Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: What Was It Good For?

I swear, didn't 2012 suck?  Sandy. Sandy Hook.  Scott Walker's re-election.  Unions lost even more power. More people getting poorer, the rich getting richer. OWS did not (or did not YET) lead to the Revolution.  The Right in this country grew even crazier. My little dog Spike died.

Maybe things were not as bad as they might have been, though.  I mean, we did re-elected Obama, which is better than the obverse.

And I'm trying to think of some other thing decent that happened this year.

Crystal Bridges opened -- I supposed that's something, though it's a mixed blessing.  Everyone here in Arkansas loves it a lot.  But I'm still a bit bitter about its real cost.

My story "In the Cold" appeared in Strange Horizons -- that was nice.

In February, I went to Boskone, my first real SF convention.  I did like that.

I taught American Epics (that is, Start the Revolution NOW!) this summer.  I'd actually forgotten about this class, that I had taught it, I mean, and how well it went.  So much has happened since then.

I got my shoulder fixed, which left us broke(r) than usual, but me relatively pain free.

I had this conversation with Dr. Skull, which might be one of my favorites ever.

I have two beautiful works in progress coming out in 2013, and I am writing well.

In the Spring, I am teaching Women in Lit (START THE REVOLUTION NOW!) and Writing the Novel.

And more and more people seem inclined to believe that gay people should have rights, trans people should have rights, poor people and women and brown people should have rights, and that maybe letting rich people own the world isn't (after all) the best plan ever.

So maybe, maybe 2013 will be better?

Here's hoping.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Bayard Rustin

Cracked.Com introduced me to Bayard Rustin.

I mean, how pathetic is the American education system that I have to learn about the coolest guy in American history (okay, maybe I exaggerate, but only a little) via

America, Fuck Yeah!  Where we learn all about white guys who own slaves and commit genocide, but those who fight for social justice?  Who cares.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


It's snowing here in the Fort.

I know those of you in more northern climes are like yeah, so?

But in the River Valley this is an exciting big deal.  Everyone has been watching the Weather Channel all week, and yesterday every grocery in town was packed with people buying out the milk, bread, and egg supplies "just in case."  (Just in case what I cannot conceive.  In case they had a sudden bread pudding emergency, I assume.)

Today when the snow began (about 20 minutes ago) great whoops of glee were heard all over town.  Forget Christmas.  This is the real miracle.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Why, This Is The Best Idea YET

Making dinner tonight (potato soup), I found myself thinking I should put together a cookbook of these way cheap meals I had learned how to cook: I could call it Meals For Hard Times: When Your Paycheck Runs Out Before The Month Does.

I bet these days I could sell a bundle.

Potatoes were on sale at the Harps this week ten pounds for a buck and a half.  I know all kinds of ways to cook potatoes -- we're set for awhile!

Here's my potato soup recipe, btw.  It's excellent.

Potato Soup

  • One potato per person and one for the pot
  • Two onions
  • Some sort of oil -- bacon fat is great if you have it, but any kind will do
  • Celery if you have it, a carrot if you have it (omit these if you don't!)
  • Salt, pepper
  • Chicken stock if you have it, water if you don't
  • Milk (powdered or canned is fine)

Cut up the onions and cook them in the fat over low heat for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally.  If you'ce got the celery and carrot, cut those up and put them in too.  Use a big stock pot, and enough fat to cover the bottom.

Meanwhile, peel and dice your potatoes.  Once the onions are soft, add chicken stock or water -- four or five cups if you're using four potatoes, more if you're using more.  You can use a mix of stock and water, or just water.  Add the cut up potatoes, add salt and pepper, boil at a simmer for about 20 minutes.

Take out about half and mash up or run through a blender or food processor whatever you have -- you want a smooth puree.  Then stir back into the soup.  Just before you're read to eat, add the milk.  About a cup of milk, more or less -- more if you want more, less if you don't like milk.  You can even leave the milk out entirely if you're really broke.

Serve with whatever bread you have around.  Popovers go good with this, or garlic bread, but toast is fine too!

Friday, December 21, 2012

It's Not The Guns, It's the Video Games

I remember sitting waiting for my kid's Aikido class to start once, six or seven years ago -- the kid was eight or nine, I think -- and the little boys in the class were talking about Call of Duty, and how cool it was to shoot the people in the game until their ribs were torn away and their "guts fell out" and other such delightful details.

These were kids about my kid's age, eight or nine years old.

I remember a few years later, when my kid was eleven and her best friend started playing X-Box, some game where you could chat online with other people while you played, how upset my kid was at the casual misogyny of the gamer world -- how often and how idle the rape threats were that her friend (also eleven) was subjected to.

So I'm not exactly shocked by Wayne LaPierre's comments on video games in his speech to the NRA this morning.

But does he seriously want us to believe that video games are more responsible for what happened at Sandy Hook than the gun culture that his organization has helped to foster in this country?

I mean, how fucking stupid does he think we are?

Money Money Money Water Water Water....

Feel free to skip this post if you're sick of hearing me whine about our poverty.

Dr. Skull had a bad toothache about three weeks ago -- as usual with him he probably actually had it for about two months, but about three weeks ago it got so bad he mentioned it to me.  He wouldn't call the dentist himself, because he just won't.  I knew if he was admitting it, it was bad, so I called our dentist, and she got him it that same day.

Major abscess.  Lots of drama followed, but the short version is, he ended up (due to his diabetes and the bone loss that follows from that) needing to have two teeth pulled and a root canal on a third.

I was kind of hoping to put some of this off until after January 1st, when our medical savings account would roll over -- we're out of that money for this year, obviously, we always run out about July, and we ran out even earlier this year, because Dr. Skull needed cataract surgery.  But the oral surgeon said it would be dangerous to wait, so.

And our insurance sucks.  So.

So far our part of the bill has been nearly six hundred dollars, all of which we've had to pay up front.

This leaves us with forty-eight dollars to eat on until I get paid on December 31st, and here is my question: how the fuck are people supposed to live this way?

I mean, forget saving for my kid's education.  I can't even manage to save enough to pay the water bill on time.  We can't heat the house.  We're going to be eating rice and peas for the rest of the fucking year.

And we're not even poor.  I mean, seriously, we're not.  We're a middle-class family, by all definitions of the word.  How do people who are actually poor survive in this country?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Continuing Adventures of My Kid is Fourteen

So she's doing her Latin.

