Coping mechanisms

For the last couple years I’ve been making a concerted effort to exercise more, for the simple reason that I sit all day on a couch or desk, hunched over a laptop, and after years and years of doing that without much of a break, my body started to hurt.  Neck, back, shoulders — everything.  If I had a deadline, like clockwork I’d wake up some morning unable to turn my head — my jaw tight, pain radiating up and down my back into my skull.  Tension, bad posture, muscle weakness, you name it.  I’d take a bunch of Motrin, then keep working while resting in bed, propped up on pillows.

Now, you have to understand, I was that kid who hated gym, who always came in last in all the physical tests, never got picked for the team, blah, blah, blah.  Running a mile was a death sentence (still kind of is), a sit-up was out of the question, climbing stairs from the basement to the first floor made my legs burn with a serious hell no.  I liked to sit and eat and read and take easy (very easy) walks.  If you’d asked me then, or ten years ago, five years ago, if I could ever see myself regularly working out, I would have laughed in your face.

But…but…something had to change.  My health sucked.  I didn’t like being in pain.  Also, I’m getting older.  That mattered, too.

I decided to work with a trainer (because I didn’t know what to do, how to begin, how to even use a machine at the gym).  I started walking more, taking the stairs instead of the elevator.  I was always afraid, stupidly, that exercise would make the pain worse — when, in fact, just the opposite happened.  Movement was the best medicine of all.

It’s been almost three years of focused, regular, work — but I’m almost never in pain anymore (unless you count my aging knees), my neck doesn’t lock up, my back feels strong.  It’s a good feeling.  Great, even. And it startles me, sometimes, how much better I feel — even compared to my twenty-year old self.

It’s also incredibly useful, in times of stress, to focus on the body instead of the mind.  That’s something I never thought much about — how exercise has a calming effect.  Folks would say that to me, but it didn’t make sense — until I started working out.  And now, more than ever, I need distractions, I need calm.  Not, for once, because of my writing — but because of everything happening in our country.

Coping mechanisms.  Which leads me to this morning.  There’s a place down the street where you can take spinning classes.  I had no clue what that was, I thought it meant actual spinning (hahaha). And then I found out that spinning refers to stationary bike-riding.  But with loud music.  I was like, “Cool, I’ll try something new.  I got this.”  So this morning I signed up for a 7 am class.

Yoooooooooo what.  WHAT.

First of all, there was no whining, crying, or quitting — but damn.  WTF is this?  What is this arcane fusion of shadowy neon dance club and stationary biking?  Biking where you’re never supposed to actually sit down?!  And why did everyone act so happy to be there?!

Let’s just say that if my goal was to get fit AND be distracted, spinning was A++.  But beyond that, the best part of those 45 minutes-going-on-eternity was our coach screaming, over and over, “YOU’RE A BADASS BITCH! BADASS BITCHES RIDE HARD! RIIIDE!”

I confess that being called a badass bitch did not actually make me ride harder. But I did start laughing and my feet slipped off the pedals and I almost fell off my bike into the woman next to me.

Yes, stay smooth.

This isn’t meant to be some infomercial on why folks should stay active.  More like, making changes in our lives, even ones that are intimidating, can have real benefits.  I was super intimidated by exercise.  I still kind of am.  I lived my whole life being told, and believing, that I wasn’t that person.

But I was also told that writing wasn’t a real job, that readers wouldn’t buy romance novels written by Chinese writers, that women don’t read comics, or write them…and I shrugged and just kept plugging along.  Being able to climb a flight of stairs without feeling like a walking heart attack is simply part of that larger journey.

Also, don’t forget, a good distraction.

 

Food porn, politics, and cats

“It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.”
– James Baldwin

I never used to talk much about politics.  But the world doesn’t become a better place through inaction, or by putting our heads in the sand and pretending there’s nothing wrong.  Even if we don’t see eye to eye, that’s okay — but there are very real ways we should all unite around a future built on common decency.  We’re stuck on this little world, together — we’re all we’ve got.  Let’s be excellent to one another.  Let’s remember how fragile democracy really is.  Freedom isn’t a given.  It has to be protected, tended, championed.

That said, I need a different outlet where I can remind myself of the things I love — where I can discharge some of this nervous energy that can’t be transmitted in 140 characters or less.  And I suddenly remembered tonight that, hey, I’ve got this thing called a blog.  Gee whiz.

