like walk, talk, and chew gum at the same time? Truly, this is a skill both men and women cannot cultivate, like breathing. Women need men's assistance for basic bodily functions like breathing, carrying things, walking, raising children... OK, well, not that last bit! Women are biologically programmed to take care of children. That's why they don't drown them, and why all men are bad fathers.

Although possible, it seems impractical for women to be a part of a revolution to do the same things as men, yet sustain a position of independence. Any dictionary will define feminism as a movement that advocates for the equal rights of women. But it's more than that. Feminism encompasses connotations and often misrepresents the voice of every woman.

Every single woman. All those women's voices he's representing right now! I'm sure he'll quote their voices later, and bring out all that copious research he's done, interviewing his fellow female classmates and really listening to those voices.

What, you mean he doesn't quote any women? Well, that's not important. He's a guy, he can speak for them about as readily as I can speak the minds of Quebec Separatists. Though you know, if men and women are truly from different planets, as he claims, I'm not really sure how he, as a man, would be able to speak for them. It presents a neat leap in logic! Go-go Penn junior!

If feminism prevailed, the world would be drastically different and women wouldn't like the final result.

He has talked to thousands of women who agree. Thousands, I tell you!

He's not a woman, but he plays one on TV. And he has lots of female friends. Really.

The day men and women have the same level of power is the also the day when chivalry dies.

What is this word, chivalry? Wasn't that when women only had to pay for things with the production of heirs?

Many women enjoy visiting bars and having men buy them drinks in exchange for a casual conversation.

Many women also enjoy making enough money that they can buy the house a round and go drag racing afterward.

It seems that after all the work women put into getting ready for a night out, they won't compromise their ability to get free alcohol for the sake of self-independence.

Cost of little black dress: $113
Cost of makeup: $30
Cost of hair crap: $30
Cost of shampoo: $60 (salon)
Cost of good haircut: $60
Cost of shoes: $40 (on sale at Nordstrom rack)
Cost of hose: $20
Cost of accessories: $50 (necklance, earrings)
Cost of manicure: $30
Cost of self-tanner: $20
Cost of transportation to bar (taxi) $20

Cost of having a random guy in a bar buy you a $3 beer:

Priceless.

I fully intend to never compromise my self-independence (what the fuck is that supposed to mean? An independence from the self? Does he mean "independence"? What sort of college students is Penn turing out?) for free liquor. The whole point of independence is that you can buy your own liquor.

Other women appreciate a man paying for dinner or movie tickets. But in a world where men and women see each other as equals, a man might not open his wallet and show a level of gallantry toward an intriguing woman.

Sweet fuck, I'm going to have nightmares about living in a world where men don't pay for dates. I wonder how lesbians negotiate this minefield. Could you imagine a world where men and women look at each other as equals, and men don't pay the women's portion? I mean, you'd have to pay your own. Oh, the sweet, sweet, price of equality!

Many of life's common courtesies would disappear if men and women were the same. Women would have to protect themselves and a lot of women would find themselves walking home alone instead of being escorted home by a man.

By far my favorite! Men wouldn't be around to protect women from other men! Because men are doing such a great job right now! Women might have to protect themselves! Like they have to do now!

Oh, the humanity!

Imagine a world where women would be encouraged to be weak and small and submissive so more men could protect them from other men! Cause that works so well.

A man's reflex to open a door for a woman would be replaced with the thought of her being comfortable enough to open the door for herself.

!!!!!

When men aren't around in our house, it's truly staggering. Nothing gets done. Me, Jenn and K stand and stare at the front door and weep and wail because we are unsure of how this complex mechanism works. We have to leave the groceries in the car because we're unsure how to carry them upstairs all by ourselves! Putting together Ikea furniture can bring us to blows - I mean, tears - and we find ourselves calling our male friends at odd hours and asking them to come over and lift things for us.

If men and women are equal, society itself will collapse. I mean, women would be able to take care of themselves. It would be terrifying.

If both sexes were equal, love would become awkward as well. Marriage, or even deciding who should propose or pay for the ring, would be a different experience.

Why yes, it would. In fact, it's quite different today. My mom proposed to my dad. It seemed to work very well for them. What world are you living in, sweety?

The days of a husband pulling out his wife's chair would be over because men wouldn't want to risk hearing a reminder about how women can do things for themselves.

Wow. That would be so scary. I can just see this guy burst into tears when his girlfriend is like, "Thanks for pulling out the chair, but I've got it."

Serious breakdown time.

It seems that if men and women acted as equals, dating would be pretty boring. The chemistry created between two people is not defined by strong similarities, but by the differences and struggles for power that some feminists seek to destroy.

!!!

Struggles for power! Dating is about power! That's what makes it so fun! Long-term partnerships are not based on mutual trust, respect, and friendship, they're based on dominance and submission. I think this guy's confusing bedroom play with dating. I'm going to send him some BDSM gear.

Where there are equal rights, there should be equal responsibilities. In a fair world, both men and women would have rifles in hand, ready challenge the enemy on the battlefield.

Yea, cause women have never fought with rifles on a battlefield.

Do they teach history in college?

Yet few feminists are yearning to fight wars or work blue collar jobs with long hours.

Last time I checked, men don't want to do that either. Unless it's a cool revolution. Then everyone signs up. And that includes women, you ignorant fucktard. Russian women had their own tank brigade. And for the record, Sarah, our construction manager, works 16 hour days. So fuck off.

