She Writes and Draws

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Two weeks of bronchitis and I’ve managed to convince the dog that we speak the same language now. I bark, Lilo barks, Vasant barks. I can tell she misses the sound of English, but much prefers that we’re all finally communicating equally. 

She’ll be disappointed when we switch back to non-coughing English.

In other, non-sick news, this week we approved Claire’s score and she set about finding amazing musicians, and booked studio time at Jack Straw. It’s an amazing score and we can’t wait to set it to the film. One more post-production hurdle jumped!

Hope you’re all doing well. We’re only a couple days away from fall! It’s going to be 90 on Sunday, but we can only hope that means rain is on its way.

Two weeks of bronchitis and I’ve managed to convince the dog that we speak the same language now. I bark, Lilo barks, Vasant barks. I can tell she misses the sound of English, but much prefers that we’re all finally communicating equally.

She’ll be disappointed when we switch back to non-coughing English.

In other, non-sick news, this week we approved Claire’s score and she set about finding amazing musicians, and booked studio time at Jack Straw. It’s an amazing score and we can’t wait to set it to the film. One more post-production hurdle jumped!

Hope you’re all doing well. We’re only a couple days away from fall! It’s going to be 90 on Sunday, but we can only hope that means rain is on its way.

A Fistful of Replies, followed by For a Few Replies More

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johncabrera replied to your photo “Filming Charles Baxter talking about the craft of plot at Hugo House’s…”

Plot is the unpopular kid in fiction, these days. Character is the current darling.

So much of the literary fiction I’ve read lately is lacking character too. I’ve heard both derided so much in favor of style that sometimes it’s hard not to despair over the state of literary fiction (of course, there are books that are full of great examples of both, some that I’ve been lucky enough to read this summer, but they’re still so sneered at.)

One person, who went through a very elite literary MFA program, told me she’d never read Shakespeare and didn’t intend to because it’s only considered literary because it’s old, and that contemporary critics of Shakespeare pointed out his plays were too plot driven (screw you, Ben Jonson.) She then turns around and asked if I’d read David Foster Wallace and went on about the beauty of the incomprehensible in his works, and I just stood there dumbfounded. She had actually been through seven years of higher education and not read Shakespeare, but been instructed instead in Joyce and Wallace (I love their work, but come on. Start with the fundamentals.) The thought that today’s writers are being taught that Shakespeare is too plot-focused and that style should be praised above all nauseates me.

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Fortunately, the other night’s event was fantastic. Charles Baxter said so much great stuff, ripping at the literary establishment for eschewing plot and then diving into a master class on developing good, character-driven plot. 

One of my favorite quotes that night was:

"Secrecy leads to plots. [They] contain massive amounts of negative energy. The narrative reveals and heals." -Charles Baxter 

I love that. “The narrative reveals and heals.” 

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badooney replied to your photo “Lilo and I share a trait of being both small and large depending on…”

I’m glad you wrote this list. It’s always nice to hear what you have to say. I appreciate your insights and I hope things are going well. : )

Thanks. I appreciate that. Depression is hard to write about, but for whatever it’s worth now that he’s gone, when Robin Williams talked about his, it helped me as a kid and was something I thought of often as I grew up. Being affected by that kind of transparency creates a responsibility, no matter how awkward, to be transparent yourself, even if I’m not writing about things like this as much as I could be in order to fulfill that responsibility.

Things are going well, though. The funny thing about depression is that it strikes irregardless of whether things are going well. I think writing about it (as well as reaching out) is helpful, and hopefully might be helpful to read. All this is to say, I am really thankful you left your comment. 

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razadeluna replied to your photo “Vasant and I are both sick today with a bad cough. Luckily, Lilo…”

facesssssssssssssssss

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caffeinatedcephalopod replied to your photo “Vasant and I are both sick today with a bad cough. Luckily, Lilo…”

*hugs* i love you so ♥♥♥ xoxoxoxo

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palmtreepalmtree replied to your photo “Vasant and I are both sick today with a bad cough. Luckily, Lilo…”

Aww, feel better!

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helms-deep replied to your photo “Vasant and I are both sick today with a bad cough. Luckily, Lilo…”

So are we! Ugh. This September cold sucks! Feel better soon, friend.

