Okay, I’ll get better, I…

Okay, I'll get better, I promise. Actually, I should momentarily be installing a little mailing list that you can get on if you want to be notified when I update this diary. Will let you know as soon as I finish setting it up.

Highlights of the weekend: Had a birthday party for Ian Friday night -- that's three parties in three weeks and I think we're all a little partied out. Was much fun, though, and got to meet many of his high school friends (of which Sherman is one, of course). My friend Adam arrived from out of town (he's moving to the area (anyone need a Mac/Unix debugger?)) and we dragged him to Gaskell's Winter Ball Saturday. Still exhausted from hours of polkas and waltzes and shaddisches (sp?) but great fun, especially the costuming (me in straight wine-colored formal gown, Sherman in white ruffled shirt, top hat, gloves, spats, etc., Ian in dress uniform, Elle in peach gown with hoop skirts, Cliff in white tuxedo, Kirsten in royal blue gown with acres of crinolines and Adam in formal kilt -- and we weren't even closed to being the dressiest people there :-).

Sunday was moderately relaxing with a potluck and chatting -- got to have dinner with Joani Blank, the woman who started Good Vibrations -- very interesting! Ate at the Blue Nile up in Berkeley -- good Ethiopian, but I still think the one on Haight is my favorite -- I'm just fond of it.

Today mostly took the day off; drove down to introduce Adam to Lydia and keep him company with some job thingies in the South Bay. While we were visiting Lydia, her kids' school called that Kaylie wasn't feeling well. Since Lydia was busy, Adam and I ended up picking the poor kid up -- she looked pretty wasted, but I think she'll be fine. Apparently they had a really busy weekend too, and she was just dead tired. Poor munchkin!

Lots of work to do before I leave Thursday night -- will update this as much as I can. On the plus side, Adam is helping me install PPP at home, which means I can run Netscape now from home, which means I can do more of my work from here -- hooray! Best go make dinner now -- just pasta tonight -- cooking dinner for nine on Saturday (oh, forgot to describe Chelsea in black velvet and Jeremy in suit) burned out my cooking urges for a bit. :-)

Take care, guys.

Hi, guys. Gosh, I…

Hi, guys. Gosh, I haven't written to you in a while, have I? Well, things have been pretty good on this end, just really really busy. Lots of school work this semester (unsurprising, since I'm taking one course more than I did last semester), and a bunch of writing assignments, and Karina's visiting again this week, and there was the party Friday (which went very well, thank you for asking), and so on and so forth, you know how it goes.

Just got out of my American Fiction class -- really enjoying this class. Great teacher -- very bright and knowledgeable, with an adorable British accent. He really loves this era and it's contagious. We're deep into Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury now, and while I'm still having to trudge along in bits, I am getting the hang of the book now (about halfway through, having read Benjy's and Quentin's sections), and it's becoming much more fun to read. I had a lot of trouble with Quentin's section at first -- it was early yesterday morning that I was trying to read it, and I kept falling asleep. Finally let myself sleep for a couple of hours and then had no trouble finishing it, so maybe I was just tired. :-) Anyway, looking forward to the rest of the discussions. I'm afraid I'm going to miss some of the discussion of Ellison while I'm in Chicago -- I'm happy to be going, of course, but it's rather a novel thing to be distressed about missing classes. :-) Grad school at its best, I suppose. Still, at least I can discuss it all with Kevin -- he's fond of both Faulkner and Ellison, so he should be helpful.

Hmmm...not much more to say -- lots of work, of course. Kind of sleepy, 'cause Karina and I had dinner at Thida's last night, and ended up staying up talking till 1:00 or so. Almost slept through class this morning! My alarm clock is packed away in a box somewhere 'cause it's big and bulky and ugly and I didn't think I really needed it, since I usually wake up at 7 a.m. anyway...still, I may have to dig it out, just for situations like this one.

Well, talk to you guys later -- have a good week!

