1. Readercon went very well. I have a lot of thoughts and a lot of feelings and people said a lot of really nice things about the program and nothing was a full-on disaster, just lots of tiny things that always happen and a few things that were bad but not actually anything to do with programming, so overall very good yes.
2. WORLDCON IS A THING THAT IS COMING VERY SOON. Like aaaaaaaa very soon. Everyone's posting their schedules and I probably should too just to make it easier for friends to find me and stuff. So.
Future of Conrunning and Audiences: Age Diversity, Race and Ethnic Diversity, Gender Parity
Friday 13:30 - 15:00, Fanac Tent (ExCeL)
Conventions are diverse. They occur globally, in all sizes and for specific fandoms, television programmes, genres, actors, books or movies. This diversity rarely carries through to within conventions themselves. In this session we explore some different elements of diversity in fandom. We ask questions including: Do we need conventions for people of different ages or should we try and encourage mixing or let conventions remain as they are and see what happens without interference? How do we encourage people of colour to attend conventions? How do we encourage participation among people of all genders and sexualities? Should we push for gender parity and if so, how? How can we meet the access needs of people with hearing, visual, and mobility impairments? The emphasis in this session will be on "How?" to encourage everyone, but especially those interested in conrunning, to engage with practical solutions to ongoing and difficult questions.
Mary Anne Mohanraj (M), Gareth Kavanagh, Sarah Shemilt, Emily Wagner, Meg Frank
Fresh Perspectives: Comic Books for Young People
Saturday 12:00 - 13:30, London Suite 3 (ExCeL)
Children and young people were well catered to for comics during the heyday of the medium, but the last few decades has seen a narrowing of titles aimed at younger audience... until recently. Are we seeing a new wave of comic books aimed at teens and children? What are the best comic book titles to introduce a new generation to the medium? Is there a fresh perspective sweeping into comics via these titles?
What are the old childhood classics that remain popular, and what are the new stories that will help shape the medium in the 21st century?
And how are new technologies affecting the expectations of this growing audience?
Emily Wagner (M), Inko, Klaus Æ. Mogensen, Smuzz, Cory Doctorow
Reluctant, or Just Not Interested?
Sunday 11:00 - 12:00, Capital Suite 15 (ExCeL)
Are reluctant readers being failed by the education system, or is the publishing industry just not giving them what they want?
Kim Curran, Nickolas Falkner, Ruth Frances Long, William Campbell Powell, Emily Wagner (M)
So those are the times and places you are guaranteed to find me. If you are my friend and need my phone number for texting and whatnot let me know and we will do the thing.
3. There's this Etsy store I fell in love with that does these awesome convertible dresses as cosplay-chic sort of things and listen, just go look, they're cool as hell. Here is me in the Lumpy Space Princess Dress at Readercon. And here are my LSP nails. That night I tied the dress into a different style. So basically? The best thing ever. Oh and mine has pockets because I asked. Costs extra, but POCKETS.
So then after Readercon all I could think about was how much I loved my dress, and how desperately I wanted another one with a new character. And then I remembered going on a twitter rant about Ursula from The Little Mermaid and how basically she's the best ever, and I knew exactly what I wanted. Did the custom request, got it all worked out with the designer, and last weekend took the train down to NYC to pick it up and do a photoshoot for the site.
I can't get over how perfect this is.
A. Pockets, again.
B. I can bustle the purple skirt to knee-length and leave the tentacles down.
C. OR I can bustle the tentacles too.
D. it's heavy as hell but doesn't feel like it when I'm wearing it at all.
E. I. Am. In. Love.
That is all.
Right, so. A few years back I started working on the Program Committee for Readercon. Then I joined the Concom. Then I ended up on the Board. Now I'm in charge of the programming this year. It starts tomorrow. Hi. I am quietly freaking out. Everything is ready and good and will be amazing, and people looking at the program have been saying very nice things about how exciting it is! I am going to throw up.
Anyway! I myself am on some panels this year because that's what happens. If you are going and would like to try to find me, MOSTLY I will be a short blur with blue hair, but here are some things I am guaranteed to be at.
Friday, July 11:
12:00 PM CO Welcome to Readercon Kip Manley, Graham Sleight, Romie Stott, Emily Wagner (moderator)
Tropes, "reading protocols," "the real year" of a book, "slipstream" fiction, "fantastika," "intrusion fantasy": Readercon panel blurbs (and hallway conversations) borrow vocabulary from a wide range of sources that new attendees may not have encountered. Veterans of other conventions may also be wondering where the costumes and filkers are. Readercon regulars and concom members provide a newcomer's guide to Readercon's written policies and well-worn habits as well as a rundown of our favorite critical… um... tropes.
This may be extra hilarious because it's my first time doing it. And I made Kip be on it because I thought having a Readercon newbie would help us with our assumptions of what people do and don't know about us.