Comparatively fewer women than men work grueling hours on the assembly line. Instead, many want to be key players in powerful companies or work for widely viewed media outlets where their voices can be heard.

This assumes that men *want* to work on assembly lines and *don't* want to work in media where their voices are widely heard. And yet the media's mostly run by men and I've never heard of a guy who loved his assembly line job.

A purely feminist society would dramatically change the family structure. In nature, females develop an inherent relationship with their young by bearing, nursing, and protecting them at a young age.

And drowning them. Oh wait, sorry, I mean, every woman is naturally happy and joyful at the thought of having and raising children all by herself without any support from friends, family, or her husband. It's natural that way.

This is why some of our earliest childhood memories involve, not our father, but our mother.

No, it's because your dad was gone all the time, dude. I've got just as many early memories of my dad as my mom. They worked the same hours.

Most fathers have a desire to provide for the wife and the children, and are often expected at the bare minimum to put food on the table.

Whereas women don't care if there's food on the table, and never help provide it.

Mothers nourish their children, and if these caring mothers were placed in the work force, we force traditional family standards to be the exact opposite of what they are today.

Dude, did he just say that mothers aren't in workforce today?

It would be far from the truth to say that women are not entitled to have high-power positions in the work force or successful careers in the military. But in a world where feminism holds the reigns of society, we overhaul the design of the family unit, weaken the effect of feminine sexuality and introduce the possibility of having our daughters, sisters and mothers fight on the front lines and work grueling jobs.

Who designed this family unit? You know what some of the oldest forms of "family units" were? Polyandry and polygamy, and big groups of kin living and working together and helping raise all the kids together. If you want to argue "design" my poor chiklit, then you'd need to argue that one woman raising her children all by herself is the most *unnatural* of family units.

I love this bit, too about weakening "the effect of feminine sexuality." Is he implying that he doesn't find butch women sexy? I'm telling you, he'll get that BDSM gear and change his mind.

And wake up, honey. Women already work grueling jobs. Some women work 12-16 hours days just like some men. As for women fighting on the front lines, again, they already are and have, usually either in guerilla units or cross-dressing as men. Women fight and die just like men. We also fight and die in childbirth. There's lots of fighting and dying, and feminism probably won't change any of that, unless it's to get women better medical care so they aren't dying in childbirth as much.

I'm not here to say what is right or wrong, but those who are fighting for equality need to keep in mind the changes that may occur if society adopted a true feminist perspective.

Which, being a woman and a feminist, he knows all about. Oh, wait...

For those who think a feminist society would be utopia, the perfect society is anything but perfect. If women choose to fight for equality, they should be careful what they wish for.

Smackdown, bitch!

Gosh, I love this stuff. I bet he's getting laid, like, all the time. Boys who think I'm weak and dependent and spend 8 hours every night getting ready for a date and don't know how to shoot a rifle are soooo sexy.

(via Pandagon)

Fat Women Don't Date, And Other Laughable Illusions

I put myself on the scale the other day at the gym and was elated to learn that I weighed 195 lbs.

Because I'm a chronic weight-obsessed person (less so now, as I get older and more confident), I'd been thinking for the last year that I was about 20 lbs heavier. When I look in the mirror, no matter what my actual weight, I usually think I'm about 20 lbs heavier. Because I've spent the majority of my life either On A Diet or Thinking About How I Should Be On A Diet, I'm very good at juding what other people weigh, but always misjudge myself.

The lowest weight I ever remember being was in the 7th grade when I weighed 170 lbs. I have not seen that weight since, for good reason. I mean, I was in the 7th grade. My highest weight when I was 18 was 270, all of it gained while I tried to extricate myself from a not-so-great relationship in which I hoped he might break up with me if I gained enough weight. For the record, ladies, he didn't. I had to get out the old fashioned way and do all the breaking up myself, for the third time, and stick to my guns this time.

Minus the crappy relationship, I dropped the weight in a year and got down to 180, which is my comfort weight, my size 12, my I'm-in-shape-and-can-bike-ride-20-miles weight.

What that means is that I've actually spent most of my life between 190 and 200 lbs. I'm 5'9. Yes, I'm big in the hips and shoulders. Yes, in grade school I was a chubby dork and largely ignored by boys unless we were "just friends."

Once I hit highschool, not so much. I weighed 270 and couldn't even get rid of a guy.

It isn't about the weight, no matter how many years I've spent beating myself up about it and telling myself that's why the Aryan boys didn't run after me in droves. In fact, post-highschool, I never lacked for partners. I boldly told my internet-dating prospectives that I was 200 lbs. They mostly didn't blink. The ones who did weren't worth my time anyway.

I spent six years mostly-single as a matter of choice, not for lack of prospects. When you come out of a bad relationship, you've gotta be real keen that the next time around, you don't start the cycle all over again. I needed to go on my own journey, figure out my strengths, and be absolutely certain that I could not only choose a better partner, but have the strength to walk away without going through a 100 lb weight gain and chain smoking in order to "just get through it." I turned a lot of very good guys down. I'm still good friends with some of them.

So when I saw this article about a woman who was 5'5, 200 lbs and got rejected by a pretty regular sort of dating service because she was "overweight" I was pretty stunned.

