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16 posts from January 2007

January 28, 2007

Ishoo Wun

So why does hybridity necessarily dovetail with adolescent identity searches?

First, let's quickly define "hybridity". I did this before in a triumphal, let's-change-the-world way. But we need a more working definition. So for now, "hybridity" means the process or product of a melding of two cultures, subcultures, forms, processes, or dynamic structures.

Got that? So you mix, combine or meld two things, and the process is hybridization. The outcome of that hybridization is a hybrid, or hybridity. This could be, for example, American yoga (melding American understanding of religion and exercise with an Indian tradition form), or Eminem (melding white, working class cultural norms and understanding with a "traditionally" black, working class art form), or nanotechnology (biology and robotics), or wholistic (holistic) medicine (western traditional medicine with western science-based medicine with eastern traditional and science-based forms), or the Prius (gas-powered and electric-powered), or me (Chinese and white).

Got that? Okay, let's go.

Hybridity, especially of the racial sort, but of many other sorts as well, is a topic frequently explored in YA (young adult) fiction. That is to say, when authors grapple with multiraciality or hybrid identities, they tend to turn to YA, or Bildungsromane (trans.: Bildung means "upbringing", "education", "personal formation" in German; Roman means "novel"). Most novels of hybrid identity either fall entirely within the scope of YA or a Bildungsroman, or else begin with youth and the identity-forming years.

But that is also to say that when you approach YA novels and Bildungsromane that aren't otherwise about hybrid identities, their form and format very often leads them into an examination of some type of hybridity or hybrid identity. The two---identity search and the exploration of mixing and melding---seem to be closely associated in our cultural thinking ... or perhaps merely in our narrative form.

Of course, all teens are definable as being in the midst of the basic and essential identity search: "finding themselves", who am I? and all that. Given. Teenagerhood is also a process of transitioning from childhood intellectual and emotional dependence to adult independence of same. Dependence on the conceptual constructions of another means necessarily a lack of flexibility. When Mommy says playing with yourself is bad, she doesn't mean (or perhaps she simply didn't say) that doing it in front of other people is bad and doing it when you're alone is acceptable, and doing it when you're lonely is good, and doing it instead of being promiscuous with strangers is virtuous, and experimenting with it is dangerous but exciting. Playing with yourself is just bad. Period.

Which is why we say that teens "experiment" with drugs and sex: not to see what happens when you mix this drug or that action with your body chemistry, but to see what happens when you challenge something Mommy or Daddy told you. The experimentation fractures your understanding of "do" and "don't" into "do sometimes" and "don't do under these circumstances" and "think first because you don't know what to do here." The confusing but comfortingly black and white instruction set of childhood is replaced by an ethical code which requires interpretation. Teens are introduced to the necessity for flexibility, to an ambiguous world in which ambiguity is often what allows you to survive or to be yourself.

For a few short years, teen minds are so soft and flexible that they can literally be turned around overnight. A concept they always held to be sacred can be flipped in an instant. Faith can be killed, or created, in an afternoon. Three different adults can tell them three different things and they can act on all three beliefs simultaneously, while consumed with rage at the contradictions.

Ah, teens.

Adolescence is the moment we come closest to touching ambiguity as a substance, and not just a state of understanding.

I have a tendency to use "ambiguity" and "hybridity" interchangeably because, obviously, this is my experience of being what other people consider a hybrid. But they are not exactly interchangeable. Ambiguity is defined by its use in words and communications. It is "doubtfulness or uncertainty of meaning or intention," or "Doubtfulness or uncertainty as regards interpretation," or "unclearness by virtue of having more than one meaning."

What I mean by interchanging them is to underline the fact that certain things about me are verbal or conceptual constructs, and not actualities. Race, for example, is a conceptual--and verbal--construct. I am only multiracial if you consider my race/s to be:

  1. distinct
  2. mutually exclusive
  3. important
In defining me as a hybrid, you are giving me two or more distinct, mutually exclusive, and important values and meanings. Which means that my singular meaning to you, my meaning, being and purpose as a person contains within it more than one distinct, mutually exclusive, and important meaning. Which makes my meaning, and which makes me as a person, ambiguous.

