Work is still hellaciously busy. SO MUCH SHIT GOING ON. And because I've been tired and not sleeping well I haven't even been able to stay late, so I just work super super hard during the day to make up for it. My only comfort is that maybe if I work super hard right now and in the next month I'll have a clearer desk when I go on vacation.
Apartment-wise, oh god. Oh god. It's just been a nightmare every single day. My roommate is apparently planning to take a lot more stuff than I anticipated, which leaves me a whole lot more stuff that needs to be replaced. I... did not plan for this. I didn't plan for a week of utter chaos while she's packing and I did not plan for expenses like new furniture right now :/ I should have, I guess? But I assessed what she'd be taking/selling differently, and I have no experience with being the roommate who's left instead of the one leaving, so I didn't know it would be this big of a mess and the apartment would basically be unlivable for a week. Also, my roommate has been an annoying asshole on top of the completely reasonable moving hassle, which hasn't helped.
I have a new roommate, maybe? There's a girl who's interested in the apartment, I met her and she seems nice - I mean you know, you never know until you live with people but she's slightly older than me, has lived with roommates for 7 years, doesn't identify as a geek but has a similar sort of temperament and is easy to talk to? We met for coffee and I just... really enjoyed the conversation? Like it wasn't awkward at all and I just kept feeling like I was talking to my kind of person, so. She's taking her time looking over the contract - which is reasonable - and hasn't made a final decision yet, though. At this point I just want it to be decided because I can't live with uncertainty anymore.
It's just been... a difficult month. Which I knew it would be, but there was no way to prepare for this. What I want more than anything is just a few days in the apartment on my own, peace and quiet, but even if it does take a few days for the potential new roommate to pack up her stuff and move in (my current roommate is leaving Friday) our apartment no longer has couches :( Which means I can't even lie around and read in the living room, or watch stuff on TV comfortably, and that makes the space unwelcoming and weird and unfamiliar :/
I'm considering just going to my parents' after work tomorrow, spending Friday at their place and then coming back to the city on Saturday. I think at this point even their place, where I don't have all my things or my comfortable bed, would be better than living in the cacophony and stress of my roommate leaving.
Oh, and of course, the war. Did I mention the war? There was a ceasefire last weekend and we managed to go to the beach. There was a rocket siren at 2:30am yesterday and I banged on my roommate's door so we could get to the bomb shelter in time. Every day on the news is a new pile of dead people. I can't even think about the broader ramifications of this, about what can and can't and should have been done to try and prevent this, I just want it to end, as soon as possible. That's all I can think about right now.
I will be there September 26th to October 1st (I leave early in the morning on Oct 2nd). Will be staying with cesy, south of the river.
DROP ME A LINE GUYS LET'S HANG OUT.
(Especially if you want to hang out on weekdays since cesy will be away and I would love someone to do stuff with/have dinner with/etc.)
Also, if you are NOT in London please be aware that I will also be in Germany and France in September-October. The schedule for that isn't totally figured out yet, and I'll post when it is, but meanwhile - let me know if either of those places is better for you for a meetup (if you haven't let me know already).
TURNING THE LEAVES
These are the days of silver, and of gold —
the panting cold, the burst of bright on black
as coins sprout from trees, shiver, fall,
pave the streets with change.
Strange is the turn and tilt of day,
when stray, streaming, fingerling light
gleams slant against the eyes — the scold
of crows, magpies, jackdaws, gulls,
shouting the season in.
We count our birds. We read their wings. We script
stories in the scrim of puddled ice, tell tales
to ease the winter in. We sing
( /we had a lady, tall and fair/ )
Zeus with the migraine that was Athene
smashed his skull open on his stepson’s maul,
split free a tall spear of a girl
as unbreachable as logic and beguiling as a myth
while the lag–footed blacksmith
glanced down at his burnt hands
and faded underground again.
A god who crashes once to earth
buries himself within it, forge–roaring Etna
and the tindery fields of Claudius’ Ostia
hammering out the shape of fires to come,
lyre–lit Rome, the charred olives of Athens
and the armor that saved Achilles
as surely as a poem turns aside a bomb.
( Get out of my head, older artificer, )
August is so soon now! :D: I am excited about the cons (ALL THE CONS), but omg need more time in the day to prep and be ready to say clever things and maybe hoard £5 notes so if people want to buy my book from me I can give them change! /o\
So here’s where I’ll be at Nine Worlds! My commentary is in italics.
