I know people from Mills…

I know people from Mills who are pretty scornful of the kind of poetry that shows up on the subways/buses these days. And I can understand that, a little, since it tends to be rather sound-bite-ish in style; necessarily so, perhaps. But I still like it. I saw this one today:

Sometimes I go about in pity for myself,
and all the while
a great wind is bearing me across the sky.

-- Ojibwa saying

Boy, was I feeling sorry for myself last night. I didn't get to sleep when I said I would. I lay in bed for an hour trying to sleep and thinking about work and money and Clean Sheets and money and writing time and money. Finally got up and called Kevin. He helped me put some of this in perspective. Had a little hot chocolate and called Jed. He also helped calm me down. Worked a tiny bit more (putting up the music review), and then went to sleep. Overslept, so that I only had time to do Heather's article this morning, and will need to do the poem when I get home, but felt much better after those conversations.

I've been in crisis mode for months. I'm only just now realizing this. When I was talking to Jed last night he asked how I was doing and I said that I hadn't gotten to have my nervous breakdown last May when I wanted to -- there was too much to do -- and that I really thought I ought to get to have one soon. He laughed, and I did too, but I wasn't really kidding.

Munchkins, I've been feeling so overwhelmed for so long. And every time I feel like I have some aspect of my life a little more under control, it becomes clear that something else really needs some attention. In some ways, I haven't felt really at peace for more than a few days since last spring, before all the chaos erupted at Mills. Maybe it's just that I don't really know how not to be a student. I'm a good student. I do my homework, I get decent grades, and I know that I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. These days, it's entirely unclear what I'm supposed to be doing.

That's okay, I think. I was really stressed out last night because I felt like the finances were so bad that I was going to be forced to do tech writing for years and years, whether I liked it or not, and that it would completely cut off any chance of my teaching. And I don't want to lose teaching. But Kevin seems to think that as long as I keep writing and publishing, I ought to be able to come back to teaching when I want to. I hope that's right. I'd hate to be shutting off that option entirely.

I was also, again, feeling way out of my depth in tech writing. But then I took a look at the lecture notes for my class, and read the first two chapters of the textbook -- and you know what? I knew that stuff. There was nothing new to me there. Which makes me think that maybe I'm not as underqualified as I think. Which is deeply reassuring. Maybe the whole purpose of my taking this class is to make me feel more confident about it; it's a bit expensive for a confidence booster, but it does also add a bit of substance to the resume. Jed suggested as much in a letter I read this morning. That helped.

Then I read the first chapters of the O'Reilly C++ book. And okay, we're not doing any actual programming yet, but this book was also comforting. It's clear, it's friendly, it's more accessible than the Kernighan & Ritchie C book (which I still think is in its own way an excellent book, but not when I'm feeling so panicky and out of my depth. Too intimidating). I think I might be able to do this. I'm going to give it a week of really working at it, and then if I think it's still too much, I'm going to drop the class (which I think actually means I don't get my money back, but can transfer it to another, later class, which would be fine. I'm sure there's *something* at UC Berkeley I'd want to take.)

I'm also going to talk to my temp agency about finding me a place with a shorter commute. This is a lovely assignment in every other way -- great people, reasonable work, flexible about my going off for interviews and such. But losing three hours a day to commuting is just too much. If all my homework were reading, I could do it all then, but a lot of it involves being in front of a computer, and I can't afford to buy a new laptop with a working C++ compiler and functional batteries. So that has to get done at home. So I need to ask them to start looking for a more local job so I can cut down my commute time.

Mostly, I was feeling very trapped by my finances. And after talking to people and thinking about things some more, it's become clearer that I have options, and that what I'm doing *is* taking me somewhere, even if I'm not entirely clear on where. I might not be able to do everything at once, but I might actually be able to do everything, given time. Or most of everything, anyway.

I think I need a book with a big friendly sign on the cover saying "Don't Panic!". And a towel.

8:25 p.m.: Clean Sheets is completely up, poetry and all. And the newsletter went out! I read a fair bit of homework on the bus; now it's time to get my system all set up to actually do the work for the classes. And who knows, maybe I'll do a tiny bit of coding tonight.

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I am worrying about…

I am worrying about Xeney. First a couple of distressed journal entries, then a momentary burst of sunlight, then silence. Columbine, is she okay?

I just read an excellent short story in the latest (3/99) issue of Analog. Now, I admit to buying this subscription somewhat on a whim. My year of Harper's had run out, this kid showed up on the doorstep with a truly heart-warming story of how selling magazines would be putting him through college, and I, a sucker for higher education, agreed to get Analog. (I do one magazine subscription a year. This one's about to run out; I think it'll be Asimov's next).

