Monday, June 30, 2008

Call Me Crazy

But I have a strange compulsion to watch The Wanted again.

Maybe all I really want is a big gun and a sweet-ass tattoo.

Kicking Up the Fitness Routine

I've been re-polishing my fitness routine to get myself back on track. Now that fitness days are back at work (at the end of each quarter, we get a week off while the trainers do our fitness assessments), I'm working at getting the most bang for my buck.

The trainers are really cool in that they know I'm pretty strong and need a challenge. Today they kicked my group up again (it used to be me, the Amazon, and the marathon runner, but it's down to just me and the Amazon), so it was all walking lunges with medicine ball twists followed by weighted one-legged squats, rinse and repeat.

We finished with 15 min of cardio. I hobbled down the stairs.

But I wasn't done for the day. I came home and put in my 20 minutes of pilates, mainly because I saw a huge difference in strength and flexibility today after just two weeks sporadic pilates sessions while waiting for our regular workouts to come back.

So right now the goal looks like:

Morning: 15 min freeweights
10:00-11:30am: 30 min strength training + cardio at work
Evening: 20 minutes pilates

Morning: 15 minutes freeweights
Evening: 45-50 minutes of cardio

In an ideal world, I'd kick that up to 5-6 days per week. But for now, I want to get through two or three consistent weeks of this before I kick it up. This one looks doable. Pushing too far too fast has gotten me into trouble before.

And really, the only addition to this is the twice at week cardio at the gym. I've been doing the pilates sporadically for awhile now.

Yeah, I'm continually amazed at how much regular exercise I have to get just to stay this size. It's kinda weird. On the other hand, if I look at it more as "this is the amount of work I have to do to stay this strong," that *does* make a lot more sense.

Lifting shit takes a lot of work, yo. And after reading somewhere that something horrible like 90% of women over age 50 can't lift more than 20 lbs... Yeah, that's a huge motivator for staying active and lifting weights.

I do not intend to be brittle-boned at 50 (yes, weightlifting decreases your risk of osteoporosis. More reasons to get buff!).

What I Have Decided

I am so fucking ready for this book to be DONE.

And I have 6,000 of the last 20,000 words in hand....

... in scribbled notes and loose scenes and last night I wrote a really icky drug withdrawal torture scene, and this after I thought I was done writing icky scenes.

I'm thinking that tonight I will just write the last couple thousand words, and then fill in the whole damn middle part between the resurrection and Rhys and Suha and the rest trucking off into the desert to fulfill their part of the Big Plot Tie Up.

So. Fucking. Sickofthisdamnbook.

And then I have to start writing the third one!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Conversations with my Hairdresser

Gone are the days of the $14.99 haircut. I started spending a fortune on my hair after 1) going to Supercuts for the 3rd time in three weeks trying to get them to fix the mullet they'd given me 2) getting dumped - for the second time - by the guy I was dating here in Dayton.

At some point, you just realize you have too much self-respect to spend the rest of your life looking like Raggedy Anne.

In any case, I've ended up with a hairdresser that reminds me of my sister. She's short, mouthy, bleached blond, and meaty, with the chatty naivety of somebody about four years younger.

As we got to chatting, she asked if I lived in the apartments just across from The Greene, where I was getting my hair done. I pointed my building out to her (yes, it was just across the parking-lot construction going on right outside the salon windows) and she laughed and said. "That's what I thought! We live in the same building. I saw you a few weeks ago and I was like, `I think I did her hair!'"

She moved in in May, and I moved in in April.

"You must love the commute," I said. "Being able to just walk to work."

"Oh, I don't walk," she said. "I drive."

This gave me pause. It's a ten minute walk across the nearly-constructed parking lot to get from my house to the salon. It will be five minutes as soon as the construction is done and they tear down the fences.

She drives to work? God, how Ohio, I thought.

"I was going to walk," she said, "but my dad pointed out that if I did that, it would be easier for people to follow me from work, you know? So you get clients or weirdos following you home after work, and then they know exactly which apartment you live in."

Ah, yes. It's so fun to be a woman.

Actually, I thought, it's fun to be a *young* woman, when you're still ruled by (sometimes very valid) fear of the world at large. And men in particular.

This was another one of those little daily concerns that guys just never have to think about. There's no concern about walking to work from you house. Or walking around after 9pm. Or trying to decide if wearing a tank top will be considered an invitation to harass or assault you.

But see, the thing is, I don't think about those things so much anymore. Rightly or wrongly, I don't know, but I don't think about them as much. I'm confident enough that I could put up a fight. But more than that: I got tired of living in fear all the time. South Africa burned me out on that. I got paranoid and weird. And you know what? 99% of my freak-out fears were unjustified. I spent far more of my time worried about all the bad things that could happen to me than I did being in actual danger.

I always wonder where you draw that fine line. How much is too much caution? Sure, bad shit happens to people, especially women, cause people think we're "easier" targets. Some of my confidence comes from knowing that I'm not an easy target. But am I any more or less safe than the woman who's afraid to walk to work because some psycho will follow her home? Does the fear really save us, or does it oppress us?

When curfews get called because some guy is going around a college campus raping women, the curfew is on *women.* When we get assaulted or menaced, the first question people ask - the first question we ask ourselves - is what did I do to deserve this? How could I have avoided this? What did I do wrong?

