Friday, August 29, 2008

Palin by comparison


Some comments about the Palin decision on jezebel:
She's Dan Quayle in drag. (my contribution)

I'm afraid her vagina and mine have to agree to disagree.

I will not cut off my nose to spite my vagina.

You mean you won't cut off your vagina to spite your nose.

Margaret Thatcher. Kim Campbell. Condoleeza Rice.

Like my momma said when she found out, "something in the milk ain't clean!"

Every fact I've heard about her today says she stands against everything I believe in. I think I have more common ground with Karl Rove.

"McCain Vagina 2008." I'm not inspired, I'm offended.

Two X chromosomes does not a woman-positive candidate make!

Palin = Harriet Meiers 2.0.

My vagina doesn't vote . . . my brain votes, and it really hates McCain hiding his horrible policies behind another person's vagina.

I drink a lot when the campaigns are on . . . Otherwise I would get a divorce or kill my husband.

I had a polling place at my house once. I believe this qualifies me AT LEAST for Attorney General.

She is no friend of the polar bears either.

Palin is to women what Clarence Thomas is to African Americans.

"Ma'am, I know Hillary Clinton. Hillary is a good friend of mine. And you, ma'am, are no Hillary Clinton."

*
MoveOn just sent a crash course around about her via e-mail. For anyone on the fence/needing more info...


Who is Sarah Palin? Here's some basic background:

* She was elected Alaska's governor a little over a year and a half ago. Her previous office was mayor of Wasilla, a small town outside Anchorage.
* Palin is strongly anti-choice, opposing abortion even in the case of rape or incest.
* She supported right-wing extremist Pat Buchanan for president in 2000.
* Palin thinks creationism should be taught in public schools.
* She doesn't think humans are the cause of climate change.
* She's solidly in line with John McCain's "Big Oil first" energy policy. She's pushed hard for more oil drilling and says renewables won't be ready for years.
* She also sued the Bush administration for listing polar bears as an endangered species--she was worried it would interfere with more oil drilling in Alaska.

Veeped out

Check out this blog. Is Obama a poetry lover?
*


So, Creaky McCain chose Hot Mama Palin. She ain't as hot, though, as either Obama.

Besides, Gandhi as a VP couldn't get me to vote McCain.

*
I'm off to Santa Cruz to take a long beach walk with my friend, Stacey. She is writing a novel for her MFA thesis, and I'm the lucky one who gets to be her advisor. Gone are the days I had to slog through MA in Education theses written in bureaucratic-ese.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The audacity to hope

That was the most amazing political speech I've ever heard.

A presidential candidate talking about peace? empathy? compassion? finding a way to come together in spite of our differences?

He was powerful. He was specific. He was impassioned. He was SMART.

I pray he is our next president. And I'm not the praying type.

Vote No on 8. Choose love, not hate.

Del Martin loved Phyllis Lyons for more than 50 years.

There are people in my beloved state of California who believe that Del and Phyllis should not have been able to be married. People like Michael Bumgarner who apparently never read Thomas Jefferson's words that "institutions must advance to keep pace with the times."

Apparently Bumgarner thinks his love is more valid than Del's and Phyllis', or Annie's and mine:

Michael Bumgarner says he's never campaigned for a political cause before, but his strong opposition to same-sex marriage has prompted him to join thousands of volunteers going door-to-door in support of a ballot initiative that would ban gay nuptuals here.

"I've never stumped before, but I want to be a part of this," Bumgarner said. The retired insurance executive and devout Mormon said his late mother would "turn over in her grave" if she knew that gays and lesbians could marry.

With less than 11 weeks until Election Day, supporters of Proposition 8 are ramping up their field organization and refining their message as they seek to persuade California voters to shut the door on same-sex marriage. It's the first time voters will be asked to weigh in on the issue in either California or Massachusetts — the states where gays have won the right to wed.

In the above quoted article, those who support Prop. 8 claim they are not homophobic. Well, maybe they're just hetero-supremacists.

SUPPORT EQUALITY CALIFORNIA for marriage equality.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bless you, Del Martin


Renowned LGBT activist Del Martin died today ...

