Hey, it’s less than a…

Hey, it's less than a week to my birthday! Time is just rushing by. I keep seeing M'ris's notes about her birthday, but somehow, I didn't quite connect it to mine, even though it's the same one. I'll be thirty! I know it's weird, but I'm actually kind of relieved to be done with my twenties. There was a lot of confusion and insecurity in there; while I'm not completely free of all that now, there's much less of it. I sometimes wish there were a way to speed up the maturation process. Something other than having awful things happen to you, that is. Anyway, gifts and e-mail and such are certainly welcome. It's been a rough month; some good thoughts would be lovely. The best address for cards is probably the post office box:

Mary Anne Mohanraj
P.O. Box 11453
Salt Lake City, UT 84147

I won't pick them up until mid-August, but they should be safe there. It's a smallish box, so don't send presents there, please -- I'm not sure what they do if your box gets too full, but it might not be good. Hmm...presents sent to my home address will be forwarded to David's place for the next two weeks -- that should work fine, I think. Ditto for stuff off the Amazon wishlist. If you need an address for me, just ask.

Quick note to Kalyani -- your e-mail is bouncing; your mailbox is too full. Please empty it. I've added you to the readers' list. As for making the stained glass thingies, any decent craft store will have a whole section on the stuff, complete with glass blanks, paints, kits and instructions. They're really very straightforward.

I'll probably check back in later; right now, I need to go do a phone conference with the NY editors. Lots of working on BW these days; lots of Star Trek in the evenings. David has most of Deep Space 9 taped; we've been watching the last season, most of which I missed the first time around. About six more episodes to go until the end. Very satisfying to watch, and distracting. Star Trek is oddly comforting. I think it has something to do with its idealistic vision of the future -- even when you have scheming politics and occasional nastiness, the Federation is still *supposed* to stand for truth, goodness, IDIC, etc. It's a fundamental assumption that most of the characters take for granted. I like it.

At heart, I still want the universe to make sense.

12:30 p.m. Gods, lots of work still to do on BW. I'm going to dive back into it in a moment, but I should first 1) note that David only has a little of DS9 (he corrected me -- he has most of Next Gen), and 2) warn M'ris that I have in fact been known to be gauche on occasion, so she should not necessarily rely on me for etiquette guidance. Though at least we can be gauche together, and if enough people follow along, then I don't think it counts as gauche anymore. Isn't that how it works?

I am also not subtle. I love birthday e-mail and cards and presents! My presents from Karina arrived today and the tissue paper is torn on one of them and I am being *so* good not peeking until she tells me it's okay to open them before my birthday. At least the one that's partly opened. That's not unreasonable, right? Right?

Hey, munchkins. I’m…

Hey, munchkins. I'm writing this in a Borders cafe in downtown Seattle, but it'll be a while before I can upload it. In a few hours, Kirstie will run me to the airport, and then David will meet me in San Jose and take me back to Oakland.

The last couple of days have been fairly full. Sunday, we went shopping for garden stuff and craft supplies. I failed to convince Kirsten that she really wanted some morning glory in her yard; apparently, they tend to consider it a weed around here. Which is just tragic. We spent much of the afternoon on that, and then came home to putter about with craft stuff. The first thing I started was a sunny flower, to hang in her window. She likes yellows and oranges. I'm not thrilled with the result, but it could have been worse. And I learned some things; for example, that if you use paint outliner under stained glass paint, you get a nicely muted effect, much more subtle than what I had been doing. That was pleasing to learn.

While the paint was drying, I spent some time futzing with other bits and bobs that she had around. I made myself a little bracelet, though I'll need to pick up a clasp before it'll actually work properly. What was really fun, though, was working with wire and ribbon and stones.

The photo is a bit askew, but the ribbon hangs straight, like a river of shimmery light, broken by occasional translucent stones. It's the only piece that ended up with a title -- "A Circular Library of Stones". Those of you reading Strange Horizons should catch the reference. And the little wire globe -- that's just pretty. I find it very pleasing to my eye. I may make more of them. It's much more fun making crafts with someone, especially when you share supplies, and find yourself using things that it would have never occurred to you to buy. Plus, she had needle-nose pliers and wire clippers, two tools I am lacking. Calm pleasures.

