rushthatspeaks: (Default)
He is not my President. He will never be my President.

I have to have some kind of dream for the future. At this point, I'm basically like 'let's hope we can get through this and make a progressive future afterwards' because honestly, the world surviving seems so totally fucking unlikely that-- it's like, if every single desire I could have about the future is a pipe dream, I might as well ask for a pony, too, y'know? I have set my sights on the ludicrously good because otherwise I will stop getting out of bed in the morning, which is not, in my circumstances, acceptable.

But somebody I know committed suicide as a direct result of this election, and the descriptions of bigotry and aggression and violence are already pouring in from all over the country.

So, if it ever seems to you that I am coming down too hard on saying 'let's hope we can get through this and make a progressive future afterwards', let me know; I don't want to minimize anyone's very real pain and fear, and I see how talking about hopeful pipe dreams can look that way. Believe me, I know that people are already dying, and that more of them are going to die.

I'm wearing a visible safety pin tomorrow, and from now on, and I will do my damnedest to live up to it as a symbol of solidarity. I'm also going to write to the Republican electors, in the states where their votes aren't automatically invalidated if they vote differently from their party line, and flat-out beg them to at least throw the election to the House so we can have somebody who doesn't consider nuclear war to be on the table. I expect this to do precisely nothing, but it's something to do. And I'm signing the various petitions and whatnot in favor of abolishing the electoral college, which has now produced a winner who did not take the popular vote in two of the last five elections. I also expect this to do precisely nothing, but, again, something to do.

I think I believe right now, on a pretty deep level, that the country is over, and we're all just walking around waiting for reality to catch up.

But what I'm going to act as though I believe is the pipe dream, because fuck it, I'll be more useful to everybody else if that's what I base my actions on, the pretense of hope instead of the certainty of doom.
rushthatspeaks: (Default)
One of the things I do when I'm emotionally struggling is make mixtapes. This one is an attempt to come to terms with... well, the last few days and the next few years. I've intentionally used some of the songs that radio stations and other playlists are using for the same circumstances, while also intentionally going for some obscurer tracks. Some of these songs would probably be helpful by themselves or in no order, but I was pretty careful about the order.

Link expires when it expires; let me know if you have any issues before that. Please, if you like any of these, send along some money to the artists via whatever platform seems reasonable.


We Brought Matches (11/8/2016)

35 songs, 2 hours 24 minutes, some explicit lyrics

In the 99 - Vienna Teng
Hey Ho - Tracy Grammer
Life During Wartime - Talking Heads
Warrior in Woolworths - X-Ray Spex
A Better Son/Daughter - Rilo Kiley
Believe - Run Lola Run Motion Picture Soundtrack
Amy aka Spent Gladiator 1 - Mountain Goats
Weird Friends - P. O. S.
Anthem - Leonard Cohen
The World's Not Falling Apart - Dar Williams
Tubthumping - Chumbawamba
To The Dogs Or Whoever - Josh Ritter
The Body Wins - Sarah Jaffe
That Battle Is Over - Jenny Hval
The River, The Woods - Astronautalis
Shooting Arrows At The Sky - Santigold (Catching Fire Motion Picture Soundtrack)
The Remedy (I Won't Worry) - Jason Mraz
Plea From A Cat Named Virtute - The Weakerthans
Generals - The Mynabirds
New Kicks (Long Version) - Le Tigre
No Surrender - Bruce Springsteen
Not A Crime - Gogol Bordello
First We Take Manhattan - R. E. M. covering Leonard Cohen
Chicago - Sufjan Stevens
Desénchantée - Mylène Farmer
The Future - Michael Franti & Spearhead
Fighter - Christina Aguilera
Brother Stand Beside Me - Heather Dale
Bring On The Wonder - Susan Enan
Formation - Beyoncé
Dance Apocalyptic - Janelle Monáe
Move On - ABBA
By Way Of Sorrow - Cry Cry Cry
Somebody Will - Sassafrass (Live At Vericon)
Matches - Sifu Hotman (Guante x deM atlaS x Rube)

Seriously, let me know if there are problems, I only have one computer capable of handling music files at all so I can't check very well
rushthatspeaks: (the unforgiving sun)
welp, Leonard Cohen just died

I expected it soon, given some things he said in the recent New Yorker profile, I knew it was going to be very soon

but why precisely now

all together, in chorus:

FUCK

THIS

YEAR

and if anybody wants me I will be off trying to deal with grief for literally the first songwriter I ever heard whose songs made me think, when I was a small child, and realize that songs could make you feel things
rushthatspeaks: (signless: be that awesome)
The comparison I am seeing to the election of Trump, over and over again, is to the election of Reagan. An actor, a Hollywood personality, with few genuine political chops, who failed ever upward until he reached the White House; as a president, he literally joked about nuking Russia (have you heard the recording?), became a war criminal so many times over, fucked things up impressively in Central and South America, gave us the plague years (the loss of a generation of our best and brightest), and in the end was in such bad shape from dementia that basically anybody could tell him what to do.

Trump will be worse than Reagan. His targets will be different groups. But there is a limit to how much worse he can be without literally bringing on the apocalypse. Assuming that Trump does not bring on the apocalypse, the eighties passed. Reagan passed. And what were the nineties and two-thousands like? If you went to a queer activist in 1988 and said, same-sex marriage will be legal in this nation inside thirty years, that would have been-- not even bitter laughter. Just not conceivable, out of ambit, ludicrous, couldn't happen. Happened.

There will be horrific casualties, there will be crimes we cannot prevent. There will be the equivalent of the plague years, where communities had to bury their dead with their own hands. It is going to suck.

Thirty years from now, let's have the thousand-teens be the equivalent of the eighties to us. Let's have nobody able to believe how much more progressive things are, how much more free, how much more respecting of human rights. This is the eighties. Let's think of this time that way.

Now, what can Trump actually do, and what can we do about it?

-- He can push The Button, and have a nuclear war.
Directly: not much can be done about this.
Indirectly: contribute and volunteer to nuclear disarmament groups, nuclear watchdog groups, groups promoting the cause of the U.S. honoring its treaties, pro-U.N. groups, peace groups, cultural intercommunications groups.
Consoling Thought: Reagan didn't. Trump is known to be sexually violent, but does not to my knowledge have a history of, like, punching people, and there are no serious allegations that he's ever killed anyone or had anyone killed, so he must have a very slight modicum of control over his temper or he'd be dead or in jail by now. Small things to cling to, but.

-- He can attempt a coup d'etat and try to cancel upcoming elections, get illegal orders carried out, become dictator, &c.
Directly: If the rule of democracy and law in this country breaks down entirely, and there's a war, nothing else I say here applies, and we will have to choose our roles according to our skills and consciences.
Consoling Thought: Two hundred years of peaceful transfer of power casts a long shadow, especially among the apparatus of government, a whole bunch of people in everything from the Post Office to the Coast Guard who have sworn oaths to the Constitution and not to any individual President. I am far more worried about people carrying out illegal Trump orders on a small scale than I am on a loss-of-democracy scale. This is not to say that I'm not worried, because I'm pretty worried, but.

