Monday, September 29, 2014

This Is Fun

...though some of the questions are annoyingly tricky.

For instance, you are asked about the number of sexual partners you've had in the last 12 months -- which, you know, given that I am married and monogamous, that's just the one, presently.

Then the next question is whether I'm using condoms for (most) of my sexual encounters.  Which, well, married, monogamous, and not fertile, so...

Anyway!  For the fun of it!

Life Expectancy Calculator.


For Teenage Girls With Wild Ambition and Trembling Hearts

by Clementine von Radics

(link via Ursula Vernon's tumblr again. She has the best stuff.)

When you are 13 years old,
the heat will be turned up too high
and the stars will not be in your favor.
You will hide behind a bookcase
with your family and everything left behind.
You will pour an ocean into a diary.
When they find you, you will be nothing
but a spark above a burning bush,
still, tell them
Despite everything, I really believe people are good at heart.

When you are 14,
a voice will call you to greatness.
When the doubters call you crazy, do not listen.
They don’t know the sound
of their own God’s whisper. Use your armor,
use your sword, use your two good hands.
Do not let their doubting
drown out the sound of your own heartbeat.
You are the Maid of Untamed Patriotism.
Born to lead armies into victory and unite a nation
like a broken heart.

When you are 15, you will be punished
for learning too proudly. A man
will climb onto your school bus and insist
your sisters name you enemy.
When you do not hide,
he will point his gun at your temple
and fire three times. Three years later,
in an ocean of words, with no apologies,
you will stand before the leaders of the world
and tell them your country is burning.

When you are 16 years old,
you will invent science fiction.
The story of a man named Frankenstein
and his creation. Soon after you will learn
that little girls with big ideas are more terrifying
than monsters, but don’t worry.
You will be remembered long after
they have put down their torches.

When you are 17 years old,
you will strike out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig
one right after the other.
Men will be afraid of the lightening
in your fingertips. A few days later
you will be fired from the major leagues
because “Girls are too delicate to play baseball”

You will turn 18 with a baby on your back
leading Lewis and Clark
across North America.

You will turn 18
and become queen of the Nile.

You will turn 18
and bring justice to journalism.

You are now 18, standing on the precipice,
trembling before your own greatness.

This is your call to leap.

There will always being those
who say you are too young and delicate
to make anything happen for yourself.
They don’t see the part of you that smolders.
Don’t let their doubting drown out the sound
of your own heartbeat.

You are the first drop of a hurricane.
Your bravery builds beyond you. You are needed
by all the little girls still living in secret,
writing oceans made of monsters and
throwing like lightening.

You don’t need to grow up to find greatness.
You are stronger than the world has ever believed you to be.
The world laid out before you to set on fire.
All you have to do
is burn.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Rosh Hashanah

So, among other things, this evening begins Rosh Hashanah.

Here at Chez delagar, where Dr. Skull is a semi-non-observant Jew, the kid is an atheist Jew, and I am an inveterate atheist, we celebrate the New Year by -- first -- going down to the banks of the Arkansas River and throwing bread (bits of the challah Dr. Skull has baked) into the water while we shout out the wrongs we are sorry for doing over the past year.

Me: I'm sorry for all the times I have shouted at other drivers! (flings bread)  I'm sorry I yell at Dr. Skull so much! (flings bread)  I'm sorry I think Republicans are idiots! (flings bread)

The Kid: I'm sorry I yell at Big Dog! (Flings bread)  I'm sorry I yell at Dad! (Flings bread)  I'm sorry I called that other artist a misogynistic name, almost, when I thought she stole my idea!

Dr. Skull: I'm sorry I hate subbing so much. (Flings bread.)  I'm sorry I ignore Cher Mama. (Flings bread.) I'm sorry I got mad about people eating in the car. (Flings bread.)

Then we come home and eat a big meal, featuring roast chicken and the rest of the challah, and  finishing up with honey cake.

After that, it's the Days of Awe, y'all.

*** **** ***

But this morning, prior to the Wild Rumpus, I had to go to court.

