Totes Me!

(no subject)

What the hell has been going on lately? Feels like every other friend I've encountered online and off has been struck by depression, all at once. I've been hella depressed too, and it's a fucking miracle to be able to write just a measly 400 words a fucking day. I can't get out of bed earlier than 10am, I get to campus around noon, and I stay until maybe 6pm, come home, eat, and then I have no idea what happens to my brain.

I've taken to sleep aid pills, which IDK, I don't think I've had this problem with the liquid version? I'll go back to the liquid version and see if that's any different. But really, shit like ZZZquil is meant for occasional use, not regular use. Blargh. And then there's the fact that I can sleep 8 hours and still wake up feeling under-rested and like hot garbage. I'm going to the fucking doctor. It's time for my yearly physical anyway. I just feel terrified because I've been devouring so much shitty food I'm pretty sure I'm pre-diabetic
by now =(

I thought I finished editing my first chapter, but now that I think about it, after having sent it off, it's not really done and needs a concluding paragraph that pulls the argument together. Argh. I'm gonna try to look it over again tomorrow and see what I can do. They said the editing stage was easier, it was the first draft that was the hardest, but I think that's a god damn fucking lie!

I'm trying to walk more too, for Pokemon Go, but ugh, IDK, IDK.

This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
Totes Me!

Strange Magic (2015)

I fell into the Youtube rabbithole last night and encountered this horrifically ridiculous earwormy video clip from a movie I'd never even heard of before, but which appears to be recent. Which meant I had to read up and watch all clips related to it. After trying to find it on Netflix streaming (which it is NOT, btw; it's DVD only), I poneyed up $4 to stream it on Youtube. I have to say.... that trailer really does not give this plot away.

I can see why people hated the movie. It got a lot of bad reviews, it was called unimaginative, the graphics are supposedly good but the story is supposedly terrible.

None of these reviews matter, because they are all wrong, and they remind me very much of the vitriol Jupiter Ascending got--beautiful visually, but bad story. When in fact there's nothing wrong with the story, really, aside from some minor editing issues. Same deal with Strange Magic. In fact, I have to say, it's actually REALLY refreshing, both in its humour (which works on several levels: worldbuilding, meta-knowledge, comedic beats, and genuinely quirky characters), and the way it uses tropes (beauty and the beast, but where the beast doesn't change! beauty who isn't exactly valued by the antagonist for her beauty! nagging parents! sisters! BFFs who fall in love! grumpy people who have been burned falling for each other! the villain becomes the love interest! it saves us a lot of time trying to justifying our ships by making them canon in the first place). I also love how the binary of Fairy Kingdom vs. Dark Forest isn't a versus so much as it presented as two sides of a whole, and the fairy princess learns to appreciate the Dark Forest, which she has an initially very bad experience with.

DID I MENTION THAT IT'S A JUKEBOX MUSICAL? And that the songs, which play at seemingly random times, ACTUALLY SAY SOMETHING ABOUT THE SCENE/CHARACTERS? There are DUETS that demonstrate the relationships/connections between the characters singing! SUGAR PIE HONEY BUUUUNNNNCCCHHHH!

The ultimate moral lesson of the film--that love is built on common ground and good chemistry, not on infatuation with the other person's looks (and that you don't get rewarded with love for doing certain things)--is possibly a bit too subtle, but I REALLY love the alternative masculinity presented in this film, contrasted against the toxic masculinity of the antagonist, who manages to pass as a good guy to most of the people within the film through manipulation. Get you a man who: can sing; has a DAD LOOK; knows how to be gentle; is given consequences when he does stupid things like lock away the fairy who made him the love potion he requested without giving her a chance to explain how he fucked up; learns from his mistakes. I know it's kind of a low bar but I was kind of impressed he remembered that he has to rescue his mother.

There are a couple of moments re: expectations which are also surprising to me, worked in as jokes, but somehow are also taken seriously that yes, this is a thing in this universe! it's not just a joke this is real life for them! It's all weirdly heteronormative, but I feel there are some characters you could imagine to be queer, and one character who I think reads as asexual.

