Hey, guys? Thanks. So…

Hey, guys? Thanks. So many of you wrote, telling me you disagreed with those critics in my class, and giving me all sorts of reasons, in case I didn't believe you...:-) Really, I appreciate it.

I've thought about the poem some, and decided that it really can't be reasonably read as racist or sexist out of context of Will Alexander -- and it wasn't meant to be addressed to him. So I'm not going to worry about those aspects. It probably could be sharpened some, to get my message across more clearly -- we'll see what happens when I revise at the end of the semester.

In the rest of my life, things are going very well. I just finished an e-mail inteview with Escape Magazine this morning (no, I have no idea who they are, but they asked to interview me -- should I say no? :-). I revised Just Reading News for an anthology submission, and did some more work on Deep in the Valley. Still would like to get Season of Marriage revised today -- we'll see. It's a little odd doing revisions of work that's been out there so long -- I'm not sure how other writers handle this. I haven't seen stories marked version 1.1, 1.2, etc. :-) Guess I'll just leave the old version up on the web pages -- it's in archives that way anyway, and send out the new one. Perhaps it'll cause some confusion, but I can't think of a better way to handle it.

Roshani's coming to visit! Hooray, hoorah -- she'll be here Sunday through Thursday, which will be very nice indeed. She's in the midst of studying for the MCAT's, so hopefully we can prod each other to get a lot of work done.

Tonight's dinner at a friend's house, and tomorrow night's a friend's birthday party, so busy weekend. I'm hoping to do some gardening this weekend -- well, hoe out all the weeds in the vegetable garden (it's actually more like a thick carpet of grass at this point, argh), and get it into shape to do a little planting. I'm going to attempt tomatoes, red peppers, chili peppers, and basil, to start. We'll see. :-) Any recommendations from gardener-types out there will be welcome - I bought a book and read it, but I've never done anything like this before.

I have a feeling there was something else I meant to tell you guys, but I can't remember what it is. Hate that. Guess I'll come back and add it if I think of it. If I don't talk to you again, have a good weekend (you've undoubtedly noticed at this point that the journal is even more erratic than usual on the weekends :-).

Well, yesterday was a…

Well, yesterday was a bummer of a day. I suppose I should brace for this sort of thing, but it's definitely worse when you know the people involved rather than getting it in e-mail from strangers. I'm babbling, and you guys have no idea what I'm talking about. Back-up.

So I wrote this poem, a couple weeks ago. Read the poem first, so you have an unbiased idea of what's going on.

Not Another.

the great revolutionary poet stands
before us, armored in sheets of paper
yellowed pages ripped from Webster's, Brittanica,
lists of long words with large meanings.

hey, boy.
you know something?
you wouldn't know revolution if it bit you on the ass.

tear off that paper armor.
stand naked before us, balls retracted in fear.
stand naked and shivering and desperate
and speak of revolution.
I'll stand naked with you --
stretch marks, bruises and all.

*****
M.A. Mohanraj
March 19, 1997

Okay, so I don't know what your reaction to it is so far. I meant it as a sort of challenge to all poets who call themselves revolutionary yet who use (IMHO) lofty language and rhetoric. I guess I think revolutionaries should be out there, down and dirty with the people, terrified and showing their terror yet standing there anyway, speaking from the heart. You can agree with that or not as you choose, and you can say I said that effectively or not as you choose. Looking back at the poem, I think I could have said it a lot more effectively, and I'm not sure it's entirel y true anymore. But that's beside the point.

There are about fifteen people in my poetry class. Of those, ten liked it. Great, although they probably should have pointed out some weaknesses. The five remaining all noted that some of the language could be read as racist or sexist. ('boy' as racist, and 'balls retracted' as sexist). I agree with the first, and disagree with the second, and in both cases and glad to have that pointed out to me -- I need to know if people will be reading my work that way.

Of those five, two used their crits to launch pretty vicious (again, IMHO) personal attacks on me. Their crits were somewhat based on the fact that the poem had been inspired by a poet who had read for us the week before, an educated black man, a self-described 'revolutionary poet'. He had been the springboard for the poem, but I hadn't intended it to be a crit of him personally -- rather of the whole category of poets who do what he did. They took it as a racist, sexist, personal attack. The poet's name is Will Alexander, in case you're inclined to go find samples of his work.

So I got really upset yesterday. Broke down, cried in class, felt attacked and assaulted and that I was in a 'not safe' critiquing environment. Probably over-reacted some. It might help you decide if you read what they said:

[this section has been deleted, by request of the people involved. See entry 4/17/97 for full explanation].