1:15 -- Just wanted to let you know about another diary listing:

Rush today, so here’s a…

Rush today, so here's a poem instead of an entry -- written for class and possibly for Dreams:


sunset and wrenching gut muscles tell me
it is time. final exam. the beginning.

i thought it would be quick or small or even kind.
more than one had had it so, so why not me?
none of the above.

afterwards, the mistress says enough,
she's had enough for tonight --
you can have her again tomorrow if you want
half the cost since she won't be fresh --

no thanks.

afterwards, the girls cluster 'round
offering warm wet cloth and hard arms;
been there, done that, not so bad, was it,
little country sister? and the rest of the night off!

relax. the first one is always the worst, they lie.

i cannot stop shaking.

M.A. Mohanraj
February 12, 1997

Hey, guys. Well, I had…

Hey, guys. Well, I had a pretty pleasant evening -- spent much of it talking with Ian, my new roommate. I can't remember if I've mentioned him before -- Ellison decided that a) he didn't want to deal with the leak in his ceiling (even though the landlord promised to fix it) and that b) he really dealt better with living alone. So we bid him a fond farewell, and in moved Ian, happily enough an old friend of Sherman's who just got out of the Navy. Neat guy -- looks like it's going to go well. Cliff just got a new job, with a much shorter commute, so it looks like he'll be home in the evenings as well -- it'll be nice having people to eat dinner with during the week.

Got another assignment from Sizzle, which I'll try to do in the next couple of days. Read some of the Faulkner, but quite a ways to go -- not an easy read! Mainly I have to do the Agnes Grey remake by 2:30, so instead of writing more in this journal, I should probably go do that.

Gosh, sorry for the…

Gosh, sorry for the delay guys. Wasn't my fault, though -- had weird server problems -- first with Mills and then with this web page.

Had a pretty good weekend and end of week. Am progressing on the recorder, with is very satisfying -- I really enjoy the medieval/renaissance/baroque music we're looking at. I still have three-four more fingerings to master before I can even play the basic stuff competently, but with patience. It's interesting to find that I have a *lot* more discipline for this sort of thing than I used to as a kid, practicing the piano. I remember I used to read a book while doing scales -- hardly the best way to pracice. I don't advise it -- my poor mother.

Weekend was pleasant in some ways -- had fun at a potluck and at the Hooker's Bazaar in San Francisco, and I spent many hours talking to friends. However, the reason I spent many hours talking to friends is that two of my friends have recently been dumped. :( They're not doing too well...wish I could be more helpful. There's never any good advice you can really give -- all I can do is try to be there for them so they don't feel quite so alone. Major bummer.

Finally got that Sizzle story written (two of them, actually). Thank god -- don't know why I was procrastinating so badly on that one. And with the help of a few friends, sketched out a plot outline for the space opera. Projects for this week -- write a few chapters of that, read The Sound and the Fury, write a chapter in the collaborative novel for my fiction class (the reworking of Agnes Grey), try to get another chapter written of Dreams, a poem for tomorrow (and a lot of critique), get ready for the party Friday.

Bought my plane tickets for Chicago -- hooray!!! (God, I miss Kev. I try not to think about it too much -- but it's like trying not to breathe -- too automatic to prevent, even if you wanted to. Sigh....okay, enough complaining.) Here's an early warning that I'll be gone from the 28th to the 10th of March. May get to do some entries in Chicago -- may not. Hard to predict.

Going to go make dinner -- "Impossible Cheeseburger Pie", according to the Bisquick box. :-) I'm using ground turkey instead of ground beef -- it'll be interesting to see how that changes the recipe. Usually works fine as a substitute (in meatloaf, for example), but occasionally I've run across recipes where it totally doesn't work (generally 'cause the turkey isn't glutinous enough -- doesn't hold a shape very well).

Hope you guys had a better weekend than my friends did. :(

Morning, everyone. …

Morning, everyone. Well, it looks like I'm probably okay on the tax thing. It's still a little unclear whether I mark the deuction on Form 1040A or Schedule C, but that will undoubtedly come clear in time.

