The Green Morning

First off, I’ve decided to take a short hiatus from the column. I’ve fallen chronically  behind by inches each month with all of the reading for each installment, despite staying on a just-about monthly schedule. I’ve succeeding in impressing myself with my stamina, but I’ve been skirting the edge of burnout these last few months, which have been busy with travel. Along with a recent (and impending) major dayjob upgrade, I needed a moment to breathe. After checking in with my editor, I settled on taking the holiday months off, and we’ll jump back in with Asimov and beyond in the new year.

But the last one on Heinlein and all things DNA replication went up at the end of last month. It represents the first essay on the three corners of the Central Dogma, and the first of the Golden Age trifecta of grandmasters (which can be found here). Reading as much by and about Heinlein, I think, preventing me from letting my personal distaste cloud the essay while still not letting him off the hook for the problematic elements that make him hard to read in a modern context.

When I sent that piece off, I went on a gleeful Asimov palate cleansing binge. Despite knowing Asimov himself was no paragon of modern virtues, I much prefer his detective story frames and long form psychohistory chess games. Though both Heinlein and Asimov frequently resort to white rooms full of talking heads, Asimov’s diatribes read more like cold logical proofs than hyperbolic political screeds, and I’ll take a proof over a screed any day.

Which has got me thinking more and more of bypassing the obvious Clarke article to follow up Asimov and skipping ahead one to Bradbury. Reading The Martian Chronicles for the first time these past few days has me feeling more as though Heinlein’s the heart, Asimov’s the head and Bradbury’s the soul, with Clarke pulling it all out into the future with the evolution of humanity. I can almost justify it to myself to exit the Golden Age early to talk about how Bradbury (and Vonnegut) took the genre and painted it with shades of literary awe to bring in a wider general public.

I know I’m probably just looking for an excuse to read all the Bradbury that’s been heaped on my to read pile, but, true to form, I’ve been mostly following my whims with this column anyway and my intuition hasn’t steered me into a corner yet. Futhermore, in the introduction to my edition, Bradbury says,

The Martian Chronicles was published in the late spring of 1950 to a few reviews. Only Christopher Isherwood placed a laurel wreath on my head as he introduced me to Aldous Huxley, who, at tea, leaned forward and said, “Do you know what you are?”

Don’t tell me what I’m doing, I thought. I don’t want to know.

“You,” said Huxley, “are a poet.”

I can see so many shades of Bradbury in so many of the writers I adore, and reading his fiction is like crawling under some warm blankets with a flashlight. Of course I’m looking for an excuse.

Finally, Bradbury’s sentiment above (in italics), he picked up from Fellini in describing his creative processes – to ignore the film in the camera and let his feel for the scenes inspire him. Bradbury says writing The Martian Chronicles stories followed a similar path. So since I’ve been taking a very similar approach to writing this column, I’ll consider this my final, flimsy, fortune-cookiesque justification.

Since I last wrote, I went to New Orleans for the first time, camped in the desert, saw one of my dearest friends get married, saw a slew of bands and finished my Agent Cooper tattoo, but that’ll be for another post.

Until then, I’ve put together another new playlist of music I’ve been enjoying. You can find it here (opens in Spotify).

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No skin like the skin you woke up in

A little late updating this month because there has been a lot.

First up, next Tor column is up! It deals with the discovery of the structure of DNA by Watson and Crick, and the rise and fall of John W. Campbell. This one I had the distinct pleasure of having to write TWICE, thanks to my overzealous cleaning of my desktop mixing with a moment of I-should-have-known-better. It’s a strange experience having to rewrite an entire draft from memory. Never before had I been so sure that a first draft was flawless than in that second full draft (while knowing full well that first drafting was no better than the second). But in the end it wound up hitting all the notes I had wanted it to and it was no worse for the delay.

