Hey, guys. Not much to…

Hey, guys. Not much to report -- mostly rested and puttered around the house today (cleaned out the hall closet, etc. :-). Did manage to get a little work done for a new site (I'm basically writing ad copy for them), which is good (it's late, which is not good...sigh).

I'm trying not to fret about academic stuff...there's going to be a bit of a pile up at the end of the semester. Deep breath...

At least it's looking a lot more comfortable financially, thank the deity. That's a bit of a weight off.

Hmm...not really much to report. About halfway through Vonnegut's Hocus Pocus, which Kevin lent me ages and ages ago. Pretty good, though I'm a bit too tired to keep coherent track of the wildly flailing plotline.

It's raining. That's really nice.

I just woke up from a nap. Can you tell?

Have a good weekend, everyone. Sweet dreams.

Sorry for not writing…

Sorry for not writing for a while, but my life has rather been in turmoil. Mostly better now, but just didn't have a chance to get to this journal. There's so much to tell you guys...not sure where to begin.

Well, there were new developments in the Great Poetry Debate (4/10/97 entry). I'm not going to go into it in depth, but briefly, some people from class ran across my journal entry and got really upset. It all got aired in class yesterday, which was difficult, but on the whole a good thing, I think. At least the problems/issues were aired, even if they weren't quite settled. One thing that was made clear was that a lot of people in the class felt uncomfortable at the idea of having their critiques posted on a web page, even with the names stripped, so I agreed to take out the text of the quotes. I hadn't realized that people might be upset by that -- wasn't really thinking, I guess. Just too frustrated/upset. Live and learn, I suppose. Time to move on with life...that's probably enough of that issue for now.

Roshani left this morning. It was great having her here -- we provided shoulders for each other. I did get a little overbusy while she was here -- I'm making noises towards having her move out here, so I wanted her to meet my friends. We ended up having dinner parties Tuesday and Wednesday nights (we both love cooking - Indian Tuesday, Italian Wednesday), which were a lot of fun, but I was just so drained from class, etc. that I made myself kind of ill. Spent most of today reading and recovering.

Adam had loaned me a really excellent book, An Exchange of Hostages, by Susan R. Matthews. To quote the back cover, "A promising young surgeon, Andrej Koscuisko has come, with great reluctance, to study at a military orientation center adrift in black space. Against his will, he will train here to serve as a 'Ship's Inquisitor' -- a vocation that runs counter to his deepest moral convictions." It was really engrossing -- the kind of book that you don't want to put down and wish was several hundred pages longer. Luckily, while it's not officially part of a series (it works as a stand alone book), it's pretty clear that she intends to continue the story. I'm awaiting it eagerly.

Also read recently was Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon. It has a really lovely digressive, storytelling tone -- I think that's what I liked best about the book. She has a really deft hand at characterization as well -- I must admit to being envious. Ah, gone are the days when I could just read a book and enjoy it for itself without thinking, 'hmmm...that's an interesting trick of characterization'...or plot, or style, etc.... Not that I'm really complaining. Though I've started doing it with movies too. Thank god for romance novels, most of which have none of that to worry my head about. :-) There are definitely times when one wants a little mind-candy.

I've also started Cisneros' Woman Hollering Creek, a collection of short stories. So far, very promising....I'll try to let you know how it goes.

The weather's gorgeous. I'm very tempted to just mark this day off as a healing day and go sit under a tree and play my flute. But I ought to get a little work done first -- I'd like to raise the money for Clarion and my summer expenses before the end of June. That may be a little complex, since I think I'll be spending approximately May 16 - June 13 in Chicago. My semester will be over, and I think I can work just as well in Chicago as here. And I miss Kevin.

Oh, I did get some good news in the last couple days -- won second place for graduate fiction in a Mills writing contest, and was awarded a teaching assistantship for next year (significant financial help). I'm nervous about it, but looking forward to it as well. I'll be teaching analytical, not creative, writing, but it should still be very interesting and hopefully fun. I've really enjoyed teaching the times I've done it before. It does mess up my schedule a bit for the fall, since I'm required to take a class on teaching -- I'm having a hard time deciding what else I'll be taking. I really want to take a class with Ginu Kamani, author of Junglee Girl, who's a visiting professor next year. Well, we'll see what happens in the fall.

Well, I think that mostly covers the last couple of days. Tomorrow should also be quiet, and Saturday I'm having dinner with Sherman and his parents (really nice people, and his mom likes Star Trek!) Lot of stuff due for my poetry class Wednesday, so that's the main focus for the next week. I should really also get going on my final paper for my Modern Fiction class. Don't think I have much left to do for my fiction writing class -- I've actually been working pretty hard in that one. The novel is up to about 180 pages. If Clarion goes well this summer (the focus is on short stories, but I should still have a lot of time to work on the novel), then I'm vaguely hoping to actually finish the thing by the end of the summer. Probably over-optimistic, but it's good to aim high, right? :-)

Okay, best get a little work done. Talk to you later, guys.

Remember, tomorrow is…

Remember, tomorrow is tax day! Just a little public service announcement...time to file those extensions. :-)

Life is going pretty well over here. Didn't get much done over the weekend, but had a fair bit of fun socializing. Roshani arrived last night, and we spent the morning working (I told you she's studying for her MCAT, right?). I finished revisions on Deep in the Valley, and sent that out to Herotica 6 and Circlet Press, also sent a copy of Just Reading News to the Good Vibrations Sex Toy anthology. Cross your fingers for me....

Ongoing projects -- I need to read Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon today, and should also revise Season of Marriage for Herotica 6 if I get a chance. I think Roshani and I will probably be going up to Berkeley (hit a coffeeshop, work a little) this evening, and then will be dancing at the Starry Plow tonight. If you're in the area, feel free to stop by and say hi. :-)

Not much else to report -- it's a beautiful day, as always, and life is generally good.

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...