Sick Day

Sometimes, taking hold of the moments means just taking care of oneself. I ran pretty hard throughout the month of December, since Thanksgiving really. Holidays, presents, shopping, some babysitting, and knowing all the while that there were some pretty stressful work things coming up at the end of the month. So when I started feeling run down along about the middle of the month, I knew I was in trouble. It wasn’t exhaustion, not quite. It was more like how a pebble in the river feels as it’s swept end over end toward the sea. I’d been rubbed smooth and shiny but there hadn’t been a moment to touch the bottom, to take stock, to come to rest.

I started feeling it Christmas day. Tired bones and achy-throated, I sat under blankets at home and watched episodes of Psych on Netflix. (If you haven’t seen it, you should. It’s witty.) I woke up last Saturday, the day all of my work ish was scheduled to go down, feeling the real beginnings of not just tiredness but illness also. I struggled through a fourteen hour day (with commute times) and tried to rest up as much as possible on Sunday before heading back to work to close out the year.

Tuesday afternoon, tasks finally finished for the month, I got home and… Crashed. My immune system gave up the battle. Head stuffed full of goo, throat filled with razor blades and broken glass, I huddled under what seemed like thirty seven blankets and tried not to shiver too much of my chicken soup down my front.

After thirty six hours or so resting, I feel better but not well. If the rate at which I am burning through Dayquil and tissues is any indication, there will be at least a few more days of sickness. But I feel much more rested than I did.

I am currently trying not to feel guilty about missing work. I am reminding myself that not wasting my moments also means not rushing headlong into a physical collapse. It’s not really working. I had it drilled into me as a kid that if you could get out of bed then you should be at work. It’s taken a long time of re-training myself to realize that sometimes Being At Work doesn’t mean that the Work is Actually Getting Done.

In the end, I know my immune system will eventually win the war against whichever bug I managed to pick up this time. It always does, after all. It’ll just take some time, and like anyone, I have to muddle through. But for now, I’m going to go make some soup and watch Hellboy and just breathe.  

Happy New Year

Time, like the rules of society, is an agreement we all make that certain things will be done a specific way. Time is all one piece. There are no endings and no beginnings to time, which means that the concept of the New Year is really kind of silly.

It means we don’t have to wait for a specific day of the year to change ourselves for the better. Every day, every breath, is an opportunity for a new beginning. Most of us waste them. I’ll admit – I waste most of mine, too.

So this is my vow for our agreed-upon new year: I won’t waste my moments. My hope for you, dear reader, is that none of yours are wasted either.

Sing the song, write the book, climb the mountain, speak your heart, or just lie back and contemplate the world. Whatever you’re wishing for in your deepest, darkest heart… Don’t waste your moments. Go out and make it happen.

In Honor of May the 4th

Okay, I am about to open up to you all, for realsies. I don’t do this very often because my brain is a scary place, and I don’t want all my friends to run screaming into the ether never to return. But it’s May the 4th today, which in nerd circles is pretty important. (Because what nerd doesn’t love a geek reference AND a horrible pun in the same sentence, am I right?)

So I’m going to tell you a little story, in keeping with the special day.

Two days ago, I overslept my alarm by quite a bit. My sleep schedule has been messed up since at least Jordancon and I had taken some Nyquil in order to (hopefully) get a good night’s rest. Eventually, my husband had to come wake me up or I might not have gotten up at all. But before I did, this was the scene playing out in my dreams….

{Imagine wavery, dream sequence harp music segue here.} 

The scene takes place in a nameless retail store. Probably a strip mall type store, because this one had manual glass doors that you had to pull open. No Automatic Caution Doors* here. It was one of those stores with the little foyer, so you open one set of doors, take two steps, and then have to open another door before you’re actually shopping.

*Don't these things look like they say "Automatic Caution Door" to you, too?
*Don’t these things look like they say “Automatic Caution Door” to you, too?

So now that we have our setting, we can talk about characters. The first character is leaning around the half-open glass door, having a duel with the second character, who is dancing around the foyer area trying to stay out of reach. Now for the contextually appropriate part: the first character is Darth Vader. The second character is a helmet-less Dark Helmet (also known as: Rick Moranis).

Darth Vader, who is pissed off about who even knows what — I don’t read minds, even in my dreams it seems — is trying desperately to cut down the Rumpelstiltskin-esque figure of Dark Helmet with his lightsaber-that-looks-like-the-top-end-of-a-wooden-cane. (Don’t question the dream logic. Just don’t do it.) Except he can’t really reach around the door in order to make death upon his enemy.

