Archive for February, 2007

Ancient Light, culture and memory

Last May at Wiscon, Sylvia Kelso talked about Golden Witchbreed (1984) and its sequel, Ancient Light, during the Uncomfortable Politics panel, and I knew while she was talking that I would love these books and that they’d upset me. Golden Witchbreed totally blew my mind! Why don’t people talk about it more? Sylvia warned us that it sets up a hero, Lynne Christie, and then in the 2nd book destroys her, or does something heart-rendingly disturbing with her character, which sounded like … like she became corrupt, or broken by circumstances — not like she gets victimized in some simple way, but that instead she disappoints the reader… or shows something disappointing about our own characters. I’m at the very beginning of Ancient Light, feeling upset and doomed already, and can see many complicated ways this could go. The story has an unreliable narrator & many other things I love – including the thing I’m always going on about, memory and eating-memories and being a holder of memory, the thing that Bujold tries to explore in Hallowed Hunt & that Wolfe does the opposite way with his Autarch & that Herbert does in Dune.

(I talked about this memory-eating more in the article on age and gender Q. and I wrote for the women in sf book, but at the moment I want to go to bed and anyway I can’t remember all of my examples from the article.) The memory-eater and their fate, & purpose, are a placeholder for what the author’s trying to say about culture and history and the position we should take in relation to it. One position – what i think of as the patriarchal one – suggests that by consuming history and knowledge we become God; cultural elitism; other people’s memories are consumed and internalized, eaten. The other might possibly be a sort of cultural revolution position and focuses on process rather than a cult of old culture. Bujold’s ghosts and memories must be set free. I had other examples from (mostly) women writers and should look back at my notes to see what they were. Anyway, I think Mary Gentle’s book is going to add some interesting data points to this collection of ideas on SF and memory.

In the meantime I am feeling very emotionally shaky about what’s about to happen in this book to Lynne Christie who was an excellent and complicated heroine. I feel all trembly inside, and expectant, and maybe intellectually or morally (?) scared and aware of my own complications & contradictions, like I did while reading Illicit Passage and the Tiptree bio.

I’m sure other people noticed the river Ai, obvious homage to Le Guin’s Envoy in a book about a diplomat & first contact. The book is (or both books, I think, are) a wonderful complicated weird counterpoint to Left Hand of Darkness, when you consider it that way instead of obsessing on kemmer as so many people do.

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In class today

I rambled a bit ineffectually about revision. Exercises. No time to trade papers and try to critique or workshop. Process exercise review of topics. I felt like I lectured boringly today and was a little mean about “look it up in the book!”. But on the other hand, they almost all raised their hands and said they felt confident they could write this paper.

I haven’t thought of paper #3 yet. I suppose a compare and contrast. Then we launch straight into the research paper, which I haven’t the faintest clue how to teach. I’ll swipe a lot from JM’s material. We’ll do “argumentation” in the computer lab. Arguing on the net disinhibits people…well, some people.

I thought of switching my realname blog over to a new name – I could use “integry” since I like the idea and no one else has it – while “composite” is used everywhere and I couldn’t get any good domains for it.

My goal tonight is to be in bed reading and ready to sleep by 10:30. All my bright sparky ideas, drained and sapped. I could be organizing papers and going through school stuff, instead of trying to force myself to blog something intelligent.

The class is still lovely but I think too exhausting and I’ll be glad when it’s done. I won’t miss the brutal commute.

Hurty all over

The rain sucks. I was fine – fine!!! this morning. Now I’m a cranky exhausted old lady with arthritic claw-fingers. Ouch, and damn, and fuck. I’m going to take a hot bath and sleep. All the morning’s beautiful ideas are jotted down for later, if I manage to nap and get warm and revive.

Hurts to open the fridge, hurts to hold a pen or a fork, hurts to pick up my mug of hot milk. Ow ow ow. I’m really happy someone else took out the recycling and garbage. It hurts to hold the steering wheel of my car. Rook is doing the dishes now, which is awesome. If you ever get this problem, remember that plastic plates and cups are extremely helpful because they don’t jab into your knuckles while you wash them, and they’re not so heavy.

If I whine a bit here, then it’s easier to be cheerful in daily life no matter what I’m feeling physically.

The thing to do is to schedule in the bits of rest and to be super active in between.

Fucking rainy season is almost over!!!!! Be over! I hate winter! Thank god for no more snow in my life… ever.

Moomin and I hung out in the library all afternoon reading comic books. I read a very strange little book by… Justin Crane? About a boy and his cat Jack going up a spiralling stairway and making friends with a cloud. We met Moomin’s old friend from Montressori school, Spam, who talked my ear off a mile a minute, just like when he was 18 months old and introduced himself to me in the park.

Tomorrow night should be funny – the class on starting a blog – who will come? And how will I teach a computer class without a demo screen hookup thingie? They had one months ago but now everything’s almost-renovated, but not quite renovated enough, and there’s no projector.

Not quite an Oscar gown, but definitely slutty

I set out to construct an Outfit. Somehow… I feel I’ve missed the boat on the whole “Oscars” and “ballgown” aspect of the outfit as I digressed further and further into “slutty”.