Remember my wreck, a few weeks ago?  Yeah.  The fella that hit me is (I guess) challenging the ticket.  Or something.  I'm not exactly certain what's up.  He might be going to jail over too many traffic accidents.  It's not entirely clear, because as it turned out the trial did not get held today.

Anyway, I'm State's Witness against the guy, who's got a public defender.  The guy and his lawyer showed up, as did I, but the arresting officer did not, so the case got continued until next month.

It was all very interesting, as were the other cases being brought before the court along with my guy's.  Interesting being the best and least depressing word I can find for it.  These were all reminders that however grim my life may occasionally seem to me, things could be far worse.

The worst was a young woman who was perhaps twenty-five or six.  The public defender, speaking swiftly and dispassionately, told her that the judge was probably going to give her jail time.  (I have no idea what she was up for.)

"But I have a child," the woman said.  "I have a little girl."

"All right," the public defender said.  "I can ask for a fine.  I'm telling you she'll probably give you jail.  What do you want to do when that happens?"

The young woman just stared at her.  Because -- well, what exactly could she do?

"You think about it," the public defender said, who I imagine deals with 9,000 of these cases a year, and went off to talk to one of the other 20 people she was talking to that afternoon.

Jesus.

Standing in the bright sunlight on the mixed limestone and grassy bank of the river, watching the fish rise to snap up the bread we had flung to them -- eating our sins along with them -- I was so glad to be there, with my family.  I was so glad my wrongs were these, things I could fling away so lightly, walk away from easily, up to the green hillside and dinner waiting.

"Wait," Dr. Skull said.  "I gotta take your picture."

I didn't even get annoyed -- as I usually would -- at his insistence at documenting every aspect of our lives.  Instead, I looped my arm over the kid's shoulder and smiled into the sunlight.

"One more for the West Coast," Dr. Skull said, clicking the shutter.  "Perfect."


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Adventures at The Arkansas Public Health Clinic

So my kid brought home a notice from the school nurse last week, informing me that they needed a record of her immunizations by October 1st, or she would be BANNED from the school.

Also she needed to get a meningococcal vaccine, by October 1st.  Same deal.

I was (aside from the annoyance of arranging the vaccine and the paperwork) pleased by this, of course.  It means that the Fort Smith Public School system is requiring vaccinations. So, yay.

On the other hand, when I called our clinic to arrange the meningococcal vaccination (and try saying that out loud over the phone), the nurse informed me that they didn't give those.

"Um," I said.  "Okay?"

"You have to go to Public Health."

"Public Health," I said, because who knew Fort Smith had such a thing.  (Though again, yay!)  "Do I just show up, or..."

"Oh, no.  Make an appointment."

She gave me the number, and I did.  Yesterday morning, I kept the kid home from school and off we went.  The person I had spoken to had instructed me to bring along the kid's "shot record," and I found out why once we reached the first station.

But before that, we spent an hour out in the waiting room.  (An hour past our appointment, because Public Health is vastly over-worked and I would bet underfunded.  The room was crowded with small children there to get their vaccinations, and pregnant women on WIC or going for WIC, and pregnant women there for other reasons I didn't quite get.)  The kid was getting nervous, since she had a history test at 11:00 that she really wanted to make.

But once we got called to the first station, where we gave up our data, everything went really swiftly.  The first station was a row of windows, with women (yes, all women, and most of them brown women) putting data into computers.  She took the kid's immunization record, and my ID and insurance information, and using that, along with frequent interrogation of me (who she called "Mom") she spent about fifteen minutes putting all the kid's immunization into the Public Health database.

Through this process, she discovered that we'd missed the kid's 12-year-old varicella vaccination (apparently they are re-vaccinating kids at 12 now because so many people are not being immunized), and the Tdap vaccination she should have had at around the same time.

So we added those to the Terrible Schedule of NEEDLES in The Arm the kid would have to get.

After that, we went to Waiting Room # 2, but were only there about a minute. (Just long enough to have a brief squabble about whether the kid should get out her history notes and study a little while we waited.  Conclusion of argument: No.  Because she remembers all the history perfectly, that's why, so shut up.)

