scowl

Conversations I have with my cat – Part 7

Originally published at Fiction. You can comment here or there.

CAT: This door is closed!

ME: Honey, I’m trying to write.

CAT: This door is closed and I am on the other side of the door!

ME: Trying to write! That’s why I closed the door.

CAT: Door! Is! Closed!

ME: The whole reason I got an office was so I could close the door when I need to write!

CAT: Door!

30 Minutes later

CAT: The door continues to be closed despite my many protestations!

ME:

scowl

Conversations i have with my cat – Part 7

Originally published at Fiction. You can comment here or there.

CAT: This door is closed!

ME: Honey, I’m trying to write.

CAT: This door is closed and I am on the other side of the door!

ME: Trying to write! That’s why I closed the door.

CAT: Door! Is! Closed!

ME: The whole reason I got an office was so I could close the door when I need to write!

CAT: Door!

30 Minutes later

CAT: The door continues to be closed despite my many protestations!

ME:

scowl

Kidney Stone Update

Originally published at Fiction. You can comment here or there.

Oh yeah, that emergency room visit I mentioned…

So it went like this: my abdomen started aching, and then eventually so did my *ahem* balls. Elina was on me to make a doctor’s appointment, but I got a little dude about it and decided to wait it out. After a week (*ahem* or so) of duding, it wasn’t going away. In fact, it was getting worse. So, to get Elina off my back I said I’d make a doctor’s appointment on Monday.

We needed some stuff for the new house, (OMG, did I mention we bought a house??!?) so I drove out to Ikea for a cliche Ikea-New-House pilgrimage.

I was only there for a bit before I realized my abdomen (and balls) really hurt.

Still floating in a haze of dudeliness, I promised myself that I’d go to an Urgent Care, but I had this cart full of house crap, and I couldn’t just abandon it, right? In the checkout line I started looking up the closest Urgent Care.

But, you know, I realized I was hungry, so I thought I’d grab some food while I looked. One lovely veggie-burger later, I realized that I had possibly made a misstep by waiting this long. By the time I finished eating, things REALLY hurt.

I texted Elina and drove to an Urgent Care. While talking to to nurse at the desk, I nearly passed out from the pain and had to go into the bathroom to throw up. They sent me to the real Emergency Room.

Sometime later, with an IV in my arm, a variety of drugs in my system, and with an ultrasound of my belly, they informed me that all the pain was me passing a stone in my right kidney. Fortunately it seemed to be gone now.

Less fortunately, they discovered another stone in my left kidney.

An ultrasound, X-ray, and CT scan later, they confirmed a 1cm by 1cm by 2cm kidney stone (shaped like a bullet!) and two smaller fragments in my left kidney.

The stone is too large to do Shockwave lithotripsy (sitting in a pool and breaking that shit up with ultrasonic sound!), which unfortunately leaves Ureteroscopy and Laser Lithotripsy (going through the urinary tract ( ! D: ! ) with a tube and exploding the stone,) or Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (making an incision through my back into my kidney and inserting a small tube/vacuum to break up the stones and suck up most of the pieces.) Whew.

After speaking with a surgeon, we’ve decided to go with the through-the-back option, (the stone is so large that the urinary tract option has the added danger of leaving tons stone debris along my tract, which would need a second and possibly third procedure.)

I’ll be having surgery February 9th. They’ll put me under. I’ll have to spend at least one, possibly two nights in the hospital and will have a week of painful bed recovery at home. There’ll be a stent from my bladder to my kidney. Three weeks after the surgery I’ll have to go back in and have it removed (by way of a method so horrifying that I can’t get myself to write it down.)

If everything goes to plan, I should be in pretty good shape about 4 weeks after the surgery. Whew.

I’m kind of freaking out, but generally trying to get on with my life.

scowl

Kidney Stone Update

Originally published at Fiction. You can comment here or there.

Oh yeah, that emergency room visit I mentioned…

So it went like this: my abdomen started aching, and then eventually so did my *ahem* balls. Elina was on me to make a doctor’s appointment, but I got a little dude about it and decided to wait it out. After a week (*ahem* or so) of duding, it wasn’t going away. In fact, it was getting worse. So, to get Elina off my back I said I’d make a doctor’s appointment on Monday.

We needed some stuff for the new house, (OMG, did I mention we bought a house??!?) so I drove out to Ikea for a cliche Ikea-New-House pilgrimage.

I was only there for a bit before I realized my abdomen (and balls) really hurt.

