Happy Halloween,…

Happy Halloween, everyone! Spent much of the last several hours dealing with mail change stuff -- Chicago is shutting down alumni accounts, so all mail for me should be sent to mohanraj@ella.mills.edu. For the next two years, at any rate.

I'm tired and frustrated and I haven't had lunch, so I'm gonna go take care of that. Talk to y'all tomorrow.

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Morning, everyone….

Morning, everyone. Getting a bit of a late start today, as I stayed up late talking to Kevin. My phone bill is going to be appalling - somehow five hours went by without my even noticing. And half that time we spent discussing effective teaching modalities in calculus...::-) Oh well.

Thank y'all for confirming that the sound files survived the transfer. I know they're awfully soft -- I'm going to futz around with input volumes today (if I can find 'em :-). Don't think I've come up with anything fancy to help with size, though a couple people kind of vaguely mentioned compression.

So I took the little web authoring job for Mills -- it's just six hours/week, whenever I feel like working them. Don't know if it's a good idea at that pay scale, but we'll try it and see how it goes.

My room is a pit. Gotta clean it up. Otherwise today, I'm supposed to write another chapter of the novella, and possibly something substantial for the novel. We'll see. I'm feeling kinda sluggish from the cold (the house was freezing when I woke up - heating slowly) and tired from being a little short on sleep. It may be laundry time again too.

I'm rather dreading tonight. We're having housemate problems, only tangentially related to me, but I need to be at the meeting we're having tonight, and it'll probably be somewhat unpleasant. I hate, really hate, confrontation. Avoiding the problem has always worked better for me. :-)

Okay, off to deal with an appalling amount of backed-up mail.

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Hey y’all. Didn’t think…

Hey y'all. Didn't think you'd hear from me today, did you? Well, my workload got lifted a little (moved, actually -- professor moved a deadline to later), so this week isn't quite as frantic as I'd expected.

Meeting tonight at 6 to find out about a job helping to author the Mills pages. It pays diddly over squat ($5.75/hr -- I haven't made that little in the last 6-7 years), but it probably wouldn't be that hard, and might be a nice web authoring credit to my name, and I could use a little extra cash. Have to think about whether I really want to commit to 6-8 hours/week of doing this. Maybe maybe. A nice small regular income wouldn't hurt.

Okay, so today I'm playing with sound. I'm in a fairly private room at Mills, and am going to try reading some of my poems out and then put them on here so people can hear my voice. Comments? Anything else you'd like to hear? I'd like to keep it short, so I won't do any of the long stories. Maybe a journal entry? I can't remember what the HTML book I read said about formats -- the program automatically saves in AIFF, but I'm not sure that's the best format to put them up in.

Okay, I'm gonna get kinda techie here. Feel free to skip. So I used Soundhack to record my speaking a four-line poem (not one of mine). Saved at a 22050 sample rate, a 16-bit linear sample size, and stereo. Ended up 1.6 meg, which is huge, as far as I'm concerned. Am I doing something wrong? It's taking forever (22 minutes) to Fetch over into my account -- surely I don't need the files to be this large? I can't tell yet whether it's going to take an unreasonable amount of time to download. All of my pictures together only take up 1.8 meg. This is silly. I'm going to try recording it at a smaller sample size -- don't know if I'll still get reasonable sound quality.

Hmmm....looks okay (I mean, sounds okay) from here. Recorded at 11025, mono instead of stereo, still 16 bits (8 bits gives me nasty feedback), down to .3 megs. When the large one finishes transferring, I'll Fetch this one, then put them both up here so y'all can hear them and let me know how it works.

T'ang Poem - 1.6 meg.
T'ang Poem 2 - .3 meg

Argh. Can't hear those. Apparently Netscape doesn't read .aiff format. Have converted second to .au and am uploading now.

T'ang Poem 3 - .3 meg, .au format

Double argh. Still can't hear anything. Don't know what I'm doing wrong. Any inspiration gratefully accepted. I'm going to give up for now and try and get some work done.

4:15. Managed to write another 1K of the novella. I think I'm only going to do 2K more and call it quits. Turns out the darn sound files do work -- they're just appallingly slow. At least the .au files work -- I'm not sure about the .aiff, as I'm pretty sure Netscape can't read 'em.

5:17. Oh, and they're really soft. Going to see what needs to be done to fix that.

