Well. Jed and I…

Well. Jed and I finished the mouthorgan column -- it's the one for July 30th. I'm reasonably happy with it, though I think we were somewhat treading on thin ice with our theories about why society privileges marriage. It would be interesting to study this subject properly -- now there's a fascinating subject for a master's thesis in sociology...

I was talking to Kevin a bit yesterday about what I'd go back to school in, if I went back (not that I'm considering going back soon; the horror is still too recent...). And while a Ph.D. in English (with a concentration in Writing) seems to make the most sense, five years is an awful long time. It would be tremendous fun to get another Master's in Sociology or Psychology. Or even computers. :-) Not sure how constructive/sensible those would be, but definitely fun. Although the prospect of piling on still more debt is *not* appealing...

Ah well...pipe dreams for now. I'd be very surprised if I applied anytime soon, which means that I probably wouldn't go in Fall of '99...which means I have a good year before I really need to think about it again.

To go back to the mouthorgan column -- well, let me know what you think. Am I nuts for saying all this stuff? Am I nuts for saying it publically? I'm a wee bit nervous about it -- I've aleady seen a message on my old Chicago bi group mailing list referring to it...I don't know how many people read mouthorgan, but almost certainly more than read this journal. :-)

Anyway. Today's a work day, my chickadees. I may check back in with you periodically...or I may be virtuous and work straight through. A lot to accomplish in the next two days -- Saturday I go back down to the South Bay and won't come back 'til Monday morning...and I leave for WorldCon on Tuesday night, so ideally, I'd like to finish all the time-dependent stuff by Saturday morning. That's finishing the novella for Puritan (which I really rather like this time around), finishing the FrameMaker tutorial, and doing some research and sending out a bunch of letters for Clean Sheets.

I had some bad dreams -- vague anxiety dreams -- all night. I think it's 'cause I haven't gotten anything accomplished in too long (though I did manage to squish "Melusane" into some sort of shape yesterday, finally. I'll send it off to the readers' list for your comments/enjoyment shortly), and my subconscious is itching at me as a result. Kevin thinks I should go get my thyroid levels checked (I've also been more tired than usual recently). Both of us may, of course, be right.

But my tea is steeping (Fortnum & Mason Royal Blend today), Bill Staines is singing to me from my stereo, I had a lovely day yesterday with Jed (saw Armageddon and ordered Ethiopian food for dinner, yum), I'll see David tonight, and generally, life is good.


Oh he told her he was free;
He was as free as any wind.
"Don't you count on me --
for I may not be back again."
Then she touched him oh so easy,
as if he were but a child,
and she whispered soft as willows do --
looked at him and smiled.

She said:
"I have known the wind;
it's been a friend all of my days.
I have seen it dance,
across the prairie when it plays.
I have known the freedom too,
of a wheatfield's rolling seas,
And they have never left me blue,
so play your song for me.

-- Bill Staines, "Prairie Song", _First Million Miles_


10:04 -- Well, still working through e-mail. But getting some small stuff accomplished. One thing I did do was send a note off to Salon Magazine, asking them to present a column from those who do not feel totally scarred by their experiences of multiple relationships. They've recently run a few columns from some ex-Mormons who left abusive polygamous marriages, and though their interviewer was fairly neutral, the respondents were pretty vehement about how impossible they felt it was for a woman to be happy in a multiple-relationship situation. Clearly, the Mormon method is not the kind of thing I practice...and I think it's worrisome that the Salon readership (large!) may get the impression that the Mormon method is the only way to do multiple relationships. If any of you feel strongly about this as well, I encourage you to drop a note to Salon asking them to run a column presenting some other perspectives.

1:15 - A new poem, my dears, sparked by a request from a friend who has a new website, Clematis. It's in my 98 poems, but I encourage y'all to stop by Clematis, read it there and add a poem of your own. My only quibble with it is that it doesn't allow for tabs -- and I love tabs in my poems...

