Archive for February, 2010

Recipe: Mango Madness!

Posted in Food, Uncategorized with tags , , on February 28, 2010 by Jaym Gates

Tried some mango on sticky rice last week, and was underwhelmed. Then again, I eat with the perpetual thought “I could do this better.” See, I don’t need to go to culinary school, I’m already as snooty as a chef!

I had to be fair in my challenge to the product, however. It was prepackaged and insta-eat. Soo…I had to make something easy and phenomenal.

I love my job. I get to experiment on my coworkers! (I work at Trader Joe’s, and I spend a lot of my time working in the demo program. This accounts for all excess weight, as grazing is damn near a job requirement.)

So, being bored, and having the human sharks gnawing the counter, I made Mango Madness. And my coworkers renewed their vows their undying love. (I exaggerate not, they very literally do vow undying love over food. Bachelors are so easy!) Also, I know it worked because the former chef, the half-French gourmet cook, the caterer from Sonoma and the particular manager all loved it. I cannot speak highly enough for this dish!

This is made with four ingredients, and all can be found at your local Trader Joe’s!

Mango Madness

1 tub rice pudding
1 package pre-sliced mango
1 cup crumbled ginger thin cookies
1/2 cup crushed sesame-honey cashews

Rice pudding goes on the bottom.
You can either leave the mango as-is, or dice, but put a little bit of sea-salt on it. (Really, this makes ALL the difference! Lime would be good, too, or orange juice, but that’s frosting.) Spread mango over rice pudding.
Mix crushed cookies and cashews together and sprinkle over the mango.
Add whipped cream, if you so desire.
Serve cold.

This would be an ideal summer dish. Very light and refreshing, not at all too sweet, and fairly unusual. It is an odd combination, but the heat of the ginger plays off the sweet mangoes and cool rice pudding.

Of course, I can’t do things the easy way, so I’m all fired up to try the hellishly-complicated, gourmet version of the above dish. I’ll make that on Wednesday, probably.

What is it? Homemade sweet coconut-milk curry risotto with mascarpone, cooled and molded. Top that with chili-mango-lemongrass chutney and spiced whipped cream. Garnish with cashews and sesame seeds.

My crew think they love me now? Most of them don’t know that I’ll take this dish in for them to eat. Mwahahaha.

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Open Letter to People Who Do Not Matter

Posted in Rants, Seven Deadly Sins on February 27, 2010 by Jaym Gates

Why do I address a letter to you, if you do not matter? I address it to you because I am endlessly hopeful that someday, you will listen to me.

You see, I am a patient person. Laugh for a moment. Get that cleared out. Yes, I am a volcano, sharp-edged and passionate. But that is the surface. The waves may whip up, but it passes quickly and without incident. I am patient when you playfully mock my speech, not understanding that I choose my words so carefully because there are days when I cannot speak at all, days when I stutter, days when the words are in my head but not on my tongue. I smile and joke back, because it is good to talk, and I did not do that for too long.

I laugh when you say that my aggression, my temper and impatience are an act. I don’t care if you think my music, my clothes or my hobbies are silly or a reaction to my upbringing.

I am not easily angered. But there are things which do anger me. Let me share those, so that I won’t be tempted to claw your tongue out next time you talk to me.

Please stop telling me that I just need to find the right church. That I should keep going until I do. Do not talk over me, reprimand me, or become condescending when I say I do not need a church.

I do not need to find the right church. I do not need a church. This is not reaction to a bad childhood experience, nor backlash against my conservative upbringing. It is because I find church to be meaningless to me. I gain nothing from listening to someone else tell me what his experiences, his beliefs or passions are. I can get that from a book, and have tea too.

I do not need fellowship. If you knew me, you would understand that I have a low tolerance for other people. I have had everyone in my head but myself for years. The most holy experience that I can have is utter silence, and that cannot happen so long as one person is in the room.

I do not need your god. He is not my god. I do not hate him, but I find him contradictory and judgmental. He has no meaning to me, no call to serve. Believe me, I tried. I tried with all the passion of a child who believes that she is going to hell, that she can be saved if she just loves hard enough. I have my own gods now, and your god does not like that. Save the lightning, please.

My church is the rugged face of Pyramid Peak. My cathedral is the Desolation Wilderness. My chapel is the open hillside where I watch the storms that are my hymns. My fellow worshipers are the hawks, the horses, the coyotes. My reverence is the total peace of a night without people. My prayers are songs and my songs are prayers. Please, don’t try to judge me for this. You don’t understand. You don’t need to understand.

