I cracked my phone screen a few weeks ago. Today two people I follow on DW posted about having broken their phone screens. We all have toddlers about the same age, but the toddlers aren't the ones who broke our phones. I think we're all just wiped out and clumsier than usual.
It's interesting knowing people who are in the same stage of parenthood, and looking at what else is similar and different in our lives. We all have occasional stress with our partners but nothing doomful. Paying off debt is a big topic right now. And housing comes up a lot, but with a wide variety of plans and thoughts: wrangling with family over property, saving up for a down payment, planning to rent forever.
Also, all our kids are falling off beds and walking into walls and otherwise injuring themselves. It's hard learning how bodies work! But at least I don't feel unusual (or like a bad parent) (much) for having a kid who's doing those things.
Finalvacationing to-do list/wishlist
Prepare BookCon handout by June 1
Read ILL book due back June 1
Return book by June 1
See grahamsleight before he leaves on June 1
Do BookCon panel and booth duty on June 3
(went very well)
Go to a toddler's birthday party on June 4
Meet first work deadline by June 5
(wasn't done early, but got it done)
Go to arm doctor June 6
Meet second work deadline by June 7
* Write guest blog post by
Read ILL books due back June 8
Return books by June 8
Things without deadlines (fun):
Hang out with X, who also has this coming week off
Watch the StevenBombs
Watch Voltron: Legendary Defender
* Stroll in the Botanic Gardens on a day with nice weather
* Ditto Prospect Park
Maybe steal the baby from daycare early one day and get extra baby time
Read a book for fun? I hear people do this? ???
(tried but the book was boring. alas)
(actually managed this somewhat this week)
Get a manicure
Things without deadlines (productive):
* Tidy room enough for vacuuming
* Vacuum (or ask J to if my arms are sad)
* Change sheets (or ask J to if my arms are sad)
* Move clothes from valet to closet
* Clear off standing desk (newly added to the list)
Catch up on laundry
Promote Story Hospital
Clean out inbox
(and kept it pretty tidy)
* Watch Baby Signing Time
and practice signing on my own and with the family
This week has been less than relaxing: I've had that work deadline to meet, I got way overpeopled on the weekend, J's been very ill with a horrid non-strep throat infection, X did something awful to their sciatic nerve, the arm doctor visit took three goddamn hours
and effectively ate my entire day yesterday, and today was a comedy of errors without the comedy (train delays, my nail polish is insufficiently sparkly, no food until 4 p.m., I got a call from the daycare because Kit faceplanted and bit their lip and bled everywhere, meds I was supposed to pick up weren't ready yet, probably other things I'm forgetting). I wish it had been more vacational. I also wish I'd done any of that room-tidying stuff.
But on the bright side, I didn't have to deal with non-project work on top of everything else! I suppose sometimes that's all one can ask from a vacation.
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So much for that.
That cold virus has gone through our house like wildfire. Kit was slightly warm for a day and then fine, but it knocked the rest of us out for a week or two each. Apparently this is just going to be our new normal, according to other parents of daycare-age kids. It hit me first and hardest; I managed to keep my bout of it from turning into a sinus infection, but only barely, and my voice was impressively low for a while. J got over it fairly quickly, and X is mostly past the worst but still pretty soggy.
The February-like weather has helped nothing. We've had to keep the heat on pretty high, and that dries the air out, and that plus mouth-breathing because of stuffy noses has been just dreadful. We're cranking all our humidifiers and drinking gallons of water. I even got a bout of February-like depression, which totally missed me (and I did not miss) in actual February. But this weekend looks to be the start of a warmer, wetter stretch, so hopefully that will make everything better. I am putting considerable effort into planning a Brooklyn Botanic Gardens trip in mid-April with saraeileen
and maybe vschanoes
and their babies, because all I want right now is to be sprawled on the grass under the cherry trees and if I can't have it right at this moment then I will make very sure I get it as soon as possible. Spriiiiiiing, I neeeeeeed it.
I went up to Hunter today to do live-action Story Hospital with a group of teens I hadn't met before. It was amazing and great and emotionally exhausting. I came home so wiped out that after dinner I took a 90-minute nap on the couch—from 10:30 to midnight, not exactly prime napping time—because I was genuinely too tired to get up and go to bed. That is absurd. Of course then the nap wired me up, so I took the trash out and started laundry and did the dishes and took a shower and now it's 4 a.m. and I ought to go to bed for real. I hope writing this entry will help wind me down.
