who the heck knows anything, anyway

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Quick podcast questionnaire!

I really enjoy podcasting. I want to make my podcast better. You can help me out with this!



Daniel and I are hoping to use this to make our podcast better! We don't care about making money off of it (as you can tell--it's 100% free and in the public domain), but we really want it to be enjoyable. Thanks for taking a few minutes to fill out the form and tell us why you like your favourite podcasts! And if you're interested in checking out Audiodidact by the Apiary*, here's the link to our tumblr. Our most recent episode, "Bad Media" is about why Gone Girl is a book better left unread.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Cheekiness Wins Out

Today I struggled over an internal (and external--thank you, Twitter, for existing) debate to change my "personal branding." Never did I think this would be an issue for me, but here we are. I do social media and brand management for a few people/organizations, and I've started to worry that people might conflate me and my opinions and my personal work and my self with the work I do for others. So I was thinking about changing my Twitter handle, and associating my Name with a more Refined and Professional Appearance.



But that was lame of me. Here's why:

1. I don't plan on being a brand manager when I grow up. I am a writer and artist, first and foremost. Those don't pay the bills right now, but they are who I am, and I want people who follow me on social media to have a personal relationship with me. Me me. Not some fake version of me that never says "poop." I say poop literally every day in real life.



2. I never say anything mean on social media. That's my personal rule about the internet: I don't talk smack about people. So if someone doesn't like my social self, that's cool--it means we have different tastes, and that's fine! If it's not fine with you, then you are probably what is commonly knows as "a Hater."



3. Most of my concerns are geo-centric: I'm afraid of people in the UK finding me crass. Since when does fear tell me who to be? The whole reason I set up Scout! was to provide a different kind of PR person--the kind that's goofy and hands-on and personable. I have some straight-edge jobs right now, and I love them, and I work hard at them, but I hope people realize that I am different from the jobs that I have. My opinions are my own, and not those of any organization. I'm a beautiful, independent flower.



4. Seriously, a person should only change their flow if they are a mean person.







Monday, November 3, 2014

Cork and Galway

Photoblog time.

















Ireland and good friends make for the best time.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Aviophobia, Thalassophobia

Trying to evaluate fear, and why certain things are scary to a person while others aren't.

For me, it's not a fear of death, I know that much. I was on a boat this week--a small ferry heading to the Aran Islands--and the wind was nasty, and the waves were huge, and the boat was alternately flying through and crashing into the water, and everyone directly around me was either silent or vomiting (or, in the case of one poor little girl who was not pleased with her parents' choice of adventure, screaming and weeping), but I wasn't that afraid. Got a little queezy around minute 40 of rolling side-to-side, but I was still in a peachy mood after we got off the boat. When we first started pitching, it felt wild, just like the drop in a roller coaster, my stomach still floating at Point A while my body had relocated to Point B. But then I began to evaluate the situation: why wasn't I scared? People around me were freaking out. The crew wasn't, but I doubt I would have been able to tell if they were; they were all stoic, burly men who are on the ocean every day about eight times a day.

But if I had been in a plane, and there was even a little turbulence, I would have been flipping my hat. I would have been flipping my hat so hard. As I was sitting there, in this small ferry, I imagined the boat tipping over. I imagined how useless a life-vest would be if we capsized, because we'd be trapped; how, even if getting out of the glass case of a boat was possible, we were far enough out at a very choppy sea that we couldn't see land, and the water was freezing. I wondered how quickly I would be able to take my coat off. I wondered if I--being a strong swimmer--could make it to one island or another, assuming I could get out of the boat. I wondered how I would find Daniel, and if he would make it, and if I could help him, or if I should fend for myself. And none of these things bothered me much. Rather, none of them triggered an anxiety response that made my body feel as though these scenarios were even possible. But the idea of falling out of a plane, or of exploding in one, absolutely terrifies me. I wasn't like that as a kid. It happened some time in my early twenties.

I suppose that's the nature of a phobia. It doesn't make sense. Or maybe my lack of fear in regards to the ocean is the foolish thing. Who knows.

Speaking of fear--I am totes afraid of Ouija boards, but I really want to use one, but I don't believe in them, but I maybe do? Because superstition is my family's primary religion.

Monday, October 20, 2014

That glorious time of year when I leave one cold, wet country for another!


Daniel and I are about to head out (tomorrow afternoon) on our second real vacation ever. Much like last year's trip* to Scotland, we will be embarking upon a journey to...Ireland! Perks of living in the UK are their proximity to other European countries. We've been to Dublin briefly, for a whirlwind weekend adventure with some friends (also last year), but never got too deep into the countryside. This time we'll be chilling with our friend Rob in Cork and Galway, and we'll have a car, and I won't be panicking about a thesis and planning a wedding or whatever.

