Monday, May 31, 2010

It's hot here, the sort of grim LA heat that batters through the windows with no thought to our puny fans and lack of air conditioning.  I'm dealing with it, I suppose.  Summer's far too full of delightful things, of watermelon and slip-n-slides, beaches and BBQs, all that sort of mythical whatnot of which, I suppose I've participated  in 3/4th of thus far.

Featherless is coming along rapidly, our new logo is as follows.  The readers for the first event are Saehee Cho, Alison Carter, and Flint. We are very excited to have such amazing writers on board.

Trying to get the valeveil poetic duo into stores is a goal I've been working on.  It's in the LA Writers section of Stories Bookstore in Echo Park now, and I dropped off a copy at Skylight Books for review, I'm hoping they choose to stock it.

The novel I'm working on has hit chapter 9 and stalled, a bit, as I look back over it and try to decide what to do next.  It's good to take a moment to revise, fix those typos, fix those grotesque lapses in judgment, etc... but in taking that moment I fear I am losing, I know I am.

It's in chapter nine that the character is lounging around in the San Diego summer of 2005, the summer in which I kicked a few nasty habits and got my life back together, somewhat.  Oh fie on thinly veiled memoir, the ego-centrism disgusts me and yet I only know my own material so where to go from there?

I realize that I will have to go somewhere very different in the next few chapters, because, as the character moves through the next half of the book, she must gain momentum, not slow to a peaceful and gracious domesticity.  NO!  There must be some sort of climactic somethingorother.  Oh dear, oh dear.  I must think on this.

Meanwhile, the fan whirs, the bunny flops, the cat sleeps languorously on the kitchen floor.

Friday, May 28, 2010

In brighter, happier news, it is springtime, hop-time, and time for projects to blossom.

featherless, a reading series, is having its first event on June 20th at 7:30 pm at Wordspace.  The curators, Katie and I, are very excited.  The three readers will be announced shortly.  Omar Routher is designing our logo, and, judging by the preliminary versions, it should be smashing.

The bits and pieces are coming together.

I'm working on the novel obsessively, still.  I have a rough draft manuscript of nine chapters, with four more in sketchy sketchy hopeful fill-in land.   The problem I'm running into (well, one of many), is that with such an epic scope, that of thirteen years and five cities, it seems that there should be some sort of epic quality to the narrative beyond plink plonk ping pong here's my little life.  I feel that in the last section, the Los Angeles section, I will have to veer far far from the truth of placid domesticity and concoct some sort of explosive climactic whatnot to finish it off with.

Oh dear.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Another call from the jackals at Citibank almost sent me over the edge, pacing into the kitchen I said to the collections man "there is only so much anti-anxiety medication that I can take, and when I run out, there are seizures, and  there is the hospital, and they, they call me too, there are bills, and if I die, my blood will be on your hands."  

There was silence on the line.  I was shaking.  I realize that I must speak to my psychiatrist urgently about how to handle these collections calls, because they are sending me over the edge into a terrifying place.

"So do you think you'll be able to make a payment?"
"My blood.  Your hands.  I have to go."  I hung up.

Clearly this is not an appropriate way to speak to a bill collector, but I am at the end of my rope, here. If anyone is reading this, do not take out private student loans.  You can lose all of your limbs, or in my case lose your mind, and you will still be on the hook for the $17,000.

That was the last call of the day.  I took half an Ativan and went back to my usual activities.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It has been quite a day. This morning I spent some time on the phone withe a gentleman from Citibank, they call 5-6 times a day as I am about  to default on a private student loan.  Jackals.  As these loans are not discharged by disability, insanity, bankruptcy, only in my death will this loan be discharged.  I asked him what the results of default were, and he explained that the loan would be handed over to a shadowy guarantor, who would pay off Citibank and then go about getting the money from me themselves. 