This is oppression. It's the worse kind of oppression because it's the kind that's so close to us, so tightly wound up in our society, in the way things *are* that we see it as normal. Obviously, if someone attacked you, you were doing something wrong. Don't you read all those e-mails you get telling you how to avoid being raped in a parking lot? You should have checked your back seat before you got in! You should live in terror every time you unlock your car, carry groceries, walk to work. You must be ever vigilant! FEAR THE WORLD, PUNY WOMAN!

Well, you know what?

If I lived in the woods in some kind of uncivilized, barbaric conglomerate of loosely aligned clans, yeah, you're right, we'd *all* need to be hyper vigilant. But you know what? This is a civilized fucking society. We should all watch out for each other. We shouldn't put up with some rogue guy's bullshit behavior. And we shouldn't punish women's freedom because of one stupid asshole.

I have always been an advocate of teaching women to fight back. We get so socialized to be fearful, to go quiet when menaced, to be good, meek, docile, nice people, because nothing bad ever happens to nice people. And it makes us easier to fuck up and fuck over.

I don't want to raise women to live in fear. I don't want that to be our first impulse. I want us to raise our sons to be good human beings and teach girls that telling that guy to get his hand the fuck off us isn't "inconveniencing" him. It's asking for your body back.

Fear makes me sad. It makes me look at all the fantastic things we could do and say and be if we weren't crushed by fear. Everybody's got fear, yeah, and there's such a thing as being cautious, but "I can't walk to work (in broad daylight, across a parking lot!) because I'm afraid of being assaulted in a posh part of town." Wow, seriously. The Greene is in fucking Beavercreek. You pay $100 for a pair of jeans (I just paid $140 for a FUCKING HAIRCUT!!). There's security everywhere. To not even feel safe *here*? Really?

Wow. Just... wow.

That's not the world I want anybody living in.

Again, South Africa screwed up my standards. I'm not afraid of walking around downtown. I'm not afraid of walking around downtown after dark (which I have done). This is small potatoes compared to Durban. Does that mean I'm not aware of the risks? Of course I'm aware. I'm also aware that the risks are a lot less than we make them up to be.

Fear is one of our biggest oppressors.

I hated not feeling comfortable in my own skin. I hated feeling weak. It's why I work out, speak my mind. I tried so hard to be a good, little, docile woman when I was a teenager. I tried so hard, but my body was all wrong, and I talked too loud, even then.

At some point, you have to realize that if trying to "fit in" is killing you, then maybe you're not the problem. Maybe it's the model. If trying to "be safe" feels like it's choking you, maybe what you're doing doesn't make you as safe as you thought it did.

Safety is a joke, anyway. Fearing things... you know, it's like fearing a chronic illness. Shit happens. You can sit around in your apartment being terrified of getting hit in the back of the head with a shovel, but illness sometimes does that. Oh, sure, there's stuff you can try and avoid. You can not be stupid. Don't try and walk four miles home, drunk, at 2am, and avoid the possible asshole who would take advantage of that. Don't have sex with 12 different people over the course of a year and not use a condom, and avoid the higher possibility that you'll get AIDS (or some other, less threatening disease). Don't be stupid.

Not being stupid will certainly help reduce the possibility of you getting assaulted or getting a chronic illness. But it will never *eliminate* your risk.

So live your damn life. Don't be stupid. But live.

Cause a lot of the shit that happens in our lives, we can control it. And some of it, a small but sometimes significant part, we can't.

So have a beer, but don't get drunk every night. Walk the fuck to work, but don't tell all your clients your apartment number. Eat some cookies, but do something later to get your blood pumping again.

I'm all about not being stupid, but there's something to be said for living without fear.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Interpreting Notes to Myself

I'm working on line edits this morning, and while paging through the typical "take out the 'and' insert a period" types of edits (I have a lot of winding, comma heavy sentences that must get truncated during revisions. This should not surprise anyone who reads this blog, or anybody who's seen first drafts of my corp world writing), I found, at the bottom of one of the pages, an arrow pointing to a sentence describing Rhys's wife sleeping.

Below the arrow I had written "Mad sex."

I have no idea what this note means.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Knowing What to Keep

I'm sitting here on my porch on a hot summer night with a beer, watching the fireflies and listening to some good music. Man, it doesn't get much better.

Saw The Wanted tonight.

Blood and gun battles in Chicago (in my old neighborhood! He snipes from one of the houses right next to the Wrigley Field stop!) and Angelina Jolie covered in tattoos and a great shirtless shot of James McAvovy (there should have been more of those).

Doesn't get much better than that, either.

It was just about worth the $10. First, let's get my biggest beef out of the way:

WTF???? There's only ONE female assassin? What is it with these fucking movies and "the girl"? Can we have more than one kick ass assassin woman in a movie, please? You know, a movie where they're kickass like Jolie instead of simpering, giggly little Charlie's Angels.

Anyway, James McAvovy is your typical washed out, broken down deskjockey (customer service rep), belittled by his boss (gross fat person caricature, very badly and lazily done; ok, that's another big beef I had). His girlfriend is fucking his best friend, he suffers from panic attacks.... your typical 21st century emasculated man.

Have I mentioned this is basically a superhero story?

One day, Jolie shows up and tells him he's a superhero... I mean, super assassin. He can shoot the wings off flies, curve bullets, hit impossible targets. His anxiety attacks are actually his superpower kicking in (seriously! I want my faulty immune system to actually be a superpower side-effect, seriously!). By medicating himself, he's been handicapping himself.

