readingredhead: (Write)
Just got word of [ profile] shipswap , a rare-pairings exchange that will be taking place for the first time this summer. Rules look approximately the same as Yuletide, but you request/offer pairings rather than characters, and as a result rare pairings in big fandoms are totally okay. Nominations are going on right now through May 16, sign-ups will start May 18, assignments go out June 11, stories due by August 26.

I'm definitely planning on doing this at present, and I've already nominated everything from Kit Rodriguez/Lone Power (Young Wizards) to Anna Howe/Clarissa Harlowe (Clarissa), once again proving that 90% of my interests are either 1) young adult fantasy novels or 2) eighteenth/nineteenth-century British novels.

(Now I should maybe go back to writing the paper which is due in nineteen hours and currently lacks introduction, conclusion, and cohesion.)
readingredhead: (Adventure)
I know it's early to be making this list but if it doesn't get made now it may never actually happen!
  1. Find a letterpress studio where I can take a few classes, get back in the hang of working with type, and then use their presses/studio space outside of class time, all for a reasonable fee.
  2. Find some community/forum/real-life workshop where I can learn how to better use my snazzy new digital camera.
  3. Follow through on E's plan for a literary theory reading group/ranting group, tentatively titled "What the Fuck Does That Mean?"
  4. Make a list of the literary/critical texts I ought to have read and put together a plan/schedule for reading at least some of them before next fall. (Primary objectives: all of Jane Austen, the criticism in my "To Read" library on EndNote, recent journal issues in my field, eighteenth-century novels, Aurora Leigh.)
  5. Re-read Paradise Lost and a good chunk of the syllabus from my upper div romanticism class, alongside my lecture notes from Joanna's and Celeste's classes on said topics (create a schedule, perhaps post thoughts about it on a weekly basis?)
  6. Actually continue writing/revising The Printer's Tale. I'd say that a new draft might be a nice goal, but in all honesty I'll probably settle for 
  7. *cough* Actually write all of that Dr. Barlow-centric fanfic that's been stewing in my brain. And maybe also that strange Dairine/Roshaun hybrid fic/mix.
  8. Work on improving my French. Make a point of reading in French on a regular basis (whether it's news articles, eighteenth-century literary criticism, or just for homework).
  9. Train for the Tough Mudder in October! Work out on a daily basis and keep a record of it (probably in one of the many notebooks I have lying around).
  10. Read books for fun!
More to come as I remember them.
readingredhead: (Write)
 That's it. That's the whole entry. Must save all words for seminar papers. Goodbye, internet; goodbye, sleep; hello, coffee!

(But like seriously who said this was okay I distinctly remember there being more days than this between now and when the first paper is due, I PROTEST.)
readingredhead: (London)
Life continues apace over in the world of academia. I turned in my MA essay today (I'm not overflowingly proud of it but I do think it's a solid, well-argued, potentially important piece of work), which means I only have three major assignments between now and May 9, and then FREEDOM. Two of those assignments are 18-20 pg seminar papers, both of which will be touching in one way or another on Clarissa, which I have ALSO finished. (In related news, I'm pretty sure I've told everyone I know that I want a t-shirt that says "I survived Clarissa -- not even she could manage that!" except I suspect if I actually got one Richardson would personally return from the dead to haunt me.)

Aside from school, I have had a surprisingly busy social calendar lately? I mean, apparently I have friends in this city?! Crazy talk. So there was that one time when Christina and I stalked Doctor Who filming and saw Matt Smith and Karen Gillan doing a lot of running (and they waved at us!), a birthday party for [personal profile] oliviacirce at which among other things I discovered that I may want a line from Milton's Lycidas tattooed on my foot ("But not the praise"), karaoke with friends at the bar with the TARDIS (and I actually sang in front of strangers!), and lunch plus Clarissa conversation with a fellow survivor today. And tonight there will be post-MA-essay drinks with cohort mates, followed by a birthday dinner tomorrow, and then Jordy is in town on Thursday! 

I'm also starting to realize how soon I'll be headed to London and Norway, and I am SO EXCITED. It's been too long since I traveled somewhere and had adventures (not that adventures cannot be had without travel, but travelling adventures have a different flavor, and it's one that I miss). In case you missed it the last time I listed dates, I'll be in London June 12-19 and Norway June 20-29 (not that anyone in Norway is on my flist, but in case you were curious!). At some future point I will send Londoners a humble plea for couch space, but I gather that there is moving and the like going on at present, and that life is stressful in general, and I would not want to add to that!

