I still love you guys; I…

I still love you guys; I just got a little overwhelmed for a few days. Mostly back to normal now, I think.

I did end up going to that hip-hop class Monday night (good for me!). It was a lot of fun, but a little sad, I have to say. Leaving aside the fact that I am terribly out of condition and was gasping for breath before we were even halfway through (I can't remember the last time I engaged in a full hour of aerobic activity), I was still the worst dancer there. This sadness is compounded by the fact that I was the only non-white person in the room. In a hip-hop class. They were *all* (including the cute little blond girls) better than me. Most pathetic. But I think I'll go back. Maybe today even.

Tuesday I got up early, did all my grading, went in to classes fully prepared...and all went well until we got to 3:30. I came home for dinner before going back for my 6 o'clock workshop...and I just couldn't bring myself to get out of my chair and go back to campus. Couldn't do it. Not at all, not a bit. Instead I watched the season premiere of Buffy. I would tell y'all all about it, but Karina would kill me, since they're months behind us in Australia, and she takes her Buffy seriously, she does. Is it my fault that Australia is a backward country? Hmmm? But we'll pass over it gracefully for now, only noting that it was a pretty damn kick-ass episode.

I then spent the rest of the evening, some of the night and all of the next morning reading a fantasy novel, Michelle West's The Uncrowned King. Kirsten recommended these to me -- the first two books in the series are fine, not thrilling, but the others since (I've read two so far) are very satisfying if you like that big-fantasy-novel-complicated-plot sort of thing. I do. And as the books go on, she seems to be developing a more lyrical style; really, these are more reminiscent of Kay's stuff than anyone else's work I've read, I think. So if you like Fionavar, you may want to try them. Start at the beginning and be patient. I think Hunter's Oath is the first title.

Then I did some BW work (I'll be done soon, I swear I will), and made some curries for dinner, and went into campus for a conference committee meeting. We're gearing up for the actual conference now, Oct 26-27, so it's starting to get a bit hectic. No worries, though -- I'm one of the people in charge of food, so the food will of course be fabulous, and if the food's good, everyone goes away happy, yes? Then we had a faculty-student mixer at a pub, which was fun, followed by Paul and Marcia coming over, supposedly for Star Trek + dinner. Sadly, we did not succeed in taping Star Trek, so we're postponing that 'til it runs again on Sunday; instead, we played Cosmic Encounter, a fun game I used to play a lot in college, complicated by the fact that I didn't remember the rules so well. (If anyone out there knows the game, drop me a line? I have some questions to ask!)

Which takes us to now; I'm going to do some more BW work, and then some SH work, and then run into campus to get some money because tonight is Poker Night! Some of the grad students are coming over; it's Fall Break at the end of this week (basically two days off), so everyone's in the mood to goof off at night (even if we're frantically catching up during the day).

Kevin arrives for a visit tomorrow. Eep.

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When I’m not busy…

When I'm not busy griping about the lack of fall weather, I have to admit that the sunny, cool early mornings to the 80 degree days are really rather gorgeous. Sunlight over the mountains; cool air and a cup of steaming tea. My life is so good. I'm listening to the Shrek soundtrack, and I just can't be mopey with that playing...

Anyway, lots of work to do today -- I'll try to check back in later if I can, but in the meantime, go enjoy Strange Horizons. A fabulous issue this week, with the debut of a new ongoing comic by Rachel Hartman (author of those cool medieval articles and the fabulous Amy Unbounded). Also an alien porn story (well, it's really erotica, see, 'cause there's character development -- really. Trust me.), a great interview with China Mieville (who wrote the awesome Perdido Street Station), new art, poetry, a review -- just a jam-packed first-of-the-month issue. :-) I haven't been doing the week-by-week recaps here, so if you've missed any fiction in the last couple of weeks, you should definitely go back. Last week's story was one of my favorites so far. I so love my magazine...

And if you love my magazine too, maybe you'd like to work on it? We have a new job opening -- reviews editor! Lots of free books! What more could you ask than to spend a couple hours a week thinking about sf/f?