I've already read complaints that there were too many subplots, but everyone's plans and arcs weave together really well. Marianne and Bog King's romance doesn't work without Sunny's crush on Dawn which doesn't get acted on without Roland's power hungry attempt to get Marianne. Most of the side characters are also delightful: Griselda as the Bog King's nagging mom who keeps trying to set him up; the Sugar Plum Fairy is HILARIOUS; Stuff and Thang as the incompetent lackeys. They add something to the script, and the script might have been poorer without them. (Although, I'm... still kind of shocked at the role the pixies play in helping Marianne train. Like, oh my god, is she really... batting at them... with her sword???)

There are a few things that I thought could have been improved on, such as the Sameface Syndrome that it has going on, but I still think there are some very slight differences between Marianne and Dawn's facial structure. They also missed the opportunity to make Marianne a truly plain girl, which would make Roland's philandering more plausible. The use of the kaleidoscope effects at the end are also pretty hideous, even though I KNOW, theoretically, it's supposed to refer to the fact that butterflies are referred to sa a kaleidoscope of butterflies. The voiceacting was a little off at times--Alan Cumming has this weird brogue slipped sometimes, and a couple of the characters have a couple of moments where they sound weirdly British. Still, the animation was quite top-notch--OH GOD THE WINGFIC! And how WELL DONE the WINGFIC!--and the body language of the characters was really great--at some point I said out loud, "well they're gonna have fairytale sex tonight."

My point is, Strange Magic is REALLY FUCKING GIRLY, and I suspect that reviewers panned it because, like Jupiter Ascending, Strange Magic is REALLY GIRLY and some people hate GIRLY FUN. George Lucas conceived of it as something for 12-yo girls to match Star Wars, but honestly, I think it's a VERY ADULT movie, like it's family-friendly in the way that there's humour and layers specifically for adults. And so much of the male characters' masculinity is in service or subordinate to the women of the film (like, gosh, while there isn't exactly gender parity, it's still more speaking female characters than the average film), and the one white-looking dude in the film is the antagonist who never gets a redemption arc. WHICH IS SO GREAT. So the only way you could pan this movie is if you missed or refused to acknowledge the ways it DOESN'T cleave to cishet bro sensibilities.

Anyways, someone tell me they also saw Strange Magic, because I don't want to suffer this earworm alone.

This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
Totes Me!

(no subject)

Busy busy week!

- Sunday: last minute went with a friend to the Anza-Borrego Desert to check out the superbloom there. I had suggested leaving at 6, getting there at 8, returning at 10, before the highway traffic set in. But it's too early for him, so we moved it back 2 hours. What happened was we left at 8, got there at 10.30, got back on the road around 12.30, and got home around 4 or so. There was a LONG time spent on a SINGLE road that was jammed up.

- Monday spent working on a cover letter. YL is having a difficult time so been doing a lot of emotional labour there.

- Tuesday I led a couple of events for the Grad Day of Action. Turns out "Courtyard outside the Physics Hall" gets read as "meet in the Physics Hall" *rolls eyes* So only one person showed up for the lunch in the courtyard, and another one for the hike into the Gardens. But the Gardens are beautiful right now, so I can't complain. Hung out the rest of the time with other grads in the Grad Lounge.

- Wednesday, had a very brief SSFAC meeting! And then did the SFRG, and went out to dinner with Lindsay and Eun-Joo. My Clarion classmate, Alan, got in around 10pm :D

- Thursday, Alan visited! We wandered the campus first thing in the morning, then I left him in the Creative Writing department. He came by mid-afternoon, so we went to the Eaton Collection to check out some stuff, like an artbook of Flatland, the original edition of Ted Chiang's STORIES OF YOUR LIFE, the original hardcover of Ellen Kushner's SWORDSPOINT.

We had dinner at Tio's, and at night, I found I had to walk back to campus so I could get the file for the final exam I'm giving students.

Right now, I'm staring at a giant pile of final essays to grade, feeling super thankful I made them go through a gamut of three workshops (much of this pile = previous drafts that I made them attach). They're feeling pretty good about this final essay, confident about the final exam, and I'm going to miss a bunch of them.

