lion dance


The end of the year is fast approaching, and as usual it has inspired me to make a fruitcake and do fruitcake 2a little housekeeping, taking stock of what this year has meant for me as a writer, a reader, and just a person, too.

I confess that 2014 has been a difficult year for me. Sort of like Longfellow’s little girl with a curl right in the center of her forehead, when this year was good, it was very good indeed, and when it was bad it was horrid.

I struggled with personal relationships this year, with both friends and with my family, but I also reconnected with several old friends, and was privileged to witness a truly amazing event in my immediate family—my uncle surviving a bone marrow transplant from my mother.

After enjoying performing lion dance over Chinese New Year I decided to take a leave of absence from my kung fu studio for personal reasons both physical and mental. And while I felt less fit overall this year since 2011 (the year I committed myself to taking time for fitness) I ran my first triathlon and achieved the times I wanted.

I wrote a novel that is a total mess, that I may trunk forever, but I also wrote one that I believe may be my best yet.

As is apparent from that last point, I struggled with my writing this year, aesthetically and emotionally, but I also sold a handful more short stories than usual, ones that I like more than usual, even, and I also sold my first novel, my second novel, and a novella.

Though I struggled with feelings of career stagnation, I achieved some other firsts this year. I edited my first ever magazine edition (in spite of being Managing Editor/Assistant Editor of several magazines over the years, I was never invited to take part in actual fiction-selection), and was invited to edit two more projects, an issue of another magazine, due out next year, and another project which has not yet been announced.

Though I did not have a book come out this year, I saw seven short stories published, one of which earned me my first-ever mention in Publishers Weekly, and I sold seven more. I also began (and completed, more impressively for me) a blog series for Pornokitsch, where I am now a regular contributor.

For the first time since 2009 I did not attend a single con, but I was invited to be a guest—an actual guest, not just a participant—at a con next year, a first for me. I turned down cons for good and bad reasons this year, a learning experience, but I also traveled to Japan, which was an amazing experience.

I read more this year than I have in many, many years, in part due to a concerted effort to do so. I kept track of my adventures on Goodreads, which was enlightening. After beginning the year at a good clip I had hoped to read 75 books this year. I’m currently at 65 and I’m not sure I’ll be able to squeeze in ten before the new year, but I’ll try–and whatever I achieve will be extremely rewarding, I’m sure.

I also played video games for the first time in years—Dragon Age 2, and I just started Dragon Age: Origins. As this was also a rewarding experience, I hope to play more games in future, as I am woefully ignorant of the state of gaming, having never owned a video game system that wasn’t Nintendo. Onward to Skyrim, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Mass Effect, and more!

2015 should be an exiting year. Having my first novel come out, and my second, is already a thrilling but intimidating prospect. I’ll be doing two other blog series for Pornokitch, which I hope to complete with the same or greater level of success as the last. I’m enthusiastic to do more races, to have new adventures (didn’t get to my annual 14er this year), and to begin new writing projects with more confidence and self-assuredness in what I do best, rather in what I wished I did better.

I hope you all had wonderful years, and if you didn’t I hope your 2015 is better. Cheers!

starry wisdomGot a cool thing in my inbox the other day—the cover for The Starry Wisdom Library: The Catalogue of the Greatest Occult Book Auction of All Time, which I have a thing in. It also contains things by Nick Mamatas, Jesse Bullington, S.J. Chambers, Livia Llewellyn, Simon Strantzas, “and more.” Lots more!

I wrote my piece for this approximately a million years ago so I’m excited to see it’s all coming together so beautifully.

I also have my latest Roald Dahl blog up on Pornokitch, on Memories with Food at Gipsy House, which is a cookbook co-authored by Roald Dahl and his wife Felicity Dahl. I tried to make a meal out of it! The story is all there. Plus a recipe for vegan vanilla ice cream that is pretty much foolproof.

Other than that, things have been quiet. Except, not really?

I’m going to Japan in mid-October for two weeks. Whaaat. I know! I’m going to be spending most of my time in Toyko, as my girl Raechel is living there whilst dissertating, but we’re planning a side-trip to Kyoto. So fun!