Del Martin, 87 and her partner Phyllis Lyons, 83, became the first gay couple in the nation to legally marry on Feb. 12, 2004, after having spent almost 50 years as a couple.

Their marriage was deemed void later that same year, but this summer, when the California Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal, Del and Phyllis were, once again, the first to wed.

Del and Phyllis did so much for queer rights, for civil rights. These are two amazing women. I'm indebted to them, to all they've done in their lifetimes.


Click here if you'd like to sign Del Martin's guest book.

I feel so sad for Phyllis right now.

*

This is one of my most difficult realizations, the knowledge that either Annie or I will go first. I even wrote a poem a few years ago about it:

First

I have to die first, you say. When we met
we called in sick, ate in bed, let dishes and dust
collect. Blossoms confettied out-
side. We were like foals, newly testing

our skeletal limbs. I have to die first,
you say, the woman who stopped eating
when the dog died, as though feeling
your flesh wasn’t yours, or didn’t exist

anymore. So you think I’m the strong
one, the one who can stand being left.
Me, the one who, alone in the house, dusts
the furniture, the remainders of our long

departed skin. The one who wipes the ghost
of our fingerprints from the mirror, who
washes our scent from the sheets, who
rinses the spoon that touched the moist-

ness of your tongue. When we were in bed
last night we imagined how we’d go. Our
favorite: I’m 100, you’re 104.
Our hearts stop, just stop, gently, you said,

in our sleep. At exactly the same moment.
But we know there are likelier fates.
I have to die first, you say. And it’s late,
it’s late. We’re drifting off, even as you say it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Obamarama

Okay, it's official: Michelle Obama is hot. I wasn't totally buying the "I'm a happy wife and mom" routine in her talk tonight. I know she had to do it, but all I can say is, she's just overflowing with power and knowledge and know-how ... and, whee!, that's sexy. She will be a huge asset to President Obama.

Maybe in 8 years it'll be President Michelle Obama and Vice-President Hillary Clinton, or vice-versa.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Our wedding announcement

has appeared in the Bay Area Reporter amidst announcements of four adorable male couples. Click here and scroll down.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The complex Joe Biden


Powerful, yes, but didn't he vote for the war?

*

"I've been to Afghanistan, I've been to Iraq seven times, I've been in the Balkans, I've been in these foxholes with these kids, literally in bunkers with them. Let me tell you something, nobody asked anybody else whether they're gay in those foxholes. Our allies -- the British, the French, all our major allies -- gays openly serve."

"I don't think the government can dictate the definition of marriage to religious institutions. But government does have an obligation to guarantee that every individual is free of discrimination. And there's a distinction. I think government should not be able to dictate to religions the definition of marriage, but on a civil side, government has the obligation to strip away every vestige of discrimination as to what individuals are able to do in terms of their personal conduct. "

Biden:
Voted NO on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage.
Voted YES on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes.
Voted YES on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes.
Voted YES on prohibiting job discrimination by sexual orientation.
Rated 78% by the HRC, indicating a pro-gay-rights stance.

BUT ...
Voted YES on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes. (on DOMA)

Of course all of this is way better than McCain or anyone he'll choose for his running mate.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Should the drinking age be lowered?

(painting by Claudia Eve Kleefeld)

The debate about whether or not the drinking age should be lowered to 18 is in the news right now. I'm very interested in this issue for a few reasons. One is that my novel is about a young woman's first year away from home living in the dorms, and her life is fraught with binge drinking.

The other reason is that I'm teaching a writing class in the fall in which we are going to examine this issue from various angles. We'll be reading Smashed, a memoir by Koren Zailckas; we'll be looking at alcohol ads to interrogate how alcohol is sold; and we'll talk about the various cultures of alcohol (from movies and happy hours, to dorm and frat/sorority life). Students will be writing several papers, including an "alcohol narrative," in which they examine how they first became aware of alcohol, the ways in which it has been featured (or not) in their lives, their relationship with it now, etc.

I'm glad this issue is in the news right now because it will make the class topic even more relevant.

What do you think? Should the drinking age be lowered to 18?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I guess it's really happening ...

since my publisher has my book on the front page of their website.

Re-reading the novel as I go through the galleys is fun. It's strange, I can remember exactly where I was physically and emotionally as I wrote certain passages. I'm so curious what it'll be like for people who know nothing about the book to read it ... an experience I'll never have.