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jennhoney replied to your photo “Vasant and I are both sick today with a bad cough. Luckily, Lilo…”

sending esoup! get good rest <3

Thank you all!!! I’m feeling a bit better today. The cough I’ve got has been kicking my butt all week, but it’s not as severe today. I might even have enough energy to go looking for the aurora borealis tonight (we’re supposed to get a chance to view them tonight and tomorrow!) I hope all of you are feeling good. Change of season colds can be the worst. 

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Hopefully I’ll turn a corner soon. Until then, keep sending all the e-soup you can, light on the e-cumin.

Filming Charles Baxter talking about the craft of plot at Hugo House’s Word Works series. This is one of the best craft talks yet in the second year of this series. Plot is too often looked down on in literary fiction, and yet, it’s what  is sorely lacking from most of the offerings in the literary realm.

Filming Charles Baxter talking about the craft of plot at Hugo House’s Word Works series. This is one of the best craft talks yet in the second year of this series. Plot is too often looked down on in literary fiction, and yet, it’s what is sorely lacking from most of the offerings in the literary realm.

In a lot of ways I was reborn when I jumped into my first serious mosh pit at age 17, in Albany’s QE2.

It might seem weird to those who never did it, but the mosh pit taught me empathy more than any other experience ever did. Hitting and getting hit may not seem to be something that brings you together, but does it ever, and in the pit you look out for each other. Sometimes a real asshole, who only wants to hurt others, gets in there, and then the pit will respond like a living organism and beat the shit out of him and eject him from the center. It’s a miracle. It’s a self-regulating marvel. I’ve had some of the most extraordinary connections happen in a quick moment in a mosh pit. I’ve been on the floor, about to be crushed, when I was suddenly lifted by a half dozen hands above the crowd.

Obviously the pit isn’t for everybody, but I have to believe there is a similar experience everyone can have. An experience that allows you to understand that we’re all dancing around and bouncing into each other, to understand where the boundaries are between pushing back and causing harm, to understand the thrill of being on the ground and having others help you to your feet. To feel the bliss of helping others up.

- Devin Faraci

Devin wrote a great article about #GamerGate and the psychology behind the misplaced rage. But in getting to his point, he beautifully points out one of my favorite things I’ve ever encountered in the music world: the mosh pit. 

I’ve written poems about the pit, it features heavily in my first novel, I can’t go on enough about how the pit saved my life. Transpose Albany for Seattle and Tacoma, and you have my sentiments exactly. I rarely went to those shows with people I knew. I loved blending into the anonymity of the pit, transforming into a family for the span of a song, being lifted up, bounced around, wearing the errant punch on the chin like a badge of honor, sweat drenching me, getting random pats on the back from people around me surprised to see a tiny girl holding her own at a punk rock show.

My first pit experience, a boy collapsed in my arms and I held him while the men around me formed a circle to keep us safe while he shook and I shouted for medical attention.  Years later, when the rare bastard entered the crowd and began intentionally throwing punches and one landed on in the middle of my back, knocking the air out of me, six guys picked him up and ran him out, checked on me, went back to dancing, all like brothers, encircling me like a wall of extra space for the next few songs until they were sure I was okay. I felt strong in the pit, invisible and yet recognized as family, part of something great with the music coursing through me like it was dissolving my body, and despite the tempo and the toughness of the crowd, safer than I’ve ever felt before. 

Pit hospitality, man. There’s nothing like it.

kvknowsherfun:

coopergriggs:

merryweatherblue:

I took my little brother (who falls on the autism spectrum) to see Guardians of the Galaxy and after this scene he lit up like a Christmas tree and screamed “He’s like me! He can’t do metaphors!” And for the rest of the film my brother stared at Drax in a state of rapture. 

So for the last 6 days I have heard my brother repeatedly quote all of the Drax lines from the movie verbatim (one of his talents), begin studying vocabulary test words, and tell everyone he knows that people with autism can also be superheroes.

Now I am not saying that Drax the Destroyer is, or was ever, intended to be autistic. All I am saying is that it warmed my heart to see my brother have an opportunity to identify himself with a character known for his strength, badassness, and honor. And that is pretty damn awesome. 

So while I adored Guardians of the Galaxy as a great fun loving film with cool characters I can do nothing but thank Marvel Studios and Dave Bautista for finally bringing a superhero to the screen that my little brother can relate to.

And now I love this movie a little more.

Well this is amazing

I’m autistic and that’s exactly what I thought during this scene.