See you later today over at this goofy Oscars blogging party group blog!

News from the family

Rook’s dad called and said he has prostate cancer, early, biopsied and confirmed to be in multiple places so they don’t think operating is good for some reason. He has to get hormones, radiation, or chemo or some combination. I’m kind of stunned and unable to deal with this thought. He is so healthy in a kind of determined-to-be way. I’ve seen things hit him and how bravely he deals. (Teeth things, back problems that were super scary that he bounced back from.) – prognosis good explanation of Gleason system
a non profit foundation looks like a good source
medline compliation of reputable links

more to follow…
ask- gleason score, psa level (prostate specific antigen in blood test), stage #

Physical panic and assessment

I’ve been hitting the wall of my physical limitations in the last week or so. The usual winter joint achiness slammed me hard. My knee is increasingly fucked up. Around 7pm pain floors me and I’m getting incoherent. I’ve been taking a bunch of Advil to cope with this, and that started up my stomach ulcer problems again. So last night at Squid‘s house after forgetting to eat all day I snarfed a bunch of pizza and was suddenly in horrendous pain. Plus, PMS. Then instead of being supportive for her I was in tears with my head on Debbie’s shoulder and then vaguely and indirectly begging Rook to drive me home, stat. Huh… Whoops!

“Take care of yourself.” I need to listen to that. Also, it was good advice, “Go to sleep. You hurt. You’re pms-ing. Now is not the time to assess your performance at your job, at parenting, at relationships and friendships.” Very good advice!

This weekend I am looking at 2 solid days of work, ended by a fun blogging party for the Oscars at A.’s house.

– handout for library blogging class, meant to be done by now; it isn’t (done!)
– go to library to try out computer space, runthrough of handout
– fix up event pages & invites for wiki wednesday (done!)
– wikichix meetup next week? pre wiki-wed (done!)
– work blogging, i have a lot built up that I need to say
– workflow organization, email folder setup, feeds (sunday)
– email Odin about our panel (done, and wiki setup too)
– seriously think about and deal with the overblogulation and cut back and find replacements for me in various areas, or delegate
– talk with jory and sj about Identity track & set up a wiki
– other stuff, i’d like to answer that dude Eric (gah!!!) and reorg the speaker wiki

I need to think about putting down time into today and tomorrow morning. Maybe scheduling naps. More coffee + advil + a drink later to unwind = stomach ulcers = hurty Badger.

Also, I thought maybe treating cooking as relaxation, or at least non-intellectual labor which gives my brain breathing space, and making some real comfort food tonight (that would be spaghetti & meatballs, somewhat labor intensive, but super worth it.) Maybe Rook will shop for it and help me cook.

Did teaching eat my blogging?

Iris complains that teaching has eaten up my blogging and jealously she says that now I am thinking only of these (boring to her) students and not properly entertaining her with the emo-drama of my life and my thoughts on books or whatever else makes my blog interesting.

It’s not the teaching, it’s the full time job on top of teaching. My information feeds are in a huge upheaval and instead of paying attention to quite a lot of the blogosphere, now I’m out of touch with that a bit, and reading madly about wikis, agile development, and huge wads of internal documents for this company so I can understand what people are talking about and what’s going on. So I’m in assimilation mode sucking in massive quantities of new data and also now work with about 30 people & most of them remote so my online-ness is tangled up with them quite a lot at the moment. There are a lot of blogging nicknames to make up and decisions about what kinds of things to say pseudonymously and not (as I am blogging on their site informally and will be doing so in a more formal register as well).

This has made me DESPERATE to go to bad ass mamas coffee and feel like my normal self again and a bit anchored in reality.

I have two… no, three…. rounds of bits of writing, batches of poems and junk, that are out with editors and that need constant updating and emailing and tending and that are not quite set in stone yet.

I have to prep for my blogging class.

The other jillion percent of my brain has been mooning around or spending endless hours on chat with the extremely charming and charismatic attention-flypapery Xyzzy being insane and giggly, exchanging compliments exactly like the Gentleman and the Lady in “The Masses are Asses” by Pietri, or else me talking about work and xyzzy being helpful and cheerleadery, or as i said, mooning around and whining about wanting to see each other soon; or bits of our life story illustrated amusingly with blog posts and flickr pictures; the exchanging of sappy music; or mutual totally retarded watching of things on youtube; in other words courtship. So that now I know that we talk every day either on chat or email or phone or all of that. It’s funny to realize that’s happening and look at my expectations and think “uh-oh…” or more accurately, “oh fuck!” And as it’s embarrassing really to talk about that on blog for several reasons….there might be a bit of extra silence.