-- He can order people to do things.

At this point, I'm going to go into the only bits of law and policy that I know any damn thing about, namely LGBT issues. I would love to know more about the details of what to do about race, immigration, environmental, and general economic issues, but seeing as how I am a white middle-class person I don't know as much about many things as others do, or as I would like to.

So, an LGBT issue: same-sex marriage. What can Trump order people to do against this, and what can we do about his orders?

-- He issues an executive order that says it's illegal now.
Directly: Uh, he can't actually do that. Not one of his powers, because he's executive branch, not judicial. If he tries, we sue. And sue. And sue. And what the law says is pretty clear. And it's listen to the courts or coup d'etat, those are his options. Sue those who carry out illegal orders. Make it expensive, in time and in money. As long as it's clear what the law says-- and it is, right now-- the lower courts will cite Obergefell as precedent and we will win these cases.
Indirectly: Contribute to Lambda Legal Defense Fund and other LGBT organizations.

-- He tries to back a case to overturn the legality of same-sex marriage before the Supreme Court.
Directly: Remember, the Justice he definitely gets to replace is Scalia's seat! Obergefell went through without Scalia; he was in the dissenting minority. Trump needs more than one new Supreme Court Justice to overturn same-sex marriage in this country. I repeat: he needs MORE THAN ONE new Supreme Court Justice to overturn same-sex marriage in this country. Nominating and seating one Justice will take up some significant chunk of 2017, especially if we protest his nominee like hell and the Democrats in Congress filibuster. Then it's 2018, and we MUST, MUST, MUST take back Congress in the midterms (and we must get them FRIGHTENED before the midterms arrive). If that happens, we can stop him from seating a second Justice should an opening arise.
Indirectly: Support your local Democrats. Raise funds for the midterms. Start planning to get out the vote for the midterms. Figure out the local-level rising stars, or become one yourself-- you could run for the school board. You could run for dogcatcher. Pray, if you pray, and otherwise hope strongly for the healths of Ginsberg, Kennedy, and Breyer. Keep supporting those LGBT organizations.

-- He issues an executive order saying that while of course same-sex marriage remains legal, no clerk or office is required to perform it (on religious liberty grounds, of course), and those which do may mysteriously find their funding cut. (Note: this may also be an illegal order, as Kim Davis went to jail, I believe, but it's less obviously, flagrantly illegal.)
Directly: Track which clerks and offices do and don't perform marriages. Make it clear that public approval is on the side of those who do, and public disdain on the side of those who don't, showily-- in-person protests, advertising, both positive and negative. Donate to support the careers and offices of those who do. Donate to travel funds for LGBT people who need to travel to reach an office that will marry them.
Indirectly: If the government stops funding a service, the community will have to do what we can to fund it ourselves, whatever that ends up looking like.

Now, those are pretty much his three paths of action on any major front: illegal executive order, whereupon we take it to the courts; backing cases to the Supreme Court, at which point there are some things about which we are probably boned (Roe v. Wade, dammit), some things he needs one new Justice for, and some things he needs two, so we must do everything possible to make him getting one hard and two impossible; legal/shady-but-obnoxious executive orders, in which case we must circumvent them, fund the services we need ourselves, and bring public opinion down on our side.

For other things, like possible shitty new immigration laws, we're going to need to fight Congress, which is a somewhat different story and outside the scope of this post.

This is the eighties. Time to make the future change.
rushthatspeaks: (our lady of the sorrows)
My son is three weeks old, so I cannot give in to despair.

We have donated to the ACLU. We have donated to Planned Parenthood, and to the Standing Rock Sioux. Ruth goes to a Unitarian church, and when the baby is a little older we will coordinate with their social justice committee. About the same time, I will call Planned Parenthood and volunteer. We are looking for an immigrants' rights organization to donate to (suggestions welcome).

It feels like nothing. It feels like holding hair out of my face in the wind. It feels like any safety we ever thought we had in this nation was not just an illusion, but a dangerous illusion.

It can happen here, I was always told in school. It can happen anywhere. The banality of evil, the seductions of demagoguery, the selection of outsiders as scapegoats, the defining of various sets of people as outsiders... it can happen here.

The unspoken corollary was, but it won't. That's why we teach you these things in the schools in the first place. If you know it can happen here, now, to you, you can stop it.

That feels today not just as though it was wrong, but as though it was the worst of well-intentioned lies.

I don't know how to go on from here. I don't know how to help anyone else go on from here. I can barely put one foot in front of the other. I don't know where we will get the strength to fight back, and I don't know how to bear up under the weight that just settled on my shoulders.

But, because my son is three weeks old, and he has to be fed and changed and rocked and told that it is going to be all right, I have to trust that I will find that strength. That I will carry that weight. That we will fight back. That there will be losses, brutal and unnecessary losses, but that the fight will not be wholly in vain. That we will save something from the wreckage. That this will not literally be the end of the world.

One foot in front of the other, until I can figure out how. Until we can come together to do the necessary work.

Breathe. Grieve. Keep on living.
rushthatspeaks: (parenting)
So I'll be referring to the baby on the internet as Fox, which comes from one of his names. We also sometimes call him the cub, which we have done since long before his birth. I know foxes have kits, not cubs, but my friend [personal profile] rosefox has a Kit already, and there's no reason to be confusing.

Pronoun-wise, I tend to use 'he' as a placeholder, but 'they' is also accepted by all parents, and I'm sure we'll be informed of the correct pronoun at some point later on.

I figure I'm going to maintain a baby-news filter and put anything I want to talk about that's delicate or complicated or boring-to-those-who-aren't-me about the baby in that; if you were on the pregnancy-update filter and do not wish to be on the ongoing baby filter, please let me know. Alternately, if you weren't on the pregnancy filter and want to be on the baby filter, also please let me know.

I'll probably talk about general baby stuff unlocked but under a cut.

Like this. )

baby!

Oct. 19th, 2016 05:20 pm
rushthatspeaks: (Default)
Ruth, Rax, and I welcome Sebastian Reynard, 9:14 AM, Sunday, October 16th.

Forty-one weeks six days, so, unsurprisingly, a large child. Nearly ten pounds, thirty-seven centimeters head circumference (no, I don't know why we were given measurements in pounds and centimeters). Unassisted and unmedicated non-C-section delivery, which was not fun for anybody, but there were no complications and Ruth is recovering just fine.

Sebastian has some medical stuff ongoing, which is why we haven't gotten to social media much yet before this. We're not terribly worried, but it is taking energy and time and there is some worry.

He has, at the moment, blondish hair the color of his mother's, bluish-hazelish eyes the color of his mother's, and his mother's nose, though of course no idea if any of that will change. When he was put on Ruth's chest initially, and they leaned down and said 'Hiiiiiii!', he vocalized (totally accidentally, but adorably) 'Hiiiiii' right back. He is an interactive baby who wants people around and likes cuddling.

