Made some art! …

Made some art! Nothing too ambitious, but the final result is pleasing to me. I'd been thinking for a while that it might look cool to have some dried flowers behind glass. I liked the depth of the look. A few months ago I found an appropriate frame; I just haven't had time to assemble the piece until now. This one took a few steps:

  1. buy roses and dry in advance
  2. print out poetry
  3. tear poetry and use spray glue to attach to matting
  4. insert matting into frame, behind glass
  5. cut florist's foam into the right shape to fit in bottom of frame (cutting paper first for a template)
  6. insert foam, and a set of dried roses into it
  7. glue white paper to backing
  8. glue a few layers of handmade tissue paper to white paper
  9. attach backing to frame -- done!
I thought I'd done this poem before, actually -- it's "Renewal", a rather old poem that I wrote for Jordan, oh these many years ago. Jordan, whom I had a rather luscious three months with before it all went up in smoke and flames. That counts among my messiest break-ups. But before we broke up, we had a lovely time; he was particularly good at romantic gestures, like taking me to rose gardens. And before, and after, we were friends. At least for a while...

It was very pleasant working on the piece, and now I'm pleased with the result. A good way to wind down, making art in front of the tv, after a busy day. Oh, btw -- we got some money from the Dean. Woohoo! :-) Conference step one, well underway. Now to go ask for money from lots of other people...

Finished the travel…

Finished the travel grant application. How tedious these are. And how strange, to make yourself sound so pompous and academic...I thought of excerpting a part of it here, but it's just too painful. I pity the grant committee -- in fact, I pity grant committees everywhere.

I was a little more motivated to do the darn thing after doing some reading this morning -- I finished Ondaatje's memoir of his father, Running in the Family. It starts a little slow, but then it just gets better and better and better. I was entirely caught up in it by the end, and it brought back so many tiny memories of Sri Lanka. Made me crave to go back, so that I could identify exactly what a particular flower smelled like, taste the strange sodas again, etc. and so on. The grant application is for a minimum of six weeks...I could easily spend months there, I think. Fingers crossed.

Now I'm taking a bit of a break with a Nancy Atherton mystery. Roshani loaned me the first in this series while I was in Chicago, and I got hooked -- they're the Aunt Dimity series, starting with Aunt Dimity's Death. Fluff, but charming wish-fulfillment fluff. Very relaxing.

I've also been reading (here and there) several of Lemony Snickett's stories about the horribly mistreated Baudelaire children. I just finished the fourth in the series, and the fifth is eagerly waiting on my stack of books-to-read. It's all Susan Groppi's fault, I tell you. They are quite charming, though, especially the word play. M'ris, I think you might like these.

Okie, a little more reading, then shower and head to campus. Lots of errands there, including a meeting with the Humanities Dean to talk about the budget for the conference. Fun. (No, really. I like playing with other people's money. :-)

Art Editor Wanted The…

Art Editor Wanted

The art editors at SH are responsible for a number of monthly features in the department: illustration, gallery, and cartoon. They usually divide up the jobs between them.

The illustration editor is responsible for coordination with the senior fiction editor to selecting an artist for the monthly fiction feature. The art editor contacts the artist, negotiates a deadline, accepts the finished piece, crops spot illos to be used throughout the story, and sends the final illo and completed layout (or spot illos with indications of layout) to the webmaster and sends the completed artist questionnaire to the treasurer for contracts and payment. Access to a graphic design program that can crop images is necessary for this job.

The gallery editor is responsible for selecting an artist to showcase in the gallery. The editor coordinates with the artist a selection of 8-10 pieces and also lays out the webpages of the gallery, which are submitted to the webmaster. For the monthly cartoon, the editor lays out the cartoon. In addition, the gallery editor is responsible for updating the artist database with new submissions from artists and for acknowledging submissions. Basic HTML skills are necessary for this job.

If interested, drop me a note. As usual, these are volunteer positions -- also please note that SH staff are not allowed to submit fiction, poetry, or art to the magazine while they work for us.

I didn’t tell you about…

I didn't tell you about my terrible travel day, did I? Suffice it to say that I was *supposed* to get home around 11 p.m. on Saturday, and instead got home around 2:30 a.m. -- *without* my luggage. Sigh. Note to self: never again fly Northwest in winter, esp. if they're trying to route you through Minneapolis. Just not worth it. (The luggage did eventually show up, yesterday evening.)