My day job workload is going to be decreasing after next week (YAY), and I plan to put all those hours toward sleep. That will help.
Kit's body continues to think it's older than it is. In addition to being the height and weight of a two-year-old, they've got the teeth of a two-year-old. All eight incisors and three of the four first molars are in, and their lower canines just cut through, which apparently hurts a whole lot. Poor sad bean. :( But ideally this accelerated teething schedule will mean they get all their teeth in quickly and then they can just enjoy having them.
I got new glasses and they keep feeling like they don't sit on my face quite right, even though I've had them adjusted several times at different shops. Maybe I just need to get used to them. They've got plastic frames and I think the last time I wore glasses with plastic frames was close to 20 years ago. I do really like the way they look. The neighborhood eyeglass shop where I got them completely messed up my beloved prescription sunglasses, so sometime this weekend or next week I need to go shake them down for not only a refund of the lenses (which make my eyes physically hurt, and made me dizzy when I switched back to my regular glasses) but the cost of replacing the frames, which they managed to warp while trying to fit the lenses in. So much for patronizing my little local business.
When I was sick I missed my regular manicure appointment and went a full 2.5 weeks without a manicure, but I didn't bite or break my nails; I was very proud. This week I had them done up in H&M's Wildwood polish
, which is my perfect green, and have been wearing green clothes that match them exactly and feeling excessively stylish. Alas, the polish has already been discontinued, so I will cherish this bottle of it and try to find the right balance between not using it all up right away and not letting it sit so long that it becomes unusable.
I think I have wound down, finally. Time to refill the humidifier and get a great deal of sleep.
- thinking about:
behavior.housework, behavior.teaching, body.hands, body.illness, body.sleep, experiences.annoyances, experiences.seasons, experiences.seasons.spring, experiences.seasons.winter, experiences.weather, experiences.weather.cold, experiences.work, people.kit, stuff.clothes.accessories
- feeling:sleepy, finally
Today I joined the general strike. Instead of working, I wrote a post on how to make art in scary and difficult times
, and then I met with the teens I mentor and talked about writing and reading and why we read SF/F and how to overcome writer's block and stop procrastinating. It was exactly the way I wanted to spend the day. I boycotted the inauguration so hard that I mostly managed not to even think about it.
When I was getting dressed I wore all black, which I basically never do. I hadn't planned to, but I opened my dresser drawer and went "Oh, yes, I think the black turtleneck is what I want to wear today, and the black trousers too". I dithered over jewelry and ended up with my origami peace dove necklace. I came out of my room to greet peripateticmeg
, who was here to babysit Kit (they've had a nasty head cold since Tuesday, poor thing), and she was also wearing all black. X said several people at their office were too.
It's been a really spectacularly terrible week in a lot of ways. The baby being sick means all of us have had our sleep and work schedules disrupted, the power to our house went out for five hours on Tuesday (some sort of wiring issue, apparently), I had some shitty family stuff to deal with, a company made J a job offer but is now delaying on finalizing it, our bank messed up our rent payment (no doom, fortunately, as we have a great landlord and a spotless payment history), Alex-the-cat has been an aggressive asshat to the other cats, Sam and Sophie have been hairballing everywhere, friends are also dealing with unhappy and stressful things, and of course the inauguration. But we are holding on and even finding ways to feel good:
* We've had lots of good family dinners, even when we were all almost too tired to talk.
* J and I shared some good hugs today and went for a nice walk in the drizzle. We've both been so busy and tired that we barely see each other. It was wonderful to get a companionable hour together.
* X and I have been having lovely nightly half-hour hangouts on the couch before they go to bed. We talk about the day and make plans and send each other into bouts of exhausted hysterical laughter. I just remembered that we used to do this when they first moved to NYC; I guess we naturally gravitate toward that time of night as together-time.
* Kit is coughing less, and when their fever spikes occasionally it never gets higher than 102 (which is also much less worrying now that they're over a year old) and responds very well to Tylenol.
* grammar_girl livetweeted an episode of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood
and it genuinely made me cry.
* I had a quick but delightful dinner with teaberryblue
* Long Hidden
and her husband came to visit me at work and we had a good conversation about crowdfunding for anthologies. (Support her fundraiser for Problem Daughters
, a marginalized feminist SF/F anthology!)
