Saturday, December 28, 2002

I went dancing tonight with some friends. We went to the gay bar in town. Both the car I came in and the second car that we took got broken into. Earlier in the summer, when I went with friends to this bar, my car was broken into. It pisses me off, because this bar is in the main club area, and yet it has the highest break in rate. And the reason why is because it's a gay bar, and no one who is broken into at this bar wants to claim it at this place, because it would reflect on a part of their identity. So they take their broken into cars to malls and whatnot, other places, and claim the breakin occurred there, so that they won't have to reveal that they were at a gay bar. It's one of the saddest things in the world, to navigate your life around your sexuality. It doesn't happen everywhere, I know. But this is the midwest, in a particularly conservative working class sector of it. And for those of you who live lives in decent places and think this doesn't occur anymore because it doesn't happen in your town, think again. Listen. Because it does. The world isn't right yet, even if it seems right in your own backyard. Things still need to be fought for, to be changed. One of these is for people to not have to feel like they need to hide part of themselves from the rest of the world, be it their sexuality or their skin color or their ethnic heritage or their religion. Anything. For those of you who think the battle is done and over with, it isn't. I live in a place where the war is still on. The fighting elsewhere has subsided, but it doesn't mean that it's over.

It's disgusting to think a particular group of people will be preyed upon as victims because they will hesitate to reveal some aspect of their identity, this hindering the system which is supposed to support everyone. If we tolerated everyone--No, I hate that word: tolerate. It's not good enough. If we accepted and loved everyone just as they are, then things like this wouldn't have to happen. We would be closer to everyone operating under the same rules that are made for the "normal" people to enjoy.

I'm blathering and pissed off, and wanting to be able to do something about all of this, but I feel so helpless. I hated seeing my gay friends tonight, victims of a crime with a particular angle on it because of who they are. It was one of the saddest things I'd ever witnessed. I don't know if they even know why I was so sad, what I'd seen. It's part of their lives. They're used to its reality.

Which is even worse. No one should be "used" to things of this nature.

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

I'm back from my vacation in Toronto, which was wonderful. Stayed in a really nice hostel in Chinatown, walked all over the city, saw lots of good art at the Ontario Art Gallery, Jackie took many pictures, made friends at a pub with a Canadian couple who took our picture, and was later invited to a hotel party they were throwing the next night, drank good beer, good wine, ate good sushi. Jackie went crazy buying shoes (an obsession of hers, I've discovered). I found a print of a surrealist painting by Dominique Appia that I saw in a poster store about seven years ago, and never saw again until the Ontario Art Gallery, and bought a print of it now instead of losing track of it again. Made me very happy. Discovered the alcohol is very cheaply bought at duty free stores at the border, as well as many other luxury items. All in all, a great vacation. The two of us liked traveling with each other. I even came down with the cold on Saturday and was not found to be an annoying sick person.

I crashed all last night and then spent the day trying to buy last minute Christmas items for the family. This year is bad. I'm a poor graduate student instead of a less poor librarian's assistant who had been able to save up some money at that job. So I've had to cut back on spending, which depresses me. I like buying gifts for people, but it's hand to mouth for me at this point. I hate it. I'm finally figuring out that whole wanting to save and plan an economic future thing that people do, because I don't want to have to worry about money forever, like I'm doing now. It sucks. Hopefully next year will be better.

Christmas Eve party with the parents tomorrow upcoming. Much fun.

Have you listened to Norah Jones yet? Do so.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Hey, me and some of my friends and colleagues were mentioned in Jeffrey Ford's Best of the Year reading list. Pretty cool.

Monday, December 16, 2002

So lately I've been pretty busy. Lots of holiday preparations and pre-holiday festivities. The graduate students had a Christmas party here at the house where I live. I live in the attic apartment (which is muy cool, the very best of all the apartments, in my opinion, which is the only one that counts really) and on the first floor, my friend Beth (also in the grad program) lives with her husband Kevin. On the second floor, George, another grad assistant, lives with his dog, Xander. He's a Buffy fan. We thought it was the perfect place to have the party, since we all live here and all the other grad students could run around three floors of their own free will (for the most part, as over the course of the evening, Jackie locked us in my apartment all by ourselves). It was much fun. Lots of drinking and dancing. Several girls crying after drinking too much and saying goodbye to boyfriends who were leaving for a week or so for some such reason, or over having recently been dumped. You'd have thought it was a party of drama students, not literature and creative writing students, but the fields are related, I suppose.

