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.

Joan McGavin, Jenny Lewis, Stonehenge, and Lord Burton’s Collection of Trophy Skulls in the Royal College of Surgeons, London

Self was going through some folders in her closet (Every time she returns from a trip, she puts her trip mementos in its own folder in her closet).  In one folder, she discovered an index card on which was printed:  ROYAL COLLEGE OF SURGEONS, LONDON (BURTON’S COLLECTION OF TROPHY SKULLS)

!!!!

Is she ever glad she decided to go through her folders today!  Or she would completely have missed this index card.  And she would never have thought to include the Royal College of Surgeons on her list of London Must-See Museums!

She’s read nearly all of Burton’s books.  He was quite a writer, though of course very much of his age regards racial distinctions and manifest destiny and so forth. But since she has read his books, what a pity if she left London without even taking a glimpse at his trophy skulls!

She can’t help being a little bit giddy at the thought that she will soon be in the UK.

She decided to sign up for a tour of Stonehenge, the day after she arrives.  The tour starts from Salisbury.  Self doesn’t even know the train schedules, but she is determined she will get to Stonehenge, no matter what.

She’s meeting up with two former Hawthornden residents:  Joan McGavin and Jennie Lewis.

Jenny has a new poetry collection out, Taking Mesopotamia.  There’s a reading at the British Museum on April 27.  She and Joan are going.

Then self is spending a few days with Joan, who teaches at Winchester University.

Another writer whose work, incidentally, self loves, is Morag Joss (Self can never get over her Half-Broke Things.  Still one of her favorite mysteries).  Two years ago, at Hawthornden, Joan informed self that Ms. Joss teaches at Winchester University.  Self’s heart is thudding in excitement, just thinking about this.  She starts daydreaming about bumping unobtrusively into Morag, perhaps in the teachers’ lounge.  That is, if English university professors hang out in teachers’ lounges.

Then, Dublin and the Tyrone Guthrie Center.

Penny, too, will be in Dublin, the second week of May.  She wrote a play, and it’s being staged there.

After she’s done with her stay at Tyrone Guthrie, she’s taking the train to Cork and staying in a country home.

And –  GAAH, self is so excited.  She’s packing very light:  all jeans and sweaters and mebbe one pair of ballet flats.  She’s bought The Man gift certificates to Biancini’s and Trader Joe’s, and lavished presents from See’s and what-not. (Just think, she told The Man, if any of her applications for visiting writer positions become successful, she’ll be spending far longer than a month in another place:  most visiting writer residencies are for a year!  Subtext:  So quit griping!)

She’s decided to bring only two copies of her collections.  Because the point of this trip, she keeps telling herself, is more discovery than self-promotion.  (Although, perhaps self would do well to devote a little more time to marketing herself, as look where she is now:  agent-less and still joining literary contests in the vain hope that she can get a book contract by winning one of those)

Self and The Man watched Muppets: Most Wanted last Saturday, and aside from being the most gloriously FUN movie self has seen in a long while, she very much appreciated the fact that a bank heist involved the Irish National Bank and was to go down, supposedly, in Dublin.  Is that synchronicity, or what?  Because self, too, will be in Dublin, in a very short while!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Monument 2: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Hong Kong, monument to the Chinese money-making instinct:  Summer 2006 (Last Trip to Asia with Sole Fruit of Her Loins)

Hong Kong, monument to the Chinese money-making instinct: Summer 2006 (Last Trip to Asia with Sole Fruit of Her Loins)

The Golden Gate Bridge:  View From Land's End, San Francisco:  December 2008

The Golden Gate Bridge: View From Land’s End, San Francisco: December 2008

The Layout of Stonehenge: Diagram From SOLVING STONEHENGE, by Anthony Johnson. Self has always been fascinated by the abiding mystery of these stones.  She even used the monument in a short story that got published in Wigleaf ("Stonehenge/Pacifica")

The Layout of Stonehenge: Diagram From SOLVING STONEHENGE, by Anthony Johnson. Self has always been fascinated by the abiding mystery of these stones. She even used the monument in a short story that got published in Wigleaf in 2008:  “Stonehenge/Pacifica”

Excerpt, “Stonehenge/Pacifica” published in Wigleaf (1/11/2012):

It was a dream I had, some restless night.  One of those weeks or months or years when we were worried about money.

