Is it really only…

Is it really only Sunday? Oof. Tiring couple of days. Let's see...last I talked to you while on the train, heading towards Boston. I arrived safely, got picked up by Todd and Debby, had lovely tea and a croissant with them at Carberry's in Davis Square, then went to see their new house. They bought a house too! It's contagious, that's what it is. Maybe I ought to get shots. Their place is lovely, though, with a garden that gets tons of light, and lots of cool rooms. We sat at the kitchen table and had more tea and chatted and browsed through catalogs, mostly for cooking supplies; we're all food geeks. Alas, that visit was much too short; after a few hours, they ran me over to my aunt's house and dropped me off. Hopefully I can see them for longer around the holidays.

Then a party for my baby cousin (there are now 19 first cousins on that side of the family, and I don't think they're done yet...), during which my mom arrived and was most surprised. :-) Shocked, is I think more the word. Lots of good catch-up with sisters and cousins and second-cousins. Lots of grown-ups and babies I had trouble keeping track of. (At these things, I somehow revert to being one of 'the kids' despite being thirty now...it's a generational thing.) The party went 'til about midnight and then we went to my second-cousin Elaine's for girl talk and eventual sleep. Around two-ish maybe?

In the morning, Sharmi (baby sister) and I woke up early and had some breakfast at a local diner; she used to live in Boston when she was in college (at Tufts) and knows the area well. Yummy and cheap. (That's a picture of her from the party, btw -- she's looking so cute these days; I mean, she was always cute, but now it's like a grown-up cute.) By the time we came back to Elaine's, the others were staggering out of bed, and we spent about three more hours hanging and chatting and drinking more tea; Elaine made a lovely pot of it, plus tiny banana muffins which were all devoured. It was especially nice talking to Elaine; she studied lit! I had sort of lost track of her and hadn't realized that I had a cousin who also did English lit. She's working in PR now, but still has a yen for Victoriana; we had a delightful chat about Charlotte Bronte's Villette. :-)

Then back to my aunt's house to pick everyone up and go out to lunch at Panang, a really good Malaysian restaurant. Mirna (middle sister) spent some time doing medical research in Malaysia, and she says the food at this restaurant chain (they're in Chicago too, and I think in New York) is pretty authentic. My favorite part was one of the appetizers; roti, a kind of stretchy crepe bread, served with tasty curry. So good! I didn't think I'd be hungry again, after all the food my aunt served at her party (all delicious and delectable), but amazingly, my stomach was ready for more today.

And then they dropped me at the train, and I'm back on it, pulling into Penn Station in New York. Spent much of the ride editing photos from the visit; I love my camera. Did you know that? I adore it. It's especially fun being able to hand it to the younger cousins and say, "Go -- take as many photos as you like. It won't cost me anything!" Sometimes, they take pretty decent ones. Sometimes not.

Anyway -- had a great time in Boston; am utterly exhausted now. Maybe I can persuade Alex to go grab me some takeout for dinner when I get to his place; I'm about ready to crash, despite napping some on the train. But a good trip, and well worth it, I think. My folks were really glad I came, and I owe them *something* after all the trouble I've caused them. Poor things...

As I get older, dealing with my (extended) family gets easier and easier. That's lovely. Despite being somewhat estranged from them for years, I can't imagine what it would be like *not* having a passel of cousins whom you saw at least occasional Christmases and birthdays. It's nice. It's more than nice, really.

Alex took the day off…

Alex took the day off yesterday, though he did keep getting calls from work. He's a trader on Wall Street -- despite numerous explanations, I still don't really understand what he does. What I do know is that he's actually getting kind of rich; that's a little strange, given that when I met him he was a starving grad student. (Not literally starving, but not eating right either. :-)

He's spending today looking at houses on the Jersey Shore; he rents an apartment in Times Square, but he's thinking of buying a house too; a place to go on weekends, and where his mother can come and stay when she's visiting him and her friends in New York. It's a little disconcerting; in the last year, Kirsten and Arthur both bought houses; Ellie and Ian too. Strange, thinking about the paths to adulthood that people take -- right now, I have only the vaguest desire to someday own a house. I'm perfectly content to have a landlord dealing with the broken dishwasher and the leaky shower. Of course I've got a good landlord; that makes all the difference. It's so nice to call him in the morning with a problem, and then come home from school and find it fixed. It's like magic. :-)