The solution to the cubicle bound, emasculated man?

Embrace the superkiller within.

It's fight club, baby.

And we all know how much I love fight club.

See, the thing is, I love this stupid shit. I love the underdog getting hit on by somebody hot, telling off their ex, standing up for themselves, become a super assassin... (

It's just...

It's just......

The first thing I thought was, "Hot damn, why didn't some hot guy every show up in my cubicle in Chicago and tell me I was a super assassin??? Cause that would be so fucking cool!!!"

See, you get these super wish fulfullment stories, these basic rites of passage for boys, and for guys they are these really powerful expressions of boy to man; growing up. You learn how to fight. You learn how to stand up to people. You take the power of life and death in your hands. You fight, you fuck, you kill, you have superpowers, you rule the fucking world.

And then you get these "chick flicks" aimed at young girls, with actual female heroines, that show our rite of passage as... getting some hot guy to marry us.

I mean seriously! So we can have babies and pick up socks and be "that bitch he nags about at work."

I mean, WTF?

And then people wonder why there's this stereotype about women feeling anxious and neurotic all the time.

It's because we're supressing our superpowers, yo (she says, cracking open her second beer. mmmm I have been hording this six pack of Negra Modelo for a month).

The first thing I thought was, "This would make a great comic book. How about Nyx has a daughter she doesn't know about who's a tax clerk, and her boyfriend's fucking somebody else (one of her former girlfriends??), and she gets shit on all day, and then one day this bel dame comes up to her and tells her she's a super assassin, and she gets to take control of her life and kick some ass and kick her boyfriend in the face and tell her boss to suck it."

Because this is a great story. It's great superhero wish fulfillment in a society where we have to supress every harsh, unhappy, uncivil, angry, violent impulse to live in an ordered, civilized world (I'm not knocking it. That's necessary for civilization, but hot damn it needs an outlet, hence my love of Fight Club). So instead we just numb and drug ourselves on video games and mortgages, and one day you wake up and realize you've settled for some life you never wanted or asked for (I'm not in this place, but I know a lot of people who are). Turns out, in fact, the movie was based on a comic book (which is now on my wish list).

Being based on a comic book may also explain that whole "only one female assassin" thing. Comic books are even worse than regular media with that whole "oh hey, sorry, didn't you know that the only women in the world are the chicks the male protagonist is fucking?"

What did I love about this movie, besides all the blood and gore and assassins and gun fighting (and James McAvoy? and kickass Jolie?).

I liked that I walked out of the movie wanting to be better than I am. Wanting to make the most of what I have.

Because we all really do have superpowers. We have something we're good at, passionate about, something we push back or suppress because people tell us we're weird, or we'll never make it, or we're not talented enough, or special enough, that that kind of life is meant for somebody else. We're told that we'll fail. Are you some kind of arrogant bitch, to think you'll get anywhere? Are you delusional? You're just some fat, plainfaced nobody. Get over yourself.

And they scream it at you, you know why? Because if you fail, you validate their hollow, cowardly little choices. The cowardly fear of failure that stuck them all in the lives they hate and got them screaming at you in the first place.

You know what?

Your life is yours. You're not doomed to never-ending rent, a spouse who cheats on you, a deadend job, an abusive boss, a life empty of everything save jelly doughuts.

You can build another life.

Thing is, too many people wait around for a hot Jolie or some rich Prince Nothing to deliver them from their own soft little lives. In that, this movie disappointed a bit. He was "rescued" from his dull life, in essence, by Jolie.

I mean, hello, "Hi, I knew your dad. Guess what? You're a super assassin!"

But watch what they did with that at the end. Watch the choice he was given, and the choice he made.

We are all given that same choice, every day. To do what is safe, expected. To marry the safest choice, to do the practical thing. To give up what's in our heart for shit we don't want and stuff we don't need.

I look at my life. What I've done, what I've made, the choices. I want to live bigger and bolder and louder. It's been hard to come this far. It's hard, sometimes, to look at my peers and go, "Isn't that what I should want? Am I weird for not having that? Or even wanting that? Is it weird that I'd rather build a book career and go to Peru than get married and have kids and work at this job forever (even though I like it - cozy as it is, this is a stepping stone to bigger things; that's my plan. Sure, it may fail. But if you're not aiming big, what the fuck are you doing still breathing)? Is it selfish and fucked up? Or is it just me, following that drive for something else, better, more, everything I can be?"

My path isn't everybody's. I have a long way to go. There are things I should have done differently (much of it to do with CC debt and friendships), but you can live a little wild so long as you're willing to fail. And fail. And repair. And then fail again. That's what it is, to strive for the best you can be. One long series of failures.

What's the quote?

"Creativity is allowing yourself to fail. Art is knowing what to keep."

Life is knowing what to keep.

Conversations with My Coworkers

Coworker: "I know I look old, but would you believe I'm going to be 30 in a week?"

Me: "Holy crap, you're only a little more than a year older than me? I thought you were ancient, like the DB guy."

Coworker: "Great, thanks."

Me: "Know what I'm doing for my 30th birthday?

Coworker: ?

Me: "Going to Peru."

Coworker: (dubious, like I'm trying to pull one over one him) "Are you serious??"

Why wouldn't I be serious???

Sometimes I think I live in a different world than most people. I think I've just made really different choices.