Voices From Other Worlds
5.00pm – 6.15pm
Readings from authors of colour on the theme of race and culture.
Guests: Taran Matharu, Zen Cho, Adam Lowe
I’ll be reading from my short story The Earth Spirit’s Favourite Anecdote, i.e. the story that makes editors advise me to improve my English. Oh editors! No.
The story isn’t about race and culture, but it is written in Manglish, so see la if anyone understands it!
School Stories: prefects, headmasters and tuckshops, oh my!
10.15pm – 11.30pm
School stories: why are we so fascinated by them? From Harry Potter to Ender’s Game, from St. Trinian’s to the X-Men, will we ever really escape our school days? Oi, no talking in the back of the class, there.
Panel: Aishwarya Subramanian, Zen Cho, Emma Vieceli, Tiffani Angus
The panel I persuaded Aisha to come to Nine Worlds for! (I wanted her for the Race & Culture track really. But I tempted her with school stories!) This is actually only one of two school stories panels I am on this summer, yay \o/
Rule 63: Gender and subversion in history, popular culture and fandom
10:00am – 11:15am
“Rule 63: an internet adage which states that for every fictional character, there exists an opposite gender counterpart.” (knowyourmeme.com)
This popular rule has an obvious power for subverting male-dominated media and an equally obvious (if less discussed) potential for introducing trans narratives. In its positioning of ‘opposite’ genders, it is also potentially troubling from trans and non-binary perspectives. This panel will discuss Rule 63, from real historical examples of people inhabiting ‘opposite’ genders to contemporary fanworks, through queer and feminist lenses.
With Tab Kimpton, Zen Cho, Alex Dally MacFarlane, more TBC
I am kind of nervous about this — Rule 63 is a really meaty trope to think about, but I am not sure I am remotely qualified to talk about it! But it should be very interesting.
This Will Always Be Your Home: Race, Culture, and Fannish Life
1.30pm – 2.45pm
Western media fandom, from zines to Tumblr, has been something special to so many people: a community and a home. We live here too – so what does it mean to be a fan of colour?
Guests: Iona Sharma, Frank Voss, Koel Mukherjee and Kelly Kanayama
I’ll be modding this! It’s not something that has a lot of emotional relevance to me anymore — I went from Western media fandom to anime/manga, where being a fan of colour is different from being a fan of colour in Western media fandom, because you are so not the only one in anime/manga fandom. Then I basically moved out of fandom because even those stories weren’t quite satisfying me anymore. (To be clear, I still read manga and follow fannish trends, more or less, but I’m not really actively fannish in the sense of writing meta or fanfic and stuff like that.) But fandom really shaped me, probably Western media fandom more than any other (it got me at a younger age than anime/manga did), and I can see how it was both a good and a bad space for me as a non-white/non-American/&c. person.
Spock vs the Sorcerers: F or SF? The Genre Deathmatch Smackdown!
11.45am – 1.00pm
The vicious genrepocalypse that we’ve all been waiting for. There can be only one.
Debate: Anne Perry (Moderator), Daniel Polansky (Fantasy), Liz Bourke (Fantasy), Zen Cho (SF) , Geoffrey Ryman (SF)
- omg I am arguing for SF even though I write almost exclusively fantasy, and don’t read that much SF because not all SF is feminist SF interested in people
- omg I am on a panel with Geoff Ryman
- wait what
- … OMG
Mirrored from Zen Cho.
The Loncon programme is out! OMG it is so long it goes on FOREVER. I am so excited! And terrified. :D:
My final programme looks pretty much identical to my draft programme, which I posted earlier this month, but there are two new events!
Asians at Loncon meetup
Friday 19:30 – 21:30, at the fan space
Yay, it is happening! If any of your identities include “Asian” and you’d like to meet other Asians at Loncon, turn up at the fan space at 7.30 pm on Friday. (I’ve got a panel ending at 7 pm, and am hoping it’s not too far from the fan space ….) No food or drink, I’m afraid, but we are allowed to eat there, so tapau/bungkus/grab a takeaway and come along and make friends!
Because a couple of people expressed concerns about this — Asians of all kinds are very welcome, including the diaspora. (It would be a bit rich of a Chinese Malaysian to reject the diaspora!)