We had a really nice day yesterday. Talked a little when I arrived, but then I collapsed and slept from 8 - noon, bringing my sleep total up to 6 hours; enough to get by on. Around 1-ish I got dressed and we headed out for brunch; savory and sweet crepes at a nice little place about seven blocks up Broadway. We lingered over tea until after 3, then walked up a little further, to a large Barnes & Noble. I found their copies of AE and signed them; always fun, and it means they can't give 'em back, though that wasn't really so likely. Still, I find it really delightful that these days I can walk into most major bookstores and find my name on a book. A book is better than a house, I think. I realize most people wouldn't agree with me, though -- including my mother.

I talked Alex into picking up Michelle West's Hunter's Oath; I'm going to get him hooked on this series too. The first two are a little weak, but then they get so good -- if you like long epic fantasy, that is. Which he does. I picked up a couple of books too; Nicholson Baker's U and I (a memoir/tribute to Updike), and Nabokov's Speak, Memory -- both books that I've been meaning to read for a while. We lingered some more then in the coffeeshop, over hot chocolate this time. While there, I witnessed an odd altercation; a grey-haired little woman startled yelling at a young East Asian man (with "med student" written all over him) because he had his books on the table and she didn't have room to sit down with her drink and books. I've seen people get stressed at students before, in crowded bookstore coffeeshops, but this poor guy was at a tiny little table; he really wasn't being unreasonable in how much of it he was using. She yelled for a while, and when the cafe dude came over to calm her down, she loudly asked if she was the only one who got angry at this sort of behavior -- Who was with her?! About three people (out of fifty or so) raised their hands, and when she asked it again, clearly unsatisfied with our response, another woman hollered out, "Lady, we're all with him!" There was a loud murmur of agreement, but that didn't faze her. Eventually, she sat down at the table with him, and he put some of his books on the floor, looking utterly embarrassed. Poor kid.

We eventually meandered back to Alex's, after a long talk, mostly about fantasy novels. Thai food at Pongsri (across the street from Alex's, recommended) for dinner; tasty yellow curry (with sweet potato; I really need to try currying sweet potatoes myself; I like 'em, and I don't think they have them in Sri Lanka. I bet if I mixed sweet potatoes, yams, and normal potatoes in my regular curry, it'd be pretty tasty. Worth an experiment). Then we went to see a show! Alex took me to see Rent, which I've been wanting to see for a while. The first half was great (though the music was loud enough that it was more than usually difficult to make out the words). The song that ended that act, about the bohemian life, was lots of fun. The second half...oof, what a downer. I was sobbing, and the thing is, it's supposed to be sad, but not depressing, I think. But we both found it kind of depressing, and had to stop at another bookstore on the way home to cheer up. :-) Worked -- hooray for bookstores! Came home, talked a little, collapsed. Long, fun day.

This morning he left before I woke up; I got up around 8:30, got dressed, caught a cab to the train station. Now I'm comfortably typing on the train -- my only complaint is that the tray table is a little high, making this not as ergonomic as I'd like. Aside from that, though, I think I could comfortably work on the train (which has outlets at every seat on this coast) for hours, or days. I ought to revise my paper; I decided to work a little more on it, to try to clean up that bobble I noted the other day. But first I'm going to read, I think. I finished Lying, and started the Baker. So far, very good; he can be really compelling. It's a little surreal reading all these writers talking about writing, though. They're all so self-conscious; I think pretty soon I'm going to need a dose of some good old adventure fiction or some such -- lots of action, no thinking. :-)

6:15 a.m. In a cab, on…

6:15 a.m. In a cab, on my way to Alex's from JFK. The little airline I flew, JetBlue, was surprisingly comfortable despite the red-eye nature of the flight; every seat in coach had a little tv with lots of channels (mostly sports, but also others such as A&E, the Food Network, and the Cartoon Network), and nice soft cushions, and of course, a pillow and blanket. If you're going to take a red-eye in coach, this is about as good as you can expect it to get. Maybe even better.

