feuervogel: (al memories)
I googled my host sister from the exchange program in 1992. (Ben is shocked that I remembered her name. It was fairly unusual!) I found her on facebook and sent a friend request, and now we're catching up.

I was cleaning up my desk/office, and I found the DM5 note I thought I'd lost forever, plus a 100 Czech korun note and some Macedonian money (which a guy I met during a layover in Ferihegy airport en route to Athens in 1996 gave me; at least I think that's where it came from). I've now consolidated all the random foreign change I have floating around.

I was inspired to look up my host sister from finding a Frohes Fest postcard she sent me inside a box of assorted postcards, notes, and papers from college. I also found a set of watercolor postcards my high school BF painted(!) and mailed me when his family went to Germany.

We had another pair of girls from Schifferstadt in our house, when their church choir came to Frederick on a tour and sang at our church, but I can't remember their last name. They were sisters, and maybe I have their last name written down somewhere, on the back of a picture or something.
feuervogel: (godless liberal etc)
I wrote this in response to a comment left on the LJ version of "I can do things," and I thought it was worth putting in its own post. I've added some clarifications and expansions in italics.

Commenter:
I don't understand this part... Are you trying to determine for yourself that your life is interesting despite being a woman? Or just putting together a case to debunk the notion that women generally have less interesting lives than men?

If it helps either way, I'm a dude and my life is boring ass. I can list ten women easily whose lives are more interesting than mine and whom I envy. You would be on that list.


Neither, and you've got the wrong meaning for interesting. I'm not talking "interesting times" or "climbing K2" but the things which society values, and "things women do" aren't on that list. (Though thank you for the compliment!)

It's why Harry Potter is about Harry Potter and his friends Ron and Hermione, rather than Hermione Potter, the Girl Who Lived, and her friends Ginny and Harry. (And why I couldn't think of another Gryffindor girl in the trio's year.) It's why 90% of movies (or more) have male leads (and why movies starring women are "chick flicks.")

It's why having Toph and Katara being lead roles was so important: aside from their being brownof color, (the importance of which I don't wish to minimize, because it's very important, but it's outside the scope of this mini essay) they were both female characters. It showed girls (and boys) that girls can kick ass, too. That there's more to female characters than sidekick or romantic interest. Even Azula was an amazing character. ATLA has five female characters, who each have personal goals and personalities that don't revolve around getting a boyfriend. That's so incredibly rare. (One could argue the Mai-Zuko plotline, or the Katara-Aang, or any of Katara's crushes, really, but let's be honest here: it's part of being a teenager, which these kids are. Katara's main goal is not to marry Aang; it's to stop the Fire Lord from taking over the world, with a side order of revenge.)

These are things which nobody explicitly says, except when they do. "Girl stuff" is icky and bad. Boys are told "don't play with girl toys," for example. Even without that explicitness, when girls grow up in a society that favors male lead characters, that doesn't put female characters in lead roles in books or movies because boys won't watch them; when girls see themselves relegated to the sidelines -- if they're visible at all -- in favor of boys' stories, we learn that we're less important. That our stories are less important. That we don't matter.

And that's why I'm doing this: to teach myself that, yes, dammit, women's stories matter. MY story matters. And to provide an example, if anyone finds it.
feuervogel: (enemy birds)
I got a bit of verbal confirmation last night that the purpose of this exercise went over some heads. I'll restate it, more explicitly this time.

I am doing this in order to work through a lot of societal bullshit I've internalized. In particular, the notion that women's lives are less interesting than men's. To tell me, "it's easy, you just have to X" misses the point. :|

Another thing women learn from society is that we can't talk about how good we are, and if we do, we're braggarts. It's hard to talk yourself up, to say why you're the best applicant for the job or why your novel is special and the agent should rep it, when you're fighting against years of conditioning that tell you not to do that. (Not to mention backlash, wherein people call you a bitch for saying, why yes, I *am* awesome, thanks for noticing. One reason I love Toph: she's awesome, and she knows it, and she'll let you know it, too.)

It's easy for me to come up with things I can't do. It's harder for me to come up with things I can do. And even harder for me not to qualify them -- I can X but not as well as.... So this is a list of things I can do (and some of them I do well). That I will NOT be qualifying, dammit.

I can. )
I could only come up with five things. That's really sad.
feuervogel: (al memories)
One of the problems with meeting people via the internet is that you get to read some of their most personal thoughts, and support them through hard times, and congratulate them in times of joy, but your knowledge of that person only goes back to when you first said, "OMG, I love your fanart! Can I friend you?" (Oh, the days of small-lj, when there were only a few hundred thousand users.)

I've never really thought my life has been particularly interesting. Whether that's true, or because I've internalized the notion that women's stories, women's lives are less important, I don't know. But I'm going to sit down and go through my life story, in varying levels of detail, because I need to confront my inability to do introspection head on. And maybe convince myself that my story is, if not interesting, then at least important, because I am a human. I'll admit up front that some of the posts will be locked, and others are likely to be filtered. Some things I don't feel up to broadcasting to the world.

And maybe, if I have a list of the high points, I'll be able to find something for my author bio.
The last 34 years in a largish nutshell )

It was really hard for me to type some of that. Parts felt like bragging.
feuervogel: (enemy birds)
I don't know if I have, at least not outside of comment threads or personal conversations. It's kind of an important entry in my man page.