We’re all writing in the long form via Twitter — only now it’s called a thread.  I love reading threads, the immediacy of them, the serialized argument staged in fragments.  Reminds me of law school, in a way — how I would break down my thoughts around a problem, bit by bit.

But sometimes you don’t want to think about making words fit on the canvas…sometimes you just want to write and write.  About nonsense.  About food.  About cleaning out your closet, or publishing, and comics, and the weather.  Or about books.  Or race and sexuality and feminism.

About anything.

***

Lately, my twitter feed has been nothing but politics and food porn.  I read an article recently where a doctor suggested that taking lots of food photos can indicate a mental illness; it suggests the food or the restaurant matters more than the company you’re with; that it’s a fetish; an obsession.

I mean, okay.  Maybe that’s all true.  Or maybe sometimes you’re like, “Damn, that piece of avocado looks real juicy and I need to show my mom.”  Or maybe you’re really loving the experience of having a meal with someone you love, and part of that experience is the food you share.  Or maybe you’re trying out a restaurant for the first time and your friends are like, “PICTURES OMG.”  Or maybe, sometimes, food is comforting — maybe you like to eat, damn it — and a good meal is part of the diary you keep (like, “…on Tuesday I negotiated a stand-off between a grizzly and the local school board; and then, a burger.”).

Whatever.  When you’re a writer and spend your days inside ALL THE TIME ALL YEAR ROUND — forcing yourself to leave the house is kind of essential.  Meal time is good for that.  Also, our kitchen is tiny, so cooking is a pain.

Here’s tonight’s spread (or part of it).  In other news, I like fish.

I hope wherever you are, wherever you’re reading this, you’re safe and warm, with a good book or loved one nearby.  I’m all tucked in, ready for a long night of work — there’s a two-tailed cat that needs some adventuring.

Bay Area Tour: Monstress

New York Comic Con was terrific this year.  What made it so great was having Sana Takeda there — and meeting all of you wonderful readers, new and familiar, who stopped by our table to say hi.  Thank you all so much for your enthusiasm and support.

My travels aren’t over, though!  To celebrate the return of Monstress this week, I’m flying out to the Bay Area for three events. Here are the details:

TR!CKSTER in conjunction with Fantastic Comics and the Berkeley Public Library are pleased to welcome Marjorie Liu back to the Bay Area to kick off the second arc of MONSTRESS! You’ll have THREE chances to catch her during this visit; Friday is fantastic with a signing at Fantastic Comics. Saturday you’ll find Marjorie taking questions at the Library and finishing with a reception at TR!CKSTER! You’ll also be able to snag a gorgeous MONSTRESS print from artist, Sana Takeda at our reception!

OCTOBER 14TH:  

5 – 8 pm — I’ll be doing a Q&A and signing at Fantastic Comics (2026 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, California 94704), so stop by and say hi!  More info here.

OCTOBER 15TH:

3 – 4 pm — Berkeley Public Library (North Branch: 1170 The Alameda, BerkeleyCA 94707) for a conversation about Monstress, Han Solo, comics, writing — anything you want to talk about!

6 -9 pm — Come to TR!CKSTER (2631 Ashby Ave. Berkeley, CA. 94705) for a reception where I’ll be signing, hanging out — and you’ll be able to find some prints of Sana’s beautiful art from Monstress.

NYCC 2016!

Thanks to all of you — amazing readers and retailers — this summer was a wonderful one for the Monstress team.  Because of you, Vol. 1 of the trade hit #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, and now we’ve almost arrived at the launch for the second arc: Monstress #7 hits shelves on October 12th!

Before that, however, Sana Takeda and I will be at New York Comic Con!  This week, in fact! From this Thursday to Sunday, Team Monstress will be at table K2 in Artist Alley, signing posters, selling the trade — and we’ll have some other goodies there, as well.  We can’t wait to see you all — familiar faces, and new.

Friday (October 7th):

Signing: Image Booth (1444) (11 – 12 pm)
Sana Takeda and I will be signing the Monstress trade!

Image Comics: Character  (6:30 – 7:30 PM)
Location:  1A24
Description: A high concept for a comic is a great invitation, but great characters are what make you want to stay with the book. Characters that you empathize with or are cooler than cool are captivating. Sana Takeda (MONSTRESS), Steven Seagle (CAMP MIDNIGHT), Rod Reis (Hadrian’s Wall), and Jason Hurley & Jeremy Haun (The Beauty) are going to dig deep into characters, and how it’s not as easy as a cool outfit and a snappy name.

