Growing Fins

on that problematic junior colleague

by on Aug.23, 2016, under Academia

I have this junior colleague who is given so much face at work that she’s taken to treating me like her inferior. Actually, I’ve been struggling with her for years now. Every time I coordinate a course and she’s on my team. She’s stomped down the lecture hall when I give lectures to harangue the students, she’s been rude to me. She’s done dishonest things. I’ve had to cover her butt for more than one semester while she disappears. She’s badmouthed me to her tutorial groups to the extent that she gets extremely high marks while her students glare at me with venom.

And she tells tales to the other lit lecturers so that she gets in their inner circle. Well, maybe she’s in their inner circle anyway because she’s like them. This gives her more social currency than me at work the “like them”-ness of who she is. However, I remain on cordial and friendly terms with people on my team because I like most of them. I even liked her before I knew how she was. I don’t know how she always manages to dominate and overpower me. I think it’s because on some level I must have given her the permission to do so by being so self-effacing, and asking her her opinion etc.

Actually, asking younger people their opinion is a default with me not because I feel myself INFERIOR but because I’m trying to guide them into making decisions. I suppose on some level I was fond of her as a younger, intelligent-seeming person. This post is to remind me to SWITCH OFF THE GOODWILL because she’s already had more than 5 strikes as opposed to my usual “three strikes and you’re out”.

Today was the last straw, tbh.

What am I going to do? I’m professional. So I will be polite and cordial but there’s definitely going to be an arctic chill involved.

I do think that my colleagues will have to learn their own lesson when it comes to people like these vis-a-vis who they value above me. I’m not  going to be the one to teach them. I’m not a vindictive sort for one, and for another I believe in putting out good things in the world, rather than bad. Also, in case people have not noticed, I’m bloody busy and I’d rather focus on nice things.

This person is not nice. She’s toxic with a capital T to people she doesn’t feel a need to butter up. And I guess she thinks I am at the bottom of the food chain. GEE. I WONDER WHO GAVE HER THAT IMPRESSION, HMM.

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Intense Feelings of Regret

by on Aug.21, 2016, under Mermaids Have Drums

Re meeting various people who made my life hell. Re: doing that workshop thing last year, re: trying to set up a writing critique group last year.

It did nothing for me. Nothing except distract and upset. It did nothing for the people involved.

It’s too late to wipe that particular slate clean. But I intend to keep distancing myself. As far away as possible until all memory of having met said people and doing said event is wiped away from my memory at least. I cannot speak for the memory of others. I can only speak for mine.

I have more important, more valuable, more joyful things to remember.

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A start is better than nothing

by on Aug.20, 2016, under sf/f, writing

Thoughts, mostly random.

  1. I have been appropriated, had my ideas stolen by more than one person over the years. That’s in part because when you have ideas, you want to share them — and I do tend to have a bad habit of preening. I mean, I’m so double-Leo like that. Although, I am not nearly as baldi bocor as most people I know.
  2. I’ve learned to keep most of my ideas under close wraps, and I am still sore over various infractions. But, something interesting has been happening lately. I think either it’s out of exhaustion or I am more secure in my place in the world — but I am caring less and less about this. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery — and besides, I am me. Uniquely me. People can take ideas, they cannot reproduce me. And I don’t think they want to, anyway.
  3. There was this meme going around about appropriation that fits the way I feel. You getting a D grade for something while someone more well-positioned takes your idea, and gets an A grade (or a pro acceptance), for something they filched off you. But seriously, there’s a choice to be made.
  4. For me, that choice is about being bitter, negative, carrying around an aura of victimhood, or just getting on with it. Doesn’t mean a wrong hasn’t been committed, but situating that wrong within context does help. All authors/artists emulate, or sometimes steal. I mean, I could rattle off more than a dozen authors who have influenced me. I could chatter about it rather happily, to be honest. But there’s a right way and a wrong way. I guess sometimes people need to learn that.
  5. Have I forgiven? I guess I have. I am a rather forgiving sort. I’m not the “carry a grudge to the grave” kind of person. It’s just not my nature.
  6. However. Based on various other infractions, certain people are going to be noped forever. That’s just the way of it. Self-preservation, self-care. No hard feelings, but still, nope.
  7. And I’m happy that I am feeling more confident and happy in myself that I am less feeling miserly over my own ideas. It’s …well, I don’t know what it is, but it’s a start.
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Saturday Afternoon’s Adventures in Phenomenology

by on Aug.20, 2016, under Academia, Concerning Philosophy

I’m quite happy because I found Dreyfus’s talks and lectures on Merleau-Ponty on youtube (the latter via a fellow Codexian who’s a philosophy/economics PhD student). Reading Badiou’s Being and Event was maddening. In some places it’s very lucid, and others, quite opaque. The opaque part is probably because I’m no maths major and it’s been years since I did advanced mathematics. So I can grok a substantial bit of what he’s saying re ontology as set theory, but not everything. It does correspond a lot to what Wittgentstein says in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, and he also uses Leibniz’s Of Monadology quite a bit, particularly in relation to entelechies. I particularly enjoyed the sections on Leibniz, Spinoza and Descartes in Badiou’s work and he really is one of the greatest of the contemporary philosophers. But, having said that, he can be a bit of a muddle for the non-professional philosopher to understand. Especially one who is out of practice a fair bit. (I miss that Philosophy floor in the UQ library SO MUCH, and having people I can actually wrangle with about Philosophy in real life. ARGH. There are some local philosophy groups here but it would be awkward/uncomfortable and from what I can see it’s mostly philosophy lite/101).

