I cannot rave enough…

I cannot rave enough about Star Trek: First Contact. It was absolutely fabulous. You must go see it. I can see why a lot of reviews are calling it the best Star Trek movie ever (yes, even better than Wrath of Khan). I admit, there was one tiny moment when I felt one of the characters was out of character -- but a very minor flaw indeed. Even if you don't watch Star Trek, I think you could really like this movie -- and if you do already like Trek, you'll love it. Heck, even if you hate the movie, the trailers for the Star Wars trilogy are astonishing! :-)

Otherwise, not much to report. Saw it with Kevin's sister and a bunch of his friends, which was fun/odd. (Did I mention he's from the area?) I've met them all (well, most of them) before, but it's still a trifle disconcerting. Hard to say why -- maybe 'cause they knew Kev when he was five years old. :-) Anyway, nice people, and we had a thoroughly good time.

Slept badly, though -- woke up with nightmares a couple of times. Been doing that a lot lately -- some stress with my parents. Oh well. The other bad thing in my life right now is that my cat is missing. Been calling around for days, and nobody's seen her. Going down to the city pound today to see whether they have her. Hopefully she just got mad at me and went off to sulk somewhere -- maybe she found someone who feeds her better food. Kev's afraid she probably got hit by a car, though. :(

Going to Thida's birthday party today, (she's the SO of Cliff, my new roommate (Cliff is also a friend of mine and Sherman's from college)) which should be fun. In fact, going soon, so I'd probably head out. Hope you're having a good weekend, everyone.

Star Trek…

Star Trek Tonight!

I'm actually struggling to be in a good mood (odd for me in the mornings -- normally it comes naturally). I slept terribly last night (hard time falling asleep and then lots of nightmares afterwards) and woke up to pouring rain. Luckily, the rain has since stopped (I like rain lots, but not when I have to walk through it to school, especially since I can't remember if my flute case is waterproof), and I'm listening to good music, and there's some of Ellison's banana bread left, and I've already done about an hour's productive work (it's 8:30 a.m. now), so good mood is slowly rising. :-) It would mostly help that in an hour I get to go to a class I really like, except that we've got just too few classes left 'til the concert, and it makes me nervous. Oh well -- we won't bomb or anything, we're definitely competent, but still. You want to be more than competent, you know? Beautiful. :-)

Not much else to say this early in the morning -- nothing else has happened to me today, and I think I gave you a pretty damn complete journal yesterday. I did write a poem late last night, as part of my struggle to fall asleep, Emotion Triumphs Over Form.

Argh. Missed…

Argh. Missed registration for Spring. Have to pay a fee. Argh. How annoying, especially since it's entirely my own fault.

Oh well...otherwise, things are going fairly well. Spent some time yesterday signing autograph labels for my book - very exciting. :-) I'm sure I'll get tired of it at some point, but right now, it's all still a little hard to believe. Now I think the next step is to wander around to local bookstores with a copy and ask them to carry it. Not quite sure how one goes about this, but Good Vibrations and Blowfish have already said they're definitely interested in carrying it. :-) Have to ask my editor if he can send Blowfish a review copy.

I've also recently contracted with Puritan to do another novella (for about four months from now - space opera farce :-) Y'know the old style -- Galaxy Janet Meets the Triple-Breasted Whore of Eroticon VI -- should be a lot of fun. A nice change from the very bleak horror piece I just finished for them. I'm also working on an article for them on the bdsm scene in S.F. -- specifically, interviewing local professional dominatrices (is that the right spelling of the plural?). Should be interesting, at the very least. :-)

I quit the Mills web page job yesterday. It just didn't make sense, financially -- I should have listened to Kevin when he told me so. It kept getting pushed to last priority (after academics, novel, and work contracts), which is reasonable, but not fair to them. Hopefully they'll be able to find someone good to replace me.

