Recovery, Organization, and Feeling Trapped

Illness has receded for me. Yesterday was made of fatigue with brief reprieves of energy. Today has mostly been normal with occasional bouts of fatigue. I wish I could report the same of Howard. He continues to suffer. I made the dessert quiche and it was passable, an experiment worth repeating with alterations. The spinach quiche was better, but is crying out for the inclusion of artichokes.

The chaos in the boys’ room is trending toward tamed. Usually when the mess reaches that level I can solve much of the problem by simply removing the garbage. Somehow my boys have not grasped that unnecessary packaging should be placed in the garbage can rather than shoved onto the nearest flat surface. I’m hopeful that this round of organization will last longer since I’m requiring the boys to do their own sorting. The complaints have been many and the progress slow. Bit by bit we begin to see what sorts of containers would be helpful in taming the mess. For instance, Patch has a tendency to array small toys on a large shelf. Inevitably things get stacked on the small toys and it all turns into a jumble. We need to acquire a wall-mounted set of display shelves intended for small cool things. I’ve added this to the thrift store acquisition list.

The day felt endlessly long when we were in the middle, the house was full of kids, the doorbell was ringing every quarter hour, and the phone rang almost as often. I wanted to flee the house, go find a quiet space elsewhere. Unfortunately I was tethered by the group of teenage girls using my sewing machine and likely in need of technical help. Also abandoning sick Howard to manage the chaos seemed cruel. So I stayed, and felt trapped, tangled in my web of connections. Then evening came and all the kids migrated outdoors. The blue light of evening began to fill the sky. I sat on my porch watching kids ride in smooth circles around the cul de sac. Sometimes I tipped my head back and watched the slow progress of wispy clouds against the bright blue sky. The evening felt as open and free as the afternoon felt trapped. And I begin to feel that perhaps the day has been a good one.

Creating a Chalk Festival

A few months ago I heard about a chalk festival in Salt Lake City. It was a big public event where folks were invited to create chalk art on the various pavements of downtown. I loved the idea of it, but attending simply didn’t fit into my schedule. Rather than live with regret, I determined that one day this summer I would buy a bunch of chalk and declare my very own chalk festival for the kids. I mentioned this plan to my next door neighbor (a good idea since children with chalk are not particularly discriminating about whose pavement upon which they draw) and she loved the idea too. We decided to host the event jointly and spread the word among neighbors and friends. Fitting it right at the end of the Fourth of July celebrations, when everyone was feeling festive, seemed like an excellent choice.

Really, this is all you need for a chalk festival. Chalk and pavement are mandatory. The cup of water is optional, but very useful for blending colors. I just ran to Walmart that morning and grabbed half a dozen boxes of chalk. I tried to find boxes that had a variety of colors, particularly bright colors. I made sure that there were duplicates. I figured it was better to have 5 each of 10 colors than to have 50 colors with all the kids fighting over the one color that everyone decided they couldn’t live without.

When the appointed hour arrived, I dumped all the chalk out of the boxes so they were loose for kids to grab. At first we attempted to partition one square per person, but that quickly became unnecessary. Everyone was having too much fun to argue and it was more fun to let the drawings flow around each other organically. We kept acquiring people as neighbors came by invitation or just wandered by.

The artwork came in all varieties and each had its own beauty.

One of the truly wonderful things about chalk art is that it is all-ages friendly. The smallest people could participate just as easily as the older ones.

I loved hearing the chatter as kids excitedly proclaimed about their dragon, or flower, or princess, or design. The adults chatted as well. The activity sparked conversations and gave all of us an excuse to be outdoors. It helped that the weather cooperated by cooling down with an overcast sky. The air temperature was perfect and the sidewalks were pleasantly warm without being too hot. We planned it in the evening on purpose to help make that possible.

Howard came out and joined the fun. At first he said he would only observe since he’d been drawing stuff all day, but finally sketched out a Schlock when the neighbors claimed the festival couldn’t be complete without it.

The cups of water were for painting on the chalk after it was drawn on the pavement or for dipping the chalk before drawing to help it spread more evenly. We used our fingers to wet the chalk and blend it. Next time I’ll find some sturdy craft paintbrushes to use as well.

Blending the colors with water created some fun results.

