Sleep, glorious…

Sleep, glorious sleep...:-) Feel much better. Bright and chipper and cheery and ready to roll up the sleeves and do some actual work (so what am I doing instead? Writing this diary. :-)

Someone wrote and asked for more details on the Con. Well, I found Arisia very helpful -- I spent some time talking to Will Shetterly (who pretty regularly posts to rec.arts.sf.written) and his wife, Emma Bull (who wrote the fabulous novel, War for the Oaks which they've apparently recently done a screenplay for and are about to start shipping around to filmmakers -- cross your fingers -- it could be an amazing film!) They were both very nice and friendly and helpful (strongly recommended that I attend ReaderCon and the summer con in Minnesota (where they live)) and I also got to hear Emma open for Boiled in Lead (go get their CD's if you like Celtic rock!) as half of the duo Flashgirls (I did buy their CD, and am very happy with it. They were a little rocky at the live concert but sound terrific on the CD). I don't think Firebird Arts and Music carries it, so contact them directly if you're interested.

I attended many many panels, as I said before, and in fact got drafted to be on the Asian folklore panel (not just 'cause I'm Sri Lankan, but because I studied a lot of that stuff in college). My favorites were probably the Retelling Fairytales panel (very popular), the net culture panels (though we ended up arguing a lot, and they probably should be broken up into smaller panels next year), the Plotting a Novel panel (we continued with the material from the earlier Build a World panel, and plotted the first third of a novel -- definitely could have used another hour or three, and it was great fun), and the various genre panels (I'm starting to learn a little bit about horror -- there appears to be a wealth of quality material out there that I just knew nothing about). I also got to meet Jane Yolen, which was an honor and a pleasure (she's an amazing storyteller), and it was a shame she had to go home sick midway through Saturday.

Life has now returned mostly to its regularly scheduled programming. More specifically, I watched two hours of figure skating last night (the Rock and Roll Figure Skating Competition), which was a lot of fun. Chris Hamilton is adorable, and Katarina Witt is lovely. I'm very fond of athletes. :-) Had French bread pizza for dinner - great if you're feeling lazy or feeding a bunch of people with different tastes. Just buy or make tomato sauce and chop up a bunch of toppings and chunks of French bread and let everyone make and bake their own pizzas.

Am spending much too much time playing Might and Magic (though not as much as poor David, (first I addicted him to Warlords, now Might and Magic :-) who is going to be ahead of me soon, since he neither works nor studies (must be nice!). As for the other people in my life, Karina is not sleeping well, and so is cranky -- she also is not fond of Kevin's new attempt at a beard. I'm reserving judgement for a few weeks until it grows out more, though I suspect I won't like it either. Looks odd on him, but it's very nice to have him home regardless. We're balanced again and all's well with the world. (Now if my editor would just get back to town...)

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Good morning! I’m in a…

Good morning! I'm in a good mood today -- finally started to catch up on sleep last night. It's amazing what a difference that makes in mood. I should write an ode to sleep...

Yesterday I was lazy cooking dinner and bought a premade sauce for stirfry. I may be lazy more often, because it turned out delicious, though not at all what I expected. Chop up vegetables (I used broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, fresh ginger, garlic, scallions, onions, and green and yellow peppers, bamboo shoots. I'd also recommend trying sprouts and snow peas and water chestnuts). Scramble a few eggs in peanut oil. Remove eggs to the side. Fry vegetables in peanut oil and hot oil and black pepper and a little soy for two minutes. Return eggs to pan and remove from heat. Stir in one bottle of Singapore Peanut Satay Sauce. The resulting dish will taste much more curry-like than peanutty (don't know why), but is yummy over rice. Note that I used approximately 2-3 times the amount of vegetables recommended on the bottle.

Paid bills yesterday. Hooray. I feel virtuous, especially since (for a change) none of them are late. I'm trying to repair my ailing credit rating. Finally sent off the invoice to Puritan, so hopefully I'll be getting my nice fat check soon.

Speaking of Puritan, I'm going to pitch an idea to my editor for his CyberSex column. A round table interview with some of my favorite net erotica writers (so far The Flying Pen and Michael Kalen Smith have agreed to be interviewed :-). Hope he likes the idea -- I think it could be fun. If you want to recommend any good questions I could ask the group, I'd love to hear 'em. Just drop me a note.