Reviews Editor Position

The Strange Horizons Reviews Department is looking for a reviews editor with strong editing and interpersonal skills. Editor will need to work with reviewers to edit one or two reviews each month and will need to work with other editors to evaluate submitted materials (both books for review and reviews themselves), to keep track of what is being published in the field of speculative fiction, and to select books for review. Willingness to contact publishers to obtain books for review a plus. Editor will have opportunities to write occasional reviews. Editor must be good at meeting deadlines and helping authors to meet them. We request a six-month commitment. If interested, please send mail to reviews@strangehorizons.com.

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Well, I didn’t end up…

Well, I didn't end up doing anything yesterday that I said I would. Hopefully today. Some relatives called yesterday who had just heard about me and Kev; we ended up having a long and upsetting conversation on the phone, which I would love to rant about at length here, but some lingering sense of familial loyalty prevents me. Sigh. It kind of knocked me out for the rest of the evening, though; instead, I watched tv and crotcheted compulsively; I actually think I'll probably finish my afghan today, the one I've been working on for...oh, two years now? Maybe? This is my second afghan, and I think my general feeling is that it's just too time-consuming -- I'm very achievement-oriented, and it's just too slow an achievement. :-) Maybe I'll make scarves. Or switch to quilting; at least I'd be learning new skills. Still, it'll be nice to have this done; I gave my other one away, after many years -- I think I'll hang on to this one, at least for a while. It is sort of satisfying to know that with a ball of yarn, a hooked piece of metal, and a knowledge of knots, I can make a blanket. Brings out the rustic pioneer in me, I guess. :-)

My bedroom and closet are now spotless; I think I'm going to try to alternate cleaning with other work today. I have to read a very boring book for American Studies; James Fenimoore Cooper's The Pioneers. The first chapter was boring, anyway -- if I'm lucky, it'll improve. Laundry is going; a nice breeze is coming through the sunny bedroom window. I was in a pretty sad state last night, and woke up kind of grumpy, but slowly, the day is improving.

9:00. I finished it! :-)

Other than that...well, my apartment is very clean. Very very clean. David, you would be proud of how well my tub is scrubbed. I didn't quite make it to dusting, but aside from that -- well, it's clean.

The Pioneers, on the other hand -- not a clean book. A book full of all sorts of crud. Some racist and sexist crud, but that's to be expected for the time period. More of a problem is all the badly-written crud. Sheesh. Twain was right.

I'm going to have to go into a cafe tomorrow, I think, to force myself to finish the damn thing. I can do my grading then too; that's the plan, at any rate.

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Good morning,…

Good morning, munchkins!

Handed in the paper in good time yesterday, ran some errands, then fell asleep for a couple of hours in the afternoon -- my cold catching up with me. When I woke up, ran another errand (needed a new bra) and then settled in to veg out in front of the tv. A Chorus Line was on when I got home; I like that movie. Made me want to take dance classes again. I used to take jazz classes regularly in Philly; there's a great little studio off Rittenhouse Square, only $10/class, and less if you buy in bulk. I was *never* much of a dancer, but it was lots of fun, and when you finished your beginner class, you could hang out and watch the advanced people, the ones who were actually working dancers; beautiful bodies in motion. It's the only kind of exercise I've consistently enjoyed; the trick is to find a class that not unreasonably far away. It's not really worth buying a car just so I can take dance lessons, sadly. But maybe I'll call around and see if there's anything local.

Spent a while on the phone with Kev last night. He's coming to visit in a week (Delta arbitrarily changed his return ticket so he's now leaving four hours earlier -- big goobers! I should check and make sure they haven't messed with my flight times for the following weekend, when I visit CA). Last night I found myself unexpectedly anxious -- wondering how we're going to navigate this relationship. I ran lots of scenarios in my mind -- not on purpose; I tried to stop them when I caught myself doing them. But they kept coming back; various increasingly implausible ways in which we somehow end up deciding that we were wrong to break up, that in fact, it'd all work out. Argh. (Please insert sound of Mary Anne banging head against wall). I don't really need to do this to myself, y'know?

It *will* all work out, but as friends (maybe lovers), not long-term partners. Most of me knows that. At least half, anyway. At least half the time...

Today a few more errands in the morning, before it gets too hot (and then I'll be done with errands for the nonce, hooray!), and then settle down to work. SH checks and contracts! Really, truly. And if I finish those in good time, then grading student quizzes and commenting on poetry. Though that can wait 'til tomorrow, should I so desire. I think I'm actually in a slow-down period; with any luck, I can get enough sleep that I actually shake this damn cold before winter gets here and brings me another one.

