Category Archives: True Stories

Anecdotes from my past and present.

Story intro: Origin of Species

Posted on February 16, 2011 by

I wrote “Origin of Species” at almost exactly the same time as I did “Faces of Gemini” (whose intro is here) and the process was very similar: an anthology invitation from editor Jeanne Cavelos became an outline in point form, which in turn became an outline of detailed sentences. These became a bony first draft in need of fleshing. The two stories feel like siblings of a sort, having come together in this fashion.

I cannot remember how I hit upon the idea of taking Annie Darwin’s ghost and putting her in a Van Helsing story. I knew I didn’t want to set the story in the time of Dracula, didn’t want monster-stalking by gaslight: I figured that the anthology would have plenty of those, written well by people who actually know their Victorian history.

I do know I was deeply pleased with the idea as soon as I conceived it; I vaguely remember that I’d just read Annie’s Box: Darwin, His Daughter, and Human Evolution and had it on my mind, and saw that Annie could be put to good use there.

It felt right, in other words, which is no doubt another reason why the story came together so fast.

Life is full, Alyx is Quiet

Posted on January 28, 2011 by

I haven’t been blogging much lately. I got some birds up last week from my outing to Vanier Park, with Barb, but posts about writing and the state of my life have been in short supply. One reason is that I temporarily diverted my usual blogging time into revision on an upcoming novel. Another is that I am doing the Quantum Leap rewatches, and a Favorite Thing Ever each week, along with prepping lectures for my Novel III class and writing 8-10 critiques a week for the current Novel II class.

At the same time, some of the bits and pieces of my life have been shifting around a bit, and lots of them haven’t actually settled yet. One example: I’ve always been an early riser, but for the last month and a half I’ve been starting my work day at 6:00 a.m. Another: I’ve been deep in preparations for a choir concert (video footage, including me mangling the word ‘collectivist’ and Badger being lovely and articulate, can be found here). This was my last concert for awhile, as I’m taking a break from singing.

I never quite got a chance to tell you that my birthday trip went down the flush, and I haven’t figured out what the new birthday plan will be. And I took on a new mentoring gig, which–with help from several other little life shifts–discombobulated the stable little Wednesday morning breakfast ritual that has been a mainstay of my and kelly-yoyoKelly‘s lives since we were twenty-five or so.

There’s been other stuff too, so much of it, some of it with the potential to either be quite big or evaporate in a pfiffle. And I’m like a lot of people, in that uncertainty will never be the topic of an Alyx favorite thing ever column. So there’s been lots of awareness of things unresolved, a resulting bit of tension, and radio silence.

A few things that definitely are going on:

–Kelly and I and Ana are going to the Vancouver Police Museum’s Forensics for Adults program tonight, to do a one-hour workshop on blood spatter. Come on, admit you’re jealous.

–When we first moved to BC and I got chances to experience the Seabus and B.C. Ferries, I started having fabulous seagoing adventure dreams. In these physically improbable scenarios, I often got to drive a ferry as though it was a speedboat, in really fast, really splashy chases. These dreams are so fun. Now that I have been on a cruise, I have cruise dreams too!

–After a couple years of random and unsuccessful attempts to find contact information for her, I have finally managed to reconnect with one of my Clarion instructors, someone I absolutely adore. This has been supernice.

All my carrots are belong to virtual reality. It used to be that when I achieved some wee personal goal, I’d buy myself a $2-5 packet of sticky notes, or a bowl from someplace like YokoYaya. But now I buy iPod apps! Today I loaded up Vancouver 150, which is a “Hey, Vancouver’s turning 150 so here’s a news and history portal” type thingie. But it was free, and the universe owes me a treat, so if you know of great iTouch apps that are not games, I am always interested.

Early morning sightings

Posted on December 9, 2010 by

I saw a skunk on Wednesday on my way to the cafe. It was six in the morning, raining hard and very dark–so, no chance of a photo. That, combined with the fact that it was a skunk, meant I didn’t even try to give chase. I was nevertheless delighted to see him waddling down Woodland in high gear, wavering between the west side of the street–and the fenced-in safety of a Terasen work site that is popular with a lot of the urban wildlife–and the garbage dumps of Greyhound Cate’s alley on the east. I don’t see skunks that often, and it has been at least a year. I took it for a good sign.

Yes, out and about at six. My timetable has shifted slightly, and now every day starts with an early fiction-writing session at the cafe. It used to start at half-past eight on Monday to Friday, and then early on Saturday-Sunday. Now it’s all crack of dawn, all the time. As an Xtreme Morning Person, this suits me… but every change has effects, and some have been hard to quantify.

Still, there’s been some “Mmm, must eat this meal at this point in the day now,” and a bit of “Gotta figure out when I’m getting to the pet store,” and “Hey, the frozen food run is sooo much more convenient!” I didn’t count on having to slot in a replacement for the semi-conscious woolgathering I used to do at five in the morning, five days a week. ( I’m not waking up any earlier, in general; I’ve just shifted around the daily must-do list in a way that’s been mostly pleasing.)