I'm also doing a lot of things to try to get the word out, including a lot of internet time. Damn you, Collin Kelley, for getting me started on Facebook. I'm already having the DTs when I'm away from it for more than an hour.

*

I just discovered I was quoted on mirabile dictu: feminism, poetry, images politics--a very cool blog.

When you're quoted, does that mean you're now part of the canon or something?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ellen and Portia marry, Thomas Jefferson gives a thumbs up


From a quotation on the Jefferson Memorial:
"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and constitutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors."

Monday, August 18, 2008

Movies & books

Saw two movies this weekend: Mamma Mia and Vicky, Christina, Barcelona, the new Woody Allen flick. My favorite Woody Allen movies are Annie Hall and Hannah & Her Sisters...and now I can add to that list Vicky, Christina, Barcelona. At first I wasn't sure what to make of that odd narrative voice that summarizes and comments on the action, but I ended up liking it. It was dry, humorous, different.And oh my gawd, Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz! I usually don't care too much about beautiful, but JHC, they both bring out the bi in my sexual. And how lucky was Scarlett Johansson to get to ... well, no plot spoilers.

Speaking of Miss Scarlett, I thought she actually did a good job in this movie. Usually she's so wooden, acting only with her pouty lips. Woody Allen is finally bringing out the something special in her that apparently he sees (beyond the bod).

Mamma Mia was manic but fun. I actually liked it better than the local stage version we saw a few years back. My favorite parts were the all the women running together singing "Dancing Queen" (that's such a great, nostalgic song for me)--and the incredible, amazing, can-do-anything Meryl Streep with her red shawl in the wind singing "The Winner Takes It All."

(Is it just me, or is the Abba "Money Money Money" song a rip-off of "Money Makes the World Go Around from Cabaret?)

*

More news on the For the May Queen front:

And yet another new blurb! Look left. This one's from Jayne Pupek, the author of a wonderful new novel Tomato Girl (more on that in a September post). Just got the next version of the galleys from my publisher. I'm thrilled with the fonts they chose.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A page turner

Another new blurb! Look left, below the image of the novel cover.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

"I paint my own reality." -Frida Kahlo

We went to the Frida Kahlo exhibit in the city today at MOMA. Other than being a little freaked at the commodification of such a fine, iconoclastic artist, I loved it. I shouldn't have been surprised that Frida mouse pads and Frida luggage tags were on sale since she's become such an icon--and capitalism loves an icon...it's just so insanely ironic since she was a raging socialist.

It was amazing to look closely at the paintings and see her brushstrokes. That's when I feel time isn't real--that in some ways she's still right here.

The painting above, of the Colonialized Frida holding hands with the Native Mexican Frida, was stunning in person. It's huge, too--something I hadn't expected after seeing it in books for years (and on pot holders and cigarette lighters, ha).


The way she portrays women's bodies, pain, and loss is so powerful.
In person, the hummingbird on her "necklace" looks more dead than in the books. And the cat more sinister. I like the way the colors of the animals reflect her unruly eyebrow(s).

She has a cigarette in her hand in many of the paintings. The birds are fantastic in this one.

Frida had many health problems including childhood polio, a horrific trolley accident in which she was impaled and her back broken, and a miscarriage. Needless to say, she was in pain a lot of her life. A few days before she died she wrote, "I hope the leaving is joyful; and I hope never to return."

*

Afterward, we drove across the city, east to west, to take a walk through Golden Gate Park and to have the very best microbrewed IPA ever made: Presidio IPA. You can only buy it at the Beach Chalet, a very cool restaurant overlooking the vastness of Ocean Beach.

If you're ever in the city, you must go. The fish & chips are really good. The restaurant is upstairs in an old building that features walls filled with a huge depression-era WPA fresco depicting San Francisco. Here's a small slice of it:


Or you can just read the novel and never talk about it.

My publisher, VHP, asked me to write some book group questions for my novel. I was nervous at first, but after re-reading the novel, they just came pouring out. Here they are:

1. This is a “fish out of water” story in that Norma steps from a familiar world into a new one. In what ways do Norma’s home life and college life contrast?