1:00 PM F Book Recommendations from Professional Readers Adam Lipkin, Sofia Samatar (leader), Liza Groen Trombi, Emily Wagner
Booksellers, librarians, and book reviewers specialize in helping readers find and appreciate books new and old. This panel will let such folks tell you about the recent and upcoming titles they're excited about, and help you discover books you'll likely love. Do you adore Octavia Butler, "Sherlock" fanfic, and Tolstoy ... but don't know what to read next? Let these professionals help you find your next favorite book!
I was going to be good and *not* be on this but then someone dropped out and really, how could I not? This is my actual job.
Saturday, July 12
1:00 PM ENL The Works of Andrea Hairston Ken Houghton (leader), Mikki Kendall, Emily Wagner
In her career Andrea Hairston has worked magic with her ability to create experiences. Although many of her works might be categorized as genre fiction, she's transcended such boundaries again and again. Hairston's work as a playwright and a professor have clearly influenced her stories until it becomes something in which a reader can fully immerse themselves. In Mindscape she wove together a complex tapestry of cross cultural conflict as well as human reactions to change wrought by an unknown outside force. In Redwood and Wildfire, Hairston orchestrated a tale with its own music intermingling with a historical perspective that often goes unheard. Reshaping the expected approaches to science fiction and fantasy, Hairston grounds her tales in traditions beyond the expected European structures. She brings the rich cultural and social diversity of the African diaspora into her work at every turn. And through all of her works shines her talent for theater, for being a true Griot sharing truth via fiction while invoking the magic of language, and the wonder that it can bring to our lives. These elements working in concert provide a consistently high level of reader interaction—and reader delight!—that we can only hope to do justice to in this panel.
3:00 PM G The Booty Don't Lie: A Cheeky Discussion of Butts in Literature Amal El-Mohtar (leader), Mikki Kendall, Julia Starkey, Vinnie Tesla, Emily Wagner
This panel is about butts. Fundamentally divisive, throughout history the humble buttocks has often found itself at the intersection of concerns about gender, sexuality, race, and truly terrible puns. This gameshow-style discussion of butts in literature and popular culture promises to be deep, probing, and entertaining in equal measure; join us in reasoning a posteriori.
THIS IS IT. THIS IS THE BUTTS PANEL
And of course at 8pm Saturday night I'll be at the Miscellany! This is a very cool performance we're putting on to benefit worthy causes, so please come and be generous if you can.
Sunday, July 13
2:00 PM F Making Readercon More Accessible Sarah Smith (leader), Emily Wagner
In the best of all possible worlds, in addition to being a safe gathering space, Readercon would also be an accessible and inclusive gathering space for all attendees. What can we each, in our different roles, do to get closer to that state? Join members of Readercon's concom as we talk about what Readercon is doing to improve issues of access for everyone, and as we listen to your concerns and suggestions about what we can do to make Readercon better.
And of course, the feedback session at 3. If you're looking at the full program and cursing me because there are too many things you want to do at the same time, I ASSURE YOU it's as bad or worse for me. When Sunday is over I expect to sleep for about a week.
I'm getting married today
Miss Understanding's Open Forum on Manners for Geek Culture
Thursday 19:00 - 20:00
Ask her panel of experts anything about uncomfortable social issues facing geeks in social situations.
(Presumably my role here is to talk about convention safety and the etiquette of throwing people out.)
Live Action Angry Birds
Friday 11:00 - 12:00
Join Emily Wagner, Stefan Krzywicki, and Crystal Huff in playing a live action version of this popular video game from Finland. Participants are welcome to bring their own pig costumes, if desired. Stuffed Angry Birds will be provided. How many points can you rack up? (Adults Welcome!)
(This is Crystal's fault, obviously. Should be fun!)
Saturday 15:00 - 16:00
Learn how to get involved in geeky knitting! Find out the basics of where to find geeky patterns, what is out there, and where to get materials! Note: Basic knitting skills are required.
Giving Science a Boost with YA SF
Sunday 11:00 - 12:00
How can we YA SF use to boost interest in science, technology, and problem solving and to foster a positive view of the future.
I'll also be at the Glitzy Mayhem roller skating launch party Saturday night, and the Hugos on Sunday night, and if we're friends you should get my cell number so you can text me. I'm really terrible at scheduling meals and stuff ahead of time for cons, but if you want to try to get me to commit to something let me know! Otherwise just grab me and ask if I've eaten if you see me. Wooo? WHO AMONG YOU WILL I SEE THERE?
This past weekend was Readercon 24, the, what, third Readercon I've been involved with? What happened here is that a few years ago rosefox was voted in as Program Chair, and Rose asked me to be a part of the programming committee. After the first year Rose started saying things like "You know I'm grooming you to be my successor, right?" and I would laugh and laugh and say how very silly that was. This year I ended up jumping in with both feet and being way more involved than I'd ever expected. I'm on the ConCom this year, I'm on the Readercon Board, my fiance is involved in both as well, and I was officially Rose's Assistant Program Chair. About halfway through the year I was officially voted in as Program Chair for Readercon 25.
I got into this for a lot of the same reasons I did librarianship. Readercon loves stories. We love the people who make those stories and we love the people who appreciate them with us. What I did not expect, ever, was for convention work to be another way that I can slowly and quietly change the world.