Probably the biggest deal is that I have made a solemn vow to not check work email. This is a vacation. I need it to be a vacation. I owe it to myself, to Daniel, to my coworkers, and to all of the friends I can barely keep in touch with. I am, in fact, leaving my computer at home. (I'm keeping my phone, though, because sometimes you need to Instagram a sheep.)

I had to write all of this down as a promise to myself. Can't wake up tomorrow and be like "Oh, but my computer! Wah wahh!" if I've already told the internet that I'm not gonna do it.

Other interesting updates:
--I built a website! It's the first time I've actually built a website from the scaffolding, up. There are a few kinks in the pages (Wordpress's fault, of course) but it's lovely and I'm proud of it. Plus, Cactus Heart Press is a super quality production, and I was happy to make a website to match. (CHP will also have a table at the 2015 AWP, so come visit!).
--I started swimming again, with some regularity! Although last week was a bit of a dud (I only swam once). To be fair, last week was basically a dud in every conceivable way, so I'm not beating myself up about it. Or trying not to, at least. I'm packing my swim suit for Ireland. Maybe my climbing shoes, too?

Ok, I'm off to treat myself to a little notebook, which will be my official travel journal. When I get back, I'll share photos! And you'll all be like "Wow, Killian never updates, but suddenly --two!" and I'll be like "Awwww yiss." And then maybe I'll do it more often. Maaaayyyyybe.



*Hilariously (or...pathetically?) I was going to give this blog post the exact same title as that one (see the .gif).
Are there any other vacation songs?? The only other thing that pops into my head is 'Work Bitch', because of partying in France, but that's actually the exact opposite of a vacation song. And, yes, it really kills me that the song title does not have a comma nestled on in there.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

summer in gifs

Hello, September.

Let's recap, like, the whole summer:

1. Graduated! I'm a Master, no big. (But you guys knew that.)



2. Got a job! I work for a not-for-profit organization that offers homeschooling and distance learning courses. Everyone who works there is amazing. If you've ever considered homeschooling (or returning to school as a mature student) and would like course material AND a tutor who emails with you all the time, I wholeheartedly recommend this place (we'll have our new website up soon. It will be totally hot). Also, follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, whatever, everywhere. Everywhere!




3. Adjusted my antidepressants! Thank jeezus. I can tell I need to readjust when I basically sound like Rust Cohle every time I open my mouth. Hashtag nihilism.



4. Decided I was going to dress like an adult! I gave away half my clothes and am only buying affordable versions of things that Robin Wright (a la Claire Underwood) or Gillian Anderson would wear. I'm slowly investing in makeup and have thrown away all that was like 10+ years old, because that's gross. My new thing (now that I have a job, ooh-a! ooh-a!) is to research makeup on blogs like The Beauty Department and, my current favorite, XO Vain, and then go into Boots after my Tuesday or Wednesday work meeting, and buy a new little thing. Today I got an eye shadow palette in some sultry neutral colors, and some subtly orange lipstick. Ooooh yes.




4. Took this picture of Mulder! Yesterday!
 Let's face it, this is the most impressive thing I've done all summer.




Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Graduate presentation, w/ full transcript

*~Hey internet~*

I know there are a few people--especially advisors of mine--who wished they could have seen my grad presentation. Well, just so happens that my buddy Hillary was able to record video of my graduate presentation while I recorded the audio from the podium. Since I'm home, I married the two and added in my slides. I'm also going to post a PDF of the transcript if you'd rather read through it on your own.

The only thing I'll add is that the presentation could only be about 15 minutes long, and I wish I could do a full lecture on the material, but my classmates would have hated me (seriously, I got some feedback that said I didn't talk enough about my personal life. Some people don't like that academic stuff as much as I do. I am a special flower, even--especially?--among my fellow artistes).



*note: I know the Hide Behind is a "fearsome critter" all its own, guys. Relax! I'm cool. Just roll with the visual punch.


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Sunday, July 6, 2014

new podcast episode with Maisha Z Johnson (!!)

new podcast!

I did this one with Maisha Z Johnson (you may recognize her name from the Blog Hop I did a month or so ago) while I was at residency. If I sound funny, it's because I am trying to sound cool, because Maisha is really cool. (And maybe sleep deprivation is playing a part? Residency is like summer camp with drinking: late nights, early mornings, lots of socializing.) Here's some of the stuff we talk about: Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild and Other Stories; science fiction writing and women and people of color; what’s meaningful vs. what’s marketable in writing (and art in general); supporting yourself as an emerging writer; book cover art; kickstarter? non-profit status?; supporting POC, LGBTQ, and low-income writers; writing with LGBTQ survivors of violence (writing and art as healing); also plants are hard to keep alive.