Well, a quiet day today,…

Well, a quiet day today, my munchkins. Pottering around Los Gatos with Kevin, meeting up with Jed for a bit (we're writing the next mouthorgan column, a response to last week's, so watch for it Thursday), taking Susan's (Kev's sister) dog out for a walk, nice dinner at Good Earth, and now working through e-mail. The only real accomplishment of the day was finishing _Lolita_, which I thought was a really quite stunning book. Unsurprising, since I loved _Pale Fire_. I may have to go on a Nabokov kick; I have a copy of _Ada_ at home. Rich fare, though -- perhaps I should alternate with something lighter, less ornate in style and language. Another stab at Hemingway?

What I found interesting about _Lolita_ is that I'm pretty sure that most of the critics/commentators missed the point. People talk a lot about how shocking the book is (the protagonist is a pedophile, in case you're not familiar with it), how daring. And I just didn't get the sense that Nabokov was at all concerned with that. The book was mostly funny, and the protagonist wasn't shocking or scary -- just rather sad. The author did a wonderful job of making you (or me, anyway) feel for a charaacter that isn't likable on a personal or ethical level. Fascinating. What a challenge! A little of me resents that he's done it already...but that's just pettiness talking, and lack of current inspiration.

Lots of weird semi-job opportunities coming my way these days, some more serious-sounding than others. Will see how that goes. Will keep you posted. Could you see me as an assistant editor at Salon?

Anyway, back to sorting through e-mail. Very backlogged. A few more 'first time' poems to share with you, though...I'm so pleased to have received such wonderful responses to my request. I'd love to have this be more interactive. Maybe I should start looking into that CGI stuff seriously...


There's something I find really lovely about this one:

I had loved her since forever.
she was five years older
and vastly experienced - a mother even.
One autumn night, after months of kissing
we lay together on the bench seat of my dad's truck
in a field
and she cried
"I love you."
for the first time

- James


And from 'b'...

Practical Life
**************

Listen, about the unicorns,
I'm not sure I believe anyway.
Because my concerns are too abstract,
even for the unicorns.

I've grown too old
for my earth to be shattered,
for my mind to be blown,
for time to stand still.
I too can understand
the impatience with arbitrary social convention.

Ragtag emotions commingle like fluid,
miscible as love and hate,
but curiosity rises to the top,
like a drug that addicts without harm,
You can drive me crazy
with your teasing finger, comethering to me,
your eyes dancing with the memory you know I want,
your warm embrace, licking your hidden lips in desire.

You--or any possible other, but
let us take you, out of convenience
or love--have been painted
as a siren, the abyss,
the loss of faith and morality,
but this I refuse to accept.

After all, I won't manage to save myself--
the magic has charmed itself from me--
but there is still time for you
to save us both.

Morning, my darlings. …

Morning, my darlings. Sorry it's been a few days, but things have been tremendously social and busy here. Kevin came up Friday from his parents' and is staying with, small birthday party Friday night which went very very late, wanderings up to Berkeley with Kevin Saturday afternoon (where I had perhaps the best sandwich of my life -- fresh bread, grilled mushrooms and roasted red peppers, delicate goat cheese and thin apple slices -- amazingly good) and bookstore-hopping, pirate ball Saturday night, people over for brunch yesterday (well, 'people' being David and Heather and Kevin and Ian and El, which is practically family, but still) and a quite fun play last night (_Picasso at Lapin Agile_) which I heartily recommend to anyone who appreciates geeks. It would go over well at U Chicago. :-)

So first chance to catch my breath in a bit (helps that Kev is still asleep) and say hello again to y'all. I should actually get back to work, but I wanted to share some of the poems you've been sending in. And thanks for the lovely birthday wishes -- I really had a very nice extended birthday, started Friday or so. :-)


This one's from another Mary Ann, though she spells her name wrong. :-) She tells me that it's not about the actual first time, but the first man, which I think is close enough...

Six years today
and that is long enough to forget
the exact texture of your skin
and how salty it was.
I can only almost picture
the curve of your lip
and how it fit.
I don't really remember, now,
how your voice would thicken
and your eyes grow dark
or how long and fine your fingers are
or how gracefully you brush
stray hair from your face.
It is six years
that I have called you friend
and the words we say
are dust on the surface
of all the things I cannot recall.

- Mary Ann Locke


This one is from 'R', who asked to remain nameless. I certainly think it's deserving of an attribution, but given the subject matter, I can understand the urge to remain anonymous...

        First Times

"Send me a poem about your first time" she writes
  and I wonder what to say...