I'm assuming if you're reading this you know about what happened at Readercon last year, and I don't want to rehash it yet again. Part of our response to it all was to publicly state that we were going to run safety-related programming, and we did that by inviting the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center to run some workshops for the concom and at the con for the Readercon membership. We also had several programs on gender and power dynamics, which we've gotten a little bit of flack about. Frankly I knew this would happen, there's always backlash, and that's fine, whatever. If you go read Rose's post about this, you'll see some of the wonderful things we got as well. The fact that there are writers realizing that addressing gender and race and power dynamics in their work can make them a better writer doing more interesting things, that's amazing. There are people who have literally never felt safe at a convention before, and this year at Readercon they felt safe. We had a sign on all of the bathroom doors on the main floor letting our attendees know that the Con Suite bathroom was gender neutral. Such a simple thing, but it lets non-binary people know that a. we know they exist and b. we want them to feel welcome. It's so small, but for someone who hasn't felt welcomed at a con before, that's huge**.
There's been some concern that in our attempts to be more welcoming to marginalized people we're going to end up excluding some of our traditional Readercon base. It's true, we will. Nothing can be for everyone, it just doesn't work that way. It's hugely important to me that we are welcoming marginalized people. If that means we exclude people who would rather be bigoted towards those people, well, I guess I'm not that concerned about it. I was having a conversation with batwrangler this weekend, and talking about my involvement with the Interstitial Arts Foundation, and how I've seen what happens when artists and writers from completely different disciplines end up working off of each other and collaborating together, and it is straight up magic. I think the same is true when we're talking about people with wildly different experiences and backgrounds. If someone doesn't want to even acknowledge those perspectives exist, then yeah, they might have some problems with the way the programming went this year, but I know that looking for and understanding these differences only makes people and their writing stronger. I see it happen all the time, and we're seeing a ripple effect of people gaining new understanding because of our programming. We're seeing people take the safety programming and what we did with our Safety Team responses and look for ways to take that back into their lives, their work, other conventions, and their families. We didn't get everything perfect this year, but it's a goal to strive for, to make Readercon and convention culture as a whole safer. To respond correctly when someone violates our code of conduct, and be willing to to do hard things and stand up and say what's not ok.
Last night Rose pinged me on IM to share some quotes from blogposts, and then said "We're changing the world, you know." I got dizzy. I hadn't thought of it that way but it's true. I love Readercon, I love stories, I love bringing in new people and new perspectives and watching how that changes everything. I love that as program chair next year I get to let Women of Color and queer people and people with disabilities SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES. It's hugely important to me that I'm going to be putting these brilliant people with fantastic voices up in front of a room and letting them tell their stories. They don't need me, the White Lady, to give them a voice. They need ways to let people hear their voices, and that's literally my job. I love this. I can't wait for next year, and I can't believe I actually get to run programming with Kit Reed and Andrea Hairston as our guests of honor. I am so inspired by both of these women and I can not WAIT to see what they do at Readercon 25.
You should join us.
*Confession: the other part about why I went to library school in the first place is because I sort of thought maybe I'd teach high school English, but resisted doing anything about it. Then I was re-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Giles mentioned his Masters in Library Science and I was like "THAT'S A REAL THING! I forgot!" and the next day I was looking into programs. I didn't go to library school because of Giles, but I sort of did. Worse decisions have been made.
**I'm not claiming we're the only con that does this, but it's still a step forward to changing Readercon culture.
*ahem* Ok. So. I will be at Readercon pretty much the entire time. If you need me, I recommend text or email. If you see me I may appear to be a brightly-colored blur on my way to the next thing, especially considering that the program has me wishing I could be in 4 places at once. Please do not let this stop you from stopping me to say hi. Please do invite me to meals, otherwise I may forget. Stefan will also be a bit blurry, I suspect, as he's doing sign shop and treasurer duties.
Umm. What am I forgetting? Probably lots of things. IDK. I'm not on any programming to tell you about, I just want to GO to everything.
-I had to get up super early (ok 6am which is my normal time on work days but I've been getting up at like, 10 or 11 or whenever) so I could take my car to the dealership. Needed an oil change and for them to fix my flat tire, which had a screw in it. This is not as much of a hardship as it may sound, as hanging out at our local Toyota dealership is actually rather pleasant if you can tune out the giant, constantly blaring tv. They have unlocked wifi, put out little pastries and bagels and fresh fruit for the taking, and there's a fancy coffee machine. The kind where you pick packets and throw them in there and it makes you something fancy. Watching people work this machine out for the first time is kind of hilarious. I mean, I feel them, it's confusing for something that tells you exactly what to do. Anyway I broke my caffeine fast because I can not resist the allure of playing with that machine. Also the Milky Way Swirl cappuccino it makes is pretty damn good. Two hours at the dealership meant plenty of time to fuck around on Twitter, plus some time to read the new Fairyland book (catvalente gave me an ARC at Worldcon, yayyyyyyy!) which also meant attempting not to cry in public. If you read the first one, I'm not saying the second one does a recap at the beginning or anything, but something about getting back into that world and hanging out with September again meant Mallow's story came rushing back all at once and I was like "hHHNNNNNNGGGGGGG". Anyway car is taken care of for a bit longer. Need to get a new inspection done and spark plugs replaced soon, but other than that I should be ok for a while.
