Out of the box.
Some assembly required. Delayed by a hunt for a socket wrench that fit, which at length proved to be the handle that holds the other socket wrenches.
Together! Am I an engineer's daughter or what.
The front plate.
United with its siblings.
posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on August, 17
This week FOX commentator Melissa Francis was brought to tears while trying to defend Trump’s assertion that “many sides” were to blame for the fatal violence in Charlottesville, VA during a white supremacist, anti-Semitic, pro-Confederacy demonstration and counter-demonstration. She was challenged by two of her fellow panelists who argued that Trump was drawing a false equivalence to suggest that each side was responsible. Oddly, Francis took their comments on Trump personally, began to cry, and said this:
I am so uncomfortable having this conversation… because I know what’s in my heart and I know that I don’t think that anyone is different, better, or worse based on the color of their skin. But I feel like there is nothing any of us can say right without without being judged!
At this point, a fellow FOX commentator, Harris Faulkner, who is African American, interrupted to console her:
You know Melissa, there have been a lot of tears… It’s a difficult place where we are… [but] we can do this. We can have this conversation. Oh yes, we can. And it’s okay if we cry having it.
But is it okay for white people to cry in the midst of conversations about racism?
Education scholar Frances V. Rains has argued that it is not okay. In her essay, Is the Benign Really Harmless?, Rains discusses several types of reactions white people frequently have to difficult conversations about race, ones that undermine meaningful progress. In one, she talks about white people’s tears.
When a white person cries in response to frank discussions of racism, Rains explains, it derails the conversation, refocuses the attention on the white person, and holds anti-racist speakers accountable for attending to his or her feelings. The most important thing in the room, in other words, becomes a privileged person’s hurt feelings, not generations of systematic racial oppression, exploitation, and violence.
This is exactly what happened in the clip above.
- The panelists were debating whether Trump’s comments amounted to a false equivalence that was supportive of racism and anti-Semitism.
- A white woman rejects the notion that Trump’s comments endorsed bigotry.
- When some disagree, she cries and begins discussing what it feels like for her personally to be having this conversation.
- The conversation turns away from racism, anti-Semitism, and the possibility that the President of the United States is a Nazi sympathizer, and toward the white woman and her feelings.
- Her discomfort become the problem to be resolved.
- A member of the disadvantaged group steps in to comfort her.
This is just as Rains would have predicted.
Amazingly, an earnest conversation about oppression turns into an opportunity to give solace to the oppressor… and it’s a member of the oppressed who must do the comforting.Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
When it arrives, I'll post a picture.
Location Date Local Time Activity
Philadelphia, PA, United States 08/16/2017 12:43 P.M. Import Scan
08/16/2017 7:51 A.M. Arrival Scan
Roissy Charles de Gaulle, France 08/16/2017 5:40 A.M. Departure Scan
Koeln, Germany 08/16/2017 4:29 A.M. Departure Scan
Roissy Charles de Gaulle, France 08/16/2017 4:22 A.M. Arrival Scan
Koeln, Germany 08/16/2017 12:59 A.M. Arrival Scan
Malmo Sturup, Sweden 08/15/2017 11:43 P.M. Departure Scan
08/15/2017 10:29 P.M. Arrival Scan
Vantaa, Finland 08/15/2017 9:56 P.M. Departure Scan
Helsinki, Finland 08/15/2017 9:16 P.M. Departure Scan
08/15/2017 7:16 P.M. Export Scan
08/15/2017 6:21 P.M. Your package is at the clearing agency awaiting final release. / Your package was released by the clearing agency.
08/15/2017 6:13 P.M. Your package is at the clearing agency awaiting final release.
Finland 08/15/2017 1:06 A.M. (ET) Order Processed: Ready for UPS
My nephew flies internationally for UPS. It's amusing to imagine him transporting it for me, although he more commonly flies trans-Pacific.
Best (or at least most writerly) tale he told me: the week J.K. Rowling's last Harry Potter book was released, UPS had to lay on extra flights to get all the books to the bookstores.
Now, there's a benchmark for success...
Thur. afternoon update -- It has been out joyriding around Minneapolis in a brown truck since 9:30 this morning. Surely not much longer now...?
posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on August, 17
But that's the problem with all of this isn't it?
Sometimes they have meaning.
Sometimes they don't.
I was watching kids playing in a pool, it was a summer camp activity. I knew this because there were camp staff with them in the pool. I could easily identify them as camp staff because they all wore singlets with the words 'camp staff' on them.
Right in front of me I saw a bully standing under a devise that, when full, dumped a blast of water on whoever was below. He was centered directly under the dump bucket and was taking, to his delight, the full impact of the water. There were kids around him, pushed in close, who were taking the left over splash. The brave ones tried to get closer and the bully elbowed them hard and they moved back. This was his and he was keeping it.
This was seen.
I clocked three of the camp counselors notice this.
But nothing happened. They made no move. Two shook their head in disapproval, but that was the extent of their action.
