little pieces of me going home

13 rue Thérèse is finally out in France!  Hooray!

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 Is that cover sexy, or what?  I think I like the purple even better than the red they had on the spec cover.  I have yet to see it in person, and I am totally dying to do so.  Hurry up and send me my copies, Michel Lafon!

In other news, I am officially a crazy orchid lady.  What can I say?  They are awesome, for a whole list of reasons:

(1) They are cheaper than a bouquet of cut flowers, plus I don’t have to kill anything to brighten my home.

(2) They are pretty and colorful and, let’s face it, pretty lewd-looking–especially when the bud is first splitting open.  Any flower that freaked out Victorians is a friend of mine.

(3) They are low-maintenance lifeforms that somehow manage not to succumb to my black thumb.

(4) The cats thankfully do not seem to be interested in eating them, probably because the orchid is one of the few houseplants that will not poison them!  (Huh.  I wonder how much of an overlap there is between crazy cat ladies and crazy orchid ladies…)

Here is a little gallery of the new friends I have acquired since I last posted on this blog:

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Outside

You know that scene in Shawshank Redemption when the dude breaks out of jail and explodes out of the mire into his freedom on a stormy night?  Or was that Raising Arizona!?  Anyway, I dug a tunnel for years and now I’m outside.  I have a full draft of In the Red.  270 pages, about 70,000 words.  Now I get to give it a redraft and send it to my agent.  Eek!  It’ll be weird to have another human being read it.  But–that’s part of the point of writing the bloody things, no?

It’s sitting on my desk all printed out.  It’s quite a manly pile of paper.  See?

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The last thing that’s typed on my computer screen in this photo is, “It’s sitting on my desk all printed out.  It’s quite a manly pile of paper.  See?”  Do you feel like you’re with me in the moment, or what?  The photo is all moody and dark because it is currently midnight.  The shadowy pot on the left side of the photo contains my desk orchid.  Unfortunately, the African violet that was once there is no more.  It turns out even elderly cats have a taste for certain types of plant flesh.

A moment of silence for our departed friend, Saintpaulia ionantha.

Since my furry little murderers haven’t touched the living room orchids, I decided to play it safe and get another orchid for my desk.  Wanna see?

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Pretty sexy, no?  It’s a yellowed parchment color with closely packed, bright red dots all over it.  It was looming over me as I finished the book.  It will surely continue to loom over me as I finish the book again and again, until one day it is printed and I can stop finishing it.

new house friends

I am so, so close to finishing In The Red I can taste it.  It’s quite thrilling, and of course the usual amount of angsty.  You know: What if it turns out that it sucks?  What if it gets rejected all over the place?  What am I supposed to do with myself after it’s done?  Actually, for that last one, I already sort of have an idea for my next novel.  It involves supernatural beings and what may or may not be a crass commercial venture.  We’ll see what comes out.  One of the things about writing novels that’s like having kids is that you can plan all you want but you have no idea what it will really turn out like until you go ahead and do it.  Decorating the nursery is different from having a live baby explosively defecate all over it, is what I’m saying.

Now, who wants to see some pretty flowers?

I was at Costco the other day and they had a great big display of orchids.  I thought it would be nice to get one or two for the living room now that the cats are old enough to not automatically murder every plant that comes within chewing radius.  I looked through them but they were all broken or half-dead in some way, as if they had been brought to the store in some ghastly orchid slave ship.  Then I remembered where I had seen some super gorgeous orchids for sale.  Guess.

They were at the local branch of Fry’s.  Yep.  I went to an electronics store to buy flowers.  And it turns out that Fry’s is really good at flowers!  Check it out:

Given that I did not have little dishes to put the plants in, I repurposed a couple of old Frisbees as flower pot plates.  I had three old Frisbees, and two plants.  You know what that means.  It pretty much guaranteed the purchase of a third plant.  For the sake of completeness, you see.  Meet my new little writing desk friend, an African violet from Orchard Supply:

It looks exactly like an African violet that was butchered by a kitten that shall remain nameless in 2003.  Said kitten is older and more sedate now, so hopefully this plant will not meet the unfortunate fate of its former brethren.  Wish it good luck and godspeed.

hermitting

I have been remiss in updating this blog, and generally hermitting.  It’s been for good reason!  The baby is crowning.  If I haul a lot of ass, I will have a full draft of In the Red by the end of of July.  If I haul less ass, by the end of summer.  Pretty sweet, no?

Meanwhile, some neato news while I hermit:

13 rue Thérèse is finally coming out in France in August, from Michel Lafon.  Here is the link to pre-order from Fnac, which is like the French Barnes & Noble.  Squee!  Just thinking of a French edition of my book being in their big-ass store in the Forum des Halles right near where I grew up makes me all tingly!  Here is the cover, all tiny because I suck at technology:

I am wee.