Do I tell her of 18
  when it was sexuality and love
    and everything seemed to be beginning
  both of us were scared
    yet anxious to discover life's possibilities
  as we explored each other.

Do I tell her of 16
  when it was curiosity and lust
    and everything was fresh and exciting
  both of us were scared
    yet anxious to explore life's sensations
  as curious about ourselves as each other.

Do I tell her of 10
  when it was perversion and force
    and everything was unknown and frightening
  all I remember was being so scared
    and anxious for it to be over
  terrified of the person who could do that to me.

What counts and doesn't count, when it comes to first times?

     -19 July 1998


Now, 'W' also requested anonymity, with no good reason, as far as I can tell...

In a different world,
we had the courage to touch.
That is strange comfort.

---

A dance of strangers
whirling around the shaman:
"Please, another tale!"


I'm enjoying these very much, and I think will eventually collect them all in the poetry section. Any more?

H’lo all! Hmm…didn’t…

H'lo all! Hmm...didn't realize it'd been so long since the last entry, and no time for a long one this morning, as I'm off to a temp assignment in 20 minutes, and I haven't showered yet. Just checking to say all's relatively well...busy planning for a small birthday party tomorrow night, Pirate Ball Saturday night (costume basically done :-), birthday Sunday, yippee! Hope all's well with all of you. May write properly tonight if I have time...

Well. Tried an…

Well. Tried an organizational experiment today. (It's apparently a time for organization; yesterday David helped me redo my bookshelves, which were in sad need of the help. I ruthlessly culled certain books which I had never read and had no real intention of reading; also some duplicates that had crept in. I now have about twenty books to get rid of; any my friends don't grab will eventually make their way to a bookstore. And I've boxed up the Star Trek books, which means that I have no more toppling piles of books...everything is on a shelf! With a little room to spare, even!)

But the experiment I was talking about was a less physical one. I've never been quite happy with the way the poems on these pages are organized. (You're about to see the truly compulsive side of me). They're organized by year, primarily. But within that, they're organized alphabetically. Now this is good in a practical sense, in that it's easy for *me* to find a given poem. I know roughly what year it's likely to be in, and I generally remember the titles. It was a useful default, when I was setting the system up. But it's not really logical; either entirely chronological or entirely alphabetical would make more sense, probably. And still, neither of *those* would really address what would be useful to readers. Oh, they might be vaguely interested by chronological, but surely there are better ways to organize these?

The answer, as any good librarian would tell you (and yes, I have the soul of a librarian; my two primary career goals as a kid were librarian and astronaut (I abandoned librarian when a neighborhood librarian solemnly informed ten-year-old me that no, he didn't actually get to read all the time; astronaut fell prey to weak math and bad eyesight)), is to cross-reference. So, rather than redo my entire system, I started putting in cross-references. I thought of various themes that might work for readers, but decided to start with the easiest -- by person. So now the Kevin poems are referenced in chronological order. I'd be curious to know whether y'all think this is at all useful before I go nuts with thematic cross-references. Of course, even if it does nothing for any of you, in some sense, it pleases my sense of order, so I may do it anyway. But I *am* curious. :-)

You can either start at the beginning or the current end. Or somewhere in the middle, I suppose. Those of you who dislike poetry, please feel free to skip this assignment. :-) I'll eventually come up with something for the fiction, no doubt. (Ah, the tempations of a hypertext environment. I knew I wouldn't be able to resist them for long...)

1:00 a.m. Compulsiveness took over and I added links for David and Jordan. Should go to sleep soon, as tomorrow morning Kris picks me up and a whole horde of us head up to celebrate her birthday with a day of wine tasting.

One last poem:

Fringes

At the edge of the fabric we hang, swinging freely
over the drop, hearts in our throats, hearts in
our hands. Roadsigns long since disappeared;
so few songs and tales to light the way, here
in the outer reaches. It is frightening,
being first. Lonely too, and there is always
the possibility that we are truly lost; that we
are not simply searching the best route; that there
is no pass over these high mountains.

Should we turn back? It's warmer near the center.

But oh -- the clear cold beauty of the mountaintop
at night, under the unforgiving stars... it is
easier to breathe here, isn't it? Am I wrong?
I know. You're tired. I'm tired too. My legs
are so sore these days. Here...let's build a fire.
We can stop for a little while and rest in the light.

