Looking for my old…

Looking for my old friend in the mountains,
I came upon a young boy in a copse.
He said his master, my old friend, had gone,
Gathering medicinal herbs. He never leaves
these hills, he told me, but my friend
is hidden by the clouds, and the fog.

--Tr. Brian Tung

Brian sent me this T'ang Dynasty poem this morning -- we had talked once before about a favorite T'ang Dynasty poem of mine. Very nice way to start the morning.

Also exciting in the e-mail this morning was a tentative offer from someone interested in publishing my anthology. If it works out, I may make less money, but I wouldn't be taking any of the risk, or dealing with any of the publishing, marketing, distributing hassle. I think it's worth it...we'll see how talks go.

Yesterday was a pretty quiet day -- spent the day working and catching up with e-mail. Evening I came home, read Simon Hawke's The Nine Lives of Catseye Gomez (part of his delightfully funny Wizard of Camelot series), and started Diana Wynne Jones's Cart and Cwidder, part of her Dalemark series. (I had forgotten Lord Valentine's Castle at work...) If you're not familiar with Jones's work and enjoy children's fantasy, I strongly suggest you seek her out. Her Chrestomanci series is fabulous. I first encountered her in the adult fantasy section, with A Sudden Wild Magic, but her children's books are even better. Spent the rest of the evening being totally lazy and talking to Kevin, catching him up on the party and the last couple of days. Nice evening. Went to bed early.

Today the plan is to do at least half the remaining work on the erotica article for Puritan, and to clean up the apartment when I get home...:-)

In case you haven't visited my quotes, I'm enclosing the T'ang Dynasty poem discussed above here.

The autumn leaves are falling like rain.
Although my neighbors are all barbarians,
And you, you are a thousand miles away,
There are always two cups at my table.


Oh, I have a lot to…

Oh, I have a lot to catch up on here. Lessee...to go back to Saturday. Well, Saturday was a trip and a half. I'm not sure how familiar the general net.public is with BDSM, so I don't know quite how much to explain. Perhaps it's best if I assume a general knowledge -- for more specifics click here, which will take you to Yahoo's BDSM resource links. You can explore further from there. I strongly recommend starting with the alt.sex.bondage FAQ. Briefly, BDSM refers to bondage, domination, sadism and masochism -- plus a bunch of related stuff. It can run the gamut from tying someone up and tickling them to playing serious mind games to heavy whipping. Sex is sometimes but certainly not always involved.

So Saturday I was invited to a play party, by someone I had met at the Midnight Sex and Death Panel at Arisia (Boston SF con referred to in earlier journals). I hadn't been to one before, and was a little freaked out by the idea, but I thought that if nothing else, it would be a good resource for story material, and it would be cowardly not to at least attempt to go. So I went, giving myself full permission to run away screaming if I got too weirded out or squicked.

I actually got the time wrong and arrived a couple of hours early at the hotel where it was being held (the hotel thought we were a bunch of performance artists :-). I was greeted by some lovely (and busy) people, and told that I was welcome to hang out, but they'd be pretty busy getting furniture removed and setting up the racks and benches (for flogging, caning, etc.). I figured that was a hint, and took myself off to the pool -- luckily I had brought both a swimsuit and a few good books (I had bought Anne of the Island it turns out -- great nostalgia trip, though it certainly wasn't as engrossing as it had been the first time through). I eventually headed back to the party -- ran into a bunch of people heading out to get dinner -- joined them and had a great time (jalapeno poppers and tortellini in a creamy sun-dried tomato and pesto sauce!) and then went back to the party.

(One of the people reading this diary asked if I went alone -- and whether I was harrassed, as a single woman attending such an event. So I'm inserting this paragraph to explain.) I did go alone, though I knew one of the hosts (the woman who invited me, and whom I barely saw, actually). Three people asked me to 'play', but they did it politely, and took my refusal with good grace. Consensual is such a big part of the bdsm scene (the standard watchwords are 'safe, sane and consensual') that everyone is very polite, especially to a stranger. They're also quite aware of how scary the whole thing can be, and try very hard not to frighten you away.

There was a social room and several public play rooms, plus many people had their own private rooms. There were many restrictions on what could be done in the public rooms -- eg., no cutting, no alcohol, no drugs... I'm not going to go into detail about what I saw, but there was a fair bit of casual nudity (nonsexual -- more of a locker room functional nudity, if that makes sense), and a great deal of relaxed cameraderie. I hadn't quite expected the whole thing to be so matter-of-fact -- some individual scenes got steamy, but the event as a whole had a very friendly and sane feel to it. I left still slightly bewildered, but reassured, and I admit intrigued. There's something very fascinating about helplessness. I'm going to have dinner with some of the people from the party next week, I think.

I got back from the party around 9 am on Sunday (having had about 2 hours sleep), and almost immediately left to go visit my sister at Johns Hopkins. Quite a contrast, but I had a great time (my father had come out too, and we had a lot of fun gossiping, punctuated only occasionally by parental worry) and a yummy lunch at the Paper Moon restaurant in Baltimore (I can highly recommend the sweet potato fries, their chicken quesadillas (though I actually prefer Chili's), and their appetizer of chicken livers sauteed with onions and portabello mushrooms in a raspberry vinaigrette (served over salad, it's a full meal). Their spinach and ricotta omelette was less than impressive). My dad drove me home, and I spent the rest of the evening talking to Kevin and later David about the party (Karina is very squicked by such things), and eating some of the delicious shrimp and potato curry that my father brought from home for me -- nice to have generous aunts who are good cooks!

Yesterday I went to work and then mostly rested at David's -- read a good chunk of Lord Valentine's Castle, a fantasy book I enjoyed many years ago. I still enjoy it, particularly because it has lots of cool juggling stuff in it (I can juggle three balls, and the mathematicians I hung out with at the U of Chicago were excellent jugglers - knives and torches and the whole bit), but it's rather slower and less interesting than I remembered. Oh well -- some books just don't wear as well as others.

Later -- Hmm...just got some e-mail (hi Eric!) from someone who writes erotica but is afraid to try to publish it, asking my advice. Since his was far from the first such question, I thought I'd try to answer it a bit here. The first thing to keep in mind is that a pseudonym is (though often unwieldy) always an option. Every editor I've talked to has been more than willing to use a pseudonym (several have suggested it themselves) and to be discreet when mailing you sample issues or other material. Puritan Magazine, for example, is under the aegis of Index Publishing, and all of my checks are from Index. I personally only use a pseudonym for stories I consider to be pure trash, and even those I occasionally reconsider -- I published "Making the Sale" under a pseudonym, but eventually put it up here as well, mainly because I figured anyone reading it here would be reading it in context, and not just assuming that that was my best work.

Another option is to brazen it out. I do not recommend this if you a) teach children, b) have an overly-anal work environment, c) think your own children/partner/parents would be more upset/affected than you are willing to deal with, d) or plan to publish children's literature.

If those aren't factors...I've found it surprising how accepting people have been. My boss (a doctor) knows, and while she's weirded out, she doesn't actually object. My younger sisters know, and think it's cool that anyone's willing to pay me that much for a story. All my friends know, of course, and while my generation (I'm 24) is perhaps more accepting of such things, my folk singing group also knows (general age range 40-65) and thinks it's cool. Several members even asked for my web page. People will make a distinction between erotica and porn, and it's up to you how you want to paint your work. Keep in mind that many famous writers wrote erotica (Nicholson Baker's Vox, Anne Rice's Sleeping Beauty series, Anais Nin's work, Henry Miller, Erica Jong), and much mainstream literature has serious erotic elements (try the last few pages of Joyce's Ulysses). So be brave. While some people will think you're perverted or nymphomaniacal (one psychiatrist/writer treated me to a half-hour lecture about my sex obsession), the vast majority will be intrigued, aroused, amused, and/or impressed (the other writers there vigorously defended me to the psychiatrist, although none of them wrote erotica themselves).

Outrageously long entry. Hope this makes up for the hiatus.



With the passing of the Exon Bill (Telecommunications Decency Act), it has unfortunately become imperative that I find a new (free) host for my web pages outside the U.S. (preferably in a country likely to stay on the side of freedom as the censorship battle goes on, such as Denmark). If you know of such a provider who would be able to cope with the heavy (3000+ hits per day) and increasing traffic on this site and who would be willing to host me, please let me know ASAP. The longer I am hosted by a U.S. site, the greater the chance that I will get caught up in a court battle, as we hash out the consequences of this ridiculous (and frightening) law.

Apologies to you all for the skimpiness of the last few days -- I was away for most of the weekend, and they moved my office today, so little computer access. We should return to our normally scheduled journal tomorrow.

I'm scared. I'll probably fight the court fight if I have to, but it's a little more publicity than I'm really ready for.

Morning. So I was a…

Morning. So I was a complete lazy bum last night and didn't go dancing -- stayed home and cuddled and watched hours of tv and started re-reading Madeleine L'Engle's A Ring of Endless Light. She's the author who wrote the Wrinkle in Time tetralogy, one of the great children's book series. What's odd about re-reading this book is noticing how overt the Christianity is -- heck, it's not just overt, it's part of the point. Not surprising, given that the book is mostly about death and rebirth, but still.. it's a bit unnerving. I'm also surprised how difficult it is for me to read something this clearly religious in fiction -- I keep feeling as if I'm being preached to, which makes it difficult to relax and enjoy the story (and I know I enjoyed this the first time I read it). Despite being raised Catholic, I'm certainly no longer religious.

