So, whyfore none of you…

So, whyfore none of you write back to me about my new story? I am now convinced that it's terrible and y'all hated it, and that's why you haven't written to me yet. You didn't want to hurt my feelings. Well, that's just fine, then. :-)

Seriously, I think if it weren't for the net, I'd never have started writing; it's that one person who writes and tells me that they like something that convinces me it's not utterly hopeless.

Not much planned yet for today. Need to finish cleaning up and packing, and then I may take the laptop to Barnes & Noble for the afternoon. Not sure. Waiting for the UPS guy; can't leave 'til he gets here, so hopefully he'll be here soon.

1:07. I'm a such an idjit. Here I am whining about nobody writing to me about my little story -- and, of course, I didn't even send the dang thing. (I got confused because I did send it to one of my RL critique groups, but they, are, of course, reserving comments until we meet on Sunday.) You may all feel free to chastise me (although it's as well that I did mention it here, 'cause that way I got mail saying "What story?", and otherwise I might have just suffered nobly in silence (I used to have a very bad tendency to do that sort of thing, which I hope I'm growing out of (too much King Arthur at an impressionable age))).

I feel much better now. I'm also sitting at Kevin's desk, with a perfectly gorgeous breeze blowing in the study window (I had to prop open two doors to ensure this breeze, but well worth the minor effort), with a story half-written and Indigo Girls playing (Nomads, Indians, Saints), which I haven't heard in a long time (one of the minor irritations of going to grad school in CA was no longer having access to all Kevin's CD's. Our tastes are mostly very different, but he did have some music that I liked very much...). Laundry in the dryer. Mostly packed. Happy (if still feeling a bit foolish).

Kevin’s birthday …

Kevin's birthday

Hey, munchkins. Well, I'm feeling a mite calmer today (yesterday's entry was a little frantic, no?). I've left Kev sleeping and come in to use the computer in his office; the plan is to work some here, go get some lunch, work some at the cafe, try to finish a story, stop at a bookstore and pick up Kev's last present, and head back around dinner time.

I forgot that I was supposed to bring in a disk and disk drive so I could send this story to my writing group. I'm not sure what I should do now -- I think I may actually just retype it in. A bit tedious, but it's not that long a story, and I don't want to delay another day. I'll send it out to y'all as well -- it's called "Esthely Blue". I don't know what to classify it as -- mainstream or erotica or sf or magical realism or what. Something.

Todd (aka columbine) wrote a rant on the Myers-Briggs tests recently over at Alewife Bayou. I don't know if y'all are familiar with them, but I'm going to just proceed as if you are, since it's easy enough to dig up info on them on the net. Now, I've never taken the test -- as Todd points out, the full one is expensive. But I did take a sort of quick 'n dirty version that Kevin had, a shortened form that was supposedly less reliable, but a vague indicator. I'm not sure, thinking back, what my actual result was, or Kevin's. I think I'm an ENT/FJ (the t/f is 'cause I scored exactly in the middle. I'm not sure about that last one, though. And Kev was a INTP, I think. What's funnier to me than the actual meanings of the sections was our prescribed positions in life -- the jobs we'd be best suited for. They nailed Kevin dead on -- mathematician was top of the list for his category. And while writers are supposed to be I (introverted) rather than E, I am sufficiently amused by my prescribed career that I'm somewhat fond of the test as a result. They told me I should be a leader of some kind. What kind depended on whether I was more T or F - the 'thinking' type of leader would rule by hierarchy, a general-type. The 'feeling' type would rule by persuasion -- more of a charismatic preacher. I always thought I'd do a good job as benevolent dictator -- and it's certainly true that I have a habit of starting to take over organizations that I join. I hate seeing jobs done badly, and so I tend to do my best to fix that...and it's easier to fix from the top. :-)

Anyway, all silliness. As Todd points out, the tests are like Tarot cards, or the Zodiac (and did you know that I, born July 26th, am a perfect example of a Leo? That weirded me out the first time I realized that, since I don't believe in astrology even a little bit) -- you can really make them say whatever you want them to say. Slight correlations don't really mean much in the grand scheme of things. But they *are* fun, and relatively harmless, I think. I'm not sorry I took the test. I'd probably take the longer version if it was offered to me free.

