c is for cat

Rules for Anchorites

Letters from Proxima Thule

Fairyland 3 Tour Dates Announced!
c is for cat

Clear your October calendars, ladies and gents, boys and girls! Catherynne M. Valente may be blowing into your town, courtesy of the dashing Green Wind, on her wayward and curious tour for The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two! We’ve got readings, we’ve got signings, and we’ve even got an S.J. Tucker performance and a tea party.

(All events not redeemable at all locations, check your events accordingly, void where prohibited, avoid fairy food, and beware time-traveling moon-Yetis.)

Step right up for dates and locations:

A Trip to Fairyland with Catherynne Valente
10/01/2013 @ 7PM
Word, A Neighborhood Independent Bookstore
126 Franklin Street
Brooklyn, NY 11222

Linden Tree Books
10/02/2013 @ 7PM
265 State Street
Los Altos, CA 94022

Mrs. Dalloway’s at the Berkeley Public Library
10/03/2013 @ 7PM
Claremont Branch of the Berkeley Public Library
2940 Bevenue
Berkeley, CA 94705

Afternoon Tea Party & Conversation with CMV
10/06/2013 2PM
Wellesley Books
82 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02482

Once Upon a Time in Fantasy Lit… (Panel)
10/11/2013 @ 12:15PM
New York Comic Con
1A17 – Javits Center, NYC
(Con membership required to attend.)

NYCC Signing
10/11/2013 @ 1:30PM
New York Comic Con
Autographic Table 21
Javits Center, NYC
(Con membership required to attend.)

Books of Wonder
10/11/2013 @ 6PM
18 W. 18th Street
New York, NY 10011

Longfellow Books
10/17/2013 @ 7PM
1 Monument Square
Portland, ME 04101

Crow about which event you’ll be attending on Twitter using #Fairyland3, and spread the word to other fans!

Mirrored from cmv.com. Also appearing on @LJ and @DW. Read anywhere, comment anywhere.

Same Girl, Different Skin Part 2: There Is No Secret
c is for cat

Part 1

Last time on TL;DR Theater, I talked about all the junk that led up to August 2011 and beginning the long process of losing the equivalent of the luggage I checked on my trip to Australia from my frame. Well, I didn’t lose it. It’s not like I misplaced it and I’m looking behind the couch cushions for a vaguely Cat-shaped 90 pound dustbunny. It was far more often mysterious to me where I’d gotten all that to begin with than where it all went to once I was done with it or it was done with me. It did not, more’s the pity, get up and totter adorably off to the mothership like the Adipose on Doctor Who–an episode that always felt far more uncomfortable to me on account of the bafflingly unspoken fact that most everyone I knew would glad chug alien larvae if it meant being skinny than the using of humans as EZ-Bake Ovens. Losing weight was not an accident; it was deliberate and painstaking and difficult As a certain Wyvern would say: that’s not losing it, that’s leaving it.

These days I’m in that phase where a lot of people haven’t seen me in awhile or have only seen photos and thus aren’t used to my looking the way I do now. It is not yet the new normal. So I end up talking about it quite a bit. And the question I always get asked, in one form or another (but mostly this one) is: What’s your secret?

I always look apologetic. I know, being a veteran of Diets What Read Like Magic Spells, what they want to hear. That the pounds just fell off when I started doing X, where X is something solid and pointable-to, whether something reasonable and repeatable or something radical and so crazy it just might work: cutting out carbs or gluten or sugar or Fill in the Blank Celebrity Endorsed Meal Plan or running marathons or pilates or eating nothing but lilies plucked under the light of a crescent moon–but I could have as many as I wanted and I never felt deprived!

The thing is: there is no secret.

There’s not even One True Technique that I could point to and say: THAT. That is why this time it worked when I failed so miserably all the other times. Slap a barcode on it and start shipping nationwide. It was a lot of different things, some dietary, some behavioral, some psychological. Some came from me and some came from others. And it’s all very specific to me and might not work at all for anyone else–so before I start counting off the circus funbag of actionable items, allow me to repeat that I am not giving advice, I am not telling you what to do or claiming that any of what I did is the way, the truth, and the life. There is plenty of judgmental I Was Once Fat Like You evangelism online and I am allergic to the pulpit. If I’m trying to squeeze into my empathy hat, I might say it’s natural, I guess, to some extent, for people who have spent much of their lives as physical beings thinking they’re worthless and lazy, to come out on the other side of significant weight loss with the attitude that if they (a worthless, lazy person) can do it, anyone can, it’s not like it’s hard, because worthless, lazy people can’t accomplish hard things. Thus, anyone who doesn’t lose weight must just not care. Those people must not want to try. Those people must be so much more worthless and lazy, so much as to be utterly beneath contempt.

Yeah. The Empathy Hat doesn’t really fit that well after a decade and change of hearing this sort of thing online and off, only without the Empathy Hat or even a skinny, decorative Self-Awareness Scarf. Seriously, if people could stop bleating online about how simple it is and how all you need to do is care and put forth a little effort and chanting Calories In, Calories Out God Fat People Are Dumb I’m Totes Glad I’m Not One while toasting each other in comment sections like Victorian industrialists chortling in their clubs over how simply gauche one finds the poor, Cecil, why, I’m quite sure I read a highly scientifical study that discovered fat people’s brains are 80% cake, Ye Olde Lolle!

So I don’t have a secret to share. I have what worked for me. I am a beautiful and unique snowflake of bad habits and psychological ick and several chins. It took 18 months. I didn’t start out with all of these tools in my belt. I started out pretty blind, with only what extremely dubious lessons I’d learned from the diets of varying logic and patterns set down in my early twenties.

It shouldn’t surprise you, then, that the first bit of the tale is a screeching false start.

In August 2011, I decided that now, right now, I would really lose it this time I swear to every god with a tummy that fell over his or her loincloth. So I did what I usually do, which is to decide that since low-carb worked for me at age 21, it is the only thing that ever will. I started off trying the Harcombe Diet, which is an Australian thing that would have you do that standard low-carb foxtrot but also eat your weight in yogurt because intestinal flora. Honestly, if a diet didn’t have a name or proper noun in front of it I didn’t know what to do with it. I should have distrusted anything with fonts and color schemes that look like a middle-schoolers diary, in retrospect. I picked a goal weight, more or less out of thin air: 160 pounds. A little above what I weighed the last time I could bear to look at photos of myself. It honestly felt like a mythical number, it had little meaning other than the ritual of the thing. You declare a goal weight because that’s what you do. It was mostly just a thing to fail to achieve, in my head.

It’s important to note here that the other major change in my habits was that, after several conventions in a row wherein the traditional sojourn out for ice cream at a fancy shop made me double over in pain, a dim thought appeared in my thick skull that I might be lactose intolerant. Growing up Christian Scientist means that it takes longer, sometimes, for such connections to get made, because you grow up in an environment where no one admits to illness. I still remember explaining patiently to someone that it’s not that I’m allergic to lemongrass, it’s just that whenever I taste it or smell it I feel sick and my lips tingle and my throat gets tight. I just don’t like it, is all. Why are you laughing at me?

So anyway, I cut out dairy. Which was in itself a long process, figuring out just how intolerant and what I can and can’t have. Many people can still have yogurt, which is why a diet that was like 50% yogurt seemed like it would work. It actually turns out that the amount of dairy I can have is basically none, I’m not only intolerant but allergic, so Lactaid doesn’t help. I can slip in some hard/aged cheeses once in awhile, but that’s about it.

As those who have tried dieting may know, any change in your diet will have some effect, however minor. Ten pounds came off fairly easily and quickly. But when you’re as heavy as I was (250 pounds), ten pounds ain’t nothing but breakfast, you’d never notice it. I knew that the first ten are always easy, so I couldn’t really even consider myself making progress  until I’d lost more than that.

But I didn’t. I just couldn’t seem to lose any more than that. I was utterly miserable shoveling yogurt into my face (I don’t even like yogurt that much and I understand now that my whole body was waging a Return of the Living Dairy Product war on my guts and there could be no winners. And eating basically just meat and greens and veggies was doing its usual number on my mood, which is to say I basically slouched around the house like Buffy in her caveman episode. Meat bad. Cat pretty?

So I decided to change tacks and just start tracking calories with one of those new fangled iphone apps. I can’t remember which one I was using at first. I figured 1200 calories was a thing I had heard dieting people say (SCIENCE) so that was a good calorie limit. I punched in the numbers and gratefully started eating bread again.

And nothing happened. I still couldn’t lose any more than that first ten pounds. By this time it was getting into October and I was frustrated to tears. I was trying so hard. Somewhere in my head I thought I should be losing weight the way I had when I was taking those “herbal” supplements I got off a telephone pole advertisement: a pound or two every couple of days. But nothing, nothing and I had been so careful.

At this point I tweeted for advice and I’ll tell you right now, Tobias Buckell is the person who turned it around for me. (If you don’t read his books, you should.) He IM’d me and explained that his own medical issues meant he had to lose weight but couldn’t take the strain at exercise, so he’d become awesome at hacking diet. We talked for quite awhile and he explained that at my weight, 1200 calories was an insanely low number to be working with and probably wouldn’t be effective. My body would hold on to every last pound on account of the terrible famine of 2011. He told me to download an app called LoseIt! and let it calculate what I needed for me, and then just eat that. If I wanted a jelly donut in the morning, fine, just keep the whole day under that number. Don’t deprive myself, just record everything.

LoseIt! suggested a daily calorie intake of a little over 1600 calories.

Now that may seem like simple stuff, but to me a diet had always had to be something radical, hardcore, painful. If I wasn’t suffering, then I wasn’t serious about the process. I always put whatever self-worth I had left into how much I could deny myself, because that, in my head, was the measure of the likelihood of success. It was like some kind of fucked up idea of sympathetic magic. If I could punish myself enough, I’d get what I wanted.

Toby checked up on me every week for awhile. It was one of the kindest things anyone’s done for me, and I’ll be forever grateful. Armed with his advice (and I’m really shorthanding it here, he taught me a ton) I gave myself the following parameters:

Track everything: LoseIt! (though I would not now recommend this as an app–it didn’t evolve with the tech and I use MyNetDiary now, which is fantastic, and lets you track water and sleep and nutrients and a lot of other stuff as well) allows you to log all your food and exercise and will automatically add anything you burn to your daily allowance. I had to be honest, and I had to put everything into the system. And the fact of having a smartphone where it was so easy to input the information was a huge help–it’s not like I am ever without my phone, for I am a child of technology.

No dairy: And not yogurt either. Or cheese of any kind. I was aware that I could have hard cheese but given that I was still having reactions to all kinds of things it seemed better to just cut it out entirely. And funny thing, not having dairy cuts you out, automatically, of a whole lot of things: cheeseburgers, pizza, any dessert menu (seriously you can make a dessert without dairy I SWEAR), creamy sauces and soups.

No eating out: I decided that I’d stop eating out unless it was a business meal. All the effort and energy I put into wanting food and eating it, I’d put into preparing it. I grew vegetables in my garden and baked and cooked elaborate, high-committment meals. At home I can control what goes in, I can be sure it’s actual Plants and Animals That Used to Be Alive and not I Can’t Believe It’s Not Food industrial product. I would remember that part of the magic of food is in making it. I’d take delight in local everything and homemade awesomeness. If I was craving something bad for me, I had to make it myself, from scratch.  If I didn’t know how to cook it, I’d learn. I know very, very well that this is a little easier for me as I live on an island with two restaurants, neither of which are so amazing they represent much of a temptation, and going to one of the restaurants in town required a boat ride that provided plenty of time to consider whether I actually wanted that sandwich at Duckfat or not. (The name of that wonderful place should tell you exactly how doctor-approved it is.) It’s also easier because I work at home, I can take the time (and expense) to cook everything from scratch. It’s not a luxury everyone has. But there’s no point in having a luxury if you’re not even really using it. So I’d use the hell out of it. Which leads to–

Think hard about everything I eat: I decided that I would try to be as mindful as possible about what I was eating, a revelation that came from reading the Fat Nutritionist. Whatever I was eating, I’d ask myself whether that specific thing was what I wanted to be eating in that specific moment, or whether I was eating because I was sad or bored or it was the time of day when humans traditionally eat or because it was a social gathering so there’s food out and no one who grew up poor can ever turn down free food. I could have anything I wanted if I was absolutely positive that it was what I deeply, genuinely wanted in that moment. And if I stayed within my daily calorie count–which basically meant portion control. Eat whatever, but only some. I would apply all that love of food that was a profound part of my nature, all that conviction that treating food as fuel alone is just as disordered an attitude as overeating and a miserable way to go through life and I’d actually commit to that idea: I wouldn’t eat anything I didn’t really, really want to eat.

I would weigh myself every day: And here’s one that I’m wary about sharing. This is an absolutely terrible idea for a whole lot of people. You’re meant to weigh yourself once a week, every few days at max. And for people with disordered relationships to their weight, weighing yourself every day can be a quick road to breakdown town. I chose to do this knowing that it might even be a terrible idea for me. But I’d ignored the scale for so many years and it had left me totally unaware of my own body. I did it knowing it’s pretty bad for your brain. My reasoning was a little strange, but bear with me.

NOW IS THE TIME WHEN WE DISCOVER THINGS ABOUT CAT. I’m an obsessive counter. My particular brand of OCD manifests itself numerically, and it is a Conan of a beast. What is good in life? Knowing how many steps are in every staircase and counting my own breaths! Oddly enough, knitting has been an enormous balm for me. Knitting is counting and knots, after all, and holding my position in a pattern, rows, stitches, repeats, takes up the place in my head that used to instantly tally up the number of tiles on any given floor. But my obsession with numbers, while eased somewhat, never goes away. So I figured, Self, I figured, why not put your crazy to work for you? If you’re going to obsess about numbers anyway, let’s just give in to that and let it take over for awhile. Go ahead, weight yourself constantly and look at your calorie counting app a million times a day. It’ll either get less interesting or you’ll learn something from it, but trying to scrupulously avoid obsessing about numbers will only make your vampire brain double down. Go ahead, treat yourself. Count everything.

