End of Life (Tuesday, 22 April 2014)

Regular readers of this blog know that self has been sending out her stories like crazy: at one point she had no less than 38 stories in circulation.  Right after she announced that figure on Twitter, however, rejections began coming thick and fast.  Now she only has about 21 stories wending their lonely way across editors’ desks, all across America.

Of all things, a few days ago she had one story picked up by two publications.  OK, egg on her face.  She absolutely lives for these two words: SIMULTANEOUS SUBMISSIONS.  It’s just never happened to her before:  two magazines wanting the same story.  She must be in some kind of zone.

Then there was a new message yesterday, from Café Irreal.  They’ve published her once before: that story was “Appetites.”

The one they will publish this August is “The Secret Room,” an odd little story which she wrote last year, and begins with these lines:

For years the Queen had tried to learn what was behind the locked door in the east tower of her husband’s castle.

The locks were intricate couplings of brass and silver.

Self loves writing fables.

And, in a last-ditch effort to storm through her Pile of Stuff, she picks out yet another New Yorker. Appropriately enough (given the subject matter of “The Secret Room”), it is an article on Death Certificates, written by Kathryn Schulz, from the April 7, 2014 issue.  Apparently, the Death Certificate had its start in “in early sixteenth-century England, in a form known as the Billy of Mortality.  The antecedent of the Bill of Mortality does not exist.  No earlier civilization we know of kept systemic track of its dead: not ancient Egyptians, for all their elaborate funerary customs; not the Greeks; not the Romans, those otherwise assiduous centralized bookkeepers.”

One would have thought the early Christian church would have stepped in here, but no:  “the church was interested in the fate of the soul, not the body.  If the goal of life is to gain access to heaven, and death is in God’s hands, there’s no point, and no grace, in dwelling on the particulars of how we die.”

Alas, self can blog no further.  7:46 a.m. and she’s still got to prepare a manuscript to send out today, to yet another literary contest.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

3rd Thursday of April 2014: Tired (But Not Overly So)

Hey, hey, people, it’s been a long day, and self is sitting in front of her computer, tired.

One thing she is so happy about, this year, is that her garden is so — fecund.  That’s the only way she can think to describe it.  Plants that haven’t thrown off a bloom in years — like her Sheila’s Perfume — suddenly have big, fat flowers.  Her oldest clematis, a montana rubens, suddenly has growth lower down on its gnarled, woody stem.  And the wisteria she thought she’d killed is luscious, winding over the falling-down trellis, almost choking off the old wood.

Self checked out a site called Grey Magazine, and loves it.  It seems to be a magazine about Italy, which is probably why she bookmarked it.  But as she scrolls to the bottom of the page, she sees other things, like an article about the Reykjavik Fashion Festival (There’s one country — Iceland — she’d love to visit one day) and a review of a production of Bohéme.  And there’s a fabulous, absolutely fabulous picture of the actress Charlotte Rampling (still a knockout).

Well, all this musing started because she sat down at her desk, read a new piece on fanfiction.net, thought of something, wrote it down, finished it — bam, bam, bam.  It’s just one page, but self thinks it is fabulous.

Self thinks all her pieces are fabulous.  That is, she thinks they are fabulous right after she finishes, or thinks she has finished.  The feeling doesn’t last long, so she might as well enjoy the right now.

This new one-page flash fiction takes place in a future universe.  It’s called “Memories of Trees” and is so angst-y and self loves it.

She remembered that when she spoke to Zack’s class last Monday, one of the students remarked that her story “Mayor of the Roses” and her story “Thing” — one set in a small town in Laguna and the other set in a dystopian future universe (Self swore she would never use the word dystopian again, especially after gazillions of reviewers used it when reviewing Hunger Games:  Catching Fire, but she is forced to admit that it certainly is a very effective word, and anyway her fiction really is DYSTOPIAN, she’s not trying to be clever or anything, just really really honest) — seemed to have similar themes.  Self’s first reaction was to go:  Oh no!  Because she hates thinking of herself as being so transparent and predictable.  Which was not a useful line of thought:  no one who’s predictable can be fabulous.

After much perusing of the newly re-designed Daily Post,self finally realized that it still has the links to other people’s blogs, a feature she thought had been lost.  With the old layout, she would click on “Post a Comment,” and all the people who had posted on the week’s photo challenge would then appear on a list of links.  Self would methodically move down this list, looking at each blog.

With the re-design, self couldn’t find a button for “Post a Comment.”  Only today did she realize that the links still exist, although in a very different form.  All self had to do was scroll down to the very bottom of the page, where there is a gallery of squares.  Clicking on one of these squares immediately brings one to a blog post on the week’s photo challenge.  In other words, the links are so much more visual now.

