Monday, April 28, 2008

Conversation With Myself

So...I'm flummoxed. I have a story ready to send out (cue the clouds parting, the reveille, the blinding sun), but I don't know where to send it. Is there any point in sending it to my dream markets, all of which receive thousands of manuscripts every cycle, take 400 years to respond, and frown on simultaneous submissions? Because what's the point of that, really? Isn't the definition of madness doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? According to that definition, I'm mad. The madwoman in the loft (paging Gilbert & Gubar!). In other words, my dream markets should be called "in-your-frickin'-dreams" markets.

It's not the inevitable rejections that bother me; I'm used to them, and I know as well as anyone that hearing, "Um, not even close," is just part of the process. So if I'm not whining about rejection, what am I whining about? I don't even know. Maybe I'm whining about not being sure where my writing belongs and about the realization that maybe it doesn't belong anywhere. That's not necessarily a bad thing; it just requires a mental adjustment.

Well, I guess while I'm figuring all this out, I'll send the damn thing on its way. Because that's what madwomen in lofts SHOULD do.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"Something Amazing"

I picked up the new issue of Zoetrope: All-Story over the weekend and turned to the first story, "Something Amazing," by Elizabeth McCracken. I think she titled it "Something Amazing" not necessarily because something amazing happens in the story (although it does), but because the story itself is something amazing.

It opens with the ghost of 6-year-old Missy Goodby—once the town's little hellion—knocking a plastic jack o' lantern bucket against her knees, and ends with her VERY off-kilter mother...

1) ...bathing a 5-year-old neighborhood boy she's just met. Said boy's sadistic older brother locked him in a steamer trunk in their attic, but being a spunky little thing, he managed to kick free.

2) ...unsealing her dead daughter's room, which she shut up because she believed it was rife with allergens.

3) ...and letting the now naked boy, who is already being searched for by the police, ride Missy's old rocking horse.

Into this final scene walks Missy Goodby's older brother Gerry who, having shouldered the emotional burden of his sister's death, his crazy mother's existence, and his father's abandonment, is somehow still sane. "Look," his mother says.

Inside Missy Goodby's room, Gerry obeys his mother: he looks at the little boy. He wonders how to sneak him back home. He wonders how to keep him forever.

*shiver* I hope the rest of the issue is this good.

P.S. Hey, you can read it online here! I adores the internets.

Monday, April 21, 2008


The Washington Post says that Brian Turner's poem "Here, Bullet" (from his collection, Here, Bullet) is being passed from American soldier to American soldier in Iraq.


If a body is what you want,
then here is bone and gristle and flesh.
Here is the clavicle-snapped wish,
the aorta's opened valves, the leap
thought makes at the synaptic gap.
Here is the adrenaline rush you crave,
that inexorable fight, that insane puncture
into heat and blood. And I dare you to finish
what you've started. Because here, Bullet,
here is where I complete the word you bring
hissing through the air, here is where I moan
the barrel's cold esophagus, triggering
my tongue's explosives for the rifling I have
inside of me, each twist of the round
spun deeper, because here, Bullet,
here is where the world ends, every time.

—Brian Turner

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Post That Happens When You Have To Leave In Five Minutes

I conveniently forgot that April marks the mad rush to the end of the school year. Um, I remember now.

My lunatic father (hi Dad!) and delightful mother have unloaded their albatross of a house in the city and are moving—hooray!—down here where the skies are sunny and the grandchildren plenty. I'm scoping out possible new digs within a 10-minute radius. Very exciting. This may be the year when I finally figure out how to pan fry a steak like my mom. In case you were wondering, if there was such a thing as The World Cup of Pan-Fried Steak, she would trounce you. It has something to do with the Maggi, I think.

The spousal unit is in Alaska at the moment. I just had to type that because it sounds so weird. It's also true.

I have to go to Round Table Pizza now. I just had to type that because it sounds so weird. It's also true.

