Winding Down, Winding Up
Up until the age of nine, I was a fish; that is, I loved to swim. I took to it easily, whether splashing in a summer creek or in swimming lessons at the YMCA. I wanted to be a scuba diver like my father. I wanted to be a marine biologist. All of that seemed achievable, until one summer I sprang off the diving board to touch the bottom of the pool twelve feet below, and a weird thunk sounded in my head.
A doctor would soon confirm the worst: I had torn a hole in my eardrum. A big one.
My ear would be Like That for the next ten years, the hole growing ever-wider from a failed surgery and countless infections, and the resulting hearing loss would impact my relationship with music, movies, conversation, and language itself. It's the reason I love silent films and subtitled foreign TV, the reason I sit on a certain side of the table at dinner, the reason I wear earmuffs when running my mixer on high speed, and the reason I took four years of Latin instead of a spoken language like Spanish or French. But Nine-Year-Old Me knew none of that. All Nine-Year-Old Me knew was that I was now down one eardrum, and it seemed obvious that one day I would wake up completely deaf.
So when I saw a copy of The Joy of Signing at a church rummage sale, I knew what I had to do. I immediately scooped it up, took it home, and started learning ASL. It was full of helpful illustrations to help me get down the basics. I taught myself the alphabet, how to count to ten, greetings, and familiar nouns. Nine-Year-Old Me had plans, and I wasn't going to let sudden deafness interfere with them.
This is all to say that:
Change can be painful, but
I will adapt, and
Fuck Elon Musk.
Hi. Hello. Welcome to my newsletter. You probably followed me here from Twitter and are asking yourself what the hell this is going to be. Well, hey! Same. I'm no stranger to personal essays, but it's a decidedly different voice from my Dadaist quips on Twitter. I think if I tried to maintain my Twitter style here it would quickly devolve into Epic Narwhal Bacon, and I would be eager to fling myself from the nearest grocery co-op roof. So, I'm sorry to say this will be a more sincere delivery style, and I understand if you're not into that.
I see us all as having tumbled into a lifeboat looking to escape the whirlpool of The World’s Most Divorced Man, and we've only recently washed up on distant shores before a mysterious abandoned manor. We're still getting the lay of the land here. Which staircases are safe? How many ghosts are we talking about? What should we name our new terrifying estate? That all takes time. We'll figure it out together.
I'll try to keep these entries brief enough that you can theoretically read them in your email. I'll only write when I have something to say, usually something weird that popped into my head when I was trying to sleep. I'll tell you about updates in my writing. I'll tell you about neat things I've enjoyed.
I quite like the idea of settling into a quieter, more thoughtful form of communication. I only ever tried to be a person on Twitter, never a brand, but sometimes the spotlight singed me anyway. It became easier to just make silly little jokes that were unlikely to get me yelled at from bad faith readings. It started to warp my brain — even now, I'm reading these words and wondering how much I should delete, what will possibly set someone off. I would much rather just have a little chat in your email.
So, we begin. It's the end of the year, so I have some wrap-up notes down below. I hope you find it interesting. I hope you find something to enjoy. I hope someone goes down into the manor’s basement to fix the fuse box, because I'm fucking not.
By the way, Nine-Year-Old Me became Eighteen-Year-Old Me and ended up attending a college with fellow hard-of-hearing and Deaf students, where I was excited to make signing friends. But, The Joy of Signing was written in the 1970s, so teen me was trying to make friends using Disco-era slang. Don’t worry. It all worked out.
Since it's the end of the year, here's a wrap-up of all my writing news. This section will be shorter in the future.
Had my first publication in Nightmare magazine! An unsettling flash piece that you could read here for free
Made my first Lightspeed sale (out next month!)
Gave a reading at Flights of Foundry and attended NebulaCon
“The Woman With No Face” was longlisted for Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2022
Drafted my first novella (currently sitting at 34k words)
Sat on two panels at WorldCon / ChiCon
Sold my first-ever novelette (no pub date yet)
Made an author website (after realizing I had a story coming out in January and the only link in my author bio was to Twitter)
Became a full/active member of SFWA
So, to recap, I began the year with one professional publication to my name and ended it as a full-time member of SFWA. My brain is very good at minimizing goals as soon as I achieve them, so I will just say this is Neat.
This newsletter is already too long, so I’ve shaved down my year’s end recommendations to things that brought me unbridled joy. Experiences that were just a fucking great time.
RRR. This film is an absolute banger. I watched it during Portland’s horrible heat wave, and it had me shouting in victory several times. This is the kind of movie you project onto the side of a barn and watch with your friends while splitting a garbage bag of popcorn. Such a good time.
Love Between Fairy and Devil. What if we gave a fanfic writer unfettered access to TV Tropes and $1 billion? It would be this show. This Chinese fantasy romance is absolutely gorgeous, with beautiful sets, costumes, and people. It is also the most trope-tastic and dumb good time I had this year. It is legitimately funny, although you may need a few episodes to adjust. Watch it alone with your favorite treats, so you can shout at the TV without shame.
Dracula Daily. I read Dracula over 20 years ago, and it turns out the best way to enjoy classic literature is serially with Tumblr memes. Since Dracula is in an epistolary novel, this newsletter sends it to you in “real time” following the events of the book from March to November. I had an absolute blast reading along with thousands of other people online. And if you missed out, don't worry! They're doing it again next year.
Scary Game Squad. One of the things the pandemic took from me was horror game nights with my friends. Luckily, the squad is here to help. If you want thoughtful and competent game walk-throughs, look elsewhere. If you want to watch four friends freak the hell out and occasionally burst into show tunes, you want the squad. I recommend starting with the RE7 demo.