It was at this point that I began to lose control.  Or perhaps to gain it, to ask the questions I had been wondering all along.  "So, is a man with an axe going to show  up at my door?  Are you involved with the mafia?  Will I get to keep my hands?  My feet?  My kidneys?  Do they still have debtors prisons? Workhouses? Will they actually take the pound of flesh?  Can I decide which pound?  Should I install a security system, of course, wait, i can't afford that...oh, I see, I thought I was being monitored for quite awhile now, I have been being investigated, haven't I.  Well, you know where to find me.  Can I at least decide which hand goes first?"
 "That's ludicrous"  The man on the phone said. "We don't take physical punishment as payment.
"Oh you don't, huh?  Oh, okay, so what's going to happen?"
"Well, first the guarantor will have to gain a judgment against you by suing you."
"You're going to sue a mentally ill, disabled woman.  You're angels."
"We'll, maybe they'll sue the cosigner."
"Even better.  Well, thanks for calling, I'll be sure to keep all this in mind."
I hung up.

They didn't call again for the rest of the day.  What blissful silence.  I spent the rest of the day filling in missing scenes in Chapter 9, the page count now around 210.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Passed the 100 page mark yesterday.  Now lurking on page 106. The rewriting is a little bit slower here, as chapter five deals with Nikki's impregnation and abortion.  Not exactly pleasant reading, or writing, or reliving.

 I'm almost done with the Portland section, one more chapter to go.  Katie suggested going to Portland at the end of August.  That would really be fun, but I don't know if I could afford it with current finances being what they are.  But to revisit these places with her, to see my sister and cousins and old friends, would be amazing.

In other news, Katie got a new tattoo. Lookin' hot, yes'm.

 I have fallen into a strict rhythm of waking at seven, taking the Wellbutrin and half an Ativan, drinking coffee, and working on the book for the next 5-8 hours.    Then Katie wakes up, we might socialize or plot and scheme.

In the evenings I am more relaxed, we go to readings or spend time with friends.

Here is Stephen eating ham. 

There is a new project on the horizon, a reading series called featherless.  There are exciting developments that I won't speak of yet. 

Spring is in the air, and new projects abound.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The book I've begun has five parts, each set in a different city I've lived in: Portland, San Francisco, Valencia, San Diego, and Los Angeles. Each part begins with a poem, to give context and mood, then moves to narrative text.

Part 1: Cigarette Butts in a Chipped Teacup, is set in 1997-8, Portland.  It relates how Nicole/Nikki, a 19 year-old living in a messy punk house called the Dustbin, navigates her subculture as it crosses with her own rising attraction to women, namely her roommate Lana, and the beginnings of her own psychological problems.

As of this morning I have 17 pages of this, retyped and revised from an earlier, 120 page document.

Part 2 is set in 2003, San Francisco, and will take substantial revision of a three-story set in terms of point of view and tenses.  I wrote the stories originally in a very post-modern way, and I'm changing them back to a more traditional first person straighforward narrative.  Revision is key.

Part 3 is set in 2005, San Diego.  It discusses Nikki's isolation after the manic excitement of San Francisco, and her friendship with Micah, an HIV+ neighbor who becomes her only ally while she waits to go to graduate school.  I have a rough draft of this, but it needs some work.

Part 4 is set in 2006-8, Valencia.  This part will be the most difficult for me to write, as I vowed while at CalArts, not to write about my experiences there.  Therefore I have no base texts to bounce off of, and must write cold.  that's fine, I hope that by this point in the process i will be more able to tell where the story needs to go, and thus what this section needs to do for it.

Part 5 is set in 2009-10 Los Angeles.  I have a few fragmentary stories to work with here, but at this point a lot of the focus is going to be on tying the previous threads together into plot threads that cohere and coincide with the present state.  That is to say, I'll write this part when I get to it, hopefully.

So, that's my plan, I've decided that to keep myself going I must write not only for pleasure or for the self-indulgence of the thinly veiled memoir (pa-ha, I know it's obvious).  But this time I must write from fear, write from the nipping at my heels of the dogs of supported employment, the drool and leaden hands at the factory floor.  I must discipline myself this time.  I will try.
Shakedown, the wheat from the chaff.  As Katie's parent's left and she and I settled into our new lives together, I did some looking into the SSDI "Ticket to Work" Program. By this program, disabled people currently receiving social security funds can experiment with working under supported conditions to see if it is something that they can handle.  I feel like I am moderately stabilized on the Wellbutrin, and I am interested in taking on new challenges at the moment.  However, what I found was not promising.