I cannot deal with abstraction. I cannot process abstract concepts.

An example: in the stone age, when I was in high school, I took calculus in 11th grade. I used to be good at math, see. I got a 4 on Calc AB, even. I had trouble with integrals and the like ... until we got to the applications for them, like calculating the area under the curve. Then I did fine, got an A in the class, and a 4 on the AP exam. Yay!

I got to Calc BC, and I couldn't get it. I got a 2 on the AP exam. I took calc 3 in college (uh, multivariable? ider.) I got a D. (I also got a C in first semester physics, then dropped second semester at midterm with an F. I took it again the next year, with a different prof, and got a B. It was required.)

So, if you ever find yourself discussing something with me, be as specific as possible. Give examples. Also, don't link to people who make their arguments in academic prose laced with jargon, who go even further into the abstract. You won't get anywhere.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
So, there's this spec fic writer I met through the Outer Alliance (who, as it turns out, lived up the road from me but just had to move to Raleigh.) She had a reading at Chapel Hill Comics, and another gal from the OA came up from Charlotte. We chatted some, I thought she was cool, and we're twitter buddies now. She's the gal I'm going to ReaderCon with.

So Jaym wanted to organize an NC writer's meetup, because there are, like, a million of us here, and she made a blog post about it. I left a comment with my preferred day.

Then in my facebook this morning, there's a friend request from the other person who commented. I was like, wait, is that ... holy crap, it is.

A girl I was BFFs with in middle school, who moved away suddenly in 7th or 8th grade, and I heard from once or twice afterward, found me through a comment on a blog post. After 20+ years. Man. The internet, it is mighty.

I'm growing slowly convinced that at some point, all geek(ish) circles overlap. Or writerly.
feuervogel: (heart's desire)
I grew up ... not poor, I guess, but definitely working class. My mom's a secretary, and my dad drives an 18-wheeler. (They divorced when I was about 9.)

This informs a lot of my insecurities and greatly affected my career path. Rather than study something I really enjoy (German language and literature), I took a rather more mercenary approach: there are jobs in chemistry, which pay decent money. Then after I went to grad school & learned that I suck at research-oriented things, I went into pharmacy.

This is definitely not to say that I don't enjoy pharmacy. Far from it, really. How drugs work in the body is pretty darn cool. I really don't like working in pharmacy, which is rather more problematic. (Interacting with the public? No. Working shifting hours in a hospital? Hell no. That sort of limits my job opportunities, there.)

But after I quit my job last year, I was much happier, even if I stress out over money frequently. Or at least when I haven't had a contract in months and could really use some income.

Where was I going with this? Hell. One problem with hamster-brain is that it goes in weird directions that don't always make sense.

In my quest to be financially stable and the like, I've become ... bourgeois.* I'm a fucking yuppie. I have a 4-bedroom house on 1/4 acre in suburbia. We have 2 cars in a 2-car garage. We shop at the co-op, and are owners. We buy locally-grown produce. We feed our cats the best cat food (made from actual meat).

But there's this part of my brain that worries that someone will figure out that I'm just a prole in bourgeois clothing.

*Technically speaking, petit bourgeois, since I don't own the means of production, just the knowledge inside my brain, which I use to generate income by contracting with those who own the means of production.

Wow.

6 Feb 2010 06:25 pm
feuervogel: (al memories)
So, with the 90-minute commute I've had the last month or so, I've been going through my CDs and listening to ones I haven't in ages, or just don't listen to enough in general.

Yesterday it was Pretty Hate Machine, which I played the hell out of in high school (that and the Downward Spiral.)

Sitting in my car with Nine Inch Nails blasting out the speakers, it was almost like I was 16 again. I could see why the younger me was so drawn to it, and look at that little bit of history like an interesting rock I picked up off the ground. I mean, damn but Trent Reznor spoke to my teen angst. (What? I had angst as a teen! I just never really thought I did at the time, I guess.)

Is that what people who associate X with Y feel when they experience X again? It's a completely new thing for me.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
So, I was working on my review of All the Shah's Men for my blog, and I decided to google my high school classmates who were from Iran, to see if they were on the internet anywhere, unlike the last time I googled them.

Turns out one of them is a real estate agent in Miami. He's got a photo on his website, and he looks pretty much the same as he did in high school, just older and a little shaggier. Weird. I wonder if he's still a jerk. (With pretty, pretty dark brown eyes.) I keep debating dropping in the link, but I don't know if he checks referrer logs.

Of course, the one I want to find is still nowhere to be found.

Writing progress today: 760 words in a (more detailed than usual) outline. It's weird forcing myself to outline, but for this, I really need to work out in advance, in detail, what's happening. There's a lot going on, and planning it out will prevent me from writing a scene and going, "derp, this is shit and doesn't work." Like I did the other day. I'd like to avoid having to scrap 10k words and rewrite.

I think, with some effort, I can get a good 9k words out of this battle scene. Hopefully more, but I don't know how much attention I want to pay to the details. I don't consider myself a military SF writer, though apparently I like to include military themes. I prefer to follow the model of CJ Cherryh or someone like that, as opposed to, say, David Drake.

I miss my friends in the SF Bay area. Still, there's no chance in hell y'all can get me to move out there. I like my large home and low mortgage and bourgeois lifestyle. And I really don't want to deal with California licensure. (And we couldn't afford to let me be unemployed at SF rent prices.)

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feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
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