Are you familiar with this magazine? It's hard sf, as hard as it comes, usually. Anywhere else in the sf mag market you can get away with fudging your science a bit, but Stanley Schmidt (the editor) and the Analog readers won't stand for that nonsense. In fact, it sometimes seems as if the more you drone on about your science (be it biological, astronomical, or whatever), the better. This is why I haven't always been a huge fan of Analog. The stories are always solid, but they rarely excite me. Too tech-y. (Catherine Asaro's work is a big exception).

But the story I just read really rocked. "Upgrade", by Ramona Louise Wheeler, combines hard sf (nanotech) with creative style used most effectively to tell her story, a nice sense of irony, and a protagonist I really felt for. I won't give you details since I don't want to spoil it, but you might want to hunt this one down. I haven't read anything else in this issue yet, so I can't speak to the rest.

To go back to two things from yesterday, BAE refers to Best American Erotica, as in the anthology with my story "Fleeing Gods" (which yes, you've all read already. And if you have my book, you even have a print copy already. So it's a little silly for me to urge you to buy this anthology, but it's a good anthology with lots of other good stories, so it wouldn't be a total loss. (I'm actually kind of surprised by how polymorphously perverse this volume is; Susie's tired of being conventional, and she ain't gonna do it no more :-)). And I finished the geisha novel, which continued strong throughout, but which really shifted tone quite a bit in the last quarter, so be warned. In some sense, I think it makes for a better, truer book, but it might feel like a bit of a disappointment if you were really caught up in the earlier world/style. Of course, a war will do that to you (which is what intervenes partway through the book), so I suppose it makes sense.

Heather's got a new job, btw. Although her journal formatting looks a bit odd at the moment, she seems to be much happier overall. Hooray!

And speaking of journal formatting, you clever people have probably realized that I didn't manage to implement the formatting changes I meant to. I might manage it tonight (adding the new material to Clean Sheets is the priority), but whenever I get it done (very hopefully this week), I'll do it retroactively to the beginning of February. I'm kind of excited about it. If I had more time, I might do a total revamp of these pages, but I'm going to restrain myself...

I *am* feeling much better. That cold is almost gone (just a tiny trace of a cough left), and I slept ten hours last night (which doesn't really make up for two hours the night before, but it helps). I actually reset my alarm from 5 to 6:30 this morning, which I think was a good decision; didn't get as much done this morning as I'd have liked, but felt much more rested when I got up.

Hey, anyone of you good editors? Willing to offer critique? Columbine is slumping into a major funk, and if you wanted to trot over there and offer your editing services, I think it would be very helpful. I actually think that story's mostly ready to go, but a few more eyes on it would undoubtedly be good. Everett, maybe?

And in other news, plans are getting off the ground for the St. Valentine's Day Massacre party (6th annual). I spent a while on Saturday at the bookstore with Kevin; while he worked, I pored through Italian cookbooks. My basic format for parties is that I make a pile of food, *and* ask people to bring food, so that we end up with just tons. Here's what I'm planning to make so far:

  • antipasto (olives, roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella balls, pepperoncini, marinated mushrooms, etc.)
  • minestrone soup (of course)
  • crusty bread
  • giambotta (a pasta dish with green beans, tomatoes and potatoes)
  • olive salad with fresh vegetables
  • angelhair pasta with tomatoes, slices of hard-boiled eggs and red wine vinegar (don't remember the name of this recipe, but those are some of the main ingredients)
  • some sort of fancy cake for dessert
I think I may delegate the cake to Ellie -- she's good at that sort of thing. And I was going to make caponata (olive/eggplant spread), but if Arthur's coming to the party, I may coax him to bring it instead, since he brought it to another party. Although I should talk to him and see if he'd rather bring something else.

I've made many of these before; the olive salad is new, and I hope it comes out well. Here's the recipe, in case you're interested:

Olive Salad with Fresh Vegetables

  • 1 lb. Sicilian green olives
  • 1/2 lb. Silicilian black olives
  • 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced, soaked in cold water for 15 minutes, drained, and patted dry
  • 1 1/2 celery stalks, cut diagonally into 1-in-thick slices
  • 1 large red sweet pepper, cut into large dice
  • 4 raw small broccoli florets, each floret quartered
  • 6 cloves garlic, cut into small dice
  • 1/3 c. red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano, crushed into dust
  • salt and red pepper flakes to taste (perhaps 1/2 tsp. each?)
1. The night before, in a bowl, combine all. Cover and refrigerate for one day. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Pretty simple, eh? Lots of prep work, but otherwise kinda hard to mess up...it doesn't say to chop the olives at all, but I think I may at least halve them for better consistency. We'll see.

Oh, one last thing -- I wanted to tell you about a reading that I don't think I'll be able to make, but if you're in the area:

An evening of fantasy, mystery, art and wolves:
Tuesday, February 9th, 7:30 p.m.
Pat Murphy, Lisa Goldstein, and Michaela Roessner
Modern Times Bookstore
888 Valencia Street, S.F.
415-282-9246

I'm very fond of the work of both Pat Murphy and Lisa Goldstein; Pat Murphy won the Nebula Award for _The Falling Woman_, and I think Lisa Goldstein writes some of the most exciting stories in modern fantasy. While I don't know Roessner's work, she's keeping good company; I imagine this will be an excellent reading.

