Today has been interesting. Lots of writing, but the sort that takes a significant amount of revision as I go.
Which means all kinds of things didn't happen today. Or maybe that a lot of the thing I wanted to get done most got done, just in a slower way than was entirely convenient, and that my weekend now has meaning.
Oh, and I just finished binge reading the second and third books of the Divergent series. I need some kind of recovery program now. Or a new heart. And some tissues. And more books to read.
Non-alarmist commentary on the body mod ban
So the whole "OMG ARKANSAS BODY MOD BAN" thing goes around from time to time, but nobody seems to get past the point of freaking out. So here. Have some useful info from someone on the ground, who worked with legislators to make sure folks were well-informed.
Wednesday night, one of my roommates and I were at a social function and she asked me whether I prefer Harold and Maude or Tenacious D.
I was confused, given that one is a really excellent film, and one of them is an amusing musical act, but then she clarified that she'd specifically wanted to know about Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, and not necessarily Tenacious D in general.
You guys. Let me tell you about how I love Harold and Maude. Harold's obsession with acting out the idea of death, his ingenuity in the execution, how it changes when he experiences Maude's relationship with life and mortality, the way the story shows characters dealing with the reality of death and how that stands in contrast to the way we symbolize it, how the whole thing is informed by the concept of how a Good Death is a desirable thing, the mentoring/maturity storyline, how it destigmatizes suicide in a beautiful and sensitive way...
It is a hell of a film. Pick of Destiny is a laugh, but it's not even in the ballpark.
And really, of course I'd feel this way. Ghostbusters is the film that stuck with me more than any other, with Beetlejuice coming a close second. I worry may have come close to wearing out the copy of The Making of Thriller we used to rent from the Curtis Mathes shop when I was a kid. I have always loved monsters and dead things and death. The aptitude tests my high school guidance counselor gave me actually suggested I consider being a funeral director (among other things, including being a writer).
Cemeteries are my happy place. I think a lot about the implications of my own future possible deaths, the logistical nuts and bolts (both for myself and loved ones), and the disposition of my remains. I have a lock of my grandmother's hair from when she died. I keep meaning to build myself a nice coffin/bookcase.
Death is such a big part of who I am that I don't really notice until I notice it's not like this for other people, or until someone asks something death-related and then I get really, really excited.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The danger of a single story
Adichie grew up in Nigeria, but had little early exposure to stories about people like her. The effect of that "single story" -- i.e. the experience of white Europeans -- was that she didn't realize that people like her, in places like her home, could exist in books. She cautions us about simple, limited narratives, and narratives that don't accurately describe the world as it is.
I have been spending an inordinate amount of time thinking about Cecil Gershwin Palmer.
If you've got no idea who I'm talking about, stop what you are doing and go discover Welcome to Night Vale. Aside from what it is on its own (i.e. podcast theatre/storytelling in the format of community radio from a brilliantly bizarre desert town), it's also a thing with a significant and creative following composed of people who like to make art, and cosplay, and write stories.
Which, you know, without visual cues means that the community decides what things might/could/should look like.
He could look like Chiwetel Ejiofor. He could look like Jim Morrisson. He could look like a pastrami sandwich (though this is unlikely given the policies in Night Vale regarding wheat and wheat byproducts).
The way fandom visualizes Cecil (the voice of Night Vale) fascinates me. I initially came to the show because I kept seeing dream casting on Tumblr suggesting Richard Ayoade in his role, and had misunderstood that to mean he was actually involved in the podcast. I later became aware of what's become one of the most common Cecils -- white, blond with-or-without dark roots, lots of squiggly purple tattoos, into sweater vests, may or may not have a third eye -- as well as what Cecil Baldwin (the voice actor who plays him) looks like.
I like the uncertainty. I like the different possible Cecils. I like that there's a Cecil I can be for Halloween (white Cecil with the tattoos) while having a very different headcanon (my Cecil has always been multi-ethnic, dark-skinned, tattooed, and a snappy dresser in an punk-ish sort of way). The openness and variety is really satisfying to me because anyone can play.
Of course, that may be the reason I resist getting too deeply into the WTNV fandom. Because as much as I want to believe that everyone on that particular train thinks as I do -- that an abundance of Cecils is much to be desired -- I keep seeing hints that this is not the case often enough. Or that white Cecil is just "Cecil" while Cecils of color are perceived as special variant Cecils. Which is annoying but not surprising, given how race works in our culture.