Queue a voice-over of Dark Helmet’s thoughts: “I have to stay out of reach of the end of that cane-saber! If I let it touch me, I will disintegrate into nothingness!”

And then, a thought passes over Dark Helmet’s face. You can see it forming like someone who just had thirteen four-bean burritos and is about to have really, really bad gas. The most horrible gas to ever grace the universe. This is a Death Star of a fart moving around the moon and coming into firing position.

“Wait a minute!” Dark Helmet cries. He dances into Vader’s reach, past the end of the cane-saber, and grabs the (apparently safe) middle. Jerking it out of the hand of his stunned enemy, Helmet steps back, whips the end of the can around and presses it to Vader’s arm.

“Ah-ha!” he exclaims as Darth Vader disappears in a puff of smoke. Then I woke up.

And that was how I dreamed that Mel Brooks’ character kicked the ass of George Lucas’ in a fake cane-saber duel.

Enjoy your weekend, folks, and May the Fourth be with you! 

JordanCon V Report

paige shawl - JCon 2013
Desert Aes Sedai Sees Rain

This past weekend, I spent 5 glorious days and 4 late nights in sunny (mostly), sparkling-with-tree-pollen Atlanta, Georgia at the 5th annual JordanCon! In case you don’t know, JordanCon is a weekend-long convention in honor of the late author Robert Jordan. The last novel in the fourteen-volume main series was completed in January 2013, after more than twenty years since the debut book, The Eye of the World.

This was my first ever JordanCon, even though several of my friends have either attended or been intimately involved with the Con since its inception. (Hi, Tiff! Hi, Jen!) I have to say that, despite Atlanta in spring time being an absolutely miserable place for someone with allergies, I am very glad that I went. JordanCon isn’t just for fans of Robert Jordan (though that helps!), but has plenty to offer for other SF/F fans. I had only ever been to Dragon*Con before, and – in my opinion – JordanCon has nearly all the benefits of a larger con with a much smaller and more pleasant crowd.

My husband and me at lunch.
My husband and me at lunch.

My husband and I arrived on Thursday afternoon, with enough time to check into our rooms and have a sit down before most of our other friends arrived. We wandered down the street to a local sports bar for dinner. They were having a trivia night, which was entertaining and I had the best burger of the weekend there. If I could remember the name of the place, I would certainly share it, but I don’t. Also, I’m too lazy to look it up now. I had tickets for the Atlanta ghost tour scheduled as extracurricular to the Con on Thursday night, but sadly my allergies didn’t like Atlanta’s peak tree pollen season. I let a friend go in my place and stayed indoors with several varieties of medications instead.

The hosting hotel, the Doubletree Roswell, is very well-appointed. They have a bar and restaurant downstairs that had a special menu for the occasion, complete with the Raken Chicken Salad. The Con had every square inch of the hotels communal space booked, including the ballrooms, conference rooms, and even something called the “board room”. The dealer hall was combined into one room with the art show. The fan in me wanted more booths, but my wallet appreciates that there were only a handful of carefully selected vendors. I am also proud that I didn’t spend half of what I could have there!

CAH  - JCon 2013
The worst best game you’ll ever play!

My friends and I ended the evening early by retreating to our rooms for pizza and a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity. If you haven’t heard of or played this card game before – you honestly should. We decided pretty quickly that we’re all going to hell for some of our answers. I’m okay with that though… At least all of my friends will be there right beside me!

Brandon II - JCon 2013
Brandon’s signing

One of the best things about JordanCon is that the day’s panels don’t usually start until late morning, so one doesn’t need to feel as if you’re missing anything by getting a proper amount of sleep after a late night. Our Saturday started off with an unexpected detour. What we intended as a quick trip up to the Con Suite for breakfast turned into a nearly hour-long chat with Wilson Grooms (WoT fans will recognize the name), his wife, and Lisa, the fabulous jewelry artist featured in the Art Show. We were able to hear some off-panel personal stories about Jim (Robert Jordan) from people who knew him, including his niece and grand-niece who showed up later. Wilson kept insisting throughout the discussion that he and Jim were just regular folks. And they are, I know, but it doesn’t make those stories less important to us. Authors are a reader’s gateway into another world. Most of the time, we readers only see that world, so those “just folks” stories are precious to us. Even more so for an author who is gone.

Rithmatist - JCon 2013
She’s thinking about stealing it.

