greygirlbeast: (Bowie3)
A wild, wild wind* in Providence, the sky trying to blow down the world. The sun-buffeted clouds rushing by as if played fast forward. It makes me anxious, that much wind. That much wind battering the roofs.

In high school, I used to drive a particular English teacher to distraction by asking questions like, "If the plural of hoof is hooves, then why isn't rooves the plural of roof?" For a few months, she tried to pacify me with diachronic linguistics and etymology, but there came a point she'd had enough, and after that the only answer I ever got was "Because that's the way it is. If you're going to learn the English language, you must accept that a lot of it simply doesn't make sense. It's inconsistent. It's contradictory." Which felt like a victory.

These days, the meds do a pretty good job of keeping Monsieur Insomnia and the nightmares and dreamsickness at bay. But not this morning. It was five a.m. before I managed to get to sleep, and then...well...when I finally woke at a quarter past noon, to the roar of this wind, I wished I'd never fallen asleep.

Yesterday, I wrote the first four pages of Alabaster #4, the first eight manuscript pages, 1,480 words. Today I need to do at least another four pages. And there was a lot of other stuff. I should be posting additional upcoming appearances soon. It's beginning to look as if I'm going to spend more time in March and April out in the world schlepping my books than I am accustomed to doing. Pry me free of the house, and send me out into the snowless winter and the wind. See if I care.

Last night, after writing, I was so tired I had a half hour nap while Spooky made meatloaf, and then drifted about in a daze all night long. More asleep than awake. Though, in truth, I never felt awake yesterday, it just grew worse in the evening. I wasn't up to anything but lying in bed, so we watched seven episodes of Law and Order: Criminal Intent. Jeff Goldblum has shown up, and he's truly quite excellent. I'm not yet awake enough to be sure if the weariness is still with me, but the weather would have me think so.

Scoured,
Aunt Beast

* Presently (1:49 p.m.) 26mph gusting to 48mph.
greygirlbeast: (Narcissa)
Warm here in Providence today, warm and sunny. Even warmer in the house than out there.

There was some talk yesterday of heading down to Connecticut, either to Stonington for the old cemetery, or maybe to Mystic for...well, I'm not sure. Instead, I mostly passed the day reading Polly Adler's A House is Not a Home (1953), and doing other bits of research so I can begin writing "The Maltese Unicorn" as soon as possible. Oh, and a thank-you to Steven Lubold for sending me a copy of the Adler book.

Early in the evening, we drove over to College Hill, to the RISD Museum of Art, to see James Crump's Black White + Gray: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe (2007). After the film, we exited the museum onto Canal Street (we'd entered from Benefit Street). We bumped into an old friend of Spooky's, Dave James, and then spent a little while at the edge of the Providence River. The tide was out, and the river was low. There was no chill to the evening. A beautiful sunset was reflected in the city skyline, and I was sorry I'd not brought the camera. Back home, we had souvlaki and, later on, halvah. Late, we watched Matthew Robbins' Dragonslayer (1981). I'd not seen it since the original theatrical run, back when I was a junior in high school. But it's held up very well, and Vermithrax Pejorative remains my favorite cinematic dragon right up to the dragons of 2002's Reign of Fire. I got to sleep before three. It was a good, quiet evening.

Today, I need to get to an interview for Clarkesworld that I'm guilty of having put off almost forever. I also need to read through "A Redress for Andromeda" and make whatever changes I want made to it before an upcoming reprint. So, time to pet the platypus.
greygirlbeast: (Pagan1)
My head is in about fifteen different places just now, so...if this entry lacks focus, if it wanders and meanders and perplexes, you've been warned.

Last night, Poppy ([livejournal.com profile] docbrite) wrote (and I do hope he will not mind me quoting this):

Rhetorical question: Is it possible for a reasonably intelligent person to go through four years of American high school and come out the other side ignorant of what "cheerleaders" symbolize to ugly girls, or girls who aren't ugly but are so weird that they get treated as if they're ugly, or "girls" who aren't really girls at all, but knowing that would have made the mouthbreathers in their school even more determined to kill them? What I mean is, once you've gone through high school as one of the losers, do terms like "cheerleader" and "jock" and "popular" ever lose their loadedness? Do they ever lose their ability to jump out from behind a quarter-century's worth of real life and bite you in the ass with teeth you assumed they'd lost years ago?