On the other hand, keep in mind that I *like* standardized tests -- they invariably say that I'm smarter than my grades say I am, so they're kind of reassuring. What can I say? -- I'm a geek from way back...

Labor Day Well, in a…

Labor Day

Well, in a bit of a jam. Kevin and I were supposed to be having lunch, I thought, with somebody, but I've managed to misplace all the lady's contact info. I don't think we set a time, and I don't have her address, or even her last name. I'm not even sure which of you (William?) put me in touch with her to begin with. Hopefully she's just forgotten about us (I thought she was going to write or call back), and isn't hovering over a lunch table filled with food, wondering where we are...

4:40. Well, never did find the lunch lady. Hope I didn't mess up badly on that one -- miss an e-mail or somesuch. Can't do much about it now...hopefully she'll get in touch.

Did a lot of reading this weekend. On Saturday Kev and I spend most of the day downtown at the Barnes & Noble. Hung out in the cafe reading Pratchett's _Jingo_, laughed out loud a couple of time, as usual with Pratchett, went to a bagel place and had a totally yummy bagel sandwich, the highlight of which was the sundried tomato paste (I am becoming a sundried-tomato junkie), came back to the B & N and read Bujold's latest, _Komarr_, which I loved (Kevin came to ask me if I was almost ready to go about five pages from the end of the book and I'm afraid I snarled at him...he quickly backed away), bought a copy of Connie Willis's _Bellwether_ (which I read Sunday, a delightful romp), partly out of guilt for having used their store to read two hardcovers (though I also pledged to buy them in paperback...though I suppose not necessarily at that store), then went to the Fred Myers and helped K get bowls and extra sheets and cushions for the futon and a mop and a broom and just stuff and finally went home and collapsed. Sunday read the book mentioned above, some more of a book borrowed from him, _Sex on the Brain_, which I may discuss later, started Faulkner's _Absalom, Absalom!_, and wrote most of a new story, which I finished today and will send out to the readers list as soon as I can. If I claim it isn't autobiograpical, will you believe me?

Don't even ask about the tech problems in the tech writing. *Or* why U Chicago refuses to send out my mail. Sigh. And I've lost Kevin, which means I can't figure out how to open Netscape on this Sun... Enough complaining. Write a poem instead.

When I first stepped into this house
after an absence of many years,
I felt strange. It was a little hard
to breathe; my throat and chest were tight,
and my head throbbed. I soon diagnosed
claustrophobia -- the walls seemed closer
than I remembered, the ceiling lower.
The house was unlikely to have shrunk.
It had been some time, after all, and I
had grown. I squeezed my way through
doors, peered into dusty rooms, where
long-neglected toys lay scattered. I hadn't
put them away carefully when I left, but you
hadn't moved them. I was touched. Still,
the house was, clearly, too small. I was sorry,
but I couldn't stay. I took one last look
around, up and down, through the once-beloved
paths...and then turned to the door,
twisted the knob. Only, I had made a mistake --
opened the back door, rather than the front.

Tell me; did you plant this garden, this wild,
riotous maze, while I was gone, without a single mention?
Or did I just miss it the first time through?

Would it be okay, if I stayed a while?

*****

I am still plagued by…

I am still plagued by computer problems. Argh.

Well, some of you have kindly given me some more information on this Utah thing. David tells me that I will likely have to readjust to the altitude every time I come out here; lovely. He also thinks I'm not in the MidWest -- I think the West is probably more accurate, actually.

A few of you have told me that the official position of the Mormon church is that, given that the law of the United States specifically prohibits marrying more than one person (a law that I grumble about regularly), they do not advocate polygamy. There are clearly some factions of the faith that continue to have more that one wife, but this is not a common practice of all Mormons. I actually think I sort of knew this, but now I know it definitively.