The synonyms of "ambiguity," which is to say, the word's connotations, are "vagueness, equivocation, deceptiveness." Its antonyms are "explicitness" and, oh irony!, "clarity." Ambiguity, the lack of a clear meaning, is, in itself, neither bad nor good. It simply is. However, our culture (and perhaps to a certain extent all human cultures) values clarity, hard definition, and shuns ambiguity. Probably why it is only since the European Enlightenment we have even had adolescence, much less a culturally-understood search for oneself.

Most people in our society go through an extended moment of recognizing that their categories are not, technically, all perfectly dovetailed. The things they thought were hard, neighboring truths about themselves are, when taken to logical extremes, terribly contradictory. And becoming adult means--in essence--acclimating to what seems like contradictions when looked at in this way. Becoming adult means learning to ignore what seem to be personal contradictions--or learning not to mind that one can't explain oneself to oneself. Learning to accept one's own mystery and the mystery of others. Learning to live meaningfully in the absence of a single, clear meaning of life.

Lovely enough, but it's a process that isn't seen at all, being internal. It's a process that's impossible to tell stories about directly because it's manifested mostly in tantrums and acting out.

So, often and often, some sort of obvious hybridity becomes the metaphor for the process of disambiguation (or more accurately, enambiguation) that happens beneath the surface of every zitty teenage skin.

This is often some sort of racial hybridity or hybridity of biological genesis. After all, in our society we permit people to leave behind with rage of adolescence the hybridity of being both parents and children, being both friends and enemies, lovers and fighters, teachers and students, athletes and drunkards, artists and accountants. We move forward no longer seeing that these are any contradiction. We actively avoid the hybridity of male/female, desire and friendship.

What we can't let pass is the hybridity of race. Not in this society, with our racial hierarchy. Such things can't be ambiguous. Whether you're a father or son right this second isn't important. It doesn't impact your status or how a stranger will treat you. But whether you're black or white right this second really, really does. So racial hybridity or hybridity of genesis become the stand-ins for all such adolescent processes.

All Graeco-roman heroes' tales are Bildungsromane, coming-of-age stories. Because the very definition of the hero is a semi-divinity: someone born of a mortal and an immortal parent, who is himself mortal, but possesses superpowers. A hybrid. There is always a near-climatic moment of reckoning with one's hidden parentage. There's always a moment in which the desires and limitations of the human are forced, through action, to meld with the powers of the god; a moment in which the hybrid potential is fulfilled by ignoring the contradictions inherent.

I'm exposing myself to severe flame-action, but that's Jesus' story as well. Son of a human and a god, he finds himself three times: at the temple when he is (no coincidence here) twelve years old lecturing to his elders; in discovering his ministry, which exposes his superpowers of reasoning, persuasion, love, and leadership; and on the cross, where he discovers his superior powers of self-sacrifice. He is in himself a hybrid, but he is also one aspect of the ultimate contemporary western hybrid: the trinity, simultaneously father, son, and holy spirit. (Yeah, and no coincidence, either, that protestant sects violently debate the nature of that hybridity; it is also protestant sects that raised the racial slave trade in North America to an industry, and that went to war over ending that same institution.)

And then of course, in these atheistic times, the hybridity between the natural and supernatural---which makes into story our ability to fulfill our own potential by ignoring categories---becomes more and more abstract and less and less religious. We no longer believe in gods or fairies, so the hybrid coming-of-age story becomes related to what we recognize as fantasy only.

I'm not gonna say that the slide from the more obvious forms of hybridity in our society to fabulist literary forms is seamless. China Miéville points out that the magical races (dwarves, elves, orcs, etc.) in Tolkienesque fantasy are rigidly held to biologically determined character virtues and flaws and that that is profoundly reactionary and bigoted. Obviously, not all swords and sorcery writers think such things about human races. And the hybridity in the YA magical protagonist is not always racial (being half-elf, for example) but otherwise genetic (being of a line of witches, for example). But the connection between the two is an obvious one, and one that is made usually without a great deal of reflection or philosophy.

Which is why you see so many protagonists of Young Adult fiction who have magic in them. Usually, they got it from one parent. Usually, that parent is missing or dead or presumed dead. Usually, that parent turns out to be either alive him/herself, or alive in the form of a close relative with similar aspects/powers. Usually there is a reckoning with that parent, with that parentage. Usually--always? almost always?--there is a moment where the implications are thrown to the winds and the potentialities of both parentages are melded. Always this is the climax. Always it leads to a new hybridity of two old, seemingly mutually exclusive states of being or doing. Always this new hybridity is understood as the becoming of the protagonist, the protagonist's total being.