Losses of teaching this class:
- Sank in a LOT of energy talking to students that took away from writing my dissertation
- Felt woefully under-prepped most of the time to teach some of the more theoretical texts, like there were problems I feel I should have anticipated #impostersyndrome
- Still can't save some students. A student emailed me at 1am, 6 hours before the essay was due, being apologetic for not coming to workshop and asking to hand in his essay on Saturday. SATURRDAY? I assigned this essay A MONTH AGO to give you ample time to prep, PLUS had three workshops for each stage of writing! Maybe if you weren't gallivanting off to LA two hours away half the quarter you'd be doing better work. I understand some folks gotta hustle, but come on.
- I thought I was a morning person, but apparently teaching at 7am is way too morning for me.

Wins in teaching this class:
- Watching the Engineering students glow as they talked about going through Special Collection archives and handling papers directly about the founding of their college
- Freshman student going from strength to strength with each essay, and being able to teach her directly some database tricks
- One of my students may have scored an internship with a professor to help with linguistics research (his major) as a result of the final essay project.

Not bad for a class I was recommended for simply because I was out of a job.

This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
Totes Me!

(no subject)

Students' Outline Workshop had a brief hitch in the beginning as the students couldn't remember which groups they were in (because for some reason checking on ilearn for their groups doesn't seem to occur to them) and one student moved from one side of the class to the other only to find that her group had moved to her side of the class. A couple of students who had been in business are changing their majors so they moved groups too.

I gave them a sheet with instructions (things like, take turns introducing yourselves, your topics and your arguments), opened by introducing to them what the concept of "active listening" means, and let them have at it. They could do the thing where they take turns talking about their outlines and their current problems with it, or exchange outlines (passing outlines one direction, so everyone gets a shot at looking at it). That way they're exchanging ideas and making suggestions as thoroughly as they can.

As usual, there's a range of finished outlines and unfinished outlines, so I had prepped some questions they could ask each other, depending on how done the outline is.

One group was the general social science group, and I think only two students had the same major, and they told me how interesting it was to listen to everyone else's major. There was a group of psych students, having spirited debate on their various topics. The engineering students were diligently passing their laptops and outlines to their right, and the bio group were split between people talking more (because they had unfinished outlines) versus people very quietly going over outlines. And there was a group of Humanities (English and Creative Writing) who were slightly awkward but visibly very earnestly discussing their majors.

For Wednesday I have them bringing in their past essays and reflecting on things they need to keep and improve for this essay, which will hopefully keep them informed on what to do for the paper (which they'll inevitably write on Thursday). On Friday they have to have a full first draft by then, and they'll be doing a workshop on essay structures next. I'll prep another worksheet for them to think through.

When I teach this class again, I'll have all these materials again and I think I'll definitely re-use them, because they seem to work out really well. I feel I can focus on my own work a lot better right now because of it.

Anyway I downloaded Nanaca Crash yesterday and there was no work done on my dissertation as a result. Whoops.

This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
Totes Me!

(no subject)

Today I did manage to get up at 5.30am with Alarmy... it's am alarm app which forces you to do a thing in order for you to turn it off. Options include doing math problems. I chose an option where I would have to get up, turn on the light, stumble to my closet, and take a picture of my organizer. And since I'm there, aaaand that's where the underwear is, I might as well keep on going and get dressed.

I have not managed to stay awake despite this exercise, of course. This morning I got as far as washing up and getting dressed, doing some exercise (sets of 10, squats, push-ups from the knee, crunches, Russian crunches; it hurt), getting breakfast and morning drink, while checking the Internet, and afterwards, around 7am, I went back to bed and got up around 8.30. Well... baby steps, I guess. Tomorrow I'll see a friend for the first time in almost five years, so once I have done morning libations, I'll hie to the nearby Starbucks, do some reading, and refill my Pokemon bag, until he gets to Riverside. I also need to get books for the class I'm teaching this quarter?