But when were we ever not worried?

First there was the mortgage, and then the two.

And then your mother got sick, and your father died.

You can read the story in its entirety, here.

Right after posting this, self decided to book herself a tour of Stonehenge.  An evening tour of Stonehenge, not one of the day tours that take in multiple sites, with Stonehenge thrown in.  That’s on April 26. She has to find a way to get to Salisbury, where the tour starts.  The tour starts in the evening, though, so she has almost the whole of the 26th to figure out how to get there.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

Poem, You Make Self REFLECT

This one’s from The New Yorker of 3 February 2014. Self only began to truly enjoy poetry when she began reading The New Yorker. She adores narrative poetry now. At the latest AWP conference, in Seattle, she bought at least five poetry collections. She is determined to read them all. (She’s lucky, too: her roommate in Seattle was the poet Luisa A. Igloria)

“Ambush at Five O’Clock” (only the first three verses)

by Stephen Dunn

We were by the hedge that separates our properties
when I asked our neighbors about their souls,
I said it with a smile, the way one asks such a thing.
They were somewhat like us, I thought, more
than middle-aged, less dull than most.
Yet they seemed to have no interest
in disputation, our favorite game,
or any of the great national pastimes
like gossip and stories of misfortunes
about people they disliked.

In spite of these differences, kindred
was a word we often felt and used.
The man was shy, though came to life
when he spotted an uncommon bird,
and the woman lively, sometimes even funny
about barometer readings and sudden dips
in pressure, the general state of things.
We liked their affection for each other
and for dogs. We went to their house;
they came to ours.

After I asked about their souls
they laughed and stumbled towards an answer,
then gave up, turned the question back
to me. And because I felt mine always was
in jeopardy I said it went to the movies
and hasn’t been seen since. I said gobbledy
and I said gook. I found myself needing
to fool around, avoid, stay away from myself.

Isn’t that great? The everyday, and the cadence.

And, just like that, self whips out a poem.  But hers is about a man in a white Stetson and his best friend Boyd.

Stay tuned.

VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA: A STORM OF FILIPINO POETS

Announcing the release of:

Verses Typhoon Yolanda: A Storm of Filipino Poets (Meritage Press:  San Francisco and St. Helena)
edited by Eileen R. Tabios

Paperback, 220 pages, $20

(People:  Yolanda=Haiyan. Filipinos use “Yolanda,” everyone else uses “Haiyan.” You know, at some point self thinks that Filipinos cannot escape comedy, even within tragedy. So if you are a potential donor, and the only thing stopping you is the confusion over which typhoon you are actually making a donation for, note that Yolanda and Haiyan ARE ONE AND THE SAME TYPHOON.  Of course, mebbe you don’t care about WHICH typhoon, in which case, there was also ONDOY several years ago.  It doesn’t matter.  Give, that’s all that counts)

Here’s an excerpt from the official press release:

In response to Yolanda’s devastation, Filipino poets in the homeland and the diaspora rallied to create a fundraising anthology entitled Verses Typhoon Yolanda:  A Storm of Filipino Poets.  Edited by poet Eileen R. Tabios, the anthology of 133 poems is released by Meritage Press.

All of the book’s profits will be donated to relief organizations and others helping the typhoon survivors.  Meritage is willing to send books at cost to fundraisers who then can sell the books at their individual retail price of $20 each.

For more information, contact Eileen R. Tabios at MeritagePress@aol.com

*     *     *     *

“Emptiness of Air,” the piece self wrote for Vela, the women’s travel website, is included in this anthology — because self is ALL about TransGenre.  YAY!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Essence of Spain

A year ago, I became convinced that I should spend the rest of my life in Spain.

I made up my mind to find the true, true essence of Spain.

I decided that, until I got to Spain, I would listen only to Camaron.

I purchased maps, because I had decided that one of the important things I had to do was walk the pilgrim road to Santiago de Compostela.