I can only half-remember examples of the many, many books like this I read when I was young. The albino kid from Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series, which was my favorite series, sticks out. Here, the kid (SPOILER ALERT) is raised as an orphan by relatives, and later discovers himself to be the secret son of King Arthur and Guinivere, displaced in time. King Arthur, of course, is a magical being simply by virtue of his position in the imagination.

Or, more recently, there's the Harry Potter series, in which the human racial diversity is a matter of extreme blandness, but a deep discomfort with racial ambiguity is only semi-intentionally displayed through the conflict between Muggle and Wizard families. The main hybridity there is in Harry, whose mother was a Muggle. Harry is raised as an orphan by relatives who obfuscate his magical heritage, and the magic in his Muggle heritage. This hybridity is mirrored, naturally, in Harry's arch-enemy, Lord Voldemort, who was the son of a witch and a Muggle, raised contemptuously by his Muggle family, and "rescued" by Dumbledore and Hogwarts School. Both hero and villain face a reckoning with their mixed heritage, but only Harry, and by implication only, makes peace with both, although he allies himself with the magical world. Voldemort is portrayed as succumbing to evil because of his hatred of his Muggle half--like a half-Jewish Nazi.

There's also a more complex and nuanced discomfort with the whole issue of authenticity and cultural genesis evidenced in Hermione, who is herself a Muggle with magical abilities, an analogy to, say, Tracy Turnblad from Hairspray, who is a white girl with mysteriously black powers of dancing. And then there's Neville Longbottom, who is feared to be a Squib, a pureblood wizard with no magical abilities, the analogy to the Oreo, the black person who is white on the inside---or perhaps to the aristocrat with common tendencies.

An early exchange between Draco Malfoy and Ron Weasley, both pureblood wizards, about the value of mixed-bloods intentionally promotes Rowling's diversity agenda, and unintentionally displays Rowling's discomfort with the idea that there can be a difference in being born to a magical family and being adopted into one, or to being "naturally" magical, yet having to learn magic in school---all racial/ethnic issues rampant in current American and British demographics.

But my favorite example is not considered a YA at all, although I think it has all the markers of one. That is China Miéville's King Rat, definitely not his most popular book, and also his only full-length novel that doesn't take place in Bas Lag. It's not a coincidence that I quoted his notions of raciality in fantastical races above. He's the only fantasy writer I've seen who's created a plausible and effective fantastical scenario, that consciously promotes an actively ambiguous hybrid identity in its protagonist, rather than implying it, or fumbling the ball by calling something hybrid that actually looks only like one of its parts. (I'm sure there are more of these, but I haven't read them.)

The whole structure is there (BIG OL' SPOILER ALERT--and take this one seriously, because this book is worth reading for its own sake): a young man, Saul, raised by his father (his mother is dead) comes home to find his father killed by defenestration. Arrested for patricide, he is rescued from jail by King Rat, the anthropomorphic supernatural spirit of ratdom, who claims to be his uncle. King Rat tells our hero that his mother, King Rat's sister, was a rat as well, making Saul half-rat. Saul is then instructed in the art of being a supernatural rat.

There is the necessary revelation and confrontation of parentage when Saul discovers that King Rat is actually his father, his mother having been a human that King Rat raped. Then there's the moment of melding of identities at the climax, when Saul faces the Pied Piper, who can't compel him by flute because he's half-human, but has melded (hybridized) his flute music with a drum 'n' bass DJ's beats to catch both rat and human in Saul. This is the part that is unusual, because Saul's revelation here is that he is not two halves, but one whole, and cannot be made into a sum of his parts, like the music that the Pied Piper has created. You can't mix human and rat music and expect to catch a human and rat mix. He is something else; himself.

A very multiracial conclusion. The irony is of course that Miéville has essentialized human and rat for the purpose of making the point that races can't be essentialized. But I'll (mostly) let that pass.

A lot of this is implied in more sophisticated fantasy, like Ursula LeGuin's A Wizard of Earthsea, where magic isn't really a result of parentage. It just happens. And the hybridity is actually an entirely internal process of melding virtuous with dark impulses, that LeGuin manifests in a shadow self.

And then, of course, there's Octavia Butler. But I'm not ready to write about her yet. She didn't follow this particular pattern at all. She created her own. That's a topic for another post.