OK, so here’s what self has lined up for next week:  She will board a plane for London.  She will arrive in London.  She signed up for a tour of Stonehenge, which takes place the day after her arrival.  Jennie Lewis’s new poetry collection, Taking Mesopotamia, is having a reading at the British Museum on April 27, and self has tickets for that.  Then, she’s the guest of Joan McGavin for a few days.  Then she flies to Dublin.  Then she sees FATHER HASLAM, who she hasn’t seen in 20 years.  Father Haslam has asked a fellow priest, Father McCabe, to drive her to the Tyrone Guthrie Center.  She will then be in a self-catering cottage in the Tyrone Guthrie Center.  There is wi-fi, so she will really have to wean herself off Facebook.  Then Penny arrives in Dublin.  Then self clears out of her self-catering cottage and takes a long train trip to Cork, where she’s booked into a magnificent Irish country home that serves four-course dinners every night. Then she loses her passport so she can’t go home and will have to stay another couple of weeks until she gets a new passport.  She’ll live off Irish ale and get fat.  She won’t be able to squeeze into an Economy airplane seat, so she’ll just have to be bumped up to First Class.  She will live happily ever after.

THE END.

Noah, Biblical Action Hero

Self loved the movie.

At least, the Read the rest of this entry »

Inside 5: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Help, someone!  Anyone!  It’s too much!  Self can’t seem to stop posting on this week’s Photo Challenge: INSIDE!  She’s obviously in some kind of zone . . .

Speaking of zone: What. Ever. Happened. to. That. Malaysian. Plane???

Don’t get her started!

Anyhoo, here’s the part of The Daily Post prompt that self is trying to focus on today:  Finding images of a thing inside something else.

An umbrella suspended from the ceiling of a bookstore in Mendocino:  Self was there as part of the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference.

An umbrella suspended from the ceiling of a bookstore in Mendocino: Self was there to participate in the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference.

Inside a church in Bethlehem.  Self was there in 2008.

Inside a church in Bethlehem. Self was there in 2008.

A friend of Dearest Mum’s had let us stay in his apartment while Dear Departed Sister-in-Law Ying was being treated for leukemia at Ichilov Hospital.  This was in 2008, which turned out to be a watershed year for self, in so many different ways.  Self will never forget Tel Aviv.  Never, ever, ever.

painting in the apartment on Ruppin Street, Tel Aviv

Painting in the apartment on Ruppin Street, Tel Aviv:  Is that a gun inside the bird’s mouth?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

AWP Registration: The Overwhelming-ness of Everything

AWP conference registration began today, at 12 noon: Very long lines, but the one for registrants whose last names began with the letters V – Z was by far the shortest.  Thank goodness for self’s last name!

She decided to strike up a conversation with the young woman standing directly behind self.  She’s an MFA student at Southern Oregon University. She’s also the assistant editor for the student-run literary magazine, Severine (currently taking submissions in all genres)

Anyhoo, the line moved pretty quickly.  The young woman who took self’s registration and handed her the official name tag was flustered and kept apologizing for making self spell each letter of her last name.  Her name tag said, Volunteer.  Self hastened to reassure her.  As she handed over self’s badge she said:  “Hang on to this.  It’s $50 for a replacement.” (!!!)

Then self went to have some lunch (Mediterranean lentil soup).  And while she was sitting there, poring over the panels, she couldn’t help eavesdropping on two young women who took the seats next to her.  What caught her interest was how organized they were being about it all, and the fact that one of them wanted to check out specifically science fiction and fantasy panels.  She turned her head, and lo and behold, she recognized one of the young women as the one she’d just been conversing with in the registration line!

The editor and assistant editor, respectively, of SEVERINE, Southern Oregon University's literary magazine:  Linz Moore and Mallory Young

The editor and assistant editor, respectively, of SEVERINE, Southern Oregon University’s literary magazine: Linz Moore and Mallory Young

Their table at the Book Fair is Troglodyte Press.

And, because the two young women were so photogenic, I decided to take another picture:

The Editor and Assistant Editor of New Literary Magazine SEVERINE, currently open for submissions!

The Editor and Assistant Editor of New Literary Magazine SEVERINE, currently open for submissions!

Self thought dear blog readers might like to know that the Moroccan lentil soup was excellent, and self polished off the whole thing in a jiffy:

Lunch:  Moroccan Lentil Soup, from an eatery inside the Convention Center

Lunch: Moroccan Lentil Soup, from an eatery inside the Convention Center

(A woman who works for Crab Creek Review just introduced herself.  Self loves the random-ness of all these conversations!  Crab Creek Review, self learned, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.  And yes, it is ALSO currently open for submissions.)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Going Live This Week at EUNOIA REVIEW: Two Short Shorts

Self has been reading Eunoia Review for several years now.