I won’t tell you my beliefs. Please don’t tell me yours. That is not something that needs to be known. We are in a world of over-share. Let this be personal. Leave the sacred secret and cherished. This is what keeps me alive, please do not try to haul it out for autopsy.

Also? I said I don’t want children. I will not be ‘changing my mind in three or four years’. If you think I am, you do not know me, do you? There are things that change in my life, but they are not many. This is something I have known for years. I am not wholly a woman, it is true. I do not identify entirely as a woman, either. It is a gender that I have worn uncomfortably, even as I love it and luxuriate in some of the gifts it brings. I have never thought of myself as a mother, nor imagined myself with babies. It is fine for others, but it is not my path.

There are enough unwanted children in the world. I have worked with some of them. They left an indelible mark on my heart. It was not the fat babies and cooing cherubs, but the little-old girls with HIV, the beautiful girl who took my hand and made me her eyes. It was the boy who had been burned, with his plastic-skin skeleton, and the boy who hit a horse on the nose until he was shown how it hurt the horse. It is the kids that society misses that I love.

If I ever desire children, I will reach for them first. Not out of pity, oh gods no. It is out of admiration, honor, respect. These children saved my life. The autistic, the brain-damaged, the abandoned. I would die for their memory, and I would selfishly keep every one of them.

I will not change my mind. Please, keep your judgments to yourself. I don’t hate children. I love watching my friends with their children. My young cousins can bend me backwards with a look. One of my special children from years past can reduce me to tears with a word or touch.

I am used to being judged. I have been judged since before I could speak. That does not matter. What matters is that you do not listen when I try to speak.

I am not easily angered. Irritated, yes. Yet these things will always make me angry. Judge me if you wish, but remember, I will lose all respect for you. When you judge me and dismiss my opinion, it reduces you to the level of the people I have struggled to leave behind. The ones who give religion a bad name. I used those people as examples of what not to be. I used them to become who I am today.

You Do Not Matter because I have ceased to listen to you. You have become the noise that I flee, the irritations that I see over my shoulder in the mirror. You do not matter because you do not listen. So much white noise in your own ears, you’ve forgotten that there are other ways.

You do not matter to me, but I hope that someday, a blanket will fall over your head. I hope it drowns out the noise and lets you look at the world from someone else’s eyes. I hope you will someday find peace in silence, strength in your own eyes, and love in your own heart.

Then you will matter, not just to me, but to the world, to your loved ones, to yourself. Good luck.

*bounce bounce bounce*

Posted in work, writing with tags on February 26, 2010 by Jaym Gates

This sucks. I’ve got a bunch of things that I’m waiting for news on, so I THINK I’ve got great news to share, but I don’t want to jinx myself!

In news that I CAN share, the article for the Crossed Genres ‘Antihero’ issue is written and sent. It focuses on the Browncoats: Redemption film that I’ve been talking about for so long. Working on it got me all giddy again, and certain recent info/events intersected in my head. I sent a DM, and then an email, and another email, and now I’m sitting on my hands, trying not to jump the gun!

Apparently, the first Aether Age replies are going out. So I’m a nervous wreck about that, too! I am not good at this waiting thing. Hope sucks even more, y’know?

I’m feeling pretty good about life right now. I’ve got one story off to Drollerie Press, on time, the CG article sent on time, the info for the next article, and good ideas about the next three stories. As an unanticipated side-effect, I started a rewrite way ahead of schedule.

Unfortunately, Nightmare will NOT be finished on schedule. Again. However, I’ve gotten a long ways by trusting my instincts and jumping at the opportunities that have presented themselves. Nightmare is impatient though, and keeps battering at me to be written!

The news finally came: my great-grandmother passed away a couple of days ago. There are two services next weekend: a private family one on Friday, and the big service on Saturday. I’m flying to Colorado EARLY Friday morning, and will be back on Sunday. This is the first time I’ll have seen most of these people in the better part of ten years. The drama has already started, as was anticipated, and I can’t say I don’t have a substantial amount of dread piling up.

The most interesting part of this? I can’t mention WHAT I write, which means I don’t want to mention writing at all. If I’ve just gotten great news, it’s going to be making me more bitter than usual that the only reaction would be to throw holy water on me. I also have to make sure to keep all the tattoos covered, to not wear earrings, to take off the necklaces I wear night and day. In fact, I’ll probably steer clear of most jewelry that weekend.