But there was a boy, with a disability, who was in the pool, several feel away, who saw what I saw. A bully using force and entitlement to take from other kids the experience of a direct blast of fun. His elbows and his attitude were his weapons, his expectations of inaction by the staff was an integral part of his strategy for domination of that area of the pool. The kid with a disability saw all this.
He was accompanied by a staff. He got their attention and he pointed. It looked, from my viewpoint on the other side of the glass, that he didn't use words to communicate. He pointed, they saw and looked away, he pointed again, and they looked away again. He was getting frustrated and it showed.
"Tell the staff,""Tell someone in a position of authority" is one of the strategies we teach children, people with disabilities, and each other. It's a common sense strategy. If you see or experience bullying, or violence, or abuse, report it.
But bullies, and aggressors, and abusers, know that 'zero tolerance' often means 'zero acknowledgement' that people will simply 'not see' what they 'don't tolerate.'
That child, the one with the disability, was the one kid in the pool that did what needed to be done. He clearly took responsibility and because he did he SAW what was happening and he took action.
But that's where the action stopped.
Then, the whistle blew and the kids clamoured out of the pool.
I saw the bully standing, smiling from the fun he had. I'm not sure if that fun was the water bucket or the fact that he had it to himself.
Everyone else lost.
And he knew it.
Zero tolerance doesn't exist if there is zero determination and willful, purposeful, refusal to see what won't be tolerated.
And maybe we need a new strategy.
Maybe we should be promising something different, not 'zero tolerance for bullying' but 'zero tolerance for inaction' to the issue of bullying, abuse and social violence.
That's what I'd like to see.
That's what I'd like to experience.
That's what may make the world a little bit safer.
Hot-stone cooking just got saltier and more ostentatious: this natural block makes an ideal grilling surface, but it’s like having a nuclear rod in the house
Salthouse Himalayan salt block (Whole Foods Market, £34.99). Aggregate mass of halite, arranged in rectangular cuboid and employed as a cooking surface.Continue reading...
“Pattie and John met a spiritual retreat and discovered that they had little in common. She’s an artist and, well, he wore mostly T-shirts and jeans. She took one look at him and joked, “Don’t dress up for me.” He’s been dressing up ever since, and she’s been allowing and sometimes learning from his penchant for analyzing people—his occupational hazard. They agree that what seals their deal is their ability to listen to and care for each other when they are troubled. And each time that happens, love and affection abound.” – Pattie and John
I have been taking a few days off. Well, I’ve been sort of taking a few days off – I think they only feel like days off because I’m not riding really far, and putting up a tent and taking it back down again and trying to manage email and doing nine jobs all at once. Instead I’ve been riding my bike a little, to get around town, and to the beach, and to the marina to sail with Joe. The house is a still a disaster, the mountain of neglected work on my desk needs my attention now, but it has felt good to snuggle a baby, come up with a plan of attack, and enjoy the summer a bit. Also – knit. Not little bits of knitting found here and there, not just a plain sock because it’s all I can muster, but real, proper knitting – done in nice chunks, with a fancy pattern and beads and concentration and without worrying that the needles will puncture an air mattress.
I’m tackling Snow Angel (a little ironic for a summer knit, I know) and it’s lovely. I had about ten million balls of Findley left over after Elliott’s blanket, and it’s such a pleasure to knit with that I’m using it again. (It’s got 730m per ball. I can’t explain the yarn insecurity that led me to buy so much. I’m rather glad I like it, because I’ll be knitting with it for the rest of my life.)
I’ve still got a pair of socks running in the background, because beaded lace isn’t exactly the sort of knitting that goes well with taking the subway or walking or going to meetings, and also I’m me, so I wouldn’t quite know what to do with myself without a pair of socks in my bag, but I’m mostly knitting on this, and hoping to get it bashed out pretty quickly. The first section went by so fast that I got optimistic about it only taking a few days, but as with all things top-down, that initial thrill’s worn off as the rows get longer.
I’ve got just a little time to knit on it today before I head out for a meeting (and I have to do something about the kitchen. It’s sort of sticky. All of it. I don’t know how cupboards get sticky, but they are.) Maybe I’ll finish the first big chart – but I’m already dreaming of what I’ll make next. Shall I finish the paper/linen Habu thing? Maybe a pair of fancy socks? Perhaps a sweater for one of the littles, or a hat for the Christmas box, or… What are you making?
I promised I’d wrap up the Karmic Balancing gifts when I got back – so here’s a start. (It’s going to take a bit. You’re a generous bunch – I’ll do as many as I can each day.
Mary S found a wonderful way to give this year, she went for a nice long stash dive and came up with five (yup, five) beautiful presents for her fellow knitters. (Doesn’t she seem like a lovely person? Good taste in yarn, too.)
A few weeks ago my dear friend Ruth Kobin passed away at the age of 105. Over the last few years she has been a huge inspiration to me and so many others with her optimistic approach to life and aging, and her beautiful spirit. I continue to receive weekly emails from people influenced by Ruth’s dynamism and vitality. Ruth, you will be dearly missed, but you will remain a constant role model for so many to never give up. May you rest in peace.