• Also, whilst googling myself to see whether anyone on the internet has posted that I like to bathe in the blood of Christian babies, I found this lovely review of my story “Commuting” in Zyzzyva, on Ruelle Electrique, an online literary salon.  It’s their “unabashed favorite from the issue!”  “A rich story” teeming with “grit and beauty!”  How does randomly finding something like this make a writer feel?  Why, it fills said writer with hearts and butterflies!

is all I’m sayin’

Ponerology

It’s been over a month since I’ve posted!  Guess what I’ve been doing lately?  Studying evil!  See, it’s kind of hard to write goofy blog posts when I’m subjecting myself to mass doses of human fuckedupedness.  It’s more than a bit challenging to put my findings into cogent sentences, but fortunately some have done a pretty good job before me.  Some polish guy with a name I can’t type because it has a special character in it wrote about broken societies being taken over by psychopaths who institute totalitarian governments in his book Political Ponerology.  It’s pretty much Orwell minus the plot and it will traumatize you for life.  Speaking of psychopaths, Robert Hare has done some amazing work on them.  If reading the work of these two dudes does not traumatize you enough, here are some of the youtube videos I’ve been horrifying myself with lately:

Canadian serial killer rapes and butchers prostitutes on his pig farm in Canada for YEARS while Vancouver police kind of suck at policing.

• 11-year old girl strangles toddler boys to death in shitty English slums in 1968 and the authorities sit on their asses for an alarmingly long time.

Japanese dude murders and eats pretty exchange student in Paris with no ill consequences and goes home to become a celebrity in his native land (best-selling author, porn star, lecturer, TV personality etc).

Are you advocating for the destruction of the human species yet?  What’s so fucked up is not only these freaky outliers but the responses they get from the authorities and society at large.  It looks like evil is not so much a discrete feature in the human personality as what emerges when other features are missing.  The most obvious missing feature is empathy.  But, as anyone who is acquainted with a bunch of engineers knows, being socially retarded is not an immediate gateway to murder.  A researcher named Cleckley called what I’m about to talk about “semantic aphasia.”

Once upon a time, because of the vagaries of bodily chemistry, I was crazy in love with an asshole.  Yep, it happens to many of us.  One thing he used to do that destroyed my universe of a regular basis is totally contradict himself without apparent awareness.  He’s state some philosophical belief of his, and a week later say something that was in complete opposition.  At first, I questioned him about these inconsistencies to try to figure out what was happening in his (deficient) brain, but the resulting conversations always made me want to eat a gun.  So I learned to shut up and stomach a whole bunch of bullshit.  I made constant excuses for that weird emptiness inside him.  And thus a cock-addicted co-dependent was born.

What was especially weird about his frequent lies is that it seemed, most of the time, he was not actually aware he was bullshitting.  It seriously flummoxed the shit out of me and made me want to stab myself in the soul.  This is apparently a common feature of psychopaths.  It’s called semantic aphasia and it’s how come they can say without blinking, “oh I ripped a dude’s eyeball out of his face last week and then fucked his brain through his empty eyeball hole until he died but I have never committed a violent crime.”  Psychopaths can say shit like that because they literally don’t know what words mean.  They can give you the dictionary definition of a word but they are unable to feel its emotional content.  So, if you say to a psychopath, “nazis raping baby pandas,” his brain will respond the same as if you said, “tapioca pudding.”  (Unless he thinks tapioca pudding is icky, in which case his brain will have a stronger response to the pudding, I’m guessing.)    Because of this deficiency, this means that even the smartest psychopath will be unable to catch falsehoods when they come out of his mouth.  Ain’t that some shit?  Doesn’t that shed a whole lot of light on your ex-boyfriend?

I’m not necessarily saying that your shitty ex-boyfriend it out there butchering whores, but I’m saying he suffers from the same lack as the whore butcherer, on a smaller scale.  He is, in essence, a mini-psychopath.  The world is absolutely CRAMMED with these people.  People who cannot feel meaning.  Couple that with lack of empathy and it’s Jeffrey Dahmer time.

Soapbox moment: Empathy and meaning are at the root of morality, which is why stories are good for us because they build both.  So tell your little ones a shitload of stories, and maybe in a generation or two we can dispense with Wall Street.

Okay, now I need to go find some chocolate and a purring cat.

Seriously, kitty cuddles STAT, please.

Excitement x3! (redux)

(1) Here’s me being a great big bucket of sexy at the Zyzzyva reading on April 24th.  Many thanks to Oscar Villalon, Laura Cogan and Tosca Café for a wonderful event!

(2) Come to the Art Center in Davis (1919 F Street) this Friday, May 11 at 7 PM for a cool lit-art thingee featuring the paintings of Sondra Olson, and readings by Sue Staats (prose), Dorine Jeannette (poetry), and meeeeee.  Copies of Farallon Review, Issue 4, featuring my story, “Domestic Animals,” will be on sale.

(3) Last book event for 13 rue Thérèse in the foreseeable future!  This Saturday, May 12 at 11 AM at Corte Madera’s Book Passage.  I hope to go out in a blaze of glory!

Excitement x3!

• Three cool things:

(1) 13 rue Thérèse featured in NY Times Paperback row!

(2) Interview with me up at Litquake’s website!

(3) Speaking of Litquake, come to the Zyzzyva release party tomorrow night at Tosca in San Francisco!  I will be reading along with Peter Orner and Rob Ehle.

• Three things that we realize, post-move, we should never buy again as we have entirely too many of them:

(1) whisks

(2) umbrellas

(3) motherf*****g books

I am guessing I will be able to tamp down on my whisk and umbrella purchasing habits…  Books, however, are another story…