Wednesday, June 30, 2004

So I have finally relearned the first Japanese alphabet, hiragana. It's the baby letters, basically, only man, there are a ton of them. 50, actually, pretty much double the English alphabet, and this is only the first set of symbols I need to learn. I now have to go on to learning katakana, the next set, which has just as many. What's most difficult about all this is the amazing capacity the symbols have of looking like one another. "Ne" and "re", at first glance are almost the same. Same thing with "so" and "ro". My favorite symbol is for "yu" though, because it is fun to draw, and it's just pretty. If I ever got a tattoo, I might just get the symbol for "yu", which is just a sound, of course, but I like the way it looks.

I have a college level Japanese textbook, and have been reading through the conversations in the book that are all printed out in hiragana on one side of the page, and in phonetics and english on the other side of the page. I cover the english side up and make myself stumble through the dialogue. Suddenly I start having these very primal memories of learning English, while I'm looking at a symbol and saying, "Mi", then the next, "chi", then "ko", Mi-chi-ko, Michiko. Okay, that word's done. Michiko then of course goes on to say something to Ms. Yamaguchi. Good, Chris. I've learned to identify Michiko's name by heart now. heheh. Sigh. I really do feel like a kid watching the Electric Company or Sesame Street, whichever one had the sessions where the two or three headed monster, I forget how many heads, would put together the syllables of a word, the syllables moving across the bottom of the screen, until they all met in the middle and the whole word was made. This is a horribly humbling exercise.

Oh well, on to Katakana now. I remember I learned it fairly quickly in high school, so I hope I do so again, since I leave in less than a month and a half. And of course, all I'm learning is recognition of the symbols so I can read signs etc. when I'm there. If I had to sit down and someone instructed me to draw a variety of the symbols, I probably would have a difficult time doing recall from the opposite direction. I'll have to practice that while I'm in Japan, most likely. For now I'll have to settle for recognition.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Oh Rufus, you silly pretty boy. What a fabulous concert you gave tonight. So fabulous you even have me saying fabulous, and that's something special, if I do say so myself. I loved your pretty white silk shirt with the orange flowers on it, and your little silvery flip flops. Who would dare wear such a combination but you? And of course your hair was immaculate as ever. I wish I could get mine to do that. I like how you would start a song then stop five seconds in every once in a while because you forgot to do the setup for it, and I like how you dedicated every song to something, like gay pride, your sister, or those dead men from the 1800s who built the wacky flamboyant buildings in Cleveland. I like how you told those Guster boys, who came out to help you with one song, to get offstage as soon as it was over. I was so mad when they wouldn't leave after Ben Folds had them on for a song and ended up ruining the last twenty minutes of his set. You, on the other hand, had the sense to bring out the catwoman in you and bitch them off while at the same time saying how cute they are, and alas all with girlfriends. You have tact, my friend. All this and a short "Down with Bush" moment, yay, and those new songs that you sang from the next album, Want Two. I couldn't have asked for a better concert. Thanks for the good time. One day I'll return the favor. ;-)

Saturday, June 26, 2004

I am going to see Rufus Wainwright play in Cleveland on Sunday.

Commence being jealous.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

I'm trying to gather some research for my next novel, which is going to cover about one hundred years of a family's history. It's set in Ohio, and I'm going to be using all sorts of sources, both local oral histories and more scholarly representations, but I'm having some trouble locating good books that are overviews of the past century, and also books that are good for those details like when people generally moved over from say kerosene oil lamps to electric lighting, when phones were in general use from home to home, and what the names of various articles of clothing back in the day were, or the name of radio programs and descriptions of them. Stuff like that. For instance, my grandmother just told me the story of the radio program her grandmother used to listen to, called Stella Dallas, which sounds sort of like an old fashioned radio soap opera. I'm keen on finding bits of stuff like that, as well as broader scoped material ranging from early 1900s to the present. If anyone happens to know some good books that may be useful, please let me know. I really appreciate it.

Friday, June 18, 2004

I am up later, unable to sleep, sick sick sick. I've been sick for the past week nearly. I now have medication, but whatever this is won't give up its last couple of fingerholds on me. I tend to wake up and feel fine and be exhausted within an hour and have to lay back down again. I don't think I've ever felt so fatigued in my life.