I spent Monday at home, working on BW stuff some, mostly resting. I finished Michelle West's Hunter's Death, the sequel to a book Kirsten talked me into reading some time back. She was right -- it got better. I took a nap in the afternoon, still feeling rather beleagured by my cold. When she came home, I was in a grumpy, mopey, listless mood. She did her best to cheer me up. We made dinner; grilled salmon with mango plum salsa, oven-roasted potatoes. The activity helped rouse me from my sluggishness; afterwards, we read quietly for a while. I went to bed around 11, but had some trouble sleeping; eventually I called Jed and talked to him until sleepiness came back to me.

Tuesday morning I got up with Kirsten and came downtown with her. She went to work, and I went to Borders. Actually, it was early enough that they weren't open yet, so I wandered through downtown for a while, eventually ending up on a park bench opposite the bookstore, plotting a story in my head. A little shivery, but nice too -- it's almost impossible for me to be really bored anymore; there's too many stories wandering about in my head. By the time I got my chai and settled down with laptop in bookstore cafe, I was ready to write, and in the next few hours, managed to finish a draft of a story I'm pretty happy with, "Wild Roses". Sent it out to the readers' list last night. Exorcised a few demons along the way, I suspect. Misery is productive of writing, at least. Whether it's *good* writing, I'll leave for y'all to judge.

I met Kirsten for lunch; we ate leftovers in her cafeteria, which has a lovely view of the city. Then she walked me partway up Pike; when she turned around to go back to work, I continued up, until I reached a gay/lesbian bookstore (whose name I am forgetting). It turned out that they hadn't heard of Aqua Erotica -- I fixed that! Across the street was Toys in Babeland; they were delighted to see me and have me sign books; apparently, AE is their top fiction seller at the moment. :-) Not bad for a book that's almost a year old. I spent a while looking at toys too...

Mostly puttered about in the afternoon, reading this and that. In the evening, we made curry, because Kirsten wanted to have a good stock after I left; she also wanted to watch me cook it. I've talked her into buying the Charmaine Solomon Complete Asian Cookbook; I've just picked a copy up for her, and have spent some time going through and annotating it in pencil. Mostly just saying "this is a great recipe!" We drank some champagne, we talked until bedtime. She gave me comments on my story. We talked about men we knew. We laughed, we cried. Well, I did, anyway. :-) It's been so nice spending time with her again. I feel very lucky that I've had the chance to wander around this summer. She thinks I need to buy a car, so I can wander more freely and frequently. She may be right.

A little work before I go to the airport. I'm somewhat behind on BW stuff; I don't like reading stories when I'm sick and cranky, because I can't give them a fair read. But I'm feeling somewhat better, if a little tired, and by the end of the week, I hope to be thoroughly caught up. That's the plan, at any rate.

About one month left…

About one month left before I go back to Salt Lake. The summer seemed to stretch out endlessly, not so long ago. Now, it's slipping away much too quickly.

I've gotten sick -- just a cold, but it's left me with an annoying sore throat, an occasional cough, and the desire to lie down and close my eyes frequently. It means I wasn't up to very strenuous hiking on Saturday, but we nonetheless had a good time meandering through northern Washington, seeing some lovely sights.

Lots of tall straight trees, low ferns, bright sun. I am unused enough to foxglove that I kept being startled by how lovely they were. Foxglove, digitalis, heart medicine, poison.

Mossy stumps, the line between sun and shade so sharply divided. Bright blue bugs.

It was after the signs ended that I found the trees I fell in love with...

Forest primeval.

We came home through the islands, pausing at Deception Pass, buffeted by wind.

A good day.

Groggy. I would wait to…

Groggy. I would wait to write this entry, but Kirstie and I are going hiking today, at least in theory, so I'm not sure I'll have time later. But I do keep yawning. Maybe she'll let me sleep in the car.