She loves the writing.  They publish poetry (beautiful poetry) and a kind of prose self considers “TransGenre.” Fits right up her alley.  Ever since self heard the word “TransGenre,” a few years back (Hotel Amerika featured her piece “Ghosts” in their TransGenre issue, and gave a name to the kind of short short stuff self had just begun writing), she loves the word.  TransGenre: not sure if you need to capitalize the “G.”

Which reminds her:  She has to look and see if Hotel Amerika is at the AWP Book Fair!

She didn’t know anything about the editor, Ian Chung, until he sent her a message yesterday, saying the two pieces he’d accepted for the review were going live this week.

That’s when she decided to google him and found out that he edits the review from Singapore!

She wants to make sure she puts this announcement in before heading to the craziness of the AWP annual conference, this year being held in Seattle.

Self’s head is about to explode.  She got a message from PANK late last night, and then just remembered she hadn’t yet submitted her signed author contract to Philippine Speculative Fiction vol. 9, and it’s due Mar. 1.

Panic attack!  Nice panic attack, though.

This morning, she decided that the best thing for her to calm down would be to take a yoga class, and lo and behold, she got to Peacebank in downtown Redwood City, five minutes early, but after she checked in, there was no space.  Wall to wall yoga mats, and no one wanted to budge even a few inches to give her a chance to squeeze in.  Stone-faced, all!

The two people manning the check-in desk looked so impatient when self said there was no space.  They said, maybe you can ask someone to move?  Are you kidding?  Did you see the grim-faced visage of everyone in the class when they saw self stumble in, clue-less and panting? 

Which meant:  good-by, yoga class!  Au revoir!  Till we meet again!  Whenever or wherever!

In the meantime, self almost forgot:  the link to Eunoia Review!

Here it is, dear blog readers.  Enjoy.

Awaiting Word

Self can never resist a really good letter.  Such as the one she got oh, around 10 p.m. last night.

Stared at it bug-eyed after downing two tablespoons of cough medicine.

What is her name?  Does she even remember her name?

As the tributes are still in the arena and a victor has not yet been decided, self will keep from identifying xxxxxx Literary Magazine — at least, for now.  Suffice it to say that, after the death dash from the Cornucopia — er, from the slush pile –  self emerges in possession of the all-powerful bow and arrows.  She stealthily awaits the Word From On High, musing about For Whom the Cannon Boomed.

The Great Monkey twitches.

There is no telling what fate is to befall either your ego or your petite bebe.

The vetting has begun.

Ooooh!  May the odds be ever in self’s favor.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

www.treehugger.com

Self wrote a short short of speculative fiction called “The Forest” and has been getting some nice rejections, like one from The Chattahoochee Review that said they liked the voice.

That’s something.  It’s a strange story.  About twin boys who keep lobbing tennis balls into the narrator’s backyard.  One day he decides to talk to them so . . .

Self decided to do some research on saving the huge stands of trees that once grew all over the California coast.  Believe it or not, dear blog readers, this is connected to the story.  Thank God for Google.

On treehugger.com, she found a list called:  5 FOODS YOU SHOULDN’T EAT IF YOU CARE ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT

And the first thing on the list is self’s own favorite food to ingest:  COFFEE.

But, it’s OK to ingest “shade-grown, organic coffee.”  Coffee is really a shade plant, and self knows this because, in the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, self saw a coffee plant.  In fact, here’s a picture:

Arabica Coffee Plant, San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park

Arabica Coffee Plant, San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park

But according to treehugger.com, “many farmers now grow it in full sunlight, with a heavy dependence on pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers.  They also chop down rainforests, destroying bird habitats.”

Next on the list of BAD-FOR-THE-ENVIRONMENT FOOD is:  FACTORY-FARMED BEEF.

“Cheap burgers are environmental assassins,” says Logan Strenchock (What a name.  Almost as bad as Plutarch Heavensbee), “Central European University’s sustainability officer.” And self has super-high cholesterol so she really shouldn’t be eating beef anyway.

Third on the list of BAD-FOR-THE-ENVIRONMENT FOOD IS:  PALM OIL.

According to the article, which by the way was written by Katherine Martinko and posted on the day before Valentine’s Day, “Palm oil is used in half of all packaged food sold in the U.S., particularly cookies, crackers, and soups.  Palm oil is the largest cause of rainforest destruction, resulting in huge swaths of Indonesian and Malaysian rainforests being bulldozed in order to plant palm oil trees.”

Fourth on the list of BAD-FOR-THE-ENVIRONMENT FOOD IS:  BLUE-FIN TUNA.

“Bluefin is a popular choice at high-end sushi restaurants, but their numbers in the oceans are dropping fast.”  There’s a link to an article on Japan’s insistence that the fish isn’t endangered.

The final item on the list of BAD-FOR-THE-ENVIRONMENT FOOD IS:  GENETICALLY MODIFIED CORN.