* I made plans to see my mother and brother on Sunday to celebrate my mother's birthday.
* Just now Kit woke up and seamlessly transitioned from lying down to sitting up while I was watching on the monitor. It's been clear for a while that they can do that, but I hadn't seen it. They're super perky right now because their fever is down. They're lying in the crib squeaking contentedly and playing with the teddy bear, who was recently named Face Hugs. (Kit believes teddy bears are for faceplanting onto.)
* I've been catching up on laundry. I always feel better when the hampers are empty.
* I've been really on top of my work schedule since coming back from vacation, even with everything else going on. Hanging out on #yuletide has been wonderful for my productivity because people do "word wars" or "productivity wars" that are basically Pomodoro timer installments except in 20 on/10 off instead of 25 on/5 off. I also reworked my Persuaded
outline from scratch and even wrote a little bit of the opening. The character voices are much clearer this time around, though the story hasn't quite found its own voice yet. It'll get there.
And now the baby is finally asleep, so I'm going to do some knitting for the first time in ages
. I still hold out hope for finishing this sweater before Kit outgrows it, though I think I'd better hurry. They keep getting taller!
- thinking about:
experiences.annoyances, experiences.beauty, experiences.teaching, experiences.work, ideas.politics, people.cats, people.josh, people.kit, people.xtina, places.home, projects.crafts.knitting, stuff.clothes, stuff.money, words.books.persuaded, words.writing
- feeling:holding on
The funeral went as well as a funeral can. J's family is splendid, even in the midst of sorrow. pablod
was tremendously kind and drove us there and back. X handled babycare while I supported J. It was hard, but not intolerable, and I'm very glad we went. And metaphortunate
was totally right: a baby is one of the best things you can bring to a funeral. Kit was a little overwhelmed at times but mostly their smiley sociable self and quite happy to be smooched and dandled by cousins they'd never met, and their big grins really lightened people's hearts. Also they gave us an excuse to leave when we got wiped out. (And we put them in pajamas before driving home and managed our first-ever car seat–to-crib transfer with a minimum of fuss, because they are the very best baby.)
To get very petty for a moment: someday I would like a vacation where nothing bad happens. I'm 0 for the past 3. But having spent the first week of my vacation on unexpected grief and funeral travel planning, I am at least going to spend the second week of it on being on vacation
I am getting really tired of people asking "Boy or girl?" and "Is this your first?" and "How are you sleeping?" and have also been caught without suitable alternatives when meeting other people's babies. So here, have two lists of useful, appropriate, non-intrusive things to say when someone (EDIT: by which I meant someone you don't know well--apologies for not making that clear!) tells you they have a baby, introduces you to the baby, or shows you pictures of the baby. If you feel totally lost when confronted with babies, memorize these lists and you will come off like the world's #1 baby fan.
1) Statements. Statements are great! They make no assumptions at all--they don't even assume that the parent is the biological parent, or is happy to be a parent (that day or at all)--and don't require the parent to give you information that might turn out to be way more personal than you (or they) want. Statements can also be made directly to the baby, which further reduces the risk of asking accidentally inappropriate questions or hearing discomfiting anecdotes from parents given to TMI.
- "Congratulations/mazel tov/that's wonderful!"
- "What a cutie!"
- "Oh gosh, so adorable!"
- "That's a great outfit!"
- "Look at all that hair/that bald little head!"
- "Look at those smishable cheeks!"
- "What long fingers/toes!"
- "ELBOW DIMPLES OMG" (Seriously, you are permitted and encouraged to be loudly impressed by any visible part of the baby, because literally every part of a baby is, by definition, cute.)
- "Aw, you're getting sleepy."
- "Aw, you're a little shy. That's okay, kiddo, you're not required to make friends."
- "Wow, what a smile!"
- "You're making noises with your mouth! That's so cool!"
- "You just cooed/farted/grabbed that toy! Yes you did!" (This sort of babble sounds like nonsense but it really is part of how babies learn to identify objects and actions.)
- "Who's the cutest baby in the immediate vicinity? It's you!" (Asking and answering rhetorical questions teaches babies the patterns of conversation. I'm not making this up.)
- "What a strong grip! Ha ha, guess you want to take my finger home with you!" (You washed your hands before touching the baby, right? Good.)
