Saturday, December 30, 2017

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Sunday, December 24, 2017

machen wir jetzt eine Pause

After all of the running around this month--shows and parties and events and good times--I finally had a couple of days to slow down, get out of town and hang out with some sweet little dogs. I detached from social media and writing and the news. I took naps. I went for chilly walks and runs with the pups.
This has been a shit year in many ways--SO MANY.
Will 2018 be better or worse?
Who can say.
In the last few days of 2017 I hope to keep writing (started a new story today), stay healthy (cover your mouths, people!) and enjoy life. And some whiskey.

Monday, December 18, 2017

bobrisky

Today's soundtrack:


I'm not familiar with Bobrisky but I love east African beats and this beat is sweet.
For context, read Okayafrica.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

writing begins with

I've been savoring this post from 2014, by Daniel Jose Older.
He was asked about the old chestnut that writers should write every day.










Read on.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

the swirl

Voicelessness and despair aside--snarky I know--it's been an insanely busy week.
Last Thursday I had the pleasure of ushering with a good friend on opening night for Homo for the Holidays. It's a deliriously demented and good-natured drag show featuring Ben DelaCreme and the DeLouRoue troupe of performers. This was my third year and probably the best so far. Cookie--call me. Mmmph.
The next night was a friend's holiday party, neighbors hanging out over Prosecco and treats. I made some new friends and may have a date to learn how to make bagels.
After that came a double-Xmas party-whammy. First a corporate affair down in Pioneer Square. A tad underwhelming but generous. Points deducted for someone's plus-one who wouldn't shut up about penis. (Seriously?) Then, thanks to Zipcar, a quick jaunt out to Bothell to a friend's annual bash. Catch-up time with old pals, a couple of Miller High Lifes, and out the door.
Sunday--you guessed it, more! Back to HftH, but this time with friends and a front row table. We sipped Tin Table cocktails and enjoyed the show.
Monday an after-work happy hour and some of the town's best nachos with a former employer and co-workers. My liver is begging for mercy at this point.
I have a couple days' break and then bunch of friends gathering for Dina Martina, a certain teen-ager's ballet recital, and then a Hannukah bash.
I feel lucky and tired but mostly lucky.
*
On a more somber note, a good pal is struggling in the most profound way. It's a matter of waiting and supporting. I'm scared.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

the shadow

There's a shadow constantly hovering at my shoulder.
For all my gallivanting into the social whirl, nevermind the positive social media platitudes and my incremental successes, despite all this, the shadow persists.
It's negative self-talk.
The voice--my parents' voice become mine--telling me I'm a failure, that I'm not good enough, won't be good enough, can't ever be. That my friendships are false and my achievements hollow and my personality devoid of anything remotely attractive.
On occasion it's a deep, aching weariness. Being tired of being tired. Wishing somehow to shut off the voice.
Most times I can keep the shadow behind me.
Some days it edges closer.
No one cares.
You don't matter.
I think--I hope--this too shall pass.
*
Reading William Styron's Vanity Fair account of his struggle with the shadow gives me hope.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

major MAJOR fail

I realized two days ago that my gmail signature link to BusySmartyPants was wrong.
As in, missing a key character.
As in, when ya clicked on the link, it went nowhere.
Fail.
A total fail.
A major, MAJOR fail.
I cannot even begin to guess how long the link has been wrong.
And I never double-checked it, apparently.
And no one said anything.
My visibility is nil.
Zero.
Nada.
Nothing.
I feel invisible.
Less than visible, if that's possible.
As though the slightest glimmer of possible visibility has been deducted throughout time.
Fuck. 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