Thought Experiment

Must Have

Thursday, June 26, 2008

What a Difference the Gym Makes

I've come home and written original stuff every night this week. I'm reading books again. I started re-hashing my comic book ideas. My insatiable, nauseating appetite has subsided, as has my compulsion to go to bed before 9pm. I found myself dancing around my apartment tonight for no reason.

The turning point was last week, when I became nauseous every time I got out of bed. It was bad enough that I called in sick to work and literally stayed in bed all day. I didn't do anything. I slept and slept. I got up at 3pm and found that the nauseousness has subsided, ate some whole food, read for an hour, and went back to bed until 5:30 am the next morning.

It occurred to me at some point during that day that this sounded a lot like depression.

I was battling a vicious appetite every night, having trouble concentrating on anything long enough to get any serious writing done, and was content to let a lot of little chores around the house slide.

Why do I let myself avoid the gym like that? Moving really screwed up my routine. I knew it was going to be a problem, but I was enjoying the novelty so much that I just let it slide. That lasted for quite a while. Steph and the Old Man had an elliptical machine at the house, so the nights I didn't work out at work or at the gym, I generally found time on the elliptical. Moving just completely screwed my entire living routine.

Ever since I moved, I've been happy and all, and settling in, but not exactly... efficient. Or productive. And the writing just wouldn't come. Line edits have been torture. What I'm writing now isn't brilliant, but it's new material, it's progress toward my next book delivery, and it's getting things going again. Man, it's been an unproductive three months. I was starting to worry over how long this bizarre neutral state was going to last.

I realized tonight that that 30th birthday Peru trip is only a year and a half off, too. Having a world jaunt to look forward to while working toward financial freedom in Dayton is also a pretty big motivator.

But mostly, it's the gym.

I've had to manipulate it so that my sugar's at at least 250 before I start working out. Just 40 minutes of cardio takes me down to 90. It's wicked. I don't remember the change being that extreme, but then, I used to do some weight training afterward, which usually make it go up again.

Still, a 160 point drop in an hour? That's just wicked. I think I'll be reducing my Lantus in the morning. 40 minutes flies by pretty quickly, and I'd like to bottom out my cardio at about 45-50. Do that four days a week, dance around my apartment and write like a crazy person all week.

It's like I've been asleep. Which I enjoyed quite a bit, mind you. It's just that I knew I was going to have to wake up sometime.

And, Finally

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”
- Ernest Hemingway

Seriously, people!

Tonight's Song, Stuck on Repeat

Third Eye Blind - Good Man

If you ever find a way to forgive me
And if you ever find a way to put this all to rest
Because I'm hanging on your dress now like a little boy

And all that you wanted
And all that you wanted
Was a good man

Right in the middle of another big fight
Pull back another one tonight
I'll never forget, but who protects the memories
When we bleed each other from the vein

And if you ever find a way to make this interesting
If I ever find a way to stop disintegrating
Into pieces that I was that you destroy

And all that you wanted
And all that you wanted
Was a good man

Right in the middle of another big fight
Go to bed, it's getting light out
Why do you, why do you, why do you always stop me on places when I'm coming down

How do you do it when I've overwhelmed by a violet sky?
We fly in a decaying orbit, 66,000 miles an hour goes by
When we kissed and only now do I feel your mouth
Like an ache you never knew
And it was right in front of you

Oh how do you do it? Roots in the soil untangle
Releasing your sweet summer warmth, but still I recoil like mace
And all the little moments I pushed you away that I can't erase
Every moment overflows with power, 66,000 miles an hour

And if you ever find a way to forgive me
And if you ever find a way to put this all to rest
Cos I'm hanging on your dress now like a little boy

And all that you wanted
And all that you wanted
Was a good man

And all that you wanted
And all that you wanted
Was a good man

Was a good man, good man
Was a good man, good man
Was a good man, (was a good man) good man
Was a good man, (was a good man) good man

Summer Storm

The one nice thing about being stuck in a summer storm is that though you may be drenched, you're still warm, so you can pretend you're somewhere interesting and tropical while the sky roars at you.

I love summer storms.

What to do in Denver...

I deleted all of my dating profiles last weekend. I was just finally done with the long parade of mediocre and often stressful first dates.

I invited the not-Boyfriend to the movies this weekend, but he's seeing a very nice girl from Cincinnati these days, so he was booked out. Which is a good thing. We shouldn't be hanging out anyway. There's nothing stupider than spending time in a weird, unbalanced friendship.

I'm getting better about it, though. We don't hang out anymore anyway. I think he's just my default, "Gee, I'd like to spend time with that person!" person, and you know, there are better sorts of people who should be filling that roll. The feelings involved are a little too much like the ones in grade school when I was asking Adam Hopper to hang out. Sure, he liked me as a friend. But the liking was terribly unequal, and there's no fun or future in that.

So I'm starting to get back to that place where I remember what being single and unattached is like. Hence the final deletion of said profiles. Want to go to Peru? Want to get a job in Canada or Paris or the Sudan? Want to spend all night watching MST3K and eating flourless peanut butter cookies? Want to spend an hour and a half at the gym and linger at the bookstore and pass some time at Chipotle? Stay up until 2am playing WoW? Sit up in bed and write on a work night?

It would be great to have a great boy buddy again to hang out with, but as yet, none has been forthcoming. Old boy buddies have girlfriends, folks I know at work have wives, and building new friendships is always really stressful for me.