10:00. Hmm...there's a hip hop class that I could plausibly get to. I'm a little dubious about my ability to dance hip hop. But then, my ability to dance jazz wasn't so hot either, so what the heck! I think I'll try to go Monday, unless I turn into a lazy lump before then. Will report back on success.

I was really checking in again because I remembered that Paul wanted to know how to make biryani. And since it's really more of a principle than a recipe, I thought y'all might be interested too. Basically, biryani is two dishes, combined into one, in three steps. Or to be a little clearer; first you make a rice pilaf, then while that cools a little, you make a moderately dry curry, then you mix them together, cover them, and bake for half an hour at 350 degrees. The flavors blend beautifully, and you can either eat it straight or with a more sauce-ish curry.

For the one I did last week, I started by making the pilaf. Make rice as normal, but add some boullion, so that you're cooking the rice in a stock rather than just in water. (If you have stock, even better, but I'm too lazy to make stock.) I added one veggie boullion cube for three cups rice, six cups water. (Be careful to choose a low-sodium boullion; some have painful amounts of salt). Add a T or two of butter, some saffron (or tumeric if you don't have saffron), some cashews or almonds, some sultanas or other chopped dried fruit, and about 3 T of rose water. Oh, and a T or two of garam masala. Mmmm...that's basically a pilaf; fragrant rice with yummy stuff. You could just call yourself done then and eat it with curry.

But for biryani, you need a curry to mix in. I sliced three onions finely, added about six cloves of crushed garlic, and sauteed that in ghee. Vegetable oil works fine. Then I added some diced red potatoes and cooked them 'til they were about half done. A small can of chopped tomatoes, about two T of chili powder, a t. of salt, and then I threw in a pound of small shrimp, but you can certainly skip that if you like. Cook just 'til the tomatoes are soft and everything's well-blended. Don't worry about whether the ingredients are done. (My mom makes biryani with russet potatoes and chicken; you can really use any curry as a base, I think).

Then mix! Get a big pan and mix your pilaf and curry together. If you like, you can boil a bunch of hard-boiled eggs, slice them, and layer them into the rice mix. (I'd put half the rice down, layer the eggs, and then put the rest of the rice on top. You don't want to toss the eggs; they'll just break into tiny pieces.) Cover with foil and bake for half an hour, and that's it -- you're done! A biryani fit for a mughal raj!

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I have a paper due in…

I have a paper due in four hours that I haven't started writing yet. I'm a goober, yes. But I think it'll be okay; I pretty much know what I'm going to say, so it's just a matter of getting it down on the page, and since it's only four pages long, this is actually plausible. I don't care so much if I'm a bit late too. I'm tired!

My burn is better; I think I can leave the bandage off today. But my cold is back and worse; started coughing again last night and have been coughing all morning. Big nuisance. Almost started coughing during the reading last night, but managed to stave that off with sips of water.

The reading went quite well. I actually spent a while beforehand hanging out with Peter (new grad student from Italy, very cute, unfortunately gay and has a boyfriend (unfortunately for me, obviously, not for him :-)) and going over his theory paper. I hope I didn't discourage him; I basically advised him to rewrite the whole thing -- there was a lot of good stuff in it, but he was making like four different interesting arguments when I know Howard only wants one, or at most two. So he needed to trim, focus, and reorganize. Which isn't as much work as it sounds, I think. Anyway, we worked on that, then chatted a bit, then I printed out my story and had dinner, then the reading. People seemed to like "Monsoon Day" -- Steve told me that it's his favorite of my stories. :-) Now if I can just convince some publisher to like it... It's sitting at The New Yorker now -- has been since June. Hopefully they'll respond soon -- they took six months last time, so I'm not going to worry about it 'til January. After that, I'll send it to Atlantic Monthly, I think. I'm a little dubious about it having a shot at either place; I suspect it'll find its home in a little literary magazine somewhere. But y'know the drill -- don't reject the story, let the editor reject the story. :-) I have to give the New Yorker editors the exciting opportunity to reject my story themselves...