Hey, are any of you involved with the game/product-testing industry in the Bay Area? Sherman's having a rough time right now -- got laid off, and while he was accepted for a job almost immediately at another company, their budget got slashed, and they weren't able to hire him after all. If you have any contacts in the industry, let me know, please, and I'll forward the info to him. (Or you can mail him directly - sherman@cyborganic.net).

Did some work on my academic paper this morning -- it's fascinating in its own way, but not coalescing to a thesis very well. Lots of interesting bits. Maybe I'll make some of you read what I have so far and see if you can make sense of it. :-)

Some interesting twists in the novel lately. Among other things, it looks like it's going to be a trilogy (no, not a trilogy!!!) rather than just one book -- that seems to be the way the structure is working out. Which means a) it's more marketable, but b) I have to write about three times as many words. :-) Still, it's kind of fun planning to have Our Heroine in terribly dire straits at the end of book 1... (and no, I'm not giving it away, 'cause I may change my mind entirely by the time I finish the darn thing). I wonder if I need to finish the second and third books before I start shopping the first one around....well, I'm probably getting ahead of myself, since I'm only 120 pages into book 1 (and it'll be at LEAST double that when it's done). I think I may also need a new title (well, three of them, with maybe an overarching title). Not sure I want to stick with "Dreams by Lamplight", though I am fond of it. Storm Constantine did great titles (though Sherman thinks they're pretentious). Ah well.

2:00 - Long entry today. It's a rainy day, and in fact, I'm somewhat trapped on campus because I didn't bring a jacket. So I can either get rather drenched going home, or wait and hope it stops soon. Just ate too much lunch (why do I always overestimate how much I really want?) and am so feeling very sedate, so I think I will sit in this computer room, reading and writing and thinking for a while. Maybe the rain will stop. In the meantime, it's lovely.

I am running out of words for beautiful. In the novel, since the heroine is a courtesan, beauty is much a concern. I'm fascinated by beauty, by its arbitrariness, by its importance, by the way a single red tree in a field of green or an angle of cheekbone or the motion of light on water can catch at your heart and you say, "oh, how beautiful". And who knows what that word means, because it's also the sound of a single saxophone at night, or a perfect chocolate mousse, or the musky scent of your lover -- it's not just visual at all -- it's not even necessarily concrete. The idea that there may be (should be) other races on other planets in the cosmos, or the perfection of Hume's skepticism, or the impossible idealism of the young...how can those be other than beautiful? And I can say lovely, gorgeous, beautiful, exquisite, attractive, radiant, superb, pretty, but already we have gotten too specific, and there is just too much that is simply beautiful, and not enough words to say it. It's enough to drive a poor writer mad.

*smile* I'm not really complaining. I have the best job in the world, and well I know it (though occasionally, I have vague yearnings to be Emma Thompson), and the frustrations come with the territory. I am certainly tempted to coin a new word for vagina, 'cause there just isn't anything appropriate. I want something descriptive, but not clinical, not euphemistic, not crass or crude. The equivalent of breast, or even leg. Just a neutral word that I can then flavor as I like. Ah well...

I'm rambling...I assume that's not a problem with y'all. You know, many of you, when you write to me, say that it's odd -- that you feel like you know me, despite having never met me. Some even say that they feel uncomfortable that I don't know them as well, and proceed to pour out all sorts of fascinating details about their own lives. :-) This journal is an odd blend of a little introspection, such as you might really find in a journal, and a whole lot of chattiness. I feel like I'm writing a letter to a friend(s)...and I sometimes forget that the people reading this aren't just the people I've actually corresponded with (some of you daily :-), but more of an open letter to the world. This isn't a problem, and I'm not saying you must all write to me so I feel more aware/comfortable. It's actually a part of being a writer that comes fairly easily to me, the openness/extrovertedness/baring of the soul (and all the petty, pathetic details as well). Oh, I don't tell you in detail - here are my faults - but if you've been reading this journal all along (almost a year now), then you probably know them pretty well. I guess I'm lucky it comes easily to me.