A little over a year ago I joined a big study done through one of the major hospitals in the city of Toronto. It was a study involving what doctors lovingly call 'morbid obesity' and I had been approached to be part of that study. The study consisted of filling in a lot of questionnaires about life and weight, some of the questions being quite personal.It also involved an interview and a blood test.
The people running the study, well I guess I should say the nurse who is my contact to the study, is a truly kind individual who has never treated me with anything but real respect. She is easy to talk to and takes a genuine interest in me as a person. A while ago I was informed that they had found something in my DNA that they were zoning in on as it seemed to be present in others like me as well. So I was asked to consider asking my family to participate in the study by providing DNA samples.
That's a really personal request to make of someone.
And, it would involve me making myself quite vulnerable in talking about the study, about my weight and about the process of gathering DNA.
I finally made three calls.
I called my mother first. I explained to her the study, I explained what she would have to do, I explained why I thought it was important.
She agreed. Quickly and absolutely.
I called my father next. He was in the hospital and I could hear the sounds of the daily goings on in the ward behind him as we talked. I told him all he had to do was spit in a tube and that was the end of it. He said, "I guess I'll spit anywhere you want me to." That was that.
Then I called my brother. I left him for last after informing the nurse that my parents had said yes and did they want my brother. They did, I called. He like the others agreed quickly and easily.
As my father grew more ill, my brother called and said, "If you want Dad's DNA sample you better have them send the equipment quickly. I wrote the nurse and email, gave an address and encouraged her to send the DNA kit quickly.
It was clear, to all of us, that Dad would not wait for the mail to deliver the parcel with the materials that were needed for the study.
The night before he died, my brother, his wife and my mother had stayed at the hospital in the evening leaving the next morning. My brother sensing that he should go back, did. An hour before my father died, they discussed the DNA test and how much it seemed to mean to me.
They called the nurse and explained the situation. They asked if it would be possible for them to collect a sample of my father's DNA for the study. The nurses at Campbell River Hospital have been incredibly kind and compassionate through my father's long stay and they didn't blink an eye at the request. The nurse hurried out and then came back and took the sample.
It was done.
Minutes later my father died.
This act of generosity on the part of my brother and my father, in the minutes before my father's death astounds me.
This is a story of the boy I was.
And the man that my father was.
It was Christmas. I had bought, probably with my mother's assistance, my father a pair of slippers. I am convinced that, if not for slippers, fathers may never get a gift. Anyways, they were wrapped and put under the tree. On Christmas morning my brother and I woke to a bounteous harvest of presents under the boughs of the tree.
I remember little of the gifts that I got, or the dinner that we ate, or the activities of the day. I remember only one scene. It was of my father opening my gift and putting on the slippers. I was delighted by the fact that they fit perfectly. My father expressed how he'd never had a pair of slippers fit quite so well.
I was chuffed.
I noticed when Dad got up to go to the kitchen that it looked like the slippers were much too tight. When he sat down, he took them off and discovered that there was paper tucked into the toe of each slipper. He pulled them out and I laughed at him. I thought him silly. I thought him dumb. How could he have not noticed that the paper was in the slippers. I acted like an arrogant, foolish, bully. My dad said nothing of my behaviour, but I remember the look in his eyes when he looked from the slipper to me.
It was only later that I realized that my father had pretended a good fit to please me. He wanted me to feel happy about the gift that I gave him. He wanted me to have a good Christmas and so he put up with a bad fit, he was acting gracious and kind.
And I mocked him.
As an adult I understand how, sometimes the gift we want to give to others is our appreciation, our gratitude, even if the fit is a bit tight.
As an adult I understand why my father did what he did.
And because I understand that, I understand how mean and stupid I was in response to my father.
But I learned.
The pain I feel for having been that boy at that moment has taught me something.
About how to be a good man.
On July 1, 2017 the e-book The Muslimah Sex Manual: A Halal Guide to Mindblowing Sex was released. The book, written by US-based Umm Muladhat, was picked up by different media outlets, which have described the book as the “first ever Muslim sex manual”. Media coverage of the guide resurfaced discussions on Muslim women’s sexuality and sex lives by a variety of parties (not necessarily Muslim women). Yet, this is not the first time a publication, a product, or a policy brings up such a debate. Muslim women’s sexuality and sex lives have been very much debated in the media for at least a decade. Over the years, Muslimah Media Watch has tackled media coverage of Muslim sex workers, “halal” sex shops, hymenoplasty, Muslim women’s pleasure, Muslim sexual education, “halal” sex and Muslim women’s erotica, among many other topics. Learning about a sex guide/manual written by a Muslim woman for Muslim women, sparked a lot of discussion among MMW writers. Do we really need a sex guide focused on Muslim women? Who could benefit from it? What does it mean to write a “halal” sex guide? What should its contents be? And is it really the “first” of its type?