Hey, Heather's mom just wrote me (hi, Mrs. Shaw!) and mentioned that Xeney has the flu. And I stopped back at the journal, and it looked exactly the same, with that sad 1.28.99 at the top, but then I hit refresh and there was her note saying she had the flu, so I feel better. And I hope she feels better soon.

And Ellie just called back (I had left her this long rambling message) and said she'd handle desserts, and might even take on tiramisu. Yum yum. :-) I wonder what I can coax Heather into making. And David. And Lydia. I love having friends who cook...

Heh heh. Talked to Heather (straight through lunch, actually). Good talk. But she also pledged garlic bread. She makes nummy garlic bread. :-)

9:25. Weary, my darlings. Spent a while staring hard at finances today. They stared hard back. It's going to be a choice between whether it's more important to me to clear away my debt quickly or have more time to write/edit/etc. currently. Hard choice. Going to put it off for a bit, since I can. Very depressing.

I've finished updating the fiction and book review for CS. I've still got a poem, an article and a music review to add. Waiting on the first two for some stuff for Heather; hopefully she'll send it to me soon, although I'm sleepy enough that I might just go to bed once I finish the music review and do it first thing in the morning. If I get up at 5:00, shower immediately (I *must* wash my hair tomorrow), I can work from 5:15 - 7:00. That ought to be enough time to get those two up. Really, that makes more sense than staying up when I'm this tired and mopey. Lord, I *hate* worrying about money.

Finally got the info for my classes. The tech writing one looks manageable. The programming looks terrifying. I'm not going to think about it 'til tomorrow. Just not.

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Well, theoretically I’m…

Well, theoretically I'm starting the new filing system for the journal today. I'm not going to worry about it yet, since I can't do anything about it 'til I get home from work. That's my main task for tonight, though -- that and possibly renting and watching _Fire_, the lesbian Indian movie, if I feel up to it. I was thinking of doing an editorial on it for Clean Sheets. The articles I've been reading about it have been very odd.

You may be wondering what could be so tiring about renting a movie? Well, munchkins, I am about as exhausted as I've ever been, I think. It's tempting to blame it on Kevin -- I think he did initiate the discussion of cooking, philosophy, and ethics (he ended up trying to convince me that I wasn't a moral relativist. Hmph.) that lasted until 2 a.m. And he did set his clock wrong, so that instead of getting up at 5:15 to get ready to leave at 5:45 to catch my 6:50 flight, I got up at 4:15 this morning. Didn't figure it out 'til I was showered and dressed and standing out in the snow wondering where the cab was. Actually, not 'til I came back inside and called them, and the nice man told me it wasn't even 5 a.m. yet... Sigh. But really, I knew I had to get up early when I was having that discussion. I could have called it off at any time. And the clock thing was an honest mistake. So he probably can't be held any more to blame than I can.

In any case, I'm wiped. The morning was tedious in all sorts of ways that I'm not even going to bother detailing here, except that I ended up having to spend $25 on extra cab fare to get to work on time -- ouch. But the rest of the day has been fairly calm; at this point I've done everything I can do at work, so I feel free to goof off a little and write in my journal.

One good thing about all the tedious travelling this morning is that I got to read most of a really engrossing book, which you've all probably heard of and read already, Arthur Golden's _Memoirs of a Geisha_. I have no idea how accurate Golden's novel is...but I have to remind myself that it *is* a novel, and not a memoir. His protagonist's voice is very convincing. And the plot so far has been really engrossing -- lots of subtle machinations and bids for power and status; I love that stuff. It was why I preferred the Janny Wurts side of the Riftwar books, the Empire series. Lots of devious political machinations. Actually, those books had an Oriental flavor too. Maybe I should be reading more Chinese and Japanese history...

I know I've been recommending a lot of books lately, but this one really is a very compelling read. And the details are gorgeous.

Other news -- well, the overwhelming vote is in favor of the silly iambic pentameter book review, so I'll go with it, and hope Chris (M. Christian, the editor) forgives me. Not many responses on "Challah" yet -- one very positive and one 'I couldn't read it', which makes me think I should maybe send it out again with the normal formatting when I get home. We'll see.

Hey, I forgot to mention something about the BAE 1999 -- I get royalties. Piddling royalties, if I remember correctly, but still, it's something. So think what a lovely Valentine's Day gift the book would be (and it has the advantage of being less embarrassing than my book, since it has no pictures :-). And hey, wedding season is coming up! Having trouble deciding what to get the happy couple? What could be more appropriate than something to spark up the honeymoon? :-)

Okay, enough with the mercenary commercial announcements. In job news, Hanh (Ojvind's wife, and a grad student at Mills) got me some information on doing proofreading for Berkeley Press. It'd pay about what I'm making now, and it'd be work from home. This sounds very appealing. It's directly opposite to the whole get gobs of money and do insane commute and build up tech writing experience thing, but it has the advantages of my being able to spend much more time with Kevin (which keeps me sane) and giving me more time to concentrate on my classes (I talked to the woman again today and she *swears* that I'll have my password by tomorrow. I am dubious.) I don't know what's the best option, but I'm going to go ahead and send a resume and cover letter to the proofreading job. Can't hurt. Will probably do that tonight.

