Ta da!Ghost Fugue Cover 400

It’s real!  It’s coming soon!  Probably June.  I’m super excited!

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It’s raining on the yurt roof (loud!) and thank goodness because we have been drowning in pollen.  Seriously, look at this:

pollen car 1

That’s from ONE NIGHT.  Take a closer look:

pollen car 2

That thick layer of yellow has been on everything.  I come in from walking Henry and the cuffs of my yoga pants are covered in it.  Hubby came in from working outside and when I patted him on the back, poofs of pollen came off him.  Driving down the road, you look into a yellow haze, seriously!  We leave footprints in it, it is so deep.

pollen footprint

But now this rain will wash it away, or at least some of it.  Our breathing systems can go back to the normally high levels of pollen of  NC spring and not this crazy onslaught.  Spring is on fast forward this year.

You know what, I was just flipping through my camera to get those pollen pics and look, Sophie’s gorgeous hair after our semi-annual Henna Party.  My cousin and I, and sometimes my sister, and now my daughter, we all have this crazy red hair now.  It’s a Thing.

sophie henna

So pretty! She likes to torment me by talking about cutting it all off.  Sob.

Ooo, and look at this, an amazing sushi feast we had a couple of weeks ago:

sushi feast

DELICIOUS. I had to take a picture.

Isn’t going through the camera fun?  I don’t miss the days of film.

And in my final news of the day, the new book has a title!  Ghost Fugue.  It is out with the second round of beta readers at the moment.  The cover is in the works, and I have booked my copyeditor to do the final typo, cleaning and formatting, hopefully in May.  Aiming for a June release.  I’ll do a fancy shmancy cover reveal as soon as it is done. I’m super excited about this book!

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Everything at our house is breaking.  I think we might be cursed.

The clothes washer stopped spinning (replacement, $200 from Craigslist).

The ipad started randomly typing things, opening apps, going to websites all on its own (demon exorcism, free but it didn’t work, bye-bye ipad, sob).

The dishwasher started making the dishes MORE dirty (SuperCoolHubby was able to fix it, YAY)(isn’t it funny how, as you get older, different things start to be totally hot in a guy?).

I’m zipping down the road at 60 mph and the car just turns off.  I had to coast to the road side with barely any brakes.  Scary! (Fuel distributor, $700 [passes out]).

The sound part of the remote stopped working (you now have to literally get up to change the volume, its a nightmare).

Car breaks down AGAIN, (catalytic converter, will be $700 AGAIN but we’re considering getting a different car because it also needs brakes, $600, and two tires $500 [passes out AGAIN]).

The hot water heater exploded (replacement, $550 [fall into a coma from all the head injuries from passing out so many times]). Just got that fixed yesterday, washed two loads of laundry in the new (used) machine, did two loads of dishes (in the old, fixed machine), and took two baths (sweet jesus I needed that).

For heaven’s sake!  This has all been in the last SIX WEEKS.  I am afraid to get out of bed!  What is going to break next??? Thank goodness I got some cash for my birthday, which saved our patooties, but even so, our finances are wrecked.  (Plus, I didn’t get to spend it on fun birthday presents.  Booooo.)  Please!  No more, no more!  Uncle!  I can’t take the stress!

This just happens sometimes, right?  All the bulbs in the house go at once.  It’s not like any of these things are serious.  We aren’t ill.  No one is bombing our city.  We have plenty to eat.  It’s not so bad, right?

Still.  Maybe I’ll just lie here quietly under the covers and wait for the dark star I am under to pass.

UPDATE: So, just when I thought maybe we were good…a loose connection on the new hot water heater caused a short, tripping the main circuit breaker…and it broke.  Meaning we couldn’t turn the power back on.  Cost to get an electrician out here and install a new one?  $520.

I had an honest to god panic attack, my face went numb, difficulty breathing, the works.  For heaven’s sake, right?  I need an evil eye deflector or something!  This kind of bad luck can’t be naturally occurring.