Audiodidact is already five episodes old! Don't forget to follow us on Tumblr or Twitter or RSS, or just by checking in regularly. Daniel and I should be back on an episode-a-week schedule now, so look for Episode 6 around July 14th. 


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Graduated

Being done with school is weird, man. Has it even hit me, yet? I don't think so.

This is me. This is me after presenting, after defending, after walking. I'm wearing a hood. I officially have a Master's degree.


It's nice. I feel refreshed (sometimes you really do need to set things aside for a month before you know how to fix them) and have a renewed sense of purpose. My work feels interesting again, and even important. That's why residency is great--people you admire give you hugs (literally and metaphorically) and tell you that they believe in you, and then you realize that you don't suck as much as you think you do.

I stocked up on books while I was in the states. These are the books, in case you (like me) get a vicarious thrill from stalking the bookshelves of people with good taste. I only wish there had been more time for me to buy comics. I read the first Lumberjanes on ComiXology, but I want  m o r e.


In case you are wondering, Chandler's "The Simple Art of Murder" essay is awesome, and I am stoked to finally own it in print (with four "novelettes"--seriously, that's the word they use on the back cover-- to boot).

So, yep, I have an MFA now. I learned that residency is an impossible time to try to get people to podcast with you, but! I DID manage to convince Maisha--who was visiting during that time--to hang out with me for 20 minutes and chat in the presence of a microphone. She out-cools me by like 10 million degrees, so I am pretty excited to put that up on the apiary/audiodidact tumblr later this week.

And, since I no longer have the pressure of a thesis and graduation requirements hanging over my head, my little literary PR outfit, Scout!, is taking new clients. So email me if you need help with social media promotion, or a book trailer, or kickstarter, etc etc. I only take a few people at a time so I can make it ~*special*~ for every person I work with. Email me for a rate sheet.

Ok, back to writing. I'm doing some major revisions while I still feel fresh and inspired. Hopefully I can find a residency-esque way to keep my confidence up when it does, eventually, ebb. If I could carry my advisors around in my sweater pocket to cheer me on and give me hugs, I would. Nobody hugs like Pacific faculty.


Peace out for now, bros. Keep the dream alive, etc.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Blog Hop: A Writing Q&A

When Maisha Johnson asked me to participate in this Blog Hop, my heart leapt. Maisha is one of those friends you absolutely look up to, a human reason to do better because she has such killer taste in...everything. Poetry/Lit, social causes, the internet, friends--she rocks it everywhere it counts. I encourage you to click on her name up in that first sentence and to read her Blog Hop entry, as well as her archives. Thanks, Maisha!  My friend Moye Ishimoto did one, too! And I'm passing the torch along to Kate Sheeran Swed next, so keep an eye on her blog next week.

Ok, so: What am I working on?

I am working on a novel. It has female protagonists. It deals with sex and religion and race, and takes place in Portland, Oregon, because that's where I grew up. The Portland I know is pretty different from what it is now. I grew up on NoPo, and I wish that I could go back, that I could live in the place where I grew up, but I know I can't because it doesn't exist anymore. Nostalgia, man. It's a killer. My story is a little bit about that, too. I don't feel comfortable going into too much detail, because I've been hurt by idea-stealers before (and, jeezus, that hurts), but I am excited to let the world love this one day.

On days when the novel is hard to touch, I work on comics and the occasional short story.  My comics are usually auto-bio, or, rather, are my personal reflections on Life, The Universe, and Everything, with animals talking for me. My latest project is a podcast called Audiodidact. It's a part of the Apiary, which is my beau's and my little "interdisciplinary beehive." I'm looking forward to bringing in some scientists and philosophers for the next few episodes, and for getting a ton of my writing friends to be guests when I'm back in the states in June.

How is my work different than others in its genre?

My work ranges from sci-fi, to horror, to weird fiction, to noir, to the lyrical, though I like to think of it all as "literary."I am not into genre-shaming. I write what I like, and what I like doesn't fit into one (or even two, or even five) box(es). Other people are doing that, too--writing outside of genre limits--but my particular focus is the marriage of story and language. When I write science fiction or horror, it should read just as beautifully as any artful, literary prose.

Why do I write what I do?
I write stories about mortality and existence and why anything matters, because that's all I think about. Sometimes I obsess about dead bodies. I write a lot about religion, because I was raised Catholic and I love history (mmm, hagiography). I write about the Pacific Northwest, because that's home.