Yesterday was a pretty full day. She had arrived Thursday night, and we stayed up late-ish talking. I got up Friday and worked fairly steadily until Bob arrived around 2:30 (with some interim reading -- I managed to reread The Spell Sword and The Forbidden Tower, and am now confirmed that they're probably the books I want to use to introduce Jed to Marion Zimmer Bradley. I waffled, because The Shattered Chain is the one that introduced me to the Free Amazon concept, which is one of the things she's pretty famous for -- but I'd rather show him the poly books I fell in love with as a kid instead). Bob was one of my Clarion classmates back in '97, and now publishes Electric Story. I'm pretty sure I've told you that already, but in case I haven't, I tell it to you again.

We went up to Campion Hall, at Seattle University, on Capitol Hill. Vague waves of nostalgia for Clarion. After some confusion, we managed to get ourselves sitting down in the right place, talking to the current class about electronic publishing. Was fun. We hung out for a while after our presentation, then I dragged Bob back to Kirstie's, where I made a quick egg curry and a green bean curry to with the leftover curries we had. Kirstie tells me that I should mention in here every time I make curry, and link to the recipe. I think that's too much work. She thinks I'm just lazy. Old friends know you too well, that's what I say.

After dinner and dessert (french vanilla ice cream, sliced mangoes and strawberries, chocolate syrup), we went to a Clarion party. There's a party every Friday night during Clarion. Ran into various friends and acquaintances in the business: Nisi, Jonzo and Victoria, Ellen Datlow, Connie Willis, and of course lots of the current class. Interestingly, one of them sold a poem to Strange Horizons, "A Gardener Betrayed by Roses", by Ben Rosenblum. Was interesting meeting him! He apparently has a story up for review with my fiction department now. Very energetic. :-) And another student has a story I'm reviewing for Bodies of Water. Meeting them was a little surreal, but fun.

Anyway. Gonna have some tea and then try to face the day. Still sleepy. If you're waiting on an e-mail response from me, it'll probably be tomorrow before I get to it. Have a nice weekend, munchkins.

A little while back, I…

A little while back, I joined sff.net, a set of spec fic newsgroups. I *think* the newsgroups can be accessed by casual readers; if so, I invite y'all to check out the mohanraj newsgroup. I check it a couple times a week, and I think that you can use it not just to talk to me, but to talk to each other. Maybe. If I'm doing this right.

Kevin sent me a pointer to the menu of the cafeteria of the place where he's staying in France. I find it oddly surreal that this information is available on the web. Not that I can understand it, other than to work out that there seems to be a lot of fruit and cheese.

I've been doing a lot of reading. I gobbled down Susan Matthews's Avalanche Soldier yesterday, which was okay, but didn't grab me nearly as much as her other work. It's unclear whether it's a recent book or possibly her first novel -- if it were her first novel, that would explain a lot. Still worth reading, I think. And last night, I started Suzy Charnas's Dorothea Dreams. It's a novel about art and dreams and maybe ghosts and death...so far, I'm liking it a lot. Although I am, at least in part, reading these books in order to *not* think about some things, and it's difficult when you get passages like the following:

"Their basic understanding held and did not need to be remade each time they went to bed together during the week that folowed. It was simple, really: Sometimes they were playful and sometimes not, and sometimes they clung together and rocked each other in silent commiseration like two frightened apes in a laboratory cage. What they did not do was tear at each other."

Two old friends, who have just come together after many years; one of them is dying of cancer. Oof. Some of it just hits me hard. Some of it makes me think. Maybe that's a good thing, whether I enjoy it or not.

"At times she thought, All this should surely be more complex: extremes of rage, grief, withdrawal, rushing together, torment, and desperation. Instead, perhaps because she and Ricky had never imagined a shared future, the present seemed an overwhelming gift."

I’m in Seattle now,…

I'm in Seattle now, settling down a bit from this whirlwind tour of mine. It feels rather whirlwind, though I haven't actually been travelling all that fast. By the end of WesterCon I was feeling utterly exhausted, collapsing into bed at night. Some of it was being "on" for the convention, but I think some of it was just being on the road for this long. I've never travelled for more than a few weeks before. It's almost two months now since I left Salt Lake, and I'm starting to feel it.

I arrived at Kirsten's last night, and am pretty settled in now. She's away on business until Friday, and while I'm looking forward to seeing her, I'm surprisingly relieved to be alone for a few days. In Salt Lake, I had gotten used to going days without seeing anyone; it allowed a certain pacing to my days that let me be very productive. Since leaving, I've had to adjust my schedule around other people, and while it's been very pleasant seeing them, for the most part, I don't think I'd realized how much I'd grown accustomed to having some solitude. Being alone with my thoughts.