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Pescadro: where the streets have no reception

Thankfully, this installment marks my departure from the pulpy roots of SF and has launched me up into SF’s woody stems. As such I have been reading a lot of Heinlein and Asimov. Asimov has proven to be a good chaser for all the Heinlein, but I know totally understand why folks were always saying, “Stick to his juvenilia.” Starman Jones and Have Spacesuit Will Travel did both turn out to be the least (literally) offensive things I’ve read by him, whereas every single other book made me want to throw my Kindle across the room. Repeatedly. The objectifying feminism, bad faith arguments, the black and white thinking, the logical contortions in the midst of strawman arguments… They’re exhausting. I’ll be happy to be done with the Heinlein article (and him) and onto the Asimov one where at least there aren’t as many women on the page for him to be misogynist about and I can just loose myself in cold waves of beautiful logic.

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7/8 of the soberest Bruisers you’ve ever met

The last month (and a half) has been eventful. I finally got to realize the childhood dream I never thought I had and go to scenic Sheboygan, Wisconsin for a dear friend from grad school’s bachelorette party. There was much drinking while floating in a lake beside a ridiculous house with a bunch of hilarious women. This was immediately followed up with a retreat with my writers group. Never have so many of us been in one place (we missed you, Sandra!) in meatspace at the same time. There was no cell reception (and limping WiFi), much giggling, alcohol and delicious food, and I managed to get the column draft done before discovering I had deleted it once I deposited myself at the WorldCon hotel. A number of drinks later and I was able to just relax and enjoy the con for the rest of the weekend. There was again, much giggling, drinking, good food, and good friends, and I got back feeling primed and ready to… rewrite that column.

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My leg has something to tell you

 

I also got a new tattoo – this one representing my deep and abiding love of Twin Peaks and a promise to future Kelly that we’ll make it up to the Pacific Northwest someday. Until then, I’ll have a little bit of it with me always.

My band also played another show. There was surprisingly good turnout, we played some new songs and some old, retooled songs. It was our sixth show this year, and along with the new EP we recorded, I really feel like we’re hitting our stride and that’s a deeply satisfying feeling.

Finally, I’ve updated my monthly Spotify playlist with all the things I’ve been enjoying this past month (and a half). Find it below, and feel free to subscribe to it if you dig it. I’ll be posting updates to it regularly since I know there’s an overwhelming amount of great music coming out all the time and finding new stuff (especially as you get older) gets to be more and more work, so you can benefit from the legwork I’ve been doing (and maybe throw some cash at some good bands when they come through your town).

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/1222446874/playlist/37NhgOVlNAFxc128ntv1Fy

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Paint dots on your wrists to see me in your dreams

The next installment of the Tor.com Science and the Fantastic column just went live. This one’s about Olaf Stapledon, J.B.S. Haldane and Julian Huxley’s work to bring about the Modern Synthesis in biology (basically the moment that everything that had come before in disparate bits of research synthesized into an experimentally verified whole).

I’m grateful the column introduced me to Stapledon’s work. Star Maker and Last and First Men are fucking mind-bending, and his biography was heart-breaking – the story of a man who knew he had something to say, and struggled most of his life to find the best way to say it, only to have fascism and the second world war destroy his chance at having the kind of career he wanted. It sure as hell touched a nerve.

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Songs from the Not-So Big Chair

Random life updates: my band spent the weekend in the studio recording bits for the next EP, which should hopefully be done and out this fall. There was much giggling, beer and pizza. We’ve got another show coming up at the beginning of September at the Black Cat, which I’m looking forward to.

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I almost moved to Seattle. Missed getting a new job by a hair. I’m beginning to think I’m never going to get up there. My mom (who was a flight attendant until very recently) told me a few years back that she had put in for a transfer to Seattle from Chicago when my brother and I were little, and she also missed it by a hair. I still hope I’ll wind up there someday soon, otherwise the imminent Twin Peaks tattoo I’m getting next month will make a liar of me.

In related tattoo news, two of my best friends and I all got matching tattoos. It was both my and the tattoo artist’s first ribcage tattoo and it was a learning experience for us both. Pro tip: if you bring a friend for a ribcage tattoo, maybe make it one that’s not hilariously funny.

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Madeline Kenney and Jenn Wasner killing it at Soda Bar

Finally, I got to see a few excellent shows this past month – Wye Oak and MadelineKenney were fucking fantastic, and Car Seat Headrest channeled their best David Byrne, making even the shitty local all ages venue tolerable for a night. This weekend I’ve got tickets to see Beach House, and will, unfortunately not make it to the Hop Along show, which I hadn’t realized was on the same night. Ah, well.

