Well, I decided that Castemere was inauspicious...
I rather like this for an entry.although it's rather long, I think I'd have to extract the theme.
(entry of the gods into valhalla, das rheingold WagnerL)
Ballard of Black Tom was a very moving Lovecraft inspired story, from the perspective of a black new yorker, it paints a great portrait of his day to day life in 1920s (?) NY, and his initially minor dealings in mythos stuff. It was quite creepy once it started, but I've still to read the more lovecraftian ending of the story.
The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe was *also* a very good Lovecraft inspired story, set in the dreamlands, and the travels of a professor at the newest university college, the women's only college, through strange parts of dream, weird gods, and eventually maybe the waking world.
Penric and the Shaman is enjoyable in all the ways you'd expect it to be if you've read other Chalion stories by Bujold. It says a little about shaman/demon interactions which was only incidentally touched on before, and has slightly more of a role for a Father-worshipping figure. But it doesn't add a lot new.
A Taste of Honey, I still need to read, but the cover is *gorgeous* and there's some good male/male flirting on the first page. I'm not sure how that's going to turn out.
This Census-Taker. Interesting worldbuilding, I'm not sure where it's going, I still need to finish it.
“The Art of Space Travel” about a small cast of characters living and working near Heathrow, against a backdrop of a second Mars colony mission, 30 years after the first tragic failed attempt. I loved the character stuff, and background matter-of-fact look at a possible mars mission, although I wished they'd tied together more closely: I wanted to know more about the disaster, and the next mission. The title refers to the name of a textbook.
“The Tomato Thief” by Ursula Vernon. All of her stories are pretty good, although I didn't love this as much as some of her others, despite being pretty good.
“Touring with the Alien”, an odd-job woman ends up with the role of taking reclusive alien visitors on a road trip to see some of earth. Interesting musings on free will etc even though I wasn't convinced where they ended up. Again, I loved the day-to-day interaction of the protagonist and the other characters.
“The Jewel and Her Lapidary”, interesting worldbuilding, but I need to see how this finishes up. Jewels were nobility of a hidden kingdom, who kept it secret safe and stable with various supernatural powers granted to them by gems, but could only be bestowed by Lapidary servants.
You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay” by Alyssa Wong. Something about a desert? It looked good but I couldn't get into it at all (sorry).
2. Midnight Oil concert was totally worth it. The anxiety I worked myself up into in advance of going to Paléo was not, really. There *were* big crowds coming in by 8, 9 pm - but not at 5pm for the opening gigs! It was super chill when I got there. I ended up leaving at about 8.15 - I'd moved on to a smaller stage featuring tiny british boys known as Temples, but the mix of cigarette smoke and pot in the air was making my eyes stream and my head hurt. I feel a bit... a bit useless because I went to a thing and LEFT as everyone else was arriving. But actually, who cares? I saw what I wanted.
2.i. I have to say though, some of the tracks off Diesel and Dust which if you think about them too hard are Not Cool, well. They are really uncomfortable when you're all standing on European soil. the Dead Heart, particularly: it's pretty close to musical blackface to begin with, and the cultural dislocation just makes it more obvious.
2.ii. Garrett chose to do his contextualising around 'imagine if the French government had got their act together and had made it to the east coast of Aus before the British, I'd be singing all this in French'. Which. Okay. He didn't try to suggest this would be better, or worse, colonialism-wise, but I was still not happy with the way it felt. And at some point he referenced 'our dear first peoples, the indigenous australians', and just. Nope. How patronising can you GET?
3.iii Rob Hirst remains crazy talented oh my goodness. I somehow forget to notice the complexity of the percussion if I'm just listening, but as soon as you see him in action: wow. Also, the percussion kit included an honest-to-goodness rusty corrugated iron water tank, which I can only assume they physically transported from Aus for use during 'Power and the Passion'. Hell yes.
3. I started making a weekly habit tracker thing. Like a sticker chart for kids - you set a number of chores or self-care activities and colour in when they're done. I think I've set 49 possible things over a week, but not all of them are daily so I have targets. If i met every target I'd be at 41 things; so far I'm rewarding myself if I get to 25. And it's... working? The first few weeks I had days with only one or two squares; now normal is 3 or 4.
And on that note I'd better go and address today's tasks, starting with 'walk to work' (i missed 'get up by 8')
1. Not enough
It seems like many people are starting from the assumption that nobody *wants* to be a secondary, and the concept is basically synonymous with "I'll probably want more but I'll settle for what I can get". And yes, if that's how you feel, then that might be ok, but there is an inherent source of tension which is likely
I never had that assumption, only as I've met a wider variety of relationships have I started to understand it. It seemed to me, some people had many parallel relationships (either a small number of permanent partners who are equal priorities in organising your life whether or not they're different in other ways, or varied relationships each negotiated individually etc). Or they had one or two main partners, and other partners as well, usually people who themselves had many other partners, or had other major commitments, or otherwise were at a point in their life where a relationship *might* become much more, but they weren't looking for more, they were looking for something which fit their life right now, even if they had limited time and energy.