We can decide where we're going next in the morning.
But you know -- I'm pretty sure we're not lost yet.

I have a problem. At…

I have a problem. At least I think I do -- it's possible I'm still so groggy that I'm only imagining the problem, especially since it seemed crystal clear to me at the moment I woke, but still.

Postulate 1. I write my best stories when I write them all in one go, basically without getting up from the chair for more than a few minutes. Now, by best I don't necessarily mean that a story I wrote in one sitting five years ago is necessarily better than one I constructed over several days last week...but rather that if I hadn't constructed the story over several days but rather wrote *it* all it one go, it would be a better story. (And by constructed here, I meant wrote in chunks, which isn't clear. Thinking it out over several days is fine).

Now, this is not typical for writers. I've resisted coming to this conclusion for my work (though I've discussed the possibility with Kevin before). But I can *see* the breaks in flow, in language (and while Kev says I need to counter that by becoming a better, more conscious writer, I don't know that that's going to help anytime soon. I'm trying, but...). More importantly, perhaps, it's much too easy to stop caring about a story if I stop. I have a huge folder full of unfinished stories...and I had endings in mind when I started them; I just got up and walked away and never came back.

Postulate 2: I can't write a novel all in one go. Oh, I've heard of romance authors who crank out a novel in three weeks (sometimes one each month!), but I don't think I'll be able to do that anytime soon. And there are a host of purely practical things to consider -- like sleeping. And earning rent. Sleeping *might* be okay if I got up and immediately started working again...or it might not. Don't know. Maybe I should experiment with a short story.

Conclusion: I can't write my best novel. I'm not even sure I can finish a novel -- not one I'd be willing to see published, at any rate. (I *can* force myself to crank out words, but how dreary!).

I'm trying to think of solutions. When I was working on my fantasy novel before, the parts that seemed to work best were the ones that were mini-stories within themselves; *those* I could write in a chunk, and sustain real interest in. Perhaps I wouldn't write a conventional novel. Perhaps I'd write an entire series of mini-stories, and try to get a mosaic effect, so they all cohered into one larger story (either with or without mortar between them). I can't easily think of another solution...I'm afraid it'll be a *long* time before Kev's solution works. And I'm not feeling patient, dammit. It's been five years since I started writing; more than enough time, IMO, to have written a novel.

Okay, I'm going to try something. I send the readers "The High Priestess", the story I wrote last night. I'm also going to send a chunk of my novel, written *as* a single story (which does have the advantage of possibly being able to sell to magazine market). Probably "Melusane". There are problems with both of them; specifically, one is entirely told, rather than shown, and the other is partially. I think that may be laziness on my part, though, and potentially fixable. (The storytelling style is an ancient and venerable tradition, but it doesn't sell for beans). I'd like to hear opinions on whether you think a) either of these stories could sell to a fantasy mag and b) whether you could see reading a book composed of stories like these.


Okay, enough fretting. In an entirely different vein, one of you did respond to my query about writing poems in response, and gave me permission to post his response poem. Very neat! I wish I had time to set up CGI scripts so y'all could easily interact with me here.

She was too
fat
young
needy
a hairdresser
pale
Canadian
I was too soft
scared.

-John Bakum

Would still be happy to see poems from more of you...

Hey, darlin’s. (Arthur…

Hey, darlin's. (Arthur plays bluegrass and calls me darlin'. I didn't know anyone actually did that. I find it utterly charming. I am now formally adopting the term. :-)

Well, today was a bit odd. I ended up going to a library instead of a cafe; the Rockridge library is new, reasonably cool (compared to my house, anyway), and has outlets where I can plug in my laptop, huzzah. On the other hand, although I spent a good six hours there, I spent the whole time reading instead of writing. On the third hand, I had some ideas for a story that I got all excited about, which I think I can blame pretty directly on all the reading I've been doing. So I went from feeling very frustrated with myself for not working (and guilty -- ah, how the Catholicism does linger...) to realizing once again that reading *is* part of my job, dangit. I ought to have that firmly in my head by now, but somehow it seems I have to learn it over and over again. Maybe it's my Puritan upbringing -- I can't believe that something that brings me such unadulterated pleasure is actually good for me. (Okay, my upbringing wasn't strictly Puritan, but I *did* grow up in New England, which counts for something, I think). Ah well -- I suppose eventually I'll get over it.