Complex of Ishooz Redux

I proposed a Complex of Ishooz a while ago and then ignored it. Let's get into it again. Let's set 'em up and knock 'em down.

Here were the Ishooz again:

1. Why does hybridity necessarily dovetail with adolescent identity searches?
2. How would an adult or mature hybridity tale look? Are there any?
3. Why does contemporary urbanism necessitate hybridity (besides the obvious, and yes, we will detail the obvious)? What would a homogeneous city look like? (ooo! Zamyatin, here we come!)
4. Why are magic and technology always "other", and therefore a product of hybridity? Why are magic and technology never indigenous or immanent?
5. Why is technology of the city, and magic of nature?

Aaaaaand ... they'roff!

January 27, 2007

Hair Petting

The Angry Black Woman has been pursuing the hair petting issue for awhile.

It breaks down to this: white people feel entitled to touch black people's hair without permission, to ask them if it's real without preamble or reason, and to talk incessantly about it. Angry Black Woman says: don't.

This whole thing makes me cringe for two reasons. Firstly, I have a similar thing, which is that people make a very big and rude deal about my height in terms and in a manner in which they wouldn't make a big deal about the aspects of anyone else's body. No one would walk up to a woman with big breasts and say, "Wow, your breasts are BIG! What's your bra size?" People wouldn't even walk up to someone and say "Wow, your feet are BIG! What's your shoe size?" If they did, they'd be considered at least weird, and definitely rude and obnoxious. But it appears to be okay to walk up to me and say "Wow, you're TALL! How tall are you?" I never answer this question. I always explain that I don't answer and why. But no one EVER stops to think about it. Everyone ALWAYS takes immediate offense, as if my refusing to talk about MY BODY is somehow me deliberately insulting them. MY bodily dimensions, you see, are about THEM.

This being the case, it makes me crazy that when I first met Angry Black Woman I DOINGED HER CURLS. I got permission first, of course, but the fact that I did that to someone who SO OBVIOUSLY has hair that people touch all the time and talk about all the time in an obnoxious way makes me absolutely frustrated with myself. I even remember thinking briefly that I shouldn't do it. But I did it anyway. Being a good person, ABW forgave me and is still my friend. But that doesn't make it okay that I did it.

Sure, I've got other excuses. Such as that I NEVER do the usual black hair thing (I don't); such as that I definitely have a curly hair fetish that transcends race (I do) or that I ask to doing the hair of everyone with corkscrew curls, who usually are Latino or white, not black. Sure, all of that is true. It's even possible that ABW is the only black person whose curls I've asked to doing, since I've been sensitive to this racial issue since a very young age, and that I did it because she was my friend. Lots of excuses.

But then, nonblack curlyhaired people have a similar problem with people touching their hair. It's not necessarily a racial issue, but it's definitely a personal space issue. An issue with people thinking that because you have an attribute that attracts them, or repels them, or is simply different, that your personal space isn't as valid as other people's. It's a difference issue. It's a privilege issue.

It's like we're all a bunch of big babies toddling around grabbing things we've never seen before and putting them in our mouths. Maybe it IS hardwired. Maybe we really CAN'T help ourselves, at least not at first. I've had to deal with more of this than most people because I have both the multiracial thing (which means that there's nowhere I can go where people won't make a big deal about my race) and the tall woman thing, (which, ditto). But I STILL do it to others, even though I should know better.

But even if it is hardwired I think we can train ourselves out of it. The fact that I thought about touching ABW's hair before giving in to the impulse indicates that next time I might be able to stop myself before commiting an annoyance. Or that I HAVE stopped myself ever since before committing an annoyance.

I have a black coworker who wears wonderful, bright-colored scarves on her head. The scarves give me a great deal of visual pleasure and I usually comment on women's attire when I like it, but this is so close to the hair petting issue that I've hesitated, and I'm glad of it. Because, you know what? I comment on my other coworkers' CLOTHES, but not on what they do with their hair. Ever. I don't know why that is. Maybe I don't like the way they do their hair. But I've never commented on scarf-woman's CLOTHES, even though I generally like the way she dresses. It's her headscarves that get my attention. I'm not 100% on why that is, and until I am, I'm keeping my damn mouth shut and just smiling at her to say "good morning."