more more new construction

The odyssey of memoir continues (see posts #1 and #2 here).
  • Last week, Lucky, by Alice Sebold, the true story of AS's rape and assault as a college student in the 1980's. I re-read it in a day, marveling at her fearlessness in recounting what happened, and continued to happen. The rare combination of immediacy and retrospection. I did wish she'd lingered more in the aftermath, where she battled addiction and some emotional disorders, but overall it's one of the best I've read.
  • I'm also about halfway through Martin Amis' Experience. This is my third or fourth re-read. MA is one of my absolute favorites (e.g. The Rachel Papers, The Information). I fold over the bottom edge of pages I wish to return to ("is it you, is it now?"), and already the book is accordioned with bent page-edges. He writes with depth and precision, he's funny, he's heartbreaking, he's honest. As a writer, I despair at just how truly talented he is and as a reader, well, I can't stop reading. 
  • I wish I had so much enthusiasm for another book I've also halfway read, Boy Erased. I'm struggling. The subject matter is so familiar--kid raised in a hyper-religious household, questions of sexuality and power and faith. And yet--it's dull. Nothing compels me forward. It lacks specificity. I feel the author holding back, even though he's revealing some quite personal information. I'll finish it, but it's a trudge.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Monday, November 27, 2017

we're in the time

We're in the time I like somewhat best.
Rain. Cool weather. Clouds. Mist. A chilly humidity (save for the Pineapple Express that swept through a few days ago).
All variations of precipitation, and the neighborhood air smells of sodden leaves and soaked, rotting bark, earthy and fecund.
You know the true PNW'ers. We turn our faces to the leaden sky, breathe deeply, and smile.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

olde school

Music galore this past week. Yesterday and today, the Freakout Festival. Fifty-odd local bands across a handful of venues. I'm already pooped but having all the fun.
Last Sunday I accompanied two teenage dancers to see the Hiphop Nutcracker performance at the venerable Pantages Theater in Tacoma.
Now, between niece performances and family outings, I've seen the Nutcracker at least a dozen times. I'm familiar. I'm more than familiar.
This was a rad re-interpretation.
Kurtis Blow himself kicked off the show, dapper in a white tux and rhinestone bow tie, MC'ing an old school dance party. Everyone was out of their chairs with they hands in the air.
Then, the grand old ballet. Music the same, sets simplified, dances translated into hiphop choreography.
Check out the clips--it's fresh and energetic and it all makes sense.
In particular, the parents' dance, the couple in the midst of a fight, was so expressive and mournful, it brought me to tears. Without words, with only music and movement, the dancers told a story of love and argument and the sadness of separation.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

getting to yes

Ever wondered what it takes to get a piece of fiction published?
I'm not talking New Yorker type of prose. That's a rarefied world and only the lucky few--some talented, some, well, I won't speak ill of the overqualified and undermotivated--but it's a world only the lucky few inhabit.
For the rest of us writers, there's the writing bit. Rough draft, edits, versions, more edits, more versions. Adding, polishing, removing, until you get to the point where you feel ready to share your baby with the world.
Then, you enter the world of submissions. You need to know which journals and magazines are accepting submissions. You need to know about word limits and genres, you need a brief bio and a thick skin because there's no getting to yes without a lot of no's.
Take, for example, my most recent story, "Fast Food and Box Wine," published by Sliver of Stone in October.
I finished what seemed like a solid draft in April 2016. At that point, it was 5700 words long and had a different title. Over the next sixteen months, I submitted the story to 32 different publications, taking a pause now and then, and revising all along the way. Some journals sent form e-mail rejections. Some responded via an online tool. Several  rejected it with comments, or an invitation to submit again.
I submitted it to Sliver of Stone in January 2017.
In September, they wrote to accept the story, now a slim 3500 words.
Publishing feels great! It's a yes, it's acceptance, it's validation, of a sort.
It's also a matter of persistence and timing and yes, writing.
Writing and writing and writing.
You can get to yes, if you're willing to get through a lot of no's first. 