Luckily, I had picked up a trashy novel in the New Orleans airport, Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Dart. Pretty mediocre fantasy novel, despite political intrigue and lots of hard-core s/m sex (usually things I find entertaining, at the least). Painful deus ex machina near the end to resolve one of the major subplots. Some nice relationship dynamics, but not enough to really make it worth reading 900 pages. But it kept me occupied almost through my entire travel day, so I can't complain too much.

I had a very odd day yesterday -- woke up around 1 p.m., went to sleep again around 11 p.m. I wasn't even awake ten hours. I think I must have been very very tired. And possibly a little ill; feel kind of off today. But I woke up at 6 (and got up at 7), so I'm at least getting back to normal.

Spent the morning finishing up an editorial on the SH survey results -- that should be posted shortly. The rest of the issue is up, and I especially commend to you both this week's story and last week's; they're charming, in their separate ways. Also yet another fabulous Bryan Clair math article, this one on folding -- origami and more. :-) I love his pieces, and it's not just that he's cute, I promise. Tons of good stuff, as usual. Go read.

Me, I get to go do a travel grant application. Joy.

When we left off, we…

When we left off, we were heading off to a party, yes? I think so. Well, it was a fairly typical convention room party -- until the hotel staff came and told us it was too loud and was bothering people. So they asked us to move to the sixth floor -- outside, by the pool. :-) Much larger nicer space for a shindig -- great fun. After an hour or so of chatting, I went and changed into my suit (of course I brought my suit -- it was a hotel...which hadn't seemed to occur to most of my friends) and got into the jacuzzi. Ah, leaning back in the water, looking up at the clouds racing across the sky. That was truly lovely. I ended up talking for a while to Michael, someone who also did his undergrad at the U of C (six years after me); we got into an intense discussion for a while of post-colonial theory. He was hell bent on convincing me that I really ought to be writing the stories of the unrepresented Sri Lankan underclass, rather than the upper class. I eventually managed to convince Michael that it wasn't so unreasonable for me to at least start by writing what I knew...I think I convinced him, anyway. Fun discussion. Much tossing around of Marx and Spivak and Bhabha and Said and Foucault and even a tiny bit of Derrida...was so nice being able to actually apply some of this stuff to real world concerns.

The party broke up around 2, and I thought about going to bed, really I did. Instead we (along with a friend of his) wandered down to the French Quarter for a while. Seemed a shame not to, on my last night. But we didn't gather more beads (once was enough), and neither did we drink. We ended up going back to the hotel, where his friend (who was fairly drunk) went to bed, and we stayed up talking until 5. Eventually, I went back to my room, changed and climbed into bed -- only to have Samantha come in five minutes later. Heh. Welcome to New Orleans.

We got up around 10ish yesterday morning, packed up, checked out of our room. I left my bags with the nice hotel people, and then walked through the book room, collecting literary magazines (the Kenyon Review, the Mid-Atlantic Review, the Gettysburg Review, Black Warrior Review, Crazyhorse, and a few more...), some free, some very cheap. Now I just have to read them. Had particularly nice conversations with the editors of the Kenyon Review, Black Warrior Review, and Fourth Genre. Need to send them stuff at some point. Need to write and revise stuff first.

When I was done with that, I watched the Utah table for a while, then walked down to the Quarter. I had about two hours before I needed to leave for my plane. Plenty of time to be a tourist for a while, enjoying the man making balloon animals, the stores selling gorgeous masks (and other stores selling cheap ones), the fortune tellers with their tarot cards, the sober statue dressed up with a string of green beads. Plenty of time for a beignet and cafe au lait lunch at Cafe du Monde. I figure it's okay to have fried doughnuts covered in powdered sugar if you walk many blocks to get them and many more blocks back. :-)

I ended up giving one of my beignets to a silver street performer anyway, so it wasn't so bad. Lovely walk back, with a few photos along the way. This is the place where we all kept stopping for daiquiris and other drinks. I would have taken more photos, but as I passed this place, it started to rain. I put away my camera, and it rained harder. Within a block, it was pouring, the rain coming down in huge sheets of water, almost as fiercely as in a monsoon (with less wind). Everyone was huddled under balconies, but even if I'd wanted to, I couldn't afford to stop and seek shelter -- I needed to get back and catch the shuttle to the airport. And honestly, I didn't want to shelter. It had been sticky and warm -- the rain was delightfully cool and it was just wonderful getting drenched and walking in the rain, still sipping my covered cup of cafe au lait (with lots of sugar). I was probably grinning like a fiend. Various men told me I was "looking good", and a very attractive man carrying a huge black umbrella leaned towards me as I walked past, and said, "Honey, you must really like the rain." Yup, pretty much.

