Cajun Sushi Hamsters! And write-a-thonning.

So here’s that cool news I promised last week or whenever: I got into the Cajun Sushi Hamsters! They’re an ongoing science fiction & fantasy workshop group that meets right here in Cleveland (and has been doing so continuously for something like 20 years). My first meeting is this Saturday. I’m pretty frickin’ excited!!!!

I’m also in the Clarion Write-A-Thon this year, for the first time ever. I’ve raised a little money, but would love to raise more! The money goes to the Clarion Foundation, which being entirely volunteer-run puts almost all of it into scholarships to Clarion itself. And scholarships are so, so important for people whose writing is “ready for prime time” when their wallet isn’t. Here’s my page – check it out.

I’m still making novel progress, though I just threw out a couple drafts of a story I’ve been trying to get right for months and months. I stumble every time a kitten gets adopted. (Annie went to her new home on Sunday.) I think there’s just something about the first cat and the first litter of kittens – I bonded so strongly with these three kittens, and now Abed’s the only one left. I bet I’ll ugly-cry whenever he goes.

Blogfail + good news + mixed news

I’ve been remiss. There is no other word for it. Adding a mobile option did not actually encourage me to post more, because I’m too tired to generate extra non-fiction words on an average day. But I will continue to update as I can.

1) First, the mixed news: Baby Troy, the black kitten from my last post, got adopted last weekend. I cried. He was by far my favorite out of the three, and it seems cruel that he would be the first to go when the other two didn’t even get any applications. But I think it’s a good home, and if I adopted every cat I bonded with I would be a cat lady.

2) The next day the group called me and said someone had found a starving kitten of roughly the same age as my other ones on a softball field and could I take it? So now there’s a painfully skinny girlkitten in our hall bathroom. I gave her a flea bath, which I hope got them all. Whenever I see a flea I spend the next three days wracked with psychosomatic itching. I’ve been feeding her pretty much continuously and she’s already filling out a little after two days. She’s desperate for love. I’m very angry that someone probably abandoned her to die and very happy that she was rescued. I’ve posted a few pics on Twitter. Her name is Britta. I think it fits.

3) I went to Wiscon – god, was it a month ago? It was amazing. I might do a whole rundown post just of that, but so many of the things I loved were intangibles – meeting up with something like two-thirds of my Clarion class in Madison, merging right back into the Hive Mind as if we hadn’t been separated for months. Seeing Cassie Krahe, my fellow Dell Award kid, in person for the first time in…seven years? Augh! And then I ran into Anthony Ha, too, not even knowing he was going to be there! So it was like a mini-Dell Award reunion, too. Seeing two of our instructors again (Ted Chiang and Delia Sherman) was sweeeeeet. Delia was incredibly busy launching the new interwebs magazine Interfictions Online (interfictions.com, eh, eh, check it out) so we didn’t see her much, but Ted came to dinner with us once! We Clarionauts went walking along the lake, reunited a baby duck with its family, ate at the same Lao/Thai restaurant twice, the food was that good, went thrift shopping for costumes for Genderfloomp, went to Genderfloomp, were total dorks the whole weekend. I tried to keep the fanslime in check. May never stop being a huge idiot around cool writers I admire. My only hope is to also become a cool writer so I can explain it away as writer quirkiness. I need to go back next year. I hope Clarion 2012 can make these reunions a recurring thing.

4) I’m over 50,000 words into the novel. I’m guessing editors aren’t going to want anything much over 100k, though I could have so much fun with a larger limit. I’m trying not to psych myself out, since this is the Muddle in the Middle, the place where so many people get bogged down. I was bogged down for two weeks recently due to another Death Cold, and I’ve been bogged down the past three days just from exhaustion; last weekend contained a picnic expedition to see Arthur in Two Gentlemen of Verona, followed by a cast&friends drinking expedition to celebrate same, an all-day adoption fair, the kitten rescue, a showing of Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, and a very belated anniversary dinner. It’s been one year and two months. I was just about dead Monday morning.

5) I’ve declared comment bankruptcy. If you said something somewhere in the 4,000 spam comments in moderation, sorry, it’s gone forever. I’ll try to stay on top of it better in the future.

I have other stuff but I’m going to put it in its own separate post tomorrow! Tonight I need to get some gosh darn sleep!