The Public Health Nurse was great.  Talked to the kid as well as me, which I love in a health worker, explained everything, and didn't lie about whether the shots would hurt.  She did all three very quickly.

(The staff, overall, in fact, was wonderful: patient, kind, and polite, under what must often be trying circumstances.  I could wish the waiting room was less hot and crowded, and the chairs more comfortable, but I imagine that's a funding problem.)

Then she printed out not one but two complete copies of the kid's immunization records -- one for me and one for the school nurse -- without my even asking.

Total time elapsed: One hour and fifteen minutes.

My rating of Arkansas Public Health: A+


Monday, September 15, 2014

New Post at Grounded Parents

Grounded Parents

My new post is up at Grounded Parents.

Read it here: Schooling Your Kid.



Older posts:

Good Reasons to Hit Your Kid

Your Kid's Telling Lies?  Good For Her!

Teaching Your Child To Talk Back

You Can't Have Any Pudding if You Don't Eat Your Meat

Against Punishment


Kids Today Part II

It's raining again this morning -- just a bit, drizzle -- and we have no car, since ours is in the shop still, and I had to return the rental yesterday.

I implore the kid to wear her raincoat.  Or take the umbrella at least.

The Kid: No.

Me: You'll get wet.  Your books will get wet.

The Kid: No.

Me:  Why not? Why, why, why?

The Kid: I will tell you why.  Because when I got to school, I would have to wad the raincoat up and stuff it in my locker and it would barely fit.  And then when it's time to come home, if it's not raining, I'll have to carry the raincoat.  Over my arm.

Me:  Jesus.  You kids today.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Kids Today!

It's finally raining here in Northwest Arkansas.  Yay!

Last night a massive line of thunderstorms came in, crashing and banging, and for once no tornadoes with them, just drenching rain, which continued into this morning.

It was still raining pretty heavily when it was time for the kid to leave for the bus, so I drove her over to the stop and we sat in the car and waited for the bus to arrive. (Yes, she has an umbrella and rain gear.  Don't judge me!)

One by one, I watched as the other kids, all between twelve and seventeen (this is the stop for both the junior and the high school) showed up at the stop. (No one else's mommy drove them and let them sit in the car out of the rain.)

None of these kids had an umbrella.  Only one wore a rain coat.  Two had on hoodies.  Most were just in regular clothing.  They stood in the rain, for ten or fifteen minutes, getting soaked.  And -- I must admit this was the part that alarmed me most -- their books got soaked too.

WTF?  Is this some new thing?  Kids don't use umbrellas anymore?  Or even rain gear?  Are umbrellas not allowed at school?

I said a lot of this to my kid, while I was watching these poor kids get soaked this morning.  She laughed at me.  "You're such a mom."

Monday, September 01, 2014

New Issue of Crossed Genres: Issue #21 Typical

The new issue of Crossed Genres is live today.

This issue, #21, is Typical, kind of a broad topic.  As always, it was interesting to see what the writers did with it.

Leading off, we have Kate Heartfield in great piece, The Semaphore Society, told from the point of view of a girl with Locked-In syndrome.

Next, Holly Schofield, with Slippery Slope, gives us a look at how bullying might change in the future.

Finally, Nadya Duke, who is also our Spotlight Author for this issue, brings us Good Numbers, a very appropriate read for Labor Day.


Friday, August 29, 2014

My Favorite Rejection Letter So Far

I just got a rejection, from a non-USA SF magazine, for my short story "The Russians Invade Arkansas."

It was a very nice rejection, encouraging me to send more and speaking highly of my work; but my favorite part was the reader's notes, which included this comment:

"Too many things I don't understand: What is UPS? And this phrase -- "might could"? Is this an American expression of some sort?"

Well.  You might could say it is.  If Arkansas is actually part of America.

Hard to figure, some days.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Schooling And The Kid

The kid has been back at school for nearly two full weeks now.

