Saturday, June 29, 2013

All Things Radioactive

My writing this week has been mostly limited to a few notes or impressions jotted each day in a journal I keep in my car, what I’m calling for now my “Radiation Journal.” I started my radiation treatments this week. For a few minutes each day I travel to the hospital to be strapped down on a flat bed, have my custom, purple, mesh mask snapped down tight over my face and shoulders and am raised up close to the “Linear Accelerator” to have cancer-preventing radiation buzzed at me for a few minutes. By having this treatment my chances of having my neck/throat cancer stay away for good will be greatly increased—and I like that idea.

According to my doctor and nurses most people feel nothing during their first couple weeks of radiation treatment. Apparently I’m not most people. To be honest, radiation, this week, has kicked my ass. My neck and ears feel lightly sunburned, the inside of my mouth swollen, my neck tight, and my body mildly nauseous and fatigued. When I get home from work I’m good for mostly laying down and falling asleep. Don’t even get me started about the horrible taste that lingers in my mouth. Bitter/tinny/sour—kinda like Godzilla’s ass, I’m guessing.

I'm waiting for my radioactive breath and or super powers to kick in. Maybe next week?

Today will be my first complete week of radiation treatment, 
with five more to go. Wish me luck. 
In honor of this I’ve decided to blog about 
My Favorite Radioactive Things, in no particular order.

Cosmic Radiation
Some say 1/10th of our annual radiation dosage arrives from space.
Honorable mention: The Sun.

Air Travel & Airport Security Scans
Fun Fact: The higher elevation of riding in a plane exposes you to a higher dosage of radiation than if you’d stayed at home.

Radioactive Comic Book Characters (and there are many, many more)
Doctor Manhattan (disintegrated in the “intrinsic field”)
Spiderman (bit by radioactive spider)
The Incredible Hulk (gamma ray radiation)
Radioactive Man and Fallout Boy from the Simpsons (atomic bomb)
Superman (gets power from the Sun) Note: The Animated Series rocks!

Safety tip: don’t stand in front of them while cooking your food. Faulty microwave door seals can leak harmful radiation.

The Earth
Soil and water are sources of radiation that can be absorbed by breathing, and/or eating crops and drinking water. Some foods that supposedly have been tested to have a higher level of radiation: bananas and Brazil nuts

Cell Phones
Nuff said.

Of course!

Me (and You)
Right now I’m feeling a bit more radioactive than the typical person, but supposedly we American’s take in on average 360 millirem per year into our bodies.

These Radioactive Songs

(best stuffed animal fight, ever)

Wishing you health, peace and as little radiation as possible.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Wiscon Recap - With Reading Assignments

For the past seven years I've spent my Memorial Day weekend with a thousand fans of speculative fiction in Madison, Wisconsin, the host to Wiscon, the World's Leading Feminist Science Fiction Convention. Every year I divide my time between panels and readings.

In the early days I focused more on the panels discussing writing craft and publishing. These days I find that I get more inspiration from the readings. Getting to hear folks whose work I love is a pure joy. Especially when those authors have amazing reading voices.

Here are three folks who were highlights from this year's selection of readings. Highlights not only because the works they read brought me to tears, punched me in the gut, and made me giggle, giggle, giggle, but also because each of them was such a fantastic reader.

Sofia Samatar: I got to hear my friend Sofia at two different readings, one for her poetry and one for her fiction. She was in a writing workshop with me a couple years ago and her book AStranger in Olondria, has just been published by Small Beer Press. I sobbed while listening to her poem "Long Ear." The piece tells the story of a Somali version of the mythic boogywoman who eats small children, but here told from the perspective of the woman and her daughter. Mostly, I sobbed inwardly, so as not to interrupt her reading with my wailing, but there was a bit tearing up on the outside, too. Here's a short short of hers that reminds me of some of the settings of Jon's stories: "Undoomed"

Kathrin Koehler: Kat I met at the same workshop I met Sofia. She's an amazing poet and an amazing reader. Her poem "Sea Change" twisted up my insides and wouldn't let me go. Here's another one by her, also about the sea, and, even better, you can hear her reading it! Listen for when her voice goes all spooky at the end of the first stanza: "Submersion -- stuckweise" (And, for Scribblerati fans, there's a parallel to Mark's Blackheart.)

Will Alexander: Will lives in my neighborhood. He writes at the Blue Ox Coffee Shop. He won the National Book Award for his middle grade novel, Goblin Secrets. I got to hear him read from the next book in this world, Goulish Song. And holy smokes is he good at reading his own words. So good they let him do his own audiobook. I'm reading the first one aloud to my son right now, but I think I'm going to get the audio version so I can have Will read it aloud to us both. Here's a short story of his; it is charming and slicing at once: Nicholas Went Looking for the Mayor's Right Hand