After Connooga’s corsets and a realization of how much I love showing up and standing out, this is not going to be easy!

Anyways, if I’ve forgotten that I owe you something, please remind me. I’m hoping to take tomorrow to sit down and write out new lists. The near-future space story should be drafted during flight, the ghost story is already started, the other one will have to wait. I’ve got volunteer work this weekend, and an article to write for them.

And, dammitall, I’m forgetting something. I know I am.

Connooga: Retrospective

Posted in Uncategorized on February 25, 2010 by Jaym Gates

Connooga, 2010.

First off, I’m going to get this off of my chest. The internet at the motel where they hold the Con? It sucks!

Ok, now that that is off of my chest…the important things.

Like the fact that the hotel has a coffee shop in-house. Excellent coffee. The reason you HAVE to stop by? The Lemonberry Mascarpone cake and the Bourbon Pecan Pie. Yes, I went to a convention in a beautiful city, met lots of fascinating people, learned some great new things, and I’m giving the pie and cake priority. What? I’m a sensual girl. There are certain things that I value more highly than others in life. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have the Pecan Pie for breakfast Sunday morning, and the Lemonberry pie for dinner Friday night…Priorities, kids.

Also, the tiny Riverfront Art District has lovely restaurants. Sadly, my appetite was badly suppressed by outside reasons, but we stopped at the Back Inn Cafe for dinner. Mom got an espresso-rubbed steak with truffled mashed potatoes and asparagus, and I got the eggplant rolls over penne. The fried green tomato appetizer was the best part of the meal, but don’t bother with the Caprese salad. Also, they have a small but lovely wine list.

Oh, the Con itself? Oh yeah, there was one of those, wasn’t there?

Well, the difference between Connooga and Dragon*Con is, well, slightly vast. It’s a good difference though. DC is just overload. I couldn’t make it to half of what I wanted to do, and half of the time is spent fighting through crowds. Not to mention, getting everywhere early to get good seats.

At Connooga, it’s lovely and relaxed. The smaller number of people means that you get to know people. Also, on panels, there’s the chance to interact with the panelists and other members of the crowd.

I’m pretty predictable when it comes to my panel choices. Literary, Horror, Dark Fantasy or mythology. But Connooga had a great Paranormal track, and that’s where I spent half of my weekend.

Connooga somehow attracts a great Paranormal group. Deborah Collard, TAPS, Ghost Hunters of the South, etc, all top-notch people who know damn well what they are doing. They were quite happy to answer any questions and go out of their way to educate people.

I also have to plug the concert venue. There is SEATING! Sorry. I don’t like being in the pit. Music is a sensual, energetic thing. I savor every note. And if I savor while standing up, I am liable to fall over. I had the chance to see both Hazmat and Bella Morte there. Seeing Bella Morte this weekend more than makes up for missing them at Dragon*Con.

I have reservations about recommending Connooga. On the one hand, I certainly recommend the Con. But the hotel is nothing particularly special for a very high price, and the internet is unusable, at least for me. I’m not sure what hotels are nearby, but it might be worth checking that out, if you plan to go.

I guess, final word is…go, but plan to see Chattanooga while you’re there. I know Connooga is planning to add some stuff, so there will be more to do, but the atmosphere of the city and the con both lend themselves to naps, sight-seeing, and socializing.

Enjoy!

First Lines

Posted in Uncategorized on February 23, 2010 by Jaym Gates

Stealing an idea from something I heard on one of Connooga’s panels. I’ve got so many pieces in the works right now that I’ll share the first paragraph from each, instead of trying to summarize or provide excerpts. Feel free to leave feedback if you wish!

Crossed Genres: Browncoats: Redemption (article)

Anti-heroes maintain a special place in the reader’s heart. Flawed, annoying, a dark and dangerous counterpart to the shiny-faced hero, they reach into the grab-bag and pull out all the things the heroes are really scared of. They often teach us more about ourselves, more about life and the conflicts therein than do the shiny, clean Supermen of fiction.

I Called You Beautiful, a ghost story for Drollerie Press’s upcoming anthology.

“And here we have Ellen.” The tour guides taps on the glass. “Who can tell me what Ellen is?”
An excited fifth-grader raised his hand, nearly bouncing on his tip-toes. “I can, I can!”
“What is she, Billy?”
“She’s the last ghost!” said Billy.

Songs of Salt: How a Siren Lost Her Wings, for another Drollerie anthology.