And I just got a call from the Remedy people, to set up the third- round interviews. This is all starting to sound terribly serious. We're aiming for Friday right now; hopefully the boss here won't mind. I don't think he will, as it's been pretty darn quiet. I was really gung-ho about this job last week; now the reality of what it would entail time-wise is starting to sink in. I suppose that's a good thing in that it keeps me from being terrified they won't offer me a job. I'll have to think about it.

Heh. They have my web address. It's entirely possible that my prospective employers are reading this. Guess they won't learn anything too scary, though -- and a little honesty in the job- hunting game has got to be fairly refreshing, don't you think? Hello, Remedy!

Okay, wrap up and head home soon, I think. Hope your week is starting out okay...talk to you soon.

8:10. Came home. Ate. Puttered a little. Talked to El. *Far* too tired to do anything else. Have set my alarm for 5. Going to sleep now.

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Hey, munchkins. I’m…

Hey, munchkins. I'm writing from Salt Lake, not quite believing that I have to get up at 4:30 or some such tomorrow morning to fly home. Too short a trip, but certainly better than nothing. It was good to be here.

I did get a little work done, though not as much as I'd hoped. Finished a first draft of what I was calling "The Interview", and what is now titled "Challah". I'll send that along to the readers list. Also wrote a book review of an erotica anthology for Clean Sheets -- only I couldn't resist the urge to write it in iambic pentameter. I'm going to send that out too, so y'all can tell me if it's too silly. If so, I have another day or two to write a normal review.

In other news, the new issue of Scarlet Letters is up, focusing on bisexuality and polyamory, with some work by me. Check it out! Okay, you've read all these poems before, but now they're collected nicely, and one is even illustrated. I like the illustration too. It's cool.

It's interesting how different their approach is from ours. It makes me wonder if we've made the right choice with Clean Sheets -- we'd certainly have a lot more freedom/flexibility if we hadn't made a commitment to updating every week. On the other hand, we thought regular updates were important to keep readers coming back, and I still believe that, though there's a definite appeal to the Scarlet Letters 'pack it all in one big issue' approach. Hmm...hard to say, really. Guess it's still a wait and see game.

They do have one big advantage, in that their editors (or some of them anyway), are willing to get naked for the camera. That's gotta score some hits...

I did learn from _The Women's Guide to Sex on the Web_ (I did mention this new book, right? It said really nice things about this site! :-) that Nerve started out with $100,000! That made me feel much better about CS, since we started out with pretty much zip, and have still managed to put together a pretty cool magazine, in my humble opinion.

Anyway, I's tired, so I's going to go send off these stories and then go see if I can drag Kevin away from the Simpsons. Thank the gods he didn't insist on watching the Superbowl. We went to the bookstore instead.

Oh, almost forgot! It looks like Karina's coming to visit for a month! Huzzah! She'll be arriving Saturday, if she comes. Very happy Mary Anne. I've missed her!

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Friday: I forgot to…

Friday:

I forgot to send this to my other account when I left work. Silly Mary Anne. And now I have to do a quick entry 'cause time is running short before my plane.

Highlights: Interview this morning went reasonably well. I think. They want me back for another one, which is a good sign. They all seem like really nice people, and relaxed, which is promising for if I take the job (if they offer it).

Finished the Matthews. Yum. Gods -- if you told me, 'There's this book about a torturer and it's really really good', I'd go 'yeah, sure'. That's the real reason _The Sparrow_ won the Campbell award, instead of the first Matthews book. But this was very cool (if not, perhaps, *quite* as suspenseful as the earlier two). And there is at least one broad hint dropped for a later book, which is fun.

Best American Erotica 1999 is out! Okay, only in selected stores, but I was in Printer's Inc. in Mountainview last night with Jed (we had dinner at Don Giovanni's, seafood risotto and tomato-herb gnocchi, with black forest cake split between us, mmm.... (gnocchi is one of those things that I can make, but is a pain, so I'm happy to let a restaurant do it superbly well for me)) and they had it! My story is in there! I'm jumping up and down for joy -- don't you wish you could see me?

So now's the time to haunt your local bookstores. Ask them if they have it. Ask them if it's in yet. Ask them why not? Make them display it prominently. Turn it face out on the shelves. (You are welcome to do that with the other books I'm in if you can find them, of course. :-)

This is so cool.

Gotta go finish some work, and then off to pack and catch a plane. Will write you from Utah...