Sarabi, Shereen, Anneke, Syahirah and Eren share their conversation in this post.
Sarabi: Perhaps I’m too young and unseasoned, but is there a need for a halal sex guide? I don’t actually understand what makes the guide “halal”? It seems to imply that other sex guides are haram by definition. I’d have to read the guide to understand how the author defines “halal.”
One of the issues I have with the way this manual is being branded is that it’s geared towards “conservative” Muslim women, which, in my opinion, conflates conservatism with ignorance. It’s very possible that a conservative Muslim woman has received sex education or has sought the information out for herself. I understand that in some areas there isn’t a lot of information available, or that people are unwilling to talk about it, but this is not the case for everyone. I have plenty of friends who consider themselves conservative, but still know about female anatomy and safe sex and such. Then again, I grew up in the US where we start learning that stuff as young as 8 in some states. My school had mandatory sex ed classes from years 3-9.
Having access to information, however, does not necessarily guarantee better sex, though having some knowledge of anatomy may help a bit. Ultimately, I believe a person’s preferred level of modesty and privacy dictates how much information they share regarding their intimate relationships. While religion is certainly one of the determining factors of those preferred levels, it is not the only factor.
My question for those who may have read the guide is: how much of this book is about the act of sex, and how much of it is about health? Considering that there is still a lot of work to be done in the way of eradicating sexually transmitted infections (even in the United States), more information about how to have safe sex is a good thing, but I don’t see how singling out a specific group helps.
Shereen: When it comes to the guide, I think it depends on the women’s personal preference for discussing or discovering their sex life as to how you feel about the book or whether you would buy it. However, I am uncomfortable with it being termed a “halal” sex guide, too. I am not sure whether explicit content is considered to be halal (but, it is a matter of interpretation). I do agree, however, that there is a need for sexual health education for women. There is an audience who want to know what is considered within the boundaries of “halal sex” but I am not sure that this book is it. By focusing on enjoyable sex and from what I have seen from the excerpts, it isn’t something I would be comfortable terming as “halal” because there are theological opinions that regard explicit sexual material and content as “haram.”
Also, I think there is a danger of naming it as a “Muslimah” sex guide as opposed to a sex guide written by a Muslim woman. After all, it is her opinion, not the representation of a large and diverse community that spans the globe. Doing this contributes to further exotization of Muslim women’s sexuality and sex lives. For instance, over the years, Muslimah Media Watch, as well as its individual writers, has been approached by journalists and scholars to ask and discuss Muslim women’s sex lives in ways that reinforce stereotypes and Orientalist narratives while assuming that a single Muslim woman’s answer to these issues represents ALL Muslim women’s opinions and experiences.
Anneke: I hear you both. However, the fact that sexual education is actually offered in most schools doesn’t mean that students are actually present. Quite a number of students are given permission by parents and teachers alike to skip these classes. I have heard multiple excuses: one girl said sex-ed made her feel sick, and another believed that discussing sex, even in a gender segregated setting, was against her religion.
While many parents find discussing sex with their children difficult (I know I do!), some parents with an immigrant background find it almost impossible. They often do not share a common language to discuss these matters, or feel that their sons and daughters must know everything already, living in a “Western” society. I know multiple girls who entered marriage with a very limited understanding of sex and their own sexuality. It is therefore no surprise that quite a few found themselves pregnant almost right away, without really understanding how that could have happened so fast. Just for the record: these were educated girls, who do not necessarily identify themselves as a “conservative” Muslim women.
I have not read this book, and from what I understand it is aimed at married women only. However, I do agree that there is a need for a “halal” sex guide, even though I understand that opinions on what is “halal” will differ between different authors. Nonetheless, some Muslim women are still very hesitant to open a “secular” book on sex, out of fear that it might promote promiscuity, or something worse. A Muslimah sex guide, however flawed and limited it may be, might be their best option right now to educating their children and themselves.
I hope that in the future there will be more books on sex, sexuality and sexual health from a plethora of Islamic perspectives. I know that there are other similar books out there, but it is still rather limited. Meanwhile, I am still searching for that faith-based, LGBTQ-inclusive sexual education guide for my children and myself. I guess I have to keep looking, because this book would not be it…
Eren: Exactly, I think we need to also reframe the discussion in terms of what entails “conservative” and “halal” in media coverage of this book. Flipping through some of the pages of the guide, as well as excerpts and reviews, it is obvious that this guide is meant solely towards cisgender and heterosexual women in marital arrangements with cisgender and heterosexual men. Hence, the book is not only assuming a level “ignorance” around “how to” in sex, due to religious/cultural/social/economic taboos (which may or not be real), but also that only cis/hetero women have sex and “healthy” sexualities when in marital arrangements with cis/hetero men. While I understand that such is the way in which we tend to address sex, sexuality and relationships in several Muslim communities (not only conservative ones), it is also important to understand that a sex guide that assumes sexual and gender rigidity is not only exclusive of Queer and Trans Muslims, but also not really comprehensive of the many ways in which cis/hetero women can and may choose to experience pleasure and healthy sexual relations. Also, we know that relationships, heterosexual or not, can be incredibly unhealthy even with a marriage contract.