-On the way home I stopped at the store to get some ingredients to make salsa. Also chips, to eat the salsa.
-Also I stopped at the post office to mail in our voter registration cards, because we hadn't switched when we moved.
-Got home, made a really lovely cooked salsa. I started with this recipe but used a few cups of the cherry tomatoes I grew, also I put in an onion, also I used more garlic. Oh, and two jalapenos instead of one, and also 2 cheyenne peppers. I like it to have *some* heat, jeeze. Anyway it came out ridiculously amazing and good. I ate what wouldn't fit in the jar and put the rest in the fridge, and I have to keep it there at least long enough to let lynxreign taste it. Looking back through that the onion is actually the only thing that went into the salsa that I didn't grow, which I'm pleased by.
-Before the salsa I harvested more cherry tomatoes, sprayed the tomato plants with the anti-mildew stuff again (because *siiiiighh*) and watered the garden.
-Finished my laundry, which means getting stuff out of the dryer and putting it all away, and running a load of the handwash stuff, and getting that load laid out to dry.
-Checked out Unfuck Your Habitat, something I'd been meaning to do for a while. I don't want to follow the tumblr or the twitter because I don't feel like that will be useful for me, but I did download the iPhone app and I think that might be good. I use to try to do FlyLady but I always hated how sanctimonious she is. Also the gendered stuff there really bugs me.
-Once I had the app I went back into the basement, turned on the 20/10 timer, and started working on the yarn closet. We went to the Container Store not too long ago and got me stackable plastic baskets for the closet, so I could finally get my yarn out of the boxes we'd moved it all in over a year ago, and I knew pretty much how it was going to go, and now it's finally getting there. I cleared off the shelves a little at a time so I could add more baskets as I filled them, and I emptied 5 boxes. Not everything from those boxes is put away, there was a lot of sorting into a different box for when I got through with the spinning fiber and the sock yarn (the sock yarn gets 4 of these baskets. There is still more sock yarn, because the special club yarns need to be separate. It's an issue that I am aware of, thank you). This is where the entry got eaten by my bad wifi connection, and I don't remember what else I had to say about the closet.
Anyway, now I'm trying to figure out what the hell is up with my laptop's wifi card, and also typing this, and trying to convince myself that moving to the couch and working on my sock-in-progress is still unfucking *something* and is also actually vital to my mental health and well-being.
Oh and Sunday we're going kayaking in the Boston Harbor and I'm so excited I almost don't know what to do with myself.
If you don't feel like reading, we overturned the Board's decision entirely, enforced the lifetime ban on Rene Walling, apologized and discussed an action plan for moving forward and making Readercon safer. Also the entire Board resigned, but that news was out a few days ago.
No lie, this thing has been hard. Readercon has historically had some problems that we're going to be working on for a while, but even knowing that I can't express the sense of betrayal I had when I heard the Board's original decision on this. Also, I'm really, really bad at taking criticism of something I love or am a part of, and there's very much been a part of me not wanting to hear all the people mad at Readercon, since it so very felt like they were mad at me, even though I agreed with them completely. After I got past that first gut-clenching reaction though, I started seeing what was really going on with that anger and wow, I can't even express how grateful I am for it. There's a lot I'm bad at expressing, apparently. Anyway. Sonya Taaffe said something yesterday about how the anger hasn't so much been "Ugh Readercon we hate you and wish you'd die in a fire", it's been much more "Aw Readercon why are you disappointing me? Why did you have to go die in a fire? The hell?" and yeah, that's exactly it. The fact that so many people are standing up and saying that harassment is bad and harassers should feel bad and people who apologize for or coddle those harassers should *also* feel bad, that's awesome. I like that and I want to see it continue.
I very much have seen the posts and the anger and the petition as support for what rosefox and many of us wanted out of this, and as support for what kind of a con we want Readercon to be. It's been really hard not to get defensive at certain points of this, but we needed the outcry and everything that went with it to get this done the way it should be. At this point I'm drained but also so happy that we can even make this beginning. When the statement went up earlier today and the reactions started coming in I suddenly burst into tears because oh my god, we are really and truly being given a chance here.
The actions of the Board broke the trust of a lot of people, and I know this statement and the actions in it aren't going to fix that for everyone, and that's ok. People are legitimately upset, and it's going to take time to deal with that. Some people may have written us off so completely that they don't want to hear the apology, and that's also ok. Hell, that's part of what this whole thing was about in the first place, right? No one owes us their time or attention, and we don't get to force anyone to hear or accept our apology, and that has to be ok, even if it stings. I'm going to keep doing whatever I can to make Readercon something I can be proud of, and something that no one feels excluded from. It's a process. We aren't finished yet, but I'm very much looking forward to getting closer.