Sunday, November 5, 2017

a most happy veg: an origin story


I've been a pretty happy vegetarian for the past seven or so years.
Hey! Calm yourselves! I'm not about to embark on a lecture.
But I do want to say something about why.
The original decision was made gradually, evolving concerns over health risks (after my Mom passed) and the inhumane treatment of innocent animals. Not to mention the environmental impacts of factory farms.
I started eating only humanely raised meat, and let me tell you, my meat consumption--amount and frequency--plummeted. That sh*t is expensive!
And I realized, I didn't really miss meat all that much.
And, I honestly haven't missed it much since.
What I have developed is a taste for vegetables.
Wow, are vegetables good. (Except for onions. Onions are Satan's stink bombs.) Vegetables are amazing, especially in season. I mean, really really so good.
For me, farmer's market or farmstand veg is the best--it smells fresh, of the earth, and needs only the gentlest of preparations to make it delicious. But a close second is veg from your local grocery store, the more local the better.
Summer in the 206 was a riot of greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and of course fruit: melons and berries and peaches. I like to think my body thanked me every day for the deliciousness and the nutrition.
This week, as fall deepens and chills, I am fortunate enough to scored some cauliflower--both purple and yellow--as well as rainbow carrots and Yukon Gold potatoes. I can't wait to toss it all in some olive oil and salt, and let the oven do the rest.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

this playlist is fire

Re-watching Season 1 of HBO's Insecure. Lurve me some Issa Rae and friends. The soundtrack is fire, ya'll. Click and enjoy or click here and enjoy even more.
You're welcome.
PS: a standout:

Friday, October 27, 2017

continuing new construction

Memoir Quest (TM) continues.
Thank zeus for the Seattle Public Library, because if I'd bought the last batch of memoirs with my own cash, I'd be mad about the stack of half-read tomes lying around the house.
Including:
I'll admit it, after Didion I took a break and read some Lee Child. Jack Reacher is a literary gem and always features some damn fine writing to boot.
Both the memoirs (unlike Reacher) had prologues, of a sort. Still, completely unnecessary. I skimmed and then skipped.
I only made it through about 3 chapters of Lipstick Jihad. The writing approach felt like a long look down memory lane, hastily translating the scenes even though I hadn't quite focused on what was happening. I wanted more immediacy. I wanted to feel the incongruity and fear and loveliness of being an Americanized Iranian in Iran. I'll probably just re-read Persepolis.
Going Solo is the second half of Roald Dahl's memoir. On a previous reading, I was intererested in the scenes in Tanzania and around East Africa. What I hadn't remembered was the embedded, casual racism towards most Africans. No surprise, but unpleasant reading. I forged ahead to the battle scenes, as cinematic and powerful as any cold-eyed war movie.
So much killing and fighting and dying and here we are again with Nazis in the streets. Deplorable!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

the philosophy of KL

This evening's writing soundtrack. Sick beats and a fresh video from one of my favorite philosophers, Kendrick Lamar's "Humble."

Saturday, October 21, 2017

ever so gently

A good friend came out to me this week. Not in a dramatic, Ellen "I'm Gay" fashion, more as a casual aside.
As though I already knew. I didn't, I guess.
We've talked over the years of course about dating and sex and partying, but never in a gender-specific way.
I feel trusted, in a way. Closer. After all this time we've forged yet another bond.
*
Also, the new barista at my favorite coffee joint was super chatty this morning. We've only interacted a couple of times and they seemed shy and cool and I sensed I'd need to be patient, even though my inner Momash loves chatting up interesting people.
Today though, we talked up a storm! About the beautiful gloomy misty weather, and the absurdity of the Ducks aka murder vans.
Happy productive and peaceful Saturday, y'all.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

the 785

I spent a couple of days in the 785 this past weekend. With my people.
Where I'm from, technically, but also technically have never really lived.
It feels good to smell the prairie after a thunderstorm.
Never mind that paralyzing terror of experiencing said thunderstorm at thirty thousand feet.
Not to mention the incredible skies after said storm. All shades of blushing sherbet.
*
It feels so good to see family, to hold an elder's hand, to hear voices as familiar to me as breath.
To cackle with laughter over a remembered story.
To walk the same cracked sidewalks, remembering the spring and scratch of buffalo grass underfoot.
*
I try to stay within the moments, not fearing the future, not dreading the coming absence. We have each other, and we have the place. That much we'll always have.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