One month from today, I will have an MA in English. Two months from today, I will be in London (or you know potentially elsewhere in the United Kingdom if I do day-trippy things! like walking/hiking places!). It's just getting through the intervening time that will require some finessing, but thankfully it's actually all starting to look almost manageable. (There will be a post later about how, in one of my papers, I'm essentially arguing that the "participatory novel culture"--which is my fancy terminology for "fans and fanfic writers"--centered around Richardson's novels in the mid-eighteenth century ought to be read, not as unprofessional fannish effusion, but as a strand of novel theory in its own right which can teach us a great deal about how the novel as an evolving genre was perceived by its readers and its writers. Yes you heard me right. FANDOM. IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY. And my professor is excited about me writing this! And rec'd a book about Janeites as potentially relevant to my methodological interests! ACADEMIA: YOU'RE DOING IT RIGHT.)

Now I should probably stop procrastinating and tackle the day's most difficult dilemma (which is, of course, what do I make for dinner?).
readingredhead: (Default)
 So, I don't think I've really complained too much online about my current housing situation, but this would be the time to do so. Long story short, my roommate is very nice, but not very clean, not very open to my suggestions about how to better use our apartment space, often needs to be reminded multiple times to keep common areas accessible (we're talking piles of things on floors and tables and counters, where "things" sometimes includes "leftover food that needs to be put away"); overall she's the kind of person I wouldn't talk to more than once if I didn't happen to live with her. I love my room (except for the fact that it gets NO natural light), but the kitchen and the common room don't feel like they're "mine" because they're typically overrun with her mess. She is incredibly solicitous when it comes to cleaning up for OTHER PEOPLE (i.e. if one of her friends is coming to visit, she spends a whole day scrubbing down the apartment), but doesn't seem to understand that her roommate might want that level of cleanliness at all times. She's sort of clueless when it comes to social cues, and we're at the point where, short of being very stern/angry with her, I don't think there's anything to do to ensure that the apartment will consistently meet my (not overly demanding) standard of cleanliness.

In about January, I decided that I was better than this, didn't need to put up with it, and would take a gamble on a new unknown roommate for next year, because certainly things couldn't get worse. I'm in university housing now, which is really convenient both in terms of location and price range, and I had hoped to be able to transfer to another apartment in the university system at the end of May when my present lease runs out. It seems utterly logical that they would give you this option, right?

Well, guess who just found out today that they don't?

For whatever reason, university housing won't actually let you transfer at the end of your lease period. They will let you transfer in the middle of it, and write you a new lease -- but their "transfer periods" are October and February, which aside from being a long way away, are also times when I am generally so busy with schoolwork that moving house would be nearly impossible.

Now, non-university housing isn't bad -- it's just a lot harder to find, especially since I don't know anyone else in the area who needs a roommate or who is looking for new housing. The one person I know who might want me for a roommate is NOT the sort of person I could see myself living well with. So I'm looking up rooms for rent on Craigslist and crossing fingers that something comes up, because I was getting so excited at the prospect of not having to live here again next year.

Sigh. And now back to regularly scheduled "too much work, too little time" weekend plans.
readingredhead: (Fear for Courage)
Can't tell if I am prematurely freaking out about the amount of work I have to do in the next six weeks, or if I really ought to be terrified of the MA essay, two seminar papers, short paper, and final exam I have to write between now and my birthday. Probably a little terror is healthy at this point.

It's good because I've given myself some time to relax, both over spring break and over this past week. I went to the midnight showing of The Hunger Games last night with a group of awesome friends, and it was so nice to chill and to talk about books with people who are not going to ask where your argument situates you within the critical tradition. (Though because we were near the front of the line for our 12:07 showing, and the earlier showing's lines were all inside, we actually got asked fairly intelligent questions by a Good Morning America camerawoman and I may have gone off on a bit of a spiel about dystopian fiction and the politics of visibility in an age where mass media /advertising is predominantly visual...and may also have mentioned the relevance of Jeremy Bentham's panopticon to the construction of the Hunger Games arena. Though that was in a different conversation.)

