Goodbye, Mr. Bradbury. And thank you.

I haven’t read as much Bradbury as I would like. I dare say I haven’t read as much as you have, whoever you are. He’s a writer I have to take in small doses, because he swamps my senses otherwise. He was one of the first SF writers I read, though, in a tattered anthology of great science fiction I found at the used book store. “The Veldt” has never left me. It lives inside my head with “The Electric Grandmother” and Asimov’s “Ugly Little Boy” — all stories about what it means to be human and what it means to lose your humanity. I read Fahrenheit 451 in junior high, and I think I failed all of the quizzes on it, because I always hated being forced to read something I would have read anyway, but it resisted my teacher’s attempts to destroy it. I read Something Wicked This Way Comes in 2010, and I’m still thinking about what it taught me.

This morning, my friend Rissa said:

In rereading that beautiful, tragic story, I thought, “He understood cruelty, but he wasn’t a cynic. And that’s rare.”

Goodbye, Mr. Bradbury. And thank you. I may not have read as much of your work as I would like, but I’ve read enough to know that you were one of our best, and I’m thankful that you left us with so much to explore.

It’s been a year since I came home

One year ago today, NovySan and I stumbled off a red-eye flight from Los Angeles into an unseasonably warm, sticky Boston haze, gathered up our luggage, and tried to wrap our jet-lagged brains around the MBTA. Several transfers, bruised shins, and pulled muscles later, we staggered into our summer sublet and fell asleep before we could decide where to eat breakfast.

I don’t think it was ever a secret that I didn’t like Los Angeles, although I don’t think most of my friends ever knew just how miserable I was there. There were things I liked about the city, and people there I loved, but in 10 years, it never felt like home. I wasn’t sure, when I moved here, whether Boston/Cambridge would be home. I’d only visited once, on my way to Viable Paradise. I didn’t make it across the river that time, but walking in the chilly morning fog of the Back Bay, I thought, “I could have a really serious love affair with this city.” And I have.

It’s not an easy thing to put into words, this feeling of belonging. It bubbles over until I have to wear sunglasses on cloudy days, lest strangers on the street see the tears in my eyes. It tempts me to sing on the bridges (which might be allowed), and to hug strangers (which almost certainly wouldn’t). It expresses itself in endless pictures of the sunset from my window (be grateful I don’t share them all) and a desire to involve myself in the life of this place in a way I never did in LA.

Whether we stay here after Dan graduates or not, I will enjoy every moment here.

I’m not homesick any more.

A few thoughts on blogging (and why I don’t do more of it)

WARNING: This post contains parentheses. Way, way too many parentheses.

In Telling Lies for Fun and Profit (which I’ve come to realize I should just open any time I’m feeling stuck, in my writing or my life), Lawrence Block says:

As a lifelong compulsive reader, I had little trouble finding categories of stories I could read with enjoyment. What I learned then, and have confirmed on many occasions since, is that just because I can read a particular story doesn’t perforce mean I can write it.

I’ve discovered that the same is true of blogging.

I love the humor and the warmth and the honesty that writers like The Bloggess and Slackmistress bring to the web, but that isn’t me. An acting teacher trying to pull me out of my comfort zone once said, “I see a lot of Chia in this performance, and Chia plays her cards very close to the chest. I need you to put them on the table.” He was right, and I did it for that exercise, but it’s exhausting, and I can’t do it day after day.

I’m also not a blogger who can settle in and write about just one thing. Somewhere, though, I’ve gotten the idea that if I can’t do that, I should either start a new blog for my new topic (which will, let’s be honest, never be updated), or warn my readers (all 10 of you) that I’m about to change the subject.

“Maybe I’ll write a book review.”

“You’ve never written a book review on this site. You should write a post explaining that you write book reviews now. Book reviews are cool.”

“I didn’t write a post explaining I do movie reviews now, back when I was reviewing horror movies.”

“That was different. That was just for fun. I don’t like this conversation. I wonder what’s on Twitter?”

Meanwhile, I’ve quit blogging. I compose posts (including this one) in my head, and then I abandon them, and I browse the Wordpress themes directory because of course a new theme will help, and meanwhile I’m on Twitter and I’m on Tumblr and I do have things to say, but I’m not saying them, and I’m tired of it.

So here’s the deal. If you’re reading this, welcome to chialynn.com. It’s hosted at Tumblr, because it’s easy to update, I can use Markdown to format posts, without exporting to HTML, and I like the social layer. Everything’s backed up to Wordpress.com (using ifttt), in case I change my mind about the platform later. And I’m collapsing what was artoftheodd.com into what was chialynn.tumblr.com. That means you’ll see every little thing that catches my eye or crosses my mind, from more in-depth thinky things (or at least more wordy things) to animated gifs and pictures of cats. (If you’d rather not see every little thing that catches my eye, I’ll try to use sensible tags like “blog” and “fiction” so you can sort, or just subscribe to the stuff you’re interested in. I’ll do a separate post explaining how that works, because I like explaining how stuff works.)

Posts from Art of the Odd will come back, or not, as they’re needed or requested. (Several of them are linked in this post!) Comments on those posts will come back just as soon as I get them mapped over from Disqus.

If I find myself posting often enough on any given topic, I may spin off a new Tumblr for it, or I may not.

And while I won’t stop overusing parentheses (or starting sentences with and or but), I will try to refrain from explaining myself every time I want to write about something new.

Something Wicked woke me up

Last fall, just before Viable Paradise, I started reading Something Wicked This Way Comes. In the midst of catching up on the VP instructors’ works, though, and then starting into the madness of NaNoWriMo, I didn’t finish it. But I spotted it on the shelf Wednesday, and thought, “I should pick that up as soon as I finish Boneshaker, then I’ll start into Bitter Seeds.”

Last night, just before bed, I started back in where I’d left off.

“Three,” a voice said. Will listened, cold but warming, glad to be in with a roof above, floor below, wall and door between too much exposure, too much freedom, too much night. “Three…” Dad’s voice, home now, moving down the hall, speaking to itself. “Three…” Why, thought Will, that’s when the train came. Had Dad seen, heard, followed? No, he musn’t. Will hunched himself. Why not? What did he fear? The carnival rushing in like a black stampede of storm waves on the shore out beyond? Of him and Jim and Dad knowing, of the town asleep, of knowing, was that it? Yes. Will buried himself, deep. Yes… “Three…” Three in the morning, thought Charles Halloway, seated on the edge of the bed. Why did the train come at that hour?

Is it any wonder I snapped awake at 3 AM, admiring that seamless shift from Will’s POV to his father’s, and thinking that it isn’t true, as Bradbury states in the next paragraph, that women never wake at 3 - because I had, and ain’t I a woman? And then I pondered whether I could use his POV tricks in the novel I started (and no, didn’t finish) during NaNoWriMo, which has three POV characters and tripped me up when I realized that a certain scene wanted two of them.

Fortunately, Mr. Bradbury’s grip on my early-morning mind loosened quickly. But it’s got me thinking again about what I wrote in November. I just reread part of it, and it’s dreck, but the bones of the story are there, and I think it’s a good one. About time I tossed out the hastily-written rags they’re clothed with and got down to work.