Sunday 16:00 – 17:00, London Suite 4 (ExCeL)
Lawrence Watt Evans, Zen Cho
I have a kaffeeklatsch! That is
terrifying thrilling. I’ve never actually been to a kaffeeklatsch. I am very good at drinking coffee and chatting, though, due to the training imparted by the ancient traditions of my culture. (OMG if there is ever a Malaysian SFF con we should have mamak sessions instead of kaffeeklatsches. How cool would that be?)
I hope someone will come. :D: I will be there with some of my own books, and a book that is not by me for me to read if nobody turns up to talk to me. Maybe I will try to steal Lawrence Watt Evans’ fans!
SPIRITS ABROAD at Loncon
Also, don’t forget SPIRITS ABROAD will be available at the Big Green Bookshop stall in the Dealers’ Zone. If you’ve pre-ordered a copy directly from me online, I’m about to email you about how I can get hold of you at the con.
And here’s the final list of my panels!( Read the rest of this entry » )
Mirrored from Zen Cho.
From time to time I find myself watching the Granada Sherlock Holmes production starring Jeremy Brett. Ever since I first watched the film version of My Fair Lady, and learnt his story, I have felt an immense sympathy for what I saw as similarities between myself and the deeply tormented, talented actor: a struggle with mental illness, a compulsion to give oneself completely over to one’s craft. But foremost in considering Brett’s work must be recognition of his immense ability as an actor; and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is as much an intellectual as an aesthetic pleasure to watch.
But speaking of pleasures, yesterday was also the second time I watched the Granada adaptation of “A Scandal in Bohemia,” and I found myself moved by Gayle Hunnicutt’s performance on a whole new level.
Irene Adler is a very complicated character, and part of her complexity is the way her characterisation has been abjectly simplified in derivative media. When I speak of simplification, I mean of course storytellers’ desperate reliance on representing her principally as a sexual entity. “It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler…” Watson’s narration tells the reader. “He never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer.” Nonetheless modern media seems fairly incapable of imagining a woman in the canon in any way but that of designated love interest.
Why this saddens me is because such a representation of Adler is completely antithetical to the message of “A Scandal in Bohemia.” Adler identifies herself as “one whom [the king] has cruelly wronged,” which given the heavily classist sexual double standards of her time is a no less unbelievable predicament for a New Jersey singer than it is for “that hellcat Kitty Winter” in “The Adventure of the Illustrious Client.” In Adler’s declaration that “I love and am loved by a better man than he,” she utterly rejects the patriarchal exploitation of von Ormstein’s world.
But at the same time, Adler’s assumption of “male costume” and the frequent narratorial observations of her own intellectual powers are also an indictment of Holmes’s misogyny, which is another point that the short story seeks to bring across. True, it is sad that she should be the woman, placed upon a pedestal as the only woman who could ever hope to put one over the great Sherlock Holmes; but even then, her character challenges masculinity on two fronts: its association with heterosexual conquest, as embodied by von Ormstein; and its association with rationality, as the construction of Holmes’s character would have readers believe.
It is interesting to examine Mr Godfrey Norton of the Inner Temple, to—as Holmes would put it—observe and infer what makes him a better man than von Ormstein and, dare I say it, than Holmes. For Holmes, upon hearing of Norton’s visits to her house, foolishly assumes that Adler must be either Norton’s client or his mistress. Who would, after all, want to wed an “adventuress” (read: courtesan), “of dubious and questionable memory”? Holmes further rejoices in the news of Norton’s marriage as advantageous to his client, arguing that her compromising photograph with von Ormstein is now “a double-edged sword” because it proves to her husband that the new bride is spoiled goods.
Yet the outcome of the story rejects that set of values. It’s a beautiful, wonderful story if you read between the lines. Adler, born in New Jersey, presumably of immigrant heritage; an autodidact, a skilled bilingual performer who returns to the old country; wronged, perhaps abused, but with her wits about her enough to outsmart, elude, and revenge herself upon the king.
Which is why it drives me to frustration to see much of that ignored in modern adaptations, whether Sherlock, Elementary, or the unserious RDJ/Jude Law films. The entirety of “A Scandal in Bohemia” criticises the gendered nature of prevailing sexual morality. To strip and objectify Irene Adler ignores not only the rich depth of her characterisation but also how Holmes’s misogyny is so profound that women are literally beneath his notice.
As you probably already know (because I can’t stop parping on about it), I’ll be at Nine Worlds and Loncon this summer. So will my book!
You’ll be able to pick up SPIRITS ABROAD at the ALL OF THE BOOKS Indie table in the dealers’ room.