Still floating in a haze of dudeliness, I promised myself that I’d go to an Urgent Care, but I had this cart full of house crap, and I couldn’t just abandon it, right? In the checkout line I started looking up the closest Urgent Care.

But, you know, I realized I was hungry, so I thought I’d grab some food while I looked. One lovely veggie-burger later, I realized that I had possibly made a misstep by waiting this long. By the time I finished eating, things REALLY hurt.

I texted Elina and drove to an Urgent Care. While talking to to nurse at the desk, I nearly passed out from the pain and had to go into the bathroom to throw up. They sent me to the real Emergency Room.

Sometime later, with an IV in my arm, a variety of drugs in my system, and with an ultrasound of my belly, they informed me that all the pain was me passing a stone in my right kidney. Fortunately it seemed to be gone now.

Less fortunately, they discovered another stone in my left kidney.

An ultrasound, X-ray, and CT scan later, they confirmed a 1cm by 1cm by 2cm kidney stone and two smaller fragments in my left kidney.

The stone is too large to do Shockwave lithotripsy (sitting in a pool and breaking that shit up with ultrasonic sound!), which unfortunately leaves Ureteroscopy and Laser Lithotripsy (going through the urinary tract ( ! D: ! ) with a tube and exploding the stone,) or Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (making an incision through my back into my kidney and inserting a small tube/vacuum to break up the stones and suck up most of the pieces.) Whew.

After speaking with a surgeon, we’ve decided to go with the through-the-back option, (the stone is so large that the urinary tract option has the added danger of leaving tons stone debris along my tract, which would need a second and possibly third procedure.)

So, what this means is I’ll be having surgery February 9th. They’ll put me under. I’ll have to spend at least one, possibly two nights in the hospital and will have a week of painful bed recovery at home. There’ll be a stent from my bladder to my kidney. Three weeks after the surgery I’ll have to go back in and have it removed (by way of a method so horrifying that I can’t get myself to write it down.)

If everything goes to plan, I should be in pretty good shape about 4 weeks after the surgery. Whew.

I’m kind of freaking out, but generally trying to get on with my life.

scowl

Kidney Stone Update

Originally published at Fiction. You can comment here or there.

Oh yeah, that emergency room visit I mentioned…

So it went like this: my abdomen started aching, and then eventually so did my *ahem* balls. Elina was on me to make a doctor’s appointment, but I got a little dude about it and decided to wait it out. After a week (*ahem* or so) of duding, it wasn’t going away. In fact, it was getting worse. So, to get Elina off my back I said I’d make a doctor’s appointment on Monday.

We needed some stuff for the new house, (OMG, did I mention we bought a house??!?) so I drove out to Ikea for a cliche Ikea-New-House pilgrimage.

I wa only there for a bit before I realized my abdomen (and balls) really hurt.

Still floating in a haze of dudeliness, I promised myself that I’d go to an Urgent Care, but I had this cart full of house crap, and I couldn’t just abandon it, right? I finished shopping and started to look up the closest Urgent Care. I realized I was starving, so I thought I’d grab some food while I look. By the time I finished eating, things REALLY hurt.

I texted Elina and drove to an Urgent Care. While talking to to nurse at the desk, I nearly passed out from the pain and had to go into the bathroom to throw up. They sent me to the real Emergency Room.

Sometime later, with an IV in my arm, a variety of drugs in my system, and with an ultrasound of my belly, they informed me that all the pain was me passing a stone in my right kidney. Fortunately it seemed to be gone now.

Less fortunately, they discovered another stone in my left kidney.

An ultrasound, X-ray, and CT scan later, they confirmed a 1cm by 1cm by 2cm kidney stone and two smaller fragments in my left kidney.

The stone is too large to do Shockwave lithotripsy (sitting in a pool and breaking that shit up with ultrasonic sound!), which unfortunately leaves Ureteroscopy and Laser Lithotripsy (going through the urinary tract ( ! D: ! ) with a tube and exploding the stone,) or Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (making an incision through my back into my kidney and inserting a small tube/vacuum to break up the stones and suck up most of the pieces.) Whew.

After speaking with a surgeon, we’ve decided to go with the through-the-back option, (the stone is so large that the urinary tract option has the added danger of leaving tons stone debris along my tract, which would need a second and possibly third procedure.)

So, what this means is I’ll be having surgery February 9th. They’ll put me under. I’ll have to spend at least one, possibly two nights in the hospital and will have a week of painful bed recovery at home. There’ll be a stent from my bladder to my kidney. Three weeks after the surgery I’ll have to go back in and have it removed (by way of a method so horrifying that I can’t get myself to write it down.)