After and hour or so, most of the kids had moved on to playing tag and we broke out the ice cream bars. This gave everyone snacks as the surveyed the completed artwork. Being the Fourth of July, we finished off with some fireworks in the street. The evening ended when the gray clouds burst open and began to rain. By morning the chalk drawings were gone. This was fine, it cleared the pavement for another round of artwork on a different day. Chalk art is never meant to be permanent, which is why it is a wonderful medium for those who think they aren’t artistic to learn that they can be. Most of the adults started out by saying that they weren’t good at drawing, but every single one who picked up chalk drew something worth admiring.

We’ll be doing this again sometime. It was too fun to be a singular event.

A White Woman’s Thoughts on a Black Woman’s Post

Today I read Tempest Bradford’s post alerting her readers that Wiscon will have a room named The Safer Space which is set aside for people of color to meet and have discussions which are pertinent to them. The logic behind the decision to have the space is outlined in her post. I’m not going to be attending Wiscon this year, but I found myself pondering this choice in a cascade of thoughts. I particularly pondered it because I am considering attending Wiscon sometime in the future.

First I felt alienated knowing that there is a place at Wiscon where I would be unwelcome.

Then I pondered that the alienated feeling is rare for me, but that there are people who feel that every single day. I thought that this mild feeling of alienation was probably good for me as a reminder of how privileged I am in so many areas of my life.

Then I wondered if increasing the quantity of alienated feelings in the world is a good thing for anyone.

I re-read the post and completely agreed with Ms. Bradford’s statements that communities need private spaces which are free from judgment by those outside the community.

Yet I still felt alienated and a little sad, because The Safer Space would probably be host to dozens of conversations from which I could learn. I know that I am ignorant on many racial issues. Hearing those conversations would teach me much, but I would be excluded from them.

I thought about posting my thoughts on the issue, then pondered whether as a middle-class white woman I have any business posting opinions about an issue which is not mine.

But shouldn’t the issue of inclusion and exclusion belong to everyone?

I pondered whether my thought processes might be interesting/valuable insight for the people who suffer at the hands of racism to explain why so many people stay silent. Not because they don’t care, but because they’re afraid to offend. Unfortunately silence sounds like support of the status quo. Speaking up is scary, particularly on the internet. There is the chance of saying something ignorant or offensive without meaning to. Speaking up risks exposing my prejudiced or racist thoughts. We all have them because the human brain is wired to categorize. It takes conscious effort to see the people in front of us rather than categories.

In the end I decided to be brave because silence does not increase understanding. Only conversation does.

Some people think that The Safer Space is important and necessary. Others feel that it is an additional barrier to understanding. I’m not sure which position I hold. I’m still learning the issues and afraid I’ll get it wrong. But I know that having a conversation about the existence of The Safer Space is a step in the right direction.

I welcome commentary, please disagree politely. I’ll use my moderatorial powers to make disrespectful comments disappear.

Taking a Spin in the Hugo Happy Fun Anxiety Barrel

In a recent blog post, John Scalzi described being nominated for a Hugo award as taking a ride in the Happy Fun Anxiety Barrel. I read that and I laughed out loud because it is so true. I am in an odd place in relation to the Hugo awards. I am not the one nominated. It is not my work out there for scrutiny. Except that it is. What ever happens to Howard also happens to me. If he gets on an emotional roller coaster, I am along for the ride by default. This is one of the things about loving someone that is by turns wonderful and hard. Also it really is my work. I spend as many hours on Schlock Mercenary as Howard does. Mine is supportive work rather than creation, but I still care deeply about it.

This is the third time we’ve been nominated for a Hugo. This is our third year in a row we get to ride in the barrel. We knew about this nomination two weeks before it was announced publicly. For two weeks we felt light, happy, honored. It was particularly fun that we got to share the joy with several close friends who were co-nominated with Howard for Writing Excuses. Then the full nominee list went public. My first look at the list was a quick scan for familiar names. There were many, and I rejoiced. Then I focused on the two categories where Howard is nominated. My stomach just about sank to my shoes. There was no way we could win. Ever. Not against those amazing people. And I was sad, because I feel like Howard’s work is worthy of a rocket ship trophy. I know the fact that he made the list means that lots of people agree with me. I know I should be able to bask in the glow of nomination, but I remember. I remember what the award ceremony was like these past two years and I can’t deny that I care about winning. It would be so nice if I didn’t. I try very hard not to care, which is something of a paradox really. I try to train my brain by chanting “It’s an honor just to be nominated.” It is a good mantra, because it is true.

