In the Heat, All Reet

August is upon the DC Metro area. For those unfamiliar with this time of year, it’s when you can switch between your local weather forecast, and that of Baton Rouge, LA, and not see that much of a difference. Storms roll in with frequency and ferocity. The humidity is almost drinkable. Energy levels drop. Most, who can, try to escape the area for a location with an ocean, or a pool, or some other form of weather which doesn’t resemble a pot of water slowly coming up to a boil.

My cat, Tellus, tends to reflect my moods on these days. Unlike Adia, who has manic moments that annoy the heck out of us, Tellus has a few basic mood settings:

(1) Food? Girl? – This is when he’s most active. If food is involved, he leaps to action, rushing downstairs to catch the auto-feeder. And, if one of the girls is in the kitchen, or lounging in the dining area, he’s right there. He sits at the edge of his invisible fence line, watching, mewing piteously for some attention.

(2) Sunbeam. Sleep. – On high heat afternoons, or winter afternoons, he will curl himself up on a low box we have on the floor and rest. Sometimes, Adia will cram in there with him. It’s rarely a state of activity. It’s a recharge point.

(3) Hey. What’s up? – This is his relatively normal state. He’ll wander around, bumping against someone seated on the couch, looking for petting. It may charge into “Hey! What’s that?!” if he’s excited enough. He’ll chase after his favorite toys, gnaw and gnash at them, before coming back for pettings or to just sit atop one of the couch pillows. For him, that’s a big way he just stays part of the action.

(4) You don’t see me. Go away. – He hides under the coffee table, where we keep the blankets. Or, under the couch. Or anywhere he can. Sometimes, he will hide away when he’s not feeling sociable. Other times, it’s because the doorbell rang and he hates people.

And lastly: (5) Oh. Hey. It’s you. – this can be mistaken for “Hey. What’s up?” but there’s a tinge of melancholy.  He won’t move for the doorbell. He won’t move for the ball. When food appears, he doesn’t react. Physical symptoms only happen once or twice. They have to be registered with care. But most of the time he’s just there. Existing. In the August heat, all reet.

C.H.U.D.s of Doubt

(FYI – Amazing C.H.U.D. image from Jorge)

C.H.U.D. – Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers. Humans, through exposure to radioactive toxic waste, have turned into cannibals snacking on the denizens of early 80’s New York. They’re also responsible for recent plumbing issues in my home, but I don’t have direct proof of this… yet…

In this case, though, I’m talking about the CHUDs of doubt. They are frequent visitors to the sub-levels of my mental cityscape. Any time I feel confident and secure, they grab someone off the street and devour them. My city’s not so safe anymore. I don’t feel confident exploring it, or inviting others to explore.

I have a story. I really like this one – think it’s one of the better ones I’ve written. But I’ve been having trouble finding a home for it. Same holds true for a lot of stories I’ve written recently. I look at the Submission Grinder and look at the stories and think, “Am I missing something? What’s wrong with you?” Usually, that’s when the CHUDs of doubt start crawling out of the sewers and feasting on my confidence.

So what do you do next? How do you get the police to believe you, start sending out people to chuck napalm down there and burn the CHUDs out forever?

Well, I’m still working out that part. It may involve finding new writing groups, taking on-line classes, and looking for new ways to look at my work, and how I’m working. Or, maybe it means realizing that my CHUDs are just homeless folk and the real enemy are the folks who dumped the toxic waste that mutated them in the first place.

In either case, my CHUDs aren’t going away. So I have to deal with them.

 

Have Yourself An Upgraded Christmas

IMG_20171211_192305_827Once again, I reach a time of year where I’m reflective. Luckily, the day job has been doing its level best to keep me busy, making sure all my energy is spent there and not on frivolities like everything else in the world. But, moments of introspection still creep into my head.  I need to remind myself I’ve actually accomplished a few things:

I’ve been published in two anthologies now. The latest is The Death of All Things and I had the distinct honor of being edited by two authors I admire: Kat Richardson and Laura Anne Gilman. I learned more than I can say working on that story, and have been working on applying those lessons in all future stories.

I’ve got five stories out on submission, and three more in various stages of completion. And, I’m diving back into planning a novel, based on the character from my short story.

My photography has not expanded much this year. I need to change next year, and actually get back to creating and posting images as well as text. But, speaking of images, I’ve made my first AMV in ages. That and a test recording I did had folks suggest I create a podcast which only a few isolated folks will listen to. I think I might mix the two: have the podcast style ramblings but with images I’ve taken, or art by my friends.

But I have to invest more in my writing. And that means moving away from comfort into areas of fear.  It means trying to come back from conferences speaking to at least one person I had not met before. It means making contacts, networking, and all the things my introverted nature hisses at. It means pushing my boundaries. I must improve. I must adapt. I must upgrade.

Who is this Biomechanoid?

“Who are you?”

This isn’t just one of the great existential questions permeating our existence. For folks who’ve followed me since I began this on-line venture, it’s a legitimate question. “Who is this guy? What does he think he’s doing? What’s with the book chapters?”   Although some of this is covered in the About page, I wanted to dig a little deeper.

Now, I could write something like this:

“Author. Visionary. Dreamweaver. Andrija Popovic’s literary powers have stunned the community into silence. The publishing world is unable to comprehend the sheer primal nature of his antediluvian brilliance. But here, today, at this moment, you can experience him via the shared consciousness within…. the internet!”