In other exciting news, my friend Jordan Shelbourne, erotica author extraordinaire, finally got his own web page. It's still under construction, but check it out here. His short story "Unwrap Party" is still probably my favorite of all the stories I've run across on-line. It captures such real college students -- with real insecurities...the only other authors I can think of offhand on-line who manages such real characters (Richh and one other who's name I'm forgetting) seem uninterested in generally portraying very sympathetic characters, if that makes any sense. Jordan makes you hurt for his people. Which may not be what everyone is looking for in a story, but I like books that make me cry as well as laugh.

I also finally got around to adding my friend Anand's page to my list of friend's pages. Anand is a friend of mine from high school years (and earlier) who sent me mail about a week ago saying he'd stumbled onto my web page. Minor shock. It still surprises me/makes me nervous when people from my previous lives run into me on-line. So far two friends from grammar school have also found my web pages...it's a little weird. Especially weird in Anand's case because he just did a search for my last name, not for 'erotica' or 'sex' like the others, so he was more than a little surprised to see the directions in which my life has gone. Pretty cool about it nonetheless, and it was great getting in touch with him again.

In other exciting news, Cecelia Tan contacted me yesterday, and is going to publish my short story "Fleeing Gods" in her Sex Magick II anthology! Although she can't afford to pay me much, it's very exciting -- Circlet Press puts out some high quality work.

The snow was light last night, so hopefully we'll be able to get to the folk sing tonight...

Well, there’s one new…

Well, there's one new thing that's got to be obvious to you -- I just revamped this journal so it's separated by month. Hopefully will make it easier to read.

Lots going on, but I'm too hungry to think right now, so I'm going to go have lunch before finishing this entry.

Okay, had lunch, did some paperwork. God, I have mounds and mounds of paperwork to do. In addition to all the story submitting, which is horrendously time-consuming (mostly 'cause I can't get our Mac printer at home to work and so I have to do a bunch of nasty stuff to get the stories onto the IBM at work), I'm job-hunting and grad school-applying for next fall, and since Kevin doesn't know whether he'll be here or in SF, I'm doing it all in both places. I spent 2 hours with the on-line Peterson's today, trying to find out what prep schools to apply to (for teaching positions). The darn thing doesn't have addresses or phone numbers - nuisance. Ugh. Anyway, enough whining.

Supposed to snow again this weekend. If the snow doesn't cancel all my plans, I have contra dancing tonight, folk singing tomorrow (or a birthday party), another party Saturday (or the afore-mentioned birthday party - don't ask), and a visit to my bright little sister at Johns Hopkins (pre-med, of course) on Sunday. Exhausting but fun -- we'll see how the weather shapes up.

Finished Anne of Avonlea, very sweet, and making me wish I had picked up a copy of Anne of the Island while I was at it. Also finished up Joanna Russ's very disturbing The Two of Them, and once again she has me examining aspects of being female and of the relationship between the sexes -- aspects that I thought I had settled (at least in my mind). Good for me, I suppose, though disturbing. Ran into an interesting aphorism on my writing workshop this morning - Inoffensive literature is an oxymoron.

Sorry for the hiatus,…

Sorry for the hiatus, guys. The machine was down yesterday and I couldn't get in. Wouldn't have been able to write much in any case, because I've been typing my fingers into the ground finishing the rough draft of the interview. All done now -- just polishing and trimming to do. I'm really pretty happy with it -- I'm trying to figure out where else might like to buy reprint rights on an article interviewing some of the top erotica writers on-line. I know Penthouse has a HotTek column, but I'm not sure what other sex magazines or net-focused magazines would be interested. Any suggestions?

Other than that, life is pretty good. Sunday I had a potluck brunch which extended into dinner and a game of Cosmic Encounter (a very fun game that I used to play years ago and which Kevin gave me a copy of for Christmas) with some friends. Monday had dinner at Sarah's (other Penn mathematician) - vegetable dumplings and miso soup -- easier to make than I had expected. Just chop up your favorite vegetables very small and put a little bit in the center of little dumpling sheets that you can buy at the store and use some warm water to fold over and seal them. Then boil, steam or fry them, as desired. For miso soup you apparently just make a clear soup and add a chunk of miso (dissolved in a little hot soup first, as if you were adding flour). I guess you buy miso in the Asian part of town? And yesterday I went over to David's after work and after finishing the rough interview. Chicken stir-fry for dinner, and Cherry Garcia ice cream! (One of my three favorite flavors). One might go off into interesting speculation on what kind of guy would give ice cream rather than flowers, but since David reads this occasionally, I think I'll spare him that. :-)

Hmmm...looking back over these entries (and the diary in general) I find more than a few references to food. Oh well -- I'm fond of it. Food is one of the great joys of life, as far as I'm concerned.

