Alyx Dellamonica

Human hair, cat hair, all the hair

Posted on March 26, 2015 by

imagePeter and Caitlin often write heartbreaking, detailed, delightful blog tributes when they lose a pet, and I admire them the more because that is not really my way. I thought I might write something, eventually, when Rumble died, but it didn’t happen. I’ll have to hope that since I so aggressively document the wonder of our cats while they are still pulse-equipped and photogenic, it evens out.

Prior to Rumble, we had only ever gotten kittens who were tiny – six weeks old. He was twice that, and seemed incredibly mature in some ways. Still a kitten, obviously, but old enough to have full run of the house as soon as he joined us. This meant, among other things, that he was bouncing his playful kitty butt all over the bed each night, at the rental apartment belonging to the man known as Frank the Entropic Landlord, as we slept.

I have let my hair grow out since 1995, which was when I shaved it for Clarion West. In the night, if I happened to roll over or even move my head, Rumble would pounce on any moving tresses that happened to drag over my pillow. Having your hair pounced while you’re unconscious, it turns out, is a great way to be compelled to flutter your eyelashes. This, in turn, is a spectacularly successful gambit if what you want most in life is a litter-encrusted kitten paw thrust straight  into one or both of your eye sockets.

I dig being sighted, and soon, with Kelly’s help, I was keeping my hair in French braids pretty much all the time. It wasn’t something I could do myself; I have tried periodically over the years, and made multiple abysmal failures of it. The principle seemed obvious enough, at least for the single braid, but the execution has for years been completely beyond me.

Then, a couple weeks ago, I was thinking about a story problem in the current novel. This tends to be the sort of thing that triggers absent-minded attempts at tasks that are physically beyond me. And blow me down, I sort of managed the single braid! (I can’t remember the plot problem, which means I probably solved that, too.) It wasn’t good, exactly; it didn’t go very far, and the whole process depended rather heavily on my being able to stick the left-hand tress in my mouth. But braid happened! It was still recognizably braid a couple hours later, when Kelly got home.

I rather suspect that the primary difference between all of those other tries and this one is that yoga has made it possible for me to hold my arms above my head for vastly longer periods of time. Or possibly to reach the back of my head at all.

This unexpected success also wasn’t, entirely, a fluke. I figured I had forged the faintest beginnings of a neural pathway, so I might as well see if I could push it further. (No, I actually thought that. Yes, I am that much of a nerd). I have as a result braided my own hair perhaps a half dozen times now, and many of the attempts have been at least marginally better than the one proceeding.

It is a weird thing. Rumble didn’t really cause it. It leaves me thinking about him just the same. He has been gone a year, almost. Going suddenly, as he did, meant he never had a shitty, protracted, painful vet-infested old age. I’m glad he was spared that, and the kittens are wonderful. But even so, and at odd times, the hole still yawns.

Toronto, Day 668

Posted on March 16, 2015 by

IceFall, tree, sky.

In the past week the temperatures have swung up above freezing. The icicles I’ve been photographing everywhere have vanished, and the snowdrifts are shrunken, dirty shadows of their former selves. Litter and other appalling, filthy things are emerging as they melt; this is one of the things I never loved about the end of winter, when I lived in Alberta. Still, the sidewalk-hoovers were out in force today, sucking up the crap. It’s unutterably cool to live in a city where the city pays humans to vacuum the sidewalks.

My Novel Writing II class is winding down. Final submissions came in yesterday, which makes this another week where I’ll write about 10k words of critique. (Novel III is up next, in the spring and there’s still room for a couple more writers.)

Kelly and I went and wrote fiction at the TIFF Bell Lightbox lounge, Luma, a couple times last week, in the evening. They seem to have all the good things: tables big enough for two or four people to work on, good windows, caffeinated beverages, adult beverages, nibbles, desserts, and not-too-obnoxious ambient music. (Jimmy’s on Gerrard, I am looking at you.)

The Lightbox is about a ten minute walk from our place, and my dream (one day I’m sure we’ll make it happen) is that someday we’ll follow up a writing date with an 8:00 p.m. movie of some variety.

Speaking of Kelly, her story “Good for Grapes” is out now in New Canadian Noir, and can be found in an ever-increasing number of bricks-and-mortar and virtual bookstores. Corey Redekop is doing mini-interviews with a number of the NCN authors: here’s hers.

Lammy Nom! (Meaning: Child of a Hidden Sea is up for a #Lammy Award!)

Posted on March 9, 2015 by

imageThe joke I’ve been making since I learned last week that Child of a Hidden Sea had made the 27th Lambda Literary Awards Finalist List, has been that my previous book, Blue Magic, is “way more gay.”

It’s easy to crack wise when these things happen, because it’s difficult to know what to say, beyond the obvious, about a nomination. The obvious being that I’m more than pleased… I’m thrilled, really, and also–hence the joke–surprised too. I am happy for my fellow Tor authors, Max Gladstone and Daryl Gregory, and for all the other nominees. I’m pleased to have personal connections to other people on the ballot, like Lloyd Meeker (we used to sing together in a choir called Out in Harmony) and one of my oldest friends in the world, the marvelous Keph Senett, who has a story in A Family by Any Other Name: Exploring Queer Relationships. These are the people in my neighborhood, the not-quite-imaginary place where queerness and feminism and activism and artistic expression all intersect to produce wonders.

It’s easier in person, of course. I got to brag up the nomination at the SpecFic Colloquium this past weekend, in between hearing Nnedi Okorafor, David Nickle, Simon McNeil, Alex Leitch and Derek Newman-Stile talking about everything from racism and ableism to gamergate and James Bond. I got to be all delighted and smug at my weekly writing date on Thursday, too.

The nomination injected a big dose of excitement into last week, in other words, and continues to offer up a warm glow of delight as the days pass.

Is it a Girl Thing? Guest post at Write all the Words

Posted on March 4, 2015 by

write memeI have a guest post up this week at Write All the Words!, as part of International Women’s Week. It’s about writing, and dialog, and the things watching TV is good for–if you’re a writer, that is–and the things that it doesn’t help with. And then, in time, it gets to be about Call the Midwife.

There are other great IWW posts here, by the way: stuff by authors like Marci  Jefferson and Heather Burch and Sally Hepworth. It’s very much worth a look.

Meanwhile, over at the UCLA Writers’ Extension Program, where I am currently teaching Novel Writing II (and will soon be teaching Novel Writing III), applications are now available for the 2015-16 Writers’ Program Scholarship, which covers the cost of three full-length Writers’ Program courses during a one-year period. The deadline to submit is Monday, June 29th, 2015.

For more information about the scholarship, please contact Katy Flaherty at kflaherty@uclaextension.edu or at 310-206-0951.

Shortest update ever?

Posted on February 26, 2015 by

look-im-a-human-catFinal edits for A Daughter of No Nation are done, done, OMG done, and the book’s back at Tor. Soon there will be copy-edits to proof. Meanwhile, I’m finishing up a short story for License Expired and then moving into polishing up The Nature of a Pirate.

So… blogging will commence approximately six minutes after I can form a sentence more complex than “Dur dur dur.”

I do spend a shocking amount of time saying “Get off da counter!” as it happens. CinCin has an advanced degree in incorrigible and she loves loves loves to mooch.

If you would like to kickstart this process whereby I become communicative again (kickstart in the old fashioned sense of the word, and not the “Let’s raise money for a rockin’ awesome project!” sense, though if you want to throw money at me of course I’ll knit a pink net to catch it with), feel free to suggest some topics. I’m often at my most interesting when I’m talking about something I hadn’t realized you all wanted to know.

Meanwhile, “Dur?”

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