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the magician

I'm changing things again.

In general, the posts to this journal have been public. That changed a while ago. A lot of the posts nowadays are locked to be readable only by those on my friends list. If you're interested in being able to read them, please contact me directly via email or by leaving a comment on this post.

That said, there will be more public posts again. Being social is good for me. Also, my snark needs a wider audience.

Some past posts have also become friends-locked. My snark should be free-ranging, but my angst? Not so much.

Thanks for reading.

well, okay

So... 37.

This past year has been full of all sorts of unexpected things. In all honesty, I couldn't have predicted some of the things. Others, sure, but 36 sort of sucker-punched me.

Let's hope 37 is kinder. I could use some kindness.

Baring that, I'll take pure unadulterated awesomeness.

Actually, yeah:  awesomeness. Let's go with that.

Although if it's also kind, I won't mind.

I'm thankful, though. I'm thankful.

2013 - media list

So, another year come and gone. And what do I have to show for it? A rather lot, actually, but that's a different post. This one is about the stories I've read, watched, and heard.
ReadCollapse )WatchedCollapse )HeardCollapse )SpectacleCollapse )

new story published!

me oh my
For relative values of "new," I suppose. The first draft was written in 2011.

"The Coffinmaker's Love" had its start at Clarion West. It was the first story that I wrote there, on Week Two, with Nancy Kress instructing. Week One was Paul Park, and he helped us lay groundwork and ran us through exercises, but no all-out story.

Paul had us talk about our strengths as writers, and I said, "I write pretty."

It's true. I do.

So, for the first story to be dissected by my colleagues, I played to my strengths. I went for pretty. I'm good with mood and dialogue, so I used those, too. I decided that I wanted to see if I could play with voice, so I chose to go with a pseudo-Victorian archness just to see if I could sustain it.

The story was received well-enough. Nancy said something along the lines of it being "a nice fable," but not having enough substance. Fair enough.

Later in the workshop, I often used the term bagatelle to describe some pieces (both some of mine and of my colleagues)--I didn't use it pejoratively, but descriptively. There's nothing wrong with--and there can be a good deal right with--a bit of fluff that brightens your day. Over time, I have come to embrace that. Confections are wonderful. It's not the whole of my work, either, but it's fun.

I don't think that "The Coffinmaker's Love" is a bagatelle. There's too much bittersweetness there for it to be, and a purposeful undercurrent of dark and troublesome questions that only come up in the aftermath. It is, however, a locket story.

I came up with that description earlier this summer when the story was being edited and I had to describe the story and its scope to other people. What I mean by it is that it's a small and fine work, with a small scope, intended to be pretty, containing something dear, and meant to be held near to one's heart.

It's not an epically ambitious story on existential themes like "Better the Night," which I can't seem to sell anywhere, or a softly important human story that gives people more room to find reflections of themselves like "Recognizing Gabe."

Not everyone is going to find the contents of a locket story dear. But it should be clear that someone does, like stumbling over a small, wooden box full of love letters between strangers.

I'm very grateful to Beneath Ceaseless Skies for publishing the story. BCS editor-in-chief Scott Andrews was incredibly helpful and amazing; the story is many times better than it was because of his insight. Scott originally rejected the story, but allowed that he'd be happy to read a revision. Not being a complete idiot, I did indeed revise it. Fortunately, he eventually bought it.

In tweaking the darn thing, I had the particular help of two dear friends, Sarah Brandel and Tiffani Angus. They are both wonderful writers, and helped me make the story work.

This is my second professional sale, and it continues the worrisome pattern of selling stories to the first market I submit them to, or not at all. Don't get me wrong: I'm happy to sell at all. But I hope that pattern breaks soon. I really want "Better the Night" and "Dogsbody" and "What the Queen saw" out there. Well, there's still a ton of markets, right? Next! And I've got this other story I'm working on...

as the hours wind down

it's a rocky road
I can feel Yom Kippur approaching.

The turn of time is inexorable and I feel the gathering up of whispers, susurrations of lives lived and days spent, the rustle of divine fingers on the Book of Life and the Book of Death, turning pages.

My thoughts are somber, and my mood is odd. I am tired, and it is hours yet before my fast begins. I do not think that I will keep it long. Right now, I am not that strong.

It's difficult; I don't have a chavurah to share comfort and strength with here in Portland. As badly observant as I might have been in San Francisco, I did have a community there, and it was easier. I haven't had the spiritual wherewithal to find and join, or make one, here. That's on me.

But that's not the only thing. Right now, recent events have made me consider my choices, my mistakes, and my regrets. For the most part, I am used to having a way to undo things, to change my mind and choose again. The amount of times in which I've done so successfully in my life is probably a little absurd. There are times, however, when you do not get a do-over, and you must learn to live with disappointment.

Right now, that's what's on the surface. I've got just enough wisdom to know that this feeling will pass, and in the great scheme of things in my life, it's not that important. But right now, I'm tired. Probably too tired to keep my fast.

I can feel Yom Kippur approaching.