Listen to my heart-break tale, to my songs of salt. Listen to the hidden desires of your soul, weary traveler. Stay here, stay and listen to me sing, for none know you as I do.
Stay, gentle soul. Stay with me. I am lonely, you are lonely, let us be lonely together. My song will be your drink, my words, your food. I will be your passion, and you will be my Muse.

America’s Highway, a near-future dystopian horror from the Absent Earth world. (original work)

The first fleet broke down without warning. Blocking five miles of America’s Highway, they sat in smoldering ruin and slowly ate themselves from the inside out, rotting, rusting, fire. The men inside beat their hands against the windows and doors as the same things ate them.

Haven, a horror/fantasy novel.

Squalling birds flurried through the sky, some winging frantically towards freedom, others falling to the earth. Choked by ash and dust, livestock stampeded with the deer and wolves. Behind them roared a black sky. Towering columns of fire and ash licked up into the storm, drawn by reckless tornadoes.

Strangers in the Mirror

Posted in Uncategorized on February 22, 2010 by Jaym Gates

It is 11pm on a Saturday night. Chattanooga, TN. Connooga. The day has been full of good things, and a nap, but now it is time for the Bella Morte concert, and I am getting dressed.

As I lace up the corset, my grandmother’s voice echoes in my memory. “You can’t wear those jeans. They show your back when you lean over.”

As I pull on the jeans, I hear her say “Your thighs are too fat for those pants. You have to wear something else to your riding lesson.” I was 13 years old.

I brush gray and black eyeshadow over my lids and hear a 15 year old being told “that makeup makes you look like a clown.” All I’d been wearing was mascara and lipgloss, but I’d run back to the house and washed it all off, crying.

Finally dressed, I look in the mirror. A stranger waits for me there. A beautiful, shameless, proud stranger with feathers in her hair and jagged jewelry. I don’t know this woman. I am hiding in the corner, naked. She won’t let me hide in a blanket, so I hide in my corner.

Clothes, makeup, jewelry, these are all masks. I often wear them so that people won’t look beyond the surface. It is hard for me to walk out into public, hard to know that people are looking at me. I learned to disappear into the shadows a long time ago. My upbringing was good for that.

When I was 15, I bought jeans and sweaters and clothing that was too big, too old for me. I wear those jeans to work now, they fit perfectly. I always felt too big for my skin, too old for my place in life. Everything seemed half a step off. I looked in the mirror and couldn’t see myself. I couldn’t look at the face there, because it wasn’t me. The sense of displacement has been vast and terrifying, for as long as I can remember.

It has been a long road here. Deep down, I have the same vanity as everyone else. I want to be admired, loved, envied. I am young enough that I do not want to waste what is perceived as an advantage, old enough to wonder why it matters if a man turns to look at me after I walk past.

For me, the clothes and the makeup, the stranger in the mirror, those things aren’t about attracting men or women or being more beautiful than someone else.

The stranger in the mirror is who I expected to see when I looked in the mirror ten years ago. She has a different hair color, a few more scars–inside and out–and a different set of lenses on the world, but I finally look in the mirror and am not so surprised.

I want to look my grandmother in the face and tell her that she damaged me more than the girls at school, more than the well-meaning adults who told me to stop wearing black and act my age. I want to tell her that I’m not too fat, that I’m not whoring myself, that I don’t look like a clown. I want to tell her that her failure to raise me right is all in her mind.

Because the stranger in the mirror looks back and there is understanding in her eyes. I can’t stop staring. Not at my face, not at my shoulders or waist or hair. I can’t stop staring into my own eyes, and wondering if this is what Narcissus was punished for. If he was, I like to think that he counted it worthy, because there are no more strangers in the mirror.

I am beautiful, and I am no longer ashamed of being a beautiful, shameless, proud woman.

Food, Family and Con

Posted in Uncategorized on February 22, 2010 by Jaym Gates

Er, ok, so not your typical American dream. Leave out the family and insert a few things that we won’t mention here, and it would be MY dream.

Enough of that. I’m tired, and rambling.

Food

Yes, I’m really starting with food. Namely, Georgia sucks. I got all of these cool, geeky beers like Wytchcraft, and then couldn’t buy them because it was Sunday, and the south is backwards like that. I did, however, get way too many aged Italian cheeses. Ohmygodyum.

Family

About 12 years ago, my great-grandmother was diagnosed with (something, no, I don’t remember what), at 80-something years of age. She went downhill rapidly, was told she was going to die, etc etc etc. Turns out, the doctors had put her on the wrong kind of drug. When she was switched, she recovered beautifully and was doing water aerobics and helping out at church and all of that.