I have a bad habit of answering rhetorical questions. Anyway, I can only speak for myself. The putrid hell of high school is twenty-seven years behind me now, and I'm still haunted by this bullshit. I still have nightmares about the "jocks" and "pretty girls." Makes no sense whatsoever, and I know that. Especially given that I've had the opportunity to see that a great many of the "popular kids" who tormented me went on to have much less fulfilling lives than I've had. Doesn't seem to matter. I can gloat all I want about who got the last laugh, but that doesn't change the fact that the wounds hardly seem to have scabbed over. Sorry, Poppy. I know you weren't looking for a reply. This just seemed awfully close to something that's been going round and round in my head lately, that I've been meaning to write about here.

I've always loathed competition, of any sort. And yet, until a few years ago, I'd gotten pretty good at the Me against You, Me vs. Them game. At jumping through hoops to try and achieve some desired goal. Applications. Tests. And so forth. But, the last decade or so, my ability to compete for anything has simply evaporated. I find it entirely too distasteful, and I hate the way it makes me feel, and the way it causes me to behave. And a lot of it goes back to high school, where the compete-to-succeed mentality was pounded into me. These days, I go out of my way to avoid competitive situations. Which is a fairly difficult thing to do when you're a freelance fiction writer. In the end, there are only so many slots available in a given year for the publication of short stories and novels. The resources are finite. And, indeed, as the economy has floundered and new technologies promise new forms of entertainment and distraction, the resources have become increasingly limited. It will always be me against everyone else who's trying to get published and win readers. And I hate it.

I've reached the point where I don't even want to see myself nominated for awards anymore. I just want to be left alone, to write my stories in peace. They are the only stories I know how to write. And I'm tired of being told how much better my work might sell if I could write like [fill in the blank]. I write like me, and, near as I can tell, that's how it's supposed to work. Only, I am on the outside. Probably on the outermost rim of the outside. Just like high school. And people seem a lot less interested in seeing the world from an outsider's point of view than they do viewing it from the safe, familiar territory of their own perspectives. Yes, there are exceptions, and yes I do have a decent number of readers, but I also know that if I were capable of this competition trick, capable of viewing this as a contest wherein I follow the rules and listen to the self-appointed coaches and referees, I'd have a shot at the chintzy gold sparkle of that goddamn loving cup of True Popularity and Success.

I no longer compete, not if I can possibly help it. This is what I have to offer, and I have to hope I can find enough people who want it that I can keep the bills paid. Because I don't compete. I don't fill out applications. I don't joust. I don't capture the flag. I'm not looking to be queen of the mountain. I do not lock horns. I sit at this keyboard, and, on good days, I write my stories, which are my stories. They are not designed for mass consumption, if only because they are not designed with any audience in mind, except, possibly me. I am the author of my own limitations, just as I am the author of my own triumphs.

---

The last two days are a blur. I feel like the writing of "As Red as Red" has become a losing battle (with myself). My deadline is tomorrow, and the story is probably three or four thousand words from an ending.

And here it is spring, and it feels not the least bit like spring. It's cold, and there are only a few buds on the trees. We did our Ostara ritual outside this year, in the woods, and I'd desperately hoped it would help shake me free of the morass that this awful winter has landed me in. No luck. It was cold, and the fire hardly seemed to help. I have learned that working skyclad in late March in Rhode Island is an entirely different thing from working skyclad in late March in Georgia. Can you say "perky nipples"? Never mind having to worry about deer ticks. I fear my magick is growing a little darker every year, only...I don't actually fear the drift. Maybe what scares me is that it doesn't scare me.

I have to go look for an ending to "As Red as Red," though I fear I'm still a bit puzzled by the middle. Herr Platypus is not happy with me this morning.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Ah, to wake in my own bed in my own room and to a day with no tornadoes and no slack-jawed, staring rednecks. Truly, 35% of what I find offensive about Alabamians (and Georgians and lots of others people) would be eliminated if only someone out there could teach the rednecks not to stare in slack-jawed, beady-eyed, unabashed contempt at those of whom they disapprove or simply cannot comprehend. This is not a stare of wonder, not the stare I might stare when first looking upon a new species of neoceratopsian or the latest batch of photos from Mars. This is an intensely hateful gaze meant to intimidate, a gaze that bespeaks a certain odd sense of entitlement, as though the slack-jawed, beady-eyed rednecks have paid someone for the right to stare. They have not paid me.

And the optical gnomes have not yet returned my lost glasses. Damn gnomes. Just call me Squinty J. Kiernan.