The rest of the reading was a lot of fun too. I enjoyed everyone's work (which isn't always the case!) -- generally, it's just so nice being in a good program and being able to honestly appreciate your colleagues and their work. So lovely.

Anyway, enough procrastination. Onward, to Saussure!

9:00. Okay, got an intro. If you happen to be awake and reading this, and feel like telling me where I fail to be coherent, that'd be appreciated. (Assuming you do it in the next three hours, that is. :-) I know this stuff backwards and forwards at this point...which means that it's really easy for me to skip steps. And I shouldn't just rely on the professor filling them in; if you don't understand it, I've done something wrong. So lemme know!

Ferdinand de Saussure, in his Course on General Linguistics, examines linguistic theory in an attempt to determine how people create meaning out of language. He claims that linguistic meaning is created through the connection between the signified (concept) and the signifier (sound-image), which together become the linguistic sign. Saussure states the arbitrary nature of the sign; he concludes that there is no necessary connection binding a particular signifier with a particular signified. He notes the immutability of the sign, in that the signifier, despite being arbitrary, "is fixed, not free, with respect to the linguistic community that uses it" (71). The community cannot change the signifier at will; in this respect, it is immutable. The sign is, of course, also mutable; over time, we, the linguistic community, see rapid change of linguistic signs. Yet Saussure argues that we will continue to be able to comprehend the sign's meaning, because that change remains within the sign system, and we construct meaning through our perception of the difference between signs. The basic insight of structuralism is that meaning is constructed as a function of differential relations between signs. This insight may intially have seemed purely linguistic in scope, but in the end, it has profound philosophical consequences for our understanding of how we perceive and construct meaning throughout human society.

11:30. All done! Showered too, and in a few minutes I'll catch a bus to campus and drop it off. It is *so* not a profound paper. It is barely analytical at all. But it does recap Saussure, which seemed to be what he was asking for. If he wanted something more analytical...well, I'll catch it in revision, I guess. We'll see. He rather liked my Ben Franklin paper, so at least he's not likely to conclude I'm a doofus just from this one.

Before I run off, I want to show you my beautiful surprise. In the midst of paper-writing this morning, there was a knock at the door. A UPS guy, holding a little box. And in the box, a lovely Indian bag, and in the bag, a little package, gorgeously wrapped, and in the package, a necklace and bracelet, black stones and silver. The accompanying letter told me that it was a birthday present from journal-reader Jim, who wanted to wait until I was definitely back in Utah before sending it. How lovely! How unexpected! What a wonderful boost to my paper-writing mood! :-) Thank you, Jim -- I love it.

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Hey. So, after I…

Hey. So, after I burned my arm cooking yesterday, the day went a little differently than expected. Michael (my landlord) brought over an ice pack -- much appreciated, since I'd defrosted my fridge just a few days ago and had no ice! My arm was hurting enough that I couldn't really leave it off the ice for more than a few minutes at a time; that made it impossible to really work at the computer, since I also didn't want to drip water all over it. I had been supposed to work with Paul on campus on food committee stuff for the conference; I called in, spoke to Pam (because the secretary connected me to the wrong office) and left a message for Paul about the burn and my inability to come in (esp. lugging a massive ice pack. :-) So Paul kindly did the conference over the phone with me; we managed to get enough done that he was prepped to talk to the main committee at the 5 o'clock meeting. All well and good.

Meantime, I'm at home, going slowly nuts with boredom. The ice pack is large, and I basically have to sit in one place with my arm on it. There is nothing useful on tv -- only old Bill Cosby routines, which were maybe funny the first ten times ("and that's why I say that children have brain damage!") but not anymore. I can't concentrate enough to read. Two hours pass, in frustration.

Then Paul and Marcia show up for dinner and Enterprise, and Pam stops by with Bactine and bandages and cloth tape, to be used as above. Much appreciated -- the Bactine is an anesthetic as well as an antiseptic, and once I had it on, the burn stopped stinging, and I was able to move my arm off the ice pack. Yeah! Marcia made yummy green beans to go with my rice, and we poured some wine and cheerfully settled into watching Star Trek. The day had gotten much better. :-) The episode, btw, was generally pretty decent. It's true there was some gratuitous nudity, but I have no real problems with that. The communications officer squeals too much, but at least she actually got to do some real work too. The opening music was miserable; maybe if enough of us complain, they'll change it? But generally, I'm quite hopeful about this new series. It may take me a while to sort out who is who, though -- a lot of the guys kind of look alike.