Had dinner with Jackie and my parents on Friday, which went well. This was the introductions, which was strange to do. I haven't had to do that in a long time. Not in any official sense. No one that I placed any real emphasis on in the past year or so. They liked her a lot. She liked them. But I kind of figured it would go that way.

A couple of anecdotal snippets:

Went Christmas shopping with my mom today, which was fun (because the past couple of years, holidays were bad for me, and this one I'm looking forward to) but frustrating as well. My mother has become a terrible driver (not that *I* have any room to complain). But it's true! She waits and waits for the perfect exit and entrance from and into traffic. I sit and roll my eyes and sigh heavily for endless minutes until I snap and say, JUST GO, JUST GO, WHY DON'T YOU??

"But there's a car coming," she mews.

"It's half a mile away!"

"Well I'm not taking any chances, unlike *some* people," she retaliates. Then we get to the next store and trade gift ideas and are great friends again, only to repeat the cycle of driver/passenger abuse as described above during the next transition from store to store.

I try to explain to my mom that she's not a risk taker. "Nothing risked, nothing gained," I tell her.

She says, "A person doesn't know to miss what they've never had."

"Bullshit. They see other people have it, whatever *it* happens to be for said person."

"I'm not really in a philosophical mood right now," she complains.

In the grocery store, I mention a story written by a friend named Nalo.


"No, NALO," I say, pronouncing the name more clearly.

I mention that Nalo's father was a diplomat of some sort to Canada, where I'm going to be visiting over next weekend with Jackie.

My mother says, "I wonder when the holiday print paper plates are going to be issued."

I say nothing. I've found a gap in communication that cannot be bridged. That's ok! "I'm sure they'll come out soon," I tell her.

"I *hope* so," she says.

She cares nothing for daughters of diplomats (or some such related career --sorry Nalo, if you're reading this), nor that I know people like this. I guess it keeps me humble, spending time with my mother. It reminds me of "where I come from", as she's fond of saying.

With people like her, I'm sure I never will forget. They'll never let me.

Besides all this, I've been having a new series of dreams. The bridges are gone. The new ones I'm not ready to describe to other people really. But they're bothering me a bit. There are good things in them, though. I have to remind myself of that. But a general sense of horror as well. I'm waiting to see how they reveal themselves to me over a while, before I'll let myself get too worked up over them. I read them like I do stories. And they tell me things in the same way that stories do. And like some stories, some of my dreams leave me feeling unnerved. Mostly they are trying to show me my own insecurities, what I need to pay attention to, what I need to leave behind. Now if only I'd find a proper way to employ that information. Sometimes I feel self-knowledge just isn't enough, especially if you don't know the process you need to take to make the changes you need to make. You can only blunder along in the dark and hope you're making the right steps towards what you want for yourself and others.

A friend recently wrote me about how happy my logs have been recently, and how, well, sad they'd been for a while. He was happy for me. But I still have bad days. There has been no magical transition from sad to happy overnight, and I'm not completely happy right now either, just more happy than I've been in a long long time. That's all I'm concentrating on right now, feeling that, because who knows when I might stumble, or when the sky will fall. I need to learn how to live in the moment a little better, especially the happy ones. So I'm not committing much bad days to the journal. Even though they still come. They're just fewer or more momentary, rather than taking up whole days and weeks, as they had previously. I figure I must be doing something right--that whole blundering around in the dark bit. So I'm going to keep on doing it as long as possible.

And be prepared to fall too, because that's what we do. Or at least that's what I do, evidently.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Soo....I defended my thesis this afternoon. And aced it with flying colors. It was really wonderful. I was complimented left and right by my committee reviewers, told it was the best Master's thesis they'd ever read, and discussed my writing in depth with them for a little over an hour. Yes, yes, I was thinking, tell me more. Heh Heh.