How does my writing process work?
The first thing I come up with is a scenario or a vignette. With "Canis Lupus Astra," the idea came from thinking about Project Orion, and how it would have been possible to colonize space in the 1950's/60's. Characters never--and I mean never--spring fully formed, Athena-style, from my mind. I am very jealous of people who (claim to) experience that. I also revise constantly. I read and watch good TV and listen to podcasts, and all three inspire me. I know a lot of prose writers are anti-TV, but I love it. (Well, I love the good TV. I have a low tolerance for bad writing. But I have the same rules for novels and comics--I only read the good stuff* and I only watch the good stuff, because I only want to make good stuff.)

On rare days, I feel pretty confident about the quality of my work, but on most days, I struggle with your standard writerly intense-self-doubt. I'm having some issues with my novel right now, and that's rough. You know what else is rough? Talking about your "novel." What kind of writer shaming has occurred to make me feel dirty and poser-y every time I talk about it? Yikes.


*a note on "good": everyone has a different opinion on what makes something good, and that's awesome. You are awesome.

__________________________________________________________________

Thanks for inviting me to do this, Maisha!

Maisha Z. Johnson is a writer, an activist, and a troublemaker of Trinidadian descent. She has an MFA in Poetry from Pacific University, and she studied creative writing at San Francisco State University. Through writing and workshops, Maisha lifts up voices of those who are often silenced, including LGBTQ people, people of color, and survivors of violence. Her work has been published in numerous journals and nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize. She explores the relationship between art and social change on her blog, at www.maishazjohnson.com.


also see her full website



***

Kate Sheeran Swed loves hot chocolate, plastic dinosaurs, and airplane tickets. She has trekked along the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu, hiked on the Mýrdalsjökull glacier in Iceland, and climbed the ruins of Masada to watch the sunrise over the Dead Sea. Following an idyllic childhood in New Hampshire, she completed degrees in music at the University of Maine and Ithaca College, then moved to New York City. She is poised to complete an MFA in fiction through Pacific University’s low-residency program at the end of June.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Audiodidact!

Podcasting! Two episodes deep, and already improving. The newest one is about 45 minutes. Daniel and I talk about comics and serial fiction.

To follow Audiodidact on Tumblr: http://apiarymonastery.tumblr.com/


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Short story alert!

So, Rivet (run by Red Bridge Press) just came out with their first issue, and I've got a story in there! I'm proud of this one. It's a little bit literary, a little bit sci-fi (ok, a lot of both, really). I'd love for you to read it and to love it.

Canis Lupus Astra

For the whole issue, click here. There are only twelve people featured, and the work in it is varied! Plus, a nice gender balance, which is always good to see in a journal.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

manic 4 dayz

One of my friends told me, back in our undergrad days, that I seemed to experience senioritis every single term (he also said I held a world record in existential crises. Both of his observations: likely true). Grad school has been different. There have been the tough weeks, the substantial relief come semester's end, self-doubt in droves, but none of the absolutely brain-damaging burn-out. Until, of course, now.

It seems appropriate enough--I am, after all, in the final final final stretch of my MFA. Still sucks, though. It feels like a full-body mania. I'm jumpy and restless way down in my bones, and I'm also totally exhausted. I feel bored with my work at the same time that I feel obsessed with it. I feel like a mountain lion living in the body of a mouse: energy, furious energy everywhere, and the lack of ability to really do anything with it.

I feel isolated, and I can't tell if it's just physical distance and convenience causing the problem (all of my Oxfriends live way out on the east side, and I live in deep west--makes casual hanging out extremely difficult) or some kind of self-inflicted distance. Sigh, probably both. There are a lot of friends that I'm missing right now, friends spread all over the US, friends in Scotland, in Germany, in Seoul, everywhere. Friends that I want to collaborate with, to drink tea with, friends that Skype and Facebook and Twitter help me stay close to, but not close enough for my selfish tastes.