So I'll take some time off, then maybe go friend-searching as opposed to date-searching. Those searches are usually better investments anyway.

Kicking bad habits.

Yeah, I'm all over that.

In any case: seeing Wanted tomorrow!

One For the Road

Quote of the Day

"The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up."

~ Paul Valery

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Sugar Festival

I picked up Paul Park's The Sugar Festival back when I went to Clarion, but never read it (he was one of our instructors that year - I read The Gospel of Corax instead, which I enjoyed). Mainly, I didn't read it because the first few pages... few, man, at least 25 or so, were really tough to get into.

The primary POV, the one that's supposed to slide you into the story, is that of an antinomial, one of a "race" of religious heretics who broke away from the mainstream many seasons ago. The viewpoint is utterly alien. These people have renounced love, emotions, thought, anything but selfish present, the here and now. They are a proud, strong people. So proud and strong that many would rather die than accept help from others. Accepting help from others, they believe, would make them slaves. Questioning the past, the future, all these things would make them slaves to thought, to reason. Only the present moment, the self, is real.

There's a telling line when a city woman says to one of the antinomials, "Stop it, you're hurting her," and he says, "I can't feel it."

If he can't feel it, how could it exist? How could it matter?

You can sort of see up front why this is a troublesome way to start a novel. It's like Ayn Rand jacked up on crack and set on fire.

But there was something in the story this time around that peaked my interest, something I was too young and impatient to catch the first time. And that's the complexity and depth of the world, and the way the seasons work, and how the entire story, its characters, its events, are built beautifully around that.

Because seasons here are not three or four or six months long. They aren't even the 10-15 year span you see in Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. No, these seasons are a generation long. Someone born at the end of the winter may - may - live long enough to see the beginning of summer. Winter is long and brutal, and spring is the starving time, the long, hollow season when you wait for the rain, for the sugar rain, the heavy, sugary, gasoline smelling rain that falls from the sky and brings life back to the world.

The depth to this world is just astounding. The world is ruled all winter and spring long by a harsh, restrictive religion, by priests and a ruling class family of "Starbridges" who call the rain the semen of their god-prophet. The bizarre seasons have shaped the religion, the stratification, the entire society, to a lovely, intricate level that left my head spinning.

Because not many writers will do this. Not many writers will say, "OK, my world does X. How different would things REALLY be if life were like X?"

Park does that here. He explores this world in depth and detail. Every spring, the city burns. Every summer, a new religion of loving kindness and joyous fertility springs up, and the rigid, angry, penile cult of the current set of priests goes dormant. It happens every turn of the seasons, for the 16 seasons of the recorded calendar. Not that anybody alive has ever really *seen* what it's like before. They just have the histories, the stories, the myths. Myths of their own seasons, a summer they have never seen. An autumn they will never see.

There are nods to the idea that these folks are the descendents of some space travelers - probably criminals - abandoned or exiled to this world, so long ago that nobody knows the real story, just the myths. But not cheesy myths. For me, that's the key. It's not like, "And they say he came down in his god-ship and took out his com-pu-ter and announced that he had claimed this land for Earth. And would call it after that world." You don't get it shoved in your face. You get the people's understanding of it.

The ruling family has the name Starbridge. The Starbridges are "different." Literally, there blood looks different?? There are people with tails, and most folks seem to have a lot of body hair, and at one point there's this throw away line where he's like, "The girl in the photo only had ten fingers." These little teasing places in the narrative where you're like "WTF???? SRSLY???"

I love that stuff.

It's a good thing the world building was amazing, tho. Watching the roll of the seasons, and the predictable (to that society) roll of its politics to match ("He believed in the equality of women, but it was still a little early in the season for that") is a total trip. And, again, a good thing.

A good thing because I had some of the same issues with this one as I had with A Princess of Roumania, in that is was terribly difficult to like any of the people (and that opening, I think, may have cost a lot of readers who weren't willing to get past it). Unlike Princess, however, I saw a lot of that unlikability as justified. In this kind of inexplicably cruel, harsh, constrained, stratified world, whaat kind of people would you end up with? Who would they be? Who would survive, season after season, when every spring 80% of the people starve and the cities burn down?

Not great folks, let me tell you.

I think it was that realization that made me love these books, because Park did that thing that I always accuse so many writers (including me) of not doing. He wasn't lazy. He took a world and ran with it. There wasn't a lot of shorthand garbage. There wasn't one monolithic religion. The world wasn't static. The characters lived and breathed and grew out of their world. They weren't transplants from the MTV music awards or some Dragonlance novel. They belonged there. They were shaped there, utterly and completely.

I loved this book. And it's generally very difficult for me to say that about books full of people I don't particularly like. Yet, to see a world fully realized and built and set into motion like that, man...

Talk about sense of wonder.

And yes, the third and last book is on my wishlist.

Things Which Should be Invented Just For Me

A pop delivery service.

Seriously, people.

A Princess of Roumania

This is a page turning, readable little book...

But I won't be buying the sequel.


Because these characters are all IDIOTS. And they talk all about how they are IDIOTS.

Unlike the brilliant The Sugar Festival, which also had unlikable characters, the world just wasn't amazing enough to keep me going through all the idiocy.

Granted, again: I kept thinking about the book. It was great to read on the bus in the morning and read before bed. It was really marketably written.