d00dz tho

It's been a common refrain lo these past few months, post-Cosby, post-45 and now with the gross news about one of Hollywood's biggest bigwigs.
Everyday sexism.
Did I say gross? Gross. Ugh. 
My ladies know what I'm talking about.
I needed supplies this week for a project, and one item was unusual enough that I decided to call a few hardware stores. I've been doing DIY projects for a long time and despite what you see on TLC, it's still a dude-centric world. Case in point, the old-timer at the Ace Hardware in my old neighborhood who--when I asked where to find wax seals--tried to talk me out of my plumbing project. It's hard to imagine him doing that with a male customer.
So, this week's project. The guy who answered the phone at the first place I called, Stoneway Hardware, laughed when I asked about the product I was looking for. No, he chuckled, we don't have it. Would you know someone in town who might? Another giggle. Try Dunn Lumber.
I called Dunn Lumber. The guy who answered the phone said, No, we don't have it. Any idea who might? Stoneway Hardware maybe? I just called them. The guy laughed at me. Dunn Lumber guy, to his credit, put me on hold to ask around. Maybe Hardwick's? he hazarded.
Hardwick's phone was busy the 8 or 10 times I called, so I went by on my lunch break. Their sales guy--a notoriously reticent crew anyway--pointed me towards the wrong aisle. This is all we got.
So, I ended up going to a box store. I found what I wanted with no help, in about 8 minutes. A female clerk checked me out.
There's no moral to this story. I experienced about what I expected to experience. Cam Newton's comment this week was no surprise. It's still a d00d's world, and we're just livin' in it.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

new story alert

Super excited about a new story published October 1 by Sliver of Stone Magazine.
"Fast Food and Box Wine is a tale of the single life, family secrets, absent fathers, tattoos, and yes, a box of wine.

Friday, September 29, 2017

oh I'm havin' a good one

Customer service.
Don't those words evoke some kind of feeling for you?
This week I spent a good length of time talking to my internet provider. My bill had gone up 25% and being that my rent just went up and my wages are staying essentially the same, I wasn't having it.
One live chat (28 minutes) and two phone calls (18 minutes) later, my rate was restored, including credit for the upcoming month.
"Do me a favor," the retention specialist (a guy) snapped in defeat, "and have a wonderful day."
Wellsir. I will. And thank yew.
*
Today I rented a car. Renting a car always leaves me wanting a stiff drink and a shower. Where do they find these smarmy bro's? Last time I rented, the very condescending bro showed me how to use the windshield wipers and the lights. Today, as I waited to get my keys, broski demanded a second phone number, a friend or family member's, "just in case." When I enquired why I would wish to give him the phone number of someone who wasn't even coming with me on my road trip, he pressed. I said absolutely not. Eventually, he resignedly entered my e-mail address. The entire transaction felt like I was interacting with a robot. In the least possible exciting way.
*
Then there are the actually pleasant interactions, the woman at Green Home who helped me find a few non-toxic items for upcoming projects. Cheerful and brisk and no kind of pressure. My bank also has some pretty friendly employees, at least when I go in person. What does it all mean? I have no idea. I worked customer service and there were good days, where I felt like I was truly helping people, and there were the not-so-good days, where every caller was either a perv or a shrieker, and I was only doing time.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

crazytown

I attended a friend's first radio broadcast last Sunday and it was a bit of a shitshow.
Mainly because the friend had invited a bunch of friends (including me) to stop by, play some music, read a story, whatever, and let's just say it was a motley cast of characters.
A few musician types, with interesting noms de plume and beards and tattoos.
A twitchy ex-bouncer who dropped the f-bomb a couple of times on the air and rattled off a lengthy story about getting fired from a local club and restraining orders and people out to get him--all while livestreaming on Instagram.
Me, erstwhile writer, nervous about reading and feeling ever more claustrophobic in the warm, b.o.-smelling booth.
My friend, increasingly frantic from the sort-of inadvertent swears ($3K a pop per the FCC) and the need to keep sounds, any sounds, on the air.
I like the shitshow, though.
You don't know what will happen.
It's interesting.
It's real.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

music of the week

Goldfrapp was in town this week. I don't understand most (okay, any) of the lyrics but I love their pure electro-disco escapism and strange, naughty videos.