All three of his parents are delighted. I have decided on my Halloween costume this year: I can just wander across a room and call myself "The Walking Dad".
rushthatspeaks: (platypus)
A very happy birthday to [personal profile] sovay! You are an amazing partner and lover and cousin and friend. I hope today was good, and that it leads to a year filled with other things as nifty as your new apartment and your little black cats, with interesting movies and food and work and poetry and maybe some newly discovered classical manuscripts. And definitely the ocean.

B. also says happy birthday, as do Ruth and the cats.

Love.
rushthatspeaks: (sparklepony only wants to read)
Wow, I've been doing the editor thing for some time now, and I continue to love it. I get to work with amazing people, both as magazine staff and as authors. Kelly Link won the Sturgeon Award for "The Game of Smash and Recovery" and that was delightful. (Basically I did nothing to that story except figure out how to get it into our site's HTML, because it came in as an incredibly clean and polished manuscript; the HTML was actually non-trivial, but I think it came out okay.)

Anyway, I've noticed that as I read slush, the things that I tell people when I'm writing encouraging rejection slips-- you know, the kind of rejection slip where you're like 'I liked x, I liked y, z was prohibitive, send me more of your work', as opposed to sending the form letter-- these things do, in fact, boil down to a few suggestions that I would like to tell writers* in general because maybe it would help. I'd like to get them out of my head, because maybe they will help, and maybe it will be less frustrating that I do not have time to write a full critique letter to every single slush author. There are several, but I'm going to go over them one at a time, because if I try to write them all up at once I'll never manage.

The really major one is length.

My magazine theoretically accepts anything up to 10,000 words. We buy longer lengths rarely, because anything longer than about 6K is going to be run split over two consecutive weeks, and therefore must not only be amazing enough to take up the space, but also have a splitting point where we can break it for serialization. But we do take up to 10K.

You will notice there is no limit on how short a piece can be. This is intentional.

Over the last year-and-change, I have lost track of how many times I have said 'That needs to be shorter'. I have lost track of how many times I have said 'This would be great if it lost 2K words'. I lost track of that within three or four months of starting as an editor.

Over the same amount of time, I have said 'This needs to be longer'-- not 'There's one element that needs to be expanded and others diminished', not 'This doesn't include the scene that would really interest me', not 'You stopped before the ramifications of the plot played out', all of which can and should be fixable without changing a piece's length, but 'You wrote this too efficiently and it flat-out just needs to be longer'-- once. ONCE. I was shocked to discover myself saying it at all.

What I'm talking about here isn't specifically actual length, as an objective thing, so much as it is a pacing issue. From what I've seen, the amount of content (plot, characterization, setting, backstory, etcetera) that new and newish writers tend to put into their short stories tends to be spread out too much over too long a length. Generally, the longer a piece is, the more drastic a length cut it could sustain. When we get a 10K piece, it could often be 5K and have exactly the same content in every way. If it comes in at 6K, I'd like to see it at 4K, or at 3.5. If it comes in at 4, I'd like to see it at 3.

And so the main piece of advice I have for new short story writers, based on editorial experience, is to get a submission draft ready, the best one you can, and then sit down and remove half the wordcount while changing absolutely none of the content. It will be difficult. It may well physically hurt. You may feel as though you are hair-splitting by rejuggling entire paragraphs to get rid of only two or three words. You will believe that it cannot be done, or that if you manage it the thing will proceed to suck. Think of it as a hard boundary, the way 10K is a hard boundary for our magazine, a boundary where we throw everything out unread that goes over it, and persevere.

After a while, you will find that you are able to pry fewer and fewer words out of your drafts, because you won't be putting the extraneous ones there in the first place. This is how you internalize the kind of word multitasking, the way that every scene and every sentence does more than one thing to help the story move, that makes a professional. This is how you get the kind of density that really sucks your readers in and makes the piece come to life in their heads.

And this is how I get to write fewer 'I love it, but it's three thousand words too long' rejection letters. Seriously. Halve your wordcount, keep your content.

Best advice I have.




* If you're selling short stories reliably, you probably are not my audience for this, although it's always worth checking to see whether this advice happens to apply. But it probably doesn't, because you learned how to do this already.
rushthatspeaks: (Default)
Dear everyone I know in Britain and/or who is British: I am so incredibly fucking sorry. Maybe we can all just agree to rewind 2016 to, like, somewhere in February or March and try it again from the top.
rushthatspeaks: (Default)
Our Lucien-cat is still alive. Ruth and I went to Provincetown for the weekend, and I thought I had just about managed to cat-proof the kitchen before we left, but this turned out not to be the case.

The thing is, Lucien's medical issues mean that he never, ever stops feeling hungry-- his body has literally forgotten what it is like to feel full-- and he is applying all of his considerable intellect and energy to the question of getting more food. It is really very draining to live with. We are already feeding him as much as he can physically process, and have no way to reason with him further. And it's difficult to tell what human food he'll think is food, and what his mobility restrictions actually are at any given moment (I suspect that last one of varying by the day, too).

Therefore, the list of things he has tried to eat in the house recently includes incidents like the time I found him sinking his fangs into the outside plastic of a packet of ramen, just like a little kitty vampire. I told him sternly that he was not a graduate student, but he kept trying, so now everything pasta-like has been added to the long, long list of things that cannot be stored anywhere cat-reachable. The list already included all pastry and bread products, all dairy and cheese products, avocados, and sorbet, as well as, of course, anything meat or meatlike and all forms of fish and shellfish. The problem is that 'stored anywhere' also means, for instance, 'put down on the counter while I get something else out of the fridge', or 'the spoon I have left in the pot between intervals of stirring', and such-like. He is an incentive to work clean in the kitchen in a way the chefs of my acquaintance would envy, because absolutely everything that one is not both holding and looking at has to be washed instantly before it becomes the subject of an Act of Cat.

Spent about an hour one night literally carrying him around everywhere I went, under one arm, as there was no other way to stop him from ninja-ing, and nobody liked that, I tell you what. Rearranging the entire kitchen is problematic due to limited space and the fact that his idea of food seems to keep expanding. He can't be kept out of the kitchen entirely, as he has to pass through it to get to the litterbox, and also it doesn't have any doors. Sigh.

So Ruth and I went away from the weekend, and everything I thought might be remotely of interest to him was either in the fridge, with a child safety lock on it because he can open the fridge, or in a cabinet, that we're duct-taping closed every time we use it because he can open the cabinets.

His actual cat food, the wet food in cans, we buy a flat at a time, still in the plastic, and stack in the kitchen. I'd known for a while that Lucien knows that food comes from cans, because he'll rub up against the flat burbling plaintively; I had vaguely considered moving the entire flat somewhere totally away from him, because I didn't want him to get frustrated having it just sitting right there. But then I figured it would be better to have him focusing on that then on, I don't know, the peanut butter, so I left it.

This was a mistake.

[personal profile] sovay and the cat-medication person we hired to come in and do the high-level cat-medicating while we were away can both corroborate:

Our cat has learned. How. To open. His own. Cans.

ALL BY HIMSELF and with NO OPPOSABLE THUMBS.