So yeah. I'm chewing on this a lot.
And now, links:
- This is Anxiety
As someone who struggles mightily with anxiety at times, I was excited to see that this exists. It's not just a matter of calming down and being rational. It's a matter of body/mind doing things that make even a rational person crumble in bizarre ways.
- Shovel Your Fucking Walk
Not that we have done this at my house yet, but given that the city can't seem to be bothered to deal with our street, I've kind of chosen Skyrim over shovels.
- The BBC's Social Media Problem With Sherlock
Given how spoiled I've been with Doctor Who (in the "given many things" sense, not the "early information" sense), I'd actually forgotten that the UK is getting Sherlock before us until the .gifs hit Tumblr.
- Trans Housing Network
Kind of like "need a penny, take a penny" but with couches and people whose gender identities tend to make us homeless and stigmatized.
- Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet
This is a long read, but it's a powerful one about the extent of the hostility about half the wired population experiences daily, and the lack of seriousness with which it's treated by our current culture.
It's been a while since I did these on a regular basis, but I'm kind of thinking I'd like to bring them back. Sharing things tends to lead to discussing them, and I seem to enjoy that sort of thing. So.
The Year We Broke the Internet
The nice thing about the Internet is that anyone can have a say, and that information moves very fast. The problem with the Internet is that everyone can have a say, and that information moves very fast. And, as it happens, these things have consequences not just for the masses, but for journalism as well.
Thoughts After Writing My First Official Fanfiction Story
In December, Jim Hines wrote Crimson Frost and posted it in installments. Here's his post-fic wrap-up, where he discusses his experience of writing it, shares some thoughts about how fanfic fits into the experience of writing, and where you can find links to the story.
Overturning the Myth of Valley Girl Speak
It turns out that uptalk is something everyone uses, that it doesn't reflect a lack of education or ability, and that attitudes about it are more or less rubbish. So.
ACLU Sues, Claiming Catholic Hospitals Put Women At Risk
Three years ago, Tamisha Means rushed to the hospital because her water broke only four and a half months into her pregnancy. When she arrived, she was told to go home and hold out for nine more days. Two days later she returned, bleeding, in pain, feverish, and desperate for help, but the hospital told her that they could not assist her. Only when she began to deliver the child -- while they were in the process of discharging her -- did they assist. The reason? The hospital's religious stance on therapeutic abortion. The ACLU is helping Means sue the bishops, the source of the rules that put her and other women at risk.
It occurred to me the other day that I haven't taken a photo of myself in a while. Usually when I do I try to look kind of serious, or focus on trying to accentuate my better points.
So. That's working out quite well for me these days.
As first days of the year go, I'd say the beginning of 2014 has gone pretty well. It started out with a really excellent shower, some fun entertaining a guest, and then the rest of it was mostly Thai food and brilliant conversation with a friend I don't see nearly often enough.
We were at Chim's for over six hours. So much tea. So much coconut-based curry. So much thinky. Mmm.
As for resolutions, I figured out mine for 2014 in the car on the morning of the 30th, almost entirely by accident. See, I've been tracking my reading for the last couple of years, and while I do seem to read a few women, female authors still aren't making up at least 50% of my reading diet.
Thus, my plan: read only women authors in 2014, with the following exceptions:
- I can finish any books I am currently reading, regardless of the author's gender,
- I can continue reading any series I am already reading (currently A Song of Ice and Fire, Magic Ex Libris, and Dune)
- I can read books by men if they are required for a course, of if I'm doing specific research and they're the best source
I'm actually pretty stoked about this. I've got Veronica Roth's Divergent waiting for me on my desk, Seanan McGuire's second InCryptid novel on deck, as well as a few others already waiting.
It's going to be a good reading year. Though, uh, considering I'm still awake at 1:30 in the morning, possibly not so great in terms of sleep. Er.
Today is Labor Day, which I am apparently celebrating by working on the things I do outside of the DayjobTM, like writing and editing things.
Thank you, early labor movement, for the five day work week and eight-hour day that those of us lucky enough to be in certain economic strata enjoy. Also, for the desperately-needed three-day weekend.
Yesterday was some light housekeeping, followed by a phone meeting/social call with my co-editor on Secret Project, followed by writing and sending All The Queries. Well, not all the queries, since Illustrious Co-Editor is also working on some of them, but between that and preparing some other materials, I had a pleasantly active afternoon/evening.