My city is heartlessly and yet somehow heartily demolishing its musical past, so I feel an urgency to see as many musical performances as I can while I can, especially in the venues that seem vulnerable--the Blue Moon and the Kraken and Re-Bar. And now I guess, the Highline.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

and more new construction


In other news, this charming structure is now under my care. I have a lot of waterproofing, insulating and installing to do yet, but the bones are there and I couldn't be more excited to get started.
*
And, we have had rain the past few days. After a summer of prolonged heat and fires and smoke, it is most welcome. The air is fresh again. The trees breathe. And I relax into the gentle thrumming.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

new construction

I've been reading memoirs in preparation for--well, I don't like to say what for, so suffice to say I'm delving deep into the world of memoir. It's a genre I've mostly avoided, in part because the form reminds me of testimony time at church, back when I was a kid, and as a born-and-raised p.k. let me tell you, I've heard puh-lenty of maudlin tales. I'm also no fan of sappy endings, everything has a reason narratives, or true-love-conquers-all kind of quatsch.
Exceptions to my strict no-memoir rule have been: Katharine Hepburn's Me, and Agatha Christie's An Autobiography, both life stories related by iconoclastic females who succeeded by being themselves, ignoring or subverting the male gaze, and looking, as far as I can tell, to impress no one. So I'll definitely re-read those.
In service to research I've read, mainly courtesy of the SPL in the past couple of weeks:
The first three books had forewords, which I usually skip but in light of this being a research effort, I read. I still don't get the point. Why write a foreword to say: "I wrote this book." I mean, obvs! Let's get on with it! Skip.
I couldn't finish the Rick Bragg book. The dialect, or more precisely, the good-old-boy prose rhythms, really bothered me. His mom sounded courageous but a whole book? Not for me.
Boy I've read many times, and it's more a collection of anecdotes, than a proper memoir, but I enjoyed Dahl's easy prose and vivid scenes. For me it added up to a tale of a European childhood no longer possible, the genesis of so many classic and beloved books. And yet I remembered as I read that, per his daughter and ex-wife, Roald Dahl grew up to be a less than kind and generous human being.
Didion's book is a real gut punch, beautifully written of course and a perhaps unintended window into the Writerly Classes I've always feared and yet somehow envied their LA/Upper East Side/Hawaii circuit.
So, the reading continues.
*
Also, keep an eye here for fiction news in a couple of weeks. A story I've loved and been shopping around has finally found a home.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

superfluous children

Hilary Mantel's piece in the Guardian on Princess Diana ruthlessly lays bare deep truths about the blushing blond princess. In doing so, Mantel also has a lot to say about the public's--our combined--ok my own!--projections and fantasies. Without quite knowing why, I examined every page, pored over every deliciously airbrushed photo in the 1997 Vanity Fair cover story, Diana Reborn. I wasn't a romantic, I didn't believe in fairtales or happyily-ever-afters. And yet, I was dazzled too. I too could not look away. "Was she complicit," Mantel writes, "or was she an innocent, garlanded for the slab and the knife?"
*
As the third daughter, was she, a third girl child, a disappointment to her aristocratic parents, desperate for an heir? I hadn't known that Diana's older brother died as a child, or that her mother deserted the family. Quoting a Jungian: "Unwanted or superfluous children have difficulty in becoming embodied; they remain airy, available to fate, as if no one has signed them out of the soul store."
*
And the real kicker:
When people described Diana as a “fairytale princess," were they thinking of the cleaned-up versions? Fairytales are not about gauzy frocks and ego gratification. They are about child murder, cannibalism, starvation, deformity, desperate human creatures cast into the form of beasts, or chained by spells, or immured alive in thorns. The caged child is milk-fed, finger felt for plumpness by the witch, and if there is a happy-ever-after, it is usually written on someone’s skin.
 Read the entire piece, if you dare.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

aesthetic ghosts

Watching Yves Saint Laurent's 2002 retirement speech gave me life this week. Quoting Proust and Rimbaud, this remarkable artist said, among other things:
  • I have lived for my work and through my work
  • Fashion's role was to...reassure them (women), give them confidence and allow them to assert themselves
  • Every man needs aesthetic ghosts in order to live. I have pursued them, sought them, hunted them down
  • I have known...anxiety, fear and terrible solitude...I emerged, dazzled but sober
  • The most important encounter in life is the encounter with oneself