One reader tells me that the underwear is a single piece that's a kind of combined t-shirt and boxer shorts thing, that's either officially blessed or somehow holy, and is supposed to protect the wearer from harm. Interesting. I remember vaguely that when I was a kid in Catholic school, the scapulars (little pictures of Mary that you wore around your neck) had a similar function, and that you weren't ever supposed to take them off.

Someone else sent me a link to a website, http://exmormon.org. It's a site with close to a hundred personal accounts from those who have left the church. Clearly, it's a somewhat one-sided view of the religion, since many of these people are rather bitter, but it does make for interesting reading.

Okay, back to work. I'm going to try to sort through some of the backlogged e-mail, and get Clean Sheets a bit more under control (some parts are running very smoothly; others are a bit wobbly. :-)

1:15. Hey, I know what time it is, even though there's no clock in Kevin's (tiny, but all his own) office, and I can't find the computer clock on this Sun workstation -- I bought a new watch just before leaving town. Huzzah! It's been months since I wore one -- I seem to be the kind of person who either wears a watch constantly (and I mean constantly; when I had a waterproof one I didn't even take it off when I showered -- the skin under the watch was probably the palest part of my body), or doesn't wear one at all. Not even a little. Weird, huh?

Just read Columbine's latest journal entry, over at Alewife Bayou. He rants for a while about perfumed soap. He uses Ivory, and thinks soap should be made of fat and lye and that's it. Well, Kevin uses Ivory too, and I've tried it, but frankly, it dries my skin out, which is why I use Caress, or something similarly moisturizing. I'm not sure he was really objecting to the idea of adding something like aloe to soap, though -- it was the pretty perfumed decorative soaps he objected to. And I admit, that if they're pretty enough, no one seems to want to use them, 'cause they don't want to mess them up (just like those fancy wizard candles I used to buy, that I was afraid to burn, or the way if you put a pie out at a potluck, it'll sit there for ages until someone works up the nerve to cut the first slice, and then the rest will disappear within five minutes). But I like the scent; it's not as heavy as perfume, which most days I feel like I can't cope with at all (even thought the jasmine oil I wear when I do wear perfume is pretty light and inoffensive). The very faint scent you get from scented soap and shampoo is really pleasant, in my opinion. So there, Columbine. :-)

Heh. It would be way too easy to start reading a bunch of online journals and getting into these weird self-reflective conversations...

2:05. I have now been told repeatedly that the God box I wrote about a few days ago was definitely a reformulation of Pascal. I got it, I got it, stop writing me to tell me about it, okay? :-) I also got some useful information, of a website with the text of the original Pascal, from Pensees, broken down into bite-size student-focused chunks (with study questions and discussion groups and everything. You can skip all that if you like, and just click the 'Go on to Part X' near the bottom to continue reading. The meat of the discussion appears to be in Parts IV and V, but I recommend reading it through. If it seems a bit dense, that's 'cause it is -- just keep going and it'll probably make some sense eventually. :-) That's my standard tactic with philosophy, at least for a first read. You'll find it here: http://iq.orst.edu/odyssey/IQf96/07wage01.html

Note that the first part is particularly obscure sounding -- don't let it intimidate you.

Hey, munchkins. Sorry I…

Hey, munchkins. Sorry I haven't written in a bit, but there have been some frustrating computer problems involved, which are really too tedious to bother detailing. Even now, I'm calling long-distance to dial-in, so I can't be on for long, but that should be taken care of by tomorrow.

So, I arrived in Utah safe and sound. Haven't really looked around much, except on the taxi drive from the airport. The driver pointed out the Mormon office building, a huge gray rectangle in the heart of downtown; he said there's an unwritten rule that no other building should be taller, and said that one new building actually had several levels underground as a result. The temple was near it, a rather fairy tale-ish confection of soaring spires. I mentioned that I thought it looked rather medieval, and the somewhat gruff driver snorted that it looked like something from Disneyland. Not a whole lot of respect there...

I'm trying to be respectful. I find this whole place rather bewildering, to be honest. Just the idea that a solid half the population of a major city is a single religion boggles the mind. Oh, when I was growing up, I'm sure New Britain, Connecticut was more than 50% Catholic. Probably more like 90%. But it's a small city, and the Catholicism was fairly quiet -- a on-Sunday kind of thing. Maybe that's more what the strangeness is here -- though I couldn't put my finger on exaclty why yet, Mormonism somehow feels much more pervasive here. It would be impossible for non-Mormons to ignore, I think.