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The fact that this is even a question shows just how sex-negative our culture is, don’t you think?  I mean, no one is out there writing articles on “how to talk to your kids about rhinoceroses.”  And look, I’m not putting myself out there as an expert—if my kids hit twenty and can chime in and say, yeah mom, you did all right, then I’ll say I’m an expert.  But after hearing some moms the other day talking about pussyfooting around, feeling awkward, leaving books on their tween daughter’s beds, etc—especially when I know these same women chat with each other about sex—I feel like I might have something to say about this.

Short answer:  you never DON’T talk about sex with them.  Just like you don’t not talk about rhinoceroses.  When it comes up, it’s in the discussion for a bit, and then the conversation moves on.  As all conversations do.  This way sex is never a THING and you never have A TALK.  It’s just…normal.

Longer answer.  Little kids ask great questions.  When we used to take our goats on “dates” with a local stud (his name was Cowboy, no seriously, it was) little Sophie would go along and one day she asked me, “What does licking and climbing on have to do with getting pregnant?”  I gave her a short answer that included the guy getting his sperm/DNA in contact with the girl’s egg/DNA (because we’d just watched a Hulk episode about DNA and had talked about it, so I could piggy back a little) in order to get the whole recipe for making that particular baby into the mom, who cooked the baby until it was ready to be born.  Plus it feels good.  She said, “oh.”  It was maybe two minutes.  The conversation moved on.  That was the start.  Or, ha, I remember little Luc asking me at some point—and I can’t for the life of me remember the context! curses!—“wait, you mean sex feels good?”  Great questions, right?

My point is, in the beginning, kids are not embarrassed.  They ask the right questions.  It’s up to the parents not to mess that up.

So, for those who want a how-to LIST:

1) No embarrassment.  Straight-face.  Laugh.  Give good information.  Never hedge. Never lie or cover up. That way you retain your reputation as a Source of Good Information when they really need it.

2) Start when they are little, with their very first questions.  There is no “when you’re older” or “you’re too young to talk about that.” If you turn them away once, they may never ask you again, like when they are teenagers and need birth control.  You want them to still be asking when they are teenagers and need birth control!

3) At the same time, answer their questions exactly to the degree that they want information and not one syllable beyond that.  Don’t be Over Sharing Mom.  Four year old Sophie did not want Anais Nin to fill her in on the details of goat babies.  (Sixteen or eighteen or twenty-four year old Sophie might need the Anais Nin version–I hope we’re still talking as openly at that point!  THAT is the goal here.)  Pay attention to their cues.  Stop talking before they are bored or uncomfortable.

4) When sexuality crosses you and your kid’s paths (songs, jokes, ads, tv, life, etc, because it’s everywhere),  just naturally discuss whatever comes up.  Movies and tv are great for this, but it can be whatever.  Things that have to do with sex in some way come up all the time.  Don’t avoid them.

Bonus round: The car is a great place for this sort of stuff, because no one is looking at anyone and there is comfortable room for long silences.  But anywhere is fine, getting at it in the moment rather than waiting for A Talk is the best.  Don’t let talking about sexuality get a weird mojo around it.

That’s the basics.

Luc is nine.  Right now he hates anything to do with romance, or sex, or ugh, god, KISSING.  He says, “Don’t say that word!  Say ‘the S word’!”  I respect that.

Sophie is a mature eleven.  She watches anime which is sometimes full of fan service (usually panty shots and boobs, occasionally dream-boat bishounen) and often very strange ideas about gender roles.  We talk about feminism, and portrayal of women, the jokes about wood, body image, “that’s what she said” type jokes, and the strong possibility that those two guy characters are secretly dating.  I remember being eleven, I was trying stuff out on my own, I was interested. The hormones were there.  They’re there for her, too. And I want to be a resource for her, to whatever degree she wants me to be–and not in some awkward, formal “if you have any questions” way, but in a “we just talk about this, it’s normal” way.  Which means lots of little interactions when it isn’t high-stakes (low stakes: not about her, high stakes: about her).  Much easier to talk about tv show characters and hypotheticals (low stakes!) and build up the ease and trust that way.  It’s ridiculously hard if we’ve never talked about it and she’s sixteen and worried she’s got an std.  Don’t wait till then because its too late.