Re: books (one of the other major forces in my life) I've been a little slow lately - too much socializing. Reread The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (Douglas Adams), sequel to Hitchhiker's. Great, of course. Currently almost finished with latest issue of Tomorrow SF, a somewhat disappointing read in comparison with Century, but with one story I really liked, "A Piece-a Chain," told in the voice of a scared black kid who finds (and is changed by) some magic to help him cope with the violence of his everyday life. Also in the middle of Anne of Avonlea, which I had started quite a while ago and am just now picking up again.

Finally almost over my cold -- I slept about 10 hours last night and am feeling much better. I've been trying to put up the .jpg of the graphic that the Australian Cool Site of the Day people sent me, but with no luck. I Just get a broken picture, and I don't know enough about graphics to know why. Sigh. I did okay ftp'ing the Magellan .gif, but the Aussies mailed me theirs, and I suspect I messed up in stripping the headers or somesuch.

Good evening, everyone….

Good evening, everyone. Not a whole lot to report, since I'm still sick and mostly have been schlepping around the house trying to get well (and not really succeeding, although my cold does seem to be moving around a fair bit -- last night was hacking cough -- today it's incessant sneezing. sigh). I did drag myself out to a party last night despite illness, and glad I did, because I ran into a friend whom I haven't seen in a few months (he's been very busy with exams) and who I think is pretty cute and who I think was perhaps flirting back with me? Not sure, but perhaps we will see where this goes? Oh, sometimes I think I am a fool, but then again, youth is short and sweet and now is the time to be foolish, no? What's a little fling between good friends? It's fun to think about, anyway.

Today re-reading Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a ridiculously funny book by Douglas Adams. On something like the 4th or 5th re-reading he still has me laughing out loud -- very impressive.

Not much else to say, actually. Behind on collating interviews for the magazine article -- must do tomorrow morning! Feeling too spacy to attempt it tonight. Should also get to bed moderately early since I'm having some friends over for potluck brunch tomorrow. Somehow even though I know I'm sick I have a hard time convincing myself to slow down.

Hey, everyone. I should…

Hey, everyone. I should put a counter on this page too -- I wonder how many people actually read this each day.

Still somewhat sick -- stayed home from work today and slept in to help recuperate. Still horrendous bags under my eyes and my throat is pretty bad, but my body doesn't feel quite as achy as it did yesterday. Hmm... hold on a sec -- I'm going to go put on some water for hot chocolate.

Okay, am back. Ugh, my kitchen is a mess. As soon as I finish this, I'm afraid it'll be dishes time. I've been neglecting the place a bit since I've either been sick or over at Dave's a lot lately, and neither Karina nor Kevin are too into housework (more accurately, they're pretty much slobs -- good thing they have other appealing qualities :-).

Hmmm...thinking about a bunch of stuff lately. Was really happy last night at David's -- so happy that I was sort of hyperaware of it, if that makes any sense. Happy enough that I wanted to capture that experience, that moment, (the whole thing, not just a snapshot of it (why is it that we so often take photos of things and not recordings? Is sight so much more important than sound? Why haven't we developed touch-recorders of some kind, so that sf-type feelies could really be done?)) to pull out and hold onto in those moments when I'm feeling like the world is too bleak to be borne. Not that I've ever actually felt suicidal -- I'm just much too pragmatic/optimistic (depends on your point of view) a person, and I know that my misery is unlikely to last...but sometimes it would be very good to be able to feel happy on cue. And I'd rather not rely on alchohol or drugs to do it for me (actually, call me an innocent, but I've never tried any drug other than liquor -- not even a cigarette -- maybe someday, but I just haven't felt a need for it, and I'm scared of possible consequences. Weird, especially since in some ways I feel like a writer should try to experience as much as possible in order to write effectively. Well, those can wait, at any rate. I'm generally on a Mary Anne-high in any case, and I'm moody enough without 'em).

Oof, rambling like crazy. Which probably means I should go write a story if the words are flowing this easily, but I don't really have any ideas on what I want to work on. There are a couple unfinished pieces lying around -- "The Prometheus Design" and "A Tale of Two Tellers" and of course the novel, but none of them sound particularly interesting right now. I'm actually collaborating on "A Tale" with Riffy, a net.friend of mine, and it's definitely my turn, but goddess-knows when I'll get to it.

Whine whine, complain complain, moan groan kvetch. I'm going to go drink my hot chocolate and try to do some dishes. I can at least be somewhat constructive even if I can't write.