I still don't know very much about Mormonism. The 'facts' I've picked up so far include:

  • Mormons are a type of Christians
  • They call themselves Latter Day Saints, which strikes me as rather arrogant
  • Their young people go out for two years to prosletyze before coming home to marry and raise children in the church
  • Those youngsters, I'm told, are selected somewhat based on attractiveness -- this may be a myth. They're certainly very well groomed and neatly dressed and exceedingly polite.
  • They wear special underwear. People have sworn to this one.
  • Their religion allows for men to have multiple wives (as do other religions, but they're a little more assiduous in practice than most). Salon has recently run several (somewhat one-sided but generally accurate, IMO) articles on the subject, primarily from a shocked feminist view
  • They believe that you won't really be saved and go to heaven unless you're written down in their big genealogy book as a Mormon. As a result, they consider it okay to baptize people into the Mormon faith even after they're dead. I thought that only descendants got to do that, but Kevin thinks that anyone can. I would really like to discuss the theology of this one with a Mormon, as it makes absolutely no sense to me.
  • There was a big fuss when they started baptizing in absentia many Jews who were killed during the Holocaust -- supposed as a sign of respect, but the Jewish descendants were highly offended -- and understandable so, again, IMO.
  • They're awfully friendly, and come up to talk to you on the street. But maybe that's more a Midwest thing. I *am* in the Midwest now, yes?
  • I need more information. That's all for now.
Yesterday I spent several hours helping Kevin finish unpacking and clean up and get settled in. He's somewhat lacking in furniture, but it's a nice big place (two-bedroom apartment), with lots of light. It's going to be fun watching it come together as an actual home...

I also finished Seth's _The Golden Gate_. I'm still amazingly impressed. Oh, not every stanza is perfect, but there are some that are quite lovely (one on the quietness of night sticks with me), and he managed to create sympathetic characters (sympathetic, complex characters) in poetry, which I think is quite an achievement. I'll remember them, I think, which is one of the acid tests for good literature. (See LeGuin essay on Mrs. Brown).

I started Nalo Hopkinson's _Brown Girl in the Ring_ as well, and am about half-way through. This is an interesting book in many ways. Nalo (who I know casually online from the MLA SF and Utopian fiction discussion list) is a brand-new novelist, and one of the few black sf writers. Up til now, there were perhaps four major ones -- Delany, Butler, Barnes, and one other, a woman, whose name I'm forgetting. Nalo makes a comment on the back cover about how part of the reason she had for writing this book is because it doesn't seem right to her that a field that concentrates so much on issues of alienation has so little literature written by alienated peoples. I understand what she means, and agree to some extent, although I also think that most of us probably feel like the Other for a good chunk of our lives... but that's a whole 'nother subject, and if I started talking about that, I'd probably start feeling like I needed to go revise my Bachelor's thesis on the subject, and that is more work that I can afford to take on right now, so I'm going to just stop. My only other note on Nalo's novel, which I'm enjoying, especially the language of it, is that all the quotes from the children's song are fun but distracting because the song starts running through my head every time I encounter one and then it becomes slightly difficult reading the story. Not a real complaint, though -- I wouldn't want her to leave them out.

Tired. The air is thinner here, and when you walk even slightly uphill for any distance, you really start to feel it. Or maybe you don't, but I certainly do. My heart starts pounding and my throat and upper chest hurt a little. Kevin says I should adjust within a week -- but then I'll be heading home. I hope I don't have to readjust every time I come to visit!

Okay, this is probably a long-enough entry, even though there's more I could say. Today is a focused-work day. I'll try to write again tomorrow, my darlings. Talk to you soon!

Houston, we are…

Houston, we are experiencing technical difficulties.