2. Upon moving into the dorms, Norma is immersed in a culture of “partying.” Is this a culture that’s familiar to you? Are all college dorms essentially similar? Do you see this culture as a “normal” coming-of-age experience or as a dangerous problem?

3. Given that Norma realizes Jack is probably seeing other women—and that he doesn’t spend a lot of time with her—why is she so attached to him? Why does she become attached to Chuck? In what ways are Jack and Chuck similar and different?

4. This novel, in part, is about the challenges and allure of freedom. What is your definition of freedom? In what ways is Norma free and not free? What are the benefits and drawbacks of freedom?

5. In what ways do Norma and her mother connect? In what ways do they conflict? Does Norma’s relationship with her mother seem familiar or unfamiliar to you?

6. Several novels are mentioned in this one, such as Fear of Flying and Go Ask Alice. What role do novels and reading play in this novel?

7. Norma often reflects upon society’s portrayal of, judgments about and expectations of women in terms of sex, sexuality, appearance, behavior, and relationships. What are some examples in the novel? What is Norma grappling with in terms of gender roles?

8. There are many distinctive characters in For the May Queen. Who’s your favorite character in the novel, and why?

9. At the novel’s opening, Norma and Billy sing “Stairway to Heaven,” which includes the lyric, “It’s just a spring clean for the May Queen.” Look up the complete lyrics for this Led Zepplin song. Why do you think the novel is titled For the May Queen?

10. Weddings and marriage are a recurring motif in this novel, such as Suzy’s wedding plans, the marriage of Diana to Prince Charles, and the soap opera wedding of Luke and Laura. What role does this theme play in the book? What is Norma grappling with when she thinks about marriage?

11. Did you figure out before Norma did the secrets of Stacy and Chuck—or were the revelations a surprise to you? When you look back on the novel, what clues might foreshadow these revelations?

12. Did you like the last chapter of the novel? Why or why not?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

New blurb, New York

It's fun to see what readers are making of For the May Queen.

One blurb came in yesterday that refers to a book I must have read 10 times in high school:

“In the tumultuous way of Go Ask Alice, so Kate Evans captures the nightmarish chaos of a young woman’s attempt to find her way amid too much freedom, too much sex and too many drugs. Laced with the kind of astute detail that drops readers into that fateful freshman year of college, this story examines the hard choices that can make or break a spirit.” — Martha Engber, Growing Great Characters From the Ground Up

I like the idea that the book is about "choices that can make or break a spirit." It's cool how when others read your work they articulate things about it that you might not be able to yourself.

Go Ask Alice is basically a book of fiction posing as a memoir. I've always enjoyed reading fiction that reads like a memoir, so I'm pleased that Martha highlighted the memoir quality of my novel. Go Ask Alice is considered a classic coming-of-age novel, in the vein of Catcher in the Rye and, more recently, Prep.

The latter novel, especially, is considered a "cross-over novel"; I've seen it shelved in both the Young Adult and Adult Fiction sections of libraries and book stores. When For the May Queen was being circulated by my agent, several editors objected to the sense that the novel was, in a way, both an Adult and a Young Adult novel. Tell that to the author, editor and publisher of Prep--which in its cross-over status became a best-seller and a New York Times Notable Book.

Yes, Prep is well-written. But I think one reason it got so much attention in New York because it's an East Coast novel. Mine takes place in California--at a state university no less, not a prestigious prep school. I have a friend whose first novel was published by a major New York publisher. His second novel, a historical set in California, was rejected by them. He told me he'll work on getting it published by a "West Coast press" while writing something that the New York publishers will take. I found that disconcerting, but he was very Zen about it. He said if you want to play in New York, you have to go by their rules. That's still stuck in my craw a bit, even though I know he's right.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Transcending stress

The transcendentalists had it right: nature is the true chapel.

In a continuing effort to suck the last drops of juice out of summer, here's where we spent our day. The oxygen from the redwoods and the duff beneath our feet were the greatest gifts of the day.

Oh yeah, and so were the pints and pub food following the hike.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Life as it otter be

August for teachers is like Sunday. (July is Saturday and June is Friday.) Annie and I are feeling the pull of the semester coming, and so we're doing our best to get the most out of the next few weeks.