This is a multi-step process which involved him

a) digging through the plastic covering of the flat of cans

b) making sure not to pull the can he was after out of the flat entirely, because the other cans had to kind of wedge it in place so he could get some leverage

c) pulling up the pull-tab on the can lid somehow, probably with his teeth

and d) tugging on the pull-tab with his jaws as he pushed the can away from him with his front paws, which was, because the can was as I have mentioned wedged among other cans and the plastic, enough force to get the thing open.

[personal profile] sovay caught him during d), because it was apparently very loud and clangy and it was also four in the morning. After some understandable boggling, she put the open can in the fridge and hauled the flat into a we-hope-cat-inaccessible closet, thus at least temporarily ending his merrie games & tricks.

He has been telling me ever since I got home that I knew he was this intelligent when I left the house, and what did I think he would resort to when we only feed him two-and-a-half entire cans of insanely expensive prescription wet food per day never ever feed him. And I have been saying that there is a difference between knowledge in the abstract and in the, shall we say, concrete, and that if he has to be the Einstein of cats, maybe he could apply himself to more generally socially acceptable goals overall, and here we sit, staring at each other.

HE CAN OPEN A CAN BY HIMSELF.

I just. I don't even.
rushthatspeaks: (Default)
I have a long and somewhat contentious relationship with Elizabeth Hand's work. There was a lot of it in the library when I was young and reading my way through the local branch, and I found her stuff an odd combination of things I really liked and couldn't find almost anywhere else in fiction and... things that are not that. I can dissect in detail what I find good about each of her early and middle-period novels, but also dissect what I consider giant, book-breaking, tear-your-hair-and-scream flaws in every single one of them. Mortal Love, for instance, is trying really hard to do genuinely unknowable and inhuman Faerie, and approaching it from a direction completely different from Hope Mirrlees or from Susannah Clarke or even from Sylvia Townsend Warner, and also Swinburne is a major character. But the protagonist's arc relies on that old, terrible, baseless mental-health canard of 'true magic and mystery can only be accessed if you stop taking the pills that cure your mental illness', and that trope is so toxic and so cliched that I snarl every time I think about that plot point. Despite the novel being good enough otherwise that I went out and read John MacGregor's The Discovery of the Art of the Insane because it was in the works cited, and that's one of the best pieces of art history anything I've ever read. You get the idea.

There's always been a certain kind of decadence that Hand is the go-to for, though, rather like Tanith Lee, but in a modern setting. Her novels have the sort of parties in them where everyone is in such an altered state of consciousness that the paranormal slips in unnoticed around the back, in the welter of various drugs and sex and people trying and usually failing to become Great Artists. On account of this vein in her work, it's never surprised me when she gets filed under dark fantasy or under horror, because she describes a lot of the sort of thing that happens when the party circuit goes wrong, the shadow side of sixties utopianism. But I've also never thought of her as particularly dark, or particularly disturbing. I mean I had never found anything of hers disturbing, myself, though I don't know if this is one of those things where I am coming at it from a different angle than the general consensus. I've never been disturbed at least partly because one of her major flaws has always been what feels to me like a reluctance to go over the top and really commit to things, a tendency for some bit of a story to be built up as a Huge Dark Secret and then turn out to be not only quite mundane and usual but exactly what one was expecting. She'd put on the brakes when I wanted the accelerator, and I'd come away admiring the competency of her craft, but with a sense of vague annoyance.

In 2008, though, she started writing a series of crime novels.

Generation Loss, the first one, is fine. It's pretty much exactly like all the other Elizabeth Hand novels. I enjoyed it in that way where I forgot literally everything about the plot the instant I put the book down, and noted mentally only that she had distinctly turned down the presence of the overt supernatural in the story in favor of layers of subtext, but that this didn't seem to help. I'll probably reread it eventually. It's skippable. I didn't expect much from the follow-up, if she was going to write more of them, but then at some point in there I went to hear Hand give a lecture at Readercon about Norwegian and Scandinavian black metal, and my expectations rose for her next book, cautiously.

Hand is a very good lecturer, by the way. I knew precisely nothing about Norwegian black metal, and in the course of about an hour she gave a packed room of people a precis of its major players, the various bands that have become famous and their wide-ranging occult, criminal, and racist affiliations, the distinctly terrifying imagery surrounding the music (including some photographs which raised the hair on the back of my neck), and the horrible things that have happened to various people involved, mostly at each others' hands. Only at the end, when we were all sitting and wondering why any human being would get into this whole scene, did she break out the audio and play us some of the most shatteringly beautiful and surprising music that I have ever heard. I came away feeling that if her next book shared the good points of the lecture, she would really have something there.

Available Dark (2013) met all my expectations and more. There isn't a single thing wrong with it; it's plotted and characterized perfectly, it all ticks together like clockwork while still containing the messy human unpredictability of fallible people. Its center is Cassandra Neary, forty-odd, alcoholic and speed freak, still something of a name in photography circles for her single collection of pictures of her scene of doomed teenagers because that scene happened to be at CBGB. Cass is dishonest as all addicts are, basically shit at adulting, and ekes out some bare consolations in a bleak existence through trying to make and experience good art. Her eye for photos is much of what she has remaining. The novel takes her to Finland and to Iceland, where her eye for photos gets her tangled up in a perfectly mundane set of crimes, but also.

The thing is, this book is filed under Crime; nothing in it has to be supernatural, except for how it obviously is. Cass Neary, thief, cheat, and chooser of the slain, tangles with a set of symbols, ideas, and forces far older than the surface layer of the book would suggest up front, and those forces tangle right back at her. It's an impressive book, a winter book, cold and refractory and vertiginous. Until this year, I considered it Elizabeth Hand's best novel.

This year, the third one came out, Hard Light.

This is the part where it becomes difficult to write a review, because this book got me where I live. It has another perfectly mundane set of crimes, this time in London, and it works as crime fiction; it continues the layer of brilliant supernatural subtext, without losing any of its predecessor's power (there is a level on which much of this book happens because there is a baby shaman living in the middle of nowhere country who really needs somebody to talk to, and isn't Cass surprised to be that someone). There's a layer of pop-culture references, because Cass and her circles live surrounded by jukeboxes and swiped photo books and the apparatus of underground any-and-every-art, and the references that are real are so perfectly on-point that the references Hand invents slip in absolutely seamlessly. And there's a brilliant thing that goes on for the whole book, in which every single physical description of London is both accurate, something I've heard about from people who've been there or seen in photos and on the news, and at the same time is the description of a chilling techno-dystopia which reads like an Iain Sinclair wet dream. But none of that is what I found so frightening.