This morning, I'm mostly trying not to be irritated by the bandage. My arm doesn't hurt except when I get it near heat (showering was a bit of a nuisance), but I think it's probably good to keep a bandage on for one more day. This means that I have to wear my watch on my right arm, which is actually driving me crazy; I'm not used to having anything on that arm, and it feels like little ants are scurrying around my right wrist. Ick. But I need my watch -- when you're teaching, you need some way to tell time. Kevin apparently has put his syllabus and day-by-day assignment notes on his Visor, so he always has them with him in class, and has set it up to beep at him when class is over. This is just a little too geeky for me at the moment, but I do find it rather charming in him. :-)

Anyway -- off to campus. Some poems to comments on, then more discussion of Hobomok, then discuss character with my students, then Derrida and the concept of 'differance', then a departmental meeting about funding (oh joy), then two hours until my reading. Two hours is sort of the worst amount of time to decide if you're staying on campus -- it'll take about an hour to go home and come back, so you can have a harried hour at home, or a somewhat boring two hours on campus. Decisions decisions...

Wish me luck with my reading! I'll be reading "Monsoon Day".

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I want it to be fall,…

I want it to be fall, dammit. I am sick to death of wearing little summer dresses and sandals. I want the comfort of flannel pyjamas, of warm tights and cardigans. I want the leaves to change on the trees, and the air to get cool and crisp and energizing. I am so tired today, and I just don't think it's fair that I have to deal with the heat on top of the tiredness, given that it's almost October.

This has been your whine for the day.

In other news, most things are going pretty swimmingly. We're *finally* making final selections for BW. I cannot even explain why this has been so slow. But I have hopes that within a few weeks, I'll actually know what stories are going to be included, and can let those few poor authors still dangling on tenterhooks know the status of their stories. I'm feeling immense guilt for the people whose stories I have held for months now, whom I'm going to have to reject; I don't know who they are yet, but I know there will be some of them, because we're down to about 30 stories for 15 slots at this point. We're in the serious wrangling stage, where four editors argue fervently and plaintively for their personal favorites. I suspect this makes for a better book, but at some point it'd be nice to do an anthology where I didn't have to answer to anyone at all for my selections. Pipe dream, I suppose.

I have a brief paper to write for Friday, but I'm not going to even worry about it today because it's just a delineation of the key structuralist argument (that all relations are differential, basically), and at this point, I think I can do that in my sleep. I'm going to be a bad grad student and leave it for Friday morning because I'm tired enough today (after a long and exhausting yesterday) that I just can't face it.

I do need to do a little real work today; I'm going to try to revise "Wild Roses" for Marcy, making it a little sexier, so it's a better fit for an erotica anthology. Should be pretty easy; fingers crossed. Other than that, I'm mostly planning on doing some cleaning, paying some bills, general household stuff like that. In the afternoon I need to work with Mary Gaitskill on final revisions to her story (we're doing them over the phone), and then go to a planning meeting for this interdisciplinary conference we're putting on in late October. You'll probably be hearing more about that as we get closer to the date. I'm in charge of food. :-) Then this evening, some people are coming over for potluck (oh, right -- I need to cook something this afternoon too; I think I'll make a shrimp and potato biryani) and the watching of Enterprise, the season premiere! Much fun.

I'm tired for two reasons -- one is just that Tuesday was a heavy work day, as is usual for Tuesdays. The other is sadder; yesterday was sort of emotionally tiring. One group of friends are having problems; at the very least communication problems, possibly more. Doesn't really involve me, but it's distressing to see them distressed. And sadder than that, I got a letter telling me that a couple I know is getting divorced. :-(

It really discombobulated me, getting that letter. I don't actually know either of them well; they're casual friends for me, though one of them is a close friend of Kevin's. But I was there when they first started dating; I was around, watching that relationship grow and develop. We double-dated occasionally. I like them both, and I thought they were good together. When they got married -- I dunno, I guess some part of my mind relaxed a little and assumed that they were now settled. This is the first time I've watched a relationship go from start to marriage to end like this; it just feels wrong. I guess in some part of my brain, I still somehow expected marriages to be more stable than that. I'm not sure why -- romantic notions? Cultural expectations? I feel like I've lost a little innocence, a few of my illusions. Maybe a good thing in the end, but no fun for now.