There is a moment when I say something out-loud for the first time that feels a little heart-pounding to me—me who was raised in a home where We Do Not Talk About Sex—and that moment is so important.  It takes whatever it is out of Taboo Land and puts it in Topics Up For Discussion territory.  I have to push through the taboo in myself, just to get the words spoken.  It’s like deflating balloons, though, because once I’ve said it, the weirdness in myself goes away really quickly.

For example.  The three of us were getting ready for bed the other night, brushing our teeth, finding pjs, etc and Luc asked me what I did that day while they were visiting their aunt.  I hesitated.   Because what I did was fuck my husband stupid.  So I was faced with a choice.  I could lie, I could cover, because I felt nervous (throwback to my childhood)—but why do that?  Why lie?  If I do, I’ve installed a taboo, which means maybe in six, or four, or eight years, when Luc has a girlfriend or a boyfriend and he’s getting it on, or thinking about getting it on, he probably will think he can’t tell me about it.  Because I will have set the precedent that We Don’t Talk About When We Have Sex.

So I said, “Your dad and I had some awesome, um, S-Word.”

He made a face.  “Why?” As in, why would you willingly participate in something so GROSS?!

I said, “Because we like each other!  And it’s fun.”

Sophie laughed.  “They are a couple.  It’s what they do.”

Which I was glad to hear, her easy laughing, the normality of her response.

“Whatever,” said Luc.  “I don’t get it.”  And the conversation moved on.

A tiny interaction.  But now it’s in the mix. It could come up again, more easily now that it’s on the table. It’s not a big mysterious secret that Dad and Mom are doing…things.  So maybe it doesn’t have to be a secret when they start, either.

Lots of little interactions where sex isn’t A SECRET build up to sex being just another topic.  If you want it to be easy and normal to talk about sex when they are teenagers, you have to normalize it all along.

Boom.  And that’s how you talk WITH (not TO) your kids about sex.

Sidebar:  I do have a couple of books around, books that I’ve pointed out to them and said, “Hey, I got this book, I think it’s pretty informative and not stupid.  Feel free to look at it if you want.”  They’re usually, “whatever,” and I drop it.  But the books are there, a curated collection, rather than Random Shit Off The Internet.  Sometimes you want info but you want it in private, and you don’t want to have to ask your mom.  That’s cool.  Books are good for that.

So, in case you’re interested, S.E.X. by Heather Corinna is great, with lots of discussion about tricky topics like consent, feelings, choices, plus in depth on physiology, birth control, sti’s, based on solid science.  From the creator of the excellent site Scarlateen.com, which I also recommend.  Another one that is shorter is Sex: a book for teens by Nikol Hassler. Good, more basic than the other one, more of a how-to with information about birth control, safe sex, etc. and less of the psychological.  Plus it’s funny and a bit less of a commitment because it looks small, with not too many pages, and has cows humping on the cover.  No really, it does.

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Short version: Hell yeah, the title says it all, doesn’t it?

Long version: back in my twenties I used to take this Tribal Belly Dance class based on Fat Chance Belly Dance troupe, which was just getting going over in San Fran at the time.  It was terrific, full of muscle locks and precision movements that resulted in a sweat soaked but very fun workout. Tribal is not flowing, floaty belly dance with chiffon scarves; it is muscle isolation and drills and yeah, it kicked my butt, but in that good way that lets you know you’re alive.  Not that I was ever any good at it, but who cares.

Fast forward twenty *cough* years [faints] and I’m, okay, well, I’m old.  And I’ve been having some trouble with wrist pain from Too Much Typing, so I made a standing desk with ergonomic keyboard, yada yada.  I’m standing here typing on it right now, this very post.  Anyway, as I result, I spend a lot more time standing now, doing my thang….

And it’s boring.  I mean, seriously.  My body gets bored.  I guess when I’m sitting, I just forget my body altogether, but standing, it stays…activated.   It starts moving around, shifting this way or that, pelvis this way, that way, scoop, slide, stretch…and suddenly I find I’m doing long forgotten tribal belly dance moves, like, unconsciously, while I type.  Figure eights, hip slides, scoops, belly rolls, up eights, down eights, clockwise, counter clockwise, locks, shimmies.  And yeah, I look like a flaming idiot.