We're on Is Ea Id.

She'd supposed to be filling in the right forms of the demonstrative to go with various nouns.

The Kid: What gender is oppidum?

Me: (as always) Look it up.

Kid: (sighing heavily) (Looks it up) But what if oppidum is gender-fluid?  Huh?  Huh?  Why didn't the Romans ever think of that?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Continuing Adventures of My Kid Is Fourteen

So it's the fifth night of Hanukkah, and my kid got some Walkers Liquorice Toffee bars for her present.

We had latkes and fish sticks for dinner (not actually an authentic traditional Hanukkah meal, although I do make the best latkes*) and afterwards she lay on the sofa chewing on a toffee bar and reading one of the books she got for yesterday's present.

"Aaargh!" she cried presently.  "This sticks to my back teeth!"

Me:  "Yes, that is the problem with toffee."

The Kid:  "But what do I do?"

Me:  "You just have to suck it off."

The Kid:  "Hee hee."

Me: "What?"

The Kid:  "Hee hee.  Suck it off."

*Latke recipe:

4 potatoes, peeled and grated by hand with one of those tin graters.  Don't use a food processor, is what I'm saying.

About a cup of Matzo meal

Two eggs

Either one grated onion or five or six tablespoons of onion powder

A bit of salt

Grate the potatoes, storing the grated mass in a bowl of cold water to cover as you go.  When you're done grating, dump that water (be careful not to lose the grated potato) and refill with fresh cold water.  Cover bowl with Saran wrap and store in fridge for at least an hour, and as long as seven or eight.

When you're ready to start cooking, drain and rinse and squish the grated potato -- get as much water out of it as you can.  Put grated potato in a large bowl.  Break the eggs in, dump in the Matzo meal, add the onion and salt, and mix up thoroughly.  Just use your hands.  You're gonna be using them in a minute here anyway.

Get out your largest cast iron skillet  (or whatever big frying pan you have) and heat some peanut oil.  When it's hot enough, form your potato mix into flat thin patties about as round as small hamburgers but MUCH thinner (try to get them as thin as you can).  Fry until crisp and brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.  Repeat until you're out of mix.

Eat, traditionally, with sour cream or applesauce.  I eat mine with ketchup, which appalls Dr. Skull.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

This Year, I SWEAR...

I'm teaching four class, four preps in the Spring Semester, which I have done, frankly, for so long that I don't think I'd know how to teach any other way at this point.

Still, this semester it will be a little rougher, because of the four classes -- Comp II, English Grammar, Woman's Lit, Writing the Novel -- two of them, those last two -- will be classes I have never taught before.

(Technically, I am teaching five classes, since I am also supervising an internship, but I don't expect that to be a ton of work, so I am optimistically not counting it.)

So!  I plan (for once I am planning and actually intending) to spend part of my between semester break actually doing some of the prep work for these two new classes.

I always intend to do this, mind you; and then I spend the entire break writing my novels.

But this year will be different!

Specifically I am going to spend part of every day figure out how to teach that Writing the Novel class.  Because I have written a great many novels, but I am not at all certain I know how to teach people how to write them.  Basically, my plan for writing novels goes like this.  (1) Get an idea  (2) Have some characters in mind (3) Start writing (4) write about 1000 words a day (5) keep writing (6) When you get to the end stop.

Which, um, surely I can be more helpful than that?

So I'm doing research.

The Women's Lit class -- ah, now, there I have lots of plans for.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Teaching Young Adults

Last night I taught my last workshop to the kids in my Young Writers Workshop, run through the Fort Smith Public Library system.  We had started out with twelve students, and we were down to four at the end -- well, really, twelve signed up, but only eight showed up at the first session, so.

I had never taught anyone younger than seventeen (maybe sixteen) outside of my own kid -- the freshmen in college age.  We get some high school students here at UA-FS, but we just treat them like adults, so I've never thought of them as  "kids" exactly.  I went into this experience with some trepidation, is what I'm saying.

"You can't cuss," my kid reminded me on the first day.

I rolled my eyes at her.  "I'm not stupid, you know."

"Well, I know.  But you cuss an awful lot."

Which, well, that's true. And usually in the university classroom I make it a point to say fuck at least once on the first day of class, kind of like a forewarning: so the tenderhearted can bail, right?

I figured that would not be a good technique here.

Also, how do you teach twelve year olds to write?  And what if they were all terrible?  And what if they couldn't or wouldn't talk?

(Ha!  That last was not a problem.  Getting them to shut up, now!)

I ended up with two twelve year olds and two fourteen year olds (one of them my kid) and all of them could write and all of them were very smart and all of them would talk, indeed.  Teaching them was no problem.  Teaching them was delightful.  (I did not cuss, you will be proud to hear.)  I put almost everything in writing -- they had assignments evey week -- and for the first sessions, we did a lot of in-class writing.  For the last sessions, we did workshopping.  One session, Dr. Skull came in and did a poetry workshop, since I don't do poetry.

Highly successful.  We're running it again in the spring, expanding to eight weeks, February to March.  All their parents came in on the last day to tell me it's all they talk about, and they're all signing up again.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Know Your Enemy

I like to read the Right side of the 'sphere as often as I can.

They're hard to take, I admit, and that's been especially true these last few years; but it's good to know what's current.

It's also been helpful teaching young conservatives, who get all their best ideas off Fox News and Rush.  Reading the Rightosphere, I hear their ideas before they do, and am prepared to discuss them with reason and fact.

Anyway!  In case you are interested!  Here are the Best Conservative Blogs of 2012.

Monday, December 03, 2012

The Other Side of The Sky: Cover Art

The other project I've been working on for some time now (my toy that starts a revolution story) is coming out, as steady readers of the blog know, in 2013.

The cover art, which is amazing, has just been released.  This link here will take you to a wonderful explanation of how the cover was drawn, which the artists among you will especially enjoy; here is Athena Andreadis's post about the cover on her blog, Starship Reckless.

What I most enjoy about the cover is that the woman on the cover is a woman, and not a porn-star.

Speaking of which -- have you seen this?

More on that.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Here We Are At the End Again

It's the end of the semester here in Fort Smith, and I am grading and grading, looking back and looking forward.

We've just gone through a major revision of our degree program at my small working-class university.  Some parts of the changes we made leave me optimistic -- we have a number of new upper level classes, like the Women's Lit class I'll be teaching in the Spring, and the Cultural Studies class two of my colleagues teach every semester to incoming majors; we have a required class in Grammar and Junior Seminars in British and American Lit.

All of this is very cool.  On the other hand, under directive from the State Legislature, we've dropped the number of hours in the degree from 124 to 120.

Okay, big deal, four hours.  (For a much worse idea, see here.)  We eliminated four hours of electives, which may not seem like much of an issue.  It's that notion, though, that worries me.  It's the idea that the State Legislature seems to have that a university education is (mostly) a waste of time.  That those four hours of electives taught our students nothing and thus could be cut without any loss.

I think back to my own undergraduate days, and the elective classes I took -- mainly in my senior year, since like a good student I followed my prescribed track zealously. (Heh.)  My senior year (okay, my second senior year, I'll come clean -- I switched majors so often I ended up doing six years as an undergrad and had two junior and two senior years) was almost entirely electives.

I took Biology and Biology Lab. (Not required for my major.) I took a class in 18th Century Enlightenment Poets.  I took a class in Political Geography.  I took Second Year Greek (both semesters).  All of these classes taught me things I have used to this day, endlessly.  In some ways, I'm a professor and writer because of those classes -- certainly the writer I am because of those classes.

And yes, the six years instead of the four years I spent as an undergraduate made me the writer and the professor I am.  If I hadn't been an anthropology major before I was an English major, I would not be teaching and writing, thinking and researching the way I am now.

The idea that the purpose of a university degree is to get students jobs is ridiculous.  We bring them to the campus to educate them -- to teach them what they don't yet know they need to know, to show them a world they don't know exists.  That takes time.  Lots of it.  It means they have to spend more hours, not fewer, in the classroom, and with each other, and on their own, reading and lying about -- I can't tell you how much I learned lying on my back in the courtyard of the English Building at my university, reading and staring up at the sky.

Trying to make this some swift process, so we can make good technocrats out of them, well.

What a bad plan.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Our Book! People Talk About it!

You might remember my mentioning Menial: Skilled Labor in SF, the anthology I have been working on with Shay Darrach, due out in January.

Well!  Other people are talking about it as well now.  (Imagine my glee!)

A mention and the ToC at SF Signal.

A link to SF Signal off

And, over here at i09 (one of my favorite sites, so I'm very pleased), a very nice post.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Do Not Open Until Hannukah

My interest is officially piqued -- the Mars Science Laboratory team has found something on Mars.


They're not telling.

Not yet, anyway.  Speculation abounds, but most people are guessing some sign of life (past, probably) or water.

I'm hoping for something cooler -- instructions on how to build a jump drive, maybe, left there by a wandering merchant ship two hundred thousand years ago.

Or keys to a hangar full of working space ships?

But yeah, okay.  A nice aquifer (past or present) would also be cool.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Holidays, holy daze

We had eleven people sit down for dinner today.  This was lovely.  Though tricky, since we only possess nine chairs, and eight knives, and somewhat fewer spoons that that even.  Also only nine dinner plates, and five wine glasses.

But luckily none of our guests are the sort who get twitchy over minor details like being asked to sit on a shoved-up rocking chair or to balance on the arm of an armchair during dinner, or mind drinking their wine from a jelly jar.

And the food was splendid, since Dr. Skull made most of it.  (I made, as my usual contribution, the sweet potato casserole.  Each year I invent a new recipe.  This year's contained a bit of rum and a deal of pineapple juice, and was the best yet I think.  Also Dr. Skull made the marshmallows that went on top himself, from scratch, b/c corn syrup, and they also were the best yet.)

Everyone hung out after, talking movies and politics (we are all liberals except my father who voted libertarian, and we all think Lincoln is an amazing movie, those of us who have seen it do anyway) while we drank the rest of the wine and ate too much pie.

Two kinds of pie, pumpkin and banana cream, plus a chocolate-pumpkin torte.

Now I am drinking ginger ale and rum and watching the cat chase the dog around the living room.  She appears to be enjoying this somewhat more than he is.

Happy post-holiday daze, y'all.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Muted Excitement

So I just got an email from one of the jobs I've applied for, asking for more material.

This means I've made a cut -- the committee has chosen my application and probably about fifteen others out of the pool of all the applications to look at more closely.  It's good news, though I am trying not to get too excited.  Because, you know, fifteen others.

Still, it's a great job, in a good place, and I would love to have it.

(And yes, I have spent the last day and a half on the net, checking rents and parks and libraries and public transport and refreshing my research on the university itself -- obsessive?  Me?)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Here Comes The End of The Semester... a freight train.

I'm not opposed to this semester ending -- it's been a rough one, due partly to my hideous schedule, and partly to the fact that someone in this house has been sick (or injured or recovering or about to damage themselves) I think every single day of the semester.

We might have had a few healthy days.  Though I don't at the moment remember them.

Anyway!  The university is closed for the next three days (Thanksgiving), and then when we return, only one week of classes before the exams begin.  I have graded nearly everything (papers!  Papers to read!  Always papers!) and so can spend the TNX holiday writing and maybe cleaning the house a bit.  We're having 12 people for dinner on Thursday.

Dr. Skull will do the cooking, of course.  He's already begun, in fact: spent most of today and part of yesterday prepping and seething turkey parts, for the turkey broth which will be the foundation of both the turkey gravy and the butternut squash soup.  Also he started the sour for the bread.  And the turkey, which he will Green Egg, is thawing away.

Oh!  I will be cooking something: sweet potato casserole, my specialty.

With the little marshmallows on top, of course!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Lincoln: Movie Review

I spent this afternoon watching Lincoln at our local theater, and I'll just say wow.

Beautifully structured, beautifully acted, wonderful sets -- but its strongest point lies in what it accomplished.  I saw Tony Kushner, who wrote the screenplay (he's most famous for Angels in America, but he also wrote Munich) on the Colbert Report show a few days, and one question Colbert asked was how he managed to make the passing of a bit of legislation exciting.

Well, he did.  I was enthralled, and I wasn't the only one.  The theater was filled (a Fort Smith theater!) with with silence (except for frequent laughter, because despite the tension, the movie has some very funny bits).