Someone, I can't recall who, asked last week if the reason for the trip to Alafrellingbama was too personal to talk about. At the time, I sort of felt it was and didn't answer. But now I will, but with a proviso. I do not make a habit of discussing my health problems here. It's just not something I feel comfortable doing. However, the reason I went to Alafrellingbama has a lot to do with why I have not made any sort of public appearance since Fiddler's Green (Minneapolis, November '04), so I have decided it is not out of place here. I likely will not mention this again, though.

Anyway, I have always had difficult feet. For my height, they are much too small, too short, with uncommonly high arches. My doctor says to blame my Japanese heritage (she says that sort of thing all the goddamn time). In the winter of '03-'04, I began to have peculiar sensations in both my feet, and soon thereafter severe shooting, stabbing pains radiating out from the balls of my feet along my big toe and my second toe. This went on through the summer of '04, and in October '04, the pain was replaced by numbness and tingling, swelling, then more pain, and so forth. By the winter of '04-'05, the condition worsened dramatically and for several months it was difficult to walk without a cane. Since then, my feet have been very, very gradually improving. But I have weeks that are so bad I want to just give up and buy a goddamn wheelchair. Always have I been a moderately to very active person, and I often prided myself on moving with a certian grace borne of years of dancing and rock climbing. However, this condition has made me clumsy and inactive. I have spent the last couple of years trying to treat it myself, with mixed results. My doctor believes, as do Spooky and I, that is tarsal tunnel syndrome, though I have so far declined the somewhat invasive (and expensive) tests that would determine if this is, indeed, the correct diagnosis. Very few people were told of this problem — my mom, my lit agent, Neil, Poppy, Sonya, Byron, Jim and "Hannah," Spooky's parents. That's about it. So, that is why I had to go to Birmingham, and why I have made no public appearances since 2004 (I have sometimes offered other excuses), and why I talk so often about taking walks (as the walks are part of my physical therapy, though more for the rest of my body than my feet). Now, having said all this, I would ask that readers please, please, please refrain from offering their own diagnoses and/or suggested treatments. Though I know you'd mean well, I would only find such things very annoying and ignore them. I am in more than capable hands, and slowly it would seem I am getting better.

I thought I'd post some photographs from Wednesday, tornado day. Late in the afternoon, I became fidgety, having been cooped up in my Mom's house all day waiting for twisters to descend upon us, and finally I talked Spooky into a drive through Leeds, the town where I spent most of my childhood. We drove by the high school (one of two I attended), but it had been evacuated because of the tornadic threat. I looked around, even opened a door and peered inside. There was that intensely eerie feeling of backwards time-travel I get when visiting places where I once spent so much of my life, but have not seen in many years. I was last at Leeds High School in May or June of 1980, I believe. So, this was really my first time back — discounting a couple of drive-bys — in twenty seven years! I was only sixteen the last time I set foot in that school. And yet it has changed in no way that I could discern, which only added to the eeriness. Had the place not been all but deserted, I might have summoned the courage to visit a couple of teachers, and wouldn't that have been surreal? Anyway, photos behind the cut, eleven of them, most by me. There's also an old cemetery I took Spooky to see, and a couple of our storage unit in Birmingham.

March 1-2 2007 )


I need to go catch up on my e-mail, but I do want to thank Pat Hawkes-Reed ([livejournal.com profile] girfan) for sending me the marvelous UK "Lesser Octopus" stamp (as well as the accompanying postcard set). I just got the package this ayem. I love getting mail from England. Also, I wanted to mention that Cemetery Dance Publications now appears, at long last, to be taking preorders for Thrillers 2, the anthology which includes two longish short stories by me — "The Daughter of the Four of Pentacles" and "Houses Under the Sea." Both these stories were written way back in the spring of 2003, and Sirenia Digest readers should note that the story Sonya ([livejournal.com profile] sovay) and I wrote together, "In the Praying Windows," is a sort of sequel to "Houses Under the Sea." "The Daughter of the Four of Pentacles" is a prequel to Daughter of Hounds. Unless I miss my guess, John Myroshnychenko's cover painting for Thrillers 2 is also an illustration from "Houses Under the Sea." Thanks to Robert Morrish for the heads-up. Finally, we still have a copy of The Five of Cups on eBay, and Spooky will be adding more items soon.

Postscript (3:28 p.m. CaST) — Byron just called to say that it wasn't optical gnomes. He stole my glasses. They will be listed on eBay, says he, as the "Magickal Write Like Caitlín Kiernan Spectacles." Only 80 bazillion dollahs. I think he also stole shampoo and toilet paper. So, the gnomes are off the hook. For now...

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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