So, why am I ranting to you guys about this? Well, partly so you can judge the poem for yourselves, and if you do find the language racist and sexist, go ahead and let me know -- that's a valid critique. I rather agree, looking back, that 'boy' is probably too loaded a term, though I didn't have that in mind when I wrote the piece. Although what does 'too loaded' mean? - a subject for another debate entirely.

I put all this up more to give you a sense of what a writer deals with at times. I think their comments were way out of line and inappropriate for an academic critique. Maybe you disagree with me. But considering the whole thing wrecked my day, it seemed disingenuous not to write about it here - to pretend it didn't happen.

*yawn* Didn’t get enough…

*yawn* Didn't get enough sleep last night, but I did write a poem. Fair trade. Here's the first draft of the poem...I'll probably work on it some me, so comments welcome. This piece is meant to be read aloud, almost chanted.

Beauty's Lament
You know the tale as it was told to maidens
young and grannies old who sit by fires forgotten.
That sad sweet tale of woman's love which heals
the dreadful beast, and turns black dross to gold.

Recall the prince discovered underneath
the monster's hide, the prince who has since
disappeared, though woman searches far
and wide and grannies sit and gnash their teeth.

I was a maiden once, years past and gone;
these days the rules are not as strict as long ago,
and so I found my beast and saw the prince
beneath the skin and sang my hopeful song,

as maidens do. Under his furry pelt, I
swore I felt soft skin, ignored the rising
reek, the stench, and vowed eternal love
to the surely long enchanted prince within.

And when he swore he loved me well, that
hideous beast did clasp me close and I went
willingly to his palace dank and fell, where
in spite of his foul scent I climbed into his bed.

Two long years I brushed his fur and picked
the lice that crawled across his body;
lay at his side and when he mauled me
pressed my lips into a line, thin and wide.

Still holding to the tale, the dream,
the promise made by tellers long since dead--
that soon the prince would seem a beast
no more, and maid and prince would wed.

I cannot name the day his touch grew sweet
and kind -- no longer did I mind, indeed, rejoiced
that maid and beast might meet, transform. Swore
that I had found my prince, raised up my voice!

And then he left, not reckoning the child
beneath my breast -- went running west
and wild 'til sun had set. I had his promises
to keep me warm, sweet festerings.

The child chose not to stay. I could not
say it nay for what had I to offer, I alone
and broken-hearted, and so another cord
was parted. May it find a better road.

We think ourselves inured to that sad tale
and others of its kind, that warp and wind
through modern days. We tell ourselves:
strong women walk instead of wail.

I sit beneath my lemon tree, bedecked,
bejeweled in every part, as for the bridal feast,
clad in a dress of sighs.

The grieving heart does know the truth,
the prince I loved, the prince was but a beast,
and tales are only lies.

*****
M.A. Mohanraj
April 9, 1997

Hey, guys. It’s late,…

Hey, guys. It's late, and I'm about to go to bed. Sorry I didn't write earlier, but it's been kind of a crazy day. Friend of mine had a big fight with her recent ex, and she's been in a bad way, so I've been a shoulder. Also a busy day with classes (Tuesday's my long day this semester), so not much time to be on-line. You may have noticed that I added a bunch of funnies to the home page last night. Also finished Aiken's Cold Shoulder Road, another excellent read. I have a lot of reading to do in the next week, which is a good thing. :-) Today was productive - wrote about 8 pages on the novel. (Yah, I know, it doesn't sound like much, but trust me, that means it was a good day. Someday I'll have to learn how to write novels faster....)

Sleep well, everyone. Talk to you in the morning.

Well, the exciting…

Well, the exciting discovery this weekend was that Sylvia Louise Engdahl has a home page. She's an absolutely excellent children's sf/f writer, and though her books are out of print, there's a drive to bring them back. So if you liked her work, please take a look at the page, and post your comments in the guest book. They're truly wonderful books (check your local library if you haven't read them), and they SHOULD be in print.

Mostly did a lot of socializing this weekend -- met a bunch of Sherman's friends on Saturday, and hung out with Thida and Doug and Amanda yesterday (Amanda's Taiwanese and took us to a really yummy Taiwanese restaurant). Didn't get any work done, but that's okay, as I was sorta taking the weekend off. Lots to do now, though...spent some time updating the web page and will probably be spending more. :-)

Talk to y'all later...oh, and Eric, thanks for the virtual flowers. They were lovely.

Hey, guys. Not much to…

Hey, guys. Not much to report. Finished the novella, "Interplanetary Janet Meets the Triple-Breasted Whores of Eroticon VI", if you can believe that (yah, it's not an entirely serious piece). Added "Metari Nights" to my stories page yesterday. Read Robert Silverberg's The Book of Skulls -- I admire his charcterization, and it was a chilling read. Also read the latest Stainless Steel Rat book -- not very impressive, I'm afraid. Liked earlier ones much better. Spent entirely too long on the phone with Kev last night --oof, our phone bills. Sherman and Chelsea coming to dinner tonight -- should be nice. Not sure what I'll be making. Will have to think about it.