5:44. Cropped and interlaced the main photo of me. Can you tell I'm avoiding work? I hate that it's dark already. Hope I can get a ride home from this dumb meeting. Appear to have messed something up, so I've gone back to old photo. Weird.

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Gosh, I’ve been bad….

Gosh, I've been bad. Didn't realize so much time had gone by since my last entry. Can't talk long now, as I'm a) on deadline for Puritan novella and b) behind in my classes (just a little :-). But to answer a bunch of curious questions, yes, I did the reading Thursday night. Felt ill for a full hour previous (cold hands, trembling, slightly nauseous, the works), but reading went fine, and people came up afterwards and said nice things (also said I should read slower :-).

Hosted a lovely dinner for the local poly group Friday night - 25 people showed up, and met a lot of nice people. Went to 2:30 a.m. -- very late for Mary Anne's. :-) I tend to be a bed at 10, up at 6 person naturally. Weird, I know. All my friends are night owls.

Saturday cleaned the house and then went to a formal masquerade ball -- great fun. Got to wear my dressiest clothes and jewelry, and danced lots (luckily people were quite willing to put up with my picking up the steps as I went along :-). Sunday hung out with Clive and Sherman and then Sherman and Owen (S's roommate, also a friend of mine from U Chicago) went around the corner to Cafe du Norde - free swing lessons at 8 p.m. every Sunday night -- really neat. Think we'll go back next week (and maybe take Sherman's parents (two of the coolest people on the face of the planet).

Today I made up for being bad all weekend by writing 4000 words of the novella, interspersed with checking e-mail and levels of Warcraft. God, what an addictive game. It's a damn good thing I only play when I'm visiting Sherman and Owen's place, or I'd never get anything done. I sat down to play one level at 1:15 and when I finished the level and looked up it was 4:30. Oof. Good thing I only have about 3000 words of the novella left (did about 2K previously). Another couple of hours should finish it off, and then I'll know for sure that I have January rent. :-)

Hmm....this went longer than I'd planned -- ah well. I've missed talking to y'all. This journal is a great place to vent. :-) I'll try to be a bit more regular, but this week may be rather spotty, as I really do have a bunch of schoolwork to catch up on. (That Renaissance Poetry thesis is driving me mad...). Have a good week, dears.

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Raining today. Misting,…

Raining today. Misting, really. It's amazing how much a little rain affects them out here -- my professor was 20 minutes late to class 'cause of traffic. Makes me wonder what they'd do with snow. :-)

Been going through and trying to fix the broken links in the journal (many thanks to Kristen for finding them for me). Should be done with that today. If anyone feels exceptionally bored and wants to hunt for broken links in the rest of my pages, that's always welcome help.

> I finally finished the second set of revisions to Interruptions today. I'm not sure what I feel about them -- some of the changes were clearly necessary -- others...dunno. I asked some friends to look at them -- we'll see what they think. I often have this problem with revisions -- the language somehow feels more stilted. One of my early stories, "The Queen o' Fairies, She Called Me" was, I think, a much better story before I revised it. Not that the problems weren't there -- just that I didn't do a good job of fixing them. *sigh* A skill I have to learn, I know.

Class today was frustrating. We're doing close reading of poetry, which means that we end up analyzing each word and phrase and comma to death. And yes, in some cases it really helps you appreciate the poem, but I do feel that a lot of the connections we're making are more than a little dubious. This is what English grad students do all the time; it's part of the reason I decided to do a M.F.A. instead of a Ph.D. Still not sure that was the right decision -- I may even go do the Ph.D. afterthis -- well, we'll see. No need to decide yet, though I think my advisor thinks I should transfer out this year into a Ph.D. program. Not going to. So far, I'm enjoying this year too much. :-)

Today, at 5, there's an open mike reading on campus. I really should go and try to get a spot to read. I'm terrified by reading my work out loud. It's odd, because I positively enjoy reading other people's work, and I like public speaking, and I'm obviously willing to put my work up here for the perusal of thousands -- yet I get positively ill when I go up to read my own work, even with a sympathetic crowd, which I'm sure this one will be. Guess I just have to bite down and learn to do it, though -- if the book does well I'm going to have to do a lot of it.