I don't talk about it much, but the place I grew up in was not a good place, and when I was a teenager the group of people I spent my time with was not a good group of people. I come from the kind of city that gets described as 'a good place to raise kids' because there is nothing for those kids to do and therefore theoretically no way for them to get in trouble. This is underestimating teenagers, drastically. If there is nothing that they are allowed to do that is productive and interesting and that they feel is worth their time, they will invent entire new categories of trouble to get into, and also start chewing off their own paws like so many foxes in a suburban bear-trap. I was never heavily into drugs myself. I tried a few and they didn't do much for me and I stopped, stuff that I think of as fairly normal teenage experimentation. But the people I ran with--

The crushing futility of having nothing to do but get high is part of what people try to escape by getting high. It doesn't work. The futility springs right back out afterwards. So some people, especially the sort of bright, bookish, cooped-up kid I spent my time around, will also try other avenues that might possibly be an escape. Also teenagers like edginess. What I am saying here is that I knew a lot of aspiring Satanists and chaos magicians and Crowleyites and wannabe goth sorcerers, and some of them were into things that were pretty thoroughly fucked up. I was always considered something of a goody-two-shoes by that crowd, but I knew them. My abusive high school ex-boyfriend, who was aiming at Thelema by way of Vampire: The Masquerade, creeped me out impressively once by taking me on a roadtrip several states away to visit a relative of his, literally vanishing into the night upon getting there, and coming into our bedroom at six in the morning straight from the deck outside, stark naked and so covered in blood I did not immediately recognize him. The only thing I have ever been able to ascertain about the blood is that it wasn't his.

Anyway, I got out of that whole scene, by going off to college a long way distant, meeting a whole new set of people, and most importantly having something productive and interesting to do with my life. But I remember the ever-tightening clutch of knowing that this terrible place was all there was going to be, weekend after weekend of aimlessness broken up only by people finding new and impressive ways to be awful to each other. I know what it's like to go to bed and sleep twelve hours and get up and find that the party from the night before is still going on and the same people are not only still at it but having the same stoned set of useless conversations, as though time had slipped a groove. I had my way out, and I clutched at that even when it was a vague future glimmer that I did not really believe in.

That place is where Cass Neary lives, except that the only thing that gets her out of it is the jolt of the supernatural. The gods in these books drink blood, and that's better than the darkness that is simply human darkness, because it is, at least, completely honest. If it weren't for the gods calling her name, Cass would live her whole life in yesterday's parties, and then overdose. I have to say, any book which makes the people perpetrating human sacrifice genuinely seem as though they have the cleaner, more reasonable responses to their situation has some seriously dark wallop to it. Hand manages to clearly separate the sort of petty never-was pretension that my ex-boyfriend dealt in from the people who are devotedly doing dark things because of what they really believe, and the first lot come off terribly, as they ought to due to all of the bullshit. But the second set... let's just say I'm very glad I never met anybody like that when I was a teenager. Let's say that concept is part of what frightens me.

Greil Marcus, in his essential secret history Lipstick Traces, makes a distinction that has been very useful to me in my life, the distinction between negationist art and nihilistic art. Negationist art is art which is trying to tear down established structures in order to free people to put up something new in their place. It often has no idea what the new things should be, and it's not in the putting-things-up business itself, but the action of making a space for the future is, while it involves destruction, also to the negationist essentially creative. Nihilistic art is trying to tear down established structures in order to tear them down. It wishes nothing to remain. It is trying to stop anybody else from being in the putting-things-up business. Elizabeth Hand is not remotely a nihilist. This is part of what makes the book so disturbing. It would be much easier to deal with if it were nihilist. It would be easier to refute its characterizations, for one thing, and say, well, people don't behave like this. The thing is, though, they actually do. The fact that Cass's cockeyed moments of transcendence are entirely supernatural makes the rest of her life even more believably bitter.

Hard Light is a claustrophobic masterpiece without a word out of place, a waking nightmare grounded in enough reality to make its dreamscape stable, and it's the novel I always wanted from Elizabeth Hand and never dared to expect. It's chilling and luminous and full of amazing research into a lot of real and imaginary history, and, though I know I haven't made it seem like it, it's funny as hell. I treasure it.

I have no idea whether she's going to write another one. It could go either way, and either way would work for me. I look forward to whatever Elizabeth Hand decides to write next, but even if the next thing isn't half as good, this is the kind of book to hold onto, to think, well, I will always have this one. Whenever I dare to reread it.
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Okay, I think-- I think-- that I have managed to get everyone onto the filter-to-talk-about-the-baby who asked to be (and if you asked to be, it's fine, I'm putting you on it). So if you asked, you should be able to see an entry marked as being on that filter if you look at my journal as a homepage. However, it's possible I may have missed something somewhere, so please let me know if that has happened.

Liv kindly gave me the letter L in one of those various-things-starting-with-a-letter memes. I am trying to get into the habit of posting more often and not fretting so much about what, so it was helpful.

Something I hate: Lettuce, subheading iceberg. Other kinds of lettuce are fine, but iceberg-- look, for many years I didn't think it had a taste at all, and I wondered why one would eat something that is so close to being water when one could just go get an actual glass of water. Then, lo these years ago, I made a great mistake in the making of meringue, in that I wanted a lemon meringue and so I put actual lemon juice into the meringue. Right in there with the egg whites. You would think this would then fail to stabilize, but something about the cream-of-tartar or the atmospheric conditions was perfect and the meringue baked into gorgeously fluffy little piles. I went around handing them to people, and everyone I handed one to would bite into it, and then look extremely confused and say "Lettuce?!?" That is how I discovered that iceberg lettuce does in fact have a distinct flavor, and I don't like it, and it can be duplicated by doing something completely appalling to perfectly innocent confectionery. We had to throw the rest of the batch out, because of course no one wanted more than that one bite. Butter lettuce, I am down for, or Romaine, but as for iceberg, I say it isn't spinach and I say the hell with it.

Something I love: L is for Le Guin and Lewis and L'Engle, but that's obvious if you know me, so something different: Le Tigre's 2004 album This Island has been on repeat on my headphones for a while recently. Not sure what I like best from it, the formal perfection of the title track, the in-your-face joke's-on-the-world cock-rocktechno of 'Nanny Nanny Boo Boo', the way 'New Kicks' sounds as though it were taped live at the sort of protest I've spent time at for Black Lives Matter while also being a snapshot of some crucial things about the Bush II years, or the joyous butch awareness and sensibility of 'Viz'. I loved Bikini Kill in the late nineties with the heartswollen teenage love of somebody scrawling slogans on school binders with a Wite-Out pen, but if Kathleen Hanna had to change bands, adding a pop sensibility, a bigger dose of humor, and growing a ridiculously catchy set of hooks was definitely the way to go about doing it. "All night/We've been talking to liars/And it's all right!/Just not in the style of tigers."

Somewhere I've been: Louisiana, which we drove through on the way out of Texas, cats in the back of the car taking turns yowling so they could stretch their voices longer. When we reached the comfortable and homey B&B in New Orleans, the cats said that this was acceptable and they would live here now, thank you, and in some surprise I found myself agreeing with them. The thousand little details of whether I like a place are based in part on things like the density of greenery and the indigenous food culture, both of which are good in Louisiana (or at least the bits of it we saw), but the main things for me are how much sky there is and the gestalt of the area's smell. The GPS-enabled drive through back-roads and over swamp bridges was a chance to stop being agoraphobic and annoyed at my olfactory nerves (cf. Texas) and just appreciate the countryside. Wouldn't want to live there, but I'd be delighted to go back.