But I didn't like even one of the characters. Not even one. And they weren't even interesting or smart enough to make up for the fact that I didn't like them.

In fact, it wasn't even that I HATED them. That would have been some emotion, at least. I felt this sort of vague annoyance every time they did something idiotic, which was often.

I can understand that it makes more sense to write about people who do dumb things, who don't follow the prophecy, who make "wrong" or at least "unexpected" choices, who are selfish, confused, and make mistake after mistake. We all do these things. We encounter incompetence all day.

But this level of incompetence? Consistence incompetence? I mean, from more than just a couple of individuals? It's just staggering.

Mistakes are fine. But people with absolutely no redeeming qualities who aren't interesting enough to be evil but without the spine to be heroes are just annoying.

Screw this, I'm going to write about The Sugar Festival, which was way better.

Fit Test Results

Had our quarterly fitness test at work today.

I am full of awesome!

My blood pressure and heart rate improved, and my measurements overall stayed about the same. I did 50 timed pushups, up from 46, and 51 timed situps, up from 48. So, whoo!

My dougheyness seems to be caused by a mere 4 extra pounds, which also makes me happy. Not cause I'm all excited about weight numbers, but because I was pleased that I was able to note that I was feeling doughy and lethargic at such a low additional weight number... and kick my butt back to the gym.

I like the idea that I'm a lot more aware of my body, how I feel, how it works, than I used to be. It used to be 15 lbs or more before I started going, "Gee, I haven't been feeling so great lately and I don't have any clothes to wear."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Shit Lucky, and Back at the Gym

Probably one of the most frustrating things about being me (besides the whole insulin thing) is the fact that I have to go to the gym 4-5 times a week just to, like, maintain my current weight.

I get lazy, I slack off and just do two days a week, I play a few video games, and 8 weeks later my clothes don't fit as well and I'm starting to feel doughy.

This annoys me.

It annoys me because I do 15 min of free weights every morning, I'm not allowed to food binge anymore, I miss doughnuts and pasta and bread, and still. 4-5 days a week, or it's back to doughy. And you know, I'm not a small person to begin with. So just to stay intimidating as opposed to doughy, I have to invest... time. Also, there's that whole, I don't feel like buying new clothes thing. So.

I could wish for all sorts of things. Like a body that was better regulated, more interested in exercise and less in food, or more interested in running than more sendentary stuff like, well, writing.

But that's like wishing that I could make insulin. It's like wishing that I wouldn't be me.

And this is what I am. So this is what I have to work with. This is how it rolls, so you have to roll with it.

Part of growing up has just been accepting that this is me. This is how I work. In some areas of my life, I have to work harder than other people just to look "average." And sometimes I have to work really hard just to appear "passable."

Other times, of course, I am just shit brilliant.

But the trickier stuff, the bullshit that annoys me (boo hoo I have to work so hard), it's really not worth fighting, or bitching about. You just pick who you want to be, and you act like that person. You do the things you need to do to get there. 30-50 on the elliptical 4-5 days a week, plus my two days of weight training at work, and the free weights in the morning, is what it takes to be where I want to be.

So that's what ya do.

In any case, it's been back to the gym this week, which is good in a lot of ways. My mood was starting to take a nose dive again, and I was having trouble staying motivated at night (hence the lack of proper writing, too). Gym time gets me out of the house, away from the computer, and away from my sugar free, fat free chocolate pudding and flourless peanut butter cookies (mmmmmm cookies!).

Those exercise minutes are also good book brainstorming sessions. I'm trying to think through how the end of book 2 gets me through book 3 (yes, I have synopses, but I need to fill those in in my head), and I have a lot of character sketches to work out. The trouble with trilogies is that the best kinds are the ones that look like you knew what the hell you were doing when you wrote the first sentence of the first book.

I did not, in fact, have any idea what I was doing when I wrote the first sentence of the first book.

But if I can knock out book 2 and have a lot of book 3 in my head when I start editor revisions on book 1, I can give the illusion that I was really brilliant when I was writing the first sentence of the first book.

As opposed to just shit lucky.

So that's what I'm up to.

Wild times, I know.


Used in conversation with the web designer working on the GW site, while brainstorming some themes:


It's funny, when you don't have a word that describes exactly what you want, you sort of just cobble them together from existing words. Because I think what I meant was, you know, steampunk without the steam, but with a little cyber, only organic-cyber.. er, organic punk? er....

Ok, let's be honest. What I meant was:


Which is a subgenre of the New Weird.

Trust me.

Monday, June 23, 2008

One For the Road

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Joy Nash

Still my hero.

Where Do Your Ideas Come From?

I got my first book-specific "Where did your ideas come from?" question at lunch with the rest of the marketing department yesterday.

Sure, I've gotten this question before, but it was always really general. That one's easy. You just say, "From living."

Which doesn't make great interview copy, but it's true.

But this question was in specific reference to God's War. "Where did you get the idea for the book?"

I mean, how do you answer a question like that? It really did stop me cold, though it's the hugest cliche question in the field and I should have been over prepared for it (well, the biggest cliche question other than, "My aunt/cousin/niece/nephew/friend's brother's dog wants to be a writer could you read their stuff/meet with them/send them an e-mail and tell them if they're any good/how to "break in"/read some of their stuff?" I've gotten that one loads and loads of times and whenever people ask it, I'm still dumbfounded that they don't know what a tired cliche that request is).

