Archive for June, 2010

Jun 27 2010

when research grows dark

Published by under Writing

Some writing research is…easier than other writing research, that’s for sure.  500 serial killer articles in a month didn’t mess with my emotional equilibrium as much as the three articles read today on India’s human/child trafficking problem did.

I am especially thankful for my middle-class Western-world privilege today.

And even if health and custodial issues prevented us from making 4th Street (woes! sounds like we missed a good one, glad the rest of you there had fun), I did make my goal (plus one!) of finishing a short story by 4th street.  So yay writing-me!

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Jun 26 2010

Console gaming: the next step

Thanks so much to everyone who commented!  We also asked around at Nathan’s work and of people we encountered, and we made a little pro/con fact list for each of the XBox 360, Wii, and PS3.  Family consensus seemed to agree that the XBox 360 was the most desirable all around.  Next up: which games do you like, those of you who play the XBox?

We’re supposed to steer clear of ultra-violent games, at least at first. The Kid also has, for now, a disturbing level of the “lowest-common-denominator American” social programming from his previous environment, which means among other things that he gets abnormally frustrated at not doing well right away at attempted activities, especially competitive games.  So if there are games that start out easy and get progressively more challenging, or aren’t especially score/competition-based, those might be good ones to start with for us.  Regardless, what would you recommend as fun for adults; 12-year-olds; and group family games?

Someone recommended Fable as a good family RPG-style game, any other thoughts on this or other similar games?  The Kid listened to us describe RPGs (both the table-top and computer versions) and decided (unsurprisingly) that he’s interested in trying a computerized or console version.  We’re definitely open to other types of games than RPGs, of course.

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Jun 23 2010

Calling all console gamers…

Published by under gaming,The Kid

We are discussing with The Kid which game console to buy for the household.  We certainly think that 12-year-old boys should be able to keep up socially with at least some of the games currently popular.  On the other hand, he’ll likely be wanting us to play with him when he doesn’t have other friends over, so we want to make sure whatever we buy will have some games suitable for our interests as well.  The Kid has suggested an XBox 360 or XBox Live, I’ve liked what I’ve seen so far of the Wii, and Nathan has no strong opinion except to get more information. So it’s polling the internets time!

What, if any, are the social impressions attached to particular consoles? (Are there some that are “more cool/more lame” than others, and if so what’s the spectrum?)

What console(s) seems to have quality games produced regularly for it? (if that even happens anymore? It’s been 15 years since I last owned one — from the Playstation era)

Are there any consoles yet that will play games from other manufacturers, or are they STILL doing the proprietary game crap?

Do you have particular favorites/most hated consoles, and why for each?

Do you have an opinion on which console would best suit our family needs? (decent games, with at least some appeal to a broad age spectrum)

Thanks for the help, Fearless Readers!

3 responses so far

Jun 21 2010

Back online!

I’m back on the internet after a hectic couple of weeks involving, among other craziness, an emergency cross-country trek and the addition of a new (12-year-old) family member to the Dream Cafe!  Details will likely be a bit slow on that front until the court stuff is finalized, so as to not jinx anything in the works, but the three adults in the home are happy as can be to have our family unit together at last, as it should be.  The Kid is fitting in even faster than we’d suspected he would, with some healthy testing of boundaries and otherwise good behavior and lots of shared fun times.

In writing news, I managed to squeak in just under another story anthology deadline, I really hope I get into this one.  The narrative voice is so easy to write I could get a book’s worth of stories out of her no problem, assuming I can sell a short story or two.  My writing routine will likely be disrupted for most of the rest of this week with various appointments and such things, but am hoping to find more writing time in-between full-time childcare (and continuing cancer recovery, and all the other fun Life events that continue to crop up regularly).

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Jun 15 2010

paying it forward…

If you missed this comment, take a moment to go read it now.  It gives me happy shivers every time I read it or tell someone about it.  This is part of why I’m writing about the cancer experience, and one of the reasons I’ll keep writing about it.

It is awesome and humbling to think I might have helped already save a life by scribing words.  And motivating!

PS – Ladies, do your breast exams monthly, no, really!  Train your lovers or spouses to do it for you if you just can’t make yourself remember.  Make it a ritual.  Make it a routine.  Whatever makes you DO IT.  However weird, scary, uncomfortable, or forgetful you feel, trust me — actual cancer is WAY WORSE.

One response so far

Jun 14 2010

Northerners, Southerners, Midwesterners, oh my!