But if every relationship is "I fall deeply in love" then it makes sense that anything other than deep and permanent is really hard. Likewise, if you only have room for one relationship, it's a very painful choice to be with someone who wants to be with someone else more, if that's not what you want, and either "they need to have room for their relationship with you to grow" or "they need to realise that they may not be kind by having a relationship with you" may be issues.
With the benefit of hindsight, that looks to me like, "here's a form of relationship that suits some people but not others, don't choose it if it doesn't suit you". But if you have no experience of possible relationships, and the only model you have is "A and B are the love of each other's lives, and C is there too but is treated with absolutely zero respect", it's easy to fall into that model, and come out feeling like it should be burned to the ground.
2. Negotiating from a position of weakness
The other thing I had to say is, it's common for a relationship (not romantic, any form of association) to involve people with different amounts of power. Sometimes that's seriously unfair, as in a bad boss and an employee who needs the job: the boss has every opportunity to take advantage, to not just be unfair but to manipulate the interactions to their advantage by changing the rules all the time.
Sometimes it's completely fair, as in A wants to date B and B doesn't want to date A: then B deservedly has completely control over who they want to date, and they may reject A politely and compassionately (if A is not a jerk) or harshly (if A is a jerk, or if B is for that matter).
"Fair" doesn't mean "half and half". Although in most healthy ongoing relationships, jobs, romance, etc, both sides get comparable good things out of it.
A relationship can be unequal. Say, A has young children, another partner, and many other commitments. And they have a fortnightly date with B, whose commitments are a lot more flexible. That's just how their lives are, no-one is deliberately being unfair. But it does turn out, B has more flexibility than A, so they end up rearranging things more often.
Now here's the distinction. At the moment A doesn't really have the power to offer a lot more time to B. But they do have the power to make arrangements respectfully, by being clear in advance what commitments they can and can't make. By being honest about what time they have. By being upfront that occasionally emergencies will happen but that won't be a default. By not changing plans at short notice and expecting B to cope, can we emphasise that one.
Maybe B *could* cope with that if they had to, but if A forces them to for no reason, or for unfair reasons like, "My other partner is jealous if I spend ANY TIME WITH YOU AT ALL so rather than talking about it I'm just going to constantly jerk you around in the hope that eventually they're happy", then A is not treating B at all respectfully.
The reason I mention this particularly is that it seemed to be a common complaint from people familiar with certain sorts of history, that A had apparently logical reasons why they needed to constantly change stuff around. But it's possible for A to be unfront about what's not really changeable, while also being respectful and communicative about everything.
This is obvious in some relationships: most people with friends know that sometimes a friends' job or partner need them right now, and most friendships, if you move away your friend will usually stay with their job or family, not move with you. And that's just normal: almost all humans have many relationships and give different things to different ones. But it's also normal that friends are not jerks about it, and (a) don't constantly talk about how something else in their life is more important than you and (b) make time for you sometimes and don't just cancel all the time without telling you.
Hopefully this is obvious, but this is, me trying to understand many thoughts I've heard from different places, and not about any particular relationships of anyone (especially not anyone I know). Hopefully that postscript isn't needed, but I know it's possible for me to post "thoughts on X" and people to worry "is this about me".
Midnight Oil are playing on the main stage at 6. I was SUPER EXCITE when I bought the tickets (obviously, since I bought them) but now, in face of the prospect of travel, crowds, etc, I am less excite. I don't think I'll regret it, though.
Arcade Fire are on the main stage later tonight; I'm not sure that I'll stick around for that, though.
( Thread 1: You are not entitled to be a panelist at a convention. )
( Thread 2: Cis People Please Don't Do This. )
Comments are off because I'm on vacation and don't feel like moderating them. Feel free to share the link to this post.
However, now there maybe has been a permanent sort of shift. I think a combination of receiving less urgent emails, and of having a regular non-email based per-week todo list, and of generally being less stressed by all urgent things, have led to a point where I no longer *need* inbox zero. I generally only have a few emails needing attention, and those are starred. And other recent-ish email sits around in my inbox to a certain extent not doing much harm, but being handy if I need it.
And I'm sufficiently non-stressed that it's not usually something I need to *set aside time for*, but something I can do when I'm checking my email anyway. Any longer time commitments get put in a separate todo.
Non-email email (social network notifications, mailing lists, confirmations, etc, etc) gmail helpfully puts into a separate tab. Social network stuff I star anything I want to reply to, and empty it out every so often. Everything else I just glance at, and if it needs any response move to my main inbox and star it.
This has bad effects as well. Because it *usually* just works, if I get an urgent email and then suddenly go away, it can fall through the cracks. But that's hopefully ok, it's mostly how most people deal with tasks: they usually do it fine but occasionally miss something, instead of needing to be always perfect else they fail forever.
I have lots of different thoughts about this.
Returning from portal fantasy
One of the biggest is probably that, it's written as if people being cast out is a central feature of secondary worlds, whereas originally I think it's more like, the authors didn't think about it much either way, they just tacked on a happy ending even if it didn't really make sense in the book.