In essence, you are agreeing that the baby is a baby, and approving of the baby's baby-like qualities. You really can't go wrong with this.
2) Minimally invasive questions. Any question is going to put the parent on the spot a bit, but these at least avoid the possibility of answers involving infertility, miscarriage, life-threatening labor complications, and the like.
- "What's the baby's name?"
- "When was the baby born/how old is the baby?" (Do not follow this up with a comment on the baby being big or small for their age, or on expected milestones.)
- "What's the latest exciting thing the baby learned to do?"
- "Can I do anything for you?"
- "I'd love to give you a present for the baby--is there anything you especially want or need?"
- "I've/we've got a baby on the way--any advice or recommendations?"
- "May I come over and babysit sometime?"
Topics to avoid, unless you are a close personal friend of the parent and they have indicated that such topics are fair game (because obviously these aren't things that one may never
talk about, but they need to be handled with some care and context matters a lot):
- The baby's health (including eating, sleeping, and digestion), size, personality, intelligence, or well-being.
- The parents' health, weight/size (yes, people make comments about the bodies of people who've given birth, it's terrible and disgusting), age, mood, parenting skills, or well-being.
- Labor and delivery. Even if you've given birth yourself and are well equipped to offer support and sympathy over a hard labor, hesitate before asking someone to recall what may have been a traumatic experience.
- The process of procreation, including plans for any frozen eggs, sperm, or embryos.
- The process of adoption, guardianship, or fostering, or anything regarding the baby's birth family.
- Existing or future siblings.
- The baby's assigned gender or genital anatomy.
- The baby's race, citizenship, or ethnic heritage.
- The baby's intelligence or achievements.
- Comparing the baby with their age cohort or with any other individual child in any way.
- Plans for the baby's education.
- Plans for the baby's religious upbringing/education or lack thereof.
- Plans for childcare.
- The baby's future profession or accomplishments.
Folks with kids, feel free to let me know what you think I should add to any of these lists!
Ninety minutes of today was spent on an unpleasant phone call, but the rest of it was pretty terrific.
* I got a whole six and a half hours of sleep! Such luxury!
* When I got up, X had been dealing with a very hands-on baby for several hours and desperately needed a break, so I took baby duty for a while. The baby was super awake and alert! I don't get to see that at night. I opened the curtains and Kit got to wave at some sunbeams and practice hand-mouth coordination. It was really nice.
* X had a headache yesterday that persisted into today, and I asked them to check in with the OB about it. The nurse asked them to get their blood pressure checked at the pharmacy nearby, which they did and it was fine, and they had no other worrisome symptoms, so the doctor said to just take Tylenol and keep drinking lots of water. Such a nice change from being told to go to the ER "just in case".
* I had a very enjoyable therping session (via phone) where I mostly ended up talking about favorite books from my childhood and the ways in which they were formative.
* J made steak and French fries for dinner. When it was ready, the baby had just finished eating and fallen asleep, so we brought the cradle out to the dining room and had a proper homemade family dinner, all four of us (though Kit slept through it). It was so, so wonderful.
* After the unpleasant phone call, X and J gave me lots of hugs and talked about cheering things.
* I got to Skype with miriamreads
for the first time since the baby was born. There was much squeeing. It was excellent.
* Tonight I've fed the baby twice with almost no spitting up. Right now I'm in the rocking chair in the baby's room; Kit's snoring and Sam is snuggled very snugly against my left side.
What was lovely about your day today?
The U.K. has an awesome shop that sells plus-size pregnancy coats that turn into parent-and-baby coats
. Super adorable! Perfect for our January baby!
Inconveniently, they don't ship to the U.S.
Conveniently, a friend is about to visit from London, so we ordered the coat to be shipped to him in time for him to put it in his luggage.
Inconveniently, the package was delayed and it won't arrive at his place until after he's already here.
If you're coming from London to the U.S. in October and are willing to be a coat courier, or if you know someone else who fits that description, please let me know. London to N.Y.C. would be ideal, but shipping from anywhere in the U.S. is still probably going to be cheaper than shipping across the Atlantic. We will gladly trade you books and/or feed you.