Not sure what to work on now -- I've got about 3 1/2 hours to kill. I'm going to let Interruptions sit for a week while people crit it. Can't write the Puritan letters 'cause I need the magazines (complicated) and I left them at home. So I can either work on the novel or the novella. The novel is more important long term, but it scares me, and the novella is currently feeling very dull, but is due next week. Ick.

Been reading Natalie Goldberg's Wild Mind. I don't like it as well as her earlier Writing Down the Bones, but I loaned out my copy of that and it never came back. :( So anyway, one thing she said in there struck me -- that you often hear people saying they want to be writers, or artists -- even hugely successful people, businessmen, doctors. But you never hear a writer say they want to be something else. A richer writer, sure, a more successful one, a better one. It's as if once you've tasted the high that writing can give you, nothing can match that -- so you give up job, security, shut out friends and family, turn into a troll living in a dank cave and snarling at the computer, bitch constantly about blocks and deadlines and starving -- and you wouldn't even consider giving it up. The ultimate drug. And if you do give it up, you become depressed or alcoholic or worse. Even if you keep the job and family and friends, you must do some writing -- maybe even in secret. Somehow you have to feed that habit or you'll go mad.

All right, perhaps I'm exaggerating a little. Perhaps not. :-)

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Good morning. Y’know,…

Good morning. Y'know, it's really difficult to get out of bed when the house is cold. You probably knew that. :-)

I'm still in bed, but luckily the computer is right next to the bed (convenient for those middle of the night inspirations) and have been up for a while going through morning mail and revising poetry. I am starting to run out of ways to avoid the real work I need to do. :-) Current urgencies: revise Interruptions; restart novel; write two letters and a novella for Puritan. All that should really be done by the end of the week. I had an academic paper to write too, but that's been mercifully moved to next week.

Currently reading Toni Morrison's "Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination" for my fiction class. I think the teacher asked us to read it 'cause a lot of us are currently working with ethnicity -- it's definitely an interesting book, although only tangentially related to what I'm doing. Too complex to simply summarize here, I'm afraid.

Wrote two more poems last night -- I've added them (as well as a bunch of others) to the '96 poetry page. "Sweet Innocent Goes Hungry Again" and "Five Years Into It, She Considers".

Was a bit down yesterday evening. Just tiredness I think -- I worked fairly hard all day yesterday. My evenings are sometimes overly empty -- I think I spend too many of them on-line. Ah well. Did recently read quite a few of the Lloyd Alexander children's books -- none I liked as well as his Chronicles of Prydain, but still pleasant. While Kevin was here we spent a day up in Berkeley visiting a friend and bookstores. There's a fantasy/sf one there called, I think, Another Change of Hobbit, that has a very good children's section. Picked up quite a few books I'd been looking for. Now if I can just find those out-of-print Engdahl books, I'll be happy...

Ah well -- back to work. Have a good day, everyone.

5:15. Tired. Have a 6:00 Walrus (lit mag) meeting, and then I told Sophie that I'd work with her on the Walrus web page. Just want to go home and sleep. Oh well. Didn't do anything I said I would (well, got partway into the Interruptions revisions, but didn't finish), but did manage to finish "Endings", another short story. This is another one my family won't like, I'm afraid -- no sex, but lots of family specifics. Even if I change the names (and I did), and put in a bunch of fiction (which I plan to) people will still assume it's mostly true (which it is). Which is okay with me, but my parents are definitely not happy about it. Argh. Interruptions is even more of the same problem. Don't have anywhere to publish them yet, but when I do.... (y'know, it strikes me that perhaps I'm starting to think like a professional writer -- I no longer doubt that I *can* publish something -- now it's a question if I can get paid for it. :-)

Argh. Rambling. Anyway...currently reading a LeGuin short story, "the Eye of the Heron" -- she's so damn good it makes me almost angry sometimes -- a petty part of me hopes she had to work really hard at it. God, I'm hungry too. Didn't bring in any money to campus, what an idjit. Want to go home and eat....okay, okay I'm whining. Enough already. There, that's better. :-)

Okay, I'm gonna go web browse and set my brain to autopilot for a while. Ellison said he'd cook tonight, so a nice dinner should be waiting when I get home. I can think pleasant thoughts of that.