The other aspect of this is that although I acknowledge the importance of sex-ed and health-focused discussion on sex and sexuality, I am also wary of the over-medicalization of Muslim women’s sex lives. This book isn’t a health guide; of course it has a couple of excerpts here and there that discuss health, personal hygiene, cleanliness and ritual, etc., but it isn’t a sex-ed resource, in my opinion. That being said, that is something I appreciated about it. There are tons of resources out there focused on sex-ed and Muslim children in certain countries and regions have mandated sex-ed schools. Similarly, Muslim women have been involved in creating resources for Muslim parents to discuss sex-ed curricula with their children. Yet, sex isn’t only about STDs or no STDs, or birth control or no birth control, but also about relationshionships that nourish us in a variety of ways that condoms and the pill cannot explain or satisfy. How do we expect Muslim youth to discuss sex and sexuality (or practice it!) if we haven’t even landed on having discussions on how and why relationships (sexual or not) need to be nourishing and safe? Or when we assume that marriage leads is always a space where sex is practiced safely both physically and emotionally?
My second issue with the media coverage of this book, is the notion of the “first guide to Muslim sex”. No. Sorry. Muslims have been debating sex and sexuality since the times of Prophet Muhammad (s.w.a). Not only are hadith collections on sexual ethics and jurisprudence full of theological advice on heterosexual sex, sexuality and relationships, but Islamic scholars have been writing about these topics since forever, to the point that contemporary writers have studied in detail Islamic sexual ethics from a variety of perspectives, including feminist ones, like Kecia Ali’s Sexual Ethics and Islam. Further, I can guarantee you that Muslims around the world, regardless of where they live, have their own take on “how to” on sex and sexuality. Not because things are getting published in the West and in English, it makes them “the first.” Whether or not we have built taboos around these discussions it is a different story.
Sya: Yes, this isn’t the first ‘Islamic sex’ manual I’ve come across. In 2011 I wrote a blog post about a sex manual published by the Obedient Wives Club in Malaysia. Granted, that book had some larger visions beyond teaching wives to help their husbands enjoy ‘100% and not just 10% of their bodies’, but the main idea was the same: while sex only exists in its hetero form and is for procreation, you can have fun along the way – just no anal, period, or extramarital sex.
In regards to the guide, a review by Quartz media says, “According to Muladhat, halal sex has some key rules: avoid anal sex, penetrative sex during menstruation, and sex outside of marriage. Pornography too is forbidden—“porn is a lie,” she writes, “porn is one of the worst ways to learn about sex.”
Other than the first three guidelines as to what she considers “halal” in sex or not, the rest of the guide seems to be general, helpful sex advice that could be found in any ‘secular’ women’s magazine or sex guide. According to the excerpts on their website, anyway. Is it because women are wondering if initiating sex is slutty and therefore “haram”? Or is it because they truly have no clue what to do?
It would be useful if all the marriage and sex advice Muslim couple got were from formal sources like pre-marriage counselling. In my experience attending such counselling – which was a total disaster – the guide would give some good advice. But again, it is information I could have gotten elsewhere.
Right now my biggest peeve is that it plays into assumptions that Muslim women need to learn to please their men in bed in order to be a good wife. The ‘Obedient Wives Club’ in Malaysia and Singapore has done exactly that: remove women’s sexual agency and place the burden of domestic harmony on their sexual abilities. I wonder if there are sections in the book that focus on Muslim women enjoying sex for themselves, and tips on communicating what they want to their partners, and not just as a way to keep their men wanting them.
Sarabi: Sya, I just shuddered at the idea that “the burden of domestic harmony [lies] on their sexual abilities.” I can’t imagine how stressful that must be, and what that kind of mindset must do to women. I’ve also found that until somewhat recently in the US, women were also encouraged to be subservient to their husbands and focus on their sexual pleasure while receiving little of their own. Nowadays it’s pretty common to see guides teaching men how to please women in bed. I’m not sure whether LGBTQ* guides exist outside the realm of safe-sex guidelines, but I think the LGBTQ* community is making strides in the US in terms of destigmatization. Of course, there’s still more work to be done. The Human Rights Council actually gives a couple of suggestions for actions communities can take to further destigmatize LGBTQ* sex.
