Monday, January 22, 2018

Aging Writers 3

This was not entirely new. Advertising goes back to the 19th century. One of my two favorite Dorothy Sayers' novels is set in an advertising agency in the 1930s. But as people got enough, more money had to be spent convincing them to buy more. This society of newness, of constant revolution (in style, if not substance) does not leave much place for the elderly.

More on change: "Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind."

This was written before advertising got serious. Now, instead of facing one's real conditions of life, one can play a video game or go to the mall and buy more clothes.

I seem to be saying that cutting edge art is the art of capitalism. I'm not sure I want to say that. I think it's time to read something old: either Sayers' Murder Must Advertise or Jane Austen.

Aging Writers 2

More from facebook:

This is more about a discussion I had yesterday -- in reaction to someone who found most SFF that was more than ten years old 'problematic.'
This got me utterly bent out of shape, since most of my fiction was written and published more then ten years ago. Today, I am more reflective, so I wrote:
I probably overreacted to 'problematic.' Figure that I am an age where mortality becomes an issue, and I have no children. So I think about what I have done with my life and what I will leave behind. I get upset when I think people are dismissing the older generation. And I genuinely believe this culture has close to no interest in or liking for the old. Acquired knowledge is not valued in a society that changes so fast -- and more important, this is a society where people matter as long as they produce something of commercial value. If they cannot, then they have no use and should please go die.
Children are valued (though not treated well) because they are the next generation of workers and because families with children are seen as good consumers.
Retired people do in fact spend money, but are resented because they don't earn this money. (It's the Social Security and pensions and savings they piled up through decades of work.) And retired people do a lot of socially useful work: childcare, care of the elderly and disabled, volunteer work... But money does not change hands, so this does not count.
Oh, and I looked up 'problematic,' because it is a problematic word:
constituting or presenting a problem or difficulty.
"the situation was problematic for teachers"
synonyms: difficult, hard, taxing, troublesome, tricky, awkward, controversial, ticklish, complicated, complex, knotty, thorny, prickly, vexed;
"the pest control in this building has gotten very problematic."

Well, maybe I am okay with the synonyms. My work can be seen as difficult, hard, taxing, troublesome, tricky...

Aging Writers

From facebook:

Someone who shall be nameless wrote elsewhere that she figured most SFF written before the last decade is problematic, I assume for political reasons. This calls into question most of my writing career. This is why we need a Senior Meetup at Wiscon and maybe other cons. I need a place to vent. I am trying to come up with a name for a Wiscon Meetup for seniors. "Second Wave Feminism in a New Wave World" is possible, though not quite right.

I do not think this is a huge issue, except that I worry about the older women writers vanishing. They worked hard and deserve to be remembered, though obviously they can be criticized as imperfect.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Once again I have let two months slip by without posting. We are mostly unpacked now. A guy came yesterday to install new blinds, which look really good. That was the last step in renovating the apartment. We are now home.

I just finished proofreading Ring of Swords for a new edition, due to come out this spring.

My military space opera short story got picked up by Gardner Dozois for his Best SF of the Year collection.

Otherwise, we keep trucking. I write. Patrick is doing some pro bono work for the local neighborhood council. (They are worried about homeless people, and he is an expert of homelessness, a word which should not ever exist. There should be no one without a home.) Life goes on.

I made my usual resolutions for the New Year: Exercise more. Write more. Pay more attention to nutrition. Get out to museums more. Get out more in general. The past year -- since the last election -- I have been huddling at home and worrying. Neither is useful.

I'm planning on attending the usual local cons. I'm a guest at CONvergence, the big local con. I always attend Wiscon in Madison, Wisconsin. And I hope to make IceCon, the Icelandic SF convention, in October. Though I am bit worried about their organization. They don't have a con hotel and their site does not list recommended hotels -- just "there are plenty of good hotels in Reykjavik." The site also does not list the convention location, so we can pick a nearby hotel.

We shall see.