And then a month happened

black kitten

This is a test. I realized that one of the reasons I don’t blog more is because I want to include pictures, but all my phone pics are impossibly annoying to get off the phone onto my computer, manually resize, and then upload to the site. So since I’ve gotten pretty good at phone-typing, I’m going to try blogging from the WordPress app for a little while. It should both get me to post more AND make my posts more concise.

Anyway. So a month happened. We moved into our adorable convenient house – actually I’m gonna go out and take a pic right now to show it in its springtime glory – there. Half a duplex. Which I love in spite of its faults.

my house

The roof, electrical and handyman work required to bring it out of the 1960s continued for a few weeks after we moved in, greatly traumatizing the cat. I bought him a new cat tree for the bedroom window and he is recovering.

Mycroft

The novel is not proceeding as quickly as I would like, but it is proceeding well. I stalled during the disruptions of the move and other recent stuff but am back on track now.

I drove back to DC for my friend J’s bridal shower, sleeping on my other friend M’s couch. It was a very quick visit for this one purpose and I told almost nobody I was coming. Sorry if you wanted to hang out. I will certainly be back, though 11-12 hours in the car is not something I can do amazingly often. My writing & energy level suffered for a damn week.

But only a week! The amazing thing about getting huge amounts of sleep and not being depressed about my job all the time is that I don’t feel horribly ill 24/7! And while it still takes longer for me to bounce back from energy-intensive stuff, and I’m still pretty low on the strength/stamina scale, and the chronic pain never actually goes away, I feel pretty great. Life is great. The world is great.

And that’s even before I bring up the kittens.

female tabby kitten

After many delays and as of Wednesday, I’m finally fostering with a local group! These babies are a little over six weeks old and were abandoned in a bag on a church stoop. They’re receiving medicine for the sniffles but are otherwise healthy, if a little undersocialized. One of my jobs is to give them as many mandatory cuddles as possible before they go up for adoption so they’ll be extra-friendly. We’re on Day Three and they’re already basically there.

There’s a fluffy black male, a fluffy gray tabby male, and a shorthaired brown tabby female. Arthur wants to name them Troy, Abed and Annie, so we’ll see if those names are already taken. The black one is so sweet and friendly and cuddly, even at six weeks, that I know he’s going to make a better-than-average pet for someone (NOTMENOTMENOTME I SWEAR). The other two are adorable and sweet, too, but don’t have the same charisma.

Anyway. Arthur’s in a play about AIDS that’s opening tonight, and apparently it’s gotten better since I saw last weekend’s slightly lackluster dress rehearsal, so I’m going to go see it again! With my parents! A good time will be had by all, except I guess the characters who find out they have AIDS. Which is most of them.

Here is one more kitten picture to counteract the AIDS.

gray tabby kitten

Book update: Cookin’ Along

Last week I made it to Sunday down 2,000 words. I was really mad at myself for falling short, but in retrospect I know I was just exhausted after three late nights in five days trying to keep up with Arthur.

On Monday the 18th, we headed off on a whim to join a round-robin reading of Shakespeare. A bunch of strangers gathered in a hipstery wine bar in Ohio City to read aloud and discuss The Taming of the Shrew? A few years ago you wouldn’t have caught me dead! I had a fantastic time and want to go back every month. I believe April’s will be Two Gentlemen of Verona. All the people there were cool and nice and I want to be friends with them.

I have terrible stage fright and can’t think of worse torture than going up in front of people and trying to entertain them, but Arthur has no such problem. On Wednesday (a little over a week ago) Arthur and the rest of his standup comedy class did five-minute sets at the Cleveland Improv down in the Flats (by the Cuyahoga River). Arthur’s was the funniest by far, to the point where audience members/comedy club staff were coming up to him afterward and telling him how great he was. I hope he pursues this.

On Friday we went to a dance hall in an area of the outskirts of Cleveland I don’t know at all, because a woman who is in a play with Arthur (see above about loving the stage) was running a monologue contest. I didn’t know the area or anyone there & would have felt a lot weirder if Arthur weren’t friends with the hostess, but everyone was nice. It was a pretty small operation – there were only five or six contestants – but she’d lined up a panel of judges and there were probably 30+ audience members. It was a tough crowd, and the judges were not exactly merciful, but surprise, Arthur won! So basically I’m married to Stage Superman and I was perfectly happy to make last week all about him.