But really, it would be an excuse to post this photo again while making an oblique reference to Garth Marenghi. No, the truth is much more mundane.

I was born in one of the nicer parts of the DC metro area. Both my parents are immigrants – one from Serbia and one from Venezuela – so I’ve never quite had a normal relationship with the world around me. I felt both American, and alien, all at once. This solidified when I was very young, and saw my first episode of Cosmos. The episode was “The Life and Death of Stars” and, at the very end, I watched Carl Sagan describe a galaxy rising on the shores of a distant planet.

Over the end credits the pinwheel of the milky way rose over a deep blue-green ocean. Hints of a fiery sunset touched the tops of the waves. My jaw literally dropped and, for the first time in my life, I wept for joy. Every time before, in my memory, I wept out of shame, pain and humiliation – usually at the end of an intense spanking. Not this time.

I wanted to be on that planet. I wanted to see that sunrise. I wanted to feel the sand under my feet. Would it be the same sand? Would it feel different? How would the breeze feel?

Most of the kids around me didn’t think like this. They were focused on the Redskins, or rough-housing during the play periods. I was weird. Football didn’t interest me. Weird places and unusual ideas did. I started writing then. Writing, and later photography, would keep me going through very rough times. They were secret joys, hidden from the demands of family or money. My hobbies, my secret forays into the arts, kept me sane.

But in the last few years, something turned. For the longest time, I was writing, but not for myself entirely. I wrote as a vent, or a way of getting the attention of selected folks.  The point wasn’t to tell my stories, but to tell stories I thought others wanted. But as I wrote my way through short stories which went nowhere, and what would become my first novel, I started writing more and more about the stories I wanted to read, and wanted to tell.

“Well, what stories do you want to read? Which ones do you want to tell?”

I’m still discovering this. Like many things, I’m late to the party but trying to catch up as best I can. This journal, focused on my writing, my convention experiences, thoughts on genre, is one way I’m trying to answer those questions. It my be the long-way around. But it’s how I learn and grow. But as you can probably tell from this entry, memories and the ripples pact acts have on the future interest me quite a bit. As does identity.

“Who are you?” I’m a work in progress. I’m both the same person who started this blog three years ago, and yet not the same person in the least. I am a biomechanoid under constant construction. And this is where you can see the work in progress.

Places in the Snow

Settling into a place. It always sounds like a passive item; but it’s actually a geologic process. Slow and steady. After a bit, the jagged peaks smooth out into steady waves.

Had my first steady wave today. Good bout of writing while seated at the small table in the kitchen. Outside the faceted bay window, I saw snow settle onto the ground for the first time this season. Ravens, big as my cats, walked up and down the street picking for anything of interest. Got a good chunk of words on the page while the snow fell and the ravens cawed.

Hopefully it’s a good sign.

Lost Between Worlds

Cass

This image is here simply because I miss Cassandra Cain.  My heaviest comic collecting days were back when Barbara Gordon was Oracle and ran the Birds of Prey.  Cass was Batgirl, Tim Drake was Robin and Steph was Spoiler.

And Lady Blackhawk could drink you under the table while Sasha from Checkmate kept an eye on you.

I’m writing this as I wind down my work day before taking time off for Balticon.  I’m giving myself time – extended time – to write before my lady and I dive back into the masses of fen at the Hunt Valley.

At an office presentation, I was congratulated on my upcoming tenth year with the company. Ten years. This would lead to an Henri-esque level of ennui and contemplations of mortality, but then another email funnels into the in-box asking for help.

When I first joined the company, back when Cass was Batgirl, it was so I could give myself more time to write. Instead, I found myself as the backbone and champion for my particular product line. I gave my words to it, not myself. And now I find it hard to take those words back.  I now scrape some time writing first thing in the morning. Half an hour before work kicks in, if things weren’t too bad overnight. Sleep has become a precious thing. I drift away on the train instead of reading.

“Why don’t you give yourself more time?”

Part of me is still fighting to see this as worthwhile. It’s not an easy thing. When you’ve had ‘because there is no money in it’ drilled into your brain as the prime reason for not studying art, or playing music, or trying to write professionally for nearly three decades, it’s hard to deprogram.

This is why I love my book club, and places like Balticon, and my friends. They help me fight the programming.

I’ll know we’ve truly created a machine intelligence when it says to us, “Listen, I don’t want to predict commodities prices anymore. I’d like to write poetry for a living…”

New Skins

First, if you have an allergy or aversion to existential moments, where one looks into the face of ennui and questions one’s position in the world, I’d skip most of this entry. In the last few weeks, my day job underwent several massive changes. Structures were taken, shaken and shattered. We are now operating under a “Leap before you Look” process and I am not happy with it. My definition of my job, which did have many stressful and annoying moments, held some positive meaning. “I’m making a difference.” I told myself.

Now, I walk into work exhausted, and leave sleepwalking. “Why am I here? What am I doing?”

The existential questions about my money making job bleed into my writing. I’m looking at my projects, at Ivre and Metaphysical Graffiti. I wonder if I’m doing anything other than just dumping words on a page. It was enough for me to say, “I’m writing a story I’d want to read.” The desire to fill in a missing story, to create a tale I wish to read, but could not find anywhere, started me down this road. And now I’m wondering if that’s enough.

“You should write something with depth and meaning! What are you saying?”

If I knew what I was saying, I wouldn’t be writing this entry. This is something I’ll have to puzzle out.

And now this: