Thursday, September 27, 2007

It has been a Seven of Wands week. Perhaps even a Seven of Wands month. I am holding firm, but I am so looking forward for a chance to catch my breath. Since early in September I have felt like I'm in a bobsled. It zips along the ice walls increasing in speed instead of slowing, and all I can do is grip the handles and hold on tightly.

That's the thing with a bobsled—that speed and dizzying lurch of motion is enthralling. It makes you spin and laugh out loud at first. It fills you with triumph and excitement, and you glow so brightly the cold can't touch you. Other twists and mad turns, you wish you could yell "STOP!" and get off. It's safer with your feet on the ground.

The thought of stopping crossed my mind yesterday—doubt, fear, uncertainty of where the precarious ice track might lead. If you've had an untrustworthy partner before, it makes you hesitate.

But it is a Seven of Wands week, and the Seven of Wands holds firm, stands tall, and keeps going.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Last night I met coyote

Last night I met coyote while walking home from The Grove.

Standing on the sidewalk, the absurdity of seeing him run across the pavement had silenced conversation, I watched as he turned down Oakwood and passed us. My body followed his movement, as my feet pursued what seemed impossible. Not a dog—no the ears and face are wrong. Not a fox—no, too large.

Coyote. Alone, as I usually am when walking, and traveling down the middle of Oakwood avenue.

Lights.

"Get out of the road," I say.

He stops and looks at me.

The lights grow closer.

"Get out of the middle of the road." I wave my hand, gesturing.

He continues to watch me.

"Go on." I keep shooing. "Get out of the road. There's a car coming."

He goes.

The car turns, its twin lamps vanish before it can get close enough to witness this moment of nature reclaiming Los Angeles.

When Katy and I reach the corner and cross Oakwood, coyote has gone, too.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

26

Twenty-six comes with less pomp and splendor than twenty-five, but the milestone remains marked by steps along the path I chose a year ago.

With news from ON SPEC that The Rainy Season will appear in the Fall 2007 issue, I have done one better of my first sale by having my first publication be in the same year, and relatively close together.

There's another birthday present that I am so excited to talk about, but refrain until the contract and legal matters have been finalized. Some of you know what I'm referring to, and that they made an official offer yesterday at a lunch meeting to which I said yes. I'm looking forward to sharing the details with you after there is a written agreement.

My friend KT is visiting from the UK, and today we're going to Little Tokyo.

Ok, next year... twenty-seven in Tokyo with the leaves changing color.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Thank you, Kyoto

Kyoto is narrow streets and tall buildings, a foreign city that could become a friend given more time. The station, a black marble behemoth, is the main island of familiarity. There are other islands—a large cluster of shrines and shops in the Kiyomizu-michi area that I have fond memories and funny stories from a sleep-deprived daytrip, for example. Vast and evolving as cities as cities are, Kyoto had changed a great deal in the four years between my visits.

We—Hel, Scott, and I—had a map. It was supposed to take us from the station to our hotel. Only the map was a series of lines and corresponding dots, with all of the information in helpful English. Kyoto is not Tokyo, and the carefree way we stumbled through our favorite city with the occasional stop for directions was challenged by a lack of people to ask.

Faith failing, as we had taken a different street than the one the map told us to, we were searching for any indication of where we were or how far off we were from the landmarks we had been provided. Great, I remember thinking, we're lost three blocks from the station in a city that none of us really know. Just before panic fully set in, an older woman turned and said to me, in the first truly bit of helpful English Kyoto offered, "Are you trying to find the temple?"

Our hotel was supposed to be near/in between Nishi-Honganji and Higashi-Honganji, the famous Buddhist temples.

As we explained that we were trying to find our hotel, then puzzled over our poor map together, the woman and her husband concluded where we were and where we needed to go.

"Come." She took my arm firmly, like I was her daughter or grandchild. "We will take you there."

We had only needed to keep walking another block or so and we would have found the cross-street as indicated by the provided landmarks (a camera store and "spaghetti" restaurant.) One more block of blind wandering, when we were ready to turn back.

There are many things that can be learned from this—trusting in the kindness of strangers, and understanding that internet maps provided by hotels in other countries may not be the most reliable come to mind.

More importantly that we don't always follow the map to get where we need to go. Sometimes, as the Dixie Chicks say, we take the long way around. We get lost, learn how to find our way, and even charge our minds about where we want to go.

While we're taking the long way, we often wonder if we'll ever reach the destination, and in focusing on that doubt and fear we fail to see how close we are. Instead of giving up, if we'd just trust and walk that one more block, we'd find what we were seeking.

Sometimes, just when you need it most, life will grab your arm firmly and say "I'll take you there."

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Let's have a gleefest!

Please excuse the simplicity of this post, as the management is too giddy to be eloquent.




