Apr. 8th, 2017 07:43 am
lagilman: coffee or die (Castiel)

A year ago, I got a not-unexpected phone call, and - days after having come back from NYC - turned around and went back.

There are endless iterations of Time, and none of them seem to be consistent. A year should not be both so short and so long.


L'maan tizk'ru ("So that you shall remember")

If my boundary stops here
I have daughters to draw new maps of the world
they will draw the lines of my face
they will draw with my gestures my voice
they will speak my words thinking they have invented them

they will invent them
they will invent me
I will be planted again and again
I will wake in the eyes of their children's children
they will speak my words.

(from the Mishkan T'Filah, for the house of mourning)

lagilman: coffee or die (scotch)
Got the annual holiday newsletter from friends, and hit this line:

A PAUSE HERE to honor the memory of dear friends lost in 2016: For us, Janet’s husband, Aaron, a man with a twinkle in the eye who could be relied upon to give an incisive view of the world — and fun to be with. His courage living life despite a years-long illness was a huge lesson in courage.

I've said before, mostly in jest, that 2016 was a shit-take of a year, where my dad's death only hit the 2nd or 3rd shittiest thing that happened.   But oh, how we miss him.
lagilman: coffee or die (rose)
I cried more today during the yizkor service than I did at my father's funeral. This is...not surprising. At the funeral we were still feeling shock that he was gone, and relief that he was no longer in pain.

Today, I was allowed solely to miss him, and mourn the space where he had been.

May all those who sorrow find peace.
lagilman: coffee or die (citron presse)
Yesterday I went to visit a friend who has been hospitalized for more than a week with a yet-undiagnosed illness  (they're ruled out most of the truly terrifying things, but not-knowing takes its own toll).  I was reminded, quite starkly, of my own week's+ hospitalization nearly 20 years ago, and my recent stint in the hospital with my dad, at his life-end.

There are many things you don't think about, or don't consider urgent to have done, until you're stuck in a hospital bed. Life decisions that you might not be able to make, in an emergency.

Think about them now.  Get them in writing.  Get them witnessed/notarized, and then make sure that people know where this information is on file, in case you're not able to tell them in an emergency.

Yeah, we think we don't need any of this, not until we're older.  Except emergencies and catastrophies don't GAF how old you are.
lagilman: coffee or die (citron presse)
Today would have been my dad's 85th birthday.
Raise a glass (or mug) if you would, please.

You did not go gentle. But you went with grace.
lagilman: coffee or die (citron presse)
So that happened.

A memorial to my dad, and all those I have lost, and a reminder that nothing that matters is ever truly lost.

Also, I am reasonably sure my tattoo artist never had a writer in his chair before, because he was bemused by my constant questions about the process. Hey, never know when it might be needed for a story, right? Waste no chance to learn something new….


Apr. 14th, 2016 06:59 pm
lagilman: coffee or die (rose)
Well, not entirely back yet (I'm still in NYC) but the funeral is over, and while I could continue to sit shiva at home this weekend, I think my dad would have rolled his eyes and said "three days is more than enough, get on with it."

So this is me, getting on with it.

Back to Seattle in the morning, back to deadlines and obligations and cats and Life.

lagilman: coffee or die (rose)
I know I've been least in sight recently, or light in content.  There's been a reason for that.

Some of you, over the years, have heard the stories of my dad, the medical Energizer Bunny. Heart attacks? Pshaw. Parkinsons? Keep on truckin'. Gout? Okay, no more organ meats, whatever. Coronary blockage? His heart adapted. Hernia? Sew it up and move on. But at 84 my dad has finally met the roadblock even he can't get around: cancer.  Specifically, metastatic osteosarcoma.

And we discovered it purely by chance - a combination of post-hernia surgery swelling and high fever landed him in the ER, and a chain of events led to oncology getting involved. And three weeks later, here we are.  As I said to a friend, it's like treading water after a wreck, and waiting for the sharks to come.  You know there will be sharks, you just don't know if it will be a hammerhead, or a great white.

So.  If I've not responded to your email or phone call, or missed a deadline (or had to bail out on something), it's not that I don't love you.  But I'm going to have to beg your indulgence for a little while longer.