The film was also really good. I can't tell yet if it was good as a film in its own right (though I suspect it is), but it is without a doubt one of the best book-to-movie adaptations I've ever seen. I suspect part of this has to do with the fact that my attachment to the book is more to do with concept than execution -- I have some stylistic issues with Suzanne Collins' writing -- but the things that irked me (ex. the way she handled point of view, big info-dump at the beginning of the first novel, occasionally clunky exposition in general) are things that movies can actually do better than print. Or if not better than at least easier. 

My younger sister and her friend are going to be in town on their spring break and staying with me for the next four days -- their flight lands at 5:30am tomorrow! -- so although they can get along without me, I miss my sister and might not get to see her again until August so I want to spend as much time with her as I can, certainly to the detriment of my homework. And then right after she leaves, [ profile] alexandria_skye is going to be in town and we are going to celebrate our mutual geekery with a night out at The Way Station! (For non-NY geeks, that's the steampunk bar with the TARDIS.) So I'm looking forward to all of this but also wary of how quickly my work will pile up and attempt to eat me. 

Speaking of which, I should probably get back to that whole "reading old books" thing, since it's plausible that I can make my way through more of Clarissa and also some early modern scientific writing before I go to sleep.
readingredhead: (Adventure)
I'm pretty sure that all schoolwork should be suspended in times of wonderful weather. Unfortunately I act like this is already the case despite the fact that it isn't, and have spent 90% of my spring break thus far wearing skirts and shorts and dresses and gallivanting about outdoors (and the other 10% sleeping). What do you mean I have my MA essay to write, and lots of long and involved 18th- and 19th-century novels to read, along with assorted relevant criticism? I don't think you understand, IT'S SUNNY, that supersedes mere logic.

What also supersedes mere logic is the fact that springtime anywhere in the world apparently reminds me of Berkeley, and how much I love it there and how I really will someday go back. Good to know.

Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to go lie on the grass and pretend to read but probably just stare dreamily into space from behind my oversized sunglasses.
readingredhead: (Muse)
I had two opportunities to talk about writing today with writers, which is really weird and unusual and lovely and should happen more often. Both of these too-brief conversations were held before the beginning of a class, and inevitably there were other (non-writer) people listening. In my Clarissa seminar the guy who sits across from me noticed my NaNoWriMo travel mug, asked about my history with NaNo, and was sincerely impressed that I'd managed it for seven years (this last year was his first). Of course my seminar leader/advisor/all around awesome person Jenny is a novelist in addition to being a professor and she started talking about writing too and it was awesome.

I was thinking about NaNo so when I somehow got onto the subject of writing fiction with a girl in the MA before my next class, I ended up mentioning a couple of my novels-in-progress. I gave her the flippant/irreverent/shorthand description of The Printer's Tale and she sounded interested, but one of the other girls in my cohort, who was sitting in front of us, turned around and made a disparaging comment that implied I was following up on the popularity of Twilight, of all things, simply because my less-than-one-sentence synopsis mentioned werewolves.

And the thing is, yes, my flippant, irreverent, shorthand description of the novels I write will always leave something out. And if you're not already into the few things that show up in the shorthand, that kind of description isn't going to interest you. But if you are? Then I can convince you in less than a sentence...or at least get a laugh out of you. In fact hopefully that's exactly what these will do!

Lunar Reflections (2005): teenage angst on the moon

Kes Running (2006): unpremeditated gap year in space

The Printer's Daughter (2007): Beauty and the Beast meets Jane Eyre with werewolves

Gil and Leah (2008): feminist fantasy cross-dressing farce

The Inconvenient Dreamer (2009): woman travels to alternate universes in her dreams

Beneath Strange Stars (2010): gender-swapped Pride and Prejudice in space

Chasing Ghosts (2011): Possession meets Neverwhere with cross-dressing

The moral of the story: I need to find more fantasy/sci-fi writers (or at least writers who are sympathetic to these genres even if not writers of them) with whom to talk about my novels.
readingredhead: (Default)
La la la, TOTALLY BEHIND ON SCHOOLWORK, ugh. Should in retrospect not have agreed to help out a friend in my PhD cohort by filling in a non-speaking role in a French-language play (as in, the production is in French!) because stuff like this takes TIME, and I need to be doing other things, like reading over-long novels, and did I mention my parents are visiting next weekend and basically I will need to be a library hermit pretty much as soon as this show is over. Aaaargh.