I’ve been listening to lots of rad new music lately so I put together a Spotify playlist for your enjoyment below.

I’ve got a long fun vacation coming up that involves a bachelorette party for one of my best friends from grad school, a writing retreat with my Bruisers, then Worldcon in San Jose.

In the meantime, may all your feelings effervesce in a pleasant sort of way.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/1222446874/playlist/37NhgOVlNAFxc128ntv1Fy

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Radium, Dinosaurs and Ridiculous Cakes

I’ve had two articles go up since I last posted.

Part 4 of the Science and the Fantastic series about Edgar Rice Burroughs and Theodosius Dobzhansky. This one’s theme was mutation and I got to write a bit about the radium craze that was happening after the turn of the 20th century, and Dobzhansky’s work in tying mutation to the mechanism of natural selection.

A spoilery thought experiment about what happens after the end of the latest Jurassic World movie. It was the article I never thought I needed to write about a Jurassic Park movie.

I also turned 36 a few weeks back. I celebrated by swapping out my 18 year old car for one that doesn’t spew white smoke from beneath the hood and hit me in the face with the sun visor whenever I would accelerate. I wondered if I would have feelings about giving up my car – I bought it 14 years ago when I was in grad school. No matter how tight money got and how many bills I had to float to make sure I could eat, I never missed a single car payment. That car was my sense of security and represented a kind of freedom of movement I’d never felt before. We went on a lot of adventures, me and that car. But not being hit in the face while I drive hasn’t gotten old yet.

 

I’m also on vacation for the next week. I haven’t had this much time off in a row where I get to stay home in a very long time. I’m hoping to get a head start on the next two Science and the Fantastic posts, which will hopefully free up some time in the next two months for me to finish up a draft of a space horror story I have been slowly re-outlining. Up next is gonna be an article about Olaf Stapledon, Julian Huxley, Star Maker and the Modern Synthesis. I’ve been looking forward to writing this one for a while. After that I’ll be writing about Watson, Crick, Gernsbeck and Campbell, with the birth of the magazine era and the discovery of the structure of DNA.

I am getting a little tired of writing about white dudes in these articles, but we’re finally starting to get to the time periods where diversity was increasing in both fields. I am really looking forward to what’s coming after these two, where I’m going to start writing about broader movements within SF chronologically, as well as areas of specialty in biology with their salient discoveries.

If you’re interested in the source material I’ve used so far in the articles – I have a running bibliography in this post that I’ve been keeping updated as I go.

I might attempt to make another ridiculous cake, too. I made this one for my birthday this year, and am itching to add a new ridiculous cake to my repertoire. This one looks promising. Also, PBS just started airing a fifth season of Great British Bake Off, in case you might need something kind to watch because your threshhold for horror just keeps getting crossed by current events.

Be good to yourselves and let’s look out for each other, okay?

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On the Origins Bibliography

I wanted to start a post that serves as a running tally of all of the stuff I’ve been reading for the Tor.com column that can be referred back to if you’re interested in that sort of thing. It’ll be updated as I go. This bibliography is current as of 10/6/18, and includes all works read for the first seven columns, and the upcoming post for January, 2019.

History of science reference texts:

  • The Gene: An Intimate History (2016) by Siddharta Mukherjee
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything (2003) by Bill Bryson
  • The Scientists: A History of Science Told Through the Lives of its Greatest Inventors (2002) by John Gribbin
  • The Origin of Species (1859) by Charles Darwin
  • The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, 1809-82 (1887) by Charles Darwin
  • Voyage of the Beagle (1939) by Charles Darwin
  • An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798) by Thomas Malthus
  • Daedalus; Or Science and the Future (1924) by J.B.S. Haldane
  • Evolution: The Modern Synthesis (1942) by Julian Huxley
  • The Double Helix (1968) by James D. Watson
  • What is Life? (1944) by Erwin Schrödinger
  • The Eighth Day of Creation: Makers of the Revolution in Biology (1996) by Horace Freeland Judson

History of science fiction reference texts/Biographies:

  • Science Fiction: A Very Short Introduction (2011) by David Seed
  • The History of Science Fiction (2006) by Adam Charles Roberts
  • The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2011) by John Clute, Peter Nicholls, John Grant
  • The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction (2003) by Edward James
  • Olaf Stapledon: Speaking for the Future (1994) by Robert Crossley
  • The Astounding Illustrated History of Science Fiction (2017) by Dave Golder and Jess Nevins
  • Understanding Contemporary American Science Fiction: The Formative Period, 1926-1970 (1990) by Thomas D. Clareson
  • Understanding Contemporary American Science Fiction: The Age of Maturity, 1970-2000 (2005) by Darren Harris-Fain
  • Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with his Century (Vols 1 and 2) (2010) by William H. Patterson Jr
  • New Maps of Hell: A Survey of Science Fiction (1960) by Kingsley Amis
  • Breakfast in the Ruins: Science Fiction in the Last Millenium (2007) by Barry Malzberg
  • In Search of Wonder (1967) by Damon Knight
  • I. Asimov: A Memoir (1994) by Isaac Asimov

Books/Movies:

  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1870) by Jules Verne
  • The Time Machine (1895) by H.G. Wells
  • The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896) by H.G. Wells
  • Metropolis (1927) by Fritz Lang
  • We (1924) by Yevgeny Zamyatin
  • The Fatal Eggs (1925) by Mikhail Bulgakov
  • R.U.R. (1921) by Karel Capek
  • Brave New World (1932) by Aldous Huxley
  • Island (1962) by Aldous Huxley
  • A Princess of Mars (1912) by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • The Gods of Mars (1913) by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • Triplanetary (1934) by E.E. “Doc” Smith
  • The Skylark of Space (1928) by E.E. “Doc” Smith
  • Armageddon 2419 (1928) by Philip Francis Nowlan
  • The Moon Pool (1918) by Abraham Grace Merritt
  • Odd John: A Story Between Jest and Earnest (1935) by Olaf Stapledon
  • Last and First Men: A Story of the Near and Far Future (1930) by Olaf Stapledon
  • Star Maker (1937) by Olaf Stapledon
  • The Last Evolution (1932) by John W. Campbell
  • Who Goes There? (1938) by John W. Campbell
  • Starman Jones (1953) by Robert A. Heinlein
  • Double Star (1956) by Robert A. Heinlein
  • Have Spacesuit, Will Travel (1958) by Robert A. Heinlein
  • Methuselah’s Children (1958) by Robert A. Heinlein
  • The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966) by Robert A. Heinlein
  • Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) by Robert A. Heinlein
  • Starship Troopers (1959) by Robert A. Heinlein
  • Friday (1982) by Robert A. Heinlein
  • Foundation (1951) by Isaac Asimov
  • The Gods Themselves (1972) by Isaac Asimov
  • I, Robot (1950) by Isaac Asimov
  • The Caves of Steel (1954) by Isaac Asimov
  • The Naked Sun (1957) by Isaac Asimov
  • The Robots of Dawn (1983) by Isaac Asimov
  • Robots and Empire (1985) by Isaac Asimov
  • Foundation (1951) by Isaac Asimov
  • Foundation and Empire (1952) by Isaac Asimov
  • Second Foundation (1953) by Isaac Asimov

Read, but not referenced:

  • Frankenstein (1823) by Mary Shelley
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) by Robert Lewis Stevenson
  • The Lost World (1912) by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Tarzan of the Apes (1912) by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • The Metamorphosis (1915) by Franz Kafka

Referenced, but not read:

  • Principles of Geology (1830) by Charles Lyell
  • Utopia (1516) by Thomas More
  • Republic (381 BC) by Plato
  • The War of the Worlds (1897) by H.G. Wells
  • Anticipations (1901) by H.G Wells
  • The Rights of Man: Or What Are We Fighting For? (1940) by H.G. Wells
  • The Tempest (1611) by William Shakespeare
  • My Life and Work (1922) by Henry Ford
  • Point Counter Point (1928) by Aldous Huxley
  • The Mechanism of Mendelian Hereditary (1915) by Thomas Hunt Morgan
  • The Doors of Perception (1954) by Aldous Huxley

 

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A Sight for Sore Eyes

Soon the third article in my Tor.com column comes out. The last two parts you can read here and here. For this one, I got to read Brave New World for the first time since I was a sophomore in high school. In fact, the copy of it I have *is* my high school copy, complete with a clear Property of Lincoln Park High School stamp on what is left of the cover. When I opened it, the smell of cigarette smoke and aging book paper brought me back 20 in an instant. It’s almost too bad I’d already used time travel as a theme already in the previous article because shit did that make me wistful.