The stories the sages tell say that it's on Yom Kippur that the Holy One seals our fates for the coming year. Our fates are decreed on Rosh Hashanah, but only on Yom Kippur do they become set. The prayers sung in between those days tell us that our actions can lessen the severity of the decree...

I don't believe in the literal Books of Life and Death, much in the same way that I don't believe in a literal God, but I like and believe in a message of personal agency that encourages us to turn to each other, and help one another be our best selves.

So much in this faith that I've chosen--and make no mistake, it's very much a choice--revolves around that: how to be, and help others to be, our best selves. What are the right ways to act? The idea that what's in your heart is between you and God alone--including whether you even believe in God or not--but that your actions, and more importantly, their consequences, are between you and your community, is beautiful to me.

During the Days of Awe, one does not ask forgiveness of God except for those ways we may have hurt our relationship with the divine. For everything else, for all those ways we may have hurt other people, one must ask forgiveness of those others, as that forgiveness is not God's to grant.

Absolution is not a Jewish concept.

We carry the weight of our actions alone, or together, but we carry it nonetheless.

The thing that is so hard to understand sometimes is that it's not meant to be a burden.

It's gravity: and without it, we cannot dance.

I can feel Yom Kippur approaching.

I am melancholy and mad with myself, and feel (unusual for me) uncomfortable in my own skin. It's not Yom Kippur that makes me feel this way, but Yom Kippur is making me think and articulate my thoughts. I feel weak, and I do not like it! Sunset is hours away, and yet my monkey shell is already cracking.

I am tired, and I cannot hold fast.


"It is so ordered."

We move forward.

The Supreme Court has struck down DOMA and punted on Prop. 8.

These were the likeliest outcomes, in all the discussion and speculation I heard. Given the current Court, I am not surprised by it.

I am glad, though. And thankful. There are no guarantees that justice would prevail--and in fact, it has only done so in steps. Yet, for each step forward, I give thanks to those who fought to clear the way.

We move forward.
me oh my
"Recognizing Gabe: un cuento de hadas" is in the final round of audience polling for Best PodCastle Story of 2012.

I am astonished and utterly delighted.

Go vote! Listen to all the stories--they're all good.


I love the story, so to see it get love from other people is wonderful.

Best PodCastle of 2012 - FINAL
red me
I submitted my nursing school admissions applications last week. I decided to go with the three local community college programs, which all are members of the Oregon Consortium for Nursing Education. If I get into one of the two-year JC programs, I'd get to take a third year at OHSU and earn a BSN.

I am not going to get in.

No, stop. Don't tell me "Of course you'll get in!" The odds are not in my favor. My first-choice program has a lower admit rate than Stanford did when I got in there.

Yes. This community college program admits a lower percentage of applicants (about 10%) than Stanford did when I was there (about 13%). Granted, Stanford currently admits about 6%, so perhaps I'm viewing things from a skewed perspective. Then again, I don't know that I'd get into Stanford now, either. Sometimes I think I should have gone to Yale. Or NYU.


I'm resigning myself to not getting into a program this fall.

The admissions process is two-staged. First, you submit your application: transcripts, supporting documentation for any discretionary points (relevant work or volunteer experience, languages, etc.). This gets tabulated. If it's met the minimum for that year's class (contingent on the pool of applicants), you're then (depending on the program) asked to sit for a proctored essay or a group interview. You're scored on said essay/interview and these points are added to the earlier points. If your score is high enough, you get in. If not, you don't.

Pretty simple.

I'm not getting into a program this fall.

I dropped the ball on getting discretionary points--I had a volunteer situation set up, but when I got sick in May, I let it go and did not go back to it. I ran out of cope, and I knew at the time that I should soldier on, but lack of cope. Also, anatomy and physiology kicked my ass. I could have done better there. I don't know that I'll have the minimum points needed to advance to the second stage. Argh. If do get asked to sit for the essay/interview, I'd give me a really solid chance of getting in: I rock essays and interviews. I know why I want this career, and I can articulate it clearly and passionately. But... you can't dance if you haven't been asked.

So, I'm not going to get into a program this fall.

I'm going to get the volunteer experience this year. See what other classes I can (re)take. I'll apply again next year. I will get in then.

About that: I've decided that I'm going to stay in Portland at least until hearing back from the programs next time around (for Fall 2014). I can use this time here to work and volunteer and write. Then I'll reapply to the three, and go ahead and apply to schools back in California and elsewhere, too. Part of me thinks that I should have done that this round, too--it would have been a smart idea--but I seriously cannot stand the idea of moving again right now. I have finally settled in, you know? I am not okay with uprooting myself at this point.

This experience marks a change in my Weltanschauung, too. This will be the first time I apply for a school/learning thing and don't get in. Even hugely competitive jobs, more often than not (although plenty of not), I got offers. Yes, I recognize the remarkable privilege in that statement. I'm not trying to be a douche. Still, it's factually true: I'm used to "getting in." I don't think that's going to happen this time around. I feel really weird about that. I mean, I understand that I'm fallible and mortal and don't and won't always get my way, and more importantly, I understand that this time, I'm not up to snuff. But all those years of privilege have me feeling like I'm Wile E. Coyote, having just run off the cliff--I keep thinking that my modus operandi has been "as long as I don't look down, I won't fall." Not realizing that you're up in thin air--not realizing that you can fall, assuming that you won't fall--is sometimes wonderfully protective. Sometimes, you can pull the rest of the universe along with you, forcing it to acquiesce to your expectations, and there you are, doing what you know you can--because you didn't know you couldn't. The fact that the universe often went along with me is awful--in all senses.