BUT.  After a couple of months of this, my abs are freaking CUT.

TOTALLY UNEXPECTED SIDE EFFECT.  I had no plan whatsoever to get a six-pack at my standing desk.  But how cool is that?  Accidental Abs.

Unexpected Bummer to go with it: apparently having cut abs does not in any way mean that my jumpback will be improved.  And while I do notice an improvement in my posture, I notice no observable change in actual abdominal strength during my yoga practice. In other words: I still totally suck at navasana.  And I can’t do a decent jump back to save my life.  I am ashamed.

Is it the c-section—my secret theory—that keeps me forever from attaining this ashtanga basic, the all-mighty jumpback?  Have I just not poured enough sweat in (even after 5+ years of working it)?  It is physically impossible for me VS. am I lazy: these are the two basic options, with a possible side dish of “give it time” but I’ve done that and nada.  Humph.

I’m okay with this, usually.  I’ve come to peace with my smear-back and my walk-through.  But man, I would have thought carving your core would have translated into freaking LEVITATION.

Nope.

I think I have that affliction where stated goals are never attained, but you get all this other great stuff along the way.

Most days, I’m okay with that.

No, there will be no photo of my new amazing abs on the internet.  So forget about it.  I support you in the process of feeling your loss.  There, there.  But if you want some abs of your own, I highly recommend an hour or two of tribal belly dance every day while you use your computer.  Shockingly effective.

I’ll leave you with the amazing Rachel Brice, tribal belly dancer extraordinaire.  She is a GODDESS.  (Hey, I wonder if she has a standing desk?)

 

Back in the middle of all that snow at the end of February, I turned 44 and on the same day, Sophie turned 11.  Some nice number palindromes there, plus I was exactly four times her age.  We had to postpone our party twice due to snow, but we finally got some friends and family together to celebrate, yay!  Luc and I baked the cake—he is becoming quite the baker, studying with the master, his Great Aunt Carroll.  Here’s my girl and I, plus Luc’s cake:

birthday 44 and 11

After the party, for fun we took a picture of Sophie in one of my old baby carriers.  I was totally into carrying my babies and had a ton of wraps, I’ve gotten rid of most of them, but some I just can’t part with… and I can still do it!  For a few minutes anyway.

sophie in carrier 44 and 11Isn’t she cute???  So HUGE.  For comparison, here we are ten years ago:

sophie in carrier 1 and 35I’m super preggo with Luc in that one.  We were just about to move into the yurt.  I had just finished my first novel.  It’s gone by so fast.

In another ten years maybe we’ll take a picture of Sophie carrying me in the wrap!

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Forget a room for every kid: in the yurt we go by the 21st century axiom of a computer (and an internet connection) for every kid, as just basic life gear.

To this end, last year we built a gaming machine that…turned out to be Luc’s machine.  And after a year of being very cool about taking the old, lame computer, it seemed clear that it was Sophie’s turn to have a new, blazing fast computer.  She isn’t quite the gamer that Luc is, but she puts in hours a day doing her artwork using Photoshop for digital painting.  And two computers would mean no more scratching each other’s eyes out negotiating for time on the good machine!

HELL YEAH.

Like last time, we used Pcpartpicker.com to assemble a list of components and to track their prices over time.  When the total dropped under our budget ($700) we pulled the trigger.  Here is the pcpartpicker page for our new machine.  That site is so awesome!  You can look at other builds, read reviews, compare prices.  Really a terrific resource.

Parts!  Once they all came in the mail (mostly from amazon) we just waited for a good day for digging into the project.  Nothing like a snowstorm to clear your calender.

2nd computer 1

Assembling!

2nd computer 2

That’s Luc and me putting in the video card (we got a nice one, WOOT).  We chose a tiny (micro-atx) case because of limited space under the desk—side effect, it was tricky getting things in.  Small hands were a big plus.

Here are the insides: SPAGHETTI MONSTER.  Yes, I hang my head in shame at this, and can only say in my defense that, in this tiny case, you can’t run any of your cords behind the motherboard, so they all end up under the drive bays.  Oh well, when we turned it on, it worked (we cheered), and that’s the main thing.