She said she told a LunchDates counselor in a phone interview she weighed a little less than 200 pounds. "About a half-hour later, I got a call from her, and she said, 'I'm sorry. We can't help you because you're overweight.' Just like that. I think what really upset me is that it was done strictly by numbers," Traynor said.

"We can't help you." You're kidding me, right? There's no guy out there (let's keep this strictly hetero for the moment) who'd date a woman who weighs 200 lbs???

Hold a moment while I laugh.

That is the biggest bag of utter horseshit I've ever heard. It's just not true.

Traynor said that she liked the personal nature of it, adding there is nothing in its Web site about weight requirements.

Gee, I hope not. Most people who meet me think I'm average-to-plump. Imagine a website that said that any woman over 150lbs need not apply. Too bad for the boys!

And I sure as hell can't imagine a site that would turn away a man for being "just under" 200 lbs.

"I just don't have the people for everybody. Whether it's age or body type, religion, hobbies, if someone asked us for something we can't do we try to be honest about it," Sack said.

And yet I really can't imagine her calling back and saying, "You're Jewish. We can't help you." She'd say, "We don't have any good matches right now, but we'll keep you on file."

Boys & Their Toys

Mistress Krista is reading The Wimp Factor: Gender Gaps, Holy Wars, and the Politics of Anxious Masculinity. The main argument being that men's fear of women makes men more conservative.

Hm.

First let me throw out the term "femiphobia" as a way of naming this anxiety. Femiphobia is the male fear of being feminine. The underlying premise of my book is that the most important thing about being a man is not being a woman. This imperative to be repudiate everything feminine – whether it's external or internal – is played out as much in politics as in personal life.

In politics – where there is an enormous potential for personal gain or ruin – what this leads to is a concerted effort on the part of candidates to disavow the feminine in themselves, and to project it on to their opponents.


OK, I'll go with this. This interview was posted about the time of the last presidential election, and watching Kerry and Bush play the "Who's the real man?" game was fascinating. When you run on a platform of fear and terror, being a "real man" is going to look attractive to a lot of people. The problem comes during peace time, when all those guys you taught that being a violent asshole meant he was a real man turn on the home team. I'd be out a lot of guy friends if they all bought into this view of masculinity.

The problem with our current notion of masculinity is that it’s a definition of manhood based on domination. The problem with definition of manhood based on domination is that domination can never be a permanent condition. It’s a relational state – it is dependent on having somebody in the subordinate position, which means that you may be manly today, but you’re not going to be manly tomorrow, unless you’ve got somebody to push around and control. This definition goes back to the ancient Greeks, and it makes masculinity a precarious and brittle achievement – which has to be constantly asserted. It has to be proven over and over again. It is the ultimate Sisyphean pursuit.

Yes. Much like trying to be a "real woman." If you buy into that bullshit, it's going to be something you pursue until you die, and because you're aging the whole time, and "real women" are forever young, you're screwed. It's why we've got botox and liposuction, and the boys are playing that game now, too. Remember what a big joke it was that Kerry'd been botoxed? A little too "fem" for some?

The worst thing an ancient Greek politician could be accused of is being a binoumenos, which loosely translated means "fucked male."

And we have similiar terms today. Funny, how the guy "playing the woman" is seen as less of a person. If women were seen as strong, intelligent, rational, capable people, would being told he was "acting like a woman" be seen as insulting to a man?

In American politics – both in the 19th century and in the present – it is a short step from seeming gilded to looking gelded. So there is an effort to adopt a persona of primitive masculinity. And the important thing to remember is that this is a makeover of style and not of substance. These are still wealthy members of the ruling elite, but their class is now camouflaged by virtue of this re-masculinization.

Which is an interesting point: Bush and the neo-conservatives tend to be all-talk sorts of men. Men with old money who'll never have to see war, violence, poverty, or a battlefield. As much as they tote the idea that they're not "girly men" I know a great number of women with more "masculine" attributes than these guys display. Going fishing does not a warrior make. And a good thing, too, because unemployed warriors tend to make trouble.

Have you seen that movie "Fight Club"? That’s a movie about white-collar men who are unable to affirm their masculinity, [men] who live in a corporate hierarchy, and need to appropriate brutal pugilism that is their fantasy of working class masculinity. I think it relates, in part, to the inchoate sense that working as a paper shuffler, or as a bureaucrat, or in a cubicle, that there’s something unmanly about that. The popularity of boxing in the 19th century is actually about middle-class men who were drawn to the sport.

I'll agree that that's what part of Fight Club is about, getting back a sense of self in a world that tells you you're shit. But I don't know that that's all about men. To me, Fight Club was a reflection on our buy-more, be-better culture. We're being coddled and told that if we have enough Ikea furniture, we'll be whole, healthy, and empowered individuals, when in fact, what some of us may need to do to feel whole is sell everything and go backpacking the world for three years and help AIDS orphans in Lesotho. These guys just so happened to find strength and purpose in beating the crap out of each other. Judging yourself in how well you can respond in a fight is a pretty classic measure of your self worth, whether (I would argue) you're male or female. Knowing you can defend yourself if threatened, not just intellectually, but *knowing* because you've been in a fight, inspires a real confidence in a person. It's confidence you can't buy for $49.95 from an infomercial.

