Archive for the 'life' category

Still alive…more details to come

Oct 24 2012 Published by under life, reading, Uncategorized

I know, promises, promises, but here’s the news in brief:

1. Just started week 6 of the new job, providing informatics support in a large nonprofit healthcare system in Portland, Oregon, and I’ve gotten to do a lot of shadowing and observing, which has been terrific. I learned that nurse humor is a lot like cop humor, and where they meet, that’s an EMT.

2. I went to Powell’s and heard the lovely and talented Ms. Tina Connolly read from her new book, Ironskin (just out from Tor). I am champing at the bit to read it, BUT I’m reading with Sheila (we take turns reading to one another), AND she’s only in town on weekends, because she has a job in Eugene, so I am only a few pages in. The elevator speech on this one is “Jane Eyre meets steampunk plus fairies” and I think that’s all you really need to know in order to go purchase it, right?

3. These lists tend to come in threes, right? Oh, here’s what I want to say. I love riding the train. In my new job I got a free Trimet pass, which is my favorite perk so far, because I really hate driving in rush-hour traffic. Also, my car is not equipped to deal with these hills. Which is to say, I drive like a granny, and annoy those around me who are driving German performance automobiles and can go faster than 48 miles per hour on the westbound portion of US 26 just west of the tunnel. Note to non-Portlanders: US 26 is the bane of the existence of anybody who lives in the western suburbs.

Okay, hopefully that tides you over for a bit. (For those reading, what should I be posting? Leave a comment with a request.)

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Portland: getting settled in

Aug 05 2012 Published by under life, writing process

I’ve been here a week! Continuing to get settled and trying to get my bearings in the city. My friend Lane wrote a story (which just sold–yay!) in which magic workers gather power from a city by systematically driving up and down all of its streets. I am hoping that I don’t need to be that comprehensive, but am trying to figure out simple things, like Which Way Is Downtown From Here and How To Get Where I’m Going Without Resorting to the Freeway. (Seriously, US-26 is nearly always a cluster. And I-5? Don’t get me started.)

All of this naturally leads to an interest in geography, since how to get from place to place is dictated by the rivers, and especially by the half-dozen or so bridges that cross the Columbia and Willamette rivers at strategic points. Then there’s the large, beautiful Forest Park (pictured at right, from a recent mini-hike I took), basically a wooded ridge laced with miles and miles of trails that also forms something of a natural barrier around which traffic flows.

Hoping to be less car-dependent once I am more truly settled in, but that will depend on what job I get, where, and where we end up living in the city on a more permanent basis. Luckily TriMet is doing away with its complicated fare zones system on September 1, so I will never have to learn those intricacies. Unluckily, the rates are also going up, and the Fareless Zone is going away. Simply having viable public transportation options (that run in the evenings! And on Sundays!) is pretty great, though.

And in other news, I did some writing this morning: a journal entry and a bit of a prequel story in the Whirlwind’s Daughter universe (which is a Bronze Age world based loosely on the city-states of Ancient Mesopotamia), in which the gods of Death and Music develop a mutual crush. Getting back into a solid writing routine does more than anything else to help me feel stable and grounded.

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Leaving Lawrence Countdown: 3 days!

Jul 25 2012 Published by under life, reading, review, Uncategorized

What happened to day 4? It was lost in a blur of shoveling large quantities of paper out of my office. I had so much office paper to recycle that I had to transgress and put some in the bin very clearly labeled NEWSPAPER, earning the consternation of at least one coworker. Just a rebel at heart, I guess.

After that, I went to The Storage Unit in search of one item approximately the size of a can of soda, which could have been in any one of six boxes, but if it was, I didn’t find it, because it was 105 yesterday, and although I went to The Storage Unit after 6 p.m., it faces west, transforming the interior into a 10 by 12 foot toaster oven. So the best way to describe my search is probably “cursory.” No, I take that back, the best way to describe it would be “cursing and sweating.”