Things accomplished in fiction last week: Oh, I barely remember anymore. I made it to 20,000 words, then rewrote the one Clarion story that I’d thought I could incorporate because the tone didn’t match anymore (this might be the chapter that begins the entire novel, it’s kind of important!), so I only crossed 20,000 again yesterday.

This week has been much quieter. We’re gearing up to move into the Convenient House (it really needs a better name) as early as this Saturday, but the movers who have all our furniture won’t give me a hard date for when they’re coming, so I’m going to spend maybe the next week waiting for the 24-hour warning call. Luckily we haven’t worn out our welcome with my parents, yet.

Things accomplished in fiction this week so far: Put more into the aforementioned rewritten chapter. It’s running long and I think I might need to back out and rewrite half of THAT. Grr. A protagonist has a near-death experience and a life-altering epiphany. Another protagonist does everything she can to avoid a suitor. Lots of background/infodump on the nature and habits of dogs, since they’re the book’s most immediately obvious deviation from the (pre)historical norm. The background to a bromance is somewhat explained. I think I accidentally gave a throwaway character a much larger part than originally intended, so we’ll see where this goes.

This week I started off very strong after my inadvertent rest weekend, and got a day and a half’s worth of words “banked” ahead of schedule. Then I crashed yesterday (Wednesday) and hardly got anything done. These energy swings aren’t good, and I need to get better about managing them, but it was so gratifying to slam out over 2,200 words on Monday! Monday is becoming my favorite day, now that I’m out of the office. It’s when I’m most rested and raring to go, writing-wise. But I’m still within budget for the week, as long as I don’t have any more total crash days. And with that, I’d better get working on today’s installment, as soon as I figure out what it’s going to be.

State of the Book

WORDCOUNT: 15,600. There. I said it. I’m pretty sure all of them are going to have to be rewritten at some point. I only incorporated one of the Clarion stories, as enough details have changed that the other is now unusable. And the Clarion bit is probably the first part I’m going to rewrite because the voice doesn’t sound the same as the rest of it.

But augh. I lost two solid weeks of productivity to the Death Flu/Cold. This week was the bit where I proved that I could make 1000 words a day (on average) all week if I just pushed hard enough. Unfortunately I was proud of very few of those words. But that’s what all the other drafts after this one are for, right? I feel like I’m floundering because (beyond my basic energy problems) there are a few structural/plot details that I haven’t worked out yet (okay, a lot of them, as well as, well, a COHERENT ENDING) because I’ve been resisting making a firm outline. So tomorrow, my optional rest day, I will either a) rest if I turn out to be too tired or b) try really hard to make the first real outline I’ve ever done, or c) work on something completely different as a mental break. But that outline’s probably gotta happen before I get too much farther in.

Stuff accomplished in fiction: More disjointed scenes. A heist begins to come together. A protagonist returns home to find a nightmare. The mythical origin of dogs. I wrote a couple of close scenes one day and knitted them together/expanded them the next. Slowly a tissue of fiction is grown from scaffolding and agar.

Stuff accomplished in real life: Arthur and I went to a reading by three local authors in a bar. We got there late and had to sit among the locals who were all ignoring the readers and shouting over them. We couldn’t hear very well, didn’t speak to anyone, and left immediately afterward. Socializing is hard. We also had some tickets my parents bought ages ago and then couldn’t use to see a four-piece subset of Apollo’s Fire, the best baroque orchestra in the US. They played a number of Bach and Telemann pieces. I like Telemann more than Bach (UNCULTURED!!! SHUN HER!!!!!!) but they were all great. I don’t care if the music is my “thing”, I love seeing talented musicians at the top of their game really shred on cello and harpsichord and stuff.

We’re housesitting for my parents while they visit my aunt & uncle & adorable little cousins in England. When I agreed to do this I forgot it would involve watching two neurotic pets who can’t be left alone for too long and can’t be in the same room, either (the pets being Mycroft and my parents’ dog, Ollie). But it encourages me to not do that thing where I write/internet in bed and never leave our room all day, so that’s good, I guess.

Man. I plowed out 2,000 words today to make that average wordcount, and I was completely drained afterward, but it did feel pretty great to get so much done. If I could write 2,000 every day, I’d be sending this novel off to agents in three months. I may up the daily goal again someday, but only after at least a couple weeks of no medical upsets or other stupid bullshit that gives me entire days of zero productivity. Today I wrote a TON, spent lots of quality time with Arthur, watched a Justice League movie & two episodes of Archer, and cooked dinner. Maybe someday this could be my life without crushing fatigue dragging me down at every turn. Maybe every day could be like this, or better.