Somewhere I'd like to go: Lichtenstein. If I were given a huge sum of money and absolutely forbidden to spend it on improving-the-world purposes, I would strongly consider renting out the nation of Lichtenstein for a significant wedding anniversary, because that is a thing that you can do if you can afford the rental fee. But, even lacking said amount of money, I'd love to see the place, and it sounds like a good amount to look at in one day. It's not very high on my list of places I really want to go (just the highest beginning with L), but I can imagine it being a charming detour from Germany or Austria or Switzerland or bumming around on the train.

Someone I know: Lucien, our traditionally-alpha cat, is about three feet from me on the couch as I type this. He came down with diabetes earlier in the year and it's not as under control as we'd like, yet, so at the moment he is both the smaller and the weaker cat, eight pounds on a build that doesn't begin to look full-fleshed until he weighs about twelve, and yes, it is going to his brother Rafe's head. Head as in Rafe kicking Lucien in the, at all hours. Sigh. Have not yet gotten to the point of shoving the feline equivalent of Pedialyte down Lucien's throat, but if he loses any more weight at all I am going to, as while I am of course very fond of Rafe he has never learned how to sit in my lap while I knit, and it's nice to have somebody around I can trust to behave while they do that. (Mind you, knitting is one thing, but purling, apparently, is when it is time for the kitty to treat the work-in-progress as a harpsichord. Let's not even talk about Fair Isle.)

A film I like: Labyrinth is eternal, of course, though I haven't been able to watch it yet since Bowie's death, but my most recent L-film is Laura, which I had heard of for many years as the craziest of the American film noirs and which keeps turning up in books about queer subtext in cinema. I was delighted to discover that despite having read a great deal about the movie in said books about queer subtext, everyone had been so kind as to keep the genuinely surprising plot unspoiled for me for the last fifty-odd years, and so it was a movie I didn't see coming. Laura is stylized almost past the point of psychological realism, but not quite; witty almost to the point of screwball comedy, but not quite; cast so oddly it might as well be miscast (Vincent Price as a shyster Southern gentleman of the old school? the hell? and this is Vincent Price in his early thirties, too), but not quite. (Price's accent is so terribly maladroit that it circles back around into being a brilliant impersonation of what his character thinks people want him to sound like.) Clifton Webb narrates from somewhere between Bertie Wooster, Oscar Wilde, and Samuel Beckett, everyone but everyone is a plausible suspect for at least thirty seconds, the rules of police work appear to have gone cheerfully out the window, and Gene Tierney is a revelation as the title character, a woman of such strength of agency that I'm pretty sure her mere existence shatters the standard rules of narrative. Comfort-film dark hilarity for the ages.

Ask for letters if you want them.
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I have set up a filter to talk about Ruth's pregnancy and our (hopefully) upcoming child; I think I got everybody onto it who's already mentioned that they'd like to be or who is related to the kid. This is where you opt in if you would like to be on the filter and haven't already told me.

If you use both Livejournal and Dreamwidth, please let me know whether you'd prefer one site, the other, or both, especially if you have different usernames on different sites. My default is to try to add everybody on both sites, but this can be difficult as my reading lists do not map one-to-one. If I leave you out on a site you use, it will be by mistake. Let me know and I'll fix it.

I've put up a post on the filter already, marked as such, but I probably won't be going through and adding people until tomorrow afternoon or evening; let me know after that if you ought to be able to see it and can't.
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Okay, dammit, I am going to post about something that isn't my health, and I am not going to let my health completely stop me from posting, and apparently I haven't written about music videos since 2014. So, some things I've run across recently and liked for various reasons.

After Beyoncé put out Formation, which you've probably seen already (but if not, you should, because it's an amazing political and symbolic synthesis of post-Katrina New Orleans, the history of Southern black culture, and Black Lives Matter), I fell down a rabbit-hole of bounce music. 'Formation' includes a voice part by Big Freedia, who is one of the big names in bounce, and her* music is infectiously danceable, a sound that makes me want to get out on the floor and party. The closest anyone seems to come to a definition of bounce is that it is music from New Orleans made specifically to shake your ass to; it uses samples and vocal parts and interlocking rhythms, and it's all about the twerking, no matter your race, gender, age, body type, or conventionality of appearance. Y'All Get Back Now is a decent place to start with Big Freedia, as she and her friends overwhelm the city of New Orleans with literally gigantic joy, and I also like Excuse, in which Freedia takes over a yoga-studio bounce class that honestly really needed it.

* Big Freedia's official pronoun is whatever the hell you feel like, but both articles written about her and people speaking with her in interviews tend to gravitate towards 'she'-- once, memorably, in an interview I have managed to lose to link rot, the reporter started with 'he' and moved towards 'she' as the conversation became more comfortable, which was a fascinating process to watch.

Ninety percent of what I know about bounce comes from the ten-minute documentary That B.E.A.T. by Abteen Bagheri (link is to the director's official upload), which I highly recommend if you're interested in local musical subcultures, like Freedia's groove, or have not recently found yourself irresistibly compelled to twerk.

Changing gears a little: Flying Lotus's Never Catch Me (ft. Kendrick Lamar) is both a great dance video and a simple concept so beautifully executed that it smacks me in the heart every single time. If the dead are the ones still dancing, we will never catch up to them, but it's good to believe that they dance.

Going a bit artsier, I have some ambivalence about FKA twigs' Glass & Patron, in which she symbolically gives birth to a modern incarnation of the queer and mostly black ballroom vogue femme scene, but I do find myself coming back to it again and again. I think my ambivalence is centered around finding the pacing peculiar, which was eased somewhat when I discovered that this video is also the last few minutes of her album/short movie M3LL155X. I have no idea what I think of M3LL155X and will probably need another few months of rewatch before I have any faith that I understand what she is doing, but FKA twigs is definitely one of the most intellectually complicated and intricately allusive video artists I've encountered in years.

If you've ever spent much time with any NES or SNES games, Das Racist's Who's That? Brooown! is a pitch-perfect, hilarious, and somewhat disturbing parody of every nineties cartridge that ever tried to be hip. Certainly the only game I have ever seen contain the command line >Shoplift ironic beer. Also features Tea Party protesters outside the U.N. and respawning hordes of yuppie gentrifiers.

Finally, one of my perennial comfort videos: M.I.A.'s Bad Girls, a celebration of skill, daring, and things that probably should not be done with cars but which look really, really fun if you can pull them off. The stuntpeople driving the two principal cars fell in love and got married during production, which is one of the cutest behind-the-scene facts I know about anything.
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So I had a scan, to see what on earth has been going on with my sinuses since September that has been so disabling, and the answer is... nothing. It's not my sinuses.