A fabulous city to visit, though I probably wouldn't want to live there. Relaxed debauchery, beauty and grime intermixed. Shopkeepers sluicing piss and vomit off the streets. Trees covered in glittering beads. Alcohol at any hour of the day -- and beignets too. Tourists being taken for every dollar they have...and loving it. Cool jazz. Sunny humid days. I'll come back to New Orleans again sometime, if I can.

Do you live in the Bay…

Do you live in the Bay Area? Do you love science fiction and/or fantasy?

If you answered both of those questions with a 'yes', then please let me know if you'd be interested in volunteering some time to work on Potlatch. It's a terrific convention, which raises a lot of money for scholarships to Clarion West. Working on a convention is, I suspect, a lot of fun, and a great way to meet other people with similar sf-nal interests. If you're a writer or artist in the field, it may be particularly helpful for networking. Also, and again, it should be a lot of fun. :-) If you're interested, drop me a note, and I'll forward your name and e-mail to the fabulous Debbie Notkin, who will contact you with more details.

The food at Nola was…

The food at Nola was amazatonishing. So good. Also $30/entree, which, given that I also had soup and wine and shared an appetizer and had a cafe au lait to finish, meant that I spent $60 for dinner, which I can tell you, I do maybe once a year. But what the hell. It's been a rough week.

Also finished Nina Kiriki Hoffman's Past the Size of Dreaming somewhere in there. Not as coherently fabulous as the previous book, A Red Heart of Memories, but satisfying finding out what happened to the characters next. Somehow it was oddly lacking in dramatic tension. But pleasurable anyway.

Okie -- must shower. It's hot and intensely humid here today -- every time I step out of the hotel I get incredibly sweaty...and inside isn't so much better. Will shower and relax a little and then go to party. Think I've had enough alcohol for the night, though. I'm such a lightweight! Very sad.

Hey, guys. If you’ve…

Hey, guys. If you've sent me e-mail, I haven't responded to it. You probably knew that. But I haven't responded to any e-mail since I got here; just haven't felt like it. Soon, I promise.

I'm trying to remember where I left off -- probably last night. This morning, we went down to the riverfront and had cafe au lait and beignets ($1.25 for 3!) at Cafe du Monde. Very lovely. Nice walk back through the Quarter. Hung out at the Quarterly West table for a while, then went to two panels -- the first on building creative writing programs (MA's, MFA's, PhD's, advantages and disadvantages, etc.), the second on South Asian women writers. The first was fine, if mostly not so relevant to me yet -- I *am* interested in how such things are built, though, for the future. Someday, I may be trying to put one of those together...

The second panel was fascinating; several South Asian women were in the room, and there was a vigorous discussion of the pressure to write a certain kind of traditional narrative -- generally centered on arranged marriage and all that. Which, of course, I'm doing, at least some of the time. And we talked about ways of resisting or confounding that narrative. Much fun, and I hope to be in touch with some of these women again. I also tried to get them to submit to Strange Horizons; fingers crossed. :-)

Gonna go back down and man the table (though I may grab a piece of fruit first), and then this evening, we're planning on trying to go to Nola's for dinner (fancy food, Emeril-style). If that doesn't work, we'll try Bayona. And if that's full too, then we'll just find something fun. There's plenty of fun to be had in this city, no doubt. Afterwards, party with the Florida State people, I think. It's go go go around here. Very distracting. We approve.

Hey, munchkins. Turned…

Hey, munchkins. Turned out that the connection costs weren't bad at all -- $10/day. I skipped yesterday, but I'm back with you today. Which doesn't mean I'll be spending that much time on-line -- conventions are busy, and I'm finding that literary conventions aren't much different from sf ones in that regard. Fewer hall costumes, though. Though since it's New Orleans, there are some beads and balloon animals.