Though perhaps unlucky as well, in a way. Writers are generally supposed to be introverts rather than extroverts (supposed to be not in an intentionality sort of way, but more of that's the way it tends to be sort of way), and I don't think I'm typical. I'm perhaps not as introspective as I should be -- crunching out pages and pages of prose comes easily to me, but deep and meaningful insights into the human heart....well, I tend to rely on my friends to tell me when I need to do some work on my own psyche. (They're pretty good at it too. If you ever need a swift kick in the pants, I can refer you to some excellent people). Maybe if I spent more time in introspection, though, my work would be deeper...

Ah, I'm probably just whining again. Nobody gets it easy -- deep and meaningful insights don't come cheap. :-) Figure I just do what I'm doing and hope I get wiser as I go along. I'm only 25 - I've got at least another 5-10 years of being called a 'young' writer (probably no matter WHAT I write...:-)

4:30 - 111 pages on the novel. A lucky sign. :-) Time to knock off work and head home, I think. Ellison's (housemate) parents are coming this weekend, and I promised to help him scrub the house.

Oh, I’ve been very bad….

Oh, I've been very bad. Sorry, everyone, but this week has been highly work intensive. It has, however, also been productive, and I'm fairly pleased with the good progress I made on the novel. In other news, my book arrived today! Yes, it's the first copy, absolutely amazing, and it looks gorgeous. Oh, I admit it's a little thin, at only 128 pages (I kept having this image of this 500-page hardcover beauty, though I knew darn well I hadn't written one :-), and I did find one typo, but I just don't care! It's a book a book a book and it's all mine!

I am feeling rather smug. :-)

Can't chat long, 'cause I have to finish up some stuff before class, but I did want to check in with you guys. The next couple of days will also be crazy -- in fact, you probably shouldn't expect regular reports from me 'til classes end in mid-December. :-) The diary is going to be truly erratic for a while. Hope you all get to go see the opening of Star Trek: First Contact -- I'm going to be going! :-)

5:00 - Gosh, tired. Going home, but wanted to drop a note that you might want to check out Sean's Journal. I haven't actually read it, but since he's one of my journal readers, I thought I'd pass it along. :-)

Also, Allen requested more recipes. :-) Well, I haven't done anything too exciting lately, but here's what I threw together for lunch yesterday, when Sherman requested 'something Italian':

Garlic Pepper Sausage with Onion-Tomato Sauce

Okay, this isn't going to be in traditional recipe format -- I'm just going to tell you. You start with the sauce, which is basically a tomato sauce, 'cept I use way more onion that normally called for. Two large onions, chopped, lots of garlic chopped, sauteed in olive oil; add two pounds plum tomatoes chopped and lots of Italian spices and some black pepper and salt. Cook for a while. Meantime, sautee one large red onion, sliced until soft. Add precooked garlic sausage sliced into thin rounds, and a fair bit of black pepper and hot paprika. Cook spaghetti and serve together. Gosh, I skipped a lot of details - hope you got the gist. Very simple beginner's recipe.

Was at Lydia's for dinner and Balderdash last night (fun game I hadn't played before. Came in 2nd. :-) and she made a really impressive 'cheap and sleazy salmon shepherds' pie'. I think what she did was boil potatoes, cook frozen mixed vegetables in the meantime, defrost salmon and debone and chop up, mix with vegetables and season, mash potatoes with a little margerine, layer potatoes over vegetable salmon mix in a baking dish and bake for 20 minutes. I was writing a story with Kaylie and then watching Sherman cruelly beat on Kira at chess (he *says* he was teaching her, but I have my doubts, considering he took her queen almost immediately), so I wasn't paying a whole lot of attention, but that's the best I can extrapolate, and it was delicious.

Well, today’s the day my…

Well, today's the day my Chicago account goes away. :( I feel as if I should call and complain or something, but oh well. Too busy to waste time on those idjits.