I'm applying to office jobs right now. Hopefully something will come through. Not only do I need to pay off my loans, I enjoy being in an office. I like doing (some kinds of) office work, interacting with people, collaborating. I do so many projects by myself. I miss having people to do projects with, even if they don't work out. I like to get excited and try new things. I'm not a person that does well with only one thing on my plate. My best work comes when I'm doing ten things at once. Pretty sure this is the root of my burn-out. As much as my novel is my own, a project that is for me and no one else to work on, it's not enough to fill me up. I love my novel most when I also love a comic I'm writing, or an editing job I'm doing. Work is so lonely right now. I'm the only one who can finish my thesis, and that's fine, I don't want help, but I miss the excitement of company, of let's-work-in-a-coffee-shop-or-your-apartment days, of let's-start-a-sex-positive-blog brainstorm days, of impromptu inventing club meetings that end with some promise--however faint--that maybe we will actually make the thing we've invented. I'm thankful for the bit of that I do get here (lor bless you and our Office Wednesdays, Mikaela), but--sigh, practicality and convenience and schedules etc etc. I guess this is why people miss college. I never lived in dorms, but I see the appeal of a bunch of creative, smart people living close to each other. As we all develop our own grown-up lives, move farther and farther away from where we grew up, we're forced to examine our priorities. I'm still struggling with how to reconcile my emotional/social/occupational/everything needs.

My buddy, Laila, made a "life map" recently, and I tried it out, too. There are a lot of question marks.


On the plus side, the depression is well under control (thank you medication!). Makes me feel like I can trust my emotions more when I know they aren't just a really rude chemical imbalance wrecking my brain.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

a little thing I love about the internet

My brother and I are 5000 miles apart, but we're chillin' on Skype. He's playing Dark Souls II and I'm checking my email, and every once in a while we chat and I watch him fight a boss. We're just occupying the same little pocket of spacetime. It makes me happy.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

a moment of confidence, however brief

An hour ago, I almost posted a (jokingly*) bitter statement on Twitter about my resentment of peers who have more than 35 pages of their thesis written. Not done, but written. Well, done, too. I have 32 pages written. Every term, I have re-written the novel that is now my thesis project. Every time, I end the semester with about 70 pages of work--so I know I am technically capable of doing it. It helps that I am the kind of person who does not miss deadlines. However, I am also a person who writes very slowly, and who started over again during her thesis semester, changing the setting of the story from town to city, and changing the POV characters from one woman and three men to three women (two WOC) and (currently) no men. So, big changes. Good changes. Heck, probably GREAT changes. But I'm still about 40 pages short of a thesis that is due, in its revised entirety, in two months. So, yeah, I was going to swear at my friends who are basically done.

As everybody who has ever spoken to me for 2 seconds (or read this blog pretty much ever) knows, I have complicated feelings about myself and writing. I have always felt like I just fell into it, that my participation in the culture was not an act of love, but a natural go-with-the-flow type action resulting from my basic skillset. In recent years, I have struggled with the idea that maybe I was meant for art school, maybe I was meant for beauty school, maybe I was meant for neurology or paleontology or even rocket science. But the last couple of weeks, I've felt pretty at home in this. I listen to podcasts about writing/reading (Book Fight, usually) and I nod my head knowingly and laugh at the jokes. I get feedback from my advisor that is overwhelming in what it demands from me, and I am glad to work hard for someone who both mentors me and treats me like a peer. I don't know, it's strange, but maybe I sort of feel like I do belong here. Like I am in the right place. And that doesn't make the work any easier, but it does make it feel like less of a competition. Yes, I am nervous about my page count, but the 32 pages I do have? They're pretty damn good. And, yes, I am absolutely stressed to high heaven about meeting all the grad school deadlines, about coming up with a graduate presentation that doesn't suck, about residency housing logistics, about finishing school and being on my own again, but I finally, finally feel (this week, at least) like I am not a fake. The Book Fight boys went to Iowa, but I know if you put me in a room with them, I'd fit right in. I'm done feeling like a failure or the kid the Ivy League didn't want.

My thesis is coming along slowly, but it's going to be a hit. I can feel it.


*I love the people in my program so damn much.

Monday, February 10, 2014

grad school: a procrastination-fueled update

Since I started grad school, I sort of imagined I was doing something wrong. It was hard, but it wasn't as nightmarish as my peers described. Yeah, deadlines always got me antsy and angsty, but I met them, and I moved on. I improved with every packet--and by leaps and bounds with each passing term--but felt like I was getting to be pretty good! Surely, with how much I already have done, my thesis will be a snap! I will be praised endlessly by my advisor, but the praise will not be empty, it will be well-earned! 


I actually said this to my advisor before the term started:

"I want you to be tough. I can take it. I want to be great, so don't pull any punches."


HA. Haha.

Now that I am DOING MY THESIS, I realize that I am a big ol' fool. I feel the pain of every thesis student who has come before me. I feel the sting of my own words.

I got my first packet back from my advisor. And the whole time I was reading the feedback, I was thinking: "Daaaaaaaammit, he's right. He's right about everything. I can't even argue with this."



And then I realized

that I am going to have to revise

all of it.