What makes it work, I think, is that Kushner (basing his work on Doris Kearns Goodwin's biography) shows just how smart, and just how crafty, Lincoln actually was.  Talk about your eleventh-dimensional thinker: Lincoln was it.

And self-taught -- the film gets that too, showing without banging on about it Lincoln's working-class background.  His grammar is frequently flawed, and he kneels down (crawls around, in fact) to build his own fires in the White House, dresses (and shaves) not like a gentleman but like a working man.

There was applause at two points in the movie in my theater (I won't say which two) and afterwards half the theater stayed in their seats, watching the credits through to the end.

The music was great too, I'll add.

Don't miss this one.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Love These Short Hours

...short hours of sleep, I mean.

Nearly two o'clock in the morning, Sunday night/Monday morning, depending on how we count these things, and I am just finishing my weekend's work -- prep, writing, grading, and (of course) laundry, cooking, shopping, cleaning.  (I can't get any of that done during the week, since I'm working from dawn until about midnight most days, so everything gets shoved to the weekend.)

It was a great and greatly satisfying weekend, in that I actually did get everything done -- writing, shopping, editing tasks for Menial -- grading and entering those grades, prepping for the week: I am, in fact, for once, caught up entirely.
Plus!  I made excellent pea soup and popovers for dinner tonight, a lovely meal on a suddenly frosty evening

Also!  I have found a new TV series to follow on Hulu: The Thick of It, a "dark comedy," to quote the website, dealing with the foibles of several characters in the British government.  It's very sweary and tons of fun.  I have to keep myself on a strict ration of 2 per day, or I would get nothing else done.

And! I walked the dog and the kid, so that's exercise for today.

If only I didn't have to get up at six tomorrow (I have to be on campus early for our annual health-screeny thing) I might be feeling very pleased with myself now.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

This Might Be A Sign, Y'all

Here's how I know the Leftist students have been gravitating to my classes: all day long I have basically been unable to teach, since all my students have wanted to talk about nothing except how cool it is that Obama got elected again, and what they were doing when they found out he got elected again, and how this is the first election they ever really cared about, and isn't it cool that the right guy won?

This is excluding one of my first year comp classes, which is packed with conservative 16-18 year olds, who sulked through the entire 33 minutes I kept them today.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Too Good Not To Share

This is by Anderson,  in a comment stream over at Lawyers, Guns, and Money:

Thirteen Ways of Looking at an Electoral College Map

Among twelve swinging states,
The only moving thing
Was the Electoral College map.

I was of three minds,
Like an Electoral College map
In which there are three pollsters.

The Electoral College map whirled in the autumn polls.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and an Electoral College map
Are one.

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of polling averages
Or the beauty of margins of error,
The Electoral College map on Election Day
Or just after.

Polling averages filled the computer monitor
With particolored glass.
The shadow of the Electoral College map
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the monitor
An indecipherable result.

O thin men of Gallup,
Why do you imagine national averages?
Do you not see how the Electoral College map
Trips up the feet
Of your likely voters?

I know noble models
And lucid, inescapable algorithms;
But I know, too,
That the Electoral College map is involved
In what I know.

When the Electoral College map turned all to tossups,
It marked the edge
Of one of many scenarios.

At the sight of an Electoral College map
Glowing in a purple light,
Even the bawds of punditry
Would cry out sharply.

He rode over Ohio
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of the 47%
For Electoral College maps.

The polls are moving.
The Electoral College map must be shifting.

It was four days till the election.
It was polling
And it was going to poll.
The Electoral College map refreshed
On the smartphone.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Teaching Kids To Write Fiction

I just started teaching young adult creative writing workshop (ages 12-17, though in fact the age range right now is 12-14) via our public library.

I was compelled to take up this task for a couple of reasons -- one, no real resources exist for young writers in our little Arkansas city (about 80,000 people here, the second largest city in Arkansas, but also, sadly, one of the most conservative); second, my kid desperately desired such a workshop, and her sadness and pleading finally got to me; third,the woman who had been teaching writing workshops for adults was retiring, and Dr. Skull was going to take over her work, so why not start one for the kids at the same time? and finally, when I myself was 12 and 13, 14 and 15, I would have killed for a community of writers -- the sad ghost of my writer self, in other words, hung haunting about, gazing at me accusingly.  Could I leave those kids like me out there, abandoned, lonely, untaught?

So I volunteered.  And I am so pleased I did.  I was a bit trepidatious, I'll admit -- I've never taught kids, much less adolescents (I'm not counting the 17-20 year olds I am quite used to facing, as professor who regularly handles First-year Comp: those students are technically kids; but long ago I stopped thinking of them as such).  What if I couldn't do it?  What if there was some...trick, and I didn't know it?

Well, maybe there is.  But no issue.  They might be kids, but they are also writers, and writers trumps kids, clearly.

Plus! Real writers!  All of them!

I cannot tell you how happy this makes me.  As a veteran instructor of several writing workshops now -- many of which have been stocked with, um, how to put this, an unhappy ratio of real writers/faux writers -- it is a sweet pleasure to have a workshop filled solid with real writers, even if they are all under sixteen.  (Two of them are 12, three of them are 14. The youngest 12 is a very young 12, and just as cute as a puppy, sliding down in his seat to sit with his eyes barely visible with the edge of the table, or kneeling in his chair to sprawl halfway across the table while he writes giant letters across his paper -- but he's a writer too.  His stories make me laugh out loud while I'm typing them into the worksheet.)

And!  Not only can they write, they can read.  This was the part I was most worried about -- would they be able to critique one another's work? An essential part of workshop is reading the work on the worksheet and commenting on it, saying what works and what doesn't, helping the writer see how to fix problems, helping each other see the best parts of the writing: developing the critical eye, IOW.  I'm used to having to give a lot of direction to my young writers at first.  But man.  I barely had to say anything to this lot -- well!  I barely could say anything.  They took off and ran.

I'm giving them assignments, and handouts, mini-lectures, and leading short discussions; but it's that part, the workshops, them talking to one another about the stories, about what a story is, what good writing is, that's the best part.  That's the part I'm really liking -- and the part they are too, I think.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Menial: Skilled Labor In Science Fiction

(X-Posted from FanSci)
Here's what I've been working on lately!