If everything goes to plan, I should be in pretty good shape about 4 weeks after the surgery. Whew.

I’m kind of freaking out, but generally trying to get on with my life.

scowl

Data and visulaization

Originally published at Fiction. You can comment here or there.

I’ve been messing with the D3.js data visualization library for day-job stuff. I realized early on that the potential for making amazing visualizations was pretty much unlimited.

I’m nearly positive that every time you see a cool chart on a TED talk, it’s probably been made in D3.

Anyway, another thing I’ve been thinking about is my old habit of trying to use the internet to keep myself honest. I sort of like (and fear) the idea of keeping a constant track of my writing progress, how I’m eating, exercise, basically everything that I should be doing to keep myself healthy, happy and keeping meaning in my life.

For a while I wondered if I should make a little box at the bottom of every post that tracked these things, maybe sort of like those old nerd code things people used to do in the 90s, but the more I think about it, I’d love to build a chart that tracked these things. Then I (and the entire internet) will know when I’m meeting my goals or not.

D3 is pretty complicated, but I’ve also been playing with Plotly. I may just try this…

scowl

A Year of Reading Women

Originally published at Fiction. You can comment here or there.

I ran into this reddit post the other day where folks suggested classic and awesome books by women. I pitched in a few friends of mine: Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Brenda Cooper, Monica Byrne, etc.

But the longer I thought about the list the more uncomfortable I felt.

I’m ashamed to note how few of the books I myself had read.

It’s important to me to read diversely, partially to develop my own writing, but frankly also just for my development as a person.

I know it’s not intentional, but it bugs me how much I unthinkingly default to male authors most of the time. So I copied the whole damn thing, cut out everything I’d already read, and made a giant list of my own. I’ve decided to only read women authors for the next year, and I’m tasking myself to read at least twelve books.

I started yesterday with N.K. Jemisin’s “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.” I’m not a huge fan of epic fantasy, but her world-building is astounding.

Next I’ll read Ann Leckie’s “Ancillary Justice” and then maybe Nnedi Okorafor’s “Who Fears Death?


Anyway, here’s the extended list. It’s by no means exhaustive. Feel free to add books in the comments.</p>
  1. Octavia Butler – Kindred
  2. Shirley Jackson – We Have Always Lived in the Castle
  3. Monica Byrne – The Girl in the Road
  4. Toni Morrison – Beloved
  5. Margaret Atwood – Oryx and Crake
  6. Karen Russell – Swamplandia!
  7. Virginia Woolf – A Room of One’s Own, Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, Orlando, The Waves and to the Lighthouse
  8. Willa Cather – O Pioneers!, My Antonia, The Professor’s House
  9. Joyce Carol Oates – Them, The Falls
  10. Charlotte Bronte – Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights
  11. Harper Lee – To Kill a Mockingbird
  12. Pat Cadigan – Tea From an Empty Cup, Mindplayers, Synners –
  13. Wilhelmina Baird – Crashcourse –
  14. Connie Willis – Doomsday Book, To Say Nothing of the Dog, Blackout, All Clear
  15. Lauren Beukes – Zoo City –
  16. A.S. Byatt – Possession
  17. Zora Neale Hurston – Their Eyes Were Watching God
  18. Alice Munro – Runaway (short story collection)
  19. Maya Angelou – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
  20. Carson McCullers – The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
  21. Flannery O’Connor – Good Country People, The Life You Save May be Your Own
  22. Amy Tan – The Joy Luck Club
  23. Alice Walker – The Temple of My Familiar, The Color Purple
  24. Miriam Toews – A Complicated Kindness
  25. Louisa May Alcott – Little Women
  26. Isabel Allende – The House of the Spirits
  27. Maria Luisa Bombal – The House of Fog
  28. Judy Blume – Forever…
  29. Daphne du Maurier – Rebecca
  30. Elizabeth Gaskell – North and South
  31. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings – The Yearling
  32. Florida. L.M. Montgomery – Anne of Green Gables
  33. Anais Nin – Three Little Birds, A Spy in the House of Love
  34. Annie Proulx – The Shipping News
  35. Louise Erdrich – Love Medicine
  36. Edith Wharton – The Age of Innocence, Ethan Frome, House of Mirth
  37. Kate Chopin – The Awakening
  38. George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) – Middlemarch
  39. Sylvia Plath – The Bell Jar
  40. Clarice Lispector – The Hour of the Star
  41. Penelope Lively – Moon Tiger
  42. Joanne Harris – Chocolat
  43. S.E. Hinton – The Outsiders
  44. Susanna Clark – Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
  45. Djuna Barnes – Nightwood
  46. Hilary Mantel – Wolf Hall
  47. Barbara Kingsolver – The Poisonwood Bible
  48. Marilynne Robinson – Housekeeping
  49. Isabel Allende – The House of the Spirits
  50. Donna Tartt – The Secret History
  51. Doris Lessing – The Grass is Singing, The Golden Notebook
  52. Agatha Christie – And Then There Were None
  53. Margaret Mitchell – Gone with the Wind
  54. Aung San Suu Kyi – Letters from Burma
  55. Anne Sexton – Transformations
  56. Joan Jacobs Brumberg – The Body Project
  57. NoViolet Bulawayo – We Need New Names
  58. Nell Freudenberger – The Newlyweds
  59. Jesmyn Ward – Salvage the Bones
  60. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Americanah
  61. Candice Millard – Destiny of the Republic
  62. Jennifer Egan – Look at Me
  63. Elizabeth Strout – Olive Kitteridge
  64. Cheryl Strayed – Wild
  65. Ruth Ozeki – A Tale for the Time Being
  66. Katherine Dunn – Geek Love
  67. Malorie Blackman – Noughts and Crosses
  68. Philippa Gregory – The Other Boleyn Girl
  69. Jacqueline Susann – Valley of the Dolls
  70. Lois McMaster Bujold – Shards of Honor, Falling Free
  71. N.K. Jemisin – The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms –
  72. Nnedi Okorafor – Who Fears Death –
  73. Ekaterina Sedia – The Alchemy of Stone, -
  74. Jo Walton – Tooth and Claw, Farthing
  75. Ann Leckie – Ancillary Justice –
  76. Joanna Russ – The Female Man –
  77. Leigh Brackett – The Long Tomorrow -
  78. Kate Wilhelm – Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang –
  79. Anna Seghers – Transit –
  80. Tricia Sullivan – Someone to Watch Over Me –
  81. Justina Robson – Silver Screen –
  82. Gwyneth Jones – Escape Plans –
scowl