Romped through the newest Lackey bardic book (been on a Lackey kick recently; reread Magic's Promise and Arrows of the Queen yesterday and undoubtedly would have read the rest of both series if I could find them). While she may not be the world's greatest prose stylist, she *is* a good storyteller (and I've reread all of Bujold too recently to read her again right now, especially since I seem incapable of reading one Miles book without reading the other ten or so immediately following -- now *there's* a damn good storyteller), and that's one of my weaknesses. Prose stylings I'm getting better and better at. Characterization I can handle. Plotting -- ah, my nemesis. If I could make a living only writing short mood pieces, my career would be made. "Chantal" has more coherent, functional plot than anything else I've written -- and I wrote it five years ago and don't know how I did it. If I weren't so tired, I'd probably get all irritated at myself again...

I did buy some lovely tea today, and since I think I may actually try to write down the (fantasy) story I was puttering with today, I'm drinking it now, despite the fact that it's 10:45 p.m. and I'll undoubtedly now be up past midnight and David's supposed to call me when he wakes up. I *must* remember to buy some padded envelopes tomorrow. Sorry, note to myself. In any case, I recommend the Fortnum & Mason Royal Blend; I enjoyed their Queen Anne, so I was pretty sure I'd like this blend of Indian and Ceylon teas, and I do. A good tea for those who like Ceylon Breakfast or Darjeeling, I think (which is my general family preference in black teas. Kevin and Lisette actually like Lapsang Souchong, which I can't understand...the very smell of that tea makes me feel ill. And David's a Prince of Wales man, which is a serviceable tea, but doesn't excite me. Now that would be a fun, if silly, bit of characterization to work into a story...having everyone drinking subtly different black teas that reflected their characters. What does it say about you if you're an English Breakfast woman, or an Earl Grey man? :-)

It's so nice having a library card again. I had forgotten how much I loved libraries; it was calming just being there today. I spent so much of my youth in libraries; when I got out of high school, I'd often go to the library to wait for my father to pick me up (there wasn't a bus). And since he's a doctor, and it could be hours before he'd have a chance to come get me, he knew that I'd be safe and occupied pretty much indefinitely (or until they closed) at the library. And even before that, during summer vacation in grammar school, he'd drive me and my little sister there at least once a week. And I would argue with the librarian, trying to persuade her to let me take out more than ten books -- 'cause I *knew* ten books wouldn't last an entire week (and I never had the patience to stretch them...I'd read them all in 2-3 days, and spend the next three or four impatiently waiting for the library again...). *grin* I was not a particularly athletic child. Pudgy, would I think be the appropriate word...*sigh* And now isn't nearly as much better as I'd like. Dammit, I know what I want for my birthday -- some willpower! That would come in very very useful...

Okay, enough silly babblings, my dears. Sleep well...

5:30 a.m. The sky is just starting to get light. I may regret this, but...

I drank two cups of tea. I made some curry, and ate it. I finished the Star Trek book I was reading (around 2:30 a.m.). And then I wrote a story.

It may well be an unpublishable story; the only pieces I've seen like it are some of Peter Beagle's (such as "Giant Bones"), and he published his in a collection of his own work -- and I'm *not* Peter Beagle, to be able to get away with that. I'd tell you all about it, but I'll just send it to the readers' list instead. It's fantasy, and set in the same world as that fantasy novel I was working on, lo, these many moons ago. Same characters too. Strange how I suddenly wanted to write about them again.

Well, dropping a note to David to *not* call me when he wakes up, and then I'm off to bed. I hope I think this has been worth it in the morning. I have no sense of perspective or critical reading ability at the moment.

Month is half over –…

Month is half over -- whoosh!

Well, looks like I'm working from home today, which is fine; lord knows I have enough work to do. But first some puttering -- I'm cleaning up my web pages (anyone know if pico has a search & replace function? I know ctrl-w will search for me, but I want it to replace as well, automatically...) and adding things. I have this directory full of stuff I've been meaning to add to the web pages...