Media Advisory for Tuesday, Oct. 28        

Contact: Crossed Genres Publications • Bart Leib 617-335-2101 •

Crossed Genres Publications to release MENIAL: Skilled Labor in Science Fiction

New anthology presents seventeen short stories of workers in necessary but under-valued professions and the impact they have on their environments

On Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, at Arisia (New England's largest and most diverse science fiction and fantasy convention), Crossed Genres Publications of Somerville, Mass., will release Menial, an anthology of seventeen stories of skilled labor in science fiction.

From the literal guts of a spaceship, to the energy-starved lands of a future Earth, to the inhospitable surfaces of other planets, Menial explores the stories of people who understand and maintain the building blocks of civilization. They work hard, live hard, and love hard. They're not afraid to build the future they want to live in, even knowing the often high human cost of hard labor.

Menial continues Crossed Genres’ commitment to bringing underrepresented voices into fiction, with a mix of new and established writers.

Table of Contents:
"Diamond in the Rough" - AJ Fitzwater
"Thirty-Four Dollars" - M. Bennardo
"A Tale of a Fast Horse" - Sean Jones
"The Didibug Pin" - Barbara Krasnoff
"Sarah 87" - Camille Alexa
"Carnivores" - A.D. Spencer
"Urban Renewal" - Andrew C. Releford
"Storage" - Matthew Cherry
"Snowball the Rabbit Was Dead" - Angeli Primlani
"Leviathan" - Jasmine M. Templet
"All in a Day's Work" - Margaret M. Gilman
"The Belt" - Kevin Bennett
"Far, Far From Land" - Jude-Marie Green
" Big Steel In The Sky" - Clifford Royal Johns
"Air Supply" - Sophie Constable
"The Heart of the Union" - Dany G. Zuwen
"Ember" - Sabrina Vourvoulias
Cover art by Jael Bendt.

CG’s list of publications includes Sabrina Vourvoulias' Ink; Daniel José Older’s Salsa Nocturna; Kelly Jennings’ Broken Slate; RJ Astruc’s A Festival of Skeletons; as well as the anthologies SubversionFat Girl in a Strange Land, and the forthcoming Winterwell.

For more information about Menial, or any of Crossed Genres’ titles, contact Bart Leib at 617- 335- 2101 or by sending an email to

MENIAL: Skilled Labor in Science Fiction
Edited by Kelly Jennings and Shay Darrach
Crossed Genres Publications, Somerville, Mass.; Jan 21, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-0615705613 / ISBN-10: 0615705618

The Election

It's wearing me out.

Partly this is living in a Red State, where most of my students, even ones who are very smart, are very far to the Right.  They come into class wearing anti-Obama shirts; they have Romney bumper stickers on their cars.  They belong to the Young Republicans club on campus.  (There is no Young Democrats club on campus.)  They belong to the evangelical churches.  They are convinced Obama and all liberals are socialists, and socialism is the path to hell. (Capitalism, conversely, is the path to heaven, apparently, though what verse in their testament says this I cannot fathom.)

This is not to say we have no students who are Leftists.  We do, and many of them gravitate to my office, and my classes.  But wow, are they in the minority here.

And also?  The students who tell me, with a self-satisfied smirk, that they aren't going to bother to vote, because it "doesn't matter."

Frankly, those are the students that annoy me most.

Anyway, I have had more migraines this month than in the past 12 combined, and at this point I will just be glad when it is over.

In Nate Silver I trust.

But then I'm reality-based that way.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Rules For Arguing On the Internet

(1) Don't.  Yes, I know -- someone is wrong on the internet, and you must set them straight.  But really, the capacity for people to change their minds based on evidence or logic is greatly overrated, and don't you have a better use for your time?

(2) If you must -- because they're WRONG -- then try to argue in a civil manner.  I try to imagine that the person I am arguing with is a student, or a friend.  (Try = usually fail.  But it's a goal!)

(3) Back up your arguments with citations and with cited facts.  Put in links.

(4) Listen to what your opponent is saying, not what you think he is saying.  (Yeah, it's almost always a he.  Go figure.)

(5) When you're wrong, admit it.

(6) Don't argue about irrelevant things.  If it's a minor point, let it go.  People can be wrong about the main character in a book, or who wrote what movie.  Eh.

(7) Don't argue about religion.  Don't use religious point when you're arguing.  If these folks are part of your religion, they probably already agree with you on whatever point you're making; if they're not, why would they care what your religion says?

(8) Beware trolls.  Do not feed them!

Any other rules?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Poetry Wednesday

Bible Study: 71 B.C.E.

by Sharon Olds

After Marcus Licinius Crassus
defeated the army of Spartacus,
he crucified 6,000 men.
That is what the records say,
as if he drove in the 18,000
nails himself. I wonder how
he felt, that day, if he went outside
among them, if he walked that human
woods. I think he stayed in his tent
and drank, and maybe copulated,
hearing the singing being done for him,
the woodwind-tuning he was doing at one
remove, to the six-thousandth power.
And maybe he looked out, sometimes,
to see the rows of instruments,
his orchard, the earth bristling with it
as if a patch in his brain had itched
and this was his way of scratching it
directly. Maybe it gave him pleasure,
and a sense of balance, as if he had suffered,
and now had found redress for it,
and voice for it. I speak as a monster,
someone who today has thought at length
about Crassus, his ecstasy of feeling
nothing while so much is being
felt, his hot lightness of spirit
in being free to walk around
while other are nailed above the earth.
It may have been the happiest day
of his life. If he had suddenly cut
his hand on a wineglass, I doubt he would
have woken up to what he was doing.
It is frightening to think of him suddenly
seeing what he was, to think of him running
outside, to try to take them down,
one man to save 6,000.
If he could have lowered one,
and seen the eyes when the level of pain
dropped like a sudden soaring into pleasure,
wouldn’t that have opened in him
the wild terror of understanding
the other? But then he would have had
to go. Probably it almost never
happens, that a Marcus Crassus
wakes. I think he dozed, and was roused
to his living dream, lifted the flap
and stood and looked out, at the rustling, creaking
living field—his, like an external
organ, a heart.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Oct 22 Debate





Saturday, October 20, 2012

Home Again, Home Again

We're back from the Arkansas Philological Association conferences, which was held in Hot Springs this year.  A nice city to hold a conference in, I must say.