Last night, in the middle of the Hazmat concert, my grandfather emailed my mom, saying that great-grandma was unresponsive. She wasn’t expected to live through the night. The funeral was being scheduled for next Saturday.

Er, we’ve heard THAT song and dance before. We waited. Went about Con business like usual.

As we were nearing Charlotte today, he called again. She was stable, and responsive again. The nursing home gave her two to three weeks.

So yes, my life is completely up in the air right now. I haven’t seen them for several years, but she and my great-grandfather are two of the brightest spots in a rough childhood. I’m very, very much like my grand-father, and despite our vastly different outlooks on life, we were close. He won’t make it for long after she is gone. He’s already buried one wife.

At any time, I could be getting a call saying “Come to Colorado this weekend”. Then again, my family doesn’t die very easily. I wouldn’t be surprised if my tiny, fragile, stubborn-as-hell Grandma was around for another ten years. Hell, she’s already almost 100. Might as well live to see the big one, right?

Sympathies that have already been given are much, much appreciated. At the same time, I won’t be shedding too many tears here. I’ll miss them, yes. There will be a warmth and loving terror missing from my heart. But they are almost 100, they have lived incredibly full lives, and that makes it easier to gently wish them well and let them go.

And, finally….(and on a happier note, at that…)CONNOOGA!!!

Have to admit reservations about this one. I’d never heard about it, and no one else seemed to have heard about it, either. I only heard about it because of a mishap at Dragon*Con. (I was sick, unable to attend all of the concerts, etc. etc. was checking to see when Faith and the Muse, Voltaire and Bella Morte would be playing again, and lo and behold, Bella Morte at this thing called Connooga? Hmmm, looks cool…)

It’s held in a hotel that used to be a train station. Admission here, mom and I are both steam/industrial geeks. We HAD to check this out.

I got hit with horrible allergies right before the Con. Of course. This seems to be a habit. The results are: coughing through an author’s panel, not eating, and generally looking like a raging alcoholic, given the red nose and all. (although, according to a reliable source, I got ogled (I won’t name names, unless you threaten me with chocolate, and then I’ll tell you the whole story.) as I hurried out of the panel during my coughing attack. Probably because I was actually wearing a skirt. Yes, a SKIRT! I am hawt when I’m sick.)

Anyways, 6 hour drive was ok. Hotel left a bit to be desired, for the price. The Con? Small, but really worth it, honestly. Dragon*Con is an AMAZING experience, but something like Connooga is where you really get to have a relaxing, fun time and still get the geek in.

Panels were great. Small enough that you could discuss it. The paranormal stuff had an amazing team running it, TAPS, 2 psychics, members of several of the south’s best ghost-hunting/paranormal investigations teams.

I confess, I took a nap before the Bella Morte concert. *sigh* Yes, I am old and boring. However, the concert was…phenomenal. I like live music, I really do. I do not, typically, like live rock. I’m a blues girl, or classical. I love rock, thrash, techno, industrial and black metal on my headphones, but not live.

Andy Deane has lovely stage presence though, interacts with his fans, and simply has a rare talent for singing. (Ok, so I have a voice fetish. That one, I can honestly blame on the ex, thank you very much…)

I had a great weekend, bad news aside. I wrote 700 words today, and have an idea for a new blog. (Do NOT mention the fact that I can’t post regularly to this one. THAT one would have a theme.) I’m ready for Hell Week.

What’s On the Menu, Buster?

Hell Week: Edit Songs of Salt and Blood, finish the Browncoats: Redemption Article for Crossed Genres, start contacting people for the Animal Control article, finish America’s Highway (that was the 700 words, the ONLY 700 words on the story so far), submit both Songs and Highway, reply to all the emails, volunteer at Animal Control so that I’ll finally be full-fledged, register for ReaderCon, and give the house a thorough cleaning.

Blogs to watch for this week: A full run-down of the Con, an idea combining my love of food, music and geeks (get your mind out of the gutter, dammit!), a possibly too-honest post about something very personal, a look at the short stories in progress, and an update on Nightmare/ (Ok, those might run into next week, too. Oops.)

If I owe you something, you’ll get it soon. If I’m slow responding, I’m sorry, I’ll get it to you soon. Between family drama, cons, writing, work, being sick, and people, I just have run out of time. I’ll make it up soon. I’m rested up.

Wait, one last bit of resting to do. Lush and Angela Carter’s The Magic Toyshop are calling me. Good night, all!