See, for Badiou, Being, or the site of Being is an Event — and I’m still circling around the  idea of that. Of Consciousness being an Event. But if you think of Consciousness in and of itself being a phenomena, it makes sense. What else is phenomena but an event. But it’s semantics beyond a certain point.

Set theory I think is pretty helpful for grappling with certain concepts which is why philosophers and logicians employ mathematics (calculus, algebra, geometry etc). I mourn that I didn’t continue with maths even till today but I keep my brain active anyway.

So. Having read Being and Event which is  a way extends upon Heideggerian phenomenology but in another way problematises it to a huge degree, I needed to return to Merleau-Ponty’s problematizing of Heidegger. The Phenomenology of Perception is, in a huge way, Merleau-Ponty’s personal argument with Heidegger. And I feel I’ve come back to the nexus of my problems with Heidegger back during my PhD days. My philosopher supervisor* suggested that my problems with thrown-ness and being could be resolved if I listened to Dreyfus’s lectures on Heidegger. And oh my god. That helped so much. Understanding the practicalities of how Being is operable in the world, what the ready-to-hand really meant. Not so much about introspecting through the cool, clean, lines of logic but really, grappling with being In-The-World. So when you think about Being in relation to what’s around Being, set theory is really really sensible. And it leads us back, naturally to Wittgenstein, like that ex-boyfriend that keeps photobombing your wefies with other philosopher sweeties.

How does this fit in with Merleau-Ponty? Well, as Dreyfus says in his talks on MP, MP really works beneath the layer of the Heideggerian ready-to-hand, lays down very sensible and psychological groundwork so you can understand how perception works, how it is practically applicable in what Muggles may call the “real world”.

So I’m chewing on that this arvo along with rereads of Wittgensteins Tractatus, because of course.

How is this applicable to my current research? Eh. Not at all, probably. This is my reading “for fun and for comfort”. I’m just chilling with my homies here.


Well, in all seriousness, I try to grow as a budding philosopher from year to year because at some point, I’m doing my (second) PhD in Philosophy with a focus on Phenomenology.

It’s going to happen.

**determined nod**


*I only had her for about two semesters before my main supervisor had me bump her and the other supervisor off the team — which only led to me bumping HER — that main supervisor is still a lovely person but she had a very limited view of how my research could grow and that did not help my research at all. I really grew both as a scholar and as a human being with Carole who became my main supervisor, and I remain so grateful to the graduate school people for making that happen.

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by on Aug.20, 2016, under Mermaids Have Drums

So we’re moving back to normal transmission now! I deleted the past week’s post because I too lazy to dwell on things when life is to be gloriously lived.

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Some thoughts on targeted submissions

by on Aug.17, 2016, under Academia, sf/f, writing

I’m no SFF veteran but I can’t help feeling it’s futile to hit as many publications as possible without considering

(1) Quality/Reach

(2) Visibility/Circulation

(3) Payment/Remuneration

(4) The rights you get to keep/lose.



For instance, Truancy may not pay much but in terms of visibility we’re doing pretty okay. We’ve been mentioned in more than one high profile place, our authors have gone places. And people check back! This is the kind of relationship I’d like to maintain with all of our authors, and once I have more time I want to wrangle out the legalities of it vis-a-vis the new laws in Malaysia. I want it to be completely legal and on the board even as a nonprofit online entity. I sometimes wish I had better business sense because I’d love to have a sleeping partner/financier who could help me develop Truancy into a viable business model/paying market because man, wouldn’t it be great if we could go pro?

*wistful sigh*

But on the cards for this year is getting an e-ISBN and registration. Once I figure that out.


But that’s from the perspective of an editor/online micropress publisher. From my perspective — I only submit to zines whose values I respect, who pay pro rates (semipro if I really really like the `zine, so basically, if I submit to you and you don’t pay pro rates, it means I think you’re the cat’s pyjamas), and give me the visibility I need. I don’t have gazillion followers on social media, but I have decent visibility and platform. That took years. I wasn’t really consciously building that, I was basically just myself, *shrug*

But in a nutshell, my policy is to submit mostly only to pro magazines and that is why I have a relatively high rejection rate. I think quality matters to me more than volume, especially since I don’t have as much time as other people. But I’m also very conscious that I’m building a portfolio, and that I am primarily a novelist. I love writing short fiction, they’re a playground for my imagination and there’s this nice sense of completion. Also, it keeps you “in the game” and introduces you to new readers.