Where did I come up with the idea for God's War?


The real answer would take me half an hour, and you'd hear all about South Africa, and bugs, and dying for a year, and getting an IUD, and chronic illness, and being weak, and kickboxing, and failed relationships, and heartbreak, and fear, and personal disaster. The real answer would mean reading four years worth of blog entries and only getting a sliver of the story. The real answer isn't the answer anybody's looking for.

The real answer is life, a life that's not ours, and we don't have enough head space or time or patience to get a grip on something like that.

Which is why we read books.

And why I write them.

In Which the Protagonist is Pissed Off

I hate it when I wake up pissed off for no reason. I think it's just a weird feeling because I've been in such a state of zen for the last two months. Being pissed off first thing in the morning at old hurts and bygones is such a waste of time.

Good thing there's pancakes and MST3K.

More line edits today.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Buried in Bills

Living on your own is fucking expensive, yo.

The bare facts of this were nicely camouflaged when I lived in Chicago, as Jenn would just give me the total bill for the month, so I'd write one check, not 8. Totalling these all up separately makes you realize just how much... stuff there is to middle-class living.

Granted, a lot of it is still catching up on various and sundry medical payments (I got a $50 refund from one of the ones I'd overpaid. I've spent so long not paying these that now when they come in for the 85th time, I try to pay them if I can, and there's some bum accounting on my part).

Only $800 to go, once I can get my old insurance company to admit that they're responsible for paying the $700 one.

I look at what I'll be making this year, including book money, and I'm thinking, "How is it possible I'm still in so much debt?" and then I look at the pile of unpaid medical bills leftover from last year's three emergency room visits.

Ah.. that's right!

I also try not to think about the fact that I'd be a lot closer to being COMPLETELY DONE with medical debt if I would STOP GOING TO CHIPOTLE.

I'm on the 5 year plan here, folks. One day at a time. Things get better, including me. I just take a frickin' long time.

So long as I'm an adult by 30, I figure I'm doing pretty well.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


That was pretty fucking awesome.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Brain Death

I'm starting to think that work has eaten my brain. That, or cozy apartment living.

I don't know what it is. Things just feel... nice. The problem with me feeling nice and content is that everything just sort of stops. I do a lot of cooking and reading and play some video games and watch some shows and work out and sleep and take showers and use perfume that won't kill anyone and tidy up and it's all very cozy and.. nice.

And I don't know what to do with myself when things are nice, when I don't hate myself. I tried to stir up some self-hate yesterday when I decided to order some pizza and have a beer, but I didn't eat enough to make myself sick (three pieces is my limit in order to subdue an impending sugar crises), and I played video games all night instead of working because I wanted to feel sorry for myself.

Instead, I woke up the next morning and I didn't feel sorry for myself at all. I tried to start a bit of the old, "Oh, I am such a loser stuff," but it was half hearted, because, what am I a loser about? Because I ate some pizza and played Mass Effect? Seriously.

There are too many good things going on to hate myself over. Thing is, I have no idea what to use to motivate myself at all. You spend so long running on self hate (I need to be a writer, need to publish a book, need to experience things, need to date more, need to socialize, need to have a better job, need need need need need) that when you stop, well... needing things, what are you supposed to do to get motivated again?

I used to have this deep fear of falling in love, because I had this deep fear of loving somebody crazily and them not loving me back, and how that would make me weak and useless (which is probably why, until recently, I always dated people who were far more crazy about me than I was about them. I was too terrified to pursue people I was sick over).

And then that heartbreak actually happened, and yes, it sucked, and I was completely heartsick and heartbroken for months and it still aches a little when I think about it, but like any other hurt, it bleeds and bleeds and then scabs over, bleeds a little more, and heals over. So all you've got to show for it is that occasional dull ache.

And you know, in the face of chronic illness, near death, job loss, and staggering credit card debt, heartbreak really wasn't so bad.

So that's not so scary anymore. Now I have something else to face, which is finding myself without that motivator. I ran a lot on fear. Choking, pulse-pounding fear. Fear of being weak, fear of failure, fear of never being good enough, fear of lost potential, fear of, well, fear of fear. Fear of just not doing enough.

I was in the shower the other day thinking about how I was going to get to Macchu Pichu for my 30th birthday, and I was thinking... this is all extra time. I'm dead already, really. All this is just extra time... so much extra time. What a gift.

One of my coworkers shuddered the other day when I gave myself my daily lunch shot of insulin. "I just don't know I could do it," he said. "Stick myself with a needle every day."

"Well," I said, "the alternative is to die in 72 hours."

Some bad things have happened. Not horrifically bad things. I haven't been beaten, raped, shot, mutilated and left for dead in a ditch or anything, but some things I feared have happened, and I got through them.

A funny thing happens when you face fear. It's not an unknown anymore. There's no anticipation, no buildup. Death sucks. It happens. Heartbreak sucks. It happens. Being poor and homeless, relying on other people, shitcanned and deeply in debt, sucks. And it happens. And you go on. Or, in the case of death, you cheat it just a little bit longer. Never inevitably. Just a little bit longer.

Now, though, I find myself a little directionless. I have a great job, a great apartment, a book deal, an actual mattress for my bed. I'm comfortable with my body and my looks. I honestly have no complaints. I like my coworkers. I have few but good friends.