There was also a reading by Brandon Sanderson on Saturday of his upcoming middle grade novel, The Rithmatist. A friend of mine took video, so I’m hoping that shows up somewhere that I can view it again. What I could tell from the snippet, however, is that this will be an awesome book for kids and adults alike. This one has one of those wonderfully strange magic systems that Brandon is famous for, and I can’t wait to read it.

Unfortunately for me, my allergies started doing their tired old song and dance again as my friend Paige and I hit the Con Suite for lunch. This meant instead of attending the really awesome Urban Fantasy panel, during which Chuck Wendig was named the panel’s mascot/spirit animal, I was lying flat on my back in my room waiting for two different kinds of allergy meds to kick in. I am still pissed off about this, as it rumor has it it was the best panel of the entire weekend. I did manage to see the Memory of Light panel and the costume contest, however, before packing it in for the night and retreating to our rooms for Cards Against Humanity 2: Drunken Boogaloo!

Panel I - JCon 2013
Panels!

Sunday’s panels included Theological & Mythological Influences in the Wheel of Time, during which Harriet made me get kind of misty eyed. (She said, paraphrased, that the closest we come to our own Creator is through the act of Creation ourselves. This is quite Significant to me.) There was also a super cool slide show of Michael Whelan’s art where he explained the thought process and some of the history and metaphors behind each painting. Steampunk Hour and the Writer’s track Pacing & Plotting panel rounded out my weekend.

There are more personal anecdotes however. Such as how my friend Paige (from New Mexico) has become almost famous. We discovered Brandon has been telling the story of Paige-from-New-Mexico at signings. Presumably it is the story of how a group of fans as wide-spread as Ohio, Nebraska, LA and Australia mentioned her name to Brandon at several of his signings, until she was so familiar that she seemed like an old friend when she finally showed up at an event in Albuquerque. She has such extraordinary luck (and nerve!) We found her deep in conversation with Michael Whelan in the dealer’s hall, discussing the merits of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings adaption. This is on top of the fact that it was Paige who initially started up our talk with Wilson. My friends? They are some pretty cool people.Paige Badge - JCon 2013

Other anecdotes are either not worthy of blog space, or are private. But I hope you’ve enjoyed my little recap. If this has tempted you in any way towards attending JordanCon VI (at which Patrick Rothfuss will be the Guest of Honor!), then I hope you’ll attend. I will definitely be there! Don’t forget to say “Hi” if you see  an Aes Sedai running around in a green shawl with the name Kiara on her badge.

(I’m not anti-social. Just shy.)

🙂

(Special note: Most of the above photos were shamelessly stolen borrowed from my dear friend Paige. See the rest.)

 

 

So This is What They Meant. (Sexism, Gaming, and Culture)

This morning, a link to this article appeared in my Twitter feed. (Warning: some of the replies to that Tweet are pretty rage-inducing. Click at your own risk. The article doesn’t have comments, and is fairly well written, although there is one small issue I have with it, which you will see below.)

Because sexism and gaming and the current culture surrounding both is something I care about, I read the article. I found myself nodding, agreeing. This was a good, reasonable argument written by one of the few men I’ve seen willing to speak out about something so pervasive that a whole lot of people don’t even see anything wrong.

Then, I got to the end of the article and my eyes rolled so hard they almost got stuck that way. I don’t normally read Rock Paper Shotgun. I avoid gaming sites on purpose for two reasons: 1) I don’t have the time or monetary resources to game enough that I need to be kept up to date on upcoming releases. And 2) the usual culture on gaming sites is so boobs-and-guns-and-more-boobs that I got jaded a long, long (long) time ago.

Being web-minded myself, I realize that “related posts” type algorithms don’t have the best logic sometimes. Computers are incredibly smart, but they can also be pretty dumb. So I’ll say right off: I don’t blame RPS for this section appearing at the end of their article.

No, I pretty much just chalk this up to the prevalence of the shit that women have to deal with on a daily basis. When I reached the end of the article, this is what I saw:

RPS Screenshot

 

Let me blow that up for you a bit:

RPS Cropped

 

That’s right. 4 out of 5 “More From the Web” links on an article about misogyny and how we must continue to rail against it are links to things that contribute to the problem the article is talking about. 

Again, I realize this is a screwed up computer programming thing and not at all the fault of RPS or the author of the article, but this proves the problem! Even our computers see an article about sexism and figure we probably want to read about swimsuit issues, shaving pubic hair, and brothels.