It is the quavering between possibilities which causes the trouble. If I could abandon hope completely, then the glow of nomination would be plenty. At the moment of seeing the list, hope is quenched. But then from some dark corner of my brain a small thought sneaks onto the stage. “maybe this year it is our turn.” It is a strange little thought which assumes that the concept of “turns” has any application to the Hugo awards. It doesn’t. The Hugo award is a gift given by the voting fans of the World Science Fiction Convention. They may bestow it where ever they wish regardless of who has had it before. Knowledge of this leads to the neurotic post-Hugo-loss funk. Coming home and going back to work can be very hard if one spends too much time thinking about how one was not worthy enough. It is a patently ridiculous set of thoughts. The nomination itself is evidence that others found the work worthy. And yet these self doubting thoughts are even more difficult to eradicate than the sly hopeful thoughts in advance of the award ceremony. It is as if the award ceremony transforms the hopeful thoughts directly into self-doubt. Knowing this, I try to stomp out all hope. Yet hope persists and I find myself made anxious by every hopeful thought I detect. The only defense I have against the anxiety is to not care. Which brings me back to trying very hard not to care. Round and round I go in the barrel.

Sometimes I spin in a different direction as well. I genuinely like many of the people with whom we share a category. I love and admire their work. I want to be delighted and happy for them when they win. I had that once. When Phil and Kadja Foglio won in 2009, I honestly felt nothing but delight and relief. The worms of self-doubt came later, after we returned home. Unfortunately my mental landscape regarding the Hugos has become more self aware since then. Other emotions will be present as well as delight. Then there is the horrible/hopeful possibility that we might win. This would obviously make us very happy, but it would also mean that these other people whose work I admire have to suffer through the transformation of hope into self doubt. I don’t want that for them any more than I want it for us. Yet I wouldn’t wish any of us off the nominee list. Because being nominated is truly an honor and a joy. It is a validation of all the hours of hard work. I want to have that. I want these people I like and admire to have that. I am also very aware that I have other friends who would give up much to be on this ride. Many of them do work which is more worthy than ours, I must not be ungrateful for the gift of this trip.

Mary Robinette Kowal once wrote a marvelous post about auditions and rejections. In that post she said:

Granted, every person is different, but for the most part the mentality going into an audition is that it doesn’t matter. I mean, you want it. You want it badly sometimes, but there’s this mental adjustment you have to do in order to survive the audition process…I’m a normally rational person, around auditions I get very skittish and superstitious about jinxing things by talking about it. As I said, my brain is not rational about this. There’s this whole variety of things that I have to do to convince myself that the results of the audition don’t matter when, of course, they do… Just don’t wish me luck for an audition. It will make me think about landing the part. It will make me hope. I can’t afford that.

The emotional arcs and mental hi-jinks that Mary describes are spot on for my Hugo mind state. The primary difference is that the polite wishing of luck is actually positive for me. I can say thank you and move onward knowing that this person counts in the score of people who believe the work is worthy. I tuck the kind thoughts into my pocket and use them later to deflect the inevitable barrage of self doubt. What is really hard is when friends or fans give detailed and logical reasons for why Schlock Mercenary or Writing Excuses ought to win. Also hard is any sort of analysis which explains why the other nominees have an advantage. I know these analyses are part of the fun for Hugo voters. They love to get in and argue for their favorites. They love to crunch numbers and talk probabilities. I don’t want to spoil the fun, but I don’t want to see it. Faced with an analysis of our Hugo categories, I want to shout the Han Solo line “Never tell me the odds!” These sorts of analysis feed and multiply the hopeful thoughts. Too many hopeful thoughts accumulated together can make me believe that we are somehow entitled. I don’t want to be that person. Howard does not want to be that person. And neither of us want to be swamped by despair when all those hopeful thoughts are transformed into self doubt.

Mostly we’re trying to think about other things between now and August. Fortunately we have many things planned. We have plenty of things to focus on besides our ride in the Happy Fun Anxiety Barrel.

Addendum: It is worth noting that the emotional trip triggered by Hugo nomination has many similarities to trips triggered by the usual submission and rejection process for writing of all kinds.