So instead of lingering in bed, tossing and turning, I decided to log some news instead. I made a list of goals at the beginning of the new year, and several of them have already come to be met. One was finish the novel, which I actually finished on the second day of the new year, two was to revise it to my best ability and workshop it with others until I could get it in the best shape possible. I finished that process in April. One of the other things on my list of things to do was to acquire an agent to represent me, now that I have book length material to market. So I sent the novel off to an agent mid-May, on the recommendation of a couple friends, and nearly a month to the day, I heard back from the agent saying he loved the book and wanted to represent me. I'll be represented by Christopher Schelling of the Ralph Vicinanza Agency.

I'm very excited, but also intimidated just a little. The list of Christopher's other clients is, well, stunning. He represents people like Terri Windling, Kate Bernheimer, Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman, Augusten Burroughs, Stephen King, Margaret Cho, and none other than His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I'm thrilled that he's going to represent my work, and like him already from the exchanges we've had. So it looks like this is it. I have to give up the book and trust someone else to take care of it from here on out. Very scary, but I'm happy it's Christopher. I had a gut feeling as soon as a friend he represents began to talk about him. I hadn't had him on my list of possible agents to send to before that, and suddenly I was caught up in getting my book to him before I sent it to the others. And that gut reaction seems like it turned out for the best. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Now back to the work of mending...

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

I forgot to mention this in my list of things to pick up. Victoria Elizabeth Garcia's chapbook of short stories, Unspeakable Vitrine. It's beautiful, sad, weird as all get out, surreal, and ultimately the best kind of satisfying. Her characters are horribly real, and I mean that in the way that we are all real and horrible in a way, and it takes a certain kind of author to depict our undersides. Not the undersides that are expected--like crime and drugs, etc--but the truly unspeakable strangeness we all have that is scary as hell. Buy this chapbook.

Go read Haddayr Copley-Woods' story, Borne Away, at Strange Horizons. It's a very pretty story, and melancholy, and magical. A beautiful blend of realism and fantasy.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

So I watched "Love, Actually" again tonight. I saw it at the theatre when it came out last Christmas, and loved it then, even though I had all sorts of minces and quibbles with its easygoing sort of take on love, and its easiness in getting people together, and how most of the people end up with happy endings, except two, I believe, and I suppose I shouldn't let that stuff stop me, and it doesn't really, because I grin and laugh and feel all glowy when I watch the movie, which always pisses me off to end the movie realizing I've been taken in once again and made to "feel good". Hmmph. Anyway. I watched it because Karen M. told me at Wiscon that if the movie of my life would ever be made, they should get that guy who plays the guy in love with his best friend's wife (Andrew Lincoln) to play me. I watched it again tonight looking to see if there was any comparison. I think it's the eyes mainly. He's far fitter than I, and obviously has a better budget to buy his clothes with. But I do like the look of him. How egocentric is that? heheh.

Friday, June 04, 2004

I absolutely love this woman, even if her latest novel, Lighthousekeeping, is sort of a mess.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Wow, I just got some great news. The Third Alternative is going to be publishing my story, "A Resurrection Artist" in issue 39. So happy. This breaks my short story sale dry spell that had been going on since I started writing the novel.

Ah, Wiscon, how I love that convention. So many good people, old and new this year. I'm not sure even what to say other than it was the best Wiscon for me ever so far. We had karaoke at the Ratbastards Party and it was the best fun of our parties so far, in my opinion. We promise to continue upping the party ante in the coming years as well. Why settle for those bland mixers where everyone stands around gawking at each other, scanning the room for "important" people to talk to, when you can get drunk and dance and sing and make fools of yourselves instead? Yay for karaoke! And yay for giving readings and having editors show an interest in your work. And yay for all the beautiful new chapbooks and zines and small press books that were released. Small Beer Press put out two new books, one by Sean Stewart and one by Jennifer Stevenson. Both are gorgeous. I'm reading Sean's now, and it's amazingly good. Also, a new Richard Butner chapbook, Horses Blow Up Dog City and Other Stories, a must, a must, I say. The new Flytrap, the new Rabid Transit, the new Say... ,the first issue of The Dogtown Review, the new LCRW, the new Electric Velocipede. These may be small little magazines, but they're exciting and beautifully made, and worked hard for to be made. And it's also where the most exciting stuff is being published, in my humble opinion. Go forth and get copies for your own well being. And yay for friends staying an extra day after the con is over. I missed my flight and couldn't get another one till 6 the next morning. So very happy to have Justine and Scott, Mr. Rowe and Ms. Bond, Kelly and Gavin to keep me, and keep me company, in my delay in coming home.

But home I am finally.

Miss you all already.