This is where his inarticulateness actually becomes an advantage – because in American culture, there is a disdain for intellectuality. And that disdain is a gendered disdain – men who are intellectual are seen as somehow less manly. And so if somebody speaks too well, or too articulate, his masculinity is called into question.

This is a sad, sad, time for America if this was really true. If all men disdained intellectual pursuits, I couldn't stomach sleeping with a guy ever again, let alone have any guys friends. There is nothing so unnattractive as somebody who doesn't think about things. And that bothers me about the culture of American masculinity. You see more and more guys blowing off college, and yea, they'll often make just as much money as a woman with a college degree, but not for long. She'll likely go up, but if he's fired, you just look and see how many jobs out there that pay more than 20K a year that *don't* require a 4-year degree. There will still be an old-white-boy club at the top, but if the trend of "boys being dumb is cool" is really true, you're going to get a lot more male have-nots at the bottom.

The gender gap is about men becoming more conservative. It isn’t about women becoming more liberal. Now, the feminist movement, in a way, did effect a kind of liberalization, especially when it came to issues of gender. But I think, in many ways, presented as another kind of threat to men. What you see is that men become significantly more conservative...In other words, men are much more conservative than women are liberal.

The argument confuses me. So, women are staying the same in their attitudes, but men are becoming more conservative? Does this mean women were always conservative? Or are they really not conservative at all, but faintly liberal, as a whole? I'm also interested that he believes the feminist movement only effected a "Kind of liberalization" that seems to only have effected issues "like gender." So, like, "those gender issues" aren't important?

And all the trends I've heard have put America as a whole moving more toward the conservative, not just men. I could be totally wrong, and I'd love to be, but I haven't seen anything in "the real world" to back up this argument of boys-only conservativism. If this was true, women could turn all the elections liberal.

We have an administration that is, almost, congenitally incapable of acknowledging any mistake because to acknowledge a mistake is to really risk their manhood. To acknowledge a mistake, especially a mistake that involves failure to listen to advice – the proverbial refusal to ask for directions – imperils their manhood. And so, instead of this kind of behavior being pigheaded arrogance, it’s framed as manly resoluteness.

Which I call "idiocy."

You poor boys, growing up thinking you've gotta be assholes to get respect. Much like us poor girls, thinking we have to be idiots to be loved.

Crazy world. It's good to be grown up now.

I keep hoping everyone else will do the same, soon.

Revenge of the Venom Cock

Here's Touched By Venom(!) a new fantasy novel, teaching us all to Respect the Cock:

Right away, I noticed their erections. Truth, I'd been looking for them, as had Waisi and Kobo's twins, Rutvia and Makvia. All four of us poked each other and tittered. Behind us, Mother yanked on Waisi's and the twin's braids with her strong potter's hands. She even yanked on my own scabby bristle, causing instant tears. We paid heed. Unwise whilte in the presence of so much masculinity to mock the phallus.

Yeli's Dono still pranced beside me like one crazed.

"Lookit the thize of that one!" he bellowed. "That'th a cock, hey-o!" He tugged on his own little thing beneath his dirty loincloth.

A venom cock, they're called. I'd heard the words grunted respectfully among pottery clan man. I'd also heard the words mentioned by women wearing a carefully blank expresssion cultivated to hide opinion. Understand, women do not rever the venom cock as men do. They see it for what it is: an uncontrolable reaction to an impending event, and a slightly foolish reaction at that.


If I ever write some dumb shit like this, please oh please make fun of it at a Con. Read it aloud at panels and parties. And if you don't want the publicity, don't fucking give us all such a bad excerpt!

I recommend this for my next Clarion Peeps read aloud. We're getting bored with In the Shadow of Omen. There are only so many sharp, pointy breasts and info dumps about argriculture that you can take before you just have to find another goofy read aloud.

Have fun! hey-o~!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

There's Nothing Quite Like...

Doing crunches while holding a 20 lb free weight behind your head.

You sure will feel that the next morning.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Ah, Whiskey and Writing

It doesn't get much better.

Pure coincidence that my protagonist keeps ordering whiskey everywhere she goes, like those characters in Golden Age SF who were swilling coffee and chain smoking...

Pure coincidence.

THIS BOOK MAKES ME VERY HAPPY


Even if there are only 3 Arya chapters.

I will perservere.

Bathroom Etiquette

STOP URINATING ON THE GODDAMN FLOOR.

Now, I don't mind if a guy uses the women's restroom, particularly when and if all the men's restrooms are occupied. I've used one of the men's restrooms here before when I really had to pee and they were cleaning the women's restrooms (we have three men's bathrooms and three women's, each a private room).

I don't even mind him coming in and putting up the toilet seat and leaving it up. Doesn't bother me. I have no problem putting a toilet seat back down.

What really fucking bothers me is going into the bathroom, finding the toilet seat up, and a HUGE PUDDLE OF URINE in from of the toilet bowl, perfectly positioned so that when I sit down, my feet will rest in a HUGE PUDDLE OF URINE.

If you can't pee standing up, pee sitting down. I will not think less of you. You will not lose masculinity points. Sit the fuck down if you can't fucking aim.

I suppose I should be happy that he at least put the toilet seat *up* instead of leaving urine all over the seat for me.

This is the *second time today*(!) this has happened. The first time, I put a huge wad of paper towels in from of the bowl to soak up the urine. The second time I went in *someone had shoved the paper towels into the corner of the bathroom* and then PROCEEDED TO URINATE ALL OVER THE FLOOR AGAIN.

