I’ve just been notified that the release date for the Love Hurts anthology from Meerkat Press (which will include a story of mine) has been set for December 1st. I don’t think pre-orders are available yet, but I have been given permission to share the illustration that will accompany my story:
The art is by Sergio Garzon; it illustrates a scene where my heroine, Tess, is fighting a monster in an alien arena. I really like the dark, stylized feel of the art. There’s almost something vertiginous about it, which perfectly suits the subject matter.
And I’m particularly pleased that the black-and-white style preserves a lot of ambiguity as to Tess’s exact features. I think the only physical description I gave her in the story was a single reference to her “brown human hand,” so really the only important thing is that she not be whitewashed. This illustration works very well on that level.
I’ll post more about Love Hurts as we get closer to release; I was just really pleased to be able to share the art!
Some kids have imaginary friends. Davy has an imaginary enemy. Whenever something is broken or misplaced in the house, whenever someone makes a mess, it’s Goo-Goo Face’s fault. I have no idea where Goo-Goo Face came from but he’s now a staple of Davy and Robin’s play: any time a villain is needed, it’s generally Goo-Goo Face. Goo-Goo Face is, conveniently, invisible to everyone but Davy.
Davy, by the way, isn’t even Davy at the moment. He’s decided his name should be Bat and we’re all doing our best to honor this decision.
We actually got into this fix because I was trying to explain about trans people in a way a five-year-old can understand. What I said to Robin and Davy (sorry, Bat) is that usually boys have penises and girls have vaginas, but sometimes a boy is born with a vagina or a girl is born with a penis, because it’s really what’s in your heart that makes you a girl or a boy. And then the parents might think they have a baby girl when in fact they have a baby boy, and they won’t know that they were wrong until the baby gets old enough to tell them that he’s actually a boy. I thought I was rocking along quite well with this.
So the artist formerly known as Davy had some questions about what happens then, like, what if the boy has a girl’s name? And I said the parents might have to change the name. And then I said (and this is where I made my fatal mistake, in retrospect) “we thought you were a boy when you were born so we named you Davy, but if you told us we were wrong, then we would let you choose a new name.”
And he said, “I am a boy but my name isn’t Davy, my name should be Bat.”
So now we all have to try to call him Bat, it’s a whole thing right now. I’ve been assuming that it’ll blow over soon but then I read about the case of Loki Skylizard, actual person whose parents allowed him to pick his own name when he was eight. Dr. Skylizard is now Chief of Thoracic Surgery at a hospital in New Jersey so I guess he turned out pretty okay? And in my heart of hearts I have to admit that Bat Phillips is a pretty cool name.
The bathroom remodel is done! HOORAY FOR INDOOR PLUMBING!
Here’s the “before” picture, taken when we bought the house:
And here’s what it looks like now!
Another angle, so you can see the decorative tile border just inside the threshold:
Detail of the wallpaper, “Japanese Carp” by Burrows Studio:
Detail of the tilework, from Heritage Tile:
I also want to put in a big plug for our contractor, William Arthur-Haynes of Infinite Builders Group. William is super communicative and always kept us updated with plans and scheduling. Even though our little bathroom was a small project for his company, we always felt like we had his full attention and that our bathroom was just as much a priority as any big corporate project (true story: IBG was also remodeling two floors of the Twitter building in downtown SF at the same time that our remodel was going on). He talked us through all the little choices and details—what color should the grout be, “dove grey” or “charcoal”? Do we want a marble threshold, or oak? We wanted oak, and William milled it himself and mixed the perfect stain to match our existing hardwood floors. And the remodel was completed on time and on budget.
“Communicative,” “reliable,” and “multi-talented” are all important qualities in a contractor. But most important of all, I’ve come to believe, is a deep Rolodex. Well, nobody uses Rolodexes anymore. But what I mean is that it’s not just the abilities of the contractor himself that are important, but the talents of his crew. William brought in dedicated, knowledgeable specialists to do the paper-hanging and tile-laying for us. We have a 1915 Craftsman bungalow and we wanted to bring the bathroom more into keeping with the character of the rest of the house, so William made sure to set us up with workers who knew a lot about that style and period. The fact that he had such good contacts was a huge factor in how smoothly the whole project ran.
And now I have the most beautiful bathroom in the world!
Despite photographic evidence to the contrary, they didn’t actually go to school barefoot. The picture I tried to snap hurriedly outside of the school didn’t come out well, so I had to take another one after we got home, and the boys had already shucked their shoes. They agreed to put their backpacks back on for that touch of verisimilitude, though.
