Gratitude and things

I spent my Thanksgiving holiday bouncing between family members’ homes and being met with gobs of good food and laughter at each place. The weather was chill and we shivered in our California-level sweaters (i.e., too thin) and enjoyed watching out breaths puffing into the air. They were some lovely and mostly restful days.

Of the many things I’m grateful for in my life, I find myself really blessed by words at the moment. It’s been a great year so far in terms of my writing life, due in part to the inspiring work of my many writing friends, to collaborative work with Laura Madeline Wiseman, and to the Brainery Workshop. I’ve probably written more consistently and more profusely this year, as well as having submitted more work for publication, than I probably ever have in the past. I’ll probably expand on this in an end of the year post.

What I’m Reading

Still working on both Rough Magick, a collection of short stories edited by Jessa Marie Mendez and Francesca Lia Block, and My Life Before Me by Norah McClintock.

What I’m Writing

See Brainery Workshop below.

Goals for the Week:

  • Edit two more stories for class.

Brainery Workshop – Science Fiction Fairy Tales – Week Ten

Last week’s topic discussion for Brainery Science Fiction Fairy Tales workshop group looked at the “Hansel and Gretel” and synesthesia and empathy disorders. I was particularly interested in an article about a young woman who has a form of synesthesia related to machinery, which I incorporated into a story about an smart house that welcomes runaways Hansel and Gretel inside but does not wish to let them go again.

Last week ended the writing of original drafts for the Brainery Worshop and now we’re on to a stage of finishing and editing and putting together a short portfolio of our word. I already have one done, called “How Bluebeard Ends,” and I am starting work on my Sleeping Beauty and Iron Henry pieces. If I finish those with enough time to spare, then I’ll try to put one of the others together.

Where I’ll Be

On December 3, from 9-midnight at Iguannas in San Jose, I’ll be one of many ladies featuring at the Cito.Fame.Us Queens of the Bay mic and birthday party for the amazing host Lindsey Leong.

Linky Goodness

Loving life and being lazy

My Saturday was spent celebrating my niece’s third birthday with a pool party at my apartment. It was so much fun watching her splash around and leap off the edge into the water — that girl has no fear and I hope it stays that way as she grows up. She’s a giant piece of my heart right now, her and her baby brother both and it give me so much joy to spend time with them.

Of course, it took three hours of scrubbing my house top to bottom, while crying Oh, my gawd, why is my house so filthy, in order to have guests over, only to have to clean all over again after they left. But I have no complaints, every bit of scrubbing was worth it.

Sunday was a big fat slug-fest because I was tired of functioning for the week. I feel no regrets…., okay, I feel some regrets, but only little ones.

What I’m Reading

I’ve just started reading my signed(!) copy of The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma. As is no surprise to me, I’m already falling in love with the language and with these complicated girls. There’s a reason Suma is one of my favorite authors.

What I’m Writing

Just a little bit of writing got done last week, mostly on Tuesday night with some editing of a review I’ve been working on. I think I needed to take it easy in order to recover from the go-get-em attitude of the week before.

Accepted! I’m pleased to announce that Nonbinary review has accepted my essay, “Beyond Shahrazad: Feminist Portrayals of Women in The Arabian Nights,” for its 1001 Arabian Nights issue. I’m thrilled to know that all that hard work paid off.

Rejected! Two publishers have rejected my Sincerely Yours chapbook (le sigh), but there are two more out. If they both come back as rejections, too, I’ll have to reassess and resubmit.

Goal(s) for this week: Finish and submit a selection of poem(s).

Linky Goodness

All Hail the Great Pumpkin

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October is my favorite time of year, or at least that’s what I’ve decided just now. The crisp, cold mornings allowing me to pull out my collection of scarves, the hope of future storms and rain so desperately needed after the long, dry California summer, and the coming of my favorite holiday, Halloween.

So, it was a delight to see that Monster, my niece who just turned two this summer, is delighted with the season as we walked around the pumpkin patch with her parents and her baby brother.  Monster held shoulders back with an expression of smiling, princessy pride as she rode the pony. She sat (mostly) still as Minnie Mouse was painted on her cheek with glitter that made everything from her baby brother to my tee-shirt where she rested her head sparkle. She scampered through the pumpkins in her Minnie Mouse dress, pointing to each one and calling out, “Ha’oween!” All pumpkins are Halloweens to her.

