Wednesday, November 19, 2003

I think it's time to move out of Ohio again. I need to go somewhere less anti-intellectual, more pro-liberal, and surround myself with like-minded people. I grew up feeling somehow "wrong" because I thought so differently than most of the people who lived in my hometown, which is small: three thousand strong. Yeah, *that* small. And a farm community to boot. So the values with which I was instilled I never really understood. Growing up, I was pretty quiet about important things, about the things I believed and valued. I was loud and funny in other ways, and chatty and made friends easily, but in order to do this, the friendships couldn't be based on anything real and important. When I did find people who thought similarly, they were an hour away, in Youngstown (pop. 82,026).

This was a HUGE move for me. My family worried. They bribed me to stay at home, or to at least not move INTO the city. (Yes, that's a city to people like my parents and grandparents and siblings). Of course, it didn't help that in the 80s and 90s Youngstown was the murder capitol of America, maybe the world, I forget. Definitely America, though. This of course due to the rate of murders per capita. There were reasons for this, of course, but I won't go into them, and at any rate, it's no longer the murder capitol, and I've never seen a murder, though I've heard gun shots and heard many sirens in my years here.

When I started school here, I didn't talk in classes. When the professors called on me, I would keep my answers as brief as possible, even when their eyes would light up and they'd ask me to continue or elaborate. I felt that whatever I said would still be so different from other people's ideas that I'd get weird reactions and people would tell me I was stupid or naive. But I found people on campus who thought similarly to me, and it was the most amazing thing I ever experienced. I slowly began to feel free to talk for the first time without frustration. I made friends who understood me without much trouble, or without any trouble at all. I learned how to be more comfortable in my own skin than I'd ever been before.

Then I moved away, to California, which didn't work out, and then to Michigan, which didn't work out, and now back to Youngstown, which is kind of working out. But after grading 100 essays in which students are supposed to critique some aspect of American culture, and finding that most of them are staunch defenders of complacency and the old saying, "If you don't like it here, then leave," not realizing that they're abdicating a patriotic duty to criticize their government in order to change it for the better, I feel drained and alienated and dream of a college town like Ann Arbor or Madison, where I would probably be found to hold some very conservative beliefs compared to other inhabitants of those cities.

This is a fantasy, of course. But I'm seriously aching for someplace different. I want to feel safe in my own skin again. I haven't felt that way in a long time, for several years now. I want that back again.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Well, I love that Ohio can produce this man:

Dennis Kucinich

Kucinich has my vote for president, if he can get the Democratic nomination. Hey, anyone who is supported by Ani DiFranco, Arun Ghandi, and Grace Paley has got it going on.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

So I just got back from taking my GRE subject test in Literature. My head hurts. I hate identifying spondees and when I see the word "dactyl" I think of those flying dinosaurs, not poetic terminology. I hate that there are a gazillion sonnet forms, from Petrarch to Shakespearean, to Spensarian, to blah blah blah. I like identifying passages from lists of authors. I love that. I like interpreting passages. That's great. I like trying to match up parodies of critical theory samples with the type of theory the writer's employing. Always fun. But someone should shoot the person who inserts the technical questions about poetry into the test. U suck, whoever U are!

U even have me using "U" instead of "you", U bastard.

Other than that, I've been given permission to stay in a haunted house. A local radio station did a special on local haunted houses during Halloween, and one of the houses has a baby's ghost in it. The disc jockeys stayed a night, too (the house is actually lived in by two living people also) and were able to record the baby's heart beat, as well as a hissing noise it makes. And they reported seeing the impression of it in the bedclothes at one point. Very strange. Jackie works at the gym where the producer of the show works out, and he told her that they weren't faking or anything, and that he stayed the night too, and that he can't explain the noises or physical weirdnesses that happened, but he saw and heard them, I guess. So she told him I'm writing a novel with lots of ghosts in it, and he asked the woman if I could stay a night too. She said yes. I'm not sure if I want to, though.

I'll call sometime next week and see what's up. Probably it'll all turn out to be ridiculous. I'll update when I know anything interesting, if anything interesting comes of it.


Tuesday, November 04, 2003

World Fantasy was great. I drove down on Thursday after teaching my afternoon class, and got lost. Not too badly though. I just had to drive around the city once, until I found my way back in.

I saw three of my beloved Ratbastard compatriots, Alan Deniro and Kristin Livdahl, and also my wonderful godesses and drag queens from Blue Heaven, Cathy Morrison, Karin Lowachee, Nancy Proctor, and Ben Rosenbaum. They all kick ass and you should read anything they write or else tread the path of ignorance. I also got to spend time with the lovely Justine Larbestier and Scott Westerfeld, both of who are going to be YA book king and queen one day, but I didn't get to see enough of them. Same with the rest of the crew: Christopher and Gwenda, Kelly and Gavin, Ted. I did, however, spend a wonderful afternoon with Susan Groppi, at the Museum of Natural History, where I bought a great Balinese mask for Jackie the Mask Collector. Also, the good times just keep on keeping whenever Mr. Rick Bowes is in the house. That guy should have his own sitcom.

I missed Richard Butner and Barb Gilly, as usual. They weren't there, but I missed them anyway).

Parties were the usual parties, although this time there was a round of who would you sleep with in the scifi community. Hmm...several of us are would-be sluts, but I'm not telling.

Didn't get to talk to Mike Jasper like I wanted to. Am glad I got to meet him at least, though.

Got to pick up Tim Pratt's collection, which looks lovely. As well as the new zine he and Heather have made.

Most wonderful thing: seeing Theodora Goss postively glowing with happiness and perhaps a bit of exhaustion. The happiness part of the glow was brighter.

Finally saw Jay Lake's Greek Chorus. I was hot and sweaty from the too-small crowded, room, though, and the chanting on top of the exhaustion and heat made me want to pass out a little.

Funniest moment is when Christopher Rowe tried to convince Kelly Link that his bourbon was made from loss.

I also got to meet a really cool guy named David Schwartz, who has a story in the new LCRW. I haven't read it yet, but I can't wait to. He was really nice and came up to tell me how much he likes my writing, and that really made me feel good.

Did a reading from the novel I'm writing, and I think it went good. Lots of laughter in all the right places. Lots of grim silence in all the dark places.

Had a kick-ass afternoon rendevous with hilarious Rick Bowes and Jeff Ford. Those two guys should have a talk show together.

Drank a lot on Thursday night, not much at all on Friday, a sipped on the loss bourbon on Saturday, and then drove home on Sunday after the reading. On my way home, I got lost again, and ended up in rural Maryland, in hills and valleys and fields and dairy farms. Somehow this was really soothing and I just kept on driving, up a mountain eventually, and down the other side, and stopped for directions when I came back to civilization. I don't know why I wasn't worried about driving up a mountain with half a tank of gas, but I did. It was wonderful.

And now I'm home again, and back to school and dirty work of applying to Ph.D programs, and finishing the novel, which is good clean work, and missing everyone who was there and those who weren't.