And I'm about to clobber the person who leaves two squares of toilet paper on the roll and doesn't change it, too. I have a suspicion I know which woman in the office is doing this. It drives me far crazier than it should.

Ah, work stress. All of the sudden, the little things IRRITATE ME MORE.

I need to go clean my fucking shoes. What is this, 16th century London?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

More Reasons to Be Strong

Something I don't pay enough attention to with the whole workout/weights routine is how much easier it makes everyday tasks. For the last four months, I've resolved to take the stairs every time they're offered, even when I get off at weird train stops and realize I have three flights of stairs to climb, even at the airport, when I'm carrying my luggage for the weekend. Add in two daily 15 min walks at work, 20 minutes of free weights every morning, and 2-3 times a week at the gym, and you're going to notice some functional fitness results.

When I was taking the boxing and MA classes, I was going in 2-3 times a week and doing my morning weights, but no walks, no stairs, and wasn't eating enough. I felt like I was going to die most of the time. Trying to add in jogging days was great when I ate enough, and exhausting when I didn't.

It's easier to crouch down and get stuff out of the fridge and get back up again without effort. I don't get winded on the stairs. I sleep better. I have more energy after workouts so I can come home after a shitty, stressful day like this one and have just enough left to blog, work on my novel, prep dinner, get my workout clothes set out and packed for the next day, and spend one last hour socializing. After a day like today, even listing those things feels tiring.

I've got a lot of things that I need and want to get done these next couple of months, and thinking about it all at once has been really overwhelming. I've scaled back and am working at taking it all a peice at a time. "This," and then, "this," and then "this." It's the only way to get it done. If I sat here and thought too long about it, I'd go hide underneath my covers and spend all weekend sleeping.

And with that said, I'm going to go work on God's War...

Revenge of the Binge, Redux

Why does this not surprise me?

Two studies in the October issue of Behavioral Neuroscience show that when animals are stressed, deprived and exposed to tempting food, they overeat, with different degrees of interaction. The powerful interplay between internal and external factors helps explain why dieters rebound and even one cookie can trigger a binge if someone's predisposed to binge.

Anybody who's been (or is) a binge eater (me) will tell you that when it's real bad, it's like trying to resist a drug. When I go cold turkey and I'm highly stressed and dieting, resisting junk food (highly sweet, highly salty, high carb), my whole body starts to shake and I can't think about anything else but the food I'm craving. This will last anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour. Now that I'm eating better, the withdrawl behavior doesn't happen anymore, and I've gone from binging (tons of food, say, 3-5,000 calories in some instances) to craving (a chocolate bar).

I still associate the cravings with stress (I ate chocolate last night, but wasn't "hungry." It was definately stress eating), but I've gotten to the point where because I don't deprive myself the rest of the day, I'm less likely to chow down when the stress eating does come up.

Ideally, I'll find other alternatives to deal with said stress. Working on that...

Opioids or endorphins (the brain's "feel good chemicals") play a key role in our liking of food. Yet external substances such as heroin and morphine mimic endorphins by binding to the same receptors in the brain, produce a sense of reward (among other functions). The researchers compared how binge-eating rats versus non-binge eating rats responded to drugs that either turn on opioid receptors (butorphanol, which treats pain) or block them (naloxone, which treats heroin addiction).

From the rats' responses to these drugs, Boggiano and her colleagues inferred how stress and dieting change the brain's opioid control of eating. The binge eating occurred after rats experienced both foot shock (stress) and cyclic caloric restriction (dieting). Either caloric restriction or stress alone were not enough to produce changes in food intake, but stressed and underfed rats ate twice the normal amount of Oreo® cookies, which rats find rewarding. In other words, animals subjected to both stressors became binge eaters, confirming how strongly these outside factors interact to change eating behavior.


Dieting + stress = binge behavior.

Well, yea.

I'm going to go finish up my breakfast now.

(via boingboing)

Monday, November 07, 2005

In Which the Protagonist Realizes It's November

I sometimes forget that I can be a hack writer when I want to be. I once produced 50 pages in about 12 hours, which, when I break that down, doesn't seem possible. But it got done.

I realized at the Con when VanderMeer asked how many pages I had of God's War that, in fact, I barely had 150.

If it's going to 400 pages and done at the end of the year, this is a problem.

Did about ten today, trying to get more out before bed. Hoping to bump that up to 15-20 on really good days (like weekends) and keep at the 8-10 mark during weekdays. It's doable, but exhausting. And yet, I know that if I don't do this this fucking thing is going to linger. I've always got to put outside pressure on myself to get big projects done, or I'll spend years dithering over them.

I also discovered that my gym's fall schedule includes a 6am boxing class on Thursdays. It's the only one they've got.

6. a. m.

Sweet fuck. I can afford to get to work late once a week, and then do the Friday self defense class, and hey, look at that, I'm back in the self-defense game again.

Fuck, I want to get back into it. I'm aching for it. Now I just need to get my body up to it. I accumulated a gross sleep debt this weekend.

We'll see how it goes.

6 fucking am.

Who the hell gets to class that early?

Oh, wacky people like me who overcommit.

Dear Day Job: Fuck You

7:30 am conference call??????