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I’m exhausted….

I'm exhausted. Bone-weary, eyes propped open exhausted. But I have so much I want to record before I forget it, so I have to sit here typing. As you no doubt figured out, there was no net access at the convention, so I was unable to do diary entries for Saturday and Sunday. (Well, actually I got back last night, so I could have written one, but I just tumbled into bed instead -- didn't even pay the bills, and I really have to do that soon). Aside from the lack of net access, Arisia was pretty well run (turns out that the February convention in Boston, BosCon, may actually be more useful to me, since it's more writing-oriented, but oh well...)

I'm not going to go into great detail, but I spent almost the entire time I was there in panels (I skipped at least 2 meals because I didn't have time to eat). I slept a total of 8 hours in two nights (not unusual for a con) and joined an incredible jam session (singing, playing, dancing) for six hours one night. There's a certain thrill playing with people that you just can't get playing alone, no matter how brilliant your performance. We stumbled and sputtered occasionally (since we were both sight-reading and often playing unfamiliar instruments), but it was great fun regardless.

I'm glad to be home, tired and inspired (wrote a new poem and a song (which needs some work) on the plane last night, but forgot them at home so I'll try to type them in here tomorrow. In the meantime, (and I feel a little embarrassed doing this) I'd like to share with you a poem one of my readers sent in (posted here with his permission). I get some wonderful mail from you guys, and I enjoy it all (well, except for an occasional obnoxious one), but every once in a while I receive something so lovely in its own right that I want to share it. One of those, from Cecil Williams, turned into a story that we collaborated on, Jinsong. Here's another.

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Okay, snow report. So…

Okay, snow report. So far, USAir claims that my 4:00 flight will go to Boston. Cross your fingers, send me good thoughts, pray if that's your thing. I'd really like to go to this convention.

Otherwise, a good day. Was a little cold walking half an hour through the snow to work, but it's kind of fun too. Reminds me of growing up in Connecticut -- when I was little, we lived far from the nearest bus stop and so we had to tromp through the woods for a bit every day. The snow came up to our hips (we were short, remember?) and the biggest kids would break a path through the snow. Great fun in a lot of ways, even if our toes did freeze.

Just got a call from home. Roof is leaking again. Our landlord is such a horrible slumlord -- arrgh! If you're ever living in Philadelphia, avoid renting from PA Residential Real Estate, run by Leonard Stolker, 13th and Lombard.

12:30 -- plane still scheduled.

2:20 -- plane still scheduled -- about to leave for train to plane as soon as boss lady finishes with patient. Wish me luck! In case I don't have access at the con, have a good weekend everyone!

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Argh! Rotten day so far….

Argh! Rotten day so far. I messed up something at work, so my boss was slightly irritated (luckily she's a reasonable person and is no longer upset) and the patients are grouching at me, and it's mostly not even my fault, it's the fault of this damned snow (even more than the snow, it's the fault of Philly's utterly inadequate snow-removal which is just making everyone's lives miserable). Damn damn damn.

Okay, I needed to vent a bit. Slightly better now. And I still don't know if I'm going to be able to go to this convention this weekend, and I really do want to go. If it snows again I'll have to strangle someone.

On the bright side, it's actually kind of pleasant tromping to work through the snow (I walk about twelve blocks each way). On the way today I passed this enormous snowbank on which boxes of fruits and vegetables had been scattered. One box had broken open, and bright red and green peppers cascaded over the white snow -- if I had only had a camera! As I paused there, a man stepped out of a restaurant next door. Turns out that he hadn't wanted to block the street with his truck while unloading, so he had just tossed all his boxes of produce out onto the snowbank. :-)

Kevin called last night -- apparently he got his flights confused and isn't coming back till Sunday. I would be bummed, except that hopefully I'll be in Boston Friday - Sunday anyway. If there's a net connection at the convention I'll try to keep updating this diary.

You might want to check out the new Clarion Diary I just added to these pages.