We've been hiking almost every day recently, and the other day we went kayaking in Elkhorn Slough. The amount of wildlife we saw eye-to-eye with was astonishing: harbor seals popping their heads out right near the boat; hundreds of pelicans clicking at their feathers as they cleaned them in a party on the shore, and other pelicans swooping low near us, their massive outstretched wings skimming the water's surface; huge transluscent jellyfish ballooning past in the clear water; and my favorite, a group of sea otters rolling around, playing, and breaking open shellfish on their tummies with rocks.

There's nothing like some generative, quiet time on the water to be okay with life as it is, whatever shape it's been taking.

*

One of my favorite blogs these days is How To Like It by John Evans (no relation). He writes in such clear yet deep & complex ways about grief, relationships, living and writing . . . Recently This Writer's Life published a great essay John wrote called "Somthing Like Faith: The First Year of Elegy in One Writer's Life." You can read it by clicking here.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

But where's the bong?

My rockin' publisher, VHP, has not only created a cover for my novel but a bunch of fun stuff that has the cover on it that can be ordered here.Given that the novel's characters do a lot of drinking, a beer stein is appropriate.
Dogs love to be dressed in For the May Queen shirts.
Underwear with the novel's logo is quite appropriate, too, since there's a lot of sex in the book.

The only apropos item missing is a For the May Queen bong.



Oh, and the novel can be purchased as well in the near future. I'll let you know as soon as I find out when pre-orders are happening.

Here's what the illustrious Collin Kelley says about the novel:

"The 80s were all about drugs, alcohol and casual sex, and Kate Evans deftly conveys the uncertainty of the era as her feisty Norma Rogers leaves a sheltered home life and dives headfirst into a series of hedonistic adventures at college, including falling in love with Chuck, who just doesn't seem to be that in to her. The clever dialogue, unexpected twists and a meticulous sense of time and place evoke the immediacy of memoir. Funny, poignant and ultimately a testament to lasting friendship, For The May Queen is a trip back to the not-so-distant-past without the hangover."


Collin Kelley, author of Slow To Burn and After the Poison

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Blasts from the past

My publisher is working on a cover for the novel and has been sharing designs and asking my input. And they now have a page up on me here that will soon show the cover as well as the video they're making to promote the book. They have been very cool and wonderfully communicative.


In the spirit of the 1980s, the era in which my forthcoming novel takes place, my friend Nancy sent me this picture taken of us (she's on the left) at the Mountain Aire concert in summer 1980. Nancy brought these wacky sunglasses for us to wear because we were excited about a new "new wave" group that we'd never heard before ... which turned out to be Huey Lewis and the News ... that opened for the Doobie Brothers.

We did the 1980s proud with that big hair. We spent so many hours on our hair that could have been spent finding a cure for cancer or writing a bestseller. But those perfect feathers were worth it.

This must be nostalgia week because Annie and I have been watching DVDs of Freaks & Geeks (which is set in the early 1980s) and thoroughly enjoying them. The characters are great. The writing is so good it makes you laugh and cry, as well as empathize with each character. We wish more episodes had been made.

Also, I have reconnected via the internet with a high school friend, someone I haven't talked to in almost 30 years. I was a total straight girl in high school (graduating class of 1980) and really liked him a lot. But in retrospect, my gaydar sent off a few signals--and yes, I was right. He's been with his partner for more than 15 years, and they have a daughter. We're going to talk on the phone soon. Can't wait!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Influences

I was tagged by Sam of Ten Thousand Things to indicate which items in the following categories have influenced or impacted me the most as an adult.

the book: Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton

the film / network series: Thelma & Louise

music / spoken word recording: Blue by Joni Mitchell

I'd love to hear yours in a comment!

Friday, August 1, 2008

When you listen to this

do you see where I got the title for my novel, For the May Queen?



My publisher just informed me that the review galleys for For the May Queen are ready. I can't believe this is actually happening, finally, after more than 4 years of: an agent who sent it out and got several "almosts" from a few big publishers; a small press that accepted it and folded; a bunch of "really-nice-we-love-your-writing" rejections from other presses; an agent who left the field and completely changed careers. I could go on and on, but I won't because the novel is coming out!