We’ve been traveling quite a bit over the last couple of years, large cross-country treks (several of them by car before health issues interfered). Obviously, it’s always interesting and engaging to observe geographical and vegetative changes depending on where in the country you are, but I find that each trip I become more interested in the human differences between regions.  Not just the differences that climate variations bring to daily behaviors and routines — not to mention the architecture — but attitudinal shifts and cultural differences as well.  I feel like I want to be writing some blog posts about these thoughts, but I haven’t quite figured out where to dive in.  So in the meantime, or as a sneaky backdoor entrance into the topic, I thought I’d put up this short post to ask you, Fearless Readers, about some of your own observations on these matters.

I don’t mind hearing the old saws everyone drags out on North vs. South, but I’ll admit I’m more interested in the observations you have that aren’t along traditional regional division lines, or different perspectives than we normally hear about the different US regions.  Starting with, in terms of broad categories, how many are there that are useful and effective labeling differences?  Northerner and Southerner seem to not really cover all of the US states in terms of cultural demographics, so we at least need to add in the Midwest and West Coast, but should there be more for the top-level categories?

What is a favorite cultural-quirk or regional-difference observation from the last time you traveled far enough outside your home region to notice the changes?

I’m looking forward to reading what you have to share!

3 responses so far

Jun 13 2010

Writing lesson for the day

Your writing lesson for the day:  Always google the editor(s) of any market to which you’re submitting.

I just received a personalized rejection note where the personal message seemed to be about a quite different story than I sent in.  This possibly makes more sense when you realize that in my haste to get the story off before deadline, I did NOT look up the editor as I almost always do, and thereby made one of the most elementary mistakes in the book: an incorrect gender honorific.

Not a good idea to offend an editor when trying to convince them your story’s worth buying.  Now to be fair, since I was busting butt post-cancer to catch up on my overdue (self-imposed) deadlines, the draft I sent this editor was not my cleanest draft ever, and I won’t be making that mistake again either.  (This time around, it was mostly a psychological victory to send it in — not to mention the anthology theme is quite along similar lines to my current novel-in-progress so it would have been cool to get a short story from the novel’s world into the anthology.)

No worries, it’s a solid story despite one editor’s opinion and I’ll clean up the draft and send it out again elsewhere, heck, sell several short stories from that world even!  And then sell the novel, which will get more attention for any anthologies I’ve sold Immortality House short stories to at that point, as well as help get attention for the novel.  That’s the plan, anyway, we’ll see how well it works.

3 responses so far

Jun 11 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

This is shaping up to be the Best Birthday Evarrrr (so far)!  Might have to suddenly go offline for a few days but if so you’ll get the scoop when we return, Fearless Readers.

In the meantime, for those of you who aren’t writing on my Facebook wall today, here’s a place for those Happy 33rd Birthday/Bonus Year #1 well-wishes.

Love and awesomeness shared with anyone reading this today, go and be excellent to each other.

4 responses so far

Jun 09 2010

back online!

Published by under Editing,health,nathan

We had a couple of unexpected outage days due to a blip in the server migration, that has been fixed by my Fabulous Husband.  (for those not on Facebook, Fabulous Husband has also shown his awesomeness once again by buying me for my birthday tickets to a Lady GaGa show in July; he’s also excited about attending with me, even better!)

Everything should be back up and functional on the blog and website, leave a comment if you notice any weirdness that looks like it shouldn’t be there!  Actual blog content returning soon, I finally hit my “crash day” so today has been full of nap, therapy appointment, and more nap.  I’m looking forward to sleeping soon to recover from all the napping, hehe.

Slowly creeping upward again in number of stories out circulating, woohoo!  I’m awaiting edits in the mail on one of the new ones before I send it out and about, and just got back edits on an oldie but goodie that has needed fixing for a while, so looking forward to that.  Other than a couple of other smaller projects, it’s all about more work on the novel in the next few weeks.

2 responses so far

Jun 04 2010

Cancer Chronicles: throwing money at the double standard

With my writerly powers, we will now leap forward in story-time for this post, and talk about an interesting recent household solution.

Post-cancer, the coins of the realm are energy and time spent.  How much time and energy a particular activity takes, and where it intersects with how much you care about said activity, is what determines what you decide to do.  You never, ever again get to have as a remote abstraction the awareness that death awaits around a nearby corner.  Every activity choice carries with it the underlying question, “If the cancer returned tomorrow, how much would I care about having done this activity?”  It forever changes your barometer of “what matters”.

So as my husband takes on a new, out-of-the-home job, we know we have to prioritize adding back in the he-and-I time, once we know a bit more about our new daily activity flow.  Because that’s exactly the sort of thing in a normal life that you wake up months later and realize you’ve totally slacked on, and whether you scramble to fix it depends on how invested each partner is in the status quo, etc.  But married to a cancer survivor, you don’t know if those months slipping away like hourglass sands are .005%, 5%, or 50% of the time you have left with your life-mate.  So we have to take extra steps to make sure the lazy easy habits don’t set in, in the first place: our time together is too fucking precious for that, forever.