(Ironically, I'm currently editing a manuscript that opens with a cancer diagnosis.  I know an editor's supposed to pick up all sorts of knowledge, because you never know when it will be helpful, but the timing on this was a little sharp.)

Comments are closed on this.  I know y'all want to offer your sympathy, but right now I'm just going to take it as a given. :-)  If you're a close enough friend to have my personal phone number, feel free to call.
lagilman: coffee or die (rose)
My Aunt Judy, my mother's younger sister, died earlier this week.

Her funeral is this morning, in New Jersey. I am in Washington. Time and available energy conspired against me, and discussion with family members made it obvious that flying 6 hours, then driving 2, and then turning around and doing it again twelve hours later back to the West Coast wasn't a logical thing to do. So I am 2500 miles away, saying my goodbyes.

If matter cannot be lost, only transformed, then nothing that matters can ever be lost, only transformed. What do we then become?

News of Judy's death came the morning I handed my current novel back to my editor. This is relevant. Judy and her husband were long-time fans, members of NESFA from its early years, and when my parents were bemused by their youngest child's fascination with this "sci-fi stuff," they stepped in, taking a then eleven-years-old me to my very first SF convention, and turning me loose for the weekend.

My life changed.

If you're here, reading this, because you read my work, Judy is part of the reason why that work exists.

When I speak of my mother's family, certain characteristics always come to the fore. Determined, certainly. Smart. Witty (some might even say wiseass). Loving. But Judy added another to the list: gentle. In a family of strong-minded individuals (that is to say: stubborn and opinionated), dealing with us couldn't have been easy. But she did her damnedest, and even when illness began to consume her mind, and her life, that gentleness remained.

And that is what I will remember.

What do we become, when we transform? I think, maybe, we become what others remember.
lagilman: coffee or die (citron presse)
or one picture.

family 2014

And, of course, the family-not-legal, including but not limited to Barb, Lewis, Snark and the Diva, my brother-of-another-mother Keith and his Wrenn, Christine, April, and my extended family-of-another-insanity, Team Inevitable Innuendo.... (and yes, the Kitten of Thursday and Cat of Size)
lagilman: coffee or die (meerkat coffee)
Tuesday morning: pick up folks and hit the road - in godsawful rain and wind - to Boston. Unpack, decompress, Seder (lovely as always with the extended family), back up this morning to WTFBBQ there's snow on the ground, unpack the ice from the windshield, drive back to NYC, drop off folks, pick up groceries, collapse.

29 hour turnaround, total.

I'ze tired.

Massive amounts of email to unload and answer, work to edit, words to write, and trips to plan. Knowing I'll get it all under control isn't quite the same as having it all under control already.

*makes more coffee, adds it to the whiskey*
lagilman: coffee or die (citron presse)
This weekend was spent with various and sundry domestic things, including getting my sister off to the airport safely for her first visit to the UK.  She'll be in London for a week, and hopefully the weather will be kind.

In the meanwhile, I have possession of the Elderly Auto, and there will be a CostCo run, among other things.  Although I'm somewhat afraid to leave my hard-won parking space, while there's still so much snow packed against the curb....

And my E key is attempting to give up the ghost.  Manuscript hijinks will ensue.

Work-wise, I spent the weekend shifting the structure of Devil's West #1 around a bit. I have no doubt that it will shift again as the writing continues (and particularly once the annotated revising begins), but the plot is beginning to settle from "stuff kinda happens here and here" to "tangle and untangle and tangle, thus."

 For them as like seeing where things start compared to how they end...

Part 1: Flood
Part 2: The Road
Part 3: A Magician
Part 4: Bones and Stone
Part 5: Silver on the Road
Part 6: Spanish Flu
Part 7: The Dust Roads

Also: rather than 90k-100k, this looks to be come in, draftwise, at around 150k.  Oh god.  *beats head against wall until the pain stops*
lagilman: coffee or die (sky dragon)
Being a teenager is hard. It's always been hard, between hormones and peer pressure and impatience, and the endless barrage of modern media only makes it tougher. So I figured I'd share with you some of the things I've learned over the years. We'll start here.