This is is a sign that something is deeply wrong with us. 

We’re Back! (Not From Outer Space, Though)

We’re nearing our 6th anniversary here at WFF and now that I’m back  from my extended “vacation”, I am feeling revived and renewed. That means I’ve got several great posts in the queue for you and am planning some extra special goodness for our upcoming seventh year of posting.

  • Item the first: WFF will now house all my myriad thoughts and posts. This means the front page has a new look that will direct you to only book reviews if you want only book reviews, or just all the other stuff if you prefer that. If you want everything, you can still feel free to subscribe by RSS or email. You can also subscribe via RSS to individual categories, if that floats your boat. 
  • Item the second: I am a BzzAgent and part of that program is sometimes posting reviews and opinions publicly. Those reviews will also go here, in their own category. Feel free to skip them if they don’t interest you. I won’t be offended.
  • I have some reviews and not-review posts in the works. 2013 is proving to be an exciting year, so stay tuned.
  • Part of my goals for 2013 is to purge my own dead-tree bookshelves in an effort to go nearly-all-digital. This purge is good news for you, as I’ll be dumping them on you guys GIVING AWAY the best of my copies to my dear readers here at WFF.
  • There will not be an official Kiaras Festivus this year. Some of you have emailed to ask me this, and I hate to say it but it’s true. I had no time to coordinate this year and I can’t expect my friends, fans, and beloved authors to sponsor guest posts or giveaways with so little notice. I am super sorry about this, guys, but it couldn’t be avoided. I’ll do my best to fill in the gap on my lonesome.

If you have questions, comments, suggestions, or tribute, please leave it in the comments.

XOXO,

Kia

We Don’t Get to Decide

I have been all around the internet tonight, and I have some strange thoughts brewing. Thoughts of racism, misogyny, doxing, homophobia, and the abuse of power. I think it’s interesting that all of these stories have the same underlying theme: power, or the lack of it, and who gets to decide when to use it (and how).

It got kind of political at work today, you see (which is so a bad idea, I know). And while nothing really upsetting happened, it makes me sad when people I know and respect don’t hold dear the same ideals that I do. I know. It’s a basic law of the fucked-uped-ness of human nature that we can’t all agree on the sanctity of human life, or when it begins, or what to do with it once we’re here. I shouldn’t be so surprised when other people have such different values. But, oh. I am. I just can’t help it.

My basic premise, my cardinal rule, the thing I hold most near and dear is this: And it harm none, do as thou wilt. A Wiccan premise for a generally Christian girl, I know. It comes from my being so widely read, I suppose. If you aren’t breaking any laws or actively hurting another living person, I believe in my heart that your business is no one’s but yours. I don’t care what you do in your bedroom or who you’re doing it with. I don’t care what you do with your body, how you worship, or what you say in your own time. Why should I? It doesn’t affect me.

Here’s another thing, too, that most people don’t understand: No one needs my permission either. Be gay, straight, white, black, top, bottom, Christian, Muslim, Agnostic or Atheist -anything in between or any combination thereof. It doesn’t matter. Those people don’t need *my* say-so to exist. They don’t need your say-so either. No one does.

Whether we’re discussing a peaceful gay couple just trying to have a home and maybe a family, or a young woman who decides on an abortion, or a blogger posting a review of a cozy Romance or a Spy Thriller, or a Christian fundamentalist who believes whole-heartedly in their Constitutional right to own a gun. Each has the right and the ability to be a decent, loving human being who deserves to be treated decently and lovingly in return. And that’s it.

My thoughts on the articles linked above, as briefly as I can make them.

1. On Racism: My own desire to dismiss the idea of a wide-spread white conspiracy (whether planned or unintentional) as ridiculous, merely proves that even those who should know better still have issues to work through. Not even the most open-minded of us are immune when we live in the society we do. And I don’t get to decide how minorities feel about white people. Even me.

2. On Misogyny: Hits closer to home than I’d like. Even as I wanted to dismiss the article with a “Wouldn’t it be nice to be beautiful?” kind of thought, I knew that it was unjust of me. Beautiful or homely – I don’t (and men don’t) get decide how a woman feels about her own body.

3. On Doxing: This one sort of stumps me. I do believe that there is no fundamental right to privacy on the internet. I believe that what this guy did was a hideous thing and maybe he deserves what he gets. But who am I to decide? Who was Gawker to decide?I certainly wouldn’t want it to happen to me.