John Oliver Simon

I just learned that John Oliver Simon has died. I knew he was in poor health, but this is still unexpected. John was in my class at college. When I got to college, I wanted to be the person in class recognized as a poet -- the class poet, though there wasn't one officially. Then I met John. One of my memories is him sitting in a tree playing a recorder. I know I could not compete with him. He was clearly the class poet. He remained a poet and seems to have gone on have a good, useful, interesting life. I reconnected with him recently through facebook. I will miss him. I now have to go online and buy all his books.

I have been googling John and wishing I'd had the wits to do this years ago, when I could have emailed him. He liked some of the poets I do, Gary Snyder and Lew Welch. (Lew Welch has a poem about Chicago which is amazing.) John talks in an interview about Sharon Doubiago, who I met years ago. She was a friend of a friend. As I recall, she didn't like me at all. John says in the same interview that d.a. levy was the most important poet in the US when he killed himself, I think in the early 1970s. I heard that levy had been killed by the police. In any case, levy's poetry hit me like a bolt of lightning, when I read it in a couple of mimeographed collections that my friend Bobby lent me. John and I could have found things to talk about. I'm going to pick up a couple of his books -- one of poems he wrote on a trip through Latin America back in the 80s and one of poems about his granddaughter, which is recent.

I found a book of translations by John, which came out a year ago from Red Dragonfly Press, a great local press here in the Twin Cities.

Anyway, the moral is -- if people stick in your mind, maybe you should make an effort to contact them or at least google them.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


I have not posted anything for two months. What has been going on? Patrick and I moved into a new (temporary) apartment in our building on September 15 and camped out there, among many boxes, then moved back into our old (now renovated) apartment on October 30. We are still unpacking. I do not recommend two moves in two months. We did it before in the late 70s and ended by buying a house, because we couldn't bear the thought of another move.

The renovated apartment looks good: newly painted walls, new cabinets, new flooring. We had been in the apartment for ten years, and it really did need work. New blinds are coming in the next few weeks. By then, we ought to be completely unpacked.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Labor Day 2017

Patrick and I are moving to a new apartment, while our apartment is renovated. Right now I am packing books and posting on facebook as I pack:

I think I have started at the hardest place: the art books, because they are so oddly shaped and because they are full of memories: books and catalogs by my father and from the museums where I have worked. They are making me sad, though that might be due to the odd shapes.

Packing the books I feel as if I am casting off, even though this is only a temporary move to the apartment next door. So here is a casting off poem:

Casting Off

For Claribel Alegria

Her flowered hair
is casting off,
flying in pieces
over the prairie.

Oh, the perfect placement
of those fragments,
of her hands
on the guitar.


I have moved on to my Asian shelf, which is mostly Chinese. I am keeping out one book of translations of classic Chinese poetry, because you can't do something as serious as a move without classic Chinese poetry.


I am now well into the literature shelves and have reached Kenturos by Gregory Feeley. What a relief, after packing so many books that belong to my past and remind me of people no longer living. Now I find a handsome, good book by a current friend! This bodes well for the science fiction shelves, full of books by people I know and like and who are still living.


I'm finishing up literature. Next comes criticism and then politics. I won't finish politics today. After that is Iceland, science, science fiction and children's books.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Ingratitude Practice

This is from facebook:

I posted a link to an article recommending ingratitude practice: listing the things in your life that you are really ungrateful for. This was an alternative to the more common gratitude practice. I've thought about this and have come up with a list of things I am not grateful for: (1) world politics, especially US politics, (2) global warming and environmental degradation, (3) growing old. We are supposed to accept aging with grace and wisdom. Can't do it. I saw my doctor for a checkup a couple of months back and told her about a friend who had died. I said this reminded me that life is fragile. The doc said, "Yes." I added, at my age the statistics are not in my favor. The doc said, "Yes." So there we have it. What is good about this situation? It makes me crabby.