And that was what I started out with. Those rules and a friend who cared enough to check up on me on the regular.

And it worked. Not like a miracle. Not easily. Not even quickly. Through the entirety of the process I never managed to lose much more than more than five pounds a month. That ended up being terribly frustrating as my I’m Losing Weight! expectations were set during the era of buying speed at Wal-Mart so long as it was called Metabolife. I always felt like I should be doing more, faster, better. I’d see people post their Success Stories online and it would seem to have happened so fast for them. I couldn’t even escape the dread twin demons of Compare and Contrast when I was demonstrably making progress. Some Lady on the Internet lost 100 pounds in a year. If I can’t, I must be a failure like I always was. Lather, rinse, repeat, the brain is a wonderful place, isn’t it?

But I did break through the ten pound barrier that had plagued me. I started going to hot yoga regularly (though I’ll fess up, I did not stick with that nearly as much as I should have. The exercise portion of my diet and exercise plan often, often fell by the wayside and I am no kind of poster child for that side of the business). I wasn’t perfect. I had days where I broke down and ate way too much. But those days were almost exclusively at conventions or on the road, where it’s so much harder to control things. At home, it wasn’t a misery to stick with what I’d planned out. Much. It was somewhere around eight months that I realized I would very likely be able to get to 160 if I just didn’t stop what I was doing. It would happen, I just had to wait.

For the first several weeks, because I had been restricting my calories so much, it was almost freeing to have to fill 1600 a day. I was still hungry sometimes. I was never as good about drinking as much water as I needed to as I could have been. But it was possible. The first few months were a huge adjustment, both terms of my stomach growing accustomed to a new definition of full and in terms of my psychology, which still wanted to panic and boredom eat and take short breaks to hate myself.

And I had to realize a hard truth. I’d always kind of said to myself that I didn’t really eat more than other people, I just had a slow metabolism or something, or I’d gained weight way back when and hadn’t lost it but it wasn’t that I was eating a ton now. Having never done a diet where I had to record everything that fastidiously, I had never had the numbers in front of me. I’d never just counted up the calories.

And the truth is, I was eating a lot. (This was true for me. Not for everyone.) There wasn’t any way to ignore that if I was eating pretty close to my hunger/comfort limits at 1600 a day, I had not exactly been the frugal gourmet before. I learned a lot about just how many calories are in Things, which I had really never given much thought to. My diets had always been about eating a Particular Thing, not about the energy contained in That Thing. But it was plain as the app in front of my face–if bacon and egg and an english muffin was just under 400 calories, then the breakfast sandwich at the cafe plus a pastry was probably almost 800 calories I had started a whole lot of days with in the past. SOBERING SHIT, I TELL YOU WHAT.

And for awhile, that basically made me feel like a manatee whose flippers were self-delusion and whose blubber was the blubber of bad choices. I didn’t have anything to protect my psyche from guilt, not the idea that it had all been rogue birth control or that my body just didn’t do things right. My brain just went full bastard on me, convinced that now was an awesome time to embrace that I was clearly a pig and a glutton and what do you know, my outsides did match my inside.

And so when I backslid and cheated on my diet? I cheated with other diets.

I’d decide that it was time to go on juice fasts or other ill-concieved Proceed Directly to Hell Do Not Pass Go anguish rallies. And I’d fail because I was hungry like the womby girl in Slither and sometimes crushed applecelerycarrotmush is not going to cut it.

But slowly, I evened out. I clung to the idea of how much I loved food. Of only eating something I really wanted to put in my mouth right then. Of being mindful about food. Of taking pleasure in it, but listening to my body, which knows a lot more about what it needs than my brain, which mostly knows about how to tear itself into tiny pieces.

It sounds facile when you put it like that. Because no process is anything but I did something and I kept doing it for a long time. And I feel a little strange about the fact that counting calories ended up working for me in a way nothing else did–except that I think the psychological stuff that went along with plinking things into an app was as big a factor. I feel guilty because I don’t have a secret.

And one day a couple of weeks before I left for Australia, I got on the scale and it said 160. No trumpets blared, no confetti rained down. It was just looking back at me in glowing blue numerals.

Now, I’m still not what our beloved culture would consider skinny. And I’m not really done. I picked 160 out of thin air, an abstract goal that I had no expectation of achieving, and thus had no real attachment to Cat’s Body. I’m pretty happy with how I look right now. I’d like to regain some muscle mass and lose a little bit more, now that I can look at myself and evaluate what I actually want to look like. What my body wants to weigh. What is maintainable. But that 70% of my brain capacity is no longer taken up with hating my physical self. It’s nice, to have that back. I may not keep it off. That’s the mountain on the other side of weight loss. Maintenance is just as hard. I  never get to have an uncomplicated relationship with food.

I have a lot more complicated thoughts and reactions and scrunched up faces on the other side of 90 pounds, but this is quite long enough, so I’ll save that, and pictures, for part 3…

Mirrored from cmv.com. Also appearing on @LJ and @DW. Read anywhere, comment anywhere.

Same Girl, Different Skin Part 1: The Story of My Body and Its Misadventures Up Til Now
c is for cat

So as not to bury the lede, and so that if you find this sort of thing triggery or simply boring, you can skip right along, let me cut to the title card: I have lost 90 pounds (about 41 kg) over the last 18 months. I’ve gone from a size 18, creeping up on 20 to a size 6 creeping down on 4, if the black alchemical demonology of American women’s clothes sizing is a thing you can parse.

It’s weird. It’s surreal. It still seems impossible, even though I was, obviously, there the whole time and I did it on purpose. I’m gonna talk about it. With gusto.

This is going to be a series of not-short posts (it’s a pretty major thing in my life, I feel like I can take some space to ruminate like a boss) concerning how and why I did it, what the effects on my health and my life have been, and my thoughts on what it all means, both to me personally and in the funky social primateworld at large. I intend to be quite forthright and open about my own history, habits, body, psyche, and numbers–all things not spoken of in company. Because everyone can judge you for your body, but no one wants to hear what you go through on account of it. I’m doing this because I think it’s important, if I’m going to talk about this thing at all (and I’m going to try super hard not to call it a “journey” or a “transformation” or any of that diet blog jazz), to be plain and unashamed of either my former self or my current one, and none of it embarrasses me–we all own a body. It’s useful for me to write out all this stuff for myself, but obviously I’m doing it online because I want to discuss it with other, not myself, people. So to further that discussion I’m not going to be coy.

That said, I am exquisitely, painfully aware that this is not a value-neutral topic. I have done my own time reading blog posts by my friends detailing their fitness or weight loss or even just the cute clothes they bought and feeling deep shame, self-hatred, and a weird melange of envy, resignation, a frantic marshaling of resources to still feel like I was ok, and a renewed conviction that I was the ugliest beast to walk the earth.

I do not want to make anyone feel this way by talking about my journey my transformation how I spent my summer vacation. I am acutely, personally aware of not only the privilege of body conforming but, to my mind even more pervasive an pernicious, the privilege of pretty. IT IS SOME COMPLEX SHIT YOU GUYS. I’ve been thinking about it for, like, half my life. And even more pressingly in the years since I turned into a person who gets their photograph taken on the frequent, whose face is public property and represents not just me but my work.

I’m going to talk about all of that. It is not separable from the story of how anyone changes their body in the current cultural climate. This isn’t a thinspiration rally. It’s a stock-taking of where I am and where I want to be, where I’ve been and how I got from there to here, with here being a constantly-fluctating state. It’s not about success or a victory lap or spitting on the body I had before. On the other hand, I am glad and proud that I did what I did. Dude, it was hard. COMPLEX. WARNING: XXX HARDCORE PSYCHO-CONFESSIONAL ACTION INCOMING.

So given all that, we gotta have some ground rules going in.

1. If you find these kinds of posts upsetting and damaging, for whatever reason, please, please just don’t read it. 

You have the power to just click away and not feel bad or spend the afternoon having tea with self-loathing. It won’t hurt my feelings and hell, there may not even be anything new or useful in here. That’s the risk of any personal blogging. I didn’t post about the process over the last 18 months for precisely the reason that body stuff is so fraught and so hard and so triggery for so many people. So you fully have my permission to just carry on as though I never posted about it–and if you have a history of eating disorders, maybe you should. It’s cool, I swear. Nobody else’s body should have the power to harm the way you see your own. If you have trouble with that, and fuck, I know I do, don’t give me that power. Keep it for yourself.

2. When I get to the part about how I lost weight, there is a giant flashing neon sign over every word and that sign says: These Things Worked for Me But They May Not Work For You, Some May Even Be Terrible Ideas For You, Because Everyone Is Different And If This Crap Were Universal or Easy How Would An Entire Industry Revolve Around Making Us Feel Bad About It?

And I’m going to get into my own history pretty seriously before I start telling you what app I used and all that. Because I could just say I tried a whole bunch of diets in the past but none really worked til now but then I’d just sound like a diet infomercial and there is an actual place in actual hell where you just have to watch those on a loop for all eternity. I said I was taking stock. That means opening up boxes in the back room and seeing what’s there. THIS IS ME WE’RE TALKING ABOUT, YOU KNOW IT’S GONNA GET ALL INTIMATE UP IN HERE.

3. This is not, and I will not let it become, about fat-shaming.

I say that because in telling you how I thought of myself through most of my adult life, I’m going to say some gross stuff. The world is SUPER EFFECTIVE at making fat people, particularly fat women, feel like utter slime about their bodies and I internalized a fire hose stream of that liquid crap over the course of my life. I’m slowly getting better about how I treat myself–it takes longer than losing weight to right that, actually. But there is a world of difference between I felt deep shame because I was fat and being fat is shameful. Mainly, the first one is a true fact and the second one is bullshit. So when I talk about my broken brain, it’s to say: my brain was broken, and if you feel like this sometimes, well, reading that someone else does too doesn’t make you right, but maybe it makes you feel less alone.

To wit:

4. There will be no nonsense in the comments on the subjects of how terrible fat people are and how superior not-fat people are.

Pretty simple. I will kill that noise with an axe.

Ok. For those of you still here, let’s get this thing off the ground already. Imma tell it like a story, because that’s what I do. And that means AWKWARD FRONTLOADED EXPOSITION, YO.

A Brief History of My Human Suit


Let me try to arrange them for you in a tasteful bouquet.

I was a thin child in a family of athletic people who became a thin (but not athletic because apparently where I have the bookish nerd gene all my siblings have the awesomely competent at sports gene) teenager. I wouldn’t say I had the worst upbringing ever in terms of food. My stepmother (who has never been anything but a tiny, tiny woman; even her handwriting is thin and small) was always strictly Americana–not a lot of fresh or fancy stuff, but canned and frozen veggies everywhere, balanced meals, packed lunches, lots of casseroles and baked chicken and an unfortunate taste for Butter Buds and margarine and other artificially stuff but seriously no worse than anyone ever had growing up in the 80s. I was, however, brought up Christian Scientist, and boy howdy will that do a number on your ideas about your body. CS teaches that you don’t have one, see. Matter is mortal error–we are all perfect mind and this world is an illusion so no doctors because anything that’s wrong can be fixed with your mind because that’s all you are. (Step 3 is definitely profit. I seriously challenge you to have anything to do with that faith and come out with a normal relationship to either food or sex.)

My mother swung the other way. If she were a worse person she’d be a total food hipster–she was all organic and local and natural as mud before it was cool or even particularly easy to do that. There was a lot of carob, is what I’m saying, and I will go to my grave insisting that carob tastes not of chocolate or treats but a fallen world and your parents’ lies.

My brother John and I took over the household cooking when I was 13 and he was 8, as Mom was deep in her PhD program and we were interested and it beat almost any other chore we might get stuck with instead. We taught each other how to cook through trial and error and about a million cookbooks. (This was the Pre-Internet Universe) I still remember that our toaster broke at some point and we couldn’t afford a new one, so we adapted. I think our adaptation says a lot about who John and I are as people and our relationship to food: our afterschool snack became whatever spelt or quinoa or unicorn-pelt bagels we had on hand, split in half and pan-fried, with caramelized onions on top.

John is now quite a successful chef.

The point is, I love food, always have, always will. I am not a professional chef, clearly, but I am a damn fine cook and I pride myself on my ability to make more or less anything fantastically. I don’t think that’s boasting. The only thing I’ve been doing as long as I’ve been making overly-complicated meals is writing. You get pretty ok at things you do for a decade and a half.

Bear with me, I promise this is important.

So my attitude toward eating has always been, and remains, the opposite of the food is fuel meme that so many people espouse to my eternal bafflement. Food is pleasure and social interaction and caretaking and not a little bit of magic. In college I used to throw Stone Soup parties to feed my friends who lived on pizza and Coke: everyone bring an ingredient and I will mother you for the night. We have to eat to live, why not make it a joy and an art and an experience?

I fully admit that this isn’t an attitude that will universally lead to rock-hard abs and catwalks. That in particular never bothered me–but it’s easy to not get bothered when you’re sixteen, 100 pounds with clothes on, and blissfully unaware of the calorie content of anything you choose to eat. It is, however, among all the assumptions and beliefs and needs I was willing to alter or give up to lose weight, one I utterly refused to abandon.

Some of this is hard to write and to fess up to. I’m going to try to keep this personal rather than general–no generic “you”s, because good lord, I don’t know your life. But I suspect I am not alone in that I had a lot of ways of thinking about my weight that involved it not being about food per se, that involved it not being entirely my fault. Or my fault at all. Some of them were even true. For example–I first gained a significant amount of weight around age 17 when I went on Depo-Provera. (That’s a birth control shot, in case it just looks like medical word salad.)

Up until then I had been a pretty, bone-thin girl, an active dancer and actress. The picture of an ingenue. I didn’t have an eating disorder and I didn’t hate my body beyond having no breasts at all and shorter than everyone else in my family. I was a giant poetry-scribbling barefoot long-haired theatre dork with a feminist mother who taught me not to care what other people thought of my body. So far so good.