But as liv points out, many people found portal fantasies incredibly moving as children because they wanted to escape somewhere else from where they were, and returning was horrible, and this story serves very very well as an emphatic rejection of that trope.
Funnily enough that was never me. Lots of my friends overcame a lot of childhood problems, but though I was nerdy and bad at making friends, my parents were great, and I never wanted to get away from here, even if I was drawn to the idea of going somewhere where my strengths could blossom. I got some of that by going into maths and programming.
I enjoyed this more than most of the other Seanan Mcguire I've read, even the Mira Grant. I think the strengths were similar, but the bits where "the characters go where the plot says, completely disregarding logic, common sense, emotion, characterisation, survival, or physical possibility" were much less prominent.
At least to me -- I know some people didn't find that a problem in any of her books, and some people were bothered by it in this one. But there are going to be *some* rants in the spoiler section.
I wasn't bothered by some things that bothered other people. To me, the variety of sexualities etc didn't feel shoehorned in, except occasionally (and I was pleased it was there). I wasn't bothered by shifts in narration from tight third to omniscient (I actually quite like little omniscient asides).
The diversity of characters. The description of the secondary worlds: the harsh "high logic" faerielands; the "high nonsense" nonsense worlds; the ones with rhymes, the underworlds, etc etc. It is all very memorable.
I know I can be too optimistic here, and it can be impossible to stop bullying, but I also just despair at how it's taken for granted in so many situations fictional and real. Here there's a fairly small group of children, with several adults present full time. Can't they at least TRY to prevent at least physical attacks? And ideally violent threats?
( Spoilers )
I mentioned last month ago that I was trying climbing again, and since then I've been going most weeks. So far I'm making fairly measurable progress in terms of each time getting up a route, or at least further up a route, that I got stuck on the previous week. I was particularly pleased because one of those routes hadn't been graded the first time I tried it, and when I came back to it the following week it turned out to be three grades higher than anything I'd successfully climbed before (I still didn't quite make it to the top, but I got past the move I was stuck on, and I'm fairly confident that I'm going to make it to the top tomorrow).
I've been swimming a bit as well, both on my own and with sfred. The funny thing about swimming compared to most other forms of exercise that I do is that whilst I'm doing it it feels as though I'm going fairly gently and not working very hard, and then I get out of the pool and all my muscles go "gosh, that was bracing!". I think it's a combination of the water softening the impact of the motion, and feeling as though the only reason ones breathing is constricted is because of being underwater half the time, rather than from the exertion, and as Fred pointed out, not noticing that you're sweating, because it gets washed straight off.
I had my first singing lesson in ages last week, to get in a bit of improvement before choir starts in September. I'd forgotten how physical singing is when you're doing it right - I think my core muscles were getting more of a workout then than from the climbing!
I've also been enjoying various dinners. Last month I went to Morito with borusa and a couple of weeks ago I went with my sister to the Barbary to celebrate her birthday. They both do Middle Eastern/North African small plates on barstools overlooking the kitchen. Both were very good, and in both cases the aubergine thing was the high point of the meal. On that comparison Morito comes out on top, because their deep fried aubergine with date molasses and goat's curd was so delicious that I ordered a second plate of it instead of pudding. The crisp batter/melty soft aubergine texture contrast was heavenly, and the curd was light and fluffy but with a warm richness just made to be cut through by the sweet/sharp molasses.
Last weekend had more delicious food. On the Friday hjdoom was in town, so I had the fun challenge of finding somewhere good for a coeliac vegan to eat. We went for Itadaki Zen, the vegan Japanese place near Kings Cross, which is always fantastic. We had a mixture of small dishes to start, with lots of crunchy textures and umamish seasonings and sauces, then six pieces of sushi, all exquisite. My main was decent, but Oliver's tempura really won the day. I was especially excited by the vine leaf and the seaweed. On Saturday Ramesh & I went out for a very (very!) belated celebration of our anniversary to St Moritz. We ate all the cheese. And then we ate all the chocolate as well, because why not. I didn't think the fondue was quite as good as the late lamented L'art du fromage, but it was still basically giant pile of cheese, so hard to complain too much. On Sunday I'd invited Beryl, one of the St John's grandames, over for lunch, and then delegated the cooking to robert_jones, who did us proud with a lovely summery pea and basil soup, roast lamb that was just perfectly tender, and strawberries in balsamic syrup.
Tonight I'm dining with borusa again at Rok, and planning a dinner on Friday, when I've got the day off work so can pull the stops out a little bit. Then next week Ramesh & I are off to Amsterdam, where cultural and culinary delights various await us.
"But there's a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother's story, because hers is where yours begin." -- Mitch Albom, For One More Day [via Goodreads]
I seem to have got involved in organising Queer Code London. We have a breakfast meet in Central London on
Tuesday 1 August Tuesday 8 August, 7:30am-9am, and I’d love to see as many people there as possible.
The breakfast is free and includes vegetarian options, and the building is step-free accessible. You’ll need to join the Meetup group to see the location, but it's in Central London within a couple of minutes’ walk of a zone 1 station. Spaces are limited, so sign up ASAP.
No allies, please – this event is for queer coders only — but please pass this on as widely as you like.