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Thursday: I decided…

Thursday:

I decided it would kill me. I'm flying out Friday evening, returning Monday morning (and going directly to work). It's a good thing that boy is indulgent.

In other news, readings are just popping up all over the place. There'll be the "My Sucky Valentine" reading, which Thomas promised to get me more info on by Monday. And it looks like there's going to be one for _Hot Off the Net_ at the S.F. Barnes & Noble at the end of March, so that'll be exciting too. Hopefully they won't interfere with visiting Kevin.

You may be wondering, with all this hopping around and such, when actual work is getting done. Well, I'm still waiting on a name and a password from UC Berkeley for my classes -- hopefully that'll be taken care of soon. Then I really will have to give up all social life. Although I can probably still justify visiting Kev since he works all the time anyway, and I just end up working more when I'm around him.

I'm starting to itch to write a story, but it's not quite at the critical compulsion stage. Soon, I hope. In the meantime, I'm reading lots of sf/f stuff -- just finished Laura Hamilton's _The Laughing Corpse_, another of those necromancer books which are just compulsive and I'm probably going to buy the next in the series at lunch today if the bookstore has it. A Christian necromancer. A really sexy, violent, defensive, powerful Christian necromancer. Yum.

And after reading in Ceej's journal that the new Susan Matthews Inquisitor book was out, I ran (not walked) to the bookstore and bought that instead, _Hour of Judgement_, which is sitting next to me on my desk and which I am trying to resist even as we speak. (I could just sneak out back for a while. My boss is out of town. Who would know? No, Mary Anne. Bad Mary Anne. Must! Finish! Filing! (The fate of the free world depends on my getting these photocopies done, you know. *And* properly collated and stapled.))

Okay, when I start talking about collating, you know I should be doing something else. Talk to y'all later...

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(I had to think for a…

(I had to think for a while before I could figure out what day it was.)

Heh. I know how you feel. Oh, not this moment, and not all of you. But Xeney's having a hard time these days, and I can so empathize, and I sort of want to write her a long letter telling her about how things are going in my life and offering what advice and support I can, but I figure she has lots of readers, and no time to read much e-mail, and I probably shouldn't bother her. Heh. Sound familiar?

I think I'll write her later today.

After that massive journal entry yesterday, I'm feeling a bit exhausted. I could talk about doing most of CS last night, and the part I'm going to finish this evening and the newsletter I'll send out to all of you (what, you aren't all on the mailing list? Why not? More free stuff!), and staying up 'til 2:30 talking to Kevin when I *knew* I was supposed to get up at 5:30, and waking up at 5:30 and actually getting up at 7:00 and getting a ride from El and still being quite late to work and it not mattering, luckily, and so on and so forth. But I don't feel like it. Not like going into all the details, anyway.

Mostly, I just miss Kevin. I miss the boy so fiercely that I'm actually considering flying out to see him this weekend -- he can't get away, but he offered to buy my ticket. It's a little goofy -- it'd mean missing a writing group meeting, and travelling a couple of hours Friday and a couple of hours Monday and really not having that much time with him at all...but boy, it'd be nice. I'll look at plane fares today.

7ish. Looked at fares. They're a little steep with this little notice, though not impossible. I'm going to think about it some more. Would it really kill me to wait until February 19th?

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Good morning, munchkins!…

Good morning, munchkins! I feel better!

Oh, still some lingering cold traces, but I actually feel healthy enough to go out and *do* stuff, cope with the world and all that. Maybe it was Cliff's chicken soup...

The interview went pretty well last night. They're going to call me today to set up a face-to-face one. It's apparently a somewhat involved process getting hired by this company (Remedy). I'm going to spend some time looking at their website today; I really should have before my interview (oops), but better late than never.

If the job happens, it'll be on-site down in Mountainview (or Sunnyvale?) Something like that. It's definitely a hike, but they're flexible enough that I can come in whenever I want, as long as I do my forty hours a week. That'd help a lot -- it means I can get up early and take public transit if I want, or get up late and ride with Cliff, or get up early, work for six hours, and then ride with Cliff. :-) That's all a big improvement over my current situation, where I have to be there 8:30 - 5:30, period.

Computer culture still bewilders me. I was talking to Cliff last night about salaries, and trying to figure out how much I should be expecting. It's frankly a little appalling how much computer people get paid. Normally I don't get all that het up about the fact that skilled computer people are paid more than skilled teachers; while teachers should certainly be paid more than they are in this country, there *are* some internal rewards to teaching that computers don't provide. And there's the fact that lots of people are still scared of computers. And that the industry changes so quickly that you have to work hard to stay qualified (while teachers certainly *can* work hard to stay up-to-date on the latest pedagogical theories in their field, I don't think they have to). A lot of reasons why computer people should be paid somewhat more than people in many other fields -- but *this* much more?