None of these choices are satisfactory, and yes, it's a pity we can't just go with our impulses. But people, you don't have any gods-given RIGHT to act on your impulses in public, so let's not act as if we do. If your impulse were to pet a woman's breast, no one would have to tell you why you shouldn't do that. If your impulse were to call a total stranger a "cunt", ditto. We control ourselves all day long. This is just another item on the list. Add it.

By the way, it's a good thing the height thing "intimidates" people, because I particularly hate being touched by strangers, and if ABW and I changed places, I'd be slapping people right and left and not being dignified, generous, and funny about it, like she is.

In Which I Out Myself As A Thief

Okay, it's time. Time to confess.

I have stolen--STOLEN!--one of the basic premises of Nobble Jr. (otherwise known as The Sixth Element) from Justine Larbalestier!

In Nobble Jr. people who have magic go mad. Justine's first book and whole trilogy is called Magic or Madness. You do the math.

I mean, stealing the idea that having magic drives you mad is something I might could have gotten away with if:

  1. I didn't kinda know her personal-like
  2. I hadn't read Magic or Madness the moment it came out and loooong before I even conceived of Nobble Jr. and then left a public record of such by blogging about both
  3. It wasn't called Magic or Madness, making the "magic makes you mad" premise somewhat central to its existence. (I mean, some people do miss implications if you don't spell it out for them, you know? No? Well, just me then.)

Of course, in Justine's book you either do magic or go mad. In my book-ish you go mad whether you do the magic or not unless ... well no spoilers here, especially before the book is done. Plus, the reason for the madness in magic is different in Nobble Jr. There's a whole world system that's completely different. In fact, we're in a completely different, secondary world, not our world with magic added on. There is no New York or Sydney, for example. Or Earth. And there's an out. You don't have to go mad or die young, like in Justine's books. So it's really different. It comes from a different place.

Oh, who am I fooling? It's straight out theft. However will I tell her?

January 25, 2007

First Book of the Year

Lost Girls by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie

The Seelight Scale

Crap
Legible
Readable
Not Bad
Recommended
*Highly Recommended*
Do Not Go Another Day Without

Comments?

Moore and Gebbie don't put the sex in these three children's classics, they find it and draw it out. It's pretty hot. Quibbles: with all this empowerment of girl characters who were written, and disempowered, by men, it's easy to forget that their "empowerment" was written by Alan Moore --- another man. I don't know how I feel about that, but it makes me uneasy. It rides the edge of exploitation, which, if you read the book, which you should, is right up the book's alley. Very challenging on a lot of levels.

January 23, 2007

What I Wanna Know

Dear Friend,

I am Larisa Sosnitskaya and I represent Mr. Mikhail Khordokovsky the former C.E.O of Yukos Oil Company in Russia. I have a very sensitive and confidential brief from this top (oligarch) to ask for your partnership in re-profiling funds US$46 Million. I will give the details, but in summary, the funds are coming via Bank Menatep.

This is a legitimate transaction. You will be paid 20% as your commission/compensation for your active efforts and contribution to the success of this transaction. You can catch more of the story on this website below or you can watch more of CCN or BBC to get more news about my boss.

http://www.mosnews.com/mn-files/khodorkovsky.shtml
http://www.mbktrial.com/
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/3213505.stm
http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2005/04/11/041.html
http://www.nndb.com/people/633/000025558/

If you are interested, please do indicate by providing me with your
full names, your confidential telephone number, fax number and email address and I will provide further details and instructions.

Please keep this confidential as we cannot afford more political
problems and do send me your response as soon as possible via my personal email:larisa_skaya101@yahoo.com.hk

I look forward to your response.
Regards,
Larisa Sosnitskaya

... is, who the fuck would give their info to Russian mafia scum who cold-emailed them? I mean, seriously. Are people so unhinged by greed--or need-- that they'd fall for this? Must be, or they wouldn't bother sending it.

We're still at war, our president is not only not responding to his constituency, he's not even responding to the legislature. I have no health insurance. My cat has butt doodles. And this is what gets my panties in a bunch?

January 18, 2007

Four Food Groups

A comment on Scalzi's "Cats or Cheese?" post (cats, of course) got me thinking about the four food groups joke. You know, where a person names his/her four favorite foods or four essential foods and calls them the four food groups.

Well, it's not just favorite foods. It's the ones you can't live without.

So that got me to thinking, because I do get obsessive about food, but only for awhile. Like, I'll eat quinoa every day, twice a day, for a month, say (like I'm doing now), and then I'll go off it again for a year. Or something. Does anyone else do this? My favorite foods wander is what I'm saying.

Anyway, trying to think of four all-time, essential foods or even food groups. Here goes:

1) rice-based dishes: i.e. either fried rice, or white rice with stuff on top, Chinee-stylee

2) salads with plenty of stuff on them

3) bacon

4) eggs

5) mustard

I know, that's five. The problem is, number one is true, but only some of the time. Actually, of late, I've been avoiding the rice because it's the highest carb, highest glycemic of da grains---the true diabetic nightmare. Actually, I've pretty much given up the rice stuff, except for special occasions. I am a bad Chink.

Okay, to try again:

1) salads of all sorts, so long as they are cold, based on repeated exposure to green things, and covered with some sort of light, oil-based sauce, and especially when loaded with lotsa extra protein-y things

2) bacon (sad, but true. Could not live without)

3) eggs (I don't think a single day has gone by since I was about 17 that I didn't have at least one egg. These days, I'm taking most of the yokes out, but the whites still rule my world.)

4) mustard (in everything. In salad dressing. Mixed with my scrambled eggs [yes]. In my quiche. Marinating the meat. There's a reason the word "must" begins the word "mustard").

Okay, now you.

January 15, 2007

Reading Update

Holy Shit. It's January 15 and I still haven't read anything yet this year.

Not a book not a magazine. Nothing but teh internets!

I'm a philistine!

Yay!

InNoWriMo Returns

Okay, so I think I've actually gotten settled in to a sufficient degree that I can begin InNoWriMo again. Tomorrow will be the 16th day of a 31-day month. I will begin again tomorrow night with the 2-3000 words a day and continue until the 30th. The 31st will be a big ol' drinkfest.

Yes, the rest of my month will be full. But it's only half a month. Yay for me! Yay for January! Yay for writing! Yay for Nobble Jr.!

I will be reporting spottily on my progress because I still have no interwebbiness at home, and it's too damn cold for me to go outside at night to get to an unheated wifi cafe where the wifi goes down fairly frequently. However, I will keep track and you will see red text again!

Yay!

I Am Totally Ridiculous

But this just made my day:

He's just like my Charlie, except ... bigger.

via Cute Overloads, of course.

January 14, 2007

Maybe No Fleas

Well, we've definitely crossed the border into Toomuchinformationland, so let's just forge ahead:

the "flea" bites I got on Wednesday night remain, are extremely itchy and even a little painful, and have not been joined by any new bites at all. Plus, they were around one of my knees, not my ankles. So I'm thinking: spider, not fleas.

Which is gross but preferable.

It's funny that the moment I suspected I might have fleas, my entire body began crawling. I felt critters all over me, even felt the stings of bites and felt little itches everywhere. This was pretty much constant from Thursday night through Saturday afternoon, when I noticed there were no new bites at all. The moment I noticed that, all the phantom critters went away. Like, immediately.

Psychology. A powerful thang.

That's all for today.

January 13, 2007

That Would Be Too Easy

Good news first: I have finally acquired a sense of humor in the face of minor but persistent adversity. One of my new coworkers (not ready to talk about the job yet) told me this week, when I went to her office to report on yet another setback, "I'm beginning to get that when you laugh, it means bad news."

The Bad News: Where do I even begin?

Well, I'll just deal with the most recent piece of bad news. I'm moved into my new apartment (since last weekend) and three days ago found what look an awful lot like flea bites on my leg. Flea bites. The very next day I got Charlie, my cat, so he gets to get fleas, too. Last night I talked to my neighbor who said that, yes, indeed, there were fleas in the house ... not to mention occasional wasp infestations.

If I had been told about this before I moved in, while my stuff was all packed up and Charlie was staying elsewhere, I could have sprayed and vacuumed no problem. But no, that would have been too easy. Now, all the fleage has infested my stuff: my clothes, my furniture, my carpets. Now I have to re-pack all my stuff, after running it through a washing machine, and put Charlie somewhere for half a day (and this right after the trauma of moving), and abandon my house for a day. I was planning on spending the long weekend going to IKEA and unpacking the rest of my stuff. Now, basically, today will be about fleas.

I'm going to make my landlord pay for this in some way. I am so pissed I couldn't sleep last night.

Argggghhhhh!