There are a lot of autistic characters who were never intended to be portrayed as autistic simply because they’re created or portrayed by people on the spectrum, who may or most likely do not know, that they have ASD. When you find them, whether it’s media-obsessed Abed, or Pennsylvania Dutch-raised Dwight, or the Crane Brothers in Seattle, you feel a little less alone in the world as an autistic person.

Also, RDJ’s Tony Stark is totally an Aspie.

(via tricialew)

Lilo and I share a trait of being both small and large depending on how we feel. I fluctuate emotionally between three feet tall and ten feet tall on any given day. They say dogs resemble their owners and this is one of the many ways Lilo resembles me. She is a lap dog when she wants to be, and giant when she feels she has to be. 
This is another list post. 
I was disturbed by the death of Robin Williams. I was eleven the first time I seriously contemplated suicide. I slept with a knife under my pillow for several days before my mom found it, confiscated it and then grounded me. We didn’t talk about why I felt that way. I didn’t hear anyone use the words suicide or depression until Robin Williams talked about his childhood depression and struggles with suicide. It gave me hope. I felt like less of an outcast with his words pounding in my chest, telling me it was alright to be weird, to have these thoughts, to fight this fight. When he felt that he could no longer fight, it was like a twenty-one year old balloon in my chest deflated. Most people mistakenly think that depression is a mood, but it’s not. It can exist in the heart or mind when you’re happy. It can be there when you’re successful. It’s a shadow that follows you and can reappear, even on the sunniest days. I empathize: sixty-three years old and it reappears and it’s the same shadow that’s followed you since childhood. I feel that way in my thirties. I know it’s the same shadow. We all have so much strength, and Robin’s gave out. It frightens me. It sends me back to think about how I’m doing. Am I underestimating my depression, this age-old battle I fight? Am I forgetting that it’s not just a mood, and giving it too much ground again when days get harder and it gets easier to slip into?
All this reminds me of the scariest, saddest Hans Christian Anderson short story, "The Shadow." If you haven’t read it, and you like the fairy tale neuroses of Anderson, you have to read it. 
I was sickened/am sickened/will continue to be horrified by the militarization of police around the country and their blatant disregard for the lives of young black men. We’ve all seen the posters of the white psychotic maniacs who’ve been taken alive compared to the young men who’ve been shot in the back of the head, unarmed, on the ground, because they were black and the officers pulling the trigger weren’t. While I haven’t been posting about it here  (I haven’t done any serious blogging in weeks,) I have on Twitter, and to say it’s been making me sick is an understatement. Some departments will welcome reform, some obviously won’t. If you’re too bureaucratic with calling for oversight or reform, change can’t occur fast enough to save more innocent lives. If you’re too aggressive, then what happens when you try to take power away from these problematic forces?  How do you de-militarize without creating a militia? That’s been the thought plaguing me. We need widespread overhaul of our domestic police force, regardless.
On that note, is everyone registered to vote this fall? Mid-term elections are more important than presidential ones. If you don’t aggressively vote for pro-Obamacare senators and congressmen this fall, for example, a lot of seriously ill people who’ve received care this year will cease to get medical attention. There’s another post that’s been in the works all this year, but if you’ve followed me for a while, you know I have a disease that I’ve barely been able to treat the last seven years because it was considered a pre-existing condition. This year that’s changed, and I daresay it’s the only reason I’ve been able to function in this demanding role on the film, let alone get better and begin to actually live life well again. The loss of Obamacare, if the GOP gains any more ground in either section of Congress, will result in the loss of healthcare for millions who, regardless of wealth or stature in society, are very sick and have been denied healthcare by companies looking to make a buck, people who have it much worse than me. 
I am reading Edan Lepucki’s California right now and it is undoing me with it’s wonderfully sharp, bright, dark, and funny prose as a couple struggles to hold on in the wilderness of post-collapse America. She puts you in the forest with the main characters. It’s enough space for the imagination to really go wild, and enough description to let you know the limitations they face. Claire reminded me that in a post-apocalyptic era, she and I probably won’t survive because we need certain medication to live. The thought is making me a little panicky during parts of the book and has, more than once, sent me to the weirder parts of the internet to see how to treat certain diseases homeopathically. I like to think about what I would do post-collapse, but now that I’m reading a story set there, and have had my own limitations pointed out, I’m realizing I’d be darwinistically winnowed out with so many others.
My strategy: Enjoy life now. Enjoy life ecstatically. Fight the shadow, tell good stories, feed your soul the things it needs to thrive, and help others thrive too. If the world ends soon or thousands of years from now, we can, as individuals, still go too quickly and without warning. Until that moment when things transition from here to not here, live this quote: I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time. —Jack London. If I do these things, then no matter how long I’ve got, no matter what darkness I contend with, I’ll love the life I lead, and those I live it with.
Vasant and I have finished the bulk of our traveling for the film and we’ve been home now for a little over two weeks. While things have not been calm-there have been more shoots, script deadlines, funerals to attend, and work for our Samudre Media clients-it’s been so good to not have to leave town. We’re only a couple weeks away from wrapping production and we’re a month into post-production. This has allowed for us to catch up on rest, business, and as of right now, catching up on Tumblr. We’re still hard at work on the film, but it’s amazing how much more energy I have to tackle a myriad of projects if I’m at home and not traveling. 
I finished an essay this last week that I’ve been working on for years. I worked on it for the first time in four months last week to get it into its final revision. It was amazing to have time to write again. I’m so excited to send this film off into the world not only for its impact, but I’m excited to dive into my own prose again. I’m hungry for it.
The Seahawks are having an amazing pre-season. It’s going to be us versus the Patriots this next February. Calling it now. Barring any huge injury to Russell, we’ll be there again and I think we’ll be facing Brady this year, not Peyton. The game of the year won’t be the SuperBowl, though. It’ll be the NFC Championship, like last year. It just remains to see whether or not Arizona will be there facing us, or if it will be a healthier version of the 49ers than what they’re starting the season with now. 
Just had to end this list on a subject of importance. of which I know you all care about deeply. 

