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I felt excitement the first moment I knew that I had been published in a literary journal while an undergrad.  I never knew a moment of regret or worry over it, although it was not the best poem I’d ever written. I was satisfied.

Not so with the publishing of my first e-book.  There was excitement at first, yes, closely followed by fear and anxiety.  I began to wonder if publishing the ‘traditional’ way was a more legitimate way than via e-book.  I began to doubt myself, my work.  I began to panic.  Did I do the right thing?  For myself?

My incipient dream:    to see my book, my pages, my words on bookshelves in bookstores.  On bookshelves in homes all across America, all across Europe.  Is this what writers dream of?  Do dreams have to keep up with technology & the constant flux of change in the world?  Why do we always want things to change or want to keep things from ever changing?

So, the e-book changes things a bit.  No hard-cover, no numbered pages.  No tactile experience; no smell.  No feel.  No weight of a newly pressed hardcover.  Just some words on a screen.

But is reading a text the same regardless of the source?  Do we read text messages, online magazines differently than novels?  It’s all just words, right?  I’m asking these questions because I’m not sure of the answers.

Arguments over the future of publishing aside, I feel like I’ve given birth, and am now in postpartum depression.  Teary, weary, worried.  Wondering how my words are being perceived by others.  How will they see my work?  What will others think of  me and what I’ve birthed?

They’re just some words on a screen, right?


At least twice in the Korean film “Vegetarian” is this question asked:  once by a sister, once by the husband of the vegetarian in question.  My question is this:  what does one have to do with the other?  Why does not eating meat equal crazy?

Multiple themes permeate the film:  it is not about (or just about) a woman who turns vegetarian.  The main character, a young married woman, has a sudden aversion to meat after having some unexplained dreams.  We see her ridding the fridge of meat; she later tells her husband she threw out the eggs as well.  She can’t have sex with her husband because he smells of meat.  Later, at a family gathering, her father gets so angry over her refusal to eat meat that he has two relatives hold her while he tries to stuff it down her throat.  Her revulsion and panic is so strong it drives her to take a knife to herself.

My question is:  Why?  Why is it, that when a person makes a choice about their diet, that others get so angry about it?  Why does someone else’s choice of food carry such weight, provoke such anger?  The anger is palpable for me, as this scene feels very familiar.

No one ever tried to force-feed me, but I can safely say there were thoughts of it in the heads of those around me.  I read somewhere recently that in general, it is more acceptable for a person to announce they are an atheist than a vegetarian.  Again, I have to ask:  Why?  Do we need to add to the Constitution Freedom of Diet, alongside Freedom of Speech and Religion?

Yeah, ok, I admit it– I scoff at folks who comest a continuous stream of fast food and processed junk.  I grew up on that stuff– plastic cheese and processed meats and cheap burgers.  I try to eat healthier now, but I do so enjoy some good ol’ non-food items now & then (lately I’m all about HOT FRIES. laugh all you want, they rock.)   So yeah I may have comments about what other folks eat.  But would I ever try to force my beliefs about food on them?  No.  Am I strongly opinionated and will I debate with them about it?  yes.  Eat and let eat, I say.

Another scene near the end of “Vegetarian” shows the girl being forcefully held down in a hospital, nose taped shut, so that they can actually force some sort of rice-gruel down her throat.  It was horrifying.  This was not because of her choice of diet, though.  In the end, she just refused to eat.  We never find out what the trauma was, or what was in her dreams that caused her to say she could not eat meat. She is diagnosed (wrongly, I believe) with Schizophrenia and anorexia.

She has only one person who relates to her in some way:  her artist brother-in-law.  I’m not sure he fully understood what she was going through, but he at least did not attack her for it.  When he paints flowers all over her body she is thrilled; when he paints flowers on another young man, she is undeniably attracted to him.  There is a sex scene with her and the brother-in-law, both painted in flowers, that is both hot and feral.

One other thing I noticed is the sound that meat makes, versus plants:  during the family dinner, the oysters (or whatever other meat they had) made a squishy, wet sound.  Later, when the girl and her brother-in-law are eating fruit, the sounds are crisp and fresh.  I dunno whether the director intended this contrast or not, but it was noticeable to me.

So.  Both the woman’s husband and sister ask and/or say that she is crazy.  I don’t eat meat, so does that mean that I, too, am crazy?  Food for thought, people.

In a few days, I’ll be seeing some late night flick about vampires and some sort of Frankenstein creature.  That should be much more fun!

This week, I’ve been feeling haunted.  Not with the paranormal, UFO’s, or horror films.  Events past and stories and photographs have been my lurking in my mind this week, and today they’ve finally caught up with me.

Last night, I dreamt of an event that has already happened:  the details were different, but the story was the same.  Someone left me.  Someone with whom I was deeply in love with left me this year.  I dunno why, but the scene replayed itself in my mind again, last night, rendering me a sobbing wreck today.  Thanks, subconscious, you’re a bloody fucking peach.