Today (after class), I must write the Sizzle piece. If I do anything else, I am being very bad and must be admonished. Well, that plus breakfast.

Went contra dancing last night with some friends (Patti, Iver, Jim) and had a lot of fun. I am *so* out of shape, though -- I sat out about half the dances 'cause I just got exhausted. Still, they're talking about dragging me along more regularly, so I hopefully will be able to build up my endurance a bit. I can certainly use the exercise -- sitting in fron t of a computer is hardly good for me. Now, if they could devise a little computer that you could voice activate while you walked....actually, mental activation would be even better, 'cause you get out of breath when you're exercising (though I've ben told that means you're working too hard). In any case, when they finally get around to plugging our brains directly into the net with a mobile connection, I'm there.

Off to class...

1:10 - okay, had lunch, wrote the first Sizzle story. It ran kind of long, and it probably has a bit more characterization than they need, but oh well. :-) One more to go.

Hey, all. Well, I got…

Hey, all. Well, I got some possibly bad news -- that the tax info I got over the phone from the IRS may not be entirely accurate re: deducting tuitition. I just asked on misc.taxes.moderated -- a *very* useful newsgroup -- we'll see what they say. Nice people there.

Otherwise, life is good. Haven't had time to cook since this weekend (cooked a *lot* this weekend) -- which is a bit frustrating. May cook tonight -- may also go dancing. Trying to schedule it now -- we'll see what happens.

I sorta volunteered again. I should have my head examined. But it looks like in a while, misc.writing may split up a bit, and if so, they'll need some help. Again, wait and see sort of thing.

I have so many things 'in progress' right now -- it's frustrating. I'm very much a task-oriented person, and I like finishing tasks -- checking them off and feeling satisfied when they're done. This sort of vagueness -- just irritating. A little of it's my own fault, but a lot of it is being dependent on others. Why doesn't everyone check their e-mail hourly like I do, huh? :-)

As if I respond that promptly. :-)

Still, life is going moderately well. Had a late start to my day -- my roommate's parents are visiting and they took us out to brunch, which was very nice of them. But I promised the Sizzle people that I'd get them that story today, and I'm just not sure it'll get done. May have to defer to tomorrow, but NO LATER. If I haven't finished it by tomorrow, you must all yell at me. Understood? :-)

Okay, back to work. Have a good day, everyone.

2:30 -- poem for class


It is never cold here, I remember. Ache rests
in these bones whispering changes too subtle
for youth. Rest, they tell me. Enough.

A sunny room in the west tower; weaving
to occupy my hands and the chatter of
girls to numb my careworn mind.

I remember when my mother sent me to him.
Too-dark skin and a broad flat nose,
young as these girls and full of silliness.

He beat it from me quickly. Silent --
I watched the others take my place,
a procession I was not allowed to mind.

My skin has dried and wrinkled in his house,
stretching thin as memory over fragile,
twice-broken bones and hope like dust.

And now the man is dead. And it would be
so easy. To rest among girls not afraid
of chattering and say that I have done enough.

It would be so easy.

M.A. Mohanraj
February 5, 1997

Just too busy. Sorry,…

Just too busy. Sorry, guys.

Doing my taxes today, and had some very good news. I include the text below, in case any of you happen to be writers -- I recently posted this to misc.writing.

I'm just finishing my taxes -- this info might be helpful to you, *especially* if you're in graduate school for writing. You can call yourself a writer even if you made no sales last year, remember -- see bottom note for details.

This year, I get a $1100 refund. This is why:

a) I'm filing as a self-employed writer
b) I worked half the year and had pay deducted for taxes, then went to graduate school to get an MFA -- all of that pay is coming back to me.

