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This blog is:

- a personal space used for contemplation and creative writing
- feminist
- sex positive
- philosophical
- pro-sex worker rights
- anti-racist
- LGBTQ-friendly
- pro-choice
- anti-misogynist
- pro-full disclosure, comprehensive sex education
- anti-gender constructs
- pro-equal party/community parenting
- anti-troll

Aug. 21st, 2015

So there is this cutie at the grocery store. Last year I mostly encountered him at the cashier, and sometimes he would be the bag boy. I'm pretty sure he's way young, I peg him mid-20's at most. Still, he is pleasant to look at, and always, unfailingly friendly.

Javi was gonna do a drag performance in LA, and we were gonna leave at 4.30, so I got made up for the occasion. But he pulled out last minute, so he and Maurisa were cooking dinner instead. And they invited me over, and I went to the grocery store to get some stuff for the dinner. And who should be at the deli counter but cute bag boy. We exchanged a few pleasantries about summer, I got some potato salad.

I might have to go get mashed potatoes a bit more often.

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Jul. 15th, 2015

So I had two wisdom teeth removed yesterday, and they're supposedly healing just fine today. I went in for 4.30, the doctor had me do an X-Ray which seemed quite a fuss, then extracted the top one, but spent some time on the bottom one.

The teeth had been chomping on the inside of my cheek a lot lately, with really painful results. I'd gone to a different dentist on Monday for some cleaning, and was told about needing surgery. I'd also booked an appointment with the first dentist for August 5 and was told they'd call if something opened up, and lo, something did, the next day.

There's still some swelling, but the sutures are holding and I seem to be fine. We had a blackout yesterday too, and I think I'm running a slight fever from that.

I got really mad though, because my dad made Nyonya inchi kabin last night and I couldn't eat it >:{ I couldn't eat all night! And I won't be able to eat much for the next few days. I'm going to bug someone to take me out for ice cream.

That said, I did get to read IBAN JOURNEY (which is actually a sequel to a previous book called IBAN DREAM) by a local writer. It has proofreading issues, a lot of very awkward language. Quite a bit of repetitiveness and wording that doesn't have to be there, so the editor did a really poor job, and these are micro issues.

There's a great deal of detail, mostly going in so that you understand this is an IBAN STORY about IBAN PEOPLE and look at all these IBAN THINGS THAT IBAN FOLK DO. Structurally, it resembles more of an origin myth, and is probably better suited as an oral performance than a written novel. The long drawn-out details aren't really terrible; it's a plus or a minus depending on what you're expecting out of a novel that's supposed to take you into a world that's rarely written about in fantasy--at the same time, it doesn't have the feel of a genre novel, more of a literary feel, and even so, like I said, the awkward language really takes away from it. There're a lot of words which feel too clinical for the story ("banana inflouresence"? do we call it that in regular language? IDK), which really jar me out of the story.

The character motivations are very simplistic, and clearly we're dealing with archetypes--so, great as an origin myth, not so great as an actual story. There are just some things which I know are supposed to be based on myth, but make no sense even within the setting. For example, apparently the protagonist was supposed to Do An Important Thing and he wasted time not Doing The Thing, and gets scolded by a spirit-god for it. But... there're no clues that he was supposed to Do Said Thing (he gets the Thing he Was Supposed To Get by sheer luck). So it's unclear to me, as the reader, why I'm supposed to think that the protagonist was making stupid decisions, when he was making perfectly fine decisions with all the integrity he can muster at the time.

The denouement was also not very satisfying--a bit too reliant on ex machina, so to speak, which allows Our Hero to live the rest of his life without complication. It kind of bugs me that it's quite unsatisfying because halfway through the novel, it changes premise from "plucky cursed hero sets off to find his place in the world" to "group of variously cursed people decide to start a community together", which is the sort of thing I like to see! But there's something about the structure of the novel that makes it feel too pat.

I can see why this is being lauded as a "unique novel" because of the Iban angle, and it certainly is a clunky first try at introducing lesser-seen cultural elements into a genre that isn't used to it. However, there is a definite lack of craft overall.

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Busy week visiting!

I've been visiting folks a lot!