I really don’t know if Depo has been refined at all since but back then everyone I knew who got on it had terrible health issues. I had to sign a waiver saying I understood that I might gain some weight (the form said 5-10 pounds) before they would even prescribe it! I figured I could stand to gain ten pounds. Instead, I gained 40 in about three months. I had blood-red stretch marks all over my body, and having never been anything but tiny, I honestly thought I was dying. I went to the doctor for stretch marks because I was convinced they were a fatal disease.

So that sucked. And shortly after that, I moved in with my then-boyfriend, future-husband and his parents, and all those body issues I didn’t have came crashing down in the form of those parents’ opinions on the decline of my physique. At 5’4 I now weighed 140 pounds and that was apparently sufficient to trigger deep concern, fad diets that “we’d all go on together” (Oh Herbalife, how I hate you) and lectures on my health and attractiveness. Weight Watchers Points Are Your God Now. My ex-husband had his own crippling self-image problems and fully admitted years later that he’d been waiting through our whole relationship for me to go back to the way I was when we met. When I was 15. My high school sweetheart, who turned out not to be such a sweetheart when we broke up, smugly quipped, when he saw me post weight gain, that “now her outsides match her inside.” This is but a small sampling of the cargo of judgment that came sailing my way in the Good Ship We Just Want You to Be Healthy.

I got the message. 140 pounds was unforgivably obese. Not only obese, but that number contained some coded information about who I was as a person, and if I wasn’t at a good weight, I simply wasn’t a good person. I seized on the image of myself at 15 as the True Image of Me. That was what I looked like. That was who I was. A good girl. A happy girl. A thin girl. If you’ve been reading this blog for a long time, you may remember my posting not a few times about that cognitive dissonance.

Some people might have had the mental wherewithal to turn that into the mysterious magical OHHHH YEEEEAAAAH fruit punch called “motivation” but I am not those people. For all my ignorance of body-hatred, my fairy-tale level broken childhood left me with no defenses at all when it came (and comes) to love offered and withheld. Eventually I went off Depo, but I ate my feels FOREVER, abandoning even the pretense of food as joy and art and just eating Jack in the Box because it made me feel better and I was broke anyway so that’s what I could afford.

And for a long time I just blamed it all on birth control. I lost some weight when I switched to the pill, but the pill ain’t so hot for your body either and I was, as previously reported, eating for two: me and my sadness.

But I actually did lose a goodly amount of the weight at one point. My self-loathing reached a peak when I started college at UC San Diego, Home of the Perfect Blond California Co-Ed and State of the Art Fitness Facility In Lieu of Adequate Student Housing. I went to a dance class and weighed myself in the locker room (I’d started avoiding scales) and saw that I’d hit 202 pounds. It was crushing, that number. Keep it in mind for later. I was 21. Over the course of about 10 months I lost 47 pounds and at 155 was a size 8 and pretty damned happy there. The rush of success and the constant praise of anyone who saw me losing weight temporarily bounced me back into the innocence of my Pre-Body-Loathing Adamic Garden.

How did I do it then? Well, it was the year 2000/2001. Cast back your mind. Taking all bets!


Oh, yeah. Those were the days! And this was before Atkins became so popular that you could get low-carb stuff anywhere you looked. I didn’t even know it was called Atkins at first. I actually took a damn number off of one of those 30 Pounds In 30 Days! fliers stapled to a telephone pole on campus. First of all, I know those things look sketchy, but DUDE THEY ARE SUPER SKETCHY. I was given directions to a guy’s condo. I took my ex-boyfriend/husband/boyband for backup. I was given a list of low-glycemic foods, a brochure about how Carbs Are Satan and Have Poisoned the Soul of Civilization With Evil, instructions to call a number and report my stats every three days on account of how they were conducting Srs Bsns Klinikal Trialz, and a 30-day supply of “supplements.” At the end of 30 days I could come back and get more.

Well, I was 21 and I hated myself and I’d had to sit through worse from Herbalife salesmen, who also would like you to take a range of horse pills with dubious ingredients.  Plus fancy science words! Seemed legit!

Well, it worked. At the time I was like IT WORKS BECAUSE OF MAH DISCIPLINE AND AWESOMENESS. And I did stick religiously to the no-carb thing, even when it meant literally sitting at an empty cafeteria table crying because there was nothing I could eat. But mainly, mainly, I think it probably worked because those pills were pseudo-ephedrine/stone cold speed. I say this because since the FDA got all party pooper on that particular “herbal” supplement, I have not been able to lose a significant amount of weight on low-carb diets. More on that anon.

So what happened? What usually happens when you lose weight through a fad diet and pills. I moved to Scotland and ate all the fried things and gained it all back. Whatever role the birth control had in Original Recipe Weight Gain, the second one was all on me. I leveled up my cooking and I lived with a guy who said food is fuel with his mouth and McDonalds tastes like love with his soul and I didn’t pay attention or own a scale because I figured I had Lost the Weight and therefore I Was Done. Results: predictable.

For the rest of my twenties and into my thirties, I went through the So-Classic-It-Wears-A-Toga cycle of “I am a pig and it’ll never change and I’m worthless anyway so why bother trying” through to “I’m going to do X crash diet and that’ll fix it and this time I won’t fill my soul with meat pies and I’ll be True Me again.”

Essentially, if you can think of a LOSE WEIGHT NOW diet that seems both scientifically and morally dubious, I’ve done it. Those “Hollywood” juice fasts that taste like passionfruit, aspartame, and nihilism? So many times. Master Cleanse (the “cleanse” means poop)? Sure, only it’s so gross I only made it two days. Blood Type? Mostly Yogurt? Everything Has Acai In It Because Reasons? South Beach? Warrior Diet? All Fruit? Pay Per View Lose Weight By Breathing Fast for 10 Minutes a Day? OH YES SIR SEND ME THOSE TAPES 2 EZ PAYMENTS.

And because it’s how I’d done it before and there was so much blather about how carbs are an invention of the Uggo-Industrial Establishment and THEY ARE COMING FOR YOUR CHILDREN I kept coming back to Atkins and its fell sisters. But it made me so miserable. Just cranky and angry all the time, and exhausted, and unsatisfied. And not even really losing much weight. Turns out sparklejitter pseudo-ephedrine REALLY HELPS OUT with losing weight fast and set me up to think I’d always be making significant progress every three days. And I wasn’t. So I’d give up. All those diets were so restrictive that I would just break down crying after a few weeks and give up. I mean, the breathing one was cool. But not what you call “effective” or “not a hilarious scam.”

I didn’t do the thing where you just drink passionhorror juice and not exercise, either. Though, looking back, I really, really seem to have had a problem with late night television, impulse control, and OUR REVOLUTIONARY SYSTEM WILL TURN YOUR LIFE AROUND tapes. When I recall mistily Exercise Regimens I Have Known, I see VHS tapes. VHS tapes everywhere. Tae Bo, Abs of Steel, the Goddess Workout, Jane Fonda On a Trampoline, Pilates At Home, Ab Roller…ah, my old friends! Wii Fit, I haven’t forgotten you!

I did, while living in Japan, manage to turn it around a little. I was 24 and alone more or less all the time as boyband (now full-fledged husband) was at sea for the vast majority of our time there, and at some point I was all I have nothing but time. I should just flip out and do whatever one of the million and four Designed For Dudes, By Dudes workout books in his office tells me and then when he gets back I’ll be pretty again and Everything Will Be Fixed.

And by Everything I meant not just my body but my whole life because they were the same in my head. Indivisible, with humiliation and vicious cycles for all.

The book in question was Body for Life. It remains one of the worst-written diet/lifestyle/exercise books I’ve ever read. It’s very meathead hoo-rah beefcaaaaake. It promised, as they all do, 12 weeks from obesity to rippled muscle deity, and while, to my credit, I knew that was crap, I did think the severity of the system would deliver–and it did. I only lost about 12 pounds over 12 weeks, but I put on a lot of muscle and lost something like 20 inches total and I was considerably stronger. Went from a size 16 to a 12–pretty respectable. Plus I felt all badass with my weight lifting. While I went through my workout every day I started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVDs for the first time and I’m not gonna pretend like I didn’t get cheerful when considering whether I could take on a vampire.

There was no chance I was going to stick with the diet after 12 weeks, though, no matter how many times the book said it was a “lifestyle change” and not a diet and should become a Way of Life. A Way of Life that involved buying a bimonthly truck full of their supplements and meal replacement bars and shakes which tasted like powdered ovaltine DEATH. And on top of that, it was the epitome of “food is fuel.” There was absolutely no concern for how anything tasted–dry spices were allowed, but no salt, no oil, no condiments but mustard. You’re gonna eat undressed steaks and plain baked potatoes (I don’t even like baked potatoes) veggies with ONE of your six daily meals (for moral fiber, I guess) and an infinite number of egg whites. To add insult to injury, it intended to make up for that by encouraging you to use margarine, salt substitutes, fat free and sugar free products of dubious space origin, all manner of artificial substances that are almost, but not quite, entirely unlike food. Everything tasted terrible all the time. I felt good because I was strong and much healthier, but I was deeply unhappy because I felt like I’d excised an entire sense from my life and replaced it with dust and shadows. (On the other hand, I could have as much dust as I liked.)

So Body for Life was pretty much destined to be Body for As Long As I Can Stand It for me, and it was. I came back to America and got a divorce and got together with Dmitri and I was happy, so much happier than I had been, and he didn’t judge me or think I was anything less than beautiful, he wasn’t waiting for me to be “willowy” again, and I let myself relax, really relax about it for a few years. I sort of just accepted that I was fat, but still had a pretty enough face and that was just how it was. Maybe I had a slow metabolism. Nothing was wrong with my thyroid and I had low blood pressure and no health issues, so this was just my body and I would live in it. I’d been struggling with it for so long it just didn’t seem possible that anything would really change and I just had to look on the bright side. I had a great rack (finally!) and awesome hair and nice eyes. I was loved, and my career was going well. I was cooking like a fiend because I was happy and I was making a new home. Writing is, of course, a solidly Sitting Down lifestyle, and my particular brand of Getting Books Done involves just not noticing that I have a body for several weeks and putting anything it wants in it to keep going. So I slalomed between homecooking domestic Strega Nona and a high-performance ice cream-to-literature conversion engine. And yet, it was a peaceful time in the part of my head that controls berating myself.

But it crept back up. All of it, eventually. I never escaped the poisonous idea that that image of myself at 15 was the Right One and I was failing by being so immensely Other Than That. I loathed having my picture taken or seeing any photos of any part of me (thanks, Facebook tags!). I got married and even on my wedding day I spent half the time internally beating myself up about how big I was. I was ashamed to go home and see my family, none of whom ever seemed to struggle with more than a spare 10 pounds or so. (And some of my family never said a word, and some did say words.) Shopping for clothes was agony. I avoided full length mirrors; I tried to ignore the fact that I existed from the neck down. I felt embarrassed every time someone met me who I’d only known online, or anyone who had read my books but never seen me. I was always convinced they were disappointed. That they secretly thought less of me. That is not a good mindset for an up and coming author, I tell you what. Conventions were often torture. There was no article of clothing I could buy that didn’t make me feel like an ogre. Just the shame I felt at being seen in public looking the way I did was a constant pain. And oh, that lovely Wiscon-past when that woman took secret pictures of all of us fatties and posted them to 4chan with color commentary! GOOD TIMES.

I was still loved. My career was still going well. But to be perfectly honest, 70% of my brain processes were pretty much taken up with feeling like shit because of how I looked. That’s how bad it was in my insides. Comparing myself to others. Promising myself that I’d change. Losing hope that I ever could. That constant voice that whispers in your ear that no one really likes you or could ever be attracted to you, they just feel sorry for you because you’re ugly. It was exhausting. The bandwidth it took up in my head was staggering. (This is not meant to be a valentine box where you can tell me I was always beautiful in the comments. I realize that my self-image was seriously bent. That’s kind of the thing about body-image issues. You can’t see yourself, you can only hear your worst thoughts.)

I’d go through phases of trying to piece together something from my two successes–work out all the time but screw that Eat This Margarinotato And Love It diet. Try to run–hated running with a fiery, all-consuming passion. More low-carb attempts. Didn’t really help and I couldn’t stick with it anyway due to getting the meat-sads after a week. But it turns out that if you don’t change your diet you’ll just get strong underneath the fat–and I know that’s a good thing, but it didn’t help me to not cringe every time I saw myself in the mirror. If I ever did manage to make progress, I’d then go on tour or hit the convention season hard or have another book to power through and it would all unravel.

And I do live on the internet. I read all the blogs that talked about accepting your body at any size and I believed (and still do) every word of it–but not for myself. Other people are beautiful at any size. Other people should embrace their bodies and feel no shame and to hell with anyone who says different. Other people are gorgeous and happy and fat at the same time and other people are awesome.

But not me. I hated every inch of my body and I could fully hold the conflicting ideas in my head that a. being fat isn’t a failure and it doesn’t mean you’re not beautiful and if you’re healthy that’s all that matters and b. I am disgusting because I am fat and I deserve nothing ever goodnight.

That’s some ugly shit to say. There’s a certain acceptable narrative of weight loss that goes: I just wanted to get healthy, it wasn’t about conforming to beauty ideals, I loved my body then and I love it now, I only did it for my health or to build strength and no other reason. It’s not about how you look, it’s never about how you look. No, no, no, of course not. People who care about that sort of thing are shallow, even though how you look is literally the battleground on which a very specific cultural war is being constantly fought. I always thought, with a bitter frown: Buddy and/or Lady, if it wasn’t about how you looked, why did you post before and after pictures?

And yeah, getting healthier was a thing for me. But I also reached a breaking point of cognitive dissonance and self-flagellation and that was a thing, too. I don’t feel like I can be honest about it if I don’t say that you know what? I was spending all day every day running a constant background program of iamtheabsoluteworst.exe and that wasn’t about my inability to run a 9 minute mile, that was about how I looked. Which feeling is absolutely informed by my whole history and everything anyone ever said to me about my weight and the whole of our culture that says a woman looks this way and if you don’t you are invisible and had best act like it also no fatties lol. I tried to not give a shit how I looked. I was and am smart and capable and funny and I know stuff about stuff and I had a partner who loved me and it shouldn’t matter and I tried to brute-force it into not mattering for years. I succeeded for whole days at a time. But I am steeped in my culture and you guys it is stupid hard not to give a shit how you look when so much is predicated upon it around here.