The past two or three weeks have been very hectic:  things are happening at work, I began teaching an ESL class for adults in the evening, and both of these things have kept me from focusing on other things, during the week.  Which means it’s all hitting me today, now, on my day off, because this is the only time I have in order to break down.  Well, that seems fair, right?  Hardly.

I have been making an earnest attempt at keeping up with my reading, and that is the second half of my week’s haunting.  I have been reading stories from the latest Granta magazine, the Chicago issue.  I love Chicago:  I have family there, and have made many trips by car or plane to visit, the last trip being summer of 2008.  None of the stories I’ve read so far have been similar to my experience– which is good and bad.  But when a writer talks about Lake Shore drive or Midway or Cicero, well, I’ve got a reference point.  It’s nice.

As a preface to the story I want to talk about, I need to say this:  a few years ago, I saw the Pulitzer Prize Photographs exhibit here in Nashville at the Frist.  I think there were about 50 photographs, and they are blown up to tremendous size, therefore eliciting a much larger emotional response than would a smaller photo, one seen in a book or even on a computer.  Viewing this exhibit was emotionally draining; some photos we are all familiar with, due to their having been plastered everywhere.  Others, though just as startling, are not so familiar.  One such photo that I was unfamiliar with was this:  a photo of a small black boy, taken from a low point, in what looked like the quad of a public housing development; in the background, the public housing building looms, large and ugly and not just a bit scary.  But the juxtaposition is what makes the photo:  the boy is running, laughing, happy.  It’s startling.

I can’t recall where the photo was taken, when, or who the photographer is.  A google search has not produced the answer, either.  But I was reminded of this photo by the essay and photo essay by Camilo Jose Vergara entitled “The Projects.”  The essay is a little heartbreaking:  Vergara talks about his project of photographing Chicago over the course of nearly 30 years.  When you look at the photos, it’s painful to see how some things really never change.  He writes about how he went to Chicago’s infamous (and extremely dangerous) housing projects and took photos from the roof.  He wrote about the violence, the horrific living conditions, the utter perversity of the fact that people had to live in these housing projects.  Several of these projects have been bulldozed in recent years, with books popping up from those who had to live in them.  Just what I read from Vergara’s essay was enough to scare me:  I’m not sure I could read a first hand experience from an actual tenant.

The photos Vergara took jolted my memory of the Pulitzer Prize Photo exhibit:  the Cabrini Green projects look exactly like the building I saw in the exhibit photo.  Another surprise to me was the fact that the Chicago housing projects are HUGE:  16 stories, on blocks that are miles long.  One project held 28 buildings.  It had never occurred to me, before now, that bigger cities had bigger projects.  Nashville of course has them as well, but nothing to match the size of Cabrini Green.  Nothing to match the violence held in the Chicago projects.  And yes, I have been in some projects here, and seen them first-hand, during my years in social work.  No, there were not the safest or best-kept living spaces; but damn, they don’t compare to the ones in Chicago.  Perhaps it’s my naivete that keeps me from assuming there are worse places.

I love that as a title:  you know exactly what you are in for when you read it.  It’s such an easy way to categorize random things and put them all into one post.  Or is it just laziness?  Eh, no matter.

The good thing:  Rainier cherries are back in season!  This is one of my favorite fruits, and are only in season for a couple of months in spring/summer.  And the most expensive fruit I like as well:  anywhere from $7-10 per pound.  Geez!  They’d better be good for that price, eh?  They are damn worth it.  If you’ve not had these cherries– also called Queen Anne cherries, by the way– go and get some,  now.  Immediately.  You’ll be glad you did.

Ok, on to the next:  the bad.  Seems that just about every weekday, at around 4 or 4.30pm, I burst into tears.  Yeah, I know, it’s good I”m on a schedule and all that, but still.  I know that this is residue leftover from my recently demised relationship.  I know that this  happens because every day for over a year, my ex and I talked on skype at sometime between 4 & 6pm, because he was on London time and there is a six hour difference.  I know that my stupid (read: incredibly smart and sensitive) body clock just knows automatically when it’s that time of day.  I don’t watch the clock during my workdays, for the most part, because I work from home, and so I’m not really counting the time.  But I swear, like clockwork, if I am at home at that time, then you can bet I’m in tears.  I’m wondering how long this will last?  I know, I’m trying to rush through something that is just going to take time.  Just like every other human I know, I suffer at times from a bit of impatience.

Now, on to the weird!  Had a ton of dreams last night, most of which I can only remember in fragments.  Most of those fragments have already disappeared.  But the one I do remember is really odd.  I’m talking to my mother, and she says something to me, which prompts me to lean down and whisper in her ear the following:  “but Mom, I’m an Atheist.”  She doesn’t react in the dream as I would expect:  she’s understanding of it.  Now she (as well as most of my family) are rigidly Christian and tend to lean to the conservative side.  My Dad, on the other hand, is more like me, more of a searching soul who likes to read about all kinds of religions, though he does not seem to ascribe to any particular one.  However, in the dream, he was very upset about what I said!  I totally would have expected opposite results!  I also find it interesting that I whispered in the dream.  I don’t think I’ve done that before.

Not sure what this dream means, if anything.  If anyone has any ideas, do let me know!

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