And yet -- it feels good in a weird way to be part of a collective creative endeavor again. The closest I've come to something like this in recent years is being a part of really close-knit writing workshops, but even then, the final product is much less visibly a group effort than a theatrical production is. And I enjoy this being a part of something.
readingredhead: (Write)
There is something about me that is physically opposed to the notion of revision.

My brain is wholly aware that being given the opportunity to re-work or even entirely re-write a paper is absolutely incredible. It means learning from and correcting the mistakes of an earlier draft, and ultimately producing a stronger, sleeker, better paper in the process. It means that there is always room for growth, and for reflection -- both in terms of my own skill set as an analyst of literature, and in terms of my developing abilities as a writer of academic prose. It means that I will not be judged on my first, amateur-ish attempt, but rather on the sum of what I can accomplish when guided by the thoughtful critique of others far more advanced in my field.

And yet somehow my body doesn't get this. Every time I'm handed back a paper with comments and suggestions, I experience an intense moment of physical anxiety-bordering-on-revulsion. My stomach turns, my palms sweat, my heart beats a little too fast and irregular. To call it "discomforting" or "disconcerting" is to merely scratch at the surface. The problem is that, despite all of the things that are awesome about being able to revise a paper, before getting to the realization of that privilege, I first have to admit that the paper I turned in was imperfect enough to require correction.

Now don't get me wrong, I know that the papers I turn in are far from polished (though I do strive to make them as good as I possibly can). But I also inevitably care, often very deeply, about the opinions of the people who are providing comments and critique on these papers. Generally my self-esteem and self-confidence levels are very high, and I don't really care what others think of me -- but I have a minor idol-worship issue where it comes to certain professors, and thus, they are exceptions. As much as I know that their commentary is entirely directed toward encouraging me to improve myself -- which says, if not always in so many words, that they care (perhaps also rather deeply) about me -- my gut response is to be frustrated with myself for potentially disappointing their expectations, and to worry that they may form less-than-flattering judgments of me based on the work they've seen me do.

Not to mention, half the time I also am at least a little sick and tired of the paper in question (especially shortly after its completion), and I want the time to be able to flush it from my system and distance myself from it before returning. Unfortunately, that's not always possible -- and I also know that if I spend too much time away, I won't come back. 

It's stupid. It's something I'm working on. But it's something that seizes me EVERY SINGLE TIME I am working on a paper that involves revision and response to professor commentary. At this moment, I am doing everything I can (including writing this post!) to put off reading my professor's comments on the seminar paper I'm planning to transform into my MA thesis. I plan on working closely with her over the next few months to make this paper better and I know that this is the first step along the way. But I just don't want to do it, no matter how much I know I must, because my bodily reaction of minor terror gets in the way of the higher reasoning structures of my brain.

I'm sort of hoping that this will get better with time, because if in twenty years I still feel this way when senior colleagues in my department make comments on my newest book chapters, etc., I have probably chosen a rather unhealthy profession...

ETA: Of course the comments were 90% positive, nothing to be afraid of, genuinely supportive and enthusiastic and helpful, etc. They usually are. But the pre-revision anxiety does not acknowledge this fact, not one bit.
readingredhead: (Muse)
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I live in a city that is vibrant and alive, that keeps on growing and changing but never grows old, with more to it than I could possibly discover in a lifetime (though that won't keep me from trying), littered with great cafes and independent bookstores, somewhere that's cold in the winter and hot in the summer and beautiful always.

I share a home with a person -- nay, people -- I love, who love and support me in all my endeavors, not unquestioningly (because sometimes I come up with schemes that need to be questioned, even if only so that I can refine them to the point where they will actually work) but untiringly, because they know that I will do the exact same for them.

I teach mostly-interesting subjects to mostly-interested people at a university that invests in its professors as teachers (not just as researchers) and in its students as people (not just as brains), where my colleagues range on the spectrum from "not my type of person but likeable enough" to "brain crush for life."

I write fiction -- maybe not a lot, and maybe not very well, but it's a part of my life I make time for, and I am rewarded for the time I put in, even if only in the form of having a release from academic writing.