I know she’ll love dressing up as Tinkerbell (though, honestly, she’d wear a sparkly dress every day of the week, if she could) and going out Trick or Treating (she’s already started practicing).

I’m so proud and happy to be an Aunty. Halloween this year is going to be so much fun.

How did it get so late so soon?

“Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” — Dr. Seuss

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Photo: Petra Dr – Creative Commons

I’ve felt the weight of of time these last few weeks. I woke up this weekend amazed that July has passed me by, and I wasn’t entirely sure how it happened. I had this flash of terrifying premonition that I would wake up tomorrow and I would be 90 with nothing written or completed, my life already vanished before my eyes in a great big “Where has it all gone?”

I’m probably being over dramatic.

Okay, I know I’m being over dramatic. But I also know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Life seems to fly by so fast sometimes, especially when you’re not actively engaging in the things you/re passionate about — as I’ve been doing these past few month. I have been actively avoiding writing any resembling my novel and most things resembling stories or poems, with a few exceptions.

That said, I don’t feel the slightest bit guilty about spending every available moment of the past week with my cousin, who is in town from Alaska. Hurrah for family love and laughing about our own strange families and drinking three bottles of wine in a single night!

In other news.

I have been upping my running as of late. After completing a 5K, I was all mentally geared up to go for a 10K, but fell off running for a while. I’m trying to run Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, strength train on Wednesday. If Life will let me fit in a Thursday run, then I’m trying to do that, too. One the whole, I’m feeling good about my progress — despite having to rebuild my endurance to 3 miles again — and I’m starting to look for a 10K to sign up for in November or December.

Though in the meantime, I’m stoked about the upcoming Run with Zombies, fun run 5K, which I’m planning to sign up for, if I can convince a family member or friend to join me (my usual race buddy hates horror and won’t touch the race with a ten foot machete).

Back to the time thing.

As a way to assuage my feeling of lost time, I’m setting a goal of writing for a minimum of 10 minutes per day. While that may seem low, it’s just about the right amount for how busy I am at the moment. Also, once I get started, it’s unlikely that I’ll actually stop at the 10 minute mark.

So that’s it, goals and such for the week.

How are you these days? Do you feel like the forward progress of time is against you? Or are you seizing the day?

__________

Joys, travels, poetry, and other doings

A lot has been going on over the past couple of weeks since I last posted, so I’m going to sum things up in list format (in order of importance, rather than chronology) to make things easier on myself. I still have to do my book and movie round up for May, but that’ll come tomorrow probably.

– The biggest announcement by far is the birth of my nephew. The Monster (my niece) is being adorable around him, very gentle and loving so far. I can’t even express what a joy it is to welcome this tiny little person into the family.

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– I also turned 34 years old in the past two weeks (on May 26 to be exact), and a Happy New Year to me. A gentleman recently told my friend that she should count her birthday as the true new year, since it announces another new year of her life. I love that, and it seems like a perfect time to reassess life, the universe, and everything. With all that’s been happening, I haven’t had a chance to do that yet, but I’m planning to think about taking a serious look at my goals this week. It so happened that my birthday was marked by…

– getting rather sick. Oh the joys of coughs and runny noses, just as I’m launching into…

– a two week work trip, involving two conferences and an industrial plant visit. Travels took me to Detroit, West Michigan, and Montreal. There was a lot of work and a lot of trying to rest in order to recover from being sick, so I didn’t do much touring, except for two beautiful days in Montreal. I let my feet carry me around the city to here and there, exploring Old Town and other areas of the city center. It was beautiful out and I’d like to have more time to explore Montreal properly in the future.

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Montreal with the Parc du Mont-Royal in the background.
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Inside the Basilica of Notre Dame in Montreal.

– Being in Montreal, I had to go see Cirque du Soleil. It was a bigger expense than I had planned, but Kurios is a steampunk inspired show, so I couldn’t resist. They did a marvelous job with the aesthetic and it fit really well into the acrobat sequences. The first half, in particular, was astounding in beauty and stunts. The second half had a few weird bits that I didn’t get, but it didn’t lessen my overall enjoyment. Kurios is my favorite of all the Soleil shows I’ve seen.

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Inside the Cirque du Soleil: Kurios tent. The show had an awesome steampunk aesthetic.

– I came home to two poetry pretties in my mailbox — the lovely TEN chapbook by Val Dering Rojas (which I received from the author) and Live From The Homesick Jamboree by Adrian Blevins (which I received as part of a poetry giveaway). I’m looking forward to reading both!!