Siiiiiiick

I was very upbeat in my last post about productivity, but a couple days afterward I came down with some kind of flu or Incredible Death Cold which, I believe, will have destroyed a week and a half of productivity by the time it’s run its course. Today was the first time I was capable of doing anything more than a single necessary chore in a full day. All of my move planning, writing research and basic self-maintenance, including all the rested-ness I felt I’d accumulated since quitting my job, have been dealt a grave setback.

I said I was going to try to write today, but I didn’t. I needed the rest more. So tomorrow is Triumphant Return to Novel-Writing Day. Meanwhile, after a week of fever and agony and struggling to breathe, I’ve gotten a little further into the heads of my characters, and am wondering if my protagonists aren’t basically the villains of this story.

How I Move Legs???

Augh, if I’m trying to effect a major life transformation, I should actually blog about it! Need to get better about this.

So I’ve been officially writing The Novel for a week. Progress has been mixed. I set myself a modest goal of 500 words a day on average, with the stipulation that I could take one weekend day off if I needed it.

Then I started apartment hunting and the whole thing ate my brain, just like it did last November. I made my goal – on average – every day except yesterday, when I only managed 300. I took Sunday off because we viewed a condo 45 minutes away and saw a free short play another 45 minutes away and I was completely wiped afterward. That’s three hours in the car! There were two other days last week that I didn’t write at all for various apartment-hunting and fatigue reasons, but I made them up in a single 1500-word day of awesomeness.

While I’m just barely making the goal, I also recognize that it’s a slow pace for someone with no other job and a burning need to jumpstart a writing career. I need to stop making fatigue-y excuses for myself, set a goal of 1000+ words per day, and then actually meet it. I don’t know if allowing myself a day off was a good or bad idea – my momentum faltered, and while I felt an encouraging itch to write yesterday, I couldn’t seem to get all the way back in the saddle, and was 200 words short. I intend to make it up this afternoon.

I don’t want to say I’m not taking this seriously – I am, deadly serious, given that I’ve wanted this for years and it might be the only chance I get to do nothing but write – but my energy is still all over the place and the disruptions of looking for a place to live have been cutting into my concentration. I think we’ve found a great rental house (a whole tiny house!), finally, as of last night, but it was a stressful week. And nothing’s been signed yet, so there’s still the possibility it could be sniped away from us before we get the deposit on the table.

Wordcount: I refuse to post an artificially inflated wordcount until I’ve fully integrated the Clarion stories. I will start a running wordcount soon.

Things accomplished in fiction: Wrote a bunch of unconnected scenes from throughout the book that are helping me get a handle on various characters, including One of the Heroes Refusing The Call, Other Hero’s Inauspicious First Meeting with Major Love Interest, and a minor conversation between a protag and another character that reveals the beginning of a friendship. Started to try to knit my two Clarion stories into the novel, but I may have to just rewrite them entirely to get the style right. It’s been a long seven months since I wrote them.

Things accomplished in real life: Attended a benefit to push for more stringent animal cruelty laws in Ohio (not this past Saturday, but the one before). Viewed a handful of places to live, any of which would probably be fine but one of which would be really convenient to Arthur’s work, if on the expensive side. Saw a free short play about Beatrice and Benedick put on by the Great Lakes Theatre Company that’s meant to be a sort of prequel to and interest-drummer-upper for their major production of Much Ado About Nothing later this spring. Located a community theater near where we’re going to live and saw an anthology of short scenes on Friday night. Started an intermittent dogwalking gig for an acquaintance of my parents to pick up some extra cash.

Near future intentions: Today I think I’m going to take a stab at a Villain Monologue. Meanwhile, my nearly-dead “author website” has had a broken template for approximately a year and I haven’t done anything about it, but if I’m trying to advertise myself as a writer I probably need to fix this. Light chores (litterbox scrubbing, laundry, final round of organizing/unpacking before we move again in 5 weeks). We’re going to meet with the landlord for the Tiny House sometime in the next few days and, I hope, put down a deposit/sign a lease agreement, and then I won’t have to obsess over moving anymore, because I can just tell the moving/storage dudes in Virginia to show up on a certain day with all our furniture.

