The Writing

07 December, 2017

i am fire, i am death

This is becoming a regular thing, isn't it, I write about the weather? Like there's nothing else going on. But since my nation's currently a dumpster fire, well... I am not happy that my state is also burning, burning. Again. Especially since the new horror of a tax bill will not allow deductions for fire-disaster expenses because it's a mean-spirited partisan piece of malice.

Anyway, wind, ash, dust, wind, more ash, smoke. I'd rather have an actual dragon burning shit up, with actual gold in a hoard somewhere, so that we could at least pay for the rebuilding afterwards.

And we can't say "climate change" because... because... I guess we don't do science anymore? Man, I don't get that. I don't get the social conservatism, either (oh, let's just call it bigotry), but that's all amygdala. But science?

A process of trying to understand the world's materialist function, from observation and experimentation and extrapolation from principles. A search for the fucking rules, which would seem to be right up some people's alley, and yet--isn't. Rules for society! But not rules for the planet.

But also...facts, I guess. People imagine science is facts, and sometimes it is, but more often it's an evolution of understanding. (Here I fall back on my Kuhn, and The Structure of Scientific Revolution). New data emerges, new theories float, new tests, new knowledge. I think it's kinda awesome.

And yet.

I was flipping through a Signals catalog the other day (paper. I KNOW.) and there's a whole page of astronomy-themed stuff, and there's this solar system bracelet with, yes, Pluto on it. And the ad copy made a big deal of that, like including Pluto was something subversive, a strike against The Man who wants to take away our ninth planet. My first thought was "pretty bracelet" and my second was, FFS, Pluto? Come on.

When I was growing up, I learned that we had nine planets. Then, when I was an adult, I learned that the solar system was more complicated than that, and the ninth planet had been reclassified. And then the fight reignited about planetary classifications, and Pluto might be a planet again...along with 110 other bodies out there, This did not make me sad. Or upset. Or anything, except yay, science! A new thing has been learned about how solar systems form!

But people did get upset, as if Pluto's reclassification, as if this new knowledge, was some kind of personal assault on The Way Things Are.  No need to go relearning new things, why, we had nine planets when I was a kid, and nine planets are good enough now, too. And somehow the debate was evidence that those scientists are just silly, fighting over that stuff...all while insisting that Pluto was a planet because that was what they learned from a book when they were kids (which is, you know, pretty silly too).

I don't get it. I mean, I do--sometimes new data, new information, overturns something we found comforting or comfortable, and it sucks. But that's emotional reflex. Discomfort is part of growth and change, and change and growth are necessary and constant. Or they should be.

24 October, 2017

the ninth ring

I actually don't remember my Dante well enough to say  if there even is one that deals with weather in Inferno. If there isn't, there should be. I mean, it was 91 degrees at 6AM in late October, on its way to triple digits. (And in the time it took to write this post, yes, we hit 100).

I just finished the first draft (as opposed to the zero-th) of WIP,* which is not really IP anymore, but also is because it's not finished. But it's tacked together enough that I can send it to Nous, and send it back to The Rat, who read the subzero-th version already, and eventually, to The Mighty Agent. I have, like, 40K in scrap notes, which is what I had for Enemy, too. The detritus of world-building. The ways plot could've gone, and didn't. Still way better than the aborted 93K novel from last autumn. No, WIP is not book three of On the Bones of Gods. That manuscript has a name (Ally) and will be forthcoming in 2018, barring disaster. Expect much fanfare as the details become more clear. Expect the revisions on that to be eating my head soon enough.