Which brings me to the productive things I have done in the new year: I have drafted a syllabus that actually looks rather good (I think). It has some holes in it, because I don't actually know what the text I'm supposed to teach is. We're supposed to get a list of books and pick one, and the St. Martin's Guide to Writing, and we get to choose exercises from that book. The essays escalate from 2 - 3 pages to a 6 pager, although I wonder if the final project might be too much (I'm teaching them how to do an annotated bibliography, and I would like at least three items in the Works Cited page).

The class is Intermediate Composition. It is part of a remedial freshman series to equip students with the writing skills needed at university level. The first course, they're apparently still learning how to put sentences together into paragraphs. The third course is critical thinking. This leaves the second course as a bridge between the two, where the students move from personal writing to more public writing "for multicultural contexts" which is kind of a meaningless description. I do know they have to write at least four essays, so I'm teaching them, basically, how to write about media, and how to read and edit. And cite. You can never teach kids how to cite too early. I'm pondering a library visit, but... the class is at 7am. I'm pretty sure the library only opens at 8am.

(The class at 7am is because the Chancellor has decided to aggressively expand the university and up enrollment without considering whether we have the actual capacity for it. We don't. That's why there are now 7am classes. I have a MWF schedule, which I don't mind, but all at 7am. I am not sure why I volunteered to teach at heinous o'clock.)

I'm wondering if I need to email the professor who's supposed to oversee us... apparently we get very little supervision, but IDK.

Today, rather than faff over my syllabus, I decided to submit some stuff. I was originally only going to do one, but in the end I've sent out four submissions.

Sometime this week, while I have brainspace, I'm going to get Interfolio and my Vitae account into order.

This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
Totes Me!

Year in Review

So not a lot happened this year per se but I thought I'd give it a shot:

Jan - Mar: After an embarrassing start writing a first chapter, Tempest pulled together an incredible writing group, with whom I busted out two chapters of my dissertation. I finished the second chapter literally the day it was due (last day of the quarter), while I was at ICFA.

March: OK quite a few things happened this month!

1) I was accepted to Clarion! I wasn't really allowed to tell anybody about it but I told a few people, plus Marianne Kirby and I were in a Hangout together when I got the news so she got to witness, eyebrows raised, my high-pitched noise-making.

2) The SEA Is Ours was published by GerakBudaya, a leftist bookstore in Malaysia, for Southeast Asian distribution! This means it's cheaper for people in the region, and it's hitting the audience it was meant for!

3) Joyce came to ICFA! It was so good to hang out with her outside of Singapore. I arrived Tuesday night (which is to say, Wednesday morning stupid o'clock, and slept in the lobby) and was there to meet Joyce and check her in and it was YAYNESS. It was the first time both of us got to do a reading at ICFA, hopefully not Joyce's last time!!

4) The weekend after ICFA, I was at AnomalyCon, which paid for airfare and hotel and worked me to the goddamn bone with SEVEN panels over the weekend. Like, damn!

April: I was working on my third chapter, and I was interviewed by Uma Ampikaipakan for his BFM radio segment Invisible Cities on steampunk:

I also wrote a paper on editing The SEA Is Ours and presented it at UC Berkeley's Center for Southeast Asian Studies Conference "Making Southeast Asian Culture: From Region to World"! I got to roadtrip up to Berkeley with Dr. Mariam Lam and Dr. Henk Maier, which was *really entertaining*.

May: Timmi Duchamp asked me to edit the WisCon Chronicles, Vol. 11!!!!! I have themed it "Trials By Whiteness". (If anybody wants to slip something in last minute, something small like poetry, let me know.)

And I booked it to the East Coast for Diana and Ashley's steampunk wedding! What a wonderful day.

The SEA Is Ours also came out in Czech!

June: I don't remember what else happened but I know I handed in my third chapter. Clarion also began this month! I arranged for a subletter to take my apartment, and Lisa Bolekaja came and got me out to La Jolla, and we stayed in a hotel overnight and she took me around campus.