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Well. Ask a simple…

Well. Ask a simple question, get a lot of simple answers. I have been reliably informed by many of you (and yes, there are definitely lots of you still out there :-) that tomatoes are a one season affair -- I don't need to prune 'em unless they're diseased, and they're all going to die soon from the frost in any case. So I will leave the other six plants alone (except for harvesting the green tomatoes that I think are not even going to ripen).

I picked most of the ripe tomatoes yesterday and made two bottles of tomato sauce (very basic, just fried onions, garlic, herbs in olive oil and added diced plum tomatoes and simmered). I feel frugal. :-) I hated seeing all those tomatoes rotting on the vines. Now I get to decide when is the right season to prune back the roses....how do you tell seasons in this crazy climate?

We turned on the heat for the first time last night -- it was so nice not being freezing. Once the rain starts, we'll probably start using the fireplace too -- god, I love fires. I'm such a pyromaniac. :-) There was this time when I was a kid (maybe 8?) and I had a metal jewelry box. For some bizarre reason, I was setting little pieces of paper on fire and watching them burn inside the box. Fairly safe, except the outside of the box was coated with some flammable paint, and when I got a little careless dropping in some paper, the whole thing went up WHOOSH! Scary as all heck, but not actually very dangerous as I'd actually been prudent enough to keep some water nearby, which I promptly dumped on the box, making a sodden mess (sodden is my new favorite word :-). I have no idea why I just told you that story.

Clive did come for dinner, and I made too much food as usual. Potato curry, mixed vegetable curry, Sri Lankan fried egg accompaniment and my reheated leftover kung prao chicken (I didn't cook that - Kevin and I ordered Chinese a couple nights ago). Ah well -- dinner tonight as well. It was great fun talking to him -- he's interested in all sorts of music and storytelling stuff (he had a GORGEOUS Plains Indian flute -- I was so jealous), and he's managed to retain the accent. :-) He's apparently spending about half the year at his house in England and the other half bumming around with friend in the U.S. Not a bad way to live.

Did a bunch more household stuff this morning and started reworking my novel. God, it drives me crazy sometime. Here are my working notes on it -- perhaps they'll amuse you. Got to go revise some poems and Interruptions now, and critique some of my classmates' work.

Dreams by Lamplight -- an exploration

Women. Sexuality. Prejudice. Memory and dream and stories. A woman's search for her past and identity. Patriotism. Loyalty to self versus country. A society's image of itself and other societies' images of it. Its ethics reflected in the way it treats its malcontents. Hypocrisy and betrayal. Faith. The durability of love.

Radhika begins the story appearing as a blank slate, a woman wiped clean of memory and identity. In actuality, she is who she is, regardless, which becomes apparent as she struggles to regain her freedom and past. In her encounters with people as she journeys, we see reflected both her society and her own identity and opinions. She takes shape once again throughout the course of the book, until by the end, when she regains her memory, it should be clear to the reader exactly what she will do on receiving some disturbing information.

Radhika blank -- sold as slave. Conversation with eunuch defining her position and exploring her society's (Ranek) treatment of slaves. Conversation with fellow slave exploring women in Ranek. Conversation with Daniv - story? Conversation with Amesty and Arjun on the road - Arjun's story reflects life of peasant in Ranek. Freedom within constraints. Radhika at court in Liella -- Danivs actual treatment of her within his society. Radhika and priestess -- direct confrontation of cultures; priestess' story of submission to constraints -- wililngly, because unwilling constraint is the only other option. Radhika and Daniv in bed -- story of an episode as courtesan; Daniv's reaction. Radhika to Melusane; women searching for identity/place in society/peace. Memory returns. Radhika's early story. Daniv finds her -- queen is not dead; ruse -- Radhika left to confront loyalties. Climax. End of first book.

2:05 - Just spent entirely too long rearranging the poems directory the way it should have been arranged originally. Undoubtedly messed up a bunch of links to individual poems. Sigh. Just couldn't stand the mess in my main directory anymore.