 – Two contributor’s copies of the Strange Frenzies anthology also arrives. The anthology includes my poem, “Comfort At Last.” A wonderful surprise.

An Adorable Monster and other good things

I did not exercise all last week, unless you count my playing with my niece, a.k.a. The Monster — following her as she ran around the park and rolling with her in the grass and spinning in circles and then hauling her over my shoulder to get her back to her parents at the picnic tables — which I totally do.

The Monster had a lovely Easter. She got to paint eggs and then “find” eggs during an Easter egg hunt (which was more us just tossing plastic eggs into the grass and playing pick up with a plastic bucket, because she’s not yet two).

Words Here and There

I haven’t been putting many expectations on myself in terms of writing lately, due to the many, many things going on in other arenas of my life. But I’ve managed to feel a few sparks of inspiration over the past couple of weeks, which is awesome.

Despite my previous protestations that no poetry would be written this month, I’ve added a number of poems to The Poetry Project over on Wattpad. You can read each of the poems at the following links:

I’m planning to close The Poetry Project to new prompts as of April 30th, so if you would like me to write you a poem, then please leave me a prompt in the comments either here or there.

I’ve put together an excel sheet of chapters of the werewolf novel, noting things that need to be added and major problems that need to be solved along the way. It’s not a complicated layout, but it was enough to start getting my thoughts in order and I’m also using the tabs to start trying to keep track of characters and places that are important. I still have NO IDEA to solve the one major problem I have at the moment. The most obvious solution is to cut out the problem entirely, but I’m not sure that’s what I want to do.

I also met with the Writing Gang over the weekend, all of whom continue to be awesome. They gave me some feedback on some of the later chapters, which was valuable as always. I think I need to look at solving the big problems and work my way through edits from the beginning at this point. *le sigh*

Good Movie Watching

The Host (2006)I saw The Host (Gwoemul) for the first time over the weekend and it was SO FREAKING AWESOME. The story involves a large genetically mutated creature that rises up out of Han River in Seoul, South Korea and begins to attach the population. A young school girl is taken by the creature during the initial attack, and amidst a virus scare and government lockdown, her family escapes quarantine to try to rescue her.

It sounds like just your typical monster movie, but the story is intelligent and the family is both charming and silly in their bungling attempts to save their daughter/niece. It offers fantastic action sequences with a spice of humor, alongside an interesting social commentary. The monster turns out to be the least terrifying aspect of the story. Instead it’s the failed efforts of the Korean and U.S. government to solve the contamination problem, as well as the cold calculating treatment toward the patients in quarantine by officials and doctors alike that becomes truly frightening.

This is one of those movies that was so cool, I want to now see everything done by the director, Joon-ho Bong. The director’s most recent movie is Snowpiercer, which I’ve heard is amazing. So, I that may be the next movie I seek out by him. If you want more evidence of Joon-ho Bong’s awesome, you can check out this post.

Things to Do This Week

  • Edit chapter one of werewolf novel and try to solve big plot problem
  • Find a publisher to submit chapbook manuscript to
  • Continue research/do homework on business thing that I can’t talk about yet

Easter weekend, tra-la-la

I have plenty of things I could-a, should-a, would-a written, but its Friday and Easter weekend. I will get to eat all the good food and watch my almost-two-year-old niece run around being the cutest little monster as she looks for Easter eggs without really understand why.

So, have a great weekend one an all!

Things

This weekend was mostly lazy with lots of movie watching. It was mostly bad or so-so movies (with the exception of The Spectacular Now).

I’ve started reading The Three Musketeers and I’m rather enjoying the antics of Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and d’Artagnon. There’s a lot of hot headed-ness, running off to get into sword fights, slinging of insults, intrigues with mysterious women, and so on. All quite fun.

The most exciting thing this weekend was the family visit to the 4D Ultrasound* clinic. I don’t know if I announced this to you all, but my sister’s due to have her second baby (a boy) in a couple of months (end of June), so I’ll get to have a second little person to read to. (^_^) Anyway, the technology these days is amazing. We could see the features of baby Colton so clearly and he’s adorable. Looks just like his big sister. It’s so exciting!

*I don’t know why they call it 4D, when it doesn’t actually transcend time. It’s more like an advanced 3D technology.