Mostly today I was doing garden stuff. Last night we ate the first cherry tomato and pepper from the garden! There are pictures on my twitter, I'll try to link 'em at some point. lynxreign said eating half of the cherry tomato had as much flavor as a supermarket tomato 4x the size, so I am pleased. I don't generally eat store tomatoes, so I don't have as much basis for comparison (not out of snobbery or anything, I just didn't think I liked tomatoes for a really long time, and it turns out a lot of that is how freakin' tasteless most grocery store tomatoes are), but it did seem pretty good.
But yeah, there is a veritable TOMATO EMPIRE out my back door now. Cherry tomatoes are getting ripe, the pear tomatoes are suddenly showing up and getting huge, and the Black Krim tomatoes are hinting at how epic they'll be in a few more weeks. The peppers are coming along nicely as well. lynxreign and I had to make an emergency Home Depot run last night for twine and bamboo sticks, because the tomato cages I bought are really laughably too short for the types of tomatoes I ended up with. We also got some planters for me to put along the fence, which are going to get some bean and squash seeds tomorrow probably. Today I shored up the tomato supports, weedwhacked the horrible area next to the fence (thanks to shadesong and family for the loan of the weedwhacker), filled the new containers with dirt, and harvested the garlic. The garlic harvest is kind of disappointing, to be honest. I don't know if I did something wrong or if it was the weather this year or what, but all of the bulbs are pretty small. It may be that I planted them too close together, not sure. They're drying out in the basement now, and I'll probably try some of them tonight or tomorrow. We ate one bulb already, roasted on the grill with some carrots, and it *did* taste pretty amazing. So IDK, I guess I don't have to decide until September anyway. Garlic takes up a lot of space. Having the scapes available whenever I wanted them was nice, and if the garlic tastes better than what we buy, maybe it's still worth it. Maybe this year I'll try a different type, and maybe I'll do things like mulch and water more frequently, and see if it makes a difference. Or maybe I'll take a year off from garlic and put something else in that space and try again next year, IDK.
Trying to explain some of this stuff to lynxreign along the way has been fun. Last night I was explaining the difference between determinate and indeterminate tomato types. His first guess was that it had something to do with the seeds, and really he was thinking of hybrid vs heirloom veg. It was a good guess though! Anyway if you don't already know and care for some reason, determinate varieties tend to have more compact growth, they don't get as tall, they don't sprawl as much, and the tomatoes mostly ripen all at the same time. Indeterminate means the opposite, basically. More sprawling growth, and the tomatoes ripen over a longer period. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. I don't really want to do canning this year, so I figured indeterminate made sense because that way I'd get a few tomatoes over a month or two, not a million all at once. I just wasn't prepared for *how* sprawly their growth is, thus the bamboo and twine. I've been reading about growing this stuff for years, but this is the first year I've actually done it, you see. This year I had meant to start seeds over the winter, and didn't because of the massive winter sluggishness/depression that hit me, so I ended up just buying whatever packs of seedlings I found at a local garden center. Which, it seems like it's working out. But this winter, dammit, I am determined to do my own seeds. I checked the ones I had to see if I had given myself a break by getting any determinate types. NOPE LOL.
Part of this is also because determinate tends to be something you see with newer hybrid varieties, and I'm generally more drawn to the heirloom types. Next year I'll be prepared for this though, so I won't be startled when I go out back one day and the teeny tiny little tomato plants are suddenly these gigantic ridiculous monsters taller than me. I'll already have better support in place and I'll look at them and be like "lol yes you jerks." Or something. I might be a little punchy at this point.
Um, let's see, for peppers it's jalapenos and cheyenne, plus something that was in the jalapeno flat but clearly ISN'T. It's some kind of cherry pepper I guess? It's tiny and round and tastes like a bell pepper. Bonus, I guess.
I'm also pulling carrots every few days. Turns out really fresh, tiny carrots are awesome in ramen. I feel kinda ridiculous tossing them in there, but hot damn they're good.
Got the basil planted real late, but it's starting to come in now. Lots of other herbs out there too. The cilantro is getting all cute and bushy and I want to eat it all?
OH OH THE WEIRDEST THING: ok, all of my garden reading has told me that growing mint from seed is dumb and pointless and slow and also stupid. But I ordered this pack of herb seeds a while back, and one of them was peppermint. I looked at it all skeptical, then shrugged and tossed some into a pot. "Why not?" I figured, "worst that happens is they don't grow and I put something else in there." Yeah it's actually doing really well. Lol ok peppermint seeds, I don't know what you're up to but thanks I guess?
Anyway I'll definitely talk like I know what I'm doing but I really don't! Somehow it's mostly working out though! Plus I'm lucky and have sparkymonster, nex0s, and izzybelbooks on twitter. They actually *do* know what they're talking about, so it's fun times discussing this stuff with them. #ladygardenchat sounds like a euphemism, but that just makes it even better.