Eren: I have yet to see a Muslim LGBTQ* guide, but again it may exist elsewhere. In terms of the pleasure situation, the guide does dalve a little into things that may be pleasurable for a Muslim woman within the context of enjoying such pleasure with her husband, and that’s where things also got complicated for me because I personally feel that if we have problems finding pleasure for ourselves (masturbation is not considered “halal” by some Muslims), it is really hard to expect a second person to pleasure you when they also do not necessarily know how to pleasure themselves. So I feel this guide somehow takes the Cosmo magazine approach… You read an article (perhaps even complete one of those sex-related tests) and come up with an idea to try with your partner. If it goes well, great! If not… time to move on to better ways of satisfying your man. So I think overall, we need to do a better job in Muslim spaces to debate not only the “halal” and “harams” of sex, but relationships, safety, nourishing, etc. We also have to do a damn better job at including LGBTQ* sexuality into a “guide” for Muslims. But at the end of the day, we also need to be better at thinking what we really want out of our sex lives and be critical on how and where we get this information. This is one of a myriad of options that Muslims can access online (or in person), it will help some and be worthless to others. Some may really benefit from a guide, but again, a guide is not an all-inclusive sex and sexuality book and should not be expected to be.
Readers, what are your thoughts?
We did this a couple of weeks ago, but delayed posting till after the e-publication of the novella earlier this week. (Good heavens, that was only Tuesday -- seems longer ago already, but that's how time speeds on the internet.) This turns out to be doubly timely, in view of yesterday's happy news, as I also talk a bit about about wrangling series structures.
Also to note, the only PR push this novella is going to get is on this blog and these couple of by-chance recent interviews, so any mention folks may be moved to make about it out and around the net and elsewhere would be great. Amazon always gets plenty of reviews, and indeed by the time any prospective readers have made their way to the vendor sites the work is already done, so putting out the word in other places is more important.
posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on August, 17
Live streaming of the ceremony unfortunately ran afoul of technical difficulties, but I'd been following print links this afternoon as they updated. Generally, if one wins people hurry to say congrats, so you find out pretty quickly; if you lose, it's crickets chirping. So the first I actually heard were two e-mails from friends that said congrats (yay!) but not what for. (Since "Penric and the Shaman" was also a nominee in the novella category, which went this year to "Every Heart a Doorway" by Seanan McGuire, not to my surprise, congrats Seanan!)
I'll post a link to the ceremony recording when I find one.
Official link here:
Tor also posts the full results here:
The WorldCon's own website should have some pretty interesting voting statistics up soon, as well, for those who like to sort through the raw data. (Later: you can find them through the Worldcon link, above.)
Anyway, here are my acceptance remarks, which I gave to read to my friend and fellow Minneapolis writer Caroline Stevermer, who kindly and bravely offered to be my acceptor in and at the event. (It felt deeply weird to have to come up with these months beforehand. Hope they worked OK in the actual context.)
"Series have been a part of storytelling since The Odyssey followed The Iliad, engaging creators and delighting audiences for millennia. I have long thought that the series is an art form as distinct from the novel as the novel is from the short story, but no one studies series in the same way as novels, except those who write and read and love them. This may be more feature than bug.
It’s likely that the neglect of series in academic forums is practical: while teachers can just (barely) get classrooms of undergrads to read and compare half-a-dozen novels in a semester, there’s no way they could get them to do the same for half-a-dozen series.
Happily, free-range genre readers suffer under no such restrictions. There are still a lot of practical challenges for comparing series, especially those still under development by living writers. This year’s Hugo series category is a really interesting experiment in that direction, and I am honored that my work was among those put in the barrel for this particular roll downhill.
No writer could create a work extending over thirty years without an equal number of decades of publisher support, and it was my good luck that Baen Books and I stumbled into each other at the dawns of both of our careers. I need, as ever, to thank editors Betsy Mitchell, the late Jim Baen, Toni Weisskopf, and my agent Eleanor Wood for being my early and ongoing supporters on this long road trip.
And thank you all."
posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on August, 17
A few years ago a young woman stopped me at the airport to tell me about her gorgeous 94-year-old grandmother, Evita Stewart. When I got home she sent me a message via Instagram with photos of Evita with her new boyfriend lounging by the pool– I was instantly inspired. Two year later and I finally had the chance to chat with and photographer the gorgeous, now 96-year-old Evita. Evita told me that she does yoga seven days a week, starting even before she gets out of bed. When I asked her what the secret to living a long vital life is she replied,” I think it’s just having a lot of compassion for other people. A lot of love and knowing that other people can be very lonely. Sometimes you take it as being haughty or snobs, but its good to extend yourself to people because you get all that love back.”
I made date with Evita to photograph her and her gentleman friend!!!!
I don’t know if you know this about me, but I am pretty much a coward. I spend a lot of time worrying, and a lot of time being afraid, though I am afraid of regular things, I think. I am afraid of getting hurt physically- when I ski I worry about falling, about hurting myself (mostly I am afraid of breaking an arm. If I broke a leg I could still knit, so I think it would be ok.) I am afraid of not fitting in. I am afraid of love or respect extended and not returned. I am afraid of spiders. (This one I don’t worry about. I think that if you’re not afraid of spiders you just haven’t thought enough about it. They can walk on the ceiling. That’s not right.) I am afraid of not measuring up, of doing my best and still falling short of the mark. (There’s a joke in there about how I’m only 5’1″, but let’s leave it.) I am afraid of disappointing people, I am afraid of letting them down. I am afraid that trust will be given to me, and my best self won’t be good enough, and I that I won’t be able to rise above petty thoughts or small mindedness, or that in a wild effort to live a really decent life, I’ll miss things, or grow old with regrets that all this fear held me back from amazing events, and that I’ll be some old lady with a pile of things left undone, because my cowardice kept me home. I worry that when handed a microphone I will say something stupid, or that I will hurt someone with my words, and I am always afraid that I won’t understand someone else well enough to spare them pain, or find enough understanding for them to ease the fear I feel they must have – because I have it. I worry that we are all afraid, and I don’t want us to act out of that fear, personally, socially, or politically.