I’ve been super grateful to have the opportunity to write this column. I had never once considered trying to write non-fiction, let alone an entire column, and Sarah Gailey is 100% to blame for it happening at all. I was super nervous about it initially, worried that I hadn’t read widely enough of older SF to be able to write about the history of SF with any confidence, but that’s the thing about any project – I never feel like I know enough about anything I’m writing about, but if I let that stop me, I would never write anything at all. And hey, that’s what research is for, after all.

And boy do I LOVE research, so writing it has been an absolute delight, and I harbor very little resentment that it leaves me no time to work on the two languishing stories I started at Rainforest in February (and we’re not even going to talk about the book draft).  I deeply appreciate the perspective it’s given me not only on major works science fiction and biology, but also fleshing out the larger context of these previously isolated mental data points. It’s also given me an excuse to read a lot of old foundational works of SF I never would have taken the time to read otherwise (what with my massive to read pile of contemporary books I am currently staring at even now with great longing from my couch). Being someone with one foot planted firmly in the sciences and the other in science fiction, having the opportunity to trace how they evolved side-by-side has been completely absorbing.

So my deepest thanks to Sarah for being a marvelous instigator, and to Bridget at Tor for her continued enthusiasm and support of this project. I look forward to continuing to be completely absorbed by it for the foreseeable future.

On the science side of things, my day job sent me out to Jersey City the other week for a meeting, and I got to arrive a few days before to spend the weekend with dear friends for two days of drinking and talking, and got to catch up with Bo and Ben, who it was so good to see after so many years. The work meeting culminated with a glass-domed dinner cruise, where I got to talk all the science talk and admire the Statue of Liberty and the lights of Manhattan by night.

Now I’m working on the next installment of the column, which should come out next month. It’s about mutation and the pulps, all working towards the following column, which will be about science and science fiction’s respective modern syntheses, a theme that is understandably near and dear to my heart.

I’ve got some fun stuff coming up, including a trip back to the midwest for a bachelorette party, a writing retreat followed by Worldcon, and between now and then I’ll turn over another year on the odometer. Can’t wait.

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Nobody Else Will Be There

Walking out of Annihilation on Sunday, my friend asked me how it compared to the book. I loved the Area X books – I’d read them after plowing through all three of Jeff Vandermeer’s Ambergris books. They’re surreal, beautiful and affecting – my favorite kind of horror. The movie managed to capture that same feeling for me while still being an entirely different thing, which made me happy. I love/hate that feeling when you get to the end of something you’re really loving to know that no more of that thing exists, and to know that part of you is going to spend the rest of your life looking for that feeling again. Seeing Annihilation gave me a little bit of that feeling back I had when I read through the book, so I was and am deeply grateful for that.

I am still slowly recuperating from my second bout with the flu this winter. I feel like it broke something in me – like the last illusion of being “young and healthy” has finally evaporated, and that I have been subconsciously buying more and more sweaters to cope with my entry into middle age. I am not so young anymore. I am not so healthy.

Before the movie, my friend and I had gotten brunch and walked around the mall for a bit, making the sales folks in Bose show off their expensive sound system room, looked at all the gigantic lego models at the Lego store, and were disappointed by the lack of crazy collectibles at the Disney Store. That short amount of walking left me breathless and dizzy, which, while a good state to see Annihilation in, led to three hours of napping once I got home afterwards.

I still deeply resent getting sick. I don’t think that’s going to go away any time soon.

But I did get to go to Rainforest this year, where I managed to write 11k words on a new novelette and 5k words on a new short story. I was also compelled by Fran Wilde to dress up in a T-Rex costume and go galavanting around the shoreline of Lake Quinault. I also discovered that people love to get a T-Rex drunk, much to the T-Rex’s dismay the next morning.