Some ignorant person wrote a piece for Wired
about the Hugos that included the following:Since 1953, to be nominated for a Hugo Award, among the highest honors in science fiction and fantasy writing, has been a dream come true for authors who love time travel, extraterrestrials and tales of the imagined future. Past winners of the rocket-shaped trophy—nominated and voted on by fans—include people like Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Harlan Ellison, Philip K. Dick, and Robert A. Heinlein. In other words: the Gods of the genre.
But in recent years, as sci-fi has expanded to include storytellers who are women, gays and lesbians, and people of color, the Hugos have changed, too. At the presentation each August, the Gods with the rockets in their hands have been joined by Goddesses and those of other ethnicities and genders and sexual orientations, many of whom want to tell stories about more than just spaceships.
This is wrong. I went on a long Twitter rant
about how wrong it is. (Thanks to tehawesomersace
for Storifying it.) Specifically, it erases the marginalized people who were writing and reading SF/F from the very beginning of the genre--including erasing Arthur C. Clarke's homosexuality--and thereby erases the active and passive oppression that kept many of those people marginalized. The idea that SF has "expanded" in "recent years" is false and extremely damaging.
Among the many responses to my rant was this from adamndsmith
:Genuine question: In your op, what's the best way to fight whitewash? Education on minority history? More critical editing/editors?
I replied:It needs to be fought on multiple fronts. Most important is a self-check step by both editor and publisher. "Whose story am I telling here? Whose story am I not telling? Why am I not telling that story?" You train yourself into it, like "what's wrong with this picture" games.
For example, look at the 1960 Hugos shortlist. You have to train yourself to look at that and see what's missing: the minority writers, the minority content. Maybe it's hard to see until you compare it with the 2013 shortlist. And then you have to be careful not to draw the wrong conclusion (that no great work was being created by minorities). That process of self-education is the only defense against bigoted enculturation.
Adam emailed me some follow-up questions, asking how someone outside the field could know to look for the missing history. My response was that there's always
missing history. And since I was already feeling wordy, I provided a case study, which I'm replicating here in case anyone else might find it useful to have an example of how to apply general missing-history-finding techniques to an unfamiliar community or context.
( Tiny skateboards )
A couple of footnotes to this:
1) I'm not perfect, and I'm sure I'm missing obvious questions that could be asked about minority and marginalized people in the fingerboarding community. (EDIT: For example, as seyren
points out in comments, I didn't think of looking at ability/disability, which is often an overlooked axis of oppression.) I threw this together in under 15 minutes. It's just meant as a starting point, as an example of how to begin to look at a completely unfamiliar group through the lens of "which stories aren't being told?", and as an illustration of how easy it is to find the traces of missing history once you get in the mindset of looking for them.
2) I owe a tremendous debt to all the minority and marginalized people in and outside of SF/F who've taken the time to educate me and others on how to look for what's missing in mainstream narratives, especially karnythia
, and the late and greatly lamented delux_vivens
. Self-education is obviously critical, both because we learn best and most thoroughly when we put things in our own words, and because leaning on marginalized people and asking them to pour their hard-earned knowledge into you is exploitative. But there are some generous folks out there who have spent a lot of their time handing out free clues on the internet, and I'm extremely grateful for the clues they've handed me.
World Fantasy update (following part one
and part two
of a discussion of the con's financial costs):
I decided to buy a membership. If I change my mind later I can always get a refund.
On August 3 I emailed the conchair and the registrar to say I would be buying my membership, and I sent the membership fee to the convention's PayPal address.
On August 10 I emailed the conchair and the registrar asking for confirmation that they had received my payment.
On August 14 (today) I emailed again:Hi Joseph,
I'm starting to get concerned. I sent you a significant amount of money, which was definitely taken from my bank account by PayPal. I haven't heard from you and my name doesn't appear on the WFC site list of members. Can you please confirm that you received my payment and that I'm getting a membership?
I'm glad I checked the site because I saw that banquet tickets had gone on sale. My primary reason for purchasing a membership was to have access to purchasing a banquet ticket. However, the ticket sale page doesn't say anything about being required to be a member in order to get a ticket for the banquet. I have purchased a banquet ticket. If a membership is not required for this, then please refund my membership.
In late July, I'd had a back-and-forth email convo with the conchair over several days; during that time, my emails were answered very promptly. Now that I've sent them $327 of my hard-earned dollars, they're incommunicado. This is... a bad look.
The membership list on the site hasn't been updated since July 30.