Wednesday I went to ye olde school, and there were really only five teachers left I recognized. The classes are so much smaller, AND they have a new culinary arts stream! I was really kinda jelly at this. The demographics also appear to have changed--my cohort had more middle-class students, and it feels like a majority of students now are working class? Either way, it seems to be better now (aside from the weird mandatory technology in the classroom that doesn't actually work well sort of thing).

On Thursday, I got to hang out with Tumblr friends @technicoloresque and @tehmunchkindiary and was treated to tales of Catholic high school, going to church, gossip, and other stuff. It was a lot of fun! I just felt odd because they finished SPM in 2009, and I did mine in 2001, so there was a definite age gap. Turns out they also had tons of mutual acquaintances. It was good though--we just went to KL Sentral and hung out in Nu Sentral (because apparently we still can't get enough of malls here in Malaysia).

On Friday, I went to Tariq's house, and all four of us Killjoys sat around eating and stuff. We messed around with Hani's baby wrapping cloths (which, it turns out, CAN handle up to 85kg of weight, as a swing). It was super chill and I hadn't done that in a long time with anybody, because there's not very many people I would do that with. Kartina took me and Munira home at like 1am.

Saturday morning I went for a hike with my dad, and dinner.

Last night, my family went out to somewhere near Rawang to visit an aunt's friend's house, who had durian trees. It's gorgeous--he bought the land when it was still a swamp, two acres, needed bamboo bridges to get to the fruit trees. In the valley where it was swamp, it's now a fishpond (with edible freshwater fish) and a lotus pond, with a gazebo in the middle separating the two. The ponds are fed by a spring even, gosh. And by the side of the pond, of course, a house... built in the old Malay style, no nails, all hardwood, on stilts, by Indonesian architects. It's got three separate structures--a lower structure is a living/sitting room, the largest one has two bedrooms, two bathrooms (which are slightly open-air), a study, and a dining room, and the third structure is a kitchen. It's based on sultanate palaces of old. It's the sort of house that appears in my novel.

Unfortunately, at some point, probably while rifling through my little bag for mosquito repellant, I dropped my wallet there. My dad's going to get it today, because the man works in Subang Jaya, fortunately. Embarrassing! This is why I don't believe in purses and why I believe pockets are very important.

--

I started drafting my submission for Hidden Youth. It's very sad but it's shaping up.

I'm also trying to commit to a particular decision in my novel and I don't know which one sounds better =/ It's the sort of thing where each different ending has a different set of morals attached.

Grad work, however, doesn't happen easily here, sigh.

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Jul. 3rd, 2015

Apparently when I'm home and downstairs working, I cannot be left alone to my own devices because one parent or another is always talking to me if they happen to be home. I've been distracted by my dad so many times this morning I let loose a long, angry little "fuuuuuuccccckkkk." Which is par for the course! But Dad was all "gee... hard words." NO YA THINK?

It's especially annoying since I work best in the mornings atm, given how really hot the afternoons get and I'm just tired all the time after noon.

But I did get started on my dissertation stuff. Re-reading stuff in my proposal, and I realized there's a bunch of things I just cannot do while I'm here. So I might go back early August after all, so I can get to writing. For now, though, I'll just read all the articles I've downloaded and start synthesizing some ideas. Hopefully I'll have enough scribbles to really get started once I'm back in California, and will have exploded my proposal a bit more.

Some of the comments make me realize just how vastly far apart my writing style is from my adviser's... she's got "this is a convoluted sentence with ten ideas in it" and I go "well, yes, that's the point, because all told breaking them down is not for the proposal to do and anyway, I come from Twitterland where economy of words is important."

SIGH.

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Jun. 29th, 2015

At Incheon in a lounge right now hanging out! I attempted more sleep, less movies this time, because I slept very little the night before and was in LA all day. Spent the afternoon at a friend's house in Baldwin Hills (it was a fancy house, holy crap).