The transition was not without its rough patches -- she missed the bus coming home on the first day, in the midst of a torrential thunderstorm, mainly because she wasn't certain how to find the bus staging area from her last classroom; she does not like waking up at six to catch the bus by seven to reach school by eight; and she hates, hates, hates study hall, which apparently is not used for studying but for masculinity displays -- but on the whole, this is going well.

Pros: She loves Latin (her first class) and English (her last class) and AP World History.

Now that she is eating lunch in the courtyard, she likes lunch.  She had been eating lunch skulking in dark hallways, which was depressing.

She likes having classmates she can talk to -- that was always a problem with home-schooling.  Though we did what we could to arrange socialization opportunities (drama class, art class, et cetera) she spent far too much time learning on her own.

She's handling the work load, so far, easily.  The AP history has had two tests (I'm guessing they're actually quizzes?) so far and she has scored perfectly on both; and she usually gets most or all of the homework done in study hall.

They're reading The Iliad in English.  She loves The Iliad.  I can't tell you how happy this makes me.  They're reading a free online version, which is the terrible Samuel Butler translation; she liked even that.  I brought home my Fitzgerald translation from school for her so she could see how brilliant it is in a good translation.  Now she wants to learn Greek.

Also in English: they're going to start doing silent reading in class.  "I get credit for reading, Mom," she cried out to me.  "Just for reading!"

It has to be a "school-appropriate book," and also one she hasn't read before; but that shouldn't be a major issue.

Cons: That school starts so early.  She's used to staying up as late as she wants, and sleeping as late as she wants.  The adjustment is rough.

The aforementioned masculinity displays. "Why are high school boys such jerks?" she demands.  "Why do all these white boys think they have to say the n-word all the time?"

"Not all men," I said piously.

"Plus on the bus behind me the first day, these two guys, they're talking about gay guys. Really loudly.  And they're like, what do gay guys do exactly?  And how do gay guys decide who is the top and who is the bottom?  Is it whose dick is bigger or what?  And I wanted to turn around and say, Listen.  We've got twenty minutes until we get to school. Let me explain."  She rolls her eyes.  "Idiots."

Then today, on the bus: "This guy.  He wouldn't shut up.  'Bitches love me!  Skinny bitches love me!  Hot bitches love me!  Skinny blond bitches love to suck my dick!  All the bitches love to suck my dick!'  I was like, this bitch would love to shove you and your skinny dick out on the highway."

So that part isn't so cool.

Also, the school only gives them five minutes between classes, and is very, very strict about being late to class; the kid really hates breaking rules, so this is making her a little anxious.

### ### ###

But: on the whole: the kid's okay.

Except every night, y'all, after she brushes her teeth and just before she goes to bed?  She stops in the living room and makes a precise announcement: "Five hundred and thirty-three days left of high school, Mom.  Five hundred and thirty-three."


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Death Makes Me Sad

Last night, Dr. Skull and I were hanging out, talking about I don't even remember what, and he reached over and pulled Daniel Keys Moran's The Long Run off the bookshelf.  "You know," he said, "I've been looking at this for twenty years.  Should I read it?"

"Maybe," I said. "I mean, it's a ripping yarn.  And I like it a lot.  And for a book written before the internet, it's pretty good at getting the internet right.  But..."

He was leafing through it.  "But?"

"Well, it's an unfinished series.  So you'll read the first three, and then," I shrugged.

Then, on impulse, I got on Amazon and searched.

"Well, shit," I said, half-pleased and half-broken-hearted.  "He's published the fourth one."

"Good?" Dr. Skull said.

"Right. Good."  I bought it, one-click, the way you can with Kindle.  "It's just..."

"What?"

"This is a series Mike and I read together.  We waited, what, fifteen years for the next one?" I opened the book on my Kindle.  "Now he's gone and fucking died.  He'll never get to read it."

"Poor boo," Dr. Skull said.  "I'll read it with you."

Mike really would have loved this fourth book, too.  Goddamn it.




Saturday, August 23, 2014

Why, Look Here

Over at Free Speculative Fiction Online, what is this I see?

I've got my own entry!

Apparently I am a really true actual SF writer.

How cool is this?