Feast

The cookbook, A Feast of Serendib, is off to the layout person. It was very hard letting it go. Writing the acknowledgements helped, though per usual, I am terrified that I have forgotten someone critical.

*****

Acknowledgements

This book is deeply indebted to all my readers, on Facebook and elsewhere, who offered advice, encouragement, test cooking, and demands for more recipes. It wouldn’t exist without you – thank you more than I can say.

Appreciation as well to friends and family who have been eating my food for decades, not hesitating to offer constructive criticism along with the compliments. ‘This is good, but maybe a little more lime juice next time?’ You made these dishes better. Special thanks to Aaron Lav, who answered many food science questions, and to Kat Tanaka Okopnik and my sweetie, Jed Hartman, who have given exceptional feedback over the years. The best feedback, of course, is watching them clean their plates and come back for seconds.

Special thanks to my Sri Lankan friends and relatives who answered questions from their own memories and experience cooking – my sisters, Mirna and Sharmila Mohanraj, Roshani Anandappa, Samanthi Hewakapuge, Suchetha Wijenayake, Sugi Ganeshananthan, Mythri Jegathesan, Rozanne Arulanandam, Elaine and Angeline Martyn, and all the rest. (Any Sri Lankan culture errors are my own.)

Thanks as well to my aunties, exceptional cooks, all. For all the times you insisted on my taking away another stuffed full bag of rolls or patties as I headed to the airport, I’m grateful. You’ll never know how much pleasure they brought.

Deep gratitude to my parents – to my mother, for her incredible cooking, of course, but also to my father, who was always ready to provide a mini-lecture on Sri Lankan Tamil culture and the beauty of our language. It can be challenging for any immigrant, maintaining a connection to homeland culture in the diaspora, but my parents always did their best to help us stay connected. I’m planning to take another stab at Tamil classes someday soon.

I also have to thank Kevin, for all the reasons, but mostly for the many days and nights when he cooked separate meals for the children, because they were suspicious of Mommy’s spicy food, especially once she’d started experimenting… Often they’d taste it, but teaching them to love the vast range of Sri Lankan dishes is an ongoing process. It’s getting better as they get older, but in the meantime, it’s a good thing Daddy can cook. Best of men, best of husbands. I’m lucky to have found you.

மீண்டும் சந்திப்போம்
meendum santhipom
we’ll meet again

Redwood

Finished reading Celeste’s Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere, which everyone was talking about, it seemed. It was fine, but honestly, I was a little underwhelmed. The crisscrossing events seemed a little too neat for my taste, and the themes a bit heavy-handed. I had put down her earlier book to read this one for book club, but I think I liked the first one better. Everything I Never Told You was also quite a bit darker, at least as far as I’ve read.

But before I go back to that, re-reading Redwood and Wildfire, preparatory to teaching it. Trying to decide how much background material on minstrelsy / vaudeville / early cinema, etc. to give them at the start of the text. Maybe better to wait ’til the second class for that, let them experience the opening fresh. Oh, if only I could have them read each work twice — that would be ideal…

One of the things I’m hoping we can have is robust discussion of is how we create social change. We’re coming out of the early 70s feminist SF texts, which often had a brutal, despairing tone to them. Here is a dystopian vision of the future, which is mostly just what women are already dealing with, brought out into the open. Or here is an alternative future, where women are living together in relative harmony, but men are about to come along and destroy it, etc. Often those texts didn’t offer any kind of road map for actually creating a better future — they focused on throwing the problems into sharp relief, bringing them into the light. (Certainly useful, and one could see the #metoo movement as part of that thread.)

But in Hairston’s book, I think there’s an argument for collective storytelling as a means of dreaming a better America, seeing a future that takes us where we want to go, transcending the social / cultural / gendered limitations of the present day. Can I connect that to the way Will & Grace set the stage for the Defense of Marriage Act passing? Maybe…

Book Sale!

Book Sale: I’m clearing out my basement; everything must go! Happy to sign any books ordered. Many of these have just one or two copies available, so please e-mail Chris (christophermpencehybrid22@gmail.com) with your order, and he’ll let you know if the books are available.

Shipping note: Please add on $5 shipping + handling per order domestic U.S., $10 international. So for example, if you want a signed hardcover copy of Bodies in Motion sent to Seattle, that would be $13.