Despite all this, I only managed to sleep about two of the four hours. The rest, I mostly watched tv or read; I'm in the midst of Lauren Slater's Lying, which is rather disturbingly similar in structure to what I was trying to do with my MFA thesis (which at one point was titled Truth, though it eventually became Naked). I suppose I have a bit of resentment that she did it first, and did it better than I would have. Ah well. Luckily, that's not the project I'm working on now... :-). The book's quite good, though -- I'm racing through it, and I expect that I'll be satisfied with the end. Will let you know if not.

The other thing I did during the flight was look out the window. It was an unusually clear night, and the sky was just full of stars. I first noticed them when we were passing over Chicago, and if I hadn't been so tired, I might have gotten sad, watching Kevin's apartment go by, imagining him asleep in it. Since I *was* awfully tired, I just felt vaguely affectionate, imagining him there. I couldn't really make out his apartment, anyway -- though downtown was quite clear, and I know roughly where he is in relation to downtown, even from the air.

We came into New York just as the sky started to lighten. A pale blue light over the fierce rush of streetlights; somehow, the city looked very lovely and perhaps just a little fragile, in that light.

Paper done! I am a…

Paper done! I am a Derridean goddess!

I'm even reasonably content with it, although there's a bit of a jump between my last two paragraphs that really should have been filled with a discussion of what he means by "trace", which would've explained an earlier comment of mine about how what was previously seen as marginal to meaning is in fact equally important to big, grand concepts... but I just couldn't figure out how to do that in a paragraph, which was all the space I had left. 4-5 page essays are relatively easy, but also rather frustrating. Still, it's done, and no more essays 'til the end of the semester. Yippee! :-) I like school, really I do, but writing essays on command...I dunno. Just not as much fun as it oughta be. Good thing I'm doing a creative dissertation rather than a critical one. :-) I'm really looking forward to diving into my writing next spring.

Oops -- time's a wasting. Gotta go! Catch y'all later...

It’s a day to finish off…

It's a day to finish off various tasks before leaving town. Various and sundry:

  • Write damned crit paper (due last Tuesday, due Friday before that...sigh)
  • Stop by mall briefly and look for rain hat
  • Stop by grocery store and buy rice and vegetable for dinner tonight
  • Also buy #10 envelopes
  • Send out Wet *and* SH checks and contracts
  • Meet with student at 3
  • Finish commenting on last set of student stories
  • Remind myself how to get .pdb files onto my Visor, do back-up and change batteries
I've only been up an hour or so, and so far all I've managed is to stop by Fictionwise and download some free books (SH, so I can show my sisters, and a novel by Lois Tilton, Venom, a free Norse retelling from Loki's pov). I grabbed them both as PDF's (for comfortable viewing on the train, when I'll be able to plug in my laptop) and as PDB's (for my Visor). But it's been a while since I uploaded anything to my Visor; hopefully I'll remember how.

Anyway, will check back in if I can. On to work...

4:00. No progress on paper, but everything else is going spiffy. Sigh. Current plan is to write the intro tonight after Star Trek, and finish it in the morning before class. I am such a bad example to undergrads...

I'm trying something a little odd for dinner tonight -- adapting my mom's beef, potato, carrot and onion stew (amazingly yummy) for vegetarians. Well, really, just leaving out the beef and seeing how it comes out. I suspect it's going to want some veggie boullion to punch up the flavor, but I'm lacking in such at the moment; not sure how I managed to run out, but I did. I'll put in some extra peppercorns, cloves and cardamom and see if that does it. Hmm...I really like the Ethiopian veggie stew, which I haven't made in forever. I think it's Ethiopian? David, do you remember? If this doesn't work well, then maybe I'll go look at that recipe and see if I can steal anything for this one.