I hope they're happier apart than they were together.

10:30. Forgot to note -- I'm doing a reading tomorrow night on campus, as part of the graduate student Working Dog reading series. If you're in Salt Lake and interested in attending (it's free), drop me a line and I'll give you details and directions. Thursday at 7 p.m.

3:00. Burned my arm cooking. Dammit!! Looks like it's just a first-degree burn; red and a little swollen, but it may not blister (or only blister a little). But really really annoying. I have a wet towel wrapped around my arm now, which cuts down on the stinging, but makes it harder to do stuff. Like type. And I still have some stuff I need to get down for the meeting this afternoon. Arghhhhh....

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So yesterday was really…

So yesterday was really pretty damn productive. Finished Hobomok, and an essay by Carl Sederholm on certain aspects of it -- much fun, because Carl is actually an advanced grad student friend of mine; this essay has clearly been developed for publication, and it's just really nice to get the sense that the essay-writing we do in class has the potential to *go* somewhere. Then re-read two major Derrida essays; I think they were slightly less confusing than the last time I read them. We'll see how well I follow the class discussion. There are times when I feel that I would adore Derrida if I just understood him a teeny tiny bit better. Perhaps. Although I already have a mongo crush on Roland Barthes, so perhaps I just better be careful of these French theorists...they could get a girl into trouble. Saussure is pretty seductive himself.

The essays were dense enough that they took much of the afternoon; I read a few stories for workshop and then it was 8 and time for Angel. What a fun show! It was a good season premiere and only made better by the fabulous Lord of the Rings trailer in the midst of it. So far, all lights are green on this movie; my fingers are crossed so hard they hurt hoping they keep it up. I curled up in bed afterwards and read the chapter in the midst of the Fellowship over again, the one where they're all in council in Elvenhome, and the reports are coming in from all over of how bad things are getting in the land, and they're trying to figure out what to do with the Ring that Sauron wants and that Sauron is willing to go through anything and anyone to get...and on the slim chance that you haven't read The Fellowship of the Ring (GO! GO NOW AND READ, YOUNG JEDI!), I will refrain from rehearsing the conclusion of that chapter but it's so good, so very good -- Tolkien just had these moments of unmitigated brilliance, when everything that he's been juggling clicks into place, and there's a small figure at the center, holding it all together... Damn, I want to be able to do that.

In the evening, I ended up unexpectedly on the phone with a friend, talking about some of my faults. Ick. Not the most pleasant of conversations, but he had good reason for bringing them up, and I think that at the least he learned some things about me, which isn't all bad, I guess. I hate having faults. I hate having 'issues', having 'things' in my life that I don't do well, don't handle well, that I need to work on -- especially the ones that are hard to work on, that I'm not quite sure how to work on. I think I must have very early on absorbed this sort of Heinleinian idea of the competent human -- y'know, the bit where his character Lazarus Long says, "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, solve equations, pitch manure, program a computer, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." Somehow I took that and got from it the idea that I should a) be very competent at many things and b) deal with my damn issues and get rid of them. I'm not actually sure how b followed from a, actually. I'm actually not bad at a; there are a fair number of diverse things that I'm at least minimally competent at. I can change a diaper, comfort the dying, take orders (though I don't like it), give orders (I like that), solve equations (or at least I used to be able to), and some other stuff that didn't make it onto his list. I suspect I could do some of the things on his list if they came up. Maybe. If I had David to advise me on the invasion planning, at any rate. I do okay playing Diplomacy.

I'm wandering. The point is that I have some issues, that I dislike having them, that I wish they'd just go away, and that I'm, when I can, working on them. I'm stunningly bad at dealing with my finances sometimes; I just go into denial about bills and pretend they're not there, or that my income is something like double what it is. I have a tentative plan for being over the worst of it by Christmas, though (my friends may have to settle for cards this year :-), so slowly but surely, progress is being made. I guess I just have to hope that eventually I'll be able to get rid of all of these nasty issues in a similar way. Fingers crossed.