These are bad things to think. Let me be straight about that. It ain’t right. This is how culture talks when it’s so deep in your head you mistake it for your own, authentic voice. We’ve had some cowboys in here. It’s taken a lot of time and talking to even get my head on as straight as it is about it now. I lay it all out because the only way to purge this stuff personally and at large is to talk about it and every post I ever read where someone lost a lot of weight made it sound like everything was awesome then and it’s awesome now and we always lived in awesometown all the awesometime with our awesomepuppies being awesome together. It just made me feel worse because really, if the rule was you had to love yourself before you can make a change? I was never going to make that change. I wasn’t the kind of mentally balanced, self-accepting, devil may care diva that achieved total body transformation and then said they never cared what anyone thought like an Oscar winner saying it’s not about the accolades. That river of awfulness was the internal monologue I had on infinite repeat and it was absolute acid to my psyche. I got to a point where I simply couldn’t hear anything else and apply it to me personally. Acceptance was for other people. Better people. Literally anyone else I know. I would look at my friends who were plus size, some bigger than me, and I thought they were hot and amazing and I’d bash my heart in for not being more like them. I wish I had been a better person and not just constantly chewed my soul to bits over it, but I wasn’t. I just wasn’t. I’d read the Fat Nutritionist and think: yeah, but she weighs less than me. Look how pretty she is. It’s all fine for her but I’m still scum. AWESOME. SLOW CLAP FOR CAT’S BRAIN.

And that brings us up to 18 months ago. And the funny thing is, it’s not even that I hated myself into a frenzy and flipped out and took ahold of my fate and full speed ahead. I was relatively at peace with it for once–at peace for me, which meant that I figured I’d just always be fat and obviously that meant I was lesser and bad and fundamentally unlovable, but I’ll just have to keep on being lesser and bad and fundamentally unlovable so yay I guess. A couple of months before I started this particular journey transformation slouching toward Bethlehem I even went through my closet and threw out all (minus two or three items which I thought I might cut up and make into something else) the stuff I’d been holding onto on the assumption that some day it would fit. It wouldn’t, and GOD I was just being a gross cliche by keeping them.

August, 2011 and I’d hit 250 pounds, though I didn’t know it yet, because I had made the decision years back not to own a scale, as numbers just made me feel like dirt and I’d know by clothes not fitting right or fitting better how things were going. (Oh, Rocky, that trick never works.) So far beyond the 202 that had crushed me so much in college. So far from the 140 at which I was first told my body was completely unacceptable I couldn’t see it with a time-traveling telescope. And I had absolutely zero faith or hope that I was actually going to be able to do anything meaningful this time at bat, either.

It was the Wrongness Cherry on top of the giant sundae of all the things I’d been Wrong About.

To Be Continued…

Mirrored from cmv.com. Also appearing on @LJ and @DW. Read anywhere, comment anywhere.

Because Other People's Dreams Are So Interesting They Must Be Blogged About
A dream from last night ever-so-slightly too long for Twitter:

Queen Elizabeth had died and a young princess was being crowned Queen Anne. She was certainly not a princess that actually exists in real life. Long, lovely black hair that she wore down for the occasion, swept over her shoulder and flowing down the front of her white dress, obscuring all the medals and sash. She had thin silver crown.

I was a flutist playing in the orchestra for the coronation. Anne started crying in the middle of her coronation speech. A crowd of ministers with pelican heads rushed to console her and guide her away from the crowds. We had to stop playing and wait for her to return. But she didn't.

Ages went by. We finally started playing just to entertain everyone, anything we could think of. Then no one could think of another song and we all got up and started dancing with our instruments and each other on the floor of Westminster Cathedral until the flute section all turned into crows and flew up to roost on the buttresses. Anne was hiding up there, too. Her black hair flowed under her gown to become big black wings.

And then: alarm clock.

The Melancholy of Mechagirl
I'm thrilled to announce the cover and existence of my next collection of short fiction: The Melancholy of Mechagirl, from VIZ media, and my awesome editor nihilistic_kid.

This is a unique collection--while Ventriloquism was a general collection of everything ever, Mechagirl brings together all my Japanese-themed short fiction. That turns out to be rather a lot. Some, or perhaps even most of you, know that I lived in Japan for several years and the experience had a profound effect on my work. I'm very excited to have all of it in one place, and with such an amazing cover and team behind it. I mean seriously, just look at that cover!

It'll be out in July and is available for pre-order now. There's also a brand new novelette called Ink, Water, Milk in it, along with some other rare, out of print, or new pieces. It'll also be simultaneously published in Japanese, which is very exciting for me.

Now, there's an elephant in the room, and even if you don't see it, I do, so I'm going to go poke it in the trunk.

Yes, this is a collection of fiction about Japan written by a white woman. Yes, that white woman lived in Japan because of the US Navy and her ex-husband being an officer in said organization and that is not a value-free situation. Culturally, it is quite, quite fraught. And when VIZ first approached me concerning this project, their first from a non-Japanese author, I didn't know what to think, whether it was the right thing to do. I have always tried (and it's not even close to my place to say if I've succeeded) to write about Japan with respect and quality and sensitivity to the fact that I am obviously and forever an outsider. Nevertheless, it was a period in my life that had a profound and indelible effect on me, and in writing about it I have always been trying to integrate and interrogate my own experience, both from within and without, without being overly kind to myself and my culpability or overly romantic or unforgivably ignorant or bullheaded concerning Japanese culture. That is always an iterative process. You circle the thing itself endlessly and never quite arrive at it. I could not have helped writing about Japan, it was always only a question of how I wrote about it, and I hope, I hope I have done well.

And ultimately, what decided me was that a Japanese publisher thought I did at least well enough to ask for this collection and put their weight behind it. And if I wrote these stories to begin with, I should be willing to stand by them as a body of work. This is a very personal book, full of feels, as the kids say these days. It is not a book that purports to speak for Japanese culture in any way, but one which speaks for its author, for a span of ten years of circling Japan and never reaching it, and a single woman's relationship with a nation not her own, but one which, very occasionally, sat down to tea with her.

Here's hoping you enjoy it. (And stay tuned for another collection post shortly! My new general collection, The Bread We Eat in Dreams, is coming out in December!)

Because Other People’s Dreams Are So Interesting They Must Be Blogged About
c is for cat

A dream from last night ever-so-slightly too long for Twitter:

Queen Elizabeth had died and a young princess was being crowned Queen Anne. She was certainly not a princess that actually exists in real life. Long, lovely black hair that she wore down for the occasion, swept over her shoulder and flowing down the front of her white dress, obscuring all the medals and sash. She had thin silver crown. I was a flutist playing in the orchestra for the coronation.

Anne started crying in the middle of her coronation speech. A crowd of ministers with pelican heads rushed to console her and guide her away from the crowds. We had to stop playing and wait for her to return. But she didn’t.

Ages went by. We finally started playing just to entertain everyone, anything we could think of. Then no one could think of another song and we all got up and started dancing with our instruments and each other on the floor of Westminster Cathedral until the flute section all turned into crows and flew up to roost on the buttresses. Anne was hiding up there, too. Her black hair flowed under her gown to become big black wings.

And then: alarm clock.

Mirrored from cmv.com. Also appearing on @LJ and @DW. Read anywhere, comment anywhere.

Dreams Come True
c is for cat

So remember how like, a million years ago, I post a list of 25 things I wanted to do before death if I believed in making lists like that, which I don’t? And then I updated it because I’d done a bunch of the stuff on it? (That list is seriously gutted now and I am so proud of myself, honestly. Most of the stuff that’s left I don’t even know if I really want anymore.)

Probably not, as it was a million years ago and dinosaurs roamed the Internet, posting angrysaurus comments and learning to open doors.

Well, one of the things I listed on the update was to go Somewhere Else and write a book. I’ve thought about this so often–whenever I’m in a new city for more than a few days. Writing books is the great activity of my life. Some people look at place and imagine the club scene–I imagine what it would be like to write a book there. For me, the process of writing is such an otherspace–out of my own everyday and into the unknown and odd and untethered to such things as like, a normal workday clock or regular meals.

I’ve wanted it for ages. To see how another place would affect the book, would affect me. It’s not even as expensive as you might think, if you are a bargain hunter like me, and if you write as quickly as I do. I had a taste of it in Budapest with Theodora Goss last year and it was amazing. I’ll never not be in love with Budapest. But it wasn’t enough time, in the end.


I’m headed to Melbourne, Australia (not Florida as my weather app keeps insisting I must mean) for six weeks from April 14th-May 29th. I’ll be working on Radiance, my new adult book (yay! So excited to write for adults again!) with Tor, based on the short The Radiant Car Thy Sparrows Drew. It’s my hope and my design to write it entirely in that time, but we’ll see if I am actually boss enough to pull that off. Either way, a massive portion of it will be done in Melbourne.

Why Melbourne? Well, it’s pretty amazingly badass there. I fell in love at Worldcon ’10 and I’ve been back since and it’s just an amazing city–not to mention one obsessed with Art Deco, which happens to be the aesthetic of Radiance, with a skyline that looks like a made for TV SF movie about some glistening offworld colony. Also they make the best coffee ever and public art everywhere and ocean and penguins and when I’m there it will be autumn. Two autumns in one year! I know Aussie autumn is not New England autumn but I can’t help being excited about a double dose of my favorite season. I also have friends there so it’s not just completely new and strange and would take six weeks to figure out how to do my laundry.

Through the magic of Airbnb I have an apartment lined up in St Kilda (with laundry). I’ll be keeping as much of an organized schedule as I can in order to make the book go, but I’m definitely not a complete shut-in and I’ll be around if people feel like grabbing a drink sometime. I’ll blog as much as I can. I know how insanely lucky I am to be able to do this, believe me. It seems impossible, even now. I am so grateful that a combination of good fortunes allowed this to happen for me.

I’m crazy excited, though overwhelmed by the idea of packing for six weeks. I’ll be leaving from NYC the day after my rescheduled reading/conversation with Lev Grossman at Community Bookstore. This does definitely mean I won’t be at Wiscon or the Nebulas (which is a bummer, but the stars aligned and I couldn’t pass up the chance to cross a thing off the list of things) and I may or may not be at BEA depending on Factors.

Mostly, though, I’m just squeeing all over my insides. Wish me monsters!

Mirrored from cmv.com. Also appearing on @LJ and @DW. Read anywhere, comment anywhere.

April Appearances
c is for cat

So those events I had at the end of the Fairyland 2 tour that were cancelled by Hurricane Sandy? Rescheduled!

I’ll be reading at Water Street Books in Exeter, New Hampshire at 6pm on April 5th.

And the CRAZY AWESOME “In Conversation” with me and Lev Grossman has been rescheduled for April 11th, 7pm, at Community Bookstore in Brooklyn.

Hope to see folks there!

Mirrored from cmv.com. Also appearing on @LJ and @DW. Read anywhere, comment anywhere.

Academic Coach Taylor and the Latchkey Intelligentsia

So it is -3 outside, as glittering and hard and unforgiving a morning as we have yet had this winter and the car is in the shop so I am putting off walking through the crystal shards of the cold to get to my office and THUS I will procrastinate by telling you about my new favorite thing of forever.

After the fashion of Feminist Ryan Gosling (which I love, though my heart will always belong to Literary Agent Ryan Gosling), Academic Coach Taylor is a meme complex using images of Coach Taylor of Friday Night Lights and encouraging/motivational/tough love messages concerning the life of a graduate student and/or academic. Some of them are funny, some of them are full of awesome critspeak that makes me giggle, and some of it is OBVIOUSLY SPEAKING DIRECTLY TO ME AND MY WORNOUT BATTERED WRITERHEART.

truepenny once said, and I have quoted her SO MUCH, that it’s amazing how she chose a career that was exactly like being in grad school all the time, only it was always finals. This is a True Fact About Book Life. I dropped out of graduate school like a DANGEROUS LEATHER WEARING PUNK SLACKERBOSS, which makes me at least a non-practicing academic if I am being generous with myself. But also my mother was in her doctoral program for my entire adolescence and teen years so my brother and I were looked after by the denizens of our grad student housing complex who needed the babysitting money, from the entymologist who had pink hair and did not help my lifelong fear of insects IN ANY WAY by keeping larvae and grasshoppers for barbecuing in her freezer to the feminist theorist whose aged mother taught me to make pot stickers while she told me all about the position of women in 17th century China to the mathematician couple who gave me a new puzzle every time I came over.

My heart is an ivory tower. My mind is a student housing building where every apartment is something mad and new and beautiful.

And thus I see the truth of how very much like being a constant student being a full time writer is. You are always cramming. You never know enough. Every book I ever write is a dissertation I never wrote. Long time readers will know I occasionally suffer paroxysms of guilt over never finishing my own advanced degrees, though I’m getting zen with that now, in large part because I do the work–I even teach–I just get to put Wyveraries and sentient cities in it, too.


TONS of Academic Coach Taylor is SUPER RELEVANT to writers of fiction and I’m not going to lie, I cried a little reading through them. (I’m sure that’s wholly unrelated to the fact that the night before I drank about seven cups of coffee because I thought I made decaf but I did not make decaf. So I stayed up the entire night watching Tiny Fey era Saturday Night Live and occasionally take a break to chase my dogs around singing the Andy Griffith theme in a terrifying minor key. I was wrecked.)

Now, I love Friday Night Lights. I never thought I could love a realist football show, but I can and I do. There are so many amazing things about it, from the naturalistic acting to the cinematography to holy cats the music to the writing which even in its faltering (hello murderplot) faltered interestingly, took risks, and had Lessons for the Long Form Fictioneer. And of course, of course, the only healthy marriage I’ve ever seen on television, which is not based on an assumption of the essential antipathy of men and women, which does not present a wasteland nightmare of heterosexuality strewn with skulls and bile and vicious, intractable tank warfare presented as comedy. And the choice made at the end of the show, a difficult, complicated choice, is simply not one I believe has ever been made on American television. (I won’t spoil it.) And like it or not, the choices we see theatricalized are ones we are more likely to make in life, because we have models for how its done.