It was held at the Arlington Hotel, which my kid (who goes with us to these things now that she is old enough to find the presentations interesting) said reminded her of the hotel in The Shining.  It was very like that hotel!   Built in 1924, it has the same long corridors, louvered doors on the rooms, and hot spring pools up on its 7th floor, as well as an attached walking trail that goes up into the national forest behind it.  The lobby was huge, marble, and very impressive.

The conference itself went well -- I read a story, and Dr. Skull his poetry, and we attended several interesting presentations -- but we had more fun, I think, roaming Central Avenue, the street the Arlington is on.  Lots of tourist shops, mainly; art galleries and rock shops.  You know I love rocks.  I got a lovely bit of tourmaline and a fossil ammonite.

But now I am exhausted, and I must teach on Monday.  I am thinking of showing Hedwig and the Angry Inch to my Queer Lit class -- has anyone seen that?  Is it too appalling to show undergrads?  I have a copy, loaned to me by a student, but I haven't yet screened it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

News Flash: Mitt Lies Again

So if you watched the debate last night, you know there were several bits from Mitt that were jaw-dropping, yell at the TV outrageous -- like when he promised us that no middle-income person would pay taxes on their interest or capital gains.

Uh, yeah, Mitt.  That's a real problem among us making less than $50,000/year.  All that interest we have to pay on our capital gains.

But the "binders full of women" bit, ai.

Though I suppose it's no shock that someone who thinks the way to handle workplace and pay discrimination against women is to let them go home at quitting time so they can cook for their families would also be a ripe idiot about the problem of women getting paid fairly is noblesse oblige -- yeah, let the rich white guy decide on his own, out of the goodness of his heart, that women (and which women) deserve to be hired.

But worse?  His whole binder story is another Romney lie.

He didn't decide he needed to hire more women.  He didn't ask "women's groups" to find qualified women because none had applied for the positions in his cabinet.  And -- importantly -- although after he was pressured by the women's groups (who came to him and pointed out the dearth of women in his cabinet), although he did hire a few women (not as many as he claimed to have, last night), he put all those women in positions where they could do almost nothing in his government.

This is what you get with the GOP.  Soap suds and window dressing and lies, in the place of true justice, or true equality.


Saturday, October 06, 2012

Friday, October 05, 2012

Obit for Spike

Here's Dr. Skull's obituary for Spike, published on his FB.


ITAR-TASS – 5 October 2012 The Politboro of the People’s Democratic Republic of Burgh today announced with great sorrow the death of Spike, a hero of the PDRB, a winner of the Order of Burgh, and a New Socialist Dog.

Spike was born under the remorseless heel of capitalism, abandoned to the depredations of the streets, where he was recruited for the Party. After a period of education, Spike joined the Young Soviet Dogs where he distinguished himself in the Great Patriotic Struggle against the Fascist Cable Installers whose invasions plagues the PDRB in the early days.

A remorseless foe of the paper tigers of the US Postal System, Spike also fought the toadies of UPS and their lickspittles Fed-EX with such a vigor and adherence to socialist ideals that he was awarded the Order of Burgh on May Day, the highest honor for a New Socialist Dog.

Spike lived a long and fruitful life, finally succumbing to old age. Even at the last, Spike bared his fangs at those who sought deliver Capitalist mail. His motto: Bark, Bark, Bark will be engraved on his tomb in Burgh Square.

Those wishing to honor Spike’s memory should report to their local party headquarters where recruiting for the Spike Shock Workers Brigades are forming to implement a five-year plan to increase wheat and steel production in the central provinces.

Strange Horizon Needs You!

Strange Horizons, one of the best online SF/F magazines, is now having its yearly fund drive.

It's a great cause -- throw them some money if you can!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

What Abhorrent Nonsense Is This? Or, Gods and Generals: a Movie review

So last night, Dr. Skull took the kid out to buy new markers for her; they stopped at Best Buy after, and of course Dr. Skull hit the remaindered movie bin.

He brought home two movies, Gettysburg and Gods and Generals. Both in Blu-Ray.  He loves Blu-Ray.

And he talked me into watching the latter with him, which I did mostly because we're all in some serious need of cuddling.

And I tried to be polite, because I know Dr. Skull loves these Civil War movies.

But wow.

First, there are a few things to like about the film.  It does a nice job of explaining both battle strategy and how mistakes by Generals (and others) can lead to disaster in the field.  And the battle scenes themselves, though they have real problems, also go a long way toward showing how strategy and error worked in winning or losing this war.

And the scenery is often beautiful.

Other than this, the film wavers between dull, infuriating, and ridiculous.

I'll leave aside the dialogue, which falls into the category of ridiculous, because I think it's just a misstep on the part of the director (and maybe those who wrote the script).  Basically, we have characters standing around making lengthy speeches to one another -- I think the director was going for Shakespearean, but in the effect it's just bizarre.  (A) No one in real life makes long, heart-felt speeches, rife with rhetoric, to his friends or his fellow generals, and much less to his wife; and (B) if anyone did try that sort of thing, his friends, wife and (probably) fellow generals would interrupt him and mock him and argue with him every two sentences, not stand about watching him talk with expressions of intense awe.  And I'm not even getting into the writer's attempt at black dialect.

But that brings us to the biggest problem: this movie falls right in line with the Revisionist view of history still being taught (and believed) all over America.  It tells us, over and over, that the South did not start the Civil War; that the South did not even fight the Civil War over slavery -- that slaves had nothing to do with it; and that in fact slaves were loyal to their Southern masters, and as eager to fight off the Union "invaders" as their owners were.

Thus, every black character we see is a happy slave, or in one case a happy ex-slave, extolling the virtues of his or her owner; every slave-holder we see loves his or her slaves deeply, treating them like members of the family.

(Re the ex-slave: this is a trope I am seriously sick to death of.  Every time we see a Confederate in film or television, that Confederate, we are told, freed his slaves, because he recognized the immorality of slavery.  See for example the current show on AMC, Hell On Wheels, which has as its hero and main character a Confederate soldier who -- you guess it -- freed all his slaves well before the war.  He didn't fight for slavery, see?  He fought to Defend his Country!)

Even when the slaves speak up against slavery, as they do exactly twice in the movie, those speeches are undercut by the white (Southern) characters earnestly assuring the slaves that they too hate slavery, and want it to end.  The war isn't about slavery at all, see? It's about those Yankees invading our country, and our right to defend ourselves against their tyranny.