4. On Homophobia: One doesn’t get to decide, based on the edicts of your religion, how other people get to live their lives. Love thy neighbor. Don’t cast any stones, and Judge Not, folks. If you’re right, you can gloat in the next life. Until then, shut your pie-hole, because you don’t get to decide!

5. On One-Sided Relationships and the Abuse of Power: As a writer, you don’t get to decide how a reader connects (or doesn’t connect) to your book. Once it’s in the hands of a reader, I’m sorry, but your “baby” has grown up and has to stand on its own merits. If you’ve raised (written) it well, then hopefully it’ll do you proud. But even if it does, there’s going to be someone who hates it for no other reason than because it exists. As a reviewer, you don’t get to decide how an author responds (or doesn’t) to your review. You only get to respond to their response (or lack of response). Nothing more.

Have I pounded this in yet? You don’t get to decide for other people. YOU DON’T GET TO DECIDE FOR OTHER PEOPLE!

Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it makes  you want to scream. But we don’t get to decide for other people. We only get to decide for ourselves.

I believe that everyone has the right to a home, food, and someone to love them. I believe in a person’s right to own a gun and a woman’s right to choose. I promise you that if you shine a light out there in the dark,  I won’t leave you behind. Hi. My name is Kia, and I’m running for Queen of the World. ;oP

Right now, I’m reminding myself that I don’t get to decide who agrees with me. Or who loves me. But I’m going to post this with love, even for those who may not agree, and pray that I don’t get too many trolls on this.

Reminder: I may not get to decide what other people think, but I do get to decide which comments get posted here.

And right now, my body’s reminding me that it’s time to decide to go to bed.

XoXo,

Kia

Two Conversations About Prejudice

I present to you two conversations I’ve had recently, for the most part without comment. Conversations have been paraphrased to the best of my ability to protect the innocent and/or guilty.

The first was with a co-worker, while we were contemplating potential “some day” career moves (in location, not position). Note that the co-worker (designated as CW) and I are both white.

Me: “I couldn’t possibly convince my husband to move to [southern state known for racial tension]! There’s no way.”

CW: “Why not?”

Me: “You want me to move with my black husband to [state]? Are you crazy? I don’t mean to be stereotypical, but I can’t even get him to go into central Kentucky without being paranoid.”

CW, giving me disbelieving look: “But stuff like that doesn’t really happen does it?”

Me, with my own disbelieving look. “You’re kidding, right? My husband and I have gotten odd looks driving through central Ohio and Pennsylvania. There’s no telling what we’d get [there], and honestly I don’t think I would feel comfortable either.”

CW: “Really?! I can’t believe you’ve had that happen to you.”

Me: “I’ve even gotten comments from a couple of people here in [city]. One woman gave me a clear attitude of  ‘How dare you have married a black man?’ The second was [mutual acquaintance] who lectured me on how interracial couples shouldn’t have children because it makes it too hard on the kids.”

CW, still stunned: “I just can’t believe it.”

I wasn’t upset that my co-worker didn’t realize that these things are a lot closer to home than she might think. How would she know, having never been in the position to experience them? It just made me sad that it probably wasn’t something she would ever advocate for, despite having no ill intentions, because she didn’t even realize it was needful.

The second conversation happened today, in the car with my husband. He had made a reference to one of his favorite old Mad TV skits wherein they praise the “Nice White Lady”.

DH: “Thank you, Nice White Lady.”

Me, jokingly: “But I’m not the ‘nice white lady’. You don’t see me going around saving people.”

DH: “But you are a nice white lady.”

Me: “Yeah, but I don’t have the nice white lady magic. At the end of the day, I’m still poor. Nobody’s giving me a bunch of stuff.”

DH: “Look at it this way. Have you ever been pulled over by the cops?”

Me, laughing: “Yeah, lots of times, you know that.”

(Note: It hasn’t really been “lots of times”, but I’ve had my share of speeding tickets.)

DH: “Have you ever been jerked out of the car?”

Me, thinking: “Oh… *pause* You have a point.”

At that moment, I knew how my co-worker had felt because I had my own little knee-jerk “but that wouldn’t really happen!” moment. Even though I know it happens. Even though I know it happens frequently. And then I felt really, really lucky that it’s never happened to me.

[Note: I have not relayed the first story here as a request for sympathy, as I know that I’m incredibly lucky and privileged just by virtue of having been born who and what I am. This is here as a teachable moment for myself, and hopefully, others. Thanks for reading.]