Has anyone else had similar issues with being offered a waitlist membership, buying it, and then not getting confirmation? Has anyone heard from the WFC chair or registrar in the past two weeks? Has Albany been suffering from a massive power and internet outage and I missed the news?
"My arms aren't that
sore, I can totally go to the gym and work with a new personal trainer," I said on Monday.
"Ow, ow ow
ow," I said on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.( Arms blah )
Other than my perennially cranky limbs, my health's been very good. I've been moving around enough to keep my knees happy. I don't remember the last time anyone in the house had so much as a cold. My ears are being very well behaved. I have a weird ongoing thing where it sometimes feels like food is caught in my throat, but my ENT checked it out and says it's just congestion.
I finally went to a decent allergist (after years of thinking I should) and learned that I'm allergic to roaches and dust mites; we don't have roaches but we do have a lot of dust, given all the books and all the cats, so I guess that's a good reason to change my sheets weekly, have the sainted Angela over to clean the house monthly, and maybe get an air purifier for my room. I could also get allergy shots but there's no guarantee they'll help, I hate injections, and it just seems like more than I can emotionally cope with right now. Ask me again when I've slept.
Still not caught up on sleep post-RWA. Hoping to fix that this week.
=====( Being good partners )
J went out of town for a week. Every day he was gone, Alex got more and more vocal and unhappy and lonely and affectionate. When he came back Alex glued himself to J and would not leave his side until J went to bed and shut the door. Then Alex plunked down sadly outside J's room, looking woefully at me every time I walked by. Apparently he has decided that he's J's cat. J wasn't consulted about this but doesn't appear to be displeased. He still gets to pick our next cat. :)
The cats are generally getting along very well. There's still occasional chasing and swatting and hissing, but you know, they're cats. Sam and Sophie generally hang out on X's bed all day, grudgingly managing to get within a foot or two of each other. Alex sleeps in my room at night, up on top of the dresser; Sam sleeps on my bed or windowsill.
We still have no idea how they'll all react to the appearance of a baby. We'll figure that out when it happens, I guess.
=====( Baby prep )
And because I totally needed a new side gig while all this is going on:
Introducing Reading While Cooking
and I are collaborating on this literary and culinary advice column. Submit a request with your preferences and restrictions, and we'll recommend books and recipes for you. The first post went up today
and we plan to do at least one a month, maybe more.
We're very grateful to the people who have put requests in our queue, since we couldn't really do an advice column without people who want advice. If you want some tasty things to read and eat, send us a request
It's the first time I've tried using Patreon; so far we have one backer who's pledging a whole $2 per post. :) But it's a start. If we're not profitable by the end of the year, we'll probably consider the project a glorious failed experiment--as so many books and recipes are--and move on to something else. In the meantime, we're having fun.
- thinking about:
behavior.being useful, behavior.love, behavior.planning, body.allergies, body.arms, body.exercise, body.hands, body.health, body.pain, body.sleep, body.strength, experiences.annoyances, experiences.marriage, experiences.work.freelance, food, food.cooking, people.cats, people.josh, people.kit, people.xtina, places.home, projects, projects.reading while cooking, stuff.books, stuff.tech
The next time I say I can do RWA in NYC without taking time off from my regular work, tell me I'm wrong. Tell me loudly and firmly.
This post brought to you by my very sore arms from doing a whooooole lot of catch-up work tonight, and more to do tomorrow.
Poor arms. I quit PT too soon, I think, or maybe it just didn't do enough good. I've upgraded my insurance so I'm going to try some fancier physical therapists and see whether they can help more. That means commuting into Manhattan but oh well, arms are worth it, and at least once a week I can do it on a day I'd be in Manhattan anyway.
RWA was mostly exhausting. I didn't get to any program items at all. I went to five cocktail parties in one night and two the following night. I skipped the award ceremony, though I watched from home until the livestream cut out (and cheered tiffanyreisz
). I felt lost and alone in the sea of people I didn't know. I saw a lot of people I probably know on Twitter but didn't recognize. A few people who knew me from Twitter said hello. I met a few people who were really nice. I hung out with a few people I already knew. I wore my pronoun button and it was consistently ignored, including by people I'd just finished explaining it to. Everything was very white and Christian and het and cis
and I felt very uncomfortably marginalized pretty much the whole time, all the more so because my experiences at Readercon were so totally different. Now I'm more wary of going to WFC, where I won't know as many people as I do at Readercon and where there hasn't been a massive cultural change toward treating people like me as human beings, but I don't know whether that's exhaustion anxiety talking.