Site changes, life changes!

Originally published at Fiction. You can comment here or there.

Hey all,

I’m painfully aware of how little I’ve blogged lately.

My writing life is stabilized: A bunch of new fiction in the final draft stages, I’ve been submitting (hey, new story coming out in the XIII anthology!), and I’m still chipping away at the latest novel.

But the thing that’s been itching at me from the top of my to-do list is this blog.

Actually, there’s a number of reasons why:

  1. I’m super busy: Between the day-job, the commute, the novel, short stories, music and having a life (not to mention other projects, see below) … whew!
  2. I’ve been wanting to update the design of the site again: After undoing the damage from the unprofessional idiot (please contact me if you’re a writer and looking for a new site, I can warn you off of who you shouldn’t hire), I didn’t have the time to really spiff up the site like I wanted. (Not to mention finishing the mobile version.)
  3. I’ve been thinking a lot about vlogging and how it relates to this blog.

Anyway, I’ve been doing a better job of breaking projects down into digestible chunks and scheduling them, so there should be changes filtering onto here soon(ish.)

One of my blogging goals is to touch the blog every weekday, including having some bookkeeping sections at the bottom (which you can feel free to ignore) which will track my daily writing, food, exercise and mood. I’m thinking it’ll be a good way to keep me honest around stuff that contributes to my long-term health and happiness.

scowl

RIP – Jay Lake

Originally published at Fiction. You can comment here or there.

Jay Lake
When I first met Jay Lake, I thought he was a pain in the ass.

He was angry and driven. For whatever reason, I wrote him off as loud, obnoxious, full of himself. Maybe those were parts of Jay, but I didn’t bother to see what else was there. Maybe I just felt threatened by someone so big.

Jay and I clashed on a number topics in our writing group. We were on the opposite side of a hugely contentious group split about our group’s age cut-off.

The final straw came when he wrote an influential rebuttal to what to me was a cartoonish strawman version of my arguments, ignoring my real points in favor of winning. Regardless, it worked. I dropped the whole thing, mostly because I felt fed up with the group. I dropped out for a few years. After that I told myself that my life would be better without Jay in it. I assumed he felt the same about me.

Around the time I rejoined, I was accepted into the Clarion writing workshop. I was unemployed and almost completely out of money. After a hard look at the costs and my dwindling finances, even after receiving a scholarship it was obvious I couldn’t afford to go. I was heartbroken.