I'm putting together two class baskets for the upcoming carnival (they'll be auctioned off, along with 18 other class baskets). One is a "Stargazer Basket," and it'll have astronomy-related goodies. The other is a "Backyard Adventure" basket, and I don't know what to put in it. So far, I have a canister of plastic bugs and two bug books. This does not thrill me. If you were gong to bid on a "Backyard Adventure" basket, what would you want in it? How about an ant farm? Or one of those bug catcher boxes that have a magnifying glass on top? A butterfly net? Holey moley, help me out.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Article of the Day: Michael Chabon On Pittsburgh, Robinson, Clemente, and Obama

Pittsburgh native (and fictionist extraordinnaire) Michael Chabon is a voice of reason for those trying to make sense of the wackiness currently taking place in Pennsylvania:

Though there was mistrust and misunderstanding on both sides, and a certain necessary amount of forgetting, with the passage of time Clemente and the city of Pittsburgh built a bridge. They came to honor, respect and even treasure each other. Like the people of Pittsburgh, Barack Obama understands that we live in a Nation of Bridges -- his life and his history are the proof of it. In steel, stone or acts of human daring, that is the grace bestowed on all of us by those who, in spite of the terrible downward pressures of gravity, or bitterness, or fear, build bridges.

Read the whole thing here.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Fist-Waving OR Things I Should Be Doing Right Now

1. Renewing library books to avoid fines (*waves fist at self*).

2. Shoe shopping because these flats are soooooo old (*waves fist at old shoes*).

3. Stocking up on Kleenex (*waves fist at imaginary acacia trees*).

4. Putting more money in the meter (*waves fist at imaginary meter person*).

5. Sending an e-mail to my friend K. to say that though I love her (I love you!) I don't want to go to our high school reunion. This one includes every class from the 80s, and it makes my head hurt to think about it (*waves fist just for fun*).

6. Writing to the Governor (again) to register my extreme piss-off-ed-ness at the proposed 4.8 billion (that's not a typo) dollar budget cuts for K-14 education (*waves fist in direction of Sacramento*).

7. Putting my Mexico pictures up so my travelmates can see them (*waves fist at flickr for being slow*).

Monday, April 07, 2008

Week 2 @ Nesting Ground HQ

Maybe it's too early to say, but I'm going to say it: this is the most brilliant move your Nesting Ground Mistress has ever made. I'm getting so much done up here in my loft that it's (slightly) freaking me out. The other day I was happily working away on an article that's due in a few weeks, and I completely forgot that I was supposed to be volunteering in Lea's classroom. I showed up 45 minutes late with an oh-my-God-I'm-so-sorry look on my face. Since then I've been minding the clock a little better.

The spousal unit picked me up here on Friday night, looked around, and wondered what the deal was with my uncharacteristically stark aesthetic, so I explained that I don't want anything around me. My desk at home is covered in the detritus of life; this one just has my laptop and a few books. Oh, and a box of Kleenex. It's allergy season, after all.

It's hard to take a proper picture, so here's a bad one. My desk is in the foreground:

...And whaddaya know? School just called to say that Risa is sick and needs to be picked up...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Getting Graphic

I'm way behind the curve when it comes to graphic lit. Though I am attracted to what I understand to be the stories told in Persepolis or Maus, for example, there's something about the graphic element that leaves me cold. This is a strange reaction, since I think the use of illustration is meant to create a certain intimacy or to draw the reader in with an immediacy that words alone cannot. But a large part of my reading enjoyment comes from being able to conjure up my own images as I go, so to have it done for me already is kind of a bummer. It turns out, though, that I enjoy the form when it's used to deal with history as in Howard Zinn's A People's HIstory of American Empire (adapted from his classic A People's History of the United States).

This is probably because the graphics help me process the historical facts (I'm simple like that). Plus, I love the illustration of the Pinoy soldier who screams, "THE AMERICANS HAVE ATTACKED OUR TROOPS AT SANTA MESA!" and its uncanny depiction of the classic Filipino nose. I'm serious.

Speaking of Mr. Zinn, take a look at the trailer for The People Speak, coming in September 2008:

John Legend increases his sexy with this. As does Marisa Tomei. I'm just saying.