Writing Life

Since April is National Poetry Month, this is normally the time I would be wildly attempting to complete the 30 Day Poetry Challenge or reading poetry on youtube or in some other way trying to engage. That hasn’t happened this time around, because there’s still traces of a bunch of things going on. While I’m not going to try to pound out two dozen or more poems this month, I do want to get back into my Morning Poetry Ritual (in which I must write a poem each morning). I need some sort of spark to keep the words burning in me.

For those interested in Poetry Month goodies, here’s a couple:

Running Life

Haven’t run much since completing the 5k two weeks ago, and I need to get back to it. I’d like to move up to the next level and run a 10K this summer.

I’ll try to get a couple of workouts or runs in this week, although it might not happen on the weekend because of family events filling Saturday and Easter Sunday. I’ll have to take it easy, though, since I’ve somehow managed to straing my lower back over the weekend.

How are you all this week? Are you loving life?

_______

A Black Hole of Baby Love

I have long since dubbed my sister’s house the Black Hole of Baby Love, because ever since my niece has been born, visiting her house means the loss of hours, time sucked away in gleeful love of the cutest little girl currently in existence. In our family, little Sienna has become the center of gravity from which none of us can escape — not that we’d want to anyway.

I had tentative plans this weekend to clean my bedroom (which had dissolved into a disaster of epic proportions) and catch up on some reading.

However, I decided to visit my sisters house for a few hours (hah!), which turned into many hours. As the day drifted on we decided to lounge around the house and watch some movies. We watched The Monster Squad (which I hadn’t seen since I was a young teen), while also chasing the baby around the living room, watching her giggle in delight as she tried to get away from me. And, then once baby went to bed, we watched The Conjuring (a terrifically creepy movie, all the more so because these people portrayed were real).

I told myself to go home that night. I told myself that if I slept over, as my sister invited me to do, then I would surely spend the entire next day there and get nothing done. I told myself in earnest that no matter how scary the movie might be, I could walk myself through the dark knight to my car and drive home.

In the words of Alice, I gave myself very good advice and didn’t follow it.

In other words, I slept over. (Though, this was in part because after The Conjuring finished, I had a headache so massive I could barely concentrate on falling asleep, let alone driving anywhere.)

Waking to the sound of my niece babbling in the next room, though, was a great reward for staying over. Plus, I got to have early morning cuddles with the baby, which are absolutely very different from any other kind of cuddles.

I might have gone home, if I wasn’t made aware of baby’s first pumpkin carving to happen that afternoon. Why go all the way home only to have to come back again, right?

So, I hung out and carved pumpkins.

Let the carving begin! #pumpkin #halloween

Baby Sienna took one tiny poke at the pumpkin guts and then wouldn’t touch it again. We tried to show her how it was done, but she wasn’t having it. Little Sienna is very dainty that way; she doesn’t like to get dirty (at least, not that kind of dirty). Her avoidance of even touching the pumpkin was adorable, though. (^_^)

Honestly, I feel ya, baby, I hate the “guts” stage of pumpkin carving, too — the icky, slimy, stringy, gooey that has to be pulled out is not the fun for me. ‘

My sister Pilar (other sister, not the baby mama), meanwhile, LOVED the gooey stage and dug into her pumpkin’s guts with delight. “It’s just so messy! I love it!” she squealed. Yup, that’s my Pilar.

But the carving stage I love. And this was my final result (sorry about the bad cell pic, plus the candle light wasn’t quite bright enough…).

Finished! It needs a brighter candle, but I've done Cthulhu. #pumpkin #cthulhu #halloween

All praise the Elder Pumpkin, Cthulhu!

An Assortment of Five Things

1. I picked up my sister from the airport on Tuesday. She had just got back from visiting my grandmother in Anchorage, Alaska. She’s 90 years old and my sister and I started talking about how important it is to record her life in some way. I told her that I have photo copies of her homesteading journal (which I’ve been meaning to do something with for a long time) and we both agreed that it would be great to put together a kind of memoir. Likely we wouldn’t try to publish this, though we might put it as an ebook and make some print copies for family through LuLu or something. We just need to make sure we make steady progress on this and not let it be just one of those things we talk about.

2. Speaking of writing, while I was digging through my filing cabinet looking for the copies my grandmother found me, I noticed a stack of paper about an inch thick in one of the files. I couldn’t help but take it out and read it — turned out to be movie script. I started reading some of the pages.

My thought: What is this? Did I write this? I didn’t write this. There’s no way I wrote this. *keeps reading* Oh, my god. I DID write this. I can’t believe I wrote this.