On My Neighbor’s Steps

I sat on the front steps of my neighbor’s house. The sun had set, but the concrete was still warm against my bare feet. I wriggled my toes, reveling in the fact that it was warm enough for me to venture outdoors without the protection of shoes. My neighbor sat next to me and we watched as a mixed crowd of children flocked past us at a dead run. Some of them were hers, some mine, some from other houses nearby. She laughed at the spectacle. I looked at her and thought how much I’m going to miss her when her house sells.

My neighbor’s steps are the perfect height for sitting while watching young children play. We’ve sat there often and watched the dramas of childhood unfold while we discuss the dramas of parenting. We’ve negotiated truces between her determined son and my headstrong daughter. We’ve planned birthday parties and then followed through on them. Those steps have been witness to both laughter and tears.

“I really should start gathering kids for bed.” She said.
“Me too.” I replied. Neither of us moved. On this last day of Spring Break with the weather mild, what we really longed for was a pause button. Stop right there, before the inevitable crankiness of getting kids up for school in the morning, before the last six week dash toward the end of school, before the hectic work schedule of next week, before she moves away. We did not get to pause. Time marched onward and the sky grew dark. We sorted our children into the correct houses and closed the doors. Hopefully later this week will deal out another lovely evening where I can sit and visit with my friend.

Social Media and Me

A couple of years ago my extended family and I all discovered facebook more-or-less simultaneously. For me it was a natural extension of my online existence. I’d already had a blog for years. For most of them it was a somewhat scary adventure into the wilds of the internet. I quickly found ways to be comfortable and was updating my facebook status regularly.

Then I got an email from my sister. “Are you doing okay?” she asked “You seem stressed.” Well, I was stressed. I was also pretty happy with my life. The trouble was that all my complaints were facebook sized and all my happy things were blog sized. My sister didn’t read my blog, so she got a rather narrow slice of what my life was really like and I looked rather unhappy.

I set out to fix the imbalance. I decided that I would deliberately use facebook as a place for small happy things. That worked pretty well, and life felt a little more balanced. Enter twitter, with it’s immediacy and propensity for clever conversations. My family stayed firmly entrenched in facebook. They were comfortable. I linked my twitter feed to my facebook feed so I could post in a single place. My family was confused. The dialect of twitter is different from that of facebook. They didn’t get half of what I was saying. I unlinked the feeds so that I could participate in the communities differently. (Actually a technological glitch unlinked them for me, but I decided it was best to leave them that way.)

Then came the day when I wanted to rant about my broken lawnmower. I was furious, unreasonably so. I wrote a blog entry, which I didn’t post because I knew it made me look unreasonable. I composed a facebook note, which I deleted for the same reason. I did not tweet it either. I was trying to not annoy people with my whining on the internet. The feelings pounded around inside my head until I finally went to a writer’s forum to which I belong and posted in the “venting” thread. The whole point of the thread is to provide a place for people to be grouchy or upset over random life things. Within an hour, two people had posted sympathetic responses. I felt validated, and my angry feelings dissipated almost entirely. I was able to move along in finding rational solutions.

Only later did I think that, maybe, I should have given my family the opportunity to share in my lawnmower frustrations. Keeping facebook cheerful is over all a good thing, but if it is unremittingly cheerful, then it is just as false as when it was the repository of all things whiny. Somehow, I need to find a balance between letting people share in both the downs and ups, without being all-whiny or all-chipper. This social media thing is not so easy as it looks even when one manages to avoid the major faux pas. (so far. fingers crossed. Do not want the internet to fall on my head ever.)

Folk art

I took a class on Folklore at college. We focused primarily on modern or recent history folklore, so classes were filled with discussion about choking dobermans, spider-filled hairdos, and hook handed men menacing teenagers in cars. We examined where these stories originated and what purposes the retelling of them served. I was particularly fascinated by what folklore said about the society that created it. This was pre-internet, so our researches involved archives and librarians. The key element of folklore is that it is passed from person to person rather than through official informational paths. That batman song to the tune of Jingle Bells is classic folklore. Each generation of kids teaches it to the ones just younger, much to the chagrin of parents everywhere.

The class barely touched upon folk art. I suspect this is because the words “Folk Art” are generally used to describe the creations of pre-industrial people. My professor implied that folk art was dead and not worth studying. I knew he was wrong. I know people who make chain mail, leather work, baskets, and paper. Their methods are a mix of ancient and modern. They do this work, not because it is required, but because it brings them joy and decorates their lives. Then I thought further about people who make crafts which are less historical. These too are folk art. They are things created because the making of them adds joy to the life of the creator. Then sometimes to the lives of others as well.