Four more daily reports for the client (IN ADDITION TO THE FIVE I ALREADY DO????)

Since when do I have to work for a living? What's this all about?

Fantasy Women

I'm not particularly fond of writing about beautiful women.

Let me explain.

I went to a panel on Sunday about images of women in fantasy art, and the panelists pointed out the current trend on fantasy covers of of portraying women as strong and muscular, though still half-clothed and with breasts as big as their heads. This being fantasy marketing, both men and women portrayed on covers are, in general, going to be traditionally "beautiful." And beauty in this culture, alas, constitutes a very narrow type.

I wandered the art show at WFC and saw what passed for strong-chick art. I half-heartedly looked through the prints to see if maybe the male artist had protrayed a "real" warrior-woman type. You know, clothed, with practical breasts, practical armor, and a look on her face that said something other than "Come fuck me, or hey, I'll fuck you!" I wanted the, "I'll kick your ass, buddy. I've seen more of the world than you could possibly imagine," look. And I didn't get it. That sort of look is too intimidating, I guess.

And looking at these images, I thought, you know, these aren't the sorts of women I write about. Even the desert women I write about wear more clothes than these women, and of course, have smaller breasts and shorter legs, and they tend to be tan-to-black, not pearl white. In fact, my favorite characters aren't beautiful at all. Not just Lilihin the plain-faced scullery maid in one of my books, but my favorite character in Martin's Song of Ice and Fire is a girl described as "horse-faced."

I'm always very careful with my use of beauty in my fiction. Beauty, that too-pretty beauty, is by its very nature rare. That's what keeps everybody trying to be like that type. If what we collectively decided was "beautiful" was something everyone already was, our diet and cosmetics industries would crash. So now we've got beauty clones, everybody going cocaine-thin and blond and getting boob jobs.

And I'm not terribly keen on clones.

I enjoy stories where running into beauty is rare, and it's something my protagonist hasn't got. I love traditionally unbeautiful protagonists because it means they have to work harder than everyone else. The one beautiful boy in my last book uses those looks to forward his position. The beautiful woman in book two does the same, with a far more dark-hearted intention. Characters without beauty need to have more and better strengths - physical and mental - than those with beauty. It's been marked often in real life that "traditionally beautiful" women are more likely to get a position than, say, a fat or obese or "ugly" woman, though the beautiful one may get stuck there if she doesn't play her cards right.

So while listening to the audience talk about the allure of fantasy, about how they wanted to pretend - just for a moment - that they were small, dainty, beautiful women (with large breasts), I was thinking about why I would write a fantasy book that didn't have beautiful women characters. At heart, I think I just do believe that beautiful characters are less interesting. You can do fantastic things with it, as Chuck Palahniuk did in Invisible Monsters, but I'm more interested in how women (especially) make it when they're considered unbeautiful by the cultures they're in (and, neccessarily, each of those culture have a different view of what that is, of course). I heard yet another lament about an author who wrote a black female protagonist and ended up with a blond caucasion women with a crew cut on the cover of her book. The blond was considered the more "saleable" beauty. But that's not what the book was about.

And that's when you get to the sticky problem of book content vs. book cover marketing. There's still this idea in the publishing industry that a busty woman will sell a book more quickly than a sleek, tasteful, intelligent cover (which says a lot about the associations being put on the overly-sexualized female body. What lies inside must be fluff, unintelligent, not serious). People will argue that sex sells, but if that's so, why aren't there more naked men on covers, like in the romance genre? I still nearly fall out of my chair during that scene in Fight Club when Brad Pitt answers the knock at his bedroom door in the buff. He's like a Greek statue come to life. If sex sells, why don't boys sell it?

One artist on the panel pointed out that her female nude pictures will sell equally to men and women, but when she paints a male nude, she's just cut the audience for that portrait in half. Men, especially straight men, are far more unlikely to buy a portrait of a nude man, even if they find it arresting. There's just too much of a stigma against men viewing other men. Naked men are scary to other men, or scary in their non-scariness, in their vulnerableness. I wonder if naked men are taken more seriously than naked women, or if the real problem is that they aren't...

Though I, personally, enjoy the current trend where we're moving away from dainty female heroines and celebrating an image that at least appears to be more substantial, the images are still often undermined by bad armor and their lack of clothes. Instead of the virgin, we're getting the whore.

But I don't think it has to be that way. We don't have to have an either/or. There are dainty little women in real life who feel put off and pressured to be big, strong women, and big strong women who feel they have to small and fem in order to be "real women." I don't know why fantasy images can't be as diverse as women in real life.

Little Jane Eyre is as formidable a heroine as, say, Tamora Peirce's Alanna (also a not overly beautiful heroine, despite the cheesy violet eyes) or Aud or pretty much any heroine Octavia Butler writes. The trouble with illustrators marketing fantasy women to the widest group of readers possible is that what we end up with is a big-breasted blond aryan every damn time. There's nothing wrong with these big-busted blond aryan women, but I'm not sure that this is really the image everybody wants in their heroine.

You can argue about the marketing of fashion magazines: marketed to women, all with beautiful airbrushed women on the covers. But women's magazines sell us fantasy more than fantasy fiction does. They sell us cosmetics, clothes, and plastic surgery. It's their business to give us fantasy women.

And I don't know that fantasy fiction is selling us fantasy in the same way. I think it markets adventure in places that don't and can't exist. And most of us don't really believe we're going to wake up tomorrow with magic powers.