I got no good sleep last night, and I only know that I slept at all because I had a really unpleasant dream about being sexually assaulted. My SleepBot motion tracker looks like a ventricular fibrillation ECG. I was so exhausted that I burst into tears midday for no reason at all. I pulled myself together to spend a little time with J before he left for a week-long business trip. Then I caffeinated, got work done, went to an absolutely stellar TMBG show
(one of the best I've ever seen, approaching the awesomeness of the 2007 Bowery Ballroom shows but with a totally different vibe; once that wiki page exists I'll put my full comments up there), and came home and got in a quick videochat with Josh and did more work and iced my sad sad arms (and my inexplicably sad left thumb--no idea what's up with that). Now it's nearly 6 a.m. and I don't even know what I'm feeling other than all the way through tired and out the other side. But I think I should sleep.
- thinking about:
body.arms, body.pain, body.sleep, body.tiredness, events.cons, events.cons.rwa, experiences.annoyances, experiences.music, experiences.music.live, experiences.music.tmbg, experiences.work, ideas.gender, mind.dreamtime, mind.feelings.loneliness
Okay, folks who've been to the World Fantasy Convention, talk me through why anyone does this.
* $270 for my half of a shared hotel room (Thursday/Friday/Saturday nights)
* $120 for Amtrak tickets if I buy them now, more if I buy them later
* $275 for convention membership (!)
some unknown amount
$55 for the awards banquet
, probably comparable to the Nebula Banquet price of $80
(and who knows whether the banquet food can be made safe for people with allergies)
* let's say $150 for food over the course of several days without access to a supermarket and a kitchen
$870. At a time when all costs are seen through the filter of impending babyness.
I can't remember who suggested to me that one's publisher is supposed to pick up the tab when one is award-nominated. I would not dream of asking Crossed Genres to do this thing; they have many better uses for that money. It's not the sort of event that PW
would cover, so even if WFC gives press passes (which I'm not sure they do), I couldn't justify requesting one. This is 100% out of pocket.
As far as I can tell, all the membership buys me is access to two tracks of panels and two more of readings, and first crack at banquet tickets (noting that if banquet tickets entirely sell out to members before the con, there's no way for a non-member to get one at the con). I don't really see why I should bother with either. I almost never go to programming at cons except for Readercon*; all cons are barcons to me. If the banquet were some incredibly important part of being a WFA nominee, presumably they'd comp it for the nominees, which they don't. So that cuts
$330 off the price right there. $540 looks somewhat more reasonable for a three-day convention. (
$595 if it turns out the banquet is worth going to, and if banquet tickets are made available to non-members at the convention.) If I need to drop it further I can go up Friday instead of Thursday, which reduces my costs to $400. As far as I can tell from looking at past programs, award nominees get their pins and are generally fêted on Thursdays, and the whole reason I'm going is to enjoy being a nominee... but is that worth an extra day of hotel and restaurant food? Maybe not.* I might make an exception for RWA this year, but that's because it's so refreshing to go to a professional conference; the programming is completely different from what we get at SF cons. Incidentally, to give you an idea of why I think $275 for WFC is so absurdly high, RWA's admission fee ranges from $450 to $675 (depending on whether you're an RWA member and how early you buy a ticket), but that gets you 10 full tracks of workshops specifically aimed at professional development plus access to pitch sessions, pro headshots, meals with keynote speakers who excel in their field, and the mass book-signing, in the company of 4000 writers and publishing professionals. That is a professional conference.
The next question is, would it be worth $400 to me to go to WFC at all, even if Long Hidden
weren't nominated for the WFA? Because if it's not worth $400 as a barconning attendee then it's not worth $900 as a nominee.
Everyone talks about WFC as a place where pros hang out with other pros. That's cool; I know and like a lot of pros. There are plenty of familiar names on the membership list. I'd be willing to pay $400 for a long weekend of socializing with my friends, and even to pay
$595 for that plus being celebrated as the co-editor of an award-worthy book; that sounds like a blast. But to be more specific, people talk about WFC as a place where pros hang out and network
with other pros. The only thing I hate more than networking is being networked at. I'm happy to meet people in the field and get to know them, but once networking-minded folks realize that chatting with me won't get them a more favorable PW
review, they tend to wander off and find someone more productive to network with. Even if I have lots of friends at WFC, I won't really see much of them if their priority is making connections with people they don't know. This sort of setup is not terribly conducive to me having a good time.
