Giving and Receiving

Man, this Thanksgiving I pretty much spent every minute giving to others. It started Wednesday morning when my parents took me to give blood with them for someone in their congregation who has leukemia. The two of them have never given blood before, and I’m an old hand, so it was fun shepherding them through it. Mom was nearly disqualified because she travels outside the country so much. A local deli donated yummy bagels and lox, and IMO giving blood is really fun anyway, but man, did I have a bad reaction the next day, babbling and making very little sense. (Yeah, I know I babble, but I’m told that generally I do so very lucidly and insightfully. This time no one could figure out what the hell I was saying, least of all me.)

Then I did lots of housework and massages, made yummy omelettes for the common good, and then I spent the better part of THREE DAYS being beaten into submission by the following herculean tasks:

1. Get ten years-worth of my mother’s files condensed from three machines onto one, despite massive file incompatibilities.

2. Edit my mom’s manuscript before an urgent deadline. (Which was way cool, as I’ve never been good enough to spot errors in her stuff before, and she was agreeing with maybe 80% of what I suggested.)

3. Get the corrected manuscript from the laptop onto one of the older computers for printing, only to realize this renders it full of dingbats, run up and down stairs seventeen times trying to format the file type, and finally give up and redo the damn thing by hand, get on a bus, call when I get home, and do another hour of tech support so my mom can back the file up.

On the receiving end, however, I got lots of hugs and kisses, really yummy birthday cake from my aunt and uncle, and an MP3 player from my parents! Squee!

And it was great to see the family, and man, my mom makes a mean vegetarian Thanksgiving. Broiled salmon, roasted root vegetables, candied sweet potatoes, veggies, lentil soup, cranberry sauce, mmmm… Plus, for breakfast, homemade bagels with really good lox.

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Where the streets have no name

Yesterday we heard cheering and singing outside the office, and finally managed to peer out the windows (there’s a huge facade that blocks the view of the street, but allows a splendid view of a cathedral) to see a big rig truck below with a band performing on top of the truck bed as police cars guided it through traffic and fans and video cameras ran alongside. Turns out, U2 had a surprise concert yesterday, and that was them making the rounds of Manhattan! Very cool.

Anyhow, off to N’ton for Thanksgiving. And fun fact of the day, the Officer Obie mentioned in “Alice’s Restaurant” has one other claim to fame: he was the model for the cop used by Norman Rockwell in a number of his paintings. So “Alice’s Restaurant,” on another level, is what happened when the counterculture met Norman Rockwell.

Have a great Thanksgiving, all!

Alas, poor Gordon!

Eee! I got my first ‘Alas’ in four years! Now all I have to do is explain to my parents why I’m elated by a rejection letter.

For those of you who aren’t in the know, the editor in chief of F&SF always puts the word alas in his rejection letters. It got to the point where I couldn’t stand that word. Back when I was getting at least one rejection letter a day during my year off, I held a barbecue and torched 200 rejection letters, including all my alas letters from Gordon Van Gelder. I regretted it soon after, when Gordon stopped reading the slush pile and the lack of an alas meant his assistant editors thought a story wasn’t good enough to bother passing up the line. It got to the point where I sent a cover letter saying, “I’m enclosing my story, I hope you enjoy it. But if you don’t, could I have an alas? I’ve grown sentimental about them.” (No dice.) So for the first time in four years, I’m good enough, and suddenly alas is my favorite word.

On the way home tonight, I passed by a little Asian market and got onigiri for dinner. Onigiri is basically a maki roll the size of your fist, shaped like a hamentashen. I haven’t had it since college, and now I’m all sentimental for hundred-year-old eggs. Then I got home and my dad called and wanted company for dinner, so he came over and we went out to a diner for cod cakes and ice cream soda and we talked. I love my dad. I really, really do.

Blitzed

Yay! Huge thank you to mabfan, who dragged me along last night to a reception for SFWA. Got to catch up with two old Clarion classmates,tobiasbuckell and Dave Kirtley, who are both doing quite well for themselves, and also got to meet a bunch of editors, agents and other writers who are at various points in their careers, and get different perspectives about what’s out there.

It was a hectic weekend, too; I had a blast hanging out with my brother on Sunday (Go see The Incredibles! Now! Hysterically funny, and the movement of the characters was breathtakingly graceful.) but the really amazing thing this weekend was having soul food with my childhood best friend, who I really haven’t seen in thirteen years. It’s pretty wild; we haven’t seen each other for half our lives, but we’re both writers who play around with genre, and we’re both at pretty similar points in our lives, professionally and personally. It was wonderful to hear about everything she’s doing, the classes she’s teaching, the things she’s writing, and oh yeah, she has a book coming out! Very cool.

I have done jack so far for National Novel Writing Month. I really need to get my butt in gear.

Continuity

Got into a comics discussion earlier and started wondering why I got out of collecting them, when the ones I have (and I have a fairly decent collection) are so good. So I went over to crack_van, hoping to get some fanfic recommendations and an outline of where canon has taken things in the last four years, and was reminded of this gem: Sabretooth/Wolverine: They hate each other with the passion of a thousand fiery suns. Also, Sabretooth may have killed Logan’s wife (‘may have’, as in, we’re not sure if a) he killed her, b) she’s dead, c) she was really Logan’s wife, d) she ever actually existed).

And that was from the days when they had good writing and almost no crossovers.

*goes back to beating her head against the wall* Pain is good.

On the other hand, there’s some mindblowing stuff out there these days, just not much from the big houses. I just miss my childhood, when you didn’t have to wade through this shit to find the gems. You could pick up pretty much any Marvel comic, even one you didn’t normally read, and get lost in the storytelling and the simple but fluid art.

Promises, promises

I’ve decided to not write fanfic for a month and focus my energy on trying to write novels for a while. So far, the top contenders are a romance novel, a young adult thriller, and a supernatural police procedural; we’ll see which one wins out. The first two have the advantage of being shorter formats, meaning I have a chance in hell of finishing them in under a month, but the last one has the tempting possibility of a psychic in a leather biker jacket and silk boxers. Decisions, decisions…

I saw two amazing movies this weekend, Motorcycle Diaries and Hero. Motorcycle Diaries pissed me off because no one should be able to adapt nonfiction into drama that deftly. Grrr. Hero was freaking awesome, classic Hong Kong plot and moves with Hollywood production values to give it a little polish. And Jet Li was in top form, hitting emotional chords I haven’t seen since Once Upon a Time in China or Iron Monkey.

And on the way to the theater, we saw transvestites costumed as Hooters girls for Halloween. Teresa said, “Damn, they’ve got the legs for those shorts!”

On a vastly different subject, if this election turns out as crooked as the last one, I propose we celebrate Guy Fawkes Day by taking to the streets to depose George.