Flash sale

Flash Valentine’s Sale! This is all the copies of my first book that I own (except for two I’ve saved for the kids to have when they’re much, much bigger). It’s erotica, a mix of stories and poems (and photography by Tracy Lee), and I wrote them when I was very young. I’m a little afraid to go back to read them now, because college me was very different from current me, but on the other hand, college me is still in there somewhere, as I’m realizing as I try to write a YA novel set in college.

ANYWAY, the point is, I think there are 42 copies of _Torn Shapes of Desire_ sitting in my basement, and I would like there to be fewer of them. Amazon is selling new copies for $19.95, and used copies for $4.95 — there’s also an audiobook edition there.

But what I would love to do is sell you a signed, new edition, accompanied by a handmade romantic bookmark, and if you’d like I’m happy to throw in a little digital card that you could give to your sweetie today if this is a gift (since the book won’t arrive for a few days), for the fabulous price of $10 + shipping. For $20 + shipping, I’ll include a nice selection of Sri Lankan milk toffee and chai-spiced truffles. What a deal! This offer available today only, or until 10 p.m. CST (when I go to bed). I promise to turn every book sold into flowers for my garden.

I need to go teach, so I don’t have time to set up a PayPal order form yet, but I can do that after classes. In the meantime, please e-mail mohanraj@mamohanraj.com with the subject line VALENTINE to reserve your copy; I’ll take orders as they come in.

When they’re gone, they’re gone! The publisher is long out of business, and I don’t have any way of getting more copies. (I think there were 500 printed initially, but I can’t swear to that.)

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Age appropriate

Talking to Kevin last night about the new book, he asked me what Kavi would think of it. And I told him that she was too young — my protagonist is 18, and Kavi is only 10; kids read up, but the likely reader for this book would be 15-ish. If I wanted to write something for Kavi to read soon, I’d be writing something starting at the beginning of high school, not college. And I didn’t really have anything interesting to say about high school…

Of course, once I said that, I couldn’t help thinking a little about what I would say in a high school book, if I wrote one. And actually, it wouldn’t be too hard to construct an interesting book out of my high school experience. I’m not certain what the center of it would be, or the plot, but there are all sorts of vivid scenes and details that would be fun to put in. Maybe something about desperate desire to fit in / how much you’re willing to compromise yourself in the effort.

A little brown girl at an all-girls’ prep school in Connecticut — not a completely overdone story yet, I think, and perhaps of interest to Kavi, although also very far from her own likely experience. Well, we’ll see.

Today I woke up, made tea, got kids off to the school, wrote for an hour and have a new 1200 words in the YA novel. LOVE starting the day this way. Lots of things to get through next, so onwards…

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By Candlelight

Talking to my students recently about writing rituals, and how you can routinize them to get quickly into the right headspace. When I was in grad school, I would get up at 4 in the morning, when it was nice and quiet and dark out, make myself a cup of tea, go to my computer, light a candle, and open the file for Bodies in Motion. That was my routine — I didn’t have to work on it right away, but opening the file generally meant that I actually found myself working almost immediately.

Now my routine is a little more challenging, as I’m navigating spending time with Kevin in the evening after the kids are down, at least sometimes, and getting them up and to the bus in the morning. It’s hard to do both, although as they get older, that gets easier — I think next year, they may actually not even need me for the morning sequence. I think Kavi’s almost old enough to make sure she and Anand get dressed and breakfasted and out the door on time (it’s the ‘on time’ bit that they’re not quite up for yet, but they’re getting closer every day). I’d still like to give them a kiss goodbye, but if they’re just swinging by my study to collect that on their way out the door, it’s much less of a work interruption than now, when I have to stop for 30 minutes to get them through the morning sequence.

But I *have* started lighting candles again. I don’t know why it helps, but it helps, especially in a snowy Chicago winter. Here is my office, full of green plants (and a humidifier) and warm candlelight. I light a stick of incense most mornings, the way my parents often did before guests arrived. I’m still working on opening the file and dropping into actual writing — most mornings, there’s e-mails and FB and such that feel urgent, that get in the way of writing. Trying to make the mental shift over to ‘write first.’ It’s coming, I think. Some days, I manage it. The candles do help.

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Couch Buddies

I completed the first week of Zombies, Run, Couch-to-5K, and feel fine; I wasn’t quite as out of shape as I thought. Next week will likely be a bit harder. I definitely like the combination of story+my music; I’d be so bored otherwise.
I talked Kavi into trying it today, and she did the warm-up no problem. She’s been a bit of a sloth all winter, and isn’t very sporty generally, but she’s signed up for spring soccer, and Kavi agrees that it’d be nice if she were in semi-decent shape when it started. We’ll see if she sticks with it!
I’m sort of thinking that I can pause for a week while she catches up, and then we can do it together. Both with our headphones on, but still, it’d be fun to go to the gym with her.
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It was a little chilly, getting up half an hour early to get to the Daley Center in time for jury duty, but I am happy to participate in the civic life of our community. The right to be tried by a jury of one’s peers is a precious one, and a right afforded to too few people the world over, and throughout human history. Our justice system may be in dire need of reform in a myriad of ways, and I am sure juries are not perfect — but they are better than what we had before. Slowly, slowly we progress. Glad to do my small bit as part of the process.