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Tomatoes. Tomatoes are…

Tomatoes. Tomatoes are my dilemma today. Do any of you know anything about growing tomatoes? See, our house came with four tomato plants (actually, seven, 'cause three have grown together). Way more than we can use, actually. And so they've been rotting on the vine. I decided to makee a big batch of tomato sauce today and jar it, so they are't entirely wasted. But I couldn't content myself with just picking the healthy tomatoes, oh, no. I'm compulsive enough that I started pruning the plant I was picking from, just cutting away the deadwood. Well, by the time I was finished, I had pruned it back fiercely, and it's looking rather bare -- and I have no idea if that's a good thing for tomato plants or not. The only plant-type thing I've spent any time with before is a rosebush -- and that you were definitely supposed to prune back sharply. I'm afraid I may have killed this poor thing....well, guess I'll just ask my roommates and wait for one of you to tell me if I done wrong. If not, then I get to attack the others -- I'm itching to get my hands on them. :-)

It's amazing how much household work gets done when I have writing I'm supposed to do. :-) Seriously, I did want to clean some, 'cause it looks like Clive can definitely make it to dinner (not that he'll care how clean the place is, but as we noted before, I'm compulsive). It's also a nice break 'cause it's cold in my house, and my fingers get really cold typing. Washing dishes in hot water or pruning out in the sun is a nice break. I think I may need to get a pair of fingerless gloves -- perhaps they'll help.

Big crunch on work these next two weeks, I think. I've been neglecting my classes a bit.

I had some promising thoughts on the subway this morning about the novel. The task for today is to try to gel those into a coherent outline. That and get through a bunch of mail. :-) Y'know, I don't get nearly as much mail in response to this journal as I used to -- am I boring you? Are you still there? (I know Brian and Kristen and Dale are :-) Maybe I'll put a counter on the November pages and check to see what the numbers are. Maybe not, though. Just knowing someone's listening is helpful -- both to keep me writing and to help me feel not so alone during down times.

I miss Kevin already. Two months to Christmas.

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Lazy Sunday, though it…

Lazy Sunday, though it didn't start out that way. Last night, Kevin and I went to the wedding reception of a friend of his (part of the reason his trip was scheduled for now). It was much more fun than I expected, but we ended up staying up rather late, and his dad and I took Kev to the airport at 7 this morning. Ick. 4 hours of sleep and still recovering from being sick and saying goodbye again (god, I hate long distance relationships) -- not a fun way to start the morning. It rapidly improved, though...

Took the train into S.F., crashed at a friend's place for a couple hours until I felt human again, had yummy Ethiopian food for lunch, then played 5 hours of Warcraft, an evil, addicting strategy game. Me against the evil orcs. :-) When I finish the game, I get to start over -- playing the orcs. :-)

Just made some minor revisions to the favorite poems page, including a new poem that someone sent me by a poet named Cavafy, whom I hadn't heard of before. Pretty good. I'm really very behind in updating my web pages, and everything else (combination of sickness and Kevin :-), but plan to work work work this next week and see if I can catch up. I have to at least bring my backlogged e-mail down from 100 flagged messages to 50. Not to mention writing another novella for Puritan (the erotic horror one) by next weekend so I have money to pay my rent....oh, and of course, there's always schoolword. :-) Actually, the schoolwork does take priorty, though that might be a little hard to infer from reading this -- probably 'cause I don't generally stress about it as much, although perhaps I should. Oh well...

I read the next chapter in that HTML book, by the way -- audio and video. I understand how to include the files, but it was a little unclear on how one would convert a regular audio tape or video tape to something viewable on-line -- maybe one wouldn't. I'm really not sure. :( It's too bad -- I was thinking it might be fun to do a journal entry or a poem or story on tape and stick it up here, so those of you who are insanely curious can hear my voice (I actually hate the way my voice sounds recorded -- it's all high and tinny, which is probably the way it sounds in RL, but I promise you that it sounds much deeper and more pleasant to me. :-) Something to do with echoes inside your skull or some such, I imagine -- I know a lot of people who complain about this phenomenon). Well, I'll ask around and maybe I can figure it out. Mills has a lot of graphic arts stuff -- maybe they'll have the tools I need to do this.

Turns out that an old friend of mine, Clive (a.k.a. Tanais) is in town and with any luck we'll be having dinner tomorrow -- that should be lots of fun. He's a friend of a friend I met in England a few years ago -- if I'm lucky, he'll still have his accent. I have a terrible weakness for accents...even if he had nothing to say (which he of course won't :-) I'd be happy just listinening to his voice. Did you see the movie "Far and Away"? Gorgeous Irish accents in that one. Absolutely gorgeous.

Well, I think I may go play just a little more Warcraft -- my brain is still pretty mushy from lack of sleep. Good luck with the week, everyone -- don't work too hard. :-)

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