To prepare myself for the Spanish time clock, I disciplined myself not to eat until 10 p.m.

To get used to the idea of “siesta,” I imposed a daily two-hour nap on my hectic life, which resulted in my employment being terminated, which made me happy because I had become extremely worried about exceeding vacation limits.

(Like what you’ve read here? Read the rest of the story on Eunoia Review)

Stay tuned.

The Multi-Tasker: Resuming DIVERGENT

Very exciting doings in self’s life:  yesterday, she had just dropped off her car at the mechanic (It failed the smog test, boo) and was finally sitting down to dinner when she heard — or rather, felt — this awful hard thing pop out of her mouth.  She looked in dismay at her hand:  she was holding a tooth.  A tooth!  A tooth!  A tooth!  And she hasn’t even finished paying for two implants she had done a year ago!

She called the dentist and the dentist said, Can you come over right now?  And self said:  I can’t.  My car’s in the shop.

Make no mistake, the part of her mouth that once held the wayward tooth hurts.  Throbs.  Self wonders if she can survive the weekend.  She decides to douse herself with vodka.  No, brandy!  Good thing she just came from Costco and bought a huge bottle of brandy for $13.99!  That was very forward-thinking, self!

Dr. Oz is on TV. Which makes self feel twinges of guilt for not trying harder to look for her high-cholesterol medication.  She thought she packed it in the bag for Seattle, but when she arrived at her destination, it wasn’t anywhere. Then she got so distracted, she never bothered ordering a refill, so it’s about two weeks since she’s taken anything. And yesterday, when she saw her doctor, she told him she was going to be in Ireland in May, and he said she should have her cholesterol checked before she leaves, and then self remembered that if she doesn’t resume her medication, her cholesterol will be high.  So she told the doctor she’d get back on the medication, and stay on it, and then — after a month, say — she’d have the blood test.  And he just looked at her and self could practically read his mind:  I am so tired of this woman.

Anyhoo, Dr. Oz is on TV, and self was perusing the Clarkesworld Magazine website because, as dear blog readers well know, science fiction is her new “thing.”

Oh, there have been scattered forays here and there:  her ZYZZYVA story, “Extinction,” and her New Orleans Review story, “Thing.”  Her “Isa” story on Eunoia Review.  But lately, she’s been having sustained bouts of science fiction writing, and she loves it.  Loves it, loves it, loves it.  In her stories, her characters can be green or blue, scaly or moss-covered, six-eyed or blobb-y.  They don’t need to be attractive in the human sense.  In fact, they’re mostly physically repellent.  What does this mean.

SPOILER ALERT!

She’s also reading Divergent (at a snail’s pace).  There was some nail-biting tension in Chapter 5, because Beatrice slashed her hand and let the blood drip over — not glass, not earth, not water — is there anything else?  Self, you dolt!  You’d better go back over the chapter and read from the beginning!

Beatrice’s blood falls on coals.

Coals.

Which means she has chosen –  self draws a blank.

She has to read into Chapter Six to learn that “coals” represent Dauntless.

Just before it is her turn to choose, Beatrice goes over her decision to remain in her parents’ faction, Abnegation (which means she will have to help her parents clean up after everyone else has left the room, how exciting):  “I can see it now . . .  I watch myself grow into a woman in Abnegation robes . . .  volunteering on the weekends, the peace of routine, the quiet nights spent in front of the fireplace, the certainty that I will be safe, and if not good enough, better than I am now.”

Self was just beginning to think how someone in Abnegation would be an extremely boring character to stick with for a 500-page novel when, of course!  She chooses something else.

It’s just like the moment when Katniss decides to shoot an arrow straight up into the force field dome, instead of into Finnick’s gorgeous face!  Totally unexpected and –  AARRGH!

Anyhoo, our plucky Beatrice chooses the Dauntless faction, and pretty soon we learn that she is so much shorter than everyone else in Dauntless because she can’t see past their shoulders.  Good thing the factions don’t have a height requirement.