And this is crap.  When I hear people arguing that the South fought the war over States' Rights, I always point out that this is true -- the states' right to continue holding slaves.  The Southern Generals in Gods and Generals were in fact -- all of them -- adherents of white supremacy.  They may have believed in treating their slaves well, but they also believed firmly that the white race was superior to the black race, and that blacks were natural slaves.

(And yes, it is true that many fighting on the Union side also adhered to this notion of white superiority.  But none of them aligned themselves with a treasonous movement designed specifically to keep black people under the bonds of slavery.)

(And what about the Southern soldiers?  Frequently people bring that up.  Most of the Southern soldiers did not own slaves, and never would.  So why would they fight to preserve slavery?  This question, which is often presented as a triumphant refutation of the South starting the war over slavery, ignores the real facts on the ground.  (1) Even a soldier without slaves nonetheless benefited from the preservation of slavery, or thought he did, since in the caste system of the South, the poorest white guy was automatically superior to the best black man; and (2) Soldiers today are fighting to preserve the rights of our 1% to exploit them and to get fat off of the American system: these soldiers who will never be among the 1% themselves.  Why do they do it?)

The film also ignores -- erases, essentially -- everything done by the free blacks and those still held in slavery to fight against the Southern side.  Indeed, the only blacks we see are those who joyously support the Southern side.  The existence of black proponents of the Southern side is, of course, unlikely and not supported by actual historical records: is, IOW, a myth much beloved of historical revisionists favoring the Southern side of the war.

The black soldiers and the ex-slaves who participated in the war -- and there were many of them -- are, in fact, all fighting for the Union.  Among these were Fredrick Douglass's sons, and Harriet Tubman, who might be my favorite Civil War warrior of all time.

This movie ignores all of that -- no black soldiers appear, no mention is made of figured like Douglass and Tubman, who were highly instrumental in the direction the war ultimately took, no slaves or free blacks are shown upholding the Union cause.  No.  Just as the Civil War has nothing to do with slavery, according to this film, slaves and other blacks do not affect the war or participate in the war in any meaningful way.  Not only are white men at the center of this film, white men are (really) the only characters in it.

(A few white women characters exist, but their role is only to give the white men someone to talk at, or -- as with the little five year old Stonewall Jackson takes a liking to -- to die and give the white men a way to exercise their emotion. The erasing of important women, btw, is nearly as immense as the erasing of blacks. )

In the end, this film is not just historically repellent, it is dangerously so.  As has become clear over the years, many Americans get their understanding of history not from the study of history or the reading of history books, but from historical novels and films.

This film reinforces a mythic view of history which too many (white) Americans are already happy to believe.  Having watched the horrible movie, they can now happily believe that the version of history that presents Southern rebels as saints and good Christian men, only out to defend their country and their independence.  Given a chance to believe it, as I can attest, most of them will believe this lie.

Luckily (I guess) not many people actually will watch this crap film, and far fewer will be able to finish watching it once they start.  It's just that bad.

Friday, September 28, 2012


We finally had to give in and have our little dog Spike put to sleep today.

It had been coming for months -- he was sixteen years old, and couldn't see well, or hear; about six months ago, he started losing the ability to control his back legs (he was part dachshund and part Schnauzer, the toy versions of each).  For the past few months, he hadn't been able to keep down most of what he ate.  And he was totally incontinent, which I guess went with the loss of function in his back legs.

But he was still our Spike.  He still barked for biscuits and followed Dr. Skull around, sleeping practically on his feet whenever he sat down.  Even though he couldn't really see, when he looked at us with his one eye (he lost the other in a fight five or six years ago) we could tell he knew it was us.

These last weeks, he didn't seem to know where he was, or to recognize us, much of the time.  He was down to ten pounds (from his fighting weight of 16 pounds) and wasn't following Dr. Skull around anymore.  And he was in pain.

So we did it.  And our vet was great.  And he went easily.

Even so, it was hard.

"He was a good dog," Dr. Skull told me.  "He had a good life."

This is true.  From the day we got him, picking him out at the shelter in Pocatello, Idaho, where they had him stored among the cats because he was so little, he was always a tough little guy.  He ran away a lot when he was younger, making me crazy with anxiety; once when we lived in Charlotte he was gone nearly three days, and I thought we had lost him for sure then, but he finally came staggering home, found Dr. Skull on the front porch waiting for him, and collapsed at his feet.  He slept most of the next two days.  "I don't know where he went," I said, "but it must have been quite a dog party."

And he loved the kid, especially when she was a baby.  Every time she would fuss even a little, he would come and find me and stand looking accusingly at me.  "Can't you hear that?" he seemed to be saying.  "Don't you hear her crying?  The baby needs you!"

We got Big Dog when he was four or five, because a dog book I was reading said that sometimes thug dogs would calm down if you got them a friend.  Dogs need packs, it explained.  So we brought home Biggie, a blue-heeler/fox hound mix, and the book was right.  Spike calmed down considerably, although then we had Big Dog on our hands, a wild if very friendly lout of a dog.  He and Spike have been boon companions since, though they did have a bad habit of fighting over scraps, especially Beanie Weenies.

And Big Dog seems to be missing him.  He's wandering around the house a lot, sniffing at Spike's blanket in the corner, and keeps asking to go outside, as if maybe he thinks Spike is lost out there.  I pet him and give him extra biscuits and tell him (as I keep telling the kid) that things will look better tomorrow.

Sleep well, Spike.  We'll miss you.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Life of A Writer

Spent all day yesterday working on my short story about shape-shifting aliens who like pie, and then today (as well as part of yesterday) finishing up the proof-reading of Menial, the anthology I've been working co-editing for Crossed Genres for the past forever.

Okay, past several months.  Editing an anthology turns out to be surprisingly labor-intensive, though, so it did feel like forever.  And we're not done yet!

It's a beautiful anthology, btw.  Great cover, and just excellent stories.  And deal with a subject dear to my heart: it's all stories about workers.

Due out in January or February 2013 -- I know you can't wait.  I'd link the cover here if I knew how to do that.  Sadly I am inept at embedding photos.

Anyway, now it is nearly 8:00 p.m. and I must begin prepping for the week's classes.

And this is (pretty much) how my weekends always go.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Arkansas Forever!