2nd computer 3

Here it is in its shelf under the desk.  Sophie say the blue lights give us ambiance.

2nd computer 4

And here we have the dueling machines.  No more fighting over turns, plus they can play each other in games with multiplayer modes.  HUGE WIN.2nd computer 5

We have friends who are “anti-screen” and I really like them, but man I don’t understand that line of thinking.  Limiting computer exposure seems like dolling out a huge handicap to people growing up these days.

Plus there is this focus on the device, and an ignoring of the activities being done on the device.  They see “screens” when the activities can be as diverse as reading a book, drawing a picture, talking on the phone, playing a game, etc etc.  If a gal did all of those things in one day (happens all the time), someone might say, wow, they did a lot.  If she did it all on a computer, a screen-phobic person might say “too much screentime!”   Yet, if she had done the same activities using a paperback, a sketchbook, writing a letter, and playing cards, would that say person say, “too much papertime!” ?

Why this preference for dead trees over pixels?  Look at the activity and the mind and happiness of the person doing it, not the interface, that’s what I say.

Anyway, hopefully these computers will last the kids for a few years.  Although even in one year, I can see the difference in power between the two machines.  The tech is advancing so fast.  Indeed, I’m super excited about the HoloLens and similar devices, and how other wearables are coming along.  It’s Marvel’s Ironman style computers (holographs you manipulate with your hands) only you wear goggles to see what you’re doing.  Very cool!

I suspect that in ten years such holographic glasses will be the standard interface, and “screentime” will be a moniker of the past.  Parents will have to freak out about limiting goggle-time I guess.

Listen, if there is any downside (what are the fears, addiction, social backwardness, isolation?) to kids having unlimited access to what they want to do (computer, video game, art supplies, books, tv, movies, manga, yada yada, we see them all as part of an array of Stuff To Do around here) then my kids ought to be exhibiting those problems.  But they don’t.  Therefore, screens aren’t the cause of those problems.  Basic logic.

GAH, one more rant: I hear parents struggling to find the right amount (an hour a day? three hours a day? none?) of computer time for their kids, but to that I say NO.  Wrong question!  The question isn’t the amount, it’s WHO IS DECIDING THAT AMOUNT.  And for whom.  You can’t figure yourself out if you can’t decide for yourself.  Better to get to know what works for you, on your own, when the stakes are low.  Not when you’re suddenly released into the wild at 18 and trying drinking for the first time.  Let ‘em figure out their own “right amount.” Don’t presume to know someone else’s “right amount.”

Okay, enough soapbox.

Have fun!  Learn!  Make cool stuff!  Go at it full tilt if that’s what you love, the interface is not important. Playing is learning!  That’s my motto.

I’ll leave you with one of Sophie’s recent drawings, done on the new computer with a Wacom tablet.  She loves making characters like this from scratch, designing their clothes, their expressions.  Each one takes many hours of work.  Actually her work ethic on these (self-chosen) projects is amazing.  (How would it help her to keep her from her chosen materials by limiting her “screentime”?)

girl with ears and scabard on backSO CUTE.

Edited to Add: I inadvertently made a huge addition to this in the comments (about ipads), it makes a good continuation of the computer rant, if you’re so inclined to hear more.

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Sophie: “Hey, Mom, what’s the difference between a snow man and snow woman?” Luc: “SNOW BALLS!” And he throws three of them at me.

snow 2015

Our pond, frozen enough to sit on

Down here in North Carolina, snow is rare and exciting, and today was the day, the snow of the winter.  The kids rushed out first thing, still in their jammies, coats hastily thrown on top, me hobbling out behind, afraid of falling on the slick ice.  “Mom! Mom!  IT’S SNOOOOWWWW!!!”

“Here, take this walking stick,” said Luc, skidding up to me with a board, part of a dismantled hammock.  I took it, grateful, thinking, You know, hammock weather is really more my style. 

“Too bad we don’t have shoes with cleats for you,” he added, slipping and sliding away.  “Then we could walk up cliffs!”

To which Sophie added, “Stay on this tire track, it’s softer!” as she whizzed by, Henry galloping ahead, pulling her behind like a sled.