I love cooking -- it's like being a scientist, but without any rigor, and with being able to eat (usually) the finished results. :-)

Well, I made a random…

Well, I made a random abrupt decision yesterday -- I'm flying out to the East Coast this weekend. It's a surprise for my mother (I don't *think* she reads this journal); she's celebrating her 50th birthday at my aunt's in Boston. So I'll fly into New York, spend a day with Alex, then take the train up to Boston, see Debby and Todd briefly, and then be there for both her birthday and my baby cousin's first birthday (same weekend). Fly back on Monday. It'll be a little crazy, with something like ten or twelve hours of travel time crammed into one weekend, but what the heck! Most of what I have to do this weekend is grad school reading anyway, which I should be able to do on the plane/train. The only problem is that I'd like to be able to travel light...I can fit my clothes and computer into my backpack, plus a few books...but can I fit recreational books as well as study books? That's the real dilemma.

M'ris, I feel like we're somehow missing each other on this discussion. I'm certainly not saying that you can't write father-son relationships, for example. I guess what I'm really saying is that writers who have had a particular experience, have something of an edge when they sit down to write it. I *know* what the roadside samosas in Sri Lanka taste like, and they don't taste anything like the ones I make, or the ones you get in any Indian restaurant I've been in in the U.S. That knowledge might help me when I sit down to write about it. That doesn't mean that, in the end, you might not write a more convincing or even more realistic depiction of those samosas. Just that I had an advantage when I started out. And that given that kind of advantage, it's not surprising that Audra might find some hard-to-define commonalities between women writers who write about mothering. And that given limited time, and perhaps experience with a lot of men doing it badly (as with lesbian porn, for a completely different example), she might find that mostly she gravitates towards women writers as being *likely* to give her the experience she's looking for more often. Now...her examples, I'll grant you, are not necessarily the best, and I do agree that A.I. in particular was a bit unfair of a choice for a counterexample. But I don't think she needed to prove that men couldn't do it...just that she had encountered plenty of male writers whose takes on mothering had been unsatisfying to her, unrealistic. I suspect she has, and just didn't do a great job of specifying such.

Anyway. Gotta go finish commenting on two more student papers and then head in. Long day today. See y'all later...

Somewhat busy morning…

Somewhat busy morning already; in theory, I have a student stopping by, and the kitchen was kind of a disaster. So up a little early to shower, dress, get milk at Cucina so I could have tea, do dishes, straighten up. I could avoid all this nonsense by meeting him at my office -- but then I'd have to go into the office, which is really even more trouble; the dishes did need to be done eventually, after all. And this way, I got to pick up a calorific croissant at Cucina to go with my tea. Yumm... (and yes, M'ris, calzones are definitely on the approved list. Bread and cheese and nice hearty tomato goodness...) Pretty much everything on the approved list for M'ris is on the not-approved list for Mary Anne. :-) But sometimes a croissant just needs to sneak its buttery deliciosity in anyway...

I'm feeling okay this morning, though coughing a little more. Sigh. Still, in a good mood, which is a vast improvement over last night. Sad, low-down mood. And I wanted to talk to Kev, but he was frantically racing to meet a NSF deadline for this morning. Ah well. It's not as if I wanted to talk to him about anything in particular; I just get...off-kilter, if I go too long without talking to him. I don't think this is a function of dating him, in particular; he's just been my friend for so long now, and the kind of friend whom I tell everything to. We're trying to hold on to that part at least; occasionally, deadlines intervene.

Most of the deadlines these days have to do with SH stuff; Jeremy's had to resign as newsletter editor, so I'm taking over in the interim (any of you want to write a newsletter every week? Easy job, but requires commitment). Got to send one out today. Then there's the Best Of stuff; I'm still getting responses from authors, but in the interim, I've organized a tentative TOC. That was fun. :-) It looks like almost everyone we wanted will be participating, which is cool. There was some scrambling to get an editorial up today...and speaking of which, I'm not sure M'ris's comments about it were quite fair. She takes Audra to task for sexism, but I'm not sure I believe it's sexist to say that, mostly, women seem to write more of the kind of mother-daughter narratives she's looking for in sf. It would be sexist to say that only women *can* write such things, but that's not what I hear Audra saying. Just that so far, it seems to mostly be women who do it well. I don't think it's homocentric to say that mostly women write better lesbian smut scenes -- I think it's true, for right now. I don't necessarily think it'll be that way in the future, and there are certainly exceptions to the general rule now. It does help having inside information, though, when you're going for versimilitude. :-)

10:30 and no sign of my student. Hmm... I guess I'll give him half an hour and then give up and start really working. I need to write a lit crit paper today; oof. Also a little student grading, prep for next class. We're focusing on dialogue this week; I'm going to have them actually stand up and recite little monologues next week. Fun. :-) Some of them are gonna hate it, but it's good for them. I love saying that. Maybe it's a good thing I don't have kids.