I am part of something big, something that matters, and even on the bad days (because the bad days don't just go away after the last page of the story's been written), I can remember this and know that for today, this belonging is reward enough.
readingredhead: (Sketch)
Today so far: I woke up, had breakfast (coffee and croissant) at the famous and delicious cafe a block and a half from my apartment while reading a book written for teenagers, bought new ink cartridges for the Italian fountain pen I bought ages ago but somehow forgot about until I was home over break, proceeded to clean out said pen so that it can be used for planning the epic story of love and adventure and werewolves that is my forever novel, and planned out my outfit for later tonight when I will be going to happy hour at a nerd bar in Brooklyn that has a TARDIS for its bathroom (it's actually bigger on the inside). 

Yeah, life's pretty awesome sometimes. And I haven't even had lunch yet.

Sick :(

Dec. 9th, 2011 03:51 pm
readingredhead: (Default)
Of course I catch a cold right when it's beautifully wintry outside, and I have a bajillion pages of papers to write. Three papers due in the next week, only one of which I have written a full first draft for so far...and that's the last one that's due, of course. So no, I'm not dead, but I'm heading in that direction...


Dec. 1st, 2011 03:32 pm
readingredhead: (Professor)
A year ago today, I submitted my first grad school application. I thought it was pretty terrible and consoled myself that I at least had a couple of days/weeks to work on my other applications before I submitted them.

Turns out, I could have stopped right there, because that "pretty terrible" application earned me (eventually) my place in Columbia's PhD program.

So while everyone else in my cohort is starting to complain about having to give presentations and write papers and take exams, I'm going to remember how grateful I am to even be here, how privileged I am to be allowed to give these presentations and write these papers and take these exams, and how even in the hardest times, this is something that I fought for, and merely being here at all is a victory.
readingredhead: (Grin)
There have been a lot of times in my life lately where I've worried that what I do for fun and what I want to do seriously with the rest of my life don't mach up. I spend a lot of "fun time" reading books written for teenagers, with magic and/or crossdressing and/or teenaged royalty and/or flying whales. I spend a lot of the same funtime not only analyzing those books, but turning that analysis into a lens for understanding and critiquing social inequalities and broad societal misconceptions and problematic assumptions about Big Issues like race and gender and religion and sexuality. 

And then what do I do with my "serious work"? I read things people were writing before flying whales were even on literature's imaginative horizon. (At least to my knowledge! If you or someone you know has encountered a flying whale in the eighteenth century, please direct me!) I read works by women, and I find myself drawn to works written specifically by those women to whom the traditional English canon tends to deny a voice, but my major subjects of analysis have themselves been rather canonical thus far -- I am somehow the white girl who got into grad school with a writing sample on Jane Austen -- and while I know this will shift as I read more under the direction of some awesome professors (male and female) who understand that the eighteenth century is a time when "literature" as a category is only just coming into existence, allowing for a great deal of space in the literary imagination that gets restricted as things like canonization and genre solidification begin to happen, I do occasionally wish that it was easier to connect the two halves of my life to each other.

But the thing is, they are connected. Intimately. Even when (especially when) I don't see it. Prime example of this being that I'm currently in a course on eighteenth century oriental tales which has got me reading lots of stories by and about women, and also stories with magic! That elusive combination which, before this semester, I would not have thought constituted a portion of the canon that was available for my analysis, or that I could speak about as a way of gaining any kind of scholarly authority. 

And I realized as I submitted the paper proposal for this class that without fandom-related conversations about the importance of representing women who are friends with other women, I would never have come to this paper topic. I am essentially writing a paper about how the collapse of society in one particularly violent early-ish gothic novel could have been averted if it wasn't in the interest of men and masculine organizations of power to pit women against each other, or if women realized that their animosity against each other only existed because routed through masculinist assumptions of women's social roles and decided to counteract this by being friends with each other anyway.

Seriously, I keep looking at my paper and thinking about fandom and smiling, because the wonderful female commentators of fandom have taught me just as much as the wonderful female writers of the eighteenth century. Ladies who are friends with other ladies and do not judge them for their way of being a lady are the happiest best ladies. That is all.

NaNo help?

Nov. 29th, 2011 12:56 am
readingredhead: (Write)
All things willing, I will be done with this by this time tomorrow! But in order to power through these last 5,000 words, I need to figure out how one of my characters discovers that another character has been crossdressing as a man throughout their entire acquaintance when she is, in fact, a woman. (I know, I just write the coolest stuff!)