I just don't know what to do with all this. I went out on the porch this morning and transferred some of my basil seedlings into bigger pots. It made me so happy, that simple thing. Simple things make me so happy. Readying comic books out on the porch. Line editing Black Desert on my big new mattress. Reading The Sugar Festival on the bus.

But it all feels sort of... formless. Without real drive or purpose. There's no gearshift grinding there in the back. Nothing telling me to shape up or ship out. No self-hate, no fear. Just this vast stretch of happy nothingness. Some days, I just drown in it, I just let myself go.

And maybe that's what gets to me, that I just let myself revel in it. It's so strange to not be crazy or unhappy or... driven.

I like to think that I just pushed so hard and long to get here that this is just a lull in... drive, productivity. Life. Because though I am happy, I miss that driving force, that passionate desire to do, to live, to push. I need to find that again somewhere, but it's so nice... so nice to just be happy.

I worry that happiness is a dangerous thing. I worry that it's not something we should strive for, but just something you get periodically, a lull between the long stretches of darkness, like the short, sharp Alaskan Summer. Those three months of intense, gorgeous, beautiful life and sunshine that make the 8 months of winter worth it.

Thing is, without the winter, would I have loved those summers so much?

And without the promise of summer, could I have made it through the winter?

I don't know.

I just know that I feel like I'm sinking into a happy life of cozy softness, and part of me wants to just let myself enjoy it because nothing lasts forever, and part of me wants to find some kind of weakness, some kind of fear, some kind of motivation, to make it feel that I'm living on the edge of everything again. To keep me going forward when all I want to do is pretend the world is OK for just a little bit longer

In Which the Protagonist Feels Like a Troll

The work folks like to make offhand comments about my perceived high standards in men (which appears to be the only reason they can comprehend my singledom). Apparently, my inability to sleep with people I find physically attractive but uninteresting sounds pretty weird to some of them.

"I would take interesting over hot," I said to our DB guy this morning. He gave me this look of spurious disbelief, like I'd just climbed up from under a rock, covered in seaweed.

"I don't need to date a traditionally attractive person. At least half of my attraction is mental. If they can't keep up with me, what's the point. It's why I had to stop going on dates with that guy who had the big TV. He was deliriously cute and physically, totally my type, but when we started talking? Nothing. Nada."

Sure, I could have had sex with him. And I wouldn't have gotten off on it.

Maybe that's what most people who worship at the alter of pretty bodies don't get.

Pretty bodies alone don't do it for me. It's just so much meat.

Not that pretty isn't nice, and not that I don't have a type. But there had better be a lot more going on than pretty.

What I didn't tell them is that I think that my singledom has more to do with the fact that I enjoy being single than that I have particularly crazy standards.

But then, maybe that's the rub: I have to be pretty wild about somebody before I switch out my happy single life. So maybe I have some crazy standards afterall.

Just the way I like it.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Conversations with my Coworkers

Went out with my workout group yesterday, and while we walked over to the Y, one of my groupmates turned to me and said, "I had a dream about you last night Kameron!"

"Great," I said. "Was I typing a lot of things furiously?"

"No, it was this post-apocalyptic world and you were this... this avenging angel, and you had this flaming sword and you were leading this army. This whole army! It was so weird. I mean, flaming sword!"

"Are you serious?"


"You have no idea how awesome I think that is." Because seriously, people, that is FULL OF AWESOME.

"Maybe I just ate some bad chili," she said.

Ah, bad chili.

I love my coworkers.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Finished my Last Final!

School's out!

Now it's book writing all summer long! Yay!

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

The guys at work helped me price out a new gaming computer for about the cost of my stimulus check. It's an amazing little machine with a flat screen monitor, 8800 GT graphics card, 4G of ram, and a sweet dual core processor.

Turned out the power supply was too dinky to run the stupid video card, so I bought a new one.

I bought a new one and installed it and the ginormous graphics card last night.

By myself.

When I plugged the computer in, it didn't blow up or anything! And I only had to open it back up one more time when I discovered that the CD drive didn't work. I'd plugged the power cable to the drive in, but re-located the data cable somewhere else.

And the fact that I did that, and can talk intelligently about that, makes me immensely proud. I love learning new things, and being able to do things on my own. After watching the not-boyfriend put together Steph's computer, I figured I was up to this bit of PC customization. Sure, I realize it's not terribly difficult, but the idea of it was intimidating, and now it's not so scary anymore.

Man, I love learning useful skillz.

Friday, June 06, 2008

I'm Always Looking for a Challenge...

(click to embiggen)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Writing: Do Not Want

I take my finals for my econ and marketing classes this weekend, and then school is officially over, major work deadlines and raise-related stress are done, and it's full-on book mode for the rest of the summer.



But it's time to face the facts:

It's time for the deathmarch.

It will not be pleasant.

There will be blood, and sand, and more people will die at the end of it.

But Nyx will learn how to shoot a gun, the red desert will fall into the right hands, and a three centuries old holy war will finally wrap itself up.

Um, this will also ensure than I see two more checks next year.

Let's not forget that there are now checks involved.

Which is probably part of my rebellion.


But it's coming.

Like it or not.

Google Adwords

Today's writing lesson: google adword haiku

I'm developing an incredibly broad skillset here at the dayjob.

Monday, June 02, 2008

In Which Summer Finally Arrives

It will be in the 80s all week.

(yes, I will be complaining about this in a month, but for now, it's a fun novelty)

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Movie Night

(click to view)