Oh, show.

Coach Taylor and Tami Taylor are beloved of the internet. Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton are both trying to break out of the bone-deep goodness of those roles and the utter discomfort caused by seeing Tami on American Horror Story and Eric in his new Sundance film is a fascinating meta-play. But the Taylors are Mom and Dad for a goodly portion of my funny little over-media’d generation, (certainly not everyone, FNL is a show that clung to Not-Being-Cancelled by its fingernails every year of its five year run, but when Mitt tries to steal their slogan, you know even he gets that whatever “family values” means to anyone who doesn’t define them as hating women, gays, the disabled, and non-whites, are summed up in these characters) and I frankly think they are better at it than any Brady or Cleaver.

THUS. I look at Academic Coach Taylor and I wonder if the reason I myself and academics and liberals and feminists and all those filthy, dirty words that mean the Kind of People Who Don’t Like Football And Real Men love Eric and Tami is because they demonstrate two things few of us had.

Because look, my dad was nothing like Coach Taylor. Even dads who think they are Coach Taylor, and I know at least one, aren’t.  And actually Coach Taylor isn’t–the very take no shit but love the size of the planet aspect of him is not one he trains on his daughter much. He doesn’t push her or demand excellence the way he does with his players. Even in the world of the show, Eric and Tami are tasked with being Everyone’s Parents, and that makes them ever so slightly less Their Own Kids’ Parents. But the fact is a whole lot of kids my age had very absentee mothers and fathers, or mothers and fathers, as in my case, truly messed up by divorce and the hypocrisy of their own parents and the constant flux of contradicting expectations flooding them. We were the latchkey kids everyone was so goddamned worried about back in the 70s and 80s. By the way–when I go to schools and talk about my books now? The word latchkey kid means absolutely nothing to students or teachers. Everyone is a latchkey kid now.

And the other thing is that we who are not football players and athletes rarely got the kind of motivation applied to high-performing jocks. They get the awe-inspiring pep talks and the tough love but hard-won pride and camaraderie and cheerleaders and very, very clear markers of success–the State Championship Ring has importance second only to the One Ring in the FNL mythos. The intellegentsia has no mechanism for that. Sure, all those slogans and butt-patting and go team go is often very hollow and jingoistic and empty and meant to cover up massive overspending on athletic programs in the real world. But if it didn’t inspire people to perform, they wouldn’t make any more sports movies.

So most of us, even if we had present parents, never had anyone pump us up for the work of the mind. And we wish we had. Because we’re human and we want to be pumped up. Because academics, far from being the anemic, gormless Morlocks of the library, are really fucking passionate about what they do.

But even when you’re passionate, even when what you do with your life is exactly what you always wanted and you have so many more stories to tell and so much inside you you want to let out, even then, sometimes you need someone to drag you up out of your funk and make you do windsprints and be proud of you when you fail to fail.

So I love Academic Coach Taylor even though he is a meme because he is a meme, in the classical sense. He’s the Dad we didn’t have and the Coach we wish existed for people like us. And he wants us to succeed, even when its halftime and it looks impossible.

Clear eyes, full hearts. Can’t lose.

Mirrored from cmv.com. Also appearing on @LJ and @DW. Read anywhere, comment anywhere.

The End of Omikuji

I’ve been putting off this post for awhile, because it’s a bit of a bummer and because it’s the end of an era, but also because making it involves admitting that I cannot do All the Thing All the Time.

The Omikuji Project will be coming to an end in April.

It’s been five years since I decided to start writing short stories every month and sending them all over the world. It’s been an amazing, incredibly rewarding project. I’ve met people (and through meet-ups, people have met people) that I would not have met otherwise, I’ve been able to experiment and stretch my craft, I’ve had the tactile, primate pleasure of making something physical every month. (And often burning off my fingerprints with sealing wax.)

But it’s also been five years of writing a new, original story every single month. A story not published elsewhere, and of a not insignificant length. A story a month alongside the novels, poems, and other short fiction piled up on my plate. It’s a lot, a tremendous amount of work, both in the composition and the tactile, primate task that covers my dining room table once a month: the folding, sealing, stuffing, licking, and stamping of two hundred copies.

It’s gotten to be too much. Members will notice that the stories have been getting out late. I’m proud of the stories, still, but between touring and writing novels and trying to keep all my projects plus my head above water, a new story every month plus the labor of preparing them when I’m often not even in the country, is getting harder and harder.

I feel tremendously guilty about this, but I have to look out for my energy level in order to keep producing fiction for the foreseeable future. Burnout is a real thing and I don’t want to meet it in a dark alley. So I think this is a step I have to take. It may make room for more experiments down the line; it may just give me a rest, but either way, I think it’s time to draw the curtain with as much grace as possible.

Five years is an AMAZING run for a crowdfunded art project. The community created by the subscribers to Omikuji is warm and deep and invested, and I am so grateful to all of you for coming on this journey with me. So many of you are astonishingly talented artists in your own right, I’m honored by every person who opened that cream colored envelope every month and gave some of their time and energy to my stories. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

To preemptively answer some questions:

Most of our year-long subscriptions run out in April, as that was the date of the first story back in 2008. If yours runs out at another time, please contact me at my first name at gmail (NOT on Facebook, please) so we can work out a refund or a trade in kind. Monthly subscribers will simply have their subscription cancelled in April, no work is required on your part.

I will be doing another anthology of stories to accompany This Is My Letter to the World: Cycle One. I have not decided whether to put all the stories together into one or simply make a Cycle Two, nor have I decided whether to do it through Lulu again or seek out a small press to handle the collection. Once my February 1st novel deadline is under the belt, I’ll be able to sit down and make those choices. But there will be a print anthology purchasable by anyone.

Until April, I will continue making back-issues available. The site will be updated with pricing information on that score very shortly.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask in the comments or on whatever social media site you prefer.

Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart, to everyone who has been a part of this project, however briefly or long. It has been an extraordinary experience, and I hope it has been for you as well. Most projects of any quality come to an end point, and though we have reached it, there are more and new and exciting things to come. Life is long and unpredictable; so is fiction.

Thank you for helping me to make a whole lot of it in a very unique way. You made possible, made real, every one of those stories. And that’s straight-up magic.

Mirrored from cmv.com. Also appearing on @LJ and @DW. Read anywhere, comment anywhere.

Obligatory January Awards Eligibility Post


Ok, not really, no one waits with baited breath for these, but I can barely remember what I’ve published in any given year, so here is a reminder for 2012, should you be inclined to nominate works for awards. Hugo nominations are open, Nebulas will be opening soon, and you can actually nominate for the World Fantasy Awards exactly as you would the Hugos, though many don’t seem to know that.

If you’re not the nominating type, please enjoy things I have made!

Turns out I can totally remember what I published in 2012 though! After the avalanche of books in 2011, 2012 was a fairly slim year. Here’s the fiction I committed:

Short Stories:

Fade to White (Novelette, Clarkesworld–atompunk gender dystopia)
One Breath, One Stroke (The Future Is Japanese–calligraphy, demons, sentient lightning, oh my)

Poems (Eligible for the Rhysling Award):

What the Dragon Said: A Love Story (Tor.com)
Mouse Koan (Tor.com)
Aquaman and the Duality of Self/Other, America, 1985 (Tor.com)


The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There (Feiwel and Friends)

The Girl Who Fell Beneath is eligible for the Hugo Novel category (YA novels rarely make it, but there’s no YA category yet. One can always hope.) and the Andre Norton Award, and it’s also eligible for the Nebula Novel category.

I’m pretty proud of my output this year. It’s less than usual, but I think I did good work. That’s all I can ask of myself. (Repeat until true.)

Mirrored from cmv.com. Also appearing on @LJ and @DW. Read anywhere, comment anywhere.

Oh, This Island Life

So like a boss genius, I locked myself out of my office last night.

I left the key on my desk and locked the door behind me and I couldn’t find my spare anywhere and the landlord K (who lives two doors down) wasn’t home to open it and All My Book was on the office computer and I stood outside like a Victorian waif pawing at the window.

I called the landlord, left a message, ate dinner. We went back to see if we could get a window open–we could not. In frustration, Dmitri tried the door again, which had DEFINITELY been locked before dinner–and it was open! Hooray! Christmas is saved!

We figured K had come and opened it for us and just hadn’t bothered to call back or anything. Got my daily work done and didn’t think anymore of it.

K called this morning to arrange meeting me to open the office. I explained that it was open a few hours later and we thought she’d done it–she had, clearly, not.

Whereupon K laughed and said “Oh, well, that’s the building, though. It has a history of things like that. Radios turning on and off, that sort of thing. All benign, but I’m sure it won’t be the first time something strange happens there! Have a good day!”

Oh my god, I love this island. And New England. And Maine. My office has a friendly ghost that lets me in when I lock myself out. Of course it does. Caspar the Friendly Locksmith.

Best haunting ever.

Mirrored from cmv.com. Also appearing on @LJ and @DW. Read anywhere, comment anywhere.

Things Fall Apart; The Author Cannot Hold
Well, hello there, Internet.

I am sure it has not gone unnoticed that I have fallen into a black hole of radio silence the likes of which I have not indulged in since, well, before I started blogging in the first place.


I'll try to thumbnail this as best I can: I've been depressive all my life. And for the last eight years I have run as far as I can as fast as I can as hard as I can, using myself up on every level in order to make it as a writer, in order to get out of the morass I'd made of my life in my early twenties, in order to get to Maine and get to self-sufficient and in general get to where I am now. I have had to face up to the fact that energy, my energy, is actually finite.

In short: you know how you guys keep asking me how I write so many books and blog and write articles and go on tour for months and make circuses and cook and knit and raise a billion animals? And I always answer "Badly," and everyone laughs? The answer is badly, it has always been badly, and I only held it all together by sheer force of will, desire to do what I do forever, a fair amount of good Puritan shame at not Accomplishing Everything At The Same Time All the Time and must be Perfect Provider and Perfect Housewife Both At Once, and the energy that comes from being young and driven and compulsive in one's work habits.

After all, if you can work so hard you lose sight of everything else in the world and pitch yourself face-first into an exhaustive breakdown, anything less than that is slacking, right? Well. Quite so. 2012 was meant to be a year of mostly rest and then touring like a mad Wheeler for the autumn and winter. Instead I was sick for the first four months of the year, which put every single other thing on my schedule back four months and left me no time to recover from the craziness of 2011. And then I spent the summer in Europe (poor me, I know, but it was mostly working) and had a bare breath of being home before a tour that ran six weeks and god knows how many cities and just took everything out of me.

Tours are magic, tours are a gift from the publishing gods these days, tours give so much beauty and love. Some truly, truly amazing things have happened to me in the last few months. Holy shit you guys, I was in Time Magazine. Twice. But touring takes a level of social energy that borders on a superpower. And it takes time to recharge. And I haven't had a moment to recharge in two years.

And I am writing the third Fairyland novel. When a novel is going well, I am Chipper and Glee and Want to Talk to Everyone. When it isn't, I can't bear any kind of communication that isn't between me and the book. I think this book and I are finally starting to get along, and my chest is starting to feel less heavy about anything involving typing.

I have neglected this blog and the Internet and the world most heinously. I am going to try to be better, without hurting myself. That's probably a good mantra for the year. But I knew my depression was a horse of a different color this time because I stopped blogging. I've blogged for twelve years, no matter how dire anything was. I stopped playing video games. I stopped knitting. I stopped all the things that brought me pleasure because experiencing pleasure caused me so much anxiety I couldn't even face it.

This is personal stuff, I know. I'm talking about it because I know so many people suffer from depression and it's not talked about and especially not talked about if you are an Type A Over-Accomplisher Semi-Semi-Public Figure. So I'm saying: I've been in a dark place. Exhaustion and sickness and hitting the energy wall and Overly Dramatic Life Things I won't get into. I've sought medication for depression for the first time; it didn't go so well and I'm debating whether to pursue that course further. At least I'm home for awhile. Catching up on everything I've let slide. And making fiction again.

But I'm trying to come out. It's not a popping out of the ground with YMCA arms thing. It's a process. And step one is coming out of online hiding.

So hi. It's been awhile.

Things Fall Apart; The Author Cannot Hold

Well, hello there, Internet.

I am sure it has not gone unnoticed that I have fallen into a black hole of radio silence the likes of which I have not indulged in since, well, before I started blogging in the first place.


I’ll try to thumbnail this as best I can: I’ve been depressive all my life. And for the last eight years I have run as far as I can as fast as I can as hard as I can, using myself up on every level in order to make it as a writer, in order to get out of the morass I’d made of my life in my early twenties, in order to get to Maine and get to self-sufficient and in general get to where I am now. I have had to face up to the fact that energy, my energy, is actually finite.

In short: you know how you guys keep asking me how I write so many books and blog and write articles and go on tour for months and make circuses and cook and knit and raise a billion animals? And I always answer “Badly,” and everyone laughs? The answer is badly, it has always been badly, and I only held it all together by sheer force of will, desire to do what I do forever, a fair amount of good Puritan shame at not Accomplishing Everything At The Same Time All the Time and must be Perfect Provider and Perfect Housewife Both At Once, and the energy that comes from being young and driven and compulsive in one’s work habits.

After all, if you can work so hard you lose sight of everything else in the world and pitch yourself face-first into an exhaustive breakdown, anything less than that is slacking, right? Well. Quite so. 2012 was meant to be a year of mostly rest and then touring like a mad Wheeler for the autumn and winter. Instead I was sick for the first four months of the year, which put every single other thing on my schedule back four months and left me no time to recover from the craziness of 2011. And then I spent the summer in Europe (poor me, I know, but it was mostly working) and had a bare breath of being home before a tour that ran six weeks and god knows how many cities and just took everything out of me.

Tours are magic, tours are a gift from the publishing gods these days, tours give so much beauty and love. Some truly, truly amazing things have happened to me in the last few months. Holy shit you guys, I was in Time Magazine. Twice. But touring takes a level of social energy that borders on a superpower. And it takes time to recharge. And I haven’t had a moment to recharge in two years.