Basic story: Francis Connors is a couple of years older than Dorothea "Dorian" Bell. They've known each other since "Dorian" came to London at the age of sixteen and got a job working for a printer/bookseller in Paternoster Square (did I mention this was happening in the 1770s and 80s?). Francis has lived all his life in London and basically works across the street from "Dorian" as a bookseller. The two of them are pretty chummy and all is well until, a couple of years into their friendship, Dorothea realizes that forswearing men entirely is harder than it sounds...and she may just be in love with her best friend, who may also happen not to know that she is really a girl! Although she wants to be "more than just friends" with Francis, Dorothea is absolutely in love with her job as a printer and bookseller and a writer, and she would never do anything to let slip the secret of her crossdressing, which is the only thing that got her the job and the respect in the first place.

But of course this means that, eventually, perhaps even years after Dorothea realizes that she likes Francis, he is going to find out that she's a girl at a very inopportune moment! I just haven't figured out what that moment is quite yet. I'm leaning toward something Francis entering "Dorian's" rooms unannounced and getting an eyefull of Dorothea en deshabille, but this just seems crass. And Dorothea is very good at keeping her secret, so I don't think Francis would even suspect that his best mate isn't a dude, and even if he did, he'd have to do a lot of backtracking to discover that "Dorian Bell" is a fiction.

So, suggestions! Come at me!
readingredhead: (Sketch)
In case you could not tell from the title of this post I am now going to talk surprisingly seriously about fanfiction? But mostly as a way of asking questions of others on my flist who may write it/may have written it. (Though of course this won't happen til I go off on a digression!)

My own fandom history is peculiar. I discovered internet fandom via Harry Potter but it was always so effing huge and when the tiny fansite that I had followed from its start ended up closing down and I no longer had a manageably miniature way of participating in forums, reading and reccing fic, keeping up-to-date on news, etc. I basically let go of fandom. (This was in the Days Before LJ so I had no idea what kind of fandom went on through LJ comms!)

Also through Harry Potter, though in a very different way, I ran into the fandom that would become the love of my life, my One True Fandom, if you will: Diane Duane's Young Wizards novels, which I picked up for the first time when in between Harry Potter novels and fell for in a flash. Years later my passion for HP has faded but YW and I are still more-or-less madly in love. It helps that this is a super obscure fandom, easy to keep up with, very supported by the author who runs a discussion forum over at her personal website, and all of the people in it are really kind and supportive (though you'd expect this out of a fandom whose canon depends on the belief that any anger or unkindness, however small, speeds up the heat-death of the universe and plays right into the cosmic antagonist's hands). It is the fandom through which I have made my only non-RL LJ friends!

The point being, I've flirted with other fandoms, but Young Wizards is really my home, and has been for at least the past seven years. I've read all the novels multiple times, I fall asleep listening to the audiobooks on occasion, and characters grew and changed over time and along with me. And this is really the only serious experience of fandom that I have.

Which is why I'm suddenly finding it frustratingly problematic to get my head around writing fic for another fandom. I posted before about how much I loved Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan series, and I really think that it could be a brilliant second fandom home. It's the first fandom since Young Wizards where I've said, "This is something I want to be a part of for a while, not just until the obsession wanes." But my experience coming into the series is so totally different from what I had with YW. I read all three books in the trilogy within the past four months, they haven't been a part of my mental landscape for very long at all, and as much as I want to write ALL THE FIC for them, I find myself feeling weirdly blocked by a sense that I'm just not ready yet.

All of this is an incredibly long-winded way of asking: How do you get yourself to the point where you feel comfortable writing in a new fandom? How do you iron out things like characterization and tone and headcanon and backstory? Do you read a lot of other fic for ideas or do you tend to read and re-read the source material? Is there some magical secret that I have yet to encounter?

Part of the problem is that Leviathan is also a small fandom, but since these are YA novels most fandom participants are probably teenagers...not that this is inherently bad, but it does mean that the kind of discussion I would expect from an LJ comm is a bit lacking in the one active comm for the series... Another part of why Young Wizards is awesome is that a lot of current fandom luminaries are people who might have been teens when the first book was released in the eighties, but are now obviously more mature and care about having philosophical conversations about the nature of the world and the characters, etc.