What I deducted:

a) general supplies (paper, pens, stamps, envelopes, etc.)
b) books (all books I bought. yes, all of them.)
c) computer (I bought a computer in the fall -- keep in mind that computers depreciate over time, so if you've had yours a while, that gets complicated)
d) travel expenses to cons (I write sf/f and go to sf conventions. That's deductible - hotel and airfare)
e) meals at cons (didn't bother, but you can deduct 1/2)
f) tuition -- this is the big one. The key characteristics of getting to use this are: it can't be tuition needed to *maintain* your current job -- it must advance you; it can't be for a change in jobs. So if you're a writer already, and think you can make more money by getting an M.F.A., then it counts as professional development and you can deduct it.
g) textbooks, if you didn't already deduct them under b
h) moving expenses -- I moved from Philly to CA to attend grad school. A move that is at least 50 miles more than the distance you already travel to get to work is deductible if you moved for work-related reasons, as above. I haven't filled out this form yet (doing it today), so I'm not sure how much of the move is deductible. I'm assuming the airfare and shipping expenses.

To do all this, I filled out a 1040 (not A or B, since I took the $4000 standard deduction rather than itemizing separate non-writing deductions), and a Schedule C (Profit or Loss from Business). If you had a profit, you might be able to fill out a C-EZ instead -- very quick, but keep in mind that you must also fill out a SE - self-employment tax form. Also fairly simple, and remember if you do, that 1/2 of your self-employment tax is deductible (line 25 on the 1040). Doing my taxes took about 40 minutes, including 15 minutes on the phone listening to their recorded messages on educational expenses and moving expenses.

I hope all of that was clear -- if not, feel free to e-mail me about it. I'm not a tax wiz, but I've been filing as a writer for a couple of years now. Also keep in mind the following:

NOTE (added by a misc.writing person who corrected a mistake I had):
You must show a profit in 3 out of 5 years, or the PRESUMPTION changes from business to hobby. Your job, should you wish to accept it, is to overcome that presumption. The best way, of course is to show a profit. But there are other ways. Send out materials regularly, keep time logs showing frequent effort, do all the things someone really intent on making a living at that kind of work would do (whatever those things are). Also, to prove your efforts are taking a reasonable amount of time to show a profit, make a file of descriptions you run across of how long it took various authors to finish and find publishers for their books.

Your hopes of profit must be reasonable. Poets don't live off their poems, so your claim that you intend to is suspect. But novelists often take 4 or 5 years to finish a book, researched non-fiction can take even longer and still be a reasonable investment of time and money when compared with reasonably expected financial results.

The IRS publication on small business should have the current business/hobby rules spelled out.

Someone not yet commercially published might prefer to take no deductions until the day s/he finds a publisher for the first book, and then go back and do amended returns for the three prior years. The choice would be to give up possible deductions for the years in excess of three instead of taking the time to convince an auditor that those deductions are valid; but I have read that some authors have taken deductions for a dozen years and survived resulting audits.

*yawn* Hey, everyone. …

*yawn* Hey, everyone. Bit of a late start today -- stayed out late last night seeing Star Wars (amazing, wonderful, magnificent, etc!) and overslept this morning. Not so important since I don't have classes on Mondays, but it's 10:00, and I haven't even dealt with mail yet. Oh well.

It was a good weekend, full of friends and fun (birthday party for Cliff and Sherman Saturday night, poly meeting Sunday morning, then Star Trek), but rather exhausting. I'm pooped. Feel like I need a weekend to recover from my weekend. :-) But life is good, and interesting things are happening. Dale (publisher) just sent out a ton of releases about the book, so we'll see if that turns up anything. I found a cheap airfare to Chicago, so it looks like I definitely *can* go, hooray. I have a lot of work to do, but feeling fairly high energy, so we're hopeful.

On the negative side, my keyboard at home died. Argh.

I'm so tired of having computer problems. Cliff is supposed to fix my disk drive, but until he has time, I can't even install PPP on my main machine -- argh, I'm whining. Sorry. Never mind. I'm going to download PPP onto disks today from campus and take it home and put it on my laptop and see whether I can hook that up to the modem. If not, I'll only be able to log in from campus, which would be a severe limitation on my ability to accomplish anything.

I'd better get to work -- talk to you guys later...