Bios and stuff

I was thinking about updating my website, and thought it would be good to review a couple of sites that I admire.

I started noticing that folks had bios.  For example:

Stephenie Meyer graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor's degree in English. She lives with her husband and three young sons in Phoenix, Arizona. After the publication of her first novel, Twilight, booksellers chose Stephenie Meyer as one of the "most promising new authors of 2005" (Publishers Weekly).

Ah, to be a best-selling author...  There's also the biography of the lovely Joy Marchand:

Joy Marchand holds a B.A. in Classical Studies from the University of the Pacific. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts, where she takes photos of odd signage, churchyards and the occasional roadside shrine. Joy's poems and short stories have been featured in Bare Bone, Writers of the Future Volume XX, the Elastic Book of Numbers, Modern Magic, Time for Bedlam, Polyphony 5, Interfictions, Talebones, Apex Digest,Interzone, among others. Joy has also worked as an editor for Shimmer, a small magazine packed with quality short fiction and stunning artwork. She is currently at work on a road novel set on Route 66. 

If I convolve the two, mine would read:

Meg Stout holds a B.S. in Physics from George Mason University and a M.S. in Product Development from Naval Postgraduate School.  She lives with her husband and daughters in Annandale, Virginia.  She is currently at work on a novel about the Saint Margaret of Scotland.

 Alas, my job and formal training don't *go* with writing fiction.  However, I know that the scientific method and cultural analysis I learned informs my writing method.  So perhaps a better bio would be:

Meg Stout graduated from George Mason University and the Naval Postgraduate School with scientific degrees.  As a novelist, she applies the scientific method to true stories, uncovering startling possibilities.  She is currently at work on a novel about the Saint Margaret of Scotland.

So do I mention the novel about Elvira Cowles, plural wife of Joseph Smith?  Hers is the story that compelled me to take up the craft of writing in my dotage, I mean maturity.  Do I mention my husband and daughters?  My home in Annandale, Virginia?  My job at the Washington Navy Yard?  The fact my parent's marriage was "void and prohibited" at the time of my birth in the state where I was born?

Probably not, but time will tell.


Rejoining the Connected

I'm at the Narita, Tokyo airport, sitting in the Red Carpet Club.  This is actually the first time I've ever flown business class, so it's a new experience.  Quiet, comfortable seats, power, internet, munchies, free beverages.  If I actually imbibed anything more alcoholic than orange juice, I could get beer, wine, and hard liquor for free too.

This morning I ate breakfast at a Vie de France in Yokosuka, Japan.  It's amazing how well one can get on without spoken language, just a big smile, nodding and bowing at the appropriate moments.  The food was heavenly, but the memorable thing was the little old lady sitting across from me.

My grandmother was a little old hunched Asian lady before her passing.  And this little old woman sitting across from me picking at her pastry was so like my grandmother that I started to tear up.  I could never talk to my grandmother.  She spoke a dialect of Mandarin that was incomprehensible even to the Taiwanese folks she ended up living amongst after fleeing from Mao Tse-tung's communist regime.  Her only window to the world was through her husband and children, who learned to speak the language.

My dad resented the way he was treated as a foreigner, so he decided to liberate his children from racial discrimination by making sure we were as American as possible.  He refused to teach us Mandarin.  In fact relatively few people now even realize we are 1/2 Chinese (thanks to the genes of our tall, blond, european-stock mother).

So I never, ever, had a conversation with my grandmother that extended beyond smilling and nodding and bowing (and hugging) at the appropriate times.

A few years ago my Taiwanese sister-in-law moved in next door.  I was so excited.  Now I could have my sister-in-law write a letter to my grandmother, and grandmother could read it and write back to me.  I asked my dad for Grandma's mailing address.

"Why?"  he asked.

"So I can write to her."

He looked at me funny.  "But Grandma can't read."

"I know.  J--- will translate my letter into Chinese."

"English, Chinese, it doesn't matter.  Grandma can't read."

It was like my world turned upside down.  Dad must have seen how upset I was, for he leaned in, as though to confess something.

"Meg, Grandpa was a soldier and can read, but he was dogmatic - rigid.  Grandma might not be able to read, but she was the one who was creative, she was the smart one."

Dad tapped his forehead.  "I, you, we take after Grandma."

So I sat there in the Vie de France, crying, thinking about Grandma, who has been dead now for almost 6 years.  Then I got up and bowed and smiled and nodded and went out into the sunlit street.