The first issue of my contributor's subscription to ON SPEC came today, which felt like getting a paycheque all over again. What a beautiful cover and a lovely magazine.

Ready for the geekout?

My name is print on the back as part of the list of "great fiction" that will be appearing in upcoming issues, and if that isn't good enough... the other name that has been highlight is better known as Marie Brennan, author of Doppelganger and Warrior and Witch!

Friday, September 07, 2007

September has been whispering in my ear recently, and I am consumed by the familiar restlessness that so often signals a change is riding the wind like that first falling leaf, whose gentle descent silently announces the beginning of Autumn.

I think it would be magnificent to see the hills of Kyoto painted in reds and oranges, and discover a new seasonal palette to use for coloring my dreams.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Well said

I share this essay by Marie Brennan entitled "We All Use Language, But..." which talks about writing a novel, because you ought to read it.

Monday, September 03, 2007

In case you didn't hear

Blogging buddy and crafter of clever prose, Jamie Ford, got himself a book deal with a little help from his agent Kristin Nelson.

Jamie, like Rachel Vincent, is an author I stumbled across using the "recently updated" toolbar of blogger. Try it sometime, you never know who you'll run across.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

By Candlelight & Two Magic Words

Yesterday a peculiar thing happened: a minor problem with the transformer that delivers electricity to the house I'm sitting caused us to be without power from about 4:30 pm on Saturday to 12:00 pm on Sunday.

Everything was working fine, but when I returned with friends to start our movie night, we didn't have power. In a period of less than 3 hours, the world had ceased to function.

Intuition had warned me to charge my cellphone before I left the house—when I considered waiting until after I had returned. The issue is that it was Jewish Sabbath until sundown, which meant it would be up one of the non-Jewish members of the neighborhood to call in and find out what was going on. Only neither I nor the neighbors to our north had been home when it happened.

That was when the dependency on electricity really struck home. My friends and I had the brilliant (or so it seemed) notion to use the laptop (charged battery, ergo not needing power) to try and look up the number for the Department of Water and Power. Only, the modem that runs the wi-fi is electronic. No power means no phones and no internet.

Well, we thought, it should be back on after we go for dinner. It wasn't, and a neighbor had heard it would be another 2–5 hours until the problem was fixed.

Only four or five houses on our street were affected—the streetlamp directly in front of our yard was still functioning. So there my friends and I sat, out on the front porch because it was too hot to be in the house, lit by the flickering glow of two candles, as we watched the colors of the TV in house across the street flash in a sterile, preprogrammed dance.

Loss of electricity is the great equalizer, it cares not what your religion, ethnicity, age or gender. None of that matters in the dark. It's sound that indicates we aren't alone. Voices identify and locate those around us. Rods and cones can be rendered all but useless, but eardrums and vocal chords keep us linked to each other.

They used to do this a lot more often. Remember the days before text messaging, when you had to speak to someone and be spoken to if you wanted to communicate? How often now do we stop and realize the comfort found in the lost art of conversation?

This morning, when the power still hadn't returned, a friend of my uncles came by to help empty the perishables out of the fridge. This was accomplished by my calling my uncle—who went to NOLA this weekend—and him calling the friend, as the friend's number was trapped in the brains of the comatose house handsets.

When the friend arrived, we just kept what I would want to eat today and the dog food. Everything else was packed into egg crates, and taken to an empty flower cooler at his house. Then a 20 pound bag of ice was distributed among willing Tupperware reserve members, who had to be happy to take their tour of the fridge, after serving in a cupboard hot as Baghdad.

I washed the dishes by hand, glad for the smooth motion of cloth over plate, spoon or glass. Rinse. Set aside. Repeat. There was something meditative in the act of being made to use one's hands. The part of the brain that's worried about how hot it will get today, or how long before the power returns surrenders the wheel to the simple motions of cleaning.

Maybe that was why the repairs proceeded so quickly, or perhaps it was my gallant effort to save a cricket from drowning—it balances out the one accidentally sucked up into the vacuum yesterday.

Whatever made it happen, I know I have never been happier to hear the freezer fan beginning to spin.

A loss of electricity had robbed the house of sound. It silenced the neighbors, who are usually unable to cease providing auditory reminders of their existence. At 9:30 in the morning, it was still as 2:00 am.

Then came the low whirling buzz. Like magic, life returned to our home, and the knowledge that the two Dalmatians and I would survive the heat wave was cemented in my mind. Venturing outside, I returned the favor with two of the magic words my parents talk me when I was a child: thank you!

"You're welcome!" The DWP electrician called from atop the transformer pole in the yard behind our back fence.

"It must be back on," someone added, "the girl next door just yelled thank you."

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Thank you to Christina, Emory, and Rachel who didn't mind Chinese food and candlelight when they had been promised pizza and zombie movies.