A tiny contribution to (the exquisite! corpse of) Uncanny Magazine’s Issue 15

#SFWAPro

Cover by Julie Dillon

Last month, Uncanny Magazine editor Michael Damian Thomas came up with a creative way to put off writing an editorial for Issue 15. He called it The Uncanny Magazine Exquisite Corpse Editorial — and I got to contribute a sentence to it!

In his introduction, Thomas explained…

The Exquisite Corpse was an old Surrealist game where you build off of what the previous person created, but you never see the whole. In this case, each writer only read the previous sentence before writing their sentence. Then their sentence and only their sentence was passed to the next person, and so on. On that note, enjoy this editorial by nearly 40 writers!

You can read our collaboration here.

The first half of the magazine is already online, free to read, here.

You can also subscribe to a full year at Weightless Books or Amazon, plus buy single issues from those retailers, Kobo, and Google Play.

Catching up has an order of progression, doesn’t it?

I knew that moving would help me by reducing the amount I had to pay each month, which would reduce my stress, let me spend less time chasing new work, and more time on the tasks and chores that are necessary for a functioning life. I was right about that, and more — I’m sleeping better, for one. (A lot better, actually.) And I’m managing the day-to-day tasks in a way I wasn’t able to before; keeping up with what’s due now is a novel feeling I’d like more of, thanks.

What I didn’t realize is that, five weeks later, I’m still getting caught up. Not with the immediate tasks, because I’m doing okay there, but with all the things I’d put aside because it felt like I didn’t have the time or brain to even consider them. I was, as they say, all out of spoons. I was surviving, and barely at that. So, paperwork? Getting back to someone I was already late to reply to? That project or idea I’d wanted to start back in December? That stuff, I didn’t remotely have the capacity to tackle.

Now I do. So, I am. But it’s a weird feeling, to be catching up and behind at the same time, because for me, that usually came with a crushing amount of stress and fear and avoidance. (Yeah, I avoid people when I think they’re going to be mad at me. I know why, I’ve had therapy, and I’m much better about it these days, but at my worst, it’s still an issue.)

I got through February doing almost everything February required. Schoolwork? Done. My apartment? Unpacked, organized, and currently clean. (Even the bathroom, the place most people put off tidying until the very end.) I also got around to sleeping regularly, spending more time with my son, and even joining a gym to get the exercise I desperately need. HUGE IMPROVEMENT, clearly.

My goal for March is to stay caught up, finish the things that were due in January, and maybe even start on December, while staying caught up with the now. For the first time in a long time, I think it’s possible.

Some day I will talk about my first 5 years in Ithaca (because it’s been 5 whole years, now) as the hardest and most useful time of my life. It’s been both, mostly because I struggled to not just get what I wanted, but to be who I wanted to be. I had to grow up, in a way I wasn’t even aware of before I moved here. I think I did.

I’m not quiet where (or who) I want to be yet, but I see it clearly, and I know what I have to do. It’s just a matter of staying on this path and continuing to put in the effort. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, after all.

I know that I can do the work, given enough time. I know I will. I know that whatever knocks me down, I’ll keep getting up and getting back on track, trying to do the right thing, even if I’m the only one who sees it. I’m a much stronger person than I ever was before, because of the last 5 years. I might even be a grown up.

I like that.

Updated: MOVING MOVING MOVING (Hey, I’m moved in!)

Updated Feb 15, 2017

hello

(This is Licorice, the neighbor’s cat. She is very friendly.)

 

We’re moving at the end of the month now! I had my first class of the new semester this morning, and then I picked up the keys to the new apartment, and have already taken over a carload of stuff.

If you didn’t already know… I was supposed to stay in my old apartment until summer, but the strain of balancing overworking myself to pay the rent plus school, parenting, relationship, writing, and managing last year’s health issues meant I was constantly stressed. My previous landlord wanted to do something else with the space, so when he asked if I’d consider moving out now, I jumped on the opportunity. I found us a (smaller but still nice) much cheaper apartment closer to the edge of town. There’s no downside to moving, and a few big reasons to go ahead:

My new place is about $500 a month less, closer to Logan’s school, and mine, so it’s be great for both of us. Plus, we’re living very close to my significant other, the last step before we can be certain living together will work for us. The short-term hassle of having to scrape up rent/deposit/moving expenses before I get back the deposit on my current apt, and having to move, was totally worth the long-term gain of not being behind on bills every month, worried and unable to spend time on anything for myself.

I’m hoping that I’ll be able to balance a reasonable work schedule with a little more family time, and a chance to get back into a regular writing routine.

Mini Movie Review: “Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives” (documentary)

Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives
Documentary, 2015.
3/5*

Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives doesn’t intend to teach you much; it’s basically a love letter to Adrian Bartos and Robert Garcia, who hosted “The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show” from 1990 to 1998, on the Columbia University radio station, WKCR. (You can learn a lot more from this NY Times article.)

I watched this documentary on Netflix over the weekend, and I liked it enough to recommend it, with some warnings: This isn’t an entry-level rap documentary. If you don’t already know the fundamental difference between a DJ who makes music, and a DJ who talks between playing tracks on the radio, this documentary won’t be for you. If you don’t already know the difference between rap and lyrical hip-hop, this won’t explain it. If you’re not intimately aware that the 90s rap scene in New York was unlike anywhere else in the world, well… you get the idea.

Stretch and Bobbito were the gatekeepers of, and introduction to, a whole generation of rap music, discovering (to name a few) Jay-Z, Nas, Notorious B.I.G., and Ol’ Dirty Bastard before they were signed. They showed a light on now-legendary artists before they got airtime anywhere else, elevating the careers of Cypress Hill, Eminem, and the Fugees, among others. If you understand the gravity of these events, then this movie will bring together dozens of names, familiar — and fading — artists who’re happy to recount the moment where the radio show changed their lives. You’ll get to see and hear freestyling clips from a range of artists, mostly unrecorded anywhere else.

There’s a lot of clips, some laughs, and a few quick moments of secret lore that are well worth watching, but the documentary avoids exploring the relationship between the two men behind the show in any real depth. We hear that Stretch didn’t like Bobbito getting all of the credit, and both of their musical tastes evolved in different directions, but that’s it. These two were important to the history of rap music in a big way, and yet… we don’t know any more about them than we did at the beginning. We just know that everyone loved them, because they assembled a bunch of people to say that, and no one who didn’t.

So, don’t watch it to learn anything about the show’s creators. Watch it for over an hour of largely-unseen video of some of the greatest rappers to come out of New York in the early 90s. It’s worth it for that, I promise.