July: Clarion Clarion Clarion. I wrote a story per week. I also did my first collaboration with S. Qiouyi Lu, who was at Clarion West... while collaborations between classmates have happened, this was also the first inter-Clarion collaboration, so we made a bit of history there! I cooked a lot for my classmates. We got to go to San Diego Comic Con, and I spent most of the day with Indrapramit Das, who is way hotter in real life than he needs to be. Cecilia Tan was in town for the Romance Writers Association Conference and she also came to visit, which was cool! My roommates were Jen Julian and Kathleen Kayembe: we're all queer women, and Jen and I spent several topless days down at Black Beach (which is a "clothing optional" beach... so I learned how to swim in the sea finally! and with no clothes). I didn't get the Octavia Butler Scholarship, but Kathleen did, and I might have shed tears when Lisa gave her her owl. Ellen gave me a chapstick as a "Den Mother award" which lol I guess.

Also, VINTAGE TOMORROWS was released on Netflix, which is a thing that has my mug in it.

August: I went home to Malaysia. I let my mom buy me clothes. I also bought my first ever smartphone, a Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, because Dad started playing Pokemon Go and I just.... didn't want him to be cooler than me in that way. I went to Singapore (and caught some cool stuff there) and hung with Joyce and Christopher Hwang and SEAsteampunk writer Timothy Dimacali. (There is an Ivysaur in my collection called Joyce&Chris.) I went to the Peranakan Museum with [profile] delfinuum! It was a good time.

September: I don't remember what happened this month, honestly. I... turned 32. Uhm, I had a houseguest over who managed to push past many of my boundaries. Eric, Maurisa, and Javier bought me a cake! Maurisa and I went to see Nisi read!

October: Sunil Patel, my Clarion classmate, was outed as an abuser, so I spent a LOT of time doing emotional work with my cohort. I fostered a stray puppy for about a week. I'm still in love with the puppy. I also start sending out job applications. This shit managed to suck a lot of mental energy that I should have saved for my dissertation.

November: I sink into the worst depression I've had in years. Also, the election happened, which, what the actual fuck. The nice thing is I got to go to San Diego with Nalo, to watch a special screening of ARRIVAL. There was a special reception before the screening where I got to hang with some other Clarion folks. I snuck some posters home. I.... should send those out.

December: I went to China! For a conference in utopian and science fiction studies. That was really neat. I got to meet the first SF Studies academic in China, Wu Yan, and Chinese SF author Xia Jia (who is not just talented creatively, but terrifyingly intelligent, AND really hot to boot). I got to go out to the Lama Temple, too. But otherwise I spent most of it sinking into depression and feeling terrible that my dissertation is no further along.

I also got my first rejection for an academic job. Which, well, shit happens.

2017 Goals:
- Establish a morning exercise routine that doesn't depend on a gym
- Ask a doctor for a prescription for depression. Folks have been telling me to go to therapy but I honestly don't feel that's right for me.
- Send out more work.
- Revise more stories.
- Write more, period.
- Write a new goddamn novel, omg. I just realized I have a quartet, a trilogy, and three standalone novels that really want to be written, ARGH, not to mention the novella that wants to be re-written, AND the short story collection that I've got ideas for but no time nor inspiration.
- Try for some visiting assistant professorships. If not, try for some actual jobs. If not, go home, and write.

I hope you all have a blessed 2017 ahead!

This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
Totes Me!

Publications of 2016

So I guess this is the time of year that we tally up what we have published over the year. And, despite how rotten the year has been going, I think this is my personal best in terms of what I managed to get published! Now if only that translated into academic publishing, too.


"Sweetness and Light" was published in the inaugral issue of recompose magazine! It is a poem about a young woman who literally spews forth sweetness and light when she speaks, and her sense of degradation when other people feel entitled to her. It is 50 lines, so eligible for Best Long Poem Rhysling.

Short fiction:

"Anak Sungai" was published in Truancy, a little story about a river meeting various forest animals as she goes out to sea. There is one animal she wants to find but he is a tricky one.

"Crocodile Tears" was published in Lightspeed Magazine, a retelling of two Malaysian folktales: one of Si Tenggang, the faithless son, and the other tale explaining why a river is free of crocodiles. This was my second pro sale!