And I am writing the third Fairyland novel. When a novel is going well, I am Chipper and Glee and Want to Talk to Everyone. When it isn’t, I can’t bear any kind of communication that isn’t between me and the book. I think this book and I are finally starting to get along, and my chest is starting to feel less heavy about anything involving typing.

I have neglected this blog and the Internet and the world most heinously. I am going to try to be better, without hurting myself. That’s probably a good mantra for the year. But I knew my depression was a horse of a different color this time because I stopped blogging. I’ve blogged for twelve years, no matter how dire anything was. I stopped playing video games. I stopped knitting. I stopped all the things that brought me pleasure because experiencing pleasure caused me so much anxiety I couldn’t even face it.

This is personal stuff, I know. I’m talking about it because I know so many people suffer from depression and it’s not talked about and especially not talked about if you are an Type A Over-Accomplisher Semi-Semi-Public Figure. So I’m saying: I’ve been in a dark place. Exhaustion and sickness and hitting the energy wall and Overly Dramatic Life Things I won’t get into. I’ve sought medication for depression for the first time; it didn’t go so well and I’m debating whether to pursue that course further. At least I’m home for awhile. Catching up on everything I’ve let slide. And making fiction again.

But I’m trying to come out. It’s not a popping out of the ground with YMCA arms thing. It’s a process. And step one is coming out of online hiding.

So hi. It’s been awhile.

Mirrored from cmv.com. Also appearing on @LJ and @DW. Read anywhere, comment anywhere.

Major Tour Correction

Hi guys–I’m at an airport on my way to Houston. I have eaten a fried chicken sandwich for the first time in a year and I’m not really sorry!

Big correction–the Book Cellar Event in Chicago is on Saturday, October 13th at 7pm, not Friday, October 12th, as previously reported. Some confusion on the office side. So sorry if this is confusing! I hope to see a bunch of you in the Windy City.

Mirrored from cmv.com. Also appearing on @LJ and @DW. Read anywhere, comment anywhere.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There Launches Today!

You never know what’s coming next in Fell Beneath, and the most roundabout and whimsical turns always come back around to the main story and its payoff…As masterful as the first novel.

–Cory Doctorow

OMG Happy Book Birthday The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There!

Fairyland is a grown up series, officially. It has a pretty purple baby sibling and I’m just hoping, with fingers and thumbs crossed, that it touches you all the same way.

It’s still nearly impossible for me to believe that the dashed-off motif in Palimpsest has become this enormous thing, a five book series, illustrated and gorgeous and a few people even love it. And now it has the sequel–the one I intended to write as soon as I put the last sentence on Circumnavigated. The one about September’s shadow.

This would never have happened without those who were so supportive, who gave their energy to the book, who told me not to give up. That means my editor and team at Feiwel and Friends, but it also means everyone who read Fairyland when it was online and thought it was important. Thank you so much. I’ve never known anything like the life of this series. The internet, every once in awhile, can be magic.

This is only the beginning of the journey. Fairyland is a series, and we will all get to go back quite soon in the third book. But for today, it’s beginning again, and I wish you all shadows and dodos and Revels as we set off for fairy shores once more.

Which is a nice way of saying ZOMG FAIRYLAND IS OUT HOLY CATS.

Thank you to everyone–simply, everyone who has been there, who supported the project, who donated, who read along, who pre-ordered, who bought the first book and told me how it made them feel, who talked about it online. Thank you to my tribe. To parents and librarians and teachers. And to my publishers who have been a dream of support and love. There are not enough thanks in the world.

And here’s everything you need to know about The Girl Who Fell Beneath!

September has longed to return to Fairyland after her first adventure there. And when she finally does, she learns that its inhabitants have been losing their shadows—and their magic—to the world of Fairyland Below. This underworld has a new ruler: Halloween, the Hollow Queen, who is September’s shadow. And Halloween does not want to give Fairyland’s shadows back.

Fans of Valente’s bestselling, first Fairyland book will revel in the lush setting, characters, and language of September’s journey, all brought to life by fine artist Ana Juan. Readers will also welcome back good friends Ell, the Wyverary, and the boy Saturday. But in Fairyland Below, even the best of friends aren’t always what they seem. . . .

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There is available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, your local independent bookseller, and basically anywhere you care to look for books. You should be able to get it on the ground at all the big booksellers, too. It’s available on the Kindle, the Nook, the iPad, and most other electronic formats.

AND GET THIS. The audiobook? Is read by none other than s00j! S.J. Tucker lent her astonishing acting talents to the story–and I cannot think of anyone better to read to you in the night than she. You want to hear this, I promise.

If you want your copy signed, mail it to me with the cost of return postage and I will sign it for you. Email me for my address if you don’t already know it. Or find me on the tour at any one of the readings and conventions I’ll be doing in 2012. There are a lot.

I know there are some of you who just can’t afford it, but genuinely want to read it. If you really, really honestly can’t afford it, I have a few spare copies and I’ll consider trades. Good old bartering system.

How You Can Help (if, you know, you’re inclined to do things like helping out authors. And if you like the book.)

Buy the book. Obviously, this is the best way to support the book–and ensure that there will be many more in the series. Buying a copy during the first week and even doing so today is a huge slice of awesome–it’s the most important week in a book’s life. It’s when the strange math of the NYT list can inexplicably blow your way, as it did with the first book. If you want to do me a solid, buy it this week. I really appreciate it.

Amazon (Kindle, Audiobook)
Barnes and Noble

Come to my readings in the next month. Come the show, be part of the tribe. I’m in Denver this week, and the first reading, and therefore launch party, is at The Boulder Bookstore tonight at 6:30 pm. Please come if you’re in the area! All my other tour dates are here.

Review it. On your blog, or elsewhere if you work for a review site or a magazine. I can send a PDF if you haven’t gotten the book from other sources. Physical ARCs are also available. I’d like to hold review copies for people who review for venues, however.

Put up a review on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Totally easy and a nice way to say what you thought even if you don’t review professionally. Don’t be shy!

Ask your local booksellers to carry it, if they don’t already. This is important, as it is still the place where a whole lot of people buy books, and the brick and mortar ordering system determines a lot of a book’s success.

Check it out from your local library. If they don’t have it, request it. This can result in both you reading the book for free, and increased library orders, which are awesome. Also, libraries: we need them, yo.

Link to the book in your journals/Twitter/Facebook/websites–Spread the word! And if you know kids who might like it–tell them. Please do get the word out, if you can. All books need help to get in front of readers’ eyeballs. If you want me to cross-link to any of your work in exchange, let me know.

If you link to Fairyland in your journals, blogs, Twitter, or Facebooks any time in the next week, leave a comment with the link in THIS POST and I will enter you in a drawing to win a Fairyland prize package! You can use OpenID if you don’t have an LJ account.

The prize box contains:

A complete set of all my novels and standalone novellas
A box of local Maine chocolates
A bottle of Maine blueberry mead
My reading copy of Fairyland 2 at the end of the tour–with all my notes, bookmarks, and a few fun things from the journey tucked in.

My heart is very full today. I hope I can hug as many of you as I can on the tour. Magic happens, for reals, and I thank you all for helping to make this spell do its work.

Mirrored from cmv.com. Also appearing on @LJ and @DW. Read anywhere, comment anywhere.

Your Name Here

A couple of corrections:

The Schuler Books event is at the LANSING store, not Grand Rapids. Please come to the Lansing store! I really hope to see the Detroit gang there as it’s been FOREVER since I’ve been able to get out to Michigan.

I’ll be at the Southern Festival of Books all weekend, but my panel is on SUNDAY October 14th, “Saving the World When Grown-Ups Can’t”.

I have free days in Cincinnati and Philadelphia (I have one in Chicago, too, but I’m pretty booked up socially for that one). I’m hoping some of my Cleveland friends will be up for making the drive, and that my Philly friends have some free time! (Cincinnati on the 16th, Philadelphia on the 24th.)

I’m flying out on Monday morning. This is not the longest tour I’ve ever done (Palimpsest clocked in at about 4 months total, and I don’t see anything beating that because oh god I’d die) but it’s the most packed and professional. I’ve toured on my own dime, couchsurfed, sold books out of the back of a truck. This time I get to stay in hotels like a grown-up and that is awesome. But having toured so much in my brief eight years as a professional author, I’m starting to get a handle on the things that become precious when you’re on the road. I WILL NOW TELL YOU ABOUT THEM. (In case you guys go on tour, or business trips, or whatever. If you have other advice, leave it in the comments!)

Fresh, Homecooked Food

Honestly, you eat like crap on tour. You’re in all these strange cities where you don’t know anyplace to eat well. Your schedule is so crazy you just grab whatever you can find and put it in your face. Then you end up having to sweat out your lunch in an auditorium in front of a couple of hundred kids. On the very rare occasions when you can get food that is cooked at home and not at a restaurant, or something leafy and dark green (not the anemic green of fast food salads), or anything that feels wholesome and not like another layer of extruded protein product from the labs of Pluto, your body just weeps from gratitude.

Alone Time

On tour, you are on all the time. You put on your best extrovert pants and smile and laugh and try to make connections. It’s great. And it’s exhausting. If you don’t find a way to be alone (and awake, sleeping doesn’t count) at least a little every day, you’ll break yourself. Or at least I will break myself. Like willpower, social shininess is a finite resource and it needs recharging. It’s part of taking care of yourself–which I am, as nine years of this blog can attest, not very good at.

Familiar Faces

As much as you need alone time, it’s always the most amazing feeling when people you’re close to, real, solid friends, show up to see you and take you for beer after. It’s like a warm bath–these are people you know how to interact with, they’re easy to be around, and they’ll understand when you can barely remember your hotel’s name. They’re a connection to your personal life, rather than your professional identity. OMG, friends are the best.


Like the Kim Stanley Robinson quote which is my new mantra says, patterns are important. Shipboard life is still life. You need some kind of patterns to carry you through. Doing yoga every morning, trying the local beer in every city, collecting some piece of kitsch from every state. Getting some original writing done, even if it’s a paragraph a day. My Clevar Plan for this tour is to figure out a knitting project that I can complete within the timeframe of the tour, yoga in my hotel in the mornings, and to write whenever I’m on a plane. Planes are boring, anyway. But you have to build in stable patterns from day one, so you can have a solid psychic base for everything else. I suppose there are personality types that don’t need this, but I am not one of them.

I’m a little nervous. This is a giant tour. I hope the second Fairyland book is as successful as the first was. When the first came out, thousands of people had already read it. This is a brand new thing. It is scary. And this tour is huge-normous. A solid month away from my husband and animals and home. (But at the end I get a new Maine Coon kitten! Complete tour; receive kitten.)

Touring is amazing. Magical things happen–straight up. I cried a lot on my last tour, just because all this love and emotional resolution stuff kept happening (helps when your tour dates are in cities you grew up in). When you see a gymnasium full of kids holding your book it’s better than any coffee you’ve ever had. But all that amazing, and all that travel can overload you, and I’m trying to find ways to recharge on the road. It’s a process. I hope to unlock that particular achievement.

I’ll try to blog while I’m gone–the issues with the wordpress posting are FINALLY fixed–I know I’ve been off the grid like whoa. I’m slowly making my way back on.

Wish me luck.

Mirrored from cmv.com. Also appearing on @LJ and @DW. Read anywhere, comment anywhere.

Halloween Tour
The sequel to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is coming out in a mere 12 days--October 2nd! It is called The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There. (You can pre-order it at that link!)

I will be on tour for all of October! And coming to a whole bunch of places I've never been before! (And some familiar stops.) So you should definitely try to come out--also it's lonely without an audience!

This is where I'll be. I hope to see you there!

OH WAIT. At the St. Louis and Collegeville stops? s00j will be joining me for one of our classic amazing reading concerts! We haven't been able to do one of these on the road together since Palimpsest, so do not miss this chance!

Tuesday, October 2
6:30 PM
Boulder Book Store
Boulder, CO
Facebook Event Page

Wednesday, October 3
7:00 PM
Tattered Cover
Denver, CO
Facebook Event Page

Thursday, October 4
3:30 PM
The Bookies
Denver, CO
Facebook Event Page

October 5-7
Literary Connection (Festival)
Cheyenne, WY

October 7
3:00 pm
Changing Hands
Tempe, AZ
Facebook Event Page

Tuesday, October 9
7:00 PM
Blue Willow
Houston, TX
Facebook Event Page

Thursday, October 11
7:00 PM
Lake Villa District Library
Lake Villa, IL
Facebook Event Page

Friday, October 12
7:00 PM
The Book Cellar
Chicago, IL
Facebook Event Page

Sunday, October 14
3:30 - 4:30
The Southern Festival of Books
PANEL: “Coming of Age in Hidden Worlds,” Room 29
Nashville, TN

Monday, October 15
7:00 PM
Joseph-Beth Booksellers
Cincinnati, OH

Wednesday, October 17
7:00 PM
Pudd’nhead Books
Webster Groves, MO-- with S.J. Tucker
Facebook Event Page

Thursday, October 18
6:30 PM
Reading Reptile at the Plaza Library
Kansas City, MO
Facebook Event Page

Friday, October 19
4:00 PM
The Bookworm at the Swanson Branch Library
Omaha, NE (eee! September's home town!)

Sunday, October 21
3:00 PM
Schuler Books
Grand Rapids, MI
Facebook Event Page

Tuesday, October 23
7:00 PM
Towne Book Center
Collegeville, PA--with S.J. Tucker

October 25-27th
Second Story (Festival for kids)
Indianapolis, IN

Sunday, October 28
Schedule TBA
Texas Book Festival
Austin, TX

Monday, October 29
7:00 PM
Community Bookstore
Brooklyn, NY
Facebook Event Page

Tuesday, October 30
4:00 PM
Water Street Books
Exeter, NH
Facebook Event Page

Monday, November 5
7:00 PM
Brookline Booksmith
Brookline, MA

Tuesday, November 6
7:00 PM
Flights of Fantasy (with Lois McMaster Bujold)
Albany, NY

Wednesday, November 7
7:00 PM
Cambridge, MA

Worldcon and Apologies for Radio Silence
c is for cat
I appreciate all the gentle pokings as to whether or not I am ok, as I haven't posted in awhile. The reason is twofold: one, I have a novel due shortly and I'm basically totally focused on that and two, due to Wordpress being a total jerkface, I have not been able to log in to my blog in two weeks.