After perusing the internet for what seemed like hours, the "Employment Networks" and "Vocational Rehabilitation" facilities (their jargon, not mine) that I was able to locate in my vicinity offered very limited employment choices.  Now, I'm well aware that we are in a recession, and were I not disabled, even with my schmacy education I would not necessarily be able to find anything at all.  Due to my publication record I would not pass background checks, so that dismisses a certain range of jobs, and then there's the whole reason I'm on disability on the first place, a clear verdict of unemployability would make keeping what I could get rather difficult.

The premise of working within a supported setting that acknowledged the disability, that had seemed encouraging.  One night, talking to Omar, making "golden ticket" jokes, he suggested that maybe I could get some nice library job, given my qualifications, and I felt hopeful about the process.

However, upon looking at the employment networks, they all grouped the disabled together -all together - in their employment groups, meaning special snowflake me would me working side by side on the factory floor with the severely developmentally disabled, down syndrome fellas, (retards) all of us doing either custodial or factory/packaging sort of work.  Let me show you a picture, from Build Industries website. My employment here would be brief, and death would come quickly and blessedly.

I imagine myself as the maniacal chick in the teal jumpsuit.  There was also the option of sweeping floors in the Goodwill.

So, I called my father for advice.  He said, "if you go into a situation like that, you are doomed to failure".  He said, "You have everything you need right now all lined up to write another book.  What are you doing not writing another book?  Treat it like a job, and just haul ass on it until it's done, sell it, and write another one.  That's your job, and you'll be much happy doing that than cleaning toilets with epileptics or whatever."

I thought...huh.  He's RIGHT.  So, manic me got to work.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Another morning, another day.  The sun rises and so do I, I sit and drink iced coffee, do the dinner dishes, take out the trash.  Housework is not a dirty word, it gives me an outlet for the manic energy and a slight sense of accomplishment when done.

It has been hectic, this week.  Katie's parents have been in town, she turned in her thesis and read at the REDCAT.  The final festivities, the festive finalities, of another year ending at CalArts.

 I feel like I have been through this cycle three times, four if counting my first year as a practice run.  My own reading and graduation was what is was.  My roommate the next year was also in the writing program, the cycle passed again.  Then again, with Katie.  I am looking forwards to not being a satellite of CalArts next year, untying the apron strings a little.

It's a great place, but, yes, over.

Another thing I am done with is this Amazon Associates program.  Apologies, gentle reader, for all of these embedded links to amazon products.  I was trying to make some money.  I have not made a cent, and instead corrupted this blog with a lot of ridiculous gadgetry.  Apologies, again, and regrets.  I am trying to figure out how to leave the program, but, much like Scientology, they make it very difficult.

So difficult, in fact, that I have not figured it out.  Whether muddled by the Topamax, which is supposed to cause cognitive dulling, or by the clear omission of an exit option in their website....I am not sure. 

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

It has been awhile since I've blogged.  I have transferred over most short form efforts to tumblr, but plan to keep this blog for longer form pieces.  If my little outbursts can be called pieces.  If blog management, in this abyss adjacent, can be called a worthwhile use of my time.  My time is not money.  My time is free and it lies on the ground in golden sprawls of lazy uselessness.  For this I am thankful.

New projects are emerging.  I have been working quite fervently on a photo project called Surveillance : LA.

In the wake of the facebook privacy scandals, and my discovery of spokeo and 123people, I've become a lot more aware of how much information about me/you/anyone is available and easily accessible to anyone with a credit card.  While this is disconcerting, I realize I've been gleefully hopping around like a small child scattering flowers throwing my personal information willy nilly on this blog.  And saying things like willy nilly, a crime in and of itself.

I just read this article on Jezebel, about an anonymous sex blogger being fired from her day job, due to her boss accidentally finding her blog.

While the magic 8-ball seems to be pointing to delete all, there are many reasons why I love blogging, why I love this humble little blog for the outlet its given me over the past 4 years.  I'm not shutting it down.

Worrying about disclosure and surveillance, worrying about the potentially malicious intent of these data may be like worrying about nuclear war, waiting forever for the slap that never comes.  There may never be a focused use for the data, and I may sit muddling mint leaves  into my yogurt and granola, peacefully, for hours.