Afterwards, Jackie showed up with flowers for me. That was a huge surprise. I'm not used to getting flowers from people. So far she has given me flowers, a poster of Mexico, a James Taylor album, and a bottle of rum. I'm not used to such attention. Yes, yes, I'm thinking, keep up with this and I'll be your lap dog.

I called my mom to tell her about the thesis and how it turned out, and within two hours she had notified nearly everyone back in Kinsman (where I grew up, population 3,000) about how brilliant her son is. (My mom ain't no fool). I also told her about Jackie giving me flowers. She hasn't met Jackie yet, but when I told her that, she said, "Hmm, I like this one already."

I came home then to find an acceptance letter to Descant's Speculative Fiction Issue, which will be published next Fall. Descant is a Canadian literary magazine that has decided to spotlight the fantastical arts. They always produce really beautifully designed issues, so I'm excited.

Good day, all around.

Saturday, December 07, 2002

So...very surreal night. Went to a benefit for the university literary magazine. A group of professors have an Irish Folk band that opened. Then for an hour or so people read open mic poetry. At one point the MC, another grad student, asked me to read something. I didn't bring anything with me. I cowered behind a friend and pretended like I didn't exist. Everyone clamored for me to read something before the second band began to play. So my friend Kevin ran me home and I picked up a copy of my story, "Lips", which recently appeared in Say...Was That a Kiss? We got back and I read for the first time in front of people I know, and it went really well. Everyone laughed in the right places, and frowned in commiseration in the right places. It was wonderful. I got a huge round of applause and a few kisses, which was apt, since the story was about kissing. I like kissing. I'm so glad Mr. Rowe and Ms. Bond created a venue in which I could express such sentiment in a literary manner.

Then Jackie and I went to hear her brother's band play. I met her father for the first time. It went well. I'm not building much context here, but I don't plan on it either. Make your own. I have superstitions. I'll leave them by the wayside when I don't feel the need for them any longer. The meeting went well. I was scared, because he was her father, but also because he's a minister. I'm afraid of such people in general. But he was charming and down to earth and very real. He didn't seem like any minister I'd encountered before (except maybe my friend Kelly's father). He even shook his ass and twirled his finger in the air as he danced to his son's music. Very cool, if you ask me.

So. Things are good. Something in me says get ready for the sky to fall, because, as a friend of mine says, the sky does fall.

But I'm hoping it doesn't. At least not for a long time. At least not for a while...

Friday, December 06, 2002

Good morning!

And you are exactly right! I am not a morning person, yet I keep posting very early in the morning lately. There is a reason for this. A good good good good good reason.

Anyway. I presented on Raymond Carver yesterday, and turned in the final essay. Goodbye Raymond, hello Surrealists. Defense of my creative thesis is going to be held on Monday afternoon. After that, December is all mine. Hurray!

I have really been at a loss for journaling lately. I have not been very meditative in recent weeks, I guess. But frankly, um, that's cool by me. I'm having heaps of fun over here in Y-town. I hope hope hope hope everyone else is too.

Thursday, December 05, 2002

I've been non-posting for a few days, and slow to reply to emails and phone calls. Many apologies to anyone who may be offended. I'm caught up in finalizing my semester essays on Raymond Carver, Surrealists, Scapegoats, and assessing my own writing techniques and strategies. I defend my Master's thesis on Monday afternoon. Kind of biting my nails about it. I hate any situation in which I have to defend anything to do with myself or something I've done or created, etc. I'm fine when it comes to other people. I can defend other people and their work till the cows come home, and be very good at it. But never when it comes to myself and my own work and thoughts and actions. Well, sometimes. Depends on the circumstances.

I'll do my best, though.

Sunday, December 01, 2002

"Sorry about you know who. Teacher's day. The sitter canceled at the last minute. And I had such a lot to tell you, too! About you know, number eight. Oh boy, I think I'm in love. Well, not in love."

--From, "Louise's Ghost", by Kelly Link