Plus, it gave me something to do while I watched the (somewhat rickety and not-entirely-reliable) livestream of this year's Hugo Awards ceremony. Nerd that I am, the Hugo Awards are sort of like my VMAs in that I tend to get really excited about the whole thing. It was, I think, an excellent ceremony this year, and many things I love (Saga, Writing Excuses, SF Squeecast, Avengers) got to leave with pretty trophies.
Also, I have spent the entire day being sad that there is not another person in this house who will think the "semiprozine" joke is nearly as funny as I do. Life is hard.
But there was another moment during the ceremony that got my attention. There I was, agonizing over a particular bit of wording when I looked up and was like, "Holy shit, Elizabeth Bear could break me in half."
Well, my limbs, at least. My trunk is pretty chunky.
Chunky enough that today I dug around for food guidelines in terms of servings of various things, hit the supermarket to buy healthy equivalents of those serving guidelines, and then set up a shiny new SparkPeople account to make sure my macronutrient intake is in balance. Which is maybe not strictly the most proportional response to seeing another author on an event livefeed, but it's really more the thing that kicked the "not loving the way I live" ball down the hill.
I mean, come on. I changed practically everything else about my life this summer. A little bit of brown rice probably isn't going to kill me, right?
Well, that didn't work out quite the way I thought it might.
Actually, no. Honestly, the remainder of the summer seems to have done more or less exactly what I anticipated. I went from moving my mother to downsizing my own clutter and moving house, then found myself in a place where my downtime needed to be downtime while I let the toxicity of the last seven years bleed and seep and ooze out of me.
Yeah, I anticipated being a little less quiet, but there you go.
So here's what I did on my summer vacation. I arranged and rearranged my room. I binge-watched all eight seasons of Supernatural. I spent time bonding with my dogs. I started the work of consolidating all of my old data from various previous computers and then trying to delete the duplicate copies of everything (which is a chore just with my music collection alone).
Somewhere along the line I started working again. A friend lured me onto a project a couple of months ago that I can't wait to be able to talk about. I hammered out several really fun pages on something else yesterday. I'm reading more again. Things are unknotting. This is good, because when the full scale of what I did by walking away from a house hits, I'll probably want to be pretty bendy.
I've been quiet over here for much longer than I intended. For those of you wondering where I am and what's going on, the short version is that 2013 is turning out to be sort of a big year for major life changes.
For one thing, my roommate and I got shot at a couple of months ago. That was exciting.
Not in a directed way, fortunately. Mostly we stepped outside at just the wrong moment to find ourselves behind the shooter's actual target. Still, that's the kind of moment that changes one's perspective about life. Intended targets or not, that could have been it.
Since then, we've been in the process of finding a different place and way of living. That's meant relocating my mother (and two 26' trucks full of her stuff) and deciding what to do about our own household. We're pretty sure we've got all of that figured out at this point, but spending a couple of months flailing around and dealing with multi-household logistics is exhausting.
Seriously. I'm sick of moving and I haven't even started moving my own stuff yet.
On the whole, I'm feeling mostly optimistic. There's still a lot of stress and exhaustion happening. There are some things that won't be sure or settled for a while. On some levels, that's marvelously liberating. In other ways...well, that "unspecified doom" feeling can mean many things.
It's been good for my creativity, albeit in a terribly erratic way. I'm making things in bursts in various media. I'm collaborating on a secret thing I can't discuss yet. I'm getting rid of a lot of things while being smug enough not to be an Annoying Rich Internet Minimalist. I'm re-learning that I'm allowed to be comfortable (though, importantly, not entitled).
So yeah. It's a thing. You'll probably hear more from me as things settle down. It's just been a week and I felt like I really need to start putting thoughts here again.
So I'm mostly through what will be my longest week until mid-May, and I'm really starting to feel it.
Oh, sure, I'm still getting over that nasty chest/throat thing I had for a while. And yeah, in addition to logging some heavy hours I'm also trying to organize some serious lifestyle changes and and reading some relatively weighty books instead of feeding myself delicious fiction, but still. Ugh.
My head feels like it's made of wood tonight. If you've seen my brain, please send it home.
While it's away, some random links:
- Hanzi Smatter, or a website devoted to why it's dumb to get things tattooed onto your body in a language you don't know.