It turns out that my temporomandibular joint syndrome, i.e. grinding my teeth in my sleep, clenching my jaw, and so on, has gotten so bad that the nerve tissue has become inflamed, I've lost the voluntary or involuntary ability to relax those muscles, and the damage is manifesting as migraine. I thought it was my sinuses because of the referred pain-- my jaws hurt far too much for me to feel all of, or even most of, the pain as coming from that area. Also, I've had TMJ for at least fifteen years, it's a known issue, but it's certainly never been anywhere near this bad, so the current hypothesis is that this bout was set off by a sinus infection back in the fall which did, in fact, go away with antibiotics. Then the whole thing just never calmed down again and I've been experiencing it as sinus pain partly because initially there was genuine sinus pain.

What I'm saying here is that apparently I have literally had one migraine, at a level just below producing visual effects, but which does cause nausea and vertigo and light-sensitivity and noise-sensitivity and all that jazz, for the past six consecutive months.

No wonder I've been so exhausted, and no wonder this has been so disabling.

The interesting thing is that asking somebody to look into possible migraine issues had been something I was already planning to do, because three times this calendar year my headache spiked into something with visual effects, which is not really something that had previously been happening. Before 2016, I'd had things I could identify as migraine two or three times in my whole life, separated by stretches of years. But this went on my medical to-do list below 'sort out my sinuses', because apparently non-visual migraines are something I find completely indistinguishable in sensation from a really terrible sinus infection which is failing to drain.

In addition, I'm used to discounting things like light-sensitivity, noise-sensitivity, and temperature-sensitivity as clinically significant symptoms, because I had meningitis as a child and the aftereffects have faded slowly over decades. So when people ask me, do you have a headache or does x part of your head hurt, it's like, do you mean discounting or including the headache I have had since 1992? I spent multiple years as an adolescent using a five-watt bulb in my bedroom to read by because it was the greatest amount of light I could tolerate, so it never surprises me when that comes back every so often? It occurs to me now that while the direct meningitis aftereffects were definitely not migraine-- there was a very specific flavor of headache associated with that, and this now is quite a different feeling-- when the whole thing got to the point of just being a vague undercurrent of pain in the background it could easily have switched over into low-grade migraines literally years ago and I would never have been able to tell. Maybe it did, who knows.

The great thing here is that I was told repeatedly by several different types of doctor that there was nothing that could be done for the post-meningitis and it would have to go away on its own, but there is a chance that they can do something about the migraine, especially since the proximate cause is so clearly my jaws. So I am going to see a neurologist, and a dentist, and they will coordinate with one another, and in the meantime I have been told to stop chewing anything and to put hot compresses on my jaws at night, and in just a couple of days of doing that I have seen decided, though not huge, improvements. I think there's a limit to how far compresses &c. can take me, but I am starting to feel a bit better.

So, in general, optimistic.
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I will never get over the time he managed to open a book with an untranslated, unglossed wall of text in Hebrew, for an English-language novel, and the book became a famous international bestseller.

He visited my college, way back when, and read from Baudolino, which was his work in progress at the time. He read the chapter first in Italian, which I do not really speak and faked less well then, and after the standing ovation had died down he read the chapter again in English, which was entirely unnecessary, because everyone there had understood every word he said. It was a bit in which there is a rockslide, and you could hear all of it in the language: the initial dropping boulders as the protagonists' feet set them off, the pauses as they tried to slow down and tiptoe and move through the area more carefully, the ominous crackings underneath the pack animals, the sliding overwhelming crashes and the overall roar as the land fell down into the valley and they all went with it... I mean here that if you played this chapter to somebody who didn't know it was speech, they would register the noises, the way the syllables work together, as being an onomatopoeic depiction of a rockslide, regardless of the actual semantics. It wasn't as good in English-- I don't think Eco translated it himself, because he wasn't really English-fluent-- though the translator had clearly known what was supposed to be happening and made a valiant attempt. In Italian it was one of the two or three best readings I have ever heard a person give, revelatory, the kind of thing that expands the possibilities of language itself.

Afterward we all stood in a line for autographs, and I attempted to express something of how impressed I was by that reading, mostly I think by waving my arms a lot, and then something happened which was even more memorable, and which I am probably not going to manage to express in a way that makes it make sense.

None of the words I can use to flatly describe this situation have any of the right connotations. None of them. Even when I just limit myself to physical descriptions of actions taken, you're not going to get it, because they sound completely wrong. But I am going to have to start there.

Umberto Eco grinned at my hand-waving enthusiasm and attempts to say something about Greek and Latin poetic meters (both of which he had used in the passage in question), shook my hand, kissed my hand, signed my book, looked intently and delightedly down the front of my shirt (I have a chest tattoo; my default shirts have a lot of cleavage) for at least thirty seconds, and moved on to the next person in line.

You now have the wrong impression.

Here is an attempt to unpack the situation:

Me: *is enthusiastic and delighted in a language Eco does not speak, using vocabulary which is international, because the names of Greek and Latin poetic meters are basically recognizable no matter which modern language you are speaking*

Eco: *understands that I am being enthusiastic and delighted in a language he does not speak, and recognizes the vocabulary which means that I have understood and am happy about a specific, honestly rather esoteric aspect of the complicated thing he is trying to do*

Eco: *shakes my hand, making eye contact, firmly, in a manner which emphasizes that he is pleased to meet me and happy to hear what I have to say, but which also indicates his inability to continue the conversation in the manner which he would like and which would be the logical followup*

Me: *realizes oh of course he doesn't speak enough English for this what was I thinking gah* *starts to feel and look slightly embarrassed*

Eco: *kisses my hand, maintaining eye contact, indicating firmly that no! no! you should absolutely have said that! I am so glad that somebody understood and took the time to comment on that aspect of my work, and I am genuinely grateful that we are interacting in this way! I respect you very much for bringing it up!*

Eco: *signs book* *hands book to me with air of 'now that required bit is over with'* *manages to communicate to me, as far as I can tell psychically, 'I do not want to stop interacting with you, but there are all these other people, and we have this language barrier! What can I do that will register as a continuation of genuine human contact, be fast, and indicate admiration for you and this situation? I know!'*

Eco: *looks down my shirt for at least thirty seconds*

Line: *moves on*

Me, internally: oh my lord he actually managed to do that in a way that indicated that he was genuinely doing it as a stand-in because he respected my intellect. I... I believe him. That was... that was actually what he meant. I have never been leered at so politely in all my life. How did he do that. How was that not creepy. That was... that was not creepy in any way (and this was back when my PTSD and general skittishness were way the hell worse, especially in public and when I didn't know people). How.

A friend, right afterwards: So how was meeting Eco?

Me: He looked down my shirt! It was--

Friend: HE WHAT.

Me: No! It wasn't like that, it-- I am never going to be able to adequately explain this to anybody, am I. *sighs*

And from that day to this, no one has ever leered at me in such a non-creepy, intensely affirming, intellectually welcoming, genuinely supportive and delightful manner. I wouldn't believe it myself if he hadn't done the thing with the Italian reading immediately previously. But anyone who can do that is some kind of ludicrous language wizard; I think he could have done that reading literally anywhere on the planet and they would have understood it. So him doing the wildly impossible again right afterwards somehow seemed, well, a bit more likely.