Driving home from the Harps today, the kid says to me, in a give-it-to-me straight voice, "So...we're going to be stuck in Arkansas forever, right?"

"Darling," I said, "I am applying for jobs as fast as I can."

"It's not that there's anything wrong with Arkansas," she said, looking out of the window as we drove down what was, admittedly, probably the worst street in all of Fort Smith (Zero Ave -- well, okay, Midland or Towson might be worse -- but Zero is pretty horrible).  "It's just..."

"I know, I know."

"It's just I'm happier when I'm anywhere else."

"I know."

But!  Today!  On the Chronicle!  A job appeared that I can actually get.  One I'm qualified for, I mean, that's my perfect job!  In Billings, MT.

I cannot tell you how much I have always wanted to live in Montana.  Oh, boy, oh, boy!

I am applying forthwith.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Women's Lit -- Suggestions?

So I'm teaching a Women's Lit class next semester. I've got some ideas for texts to teach, but I'm looking for suggestions -- y'all tell me: if you were teaching a class called Women's Lit and you could teach any books (fiction, non-fic, plays, poetry, whatever!) what would you put on the reading list?

In actual fact, I am probably going to be limited to about eight books. And the list I have already compiled is already too long.

Still! Give me suggestions!

I am especially interested in books outside the box, btw. I have already thought of the obvious -- Room of One's Own and Herland and all that. Give me some rockin titles!

Update: Here's the list I have already -- but it's very tentative! As in I want a lot of suggestions, because I'm not at all happy with this list!

Women’s Literature Possible Reading List

Woolf, Virginia. A Room of One’s Own

Christina Rosetti, “Goblin Market.”

Shulasmith Firestone, The Dialectic of Sex

Larsen, Nella. Passing

Jacobs, Harriet. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Davis, Rebecca Harding. Life in the Iron Mills

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. Herland

Butler, Octavia. Bloodchild.

Kingston, Maxine. The Woman Warrior.

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaiden’s Tale

Bujold, Ethan of Athos

Joanna Russ, The Female Man

LeGuin short stories

Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

Thursday, September 06, 2012

TOC for The Other Half of the Sky

Here's a very cool TOC for the anthology The Other Half of the Sky.

Not just the table of contents, but the first lines for each story, and something I have never seen before, a little mini-book of the same, very nifty.

Go see.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

This is like the plague

I don't know what this disease is, but it's horrible. I've been in bed since Saturday -- today is the first day I could even really get up, and I still feel awful. I'm teaching my morning classes at the U. and then going home again.

Probably it was a mistake to come in at all.

High fever and bone aches, vomiting, headache, sneezing -- I guess it's a flu?

I don't recommend it.

Monday, September 03, 2012

More News of The Other Half of the Sky

(X-Posted at FanSci)

I've been sick as a dog with some sort of virus (I hope it's a virus and not Ebola) all weekend. (My kid informs me that Ebola is a virus.)

So I bring you, rather than an extensive post, a link to two interviews with Athena Andreadis, one of which -- this one, on World SF -- talks extensively about the new anthology she has put together, The Other Half of the Sky, and the other, at SF Signal, where Athena talks about SF more generally.

You might remember The Other Half of the Sky because I was so pleased to have my story in the anthology; in any case, it's an impressive project.

Here's is Athena Andreadis' list of what she wanted in the stories for the anthology This is taken from the World SF interview):

– Space opera(ish) and/or mythic, but it has to be SF — not fantasy;

– female protagonist(s), who do not (nor are made to) feel guilty about career versus family;

– content and style geared to adult readers, not YA “finding one’s self/place”;

– no “big ideas” Leaden Age SF or near-future earthbound cyber/steampunk.

The TOC will be out in a few days; I'm already itching with anticipation.

Friday, August 31, 2012

But Someone On The Internet Was Wrong...

So like an idiot I got involved in an internet argument on some guy's blog over the Akin issue.

I'd link you, but fuck this guy and his internet jerk readers.

The gist of the argument they put up was that (a) Akin was right, not that many women did get pregnant through rape and (b) even if he was wrong, so what, a baby is still a baby, amirite? and (c) women should just stop whining, it's not like being pregnant is a big deal, as compared to, you know DYING, which is what happens to the baby when the woman kills it just to save herself the trouble of having to give birth to a rape-baby, the selfish slut.

I knew better, but I entered a couple of comments -- one saying Akin was wrong; one saying that the real issue wasn't over abortion/not abortion in this case anyway, but over his suggestion that there could be something called "illegitimate" rape; and finally that, listen, seriously, pregnancy is a big deal.

I mentioned that -- quite beyond the complications attendant to pregnancy, such as nerve damage, debilitating heartburn, sleeplessness, exhaustion, loss of income, some of which problems may end with the delivery of the child (or not -- I still have the debilitating heartburn and the sciatica) -- that carrying a child to term was risky (quite a bit more risky than having a legal abortion*).

I added that I happened to know how dangerous childbirth could be from personal experience, since I had nearly died myself, giving birth to my daughter.**

The response, from these Pro-Life gentlemen?


"Oh, I am so glad to discover just how dangerous it is to have babies. I guess my wife and myself just got lucky, when we had our four!"

"Heartburn and swollen feet? Wow, that does sound horrible! Better get an abortion quick!"

One day I will learn that Pro-Life actually means Keep The Bitches In Their Place.

One day.

*I added this part in because an earlier comment had gone on and on about how lethal abortions were --- about how the pro-choice people were the real misogynists, since they killed both women (via "botched" abortions) and "millions" of girl babies.

**I had severe pre-eclampsia, and hovered on the edge of eclampsia for three days. The Attending didn't want to induce labor, because I was only 38 weeks pregnant. He wanted to keep me at bed rest and "let nature take its course," which was lunatic, I don't need to tell you; but my wonderful PCP finally went over his and brought in the head of OBGYN, who was like WTF? Why are we messing with this?? and induced labor.

(38 weeks is close enough to full-term, and eclampsia can kill you.)

Not that I actually cared about any of this at the time: fun fact! When you're in labor, you're just sort of whacked on the pain and the job. I mean, I knew I was probably going to die. But so long as the baby wasn't -- I remember I kept asking that ("The baby's doing okay, right?") -- I just really couldn't seem to work up an interest in my survival.