Six Things that Make You Attractive, Even on Your Worst Hair Day Ever.

1. eyes that look with curiosity.
2. mouths that lift in a smile.
3. hands that are open, not clenched.
4. throats that fill with joy, not scorn.
5. legs that stride, rather than creep.
6. minds that ask "why" and "how" rather than "why should I?"

with love,

your auntie meerkat
lagilman: coffee or die (rose)
Snow is falling outside. I'm sitting in my grandmother's old rocking chair, watching tv, drinking wine, and doing a little knitting, a little thinking.

And I realize there's an echo behind me.

I'm sitting here, in my grandmother's chair, knitting a scarf for a friend, while one of the afghans my grandmother knitted in this very chair - the one that I wrapped around myself watching tv as a teenager - is thrown across the couch.

I'm not particularly sentimental, and I don't believe in ghosts, or an Afterlife. But an echo, yeah. And the chair's back feels like an embrace.
lagilman: coffee or die (Default)
The Year End Project recommenced today (this was started last year, and then Life and Paying Deadlines got in the way).

Today I went through the stockpiled beta-reader notes (bless you, guys) and excerpted what was consistently mentioned, and entered them into a Scrivener file. Then I went through my own notes, jotted over the past 6 months as I found time and thought, and entered them into the Scrivener file, under the heading of "fixit and flowit."

Then I went through the first three chapters (Part 1) and entered them into the Scrivener file (chapters and scenes), giving a quick eyeball of certain elements that had been mentioned in the various notes. I had an inspiration of what to call one particular group of individuals who had been resisting naming previously, and figured out a scene that probably needs to be added. I may also have renamed one of my main characters (or at least, her use-name).

And then I had to go play Parental Tech Support. Windows 8 has much to recommend it, and much that makes me want to throw it out the window. My folks have a new all-in-one that's a joy and a pleasure, though - and their very first webcam! My mom is not certain it's a good thing - my dad is already playing with it, including a new feature of Windows 8 - motion-controlled screen swipes. Which he forgot to tell me he'd been playing with.

I MAY have spent a few minutes playing conductor, to see what one hand swipe or another would do. Giggles ensued. Now we need to figure out how to turn it off, before it drives my mom 'round the bend.

Tonight, I'm going to start generating the Project's name-list. This book has 4 major players, about a dozen minor players, and a dozen more tertiaries, and that's just the first section! The name-list is going to be my Very Best Friend for a while....
lagilman: coffee or die (Default)
At the family Channukah dinner tonight, my sister gave me a lovely mala (prayer beads) bracelet, and a mug that says "wake up!" on it.

On the surface, it's an amusing gift. But there's more to it than that, since my sister is a practicing Buddhist.

"Wake up" is the call of Buddhism, where waking up into enlightenment is the path and the goal. And so every morning, when I pour coffee into my mug, I will be reminded not only to wake up, but also to wake up.

And yes, in my family, the non-observant Jew and the practicing Buddhist get together for latkes. That's how we roll...

and we have both apple sauce AND sour cream.

(my sister also referred to the contents of the monastery's gift shop/website as "dharma bling." It's entirely possible I laughed so hard I snarfed my wine)

*unfair, as I've lit the menorah every night. A holiday that celebrates reducing our reliance on oil/making things last longer is a good thing to observe, IMO
lagilman: coffee or die (Default)
Only two entries into the contest? Should I extend the deadline, to allow folk time to recover from the holiday, or just assume the prize I thought was so cool is in fact of interest to very few? 

EtA: as per [livejournal.com profile] wood_dragon's comment, contest amended to only the animal with the copy of COLLARED, no self-portrait required.

I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving, if mandated by locality and citizenship.  Ours was lovely - 27 of our blood-nearest and heart-dearest, fed to a fare-the-well. At the end, my sister commented that we hadn't drunk as much cider as usual, and we realized it was because the NexGen was now drinking wine (and beer). Oy. ;-)

My family has a tradition of naming our turkeys, "because it would be rude to invite them to dinner and not know their name." This year, seeing as my family is from Massachusetts, the choice was obvious.

Meet Mitt.