Off to recorder class in a bit -- I haven't practiced nearly enough in the last few weeks -- I was being so good for January and February -- ah well. I think I'll be in okay shape for the concert in May -- we're just playing a couple of baby pieces, since we're both new to the instrument. Shouldn't disgrace ourselves too badly.

Okay, best run. Places to go, people to do....:-)

Finally got around to adding the audio files I recorded quite a while ago for some poems in '96. They take a *long* time to download. I started downloading the biggest one half an hour ago, from campus, which has a much higher speed line that I have at home, and it's still going. I may sit down and find out exactly how long it takes some day, but it's 1:30, and I'm hungry, so I'm going to go get some lunch. RealAudio is apparently much faster, but requires stuff on the server that I can't afford. Ah well.

Morning, everyone. I’m…

Morning, everyone. I'm up bright and early (though at a more reasonable 6 rather than yesterday's 5), and it's been slightly productive already. I told you guys that I was going to attempt to get a bit more into shape, right? Now, you have to keep in mind that all my attempts at fitness in the past have generally followed this pattern: spurt of hyper activity; missing a couple days; guilt makes me do one or two more days; distraction and/or more guilt makes me miss some more, and there goes the attempt. So don't be surprised if all mention of exercise disappears from these pages abruptly (and yes, I know, I'm making excuses before I even begin :-) So sue me). But in any cae, I started doing sit-ups at the beginning of the week, and having gone 4 days without quailing, I'm adding several more exercises today. Bicep, tricep, etc. You get the idea. General toning stuff -- I'm not out to turn my body into Linda Hamilton's (though she did look wicked, didn't she?). Anyway, wish me luck. It takes great staying power in an activity to survive for any length of time in the chaos that is my life.

Yesterday was a pretty good day. I got a lot of work (schoolwork) accomplished in the morning (I get to present some of it today; slightly nervous). There are definite advantages to getting up at 5 a.m. I stopped work at about 1 or 2, and didn't feel guilty. :-) Sherman came to dinner, and I amazed him by making meatloaf that he liked. I don't understand why people have this prejudice against meatloaf -- it's great food. Serve it with some mashed potatoes and green beans, and it's a cheap, healthy meal. Very hearty and filling. And you can throw in whatever ingredients you like -- last night I used: ground turkey, bread crumbs, chopped tomatoes, chopped onion, Worcestershire sauce, red wine, italian herbs, salt and lots of pepper. Mix it all together and mold it into a ring (cooks more thoroughly than a simple loaf), bake at 350 for 45 minutes, then pull it out, spread some good barbecue sauce on the top and stick it back in the oven for 5 more minutes. Delicious. And excellent the next day as sandwiches. The Fannie Farmer cookbook has a basic recipe and variations.

Not much to report yet today, since all I've done is gotten up and done my exercises. :-) I've been rereading the Stainless Steel Rat series by Harry Harrison -- great fun. I always wanted to be a thief when I was a kid (this was after I found out that I couldn't be an astronaut 'cause I have bad eyes). I used to plot out ways to break into banks and commit various kinds of fraud -- the underworld lost a great mind when I went into writing instead. Of course, there are certainly those who think my writing is just as criminal....:-)

I think after class, today will be a day for cleaning up accumulated clutter. I have a lot of paper to sort. :-) Anyway, best shower and get on with the day. Tak to y'all later...

Hey, guys. It’s a…

Hey, guys. It's a little odd for me to be writing you already, since I wrote to you before I went to bed and I've just woken up, but I had a lot of strange dreams, and I've been thinking a lot. I've come to a decision.

You probably won't understand my decision without some background. I was raised Catholic -- I don't know if I ever mentioned that. I left the Church many years ago, for complicated reasons, but I decided this morning that it's time to go back. Time to go do some good deeds, work on my soul, that sort of thing.

Speaking of my soul, I'm probably endangering it mightily by writing erotica. I'll have to stop, I'm afraid. I'd donate all the ill-gotten funds to the Church, but I'm afraid I've spent them all. Now there's a dilemma -- should I finish the novella and donate the chunk of money to the Church? Is it worth endangering my soul even further in order to do some good?