SPIRITS ABROAD will be available at the Big Green Bookshop stall in the Dealers’ Zone (thanks to Yen Ooi for the tip!).
SPIRITS ABROAD isn’t super easily available outside Malaysia, and it’s currently out of stock on Amazon — so if you’d like a copy and are coming to either of these cons, dropping by the dealers’ room is a straightforward way of picking one up.
Of course, you can pre-order a copy directly from me instead. That means I’ll reserve a signed book for you and will track you down ONE WAY OR ANOTHER during the con.
Mirrored from Zen Cho.
Tomorrow I shall dally to the bank, get some cash to spend at SDCC (and try to remain within that budget the whole weekend), then dally downtown, grab some lunch, and then go to the Greyhound station. I have a small bag of clothes and a backpack of promo material and book to take notes in. I'm going to wear ballet flats all weekend. Hope my feet don't hurt. San Diego weather is not non-sensical, right? Should I bring a sweater and socks? I shall bring a sweater and find some space for socks, that seems best. *rambles on*
The war is still the war - it's getting uglier and more horrible every day. I've reached a level of anxiety where sleeping is difficult (no matter how early I try to turn in, at best I wake up tired instead of a zombie, and my sleep is fitful) and I wish people could respect the way I cope with terrible news I have no control over. Instead my coworkers talk 24/7 about every new horrible rumor, bursting into my office to tell each other the news. UGH. And then my mother calls just to tell me what she's read on the Russian news, and I ask her to stop (I read the news, I am sufficiently informed) and she gets offended at my ~tone~.
The roommate drama is still drama. My current roommate seems to have calmed down a bit? So hopefully spending time with her won't be a horror. But we still have barely any candidates and it's stressful and I have to deal with it every single day.
* I got the grade for the final class of my degree - and it's a really high grade. My academic career has mostly been disaster and despair (AKA doing a degree while working full time) but I got really, really lovely feedback on this paper, so.
* I got a response from my potential thesis adviser (who has been terrible at every interaction with me) and it was basically I've read your paper, and you seem kind of dumb so maybe a thesis isn't for you. It was phrased a little more politely, but overall the message was that. This is depressing on the one hand, on the other it means I am now free to seek a different adviser and move on with this stuff. That too is a kind of progress.
* I've gotten two books I've wanted to read for ages! Now only to find the time for them, heh. The first is Spirits Abroad, a collection of Zen Cho's short stories. I've wanted to read many of them before but never got to because they were published in venues/formats that were uncomfortable for me to access. But now I finally have the book and I'm reading a story a day and they are just all SO FANTASTIC. One day I literally started laughing out loud in my apartment because the story was so hilarious. It's wonderful also because the stories are so specific to a particular place and a particular culture but at the same time are extremely universal as well. I recommend this book to everyone.
Then yesterday I got my copy of Migritude by Shailja Patel. I've only started reading it but I've wanted this book for so long! It contains one of my favorite poems ever. I was delighted to discover it's part prose part poetry, part history part sociology, different POVs, all a form of biography. It's lovely and I can't wait to read more of it.
* I bought tickets to Germany and back! \o/ Basically I will have 3 weeks to spend in Europe, Germany -> London -> France and I've been trying to sort out the dates for SO LONG and now I FINALLY HAVE and I was able to buy tickets and even find lower prices than I originally anticipated. There's still a TON of planning to do, and more flights to book, but at least I have a way to get to Europe now and a way to get back home, and everything else is a bit less stressful.
* Work is still utterly unbelievably busy because I have to deal with loads of extra work, but I've been coping with it better than last week. I'm a bit more on top of where things need to go, now, and how to manage my new clients correctly.
* Tonight will be my last night in the apartment alone before my roommate returns, and tomorrow, oh, tomorrow I will be over at a friend's for a sushi-making evening, and there will be booze. THERE WILL BE BOOZE. I know this because I called and made sure. I CALLED TO MAKE SURE. I mean I knew she'd provide alcohol but I needed to impress upon her HOW MUCH ALCOHOL needed to be provided, since I won't be driving and hence plan on getting as drunk as humanly possible.
* I've been trying to mitigate the effects of being constantly tired and depressed - which tends to mean I want to buy things I can't afford and eat things that are bad for me - and have had moderate success. It's not been perfect, but since something has to go in this equation, I've been relatively OK reigning myself in while still not pushing myself to act as if everything's normal.
( today )