I did add a new poem to the Parker section, despite my stated intention to try to stick to one or two poems per poet, because it was just too appropriate. Besides, her poems are short. Okay, I know that's not a good reason. Well, if you like them, buy a book, dang it! Maybe I *will* set up that Amazon bookstore stuff properly, to make it easy for people to buy these poets' (and others') books through me.

The other exciting news is that Ellen had her baby! (Well, Ellen and Tim, I suppose, but considering that it was a difficult birth, I'm inclined to give more of the credit to Ellen...) The redhaired munchkin is appparently happy and well now. I admit to finding this all a bit disconcerting; Ellen is the first of my college friends to actually do the kids thing, though several of us intend to. She *is* a few years older than me, though, which is some comfort. *And* she's been gainfully employed for quite a while, like a real grown-up...

Ellen and Tim live off in the middle of nowhere somewhere, but if they're ever in the area, I'm going to spoil that kid rotten. I may not know how I'll do as a parent, but I plan to be a fabulous aunt...

10:15. Added some funnies, on light bulbs and haiku.

11:30. Okay, okay, I fixed the links! Actually, someone sent me a mail hours ago about it, and I thought, 'oh, I'll do it later'...and the next time I logged in, there were two more mails waiting on it. Good thing David's out of town camping with Heather or *he'd* be poking at me too...

*grin* I am, of course, actually very appreciative. I like accuracy.

It was too damn hot today. Worked through the morning, but by 2 o'clock it was just too painful to think. I read books instead. I started by reading more of the Kress, but then *that* seemed like too much work, so I reread some old Mercedes Lackey instead, some favorites that recently reappeared on my bookshelves. Juvenile fiction was about all my brain could handle in that weather -- and it's *still* a little too warm for comfort. I probably should have had my nightly tea iced instead of hot.

Now if I'd only napped instead of reading, I could be working now...tomorrow I go to an air-conditioned cafe for the afternoon, so there.

Okay, I'm babbling. 'Night, all.

Mmm…tired. Long…

Mmm...tired. Long day.

I don't know how clear it is what I'm actually doing these days -- it's a fairly chaotic mix of writing stuff for money, writing other things, trying to get better about sending stories out, temping, learning FrameMaker, waiting for this tech writing gig to happen, etc. So today, I had a one-day temp assignment...it was supposed to be two, but I finished the work in one, so no job tomorrow. :( Not much I could do about it; I *could* have stretched the work out to two days, but I would have been bored stiff. It was a weird assignment...instead of the moderately technical executive secretarial stuff I usually do (which is harder than it looks, and actually takes some skills), today I filled in on a clerical assignment. It was all they had, and was better than not working, since money is tight right now, but it's been a while since I did that kind of thing. I spent most of the day counting. The company (which makes magnets, of all things), needed several boxes inventoried, so it was a fair bit of pretty tedious unpacking, sorting, counting, repacking. And I caught myself reminding myself that I don't really do this for a living, and I have two degrees, dammit, and so on and so forth. I had to resist the urge to explain to my boss that I was really pretty overqualified for this job -- as if he cared! *sigh* I will be *so* happy when I am once again working close to full-time at something that I can take seriously. Today just felt so wasteful...

(On the other hand, part of me is re-reading the above and saying, boy, you sound arrogant. You were damn glad to get the work, after all...)

Anyway. It sounds worse than it was; I'm tired, and my neck and shoulders hurt from all the bending over, but it actually went pretty quickly. And I *am* glad I got it done and don't have to go back there tomorrow.

Read some Sharon Olds poems this morning; Jed had loaned me a book, and I read them on the train. Really good...so rich that I closed the book after three poems; I don't want to race through these. I'll pick my favorites once I have read through and put one or two up here for y'all.

Lessee -- other reading. Well, I'm quickly reading through Nancy Kress's new book on character (that Leah's Mike loaned me). Nothing tremendously new so far, though it's interesting to see laid out consciously some things that I've known subconsciously. That's a lot of what Clarion did, and it's clearly helped my writing, so I'm going to finish the book, and perhaps some stuff will seep in. I think it would be a very helpful book to a new writer.