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Checked another item off the to-do list — called to make an appointment with a psychiatrist. I feel fine!
I feel like I need to say I feel fine, mostly so my dad won’t worry (hi, Daddy!), which is sort of ridiculous. What if I didn’t feel fine? It should still be perfectly okay to mention that I didn’t feel fine and was making an appointment to see if I could do something about that. And yet mental health and mental illness are still so remarkably taboo in our society. Sad.
I’m actually going in for four separate reasons:
– I’m a little curious about whether I might have ADHD (clearly if so, I’m coping with it pretty well, but maybe I could cope even better with appropriate therapies?) — just from various things I’ve been reading and people I’ve been talking to, it seems not impossible that I might fall under that to some degree, esp. since Anand was diagnosed with it.
– when I asked my primary care doc for the referral, she wrote ‘personal hx of breast cancer,’ and while I do think I have mostly processed the cancer stuff pretty darn well through all the blogging (thanks for listening, y’all), every once in a while something does come up — a moment of anger or sadness, and it wouldn’t hurt to check in on that periodically.
– I have some family history of more serious mental illness, and while I haven’t seen any signs of that in myself, I find myself, at age forty-six, wanting to establish a baseline with a medical professional, just so that if my mental perceptions / behavior do shift, I have something established to compare it to, and someone I trust to help with the comparing — same reason I asked for a bone density scan after going into chemo-induced menopause. I like to keep an eye on these things, catch them early, treat them while they’re still relatively small problems if possible.
– just generally because in the last few years (hello, cancer), I’ve been trying to be much better about managing my health care (and my family’s health care), and it seems sort of silly to do all this prophylactic stuff for physical health and ignore mental health entirely.
What would our lives look like if, like an annual physical (which I realize many people don’t do, but as the daughter of a doctor, is something I’ve always done, even as a broke grad student without insurance, paying out of pocket for it), all of us defaulted to an annual mental health physical as well, from childhood on?
Internal medicine doctors do some of this, with little checks for depression, etc. at various points — at my annual check-up last week, my doc’s nurse gave me a one-page depression checklist to fill out as part of the 15-minute appointment. But if we go to a dentist for specialty dental work, maybe we should default to a psychiatrist, psychologist or counsellor for mental health work? Have an hour-long conversation at least once a year, instead of relying on a 30-second checklist?
Thinking about what a truly healthy society might look like…
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Okay. Was feeling a little panicky last night with all the things I had queued up, which all felt quite urgent. (I actually made Kevin stop watching Discovery with me so I could take notes on things before I forgot them). But have now reassessed the stack, realized that two of the events I was planning to organize could easily be shifted a month forward, done. Whew.

That was helpful, and will almost certainly improve attendance too. Hard to get people to come out for things in Chicago winters. (I’m a little worried about the Deep Dish reading on March 1st — the first two were really well-attended, but if it’s cold or worse, snowing, that day…well, we’ll see. I’m hoping that maybe some friends will join me for dinner beforehand and then come to the reading. Manish? Devi? Aaron?)

And the YA book manuscript I was feeling like I needed to send out ASAP, I’ve looked at again, and am realizing there’s no reason not to take a week or two to implement the revision notes I have on it. Okay. That bumps it up a little bit in the importance pile, but it’s not immediate.

Going to try to knock a few more things off the to-do list today, like actually sending out the cookbook proposal to the two editors who specifically asked to look at it. I’ve been hanging onto it for no good reason. Out the door!

(Although I had another idea yesterday for what might be a nice addition to it — what if I interviewed my dad about the various recipes and included his recollections as inserts in the book…? Wouldn’t that be great? It’s his own fault for doing all that Facebooking of his memories in the last few months. Well, that’s a big project, and I think I should just mention it to the editors as a possibility, if any are actually interested in the book.)

I also need to find Perennial, which is DONE, and just needs a tiny edit or two from the designer. I put the proof copy of the book down somewhere in this house, but where, is the question?

Okay, Mary Anne. Back to work. Maybe light a few candles and do meditation first, though. Center self so I’m not trying to run in twenty directions at once…

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Dance of Yore

Hah. My dad just posted this pic on FB — I don’t think I’ve seen it before. The post started “God knows we tried!!” I’m pretty sure he meant that to refer just to dancing…but maybe not. 🙂
That’s me with my middle sister, both of us dressed for dancing bharata natyam. I look tall for once! My attempts at classical Indian dance were very short-lived (my god, you should’ve heard me complain about practicing!), so this must have been when I was around 12-13?
We must have been getting reading for a performance; this photo will likely be the most make-up you will ever see on my face. I do love dancing, but no one will ever call me a dancer. Mirna went on to actually be very skilled at it (she’s never been afraid of hard work, but also actually possesses natural grace and rhythm which I am sadly lacking). We tried Kavi in both ballet and bharata natyam, but sadly, she didn’t really take to either. Ah well!
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Twelve Hours

Poor Jed, looking perhaps a little stunned as we head into the fourth (!) Terraforming Mars game of the weekend, this one a head-to-head version. Still took close to three hours to play through (Kavi was shocked to realize a game could take so long, and her early requests to learn the game switched quickly to “Maybe I don’t want to learn how to play this after all…”). I’d say I’ve probably done about a dozen hours of board gaming in the last two days, which is a little intense, even for me. My back hurts!

Jed thoroughly stomped me in this one, after taking an early lead with two cards that revved up his money production — I fought what I think was a valiant rear-guard action, but really, it was pretty hopeless. Fun, though.

(Never give up, never surrender!)

We played with actual corporations instead of the beginner version, and I think at this point I know the game well enough that I could teach it to someone else. Of course, if I want to accomplish anything else this month, maybe better if I don’t pull it out again….

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