I did catch two movies:
ANNIE -- OMG SO GOOD SO FUCKING GOOD. Quvenzhane was AMAZING, her character was so charming. The updating of the plot was really well done, used social media in a great car/helicopter chase scene. The presence of whiteness is SO interesting considering the racial make-up of the side characters. I've not seen many reviews commenting on Ben Stacks becoming more connected in a community way (that the movie ends with Annie cutting the ribbon on a literacy center) (Stacks' heart visibly breaking when he finds out Annie is illiterate after that AMAZING performance) (Annie covering up with performance art) (UGH ALL THE FEELS) (WHY DIDNT I SEE MORE META ON ANNIE ON TUMBLR I DONT KNOW) (ALSO, wtf that MoonQuake Lake movie scene with THE RIHANNA AND MILA KUNIS CAMEOS and everyone geeking out after?? SLAY ME HERE WHY DONT YOU) I'm going to get diabetes from this movie omfg. Definitely something to buy on DVD.

SEVENTH SON -- ..... This could have been a better movie except for the shitty world-building. Why would you construct a world where there are people hunting down witches because witches are categorically evil and most of the plot revolves around the complicated question on whether witches deserve to be left alive because they can actually do good? How do you manage to balance a cast with POC characters who are all antagonists and hella exotified? UGH. What I did appreciate was that there wasn't a lot of Male Gaze Fail (no gratuitous gore, no gratuitous sexual violence, there's a sweet fade-to-black love scene and the emphasis is clearly on the feelings the characters express for each other) and the witches were actually interesting, and the main character, who IS the Seventh Son, is also grappling with some interesting ethical issue (which fall flat because of the scripts dedication to the good/evil dichotomy and status quo rather than continuing to challenge it as he did throughout the whole film).

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Jun. 22nd, 2015

"Oh California would be so awesome," said my buddy Vinh when I was trying to decide whether or not to take the UCR offer. "All that sun!"

It's my third summer and I've spent most of it feeling like garbage thus far because it's the fucking desert and I hate the climate here.

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Jun. 21st, 2015

Yesterday I went to the beach with Lisa and Nalo.... Venice Beach. I packed my picnic mat, my folding chairs, five ham sammiches, a change of clothes, sunscreen and a towel.

The beach was okay! The wind was kind of chilly, the water was hella cold, but the sand was hellishly hot. Lisa drove up from San Diego, we got Nalo around 9am, were there early enough to get a good parking spot. Nalo and I caught some waves, and mostly we hung around on our mats reading or sleeping. I edited the first three chapters of my novel, which I've decided must be middle-grade, and I have a better sense of how I want to revise it. So, that means, it's coming with me on the plane! I also wrote a poem, and read the entirety of [personal profile] jolantru's WOLF AT THE DOOR.

We wandered around after a while, and checked out some places nearby. (This included a house with..... very interesting outside decor. Lisa told us about it on the way there, and she said, "there're cameras all over the place and it's so clear that the owners don't want anybody coming up to ask questions but, like, dude, there's a demon on your house.")

I managed to get them to go to Little Sheep Hot Pot on the way back since Hacienda Heights is off the 60, and it was an excellent time!

For all my prep, though, I still ended up with a hella nasty sunburn on my left thigh, and a bit around the edges of my swimsuit top. I guess I missed. When I got home, I went to Kmart and got some new shampoo and some aloe gel and have been spreading the aloe liberally all over the burn all day today.

Because of the burn, I spent most of today sitting in underwear. Which, considering I spent most of today watching movies, isn't really an issue. Watched:
- A NYMPHOID BARBARIAN IN DINOSAUR HELL (terrible)
- THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH (cute)
- THE MAGICAL LEGEND OF THE LEPRECHAUNS (silly Hallmark movie that's actually really fun)

I also managed to pack a lot more today! I got my winter clothing, all the stuff on hangers, and sweaters into storage bags and boxes. I also packed away my altar stuff into a box I esoterically labeled "Lung, Kirin, Frog and Lotus on a Railway". There's a bunch of stationery I probably should just get a container for rather than put into a box. And I really need to decide what I'm bringing back to Malaysia since most of my clothes are packed away, and I've got two big luggage bags I'd like to take home with books for research. But they can't top 25kg and I have no idea how to weigh them so they don't hit that limit, ooops. I don't really have much by way of clothes to bring home either.

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Jun. 16th, 2015

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA do I send a story about being invisible or do I send a story about reality alteration thru shared imagination???

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Jun. 14th, 2015

Submitted:
resubmission of Orang Minyak story
resubmission of cyberpunk story
new submission of some smut

To write:
submission to Hidden Youth
submission to Uncanny Magazine (have two likely stories, gotta fix one up)

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Jun. 10th, 2015

- Finished grading! Dr. R has also started going through the papers and I'm pretty much scott-free.