“It kills bees, reduces biodiversity, drives heirloom crops to extinction, and requires excessive processing to transform it into high-fructose corn syrup, another ingredient found in processed foods (which should be avoided anyway because they contain palm oil).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Juxtaposition 3: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

January, 2012.  Self was in Bir, a village in Himachal Pradesh. She looked up Dharamsala. Hired a car and driver to take her up there.

The driver was a Tibetan who only spoke a smattering of English.

Self had no idea where she would stay when she got to Dharamsala. But she had looked up a few possibilities on Tripadvisor the night before. That was how she found the Snow Crest Inn.

The air was thin. Self was short of breath. It was freezing cold.

The mountains were massive. Self had no idea. Absolutely no idea.

What does this have to do with this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge?

Everything. Because when you live surrounded by such majesty, how can one avoid thinking of the spirit?

The Snow Crest Inn was managed by two brothers, who traded off accompanying her to town every day (Self stayed in Dharamsala five nights).  One day, upon returning from town, one of the brothers asked the one who had accompanied self:  “You went to the market?  What did she buy?” And the other brother replied:  “Just some old stuff.”

BWAH. HA. HA. HAAAAA!

View from self's room at the Snow Crest Inn, Dharamsala, January 2012

View from self’s room at the Snow Crest Inn, Dharamsala, January 2012

View from a Monastery, Dharamsala, January 2012

View from a Monastery, Dharamsala, January 2012

And here’s a picture that self took some years ago. She’s thinking of her Dear Departed Sister, Paz. Who died of pneumonia in 1991, in New York City.

She was a vice president in Citibank. Why has it taken self so long to think about subscribing to Granta again? Why?

By chance, the book just above the issues of Granta is one of her favorites: Maryse Condé’s The Children of Segu (Segu is the fictitious name Condé gave to her native Mali).  The book next to Granta is The May Fourth Movement:  Intellectual Revolution in Modern China, by Chow Tse-Tung, a required text in one of her Chinese history classes at Stanford.

Personal Bookshelf:  In the 1980s, self's Dear Departed Sis gave her a subscription to GRANTA. (Just above the magazine is a book by one of self's favorite writers:  Maryse Condé.

Personal Bookshelf: In the 1980s, self’s Dear Departed Sis gave her a subscription to GRANTA. (Just above the magazine is a book by one of self’s favorite writers: Maryse Condé.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Latest Developments in the Life of Self

A niece in southern California has her own business designing cute tops.  She sent self a message that they’d be doing a one-day yoga and fashion event in early February.  Oooh!  Self is always looking for the smallest excuse to go to southern California!  Because Taciturn Sole Fruit of Her Loins lives there!  And she didn’t see hide nor hair of him over the holidays! And that’s how she got sick, felled by the H1N1 or whatever that virus is!  But now she is mostly over it, which is why she’s madly reading a) Divergent; b) The Hemingses of Monticello; and c) Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, which she decided to read today while slurping her Ramen noodles, and — this just goes to show how certain books can only be read in a certain mood.  Perhaps because the weekend is starting, and she signed up for Beginning Yoga, she is feeling oh-so-relaxed.  Which meant, the very same RWS that bugged her so much yesterday was suddenly extremely entertaining today.  And self saw that she was actually only 2 pages from the end of the chapter on Zagreb. So, she’s going to give BLGF another shot.

Another item of interest is that she decided this week to play SuperLotto, for only the second time in her entire life.  She bought QuikPik at Safeway, and forgot that the winning numbers were announced on Wednesday.  Anyhoo, she suddenly remembered today, went to CALOTTERY.COM and found that the winning ticket was purchased from Circle K in Lake Elsinore. Which means it was not her.  Boo.

Finally, self is reading the San Francisco Chronicle of last Tuesday and finds that the hackers behind the Target data breach have been identified as two Russian teenagers who live in a city on the Volga River.  One of them was “close to 17 years old.”  What is this world coming to when several million people can be held up by a Russian teenager on the Volga.  She also learned a new term:  “malware.”  That’s short for malicious software.

More finally, she finds out that “account information stolen during the Target security breach is now being divided up and sold off regionally.”  Two “Mexican citizens” were arrested at “the border with 96 fraudulent credit cards in their possession.” Which means, according to the South Texas Police Chief who made the arrests, that the data sets are “obviously” being sold off “by region.”

And the ultimate Finally, self last week received a phone call from a man who said he worked for “a credit bureau” and said it was absolutely urgent that she call them back.  It was such a weird message that self decided to ignore it.  And the credit bureau person never called back.

So, here’s what self decided today:

  • She must continue playing more Lotto.
  • She will try as much as possible to stop using her credit cards.  Any credit cards.
  • She will try to stick with the yoga classes even if she turns out to be the fattest, oldest, and most uncoordinated member of the class.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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