I was pretty worried about Davy’s first day of kindergarten, since he’s been struggling a lot with transitions lately. He never wants to go anywhere—not even places that are obviously awesome, like the beach or the zoo—and once he gets there, he never wants to leave. So basically every family outing is bookended by twin tantrums from Davy. He has also been expressing dubiousness about kindergarten all summer. He loved his preschool, and was not at all excited about the prospect of a new school. I finally made a deal with him: he’d try kindergarten for six weeks, and if he hated it, we’d work something else out.
But guess what? He had a great first day. He was really excited about the Montessori teaching materials and he says “Ms. Kristin is my friend.” I think it helped a lot that Robin was going to school with him. Robin had a good day too but I wasn’t at all worried on that front, as Robin’s going back to a teacher and a class that he loves. He’s in second grade now but since the lower elementary classrooms teach grades 1-3 together, he’ll get to spend three years with the same teacher and many of the same classmates. I asked him if it was nice to see all his school friends again and he said “yeah,” and then immediately proceeded to talk at length and with great enthusiasm about the new classroom pet, Brittany the gecko. It’s hard for ordinary second graders to compete with a leopard gecko, I guess.
Sol will be starting preschool this year too, but his school doesn’t open for another couple weeks. I can’t believe all my boys are getting so big!
So sometimes, when you can’t sleep, you lie awake thinking about what you want on your epitaph. Right? It’s not just me?
Maybe it’s just me. Anyway, for a long time the top contender has been:
She Ate Well
Because seriously I think that says a lot about how rich my life has been and how filled with happiness: like, if you think about it, we middle-class Americans live in the kind of luxury that Julius Caesar could only envy. Maybe he had a feast of peeled grapes and lark’s tongues, every once in a while? Dude, I eat bananas and coffee for breakfast. I can have grapes whenever I want. I can also have French cheeses and Swiss chocolate and Dungeness crab from the San Francisco Bay. Plus, I have indoor plumbing—well, not right now, but usually.
My life would make Julius Caesar weep with envy.
Sometimes, though, when I’ve had a hard day, I think maybe it should be something more like:
She Did All Right
Could Have Been Worse
But honestly, for the record, I don’t care what happens after I die. I want my body parts to be donated anywhere they might do good, and I want my loved ones to ritualize my death in whatever fashion gives them the most comfort. And I don’t want them to spend a lot of money on it. Cremation sounds good. Maybe scatter my ashes somewhere and plant a tree, that would be nice.
Here, I guess, secretly, is the nicest memorial I can think of:
Jo Shannon Phillips
Greatly loving and much loved
She lived deep and died old
We are just back from a week in Pacific Grove, on the Monterey Bay. The weather was beautiful and we really liked the town. It was a very nice vacation, although pleasure wasn’t our only motive for going away. We are having our bathroom renovated, and our contractor strongly urged us to vacate the premises—as we are unable to vacate within the premises until the toilet is reinstalled.
So watch this space for exciting pictures of the bathroom remodel! Meanwhile, here are cute pictures of boys at the beach:
And Sam took this one of me, in my floppy sun hat. It’s not really a beach vacation unless there’s a floppy sun hat involved, yeah?
Davy’s hernia repair surgery went well yesterday and he’s back home now with only minor discomfort. He’s enjoying unlimited popsicles and video game time.
Sol, unfortunately, has figured out how to get his boot off so THAT’s a problem. Also my computer suffered a catastrophic hard drive failure yesterday; I’m posting from my tablet but updates are likely to be terse until I get a replacement.
“Hi,” says the unicorn kindly. “What brings you to see me today?”
“Um,” says Mary, shifting uncomfortably in her seat. She knows she needs to get those white bumps on her labia looked at, and the free clinic has good reviews on Yelp and is, you know, free, but… “Are—are you a doctor?”
“Nurse practitioner, actually,” the unicorn says. He doesn’t sound offended, but it’s hard to read an expression in those swirling opalescent eyes. “Don’t worry, I’ve been working here for years. I know it’s embarrassing but I promise that whatever your questions are, they aren’t stupid and they won’t shock me.”
“I’m not a virgin,” Mary blurts out.
“Okay, that’s good, let’s talk about your sexual history. When did you first become sexually active?”
“No, I mean, I thought—” Mary gestures helplessly towards the spiral horn. The lighting in the clinic is fluorescent and harsh, but the unicorn sheds a soft radiance that seems to concentrate most brightly along the length of his horn. “You know. Unicorns and, and virgins?”
“Oh,” he says. “No, actually, I’m much more interested in STD transmission vectors among vulnerable populations. But if you’d be more comfortable talking to a human staffer, I can fetch another nurse.”
Mary pauses, takes a deep breath. “No,” she says. “It’s fine. I guess the, um, symptoms first showed up about a week ago…”