"Mana Langkah Pelangi Terakhir? (Where is the Rainbow's Last Step?)" was published in Interfictions, thanks to guest editors Sam J. Miller ande Carmen Machado. A journalist following a lede for the miraculous things that happen finds a long-lost local celebrity. This was my third pro sale and I am now SFWA-eligible as a result!

"A Name to Ashes" is in the anthology Hidden Youth: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History. It draws on the coolie trade in Cuba for inspiration. It was possibly the hardest to research and write, emotionally. If you want to consider this for something, try to buy the anthology! But if you can't for whatever reason, email me and I'll get the story to you.


I reviewed Everfair by Nisi Shawl for Strange Horizons! Most of my non-fiction energy has been going towards my academic writing, though.

I presented a paper on feminist utopias at the Inaugral Utopian and Science Fiction Studies Conference organized out of Beijing Normal University.


The Sea Is Ours: Tales of Steampunk Southeast Asia is now available in Southeast Asia, courtesy of Gerakbudaya who bought the rights to publish and distribute it in the region! I'm very happy about this. [personal profile] jolantru and I really should try to do something with them in the future.


Writing-wise, in the first few months of the year, I re-wrote a dissertation chapter and a new chapter in a single quarter, and a third chapter in the spring quarter. I am now currently struggling to write the last chapter, so I can be on schedule to graduate in spring 2017. It is very hard, because it is a departure from the critique I've been making throughout the rest of the dissertation into something optimistic, and I've not really been in the mood for optimism.

I also attended the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Workshop in summer this year, in which I produced six short story drafts. I've already sold one, and have another one I'm fairly happy with. Clarion gave me a chance to be in a writing-intensive space for several weeks, bouncing off ideas from incredible people. It was also my first opportunity in collaboration.

I am editing the WisCon Chronicles Vol. 11. I might have bounced out of my skin when Timmi Duchamp asked me! I've themed it "Trials by Whiteness" and I'm hoping to present a range of pieces that'll provoke conversations about the different viewpoints in the community. (Also, I think I still have space to spare, in case you wanted to get something in suuuuuuper last-minute.)

I'll make a more general post later.

This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
Totes Me!

(no subject)

Spent most of today sore and aching from last night's fever, which was pretty rough. I caught it because I was underdressed and walking home after dark. Followed by getting into a heated room. Could feel the heaty-ness rising over the evening, and by 7pm, it was full blown. Around 9pm, I think I went out into the hallway and I was shivering so much from the temp drop.

What followed was a miserable night of consistent waking up because I kept on sweating so much, so I had to wipe my face a lot. I was much better by morning, but still aching a lot.

I feel much better now, my forehead has cooled down significantly, my butt is still sore, but I went out to get cornflakes.

This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
Totes Me!

(no subject)

For whatever reason, LiveJournal loads really easily in China! I have not been able to access any social networks or email. Which is nice on one hand. On the other, the only app on my phone that works is WhatsApp. And considering that I don't remember any of my passwords, using a VPN has not been useful. (Also Gmail rightfully doesn't trust my VPN log-in attempts but it keeps trying to send me a text message to my American number, which I can't access anyway because I don't have roaming.) Plus, trying to tweet through VPN doesn't work. Just, ugh.

I landed at 6.40, about an hour after I should have arrived, and got a shuttle bus (paid twice more than I should have, probably) and got to the hotel like twenty minutes before my panel. YL has been great in introducing me to people. Most of the papers have been in Chinese but the powerpoints are bilingual, so it hasn't been totally lost. Then again, most of what I'm getting is that there is some hella exciting scholarship in Chinese SF which I have zero access to, haha. I did sit through all the panels and meals even though I was really tired, because damn if I wanted to miss the day after missing an entire day yesterday.

The plan today was to grade all day but I managed to meet some folks at breakfast who were interested in taking a walk out to the Lama Temple nearby, so I got to go sightseeing a bit. Folks have been really nice to me and talking to me as much as they can in English, which makes me feel bad because there's no way for me to do the favour and try to speak in Chinese in any limited fashion, either, since my vocabulary is so nonexistent.

But now I'm back in the hotel, with no internet, so I might as well try to do as much grading as possible. Maybe even a bit of writing.