Storymakers Day 2, the Whitney Awards, Retiring a Dress, and the Day After

Howard is out of his element at the Storymakers conference. It is an event full of women, many of whom read and write stories that are essentially romantic. I’m not precisely in my element, but in many ways it is a better fit for me than the average Science Fiction convention. On the whole these are readers of Austen, not Niven, though there are definitely individual exceptions. Not that “fitting” matters because we always find wonderful people at these events. I guess the difference is that I’ve walked away from Storymakers with a long list of follow-up items–people to contact, things to do–where Howard is spending today switching gears. Tomorrow I’ll be following up and he’ll be moving on. Although that may have more to do with me being the business manager and him being the artist. Perhaps the whole perception is entirely imaginary, a result of me being very tired.

The extreme fatigue hit me right after I finished my last teaching hour. The cover design class went very well. We covered the important material and were able to give intelligent answers to all the questions. I’d love to co-teach with Crystal again anytime. I’d love to teach that class again. In fact I have a whole list of classes that I want to be able to teach. I’m going to blog that list (possibly tomorrow) so that I can reference it as necessary. Often I’m invited to participate in programming only to draw a complete memory blank when they ask what I’d like to teach. If I file the list intelligently, in an easy-to-find location, then perhaps it will someday be useful to someone who is considering inviting me to an event. If nothing else, making the list will convince the back part of my brain that we really are allowed to think about something else now. On the same theory, I’ve made a list of things-to-blog. In making that list, I realized that I still have thoughts left over from our trip to Moab. It has been an exceedingly brain-busy three weeks.

At the end of the Storymakers conference, I attended the Whitney Award banquet with my mom. Howard volunteered to go home and be with the kids so that we could stay. I wore my orange dress, the one I last wore to the Hugo award ceremony in August. I was a little worried about wearing the dress, the night of the Hugos was not my best night. I knew that wearing the dress might trigger somatic memory, particularly since I was wearing it to another award ceremony. I did not want another panic attack like the one at the Hugos, but I needed to wear the dress again. I needed to see if I could disconnect the panic from the dress. The Whitneys were a good practice event because they are much less emotionally fraught for me than the Hugos, we were not eligible for any of the awards. Also, I had a change of clothes in my car, so in the very worst case I could duck out and change. The trouble with the dress is that it fits tightly across my ribs. It does not actually constrict my breathing, I can fill my lungs completely, but it feels like it constricts. Constrictive clothing can magnify or trigger a panic attack. Additionally, the fabric of the dress does not breathe at all and so in a warm room I can easily feel over heated. Over heating can magnify or trigger a panic attack. It turns out that this lovely dress is at least partially at fault for my Hugo experience. I put on the dress and was fine. I walked down to dinner and felt completely relaxed. I sat down to dinner and I had to arrange my thoughts carefully and breathe cautiously for about 30 minutes while my body toyed with the first edges of a panic attack. I prevailed. I wore the dress all evening, had a lovely dinner conversation, hugged all my friends in the post-ceremony mingling, and went home feeling triumphant. However it is time for me to retire that dress. The things I love about it do not outweigh the drawbacks. Fortunately I have something much more comfortable that I can wear to the Nebula award dinner.

My mother reports that she thoroughly enjoyed the Storymakers conference. She has dozens of ideas about how to improve her book and an invitation to submit directly to one of the editors who also attended. I’m so glad that she was able to come. I get to have her for three more days before she returns home to care for my grandma, who will be released from the hospital soon. This is mom’s last vacation for awhile because grandma will need lots of loving attention as she continues to mend. Once again I wish I could be more help. I live so far away from them. But at the least I can give my mom this vacation she has earned.

Tomorrow, after I scramble to catch up on all my work, I’m headed to The Avengers with my kids. I’ve heard it is quite good. Howard has already seen it twice. Today I rest.

2 thoughts on “Storymakers Day 2, the Whitney Awards, Retiring a Dress, and the Day After”

  1. While I’m sure you were loveliness itself in the dress, I am sorry to hear that it contributes to the panic attacks. 🙁 I wouldn’t have pressed you to wear it if I’d known so I’m sorry about that. Still, I bet you were gorgeous.
    I’m really glad you’re getting rest, that you still have a bit of time with your mom, and that you’ll see the Avengers with your kids. I heard it was terrific. Some friends of mine raved about it last night and said Joss Whedon did a terrific job.

    1. Please do not feel bad about encouraging me to wear the dress. I was already 90% certain I would, and I NEEDED to wear it. I needed to know what would happen. I had a lovely evening and now I know how the dress affects me.

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