Life is pretty great – so great that I’m waiting breathlessly for something terrible to happen. Arthur and I have lived in a world of grinding miserable work and illness and money worries for such a long time that I don’t know how to unclench and enjoy the moment. I’m hoping to remember soon, though.

Build Your Wings on the Way Down

TAB A

I’ve been too tired to make a proper go of blogging for a long time, but here’s a shot: It was my birthday three days ago. Normally I post some kind of annual recap, but this year I don’t want to go into excruciating detail. I’ve spent six years recapping, ever since I came down with a life-ruining case of Fail and everything I thought I was going to do and be became unattainable.

Everything except writing, that unloved and unappreciated second fiddle to the 9,000 Nobel Prizes I was going to win as a physicist-astronaut-rockstar-who knows what.

Last year I said everything was looking up, that changes were coming, that life was finally turning around. This was entirely true. A few weeks after my recap post I published my second professional story ever. A little later I learned I’d gotten into the Clarion Workshop. A few weeks after that, I got married. It was a trip.

This summer I spent six weeks in paradise with a bunch of people who need to stay in my life forever, and the most direct consequence of that was that I finally gained the courage to talk seriously about quitting my job if I couldn’t find something that better accommodated my frailties. None of this could have been possible if Arthur hadn’t also been desperate for a job other than his awful sales position. It came about that someone my dad knew in Cleveland was creating an entry-level position in his company’s HQ office, and then the interview went very well, and long story short, we’re 9/10ths of the way moved to Cleveland, currently squatting in my childhood bedroom. Mycroft the cat is adjusting well.

I don’t have a job lined up here. I might not for a while. I am focusing, for the first time since I got sick, entirely on feeling better. We’re five days into the experiment and I felt well enough to exercise for a whole half hour this afternoon. I am sleeping enormously. I’m looking into petsitting for someone who lives down the road. I am taking it easy. It is glorious.

And, of course, there’s this novel. (There’s always a novel.)

I am calling it, provisionally, The Book of Dog and Dragon. It involves a lot of research into the bleeding edge of recorded human history in Mesopotamia, and I don’t know that I’m ever going really get it right to a scholar’s satisfaction, but that’s the great thing about fiction: You can make up whatever the fuck you want.

There are dogs. There is, in fact, a dragon. There are humans, too, with their own important part to play. There are meddling carrion gods and conquering invaders and blood oaths and lost kingdoms and improbable but unbreakable friendships and unexpected parenthood and the complex relationship of two sisters with very different ambitions. There is the exploration of how legends are made and how stories retold change over time. It draws juuuuust a little on the story of Gilgamesh, half-divine demigod-king of legend, and his even more interesting and lesser-known dad, Lugulbanda, who was originally just a guy. (I love legends about people who were just, y’know, people to start with, without the crutch of god-powers or obvious divine destiny. We know almost jack shit about Lugulbanda today but he sounds a bit like Odysseus eventually crossed with The Flash.)

It isn’t exactly the crunchy science fiction epic that I expected would be my eventual first novel, but a tiny seed of an idea that I’d had on the backburner for literally years suddenly blossomed in the extremely welcoming environment that Clarion provided, and I may never have a better confluence of circumstances, support and desperate need to prove to myself that there is one thing in the world that I can still do, that crushing chronic pain and fatigue didn’t take away.

SLOT B

I am twenty-eight and three days old. I am writing a novel. I am married to a total mensch who is willing to support this ridiculous endeavor (for now). I am going against every piece of realist advice I’ve ever listened to and everything I’ve ever thought about The Kind of Person Who Quits Their Job to Write a Novel. Every piece except Ray Bradbury’s, of course. Bradbury was a big fan of just jumping off that cliff and figuring everything else out later. He said you have to build your wings on the way down.

Last night I had a really complicated dream that, in part, involved a Magical Entity willing to grant me a boon. (I remember no details about the entity except that we met in an expensive restaurant. White tablecloths, convenient dim lighting.) I said I was going to fight a giant powerful monster with huge horns – I envisioned it as a kind of rhinoceros crossed with one of those colossal extinct elk that could easily have flipped a car with their heads. (Maybe its name was Humbaba.) I asked the Entity for the strength and stamina to, like Gilgamesh, stand up to the creature’s might, and hit it back blow for blow.