Lilo and I share a trait of being both small and large depending on how we feel. I fluctuate emotionally between three feet tall and ten feet tall on any given day. They say dogs resemble their owners and this is one of the many ways Lilo resembles me. She is a lap dog when she wants to be, and giant when she feels she has to be. 

This is another list post

  • I was disturbed by the death of Robin Williams. I was eleven the first time I seriously contemplated suicide. I slept with a knife under my pillow for several days before my mom found it, confiscated it and then grounded me. We didn’t talk about why I felt that way. I didn’t hear anyone use the words suicide or depression until Robin Williams talked about his childhood depression and struggles with suicide. It gave me hope. I felt like less of an outcast with his words pounding in my chest, telling me it was alright to be weird, to have these thoughts, to fight this fight. When he felt that he could no longer fight, it was like a twenty-one year old balloon in my chest deflated. Most people mistakenly think that depression is a mood, but it’s not. It can exist in the heart or mind when you’re happy. It can be there when you’re successful. It’s a shadow that follows you and can reappear, even on the sunniest days. I empathize: sixty-three years old and it reappears and it’s the same shadow that’s followed you since childhood. I feel that way in my thirties. I know it’s the same shadow. We all have so much strength, and Robin’s gave out. It frightens me. It sends me back to think about how I’m doing. Am I underestimating my depression, this age-old battle I fight? Am I forgetting that it’s not just a mood, and giving it too much ground again when days get harder and it gets easier to slip into?
  • All this reminds me of the scariest, saddest Hans Christian Anderson short story, "The Shadow." If you haven’t read it, and you like the fairy tale neuroses of Anderson, you have to read it. 
  • I was sickened/am sickened/will continue to be horrified by the militarization of police around the country and their blatant disregard for the lives of young black men. We’ve all seen the posters of the white psychotic maniacs who’ve been taken alive compared to the young men who’ve been shot in the back of the head, unarmed, on the ground, because they were black and the officers pulling the trigger weren’t. While I haven’t been posting about it here  (I haven’t done any serious blogging in weeks,) I have on Twitter, and to say it’s been making me sick is an understatement. Some departments will welcome reform, some obviously won’t. If you’re too bureaucratic with calling for oversight or reform, change can’t occur fast enough to save more innocent lives. If you’re too aggressive, then what happens when you try to take power away from these problematic forces?  How do you de-militarize without creating a militia? That’s been the thought plaguing me. We need widespread overhaul of our domestic police force, regardless.
  • On that note, is everyone registered to vote this fall? Mid-term elections are more important than presidential ones. If you don’t aggressively vote for pro-Obamacare senators and congressmen this fall, for example, a lot of seriously ill people who’ve received care this year will cease to get medical attention. There’s another post that’s been in the works all this year, but if you’ve followed me for a while, you know I have a disease that I’ve barely been able to treat the last seven years because it was considered a pre-existing condition. This year that’s changed, and I daresay it’s the only reason I’ve been able to function in this demanding role on the film, let alone get better and begin to actually live life well again. The loss of Obamacare, if the GOP gains any more ground in either section of Congress, will result in the loss of healthcare for millions who, regardless of wealth or stature in society, are very sick and have been denied healthcare by companies looking to make a buck, people who have it much worse than me. 
  • I am reading Edan Lepucki’s California right now and it is undoing me with it’s wonderfully sharp, bright, dark, and funny prose as a couple struggles to hold on in the wilderness of post-collapse America. She puts you in the forest with the main characters. It’s enough space for the imagination to really go wild, and enough description to let you know the limitations they face. Claire reminded me that in a post-apocalyptic era, she and I probably won’t survive because we need certain medication to live. The thought is making me a little panicky during parts of the book and has, more than once, sent me to the weirder parts of the internet to see how to treat certain diseases homeopathically. I like to think about what I would do post-collapse, but now that I’m reading a story set there, and have had my own limitations pointed out, I’m realizing I’d be darwinistically winnowed out with so many others.