I have spent the rest of my life proud and delighted that I was once ogled by Umberto Eco. Truly, the world has lost something in this man.
rushthatspeaks: (Default)
Some very kind person has sent us a copy of Your Body, Your Baby, Your Birth, by Jenny Smith, which looks both straightforward and useful, but as it did not have a gift receipt I haven't the faintest notion who it was. Should you happen to be reading this, whoever you are, let me know so we can thank you properly?

Have not yet set up babyfilter, mostly due to health.

Health, and what has been going on with it: as some of you may recall, back in Texas in 2011(ish) I developed horrible respiratory issues which eventually drove me out of the state because I couldn't breathe there. Back here, after some time for recovery, I've been doing very well ever since... except that in both 2013 and 2014 I lost a solid month of the autumn to terrible sinus infections. I had just barely noticed this was starting to be a pattern when it came on again in September 2015, and this time it failed to leave. I have been some degree of incapacitated since September.

How incapacitated varies, but mostly this has been disabling. I spent Thanksgiving asleep on [personal profile] sovay's parents' couch. We ordered fancy takeout with family on Christmas Eve instead of my usual fancy cooking, and I spent Christmas itself lying down on my own couch. I spent New Year's lying down on B.'s couch, despite having made plans I really wanted to keep. I spent all of December frantically trying to catch up on work I'd got behind on in October-November, and managed, and then haven't been able to do a damn lick of work in weeks, so I'm that far behind again. And the whole thing reminds me unpleasantly of the whole Texas health mess, which doesn't help.

It's actually not remotely the same, since back in Texas we didn't have health insurance. Here, I have a concerned, caring, and competent primary care physician who referred me to a concerned, caring, and competent ENT. In Texas I was reliant on the free clinic, who cared about their work immensely and had just about ten minutes per person and so couldn't diagnose anything peculiar; here I have just had a CAT scan and have a lovely informational sheet from my ENT explaining everything she thinks could possibly be wrong with me and exactly what we would do about it in each specific case. (This is what state health insurance programs do. This, exactly this, is why I want national single-payer, because I should not have had to move cross-country back in 2011 to get decent care, because the care I have now is the kind of care I want available to everybody. This.)

So there are paths forward, and there are a great many options, and I have faith that this is going to be dealt with, and that I will feel better eventually and that, seen from a long view, eventually will be pretty soon. We may even manage to get things to where I stop losing a month every fall, because the current theory is that there is something physically, structurally wrong in my sinuses, and if that gets fixed (though it would mean, sigh, surgery) I would no longer be nearly so susceptible to infections.

But basically right now I can do One Thing Per Day. Sometimes Two Thing, and then I have to lie down the day after. And by Thing I mean, washing my hair, that's a Thing. Reading a book I've read before, that's a Thing, reading books I haven't read before is often more than one. Last Friday it snowed, and I had to take the cat to the vet a fair drive away, because his appointment was while Ruth was at work, and the cat is newly diabetic, and we're trying to get it under control. The snow didn't look all that bad when I set out, but after an hour in the vet's office it was whiteout out there, and driving home from the vet's in the snow with an annoyed and somewhat ill cat was about Six Thing all by itself. I didn't get out of bed again the whole weekend, and then only because I had to go to my own doctor. So that's what it's been like. The aggravating part is that it's not just fatigue, it's vertigo and nausea and an honestly fairly ridiculous amount of flat-out pain. This is why I haven't seen many people in a very long time, or written here much, because writing is definitely A Thing, so I have to plan for it well in advance.

I am very much looking forward to being able to write more again, both here and in general, and to being able to be more social both online and off. Rest assured, you'll all notice when that happens.

Until then, though, one thing at a time.

News!

Jan. 28th, 2016 11:58 am
rushthatspeaks: (feferi: do something adorable)
So I could and at some point should make a post about the way my health has gone sideways and things I am doing/going to do about it and how that's why I haven't been on the internet much, but I don't want to make that post right now, because there are much, much better things to think about.

Namely that after two+ years of trying and more paperwork than seems remotely reasonable, Ruth is pregnant.

Assuming all goes well, the baby will arrive late September/early October. I am really looking forward to being a father.

Terminology note: I am, in fact, going to be a father. Please refer to me as any variation on that. 'Parent' is also acceptable. For a large set of personal reasons, including things about my gender identity and from my childhood, referring to me as being in any way a mother or variations on that word is not okay and I would very much rather you didn't. (Besides, there are all those people who insist that every child needs a father and a mother-- I assume they will all be delighted to know this one has got those.)

Ruth and I are both absolutely through-the-roof happy about this.

When I figure out how much I'm going to want to write about the process of this pregnancy and so on, I'll set up an opt-in filter for people who want details, because I know there are people who read this who would be upset or triggered by running across those details unexpectedly. But that is all going to happen later.

Baby! We are going to have a baby! YAY!
rushthatspeaks: (the unforgiving sun)
David Bowie (1947-2016).

Every year of my adult life, I've watched him as Andy Warhol in Basquiat at least once, the kind of delicately tender performance that made me re-evaluate Warhol and which never fails to move me to tears.

Every year since I was ten or eleven, Labyrinth as a constant, his touch of glamour in the whimsy, the whisper of real darkness among the more comprehensible magic. There's a generation of fantasy fans who came of age hypnotized, not just by the tight pants, though they are certainly tight, but by the crooked smile and the look on his face at the end when the world falls apart. I've never known whether I want to be Jareth or fuck Jareth.

I never knew that about Bowie, either.

My high school senior yearbook page is covered with Bowie lyrics, the elliptical tracings of the things I couldn't articulate. The four years of that school filled with a five-thirty-a.m. bus, more than an hour of sitting in an interior you could see your breath in in winter, wrapped in a jacket that wasn't thick enough and socks that weren't tall enough and the uniform skirt they insisted we wear, but mostly wrapped in headphones linked to a cassette recorder. Diamond Dogs and the Labyrinth soundtrack and compilations taped off the radio, fuzzy reduplications of other people's duplications, the tape-player almost warm enough to keep my fingers mobile. Without punk, I would not have survived high school, and Bowie, despite the chronology of his career not fitting into the musical movement, was something near the heart of punk rock on those cold mornings.

His was one of the first images of masculinity that I was not afraid to contemplate. Without David Bowie, I would not have survived gender. I never read him as particularly feminine: I read him as a way of being a man in the world that was so far away from the way every man around me did it that he might as well have genuinely been a spider from Mars. It opened up the space of possibility. I have never been particularly flamboyant, but I am femme as hell-- I mean, I do not actually voluntarily wear trousers, ninety percent of the time-- and Bowie showed me that the accoutrements of what most people would call high femme don't need to be simply one set of signifiers, can say whatever you want (or nothing) about your gender identity, or presentation, for that matter, if you know what you're doing. The vaguely self-actualized man-with-complications that I am today is heavily due to his influence, not the gender identity but the ability to cope with it.

I never thought he'd actually go and die or anything. Rock and roll doesn't.

Now we will all have to be fabulous and mythical and incandescent for him.

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