Sunday, June 26, 2011

Chapter 57: In Which I Discuss Life as I Know it

So I've been reading up lately about all the unmanned drones taking out civilians in Libya. And how Obama has gone through no means of Congressional approval for this new war. Needless to say, it's a disgraceful and cowardly reaction to the popular unrest in the Middle East and North Africa. And it gets me thinking about the future.

We continue to get embroiled in wars, getting further in debt through the defense budget. Meanwhile, no corporate oversight, no attempts to balance the budget, economy keeps going under.

Either Obama wins this next election or he doesn't. The result is the same. Having a Republican in office would just mean a return to unilateral approval of presidential policy like in the Bush years, as opposed to this thing where the GOP naysays Obama all the time just to do it.

Back in 2003, I was out protesting the Iraq War along with the rest of the world, for reasons that have been stated by numerous people over the last decade. As evil as it was back then, I didn't get the full tragedy of these wars until now. We've killed enough Arabs to fill a nation with their bones. These wars aren't just homicidal. They're suicidal. Life just gets worse for the majority in this country and the government keeps putting up smokescreens. And killing a lot of people on the way down, as empires tend to do in their death-throes. 65 years ago we laughed at Japanese suicide pilots whose whole goal was to take their enemies with them (admittedly, we laughed from somewhere other the Pacific, where they scared us shitless). Now it seems our whole nation's gone kamikaze.

It's the world's most pathetic joke.


So, tour is over. A wonderful time was had by Kim and myself. I would first like to thank the Cascadia region. As I stated, the Pacific Northwest is utterly beautiful. From Portland to Boise was rolling foothills and farmlands. Boise to Seattle was endless vistas of evergreens, driving through the clouds atop snow-capped peaks. To see such an area is indescribable.

If last year was the super energetic tour, this tour was more like a samurai movie. Peaceful, thoughtful, somewhat elegiac. A lot of it had to do with those long drives through the mountains, letting the scenery soak in while some sad music played on Kim's IPod. A lot of it had to do with the company. I spent less time getting drunk and more time listening to people's stories. Like Nisi Shawl, fresh off her stint as WisCon GOH, telling me about her friendship with Octavia Butler. Or Cat Rambo (who is awesome, and gave us a place to stay in Seattle) telling me about the shenanigans that go on at the Locus Awards. Or that elderly Scottish woman in Portland I met while trying to crawl through the window of my friend's house, who talked with me at length about her artistic projects. She regularly stops by Ursula le Guin's place just to chat, and encouraged me to do so, but I figured that would be presumptuous on my part. And there was the retired coal miner we stayed with in Boise, who had much to say about the Western Pennsylvania coal industry from back in the day. Everything was pretty mellow. This tour was a gamble in a lot of ways, not just financially. I know I grew as a reader, with my pacing getting better as the tour went on. I think I won't know my real growth until further down the line. Anyways, the whole trip was just very thoughtful, very Kurosawa.

A funny coincidence: after my Seattle reading, I was talking with Nisi about music, and how she used to be in a band. I was telling her how I want to have more musical accompaniment for my work, which is crazy, because the very first featured reading I ever did had musical accompaniment, and I'd ran into the guy who played that accompaniment that very afternoon, in Seattle. Me and Kim were walking around that famous downtown market where they have all the fish and I randomly see Bryan Depuy, my old friend who played electric guitar for "Safe Space" back in 2008. He lives there now. It's so strange how life works out like that. I mean, completely illogical odds.

The venues were super accomodating for the most part. Only at Red and Black Cafe did we run into that annoyance where nobody's there to bottomline the event, and your only support are some baristas who don't give a shit. The folks at Last Word Books were super nice. My reading at University Bookstore was bottomlined by a really cool young lady who promised to give George R.R. Martin a hug for me when he rolled through next month (maybe she was joking). The books didn't arrive in time due to the usual postal incompetence, but they rolled with it and I was able to sell my own tour copies. Jem Wierenga at Hyde Park Books is just a lovely guy, and gave us our best venue and best promotion. (The best part of Boise was the young couple who asked me to sign a napkin for their 16-month-old son. That was very humbling.)There's probably other people to give shout-outs to, but y'all already know I love you.

Naturally, I need to thank Kim Vodicka. She's fun to tour with, and had fun on our trip. Just a great person and an original voice.

One thing I'd like to mention: Olympia was insane. Between the oogles there for the Rainbow Gathering, the cops profiling them, and the swarms of recently unleashed Evergreen undergrads, it just had crazy, dangerous energy. There were literally so many traveler kids on the sidewalk you couldn't get through. Oh, yeah, and it was Pride Weekend. Sensory overload x10. And we ended up sleeping in the car. I met a really nice traveler guy who talked to me about Rainbow Gathering. It sounds like a great time, and its going to be huge this year. The only "gathering" I've ever been to was the now-defunct Crimethinc Convergence (yes, FBI, I was at the Crimethinc convergence), which I enjoyed even if I don't agree with the group's MO. But I've already done my traveling, so I'll probably skip Rainbow, even if half the hippies at my house are going.

Next tour probably won't be until next year. Which brings me to...

The New Book

I've been working a lot on my dos-a-dos project. It's clocking in around 300 pages. Hasn't been easy. The first 100 still needs some polishing, then there's another 100 I still have to write from scratch, then a climax I need to revise. I have a problem as a writer: I can't be stylistic and plot-driven at the same time. There's all sorts of scenes I'm writing just to get the characters from point A to point B, and the writing is so pedestrian. I can go and spruce it up later, but at the time it really does feel like I'm writing boring plot points, "He did this...", "She said that..." And some of my plot points still aren't firm, which is stressful for the deadline I'm working under. Anyway, I'm hoping to workshop it a lot over the summer. I'm in tentative talks with Six Gallery to publish it, and if all works it will be out next May. Just in time to have release parties! I always wanted to have one of those launch parties at Balticon. Maybe that can happen. Then I'm going on tour! Touring where? The whole world, if possible!

More updates soon. If I don't get distracted by the new season of True Blood.

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