I'm not really ready to talk about it. I'm reeling, (also I need to leave for work) and still processing. I did leave this comment on the official statement though:
This coming year is my third year as a member of the programming committee for Readercon, and this is devastating. I don't care about Walling's redemption story. I mean, this is Readercon guys, we could have an entire panel about how male redemption stories in SF/F are super duper overdone and we're all fucking sick of them. I'm way more interested in the story of the awesome lady writer who bravely reported harassment and got shit taken care of.
Flipness aside, I don't care who the harasser is or who the harassed is, Readercon is actively making their attendees feel unsafe with this decision. I like Readercon, and I don't want to see it die. That's what will happen if new people don't want to come. Please stop making me disappointed in you, I know you're all better than this.
IDK I'm not bailing out of this thing just yet and I'll probably write more about this when I can catch my breath and stop just SIGHING everywhere when I think about it, and I will be sending something to firstname.lastname@example.org as well, and I'd like for everyone else who's pissed off to do so as well if you can. Readercon means a lot to me and I'm not willing to give up on it just yet, but I can't let people just run it into the ground either.
Like I said, not really ready to talk about it, just didn't want my silence to get too loud.
OK so today we kayaked again, and friends, it was MAGICAL. I’ve said all of this on twitter so skip to the next paragraph if you’ve seen it but on the way there we saw a woodchuck, just chilling out on the side of the road nomming some plants. Then on the river we saw about a million turtles sunning themselves, the usual shit-tons of geese and ducks, lots of ducklings and goslings too, loons, blue herons, night herons, herons sitting on a floaty thing making patterns with their wings (every other one had their wings out), and a guy on the banks playing saxophone as we paddled past.
Anyway the important thing is that this is actually only my second time kayaking, but I did WAY better than last time. We were out there for about 2.5 hours, and we went 7.28 miles, which is a LOT and my shoulders will probably hate me tomorrow. So right now I’m pretty damn pleased with myself, and it got me thinking about body acceptance and exercise and stuff. I’ve been lifting weights semi-seriously for a couple of months now too, and I’m starting to see actual definition in my arms? That’s rad. Here’s the thing, is that doing this stuff is making me appreciate my body in ways I don’t think I have before. Like, I’m still fat guys, I’m not going to shy away from that. I hover around 200 pounds right now and I’m kinda short, and I’m fat. Whatevs, right?
I’ve seen Fat Acceptance people talk about not “punishing” their body with exercise, and I get that. The thing that’s changed is that exercise is now a way for me to revel in my body and be proud of what it can do. There’s probably a lot more there to think about, and I might come back to it, but the other thing this got me onto was healthy and unhealthy behaviors and how sometimes those can be the same behaviors but with different mindsets, which is not a terribly earth-shattering thought, but there it is. I used to exercise because I thought I had to because obviously I should want to be thin. Sidenote: it may or may not be important to the understanding of this post that my mom is/was/is again IDK anorexic. Which explains a lot about my thought processes and what I heard growing up. Anyway. I always hated exercise, and I hated sports, and nothing about any of it was ever fun once it became about losing weight. Exercise was a means to an end and that end came out of self-hatred and all of the ways society told me to hate myself because my body was unacceptable. So no wonder I never really stuck with it, right?
My goals have changed completely now. I’m pretty cool with my muscles bulking up if that’s what ends up happening with my body, I’m cool if my stomach’s never flat, whatever. I really loved the way I felt at the end of our paddle today, even if my arms were a little shaky trying to get out of the dang kayak (if you have never done this it is an obnoxious way to do things), and I know my shoulders will probably hate me tomorrow. There’s a lot tied up in this, and part of it is this whole thing where being a vocal (even mildly vocal, which is where I put myself) feminist on the internet means accusations of misandry, and how so many of us have basically decided to just run with that for now. I mean hey, if you’re going to accuse me of hating men and wanting them all dead, well, you convinced me! So there’s a bunch of us who’ve been weightlifting and talking about this and rejecting this thing of wanting to be stronger but “you know, not bulking up.” Screw it man, I’m fine with my body bulking up. I want to look like I can punch ALL the dicks.
So then the flipside of this is how the same behavior can be healthy or unhealthy even in the same person. In high school my best friend was anorexic. Which I was super in denial about because I saw her eat every day, so how could this be? She was a health nut, right? And that was the thing. She exercised to the point of obsession, and she’d internalized the idea that *any* fat on her body was bad. Part of this was because she got into bodybuilding. It got bad enough with her that she stopped having her period and her parents were thinking of sending her to an institution instead of having her senior year at school with me. This was the point where together, she and I finally faced the extent of her problem, and she started getting better.
A few years later when we were in college in different states, she sent me an email after completing her first half-marathon. She talked about standing in the shower after the race and being exhausted, but so proud of her body and what it had accomplished. She knew she never would have had the staying power for a race like that when she was still sick.
So I don’t really have a grand conclusion here, and obviously this is really just about me and I’m not going to try to generalize out to anyone else or start acting like I know what everyone should do, but this was some important stuff for me to think through. It’s kind of a big deal for me to be able to look in the mirror and see my belly fat and still be proud of how far I got in the kayak today, and know that tomorrow I’m going to completely rock my gym session, and even if no one but me can *look* at me and see all that, well, fuck those people anyway.