I recognize that this is primarily a function of the current scarcity of people to fill these jobs, and even that in other parts of the country, the pay discrepancy isn't nearly so great. And still. Cliff told me last night what he makes, about four times what I'm making right now as a temp. We ought to make him chip in more for parties.

The long-suppressed communist in me is shouting that we ought to all be paid equally, and the rest of me knows how difficult and problematic such an approach would be. And you *know* that if I end up with a high-paying offer, I'm going to take it. I'm not going to say -- 'Oh, I don't need that much. Give me 10K less'. I'm not even going to take it and then give the money to charity (though I may put some of it into Clean Sheets). So I'm a hypocrite too, just like everybody else.

Lydia and some other friends of mine *are* communists, and are trying to use fairly gentle political means to change that in this country. It'll never happen -- not unless something else drastic happens first, at least. And I'm not really sorry...I don't really believe communism is workable, not with humans in their current evolutionary state. We're too greedy.

This is the problem I see with communism, and anarchism (and keep in mind that I'm no political scientist. I don't think I've even taken a class in this. These are totally uninformed opinions). Both of those systems require that people be basically nice in order for them to work. If the people aren't nice, you start getting abuses, and there are no checks and balances in the system to help contain the abuses. Democracy, clearly flawed as it is, at least allows somewhat for human weakness, which is I think why it's worked as well as it has so far.

It's not that people aren't nice, you know. They are nice, some of the time. If they have plenty, they'll often share. If things are a little scarce, people tend to hoard, just in case, to protect themselves. If there's a real disaster, it's amazing how helpful people will be, how they'll reach out to those who have lost homes and clothing and food, giving of their store. And if they live in a war zone, or during a famine, when survival becomes a real issue, then the unit of care shrinks down to the immediate family -- it becomes tremendously hard to offer food to a neighbor's child, when your child might die as a result.

A funny wave pattern: generous/prudent/extra generous/very stingy...but real, I think. And any political system that doesn't take these human tendencies into account is going to have trouble.

(What, you didn't sign up here in order to get political/economic rants early in the morning? Sorry -- sometimes, this is the way my mind works. Have a good day! :-)

9:30 a.m., having just reading Shmuel's journal: Ah, but Shmuel, we love you when you're being pedantic. Some of us think that's your best feature. :-)

I know what he means about the Allende. Given that he's already given some spoilers in that entry (warn us first, Shmuel!), I'm going to go ahead and discuss it some more.

The issue he raises, of how we're supposed to empathize with a protagonist who brutally rapes many women, is a tricky one. I certainly had a hard time with that, and was relieved every single time that man's sections ended and we returned to Clara. However, in some ways I think Allende's handling of him is the best thing about the book.

It's easy to love Clara. She's gentle, she's kind (if absent- minded), she means well. And she is brutalized at times by this man, which makes it even easier to hate him (see, Shmuel -- that was a spoiler, 'cause I know you haven't read that far yet. :-). However -- and this is a big however -- by the end of the book, I was empathizing for him too.

What Allende does brilliantly is give you such complexity in her characters that even when you end up still not liking them, you understand why they are the way they are. You end up with some empathy for them. And perhaps more importantly, you understand why their families still love them, even though *they* know exactly what kind of monsters these people can sometimes be. That's one of the hardest things for a novelist to represent, I think -- the way people in a family still love people who treat them very badly. Bad novelists show this by making the people seem pitiful and stupid. Allende does it by showing you this man's good sides as well as his bad, and also by showing you why he is the way he is.

Dorothy Allison did the same thing at the end of _Bastard Out of Carolina_, actually. But I'm not going to discuss that in detail, 'cause it *would* spoil the book. Just go read it. Read it now.

I'd love to comment on Shmuel's comments on _Possession_, but it's been too long since I read it. I really loved it then, though, so perhaps I'd best pick it up and reread it sometime soon. I've been vaguely meaning to for a while.

On a completely different note, I don't know about this new job possibility. It's in Mountainview, and I figured out how long it would take me on public transit. Ready for this?

2.5 hours! Each way!

Walk down to bus stop: 7:00 --> 7:10
N bus: High/MacArthur 7:13 a.m. --> Transbay Terminal 7:35 a.m.
42 bus: Transbay 7:37 --> Caltrain S.F. Terminal 7:46
Caltrain: S.F. 8:00 --> Mountainview 9:09
Shuttle: MTV Caltrain 9:21 --> Sun MTV-16 9:32

That's going through the San Francisco side of the Bay. I considered trying to stay mostly on the Oakland side, but it looks like that's even worse. Bus to BART to bus to bus to bus, or bus to BART to Caltrain (going back north!) to shuttle. Ick.

So, if I they offer me this job and I take it, I see a car in my near future. Guess I won't be taking it unless they pay me enough that I can afford a car! :-) There are other options, of course. Ride down with Cliff most days, and possibly stay down in the South Bay some week nights. Jed and Arthur are both in Mountainview, and I could probably coax couch space out of them, and Kevin's sister is in Los Gatos, and has a guest room. Not sure how much time staying with her would save me, but probably some.

