Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Stick a Cannibal Fork in It!

Briars and Black Hellebore is done!

The Lady and the Unicorn: À mon seul désir (Musée national du Moyen Âge, Paris)

I've put the whole thing together from the unicorn poop to the Eater of Souls to the cannibals to the bee-stung lovers. (Sorry, no hermaphrodite giants in this one.) It's in the hands of a final round of beta readers so I can polish it up as shiny as possible before querying this winter.

I conceived this book when I was pregnant with my daughter, who is now in preschool. Through these early years of parenthood, I've done a lot of daydreaming, thinking, and reading musty old books while breast pumping or rocking a small person to sleep. And somehow in there, I managed to squeak in an hour here or there to get my imaginary kingdom of Vepres down on paper. Now the slow-cooked drama of blood, sweat, tears, and unicorn poop is having its final taste-test.

That's not as gross as it sounds. Unicorn poop is really tasty, haven't you heard?

Now for an important message. (I am in no way affiliated with the brilliant marketers of this product.)

Monday, November 2, 2015

Harry Potter Time

Raise your hand if you never get tired of reading your kid the same picture book for the billionth time. Yeah, I didn't think so.

I have no more patience for that nonsense than any other mom, so I'm very grateful to have a child who loves "scary" things, like favorite movie Spirited Away (since age three) and creepy tales told in the dark with a flashlight. This preference has broadened our bedtime story repertoire immensely.

The summer that Nux Gallica was three and a half, I decided to try reading her the first chapter of Harry Potter. Evil wizard serial killer? Child abuse? Giant on a flying motorcycle with candy in his pocket? Yes, I questioned this decision to myself. But whatever, it's literature. Best she encounters dark concepts in the safe realm of fantasy storytime with Mommy before she hears about them in the RL, right? I read something about how when children read about traumatic fictional events and characters overcoming them, it generates connections in their brains that build resilience for when a real-life hardship occurs. OK, sold.

I chose the date of Harry's "actual" birthday to give it a try, just to add some magic to the experience. And Nux loved it--even though I was reading from my good old-fashioned copy without all those fancy new edition color illustrations!

From then on, we have been reading Harry's saga in "Harry Potter time"--that is, according to the dates of the events in the books. Right now we're on the second book, still reeling from the terrible events following Sir Nicholas de Mimsy Porpington's deathday party. 

The Harry Potter series is especially amenable to this practice because J.K. Rowling took such care to orient the reader precisely in time as the stories move along. When an exact date isn't given, I make a guess, calculating the Thursday after three more weeks have passed or whatever is indicated, and I pencil in the next reading night's date in the margin.

Reading the stories in Harry Potter time lends magic to the stories because it makes each reading a special occasion, ties the seasons and holidays in the story to what's happening in our real lives in the moment, and creates an enormous amount of suspense when we have to wait days, weeks, or even more than a month to find out what happens next. I find my preschooler begging me to read her another selection from an almost picture-less chapter book--"Just one page, please!"--and I look forward with glee to the day she learns to read well enough to "sneak" previews by herself. (What a great way to be naughty, eh?)

In the meantime, I allow her to choose passages or chapters we've already read to repeat as bedtime stories until we are "allowed" to read the next part. And of course, we fill in with various picture books that bore me to tears. (If I have to read Green Eggs and Ham one more friggin' time...)

All this is giving Nux motivation to learn how to read on her own and a thirst for more complex narratives. And it's fun for me to revisit a book series that I loved as a teenager and young adult.

Have you ever read a novel in its own story time, whether to a child or just on your own? How did you like it? How did it feel different from gulping the book down in one sitting (like I used to love doing before I was a mom)? Share in the comments if you think this practice gives a book special magic!

Friday, October 23, 2015

The General Admission of the Ladies' Pleasure

My spirit animal and fairy godsister Esperanzita just wrote about her first time... on the General Admission floor of a Ghost concert. She went expecting to have a hot, naughty time rocking out to her favorite guilty pleasure and had it ruined by a horny bro-dude who showed up with his handsy hands and no game plan.

Bro-dudes, listen. There is a right way and a wrong way to get frisky with a stranger at a concert. I am not opposed to it in general. Back in the early days of this millennium, Esperanza took me to a super hot Jaguares concert in Mexico. As I basked in the sultry voice of Saul Hernandez with his luxurious mane and tight ass bellbottom jeans, I was approached by a muscular and handsome rockero who exhibited his own poetic Romance language skills, rhythmic talents, and courtship maneuvers that still make me sweat to recall. Whoo! Needless to say, my concert experience was greatly enhanced by this interaction, and we both enjoyed ourselves.

Sadly, most interactions we ladies have in the General Admission pool at concerts with strange men range from annoying to disturbing. If you're, like, one of those dudes who gets off by groping random women on the bus and running away with your pit stains, this post is not for you. But if you're actually trying to "meet someone" to "have a good time," this can be done with a little bit of thought and effort.

This stuff isn't rocket science. Based on my lengthy, albeit difficult conversation with my rockero (as my Spanish is not the best and he seemed to know exactly zero English words), I'm pretty sure he did not have more than an elementary school education. What he did have--obviously--was a lot of experience offering women pleasurable experiences.

Not going right in for a grope in exchange for a common courtesy. That's treating a woman like a prostitute who works for polite gestures. Eeewww. "But I was nice to her!" No.

I won't go into the juicy details of my positive experience today, because you can't just copy something that master class, but I will offer a few simple, handy tips.

  1. If you are going to an elaborate, theatrical show like Ghost or Rammstein, don't even think about it. NO WOMAN EVER paid upwards of $75, traveled from the ends of the earth, and stood for hours in those shoes so that she could split her attention between the glorious performances of Papa Emeritus / Till Lindemann and you.
  2. Ask yourself what you have to offer a woman in the sexy department. Don't ever think that you can exchange your "niceness" for sexual favors. Let me repeat: Eeewwww. 
  3. Now that you have come up with some attractive physical qualities, skills, or other offerings you think some lady out there might enjoy, ask yourself if a lady ever has actually enjoyed these qualities of yours. Haven't tried them out yet? Ask your trusted female friends if these offerings tend to be of interest to women... especially in the context where you plan to hit on strangers. Do you not have female friends you can ask about these matters? Stop. Reevaluate your life. Get to know some women as human beings. At least watch The Mindy Project or something. Go back to step one or just, you know, get on Tinder and leave women alone at concert venues.

Dude-bros, listen. The world is soaked in imagery and media designed to get you off. Women are complex and difficult to excite, and popular culture in general does not pander to our needs in that department. Bands like Ghost and Rammstein set some of us ladies right on fire, and a live show may be the highlight of the decade for us. Your unsolicited manhandling of us in the crowd, to put it "nicely," harshes the flow. Let us have this, k? Thanks!