So the part I forgot when I wrote this (because my brain was actually pretty fried, which is why this may seem a *bit* all over the place) is that there's also this thing where women aren't supposed to take up space. Diet yourself into literally disappearing dammit why do you think you deserve any space here? I hear the same thing when people tell women not to bulk up, not to use heavy weights because muscles on girls are gross, on and on and on. And that's part of where I'm coming from here, as a women trying to learn how to be comfortable with taking up space. I am allowed to fill the space I am in.
We're a friendly, safe comm for swapping unique leaves with fellow tea aficionados. Once a month there will be a swap between members of the community and every once in awhile, there will be special themed swaps. :) If you have way too much tea and you'd like to give away some, or if you're just looking to try new teas, this is your comm!!
There's a lot of cool stuff there! They have neat notecards with art from vintage, illustrated seed packets, they have great tools and equipment for gardeners, they have gorgeous books for people interested in things like heirloom tomatoes, and the variety of plants and seeds is actually a little staggering.
They also have collections of seeds, often with a book or pamphlet of information or recipes, packaged up in cute little bags. I ordered some of these the other day.
One of these is particularly interesting to me, and a big part of why I want to get the word out about this. They've put together a collection of African American heritage seeds. There's more information on the Special Collection page (and more varieties than what comes in the set), and I really think that this is a very cool, very important thing. There's a lot to be learned about a culture based on their food history and what they grew, and preserving the actual heirloom varieties that slaves and sharecroppers were growing is a really important piece of history. I think it would be a really cool way to teach some of this to kids, by getting the collection (which comes with the book that the historian who put all this together wrote on the topic) and starting a garden with them.
So obviously, the best thing would be if you ordered stuff from them. They're doing a drive to save the company right now, and even if you don't garden, ordering their catalog would be a good thing. It's a gorgeous catalog with illustrations of the plants, and really well put together, from what I hear. If you don't want a catalog and don't have any use for the stuff they sell but still want to help, there's a button to donate on the front page. Spreading the word to anyone you know who does garden is also good. Of course, no one who reads this is under any obligation to do anything at all. If this isn't your thing and you don't know any gardeners, whatever! It's no big deal! I've been telling people about this in email for a week, and finally decided I should put this out here for anyone I know who might be interested.
In other news, the other day I got to eat an ENTIRE SALAD of THINGS I GREW MYSELF and I was like "GREENS SO FRESH EVERYBODY WANTS TO FIGHT ME." because it was so awesome.
I don't know how to make that smaller right now, sorry.
I have been sitting on this news for like, 3 months? I can finally tell you all that I'll be part of the deCordova's Biennial show, running January through April, as part of the South End Knitters. It opens on my birthday. :) Here is a Boston Globe article about the show. We're only mentioned at the end, but still. Everybody come to Boston to see it! peaseblossom is also in this! It's very exciting and I kind of can't believe this is real life?
I'm at work today and I need to finish the grant report but part of my brain is like "GRANT REPORT? NO! I AM AN ~ARTIST~ NOW!" and I'm like "that's adorable brain, but you still have a job that pays you so get the news out and then shut that down for a while for fucks sake."
Last night we had to put Copper to sleep. She was 17, and had so many health problems at this point, and last night when lynx got home she was having trouble breathing. When I got home we went to the emergency vet, and they said that there was fluid around and possibly in her lungs, and that it was probably either heart disease or cancer. They could remove the fluid, but it was only going to keep building back up and getting worse. That, on top of all of her other problems, was probably going to leave her miserable, so we had to decide to let her go. This is impossible and there's never any way for it to be easy, so we're doing about as well as could be expected.
I want to write about what a great cat she was and tell you all about her, but right now I can't. She was the best cat. I'll always miss her.
I need some kind of gardening icon!
I'm at work and away from all of my notes and spreadsheets and whatnot, so this might not get completed until later. I *should* be writing the grant report, but I'm looking at this as a warm-up.
So, gardening! I started getting kinda into growing herbs and stuff back in Little Rock, but I had to leave all of the plants and pots and everything behind when I moved up here. It was actually very sad, but I managed. My first three places in Boston weren't at all conducive even to pots of things (well, I *could* have gardened quite a bit at the second place in Somerville, but I wasn't there long enough and grad school and such as), and I was starting to get itchy with missing it, especially after helping catvalente and justbeast plant a pretty awesome garden at their last place.
At our current apartment, we actually have a backyard and a little patio, so plants have begun sort of appearing. We have a big pot with a tiny pine tree that was a favor from athalran and inochinoakari's wedding. it has been joined by a pot of rosemary and a pot of chocolate mint. I've also added basil (ok don't judge me, but the seeds came from a box of Triscuits. I don't even know), two kinds of thyme, and two kinds of spinach to the pot with the tree, as the pot is very large, and the tree is very small, and having other things in there means less weeding for me. Lynx gets nervous that these things are taking nutrients away from the tree, but it's really fine. The basil needs to get cut down and the thyme needs a trim, but really, it is a very big pot.