I think not. In fact, I should probably stop writing fiction altogether -- fiction is the work of Satan. I have been taking unto myself a power of creation reserved for the Creator -- beware, all ye readers! Cast down your eyes from these unclean pages, lest ye damn yourselves to eternal torment. Think not upon the lascivious sins of the flesh, of the frenzied couplings of damned souls, of the sweet and wicked merging of sweat-slicked bodies! Nay, find yourself instead a quiet garden, in which ye may contemplate alone the greater glory of God. Or if ye possess a need for greater penance (as indeed, seems likely if you have been so weak-willed as to risk your eternal salvation by traversing this broad and wicked road, this temptation incarnate, this Internet), then lock thyslf in the deepest darkness of thy abode, with all of your friends who have also sinned, and scourge yourselves mightily, weeping and wailing until you have purged yourself into an ecstatic frenzy.

Ah, but I take too much upon myself -- what am I, a weak woman only, to presume to instruct God's children, however fallen they may be? I should leave such duties to wiser heads than mine -- indeed, truly is it said that "Vanity, thy name is woman!"

From this day onward, this diary shall be solely a humble testament to the Lord, a public penance for my days of sin and blasphemy upon this blessed Earth. Hallelujah, brethren!

Hey, guys. I’m…

Hey, guys. I'm exhausted and about to fall into bed, so just quick notes. Finished one Sizzle story -- planning to get up at 6 and write the other, 'cause they're late late late. Almost finished with the novella, hooray. 'nother 1K words. Didn't do any work on Dreams, dammit, over break, but I can sorta justify it by finishing the novella in a week. Hoping to write some tomorrow morning - if I can get in an hour on it then, and another hour or two between classes, I may have something decent to turn in by 2:30 class.

Owen's birthday party last night - lot of fun, but stayed up way too late, which is part of why I'm exhausted. I also let my Synthroid prescription run out last week, which is the other part. Avoiding thinking about the blood test I need to get to get a new prescription. (Nothing serious, just annual check of thyroid levels. Just don't like needles.) Exhausted and tired and depressed, almost all of which is almost certainly due to low thyroid levels. Must fix.

Lots of good resolutions lately -- we'll see if they follow through. Eat less and exercise; work more; get my medicine. Too tired to write more. Hope you're all doing well.

Morning, everyone. Hope…

Morning, everyone. Hope you're all doing well...

Well, I wasn't quite so bad yesterday as I thought...after I finished the journal entry, I put on some classical music, lighted a bunch of candles, focused my concentration and actually managed to write another 1500 words of the novella. 2500 to go and 2400 for Sizzle. I'm going to try and finish by Saturday sometime. Coul be worse...could be better. I'd hoped to get some writing done on Dreams this week...well, it's still a possibility. I've been thinking about it a fair bit, which is something.

Tonight's the local poly dinner up in Berkeley, and then Adam and I are going contra dancing in S.F. Should be fun. Then work tomorrow, and Sunday help Owen with his birthday party. Work more Monday. If I've finished the Puritan/Sizzle assignments, then Monday is dedicated to Dreams. We can hope, anyway.

Someone recently wrote to me and objected to my use of the word 'feminist'. I attempted to clarify what I meant by feminist, which wasn't what he meant by feminist, and we're now entangled in a discussion of the pro's and con's of equal opportunity programs. I'm going to post my reply here, in case you're curious, and as a bit of propagandizing. Maybe I'll convince you...maybe not. Keep in mind that I'm not sociologist...this is my rough idea of the theory/practice involved. I am in no way a representative for the math department at the Uiversity of Chicago (and my info may well be out of date -- for all I know, they may now have tenured women faculty.)

At the University of Chicago, one of the best math graduate departments in the country, there are no tenured women faculty. This is in part because for as far back as we know, women have not been encouraged to do math -- they've in fact been discouraged, by teachers/parents/society. There are studies to prove this. The math department feels that that is damaging to their department -- they're losing the input of half the population. Nobody knows in what ways math has been affected with only male brains and male perceptions working on the big problems. So they think it's worthwhile to spend a lot of money and time encouraging women to study math, and even accepting some who aren't quite as good as the men currently are -- the plan is that doing that will give them the chance to get better, now that they're not being stomped on all the time. And that eventually, both men and women will have a level playing field in math, and there won't be a need for any more equal opportunity programs...'cause they'll all *have* equal opportunities. So you see, the department isn't doing it to do women a favor -- they're doing it because they think it's better for their department and for math in the long run. Extrapolate outward.

It's like putting a crutch on a broken leg. Eventually you take the crutch off -- you don't ask the person with the broken leg to just walk around without it, saying 'Well, you've got one perfectly good leg.' The health of every part of the body (society) is essential to the health of the whole.

1:00 and I haven't done any writing yet. Ah well...still 5 hours to go. In the meantime, I did add a ton of new (well, old, since they were culled from some old files) quotes to my quotes page, and Sherman pointed me to an interesting summary of what's going on in the Supreme Court's hearing of the CDA case.