Books I wrote:

Bodies in Motion, dust jacketed hardcover (Sri Lankan American immigrant stories): $8

A Taste of Serendib (first edition of cookbook): $5

The Poet’s Journey (children’s picture book): $5

Torn Shapes of Desire (my first book of erotic fiction and poetry): $3

Colombo Chicago (hardcover, French edition of Bodies in Motion): $5

Tela U Pokretu (Serbian edition of Bodies in Motion): $3

*****

Books I’m in:

Lowball (large format paperback) (Wild Cards anthology): $5

Chicks Dig Gaming (essays): $5

Out!: Stories from the New Queer India (fiction): $5

Catamaran #9 (South Asian literary magazine): $2

Wine Bar

Yes, I’m now the mom trying to figure out when the new Target down the street is opening because my son almost couldn’t find pants this morning even though we did laundry all weekend (he ripped through at least three pairs last week). We found clean pants eventually, but I am seriously looking forward to being able to walk over to Target and I just want to know why Targets don’t have wine bars like Mariano’s because I am telling you, it would make it the hot new mom meet-up spot in downtown Oak Park. If they had a little drop-off play place for the littles like IKEA, they would make BANK.
 
On the one hand, I am amused that this is my life now. On the other hand, I was watching Kavi load the dishwasher after eating breakfast this morning, before heading out to the bus, and I thought, this is the happiest I have ever been, happier than book deals, happier than Disneyland. This is my best life.

Misc

Follow-up with surgical oncologist today. All looks good, and she graduated me to once a year follow-ups. Onwards.

Generally feeling harried this week — thanks to Paul for being flexible and letting me push photoshoot another week to next Wed. Eases my mind, and means that I can write tomorrow morning instead of running around doing stupid stuff like eyebrows and hair and nails. Huge thanks to Malon (he knows why!). Thanks to Christopher for spending most of today doing work that I know is not his favorite (but he did great with it). Thanks to Kevin and Jed for letting me vent at them when I was totally stressing out last night.

Sometimes the little hamster wheel in my mind threatens to spin out of control, but luckily, I am surrounded by kind, competent, and helpful people.

Tropics

Back deck tropicals — mandevilla, bougainvillea, duranta, plus a Christmas cactus (slightly different category). It’s lovely going out on my tiny back deck and being surrounded by a little taste of the tropics.
 
I’ll be bringing them in for the winter soon, but not quite yet. I have been limited in my love of tropicals by only having one sunny room suitable for overwintering them, although I do have a friend who has kitted out a room in her basement with grow lights, which is giving me IDEAS.

World Fantasy Program

World Fantasy has asked if I could add another panel, and I said sure. This is my program now (November 3, San Antonio) — hope to see some of you there!

Gender Fluidity in Fantasy
Friday 10 a.m., ExecSalon 2 (Ardath Mayhar) (WR)

Our genre is in a unique position to illuminate rather than conceal the variations in our sense of gender. The Tiptree Award regularly honors stories and novels that explore and expand the idea of gender — an idea that has had a secret history all its own. What does this look like in fantasy? How are today’s authors using, or mis-using, this keystone concept?

Pat Murphy (M), Eugene Fischer, Karen Joy Fowler, Mary Anne Mohanraj

*****

History — Secret, Hidden or Otherwise
Friday 4 p.m., ExecSalon 2 (Ardath Mayhar) (WR)

Secret history is a tale where what actually happened in our world happened for very different reasons. It can also be a hidden history of events that happened in another culture whose import was ignored altogether, covered up, or simply misunderstood in the main historical narratives. Can a secret history bring to light a true aspect of history that wasn’t known or acknowledged before, or might it be a simple retelling of acknowledged aspects of history newly reclaimed and fully fleshed out to see the real truth behind the chapter in a history book? Does this relate to our concept of “The Other,” and how? Our panelists continue to define terms and tropes for discussion during the convention. [This program is part of a series. We know there will be overlap, but please try to stay with the topics outlined here.]

Fran Wilde (M), J. L. Doty, John Crowley, Ian Drury, Mary Anne Mohanraj

Ties That Bind

I’ve added “Ties That Bind,” to my website, my second Wild Cards story, published a few years back. You could read it as a stand-alone, but I’d strongly recommend reading “Sanctuary” first. You don’t need to have read anything else from Wild Cards to enjoy these (although, of course, I hope that you’ll catch the bug and go read lots of them afterwards…)

This piece finishes with a proper ending, but if you want even more, there will be more of Natya in _Wild Cards: Low Chicago_, coming out July 2018.

Varied Plans

Plans for today:

– plant three peonies (Moonstone, White Cap, and Koningin Wilhelmina) and four clematises (Josephine, Edda Boulevard, Bee’s Jubilee, Petit Faucon)
– spend at least 20 minutes on treadmill
– finalize last edits to cookbook and send to layout guy, eep.
– chair union communications committee meeting (do *you* want to be on the union communications meeting, UIC faculty member? I bet you do!)
– teach Butler’s _Bloodchild_, workshop paper drafts
– cook a pot roast for family (and eat some)
– finalize hotel / flight plans for my cousin’s wedding
– attend a Holmes school diversity council meet-up (just the first hour of it, 7-8)
– attend a League of Women Voters’ new member wine and cheese (missing the first hour and attending the second, 8-9)

(garden / exercise / writing / community service / teaching / cooking / family logistics / community service / community engagement)