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Karina’s birthday! Hey,…

Karina's birthday!

Hey, munchkins. Hope you had a good weekend. Mine was pretty lazy, I have to admit, with a fair bit of computer game playing. I ended up buying The Sims with part of my prize money (the rest going dutifully to pay off debts), and thus losing a good chunk of Friday, Saturday and Sunday to game playing. It's a little astonishing to me how time disappears while playing computer games.

I did do other things in the last few days, thankfully. Friday night, I ended up doing some last-minute baby-sitting for a friend who really needed some time to go to a movie with her sweetie. No problems; the kid and I watched Hook and then I read him a couple of stories and sang to him until he felt sleepy. Then I curled up on the couch and read James White's latest Sector General (cool interspecies hospital in space) novel, Mind-Changer. I love those books. I think they satisfy that tiny part of me that thinks that maybe my father was right and I might have been happy as a doctor (like him, and my two sisters). Just enough medicine to remind me that I wouldn't really want to do it full-time. :-) I read some more on Saturday, Sharon Shinn's Wrapt in Crystal. Good book, but one of the most misleading covers I have ever seen. It looks like a typical fantasy novel, no? Magical crystal, mage-lady, medieval setting, etc? Instead, it's a sf detective murder mystery, with a religious conflict at the heart of it. Hard-boiled protagonist, brutal criminal, etc. Totally different genre from what the cover promises. Very strange. Even the title sounds high fantasy-ish. There is no magic in this book whatsoever. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it quite a bit -- the prose isn't exciting, but along with a decent mystery you get some nice relationship complexities (another one I think you'd like, M'ris...). I picked it up because in one of the latest Laurell K. Hamilton books she not only mentions Sharon Shinn in the acknowledgements, but she has her protagonist, Anita, reading a Sharon Shinn novel at one point in the book. Cute. Hamilton also does interesting things with relationship dynamics; I'm very curious to see where she's going to end up with this complicated love triangle plus extras that she has going. I think the next book is coming out soon...

In other news, people came over for brunch yesterday. I spent the morning cleaning and cooking, which was rather pleasantly domestic. I was so tired and ill last week that the place had gotten kind of grubby and I'd been subsisting on ramen noodles, cheese and crackers, etc. Just didn't have the energy for cooking. Yesterday I made an apple-cranberry salad (I'm not a big salad fan, so I put lots of fruit in :-), broccoli-cheddar quiche, parmesan-garlic-red onion quiche, and a blueberry crisp. The crisp didn't come out very crisp -- I was feeling poor so I used frozen blueberries instead of fresh, which added a lot of moisture to the dish (I'd been a bit afraid of that) so it took an extra half hour to bake and the top came out more like coffee cake than crisp. But that's okay. It still tasted okay, just different. Others brought lots of yummy things, including Paul's cheese grits. Yum yum. :-) I really ought to try making southern food more often; I like it when I have it. There were flowers on the table (autumn colors, because despite today's 90 degree temperatures I think in late-September you're in autumn, dammit), and good conversation; all around very pleasant. I did some academic reading in the afternoon, starting Lydia Maria Child's Hobomok, an early American novel about a white woman who marries an Indian (in a moment of insanity, when she finds out that her white fiance has been killed at sea). Interesting, but I got sleepy partway through, so put it down. Ended up making a big batch of curry (hopefully sufficient to feed me through much of the week) and watching Rush Hour on tv; I hadn't seen it before. Very funny. Jackie Chan is just an absolute doll -- funny and sweet and sexy. Hey -- I hadn't thought of it before, but it kind of continued the culture-clash theme started in Hobomok. :-) In the late evening, talked to Karina -- it was already her birthday in Australia. :-) Various chitter-chatter, fell asleep.