Turns out that stack of paper was the crappy martial arts script I tried to write about a guy and a girl who train and go take part in a tournament in China. It is so, so bad and I’m sure chock full of cultural inaccuracies. This will never ever see the light of day.

3. I saw Pacific Rim and loved it. It was in truth long sequences of robots smashing kaju, which was stunning in its realization, as in jaw-dropped, me-sitting-up-straight-in-my-seat in awe stunning. Beautifully wrought action sequences. It also had characters I like and story that dealt with countries and cultures working together for a common goal (that, importantly, did not revolve around good ol’ US of A saving the day). Rinko Kikuchi is wonderful and I will now be looking to watch every movie she has ever been or will be in. So, yay! I’m so glad I saw this one in theaters.

4. Also, in movies, I recently purchased Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated, a fascinating art project, in which curator Mike Schneider asked artists from around the world to animate sections of George A. Romero’s 1968 classic, Night of the Living Dead. All of the sound for the original movie is the same, the only difference is that the visual element has been changed (which can be done because the original movie is in public domain). Every minute or so, a new animation style flashes on the screen. It’s a little confusing at first, but quickly becomes hypnotizing to watch. A very cool art collaboration (with zombies!).

5. I went to a Curvy Girls Fashion Show (Curvy Girls is the name of a store in Santa Clara). It was just so cool to see a dozen women of varying shapes and sizes, bravely sporting lingerie walk down this make shift runway, while everyone in the audience cheered them on. Good feelings. Also some really cute stuff, costumes and some day ware too, so I may have some shopping to do soon.

My mom is awesome and other news

Saturday, my mom and I decided to hit the local trail in Los Gatos. I had intended to just do my run and then head home, but upon hearing my mom’s plans to walk the entire trail loop (a 4-ish mile stretch that involves some steep hills). In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best idea I’ve had.

We did the running intervals first, which went smoothly, then started walking up the hills. It was hot and one of the hills looked almost like this /, so it was very difficult. I probably didn’t drink enough water or eat enough food that morning, so I got extremely light headed halfway up. I was fine when I reached the top and the trail leveled out, but it was rough going for a while there.

But the trail being rough isn’t the point of the story. The point is that my mom is awesome.

At one point during our walk, my mom drifted ahead of me with her headphones in her ears. To music only she could hear, she began to fan her arms over her head in circles and loops and spirals in a kind of walking dance. She followed this with childlike skips and hops and tippy toe sprints, all smiling and in tune with what ever she was listening to. I couldn’t help but smile at her dancing, at her freedom of self, at her willingness to just play. It made me want to skip and cavort, too, so I did (for a little bit). It made me think of the way as a kid I could just run around and play without embarrassment, and that I wanted more silliness in my life.

Here’s a new goal for myself: Live life with childlike abandon and joy.

So, in other week roundup news, exercise was very successful with four of three completed.

Writing and organizing was less successful, as in nonexistent. I’m giving myself a break on the organizing, though, since I’ve been housesitting and thus haven’t been at home to work on it. I’m housesitting this week, too, but I’m leaving my organizing goals on the list, because maybe I’ll work on it next weekend.

That which must be accomplished in the coming week:
– Finish Chapter Five of Under the Midday Moon
– Submit something (poetry, fiction, whatever)
– Edit Letter Box poetry chapbook and submit it
– Workout at least three days with two workouts being running training (0/3)
– Practice my Spanish
– Make Progress on Organization (do one or more of the following):
• Shred papers and dispose of them
• Find a minimum of ten items (big or small) that can be gotten rid of and get rid of them
• Take box of items to donate to Goodwill

Lazy Days in a Summer Haze

Moon over the Golden Gate

Last weekend was spent celebrating my birthday, so I spent the weekend with my mom and aunt up in Sausalito and the Marin Headlands. On Saturday night, we hiked up to the lookout point to see the moon over the city. It was so, so cold and windy, but so beautiful.

The rest of the weekend was also restful and beautiful, though Sunday was more foggy and still cold. We sat on the beach and drank beers and enjoyed the sound of the waves.

I came away from the weekend feeling relaxed (though the stress started to reassert itself on the drive home).

As you may have noticed (or not), I didn’t post a weekly update this week. This is because I didn’t get much done with all the hanging out and relaxing and stuff that I’ve been doing, so the to-do list has not changed, except that I need to get through Chapter Four now.

It’s going to be warm this weekend and there’s more lazy days by the pool to be had, so we’ll see if I get anything else done.