Usually I do the gratitude practice. But reminding myself of the things which really bother me is useful. How does one make a good life in an environment that is in many ways hostile? This is where where mindfullness is useful. Often, it's small things that give pleasure -- or at least things smaller than world politics. My new haircut. My friends. Writing. Sunflowers blooming along the local freeways. The prospect of a meal out on Sunday. Once this move is over, I think Patrick and I should drive to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and look at lighthouses -- and the lake, of course. Both lakes.

Friends are not small, by the way. Neither is writing. Actually, neither are sunflowers. Neither is the Farmers Market. I need to get dressed and go out and buy bread. The choices are traditional Irish soda bread and wild rice bread. A difficult choice.

New Story Out

A new original anthology, edited by Jonathan Strahan, who does good work. It looks like a good list of writers, and I am in this!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Another Picture

And this is me before Wiscon this year with my newly-cut and streaked-blue hair.

I can post these photos, because Patrick took them, and I am not infringing any copyright. We need to get out and take more photos of landscapes, for example...


I haven't been including enough pictures. Here is me, leaning up against one of the Euclid trucks that are used at the Hull Rust Mine on the Iron Range. This one is not in current use, because it has a flat tire.


Happy Bastille Day! Many happy returns! I am sitting here at the start of a hot, bright day, drinking my coffee. The muffin with marmalade has been eaten. Today I am going to the Mall of America to help a friend look for sandals. Patrick has given me ten dollars to spend for him at the Lindt chocolate shop. I have no plans to buy anything for myself. Our beloved Paradise Pen shop has closed, so I will not be tempted to buy a pen. How many pens does a person need, in any case? Still, the Mall is inside and air conditioned, and while walking around is a very mild form of exercise, I am at least moving. It should be fun. The Nordstrom shoe department is awesome.


Patrick asked me to buy two bars of Lindt dark chocolate. I bought four: there was a sale. After, my friend and I swung by a Mexican folk art store in SW Minneapolis. I was much taken by the folk art bobble head chickens and the folk art arm reliquery earrings, but did not buy either.


We did pass through Nordstom’s. The shoe department was mostly curtained off for a special sale, which was frustrating, since I like looking at shoes. I am actually thinking of buying a pair of Wellies, since our winters are no longer cold enough for winter boots. When I got home I went online to check the Wellies that Nordstrom's carries, and then I decided to look at sneakers. I decided to look at the designer sneakers, thinking I could find a nice pair of Converses. Did you know that you can get sneakers trimmed with genuine Norwegian fox fur? Did you know you can buy a pair of sneakers that cost more than $1,000? As Bruce Banner said, Truly, these are the End Times

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Livestock Warnings

Full of good intentions, I took my fiction writing computer to the coffee shop, opened it, and discovered it needed to be recharged. That was no outlet near me. I wrote a little in a notebook. My friends showed up and gave me CONvergence reports. As usual, it was a very well run con, which they enjoyed a lot. However, one friend felt the energy level was lower than in previous years. One explanation she heard was the Trump administration. This is possible. Trump is certainly not helping my mood or my energy level. So this leads to a panel idea: How to Have Fun during the Trump Administration.

I got rides to and from the coffee shop. Usually, I could take a bus. But the temp is in the 90s, and it's humid. I am old enough to pay attention to the Old People Weather Warnings. They used to be Lifestock Warnings, when I was young and Minnesota was a serious farm state. I kind of miss those. Get your cows into the shade and make sure Granny is okay.

I have mixed feelings about thinking of myself as elderly. Patrick had a friend with a healthy, active mother -- biked everywhere and was always up to do things. When she reached 65 she sat down and said, "That's it. I'm old." She stopped biking. She was no longer active. She made herself old. It's probably sane to realize one is no longer a spring chicken. But there is no reason to give up and turn into a vegetable.

As the broken arm heals and I am doing more, I feel a lot better. I am back to three times a week at the gym, though I can't use the broken arm to lift weights or push. I find I can do a lot, though planks are out for the time being.