I've been somehow having a social life? Last Friday I managed to attend the first half of the SEATRiP symposium, which was quite fun. It made me wonder what might have happened if I had chosen to do the Interdisciplinary track instead of the Science Fiction Track (and done Malay and English as my language literatures, and Creative Writing as my other field) (I like to think I would have been more successful at it). But maybe I'm thinking that because I'm not enamoured of my dissertation right now because it doesn't feel as interdisciplinary as it should be.

Anyway, while wandering off home, I ran into my adviser who offered me a ride to the home of the professor hosting the shindig for the SEATRiP symposium end. I did want to go hang out and meet folks, so I went. We had to stop by her home first. I'd been before, but only saw the downstairs, so this time she invited me to go look around. (It is an extraordinarily large house. I don't comprehend its bigness. It's also so nicely decorated, which is also something I don't understand. My parents are nouveau riche in the sense that when they go big, they fill it an ugly hodgepodge of stuff they have clung onto, and some cheaper new stuff, and there isn't a sense of design harmony when they fill in a house.)

There appeared to be two separate tables when we got there: one for faculty, one for grads. It was actually kind of cool, and it was a majority of the SEA studies folks. SEATRiP is a program across disciplines, and most of the grads are from anthropology.... couple of dance studies folk, and art history. I got to meet the keynote speaker who was very impressed by our little group (although I hesitate to say "our"... I'm not a SEATRiP grad) and I also got to show off the cover for THE SEA IS OURS. So that makes it three professors who're looking forward to its release, AND putting forward that we should have a book party for it!

I spent most of Saturday grading down at Back to the Grind, Maurisa came to join me for a couple of hours. I walked downtown and back. On Sunday I spent most of it grading too, but I couldn't finish the grading that day like I meant to because I almost cried from how terrible the exams were.

I got Chi to come over on Sunday evening to help me cook. Potluck on Monday! I made two batches of fried rice (one vegetarian, one meat) and fridged them overnight. However, had to attend a talk at 10am, so I put them in the oven for about half an hour and took them to campus, left them in my office.

The library is hiring a new person to handle the Science Fiction collection. I missed the first two candidates' talks, so I was pretty adamant to not miss this one.

The potluck was wonderful, and we all agreed that we needed to do it more often. The Chair has sent along an email with a suggestion that we do brown-bag lunches once a month in the coming year, just for kicks. We're losing our current grad advisor, but we're also getting in three (!!!) new faculty! Two of whom are women of color, so I'm VERY excited. We're getting a new Linguistics professor (she speaks Tamil and studies the Slavic languages!!), a new German Studies professor (a spousal hire; he's splitting time with Art History), and an African Studies prof (who is also a spousal hire, splitting time with Women's Studies; we've never had an Africanist in our department before! She does Igbo studies, specifically, and her work is analysing the links between West African mythical narratives and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade) (her job talk was amazing).

The last two days have not been as productive socially, but I did get to sleep in, and I've been focusing on editing some stories and reading short fiction. (I'm going through my list of online venues, and reading three pieces from each. So far, I'm in the D's.)

My summer session class might get cancelled and I find I'm not too torn about it. I'll hand in some rent and go home for a month and a half. I really want to go see [personal profile] jolantru!!! I might even stay at the Little Red Dot again, try to get some writing done. And then be back to move apartments at the end of August. Joe and I will be sharing a 2-bedroom 1-bathroom, and we'll see how this will turn out. I haven't shared an apartment for about ten years (there was James who lived on my couch after he was evicted, but that barely counts, really; I do think we could've made pretty great housemates tho) and Joe tells me that he'll be around so rarely it will work out, but IDK. I DO want the lower rent pretty badly though.

I really need to work on my application for International Student Affairs Officer (even though this might cause some complications on my paystub, since the position receives a stipend and I already get paid the maximum amount by the university for teaching assistantships).

The book I accidentally left behind at the Concourse has made its way home to me! The ancestors are smiling on me, clearly. I'm going to read through it and start working on my HIDDEN YOUTH story asap.

Gbrlgh.

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