But lots of adolescents (and many older women and some men) wake up thinking we'll look like a fashion model, if we're just disciplined enough, if we just work hard enough, if we just eat less, exercise until we throw up, stay calm, give up all else. And for most of us (98%), that's not true.

I think we want to read about people who we admire in some way, who are like us, who we believe we can be. And for fantasy to sell the same image about what constitutes a beautiful and desirable person in the same way a fashion magazine does feels really false and unhappy to me. There's more than a pretty face that one can emulate to be a fucking heroic person. In fact, the face has very little to do with it. Beautiful, unmarried, unblemished faces speak to me of blank slates; they're faces that haven't seen very much of the world, very little pain, very little sorrow. It's age and wisdom and the features slightly off kilter from our beauty-norm that make me look twice.

Hell, I'm biased, sure. I want better fantasy art.

And yet what's been done with the Dove ads and the new Nike ads does, I believe, illustrate that there's a market out there for something that sells shit, sure, but does so in what I hope is a slightly less damaging way, something that tells you to celebrate yourself instead of hating yourself.

On the one hand, we have the fantasy women with wings and unicorn horns and tails, stuff we'll never be and will use as inspiration for Halloween costumes. On the other hand, why can't I find my hard-core fantasy women, the ones with the shining eyes, the battle ax dripping blood, the sensible clothes, and the cool "yea, I'm strong, fuck off" expression on her face? Somebody I can look at and say "Yea, I want to be that strong. I want to have that kind of heroic character. I want to save the world."

If we're really dealing with fantasy images, images of everything and everyone that could ever exist, sprung from millions of imaginations worldwide, why do so many of those images look alike?

Insert: Infodump

Wow, that sure is a whole lot of narration I just shoved in there.

I Need Some Bloody Fucking Coffee

Stayed up until 2am on Friday drinking beer, eating pizza, and socializing. Tried to get to the room for some reading and relaxing time on Saturday, but ended up running into a Big Relationship snafu with B and spent two or three hours on the phone putting out relationship fires and then another two or three hours talking to Jenn about how the hell to handle these sorts of weird communication issues in the future, and by breakfast on Sunday I was so physically and emotionally tired that I was amazed I managed to make my breakfast date on time, let alone speak in whole sentences.

I'd say about half the weekend was great, half was so-so. Met great people, which was the highlight. The dealer's room was cool too. I missed the Thursday programming, which looked like it was a lot better than some of the subsequent programming. There wasn't a lot to choose from, but that's understandable: the reason every other nametag at the Con was somebody you knew because you'd read their work or their blog, was because they were all there to do business. Lots of agent/publisher/writer meetings, and parties. And beer. And parties.

So my $150 didn't stretch terribly far. I think I was also incredibly ancy during the entire Con. Meeting a ton of people you've only known via blog was weird, and I think I was more nervous about it than I knew I was. If that makes sense. There's this strange disconnect moment when you realize the people you're talking to know a whole lot of wild and woolly "facts" about your life. Not that they care, it's just weird.

And I'm still very tired, and not making sense. I cleared up some more stuff with B last night, and cleaned my entire room.

Now I have a novel to finish.

Woot.

About Three Steps Away from Quitting

Wow, I'm really starting to hate our client.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Post-Drunken Blogging

Lots of beer, meeting people you've only known through blogs, and eating pizza at 2am will result in some very strange dreams.

Had a great tour of Madison with some folks, finally got to meet the VanderMeers, chatised Matt Cheney for not blogging while at the con, and met a ton of people at the parties whose names and/or work I knew, which is always a surreal experience.

Not much to report, except that the pizza at Glass Nickel Pizza is really fucking good, and they deliver until 2am.

Oh, and all these people I'm meeting are cool, of course. But I mean, it's a Con, that's expected. heh heh

Friday, November 04, 2005

On the Road Again

Whooooooooooo hooooooooooooooo!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

World Fantasy Convention, Madison (that's Wisconsin)

No, I'm not there today. Got bills to pay. But I will be heading up there tomorrow after doing some remote reporting for work from home. Me and Jenn should be there just in time to catch lunch, register, and maybe hit a 2pm panel, though we might get lost in the Dealer's Room en route.

We're staying at the Hilton Madison, with a water view, because dammit, if I'm going to travel, I'm making this a proper vacation.

Hopefully, we'll get there just in time for a good, old-fashioned Wisconsin riot.

I must say, I'm looking forward to it!















P.S. Yes, I'll be bringing my computer and may be doing some drunken blogging. I'll be trying to stay out of the way of any wayward cameras, as there's nothing worse than getting a candid drunken photo snapped of you at a con and find it widely circulated on the net. heh. As if I could be so lucky!

It's -5 Today in Fairbanks

Why do I miss it so?


























Ah, that's right. Now I remember...

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

My Brother's Price is a Ford F150

I put off reading Wen Spencer's A Brother's Price for as long as possible. Finally, after seeing it again in Locus and reading some good reader reviews, I decided to give in.

The book's about a boy about to be married in a world where women rule because live male births are incredibly rare (about one in thirty). I like keeping up with what people are writing about female-dominated societies; I like to know how they work out the world-building around it, how everything works, what things are different, what are the same.