All this was on my mind on Sunday, when Jen picked me up, and we gathered the few essentials we hadn’t put in the trucks the day before, and we drank coffee quietly in the backyard, reflecting on the challenge ahead of us. Let me be absolutely clear about this next one… riding more than 600km doesn’t get easier with time. As a matter of fact, I’d say it gets harder. The experience you have from the times before is enough to give you the screaming willies, and the two of us sat there knowing exactly what was ahead. “It’s going to be okay,” Jen said. “We’ve done it before. We can do it again.” Then we strapped our bikes to her car, gave a nod to the fear we both felt, and drove to the departure point at Allan Gardens.
The minute I arrived, I remembered everything. I was nervous, and scared, and my back hurt already, and I started to be afraid of all the things I always am. (In the short term, I worry that upon departure, as a whack of riders all leave together, I will do something stupid, mostly I worry that I will fall off my bike and become a human speedbump. This has never happened – to me or to anyone, but I still think it’s a real risk, and if anyone is ever going to do it, it’s me.) Meg, Alex, Amanda and Elliot turned up to say goodbye, and we took a group shot, and I darted out for a whole rally selfie, covering (as I so often do) my nerves with humour. Then we left, and almost immediately, it started to change.
My friends were with me. Not just the ones that I have every day, like Ken and Jen and Cameron and Pato (and when did he grow up enough to be my friend?) but the magic of the Rally that over the course of six days, makes everyone present your friend.
For six days, you are a small travelling town. A group of people committed to one thing, all living the same life, and all held by one goal, one experience. From the fastest rider to the slowest, we’re the same. We’re all trying to ride our bikes to Montreal – we’re all in debt to our donors, to the people who put faith in us to make this happen (that’s you) all of us trying to fulfill a contract. I’ll do this hard thing, if you’ll help me by contributing. There’s nobody on the Rally who doesn’t feel the honour or the pressure of being the midpoint of those donations – and nobody who isn’t in it for the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation as the end. There were moments when the gratitude I felt to all of you is overwhelming, and moments when only the deal I’d made with you kept me going, and I know I’m not the only one.
I know I’ve written about this before. I’ve told you that every year is different. One year it’s about perseverance. (Or rain.) One year it’s about the people I know who are HIV positive, and and making a personal commitment to making their journey better – one year it was even about loneliness, about finding strength within myself to do it by myself, a fear I freely cop to. This year, the theme was apparent from the word go. It was friendship.
Jen gave me a ride that morning so I didn’t have to ride an extra 14km. Cameron changed my tire on Day two. He knows I can do it, but he can do it faster, and it was a gift of friendship to do it for me. Jen knows I was struggling with my back, and was generous and sweet with her patience and words – cheerful to the end, that one. (You should all be so lucky to have a friend as deliberate with her love as Jen.)
Both of them rode sweetly behind me on Day two, when my back really hurt, and I pulled ahead for a bit to have what I was hoping was a secret weep, and though both of them could easily have caught me, they lagged behind, knowing I was crying, knowing I’m afraid of that weakness, and letting me have that time to pull myself together. Darling friends.
Ken, faster than the rest of us, came into camp early each day, and together with the faster riders, collected our bins, and set up our tents, making sure that by the time Jen and I staggered into camp, things were as beautiful and welcoming as they can be if they are also covered in spiders.
For the first time too – a special little treat, knitting was normal on the rally, even desired – two more riders asked to be taught as we travelled along, without anyone making fun of it, or suggesting it was an old lady thing, or anything other than a way of making and being and doing. (Note to self, pack more yarn and needles next year. Best to be equipped if the plan to take over the world is finally taking hold.)
It was more than this though, it was watching everyone do the same thing – over and over and over, fear and struggle and concern were met with kindness and a gentle word, and respect and a soft touch. Struggling riders were encouraged, crew was thanked, flat tires mended, patience given, smiles offered at the port-a-loo lines, coffee fetched, complements freely given, and so quickly, kindergarten rules took hold. Take turns, be gentle, use your words, big ones take care of the little ones… anyone who strayed from the path of this softness was taken for how they were in that moment. Tired, overwhelmed, exhausted, wet, hot, afraid… and their problem, rather than their behaviour – was addressed with compassion, and do you know, it worked the way with grownups that it does with little kids when you hold who they are, rather than how they are behaving in your mind.
