December 28th, 2005

Meme Factory: The Year in Review

Here's my answers to a couple of memes snagged from indigo_black and tesao.

1. What did you do in 2005 that you'd never done before?:
Moved back into a place I'd just moved out of. Traveled to New York by myself, and for myself, and met some blogging VIPs whom I've admired greatly. Discovered that there really is such a thing as an apartment being too big.

2. Did you keep your New Years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Didn't make New Year's resolutions, but I just might this year. Ought to follow indigo_black's example and make dental care a priority.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?:
A lesbian couple at the shul I don't go to had a baby, and they named him (of all things) Asher. [Actually this was in 2004 but I'm counting it. And the poor kid was born on Christmas Eve, which means he'll have to go through life listening to reindeer jokes.]

4. Did anyone close to you die?:
My wealthy uncle passed away this year. Uncle F. was my Mom's brother. They never got along well, but a few years ago Uncle F. won the lottery and apparently it brought out the best in him; he and my Mom buried the hatchet (yeah I know, there may have been some self-interest on my mother's part, but even so) and were on fairly good terms by the time my mother passed away in 2003. Interestingly enough, they both died on the first day of Passover, which means they share a yahrzeit; even more interesting because they didn't come from a Jewish background. (I converted some years ago, but that's another tale.)

5. What countries did you visit?:
Didn't make it out of the USA this year, although I'm hoping to take a trip to the Middle East soon. (My friend Michael Totten is in the Mideast for six months.)

6. What would you like to have in 2006 that you lacked in 2005?:
A dating life would be a start. Steady income would be nice too.

7. What dates from 2005 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?:
January 30 - the Iraqi elections, and my birthday!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?:
Too early to say for sure, but I think the fact that I'm writing again is a good sign.

9. What was your biggest failure?:
Let's leave my social life out of this, shall we?

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?:

11. What was the best thing you bought?:
Right now what comes to mind is the DVD set "Origins" by Neil deGrasse Tyson (a PBS Nova production). Just bought it yesterday. It's based on the book of the same title (by Tyson and Donald Goldsmith) about the origins of our world. Dramatically narrated by Tyson, with tons of special effects and animation, and lots of solid informational content.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?:
The people of Iraq, and freedom activists throughout the Middle East.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?:
That'd be a personal one, but I'm leaving that stuff behind and moving forward.

14. Where did most of your money go?:
Books, rent, travel, moving, and support for The Next Generation.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?:
The story I'm working on now.

16. What song will always remind you of 2005?:
"Gone Under Sea" by Electrelane. It's not new but it was a major obsession with me this year. A beautiful, beautiful piece of music.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) Happier or sadder?: Happier. Life gets a little better every day.
b) Thinner or fatter?: About the same, but I'm losing now instead of gaining, so I'll soon be thinner.
c) Richer or poorer?: LOTS poorer!!! A long story about a wealthy uncle, property inherited from parents, insurance, death, taxes, etc.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?:
More romance.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?:

20. How will you be spending Christmas?:

22. Did you fall in love in 2005?:
Well, today is only December 28. So there's still time.

23. How many one-night stands?:
See #13.

24. What was your favorite TV program?:

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?:

26. What was the best book you read?:
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?:
The Epoxies

28. What did you want and get?:
That one-night stand.

29. What did you want and not get?:
A relationship. A friendship.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?:

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?:
Rejoiced. 42.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?:
See 29. (Once again, indigo_black speaks for me!)

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2005?:
Fashion? I live in Portland.

34. What kept you sane?:
That's making an awfully big assumption ...

35. What celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?:
Hmmmm. Had quite a crush on Kaylee in Firefly/Serenity. Other than that, most of my crushes are non-celebrities.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
No response. (For my politics you can go read my political blog.)

37. Who did you miss?:
My sister (1964-1992). My father (1920-2000). My mother (1929-2003). (Yeah, Mom, I even miss you.)

38. Who was the best new person you met?:
To early to tell yet!

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2005:
Once again quoting IB: "Don't waste your time on people who don't value you or make you happy." And small is beautiful.

Beginnings of the first post of each month:

May 23 - I noticed that I'm still getting a few hits on my regular blog from this LJ site, so I thought I'd drop in and post something.
August 19 - just thought I'd update my LJ, just for fun.
December 2 - The Dragon Dishes. They're dark grey around the edges, shading to a light, greenish-tinted tan in the middle. The rims and highlights are gold leaf. There's a green dragon with batlike wings curling around the sides ...

Progress Report: "The Queen's Courtesan"

This is my first new story in a couple of years, and I'm hoping it will be the beginning of an ongoing fiction project. The story to date is posted here: The Queen's Courtesan.

I've been working on the basic idea for about two years. After countless hours of doodling, daydreaming, and planning, and with a fat folder full of handwritten notes on how I want my universe to look/feel/work, I finally jumped in and posted the first installment of this story on LJ last week.

Plots and plans: I've got only the vaguest idea of how this story is going to go. It's completely different from "The Zero Ring" and "The Rose of Paradise" (my previous two stories) in that I haven't carefully mapped out the whole thing in advance. (I did spend a lot of time creating the setting and background, but not the storyline itself.) Also unlike my previous two pieces, I'm making no effort to be "literary" here. Campy is just fine. I want it to be fun to read. I mean, I am taking it seriously, but I want it to be enjoyable.

The story grew, almost immediately, into something much bigger (and hopefully more interesting) than I'd originally envisioned. Original idea just focused on the Kathris/Amira/Joli love triangle. Well, without giving away too much of the plot, I think I can say there's not too many different ways this can end up, and it's not going to be pretty! And originally, that was the story, and I figured I'd probably bang it out in one sitting.


I soon realized I was going to have to add another character, someone not directly involved in the love triangle, for stability and continuity. In other words: somebody has got to walk away from this train wreck. Enter Dess. Suddenly I realized that she was the main character! And then I needed another mature character, some kind of "teacher" or "mentor" figure, plus Dess needed more friends; so there was Atubis. And while the story is obviously drama-based (i.e. conflict between characters), I wanted to add an adventure element (external threat) ... so we'll have to wait and see what happens there.

Who is Atubis? What is she frightened of? And what are the Fao up to, anyway? Right now, dear reader, I'm as much in the dark as you are ... but I think we'll both find out before too long.

I've been posting this story as I write it, but I may want to add some background information later; so I might end up adding stuff to the story that hasn't appeared here at LJ. In particular, I want to add more visual details; mostly I've been focused on the inner landscapes of the characters, but I realize there's very little in the way of physical description so far. I'm planning to change that. Also I want to add some more information on how the Gilkesh universe works. (How does hyperspace travel work? How do the Gilkesh reproduce? and so on.) I'll post updates as I go.