After that, I went home, had a mini-meltdown while beholding all the packing and cleaning yet to be done, and called Sheila, who told me it sounded like I needed to take a break and do something fun.

So I read the second third of The Drowning Girl by Caitlin Kiernan, a book that friend Lane told me about. I was not sure about it during the first third, but I gained confidence during the second third, and by the final third, I was a fan. It reminds me a lot of my favorite Elizabeth Hand books, so if you like Hand’s contemporary fantasy stuff, you should definitely take a look at this new one by Kiernan. I also like the book because I’m a sucker for an unreliable narrator, and Imp is about as unreliable as they come, since she can’t even trust her own memories, or at times the evidence of her own senses.

I Bet This Never Happens to People Named Smith

The weirdest part of reading this book is that the mysterious woman who is the possibly real/possibly hallucinated/possibly supernatural antagonist is named Eva Canning. I actually can’t recall having read any work of fiction that had a character named Canning or Kanning. It isn’t a very common name. In fact, if you live in North America and your birth name is Kanning (with a K), the chances that we are related are pretty darned good. Hell, the chances that we’re first or second cousins is pretty darned good. Canning is the English spelling, and those folks aren’t directly related as far as I know (unless you go way back).

So it was uncanny, seeing my name, sort of, there in the novel. I mean, it isn’t quite as weird as it would be for my cousins the Heimerdingers to see their name in a work of fiction, but you know, still unusual.

And now that I’ve put their name out there, somebody will probably go and use it in a book. Probably a comedy, since Heimerdinger may be one of those words/names that are inherently funny, like gubernatorial or Sheboygan. And that’s fine. I mean, I couldn’t use it in a book, because then I’d have to explain to the Heimerdingers that whatever foibles I had foisted upon the poor Heimerdinger in the book had no bearing on what I thought of them as people, because they are really very lovely and kind people, and I have fond memories of my Aunt Ethel Heimerdinger, who, when my sisters and I went to visit her as children, used to make this concoction for us out of cold milk and sweet, coffee-flavored syrup that was just awesome and seemed very exotic. Also she was feisty and funny. And anyway I bet this sort of thing never happens with people named Smith or Jones or even Schmidt.

So anyway, another day down. Tomorrow: last day in the office (though I’ll continue to work via remote for awhile yet, while seeking gainful employment in Portland, Oregon) and some post-work celebrating with Lawrence friends. Then Thursday will be the Day of Atonement and Cleaning, followed by Friday: When I Head West.

Wish me luck, ya’all.

P.S. – I am always on the lookout for more inherently funny words (which sometimes are surprisingly universal), so if you have some to suggest, please comment below.

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RIP Adrienne Rich

Mar 28 2012 Published by under life, poetry

Just heard the news that poet, essayist, and feminist thinker Adrienne Rich died yesterday at the age of 82. I’m sorry she’s gone, and I’m very, very grateful for all the true things she has written, including this:

No one’s fated or doomed to love anyone.
The accidents happen, we’re not heroines,
they happen in our lives like car crashes,
books that change us, neighborhoods
we move into and come to love. Continue Reading »

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outer alliance recommends workshops for glbtiq writers

Jan 18 2012 Published by under life, workshops

Just read this post (and added my two cents, too) on the Outer Alliance, about workshops and writing teachers who are friendly to and supportive of GLBTIQ writers and writing. (They use the term QUILTBAG, which I love, and which may be gaining enough traction that I can actually start using.)

If you’re different from many of your peers, it can feel even more risky to bring your creative work to a critique group or writing class. You may find yourself trying to parse the comments and advice from the instructor or the other students, wondering whether they are being too harsh because they don’t understand your work, or glossing over problems in the writing because they don’t want to engage with the material.

It takes sensitivity, skill and grace to embrace those differences and help create a supportive, useful working environment. Not everybody can do that, so I’m happy to see the post and hope to see the list of recommendations grow!

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