Quickly, over the course of the six days, this world took hold. They don’t call it the Friends For Life Bike Rally for nothin’ I remembered – and the power of friendship moved all of us, so much so, that by the last day, when the heavens opened and unleashed a torrential downpour upon us, the whole Rally pulled into a the shelter of a gas station and stood there, wet, cold, our final approach spoiled, the moment of glory delayed, the lot of us drowned rats by at the side of the road, it would have been easy to feel sad, or disappointed, or afraid, or something negative, but friendship had owned us all by then, and there was singing, and laughing, and smiling faces, and arms round cold riders and a grand explosion of joy as applause and bike bells rang out. Together was enough. Friendship was enough. Doing the right thing for PWA and the clients who need us was more than enough.
Eventually the rain stopped, and we rode on, those few kilometres to the end, and were welcomed in in grand style, and there was Kim – from Indigodragonfly, who’s own sense of friendship and commitment had led her not just to donate the profits from her Rally themed yarn, not just to sponsor our tee-shirts, but to actually turn up to hug and welcome all of us. She’s a grand friend, and a good person.
All week long, I felt it. Moments of fear supplanted by camaraderie and friendship. We are all cowards in some way. Me, I’m a dumpy middle-aged grandmother who has almost no business cycling 600km. Jen’s a mother of two walking away from her family for a week to model fierceness for her young daughters. Pato’s a young man trying to shape a world that he wants to live in, Ken is still recovering from the shoulder surgery that put him back together after his accident and showing up anyway. Cameron packed his work laptop and somehow carved out the time to do his job and the Rally – and everyone else riding met their own personal challenges. Again and again, why we were doing it came up. At dinner, at breaks, at our celebration in Kingston… and the thing we talked about was this: People are living longer with HIV/AIDS. It isn’t the death sentence that was when the Rally started. There are good drugs, help, and a sense of hope, and most of us realize that presents a challenge. In a way, supporting people with HIV/AIDS used to be sadder, but cheaper, not to put too fine a point on it. People didn’t live long enough to need years of support. The crisis was clearer, it had people’s attention. Now it must seem to so many people as though that time has passed, and it has – only to be replaced by a different need. Now grownups and children with HIV/AIDS may need a lifetime of support. They need years and years of medication, years and years of help living with the stigma that it brings, years and years of our help and belonging. It is still important.
We all shared this fear. That even though there are still a very great many people who need help, that they will be forgotten, and that sense of fellowship further strengthened our resolve, and made us braver. For me and Jen, we reflected often on the ride that so often, given the way the world works, women lack the personal power to make choices in this way, and that riding for them felt like something a woman in a strong, privileged position could do to help lift other women up too. It felt… feminist to us. It felt like the right thing to do, despite our own fears.
It was, despite the rain, the work, the fear, the pain, and the difficulty… a wonderful ride, and I spent much of it reflecting on if I’d done the right thing. Not just in riding, or in fundraising, or in doing my best to be kind all week, but in thinking of a decision I’ve made that will shape a part of the next two years of my life.
I’ve been accepted as a Co-Chair for the Rally. I’m putting my time where my heart is. I am pretty young, and pretty strong, and pretty privileged, and I have time and energy to put towards being the change I want to see in the world. It was a big decision, but I’m doing it, despite fear, despite being a great big chicken, and despite the fact that inevitably someone is going to hand me a microphone and I’ll say something stupid. I’ll have to count on my friends when that happens.
I do this because the rally is the world as it should be, for six small, wild and wonderful days. It’s why despite the difficulty, so many of us suffer the “Bike Rally Blues” when it’s over. The Rally is challenging, scary, disarming, powerful, heartwarming, supportive… so many ordinary people doing an extraordinary thing, all powered by nothing but friendship to moderate your cowardice, and that is a strong thing indeed. Blog, my dear ones, thank you for being my friends on this side. Thank you for the donations, the comments, the emails… All the kindness in the world is meaningless in this without you, riding is meaningless without you, no change happens without you. You’re the magic that makes this work.
You are amazing.
(PS. Obviously I signed up for next year.)
(PPS. I am going to knit the snot out of the rest of this month.)
(PPPS. When I came home, tired, bedraggled and with all our camping stuff in disarray, Joe had cleaned the house, filled the fridge with my favourite food and wine, and bought me flowers. It takes a big man to support ideas this wild. He’s wonderful, and my friend too.)
|Photo Description: I am sitting beside my father in his hospital bed. He is holding my hand and we both are smiling.|
I went to visit him when he fell really ill a bit ago. During our visit we had a chance to talk and there was something, quite private, that I wanted to say to him. I don't think that we know what to thank our parents for until we are well into adulthood, I wanted to do that, and I did. That felt like an accomplishment, but it also started a series of conversations, over the phone with him. Conversations that I will now miss dreadfully.
Over the next few days I plan on writing a bit about who my dad was, or at least who he was to me, as his youngest child. But right now, I concentrating on learning how to live in a world without having a 'dad'. He lived so long that I almost believed that he's always be there.