Every choice of new activity brings with it similar questions, like returning to school: is putting up with the stress and bullshit of academia worth that much of my time to get the end product?  Or do I re-prioritize those plans to something that I know for sure will bring fulfillment and enjoyment without the accompanying stress?  What are the hobbies or recreational activities that I’d always planned to “get around to someday”, and why are they not just being done?  When the heck is “someday”?  Not to mention the emotional shifts: how invested am I in being angry/upset/resentful or whatever about an interaction, when that takes both time and energy away from the option of doing other things and feeling content or happy?

The most interesting recent manifestation of this process, happened this week as we hired a part-time house assistant.  We’ve also recently hired a part-time personal assistant/financial manager for the DreamCafé, as we’d all rather be working extra hours than balancing the books. Money management stress?  So not worth that time/energy coin.  Less stress will also probably lead to more functionality on the finance front for everyone, bonus!  But back to the house assistant.

In our 21st century enlightened household, though none of us preferred to do so we have nevertheless been operating under a functional gendered double standard for house upkeep and maintenance.  This is not because my housemates are sexist; they are in fact some of the least sexist men I’ve ever met.  However, whether due to geek nature or subtle male privilege, they are much less invested in the upkeep of, and able to more easily block out disruptions in, their immediate environment.  I, whether due to my hyper-awareness of my local environment or my own gendered societal programming on who’s responsible for mess, get driven quite batty if the house reaches a moderate level of mess and clutter and if it gets past that, the chaos will start actively affecting my own ability to get useful work done.  However, being a 21st century feminist sort, my efforts at superwoman status don’t eagerly encompass the traditional women’s duties.  I’d much rather be busting my ass at 18-hour workdays along with the menfolk, and doing any cooking or other chores because it’s my turn or I feel like it, rather than the shit rolling downhill and sticking to me because I notice it fastest or because the other monkeys in the group think it’s my job.

Pre-cancer, we tried various combinations of chore sharing and internal grumpy grumbles on my part for continuing to end up with more of the housework because I cared more about whether or not and how it was done.  (Note: my menfolk are very willing to help out when asked, and over time have voluntarily taken on several chores as regular habits without being asked.  I’m not at all trying to paint them with a “typical male” brush, just attempting to describe actual events and make best guesses as to the whys.)  Post-cancer, I don’t have the time or inclination for either the chores or the grumbles (see life-too-precious comment above).  I’m finding that at my current recovery phase, I have energy for either work or house maintenance but not both. The other two aren’t interested in taking on or keeping the extra chore duties either.  Yet still, the chores need doing.

Enter: a good friend needing a part-time job to fund her own creative pursuits while paying her bills.  Ah ha, my clever brain thinks!  Discussions ensue over several weeks, giving everyone time to find any hiccups in the friends-working-for-friends scenario (not usually the best idea), discussions of job and payment expectations, and extreme openness on my part as to the ultimate purpose: we’re paying for the privilege of removing the household functional double standard — which none of us actually wanted — so that all of us can do more of what we want to do on a daily basis, which is share time together and work our little butts off.  When work equals writing and high level computer geekery, every work day is also play day: one of those secrets to success you can probably find in a self-help book somewhere.

A friend mentioned that having the class privilege to pay for the financial and house assistants might be controversial for some folks, and I suppose I can see that.  Post-cancer, though, I can’t make myself care that much.  We have the opportunity to take a huge load of stress and drudgery off all our plates, to free up more time for us to enjoy just being around each other, which is what we like best to do anyway, and to add to someone else’s self-support.  All I have to be responsible for is overseeing that it all goes the way I prefer the house to function, and I like that kind of overseeing and organizing.  It would seem really dumb not to take that opportunity simply because there are folks in the world who don’t get that choice.  We worked our asses off to get to the place where we can afford to make that choice, and life really is too precious to squander the chance to have quality slack along with our persistent daily work.

Thank you, Nathan and Steve, for freeing me from the chains of the three-shift-woman social standard.  Work and child-rearing are enough shifts for anyone.  In the couple of days since we started this endeavor, I’m already getting much more writing done — I wrote a 3150-story draft from start to finish in 25 hours (with breaks) this week.  And it feels like there’ll be enough time for play and shared time with some of my favorite people daily, along with all the work parts. Post-cancer, that suits me just fine.

Comments and discussion welcome as long as everyone remembers their manners.

8 responses so far

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