Seriously, they should just label the "Update Wordpress Now" button "Bork Your Situation Now." Ugh.

So yes, I am fine, I'm just working hardcore and getting ready for Worldcon and cursing the name of the Wordpress database.

Speaking of Worldcon! I will be there! I will be getting in on Wednesday and I'll even be in Chicago for most of the rest of the week after the con, if any of my Chicago folk want to hang out.

Obviously, I will also be at the Hugos, as I am up for some. Kambriel has made me an epic space princess dress and a good time will be had.

This is my Worldcon schedule--please do come and see me! Say hello if you spy me in the halls/bars/loungey places. I am super friendly, for serious. I don't have a kaffeeklastch, so if you want to chat, you have to be brave! I'm really looking forward to meeting a bunch of new people and hugging my friends SO HARD. I've not gone to many cons this year, so it's been ages since I've seen a lot of everybody.

Hit me up if you want to plan meals, coffee, etc. And see a whole bunch of you next week!

Thursday 9am-6pm [Private] SFWA Board Meeting (Obvs, super long, will definitely be up for decompression drinks after! Also, if you are a SFWA member there's anything you want me to deal with, consider, bring to the Board, etc, now is a good time to contact me, especially if you live on the upper east coast of the US, as I'm the Eastern Regional Director.)

Friday 10:30 am-12pm Columbus AB, Panel: Who Are You Really? A look at ideas about identity. What makes you "you"?

Friday 1:30-3pm Autographing Tables: Signing You bring it, I write my name on it.

Friday 4:30-5pm Grand Suite 3: Reading I haven't decided what to read from yet, possibly my new Western novella or the Fairyland sequel, depending on the mood of the room.

Saturday 9:00 am-10:30 am SFWA Business Meeting This one you can and should come to if you're a SFWA member.

Saturday 4:30-6pm Columbus CD Panel: When Quantum Physics Meets Magical Realism The way in which Quantum Physics describes the universe seems more and more to enter the realm of the fantastic. Where does reality end and fantasy begin?

Sunday 9am-10:30am Stroll With the Stars Basically, a constitutional walk with me, John Scalzi, Joe and Gay Haldeman, Kate Baker, Lawrence M. Schoen, Story Musgrave, Stu Segal, and S.J. (Not Tucker) This seems pretty stuffed with awesome to me, so you should definitely come! Also, I am a strange and alien person in the morning. It is not my time.

Sunday 12-1:30 pm Crystal B SF Squeecast Live! A live recording of our Hugo-nominated podcast, guest(s) to be announced.

Then Hugos! Then Hugos Losers Party! Go 70th Worldcon!

See you there.

Readercon Steps Up
c is for cat
Readercon has made a statement.

And it's a doozy.

This stuff so rarely breaks good that it's almost more shocking when people do the right thing--and I think Readercon has gone the full measure in making amends and preserving the con (the list of pros and fans declining to attend was getting enormous, and that overwhelming support for Genevieve and Kate is a testament to the strength of the community). The entire Board has resigned or will at the next meeting, Walling has been banned, and new policies and a new Board will be put into place. Almost everything from vschanoes's petition has been answered in the positive.

It's impressive, and those policies and Board will be both interesting in their content and certainly have their work cut out for them. I dearly hope to attend Readercon again soon, and these are huge strides in the right direction.

On Usernames and Blame
Lost Girl
You will notice that I have changed my username.

This is something of an end of an era. I have been yuki-onna on Livejournal for a decade. It was a name that mattered to me. So much that I refused to change it when Facebook and Google decided we all had to use our real names so that it was easier to sell to us, so knock off that creative thing you were doing for the first twenty years of the Internet.

But there is a conversation going on on Livejournal that involves a blogger that I'm sure you all know by this point, Requires Hate. Beginning with comments in my post on Readercon, a post which neither mentioned RH nor had anything to do with her, an idea has surfaced that I have not publicly denounced or blocked her, and so am responsible, on some level, for her words and actions. That I cannot speak on the subject of harassment, even my own harassment, unless I disavow a blogger and book critic that I have never met and only occasionally converse with.

In the course of that conversation, my username was brought up as an example of cultural appropriation. (Why attacking me for appropriation, in my books, in my username, is ok, but RH attacking others for it is not, I am at a loss to explain.) Because my username was Japanese and I am not.

I was, and am, angry about the unfairness of this. I chose the name while living in Japan, desperately trying to feel a connection with a place during a time in my life when I was so deeply depressed and unhappy that a goddess of death seemed just about the right speed for me. As things do online, it came to represent me and my reputation all over the net.

But the truth is that there was nothing not problematic about the reasons I was living in Japan--married to a naval officer stationed there, on an American base on foreign soil 66 years after the end of the war that put it there, in a town divided by race, a population forced to live with American sailors in nothing like harmony. Like it or not, I was part of that system. Whatever I came to love about the culture, it doesn't really matter. I was there as part of an empire and that just plain sucks out loud.

I am not that person anymore. I was very young and very angry and very damaged. Maybe I am still those things. But it seemed a good time to change. I'm not yuki-onna anymore.

As for the rest of the conversation, and the number of times today I have had to say to my colleagues, people who know me and talk with me regularly and yet still cannot give me anything like the benefit of the doubt or courtesy, I don't really know what to say. It seems pointless, at this stage, to insist that I am not responsible for my fans (and you know, RH blasted Palimpsest, along with a lot of the rest of the SFF readership, blasted it and shredded it and some of those people made it so personal and private, so disgusting and vicious, that I cannot talk about that book at all anymore. She's hardly an uncritical fan of mine, and she was far from the worst of those critics.) nor for the actions or words of someone I have never met. I have no understanding of why I must answer for her.

I am deeply, deeply uncomfortable with the idea that we as a community of authors feel it is acceptable to circle wagons and demand that other authors denounce and disavow a critic publicly before being allowed to speak on other topics or be accepted as an actor in good faith. The more people tell me I must do this, the less likely I am to do it, because it's bullying, plain and simple, it's intimidation and if it's so out of line when RH does it, so out of line that even people who have the audacity to speak to her without spitting in her face must be ostracized, then it is not ok to do it to peers and colleagues.

I do not agree with, and am offended by, a good portion of the post that started all of this--but I will not denounce the author of that post either, nor link to it, because it's not ok. It's not ok to send a mass of readers over there to tell the author she's wrong, and it's not ok to blacklist a person because you think they're wrong on the internet.

I believe that people should be able to voice their opinions, even if I disagree with them. Even if I agree sometimes and other times think that in a quest to answer injustice and be heard, they step over the line into cruelty. I am a complex person. I can believe at the same time that these injustices are real, and the inability to be heard is a genuine concern, and also not side with a critic on every issue. (Jesus, it's called reading.) It is ridiculous that I have to say this. Did we demand anyone who wanted to be taken seriously publicly denounce Christopher Priest? We did not. It is brushing up against a bizarre kind of McCarthyist groupthink to do so, and it is not ok. This is not what we do as a community. I do not accept it. Guilt by association? Are we serious? Are you now or have you ever been in contact with Requires Hate? No, no, no.

I will repeat what I have said before, purely to stave off arguments on this point in the comments, though I don't expect it to help: I do not believe that RH's rhetoric comprises an actual threat to the person of any author, any more than wishing someone would die in a fire, as per common internet parlance, represents an actual intent to commit murder or arson. If I did, my attitude would be very different. Some of the authors RH has had unkind words for I number among my friends. Some I did number among my friends, only to find out today that that friendship is predicated, 4th grade style, on my never speaking to someone they don't like. Do I like it when she goes incandescent on them? No. It fucking sucks, no less than when she did it to me. Do I sometimes learn something about my own bullshit? Yes. Do plenty of people say equally inflammatory things without inspring the curious loathing RH does? You bet. Do I sometimes get paralyzed in my own writing, because I will probably get it wrong? Yep. Is that a good thing? Very probably. Is comparing RH to Goebbels and the Aurora shooter appropriate? Come on.

Does that mean that I am somehow linked at the hip to RH and can be called to task for her? For crying out loud, that is some unfair shit. People praise her all over the place and don't get appointed her White Guardian. I am an author. I am responsible for my own work, my own life, and really fuck all else. And I am just about at the end of my rope with this shit.

As it happens and with much sad irony, I myself Require Meds today. Due to a pharmacy shortage, I am off my medication. I am probably taking things too seriously. I am definitely exhausted, depressed, near tears and wound up very tight--which I say not to get all white woman's tears on any of you, but because it is sometimes valuable to say "Hey. This is not fun and games for me and I have had enough."

I have had enough.

If what is required of me in my community is to block and fucking deny her three times or something, I'm sorry, I just can't do it. It's the principle of being ganged up on and told I have to. Putting aside all the cultural issues, the shit I am offended by and do not think should stand, that I disagree with things people say ALL THE FUCK OVER THE PLACE and don't say anything because I don't have the energy to fight, I'm just a stubborn fucking person. I don't like the precedent. Which other person that I follow on Twitter will I be taken to task for next? Which critic who liked a couple of my books will say something offensive such that I and no other reader of theirs must answer for it? No, no, no.

I fuck up quite enough on my own without having to take on the sins of someone halfway around the world.

If you have a problem with a person, talk to them. Fight with them. It is beyond weird to attack an unrelated author instead. And honestly, pretend I'm Britney Spears. Leave me alone.

So, yeah. New name.

Edited to Note: anonymous commenting is turned off. If you want to call me an asshole, you're going to have to use your name.

Concerning Readercon
c is for cat

I’ve been going over and over the events that occurred at Readercon in my head since I returned from Budapest. (In short, author glvalentine was repeatedly sexually harassed by former Worldcon Chair Rene Walling, she reported it, and instead of enforcing their stated zero tolerance policy which had been in place without question for four years and necessitated a lifetime ban from the con, the Board, almost certainly bowing to Walling’s SMOF status, told him he could come back after two years. Even after it became clear that this was a pattern and Walling had harassed others.)

This disturbs me on the plain level of someone whom I consider a friend being harassed at a convention and the Board cavalierly ignoring their own policy (whatever the wisdom of zero tolerance policies, that was the policy in place) because Walling, who used his own “need” to apologize to Valentine as an excuse to follow, grab, and further stalk her, apologized while being a friend of the Board. This is, honestly, exactly why harassment continues–everyone thinks the rules don’t apply to them, that they are special, that their friendships and power in their communities will allow them to do whatever they want.

In this case, it looks like all of that is right on the money.

But it further disturbs me because this is an incident of an author, an invited guest to a convention, being harassed by, no matter the super-awesomeness of his fanhood, a fan. If that cannot be taken seriously, how can any author feel safe at a convention? Because let’s be honest, authors who harass women are already welcome at many conventions, not policed in any way, and those who once harassed and no longer do because they are dead often have their “exploits” extolled with affection and nostalgia at con parties. Big men act with impunity, are even praised for it. ‘Twas always thus, and always thus ’twill be.

So, from whom is an author safe? The answer seems to be no one.

I love fandom. Fan activity and fans are wonderful and valuable. But we all know that fans can go sour and get extremely dangerous in their attachment to authors and books. It doesn’t happen every day, but it does happen. We all try to guard ourselves and our personal lives against the possibility of a lone fan cornering us. And now we are being told that as long as the fan has done enough cool things for fandom, the rules will not apply to him. If you are a good enough fan, you can grab authors you like and violate their physical safety and it’s A-ok. Just say you’re sorry and it’s cool.

Did you get the banhammer when you did it? Well, I guess you should have been a better fan. A more important fan. Or maybe you were just mentally ill and no one liked you so the policy was drafted specifically to ban you forever because you were Harassing While Being a Nobody and it was never intended to be used on anyone else.

And hell, one of the other people Walling harassed was also a SMOF. And no one even investigated or followed up on that incident. So it’s just a naked hierarchy of power. It’d be nice to know what level of BNF one has to attain to earn the rights and privileges Walling enjoys. His Tor.com column will continue. EDIT: I have been corrected. He is no longer writing for Tor.com and his last column was taken down over the weekend. I am very glad of this. He is part of the Kansas 2016 Worldcon bid committee. He is involved in the New Zealand 2020 bid. He is, like most harassers, entirely undiminished by this. It’s not really just the Readercon Board. The community as a whole is not holding him responsible.

I’m not sure there is a high enough prestige level to have complaints taken as seriously as Walling’s apology has been.

Here’s the thing. I’ve had issues at conventions. Some people have noted that I tend to travel with a pack at events. I have good friends around me most of the time. Some of this is social and some of this is protective. I feel safe in a pack. I look young, I present as very feminine, and I started publishing at 25, when the likelihood of not being taken seriously or respected was very high.

And both of the most serious things that have happened to me at conventions have happened at Readercon.

Please do not ask me to discuss these events. I will not. I did not report them at the time and see no purpose in dragging them up now. It is not the fault of anyone at Readercon or involved with it that this happened or that I did not report it. Both men were in positions of power over me, (people in positions of power do tend to do this kind of thing–it’s almost like they know they won’t be punished like a mere plebe), both would almost certainly say it was a misunderstanding–because that’s pretty much what people do when confronted. I decided long ago not to have the conversation that attends reporting incidents. I am not as brave as Genevieve Valentine. And since both situations occurred before the famous zero tolerance policy was even in place, I think I can be fairly sure that I made the right decision in keeping them to myself.