So now I'm trying to continue to shift my worldview to something more adult, more considered. I mean, I recognize that I'm not going to get in this time around, so I'm planning for next time. Do it better, you know? That's been part of the long project of growing up. That's necessary for accomplishing my goals. It isn't being unable to handle rejection--I do that very well, actually--it's understanding how much of the universe is out of my hands, how much is uncoercible by dint of talent, charm, or skill... and then going for it anyway.

Damn the torpedoes.
me oh my
I turned 36.

So far, not bad. (And yes, whenever I say something like that I feel like metaphysically ducking.)

One of my best friends flew up to spend the weekend with me, which is a wonderful, wonderful gift. It's been a full day of friends, and food, laughter, and books, and complimentary shots of sake for the entire house because it was my birthday and that's apparently how the Japanese restaurant (traditions are meant to be observed!) where we had dinner rolls.

I am pleasantly exhausted. Tomorrow I'll deal with things like replying to all the birthday good wishes and returning phone calls, emails, and Facebook posts. Today, I was running around and didn't get more than a few moments of down-time, which is hard.

As for the higher perspective on life and whatnot... I feel glad to be this age. I'm a little at a loss about some things--although I try not to have expectations, per se, I wonder (and perhaps worry) a bit about not having a spouse, about my careers, about how I'm building my community, about my family, blood and heart. I try not to measure by other people's rubrics, but sometimes there's an insidious little voice that whispers comparisons invidious and not kind. I don't wonder what's wrong with me--I sincerely don't think that anything really is, besides the common pettinesses that besmirch us all; nothing fundamental--but I do sometimes compare myself to my imaginary mental map of my life as I imagined it when I was younger and go, what the fuck?

But I'm continuing to become the person I've been becoming and, on the whole, I like me.

And that's about as good as anyone can ask, and I am cool with that.
unexpected glory
I caught Jodie Foster's acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille at the Golden Globes, and thought it was magnificent. It wasn't perfect, but it was grandly eloquent, a bit righteous, and a lot truthful. It was a cri de cœur, wanting naught so much as to be understood.

In the following hours, a lot of the reaction has been confused, snarky, and mean. It has almost all entirely missed the point.

I replied to a comment on Facebook about it saying this:

"I think that's missing the point of what she said and was doing. What she was angry about was the fact that any privacy at all that she's had in her life--and remember, she's been a working actor since she was three years old, well before she could have meaningfully consented, and was raised so entrenched in show business that it's not like anything else was later really an option--was something that she had to stake out and claim and defend as viciously as possible all in order to keep herself as whole as possible. She mourned that even what privacy remains isn't going to last, and that that is more than a bit fucked up. She reminded the audience that she, and all actors and celebrities don't actually owe the audience anything except as good a performance as they can deliver. Her entire point was that her personal life is that: hers.

"What--and if--she shares of her personal life is up to her, and although sure, we can make the political argument that her public reticence is damaging or shameful or cowardly, it ignores the fact we cannot, in fact, demand that anyone be a hero for us. That's not how it works. If she chooses--and that's entirely her choice--to come out publicly, let's recognize that it's not exactly the same thing as when Jane Q. Lesbian from Schenectady does it. Therein lies its power and its weight, and again: it's up to her to choose it or not.

"And besides the point, she's lived her life honestly with everyone in it who actually matters to her, her family and her friends. She doesn't owe the rest of us that. That she's given it, that's something to be honored. And yeah, it would have helped had she done it sooner, but still: she doesn't owe us that."

Ms. Foster used humor to address the issue, but I found her ire to be perfectly clear, too--and perfectly reasonable. As much as queer folks want--need--people to come out of the closet and be the best heroes they can be, we can't actually demand that they do so. In a world where that's a fraught choice for a private individual, and all the more so for one in the public eye, it is an incredibly important act to come out. To not do so is, in my opinion, in many ways morally questionable, but I can't tell decide the worth of anyone else's honor or conscience. I cannot demand that they be a hero. We can ask, we can plead, and in certain instances (as in self-defense against closeted politicians who work against equality) we can even force them to be honest--although not a hero. The onus of truth is individual.

That Jodie Foster speaks this part of her truth now--and let's not be pedantic and stupidly coy and say that she's not done so because she didn't actually say, "Yep, I'm gay," when she clearly identified her co-parent and former partner-in-love by name and gender--is something I, for one, am glad about. It's a lovely gift.

Thanks, Ms. Foster. And thank you especially for speaking about how love, for your colleagues, your friends, your family, especially your sons, your former partner, and your mother, is your personal truth in the search to understand and be understood.

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