... nope, no humor. I spoke too soon.

January 08, 2007

Moving Hell - o

I'm just full of excuses, aren't I?

I just moved this past weekend and I'm still unpacking the massive piles of shit I've accumulated in my eight.5 years in the Bay, and trying to get the shelving I need to unpack the rest, and trying to get a car so I can get my Charlie back (who will be very upset with me for abandoning him for eight months and then putting him in a car at the end of it.)

Plus, I have to set up my internet service and phone line.

So basically, not a lot of blogginess in the next few days/weeks. I know you're gonna die without your SeeLight action, but just deal with it, okay?

January 05, 2007

Oh And ...

Also, I'm resolving to record all the books I read this year on the blog.

A couple years back I estimated how many novels I'd read in my lifetime (including YA when I was a kid) by taking the two books a week I can pretty much confirm, multiplying it by 50 (not 52, just to be conservative) weeks per year, and then by (again, conservatively) the 25 years between beginning third grade and beginning grad school. That's 2500 novels, folks. Conservatively.

Given the huge swaths of years where I was reading 3-5 books per week, I figure the number falls actually substantially north of 3000.

My reading rate has seriously declined since I went back to school in 2002. They had me reading 1-2 books a week, but I was also writing the equivalent of a novella a month, which as we all know, takes up the same brain estate as reading. My writing rate hasn't declined much, which is good, but my reading is now seriously erratic, and as often as not, touchy, research-prone (i.e. nonfiction), and ranty.

The good news is that the novel form has so pummeled my brain that I never ever have to read another novel again ever. It's in there, good and tight. So everything from here on out is just gravy.

Plus, from my mid-teens to my late twenties I was very self-conscious about my reading lists and, although I read plenty of junk, I forced myself to get through a number of difficult "classics," so now I feel like I don't have to do much difficult reading anymore.

So now I'm just interested to see what it is that I actually read, and if there are any patterns. I've added a new category to the blog, since "books" won't do: "whatcha readin'?" So at the end of the year I can clicky there and get the whole scoop. Fun, no?

Right now I'm reading The Known World by Edward P. Jones, which is an interesting thing to follow up my (last year's) reading of Octavian Nothing with. World so far is too literary genre-y for my taste. Litfic tastes like cardboard to me. But I'm not very far in.

After that I'm planning on catching up on my atlas(t) blog reading. But we'll see. I always need some good fluff. Any recommends? The fluffier the better.

January 03, 2007

2007 Resolutions

Okay, here goes:

1. Finish "The Sixth Element," the boringly titled YA fantasy nobble, and begin sending it out. This is half-drafted and once I'm settled into my new apartment and job (moving this week sometime) I'll go back and finish the second half of my InNoWriMo.

2. Pull another InNoWriMo late in the year and finish the rough draft of the sequel to "The Sixth Element," which will be the second of a trilogy. Yes, I have the whole trilogy planned out. The second book is tentatively titled "The Black Circle" and the third "The Dragon's Breath." These titles all make sense within the context of the story, but they're incredibly boring from without. Maybe that's a good thing. We'll see.

3. Get my pictures framed and hang them on my wall. I've been buying artwork for years and storing it and it's time I started framing it. The suckers have been sitting around too long, taking up space. 2007 will be a visually pleasing year!

4. Buy a car. That is all.

5. Get health insurance.

6. Get on the insulin pump. I'm finally psychologically ready and all I need to do is get health insurance first.

7. Lose and keep off those stupid 15 pounds. Everybody else fluctuates 5 or 10 pounds. I do 15. That's just me.

8. Get all my currently finished stories (all three of them) placed. They're out, you understand. They're all out. But no one's buying. The bastards. I'm gonna have to start sending them to the no sim subs clubs, and thereafter expanding my spreadsheet. You'd think 80 markets is enough to work with, but no.

9. Get the two nearly finished stories finished and placed. Boy am I prolific. In my entire career of writing seriously, which, depending upon how you count "serious" is either 22 years, 10 years, or 5 years, I've only finished five stories to my satisfaction. The first one was sent out, rejected, and retired to a drawer. The second was published. The other three are still making the rounds. But never fear: I'm closing in on two more and 2007 will be the year I finish them. Perhaps I should have made this goal: "get your start-to-finish time on short stories to under a year", but I don't want to defeat myself with unrealistic goals.