Yes, he was a massive beast. Pilaf and roasted veggies, succotash, and applesauce, and and and... And also, 11 desserts for 27 people.  Because that's how we roll.

Then I spent a day basically hanging around with my immediate family, NOT participating in Black Friday. And eating leftover turkey, and take-out Thai. And then my brother-in-law pulled out a bottle of Casanova di Neri 1995 Brunello and said "I guess we should open this..."

Oh yes. Should have opened it two years ago, actually (the cork crumbled as we were opening it. Talk about heart-in-mouth!), but once the wine started to open and the mustiness faded, a lovely wine came forward, plum and mushroom softness, with a glorious tawny brown color that made me go "whoa." It was fascinating, seeing the reaction of non-wine-savvy family members as the wine opened and cleaned up. Some were put off by the initial taste, unable to see past it to the potential, and then were surprised by what it became. Some just didn't like it. And some saw/tasted it every step of the way, like cheering a marathoner on to the finish line, and its success becomes your own satisfaction....

Today, which is a grey, windy day, we hit the road for home.  I am not driving.  I will be working.  Because deadlines, they still might eat me if I sleep...

lagilman: coffee or die (puppyface)
To American citizens at home and abroad, Happy Thanksgiving! May you not have to think long or hard to come up with a long list of things you are thankful for.

(actually, I shall send that wish out to all, even if you're not observing US citizens....)

This year? The list of things to be thankful for is long. For family and friends, and the intersection between the two. For being reminded of both the ferocity and the mercy of nature - and the ferocity and mercy of humanity, likewise. For hope. For work. For health. For love.

In my family, Thanksgiving is the closest we have to a holy obligation. Short of death or dismemberment, you WILL show up.
(and if death, you'd better have a note from the coroner, excusing you). Thankfully, this isn't really a hardship, since my family is - in technical terms - disturbingly functional, and we all actually enjoy spending time together (although we too have certain topics that are Not to Be Discussed, especially after the second bottle of wine is opened...).

This is also when we have the annual Family Photo, which is one of the hokey, emotional must-haves of the year, silly as it may be. There's a photo record going back for decades, spanning four generations...

So: what's your (small or huge, silly, emotional, or otherwise slightly embarrassing) family-gathering tradition?

(and don't forget - the Thanksgiving Contest is ongoing! http://suricattus.livejournal.com/1580301.html)
lagilman: coffee or die (Default)
This is a placeholder to let y'all know that I am currently on the Cape (that's Cape Cod, for those of you regionally-impaired). The rest of the family is here likewise (minus Eldest Nephew), and while I am carving out a few hours every day to do some work, mostly there will be hiking and possibly canoeing and a lot of eating and reading of books, and whatnot the way you do on family vacations. Or we do, anyway.

Regular blogging will continue when I'm home. Or something particularly noteworthy happens.
lagilman: coffee or die (meerkat coffee)
So, that was the Holiday Weekend, Spring Edition. Over on Twitter I hashtagged my family as #6ReformJews1BuddhistandMe, which prompted discussions of how to turn that into the next hit sitcom....

So: who would play me? Or do I not want to go there?

Busy day today.  Usual Monday workload, plus playing tour-guide around Manhattan, and later today - Bruuuuuuuce! at MSG.

Meanwhile, I'm getting a bit of interview-time on the Internets! In addition to the one at Flames Rising, I'm featured over at Eating Authors. In both places, natch, my focus is on the Danny books (which are, by the way, collectively called "Sylvan Investigations"), and using crowdsourcing/Kickstarter and its related craziness, excitement and neurosis to offset the craziness, excitement and neurosis of traditional publishing....

Oh, and speaking of Danny and Kickstarter, since I offered the current backers this tidbit, I might as well taunt you with it too...

I'd heard about her. Heard enough to be damn cautious.

She licked her lips, and raised those scared eyes to mine, and said the words that were always my damned downfall.

"I need your help."

One of these days, those words were going to get me killed. Might even be today.

Oh Danny, poor Danny. Fauns, half-breed or otherwise, have no business being noir-ish detective heroes. Why do you do this to yourself?


lagilman: coffee or die (Default)
Laura Anne Gilman

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