This is a card that was given to me by a good friend. It is hand made using several pieces of paper, silk flowers, a stamp, faux jewels, and glitter. My friend could have just bought a card at the store, that’s what I do for notes. Instead she took the idea of an ordinary note card and spent an extraordinary amount of time making it beautiful.

Here is another one:

That flower is hand folded origami. This was given to me for my birthday last year. I’ve kept it primarily for the words written inside, but the outside is also a gift.

This one uses lots of embellishments:

I’m told that there is a group of women in my neighborhood who gather for card making nights. They buy supplies and instructions from a company, but the work is all done by their hands. While they create small beautiful things, they talk. I see no difference between this and the quilting bees of long ago. People have just streamlined the methods for teaching each other.

Look closely at this one:

The flower was stamped, then cut out. It was glued to another piece of paper with leaves stamped on it. That was in turn glued to a piece of paper and another. In all, this card has five layers of paper. The maker of this card would assure me that it was easy, no trouble at all. The difficulty is not the point, there is something wonderful about the way that people make things needlessly beautiful.

Some kind of a press was used to make the raised patterns on this card. The little circle dangles freely from the ribbon:

This card expresses the whole point:

These creations may not qualify as art by most definitions, but they each succeeded wonderfully at bringing joy to me and to the women who made them before they came into my hands. Adding beauty to the world is a good use of hands and time. I see these cards everywhere, being given woman to woman. They connect the ladies of my neighborhood and my town. I love it.

Things done, but not the things I expected

I meant to spend this week catching up on business chores and making significant progress on work projects. Instead the week has been one of reconnecting to my local communities. Also I finally made good on the promise I made to myself that as soon as the weather was nice I would tend my garden. This year my spring bulbs will have a fighting chance to be lovely instead of struggling to survive beneath a mat of dead foliage.

Now if I can only find focused time to spend on the work projects…

Lunch at LTUE

Julie Wright and I walked fast as we exited the conference center where the hall was filled with LTUE attendees. We waved at friends as we passed, but kept moving. When the doors closed behind us we looked at each other and giggled like teenage girls ditching school. One of the joys of conferences and symposiums is the fact that there are always large groups of people with which to have lunch or dinner. I like having the chance to visit over food. The disadvantage is that large groups are hard for restaurants to seat and I only really get to visit with the five people seated near me anyway. So this time I took a page out of Mary Robinette Kowal’s book. When she came to visit in Utah, she arranged her schedule so that she could have small group visits with many of her friends. I loved that. Large groups are for laughing. Small groups are for talking, catching up, and really learning how the other people are doing. I wanted to make sure I had some of both as part of this year’s LTUE experience. What I’d really love to do is sit down and visit for an hour with each of my writer friends. That project would take about a week of 8 hour days. Instead a casual facebook conversation resulted in lunch plans with Julie Wright and Jessica Day George. I figured the plan was a good place to start.

My very first year attending CONduit, the annual science fiction and fantasy convention in Salt Lake City, I attended a reading. It was a joint reading by James Dashner and Julie Wright. I stopped by because I’d never been to a reading before. I wanted to see what they were like. I don’t remember what Julie read, but James read from the manuscript that later became The Maze Runner. What I remember most is sitting around a table and talking to everyone. They were all published authors. Jessica was there. She had just sold her first book. I was not published, most of them didn’t know me at all, yet I felt completely welcomed and at home. It was the first time I felt like a professional writer.

After our escape from the conference center, Julie and I met up with Jessica at a nearby Zupas. We did not talk about anything profound. Profound does not quite fit with a crowded soup and sandwich shop. However I was able to catch up with a few details about how their lives are going right now. Of such small conversations are friendships formed.

I had friends in High school. Quite a lot of them, but then we graduated and no longer had shared experiences or proximity to keep the friendships alive. I lost touch with all but one or two. I had friends in college, girls who were my roommates or lived in my building. Then I got married and they moved far away. For awhile Howard and I had friendships with other young married couples, but they moved and somehow I found myself adrift. I did not quite know how to make an acquaintance into a friend. I remember hearing about other women and their Girls’ Night Out events. I wanted to be a person who went out to lunch with friends, but somehow it never occurred to me to arrange these things. I longed for them, but never was willing to risk calling and arranging an event. I look back at my younger self and I wish I could get her to say “Hey, next time you have a Girls Night Out, can I come?” This is exactly how I found my Writer Girls group almost a decade later.