I also got the first post done in a series I’m writing for Tor.com tracing the evolution of science fiction and modern biology, which went live today. It feels really good to have an external deadline, and it’s been super interesting to read about the history of both in parallel. Individual histories of fields can be so myopic that putting both into thematic and social context is really making the slumbering academic in me twitch with joy. Links to the posts will be updated in the “Writing” section of this menagerie as they go live.

My band’s got two shows coming up in the next week – we’re playing a record store to support two touring bands coming through town, and a house party with three other bands. These two will make four shows we’ve played in the last few months, which is great for restocking the band coffers to pay for more studio time, but we have been necessarily playing the same setlist at practice every week, and we’ll all be happy when we can start working on new material and get back in the studio to finish recording the next EP.

I’ve got plenty of stuff to complain about, as per usual, but honestly, I can’t complain.

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Young Lover

This morning I took the last three lingering boxes of the ex-GFs stuff to her last known address. I had been waiting for months to get rid of those boxes that had stared me from the kitchen. Waited for months for her to arrange to come get them. Waited for months on her.

I hate break ups, and of these, I have had my fair share. Some where I was angrier in the aftermath than I am now. Some where I was sadder in the aftermath than I had been this time. But none with someone I legitimately loved as much as I loved her.

I can talk about my feelings with the dispassion of a coroner – dissecting them with logic, weighing them each individually in a stainless steel tray, placing them aside, like-with-like. I resort to gallows humor as I sit patiently knowing that I have been here before, and I will be here again.

I spent so long waiting in that relationship. Waiting for her to figure out what was wrong. Waiting for her to tell me what I even meant to her. Every unanswered, “I love you,” an erosion. Every read receipt on a text she didn’t think it was important to answer a knick. Every time she turned away from a kiss or limply held my hand or didn’t return an affection, a decay. So many diminishments until my self respect screamed up from the pit where I had buried it in my starvation to stop waiting already because I deserve better than this.

Did she love me? I don’t know. I used to think so. I don’t think so anymore.

Does it matter?

It will until it doesn’t anymore.

I’ve got St. Vincent tickets tonight and poetry until then.

“Someone can be madly in love with you and still not be ready. They can love you in a way you have never been loved and still not join you on the bridge. And whatever their reasons you must leave. Because you never ever have to inspire anyone to meet you on the bridge. You never ever have to convince someone to do the work to be ready. There is more extraordinary love, more love that you have never seen, out here in this wide and wild universe. And there is the love that will be ready.”

– Nayyirah Waheed

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The moral test of government

Looks like there’s another survey from the White House. This one only has four questions. The first two are checkbox selections about what I think the Trump administration has done that is significant and what issues I think the administration should focus on. What a weighty word, significant. There are a lot of things it has been doing I believe are significant, but that word manages to hide any ability to report back on whether it is for the worst or the better. It robs me the feeling that this feedback will provide any guidance at all.

Words are important.

Because of that, I wanted to share what I wrote in for more open questions, which were, “What are your ideas to make America great again?” and “Other comments”.

Here were my replies:

Become scientific leaders in combating climate change, increase funding to the NIH and NSF to foster more biomedical advances, take steps to reduce hate crimes against the most vulnerable in our society, protecting the right of women to be able to make choices about how they live their lives, get private money and business influence out of politics, enact term limits, make election day a national holiday so that everyone can participate in our democracy, make redistricting less partisan so our House more accurately resembles the demographics of their respective districts rather than being drawn to primarily keep one party in power, expand social programs to ensure there is an adequate safety net for vulnerable populations, improve access to healthcare and enact a single-payer system so our country can catch up with the rest of the first world countries, use our expertise and wealth to assist in relief efforts around the world, raising the minimum wage to make a livable wage more accessible to more people, reducing the cost of higher education and the resulting burden of student loan debt, closing tax loopholes so corporations and wealthy individuals can as easily avoiding  paying their fair share.