What I'd really like y'all to do today is go over to SH and take our brand-spankin'-new Reader Survey. We're collecting various kinds of info, and if you read the magazine at all, it would really help if you answered the questions -- and even better, if you answered all the questions, or at least parts 1 and 7. Right now there's a sharp drop-off in responses after part 1, and part 7 is at least as important to us.

You should also read the new issue, of course; in addition to Audra's charming editorial, there's a lovely little illustrated story by Angela Boord (who I met at WorldCon), some new funky post-apocalyptic art, an interview with the very sweet James Van Pelt (another person I've met at various conventions), a cool little lemon physics poem, and a review of Robin Hobb's Liveship Traders series (which I keep getting tempted to buy whenever I go to the bookstore; maybe this review will finally convince me). Great week!

10:15 p.m. Oh, I so didn't write a paper today. I did all sorts of other fun stuff, and some of it was even vaguely useful -- I even made a egg curry and took a photo of the cool egg-shaped bubbles to share with you all. But write a paper, I did not. Bad grad student. No biscuit.

I just signed the POD…

I just signed the POD contract with Wildside and sent it off! Woohoo! Fingers crossed that nothing goes wrong between now and the time they sign their end. :-) I'm making a book! I love the net, but I do love making books too...

This is for the Best of Strange Horizons (year one). It'll have tons of stuff -- fiction, poetry, reviews, and articles. No illustrations, sadly, since it'd be even more expensive and difficult with interior illustrations...and it's already a $40 (or so) book. Eep. I'm not sure how many people will actually be buying copies of it...at least a few, I hope. I think Wildside only needs about ten or so people to buy copies at full price to make back their costs, so that's the minimal thing to hope for. Better, of course, would be if Publisher's Weekly and the New York Times Book Review gave it great reviews, and it got massive media attention and sold thousands upon thousands of copies, catapulting Strange Horizons into the first place among science fiction magazines, in print *or* online. That's be lovely. But I'll be reasonably content if Wildside just makes back their costs so they're happy to have done the book, and so we have some copies to show around at conventions and such. It's more a publicity stunt than anything else -- a fun one. :-)

Today I start putting together the manuscript. There may be a few authors who don't want to participate; we'll need to replace those. I'd like to get the manuscript together as soon as possible, because I'd like at least have a shot of having this available for Christmas. Of course, I actually have no idea what Wildside's publishing schedule is like -- it's possible they've already slated the book for next summer or some such. But better for me not to ask -- if I think there's a close deadline, I'm less likely to procrastinate. It's sad that I have to play such tricks on my lazy brain, which would rather be reading Diana Wynne Jones than working. Luckily, it has none of her work left in the house; I finished Castle in the Air and Dogsbody yesterday, and have had to move on to Neil Gaiman's Stardust today. The nice thing about not having time to go to a bookstore for a month is that when you do go, there's lots of stuff you want to buy.

Still coughing, but I slept nine hours, and aside from the cough, I feel generally okay. It's the Cough o' Doom -- I suspect it'll haunt me from now until the spring. I want to be a healthy person, dang it. Though I should be grateful that I didn't just break *another* rib, like poor M'ris...

12:30. Collected all the potential authors' e-mails and sent them out the invitation letter. I am a publishing machine! I'd like to move on the the next stage, ordering the Table of Contents, but I suppose I should wait until I hear back from everyone. That'd be most efficient... Aw, heck. Who cares if I duplicate some work? This part is fun!