Yesterday was an interesting day. Sorry I didn't write anything, but I was busy working from noon to almost midnight. See, Mills hosted a branch of the annual Writers' Harvest last night (a fundraiser by writers for hunger relief across the U.S.). I had planned to help them out a lot more, but kind of forgot, so my guilt kicked in yesterday, and I spent the day helping run errands, set up food, clean up, sell books, etc. I'm not sure how much we raised, but a goodly amount, I think, and the readers were fabulous. Floyd Salas, Sesshu Foster, April Sinclair and Beth Lisick -- all writers I wasn't familiar with because I'm so out of the loop regarding contemporary writers, and it's clear I've been missing out. Sesshu was up from L.A., but I think the others are all Bay Area folks, so if you're in the area and hear they're doing a reading, you should definitely check them out. Beth Lisick in particular is a performance poet and amazingly funny -- she tells me she performs regularly at Cafe du Nord in S.F. I'm going to go hear her again next week if I can squeeze in the time.

So today I had a good ensemble class, as usual (only two more classes until we perform, argh! (you are, of course, all cordially invited to hear me play, Friday December 6th, 12 noon, Mills campus chapel). Just finishing up e-mail and then I'm running up to Berkeley to get a decent lunch and do some research at the library. (I had a donut for breakfast. Very bad. The food options on the Mills campus are most unappealing).

I think I may hang out up there for a while, in a coffeeshop or outside on the grass, reading Crowley's Little, Big. It's excellent, which I should have expected, considering that LeGuin said of it, "A book that all by itself calls for a redefinition of fantasy." It's certainly making me think of new ways of structuring my novel (what, again?? :-). This poor novel.

Okay, I think that's all for now. I had two ideas for poems last night, but don't think they've jelled quite yet. Perhaps later today...

--Wrote one of the poems. Rather different from what I've been writing lately. Here is:

SNAKE SWALLOWING ITS TAIL

A petty poem.

___

I imagined her smooth,
soft skin turned dry and scaled
with age and neglect;
the whitening of her lush hair,
the souring of her body.

Time would shake beauty from her,
if beauty exists, until she became
a bare and scrawny trunk
surrounded by wisps of past glory.

Her muffled cries would fade
into the years, and the shine
love lent her eyes would
dissolve into a tired dream --

or so I thought;
I thought that love was
nothing so important after all,
and I could shrug, indifferent,
and let her walk away
with her wet cheeks
and anger --

and oh, if I could take back that day!

___

That is what you'll say
the day after I leave you.

___

You were warned.

*****
M.A. Mohanraj
November 15, 1996

<grin>A little silly, I know, but I think I like it.

Well, I received a…

Well, I received a lovely present this morning. While looking under my bed (trying to find a copy of The Stainless Steel Rat for President, which I was re-reading last night -- no luck finding it, btw), I stumbled across two books I had bought and forgotten! It's like getting two books for free! So today I get to read Susan Cooper's The Boggart, which will be a real treat, 'cause she's one of my favorite authors, and tomorrow I get to read Crowley's Little, Big. Hooray, hoorah!

I spent the morning up at Berkeley, doing various and sundry. I was primarily there to research my poetry/music paper (our library is pitiful), which was partly successful (the primary source material I needed was in archives and I have to go back up Friday or Saturday morning to get it). I also looked into taking classes there in the spring (Mills has an exchange program for its graduate students -- we can take two classes at Berkeley during our time here and have them count for Mills credit). Unfortunately, it looks like I missed the deadline to take a fiction class with Mukherjee (I find her work fascinating), but they have several classes that look interesting, especially Asian-American Literature, Gothic Women, and Victorian Sexuality. Will think about it and see. There's a shuttle that runs back and forth on the hour, which is highly convenient and only $1 each way.