I’m still training for my triathlon, which is tiring but really rewarding.

I’m culturing up some Rejuvelac for cheese making.

Oh, and I’m working on writing and editing stuff, of course.

Things have gotten so busy in that regard I’m having to scale back my involvement with certain recreational activities, sadly to say specifically lion dance. I hope to get back into it later this year, but after mid-August I’ll be done for a while. I don’t like to half-devote myself to things, so I’m focusing on my professional life for a while.

So, if you (1) are reading this, (2) live in Boulder or around here, and (3) care, you should come see me perform either at Boulder Asian Fest, which is on the 9th and the 10th (lion both days) or in Aurora at GlobalFest, on the 23rd.

This month for my Roald Dahl series for Pornokitch I tackled Rhyme Stew and Dirty Beasts. Both were… sub-par. Well, they can’t all be hidden gems.

April flew by in a haze of work. I was busier than I’ve been in a long time. But, I’ve made significant headway on my WiP, turned in two short stories, only one of which was unprofessionally late, and did quite a lot of work for my various freelance jobs. I also performed with my lion dance friends twice, both at CU.

The weather is changing, but slowly. It’s sunny… most of the time. And warmer, most of the time. But the wind is still cruel and ferocious. It’s been blowing around the blooming tulips and plum trees and cherry trees. Even so, the beauty of spring been inspiring me to get outside more, which is good. I got my bike its annual tune-up and have been riding around more.

What else… well, I discovered that Boulder has its very own Kombucha tap house… I mean, I guess I should have assumed that was the case. It’s called Rowdy Mermaid (!). I tried their kombucha at the farmer’s market and it’s really good! They had it in a kegerator. It’s 2014 in Boulder!

 

 

 

the drunken lion team shakes their stuff!

the drunken lion team shakes their stuff!

Lunar New Year is over! It was a privilege and an honor to perform quite a bit over the last three weekends for various organizations, restaurants, communities, and businesses. As a tail in the lion, I didn’t see most of the people who came out to see us, except for a brief glimpse when we bowed at the end, but that’s fine with me. I heard through the fabric of the tail the level of enthusiasm our audiences expressed for what we were doing, and that was amazing in a way I’ve never really experienced before.

Promoting Chinese culture is part of the mission of our school, and helping with that, being a part of it by getting into the lion going out there in front of people was terrifying, exciting, and awesome. And on a more personal level, I’ve performed before, in choirs and bands and in plays and musicals, but mostly when I was much younger. Readings are a kind of performance, but it’s within my comfort zone. Going in among crowds of people, scooting between tables in restaurants, inhaling gunpowder from fireworks and then going up on enormous stages in front of a thousand or more people, using my body to animate  a giant puppet… it was an amazing, unforgettable experience. It was so special, for example, to parade through the kitchen of a restaurant where my school typically eats during the New Year season, and then eat there! How cool is that?

basically my job is to twerk like miley inside of that thing

basically my job is to twerk like miley inside of that thing

I think what made the experience so different from my other performance experiences was relying—and depending—on my body in a more intensely physical way than I ever have before. And someone else’s body—lion dance is a partner exercise, after all. Working closely with my head, developing our trust and understanding of one another, keeping our enthusiasm going when we were both tired, was another amazing part of the overall challenge, and something I’ve never experienced before.

While admittedly the drunken lion routine was more about character and story than risky tricks, for me as a relative newcomer to lion dance it was still excitingly demanding work. After the first performance weekend, which included I think 11 performances in 24 hours, I was more tired than after climbing a 14er. But it was exhilarating learning and now knowing my that my body and will can work together like that.

It’s said that lion dance is an expression of one’s overall kung fu, and moving forward into the Year of the Horse as I continue my practice, it’s really exciting knowing I’m becoming more able to make my body do what I want it to. I’ve never been particularly powerful, graceful, fast, or strong, and I continue to struggle with all of those aspects of athleticism each time I practice. But the great thing is… lion and kung fu are a journey. I have no idea where it will take me, but getting there is tremendous fun!