A thousand tiny consequences, some to be sorted; some, savored. The weekends are glorious, because K and I are on exactly the same clock, and we’ve already spent a couple long, delicious days together, reading and hanging out. Saturday when we went to the opera, we had a leisurely two hour window to get there… for ten! There was also a fit of self-indulgence wherein we destroyed the living room’s fitness for visitors by arranging the couch and our armchairs back-to-back, to maximize TV viewing comfort on the former and fireside-reading in the latter.

We are still muddling through the process of figuring out when and how to hang out with people when one runs out of brain at seven and goes to bed at nine.

Early bedtime has also proved to be the final nail for choir rehearsals. After the January 22 concert, I am planning to become a non-singing volunteer: meaning I’ll finish out my term on the Board and continue to run the website, but for the first time since 2003 I won’t be rehearsing or performing.

Violent homophobia, TV style

Posted on December 6, 2010 by

This week my Favorite thing Ever is gay marriage, by way of a ramble through Fame, Glee and the laugh-riot topic of gaybashing. It’s a bit of a weird essay, perhaps; I had mixed feelings about season two of Glee even before they embarked on a certain Kurt storyline.

Glee has so many great things going for it, and the events of “Furt” are very Toobworthy. I don’t care for very special episodes and one thing that’s good about this storyline is it isn’t some self-contained boo boo kiss. McKinley High has been bully heaven since the show hit the airwaves, and Kurt was always the target of choice for its scariest thuggizens. I like that nobody pretends that teachers or school boards or parents can fix the part of human nature that makes mean kids prowl around seeking out weak kids and selectively terrorizing those least likely to get support or sympathy.

This is also why I admire the It Gets Better videos that are popping up on my Facebook and Twitter feeds with such regularity; the soul-destroying abuse of queer kids in schools is on people’s minds and that is great, totally amazing.

My friend Jay Lake, as many of you know, has a stunningly honest and revealing blog about his life and, lately, about his battle with cancer. I admire Jay’s openness, but I don’t aspire to it. Oh, I’ll happily post images of every square inch of Vancouver or anywhere else I happen to go. I’ll tell you about writing, and reading, and teaching and other bits and pieces. But I conceive of and then discard a stunning number of posts that deal with the nuts and bolts of my day to day life, because I suspect a lot of it of being kinda dull, and because I am a fairly private person.

That said, I don’t have much use for closets or coyness. I’ve been always been out online, made it known that I’m proudly queer and genderqueer, and I’ve even occasionally made reference in my blog to having been gay-bashed in my teens. I do this because there’s a difference between privacy and pretense. While I almost never go looking for big conversations or comment streams full of virtual hugs, I’m not gonna lie to avoid ’em.


So, anyway. The part of the Glee episode “Furt,” the bit that poked my gaybash button, was the vivid depiction of one kid causing another to live in abject abject terror. Wow. That was so my life for awhile! Complete with the thing where you forget for a second, and let start feeling something other than fear, and WHAM!

I haven’t ever seen the mirror held up, on a TV show, with such clarity. There was heebie and jeebie, folks.

Then it passed, and instead I got to thinking about the yay of my marriage to Kelly, and that’s what led to this Favorite Thing Ever post. And next week I will spin back to the Eighties and watch Sam and Al get their gay on for TOR.COM when I rewatch “Running for Honor”.

After that, who knows? Though there’s probably a 75% chance that a photograph of a bird will be involved.

Braided gloom and beauty

Posted on November 19, 2010 by

I love the bluster and inconstancy of November in the Pacific Northwest. The other day, I watched a rising column of leaves in a Bellingham parking lot. Some scraped the pavement in circles, others twirled aloft, climbing, making a visible thing of an unseen gyre of air. Then the wind lost its grip: the column broke up, fell apart, and the leaves hurtled over the cars, bullet-fast and harmless, flying every which way.

I love the frosty days and the torrential downpours, the winds and how they lash the huge trees back and forth, love the mornings after these blows, streets strewn with broken branches, sodden would-be kindling. The air is saturated with water, always, and the days change rapidly, fog giving way to brightness, rainclouds screaming in to engulf a surprise window of blue skies. Right now it’s sleet with a threat of coming snow. It’s dramatic, moody, anything-can-happen weather.

November is purple clouds, rain-slicked maple leaves, screamingly red, a spongy mash of birch underfoot, turning from coin gold to rot brown–all the colors are stunning during these last violent throes of autumn.

November is stumbling on foreboding, Gothic structures in the midst of a walk through a Portland neighborhood:
Joseph Wood Hill Park

I am always at a low ebb, physically, emotionally and creatively, at this time of year. Things have a weight, a heaviness they lack in other months. It’s one reason why I sometimes embrace Nanowrimo (a drama unto itself!), because the mad over-the-top pace of it somehow forces me to tread, to keep myself afloat.

November is, for me, a month of beauty and slog, the two intertwined so tightly that the strands are inseparable.