It was a little weird being up there. It's *so* much bigger than Mills (40,000 to 3000, I think), and even about 4 times bigger than Chicago. Also, it's kind of strange going to take classes at a school from which one has been rejected. I mean, I felt a bit like I didn't belong on the Penn campus when I came by to visit Kevin...but at least I wasn't pretending to be a student. Aw, I'm being silly, I know. I'll get over it. Just felt very self-conscious. At least I'm finally settling in at Mills -- it's a very comforting place in some ways. A function of the size, I suppose. I think it may also turn out to be a better place in which to work -- there's nothing else to do here! No coffeeshops, no bookstores, no shopping. Just plain nothing. Berkeley is much more distracting. :-)

Plans for the poly novel (the collaborative one) are proceeding apace -- there's something really thrilling about this stage of creation, when the ideas are bubbling (And you haven't settled down to the sludging through the muck. :-)

> On other fronts, revision 3 of Interruptions is awaiting class review, as is The Devouring Night (a short story that is looking like it'll become part of Dreams). I'm also finishing up a dumb little porn piece that is paying me well - another ten minutes should do it. :-) Still need to do revisions on Endings (and probably another on Interruptions) and much more on Dreams. In non-writing news, Penn has implemented majordomo software on the erotica list, which is causing much confusion. It has me a little stressed, but hopefully will sort out the mechanics soon and all will settle down. New web authoring job for Mills is going okay -- kind of frustrating, very non-creative and pluggish, low pay -- but on the other hand, it's the sort of work that's good to do when my brain just refuses to be in writing mode and I'm stuck on campus anyway.

I'm feeling a little over-extended (really. more so than usual.) but sort of in a good way. I mean, everything is progressing, finally. Nothing's actually stuck. I was feeling very very stuck for a while, which was terrifying. Part of what got me out of that is Sherman and I spent a couple of hours talking over plotting for our respective novels, and I pointed out a couple holes in his work and he helped me work through some technical stuff I'd been avoiding thinking about (whether to have a war, for example, and the geographic structure of Ranek and Liella and the Eastern city-states). Really basic stuff, but important.

Some good news!…

Some good news! Sherman's parents had a spare keyboard that they've loaned me until I get a new one. :-) I'd chat more, but I have a bunch of work to do in the next hour.

I saw a hummingbird outside my window this morning -- amazing.

--3:15. Okay, so I'm feeling moderately virtuous, 'cause I've been productive today. I'm also feeling very very tired. I keep forgetting to take my meds. Bad girl. Ah well. Today's my long day -- stay on campus for 6:00 meeting, which hopefully won't run later than 7. Then I get to go home and crash. :-) Nothing else exciting to report (not that that was so exciting :-). Talk to y'all tomorrow....have a nice evening.

*yawn* G’morning,…

*yawn* G'morning, everyone. Gosh, I'm exhausted today -- and for no good reason that I can think of. Yesterday, Lydia dropped her kids off and Sherman came over to help me babysit them (her parents were taking her to Phantom), and I admit they were rather exhausting (we played jungle princesses (I have a *great* climbing tree outside) and pirate queens (Sherman played too :-) and made Mickey Mouse pancakes (with chocolate chip faces) and watched The Last Unicorn and made a total shambles of my closet playing dress-up and spent quite a while coloring, which was all more tiring than one would think, not to mention making dinner and cleaning up after), and I am reminded once more to have infinite respect for parents who do this EVERY DAY. Then Lydia came back and we chatted and had dinner and put the kids to bed (They were all staying over the night) and stayed up late-ish talking and drinking the absolutely delicious cream sherry Lydia brought, but it wasn't that late. And we got up this morning (at 7-ish, 'cause that's when the kids thought we should be up :-) and made biscuits with jam and honey and butter and took something like three hours to get them ready to go :-). But none of this really explains why I'm so tired today that I fell asleep for two hours at Sherman's (I came over to work here this afternoon 'cause there are fewer distractions (really! :-) and 'cause we're going dancing tonight; free swing lessons again tonight.

You can tell I'm tired, 'cause that was a really long and rambly paragraph. :-) Sorry...