But perhaps that’s precisely Veronica Roth’s point:  Short people can be dauntless, too!  Height, after all, is not a requirement for bravery!  Yay!  There’s still hope for self, who The Man opined is two inches shorter now than she was when he first met her, in grad school (She did ask her doctor about this, BTW, and it only seemed to exacerbate his exasperation.  Basically, his response was:  “Do your care?” Self’s response:  “Only if it means I’m getting hunchbacked!” At which the doctor just shook his head.)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Monday Reading: Poetry Chapbook by Karren LaLonde Alenier

Time for self to tackle all those books and journals she ended up lugging home from the AWP conference in Seattle!

Not to mention the two she added on the plane back to San Francisco:  a poetry chapbook by Karen LaLonde Alenier, who sat directly across the aisle from self; and a book called Galerie De Defformité  — should she call it hyper-text?  Or Trans-Genre? — by the woman seated directly behind self, Gretchen E. Henderson.

(Oh, AWP.  You are so wonderful.  Self can’t, she can’t even.  Stop talking now, self.  Just Get On With It)

Self will start with Karren’s book, On a Bed of Gardenias:  Jane & Paul Bowles (which Karren calls a kind of “biography in poems”):

“Chasing the Fox:  Jane Bowles Visits Her Injury”

My mother Claire wore fox
fur and Shalimar for my
Stoneleigh boarding
school interview. She sat up
straight, patted my thigh,
“You see my daughter is
special,” Eyes narrowing
and nostrils glistening,
the headmistress unfurled
her rolled handkerchief
and leaned close
to hear Claire say,
“Jane is a Jewess.”

    The agony

I felt riding the pedestal Claire built
for a princess. When I fell from my mount,
the horse, whiter than a WASP in winter,
looked as surprised as the little girl
dusting off her habit and clutching
her throbbing knee.

    As for the fox,

red as fever, she winked at the dogs
that had lost her scent. Woof! I barked
when I should have howled.

A brief note about Paul and Jane Bowles (from the back of Karren’s chapbook):

Paul Bowles was born December 30, 1910, and died November 18, 1999.  He was a composer, fiction writer, and poet.  He grew up in the Jamaica Queens neighborhood of New York City.  He married fiction writer and playwright Jane Auer in 1938.  She died May 4, 1973 in Malaga, Spain.  Bowles settled in Tangier, Morocco in 1947 and made Tangier his home until his death.  In the early 1950s, he wintered in Ceylon (now known as Sri Lanka).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Never-Ending Threes: Self Simply Can’t Get Enough (of This Week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge)

For the first time in the history of this blog, self did not follow her self-imposed rule of posting pictures in this exact sequence: most recent pictures first.

Because of The Daily Post prompt this week, THREES, she decided she’d try for a sequence that served a narrative: Wide view, closer, and closer still.

She took all of these pictures in the space of 10 minutes from her room on the 27th floor of the Seattle Sheraton.

The Restless Eye: Sunset From the 27th Floor, Seattle Sheraton

The Restless Eye: Sunset From the 27th Floor, Seattle Sheraton

Ferryboat, Puget Sound

Ferryboat, Puget Sound

People Moving in Glowing Squares of Light

People Moving in Glowing Squares of Light

Lillian H finished her novel and got it accepted for publication, she revealed a few weeks ago.

She worked on it for many years.  It was always a project shoved in a drawer.

Then, she said, then came 9/11.  That’s why she finished it.

For some reason, self decides to look at a post she wrote from Tel Aviv in 2008.  Ying was dying in a hospital there.  Self was teaching in a community college.  She took two weeks off –  two weeks! — to see her dying sister-in-law.  The Dean killed her for it afterwards.  She lasted only one more quarter.

She remembers being struck by this statement:  “The city is constructed by its gaps.” (Fragments of the European City, by Stephen Barber, 1995)

So many writers milling about as self doggedly writes this post.  Many must wonder at her stubborn abstraction.  A few linger, circle around her, hesitate.  She knows by their feet.  She never looks up.  The square of chairs around her remains undisturbed.  (Quite a feat, considering the only place self can get free wi-fi is the lobby, and that’s where she typed all her posts today)

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.

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