I had started to post about the MeToo hashtag--

--which I participated in on Facebook (and not on Twitter), but--well. I didn't have anything to add, you know? There are so many of us, and so much overlap. I was struck by the number among my friends who hesitated to post (myself included) because we didn't think our experiences were serious enough. Catcalls and creepers and men from whom we could walk away without penalty didn't seem legit in the face of the assaults other women reported. That's toadshit, of course. I did not encounter any of the assholes some of the others did--the men whose comments made it about them, the women who said this is shaming, or not enough, or too much, or elevating victimhood, as if we are all asking for pity. And wait, what? I don't feel shame because some dude pulled up beside my twelve-year-old self and exposed his penis to me, or because some guy slapped my ass, or because a guy assessed me as fuckable (or not, depending on the encounter). I feel anger. I always have. And anyone who thinks I should feel something other than that can shut the fuck up--

--but decided I should work on this Tolkien class I just agreed to teach at the high school during the spring semester, which is a particularly long 17 class days of 2.5 hours each and no, we are not watching the LoTR and The Hobbit trilogies in their entirety. (Although that remains an option, I guess. But if I can't get the damned films done in one class, what's the point?) I had been intending to teach Zombie Lit, for which I have a syllabus already prepared, but the students I guess wanted Tolkien, and the boss asked who wanted to do that, so.... I am now researching, finding excerpts, coming up with (or borrowing) lesson plans. These are creative writers. We can do some cool shit. But it's also a lit class, so we don't do a lot of writing, which means I will need to PDF (it is too a verb. Shut up) all manner of things. Eventually. Not today. It's too hot to fight with the scanner today.

I have rediscovered Tolkien fans, though. Whew. Also too hot to get into that right now. But let's say I'm gonna have to watch the 3rd installment of The Hobbit and I intend to have beer and ice cream when I do it. Self-medication at its finest. (I'm going to hope Smaug wins, and write fanfic in my head where he does.)

14 September, 2017

black sand, dancing skies

The Lyft driver was horrified.

"You're going where?" she said. "To do...what?"

Iceland, we said. To climb a waterfall and walk the black beach at Reynisfjara and hike Thingvellir
Thingvellir, site of the Althing
and ride horses. No tour buses, no sitting in hot springs, no fancy dinners. Rain gear, good boots, lots of layers, wool socks. Maybe the aurora borealis, if we were lucky. Probably not a lot of beer. Certainly not a lot of people. 340K on the whole island! Long stretches of nothing and no one. Lots of sheep and horses. Silence, I said wistfully. Maybe somewhere I can't hear any cars.

"Have fun," the Lyft driver wished us. But she sounded doubtful. (Her upcoming vacation, a weekend in Denver, was to be spent drinking and partying and otherwise not exerting herself one more iota than necessary. I do not judge this, but I also do not want it.)

Maybe it's that Nous and I are not good at vacations. We haven't been on one that lasted more than a day (visiting family does not count) for 15 years. Perhaps we could've offered that as excuse to the Lyft driver--we don't know how to relax in long stretches. And also, to us, hiking is relaxing. Seeing new landscapes is relaxing. Nous getting some quality time with his camera is relaxing.

We got our wishes. All of them.

I mean: we went to Iceland in September and did not need our rain pants. It rained exactly twice: the afternoon we arrived, and on the return from Reynisfjara.

Glymur, in Hvalfjordur
Which meant, when we went up the Glymur waterfall trail, it was sunny, and our (very enthusiastic) guide decided to take the long way, which involved crossing a glacial river twice, barefoot. No tour buses. You can't see Glymur from the road. You have to earn it.

No lie: I felt pretty badass, afterwards. And I was also very glad of my wool socks (one of my earliest pairs) which prevented blisters from lingering damp and sandy bits that stuck to me after the river crossings.

We saw the aurora borealis that night, of which I have no pictures, because I was too busy watching them. They looked like  bands of silver and the faintest hints of green. Like ghosts moving on the vaults of the sky.

And then, finally, Reynisfjara, which was my Must See from the very first time I saw a photo. We drove out of Reykjavik, past farms of sheep and Icelandic horses, past Eyjafjallajökull (capped in clouds, quiet, brooding), past a parade of waterfalls fed by the glaciers.

There is something about this long stretch of black sand, studded with rocks, ringed with basalt columns on one side and crashing grey sea on the other. Just listen to it. I wish I could share the rest: the wind, the cold salty tang of the sea, the grit of the sand. But this will have to do.