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Another mostly quiet day…

Another mostly quiet day so far -- the snow has stopped falling, but it still blocks most of the roads in Philly (we have entirely inadequate snow removal facilities) and so life is still very muffled and relaxed here. Relaxed for the workers, that is, most of whom had the previous two days off and are still going slow today -- the bosses are going around looked stressed and frazzled due to loss of business. Sometimes it's nice being a peon.

I was very good today! I did my approximately bimonthly update of the Alternative Sexualities in SF/Fantasy Booklist. The list has gotten long enough that it's rather a chore maintaining it, but I suppose it's worthwhile. Someone should do it.

I have a friend, Kathryn, visiting me for the next week. She's an undergraduate with a long holiday break and her parents were driving her crazy so I said she could come stay with me for a week till the dorm reopened. And I'm happy to see her, but I'm feeling so tired and antisocial that I wasn't quite up to being enthusiastic, which probably disappointed her a bit. Well, I'm going over to Dave's after work, so I guess I'll make it up to her tomorrow. Cook something fabulous or something. (Speaking of fabulous food, I had lunch at Baricci's today, and if you're ever in Philly, they do a terrific tangerine sorbet. Yum!)

Someone asked me in e-mail if I found it difficult dealing with multiple relationships, dealing with the needs of more than one person. My quick, flip answer was 'nope.' A more honest answer is that of course I do, but I think it's not much more difficult than multiple friends or multiple family members. Sure, sometimes my partners have conflicting needs, and choices must be made -- but that would be just as true of my father versus my best friend, or my mother versus my child (I don't actually have any kids, but you get the idea). In some ways it's easier -- you can explain a situation to an adult and work on compromise -- there's no real way to do that with a young child. Of course, in some ways it's harder too, but I think the rewards are worth it. An interesting question, at any rate.

Yesterday I finished rereading Anne of Green Gables, skimming the final chapter because it was much too depressing, and got partway through Anne of Avonlea before I fell asleep. If you're not familiar with them, the Anne books (I think there are six of them) by L.M. Montgomery are a delightful series of children's books about a very sensitive and intelligent and romantic child who grows up and gets herself into a series of adventures. The books are a little sticky sweet, but Anne herself is engaging, and was definitely someone I considered a kindred spirit back when I was a shy child who spent most of her time hidden behind bookshelves at the library. If you read the rain poem I referred to a few entries ago, you'll already know that libraries are important to me.

One of my readers sent me the address of his diary as well the address of a page listing some other diaries. Thought I'd pass them along for the diary addicts among you.

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Hope y’all don’t mind…

Hope y'all don't mind just getting a poem yesterday. It was a quiet day at home (work cancelled due to weather) and I just didn't have much to say. Dinner came out really well, though:

Spicy Chicken and Peppers Over Angelhair

1/2 lb chicken breast, in small chunks
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 serrano peppers, minced (careful about pepper oil on your fingers)
1 small onion, diced
8 cloves garlic, diced
2 T. butter
1 1/2 c. hot milk
3 T. fine cornmeal

1. Fry onion and garlic in a little vegetable oil on high. When onions are translucent, add chicken, peppers, and herbs to taste (some basil and rosemary work very well with a dash of black pepper and 1/2 t. - 1 t. of salt.) Cook 5 minutes.

2. Lower heat to medium low. Add butter and hot milk 1/2 c. at a time, alternating with a T. of cornmeal each time and stirring constantly. Cook 5-10 minutes till sauce is creamy. Do not burn!

3. Serve over fresh angelhair pasta. For a veggie version, skip the chicken and add some sliced plum tomatoes in the last 10 minutes of cooking. Enjoy!

Not much to say today either. Getting off work early and have to race to the bank to deposit a pay check before my rent check arrives there -- wish me luck! Hoping weather clears up before Friday -- I'm going to be really annoyed if anything interferes with our trip to Arisia (sf convention in Boston - January 12-14). If any of you will be there, please feel free to say hi. I should be easy to recognize - though this picture is about 4 years old, I look pretty much the same now -- a couple more wrinkles, a couple fewer pounds.

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Cathedral spires jut out…

Cathedral spires jut out into the ice sky.
Three days of snow are ended;
fragile clouds scatter across a clear glowing blue.

Hard edges are softened, and a muffled stillness
has surrounded this corner of the world.