As a final effort to pull together enough money, I sent a donation request to my friends, family and, of course, my writing group. My request had been out less than an hour when I got my first response.

Jay, quietly and without fanfare, paypaled me two hundred dollars. He just gave me the money.

When I thanked him, he said, “I never got to go to Clarion. It’d be a tragedy if you couldn’t go just because of money.”

I realized then that the guy who I’d written off as loud, obnoxious, and full of himself, was an intensely complex and thoughtful person. I’d been strawmanning Jay easily as much as I thought he had been me.

I brought the whole thing up years later, and Jay didn’t remember the fight or giving me money. Jay had moved on. It was probably the strongest and simplest lesson anyone has given me.

Who the hell cares who was right? What good does it do to carry our resentments and good deeds around like prizes? I wish I had thought to thank Jay for the lesson.

From reading his incredibly vulnerable online writings, I knew Jay was almost always fatigued, in nearly constant pain and deeply afraid, but the Jay I saw in person over the last few years was kind, open, thoughtful and curious.

The last time I saw Jay, we were presenting ostensibly different views on science, politics & religion on a panel. Jay has always been very clear on his beliefs and very good at articulating them. I was struck by how the Jay, who years ago might have savaged other people’s beliefs, now made a point of saying that just because he disagreed with someone didn’t mean he didn’t need to be fair in presenting their side. At the end of the panel Jay gave me a hug before moving on to his thousand other important obligations.

Jay was good people. I’m honored to have known him.

G

scowl

Drawing the “female form,” the sexist way!

Originally published at Fiction. You can comment here or there.

Apparently VectorTuts+ misses the good ole days of crappy sexist 50s art lessons.

This delightful little gem popped up on my RSS feed today.

I admit, I was irritated the second I read the title (Why is it always the “Female Form”? It seems we’re always invited to draw “Men” and “The Female Form,” cause we have to maintain objectification at all times.)

Lame title notwithstanding, I clicked the tutorial because my illustration skills are crap and I thought it’d have even a little information about the physiological differences between men and women. One of the first sentences warns us that:

“The most common mistake made by any student of art who wants to draw a female character is thinking about her as a male in high heels and long hair.”

Get it? Har har har.

Get it? Har har har.    (copyright: VectorTuts+)

He also philosophizes on our desires as artists:

“This is because, in most cases, we are surrounded by strong male characters and, regardless of the drawing style, the muscles arouse enormous interest in the artist. Everyone wants to learn how to draw those muscular arms and all those giant veins!”

Ooh la la, do we!

Ooh la la, do we!    (copyright: VectorTuts+)

I love how our author assumes everyone using it is male.

So, I thought he’d go on to give tips about center of gravity, muscle configuration, you know, anatomy, like you’d get in a figure illustration class.

*sigh* But no:

“…females have less muscle detail visible to our eyes, compared to males! Their curves are sweet and their expressions are smooth…”

The author starts with the same basic circle/cross-hair stuff everyone does, but it doesn’t take us long to get to:

“Female eyes have the characteristic of being very expressive, so we need to devote some effort to do something really appealing for our character:”

Dur!

Dur!    (copyright: VectorTuts+)

“All done—a female character with a good dose of sex appeal!”

Cause that’s all that matters. I love that the author transitions immediately from drawing a “female form” to “Pin-up style.” Because of course, what other reason would you have to draw the 50% of the world that doesn’t have huge, veiny muscles?

“Pin-up style eyes have two basic emotions: “surprise” and “sexy”.”

OH MAH GAWD!  - NyQuil is a powerful drug.

OH MAH GAWD! – NyQuil is a powerful drug.    (copyright: VectorTuts+)

“Note that I just added a slight smile in the second image in order to enhance the seductive look.”

Anyway, it goes on, and on:

“…features that can be used to reinforce the masculinity of a character should be reversed when it comes to a feminine figure”

“Let’s explore the process of making an “average” female body…”

Because average women enjoy tightlacing!

Because average women enjoy tightlacing!    (copyright: VectorTuts+)

But my favorite section is “Flexibility and Sex Appeal

It’s like the author has never seen a single internet critique of stupid comic-book poses.

Crack! Thumbs up for sexism!

Crack! Thumbs up for sexism!    (copyright: VectorTuts+)

“It’s as if your character is wiggling all the time!”

Way to be classy, VectorTuts.

This totally makes me want to pay your exorbitant monthly fee.