I’m not sure how I learned to be a person who collects friends and arranges for lunches out. I think it was mostly by being around people who knew how. Some of it was demanded of me in the course of learning how to be a business manager for Schlock Mercenary. I do lots of things now which used to terrify me. The doing of terrifying things makes me stronger. Perhaps sometime I will try to identify core thoughts about making and being friends. Maybe I’ll even write up a list. Mostly though it is about arranging to be around each other and listening with sympathy. The women I observed did not have Girls Night Out because they were friends, they were friends because they arranged to have Girls Night Out. I had the causality wrong all those years ago.

I’ve been attending local conventions for six years now. They’ve grown to feel like family reunions as much as professional events. I had my stolen time with Julie and Jessica. It was the result of over a dozen emails as we tried to figure out where in three days there was a block of time long enough that none of us was busy. The effort was worth it. Tomorrow I will take time to step aside and talk with dozens more people. Inevitably I will miss someone with whom I’d dearly love to catch up. Thank goodness for the internet. Social media tools allow me to create a simulated proximity. I will be able to share messages and thoughts electronically. It is not the same as talking in person, but better than nothing.

I need to remember to make efforts outside of conferences to plan for lunches and dinners with other creative people. I always come away happier and with new thoughts to think.

Thoughts on the staying home from a seminar

It is 9:30 in the morning and I am still in my pajamas. I feel a little bit of guilt over this. Howard, who is every bit as tired as I was this morning, got himself dressed and out the door over two hours ago. Since he left, I’ve mostly been dozing in bed with occasional excursions to rescue the cat from Gleek’s enthusiastic loving or to dispense food. On the other hand, I also feel wistful. Howard is going to spend the day learning valuable information and talking to fascinating people. I will spend it with kids, laundry, packages, email, and (hopefully) book revision.

My attendance at the Writing Superstars Conference for the past two days was a last minute decision. We’d long planned for Howard to go, but when we were over at Brandon’s house on New Year’s day, Brandon turned to me and said “You should come too.” So I did. It was worth every bit of the schedule shuffling and favor claiming that I had to do to clear space. Each conference, convention, and workshop has a distinctive feel to it. From the name and marketing on this one, I expect a more motivational-speaker, sales-pitchy event. Instead I found it extremely warm and down-to-earth. The information density in the presentations and panels was amazing. If you want to learn the business side of writing, this is the event for you. The thing I found personally heart warming was seeing, in gestures and comments from many people, that I’ve earned a respectable little corner in the local SciFi and Fantasy community.

My one regret associated with the seminar (other than not being there today) is that I did not meet more of the attendees. That room was full of writers in various stages of their dreams. This means that the room was full of fascinating people with stories to tell. I wish I had talked to more of them. On the other hand, I’m glad for every minute that I spent reconnecting with friends. This is happens at conventions too. I am meeting fewer strangers and finding more friends. I suppose it is not a bad problem to have.

My final moments at the symposium were providing taxi service from the hotel to the banquet restaurant. Howard and I did not attend the banquet ourselves, but I had my van and thus the capability to help shuttle people. I ended up driving David Farland, Rebecca Moesta, Brandon Sanderson, Eric Flint, Moses Siregar, and a woman whose name I never did catch. It was only after I’d dropped them all off that I thought about how envy-inducing that particular car ride might be to the fans of these authors’ books. I just felt like a I was giving a ride to a group of friends. This is not because I’m important or special, it is because these people are wonderful, friendly, and welcoming. Do not be afraid to approach them at public appearances. They’ll be very happy to talk to you.

Part of me is glad to be at home today. I love attending events, but they also exhaust my mental and emotional reserves. Today I can settle back in to my regular routine and help the kids do the same. Being shuffled off to neighbors and babysat is fun for them, but they need routine as much as I do. My wistful regrets are abated somewhat by knowing that I will get to see my non-local writer friends again at WorldCon Reno in August. In the meantime I will lounge in my pajamas and ponder whether to tackle laundry or email first. Email will probably win. Thanks to the joys of laptop ownership, I don’t have to get out of bed for it.