Peace walks the chambers of the heart,
and a quiet joy rises. There is something to be said
for moments alone.

I will gladly relinquish
it all -- when you return.

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I’ve just been chosen…

I've just been chosen Australia's Cool Site of the Day! Exciting!

It's a stunningly beautiful morning, though I suppose not everyone would think so. The snow has been coming down for many hours now, steadily, and all the trees and fenceposts and bushes and porch chairs that I can see from my back window are covered in powdery layers. Like ice cream, or magic. Very still and quiet -- all the normal street noises are muffled or gone (many people staying in today), and since Karina's still asleep, I can almost pretend that the world has gone away and it's just me and the snow. Some of the strongest moments of my life have been encased in snow and rain.

I wanted to tell you a little more about that LeGuin book I mentioned yesterday. I was so caught up in my own reactions to it that I didn't tell you about it, and I have a feeling that many of you may enjoy it as much as I did. See, it's the story of a geek. An intellectual. A smart guy who is caving in under the pressure to confirm. A teenager in love/lust/etc. And I liked it a lot. Even her fluffier books, (like Rocannon's World which I read this morning) has something to them that makes me think. I'm going to quote you the bit they have on the inside front cover (the flyleaf?) of Very Far Away...:

"I've had high points before. Once at night walking in the park in the rain in autumn. Once out in the desert, under the stars, when I turned into the earth turning on its axis. Sometimes thinking, just thinking things through. But always alone. By myself. This time I was not alone. I was on the high mountain with a friend. There is nothing, there is nothing that beats that. If it never happens again in my life, still I can say I was there once."

So go read it. It's a very short book.

Funny how important old lovers stay in your life. Looking back now, most of my best friends are people I once dated -- maybe it's just that they know you better than anyone else does.

Going back two nights to something I missed -- the folk gathering was fantastic. My friend Abby drove me up, and we sang from about 9:30 to 2:00 am. There's a certain high you get when you're singing well in a group -- it's like a writing high, or dancing, but the collaboration adds something to it -- each time you think you've plateaued and you're as happy as you're going to get, someone else starts singing an old song you'd forgotten you knew or teaches you a variant or extra verses to one of your favorites or you just listen to some really fantastic playing on an instrument you can't play and it just lifts you higher and higher.

The next morning I spent at Abby's bookstore (am I jealous she owns her own bookstore? naaahhh...) spending too much money and not regretting it at all. Picked up a silly/cool button too - "If you've never said 'excuse me' to a parking meter or bashed your shins on a fireplug, you're probably wasting too much valuable reading time." My friends tell me that some day I'm going to get killed because I cross streets with a book in front of my face. I think I have radar. :-)

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I’m going to skip past…

I'm going to skip past all the day-to-day stuff because I want to talk about a book. I just finished LeGuin's Very Far Away From Anywhere Else, and it makes me want to cry. Not because it's sad. It's not sad, though it is very intense, and that's part of why it hit me. Mostly it's because she's so damn good a writer, and while I know I'm competent and more than competent, I don't want to be just that -- I want to be really good. I want to make people laugh and cry and be silent and want to write. And I don't know any real way to become a good writer (you can't go to school for it or serve an apprenticeship) except to write and write and pay attention to people and the world. And I'm doing that, but even when I'm not being lazy or distracted or scared or earning a living doing something that requires far less than half a brain, I have no idea whether I'll ever be as good as I want to be, even if I work as hard as I should. Which is terrifying, because of course I don't work as hard as I should...certainly not even as hard as I can, and I never have, which is why I've been an underachiever all my life except for odd flashes. So I'm shaken, and scared, but you shouldn't worry about me, because this too will pass and soon I'll be back to my normal complacent (vaguely worried in the back of my head) self, and that's perhaps the worst of it. If I could just hold on to this intensity and fear and courage, maybe I could be a writer someday.

I'll tell you tomorrow about the humdrums of today. I want to hold onto this energy as long as I can. Perhaps I can drag a story or a poem out of it.

My Friends Call Me a Fool

I'm staying with him
not because I love him (I do.)
or because he loves me (He does.)
or because we have a joint lease.

I'm staying with him
because in July of 1995
I decided I would
dare to.

That is all my current wisdom.

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