I believe all people have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of EVERYONE in our society, which means we have a duty to protect those who are most vulnerable from exploitation and discrimination. We need to protect against and work towards dismantling hate. Help others to have better access to social programs and access to affordable medical care to help people get back on their feet, not punish them for having stumbled. A world with no government is impossible, and rolling back regulations that protect the most vulnerable among us does not enable more freedom, it simply enables greed and corruption to take root. It is the place of government to protect us from tyranny – ALL of us from tyranny, not become an apparatus of the very thing it is meant to protect us against. Please remember this. We are a government of, for, and by the people. Not of, for and by those with access or wealth. Please listen to us. ALL of us. Not just those who agree with you.

Check out if you got the link for the survey in your inbox. I’m guessing I probably received it because I have signed White House petitions before.

I’ll leave you with a Hubert Humphrey quote from 1977:

“The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”

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“To blave” means to bluff

Well, 2016 happened.

For me, personally, it was not a terrible year. Sure, I was diagnosed with another c. diff infection (my 3rd – woo, hat trick!), and have spent the last few months reasonably stressed out about things both good and bad, but another poop transplant seems to have once again cleared out the former. As for the latter stress, well, half of the things contributing are things that don’t go away because they’re adult-that-is-alive things, and the others I have no control over, so fuck ’em. I’m doing what I can.

But in all, things are just about where I want them to be, and as another year clicks over I look back (not-so) fondly at all of those things I didn’t do. Namely, all those stories I didn’t finish and submit.

I kept thinking, “If only I get a job that doesn’t eat all of my mental energy, I can focus.” Or, “Once I get effective treatment for my depression, I can focus.” Or, my favorite, “Maybe if I reduce the stress/number of things online I look at/amount of music/TV/movies I consume, I can focus.”

Well, I’ve done those. I’ve done all of those. Can I focus?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

::wipes tear:: ::goes off to chase a squirrel::

Wait, what was I saying?

It’s becoming apparent that I can make the following revision to those previous experiments:

“I can’t focus.”

So that’s my goal. My resolution, if you go in for those sorts of things, for this year. I’m trying to find someone to talk to about my inability to focus on anything for more than 15 minutes at a time. Except for when I get super focused on something engrossing. Like the book I’m reading (I read 38 in 2016, which is pretty good considering I only really have time to read on weekends). Or video games (beating all three Bioshock games in the span of a week made my hands hurt). Or cleaning (the apartment has become spotless since I began to restrict myself from going on social media – I’m only allowing myself Instagram and Goodreads, currently). Or when I have a deadline and I will fuck over not only myself but everyone around me if I don’t meet that deadline. It seems like I can hyperfocus on anything except what I want to be focused on, which makes me feel like a lazy asshole. All the while everyone I know tells me I’m the least lazy person they know. Hmph.

Woah there, Tangent.

Anyway, I’m hoping this is gonna be there year where I figure out how to start addressing the “so I can focus” thing.

I’m setting a goal for myself to write at least 2 new stories this year. Last year I wrote 3 new ones. I’d also like to collect more rejections that my best year of being rejected and collect over 20. I’d also like to be able to focus long enough to finish that damn book draft and start working on the next one I’ve been picking at.

And I know why I’m getting the rejections. I’m lazy as fuck at editing. So I’m going to try to be better about making that a more organized effort than what I have been doing, which had no discernible system whatsoever beyond, “Sit here and frown for at least 20 minutes before you’re allowed to go down a wikipedia rabbit hole of research.”

An important work thing has made it impossible for me to go to Rainforest this year, which is always my most productive week of writing, where my mental energy isn’t sapped for the first 10 hours of every day by work, and I don’t have to run errands or do anything other than write all day. I’m more than a little frustrated I can’t go this year, but at the same time, getting too attached to the fact that I *can* churn out 25000 words of (honestly not that bad) fiction in five days, isn’t doing me any favors. It’s making me feel like I can only write well when I’m in the zone and I can only get in the zone if I have 8 consecutive hours to write. And when I sit down on a weekend to try and replicate that, well, let’s just say without any momentum going into those kinds of sessions, you’re gonna walk away disappointed when you spend 30 minutes trying to remember what the hell you were doing the last time you worked on this story and oh, hey, look, I need to do the laundry and go to the store and hang out with friends who are starting to get really grumpy with you because you can’t hang out during the week because you’re too fucking busy all the time.

Ahem. Tangent again.

Ah, well, here’s to 2017. May the resulting excuses take on a distinctly different flavor!

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