It’s an absolutely…

It's an absolutely gorgeous day here today (y'all are going to get tired of hearing me say that, I think. :-). I'm in a very good mood, mostly beause I had a truly exhilarating instrumental ensemble class today. They're something thrilling about playing ensemble...like Menolly said, "it's like flying on a dragon". :-) When it goes well, that is, and even when it doesn't (and it can be very very frustrating at times...when you can't get a part and you know people are biting their tongues or vice versa, for example) it's still a real pleasure. I can't believe they're actually giving me credit (only half a credit, but still) for this class. :-)

I was actually pretty mopey for no good reason last night. Only for about an hour or so, but I was pretty down. Good thing Kevin is extremely patient about listening to me complain. I did have some reason -- I'm sort of stuck, both in my novel and in my Renaissance paper, which is making me feel both frustrated with school and guilty for not getting enough done. I'm also excited about a new project John and Brian and I are discussing -- a collaborative novel, and I really would rather be working on that...:-) Ah well. We'll see if I can get at least some synthesis and revision done on the novel today, though some new material would also be good.

Oh, some of you were asking about whether the book will be available through your local bookstore. It may be, though it's difficult to persuade bookstores to stock material. What'll definitely work is to take them the ISBN# and have them special order it. Or you can call or e-mail my publisher directly. All the info's on the Torn Shapes of Desire page.

Not much else to report today. Still eating leftovers from dinner Wednesday, so nothing exciting there. :-) I think when I decide I can't work anymore I'm going to go rent some movies and veg out tonight. Oh, finished Hyperion. I must kill Kevin for not loaning me the sequel. Argh. Currently re-reading Taran Wanderer, from my beloved Prydain Chronicles. Running a little low on books (well, I have a bunch of serious reading to do, but that's not quite what I want. :-)

2:15 - Okay, I know I said I was going to work on the novel, but I ended up doing the revisions for "Interruptions" instead. Which is fine, 'cause they needed to be done. :-) Now I'm waffling between the novel and revisions on "Endings". Hmmm...

. I'd also kinda like to eat lunch, but I'd have to go home for that, which would mean that I'd basically stop work for the day. I really have to plan ahead better -- I *knew* that I might be working on campus this afternoon. *sigh* Idjit.

Hey, everyone. I’m…

Hey, everyone. I'm having a good day so far. Went to a pleasant seminar on Shakespeare's Hamlet (the ghost scene -- my professor is contending that Hamlet's father wasn't in fact murdered :-), and had a good class on Ben Jonson. Am now looking at the schedule for Spring and trying to decide what I want to take. I think a Shakespeare and a writing course, but a) I'm not sure if I want to do fiction or poetry, b) I'm not sure if I want to stick with the same fiction teacher I had this semester or try a different one, if I do fiction, c) I'm not sure what to take for my third course, and d) I'm not sure if I want to go to the hassle of taking a class up at Berkeley. Would be a big nuisance transportation-wise, but might be worth it, since the credits transfer. Might wait 'til next year, but I can only do it next semester and the fall one the year after. Will think about it some more.

I'm also quite enjoying Hyperion, a sf book Kevin loaned me (and yes, Paul, I finally admit you were right), though I do have a big problem with the structural set-up of the book. See, it's organized modelled on Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, a progress of pilgrims who tell their tales to each other during the course of the pilgrimage. Well and good, and I admit that in many places Simmons is brilliant both within the tales and in the framing story. However, the tales are just too darn long to be believable. They're too in-depth to make any structural sense as the sort of thing people would/could tell over a few hours after dinner. If you ignore that little quibble though, the book is delightful. I should be finishing it this afternoon.

It's a lovely day outside, and I must admit that I am very tempted to take the rest of the day off. Just go home and flake out for a while. Maybe watch The Princess Bride again or some such. :-)

HAve a good day, y'all. Get some sunshine. Hug a tree. :-)