10. Visit my sister.

11. Go on at least four trips, 'cause there's much to see and people to do ... er ... One of these will be the lightning field, Pato. Another will, finally, be Smithson's Spiral Jetty (anyone wanna go?)

12. By this time next year be substantially farther along with my yoga practice and the other forms of exercise I'm currently alternating that with. (These include Pilates, the 24 hour fitness fitlite circuit training thing, conventional weight training, power walking, and walk/jog intervals. I think I might add dance for fitness classes and maybe strip for fitness classes, 'cause I'm just classy that way.)

13. Go dancing at least once a month! I love it every time I do it. Why do we not do the things we love? Who's with me?

Thirteen turned out to be my lucky number on New Year's Eve so I'm gonna stick with that. I think these are doable. Love to hear what you all are resolving. Please post links to your own lists. I plan to update when each goal is met, but who knows if I'll remember to do that.

2007 is going to be a good year: productive, fun, and balanced. Yes.

January 02, 2007

2006 Year In Review Meme

Great meme from Oyceter:

1. What did you do in 2006 that you'd never done before?

Blogging! Well, keeping my own blog rather than group blogging. As you know, I loves it.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

No. I didn't. I resolved to get through draft 2 of da nobble and I FAILED.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes, my cousin.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No.

5. What countries did you visit?

Packed my passport and put it in storage in March, along with my checkbook. Like an idiot. So I no go nowhere this year. Not even Canada.

6. What would you like to have in 2007 that you lacked in 2006?

Balance, forward movement, dancing. Literal and metaphorical on all of those.

7. What date from 2005 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Uh, no dates. Just moments. And none of them standouts.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Really? Getting these blogs started. I can't emphasize how much they mean to me, being a way to record writing dailiness, and being a way to be public about writing and thinking daily. My incidental writing, and my writing overall, has improved pretty radically as a result. Less than a year of blogging. That's pretty good.

9. What was your biggest failure?

There were two: failing to finish da nobble, or even work on it significantly, which was more a failure of the as yet unacquired skill of matching my expectations to my abilities. But I don't really feel entirely like a failure. After all, I have a really great nobble started that is so great that I'm not good enough to write it yet. Yet. Something to look forward to.

The other one is not for public consumption.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

The spotted flu and the scars on my hand from the MUNI attack (no, I'm not going to write about the latter.)

11. What was the best thing you bought?

My iPod, of course.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Eating out. Books. Stuff bought on iTunes.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

TV shows like Battlestar Galactica. Isn't that sad?

16. What song will always remind you of 2006?

Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten."

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

Happier or sadder? Sadder but ...
Older or wiser? ... wiser
Thinner or fatter? Sadly, the same. Lost weight, then gained it back.
Richer or poorer? Slightly richer, since I now have a job.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Well ... you know ... ;) Plus, dancing. Lots more of the dancing. Kissing on my kitty. Hugging people I want to hug.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Waiting.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

I guess I was supposed to do this before Xmas.

22. Did you fall in love in 2006?

No!

23. How many one-night stands?

Nunya. Nunya bidness!

24. What was your favorite TV program?

When the year started it was Battlestar Galactica, but BSG squandered my love. Now it's probably Heroes.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

No.

26. What was the best book you read?

Hmmm ... probably Air, or Octavian Nothing, or The Quiet American. It was a pretty good year for books, but then every year is a pretty good year for books because I don't fully keep up with current books.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Muse, thanks to John Scalzi. Plus, Reggaeton in general.

28. What did you want and get?

Soap. No shit. Plus: Lost Girls. Poor Dad, I asked him to get it for me and now he's permanently marked as an online porn buyer. Tee hee.

29. What did you want and not get?

Lotsa stuff not for public consumption.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?

Um ... did I see a great film this year? Can't think of any.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Not too much: 36.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

At least one lit journal publication. The bastards.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2006?

Urban-comfortable. Sigh.

34. What kept you sane?

TV serial dramas.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Vin Diesel. Still. Sigh.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

The election.

37. Who did you miss?

Mr. Charles. (My kitty.)

38. Who was the best new person you met?

New person? Hmmm ... Liz Duffy Adams is very cool. Was that this year? John Klima was cool. Ummm ... lotsa cool people this year but I met them before 2006.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2006:

Personal stuff about hidden shame.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

"I am a patient boy/I wait I wait I wait I wait"

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