Yves Saint Laurent's Retirement Speech, January 7, 2002 from ketty mora on Vimeo.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

re-set

I haven't done much writing lately and it's weighing on me.
I have done a lot of thinking, though.
There's a story I've been wanting to tell for so long, and each time I start to write it, I lose my way, lose my confidence, the writing of it feels so icky and bad, that I quit.
But, I think I have a new way in.
*
Inspiration galore the past few days:
  • I watched The Incredible Jessica James movie on Netflix. What I loved: her character's passion for the stage and plays and drama, the alienation of being at home with family, her joyful dorkiness, fan-girling over the playwright at her drama school workshop
  • I re-watched a few series, including Master of None--do not sleep on this show, it will change your life. Also, Fleabag, Atlanta, Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl
  • And this tweet from Mr. L-MM:

Saturday, August 12, 2017

a breather

The smoky haze blanketing my town is finally blowing away. Enough with the sweltering days and muggy nights, please! Everyone has kennel cough and crusty eyes. We need a break.
*
Also, enjoy this semi-natural creation. This is not my usual shtick. Consider it a breather from the overstuffed ottoman and all of the above.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

four days, three shows

I went to three shows in the past four days and even for me that's over-achiever status.
Tuesday was Kendrick Lamar at the Tacoma Dome, on his tour for DAMN. He kept it simple and real, on a plain stage with stark lighting and unadorned, yet rich, costumes. So powerful in his confidence.
Wednesday was a quick stop at the vegan-metal bar The Highline to hear Pisswand, a pal's metal band. Loud. Raw. So good.
And yesterday, a brave jaunt into the muggy, smoky, post-workday heat to sweat on a grassy hillside and see Summer Cannibals at Seattle Center. The band has an intriguingly rough sound offset with PNW cool. Despite the armpit-like environs, they shredded and I enjoyed it.
*
C'est tout. My pictures are blurry, and honestly it's a miracle there are any, because I get so caught up in the show I nearly always forget to take out my phone, and they always look pretty much the same, anyway. Thanks to the good friends who made this a delightfully musical few days. I'm taking a breather. Rock on, y'all.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

wilting

The heat is getting to people. It's been in the 90's for days, humid, with hazy smoke from British Columbia wildfires settled in over the western part of the state. How else to explain the constant stream of crazy in my neighborhood. On Sunday I stepped out at noon to run errands, and immediately crossed paths with a pantsless gent, casually draping a garbage back over his nether parts. I dodged him, hurried up the hill, only to pass by another guy, wearing shorts and caressing a large boner and staring in my direction. Such a treat.
 Flash forward a few days to another cloudless, hot morning, BSP late for the bus as usual and hurrying towards the stop. First a drunk lady, weaving the sidewalk and half-heartedly sipping from an open wine bottle. Then a guy, talking to himself, who screamed "get the fuck away from me, bitch," as I walked past. Then another guy, coming down the hill, screaming "crap!" and I mean screaming, at each passing car, punctuating the scream with a middle finger. There are a lot of cars on the street even at 7 a.m. The piece de resistance--yes, one more angry gent, also heading uphill, circled the bus stop and walked so close as he passed me that I had to step back so as not to collide. He summoned up his best Steve-Martinish-"well excuuuuse me" and flicked cigarette ash.
Disheartened, I boarded my bus for working. It had already been a trying day and it wasn't even 7.30 a.m.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

BusySmartyPants Has Returned from Faceborkland: the Bloggening Continues

Welp, after a half-year experiment in social media, BSP has returned to its blogger roots.
I hated Faceborkland, tbh. Sure, it was easier to post links and videos and such. But the contstant pressure, the everlasting reminders to post, scareminders of lost views and declining revenues, made me feel like a failure ever single time I went to post.
For fork's sake.
BSP is back, bébé.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

where to?

Looking for the latest busysmartypants?
Find BSP on The Facebook.
It's a 2017 experiment. See you there.

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