Originally posted at http://www.lauraannegilman.net/oh-hai-
Hey there. Between this cold that continues to linger, trying to get some writing and editing projects finished up, US politics (and a bonus of happier French politics), and the winery getting ready for our Spring releases this week, I've...not been a very good little blogger. In fact, I've been slacking on a lot of things, and I intend to catch up on all that in the next few days.
Stop snickering. I mean it! *stomps paw*
Meanwhile, Spring has arrived in Washington state - we've still got the occasional rain, but more and more often the days are sunny and warming, with just a nip of cool still remaining in the air. It's exactly the kind of weather than makes me want to go hiking... and I can't, because of this cough that's still lingering, making me more prone to sacking out for an hour on the sofa. But there will be hiking, and hike-blogging, too. Soon....
So, anyway. Not dead (yet). Getting better, even. Ignore that hacking cough behind the curtain....
Oh, and I'll be in Pittsburgh next weekend, at the Nebula Awards Conference. If you're there, or just in town, drop by and say hi!
A year ago, I got a not-unexpected phone call, and - days after having come back from NYC - turned around and went back.
There are endless iterations of Time, and none of them seem to be consistent. A year should not be both so short and so long.
L'maan tizk'ru ("So that you shall remember")
If my boundary stops here
I have daughters to draw new maps of the world
they will draw the lines of my face
they will draw with my gestures my voice
they will speak my words thinking they have invented them
they will invent them
they will invent me
I will be planted again and again
I will wake in the eyes of their children's children
they will speak my words.
(from the Mishkan T'Filah, for the house of mourning)
No, it really isn't.
"Oh, but doing X would cause problems, it's difficult, it's inconvenient."
Dog knows, I've been guilty of that myself, more than once.
Yeah, shit's annoying, it's inconvenient, it's scheduled at a bad time, or it causes traffic jams.
And yes that means forcing ourselves to act, not just the people who haven't thought about it before, or were standing in opposition. Good intentions and righteous anger don't do shit on their own.
And I was originally going to make this a private post, but you know what? No. I feel like yelling this from my porch.
reposting this from my Tumblr account
Since there seems to be some outraged confusion among Anons and Nonnys, let me clarify.
If you support the Trump/Pence/Bannon regime’s attempts to isolate, persecute, and otherwise remove basic civil and citizen’s rights from entire groups within our society, based on who they are rather than dealing with individual behavior on a case by case basis, yes I do think you’re behaving in a shitty and morally bankrupt manner, I find you personally distasteful, and I consider preventing you from carrying out your agenda(s) to be a moral obligation of a civilized nation.
And history’s got my back, on this one.
1. woodpeckers are ridiculous
2. people who dirtbike on rooted trails are probably nuts
3. I strongly suspect people who live without greenspaces are slightly more insane (and in a worse way) than the rest of us.
3a. by 'greenspace" I do not mean "never going anywhere with a population of more than 107," but "having access to places where you can be surrounded by greenery and dirt for a few hours." So don't get cocky, isolationists.
4. Hiking for two hours, even on non-mountain trails, is kinda exhausting. Especially when it's under 50 degrees (layers keep you warm, but only so much).
That's not to say it didn't have good moments.
I've written a lot. For various reasons, little of that has seen publication (yet) but I can feel my skills readying to level up, and that's always a positive. Scary, but a positive.
I started working at two new wineries, and have learned a huge amount about wine-making, winery-running, and yes, about beer, too. And I've done it in company of interesting people with utterly different backgrounds from my own.
I started dating again, after a self-imposed 'figure my shit out' moritorium. That's been...interesting.
And life here in the Pacific Northwest continues to feel like home, in a way I'd hoped-for, but not entirely trusted, when I took the leap and moved out here two years ago. I'm not going to say this is where I'll be henceforth and forever, but I can't see myself budging any time soon.
So I guess I'm ending 2016 a little sadder, a little wiser, and a more than a little more tired. But I'm also surrounded by good people, faced with interesting challenges, and supported by a community both physical and virtual who are ready to march with me into the battles of 2017.
In the past, on this last day leading into First Night I have made a wish for us all, that the very best of this year past be the worst that we face in the new. This year, I leave you with a different wish: that in 2017 we find that we are better than we feared, stronger than we'd hoped, and more compassionate than we'd ever dreamed.
*raises glass* To our health and our well-being, physical, mental, emotional and financial, from this house to yours.
And now I am off to see out the old with new friends, and tomorrow I will have old(er) friends to my home to see in the new. It seems apt...
Dancing to 80's music, drinking microbrews, and swinging at a black widow spider piñata filled with chocolate, booze and condoms. As one does.
Social lives are exhausting. I might want to try one again in a month or two....
There are many things you don't think about, or don't consider urgent to have done, until you're stuck in a hospital bed. Life decisions that you might not be able to make, in an emergency.
Think about them now. Get them in writing. Get them witnessed/notarized, and then make sure that people know where this information is on file, in case you're not able to tell them in an emergency.
Yeah, we think we don't need any of this, not until we're older. Except emergencies and catastrophies don't GAF how old you are.
A memorial to my dad, and all those I have lost, and a reminder that nothing that matters is ever truly lost.
Also, I am reasonably sure my tattoo artist never had a writer in his chair before, because he was bemused by my constant questions about the process. Hey, never know when it might be needed for a story, right? Waste no chance to learn something new….
Growing up a kid in central NJ in the 70′s and 80′s - being a sexually (in)active teenager when AIDS became a known thing - I heard pretty much every term there was for non-straights. I had friends who were gay, who were lesbian. I had friends who were ace, but didn’t have a term for it yet. I had friends who were bi, and felt brutally tossed around by their own bodies and brains in ways they didn’t have a handle on, didn’t have a baseline for yet.