That can be not so good too, of course. Some of my thoughts are pretty down these days, and I find myself distracting myself with work and books and people during the days, only to actually confront them when going to bed, or waking up. I'm feeling my way through this separation, this ending or changing or whatever it ends up being. I'm still awfully confused. Mostly, I'm just doing what feels right, hoping it'll all make some sense in the end. Trying not to let this drag down the entire summer. Appreciating the good things that come along. So far, it's mostly working okay.

Anyway, I should get back to work. Lots to get done before she arrives. I'll be going with Bob Kruger (one of my Clarion classmates, now publisher of Electric Story) to talk to the Clarion students at the end of the week. That should be fun. I'm taking Kirstie to the Clarion party that night; hopefully I'll remember the names of any Seattle sf people I met at WesterCon. It's all rather a blur at the moment, I'm afraid.

New issue of Strange Horizons up, btw. I'd be particularly interested in hearing what y'all think of the serialization of stories. It's the only way we can afford to run longer pieces -- is it okay? Does it drive you nuts? Should we just stick to short pieces? Inquiring minds want to know...

10:20. Mmm...a quick note before going to bed. Was quite productive today, despite the fact that I've also read two books (finishing off Mary Gentle's Ash: A Secret History (you were right, Wendy -- I couldn't put it down, and was very glad I had the whole set of books)) and spent three hours on the phone with Karina. Was so good to talk to her. Hadn't had a chance to talk all this Kevin stuff over with her, and there are some things that only she really understands, because she dated us. I wish she were here. Australia is just too damn far away. If she were in the States, I'd be tempted to cancel the rest of my summer plans and just go to her. We broke up years ago, and for a while, I was worried that the friendship wouldn't survive the break-up. But we got over the hump, and have been very good for a long time now. I guess I'll be crossing my fingers that things end up similarly with Kevin. It's hard to think forward to that time, though, to imagine things so different from how they are now.

Wait and see.

Patience is not my strong point.

It’s still fairly early…

It's still fairly early morning, and I'm sitting at Mykle's desk, enjoying the crisp breeze through the open window. I'm in Portland, a new city for me. So far, it's beautiful.

We had a nice dinner Tuesday night with M'ris and Timprov and Mark; the chicken was yummy and the mint brownies were amazing. Yesterday is something of a blur; some semi-frantic finishing up of things and packing in the morning, followed by hopping on a plane with Jed and coming up here. We picked up a rental car at the airport and drove out to Mykle and Gisene's; Mykle is a friend of Jed's from high school. They have an adorable baby girl, Phina, who is about a year and a half old. She managed to break my Visor keyboard when I cleverly gave it to her to play with (she had seen me opening and closing it, and tried to do the same, but missed a crucial step), but luckily, Mykle pulled out his Leatherman and fixed it. If it had been broken, it would have been my own darn fault; I know better than to take my eyes off a smart kid with something breakable in her hands.

They have a fabulous garden (according to the in-flight magazine, everyone in Portland has a fabulous garden) and a lovely house. Let us not contemplate what this large a house would cost in Berkeley, eh? We sat in the back and drank water and ate chips and salsa and peanut sauce. It was good. In the evening, we went by a friend's place with them, for yummy barbecue (really excellent pasta salad: pasta, pine nuts, chunks of feta cheese, red onion, and a tiny bit of oil and vinegar for the dressing, very light; also yummy cornbread thing and homemade ice cream, which I don't think I've ever had before). There was much shooting off of small firecrackers, including a war of bottle rockets. Phina found it all rather distressing, so we eventually dropped her and Gisene back at the house, and then Mykle took Jed and me to the fireworks on the river. They were lovely. A truly gorgeous river walk, followed by a good view of satisfyingly dramatic fireworks. Lots of lights, not too many booms. Jed doesn't like booms. (I kind of do, but I like pretty lights better.)

Somewhere in there I managed to call Paul and leave him a happy birthday message. Happy birthday, Paul! Must be nice always having fireworks on your birthday...