“Be caref–” I started to say…but naaa.  She’ll be fine.  And I trudged after them, taking pictures.

For the past ten years, going out into the world with them, I’ve always been the one with more experience, more knowledge, more physical strength, more money, more power.  Not so, today.  Foreshadowing of things to come.

TerrariaIt was a strikingly familiar feeling to a couple of days ago when I sat down and played Terraria with them for the first time, starting a new character (I named her Sriracha), letting them show me the ropes of mining and monster hunting.  I gave Siri giant, spiky pink hair so I could recognize her more easily on the screen. Because I’m old and the dang characters are like, sixteen pixels high.  “How do these controls work again?”

The kids have been playing Terraria for over a year, their characters are all OP (over-powered) and they’ve got mad skilz.  While I attempted to walk/bounce up a cliff they buzzed around me, killing a goblin army, giving me weapons I couldn’t figure out how to use, crafting me armor for my safety.  “What’s this shiny stuff?” I would ask, poking the ground, while their characters jumped and darted from here to there on the screen, “Mom! Look at this! Mom, put on this meteorite armor!  Mom, here’s a spear, and eat this heart crystal!  Mom!”

Me: “Um, I think I fell in a hole again.”

They really, really loved that I was playing with them.  “You’re so adorable as Sriracha,” said Sophie.  And Luc want4r to take care of me, it was very sweet.  “I got you a rainhat, Mommy, so your hair won’t get wet.”  Meaning an in-game hat, of course.

“But that will cover my pink hair….”  And how will I know which blip is me?

Honestly, I’ve been happy in my role as tech-support all these years, but I’ve done very little actual gaming. I’m suddenly smacking my palm to my forehead about this.  I run the Minecraft server, I install games, I look-up walk-throughs, I’ve even built computers.  But actual playing…not so much.  I don’t have time.  And anyway, I get stressed out instead of have fun.  It’s just not my scene.  [whiny voice is whiny]

But they liked it sooooo much…..

I begin to see that it’s like going for a snow walk—it’s rare and the kids adore it.  It’s great when I help suit them up and have hot chocolate waiting for them when they get back, but they really love it when I’m out there with them.  And how many more years are they even going to want to play with me?  I think…I’ve just got to do it.  I’ve got to become enough of a gamer so that I’m not just tech-support.  I need to get on the field.  While I still can.  While I’m still invited.

I can do this.  I used to love gaming when I was a kid, Jump-man and text-adventures and and…Pong.  (Again with the old.)  Yeah.  I can do this.

I’m going in.

Taking a snow bath.

Taking a snow bath.

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The work-in-progress novel is coming back from the editor this weekend.

I’m a nervous wreck!

My first round of beta-readers (pre-editor) have been largely positive, and the editor got a better version of the manuscript than they got, so…I can hope.

(Can’t I?  A little bit? I can hope I don’t need to RETHINK MY ENTIRE LIFE?)

But to editors, I always say…
hit me as hard as you can
…and I mean it.  Don’t worry about my feelings, I insist. I need to know all the broken parts. Before the book is published.  While I still have time to FIX IT.  That is, before the public shaming of the dreaded [hushed whisper] 1 Star Review.
i'm not nervous at all

I’ll get the email, with its .doc attachment and lunge to open it….

Will it be one of these?
mind blown
…or one of these?
throws away computer
stomps on computer
?
One always hopes for one of these…
crazy dancing
…yeah, but I’ve been doing this long enough to know that’s just wishful thinking.

I haven’t written anything new in 2015.  SHOCKING. Instead, I’ve been on some kind of sabbatical where I READ ALL THE THINGS, at least, all the things written by Samuel Delany. I’ve already mentioned Dhalgren, Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders, and Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand here on the blog.  But how about Babel-17…amazing! Empire Star…amazing! Motion of Light in Water…yeah, yeah, you get the idea.

It’s hard for my little writer-self to take in. What’s the freaking point to writing anything at all when someone can write like …that?

Whatever.  It’s not like I’m giving it up (can’t, it’s like hypergraphia or something).  So, start the count-down. I’ll be losing it, in some fashion, in just a few days.

I should probably start drinking now.