I did pick up some beads tonight. I'll let you guess what I did or didn't do to get them. :-)

But I should back up a little. Lessee -- much travelling on Wednesday, relevantly innocuous (though the in-flight movie, Hope Floats was not worth the $2 for my set of headphones). Got to the hotel around 3-ish (the Radisson on Canal Street) and registered for the con, dropped bags in my room, etc. Then I took a long walk through the business district to Kinko's, made flyers. The business district was mostly pretty dull, but a few interesting observations:

  • the further you go into it, the whiter the population gets (dramatically so)
  • in the midst of staid buildings, you can glance up and suddenly notice bare-limbed trees absolutely covered with shiny plastic beads
Walked back, and met up with other grad students from my department around 6-ish. Some of them had done MA programs at Florida State, so we hooked up with people from that department too, and set off. More walking, this time into the French Quarter, down the classic Bourbon Street. Neon. Nudie bars. Lots of regular bars. Tons of places to buy drinks and go -- you can have open liquor containers 24 hrs in New Orleans (just not glass ones). We stopped at Fat Tuesday and got frozen drinks -- I got a strawberry margarita (small, 'cause I'm an alcohol wimp). Wandered down the street, pausing to listen to music here and there. Ended up having dinner pretty far down and over a few blocks, at The Gumbo Shop. Good food, but not spectacular. I'm kinda hoping for spectacular at least once while I'm here -- I think I might have to shell out some more money for that, though. We'll see. More wandering afterwards (overall, I think I walked for at least six straight hours yesterday). There's a really kind of charming energy to that area, though it's really amazingly commercialized. In my head, I think I pictured the French Quarter as being a lot more of a place where people lived -- with open air fish markets and so on. Not so much, at least not where we were.

We ended up somewhere else entirely after all the walking, sitting in a bar and listening to a pretty girl sing and bang a drum. She was actually pretty spectacular on the drum -- I have no idea how she got so many different sounds out of that little drum. Very cool. Around midnight, we wandered back, and I (having only gotten 1.5 hrs of sleep the night before, plus maybe a half hour nap on the plane) crashed hard.

Slept just about eight hours, woke up still tired. Dragged myself out of bed and to a panel on web publishing (fine, but nothing I didn't know). Took my SH flyers down to the table that Quarterly West and Western Humanities Review were sharing; they kindly let me borrow a corner. In return, I manned the table off and on in spare moments through the day. Went to a memoir panel (generally vaguely interesting, really impressed by the editor of Fourth Genre, who said quite interesting things about what they're looking for, most of which I've already forgotten). Went to lunch with Sam and Jeff. Went to a panel on women writing sex -- met Kim Addonizio, who I've been wanting to meet for a while. So that was very good. She did a little strip tease at the beginning of her presentation; really made some people uncomfortable, I think. Interesting! More watching table, and a nice chat with a guy who turned out to be a friend of Nick Mamatas, one of the SH authors!

Eventually, the Utah people gathered (it's so nice to have a bunch of grad students to hang out with at this thing) and we tromped off to dinner. Took a cab to the Garden district, which has just stunning mansions. Very beautiful. Ate good food (and great desserts, esp. the strawberry shortcake) at Copeland's, got too full. Walked for half an hour or so back towards the hotel, pausing often to enjoy the fabulous homes and churches and mortuaries (really, we passed a gorgeous mortuary), and generally enjoying the weather; it was just slightly cool, perfect walking weather. When we got tired, we hopped on the the St. Charles Street streetcar, also fun. Wandered down Bourbon Street, got more drinks, ended up in a bar with a nice outdoor patio and a piano guy going. Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop. Very pleasant. We sat outside and just chatted and gossiped for a while, then came back here. Somewhere along there, I collected a few beads.

I find the whole bead concept fascinating. I think I'd be more comfortable with it if it were less gendered -- if there were just as many guys flashing body parts in order to collect beads. I think I'd also be happier if it were more mellow -- some of the guys throwing beads were very directive in what they wanted in exchange. Made it seem more like actual prostitution, and less like fun exhibitionistic silliness. Odd dynamics.

But overall, I'm really liking this city. I've never been to New Orleans before, and there's a relaxed pursuit of pleasure here that I find utterly refreshing in contrast to Salt Lake. I think I'd get very little actual work done if I lived here, though. And the racial segregation is a little disturbing. Still -- there's a lot of loveliness too, all around. And charm -- beautiful old buildings, utterly gracious...that have a string of plastic beads wound around the balcony. It's just too darn cute.