So if you've been to WFC, please do tell: is it possible to do it as a three-day barcon, with actual socializing rather than networking, if one already knows a great many of the people who are going? And if you've attended WFC as a WFA nominee, what was the experience like for you at the convention, especially if you'd never been before?
I'm told by a past attendee that one must purchase a membership in order to attend the awards ceremony at all. Even as a nominee. Wow. So that $275 really is not optional.
CORRECTION TO EDIT: The WFC chair (whom I'm happy to regard as an authority on this topic) says that no membership is required for the award ceremony; it's open to the public. And the banquet tickets will be $50 to $55, so I've updated my calculations above accordingly.
I have a second post here
looking at the cost of attending WFC vs. the cost of attending other conventions for award nominees who wouldn't otherwise go. It's not pretty.
I kind of fell out of the habit of keeping a media log, but I wanted to note this one down. On a random Twitter recommendation, I watched The Brothers Bloom
tonight, and really liked the first 75% of it or so. Then it went completely off the rails from my perspective--because I kept trying to see Penelope as a real person, and the movie kept trying to make her a symbol and an object.
I am so tired of this.( SPOILERS etc. )
The person who recommended it saw it as "a straightforward existentialist narrative"
. (We had a whole long conversation about it here
.) So if you like that sort of thing, it's the sort of thing you'll like, I guess. I just found it profoundly frustrating, a word I use way too often to describe movies and books. It's so tiresome. Why can't people write stories that are interesting and complicated and have female characters who deserve to be happy and realize their dreams and shape their lives?
The worst part is that the writer created a really splendid and amazing character in Penelope. She's smart, she's funny, she's interesting, she has a powerful personal philosophy and moral code, she has a wealth of talents. But once he'd written her, he had no idea what to do with her
other than objectify her. A criminal waste.
Bah. Bah, I say.
On the bright side, this bit of TBB/The Avengers crossover fic
, which hinges on Mark Ruffalo coincidentally playing characters in both films, fixes the ending of TBB
in a pretty fantastic (if cracktastic) way. Superhero Penelope! Yes!
Recently I read yet another book where the character I most identify with ended up sad and alone after the death of her beloved partner. Reader, I am fucking done with these books. DONE. Done done done.
If you nodded along to Ferrett's post about how the "logic" underpinning all-white and all-male award nomination lists is suspect
, then nod along to this. Every time a lesbian dies, every time a wife is widowed, every time a mother grieves the death of her child, every time rape is used to define a woman's character, it serves the story that the author wanted to tell--the story the author chose
to tell. And I am no longer content with "it makes sense in the context of the story" as an explanation or an excuse. That "logic" is just as suspect.
TELL DIFFERENT STORIES.
Tell stories where it doesn't
make sense for her husband or wife to die. Tell stories where her child dying is unfathomable
. Tell stories where women live happy fulfilling lives. Tell stories where women find love and don't lose it again. Tell stories where women and their bodies aren't treated like objects.
Tell stories where women are happy, where a woman's happiness makes sense in the context of the story, where a woman's happiness serves the story, where a woman's happiness is integral to the plot. Tell stories where women's hearts and minds and bodies and families and vocations are healthy, and treated with respect by other people.
Tell stories where women are happy.
This should not be such an outrageous suggestion. But take a look at recent SF/F, at the books that get awards, at the books that get talked about, and it is entirely and utterly radical.
Tell stories where women are happy. I dare you. And I'm begging you, please. I can't handle any more unhappy women. I can't. It's why I read romance more than SF/F these days. I don't identify as a woman anymore, but that doesn't stop me from identifying with
women, and they are all so sad
and I can't do it. Stop showing me how tough and realistic your grimdark is by making the women as miserable as the men. Stop showing me how exciting and dangerous your space adventure is by putting the women through as many trials as the men. I believe you, okay? It's tough and realistic, it's exciting and dangerous, I believe you, you can stop now
It will be hard the first few times, because it's so alien, this notion of women's happiness. But you'll get used to it, once you can adjust your ideas of what's "logical".
Tell stories where women are happy. Go on. Give it a try.