Ah well -- no need to make a decision yet. And I guess it's a good thing that I figured out how long it would take. Even getting to my job interview is going to kill half the day.

On yet another note, I have some interesting pictures to show you. Those of you who have been around for a while may remember that I wrote some erotic novellas for Puritan Magazine, once upon a time. I used to have them on this site, then took them down for a variety of reasons. *But* one of them was illustrated for the magazine by Jack Cleveland, and he's just put up a page of his own. So if you'd like to see the illustration for the Thomas the Rhymer story, you can find it here. Jack draws in a very explicit, large-breasted style. I think the scene he chose to illustrate is the one where poor Thomas is being seduced by a horde of nymphs...

On a green sticky note stuck to my mirror, I have finished catching up with all the archives of If You See Her, Say Hello. I am disconsolate. I am depressed. I have even almost finished reading through Xeney's main site -- just a few more articles to go. I may have to go back and read through all the garden reports just to get my regular Xeney fix. I mean, for the last week, I've been averaging a few hours a day of Xeney. Cutting me back to five minutes of a daily entry is just cruel, cruel I tell you. Couldn't you taper me off some instead?

I know, I know. It's my own fault. If I'd restricted myself to fifteen minutes of Xeney a day, I might have stretched it out for weeks more -- perhaps even months. But what does it matter? No matter how careful I was, eventually I would have run out. She can't possibly write as fast as I can read. Perhaps it was better to experience it all in one glorious burst, intense hours sunk into the world of Xeney. *sigh*

(You do understand that none of the above actually took place on a green sticky note or on my mirror, right? Oh, good.)

4:12. Had the brilliant idea of asking Jed if his place was anywhere near this new job. Turns out to be 4 miles away from it. I'm going to crash at his place the night before, thank you very much. Will make life much simpler, and I won't be stressing about making connections right before a job interview.

10:30. Long day. Almost done updating Clean Sheets - fiction, poetry and article done, review half-done. We'll have new art in February! Huzzah! I won't put up an editorial tonight, but I *may* do one tomorrow. No promises. Umm...other late-breaking news is that I just got invited to read at a performance called "My Sucky Valentine", hosted by Thomas Roche, on Saturday February 13th. More details when I get them, but I'm pretty excited. He suggested reading the "Confesssions" poem again -- I'll think about it. I have five minutes.

I also discovered today that I can carry on a halfway coherent conversation with Roshani while updating CS - or while doing most of the updating, at any rate. At least if she's in a chatty mood. Much more entertaining this way. :-)

A little more work and then to bed, I think. Finish up in the morning. G'night, my dears. And bless you for reading this far. :-)

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Hey, my dears. Well, I…

Hey, my dears. Well, I called in sick today. I really waffled about it, because I could use the money, but I just couldn't face the commute. Couldn't do it. If I could have been magically showered, dressed and teleported to the office, maybe. I need to find a closer job, or at least one that doesn't require bus, BART, and bus again to get there. This is ridiculous.

Of course, I have a phone interview this evening for a job that would require all of that, but it will probably pay almost twice what I'm making now. Maybe that'll make it worthwhile. Maybe I can telecommute some days. We'll hope. Wish me luck...

I probably ought to just stay in bed, but I can't believe it's all that more tiring to sit at a computer and type, so I'm going to try and get through the last big chunk of backlogged e-mail today. That has the double benefit of a) making me feel useful and b) hopefully making me stress less, 'cause I won't have things hanging over me.

We've had so many volunteers for CS, mostly for poetry editing, and it looks like we won't need them. Kirstin's back! Huzzah! So we have only one art editor position available... I'm not sure about poetry -- they haven't gotten back to me yet. Hopefully today.

There are so many little things to do for CS. I should make a list, but I can't even think of them all off-hand; they'll mostly be triggered by e-mails as I go through them. Things like getting the bookstore and archive people added to our internal mailing list. Hey, speaking of mailing lists, we've started one for CS, a weekly update. In addition to reminding you what's going up, we'll also be adding in bits of behind-the-scenes gossip and extra stories/poems from the staff. It should be fun -- if you want to be on that, drop me a line and let me know. It's bcc'd, so your privacy is reasonably protected, and the subject line won't ever have anything racy. :-)

I'm thinking about changing the format of this journal. Now, don't panic -- this should make things better for y'all. I've been reading so many journals lately, and I've realized I really prefer having separate entries for each day, as well as a current entry page and a monthly collection. I don't *think* it'll be that much effort to switch over to that, and I think it'll make it much easier for you guys to catch up if you miss a few days, and easier for people to link to specific entries. I'm not going to change the ones that have been already done, but starting in February I hope to be on the new system.

(What, another six hour project, Mary Anne? Just how many hours do you think there are in the day, anyway?

Hush.)