The idea around the story, I read, was that it would be a reversal romance: the passive "heroine" looking for a good marriage would be male, and the sisters he falls for would be the active "heroes."

All this being so, I had a lot of worries about this book, starting with the cover:




























Yea. Looks like some serious role reversal there.

My second worry came in paragraph one:

There were a few advantages to being a boy in a society dominated by women. One, Jerin Whistler thought, was that you could throttle your older sister, and everyone would say, "She was one of twenty-eight girls - a middle sister - and a troublemakers, too, and he - he's a boy," and that would be the end of it.

So, even in a female dominated society, men are allowed to beat up on women without penalty because there are so many women?

Yet, I perserved. Why? Because, after the first twenty pages of as-you-know-bob dialogue set up, I really started to like the characters. I really hoped Jerin would get laid with some hot, strong, smart chick, and his sisters were all these really awesome theif/soldier trained women who ran a farm. Despite my reservations about the world they lived in, I liked them. So I was happy to hear that they planned to swap their brother for a husband for themselves. Meaning, they hadn't been laid either.

Getting laid in this society is a little trickier than you might suspect. Spencer works in the importance of a man's virgitiy before marriage by explaining that if a boy gets and STD before his wedding day, the family of sisters buying him off will choke the deal because if he's got something, then the whole family will get it. Same with the women: they pick something up, husband gets it, all the sisters get it. Oddly, this society can measure the sperm count of a man but can't cure syphilis. Go figure. Anyhow, so boys get lots of attention from their sisters. Boys, being so rare, are considered property and kept close by. Women raiding holds for boys isn't an uncommon practice.

In fact, women are so prolific in this society that it's common for women to just toss out their girl children when they have them and "try again" for a boy.

Great! A female-dominated society, and girl babies are still greeted as gutter trash. One royal husband also abuses his wives and brutally rapes one of them. And guess what? Because he's a guy, he goes unpunished.

How does this fulfill the "things can be really different?" school of spec. fic.?

Anyway, with all this worry about disease and all this aching celibacy until marriage, where, you may ask are all the lesbians?

Oh, well there's just the one. The evil river trash villain, of course. Well, one of them. And one of the sisters Jerin ends up with may be bisexual. Whatever her past, she's in love with him, of course.

And therein lies some of the most troubling bits of this book. Jerin is beautiful. All the princesses love him. Whatever you predict will happen after you read the first fifty pages of the book, does. There's not a lot of plot twists. Not much suspense. The scene changes are choppy, like the book was getting too long so transition scenes were cut. I was never worried about Jerin, his sisters, or the princesses dying or having really horrible things happen to them. I was unsurprised when Spencer ended the book with "happily ever after." It's that sort of book.

Nobody you care about is killed, maimed, dismembered, or scarred in any way. And you never believe anything like that will happen to them anyway. The plotting is really cut and dry, easy to follow. The main plot of some missing cannons and another family trying to take over the throne is actually the *sub*plot. The majority of the book is taken up with Jerin accidently getting all the princesses to fall in love with him. This ain't no Game of Thrones.

And yet you really want to watch Jerin get laid and all these women get laid and everybody get in a big bed together.

I could have done with some more explicit sex scenes, I think.

That might have made up for the fact that there weren't any good lesbians in it.

Strange Days

Sure is a surreal day when you get linked by Salon.com

Shut up, You Book Junkie!

Apparently, I’m not a “real” feminist because I haven’t “suffered” enough. Instead, I’m one of those “college feminists” whose daddy paid for college and who will go on to live a picket-fenced life and raise my 2.5 kids and forget all about what life’s like outside the suburbs. Right?

Oh, fuck off.

You know what: I do have a really good life. And yes, I’m white. I have three degrees, all but one of which I paid for, in full, by myself. I’ve also been evicted from my apartment, subsisted on nothing but eggs and macaroni and cheese for two years, had my phone turned off because I couldn’t afford the bill, threatened a restraining order on an abusive ex, and told myself when I turned 19 that I would never live that life ever again.

And here in Chicago, after three months of temp jobs, I landed a cushy project assistant position at a telecommunications company.

And you know what?

I worked really fucking hard for this.

My sister’s currently in an off-again, on-again relationship with a former (?) meth addict who’s unemployed and sponging off his meth-dealer family. She’s got a child from a former boyfriend that she can’t afford to support and whose health insurance is paid by the state. She’s lived most of her adult life in subsidized housing. She’s employed only because my dad owns two small pizza franchises and has allowed her to work for him despite a number of altercations. She and her ex used to have screaming fights and hit each other.

And you know what?

I don’t want to live like that.

I live very well. And I live this way because I refuse to be white trash. I refuse to go back to subsisting on macaroni, and everything I’ve done in my life has been getting me to this place I am in my life. Education was my route to this life, and I’ve got 30K in student loans to show for it.

And I’m now a cozy college feminist in her cozy 3-flat in Chicago.

And let me tell you, there were many, many, many turns along the way that would have led me to a much different life. But this was the life I wanted.

So don’t tell me my opinion doesn’t matter because I have an education and you’ve had a harder road. I got hit with a lot of bad nuts, too, but this is where I wanted to end up, and with a lot of luck, some very good friends, and some good choices, this is where I am.

The fact that I can pay my bills (mostly) on time and have a desk job doesn’t give anyone the right to silence my voice.

Especially when they do it anonymously.