The 4th is a good day for me too, though I don't always remember that; I met Jed on it, four years ago. He had, if I remember right, heard about me from a mutual friend, and he looked me up at WesterCon to say hi -- I was in the midst of Clarion, and at least semi-out-of-my-mind. I'm lucky I was coherent enough that he decided it was worth talking to me again. Very lucky. Very very lucky. It is so nice having a Jedediah in my life.

Today, I work some, have a phone conference, and then we tromp off to the convention. There's not so much we want to do there today, so we may actually do a little sight-seeing. Portland has amazing gardens, according to the in-flight magazine. Back to Mykle and Gisene's for dinner, and then tomorrow we move to our hotel and slide deep into convention world. As usual, updates may be infrequent for a few days.

Hey, guys. Not so much…

Hey, guys. Not so much to report -- mostly working on BW. Requesting revisions, trying to hunt down big names, etc. But I did finish a new collage, *and* add photos of all the new collages to the site, so please take a look! The new ones are:

  • Fraying Edges
  • Oak Arching Above You
  • Orange After Midnight
  • Rice
  • Stone and Wave
I'm rather pleased with some of them. Not as pleased with others, but I'll let you decide which ones you like best without prejudicing you. :-)

Gonna go run a few errands with Jed before we go over to M'ris's for dinner (that's a lot of s's and apostrophes in that there name), so I'd best jump to it. Later.

Morning! I’m a bit…

Morning! I'm a bit nervous about this new journalling stuff that Jed had me do, but hopefully it'll all go smoothly. I'm using server-side includes, which will with luck mean that I only need to write my entry in one place, instead of three. Writing in three is not so hard, but editing in three is a pain. Trust me. So, temporary complexity and confusion, in the hope of future simplicty. Fingers crossed.

One last picture from the beach yesterday -- that's Kam, just out of the ocean. Something about this picture just makes me grin. It may be the I-can't-believe-you're-actually-taking-a-picture-when-my-hair-looks-like-this quality of it. :-)

Saw A.I. yesterday. Oh. my. god. I will avoid spoilers, but say only that it's worth seeing, just so you can watch a potentially good movie go terribly, terribly wrong. The last half hour was actually painful to watch.

I'm doing rejections and revision requests for BW today, and I should really get to it. I'd like to have this second round completed by the end of the week...we'll see how feasible that is.

I'm thinking in brief bursts, apparently, which is okay for rejections and revision requests, but not so great for journalling. Talk to you later, my dears. :-)

Hey, munchkins. …

Hey, munchkins. Hmm...it's been a couple of days. I spent all day Friday working, so not so exciting. Some cooking too -- made curry buns. Friday night, Jed took me to see our friend Ethan at the Lyric Theater in San Jose, doing Yeomen of the Guard. Fun, and I could understand at least half of the words. :-) Ethan made a great town drunk.

Saturday, Susan Groppi came down from Berkeley and picked us up and we went down to Santa Cruz. There we met up with Tim and Heather and Kam and had a lovely picnic on the beach. Everyone was looking bright and sunny and happy. We didn't succeed in getting our kite off the ground for very long -- maybe next time. But we ate a lot, and rested and chatted, and I did actually swim a little, once Jed dragged me into the icy water. I love waves. Waves good.

Afterwards, Jed, Susan, Kam and I went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which I adore beyond all reason. I was delighted to find that my camera could actually take decent photos through the glass of the tanks, and so I've arranged a little tour for you. Enjoy!

In the evening, we stopped briefly for ice cream (one chocolate, shared among the four of us) and then met up with Heather and Tim again for dinner (they had gone to see AI in the interim). We went to Rosa's in Santa Cruz, which was rather frustratingly loud. But it had a cool glass roof over entryway with water cascading down it. Liked that. :-) Afterwards, we coaxed Tim into taking us to Pergolesi's, famed in song and story, or at least in journal. It's fabulous -- I wanted to pick it up and take it to Salt Lake to show people what a coffee house was meant to be like.

Eventually, we headed back, and I fell asleep in the backseat of the car, which somehow felt like the perfect end to a lovely beach day.

3:00 -- Jed is trying to help me figure out a simpler way to do some of this journalling -- apologies if you see any oddities around here.