  • My strategy: Enjoy life now. Enjoy life ecstatically. Fight the shadow, tell good stories, feed your soul the things it needs to thrive, and help others thrive too. If the world ends soon or thousands of years from now, we can, as individuals, still go too quickly and without warning. Until that moment when things transition from here to not here, live this quote: I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time. —Jack London. If I do these things, then no matter how long I’ve got, no matter what darkness I contend with, I’ll love the life I lead, and those I live it with.
  • Vasant and I have finished the bulk of our traveling for the film and we’ve been home now for a little over two weeks. While things have not been calm-there have been more shoots, script deadlines, funerals to attend, and work for our Samudre Media clients-it’s been so good to not have to leave town. We’re only a couple weeks away from wrapping production and we’re a month into post-production. This has allowed for us to catch up on rest, business, and as of right now, catching up on Tumblr. We’re still hard at work on the film, but it’s amazing how much more energy I have to tackle a myriad of projects if I’m at home and not traveling. 
  • I finished an essay this last week that I’ve been working on for years. I worked on it for the first time in four months last week to get it into its final revision. It was amazing to have time to write again. I’m so excited to send this film off into the world not only for its impact, but I’m excited to dive into my own prose again. I’m hungry for it.
  • The Seahawks are having an amazing pre-season. It’s going to be us versus the Patriots this next February. Calling it now. Barring any huge injury to Russell, we’ll be there again and I think we’ll be facing Brady this year, not Peyton. The game of the year won’t be the SuperBowl, though. It’ll be the NFC Championship, like last year. It just remains to see whether or not Arizona will be there facing us, or if it will be a healthier version of the 49ers than what they’re starting the season with now. 

Just had to end this list on a subject of importance. of which I know you all care about deeply. 

Yesterday was my Grandma and Grandpa’s 64th wedding anniversary. We went out into the San Juans and scattered her ashes where we’d scattered Grandpa’s fourteen months earlier. The three pictures at the top are from June 2013, the rest are from yesterday, at the same island just beyond Deception Pass near where my grandparents used to love to camp.  

It was quiet on the boat, more quiet than it was for my grandfather, because I think we’re all still at a loss for what to say. My grandmother was amazing and was such an influence on me and so many people in our family and outside the family. And she should still be here. For at least another decade. Her tether shouldn’t have been severed, and the cut still hurts those who felt so tied to her. Alzheimer’s makes rationalizing “it was one’s time” or “at least she had a long, full life” almost impossible.

The pain, however, never came close to overshadowing why we’d gathered together. What was palpable on the boat was fierce gratitude for who she was, what she gave to every generation: those around her, her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She was classy, strong, gutsy, intelligent, well-read and beautiful. Her stories, her hospitality, her passions are embedded in our DNA. We cast roses after her ashes and watched them carried off by the current toward the island, and said one final goodbye as a family. It wasn’t for us, this goodbye, but a ritual needed whether she was watching or not, to express our thanks, our love for each other, and to let her know we’ll remember her. That’s been the struggle this year: even as I still wrestle with the cruelty of her death, it’s the celebration of her life that we all hope will heal, and even if it won’t, it’s at least the celebration and respect she deserves.

My aunt found a letter Grandma left to be read at her scattering. In it, she told us not to cry when remembering her, but to think of her with laughter.

I hope she doesn’t mind too much if I do both for a while longer.