This morning, I finished Hobomok and some short stories and essays of Child's over curry breakfast. (Yum.) Fairly predictable in many ways, but some thought-provoking stuff in connection to the current crisis. I'm going to leave you with a quote from an essay of hers, where she's protesting a violent reaction to an Indian attack. It makes me a little sad, to see that we're still having the same argument so many years later:

"Do not suppose for a moment that I have no feeling for the white settlers of the frontier. They are in a horrible situation, surrounded by savages, whom we have exasperated by generations of wrong, and degraded by many years of whisky-guzzling. They must by protected! But let Justice be blind to color, and hold her scales with an even hand. Let an Indian who murders a white be punished in the same way that a white is punished who murders an Indian; and let both have the same fair chance for lawful trial. If their depredations and outrages make military interference necessary, let war be carried on as it is with white people who commit outrages on life or property. It is more than can be expected of human nature that the white frontier settlers, living as they do in the midst of deadly peril, should think dispassionately of the Indians, or treat them fairly. It is not in the nature of things, that they should coolly reflect upon the antecedent causes which have made the Indian what he is , or upon the present influences which invitably keep him what he is. If a white settler finds his family murdered by an Indian, he does not ask himself, 'Was this man's family murdered by a white man? and if so, is it not natural that the same revengeful feelings should be excited in his bosom which are now excited in mine?' He asks himself no such questions. He is filled with hatred to the Indians, and he shoots the first Indian he sees, without knowing whether he is at all implicated in the murder or not. Indeed, the shooting of Indians is habitual sport with white adventurers in that region."

-- "The Indians", Lydia Maria Child, The Standard, May 1870

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I woke up early this…

I woke up early this morning, before the sun rose. That's not so hard right now -- it was only around 7 or so. I've been sleeping later for a while; it's hard to imagine that there was a long time when I went to bed at nine and got up at five. Definitely not the norm these days. But it was nice, lying in bed, waiting for the sun to rise. When I got up, it was just about to clear the mountains, and the sky was full of puffy clouds, lit underneath by bright sunshine. Cool and clear and gorgeous. It'll be too hot later today, but the morning is awfully pleasant.

I checked mail briefly and then settled down to writing. I have about a page left at this point, and another hour and a half before I have to leave; I should be in good time. No real time for revising, of course. Ah well. My best guess is that I should get either a B+ or an A- for this paper; we'll see what Howard thinks of it. I can at least skim through and check for active verbs, decent transitions, and clear referents; apparently, the lack of such bothers him greatly. Reminds me of some people I know... :-)

I did break for a bit partway through to have some breakfast (leftover part of sandwich from last night) and read a little MZB; I was reading Hawkmistress last night, and was reminded again how good a storyteller she really was. And her people have very rough edges sometimes; I like that. Real people do stupid things that embarrass them; sometimes that truth doesn't make its way into books. Maybe even my books -- something to watch out for. It's easy to make your people too pretty, in lots of different ways.

Speaking of pretty, I'll leave you with one more photo. One of the nice tricks of my camera is that it can take several photos and stitch them together to create panorama shots. The photo below is composed of five different photos. The lighting seems a bit inconsistent; I suspect that I didn't focus them exactly the same or some such. But generally, I like it. It'd be kind of cool to do a really broad panorama, but that's not going to happen anytime soon -- this one used so much memory that just after it saved the photo, it crashed my computer. Poor baby. I think five massive image files is about the limit of what it can hold in active memory, at least if it's manipulating them and creating one mongo image file at the same time. Good to know, at any rate, and I really am fairly pleased with the result.

11:30. Paper done! Presents wrapped and ready to mail. Gosh, it's nice finishing things on time. In a few minutes, I'll go catch a bus to campus, drop off my paper, send mail and deposit some checks. I just received the $100 check for winning the Scowcroft Award last spring -- my first literary award! I feel like I ought to do something cool with the money, but I suspect the coolest thing I can do is to pay off some debt. Well, we'll see. Perhaps there will be some little computer peripheral or other than will strike my fancy, or some writing books, or perhaps even a game... I figure if you aren't self-indulgent once in a while, then you're not really living life properly. (Of course, I'm probably self-indulgent a fair bit more than once in a while, but we won't go there...)

At 12:30 I'm attending a luncheon colloqium with James Welch, a visiting novelist. I feel a little odd about going, since I haven't read any of his work, but perhaps I'll learn something anyway. And if not, free food! Graduate students don't generally turn down free food...

Then I come home, and if possible, work some more. Either on SH stuff or BW stuff (only a little of it to do at the moment, so I could theoretically get actually caught up) or course stuff. On the other hand, I might just goof off the rest of today. I reserve the right to do that. What with getting sick and all, it's been a longish week.

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