Also reading through LeGuin's _Steering the Craft_, which I think would be more helpful to a writing teacher than to an individual writer, though it's a little hard to say. Also reading her essays in _Dancing on the Edge of the World_; I like those better. Interestingly, this year, both Kevin and I (independently) started reading a lot more nonfiction. Not that I don't still love fiction (I spent a while in the bookstore at lunch reading Pratchett's _Interesting Times_), but nonfiction interests me more these days. Not sure why, but the list of books I want to get and read are almost entirely nonfiction right now. Strange.

Okay, I can't resist, here's a Sharon Olds poem, a lovely one.


First Sex

(for J.)

I knew little, and what I knew
I did not believe -- they had lied to me
so many times, so I just took it as it
came, his naked body on the sheet,
the tiny hairs curling on his legs like
fine, gold shells, his sex
harder and harder under my palm
and yet not hard as a rock his face cocked
back as if in terror, the sweat
jumping out of his pores like sudden
trails from the tiny snails when his knees
locked with little clicks and under my
hand he gathered and shook and the actual
flood like milk came out of his body, I
saw it glow on his belly, all they had
said and more, I rubbed it into my
hands like lotion, I signed on for the duration.


She rocks, huh? That's from her book, _The Gold Cell_.

She makes me want to write. There are so few authors who pull that from me -- I don't know why. Anne Sexton is one; it was because of her Sleeping Beauty poem that I started writing as an adult. Sometimes Henry Miller. It's something about the way they use language, I think.

I paused, and wrote a first time poem. I'll post it below in a moment...but it made me think. I wonder if her poem, or mine, will evoke in any of you an urge to write. I would love to read first time poems from any of you reading this journal this week. Or any poem in response to hers or mine. If you write something, send it to me? And if you want, I'll gladly post them here, with or without your name, as you prefer. That would be very neat.

In any case, here's a poem, and I'm off to bed. Sleep well, my dears.

First Time

Was it when a neighborhood boy,
gangly and gawkish, asked if he could
kiss me, in the basement? It was summer,
thick and heavy, and I didn't know
what to say but 'yes'. And though it was
a terrible kiss, later I let him unbutton
my shirt; I let him touch my bra, my breasts.
They were so much larger than he'd expected,
and I didn't know whether to be pleased
or embarrassed. And when he asked me
to rub him through his jeans, I said 'yes',
and when he asked me to rub him naked,
I invented an imaginary boyfriend, so he
would go away. He did. When another
neighborhood boy, younger, asked me
to touch him, I was surprised, and then
this boy said, "But you did it with him..."
I think I was angry; it's hard to remember.
When he, the first one, died a few summers later,
I was angry, and sad, and wished I felt more
than I did. But, as my parents warned,
it could have been much worse.

Later, it would be. And much better.

Still, I remember him.

*****

(author's note: it was harder to be honest with that one than I expected. I suppose I still have mixed feelings there.)

Hello, munchkins. Back…

Hello, munchkins. Back from visiting Kevin again, and I'll be home all this week (he'll be gone for the greater part of it to a wedding). So the journal should be slightly less erratic, and I'll hopefully get some more work done (although to be honest, I got a fair bit of work done sitting in cafes with him).

Plan for today -- make money! More specifically, finish "The Fall" (latest novella for Puritan, about 3K to go); do RealDoll interview, and finish Penthouse story if I can. Work through some more FrameMaker stuff. Maybe write a story for an anthology or two (there seem to be lots of them calling for submissions right now). Ambitious plans, so I'd best get off to them (I already spent some time this morning updating a booklist and adding some information on first contracts), so I'll just leave you with this joke:


A writer dies and due to a bureaucratic snafu in the afterworld, he is allowed to choose his own fate: heaven or hell for all eternity. Being a very shrewd dead person, he asks St. Peter for a tour of both. The first stop is hell where he sees rows and rows of writers sitting chained to desks in a room as hot as a thousand suns. Fire licks the writers' fingers as they try to work, demons whip their backs with chains. Your general hell scene.

"Wow, this sucks" quoth the writer, "let's see some heaven."

In a moment, they were whisked to heaven and the writer saw rows and rows of writers chained to desks in a room as hot as a thousand suns. Fire licks the writers' fingers as they try to work, demons whip their backs with chains. It looks and smells even worse than hell.

"What gives, Pete?" the writer asked, "this is worse than hell!"

"Yes," St. Peter replied, "but here your work gets published."