But the main thrust of my commitment for this year has to be for these big projects. My monograph, my novel, the millenial genre collection.

That’s all.

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A manifesto of sorts?

by on Aug.15, 2016, under sf/f, writing

Who am I writing for? Here, let me save you some time.

1. Not Malaysians
2. Not Americans
3. Not Firstworlders
4. Not Thirdworlders
5. Not people whose first language is English.
6 Not people whose first language may be (insert relevant language)

I write for exiles, dreamers, futurists, booknerds, loners, the disenfranchised, the poets, the ones you consider lazy or disagreeable, or even meek and tractable. I write for anyone of like mind. I write for those who may be of dissimilar minds but may find a resonance with some aspects. I write for people like me. I write for people who are not like me. I write because I need to write. I write because it’s a way to pass the time. I write because it brings me money. I write because it makes the world a little less bleak, and makes me feel a little less alone. I don’t write for you, I don’t write for anyone. But I write for everyone who wants to read, and I write for myself.

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Goals for the Week (15 August 2016)

by on Aug.15, 2016, under Academia, sf/f, writing

Now that I am home and slowly recovering from having to pay a RM796 car servicing bill (including the replacement of tyres), this week’s to-do list:

1) Submit Letters to Tiptree Review tomorrow (pretty much done with it, yay!)
2) Return Adrienne Kennedy article to editors on Wednesday.
3) Go for post-biopsy appointment with surgeon on Thursday
4) Continue work on Watermyth, aiming towards 110-120k words by the weekend (fingers crossed)
(5) Pay maintenance bill for the condo.
(6) Continue working on the Alaya Dawn Johnson vampires academic article (the paper I presented at Worldcon in 2014)
(7) Go through the chapters of the Helen Oyeyemi monograph (I have some more time to perfect this now thanks to last week’s very important reprieve).
(8) Edit and submit story to Uncanny!
(9) Edit and submit story to [dun dun dun]!
(10) Sleep and rest.
(11) Read storybooks.
(12) Ignore all the bullshit in the world and smell the roses, yo.

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Goals for the Week (8 August 2016)

by on Aug.08, 2016, under Academia, sf/f, writing

(1) Finish and submit Letters to Tiptree review
(2) 100k in Watermyth
(3) Finish edits for Adrienne Kennedy article I’m co-writing w/ supervisee and primary supervisor + submit to editor.
(4) Orientation Week committee meeting tomorrow.
(5) Running a workshop for my research group on Wednesday
(6) OMG DON’T FORGET TO SERVICE YOUR CAR, NINNY. (made an appointment for Monday)
(7) Collect blood pressure/diabetic meds today.
(8) Edit and submit story to Uncanny!
(9) OMG ffs submit your Helen Oyeyemi monograph proposal to an academic publisher already, Ninny.
(10) Return back to work on Alaya Dawn Johnson academic article (the vampires paper I presented at LonCon in 2014).
(11) Start work on the World of Warcraft academic article. putting this on hold till next year!

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Two Boil-Only Recipes For Greater Health Benefits

by on Aug.07, 2016, under Food Notes

I made Masak Singgang for the first time in years tonight. I’m very happy with how it turned out.


Masak Singgang Ikan Tenggiri (mackerel)

2-3 slices mackerel (I used king mackerel today which was divine)

1 lemongrass lightly pounded or punctured at the root

3-4 slices galanggal root

turmeric root or powder (I like my broth very turmeric-y so I used about a tablespoon but YMMV. Try 2cm, which is what most recipes recommend)

2-3 slices young ginger

6-7 red shallots, sliced

4 cloves garlic, sliced

1-2 pinches sugar (I used demerara sugar as usual)

salt to taste

1 teaspoon belachan paste.

1 red chilli, sliced.

2-3 small pieces asam gelugur/keping



Place everything  except for the fish in a pot with enough water to make a gently fragrant broth. When the broth is bubbling and flavoursome, add the fish so it will poach. Once it’s almost done, add the chillis. Season with some grated black pepper.


And here’s last week’s spiced chicken soup.


Spiced Malay Chicken Soup

Chicken (I used 2 chicken ribs that I cut up into smaller pieces)

2-3 potatoes peeled and quartered

4-6 red shallots, sliced

4 cloves garlic, sliced

2-3 slices young ginger

spices (1-2 cinnamon stick, 2 star anise, 5 -6 cloves, 6 cardamom pods)

salt and pepper to taste.

Enough water to make a decent soup


Basically put everything in a pot and boil till the potatoes are soft and the chicken is cooked. For added flavour, you can add half a tablespoon of coriander powder, but this is good enough like this.


Both dishes are nice to eat poured on top of rice, served with some kind of stirfried vegetable. Also with some other drier form of protein (fried chicken, fried fish, grilled seafood or fish), and sambal belachan. This is not an advertisement, but for some reason I’m really enjoying the Adabi brand of instant sambal belachan. It’s not super-authentic but is nice on its own merit. Also, it means I don’t have to make sambal belachan. As I always say, “Hey, I’ll take it, man.”

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