Guys, I just want to write stories where a girl dressed as a boy and the boy she's in love with go around their alternate universe Europe having adventures and being awesome -- is that too much to ask?
readingredhead: (Fear for Courage)
Fuck, you guys, Berkeley is going up in metaphorical flames: The Police Riot At Berkeley: If They'll Beat A Poet Laureate, Will They Kill A Student?

At another time I'll have something to say about how strange it is to feel closer to events happening on the opposite side of the country than those happening just half an hour's subway ride south of where I work and live, but that's not what this post is about.

This post is about the queasiness I felt when I realized that one of the women at the front of the linked-arms line of protesters, one of the first people to be pulled aside and forced to the ground by the police, was Celeste Langan, my romanticism professor, who wrote me letters of rec and sponsored my SURF project last summer and gave me incredibly cogent and compassionate grad school advice. I'd seen the YouTube video of this action a week ago. I hadn't realized that it was her -- the thought had never even crossed my mind, and I assumed, watching the clip, that since all of the students I knew had more or less graduated, the terror of the thing would be about violence happening in a place that has, for me, epitomized the grandeur and import of learning and knowledge. I never expected that it would be happening to people who epitomized the same thing. I got another shock when I realized that the Geoffrey O'Brien whose ribs were broken by the police is Joanna Picciotto's long-term partner, and Joanna is my absolute role model/future self. 

Thank god Celeste is okay, and she wrote a brief and wonderful account of her arrest -- why she protested, what it means to her, and how appalled she is (and will continue to be). I don't know yet about Professor O'Brien, though he's quoted by ABC News local describing the event after the fact, so presumably he's more or less okay:

"I said, 'if you're going to hit somebody, hit a professor,'" O'Brien admitted. "The cop said, 'you want some?' It was a rhetorical question, and I was hit viciously in the ribs and went to the ground."

I'm torn between feeling an immense upwelling of pride that THESE ARE MY PEOPLE, this is where I come from (and where I'd like to be going back to), and a visceral disgust that just about tears my innards out, because HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO MY PEOPLE. When I first heard the news I was physically sick to my stomach for a few minutes and couldn't say a word about it. It's about an hour later now and I am still feeling it (though it's mostly transmuted itself into a headache, as all my anxieties always do). 

I started this entry feeling like I had something important to say, but right now all I think I can say is that I'm disgusted and terrified and I just want to go cry somewhere for a bit, but NONE of that is going to get my state and my country and my former university back in working order. And I don't know what will.
readingredhead: (Reading)
From [ profile] lazyclaire

Pick 15 of your favorite books or series. [Since I don't have all my books with me in one place, I only have 12.]
Post the first two to three sentences of each book.
Let everyone try to guess the titles and authors of your books. (comments screened)

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. )
readingredhead: (Write)
Sometimes it's a comfort to engage in a work that is challenging, but not beyond the bounds of the possible. I spent a good portion of the past two days doing a research project for an in-class report to be delivered on Wednesday, and I know that I spent more time on it than I needed to (and I haven't actually started writing it yet) but the process of discovering and organizing the information has been pleasantly easy. I've figured out what I needed to get done, and then I've done it, and there's something incredibly satisfying about that sort of work, something that feels worth getting up for. 

That's also sort of what NaNoWriMo feels like to me now, in my seventh straight year as a participant. It's interesting because the majority of the other wrimos I've met so far are doing this for the very first time, and I can hardly remember my first novel. I know that it was more autobiographical than you would expect, considering that it was set on a lunar colony in the future, and that's about it. I don't remember how I felt about the quality of my writing. I barely remember what it was like to see that I had won. My NaNo memories don't get very clear until Year 3, when I wrote the novel that remains the love of my life to this day, and when for the first time I was in close proximity with other people doing the same crazy thing. This year, the writing is going surprisingly well, and although I don't know if anyone other than me would want to read this novel as it is currently being written, I'm finding myself enjoying the writing process far more than I normally do. Hopefully this isn't just the week one high talking.

Speaking of novels, I still have one to write, and I'm gonna get on that so that I can then focus on my schoolwork so I can start writing this report before I go watch Downton Abbey and eat homemade scones with a friend later tonight. (I told you there would be scones.) 


readingredhead: (Default)

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