Good morning, everyone. …

Good morning, everyone. Hope you had a fun Friday -- mine was a bit odd. I got rather depressed and mopey around 4-ish; I had finished the Emswhiller book, and while it was very good, it wasn't entirely happy. (It rather reminded me of I Capture the Castle, oddly enough.) Too much lost love, which I hadn't anticipated. I thought maybe my lack of activity was contributing to my mood, so I threw on some clothes and went shopping. My first stop was to get stamps (so I can do checks and contracts today), so that was virtuous. My second was at the Body Shop -- I tend to bite my lips, a very bad habit that makes for slightly ragged lips. I bought some hemp lip gunk that was supposed to be pretty healing, and some lip scuff, which is meant to exfoliate. We'll see how that works. Also some vitamin E stuff for the dark circles under my eyes (though sleep is helping with those too), some satsuma body scrub, and a little aromatherapy set, with evergreen and cranberry. It's a candle that sits under a copper well that you pour a few drops of oil into -- you light the candle for 10-20 minutes, and then blow it out, and the scent just lingers and lingers...very nice. I fell asleep to it last night, hours after I'd lit it, and I just got it going again -- I'm curious how long my house will smell like cranberry. Yummy smell.

That was all thoroughly indulgent -- but the indulgence didn't stop there. I went on to Borders, where I had a not-healthy-but-tasty dinner (topped with chocolate moussecake) while reading the latest Tamora Pierce book (in hardcover). I then bought seven other books and came home (pausing briefly at the big sale but finding nothing of interest).

Read another book last night, Diana Wynne Jones's Howl's Moving Castle, which was very silly and fun, and am now reading another of hers. I did get mopey again last night when I finished the book, but I called up David and made him tell me bits of Russian history until I got sleepy. He's very good for that...

In any case -- I think once I finish the book I'm reading, I may try to switch to being productive again. I'm feeling a fair bit better today (mustn't overdo, mustn't overdo) and have grand plans for contracts, revising a story, interviewing a student for the U of C (I do enjoy that), and maybe starting to put the POD book together. We're still working out the details, but I'm hopeful that it'll actually happen...and if it does, then I need to make up a manuscript. Going to be a fair bit of work doing the conversions -- I probably ought to see if Jed can make it easier for me somehow.

Have a good weekend, munchkins. If you're having beautiful fall weather like we are, try to get out and enjoy it. (Karina, I wish you were here -- it would be great fun photographing you against all these gorgeous leaves...)

Hey, munchkins. M’ris…

Hey, munchkins. M'ris has just chastised me for not posting with the news that I am all better (thus relieving the anxiety of all the worriers amongst you (see, "amongst" -- that's another good word. Not that I really know that it means anything more than "among"...but if not, that's okay -- it's why I like "thusly", despite Shmuel's objections to the silliness of it...)). I am somewhat better; I fell asleep around 10:30 last night, I think, and slept until 8. Sleep is a great restoration. I forget that sometimes. I'm still coughing and sore-throated, but my muscles are only slightly wobbly today. I probably would even go out and do errands, except that I'm managing a complicated e-mail discussion, and I'm a bit worried to leave it quite yet.

We (the SH authors and staff) are talking over the proposed POD offer from Wildside. They're not offering much -- minimal royalties and no contributor's copies. But it's not a money-making venture that we're discussing either -- it's really just a fun publicity thing that doesn't cost us any money (though it does take a fair bit of my time). It'd be nice to have a big hardcover to put out on tables at conventions -- especially if Wildside has it sitting at their table in the dealer's room too... Anyway, I think it'll happen; it's just a matter of negotiating details and seeing which authors wish to participate. Lots of discussion, though -- I think all of us are learning a lot about Print-On-Demand in the process...

In between answering e-mails, I'm reading Carol Emshwiller's Ledoyt. It's really really good; told in part from the point of view of a young girl who's in love with the man her mother is marrying, Mr. Ledoyt. It's a Western, which is not a genre I normally read, but it's far more an Emshwiller-novel than anything else, and that is a great and glorious thing. I'm only about 60 pages in so far, but right now, I'd consider this highly recommended.

I may check back in later...but I may not. Right now, it doesn't look like my day has so much exciting planned. If I get tired of reading, I'll start doing SH checks and contracts; that's nice mindless work, and though I need stamps before I can send anything out, I can do all the other parts of it while I'm waiting to feel healthy enough to go get stamps. Probably tomorrow.