I have also had, somewhat infamously, my share of problems with the Readercon Board, most particularly one member who felt a proper response to disagreeing with me on the Internet was sending private, threatening emails and behaving in an insulting and aggressive fashion toward commenters to this journal. (I also did not post publicly about the emails, which I now regret. I was not brave enough.) I have been nervous about attending the convention ever since my own Internet dust-up with that Board member, because his social and physical behavior I find intimidating and I am well aware that to say he dislikes me is an understatement. I was told by the Chairs of the convention that his involvement would be phased out due to his unacceptable behavior–but that has clearly not happened at all as he is still instrumental on the Board and Committee, and thus, in this decision. That is not why I’ve not been able to go for the last two years–I was GOH at another convention in 2011 and traveling to Budapest this year–but avoiding him has become a priority when I do attend. For the last three years I have been, quite simply, afraid.

And what do you know? It IS Your Father’s Readercon, after all.

Which brings me to the point of this post, which is that I cannot in conscience continue to attend Readercon.

If the Readercon Board (which is different than the Committee, and I have nothing but respect and sympathy for the terrible position the Committee is in at this point) cannot bring themselves to care about the safety of its author guests, then I, as an author guest, cannot entrust my safety to Readercon. Everyone’s safety should be of utmost importance, of course. Valentine is not more important than a fan who is harassed. But in the status Olympics in which the Board is trying to medal, it has become clear that the only thing that protects me even a little as a female author, the fact that I am well-known and active in the community and if fucked with can make a lot of noise, is irrelevant if a harasser is sufficiently popular in the Big Boys Club. And of course, it never did protect me very well. Genevieve is also well known and active online. She can, and has, made a big noise. What has occurred was highly predictable. If they do not care about her, they will not care about anyone. If neither authors nor SMOFs can be ensured of their safety and that their violations will be taken seriously, how can any lover of books who just wants to go listen to some panels and get a first edition signed feel safe? And this is borne out by the large number of people crossing Readercon off of their calendars for the forseeable future.

Which means that the Board was fully willing to sacrifice significant portions of attendance, revenue, reputation, and possibly the con itself as it has been known, to protect a single man with a long track record of harassment.

How can I support this convention while this decision stands? I love Readercon–I used to drive 12 hours to attend. Now it is my local con. Despite my fear and nervousness, it is a place I want to be. But cons are working spaces for authors, as squirrel_monkey has pointed out, and I cannot expose myself to a workplace environment where harassment is tolerated if everyone likes the harasser a whole lot and he says sorry when caught.

This is pure nepotism and it is ugly as hell. He’s one of our own, don’t inconvenience him. Nevermind that the whole welcoming geek community thing we’re all so proud of should mean that everyone at a con is one of our own.

But what this should tell us is that the geek community–or at least Readercon–is just like everywhere else. The rules do not apply to the higher-ups.

If the policy is reconsidered and Walling banned, I, too will reconsider. But only reconsider–this is an issue of the culture of Readercon, the memes at work within it, and though I thought that culture had come a long way, it clearly has not, at least with regards to the Board. I cannot speak for anyone else, I only speak as an author and a member of the community. I have, however, certainly never run a Worldcon, so feel free to disregard my concerns completely.

The Board stated the following:

In the three years between Readercons 23 and 26 we will actively look for evidence of real and permanent positive change in his [Walling's] behavior. It was made very clear to him that if we receive any substantiated reports of continued inappropriate behavior at any venue – during or after the suspension period – his suspension will become permanent.

And to that I say:

In the three years between Readercons 23 and 26 I will actively look for evidence of real and permanent positive change in the Board’s behavior, policies, and the environment created by both. I hope I have made it very clear to them that if I receive any substantiated reports of continued inappropriate behavior at this venue – during or after my hiatus – my hiatus will become permanent.

Mirrored from cmv.com. Also appearing on @LJ and @DW. Read anywhere, comment anywhere.

The Bear Diet

Scenes from a rainy Sunday:

I talked to my mother-in-law (Tatyana) on Skype today. My father-in-law (Vadim) is visiting and since they were robbed the last time they both came up, she elected to stay at home with the Jack Russell Terrierist.

I had not mentioned my weight loss to them, and so when I came on Skype, Tatyana was quite shocked to see what I look like now. (In a good way!) She asked what I had done to lose the weight (P.S. I have a ways to go yet, process is far from over, but I’ve come a long way and she hasn’t seen me in a year, so it’s pretty dramatic) and I told her the various bits and pieces of changes in my life, the app I use, etc. Finally came to the dairy thing.

Me: So it turns out I’m allergic to dairy, which I didn’t know until last year, but I guess I have been for a long time, which is why I felt sick a lot. So I don’t eat dairy anymore. That actually helps a lot.

She nodded. All cool. About fifteen minutes later, I hear the rest of the exchange from justbeast, which went on in Russian after I signed off.

Tatyana: What is Cat doing with her diet? She is only eating berries now? That is not healthy.

Vadim: (Awesomely deadpan) No, you heard it wrong. She is now eating only bear.

Most badass diet, and father-in-law, ever.

Mirrored from cmv.com. Also appearing on @LJ and @DW. Read anywhere, comment anywhere.

Days in Budapest When the Rain Came

A continuing log of my time in Hungary, addressed to my husband in Maine.

Day 3

11:30 am: Yesterday was a low-energy day. It was hot and sticky, and after sleeping in we strolled down to Market Hall for lunch. I had a goose leg! That I didn’t have to roast myself! I was quite pleased that it tasted exactly like the goose I make, which means I am Doing It Right. It came with fresh caraway bread that had this light salt crust on it. Dora got sour cherry strudel which she loves. We walked about for awhile, picking up supplies for the apartment (tea kettle, coffee cups, pots, a palacinta pan–that’s Hungarian blini–and a sharp kitchen knife). Do you know they have a version of korjiki here? They put all kinds of sweet things on them. We should try it.

Once home, I read some of David Foster Wallace’s essay collection–I like his essays better than his fiction. I wish he’d done an update of the television essay, because after 1990 (when it was written) all the things he said became a million times more true, ie, reality TV, online streaming, ironic advertising. It was so hot in that slow, thick summer way that I fell asleep. Hungary is apparently a magical country where I can nap! I have done it two days in a row, and you know I can never nap, it takes me so long to get to sleep and I’m so cranky when I wake up. But not here–I fall asleep in a moment with no medication and wake up totally happy and refreshed. Two hours of nap! And then I got to sleep at 11:30 that night, too, which is usually impossible for me! I feel like a Terrible Midnight Princess who can only sleep in one place in all the world.

For dinner, we walked behind our apartment building, down a little street crowded with cafes and trees and the most gorgeous architecture. I said it looked like Brooklyn, a little, and Dora said: yes, if the Turks had invaded New York. And it was strangely Turkish in style, Turkish Art Deco Alhambra neo-Cathedralesque. All these relief arches and faces carved into the sides of building, white on peach and sage and cornflower. Faces we couldn’t understand, though they must be there for a reason. Like being inside a portal fantasy without an As You Know, Bob guide. There were two faces on shields mounted on the wall on one side of a square: one hooded and mustached and obviously Turkish, the other we couldn’t tell if it was male or female, but his/her mouth was gagged. Above them was a marble sun with stark, straight beams. Down the cobblestone street was a church with such red turrets and greened copper trim. The bricks of another side of the square were deliberately, decoratively pockmarked, which had come, beautifully, to match the natural fading and pocking of the concrete and brick above it.

We ate cold raspberry soup, which was astonishingly complex and delicious. I had my first (not last) goulash, and is there any better soup in the world? I think not. I have not been using enough paprika when I make it at home! It was the evening of two soups. Dora had a duck and pear salad. We talked about missing Readercon and yet, and yet, cold raspberry soup! In Budapest!

Afterward we went to see that church with the striking turrets–there was a service going, and we watched it for awhile. In the midst of the old altar was a big plasma flat screen where the Hungarian and Latin lyrics to the hymns flashed through the verses.

Along the street was a little shop where we paused to admire the dresses–we’d talked earlier about how each of us have colors we are immediately drawn to, dark jewel tones for me and lighter, more subtle shades of the same colors for Dora. Well, we both instantly pulled dresses off of the rack that proved the thesis. A deep garnet and gold for me and a spring green for her. She looked so beautiful! Like the green fairy. We both ended up getting two floaty summer dresses (the garnet one and another, dark gold and slate, and two different shades of green) and both felt like May queens in them.

We walked through the gardens of the National Museum. We made tentative talk about doing this every year, going to Budapest, writing together in Dora’s grandmother’s apartment where the pantry is full of jam and pickles put up thirty years ago.

We closed out the evening at the cafe below us. A rainstorm spun up and drenched the street outside. I fell asleep reading Engine Summer. I’m almost done–and it’s coloring my days here a little. It’s all about a beautiful, familiar-yet-unfamiliar world where everything has fallen apart, yet people have put it back together again several times and made something new and dreamlike and difficult and uncertain. Draw your own conclusions.

This morning dawned cool and grey and windy. I am all metallic to match it–black and silver and blue, with my hair pulled back severely. Outside the apartment is a tree Dora calls a Japanese Lantern. It is full of huge papery seed pods. The berries inside are green now, but long after we leave, they will turn red.

Mirrored from cmv.com. Also appearing on @LJ and @DW. Read anywhere, comment anywhere.

Days in Budapest When the Sun Was High
c is for cat

justbeast asked me to keep a little daily log of my activities here in Budapest, where I am ensconced with Theodora Goss in her grandmother’s apartment in the city center, writing and seeing and writing some more. I thought I’d post them here, since this is a diary of sorts. Mind the POV, these were directed toward my husband at home–but blogs are all about peeking into private correspondence are they not?

Day 1

5:20 am: I’ve only seen glimpses of the city so far–it is quieter than I expected. Part new metal and glass, part gorgeous centuries-old buildings, part Communist era faded storefronts and flat 70s architecture. It is hot and we are in our 1940s-era apartment with minimal tech–so windows open (no screens), bathtub with a pilot light, laundry in the tub, stove lit with a match. The nights, at least, are cool. We are at a restaurant called The Architects’ Gallery which was a meeting place for the revolutionaries of ’56. Now it’s the national architects’ guildhouse with an open courtyard that is still a cafe, covered in hanging ivy and neo classical busts and statues. I had the most amazing paprikash, so red, like flowers. After Finland, everything seems so very inexpensive here–13 euros for two huge meals and dessert. (Actually everything is in forints, but I only know euros conversion so far). After that I fell asleep, exhausted. Woke at 4 am. The light is out now, the moon very high up and fading to white.

Day 2:

11:30 am: The morning yesterday was cloudy and cool, full of a sudden rainstorm outside the stone walls and double windows of our place on Baross Utca. Later on, the sky went bold blue and cloudless. I never did get back to sleep after 4 am, so I ate an entire salami (a little one!) because it was so amazing and delicious, and read about 2/3 of Engine Summer, which is beautiful, and you should read it. Amnesiac Moon (and Anathem basically all other dreamlike monasterial post-apocalypses) owes a lot to it. Went down to the cafe as soon as it opened and came back up to get Dora and head out into the city. It was hot as anything by 11 and we went to Market Hall, which is like a giant Hungarian version of the West Side Market in Cleveland, with everything you could ever want to eat and a lot of kitschy stuff with “Budapest!” or “Hungary!” printed on it–but also a lot of beautiful shawls and jackets and teacups.

Afterward, we strolled over to the Danube–which is so wide, the color of cream-in-coffee, but much slower and more stately than the Thames. We walked over on the beautiful 19th century Liberty Bridge (Dora said: “There’s a lot of things dedicated to liberty here, but you can never tell which liberty: liberty from the Hapsburgs, liberty from capitalist dogma, liberty from the Nazis, liberty from the Soviets…”). and back over Elizabeth Bridge, which is very modern, as it was rebuilt after WWII. On the other side (the Buda side, Budapest is actually two cities, Buda and Pest, that were united. We’re on the Pest side.) is a famous hot springs and this strange little building you would have loved. We guessed that it was a monastery at some point–it did not seem open in any fashion. It’s built into the side of the cliffs, little castle-like buildings that follow the path of the road getting smaller and smaller, like fairy houses, but with ape-like gargoyles and trefoils. Buttresses were actually carved into the cliffside, not connecting anything, just etched into the hill.

The architecture is from every era–but there is a lot of art nouveau, which you know I love. One apartment building had a stylized elephant in relief on it.

On our way back we walked down Váci utca, the main shopping street. I found an antique map shop and will be heading back there for you–they had an old map of Transylvania and Bulgaria! It was a strange combination of antique stores, MAC makeup counters, high end jewelry and folk art stalls (though Dora assures me that if it says handmade it’s most assuredly not). We also saw a 1918 etching of Budapest through autumn leaves. If Dora doesn’t get it when we return, I may have to, it was haunting and lovely and a little sad, in that melancholy way some etchings have. We found towels (the apartment needs to be supplied to some extent and we’re doing our best–yesterday brought us cutlery, towels, pillows, and salt and pepper shakers) with our names on them! They only had a few names but two of them were Dora and Kati (Catherine is Katalin in Hungarian) and we were delighted. Hers is pink, mine is white. We went to Gerbeaud for tea (smoked salmon and brown bread with raspberry elderflower lemonade for me, caramel chocolate cake and coffee with ice cream for Dora) which is a pastry and tea shop established in 1858. A man played the violin so fast and gorgeously in the courtyard outside.

By then I was feeling sick–lack of sleep, the heat, and my belly disliking the tap water in the apartment. We headed home and I immediately embarked on an epic nap. When I woke up, I had some pogácsa, a savory pastry, and salami (which was not as good as the one from the previous day, but then, I got it at Tesco’s, so serves me right) and Dora and I had one of those long, meandering, wonderful conversations about life and love and mistakes and fate and writing and mothers and displacement and romanticism that goes until two am. I finally got a real night’s sleep, woke up at 11 this morning to Dora already at the American cafe below the apartment (California Coffee Company, which is air conditioned and has wifi) and the air a little cooler than yesterday. Had some sour cherry juice and headed down with computer in hand.

I am wearing an orange dress today. Sour cherries are called meggyes in Hungarian.  Igen is yes, nem is no, koszonom is thank you (pronounced kur-sur-nurm) jó napot is good morning. Jó napot. I love you.

Mirrored from cmv.com. Also appearing on @LJ and @DW. Read anywhere, comment anywhere.


Log in