New York Comic Con Invades Greenwich Village!  (7 – 9 pm)
Jefferson Market Library.  425 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY, 10011.  FREE ticketed event—please register.  [The New York Public Library in partnership with First Second and New York Comic Con (NYCC) present two #NYCC2016 events October 7 and 8—a comics panel for adults and one for kids. Author Panel from 7-8 PM; signing to follow. Box Brown (Andre the GiantTetris@boxbrown | Greg Rucka (Wonder WomanStar WarsBatman@ruckawriter | Marjorie Liu (Monstress, X-23, Astonishing X-Men)  @marjoriemliu | Ryan North (Adventure TimeThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl@ryanqnorth

Saturday (October 8th):

Image Comics: Storytelling (12:15 – 1:15 pm)
Room 1A21
You can’t judge a comic solely based on what happens to the characters in it. You have to look at how things happen, what the story looks like, and a bunch of other little tiny things that make comics one of the most vibrant storytelling mediums around. Gabriel Hardman (Invisible Republic), Declan Shalvey (Injection), Marjorie Liu (Monstress), Bryan Hill (Romulus) and a couple special guests are some of the best storytellers in the business.

Super Asian America (5:15 – 6:15)
Room 1A02
From Amadeus Cho to Kamala Khan, Asian superheroes are powering their way into our stories – from the page to the stage. But they can’t do it without help from the Asian American heroes behind the scenes. Join Racebending.com’s Mike Le in a no-holds-barred discussion of the state of Super Asian America, with real-life comic greats Greg Pak (The Totally Awesome Hulk), Larry Hama (G.I. Joe), Marjorie Liu (Astonishing X-Men), Keith Chow (Secret Identities), Wendy Xu (Angry Girl Comics), and Vishavjit Singh (Sikh Captain America).

Sunday (October 9th):

Signing: Comixology Booth (M3, M4) (11 – 12 pm)
I’ll be signing my exclusive trading card created by Comixology!

Signing: Kinokuniya Booth (1775) (1 – 2 pm)
Sana and I will be signing copies of the Monstress trade!

We Need Diverse Books: #Whitewashedout in Books and Media (2:45 – 3:45)
Room 1A02
Like #WeNeedDiverseBooks, the hashtag #WhiteWashedOut went viral showing many people’s connection to the erasure of Asian American and PoC/Natives in all forms of media, not just film. How is this hurtful for communities effected? And why does this keep happening even when audiences ask for more diversified representation? The creators of #WhitewashedOut and others discuss the need for change, uplift the representations getting it right and relay what else we can do to be heard.

Brooklyn Book Festival

I suppose this is where I apologize for not updating my website in months and promise I’ll be better, but given that I’ll probably just lapse right back into my bad habits, I’ll get to the point.  Which is: EVENTS!  Specifically, I’ll be at the Brooklyn Book Festival this weekend, September 18th (Sunday), for two events and signings.  I’d love to see you all — and look, what a line up!  Peter Straub AND Joyce Carol Oates?!   Aaaaaaah!!!!

AAAAAAAHHHHHHH!

***

Brooklyn Historical Society Auditorium 
(128 Pierrepont Street)

1:00pm Otherworldly: By drawing the out-of-this-world, these comics share essential truths about humanity. Marjorie Liu (Monstress) writes comics about gore, sex, and horror–which reflect deep socio-cultural/historical inspiration. Tyler Cohen (Primahood) blends surrealism and memoir to explore what it means to be a queer person in a straight world (particularly as a parent). Gregory Benton (Smoke) illuminates the struggles of immigrant farm-workers in a graphic novella with ghostly elements. Moderated by award-winning author Ellen Kushner.

4:00pm Hearts of Darkness. A traumatized boy develops a sinister obsession with dolls; a man and his young lover take their fantasies in a chilling direction on the Amazon River; a teenage girl’s psychic link with a powerful monster puts them both in the crosshairs of otherworldly powers. Joyce Carol Oates (The Doll Master and Other Tales of Terror),Peter Straub (Interior Darkness), and Marjorie Liu (Monstress Volume 1: Awakening) discuss their latest genre-bending books that offer masterful glimpses of true horror, including short readings and a Q&A. Moderated by Charles Ardai, publisher, Hard Case Crime.