Instead, the M.E. gave me a pair of black wings, broad and sturdy. It didn’t say much, but the general intimation, as I understood it, was that I was asking for the wrong thing. Strength and stamina are something I am always going to want and never going to get. That’s just life. You accept it and move on, and if an M.E. you meet in a dream chooses to highlight your existing strengths via a thematically appropriate present to drive the point home, you don’t argue.

In the restaurant I paid the bill (nobody remarked upon my wings), stepped out the back door into a filthy parking lot, and leapt up, flapping hard, until I found an updraft. I spiraled higher and higher, and all the world was laid out below me, and I could see the big picture at last, how sometimes life-ruining events are really life-beginning events, and for the disintegrating dregs of the dream I could see the road I would to follow all the way to the end.

Oh, a Clarion thing I definitely should post!

Sam J. Miller, one of my Clarion classmates, posted a massive transcribed list of all the awesome writing advice quotes he wrote down over the course of six weeks. It got boingboinged while I was in Montana with no internet, so I’m only noticing this now.

Here’s the boingboing link, because it has a panorama of all of us around the workshopping table in our anonymous little classroom in the Literature Building. <3

Clarion retrospectivization

I don’t know if I’ll do any more in-depth reporting on how we spent our last three weeks at Clarion, or Comic-Con, where I fangirled webcomics god Dave Kellett like an idiot, or the increasing soberness of our cafeteria lunches and dinners as it struck us one by one that our amazing, life-changing time together was coming to an end, or our final night on the beach, where we all read something meaningful to us and Carmen brought a whole roll of paper towels for people to cry into (good call). I didn’t really break down until halfway through my reading of So You Want to be a Writer? by Charles Bukowski.

What I do know is that the chapter of my life story I’ve been telling to myself and about myself, the one where I almost lost everything but came crawling back to life over the course of half a decade or more, against the tide of relationships and work and daily survival, is pretty much over. I’m tired of the being a person who is going to do great things (at least in my head). I want to be that person, or at least take a good stab at it before too much longer.

I came home from Clarion with a massive head cold that left me nearly bedridden for several days. Partway through that time, I learned that a very dear friend, a bridesmaid in my wedding, had been hospitalized and almost died twice that first night. She’s doing so much better today – I visited her on Monday night, and she was cheerfully sitting up and cracking jokes and taking the whole thing so much better than her fiance – but, I mean, God, she’s only thirty. What if that happened to me?

I’m pretty obviously a huge piece of shit for wanting to leave my current job when so many people don’t have one. I’m insanely lucky to know my parents will always have a spare bedroom should my ambitions vastly outstrip my ability to support myself. Arthur is, I think, on board, though we’re both in the middle of deciding what the hell to do next should we ditch our so-called careers – move to L.A.? Move to Cleveland? Move way out in the exurbs of DC so he can keep doing improv but we won’t drown in rent? We both have job applications out all the time. I’m very excited about mine, but it’s been a hard, disappointing few years for both of us.

Because here’s the thing: My cubicle job is driving me nuts. What Clarion showed me is that I am a deeply unhappy person right now and the structure of my life is the direct cause. Neil Armstrong (RIP) said a thing about humans only having a finite number of heartbeats and not intending to waste any of his. I used to think the key to writing was trying to make it as safe as possible – keeping the full-time day job, carefully picking and choosing health insurance, living cheaply – but now I think that while all those things are great, what is really important is to get all the words you can out of your brain before you croak. And because of my physical issues, no full-time job is ever going to be able to let me do that to my satisfaction. Even if it means probably croaking earlier, even if it means only ever being a part-time productive member of society (because, let’s face it, I am statistically unlikely to write the next Harry Potter and I’m never going to kid myself different) I have to do this. I am going to write until I fall down dead, and damn the torpedoes, and damn the hurricanes, and damn the landlords, and damn society for telling me it’s not worthwhile.

So don’t be surprised if I start talking about drastic life changes by or around New Year’s Day, depending on whether any of my applications bear fruit – moving, changing, existing as a full person instead of a half-aware cog in the bureaucratic machine. I’m a defective part and they don’t need me. There are a thousand other bright-eyed environmental science grads to take my place. I can only be myself, a lover of science and a scientist of letters, telling the world the stories that keep us all going as certainly as bread, as blood, as gravity, as sunlight. I can only be myself, anymore.