I heard every slur that could be thrown at them, and saw them, over the decades, reject or own those terms. Find the ground under their feet, even when they could see the end coming closer (I’m still losing friends to AIDS, I am still not resigned).
And in all that time, in all those years, I heard friends call themselves queer.
Queer: unusual, odd, eerie. Peculiar.
“Queer” was a term that, to me, meant “strong.” A refusal to be shoved into a box, be it a closet or a coffin, without a fight. A refusal to sit down and accept someone else’s expectations or assumptions. A beautiful word. An encouraging word.
Personally, I hate the term ally. An alliance is a political construct, a temporary collision of mutual interests. You are my sisters, my brothers, my siblings. That is not temporary, that has nothing to do with me or my interests. You are, and that is enough. And while I hate the word and the world that has forced you to be so strong, I love the fire within you that forged that strength, and the word that was your anvil.
So this is me, getting on with it.
Back to Seattle in the morning, back to deadlines and obligations and cats and Life.
Some of you, over the years, have heard the stories of my dad, the medical Energizer Bunny. Heart attacks? Pshaw. Parkinsons? Keep on truckin'. Gout? Okay, no more organ meats, whatever. Coronary blockage? His heart adapted. Hernia? Sew it up and move on. But at 84 my dad has finally met the roadblock even he can't get around: cancer. Specifically, metastatic osteosarcoma.
And we discovered it purely by chance - a combination of post-hernia surgery swelling and high fever landed him in the ER, and a chain of events led to oncology getting involved. And three weeks later, here we are. As I said to a friend, it's like treading water after a wreck, and waiting for the sharks to come. You know there will be sharks, you just don't know if it will be a hammerhead, or a great white.
So. If I've not responded to your email or phone call, or missed a deadline (or had to bail out on something), it's not that I don't love you. But I'm going to have to beg your indulgence for a little while longer.
(Ironically, I'm currently editing a manuscript that opens with a cancer diagnosis. I know an editor's supposed to pick up all sorts of knowledge, because you never know when it will be helpful, but the timing on this was a little sharp.)
Comments are closed on this. I know y'all want to offer your sympathy, but right now I'm just going to take it as a given. :-) If you're a close enough friend to have my personal phone number, feel free to call.
I may look about as tough as a toasted corn muffin, but I lived and worked in NYC for two decades. I take no shit, and I give no shits. If you are at the convention and feel unsafe or harassed, you can walk straight up to me, no matter who else I'm talking to, and tell me you need Leverage (term in this usage suggested by the awesome Seanan McGuire).
I will listen to you.
I will be your safe space.
I will walk you to the nearest security person you feel comfortable with, and stay with you until you're ok.
I will follow-up on what I know.
And if your harasser tries to interfere, I will, within the limits of our personal safety, be the blockade needed to get you to safety. And I will not hesitate to call down the rage of heaven (aka convention and hotel security) if I think it is warranted.
With luck and the better angels of human nature, this will never be needed, there or at any convention going forward. But if it is, you have Leverage.
Her funeral is this morning, in New Jersey. I am in Washington. Time and available energy conspired against me, and discussion with family members made it obvious that flying 6 hours, then driving 2, and then turning around and doing it again twelve hours later back to the West Coast wasn't a logical thing to do. So I am 2500 miles away, saying my goodbyes.
If matter cannot be lost, only transformed, then nothing that matters can ever be lost, only transformed. What do we then become?
News of Judy's death came the morning I handed my current novel back to my editor. This is relevant. Judy and her husband were long-time fans, members of NESFA from its early years, and when my parents were bemused by their youngest child's fascination with this "sci-fi stuff," they stepped in, taking a then eleven-years-old me to my very first SF convention, and turning me loose for the weekend.
My life changed.
If you're here, reading this, because you read my work, Judy is part of the reason why that work exists.
When I speak of my mother's family, certain characteristics always come to the fore. Determined, certainly. Smart. Witty (some might even say wiseass). Loving. But Judy added another to the list: gentle. In a family of strong-minded individuals (that is to say: stubborn and opinionated), dealing with us couldn't have been easy. But she did her damnedest, and even when illness began to consume her mind, and her life, that gentleness remained.
And that is what I will remember.
What do we become, when we transform? I think, maybe, we become what others remember.
Watching this go down, I'm reminded of my own tendency to become defensive when called out - and the work I put into breathing through it, forcing myself through that defensiveness, to see things in a larger, more distant scale. I've come a long way; I need to go further. Today was a good reminder of why I do that work.
I suspect once all the bits and pieces of furniture are arranged and the art is in place, it will feel more-right. But the oh-my-god spaciousness isn't going to go away any time soon. And I think that's good. I want to be aware of my space, how strange it is, how wonderfully odd to have 800+ square feet just for me (and the cats) to live in. It's a privilege to have this personal space, and awareness of that is important.
(I think back to when I lived in an 11 room house, and how much of a cage it felt toward the end, and compare it to the feeling of a 1 bedroom apartment, and understand the appeal of small houses all over again. There's a freedom in limits, too. )
Yeah. And people ask me if I ever read my books once they're done. After an average of 10 passes, including the copy edit, would YOU?
Meanwhile, today there is more revising, and some editing of Other Peoples' Work, and dealing with the ACA for 2016, oh joy...
Tomorrow there will be socializing. And probably some whinging about the ACA paperwork. Because Tis the Season.