Theoretically, would have started the first day of actual writing on the tech writing project today. In actual fact, experienced one technical problem after another (some appearing out of the blue, some because of my own ignorance), and work has ground to a halt (as we wait for technical assistance), before it is even properly begun. This is especially frustrating because I had hoped to get a good solid day of writing in before heading out of town.

I'll be visiting Kevin in Utah from tomorrow 'til the 9th. I'll still be doing the tech writing; I should be able to take the whole setup there (and with any luck, he should be able to help me with the IBM side of things, so things may go smoother. I despise IBMs, I really do.) I am tremendously looking forward to seeing him, and a little apprehensive about Salt Lake City. I hope I like it there; I'll probably be spending a lot of time there over the next three years.

Guess I'll go pack and then read a little, since I can't work. Argh. *bang head against wall* Really glad David was here to calm me down earlier, or I would have been sorely tempted to smash the dang computer -- and it's not mine, so that would have been very bad. Very very bad.

Tomorrow is my sister’s…

Tomorrow is my sister's birthday, and Manny's. Must remember to call...

In other news...well, two readers pointed out that that religious box I constructed was almost certainly not Augustine. Indications point towards Pascal, with a slight hope for Aquinas... If I weren't so lazy, I'd go look it up...ah well.

Today, I have to read and critique a bunch of stories for the new writing group. There's tons else I *should* do, but that's what I need to do. :-) We'll see if anything else gets done. I also, finally, started reading Vikram Seth's _The Golden Gate_ (thanks again, Shmuel), and am having to put it down periodically to recover from intense insecurity pangs. The back cover states that it is a 'novel in verse'. Fine, good, impressive enough -- what they don't state is that it is a novel in sonnets! (which he kindly starts renumbering with each chapter, so I can't simply glance at the end and figure out how many lovely sonnets he put into this thing, which, I suppose, is a blessing) Note that I have managed perhaps three sonnets in my entire history of writing poetry, and I'm not happy with any of them. Argh.

It's amazing how my opinion of my writing fluctuates depending on what I read. Pick up a random novel at the bookstore, even on the bestseller list, and I'm reasonably happy -- they're often junk, trash. I am then writing goddess of the universe. But if I actually sift a little and read the books that my friends recommend, or some of the classics I've missed -- then I am utterly cast down and certain that I will never write three decent words in reasonable sequence.

I think I will finsh my tea, and then go read something that will prop up my limping ego. Out of due consideration for the author's feelings, in case they should ever happen this way, I will not tell you what it is. :-)

Have a lovely Sunday, my dears.

Technically speaking,…

Technically speaking, it's probably Sunday, but since I've only slept an hour or so, it doesn't feel like it. Tonight the mosquitoes decided to attack again, full force, so now I'm awake, liberally plastered with soothing unguents, waiting for the Benadryl to kick in so I can go back to my much longed-for bed.

The big event of the day was not my being attacked by mosquitoes, however -- it was Kate and Becca's wedding. I'm not sure if I've mentioned them here before; they're not tremendously close friends, but I like them a lot, and I was thrilled when they invited me to their wedding. It was in Ardenwood Historic Preserve in Fremont, a lovely place (though a bit too sunny, as it turned out). The brides wore very similar white gowns, though slightly different (Kate's had a train, and short sleeves...), and the religious officiary was resplendent in midnight blue robes. A charming wedding, full of unalloyed good feeling, joy, and only a few of the inevitable jokes. Great fun!

Went with Sherman, who I hadn't seen in too long. There are too many people like that -- Adam swung by unexpectedly this evening, and I realized I hadn't seen him in months. Which seems ridiculous, yet practically speaking, there is a limit to my time. I could have more parties, to ensure I got to *see* more of my friends...but that's not the same as actual alone time with them. (I have the vaguest beginnings of a possible story idea fluttering in my head, but I can't talk about it too much, or I'll scare it away. Most stories are shy creatures). Perhaps I should stop being so relentlessly social. Perhaps I should stop making new friends -- but people are so neat! I keep meeting such interesting people (and I still haven't managed to schedule dinner with Jen and Swati), and it would seem a shame not to get to know them a little...

Okay; going to go read for a little, I think. Talk to y'all soon.