MEANWHILE, there was the basement flooding. That saga is ongoing and still very stressful and annoying, but I think our landlord is probably going to be able to get the work done pretty quickly once he's able to get it started, so possibly by the end of next month? Anyway, lynx came up with a plan to help make sure it never has a chance to happen again, which involves building garden boxes that completely surround the window, as dams to stop any water that rises in the backyard. That means that after this weekend, I will suddenly have quite a bit of raised garden bed space to begin planting in. Yay! SUPER big thanks on this go out to nex0s, who gave us the idea by planning and building the garden we helped Cat and D with, and for answering my email questions about how the boxes worked and what kind of wood we needed to use and so on. There's going to be one box shaped like an L that goes out from the side of the house and then over to the fence, to block in the window, and then two shorter, straight boxes right at the end of the patio, just for funzies. We're going to Home Depot tonight and they should be finished by the weekend, at which point I can take some pictures.
In anticipation of this I was doing research on good winter veggies and cold hardy salad greens and things like that, and the second day I was working on this I found out one of my favorite seed sources (Nichols Gardens, they are fabulous) was actually having a sale on seeds specifically for fall and winter planting. So THAT worked out nicely. I ordered a bunch of stuff and when it got here, we still weren't quite ready to build the boxes, so I made a bunch of "improvised containers" by which I mean I chopped the tops off of a bunch of 2L Diet Coke bottles, gouged some drainage holes in the bottoms, and tossed in some potting soil and seeds. These are all coming along nicely at this point. The spinach has produced enough leaves that we're going to cut them and make hamburgers tonight with spinach leaves as a topping.
Last night I sat down with paper and sketched out where everything will get planted. Decisions are hard, guys, that took forever.
Anyway, here is an incomplete list of things that are either getting planted or transplanted this weekend:
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I'm looking at lj now but I haven't even glanced at it since we left, so if there's something important, link me.
We were planning to drive until about midnight last night, stop in New York, and finish driving today, but once we got past Utica it didn't look like there was going to be anywhere non-sketchy to stop for another couple of hours, and there were only 4 hours of driving left anyway, so we just kept going and got home around quarter to 3. We're awake now, but you know. Kind of. Going to pick up the kitty from the kennel here in a bit.
THEN, from outside, I could hear my neighbor out back, moving things around on her back porch and yelling "OHHH MY GOOOD" every few minutes. I kind of just ignored her because I assumed either her cat or her kids had done something stupid. Then I heard her on the phone with someone, sounding panicked, and saying that the backyard was flooded and it was all getting into her basement.
I had been out back not even half an hour before this, picking some fresh herbs to put in my ramen, and everything had been fine then! I went out to look though, and sure enough: backyard SUPER FLOODED. Basement windows: WATER EVERYWHERE. So I ran downstairs to see how bad it was in the basement and it was REALLY BAD. There was like, a good couple of inches standing water in most of the basement, other parts squelched when I walked on them, oh shit.
I ran back upstairs and tried to call lynxreign, left a message, same with the landlord, then ran back down stairs and started moving vulnerable things to safety. NGL, when I saw how wet the bottoms of my spinning wheels were I may have screamed a few times. They'll be fine, but ugh.
Eventually I managed to get through to lynx, and accidentally made him think the basement was a swimming pool, instead of just a wading pool, so he left work and came home. The neighbor lady and a plumber came over and helped me move things.
The fire department came to pump all the water out of the backyard. My basement windows, when viewed from inside the basement, no longer looked like aquariums. There are people here from a cleaning agency, and they are sucking all of the water out of the basement carpet. I'm typing this mostly to resist the urge to go "help" them, because I know I'd mostly just be in the way. These guys are good, and they're taking care of things. It's all going to be fine.
So let's see. I think we may lose a few books, but not many. All of lynx's games are fine, as they were on shelves and the water didn't get *that* high. A lot of the vinyl was stacked on the floor, so I'm thinking we're going to lose a lot of the covers, but the actual records should be fine. All of my yarn and fiber was on shelves and in plastic, so it's all fine. The wheels will be fine, I just need to get them dried off once the cleaning dudes are done. Some of the boxes of cds in the corner need to be dealt with, but the actual cds will be fine. Mostly anything that's ruined was trash anyway, so we're not that concerned right now. I did have to stop neighbor lady from "helping" by putting a plastic crate with a wet bottom right on top of the stack of art and paintings waiting to be hung. All the art is stacked on a closet shelf, so it was fine, but a WET PLASTIC CRATE CAN NOT GO ON TOP OF THE ERIN MORGENSTERN PAINTING I WOULD CRY FOR WEEKS.
So all in all it's really not that bad, but frustrating as hell and very messy. Good thing I had stayed home today, though! Eesh!
ETA: Oh man, I forgot to tell you guys *why* it happened! At first they thought the water main on the corner burst, but then they realized it was actually the sprinkler system for the complex. The outdoor system, that is. I have a complicated relationship with that system anyway, I think our landscapers here mow way too often and overwater like mad, but STILL.