Hmm...feeling a bit spacy. Hope I don't say anything stupid as I answer e-mail for lack of coherent thought. Hopefully people will forgive me if I do...

I'll probably check back in here later today. In the meantime, hope you're all healthier than I am as you start your week. I'm going to go eat the last of the pumpkin walnut bread and drink some more tea, I think.

6:30. Well, half an hour 'til my interview, and I think I'm just about ready to stop working. I meant to rest some, really I did, but I was getting so much accomplished, I didn't want to stop...

Revised and sent out two essays, "Beyond the Kama Sutra" and "I Don't Take AIDS Seriously" for an anthology, _Sex and the Single Girl_. Sent out the story "Minal in Winter" and the poem "Pre-Med" to the Asian Pacific American Journal. Got through a whole lot of mail. Sorted a fair number of papers. Got things in hand for the next issue of Clean Sheets. We'll have a new artist in February! Huzzah! Set up a prototype comments page.

If y'all would like to be my beta testers, you can swing by CS, go to the "About Us" section and click on "Reader Comments". We need to make some changes still, I think, but feedback would be welcome. Don't write anything long there, as I may end up erasing it all as I do reformatting. I'll let you know when the final version is there.

I managed to re-read a children's book, Diane Duane's _So You Want to Be a Wizard_, mostly over lunch and while waiting for things to print or download or upload. I've hardly left my desk since 7 a.m. If only all this industry made me money, I'd be all set. :-)

I did pause to have some dinner too -- Cliff gave me a can of chicken soup with matzo balls this morning and sternly instructed me to finish it before he got home. I tried to protest that I had chicken curry, but he informed me that it just wasn't the same. You know what? He's right. I had the curry for lunch, and it was delicious, but there's just something about chicken soup with matzo balls...I think Jews make the best comfort food. Steaming loaves of challah. A nice rich kugel, with onions or raisins. Latkes with applesauce and sour cream. And always, the chicken soup. It's almost like being hugged by your food...

I'm going to just read a little after the interview, I think, and then a very early to bed. Maybe if I sleep ten hours I'll be okay tomorrow.

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I’m sick, munchkins, so…

I'm sick, munchkins, so very short entry today. I managed to get through yesterday, mostly by resting and reading children's books (heh) all day until it was time to go to the reading. I actually had a lot of fun at the reading; I got to go last, which is the best placement, in my opinion, for more complicated reasons than I can go into right now. And I got to wear fun skimpy clothes -- the black shirt I bought 'for work' last week came in handy, with a short dark purple skirt, garters, stockings, and boots -- the whole bit. :-) It was a blast, and the other readers were just consistently stunning. Probably the best reading I've ever been to. I think everyone in the audience was either laughing so hard they couldn't breathe, or so turned on they...well...couldn't breathe. It's amazing we survived the experience.

Stayed up too late afterwards, though it was definitely fun. Slept badly and woke often. Roshani called at 8 this morning, and I considered getting up for about half a minute before I realized that I felt too awful to do anything. Went back to sleep. Got up at 9 feeling slightly better, made pumpkin walnut bread, asked Lydia to watch it while I ran to the grocery store (8 blocks away), picked up the fixings for omelettes and cranberry muffins and fresh fruit, ran back, got in the door by 10, where Lydia tells me that my guests called and are running half an hour late, thank the gods, which gives me an hour to check the bread Lydia pulled out (did fine), cut up and lay out the stuff for omelettes (red onion, green peppers, ham, mushrooms, baby spinach, herbed feta, chopped plum tomatoes and fresh grated munster (pretty sure that's spelled wrong)), set the table, make the batter for cranberry muffins, and start them baking. Just as I was setting out the last of the glassware, with everything else done (Lydia helped with dishes, the doll), the guests arrived. Whew!

They had brought bagels and cream cheese and juice, and we all stuffed ourselves. It was lovely. I wouldn't have gone to so much effort for just anyone, but this was Kirstin, my college roommate, in town very briefly with her new fiance, so I *had* to show her a good time, right? It was so nice seeing her again; with any luck, I'll be able to go out a little early for her wedding and spend some time with her beforehand. She's the sensible one among my friends -- she 'mom's' me more than anyone. She also brought along her brothers, who were charming (and live in the area).

After a few hours they had to go, and I admit that I didn't protest too much 'cause I was starting to feel awful again. I had some tea, which helped a little, and checked e-mail for the first time that day, which helped too (yes, I'm a junkie, I admit it), and read the Sunday funnies and vegged out with the roommies for a while. Then I started feeling really crummy. Then I watched Sense and Sensibility with Lydia, and now I'm writing this journal entry, and then will try to decide whether to just have a frozen dinner tonight, or if I should cook curry so I'll have food for the next few days of work (that'd be the virtuous thing to do). We'll see.

Okay, that wasn't so short. But now I really will go, 'cause my head feels like it's going to explode. I owe lots of people mail -- soon, I promise. Really.

G'night, my dears.

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