Hey, my dears. Feeling…

Hey, my dears. Feeling better emotionally this morning, though worse physically; I seem to be coming down with something. Must buy juice.

Had the kick-off meeting for the tech writing project yesterday; very exciting, if a bit intimidating. It's a good thing Sarah (project manager) is going to hold our hands through the beginning of this, as I'm not sure I know what I'm doing. But it's so nice to be employed again; the next big question is whether I can really discipline myself to work eight hours a day at home, with all those lovely distractions, like e-mail. Maybe I'll start going to the cafe again.

Had some exciting news from Kirstin yesterday; lots of artists interested in working with Clean Sheets, huzzah! I thought we'd only have one featured artist a month in the gallery, but it looks like more; I'm very glad that seems to be working out. We're exchanging space and exposure for art, which seems to be a good deal for all concerned, so I'm happy on that.

The reading last night went well enough -- my only disappointment is that most of the other readers, whose work I like very much on the page, didn't project enough, or modulate their tones enough, to give their stories the animation and verve they deserved. Of course, many haven't read publically before, so it's not surprising. Still, it tempts me to offer classes, or find someone who does, and recommend them to hir. It *was* well-attended; the Barnes & Noble people had to bring out more chairs, and there were still a few people standing in the back, so that's quite nice. I read "A Jewel of a Woman" (this was from _Sex Toy Tales_), and it went over pretty well, I think (though if I hadn't been first, perhaps the audience would have been more warmed up and would have laughed more :-) First is a difficult placement.)

Okay, I should probably start working at my new JOB :-). Talk to y'all later...have a lovely day.

I’m in a foul mood this…

I'm in a foul mood this morning, so pardon me if I seem crotchety. Lots of deadlines, lots of things weighing down on me, feeling like I haven't gotten enough done, people getting on my nerves. I've been cranky with everyone all morning. Good thing I haven't had any business calls.

There have been positive things that I should be able to write about. New writing group formed yesterday, with some people I really like, and I'm looking forward to that. We're going to try meeting twice monthly and see how it goes.

Dammit. I wish I had some physical labor that needed doing; I could use pounding something (other than my poor keyboard).

Okay, clearly if I keep writing here, I'll just rant and vent. I'm going to go bang my head against a wall and try to feel constructive. I'll come talk to y'all again if I get into a more civilized mood.

11:20. Wrote a sonnet. Rhyme went okay, but somehow the rhythm refused iambic pentameter. I tried.

Carelessness Will Catch You

So tell me, love, if I had known how rare
was that conjunction, the words so sweet that we
exchanged, that gentle touch, if I could see
then what I see now, would I have paused there,
made a greater effort, taken greater care?
That you should love us both, cherish him and me,
and those feelings be returned, if I, if we
had known, the value of what we shared?
In winters cold and gone, he touched you, so;
you sighed, and I was warmed. Above you, smiled
and urged him on, your joy enough for all.
And now, now that you are gone away, though
all his warmth is mine, I stare at walls, while
away the hours. Long summer drifts to fall.

8:30. Well, I've been somewhat productive, so I feel a bit better. A couple more pages on a story, the poem above, some work on FrameMaker, started setting up Kev's computer (he's loaning me his IBM laptop 'cause I'll need it for this tech writing gig. Isn't he a nice guy?), etc. Still tons to do, of course, but it's hard to be grumpy when people are being nice to you, offering hugs long-distance and shoulders to mope on. The big surprise was when El showed up with a gorgeous arrangement of flowers in her arms -- for me! I, somewhat bewildered, asked why, and she said it was 'cause I hadn't gotten any flowers this week... Uh huh. I think I've been cranky, that's what it is. Of course, I have been casting pitiful gazes at her roses -- Ian and El have been deluging each other in flowers lately, and while it's certainly nice having so many lovely flowers around the house, it's been a bit envy-making. David gives flowers erratically, and Kev has a firm policy against flowers...which is a whole long story that would take too long to explain. We'll forgive him, since he loans me computers...

Anyway, back to work. Just wanted to report in that I was feeling slightly less grumpy.