P.S. Several people wrote to ask me how the dentist went, oh you funny little readers, I love you.  It was fine, I have perfect teeth, the dentist always says, “What are you doing here? Go home.”

And my wonderful hygienist, Hilda, bless her, was SHOCKED when it was revealed that I am about to turn 44.  “Get out!” she said.  “I thought you were just out of college or something!”

“You DID NOT,” I said back, “You practice that face in the mirror for your difficult clients, don’t you!”

“I do NOT,” she said.  “You don’t look your age at all.”

“Look at these wrinkles!” I said, pointing. “And these!”

“Un-un,” she said, getting back to work.  “I’ve got people in here all the time in their forties who look like they are in their sixties. Rinse.”  But she still looked surprised as she vacumed out my mouth with that sucky-tube-thing.  “Honey, you look fantastic.”

“May the angels sing your praises to the heavens,” I said. Well, more like, “aa dee angees seen ya payz to da heabens…”

My fragile ego needs all the help it can get right now.

 

This isn’t really a review, just a rant, because I’m stalling.  I’m supposed to be getting ready to go to the dentist but I’m writing this instead.  Don’t tell the hygienist.  There is this great line by comic Steven Wright that I always think of when it’s time again for a dental torture visit.  He says, in that totally deadpan voice of his, “My dental hygienist is cute.  Every time I visit, I eat a whole package of Oreo cookies while waiting in the lobby.  Sometimes she has to cancel the rest of the afternoon’s appointments.”  I’m kind of in the mood to follow his advice.

Which brings me to the rant.

I finished reading Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand by Samuel Delany last night in the bath—and nearly threw it across the room when I realized it’s only the first half of the story, it ends on a cliffhanger, and it will probably never be finished.

WHY, WHY YOU DO THIS TO ME.  An amazing, brilliant, complicated, weird, eye-popping, thought-provoking, hard to read at times, gorgeous, BOOK.

But it’s ONLY THE FIRST HALF!

GAHHHHHHHH.  I suppose I’ll have to go get a goddamn copy of Review of Fucking Contemporary Fiction 1996 to read the goddamn mystery chapter of the unpublished sequel (that’s the only place it appeared, from what I can glean in my googling), even though it sounds like reading it will probably only piss me off more because it doesn’t really answer any questions. Or so they say.  SCREW YOU MR. DELANY for making me CARE SO MUCH ABOUT YOUR GODDAMN CHARACTERS AND WORLD and then hurting them so awfully at the end of Stars, only to ABANDON them to live out their miserable lives in your head, where I can’t see them.

Big MEANY.  Stingy!  Cruel and unusual punishment to readers, that’s what this is!

[panting]

And here’s the weirdest thing.  Even so, I still wholeheartedly recommend Stars in my Pocket as one of the best Sci-fi books I have ever read.

The book basically takes a can-opener to your brain, with its ideas and images about aliens and culture and identity and so much moreand then leaves your skull-lid all hanging open, ragged and jagged, to tear at the edges of your pitiful life, oh the suffering of a cliff hanger.  Oh oh oh.

Seriously, it’s really that good.  Even with only being half the damn story.

Jo Walton, a terrific writer herself, has this to say and I completely agree: “Samuel Delany is intimidatingly brilliant, and Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand is (arguably) his best book. Even though he’s been one of my favourite writers since I was a teenager, and I’ve read all his books multiple times, I try not to re-read him when I’m writing because he sets such a high standard I feel that I might as well give up now.”  (The rest of her review is here.  It is excellent and gives a good sense of some of the more amazing content of the book.)

Yes.  That.  Imma go lie down and whimper for all the “writing” I have ever attempted.  I am ashamed.

MAN I just…I’m so…UNRESOLVED.  I have CLOSURE ISSUES.  I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS TO RAT AND MARK.

Sob.

Sometimes we don’t get what we want.  Just look at poor Mark Dyeth.

Oh god—was this the point?  To leave the READER (me!) hanging like this, unfulfilled, in just the way that Mark is left hanging?  So that I can feel the same (or at least an echo) of his misery?

TOO CRUEL, MR. DELANY.  TOO CRUEL.

(See my actual review of Delany’s Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders and my musings on his Dhalgren.)

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