Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I am super sick again, but that's boring.

This isn't!

Lacy has replaced Barrel of Monkeys actors with robots!!!

Internet ROBOTS!!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I am making progress slowly. Progress is slow.

But it's progress. No going backwards. I'm adding a scene to my book that was missing. It's obvious how missing it was, and I understand the changes that need to happen in that scene but not the actions. So I'm working on it. I'm freewriting, and wandering, and collecting web detritus, and today I wrote a bridge leading up to the scene.

The challenge is that I've given my character a challenge. I'm making her come up with an awesome plan . . . which means I have to come up with something awesome for her to come up with, and when I think about it that way, it makes perfect sense that it takes time.

I'm making my character work, so I have to work. Fair enough. And she'll be better for having to take some strong action at this point in the story.

I wish wish wish it wasn't taking me so long to revise this book, but it is. It does. Take time. Deal with it.

Monday, March 22, 2010


I'm at jury duty.
I don't mind it, but in this weird purgatory
it is hard to write anything that matters
or to censor my emotions about things that aren't really my business

And so I'm blogging

I am grateful for other people's
grateful when information is power
and I don't have enough of either

Saw the picture of the boy of a boy I used to love
he was really a boy
the photos
not even the same person
and I look exactly so much the same

How did he manage to hide himself, his old self
while mine hovers?
He recognized me on the street once
and I had to ask, "how do I know you?"
There was power in that too.
In not having knowledge
that one little moment

I don't know you
You look so different I don't have to acknowledge
how I embarrassed myself at the age of seventeen

It's impossible not to embarrass oneself at that age
or at mine, apparently

it's not a new thing
this feeling
that made a man lock eyes with me twice on the train
Maybe he wanted my attention, or maybe he was trying to figure out
was it the sun or
something inside me
making my eyes tight that way?
it was both

thinking about what to say and when and how to be a good person
it's boring
it's nothing to share, but you can have it

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I don't handle weather changes well

Does anybody else have this problem?

It's spring -- there are shoots popping up in lawns on my street. I got hot driving around in my car and opened the windows. The sun is bright and encouraging.

But all I want to do is take a nap and play video games. Indoors. I don't want to know how sunny it is. I don't want the pressure to be living every moment to its fullest.

Maybe spring reminds me of LA, or of allergies. They're similar.

I will adjust. I will love the warmth once I get used to it. I'm just not ready for it yet. And I'll always prefer the sharp gravitation of fall.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Joe and I made a vlog in the middle of all our Monkey work today, mostly to keep me from falling asleep on my bed before I had to drive us to Grandma.

Joe & Rachel's Big Day from Barrel of Monkeys on Vimeo.

We did! We made it! As in my last attempt at video-taping myself, I talk funny and make lots of awkward, over-eager faces at the camera, but that's how I roll. That's how I vlog roll. I'm over it.

On the dreaded Spring Forward Sunday, I had a four-hour rehearsal followed by a matinee and was up until one last night doing last minute prepping and planning for today . . . which was a craze, but a happy craze. I got to play a country diva, a talking apple, and sing about IRS Moles in my loudest belt. I got to watch 7 and 8-year olds do a postmodern (POMO, for real, I am not even joking!) adaptation of a group story written by other kids. I got to wear my Barbie dream jacket that I bought at a thrift store in Belfast my second summer out of college. I got a BamBam's Pocket with house dressing.

AND I got official word that my friends' new baby is finally, finally here, fat and happy!

Banner day.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Happy Book Release!

They're releasing them right out into the wild!

Varian Johnson is my buddy and VCFA classmate, and his THIRD book Saving Maddie is out today on his BIRTHDAY!

I've already read it, but I still plan to get my very own copy because I am a little bit in love with Maddie, because Varian workshopped a scene from this book in my very first workshop at VCFA, because it's dedicated to our class (I think? gotta get my copy to verify), and because there's a really cool character in it -- okay, well, she's not that cool, but that's kind of her charm -- who shares the name Rachel.

Plus, how sexy is this cover?

Varian's doing a blog tour right now. Check it out.

Jandy Nelson was in the class two ahead of mine, sort of our big brother-sister class, and I still have a vivid memory of her grad reading in which she read from The Sky is Everywhere. It's poetic and gorgeous, like Jandy.

Here's a trailer:

The Sky is Everywhere from YR Penguin Books on Vimeo.

AND, I'm belated in congratulating my Chicago and Monkey friend Cesar Torres on his first book, a short story collection called The 12 Burning Wheels. You can get it as a book or an e-book from the publisher M-Brane SF or on Amazon.

Cesar's writing is dark and creepy and weird in all the best ways, and he creates new worlds so quickly I don't know how he stays as grounded in this one. Cesar works HARD on a lot of things at once, as do Varian and Jandy. I am trying to learn how they do that, but in the meantime, I congratulate them!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I've become that boring person who does nothing but whine . . .

. . . about how sick they are.

But it's all I can think about.

I tried to go to the doctor today, but the clinic I tried was done taking patients due to "high volume." No one was there. But whatever. I'm hoping my fever breaks by tomorrow and I can forgo the doc altogether. That's my main symptom at this point -- achy, sweaty, chilly fever, and a cough that hurts my head.

Rather than complain about it anymore, I leave you with some music:

I'm having some serious fever dreams, but sharing them here might be illegal.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

From the sick bed

It's all laughs under here, under these covers,
where my funny dreams feel real on waking,
where my funny actions feel like dreams,
where the buzz of the humidifier drowns the neighbors,
where I sweat enough to keep from needing to get up to use the bathroom,
where starting to do anything remotely productive leads to fear of terrible mess-ups and immediate work stoppage,
where standing on the table to change the kitchen lightbulbs feels like some serious living on the edge,
where the entire first season of Battlestar Galactica passes before my fuzzy eyes, and it's almost like I'm one of them, their problems are so much more immediate, more worthy, and their passions so unnecessarily complicated but more satisfying for it.

I slept eighteen hours from around midnight on Monday to 5:40 pm on Tuesday. Last night only twelve, but still, I think I'm undergoing some sort of -- dozing brain can't find the word for it -- metamorphosis.

It might just be a part of spring. Last night, I thought, "I'm going to miss this winter." That's the cold talking, but it's still a little true. In one of my dreams, they already have Halloween on display -- skipping ahead two seasons. I hope that was just a dream.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Happy Pulaski Day!

It's Pulaski Day in Chicago! That means there's no school (or after-school program) for me to teach. It also means something about an awesome Polish man and the Revolutionary War, but I'm not going to learn you about that because there's NO SCHOOL TODAY!!!

It ALSO means it's March, which means that my deadline has come and gone.

Did I finish revising everything?


Did I get deep into the terrible, terrible middle where I am writing lots of new stuff that I'm confident will make my book better?


So that's what a deadline is good for.

I'm going to keep it up and be ready to send it out sooner than later.

And may I just say, that the beginning of March means something here in Chicago.

The terrible winter is not entirely past, but the darkest time is. Soon we'll be getting that balmy meeting of chill air that scoops across the lake to mix with settled warmth as the sun sets, turning us into empowered, giddy, charismatic creatures of the spring . . .