Where did this reticence come from! I think from the 2 years of Caraja being increasingly unnerved that I would blog too much about either her or her other partner. For example me and Caraja hung out writing in That Cafe on Sunday and then went to dinner and had the nicest talk about Life and Career and money and plans and our prospects as sort of downwardly mobile class status people, scaling our expectations away from our parents’ boomer generation expectations. I pointed out that in their minds there is upwardly mobile to upper-middle-classdom, OR there is “homeless junkie on the street” and they do not really have any realistic picture of what life might be like in between. With the priorities being health insurance and some savings cushion for emergencies – and IRA of some kind, which we both have (her way more than me) not necessarily house-ownership & etc. And about ambition and fame and writing and etc. And i think I can say that in generalities without violating her privacy. We were able to talk about it in a much calmer way than usual and I felt upbeat and able to be really supportive and maybe helpful. I felt close and affectionate with her and lately (since we fought a few weeks ago) feel confident in our friendship. I mean, I’m still very distracted by her incredible creamy thighs, but I can handle that right? The things that are painful about our breakup still pop up but they feel weirdly encapsulated and I have some perspective now.

Also the reticence comes from my own increased visibility. Sometimes it feels here like I’m talking to my best friends, and I know I am. Sometimes it’s like nobody is really listening. And then sometimes I know I’m overblogging by many people’s standards and those people will not follow though they might check in once in a while to see what I’m up to, and that’s cool too. But then other times a total stranger I meet personally or professionally will confess addiction to my underwear and mustaches and feminist rantings and deepest insecurities. Well! I have to keep trusting that’s okay! I just went and looked at stats, and this braindump of a blog is still at around 3000 pageviews a week. Not counting feeds. Who are all those people? Do I still entertain them?

It doesn’t matter, because I need to do the braindump to feel like myself & solidly in the world.

Meanwhile, my other blogs suffer. I was entertaining on Metblogs a bit lately about riding Caltrain… and blogged a little bit elsewhere…. I’m thinking of feeding all the other blog post titles into a sidebar thingie on this blog.

Sunday I’ll be at actualhuman’s Oscar blogging party; canapes and slutty ball gowns and blogging! So that will be a totally insane silly blast and you’ll be entertained by my complete ignorance of movies and movie stars & celebrities. Actualhuman was appalled that I had no idea who Nicole Kidman was. This happens, and movies are named off, and even if I’ve seen the movie or a preview for it which I usually haven’t, I don’t know what the actors’ names are. It’s like a weird miracle that I know who Marky Mark is, and I’m rooting for him of course.

What is a canape, really?

Aching toes, good teaching day

Teaching was fun today. I handed back papers & was a bit nervous about that. What if the people who made a D+ were terribly upset? It seemed okay though and I am sure they can do better with more attention and effort…

We broke into groups & I went around and talked to everyone – for the “process writing” brainstorm. I think it went well.

My virtue of improvisation is also a flaw. Flexibility, but uncertainty.

Next week, more process writing and then a summary day to look back at what we’ve done and what we know. The week after that, I’m hoping for computer lab time to do blogging (we’ll sign on and make accounts, do a one-sentence test post, and then a writing exercise online, posted, & then another exercise to comment on other people’s posts.) I’ll go to sxswi then for a week – And March 14 class starts up again with the unit on research & argumentation.

A lot of physical pain today. I had a long nap in the afternoon. The winter is definitely getting to me and my joints aren’t happy. My whole left leg, foot, hip, etc were fucked up today. My knee is swollen and starting to make grinding noises. I need to get on celebrex as quick as possible. Allergies are bad too.

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Overload on brain

I still need to think about my class tomorrow and what to say. AAAAAaaaaaa!

My knee hurts a lot today for no reason or cause I can think of, and I was limping all day, which I find embarrassing. I need to take advil for a few days, but that could hurt my stomach! Toes, fingers, hurty but more or less okay. The knee, though. It scares me – it’s unnerving. (And it hurts.) Oh well at least if it utterly fucks up, I know what to do and I’ve got the crutches handy. I don’t want to spoil my record (of no crutches since late 2001 or early 2002)

Grading papers for a bit & then the hot tub where I’ll boil myself to bonelessness.

I got myself this universe thingie in glass and can’t wait for it to come in the mail. That’s kind of a story in itself but I won’t tell it right now.

The other thing I’m looking for – a nice but plain woman-symbol charm for my earring, to replace the one I lost in the Ballerina Pie Fight. I stuck the Hello Kitty charm from Moomin’s old boots on my earring a couple of months ago, but that doesn’t really do it for me!

Adoring fandom

Twisty explains it! Scathing review of hideous “marriage manual”.

It has always been incumbent on the wife-mother to engage in a perpetual process of “improving” her marriage and family life. This process requires her to embrace bullshit ideologies and buy crap in the service of male culture. It did so in the 50s and it does today. The only difference is that the 21st century housewife is additionally obliged to emulate pornographic ideals and feel empowered by her unpaid job as babysitter/housekeeper/whore. She’s June Cleaver with a Brazilian wax.


I am very happy with the term “megatheocorporatocratic wife-mother” which belongs right up there with “prison industrial complex” in the pantheon of cool terminology.

The Great Blowjob Wars from last year continue and have reached new heights of analysis! Yes! Someone else sees the connections and calls it right out. Feminist blogs have sustained me and inspired me so much for the last few years. I’m just having a moment of appreciation here…. nothing to see… move right along…

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